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Infographic by InsideView: Social Media – Facts & Figures

It is probably one of the best visuals created on facts and figures around the social web. InsideView put many stats together in one picture such as…

– history of social networks (missing Plaxo though which made me aware of the social networks phenomenon 13 years ago, apart from the leading Asian networks like Tencent/QQ)
– social profiles of the Global Fortune 100
– the world’s most popular brands and their social appearance
– social media reach and usage by country
– the leading B2B social media platforms

News Update – Best of the Day

The new report Social Media and Online PR Report 2010 by Econsultancy and bigmouthmedia shows that 95% of companies have tried Social Media and 40% didn’t really get it. The main findings on tactical use can be taked in this picture…: Facebook. Twitter an Youtube rule.

Marketers and PR people often ask what are the mian pitfalls in B2B blogging. Jeremy Victor has put together a 10-point list which I do fully support…

In the morning I was talking of the revival of the print ad if used with social or mobile elements. AXA insurance just brought it to life the idea with the ned of an iPhone.

B2B study: Content tactics marketers are using

Content in the B2B space continues to be… king. Especially since Social Media conquers the interest of users and consumers, companies have to establish a good content strategy in order to attract the interest of their audience properly.

Junta42 and MarketingProfs, supported by American Business Media and the Business Marketing Association, made a research with over 1,100 North American B2B marketers from different industries and company sizes to understand their thoughts and trends on content topics. The study “B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” is probably the most representative survey about content marketing in the business-to-business (B2B) space for now.

Most companies know the importance of content marketing and make use of it as much as possible. Nine out of 10 organizations market with content. These marketers are using eight content tactics on average. The most popular tactics are social media (excluding blogs) (79%), articles (78%), in-person events (62%) and eNewsletters (61%).

The budgets for content marketing rise. The responding B2B marketers allocate almost 26% of their overall marketing budgets to content marketing initiatives and programs. A good portion, 51% of B2B marketers, plan to increase their spending in content marketing over the next 12 months.

Still, there is no real understanding of how to measure the effectivness of the different tactics. The “confidence gap” is quite large.

Of the 79% of B2B marketers who challenge social media, just 31% of marketers think they use this tactics effectively.

The full study can be downloaded here.

Spot On!
It could be interesting to know who you think produces the most relevant content for the B2B space. Is it the publishers, bloggers, or already the companies themselves with their PR departments? And who will it be in the future? Looking forward to your statements…

Marketers relying more on blogs in the business world

Although Facebook and Twitter are highly rated from internet consumers, blogs are the standard approach for marketers in the business world (b2b).

eMarketer just released a study that states 34% of all US companies are running a public blog. The outlook for 2012 is even more promissing: The study projects an increase by 11 points to a total of 45% by 2012. In 2007 only 16% of companies used a blog for their communication strategy.

“Studies have shown that marketers perceive blogs to have the highest value of any social media in driving site traffic, brand awareness, lead generation and sales—as well as improving customer service.” Paul Verna, senior analyst, eMarketer

Especially smaller companies with less marketing bucks see the potential of blogs. Short sign-of processes, faster internal dynamics and more flexibility in choosing social technology make it easier for a managing director of an SMB company to set up a blog. Larger companies like stock listed companies have more restricted options to go live on WordPress, Blogger or Typepad in terms of potential legal, IR-related and logistical issues.

Though Twitter and Facebook are easier to set up and kick off the conversation with clients, the impact of blogs is manifold. Blog posts are indexable and searchable on Google as well as on other search engines. And blogging has a long-lasting effect. While tweets cannot talk about complex topics and disappear quite quickly from search engines, blog post stay – no matter if you are looking for that information today ot in five years time.

Spot On!
If companies can manage it from a resources perspective, the best way to go forward is to set up many social media access points. The professionals have identified by web analysis and social media monitoring where client engagement takes place and where their clients are talking. In a perfect world, users will find the blog post via Twitter and then use the “Like” button to get to the Facebook page – and ideally find some interesting and relevant content there again. But creating different content for different access points is the biggest challenge…, bigger than writing a blog post. Don’t you think…?

News Update – Best of the Day

The latest Nielsen study makes us believe that email is loosing momentum to social media and games and comes in third place in web usage of the Americans. Not really correct, when you think of email communication being some integral part of games and social networks…

Ever wondered how long a b2b sales cycle from lead generation to sales conversion can be? Marketing Sherpa got the answer by asking over 1.000 B2B marketers… Yes, it takes LONG!

