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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.

Interview: "Social influencers move prospects through the consideration cycle"

Kevin BobowskiIn order to demystify the myth around social influencers, brand fans and brand advocates, we will discuss the topic in the future with different leading marketing specialist of emerging platforms and different cloud marketing providers.

In this first interview The Strategy Web spoke with Kevin Bobowski, Vice-President Marketing at Offerpop, about social influencers, their relevance for brand perception, and how he sees the future of brand advocates.

TSW: Will social influencers and brand fans ever play a role in the sales process of companies?

Kevin Bobowski: Brand advocates and social influencers already play a key role at every stage of the customer journey – often simultaneously. Through sharing branded content and recommending products, they build brand awareness, move prospects through the consideration cycle, and help convert those prospects into customers. Companies must do more to nurture the relationships with influencers and advocates, formalizing their involvement in the buy cycle.

TSW: Why is it so challenging for marketers to find and leverage real brand fans?

Kevin Bobowski: I think that most social marketers have a sense of who their real brand fans are. The challenge is in translating that knowledge into real business value. To do this, social marketers must break out of the “social silo” and play a bigger role in impacting marketing strategy. For example, they might work with email marketers to create campaigns that target brand advocates they’ve identified with exclusive rewards. Their ability to communicate their insights across marketing organizations will have a long-term impact on conversions.

TSW: What is a successful tactic to build a strong database of brand fans?

Kevin Bobowski: Marketers should run consistent, engaging social marketing campaigns. These campaigns build strong, active fan bases, and hit other key goals like email capture and sales. One standout tactic: hashtag campaigns. They incentivize fans to share user-generated content, which deepens their relationships with brands. Many brands promote them through traditional channels like TV, and encourage participation through multiple social networks. This grows their viral reach, leading to fan growth and engagement.

TSW: When is a brand fan converting into a superfans?

Kevin Bobowski: Our definition of a superfan is a customer who consistently shares your content, advocates your brand, and influences others to form relationships with your brand. Marketers should track the interactions, loyalty and influence of their fans, and use those insights to create more targeted, ROI-driven marketing efforts across every channel.

TSW: How does Offerpop help to boost the value of brand advocates?

Kevin Bobowski: Offerpop social campaigns help brands boost the value of brand advocates in a number of ways. Number one, we encourage fans to amplify brand messages (through retweeting, sharing, etc.) Number two, we help brands run campaigns that inspire engagement and brand affinity. Brands use our platform to capture rich data about their fan base, which enables them to cultivate relationships with them through multiple channels, like email, direct mail, etc. And they also help brands capture user-generated content, which brands can choose to showcase in a number of ways. All of these actions help brands deepen relationships with their advocates and increase the virality of their messaging.

TSW: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Kevin Bobowski leads all marketing efforts at the social marketing platform provider Offerpop including branding, product marketing, demand generation and digital marketing. Prior to Offerpop, Kevin was the Vice-President of Product & Solution Marketing at ExactTarget where he was responsible for the strategy and execution of ExactTarget’s go-to-market strategy, demand generation programs and product launches.

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

Big Data Opportunities (Infographic)

We discussed this topic in many panels at dmexco this year, and in the last couple of years I assume not many buzz words have made their way through so many blogs and articles: Big Data. Some see the value of it in measurement and analytics for marketing purposes. Others try to identify new potential and hire Corporate Data Scientists for their web strategy to leverage the potential of unstructured data. And some are still on their way to understand how their data can be embraced to exchange with the data of some partner or even their clients.

The topic Big Data will stay. Just look how much data is generated daily: 2,5 Exabyte. A number that doubles every year according to an infographic the guys from Elexio have put together. It illustrates the potential for companies and how Big Data might generate bigger opportunities in several sectors. Especially, in retail or e-commerce where Big Data let’s brands analyze customer behavior and deliver more personalized messages in order to create an exciting user experience, more engagement, and sure i the end more sales. However, sometimes you wonder if they are doing it right.

As Big Data also let’s us analyze offline data, some clever marketers might combine those with online data to get a clearer view of consumer activity. On the one hand, this might be good as it keeps them from delivering the wrong banner or engagement outdoor advertisement and content to the wrong customer. On the other hand, there might be people arguing that Big Data is still in its infancy as long as companies cannot extract critical and unstructured data from the valuable data that creates a new customer journey experience.

The main challenge will be how we bring Big Data and security together in the future. Consumers get stressed these days as they realize that promotion banners and branded content are following them across channels – with products and services which are often not wanted, or already bought. But how can companies deliver a seamless customer experience? How can they make use of Big Data that boosts their lead generation or sales numbers while still showing careful approach that consumers appreciate?

With all the social media sharing and curating of content via social networks and their buttons, does it really make sense talking about Big Data and security? Or, do we need organizations that audit how companies handle customer data? What rules do companies and brands need to obey to enable a social and secure shopping experience? Many questions that we will discuss on a panel at the ChapmanBlack “Future of Digital” event in Berlin next week. Sure, I will change those afterwards…

Please find the infographic of Elexio with latest insights into the new opportunities that Big Data can offer to brands and companies.

