Archive for “May, 2012”

Pinterest for B2Bs – It's Possible!

Kirsten McNeill is a Coordinator on the Content & Community team at Social Media Group.

Pinterest’s popularity has grown exponentially in the past six months, leaving marketers hunting for strategic ways to get involved. Pinterest is a natural fit with obvious tie-ins for clothing retailers and home décor brands. Brands such as Real Simple, West Elm, and HGTV have done a fantastic job with their presence on Pinterest. The link is less obvious for B2B companies, although this doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity!

Pinterest can work for B2Bs as a way to build credibility and share industry trends and data. Companies can share infographics, charts or whitepapers on Pinterest, as they are great visual content pieces. Companies can also share and re-pin others’ infographics, whitepapers etc. because it will keep the profile community-based and not just a promotion center. No one wants to follow a company that strictly advertises itself. Bringing together industry data in one spot will help brands to develop relationships with the pinning community interested in a specific industry. Another more social way to share industry related content is to create a board dedicated to images and videos from corporate events or conferences, as Conduit has done with their “Conduit Conferences” board.

Companies and organizations can also use Pinterest to share their company story, personality and culture by pinning images and team bios to show the human side of the organization. (Check out Constant Contact’s “Life at Constant Contact” board to see an example of this).

Pinterest also provides a great way to share customer success stories and testimonials. One business doing a great job of this is HubSpot with their “I HubSpot Because…” board where they have created shareable images out of testimonials and quotes.

As with any new platform, there are some important questions to consider before jumping on the Pinterest-wagon:

  • Why are you interested in making Pinterest a part of your social strategy?
  • Is your target market using Pinterest?
  • Do you have visual content on your site worth sharing and, if not, are you willing to dedicate time, money and resources towards creating content?

Are you a B2B on Pinterest? Let us know how you are getting involved.

Column: It's Time For Facebook to Grow Up

This post was originally published by Marketing Magazine by Patrick Gladney, Director of Research and Insights at SMG. Follow him @pgladney

Last week was kind of like Facebook’s Bar Mitzvah – a time for the social network to grow up and begin taking responsibility for its own actions. Funny that Mark Zuckerberg chose to wear his trademark “hoodie” to ring the bell on Nasdaq the day of the IPO, signaling to the market that he still plans on playing by his own rules.

Zuckerberg may still choose to dress casually, but I would hazard a guess to say that he’ll soon begin to feel the pressure of the Street. Facebook needs to share a strategy that will explain how they plan to achieve revenues that will justify their valuation, especially in light of GM’s public announcement that they will be pulling ad spends from the platform because they can’t clearly define the value of Facebook ads to their business.

With GM as the backdrop, Facebook is working hard to help its advertisers achieve measurable results. Just last week at the CMA conference, Facebook and L’Oreal took the stage and admitted they were still working together to crack the ROI challenge. While most brands by now are committed to investing in Facebook as a content channel play, brands publishing content to generate awareness won’t pay a dividend to Facebook investors, and besides, for large advertisers like GM, awareness isn’t the problem. GM needs people to buy cars.

Working in Facebook’s favour is the fact that they are already an immensely profitable company, earning $1 billion in profits on $4 billion in revenue. Also working in their favour is the fact that their entire mobile platform is yet to be monetized, which is promising knowing that the 54% of users who access Facebook through mobile are two times as active. But unfortunately, activity, including time on site, does not yet translate into sales. Sure, ads on Facebook can be accurately targeted, but accuracy doesn’t amount to anything if the ads perform no better than their display ad brethren.

Early attempts at “f-commerce,” designed to create an integrated user experience where consumers can shop and buy without leaving Facebook, have failed to generate any meaningful results or more companies would be doing it. Mind you, most trailblazing Facebook e-tailers haven’t worked to create much in the way of retail excitement to entice Facebook buyers. Brands need to do more than simply iframe in their e-commerce site and emulate companies like BMW, who last year began selling exclusive limited edition brand merchandise on Facebook. In targeting BMW owners, this initiative helped test the potential of f-commerce to drive customer retention and generate advocacy through the network effect. But once again, we are back to putting the onus on brands to develop great content and customer experiences, with a relatively small amount of measurable sales potential in return.

So is Facebook a good bet? The risk is that the tremendous potential of Facebook turns out to be just that. The long term success for Facebook depends on the ability for brands to measure sales. And now that the company is public, they will be measured against other media companies, which are valued based on revenue per user. According to a recent mathematical model published by the MIT Technology Review, Facebook will have to increase their profit per user by between 160 and 600% for their current valuation to make sense in this context.

At Social Media Group, we’re obviously bullish on the potential of social media. But now that Facebook is a publicly traded company, it’s time for the platform to mature past the stage of experimentation and help deliver solid business returns.

