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Ratings, Retweets, Repins & Likes: Automated response creators = killers of insight creation?

twitterview-2Some years ago, I have written about the Retweet button being the “killer of positive blog comments”. Over the years in many seminars and speeches, I have stressed the point that the ROI of the social web is not about generating high quantity in “thumbs up” on Facebook or Retweets on Twitter, or anything automated that comes along with similar meaning.

Retweets, Repins & Co. are only of value for your business, if…
– you accept those automated response generators as the pillars of your ROI system.
– you are a marketer who builds their business on proving the capability of accelerating reach rather than relevance.
– you are a brand that struggles to understood the value of building a community-centric business.
Still: Are ratings as insightful as a written comment – be it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other community platform out there in the social web?

Yesterday, it became public through a post on TechCrunch that Facebook is testing out a system of openly displaying star-ratings on Pages. Will this be another killer of value creation?

I definitely agree that the Facebook “Like” has become confusing, and in some way worthless. Many users just click on the Like button out of a pure and immediate emotion, nothing sustainable, lasting or resilient. Some are expressing their solidarity with it. Some are missing the dislike button, and click the Like button.

Do those automated responses tell us what they really feel? Do they tell us what people really think? Do they help us to evaluate our position? Fair enough, these automated response creators are some word-of-mouth catalysts. Well, I admit by adding these five star ratings, there is at least some specification in the differentiation of generating feedback.

Obviously, the new rating system puts Facebook in a different position and moves it more to the likes of Foursquare, Yelp and traditional trend shop systems. Furthermore, it allows users to be more concrete in defining their opinions. Users might get better orientation in why a coffee shop or a business or restaurant deserves to be tested.

Spotted by TechCrunch

Spotted by TechCrunch

But does it really help us? What is a 4.2 with twelve votes compared to a 4.9 what two people have build up? Do we know who gave the votings, and if these people have the same interest and preferences that we have got? Doesn’t orientation get even more confusing? What will we book on travel websites when there are less and less reviews and recommendations?

Spot On!
The 3 Rs of the social customer (ratings, reviews and recommendations) might make our lives interesting and exciting for new stuff. But maybe there is too much new trends and products out there to get our heads around. Maybe a real review or recommendation will sometimes help (one positive and one negative like Amazon does it already). Still, automated feedbacks -be it stars, RTs, Likes, etc.- are the least valuable insight creation generators on a relevance scale that helps defining internal and external social web ROI.

PS: If your managers are still happy when your numbers of Likes go up, be happy and tell them nothing about this post. If not, let’s discuss further how social networks should constitute in order to deliver deeper insights in the mindset of our customers.

Rise of Social Media as a Profession (Infographic)

When I started my blog some years ago, people in my industry were shaking their heads and wondered what the benefit was to be a “social media professional”. Some asked why I was wasting time on social networks like Twitter, Facebook & Co., and what the ROI is in writing blog posts and then sharing them. Some wondered how I managed to stay on top of the main trends and developments in the “social web” world. Well, time is passing by and people start to be getting answers.

In the last years, many companies have thought about hiring a social media specialist, or have even given it a proper job description. Still last year, we went into companies and found some young interim or part-time freelancer being responsible for the feedback on the 3R’s (ratings, reviews and recommendations!) of their own social customer. Often these people earned nothing but a smile from their colleagues.

These days seem to change. Can it be that companies understand the value of engaging with their customers on the social web – the place where they not only spend a lot of their spare time? They actually do marketing, sales, customer service, employer branding and much more for companies and brands. Some companies still have not understood though…

Now, the social marketing platform Offerpop has created a nice infographic based on data from LinkedIn that shows a staggering 1,357% increase in social media jobs posted on LinkedIn in the last three years.

Rise-of-Social-Media-Profession

5% of negative online reviews are deceptive, finds MIT study

© carlos castilla - Fotolia.com

© carlos castilla – Fotolia.com

We all know that ratings, reviews and recommendations -the 3 R’s of the social consumer- rule the modern world of shopping and our daily customer journeys. When we are trying to figure out the coolest holiday hotel, the latest gadget or the cheapest flights, people tend to rely on what online reviews tell them before purchasing whatever they are longing for. Online reviews make a big impact on our life and happiness, and turn the customer journey into a big secret. Nielsen and Forrester have shown in their studies how we find trust in brands and products, and reviews play a significant role in the purchase decision-making processs.

But what if reviews are simply wrong, or bought from people that don’t flag these reviews as hidden content marketing derivates? Years ago, we might have asked our friends or close people where to go for dinner, what music tape to buy, or which book to read, we now just go online and read what some foreigner might have said. No matter which mentality this person has, which preferences, which background, which age and gender. The 3 Rs make our decisions easier, we think.

