Executives Fail to Focus on Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social media marketing has gained its place at the table. eMarketer estimates 80% of companies with at least 100 employees will use social networks for marketing this year, up from nearly three in four last year. By 2012, usage will be even greater, and, in turn, efforts are becoming more sophisticated.

Most companies now recognize a well crafted social media strategy is a vital part of the marketing mix. In fact, a study from Jive Software and Penn, Schoen & Berland found 78% of executives thought a social business strategy was somewhat or very important to the future success of their business.

Despite this realization, most executives are still only in the tentative stages of making social strategy a priority.

The survey of executives who have final say or significant input on social business strategy found that only 27% listed social business as a top strategic priority. Nearly half (47%) admitted a social plan was necessary but not a strategic priority and 19% said social business strategy was simply not necessary.

Meanwhile, executives were also not overly optimistic about their current social strategy efforts. Only 17% felt their social strategy was ahead of the curve. About four in 10 (42%) felt their social strategy was just keeping up and 33% felt they were behind.

A different study from Forbes Insights and Coremetrics showed a similar amount of enthusiasm for social strategy. Only 11% of US and UK executives surveyed at large businesses listed social media strategy as a leading priority in 2011—tied for last place with mobile marketing. Social media strategy will receive a small boost in 2012, though, with 19% of execs listing it as a leading marketing priority for the coming year.

Many companies may be using social media marketing, but those that choose not to focus on a social strategy risk falling behind the curve in integrating social media with their overall marketing goals. Recognizing the importance of strategy alone isn’t enough; companies should start implementing a plan.


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Consumers Embrace Social Media for Brand Feedback

Many social network users are using channels such as Twitter and Facebook to discuss shopping decisions and experiences with their peers. Although often this means they are using social networks as another channel to hunt down the best deals, consumers are also turning to those sites to provide feedback about their experiences with brands.

ROI Research conducted a study that asked social network users why they discuss products and services on social network sites. The majority of respondents said that when discussing products and services, they are comparing prices and talking about sales and specials with their social network friends and followers. Fifty-three percent of the surveyed social network users said they provide feedback to the brand or retailer via social network sites—and 47% said they express disappointment with the brand when they see fit.

The ROI Research study points out that consumers voice complaints about certain verticals more so than others. Survey respondents listed household products, telecommunications and healthcare and pharma as top categories for expressing dissatisfaction on a social network. Sports-related brands, magazines and newspapers, and alcoholic beverages, on the other hand, received low levels of complaints. The travel industry ranked fairly low on the list—which may come as a surprise given the resources that many travel companies have devoted to responding to consumer feedback on Twitter.

A MarketTools survey focusing on customer satisfaction with US airline carriers indicates that although US travelers may be embracing social networks to express feedback more frequently than in the past, social media as a feedback or customer service channel is still nascent.

Many travelers are using social networks to let their friends and followers in on their travel woes. In fact, the MarketTools survey indicates one out of 10 US travelers has used social media to complain about an airline. Because the complaints are undirected though, they often go unanswered. The survey shows that only one out of four consumers who complained via social media got a response back from an airline.

Although travelers are voicing dissatisfaction to their friends via social media, few travelers actually use sites such as Twitter and Facebook to give direct negative feedback to airlines. Only 2% of travelers who had given feedback or complaints about airline service in the past year said they had done so via social media. Most travelers reached out to the airline customer service department through the website, email or phone.

Both studies demonstrate that while collecting and responding to feedback over social networks may be a new phenomenon for brands, there is room for growth. Listening and responding to complaints on social media also offers brands a chance to connect with customers in an additional channel, and to potentially increase customer satisfaction.


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Social Media Marketing Brings New Revenues, Customers

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Social media marketing has been top of mind among marketers and is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Earlier this year, eMarketer estimated that worldwide social network ad revenues alone, not including money that companies spend developing presences on social networks or hiring staff to manage them, would reach $5.97 billion in 2011, a 71.6% increase over 2010.