How HOT is Social Media Lately…

Wangari Kamande is a Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

I am sitting on my couch this quiet Saturday evening reading June’s edition of O magazine – an uncommon activity as I rarely buy magazines. I am one of those boldly unashamed people who walk into a Chapters store, picks a favourite magazine, finds a spot near the in-store Starbucks, and reads through each and every article (but my ‘redeeming’ quality is that I always return the magazines to the rack that I found them). Why am I talking about this? What does this have to do with social media? There was one fateful day when I forgot my smartphone at home; I literally felt lost with nothing to do in between breaks for lunch and waiting for an appointment – I had to get something to fill my time – hence O magazine. You see, when I have my phone I’m mostly perusing through my social sites reading up on what’s new and what’s going on with other people’s lives…so I wondered if this “subconscious” craze is still taking over the world’s populace.

Let’s review some high level statistics and see…

Growth of Usage

According to a study by GlobalWebIndex, purported to be the world’s most detailed global insight study into consumer behaviour online:

  • Social networking has seen 23% growth in the last 2 years
  • Micro-blog updates have increased by 11% and video uploads by about 6%
  • Forums have become significantly less active, showing a 6% decline in activity and blogging seems to have remained stagnant at 27% in the past two years
  • China is the most socially engaged country in the world, with 84% of users contributing at least once a month. Russia, Brazil and India follow in that order
  • Onlinemba.com reports that 66% of all online adult users are connected to one or more social media platforms. In addition, social media use for both personal and business purposes has been increasing steadily in the last 10 years

Social Media Platform Statistics

According to the Realtime report:

The list goes on, what appears to be social mania is just a new way of doing what humans have done always, communicate!

Social Brands

Websites continue to be the primary brand engagement point for consumers online, according to an earlier version of the Globalwebindex study nearly a third of consumers online are engaging with brands on social media, no doubt a clear sign of social traction for those brands that are doubtful if social media is here to stay.

According to some overwhelming stats coming via Facebook’s S1 registration statement courtesy of its initial IPO, as of Dec 31, 2011, more than seven million apps and websites were integrated with Facebook.

Mobile and Social Media

Since Facebook is such  hot news with the whole “to buy or not to buy” driving investors mental – again from its SI registration statement, Facebook identified 425 million active users of Facebook via mobile devices (mobile, social media – something is cooking really fast here).

To emphasize how quickly all this is changing, according to digitalbuzz of the 6 billion humans in the planet, 4.8 billion own a mobile phone and only 4.2 billion own a tooth brush. Now really – I get the sense here that the new ways of getting us all to connect are supposedly surpassing our need for dental hygiene. Mobile is something to watch especially with the social overlay that is now quickly becoming the faster and cheaper way to connect with others.

Still not convinced of the value of this social movement? I would like to hear from you…

 

Stevie For Your TV

Michelle McCudden is a Manager on the Client Strategy & Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @mmccudden1

I’m not an indiscriminate social networker. I keep a fairly tight circle on Facebook and try to keep my Twitter follows around the 200 mark. I’ve experiemented with bigger circles, but find that I start to tune out when they get too big. Thanks to this careful pruning, I know that most of the content my network shares is going to be of at least some interest to me. And when it comes to video content, I end up starring a lot of tweets to find the video later, or bookmarking links from Facebook into a folder called “Stuff I Want to Watch.”

The new startup, Stevie, from Gil Rimon aims to address that. Stevie is a web-based platform that takes the content from our social networks and creates what it calls “TV shows” out of it, with names like The Comedy Strip, Music Non-Stop, and Top Stories that sort the video and audio content into themed streams. The content plays as part of themed TV show, with relevant tweets and Facebook updates scrolling in the bottom and side margins.

Essentially, Stevie provides a similar functionality as Flipboard—in the same way that Flipboard takes your content and makes a more attractive looking magazine-type display, Stevie makes an (arguably) more attractive and easy to use video display, complete with iPhone and Android apps that act as remotes, so you can easily watch Stevie on your TV, rather than your laptop. The app and the service are free, so there are ads to support the service, similar to the overlay ads that you might see on YouTube.

It looks like they’re still working out a few of the kinks—in the time I’ve been experimenting I’ve seen a few videos repeat themselves, and I seem to get a lot of “celeb” updates from celebs I don’t follow—but the idea has promise. What do you think? Would you use Stevie as your new tool for content consumption?

 

My Great Weekend Read – The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change It, by Charles Duhigg

Ruth Bastedo is Director and Group Head, Client Strategy and Innovation at Social Media Group. Follow @rutbas

This was a very enjoyable read: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change It.