Although we might have all guessed it, the proof of wrong online reviews now comes with a study from the MIT and Northwestern University that examined over 400,000 reviews in 6 months. The study states that many reviews were simply deceptive, untrue or even written by people who never tested or bought the product or service. In 5% of all negative reviews people get paid to hype products. Most of these people are writing bad and often untrue reviews but are actually newcomer to the business they are talking about. 

The good part of this study is that the study offer some advice for us and tells us how to detect deceptive story-telling.

“What is most compelling is most reviews tend to be too detailed. Another easy clue look for is repeated use of exclamation points. Two, three or four for emphasis, is often associated with deception,” Eric Anderson, Northwestern University Professor and co-author of the study said. “At the end (of the study) we concluded that many of the negative reviews came from customers who were trying to act as self proclaimed appointed brand managers.” Anderson summed up.

Spot On!
However, many reviews might be untrue or bought, it is probably a good way to try to understand what negative reviews are basically saying and balance it against positive reviews. Seeing the positive reviews makes us get out of the bad tonality which often is simply based on anger and frustration around bad services and untrue or bought reviews. And the more people are trying to dive deeper into the intention and personality of the reviews, the faster they might detect if the review is deceptive.

“Really what you have to do is read a lot of them. Don’t just read the 2 or 3 negative ones which may or may not be real–read alot of the reviews.” Ken Bernhardt, former Professor of Marketing, Georgia State University

Nielsen study: People trust in peoples' word of mouth

Now, I have used this Nielsen graphic in seminars and conferences for two years and always wondered when the next study is going to be published.

Finally today, I came across the latest Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report. And again, the results are similar to what they where back in 2009. People still don’t trust advertising. Well, let’s say… at least not as much as they trust recommendations from people they know like friends, family and peers. However, it is still somehow scary to bear in mind that people trust consumer opinions expressed online… very often without verifying who say what in which scenario and which stage of life.

According to the Nielsen findings, which surveyed over 28,000 Internet people in 56 countries, 92% of the respondents said they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. This equals an increase of 18% compared to 2007. Consumer opinions posted online come in at the second place of most trusted source. Of the consumers surveyed globally, 70% indicated they trust messages from online platforms. This makes up an increase by 15% in the last four years.

Publishing houses and platforms still get a lot of trust from their users. Editorial content (58%) finished in the thread place, just before branded websites (58%), and opt-in emails (50%). The traditional platforms for advertising like print, television, and radio are significantly lower from a trust point of view. The drop in value since 2009 goes down by 24%.

Spot On!
The results show the importance of content marketing carrying the truth about your company, brand or products. Openness, authenticity and transparency are still rated very high amongst your customers. They want to “know what they get”. They want to engage with you but also being told the truth if there is something bad or uncertain to say about brands and their development. And above all they want you to respond to their input. They want you to give them some attention, some feedback, some credit for the time they spend. Then you will earn their trust, and then they will share your voice.

Sales and Social Media? Feedback is the key!

We have heard that 1 in 3 of the younger generation will their online shopping via their mobile phones. Now, another study shows the power of recommendations around the holiday season. Mr. Youth did some research among 4.500 shoppers and found how Social Media could become the game changer in Christmas shopping in 2011.

Some key findings… and marketers better listen up now!

– 80% of Social Media users who received feedback did a purchase afterwards
– 66% of Black Friday sales were a result of Social Media interactions
– 52% of Social Media users are willing to pay more for brands they trust
– 36% of Social Media users trust brands that have a Social Media presence

How about you? Are you relying on your friends, fans and followers recommendations this holiday season?

Study shows: Customers are social, Brands not…!

The IT company IBM were the first to make brands aware of the perception gap between what customers want from brands on Social Media, and what companies see as necessary. Some new studies from the Chief Marketing Officer Council and Lithium make clear that this perception gap widens.

What customers want…
The CMO Council asked 1,300 customers from around the world in a multiple-choice study. They discovered that 67% followed or liked brands to receive discounts and special offers. 65% replied that they connected with brands in order to get access to games or competitions while 60% want to connect with other customers.

What brands see…
The astonishing fact is that when the same survey was held with 120 CMOs (chief marketing officer), the results showed similar figures with the IBM study: Only 33% of the CMOs believed that their Social Media fans and followers were engaging with the brand for some kind of incentive or reward. Even more, just 27% understood that their customers were after exclusivity in terms of experience and savings.