Already, firms worldwide are seeing returns on their increased investment. According to a survey by office services firm Regus, 47% of businesses successfully used social networks for customer acquisition in 2011, a 7 percentage point increase over 2010. The US followed closely behind the average, at 43%.

China saw the greatest gains in customer acquisition from social networks among all countries studied, increasing from 44% in 2010 to 65% in 2011.

The survey had one other interesting finding: Social networks made the biggest impact for companies that are operating in developed markets. A significantly higher percentage of companies that used social networks for customer acquisition in developed markets, including the US, the UK, Japan and Canada, saw a revenue increase over the previous year vs. those companies that did not use social networks to acquire new business in developed markets.

Companies in developing markets like China, Mexico and South Africa experienced revenue growth whether or not they were using social networks to acquire new business, probably as a result of rapid overall economic expansion.

As companies continue to chase revenue in both developed and developing markets, competition will force marketers to increase investment in new platforms to reach customers. Social networks are proving to be a reliable source of customer acquisition and increased revenues in both, but can provide a necessary edge over competitors in developed markets.

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Top 5 Social Media Scams

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scams thumb Top 5 Social Media ScamsWe’re wired to be social creatures, and sites like Twitter and Facebook have capitalized on this to great success. According to its COO Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook draws 175 million logins every day.

But with this tremendous popularity comes a dark side as well. Virus writers and other cybercriminals go where the numbers are — and that includes popular social media sites. To help you avoid a con or viral infection, we’ve put together this list of the top five social media scams.

5. Chain Letters
You’ve likely seen this one before — the dreaded chain letter has returned. It may appear in the form of, “Retweet this and Bill Gates will donate $5 million to charity!” But hold on, let’s think about this. Bill Gates already does a lot for charity. Why would he wait for something like this to take action? Answer: He wouldn’t. Both the cause and claim are fake.

So why would someone post this? Good question. It could be some prankster looking for a laugh, or a spammer needing “friends” to hit up later. Many well-meaning people pass these fake claims onto others. Break the chain and inform them of the likely ruse.

4. Cash Grabs
By their very nature, social media sites make it easy for us to stay in touch with friends, while reaching out to meet new ones. But how well do you really know these new acquaintances? That person with the attractive profile picture who just friended you — and suddenly needs money — is probably some cybercriminal looking for easy cash. Think twice before acting. In fact, the same advice applies even if you know the person.

Picture this: You just received an urgent request from one of your real friends who “lost his wallet on vacation and needs some cash to get home.” So, being the helpful person you are, you send some money right away, per his instructions. But there’s a problem: Your friend never sent this request. In fact, he isn’t even aware of it. His malware-infected computer grabbed all of his contacts and forwarded the bogus email to everyone, waiting to see who would bite.

Again, think before acting. Call your friend. Inform him of the request and see if it’s true. Next, make sure your computer isn’t infected as well.

3. Hidden Charges
“What type of STAR WARS character are you? Find out with our quiz! All of your friends have taken it!” Hmm, this sounds interesting, so you enter your info and cell number, as instructed. After a few minutes, a text turns up. It turns out you’re more Yoda than Darth Vader. Well, that’s interesting … but not as much as your next month’s cell bill will be. You’ve also just unwittingly subscribed to some dubious service that charges $9.95 every month.

As it turns out, that “free, fun service” is neither. Be wary of these bait-and-switch games. They tend to thrive on social sites.

2. Phishing Requests
“Somebody just put up these pictures of you drunk at this wild party! Check ‘em out here!” Huh? Let me see that! Immediately, you click on the enclosed link, which takes you to your Twitter or Facebook login page. There, you enter your account info — and a cybercriminal now has your password, along with total control of your account.

How did this happen? Both the email and landing page were fake. That link you clicked took you to a page that only looked like your intended social site. It’s called phishing, and you’ve just been had. To prevent this, make sure your Internet security includes antiphishing defenses. Many freeware programs don’t include this essential protection.