It was pretty quick, but provided some thoughtful nuggets to chew on, that got me thinking about all the multitude of habits that make up both an individual’s life, and on a perhaps more interesting level, an organization’s life. The fundamental question this book attempts to answer is how do human beings change deep seated habits, and is there a way to “help” in the process. Presumably to change habits for the good, but we cannot forget that it can go the other way as well.

The content is not revolutionary, but when we think of what has to take place, from the perspective of “changing habits”, to get masses of people all over the world to want to log in to their Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest accounts every day, post content and engage in a meaningful way, getting a more in depth understanding of the psychology and patterns at work is probably a good idea. At the end of the day, people engage in social media, because they develop habits that drive them to do so.

By the end of this very entertaining and insightful read, you’ll be able to tackle that mid-day chocolate chip cookie habit with new energy, and talk about some interesting business case studies at the same time. All in the one book! A perfect fit for a short haul flight.

This book can be purchased at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca or Indigo.ca. Take your pick.

Closed for Victoria Day

The Social Media Group Toronto office will be closed Monday May 21, 2012 for Victoria Day (or ‘May 2-4 Long Weekend’ depending on who you ask.)

For the non-Canadians who read our blog, Victoria Day (or Fête de la Reine En français) is a federal Canadian public holiday celebrated on the last Monday before May 25, in honour of Queen Victoria‘s birthday. This long weekend is sometimes informally considered as marking the beginning of the summer season in Canada.

We’re back in the office on Tuesday May 22, 2012.

Image: BiblioArchives

Have a safe and happy long weekend and Happy beginning of Summer Canada!

 

Pinterest – Valuation, Usage & Experience


Jordan Benedet is a Manager on the Client Strategy and Innovation team at
Social Media Group.

Everyone is in a tizzy about the Facebook IPO today, but when I noticed that Pinterest had raised $100 million in funding, which valued the company at $1.5 billion, I felt the need to write about the platform. Pinterest has been the talk of the town since their explosive growth in late 2011 (which has actually almost leveled off in March). When a platform generates as much referral traffic as Google and Twitter, it will definitely spur many people to write a lot about it, such as explaining what it is, how to use the platform, and of course some obligatory demographic data (spoiler: overall it is around 70% female).

This post focuses on some of the ways people and marketers use Pinterest, sprinkled with some miscellaneous stats, with a side of my personal experience and thoughts.

Usage

Pinterest has so many different usage applications for both consumers and marketers. Users love how they can tell their own story and express themselves through pinning their favourite images, or sharing and discussing with friends. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” really applies here. Content on Pinterest also really gets around—80% of all pins are repins, or things that other users have already shared.

Pinterest is such a new platform, which means marketers are experimenting with ways to connect with consumers to drive brand awareness, and sales. It’s a great platform to showcase products, implement tasteful link-bait strategies, hold contests, and show off a brand’s true “style”. I personally really like General Electric’s Pinterest board; it has a great mix of product focused content, interesting content, and user-generated content in the #GEInspiredME board.

One of the biggest concerns affecting both users and marketers is the legality of Pinterest related to copyrights, which I’m sure will continue to grow as more and more people use the platform.

Personal Experience

Sure, I have a Pinterest account, but I will be honest—I don’t use the platform outside of work. Not personally using the platform does not mean I’m far from it though, and here is why—I’m getting married in July, and moving into a new place with my soon-to-be wife.

Pinterest is great resource for both wedding planning, an interior decorating. My fiancée religiously uses Pinterest to get ideas and inspiration ahead of our big day, and I totally approve because it has also made my life a little easier during this somewhat stressful planning period (although I have not really seen my iPad in quite a while…).  I definitely like Pinterest, and think it has a lot of potential, but like all up and coming platforms, they will need a great monetization strategy that balances both corporate and user interests to stick around for the long haul.

Facebook IPO: Will Zuck Need to Eat His Words?

Patrick Gladney is the Director of Research and Insights at SMG. Follow @pgladney

This week represents a coming out party of sorts for the gorilla of social networks, Facebook. Any day now, the Facebook IPO means that people will be able to own a piece of the company rather than just “Like” it. So how will Facebook fare once it is traded on the open market? Will the merciless scrutiny of Wall Street and public investors alter the trajectory of a channel with a (projected) larger market cap than Disney, News Corp or CBS? I wonder, particularly when one reads the 16 words from a letter Mark Zuckerberg wrote, included in Facebook’s IPO filing:

“Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”

Perhaps Zuck is looking to mimic Google’s famous  ”informal” corporate mantra “Don’t be evil” in choosing such an altruistic social mission statement. But Facebook consistently gets in trouble with privacy watchdogs, intent on protecting consumer data. So much so, that one might easily believe that money making trumps services at Facebook. Or perhaps those services relate to the needs of advertisers, instead of ordinary members?

