Archive for “February, 2012”

Social Media Round Up for February 10

Leona Hobbs is Vice President and Partner at Social Media Group she tweets @flackadelic.

Economist Debates Social Networking

The debate about social networks is underway over at the Economist. The assertion being debated, “this house believes that society benefits when we share personal information online.” Defending the motion is Jeff Jarvis and against the motion is Andrew Keen.

From Jarvis’s opening statement:

“For individuals, sharing is a choice; that is the essence of privacy. Today, we have the opportunity to create, share and connect, and 845m people choose to do so on Facebook alone.”

And from Keen’s opening statement:

“In today’s Web 3.0 world of real identities generating massive amounts of data, we are all living in the full digital glare of public opinion. In this world of Facebook’s Timeline and Open Graph, of millions and millions of daily tweets, Google+ circles and LinkedIn updates, “publicness” (to borrow a word from my friend Jeff Jarvis) replaces privacy as the core condition of life in our digital age.”

Vote, comment and weigh in through opening, rebuttal and closing as the debate continues over the next week.

Hmm…very Pinteresting

Our very own Kirsten McNeill blogged earlier this week about how Brands can use Pinterest, a social network designed to visually showcase interesting links. Pinterest has captured the attention of millions (over 10 million unique monthly users in the US in eight months according to ComScore, the fastest any social network has researched this milestone). This week, Pinterest was accused of replacing user affiliate links with their own. Pinterest did not disclose this policy to users, which has raised the eyebrows of social media types and made some users feel kind of icky.

Read more:

TechCrunch: Pinterest Hits 10 Million U.S. Monthly Uniques Faster Than Any Standalone Site Ever – comScore

On the SMG blog: How Brands Can Get Involved on Pinterest Pinterest is quietly generating revenue by modifying user submitted pins. And an update: What was learned from the Pinterest link modification story.

New Trends in Global Internet Behaviour

This week, GlobalWebIndex released new data about both new and continuing trends in the way consumers use all Internet platforms. On the benchmarks side, social networking is still the fastest growing social media behavior online, with 59% of global internet users managing their profile on a monthly basis. Turning to e-commerce, “just over 59% of global internet users had purchased a product online in the past month and 53% had reviewed a product.”

New trends identified in the research:

  • The rise of the Social Brand: nearly one-third of global internet consumers are engaging brands through social media
  • Death of digital: “digital can no longer be seen as a separate “media” as consumers globally are transitioning to media consumption across multiple internet platforms in record numbers”
  • Googopoly: “Google has evolved into the gatekeeper of the Internet, Google has massively improved its position as the world’s biggest controller of information and is starting to dominate all access points to the internet”

The report also details changes to existing trends the Localised Web, the Post-PC era comes ever closer and Facebook Fatigue continues.

More on this global trends research:

GlobalWebIndex GWI.6 Trends Report

GlobalWebIndex identifies new trends in global internet behaviour


My Name is Karly, and I’m an Addict

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

Noun: The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

While standing in line to order the first coffee of the day, I check in on Foursquare then peruse my Twitter feed and Facebook notifications. The order is in and as I wait for my morning fuel to arrive I go back to Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter to see what’s new. Seriously.

According to a recent study led by Wilhelm Hofmann of University of Chicago’s Booth Business School, Tweeting and checking emails is a much harder addiction to give up than cigarettes or alcohol. The study was looking to measure how well people could resist their desires and, as turns out, it’s a lot easier to pass up that second glass of red in order to keep your hands free to send a status update.

Social Media Addiction

Hofmann told the Guardian, “Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist.” Hofmann noted that alcohol and cigarettes are more costly and may not be as accessible as social media and email. “So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still ‘steal’ a lot of people’s time.”

Retrevo Stats

Sure, we’ve all checked our Facebook notifications or Twitter feeds at inopportune (or sometimes inappropriate) times, and answering a text over dinner is becoming less and less of a faux pas (debatable). Some people even have Foursquare venues set up for their beds—not surprising considering a 2010 study found 28% of respondents said they update Facebook/Twitter before they even get out of bed.

Marla Bartoi, Ph.D., is a professor who teaches clinical psychology at WSU; her research interests include cognitive behavioral treatment of anxiety disorders and depression and substance abuse treatment. She was recently asked to respond to a similar study on social media addiction and noted that MRI screenings have shown that some people are more prone to addictions depending on their brain chemistry. Other factors such as genetics can also factor into the likelihood of addiction, she said. According to Bartoi, addiction to social networking is possible, but it’s not something that she believes everybody is addicted to or will become addicted to.

So if brain chemistry and genetics play a role in this, maybe I’m safe. Then again, taking a quick look at my most recent apps: HootSuite, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Foursquare are my top hits. Brings to mind a certain Simpsons episode, no Twitter and no Facebook make Karly go something something?

So is social media really an addiction? Technically social networking isn’t a new phenomena, it’s just another form of communicating.  If you think about it as communication – would we go as far as saying someone is addicted to writing post-it notes or talking on the phone? If this is about consumption rather than communication, why are we worried about people being addicted to the internet/social media and not to newspapers or books? There could certainly be similar addictive behavior patterns. Maybe it’s neither, and it’s merely about instant gratification.

Whatever the reason, let’s try not to fear new technologies. We have a long history of concern over technological advances, from the old days of fearing the printing press and the radio (yes, really) to today’s social media zombies. What do you think?  Is the worry about social media addiction really just a worry about new technologies?