1. Hidden URLs
Beware of blindly clicking on shortened URLs. You’ll see them everywhere on Twitter, but you never know where you’re going to go since the URL (“Uniform Resource Locator,” the Web address) hides the full location. Clicking on such a link could direct you to your intended site, or one that installs all sorts of malware on your computer.

URL shorteners can be quite useful. Just be aware of their potential pitfalls and make sure you have real-time protection against spyware and viruses.

Bottom line: Sites that attract a significant number of visitors are going to lure in a criminal element, too. If you take security precautions ahead of time, such as using antivirus and anti-spyware protection, you can defend yourself against these dangers and surf with confidence.

Copyright (c) 2010 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.

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9 in 10 Marketers Use/Plan to Use Social Media

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unica marketing channels planned usage may11.thumbnail 9 in 10 Marketers Use/Plan to Use Social MediaA combined 89% of marketers use (53%) or plan to use (36%) social media marketing, according to [pdf] a study conducted in Q4 2010 by Unica. Data from “The State of Marketing 2011? indicates of those planning to use social media, 26% plan to use it in the next 12 months and 10% plan to use it more than 12 months out.

Rich media marketing, with 87% combined usage/planned usage, and mobile marketing, with 85% combined usage/planned usage, have similar statistics to social media marketing. The numbers on rich media marketing in particular (50% current usage, 23% expected usage in 12 months, 14% expected usage in more than 12 months) are almost identical.

For mobile marketing, however, the numbers skew more toward planned usage, with a 43% current usage rate. Twenty-five percent of marketers expect to employ mobile in the next 12 months, and 16% plan to use it in more than 12 months.

 9 in 10 Marketers Use/Plan to Use Social MediaOverall, 67% of North American and European marketers currently use email software. However, this figure rises to 80% of North American marketers and drops to only 47% among European marketers. On a combined basis, only 10% of marketers have no plans to use email.

 9 in 10 Marketers Use/Plan to Use Social MediaWhile European marketers are less likely than North American marketers to adopt email, 40% of European marketers report mostly automated integration of email data with customer data, compared to just 30% of North American marketers. The overall automated integration rate is 34%, and 27% do not integrate email data at all.

 9 in 10 Marketers Use/Plan to Use Social MediaRespondents exposed a lackluster record of search engine marketing integration with other marketing campaigns and programs. Less than half said it was “somewhat integrated” and almost as many indicated that it wasn’t integrated. Only 10% claimed “very integrated” search engine marketing for their company’s efforts.

About two-thirds (68%) of marketers see web data as very important to customer analytics and 63% see it as very important to making decisions about marketing offers and campaigns, according to other study results. A majority of remaining respondents consider both uses of web data somewhat important.

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Social media ‘risk’ to ADF image – Smith

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Smith thumb Social media risk to ADF image SmithDefence Minister Stephen Smith says the use of social media by Australian Defence Force members could put the ADF’s reputation at risk.

The defence minister’s warning came a day after charges were laid against a former ADF member over the setting up of a gay-hate Facebook page.

Mr Smith on Friday announced an external consulting company would head a review into the use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, in light of ADF values.

The social media review is part of a raft of studies looking at the defence force, including the use of alcohol and leadership opportunities available to women.

Mr Smith said the review would raise awareness among ADF employees that the information they share on social media often becomes public.

‘That which people (post on social media), which becomes public, particularly if they are representing Australia or representing the ADF, potentially can have seriously adverse consequences,’ he said.

‘It’s very important that members of the ADF, whether they’re onshore or offshore, understand that at all times they are representing the defence force and representing the nation.

‘As a consequence, inappropriate behaviour, effectively, in uniform can lead to very serious reputational damage.’

A former ADF member was charged on Thursday over alleged threats to a senior army officer and creating a Facebook page which encouraged violence against homosexuals.