Regardless, I find it interesting that a business the size of Facebook downplays the significance of making money, almost as if it’s a dirty practice.  Businesses are built to make money, and I am sure that investors will see this as the priority. Investing in the business to improve the service offering makes sense in the early stages, but my guess is that Wall Street will want Facebook to grow up. As the old saying goes, “if you want to run with the big dogs…”

What do you think Facebook’s real priorities are?

Mother’s Day time saver: Blog post by voice dictation

James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.
Follow @jamescooper

It’s Sunday afternoon and the weather is absolutely beautiful. I might add that it’s not just any Sunday — it’s Mother’s Day. Needless to say, I should be spending time with my mom, not writing this blog post.

But, to all of the mom’s out there, please don’t fret. I will see my mom today. To help me write this post faster, I’m using speech recognition, specifically voice dictation. In fact, not only am I using voice dictation, it’s also the topic of this post.

I’m using the built-in voice dictation on my iPad, since Siri, along with its voice dictation capability, is not available on the iPad (unless, of course, you jailbreak it but that’s a whole other story).

Voice dictation has been around for many years. When I was in university, I can remember trying, getting frustrated with, and giving up on using a primitive version of Dragon Naturally Speaking to write a paper. The technology just wasn’t where it needed to be at that time. (In defense of Dragon by Nuance, it gets great reviews, like this one, nowadays.)

Since then, I’ve merely experimented with voice dictation on a few brief occasions. But, recently, a couple of colleagues and I contemplated how much time we could save getting words on to the screen using the technology. I came away from the conversation inspired to make a serious effort to put it to work for me. Hence, this blog post.

Dragon claims that voice dictation is “up to five times faster than typing on the keyboard”.

I agree that it has the potential to be that fast. But, to be realistic, as I dictate this post, it’s obvious that it will need to be tidied up using a keyboard. That said, I’m still convinced that I’m saving time using voice dictation. I suspect that, as I become more comfortable with the technology, my copy will require fewer and fewer keyboard edits.

Although I plan to make voice dictation a bigger part of my life, I don’t think I’ll move into a keyboard-free existence any time soon. It’s simply not practical. Case in point, at Social Media Group, we work in an open-concept environment, meaning that privacy and noise pollution become important considerations for using the technology. (My colleague, Karly Gaffney, also pointed out that talking to yourself all of the time makes you look like a weirdo.)

At this point, I think the real value of voice dictation lies in how it enables you to quickly and efficiently brain dump your thoughts into digital notes. You can then take those notes and sculpt your prose by conventional methods (i.e., keyboard and mouse).

Aside from drafting blog posts, I plan to use voice dictation to write emails, notes and work documents, to name a few. I also installed the Flex T9 app (by Nuance) on my Android phone, which is coming in very handy for text messaging.

Anyway, it’s time to wrap up this post so that I can be on my merry way to spend time with my mom. To all moms, Happy Mother’s Day (albeit belated at the time that you read this).

What are your thoughts on voice dictation? Are you using it?
Leave your comments below.

Foursquare Delivers a Decisive Blow to Stalkers

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

This week foursquare announced API changes to eliminate privacy concerns and creepy stalker apps like Girls Around Me. So, what are they changing? Foursquare is removing the ability for users to see people (even those not on their friends list) who are checked in to a venue without being checked in to the same venue themselves. Akshay Patil (foursquare API evangelist) explains it further: “much like how the users could see each other by looking around in real life.” Users will still be able to see friend check-ins regardless of whether they’re checked in to the same venue or not.

Creepy apps like Girls Around Me (which got a lot of buzz in March) leverage foursquare data to display a list of people (strangers) who are checked in nearby filtered by gender. The API change will essentially render these apps worthless because users will only be able to see their friends.

On the flipside, eliminating this data also affects the less-creepy apps like Sonar or Banjo that connect strangers based on location, particular interests or mutual friends. Sonar leverages data from multiple networks including foursquare, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to suggest people nearby you should connect with, based on interests and/or mutual friends.

Banjo uses data from Twitter, foursquare, Instagram and others to display where people are and what they’re saying or doing based on check-ins or tweets, not interests.

The foursquare API change will be implemented in June to allow time for the less-creepy app developers to make some changes. The negative impact will be low for these developers, considering many of them use multiple platforms and are not 100% reliant on foursquare for data.

I am a big fan of foursquare and consider it a safe service when used properly. This change will make it easier for the cautious non-users to convert and give the application a try.

What do you think? Does this make you feel more secure about sharing your location? Does this make you want to give foursquare a try if you haven’t already?