Big Data Infographic Cloud

My quote of the year 2013 – Social Media, Social Networks and Social Business

Credits: © Mirma - Fotolia.com

Credits: © Mirma – Fotolia.com

In 2010, I started pinning down my main message to companies and their C-level managers in one quote. Thereafter, different quotes evolved which I collected in the vision area of the “About” page.

The value of such a quote is for some managers marginal and for others massive when using it to explain the transformation of the business into a digital community-centric company or brand. Take it for what it is, and for what it’s worth for you, or let’s discuss it.

For this year the quote will be about social business strategy…

“Social Networking is business intend. Social Media is business duty. Social Business is business freestyle.”

Just before you start asking… By “business freestlye”, I address all departments in your company (like marketing, sales, customer service, HR, or other) that are responsible for planning, using, handling, and organizing the business tactics and strategy around the brand, product line or service offering of business relevance.

Some facts that might be interesting for each one of those..
Social Networks – Which are growing fastest?
Social Media – Facts, Figures and Stats 2013
Social Business – Some Facts 2013

PS: If you do it right, your workforce will freak out like the guy in this post. Believe me…!

Target-group men: 10 Stats for better marketing

Obviously, there is a difference when targeting men and women. Their purchase behaviour differs in many ways. Who is searching more for coupons, bargains or the latest gadets? According to a report by Microsoft, marketers should have an eye on the right mix between banner advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) tactics in order to address and find men at the right time with the right content in the right context.

Many men, especially young dads (between 25 to 40 years), are influenced by the impact of social networks, according to the report by Performics which we reported quite a while ago. Interestingly enough, 58% of them use four or more sources for their purchase decision. Utilizing social media with story-telling about products and services will make the appropriate impact on men, will give them insights on how companies and brands against their competitors.

Check the infographic published by Brian Honigman and have the 10 stats in mind for the next marketing campaign or tactics when addressing the male audience when your business wants to influence the purchase behavior of men.

PS: If you are interested to see the difference to women, you might have a look at the latest Blogher study here

Target-Men-Marketing-2013

Facebook/IDC study finds, email top activity on smartphones

Some say, email is a dead media, some know it is not. At least not on smartphones in the U.S… For American adults email is still the most common activity on smartphones. In the second place comes Web browsing, closely followed by using Facebook. This is the result of the “Always Connected” study from IDC. The study is based on feedback from more than 7,400 iPhone and Android users between 18 and 44 years old.

IDC Facebook Email top 2013These are the main findings of the study….
– 78% check email on smartphones
– 73% browse websites
– 70% using Facebook in some way
– 131 minutes per day communicating on their smartphones
– about 33 minutes of the above are spend on Facebook.

Now, it has to be mentioned that the study was sponsored by Facebook. The study supports the fact how important Facebook is for the communication via smartphones. It also makes clear how much time users of social networks spend their daily time when they are out on the streets, at work, at shopping or following sports activities. Obviously, most of the time is spend on Facebook – in eight different activities, people responded that they are almost 4-5 times more likely to be on Facebook than using Twitter or LinkedIn.

IDC Facebook Facebook Twitter LinkedIn comparison 2013

Spot On!
The value of the study can in some way put into question, although we have seen many studies in the last years that demonstrate the importance of direct one-to-one communication on Facebook and the mobile use of Facebook. Another study by Localeze/15miles/comScore Local Search found that not email but search is the main activity of the mobile users. However, the approach of the study was different. It looked at people not only in the 18-44 years range and it proved the use of smartphones and tablets. there must be a reason why Facebook sponsored this study. I would not be surprised if they will publish some new mobile advertising opportunities soon.

Hey, Lufthansa! Not interested in Frequent Travellers?

SkyThere were days when I thought it is better to stay out of the discussions around the changed terms and conditions for Frequent Travellers and lounge access. A long time did my trips hit the airports with the lounges where Lufthansa still values the status of a Frequent Traveller (FTL) as a “superior customer”. “Acces granted for FTL passengers!”

Now, in just some weeks it happened to me twice that I got the answer: “Access denied for FTL passengers!” I think, it is time to write some words in order to give Lufthansa the chance to reply to all the clutter that goes live on the Web. So, Lufthansa – please listen up.

Amsterdam Schiphol and London Heathrow! In both airports Lufthansa cancelled their contracts with the lounge partners for FTL passengers. However, there are rumours going on that in 2014 when the new Terminal 2 opens, that situation might change. True? Wrong? We don’t know! Lufthansa, is not monitoring or listening it seems.

The lounge access topic might have some financial background. Still, I wonder if Lufthansa knows what kind of economical impact this might cause. Lufthansa, do you believe in the power of Social Media? Seeing your massive activities on social networks I assume you do. But, why do you not answer the conversation that is led by some link in position 1 on Google for the quest: “Lufthansa FTL London Heathrow”? Doesn’t that show how much Lufthansa values FTL passengers? Sorry, Lufthansa! In my eyes, you want to get rid of the FTL status. Correct…?

And let me give you another reason why I believe that. I am just illustrating briefly the situation of a business man traveling around Europe quite often, and in my eyes approx. 50 times is often.