The review, to be led by Rob Hudson from George Patterson Y R, is due to provide an interim report by the end of July.

Meanwhile, the Independent Advisory Panel on Alcohol will examine the impact of alcohol use at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and the adequacy of current policies and strategies.

‘Often, inappropriate conduct and abuse of alcohol go hand in hand,’ he told reporters in Perth.

‘The objective here is to advise ADFA on the current organisational arrangement so far as use of alcohol is concerned and whether there’s anything more we can do or learn.’

The panel, to be chaired by Professor Margaret Hamilton, will include drug and alcohol experts as well as the Commander Joint Health, Major General Paul Alexander, and is due to report back at the end of July.

Other reviews will examine ways to improve the leadership representation rates of women in defence and the management of complaints.

The independent Inspector General of the ADF, Geoff Earley, will head the review of how incidents and complaints are managed, focusing on the treatment of victims and the relationship between military disciplinary investigations and civil or criminal matters.

‘Sometimes that inter-relationship has led to delays and lack of a timely response in those issues,’ Mr Smith said.

The reviews follow the Skype sex scandal, in which a male cadet allegedly use a live webcam to stream video of him having sex with a female cadet to his colleagues without her knowledge.

Police have since charged two other cadets with related offences.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick is heading a review into the treatment of women in the ADF and the ADFA following the scandal.

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Most Marketers Keep Social Media In-house

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 Most Marketers Keep Social Media In houseAmong marketers who do outsource social media marketing efforts, the most commonly outsourced task is design/development, which 17% say they outsource. MarketingCharts observes that the other most commonly outsourced tasks, such as content creation (10%) and analytics (10%), can also be considered “behind the scenes” functions. “Real time” functions such as community management (4%) and live tweeting (3%) are less likely to be outsourced.

 Most Marketers Keep Social Media In houseThe study asked social media marketers what other types of marketing they were participating in. The top three included email marketing (81%), search engine optimization (68%) and event marketing (64%).

SocialMedia Examiner analysis indicates B2B marketers were significantly more likely to employ search engine optimization (71% B2B compared to 65% B2C) and event marketing (70% B2B compared to 58% B2C). Organizations with 1,000 or more employees were more likely to participate in event marketing (73%).

In addition, social media marketers with three or more years of experience were more likely to participate in search engine optimization (80%) and event marketing (79%) than the overall respondent group.

Nine in 10 marketers (92%) use the Facebook social network as a marketing tool, according to other study results. Data indicates Facebook is the most popular social network among marketers by a wide margin. The second-most-popular social network among marketers, Twitter, has an 84% adoption rate, meaning Facebook is almost 10% more popular than its closest competitor as a marketing tool.

The professional networking site LinkedIn comes in third with 71% marketer adoption. Rather than a specific network, blogs follow with 68% usage, and YouTube/other video sites are used by 56% of marketers.

There is a substantial dropoff of more than 50% between the marketer adoption rates of YouTube/other video sites and their closest competitor, social bookmarking/news sites, used by only 26% of marketers. MySpace comes in last with only 6% adoption as a marketing tool.

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How Well Is Social Media Fitting into the Marketing Mix?

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Over the next several years, social media spending will become a bigger percentage of companies’ overall marketing budgets. Yet CMOs report there are still challenges when it comes to integrating social media into their overall business strategies.

The American Marketing Association and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business surveyed more than 400 top marketers for the February 2011 CMO Survey. They reported that over the next 12 months, social media spending will jump to 9.8% of marketing budgets, up from the current level of 5.6%. In the next five years, that percentage will increase to 18.1%.

Service companies are planning the biggest increases, as both B2B and B2C service companies have a higher percentage of their budgets set aside for social media than their product-focused counterparts. They also plan to have bigger percentages looking ahead both 12 months and five years.

This is a remarkable difference from the August 2010 CMO Survey, when service companies were decreasing spending and future projections of spending, while product companies were seeing increases. In this survey, the results are flipped, with service companies seeing increases and product companies seeing decreases.

