Social is the New Search

Advertising Sources Consumers Trust

Some SEO experts are now noticing  more traffic is coming to their client’s site from content and links posted in social networks than from Google search. This is a massive behavioral change but one that’s been a long time in coming. It’s being driven by two factors:

1) Search results are still not all that relevant. There’s a lot of junk in organic search, especially when it comes to the search for information and often it takes multiple operations to get to relevant information.  At least that’s my experience. How about you?

2) Consumers and business decision-makers consistently site their friends and colleagues as the number one source of trusted information on products and services. Followed right behind this is ratings and user comments posted online. Brands can run but they can no longer hide behind advertising. If some aspect of your brand experience is off, you will be found out.

An interesting study by virtue on the effectiveness of Facebook posts for brands take this insight about driving brand experience via social media to a deeper level. As they point our in the introduction to “Managing Your Facebook Community”, for the three month period August through October 2010, Facebook reached 35% of the total internet population. Average usage is up to 55-minutes per day. But, like managing the content for a radio station or a cable channel or magazine, although it may be apparent when and how people are using Facebook, the “why” can remain elusive.

The two white paper’s developed look interesting. Both are included here for your downloading pleasure.

The Anatomy of a Facebook Post



Infographic: How Android Is Taking Over

Cool infographic from Gigaom, showing how Android is taking over the world. Imagine how this impacts the world of virtual goods and social gaming, a topic I posted about earlier, here.

Android is taking over

via Infographic: How Android Is Taking Over.

Mobile Virtual Goods Generate 4X More Revenue Than Ads

There’s gold in them ‘thar hills of virtual stuff. According to data from analytics firm Flurry, mobile virtual goods are hot. So hot, in fact, they’re far surpassing the revenue generated from mobile advertising.

The study, conducted using data collected from leading iOS social networking and social gaming apps, shows that in September of ’09, out of close to every $2 of mobile revenue… either advertising or virtual goods…over 2/3rds went to advertising. Just one year later, not only has the amount of revenue grown significantly, the amount going to virtual goods…swords, gold coins, respect points or plum trees for farm plots…has shifted dramatically to where virtual goods now account for $8 of every $9 in revenue. And, because Google’s Android Market does not yet support in-app purchases or micro-transactions, the data doesn’t include users from this rapidly expanding platform.

Virtual goods sales were already going gang busters on social sites like Facebook. Michael Pachter, Wedbush Morgan Securities video game analyst, reports that social gaming revenue has grown from approximately $600 million in 2008 to $1 billion in 2009. Further, he forecasts that social gaming will generate nearly $1.6 billion this year, and grow to more than $4 billion by 2013. That’s a lot of quarters for plum trees on your Farmville farm.

The convergence of social and games will continue to expand their reach into our lives. In fact, social gaming is reaching a tipping point and with Wal-Mart and Verizon now selling iPads, the size of social gaming’s audience will quickly surpass prime time television viewership.

For marketers, this sweeping technology, entertainment and behavioral change represents tremendous opportunity to create highly engaging content built around the core premise of your brand, then invite consumers into a branded experience that extends far beyond your physical product or service. In fact, maybe it’s time to start thinking beyond the five “P’s” when it comes to marketing. Maybe it’s time to add a “V”. Seems plausible doesn’t it…the brand manager of the new realities has to think about Product, Price, Place, Promotion and Virtual. Can you imagine what a virtual version of your brand or brand experience would be, could be? If not, you should start dreaming. There’s money to be made for the imaginative mind.

Time To Decouple Digital Marketing from Corporate IT

According to Chief Marketer, there’s tension between the CMO and the CIO in today’s corporate environment as marketing struggles to get things done in a new world that demands anytime/anywhere content while the corporate IT infrastructure was designed to handle things like files sizes below 1MB and such. Social media, large video files, real time interaction…who every foresaw these things five years ago? Well duh!

Like everything else in life, the digital evolution is upsetting the apple cart in corporate land. All the nice little sandboxes are having wild animals poop in them and kids from other playgrounds throw sand and remove the sand and do all kinds of other things the sandbox was never designed to do and all the while, what once was such a well-defined playground that now look more like chaos.

What must change here? How about corporate land? How about abandoning those nice little defined kingdoms everyone’s grown so accustomed to and learning to live with uncertainty like all of humanity does when it leaves the office?

See, corporate entities are really just collections of people anyway. It’s really ridiculous to assume we could have such order and control over things when in fact we don’t. It’s just that digital realities have now stripped off the pretense. We all now know we’re not in control. And that’s a good place to be.

It’s time for corporate marketing to assert their intention to move marketing to a separate platform from the IT infrastructure if IT won’t adapt. Because the risk aversion is killing sales and marketing efforts. The sooner companies wake up to this, the sooner they can work out their survival plans. Or not.