While the experts are still talking about the Old Spice interaction, this Australian campaign for the Cadbury Picnic chocolate bar sounds quite intersting. The audience had to eat a Picnic in a .30 sec commercial break, using mobile phones, webcams and handycams to create their own TV ads and setting it up here. In an Australian first, every single ad that went to air on television (200+) was unique. Naomi made me laugh…

News Update – Best of the Day

The privacy debate in connection with social networking and 2.0 software is sometimes misinterpreted. A new study by researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania shows that younger adults watch their private data, especially when companies want get hold of those data. The key findings are that…
82% of respondents ages 18 to 24…
84% ages 25 to 34…
85% people 65 and older…
refuse to provide information to a company because they thought it was too personal or not necessary.
The study result shows that young adults are clever enough to distinguish between private and private information. They still take care of their privacy in terms of credit card number, passwords, phone numbers, etc. On the other hand, they provide through applications data-entry for millions of companies for free. So, do they really care about their privacy as the headline suggests?

Finding a list of b2b marketing strategy ebooks is a challenge. THX to Jon Miller who created a fantastic list 16 relevant and high-quality ebooks end of last year.

Understanding the power of viral advertising is understanding the power of the social web. Good commercials will stay being a powerful tool in social networks. The brands can only profit from it… no matter if the commercial -like this one from Ford- is four years old. If it is cool, it will be valued good for a long time!

Study: Comparison Twitter vs. Facebook

A recent study by Irbtrax, a SEO Internet Marketing firm, tries to determine which platform is the best fit for a particular business application or niche. So, the results of the study is not saying the one or the other is better, but the results give some good basic orientation for marketeers.

Category 1: Traffic ranking and user metrics
Traffic Ranking US and Global traffic ranking:
Facebook 2 – 7 day average daily time on site by users: 32.2 minutes
Twitter 12 – 7 day average daily time on site by users: 7.8 minutes
Facebook has the lead due to its sheer size, traffic volume, and time on site.

Category 2: Online destination for potential clients in the B2C market
Facebook offers more potential as of the option to include photos, detailed information, multiple outbound links, videos, and other business to consumer apps. The study states it is easier to build a larger network of followers in the shortest amount of time to help market a consumer product or service.

Category 3: Online destination for potential clients in the B2B market
The advantage is on Twitter as it provides more viral marketing flexibility while requiring less followers. Viral Marketing is a core business to business social media application for service recognition and other benefits. Popular industry related tweets are redistributed creating a domino effect even if you don’t have thousands of followers.

Category 4: market research benefits
Again Twitter shows more potential. Its search features can be efficiently used to monitor what people are saying about a company, service, product and competitors. Increasing or declining trends can be tracked effectively as well.

Category 5: internal viral marketing benefits
Facebook is top as it’s much easier to build a larger following. Plus, Facebook ‘wall’ feature is much more interactive than Twitter’s internal communication features.

Category 6: external viral marketing benefits
Twitter offers a greater external internet reach – no front door. Google’s ‘Real Time’ search feature often streams live tweets. A comparison of the number of tweets an independent article/release receives verse the number times they are shared by Facebook accounts appears to strongly favor Twitter.

Category 7: Use of each platform for direct internet communication
Facebook offers an instant message feature which allows you to communicate with other users globally.

Spot On!
The study concludes that in order to maximize your social media marketing results companies ideally create a presence on both. And I am happy that a study mentions this: Which platform a company engages first, or where to spend the most amount of available time or budget depends on your customers!!! Businesses should be checking their web-analytic metrics to apply the findings to your target group, and evaluate the potential and strengths of each platform.

B2B Study: Marketers Strategies and Spendings for 2009

A recent study from Marketing Profs and Forrester Research amongst 300,000 marketing executives and other management professionals, conducted in late 2008, offers insight in the latest b2b marketing strategies, budgets, tactics and attitudes.

The key findings are that marketers have three deeper needs for the future: measuring effectiveness becomes increasingly important (i.e. webinars and search provide great tactical benefit), understanding customers deepest needs and wishes, plus exploring and learning from best practices for daily business implementation is crucial.

The report makes clear that top marketing business decision makers are relying much more on digital marketing tactics. With a high percentage of respondents saying that their company web site (91%) and email activities (81%) are the top media used for their tactics. Still, it is interesting to see that a lot of marketers work with traditional tactics like public relation (72%) and tradeshows/conferences (70%) as very important lead generation tools.

With the increasing importance of web 2.0 and social media platforms and tools for customers, companies are changing their media mix from ‘[more costly] traditional media and toward [less costly] new tactics’. Nevertheless, the marketers knowledge on tactics for the new social media platforms is still in an ‘infancy’ status.

In average, the budgets are still spend in an ‘old-school’ manner with tradeshows/conferences (20%) and TV advertising (18%) leading the marketing mix spending, followed by inside sale/telemarketing (16%) and print advertising (13%) – the leading field only interrupted by one digital marketing activity: direct mail (14%).

