The #hashtag became one of the most popular used words in 2013 alongside ‘selfie’ and ‘twerking’. However, the hashtag is actually an extremely efficient way of connecting users via social media around the world. Continue reading
Thanks to the massive emphasis on Author Rank and Authorship, Google+ was hailed by many experts as one of the biggest content marketing trends to watch in 2013.
A cursory search on Alexa reveals that Google is #1 in traffic with Google+ comprising more than 8% of their total traffic.
To put that into perspective, Facebook ranks #2. YouTube ranks #3. Twitter ranks #12. LinkedIn ranks #14. Instagram ranks #60.
According to Business Insider May 1, 2013, Google + has now surpassed Twitter, in terms of active users. They report that Google+ now boasts 359 million active users, up 33 percent from 269 million users at the end of June 2012, according to GlobalWebIndex.
The way we behave and act greatly influences social media, but can social media influence the way we behave and act?
More specifically, how are social media channels like Twitter influencing the way we write?
For example, hashtags were originally meant for narrowing Twitter searches to make tweets more easily searchable. Now we hashtag everything from Facebook posts to handwritten notes. Continue reading
Remember the day Burger King became McDonald’s, Jeep became Cadillac, and MTV and BET switched places?
If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you probably already know none of this actually happened – it’s the result of a series of attacks hackers have been unleashing via Twitter.
In a series of Tweets and photos, the temporary hacker management of Jeep’s account said that the company was sold to Cadillac because its employees and CEO were using drugs. Its bio was changed to “The official Twitter handle for the Jeep — Just Empty Every Pocket, sold to Cadillac… In a hood near you!” Continue reading
When was the last time you stopped and really thought about social media? I’m not talking about strategy, or metrics, or the most efficient methods of raising the virality of your posts. Stop thinking like a marketer, or a business owner, and start thinking like a philosopher. In short, stop asking ‘how?’ and start asking ‘why.’ Why do consumers visit Facebook? Why do teenagers, industry influencers, and celebrities devote hours a day to watching text scroll by on Twitter? In most cases, we can safely say that they aren’t there to visit you.
Social media is supposed to be fun, funny, entertaining. America’s businessmen aren’t wasting their workday on Facebook reading about B2B sales opportunities. They’re tending virtual farms. They’re chuckling at the latest Memebase post, or making plans with buddies for after-work drinks. Continue reading
When I was in high school I participated in a focus group about deodorant. I sat in a room with a bunch of girls that I had never met and was asked to share my memories of deodorant and give feedback on the smells that I enjoyed. The most memorable part of the experience was a girl who shared that she began using deodorant after her mother told her that she smelled like, “A meatpacking plant.” Her delivery was excellent – completely straight faced with no hint of emotion. It was the highlight of the focus group, although I’m pretty confident that the company who paid for that focus group did not enjoy it as much as I did.
Now this was “back in the day” (within the past 10 years) but not so far back that I don’t remember how much I was paid. For less than two hours of my time I made $60 and they gave me cookies. There were probably 5-7 girls in the room with me, each of whom were given $60. We were not the only focus group and I can only hope that they got something more than “girls will use deodorant when shamed by their mothers” out of it. But why all of this talk about how much we were paid? ROI, my friends.
Let’s fast forward to the glorious present, where teens tweet, brands want you to like them, and public content is indexed for your searching pleasure. How could that company get better information today? How could they expand their focus group while refining their data, and without paying for every bit of feedback? Two words: social media.
Your focus group is out there, tweeting, posting, and blogging about their deepest darkest desires, offhand thoughts, likes, and dislikes. They’re talking about your industry, your brand, your products, and even your employees. The social media listening tools that are available are incredibly powerful and allow brands to monitor whatever keywords they desire. For the first time, you have an opportunity to get unfiltered feedback, offered up in real time and without prompting.
If you’re reading this with a questioning mind, and I hope you are, you’re probably thinking: “What happens if that deodorant brand wanted to know what got young women between the ages of 13 and 18 to wear deodorant for the first time? Is it possible to move from monitoring to engaging in order to ask specific questions of specific audiences?” (I love it when you ask questions.)
Let’s respond to your questions by asking three questions:
- Does this brand have a Facebook Page?
- Does this brand have the ability to purchase Facebook Ads targeting females between the ages of 13 and 18?
- Does this brand have the ability to build a campaign soliciting stories through a branded landing page?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the brand can take their focus group from 5-7 girls uncomfortably answering questions for money, to thousands of girls answering questions for fun. People will contribute to your market research without expecting payment if you position the ask properly. Less cost, more quality – and high quantities of – information. ROI, my friends.
It’s time to unfocus your focus group.
When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys perusing the internet for mentions of her dog, Emma. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.
Fact: Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year. Millions of dollars are spent on ads to get people in the stores and make them aware of the doorbuster deals.
Using foursquare data publicly shared on Twitter we can get an idea of how well some major retailers did this Black Friday. Users that share their Foursquare check-ins on Twitter are a consistent group and as a result statistical patterns can be established. These same users are also giving away branded impressions at no charge.