Like everything else the digital revolution has changed, there’s no going back. Business, like life, is unpredictable. Get used to it.

CMO, CIO Divide Leaves Strategy In No Man’s Land.

Social Network Content Creation Has Plateaued

Forrester, the research company that some claim started to whole social media marketing frenzy a couple years ago with the publication of “Groundswell” and their social technographics profiling research and tool, just released their 2010 social technographic global tracking data. This post from Mashable summarizes the $500 research report.

The social technographic profile research categorizes online behaviors into seven activities, none of which are mutually exclusive: Creators, Conversationalists, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators and Inactives. Based on their most recent findings, although social network joining continues to grow in the U.S. and globally, the number of people actually creating content has plateaued. No real surprise here.

There’s always been far more people willing to stand in line for the Saturday night movie than to actually script, film, edit, score and distribute it. Or write a book. Or an article. Or, you name it.

Face it, it takes a lot of work to create content and ultimately, you have to have a passion driving you or you’re just going to give up to the path of least resistance. So, although digital tools and distribution have eliminated the cost and professional training requirements once inherent in content production and the internet has made distribution free, there’s still that matter of time and talent.

At the end of the day, time is the one thing that’s perishable. You can always make more money. You cannot make more time. And, while if you don’t possess the talent, there’s a certain truth to being able to fake it til you make it, that only goes so far. Look at Paris Hilton. She doesn’t really possess any discernible talent and her shine for just being famous is wearing thin.

Ultimately, the talent pool is not just limited on the creation side of the equation. It’s also limited on the attention side.  This is why there has always been and always will be a limit on the number of Steven Spielbergs, Stephen Kings, John Mayers, Tom Hanks and other creative talents the world can pay attention to.  While there may be many talented performing artists and content creators in the world, we can only give so many individuals our undivided attention for so long.

Top 5 Emerging Brand Trends on Facebook

This was an excellent and comprehensive Mashable overview of the five major trends brands are using to connect, transact and serve customers on Facebook. There’s some very impressive innovation going on in the space, lead by some very big brands like Ford and Nike. What have you seen brands doing on Facebook that impresses you?

Study: Unhappy Customers Prefer Apologies To Cash

Here’s some interesting research you can put to work in your customer service efforts. According to a recent article on what customers want when they have a bad customer experience is…a good, old fashioned apology. Researchers worked with a large eBay seller (10,000+ sales a month) and offered different customers who left negative feedback one of two exclusive options to reconsider their complaint:

1. $4 to $8 to retract

2. An apology

Forty-five percent of participants offered an apology withdrew their complaint while only 23% of participants offered cash withdrew their complaint.

Now, it’s important to keep in mind, it’s not just what you do that matters. It’s also HOW you do it. An automated “robo apology” is not going to cut it. Their suggestions?

  • Reach out and touch someone…use the phone when possible.
  • If you have to use email, sign it from a real person, with a title and real email address they can respond back to.
  • Don’t use a form letter. Make the reply real, short and sincere.

The bottom line is, people expect an automated response and a useless excuse when complaining to a giant company. You stand out from the crowd when you treat your customers like people instead of numbers and costs.

And, remember, each of your customers has a Facebook or Twitter account, a blog, a mobile phone with plenty of social connected apps. Unlike past eras, when customers fumed in silence, today if they don’t like something, they have the power to broadcast their displeasure to the world, which also can show up every time someone searches on your company or brand. Try to put the impact of negative brand equity on your balance sheet.

How a $1,000 Spend on FourSquare Netted McDonalds a 33% Increase in Traffic.

Mashable reports that a FourSquare promotion McDonalds conducted in April got the fast food monster a 33% one day traffic increase…just by giving patrons a chance to win gift certificates by checking in on FourSquare. Pretty impressive, especially considering the chains customers are pre-teens, teens and busy moms. I’d say most men abandon McDonalds when they acquire a taste for real meat. I haven’t been in a McDonalds in months and I try never to eat there. Still, impressive that such a massive mass media consumer is experimenting with cutting-edge social techniques. And, good to see the promotions are working, even with such a relatively small installed base (FourSquare has just over 3 million users, according to this Mashable post). Look for location-based marketing to increase…and with it, location based spam…just like in the movie, Minority Report, where the Tom Cruise character is bombarded with useless pitches as he strolls through a shopping mall.

Seven Important Social Media Trends For The Next Year

Helpful post from The Next Web on Seven Important Social Media Trends for the coming year. Anything not on this list you think should be there? I’d replace “Branded Content” with “Content Marketing”. It may mean the same thing to people but words matter and the difference between shoving branding stuff at people and being consumer-centric in your content marketing efforts can make the difference between return on investment and being ignored.