Social media is no longer brand new, and many product companies have been experimenting in the space for some time. The current challenge for companies is to figure out the balance of marketing that works for them, and that includes a focus on product development and traditional advertising. Service companies are also realizing they must be on the cutting edge to gain clients, which includes being savvy when it comes to social media.

Yet while these CMOs are setting aside more of their budgets for social media, they are still working on integrating this newer form of communication into overall business and marketing strategies.

CMOs are more confident in the integration of social media into marketing strategies, as 10.5% feel social media is very effectively integrated into those efforts. But when it comes to companies’ overall business strategies, 25% of CMO respondents said social media is not effectively integrated at all.

As social media becomes a bigger budget line item, CMOs and their companies must face the challenge of integrating it into overall business and marketing strategies. Not only is it more cost-effective to incorporate social media into marketing and overall strategies, but it also makes marketing more effective overall.

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Social Media Is Not Killing Email

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The latest death knell for email was sounded by data in comScore’s “2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review” report, which noted a decline in time spent with web-based email among all US internet users under 55. Users ages 12 to 17, who have been most likely to drop email in favor of other online communications like social networking, had the steepest decline in usage, down 59%.

But web-based email checked at a desktop computer is only one slice of all email communications, and email represents an overwhelmingly important communications channel.

According to research from customer relationship marketing agency Merkle, 87% of internet users checked personal email daily in 2010, a number that has changed little since 2007. Among those with a separate email account for commercial email, 60% checked daily, down just 1 percentage point since 2008.

Further, social media usage is hardly taking away from email. Rather, social media users are significantly more likely than other internet users to check their email four or more times per day, and less likely to check infrequently.

Mobile access is also encouraging email users to check more often. More than half (55%) of those surveyed who had an internet-enabled mobile phone checked their personal email using their phone, and nearly two-thirds of mobile email users checked their account at least once a day.

There is some evidence that personal communications are shifting away from email, though. Messages from friends and family are taking up a smaller share of all time spent with email, while the share spent with commercial emails is rising. And the proportion of respondents spending at least 20 minutes per week with email from friends and family fell from 71% in 2009 to 66% in 2010.

But email is still a major method of communicating for the vast majority of internet users. Across all age groups, it was the top choice for receiving commercial communications. Most respondents preferred the phone for personal communication, but email was the most important online channel for communicating with friends and family among every age group except 18- to 29-year-olds, a demographic for whom email was tied with social networks.

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Social Media Strategists Look Hard at ROI this Year

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Marketers and social strategists hope to develop better ways to determine return on investment for social media outreach in 2011.

ROI has always been a big issue, but as more companies plan to increase social media budgets in 2011, it has become a must-have. The Altimeter Group surveyed 140 social media strategists at multinational companies about their plans for 2011. When it came to social media programs, 82% of respondents reported they would be investing in brand monitoring in 2011, while 77% cited staff budgets and 78% training budgets.

Overall, every area of social media strategy will see more participation in 2011 than 2010. As consumers and influencers continue to flock to social media—and social media programs and marketing demand more resources and budgets—demonstrating ROI for those who determine said budgets is key.

And social strategists know it. Creating ROI measurements tops the list of internal social strategy objectives for 2011, with 48.3% of respondents highlighting that goal. Internal education and setting up an organizational model for social strategy are also top priorities.

Additionally, getting buy-in from stakeholders and increasing budget and headcount are also popular objectives, with 32.2% and 24.6% of respondents reporting such goals for 2011, respectively. Determining ways to measure ROI and demonstrating how social media can provide direct value and results will help reach several of these additional objectives.

Looking externally, social strategists also have several popular objectives for 2011, including website integration, developing ongoing dialogue with customers, and listening and learning about customers. As internal strategies for social media outreach become more developed, companies will have the resources and plans in place, and these external goals will also fall into place.

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