Spot On!
The report reflects in some way the economic crisis when the executive summary is talking of reducing spending and focusing efforts on a narrower segment of their target markets. Meaning… the so called ‘watering can’ marketing strategy is vanishing and marketing strategy will be focused much more on the digital ‘1-to-1’ as well as ‘1-to-many’ approach. The real (or potential) customers, their environment and the people influencing them has reached the marketers mind – so social media is not too far away for them to understand, and offers great opportunity to learn much more needs and wishes.

Cost per User – the next digital currency?

The discussion about the best advertising currency is long-lasting. It may never be ending. Still the discussion needs to be continued. The web publishing space had all the options on the table: cpm, cpi, cpc, cpl, cps and so on. And each and everyone of those failed in a way that makes all sides of the publishing and web value chain happy. The only currency that did not seriously come up as a currency ratio in media is cost per user (cpu) although every company follows this metric to evaluate their website costs.

Advertisers love to purchase ‘cheap’ quality space of extraordinary target groups. Platform owners need premium-price compensation models in order to provide high-quality content to their users. The users don’t care. Although they are the stumbling block, the center of attention, in this issue between platform providers and advertising clients. Now that web 2.0 and social media comes into the ‘cpx-game’, everyone gets a chance to rethink digital currency models. What is missing in this discussion is the cost per user model.

A Retrospect on Controlled Circulation
If we go way back to the beginning of this century, there was an interesting discussion about controlled circulation going on in the publishing industry. This discussion indicated that the best value of a medium is the registered or qualified user. Someone who gives away a lot of personal data in order to receive a medium for free. And there were numerous print magazines in the market that do and did controlled circulation. And today? There are hundreds of community-based business models on the web – all of these are to a huge degree controlled circulation orientated. Only a few of these businesses know about it, or see the premium value of controlled circulation media in this advertising space.

Now, what exactly is controlled circulation?
In a lot of meetings with clients, the question came up a thousand times when we explained our old community model. Controlled circulation is a distribution model, usually free of charge, for newspapers and magazines that wanted to have a deeper control of their target group. Thus, controlled circulation magazines offered the ideal targeting of the best quality audience for their advertisers. The benefit was quite obvious if we read the articles here and there. Advertisers spend more money for an ad in the controlled circulation arena than for the classical news-stand magazine. In booking controlled circulation media advertisers know in details what target group get for their money. This premium model could have been applicable to business models on the web. But only a few saw this option and took advantage of the ‘closed’ access door idea.

Why is controlled circulation a winner?
The big benefit of controlled circulation is that non-profit organizations audit the reader database of magazines or web platforms in terms of database quality and quality reach: for print BPA and for web platforms ABC Electronic. Both independent ‘controllers’ double-check in the means of the advertisers what kind of target group quality content providers ‘pretend’ to offer to the advertisers. Advertisers love the audits as there is some reliable data that marketers could show to their bosses or the management team after the sales people had captured the marketing-office for their sales pitches. It needs to be said that the audits were based on projections – only 10-20% of the total database really was tested, but still the quality check was much appreciated by the advertisers.

Controlled circulation and the modern web communities
The question is: Why did the controlled circulation discussion ‘die’? Why was it not carried on as an idea for a premium-priced advertising currency in the web world? Why did the focus on the high-profile individual user registration get lost when there was such a huge benefit for the advertising industry? Did it get killed alongside the top-valued personalization idea which got stepped down by the advertising cpm valuation? Maybe…

Nevertheless, in days where social media, social networking and community-building is exploding, is it not the right time to focus on the value of the registered user in terms of digital currency and critically scrutinize the ‘odd’ cpm valuation? Does not the individual need to be in the center of attention of the modern web 2.0 world? The modern web individual that communicates with companies. The one that reads, comments, blogs, publishes, networks, rates or reviews?

A vision
Just imagine there was a kind of database that all magazines and platform owner have to use who want to earn advertisign dollars. That database is held by a non-profit organization or the government. A system where all users unite, active and inactive web users. Every user could define their most interesting platforms and status of activity which would lead to a cost per user index for each online magazine or web platform, based on consumption intensity of the average user, social networking value of the active user and staying-time frequency of each individual. In the end, the combined data of the website generates a platform coefficient which leads to a cost per user. This is the cost that advertisers want to book, right?

Spot On!
In the modern social media world registration processes become daily business for users. If it was one database as described above, the users would be held responsible. They would be more careful on how to define access and care about their data. From day to day, users get more open minded about showing their data on other media including registering their preferences, interests and hobbies. And platform owners benefit from that. In the future, it will become a state of the art for publishing houses and digital platform owners to have their own web community visible on the side-bar for new visitors. This is a huge success for web platform owners. What could be a better reference if you can show your audience, visual and accessible for everyone with avatar picture that the users upload themselves? Bloggers already use this option to attract more interest. The single user will become the reference for each platform.