The 6 Black Friday pushes that were evaluated using Foursquare check-in data were:
Sports Authority: Sports Authority actually ran a Foursquare promotion, making for an interesting case study. Every hour they were giving away $500 gift cards to their store via Foursquare. They didn’t broadcast it much other than leveraging their database and they didn’t provide many outrageous deals.
The Question: Which retailer had the biggest spike over their average on Black Friday?
The baseline: Which brand got the most check-ins?
This data consists of public check-ins within the 5 days of black Friday. Walmart clearly dominates check-ins, with Target a close second. On the surface level it would appear that Target and Walmart are the big winners.
However environmental effects need to be considered:
- Consumer preference
- Technology proficiency of a consumer group for a given brand
- Average Age of the consumer group and corresponding technographic profile
- Income: can the group afford smart phones/smart phone plans?
- Number of distribution centers
In short we need some more significant data to work with….
The next level: Trending- Were there actually any spikes?
This graph is a little more telling. Clearly, there were spikes by all 6 brands on Black Friday. It is also clear that Walmart averages the most check-ins for this sample group. Finally and most importantly for the purposes this analysis, the samples are fairly consistent. In almost all cases the standard deviation was less than 20% of the mean. Only Macy’s had a Standard Deviation large enough, above 80% of the mean for the 30 days leading up to Black Friday, to create measurement questions/require deeper analysis of outlying data.
This trending graph doesn’t fully explain which brands had the largest percent of success. How much did Walmart or Target actually improve above their daily average on this Black Friday? This graph doesn’t give us that information.
Actual analysis: The mean is an important number statistically, it’s like the foundation of a building. The mean often gives more information about a sample than we care to realize and needs to be expressly included in analysis. Walmart averaged 1305 check-ins shared on Twitter every day for the 30 days leading up to Black Friday, Target averaged 1035, Best Buy averaged 358, Macy’s (adjusted) 238, Gap averaged 86, K-Mart had 76, Sports Authority got 27, and Kohl’s had a very small 14 .
It is important to note that these samples don’t include Black Friday data, which would skew and destroy the sample. As will become apparent later, Black Friday as a set are super-outliers for all brands.
Which brand actually did the best?
It is interesting that Kohl’s was one of the biggest winners. On Black Friday they averaged 31 times their normal standard deviation. I would question the base sample size if no other brands were close to multiplying their standard deviations to that extent. However, Best Buy, who had one of the largest, and most consistent, regular samples sizes had a LARGER multiplication of standard deviation. Again these numbers were very normative when compared to the mean against each other. Kohl’s and Best Buy were within .01% of percentage standard deviation against the mean. Both Kohl’s and Best Buy were within 2% of Target’s and Walmart’s standard deviations compared against the mean. Only Macy’s required further analysis, after which the data falls right in line with Walmart and Target. Macy’s averaged around 15 times a normal standard deviation, when points greater than 2 standard deviations (outliers) were excluded from the sampling.
What does this all really mean?
#1 Apparently this ad worked…
#2 Best Buy is the place to go if you are a tech savvy shopper
#3 Target, Walmart, and Macy’s averaged about 6 times their average check-in traffic on Black Friday. Most likely they had similar foot traffic spikes.
#4 Keeping a store open on Thanksgiving doesn’t generate a tremendous lift. Kmart and Gap both had strong returns, however, both stores were still on the bottom of total Black Friday checkins, and had some of the weakest returns.
#5 A Foursquare promotion doesn’t skew data just because it exists. Sports Authority needed better media support.
Mike Handy has been working in Social Media since Facebook was only for college students. He started his first blog in 1999 when most people were still figuring out this “Internet thing”. These experiences paired with his background in advertising and data-centric approach provide him with a unique view of social media. When he isn’t working he is probably watching, playing, or doing something hockey related.
“The Future” … It’s better than today, full of promise and nobody’s wrong …
“The Future” – who can’t get behind that? And who doesn’t love Mark Hamill from those Comcast Ads?
In the mid-90’s “The Future” for me was what these guys were doing: Lernout & Hauspie. Who didn’t want to stop typing? Who didn’t want to just ask a question and have the answer fed back to them by a robot voice?
In “The Future” we were going to add the word “uber” to the word “access” and skip the whole bandwidth thing. We could buy concert tickets, book flights, get stock quotes, improve customer service, cut costs and jump to production of flying cars through phones that didn’t need fancy displays, or apps, or widgets, or video! Better still, no more buttons like you had to use with those pesky IVR systems. Who wanted to have to push buttons?!
A little optimistic?
Maybe? In the last 15 years, Nuance swept up the assets of L&H along with some other small players and is trading around $25/share. You may be most familiar with Dragon and probably have it on a work station, laptop, or mobile device…
What’s this have to do with QR Codes?