If I am allowed to have access to the lounge, I don’t lose time. Time is money, is efficiency, is essential for doing my business. Access means: No need to find a quite and comfortable place, buy my drinks and food, or ask myself why I pay your Bought Media. Lufthansa, understand that FTL passengers think about the benefit of paying you the extra thousand year-on-year to get to that status?

Amsterdam, London, or anywhere else. The lounge is the main value for FTL passengers to continue flying more often with you than with other airlines. No access to the lounge means, I will fly i.e. British Airways, one of you biggest competitors for the UK region. And there are many obvious reasons for this i.e. in London Heathrow: Cheaper flights, newer terminal, nice gates, better shops with more popular brands, a Fish restaurant, and, and, and… Do I have to continue the list? No? Thank you, Lufthansa, for making my time efficient and my critic spot on. That’s what I want you to understand!

In the end, the “lounge-access-thing” is just a numbers game. I doubt that your stakeholders at Lufthansa is good in understanding how to scale the business. Sorry Lufthansa, but I doubt you are clear about the long-term effect this “multi-level-lounge-access-nonse” might cause. Why? Let me tell you what happens, if I don’t have access to the lounge. Quite frankly…

No revenue for Lufthansa
250,- EUR
Revenue for BA:
170,- EUR
(without tax, petrol & stuff – average deal, booked early in advance, etc.)
Personal or Company Win: 80,- EUR
Result: Me or the company can safe money or be drunk & data addicted (ok, I am…), if I spend that on a bar at the gates in Heathrow!

I don’t believe the lounge rent, my two drinks and one sandwich costs those 80 EUR, right? So, not granting access to lounges for FTL passengers on different airport makes me think whether…
a) Lufthansa is testing whether you kill the FTL status.
b) Lufthansa doesn’t appreciate the money of Frequent Travellers.
c) Lufthansa has not made their business homework.
Lufthansa, please tick!

Taken it from an Earned and Owned Media perspective, I would suggest you know how often people fly with you, how much you could do with that, how you could engage on networks, how this would catalyse your brand perception, what that would do with people usually flying some oither airline, how this scales in sales. If not, contact The Strategy Web and we will tell you how Social Media scales your business, Lufthansa, predominantly if it comes along in a positive way.

Did I make the benefit of lounge access clear to you, Lufthansa? Next time I am flying, I will make sure I get my travel assistant check the lounge access before booking the flight. I cannot believe you are not interested in our business (feeding you), our needs (scaling your business) and our money (enabling acceleration and growth)?!

Gimme some arguments why I shall still fly with you when I am busy…??? Come on, Lufthansa!

Buyral Spoof: How to make a video go viral with a professional clicking agency

Often we do get asked how to make a video go viral. Well, ehre is the answer… This Buyral video shows brand and companies how they make their videos go around the world of social networks. I am sure you all will love it! And here is our advice: Don’t take this video done by St. John too serious and don’t trust every agency that will tell you they know how to get your brands latest promotion to go viral. Maybe they also have some professionals with a fast finger clicking they videos like we assumed some straneg agencies were clicking banners years ago.

Study: Largest global corporates get over 10 million mentions a month; Twitter rocks, YouTube grows massively

Companies in the Fortune Global 100 get a total of 10,400,132 online mentions in a month. Twitter is the catalyst for them as it generates the majority of these mentions. However, YouTube is the rising star this year. This is the main findings of the third annual Burson-Marsteller Global Social Media Check-Up, which also includes new data provided by Visible Technologies.

The study states that the majority of the big corporates (87%) are using at least one of the major social platforms. The main growth can be seen at YouTube with 79% of companies now using a branded YouTube channel (57% in 2011). The average performance figures showed more than two million views and 1,669 subscribers. The development is illustrating the importance of integrating original multimedia content that can be shared on the social networks.

Twitter is still the rock-star among the popular social networks in terms of corporate usage. 82% of Fortune Global 100 companies have at least one Twitter account with an average mention of 55,970 times on the 140 character platform. The importance of Twitter ca be seen in the fact that stakeholders are following global companies closely.

Compared to 2011, the average number of followers per corporate Twitter account almost tripled to 14,709 from 5,076. On Facebook, the average number of likes per company page has increased by 275% in two years to 152,646 likes this year.

“People want to interact and connect with these major companies, and these platforms are the bridge directly to the heart of these organizations. What’s even more impressive is how much companies are engaging back with followers. Seventy-nine percent of corporate accounts attempt to engage on Twitter with retweets and @-mentions, and 70 percent of corporate Facebook pages are responding to comments on their walls and timelines.”
Burson-Marsteller, Chief Global Digital Strategist, Dallas Lawrence

Some more findings of the study…

– Fortune Global 100 companies have an average of accounts of: 10.4 Facebook pages, 10.1 Twitter accounts, 8.1 YouTube channels, 2.6 Google Plus pages and 2.0 Pinterest accounts.
– 74% of companies have a Facebook page
– 93% of corporate Facebook get weekly updates
– 48% have joined Google Plus
– 25% are on Pinterest

And whatever else you might want to know about the Top Global 100 you can find here, or within their infographic….