So, what if the best targeting measurement of a platform becomes the cost per user (cpu)? If we think about how connected (via Google, Facebook or Yahoo) these platforms are becoming and see all the website and social media metrics we could monitor, the question rises: Is there an option to standardize registration on web platforms and communities plus integrating all the generated data of these platforms into one non-profit system or organization which calculates a cost per user index based on targeting criteria like b2b or b2c and different demographic data? Is Cost per User the next digital currency? The discussion is yours…

The Social Globe – social networks become paid-content

The challenge for social media will remain to find ways to monetize platforms best way. Now, facing Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or any other social- or business network there is probably nothing shorter than their best practice list on monetizing social media business. Still there is banner-, text- or link advertising as the prominent revenue stream. Nobody really finds the right turn for a profitable and successful revenue model.

Now, let’s take a wild ‘think-tank’ approach… Is a business model like the ‘Pay-Per-X’ Murdoch TV business models (i.e. Sky TV) a solution? A company which ties together or combines social networks to a bundle and offers those on a paid subscription basis?

When we started silicon nearly a decade ago as a closed b2b IT community (see picture), social media and web 2.0 did not even have a name or definition. In those days we thought about offering silicon as a paid subscriber community for IT and business decision makers. Obviously the idea was to make our investors and share holders happy ‘asap’ by monetizing the business modell best way. But web days were too young for such an approach, paid content was seen as ‘boo’ and we were fighting against old media that gave ad space away for free in order to save their ‘powerful-print-publisher-position’ in the market. Paid content models were not embraced with open arms by (business) user. The appearance of an evangelist was even worse in the user’s eye. Today every adolescent knows about online communities and their use is paid for by parents. They are about to accepted spending money with their credit card for their children networking.

Surprisingly enough, most of the leading social and business networks as well as any other communities don’t want to touch the monetizing issue ‘premium-subscriber’ or ‘paid communities’. In the past as well as today it is the art of financing social- and business networks not only by revenue streams coming from the classical (banner-) advertising or cpx model because for social networks as well as for any other business counts: profit is a liability. A critical business model is, if users just love but are not willing to pay for it. Nevertheless, investors and the providers need to re-finance the business and ideally make it profitable. Altruism is nice but in our modern common era it does not exist anymore, and in business never did.

So, what if social media platforms were only offered as a subscription model? Let’s give the responsible company the title: The Social Globe. The business area of this company would be defined with the following definition…

The Social Globe is the leading pay-social-media company. The business segment of The Social Globe relies on the credo that pay-social-networks can only be successful as a broad offer of high-quality and exclusive community content. Social networks on subscription basis is the main business of The Social Globe. Furthermore, The Social Globe offers its subscribers an attractive value of business communities, corporate networks, micro-blogging services and so on with the option to subscribe to single- as well as pay-per-use services. The company carries the open networking, markets the lineup of all social networks and provides a world-class service around the planet.

Facebook Connect could be the door opener for this kind of open marketing via The Social Globe for the users (and also solve some security issues). Whoever wants to use social networks in the future has to pay a certain mite per month and intensity of use. These subscriber packages are targeted to business or private user or as topic packages – nice portions with attractive subscription offers and reasonable offers, or as single use offers. Would the users pay one to ten EURO if the social or business network is useful for them? Probably…

If providers and investors of social media platforms want to see reasonable profits they need to make their users pay for the quality platforms they get offered – on a long-tail view, advertising and co-operations are too heavily depending on global and regional fluctuations of marketing budgets and the world-wide economic situation. If the financial situation for social media remains as it is today, a positive view of the future will be a distant prospect. XING did it right when taking 5 EURO from their premium-users – but no other social network seems to be following. OK, XING wanted money from their users from the very start… a clever move!

Nevertheless, other social networks do have to follow if they don’t want to run out of money and face a ‘internet-crash-reloaded’. A big user and interest database -and most of the social networks are nothing more and nothing less in most cases- is nice to have but somebody has to pay for the efforts the providers are offering. Otherwise these business models are worthless, or let’s say, not really of value.

The saying “Free things always hurt!” has it’s rights. The power user will be paying, the ‘normal user’ needs to be made visible that there is a surplus value in social networks. Then this user will be paying as well – or this person will not be of real value for providing the platform. And if ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing works, then friends and peers will be getting this normal user to pay who once unsubscribed as of financial reasons. As this person will not be able to follow the offline conversation if he is not part of the online community. These people will become unpopular, or not…?

Spot On!
The surplus value of a subscriber model for social media platforms is huge and the ‘funding’ as well as the ‘revenue increase’ as well. What value do 140 million users have if the business model will not be flying in the sense of incoming revenues. If The Social Globe just turns 30% of the users of this social network to paid users the providers have 40 mio. EURO more to elaborate an even more powerful platform. Ad and newsletter formats would continue to serve as additional revenue streams but not as the only and leading ones. The Social Globe could tie all together and split revenues according to traffic.

Just utopia or is ‘The Social Globe’ a viable vision?