Well it’s Back to “The Future” thanks to this device from Apple. Once again, they packaged up a feature (voice search) in a nice, neat little bundle and gave hipsters a reason to stop typing and start talking … I’m still waiting for my Twitter integrated speech-to-text function because I’m pretty sure birds don’t type when they Tweet, and after all, it’s really about evolutionary regression and that dinosaurs became modern day birds and who doesn’t want to be a dinosaur! Sorry, QR codes…
So, Mr., or Ms. Marketer that decided to put a QR code on the TV screen, or billboard (should have been a #hashtag to begin with, but that’s another conversation) … guess what … turn that funny square into a search term and “let’s get the conversation started” … with Black Eyed Peas music playing in the background. You’re welcome. #songnowstuckinmyheadallday
And somebody get Mark Hamill back in TV ads talking about “The Future!”
Josh Jordan is the president and founder of Make Me Social, a marketing agency that combines traditional and new strategies to enhance an organization’s online presence and importance. Having held leadership positions with several Fortune 500 firms in industries including marketing, advertising, technology and media, Josh has developed new tactics and processes for improving outreach, sharing information and demonstrating subject matter expertise. As a difference-maker in a constantly evolving industry, he has combined the components of his background to create a communications philosophy that can assist non-profit and for-profit clients develop campaigns that deliver measurable results.
Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.
I am a fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). For many, the sport of mixed martial arts is too crazy or too barbaric, but personally, I am a fan. I like the action, competition, techniques and personalities. However, I am also a fan because of the company’s business model and their practice of brand management. The company works hard to grow their fan base, and does so in a practical way that helps attract the type of fans they want to have.
Among their best practices is their method of marketing through the use of Twitter.
As we all know, Twitter has always been head and shoulders above their competition in their ability to help grow an individual’s fame. Ashton Kutcher is of course the original example, but as I wrote about in a previous post, there are a growing number of influential people on Twitter, a majority of which need an avenue like Twitter to share their thoughts, opinions or considerations. People like Conan O’Brien, Chad Ochocinco, Kim Kardashian and others supplement their time on television with tweets that share information with fans when they aren’t / can’t be in front of the camera.
In the UFC, the practice of using Twitter ramped up starting with the company’s President, Dana White. He quickly became notorious for posting from everywhere, including ringside during fights (in an interview with Sports Illustrated, he talks about when he knew Twitter was a powerful tool. It involved a weeknight in 2009, a frozen yogurt store in Manhattan and potential free UFC tickets). From there, the individual fighters quickly started using the medium in order to connect with fans, discuss their training regiment and taunt opponents, but their success was limited because, unlike Dana White, the average fighter would only have matches 2-3 times a year, and therefore didn’t have the means to consistently market themselves through the UFC’s main engine: Television.
However, recently, a small change was made by the company that addressed this problem and also strengthened their fan base and outreach. At live events, the UFC started listing the Twitter handles of each of the fighters when they were being introduced. It was as simple as adding an extra few words on the screen, but the return on investment has been great. Now, fans of particular fighters know how to connect to them, and in turn, these fans stay connected to the UFC everyday and not just on Fight Nights.
The strategy promotes the fighters. It promotes the UFC. Win-Win.
So what can we learn?
Too often, organizations view social media as a complete shift in marketing philosophy when the ideal methodology is to use social media as a supplement and catalyst with what is already working. Is your advertising campaign going strong? Does your eNewsletter have an above-average open rate? Keep going with these, and use social media to supplement, promote and fill in the gaps. Organizations like the UFC have learned to harness social media’s versatility, and combine it with their established techniques to give a richer experience to the fans.
In short, the UFC airs about 30 live events a year, but because of their activity on social media and the way they promote their fighters, fight fans have plenty to do the other 335 days.
Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
No, not “Tweetership”, I said “Twittership”. Now, I know most of you are probably thinking this is some cool new dating service, or possibly one of our best on the Atlantis, well sorry to crush your dreams all you hopeful lovers! Actually, this word really doesn’t exist in a formal sense.
This message is intended for all you soon to be college students (and parents, too). It’s not time to go back to school quite yet, but as some of you are sitting at home this summer or working endless hours at the mall (or working endless hours on your social networking) looking for ways to pay for your college education, I have come across several “Twitterships”, (a real scholarship and all you have to do is use Twitter).
Can you come up with 140-character tweets? If so, you may be able to help cover some or all of your college tuition. For example:
- The University of Iowa is offering a full $37,000 scholarship to the MBA program as part of the application process for the person with the best 140-charcter tweet by July 28th.
- Scholarship.com is running a “Short & Tweet” campaign worth $1,000 to the winner by July 31st.
- CollegeScholarships.org gave out an award for $1,400 for the best tweet highlighting how to use Twitter to improve the world.
- In November 2010, KFC and the Colonel gave out a $20,000 scholarship for tweeting why you deserve a scholarship.
So what’s the conundrum? Show me the money? Not really. The question I really wanted to address is get to the point! Electronic and social media communication is about being timely and relevant, so get to the point … quickly. We need to feed our readers with straight-to-the-point information before it is lost. The end-users feed will only display your message for so long before new and more relevant info gets pulled in. You only have so long for someone to react or interact before they forget, lose interest or do not see your message anymore. Even universities are not ignoring the fact that writing styles and communication patterns are evolving and the typical 1,000-word essay may be a day of the past.
Until next time, keep it short.
Stephen Command is an Account Manager for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses.