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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New Zealand Females Spend Significantly More Time Social Networking than Males

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NZ thumb New Zealand Females Spend Significantly More Time Social Networking than MalesComscore today released a study on Internet usage in New Zealand from its comScore Media Metrix service. The study found that Social Networking ranks as the leading online activity in New Zealand, accounting for 1 of every 5 minutes spent online in May. The study also found that females spent more time on social networking sites (5.4 hours per month) than males (3.7 hours per month).

“As one of the more mature markets in the Asia Pacific region, New Zealand is home to a digitally savvy audience base,” said Amy Weinberger, comScore vice president for Australia and New Zealand. “New Zealanders have a strong propensity to connect online, whether it is to other people through social networking or to content and information through access points such as entertainment and news destinations. Finding ways to reach and engage these audiences presents significant marketing opportunities to both local and global brands.”

Top Web Properties in New Zealand

In May 2011, Microsoft Sites topped the list as the most-visited web property in New Zealand, reaching 97 percent of web users age 15 and older in the country. Google Sites ranked second reaching 93.5 percent of visitors, followed by Yahoo! Sites at #3 reaching 86.4 percent of users. Facebook.com saw the strongest engagement of the top 10 properties with visitors averaging more than 5 hours on the site during the month. Web properties based in New Zealand or Australia captured the next three positions in the ranking with Fairfax Media, APN News & Media and Trade Me all reaching more than half of the online population in New Zealand.

Comscore 1 thumb New Zealand Females Spend Significantly More Time Social Networking than Males

Social Networking Accounts for Most Online Minutes in New Zealand

When looking at how New Zealanders spent their time online in May, Social Networking led as the most engaging online activity accounting for 21.1 percent of all online minutes in the country. Portals followed in second at 14.3 percent of total minutes, with Entertainment sites ranking third at 12.1 percent of minutes. Rounding out the top 5 were the News/Information (6.8 percent of time spent) and Auctions (6.7 percent) categories.

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Females More Prolific Social Networkers than Males in New Zealand

Further analysis of the Social Networking category showed that although males and females account for nearly the same percentage of visitors to the category, females exhibit far stronger engagement with the category. Overall, females averaged nearly 50 percent more time on Social Networking sites than males (5.4 hours vs. 3.7 hours). Females age 15-24 averaged the most time social networking at 7.4 hours per visitor, while males age 15-24 averaged 6.4 hours during the month. When compared to an average Internet user, females were 15 percent more likely to view pages on social networking destinations (Index of 115), while males were 16 percent less likely to consume pages (Index of 84).

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Social Network Comments Fuel Offline Behaviour

Social networks are becoming a part of everyday life for many users, and their offline habits are affected by their participation.

In November 2010, the Pew Internet & American Life Project surveyed US social network users for the “Social Network Sites and Our Lives” report, released in June 2011, and found that 31% of social network users are on Facebook several times a day. Additionally, 21% of respondents use the site about once a day. This is followed by Twitter, which 20% of social network users check several times a day and 13% use about once a day.

As consumers use these social sites several times a day or week, they are also commenting on posts from friends just as often. The Pew study found that 26% of female Facebook users and 17% of male Facebook users comment on Facebook posts at least once a day. Further, the study found that 57% of female Facebook users and 48% of male Facebook users comment on posts at least once a week.

But social network users are not just responding on social media. The April 2011 “S-Net: The Impact of Social Media” study by ROI Research found that 60% of US social network users were at least somewhat likely to take action when a friend posted something about a product, service, company or brand on a social media site. Only 18% were not at all likely to take action.

The study doesn’t elaborate on what exactly respondents would do, but another question asked specifically what actions US social network users would be more likely to take after following a company or product on Facebook or Twitter. On Facebook, 53% of respondents said the top activities would be purchasing the brand or company’s product and recommending the company or product. For Twitter, the top activities were talking about the company or product (61%), recommending the company or product (59%) and purchasing the brand or company’s product (58%).

Fans or followers of a brand are influenced by what they see from these company accounts, but they are also influenced by what their friends say about brands or companies that they don’t necessarily follow. It’s another area for marketers to focus on—the reach they have and how their brand fans may influence their own friends and followers.


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Google goes social with Facebook rival

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google logo thumb1 Google goes social with Facebook rivalGoogle, the king of internet search but not on the social front, has launched its rival to Facebook, a social networking service called Google+.

“Online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it,” Google’s senior vice president for engineering Vic Gundotra on Tuesday said in a blog post about the long-awaited social networking initiative from the internet giant.

Unveiling Google+, Gundotra stressed the ability it gives users to separate online friends and family into different “Circles,” or networks, and to share information only with members of a particular circle.

“We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software,” he said.

“We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships and your interests.”

One of the criticisms of Facebook is that updates are shared with all of one’s friends unless a user has gone through a relatively complicated process to create separate Facebook Groups.

“Not all relationships are created equal,” Gundotra said.

“So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss.

“The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food – wrapping everyone in ‘friend’ paper – and sharing really suffers,” he said.

Google+, located at plus.google.com, is currently being tested by a small number of people or is available by invitation only.

But Google said in a message on the site that it “won’t be long before the Google+ project is ready for everyone”.

Google unveiled several new tools integrated into Google+, including “Hangouts”, which allows for video chatting among friends, “Mobile” for location-sharing and “Huddle” for group text messaging.

Photos and video can be uploaded and shared among Circles using a feature known as “Instant Upload”, while an online sharing engine called “Sparks” delivers content from the web into a user’s feed.

Google dominates internet search but the Mountain View, California, company has failed to make inroads on the social networking front, where Facebook has accumulated nearly 700 million users and Twitter about 200 million.

Former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, speaking at the AllThingsD technology conference last month, took responsibility for the company missing the wave when it came to making services social, saying “I screwed up”.

Google’s last major foray into social networking – Google Buzz, launched in February 2010 – spawned a slew of privacy complaints and led to a slap on the wrist from the US Federal Trade Commission.

Under a settlement between the US regulator and Google announced in March, Google is required to implement a comprehensive privacy program and will be subject to independent privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years.

Google+ makes its debut as Google and Facebook wage a fierce battle over online advertising dollars and how people navigate the internet.

Google does not send people to Facebook and vice versa, and both companies are seeking to become the chief gateway to the internet.

In May, Facebook was left red-faced after acknowledging it had hired a prominent public relations firm to draw attention to privacy practices at Google.

Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of technology blog SearchEngineLand.com, said in a blog post it was “anyone’s guess” as to whether Google+ would be successful.

“If you’re happy using Facebook, there seems relatively little to make you want to switch over to Google Plus, at the moment,” said Sullivan, who received an early glimpse of the new service from Google.

“Perhaps if there are people who want a Facebook alternative, Google’s now got a core to build on for them.”

Story by Chris Lefkow www.ninemsn.com.au

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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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Why Do Affluent Consumers Connect with Brands on Social Networks?

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Luxury marketers take note, according to a February 2011 Affluence Collaborative survey, wealthy internet users connect with brands on social networks for significantly different reasons than the general population. The social networks they use to do so are different, too.

Among the general population, the main reason cited for connecting with brands on social networks was to receive deals and discounts. This result from the Affluence Collaborative survey backs up earlier research from several sources on why consumers follow brands on social sites.

But according to Affluence Collaborative, this was a much lower priority for the wealthy. Their top reasons for following brands were due to a preexisting affinity for and a desire to be kept informed about the brand. The least-cited reason mentioned by all groups surveyed was to be entertained, suggesting that social media marketers still need to provide fans with value, even if it isn’t directly in the form of a coupon or sale.

These findings coincide with earlier research from ExactTarget, which showed that a huge component of liking a brand on Facebook was due not just to an affinity, but as a means of self-expression for others to see. This promotional desire was more pronounced in Facebook users than Twitter followers or email subscribers. Affluents then, in their “love of the brands” they connect with, are largely acting as brand ambassadors.

On the surface, a November 2010 L2 Think Tank survey might appear to contradict these findings. Affluent members of Gen Y (ages 19 to 33) cited promotions and offers as the main reason for engaging with brands on social media. Women were more likely than men to engage with brands in general and to want to receive offers. However, the survey included those who were “projected to earn $100,000 in the next two years”—meaning the respondents were more aspiring than actually affluent. The second biggest motivator was still an affinity for the brand.

Data from the Affluence Collaborative study also reveals that the affluent aren’t using the same social networks as the general population. Facebook was the No. 1 social network used by all groups surveyed, but LinkedIn and Twitter attracted affluent internet users at nearly double the rate of the general population.

Any marketer targeting affluent consumers needs to know not only where to reach that audience, but what appeals to them. For wealthy internet users, connecting with a brand is largely about the brand itself, not gimmicks and offers. Affluents need to see a consistent message that makes following a brand meaningful for self-expression, just like when buying a brand in real life. Watering down the brand in order to gain a large social following may drive away the very people trying to be reached.

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Cyber scams rife at social networks

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