Spot On!
Social Media is not a top three priority for one in ten CMOs. The reason is not changing for years probably. 67% said a lack of time and resources makes up for their poor efforts. This is even more amazing when we consider that 72% of the customers use Social Media to connect with brands. AND: 80% are more likely to try a product based on a friend’s recommendation on Social Media, which probably means a Social Network. There is no explanation that could make sense for this Social Media ROI (=Risk of Ignorance).

PS: This little infographic illustrates the digital divide between customers and brands.

Study: Users „like“ brands for deals, discounts and coupons

Harald Wanetschka / pixelio.de

While Vitrue just found out how to get more “Likes” and engagement on mobiles, another new study by Nielsen/McKinsey’s NM Incite shows what the real value of “Likes” is. Although many brand marketers are working on the ROI, most companies still try to find some more value in the social engagement of consumers.

The Nielsen/McKinsey’s NM Incite global online consumers’ research states that the main reason for following or liking a brand or company on social networks is to receive discounts and special offers.
“While some may argue that consumers’ interest in discounts has faded, Nielsen data shows the desire for deals is still strong worldwide,” concluded NM Incite.

The results correspond with the study by ExactTarget and CoTweet from last year. The former study made clear that 40% of brand fans like a page predominantly for their doscounts and promotions.

The new NM Incite finds even higher figures. Almost 60% of US social media users visit social networks to receive coupons or promotions. And even more, 23% do this on a weekly basis. 45% of North American consumers had the strongest interest in using social media for deals, followed by consumers in Asia-Pacific (34%) and Latin America (33%).

Social deals hunters “Like” at home and at workplace
For most people it does not matter whether they are at home or at their workplace when using the benefits of the Social Web. A sample of ten major markets shows that nearly 40% of active Web users check coupons and rewards sites such as Groupon, Coupons.com and Living Social from home and work computers in September. However, there are respondents -under the age of 20 and 55- to-59-year-olds- who were less likely to follow brands for discounts. Here friends’ recommendations are the drivers for social engagement.

Spot On!
“Social deal hunters” are obviously also visitors of social networks and blogs. NM Incite found a strong overlap. In their test phase in September, 43% of visitors to social networks and blogs also visited a coupons or rewards site. And, 44% of Facebook’s audience and 63% of Twitter’s audience visited these deal sites. The study concludes that Facebook becomes a key source of traffic to Groupon and Living Social. Groupon’s and Living Social’s visitors came directly from Facebook. This also shows the link between deals and social networking sites, and how companies can motivate consumers to deals.

News Update – Best of the Day

About a year ago, a Robert Hall study showed that 55% of CIOs don’t allow the access to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. This year’s study shows that the IT policies are changing to stricter guidelines…
– 38% have implemented stricter social networking policies regarding personal use of social media sites
– 15% have become stricter regarding business use
– 17% have become more lenient

Strategy& published its “Marketing Media Ecosystem 2010” report which sees a significant necessary change away from a “traditional marketer/client – agency – media company structure” to an economy that needs to change the pace of adopting new marketing tools towards a new marketer to end user relationship.

The key findings show the relevance of reference marketing…
– 88% agree the speed of marketing execution will become more important due to digital
– 80% believe insights into consumer’s digital behavior and related targeting will become more important
– 55% of users see consumer recommendation more important than pur brand knowledge
– 59% lack sufficient experience with digital/online media
– 51% do not have adequate senior support for digital

This commercial from Jack Rabbit Beer might be made for male humor. But it is more the chronology of the narrative time that makes it funny.

News Update – Best of the Day

– Niemand will 404-Seiten sehen, schon gar nicht im Business. Wer aber kreativ ist, kann damit auch sein Business-Image aufpolieren. Und jede Wette, dass Sie die nachfolgenden 404’s sehen wollen…?

Unter einer herrlichen Liste lustiger 404 Seiten… nehmen wir zwei heraus und danken dem Kollegen, der die North Face 404 an uns weitergab – ergibt wiedermal 3 ‘Top 404’.

– European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) bringt Neuigkeiten zur europäischen Online-Nutzung in aktueller Studie: Online wird ein Teil des täglichen Lifestyles. Aus Perspektive des Business interessant…

When researching or considering a product or service, 64% of European internet users consider personal recommendations important, with websites of well-known brands (49%) and both online customer (46%) and expert (45%) reviews following closely, showing that internet users are increasingly using both online as well as personal recommendations to make purchase decisions.”

– Das Monetarisierungsproblem hat Twitter kürzlich noch den Verkauf an Facebook gekostet. Nun reagiert der CEO des Micro-Blogging Dienstes, Evan Williams, und tritt die PR-Maschine los. Doch über die Monetarisierungs-Strategie lässt er nichts raus – nur, daß bald Umsätze fließen sollen. Zu lesen auf CNET, wo die Leser 11 Business Modelle voten können.