How Brands Can Get Involved on Pinterest

Kirsten McNeill is a Coordinator on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @kirstenmcne

With its U.S. traffic skyrocketing to more than 10 million visits, $37 million raised in funding and an unconfirmed valuation of up to $200 million, Pinterest is now one of the top 10 social networking and forum websites. The 2011 recaps and 2012 trend predictions almost all included social content curation as an important continuing trend.

The top social networks are now connected to many third party platforms (websites, streaming services, magazines etc.) making it easy for us to share content with anyone, on any platform, from any location on the web. We (as consumers) can now curate content ourselves, while relying on our own networks of friends, family, industry etc. to provide new content for us to consume and share. It is especially convenient when the content is in an easily digestible form, such as a photo.


Pinterest is the hot new social network that brands and consumers alike are starting to pay attention to, as they should. New data from Monetate shows that referral traffic from Pinterest to five apparel retailers experienced a 389% increase from July-December 2011.

A fellow SMGer invited me (right now the site is still an invite-only social network) and I’ve been playing around with it for the last couple months. So far I’m quite enjoying it; the user experience is very friendly and I find myself checking back daily. Pinterest is an image-based platform, where you can create unique online pinboards, such as “Yummy Food,” “My Dream Style,” “Home Decorations” and “pin” photos accordingly. Pinned photos can come from three places:

1)   Directly uploaded from your phone or computer

2)   Anywhere on the web – it makes it really easy for you to do this by providing a browser plug-in. I have a ‘Pin it’ button on my Bookmark bar that will populate all the images on a page, making it easy for me to select what I want to pin

3)   From within Pinterest – if another user has posted something that I find interesting, I will “Repin” it

From blogs to brands, the Pinterest presence on owned channels is just getting started. Many blogs now include the Pinterest badge on their site, right up there with Twitter and Facebook. Making it easy for visitors  to “Pin” their content or follow them on Pinterest.

Retail, fashion, beauty and food brands have obvious tie-ins that make Pinterest a natural fit. Take brands such as West Elm, Travel Channel or Nordstrom who have seamlessly made the move onto the Pinterest platform. However, other industries will have to get creative in order to leverage Pinterest to benefit their online efforts.

Brands can add a Follow or Pin It button on their owned properties to encourage ‘pinning’ their content which leads to increased awareness of their products and potentially influence or guide purchase decisions. It’s like a magazine, where you see something you like and you fold down the page.

So, how else can brands leverage this shiny new social network? When thinking about adding value to the community, first you need to think about who makes up the community. What would they like to see and pin?

How can brands get involved creatively?

Run a contest

Executing a contest on Pinterest will create buzz among the Pinners and provide a great opportunity to build visual interactions with consumers. A great example of a contest done on Pinterest was the ‘Causes I Love Contest,’ where participants were rewarded with prizes for the best boards and every time a photo was pinned to a board, the company partner would make a donation.

Build Your Brand Profile

Create boards to visually portray your brand personality. Show your transparency by creating boards that give consumers an inside look at your company. Doing so can lead to deeper connections with consumers as they can see what your company culture and values are. A great example of this is Whole Foods Market. They’ve  created a series of boards to show what they support: “We’re Used to Reusing!” “Strength,” “Whole Planet Foundation.”

Pin Relevant Industry Content

Don’t be a billboard ad! We need to make sure that our boards are not strictly promotional because users will see that and likely not follow you. Instead, sharing photos from others in the industry that complement your own photos and enhance your boards will keep your profile community based, opposed to just a promotion center. A brand doing a good job of this is HGTV. They have created boards such as “Every Single Holiday” that combine photos from their website as well as other blogs to complete the board. This helps to develop relationships with the pinning community interested in the specific industry.

Pinterest is a great place to keep up with the market and obtain some insight into what your target market (mostly female, according to the stats above, but that could change!) is interested in. You can get a sense of what your demo is interested in by taking a look at what is being pinned, repined and what people are saying in their comments.

There are many ways for brands to great creative and offer great content for the Pinterest community to pin and share. Just make sure you’re adding value to the community and not just pumping marketing material out—you don’t want a gang of angry Pinners at your door. 🙂

How Brands Become Publishers in a Media Tidal Wave

tidal wave

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

In the beginning, there were brands. Some of these brands were in the media business but the vast majority were not. Many of those in the majority relied on media companies to help them connect with their customers. That was then.

Now many brands are the media. What do I mean by this? I’ll start by pointing out that it’s nothing new for brands to be content producers—many have been doing it for a long time. What’s changed since we’ve entered the social digital era, however, is that brands have ever-increasing control over the content they produce and how they use it to connect with their customers.

Recently, as Amy Vernon of PBS MediaShift points out, there has been a lot of buzz about how “We’re all publishers now”, almost to the extent of becoming a cliché. This applies not only to individual bloggers and social network users but also to brands, especially those with deep pockets.

In his Silicon Valley Watcher post, Tom Foremski describes the mounting flood of brand media as a “media tsunami”. To avoid getting washed away in a total wipe out, it’s important for brands to stay at the crest of this media tidal wave.

How can brands ride the wave?

Brands need to focus on creating content that provides real value to their customers.

Ted McConnell, in his recent AdAge post, recommends that, instead of constantly trying to persuade customers to buy around every corner, brands should distribute content that gives advice, support and guidance to “help customers get where they want to go”.

In essence, brands can achieve this by making content that is informative, entertaining and/or instructional.

What options do brand marketers have for providing customers with
value-rich content?

  1. Do it yourself. In order to produce value-rich content like a media company, you need to think like a media company. Understand and use media industry best practices to create and distribute content that makes customers trust and like your brand, and come back for more.
  2. Collaborate with publishers and bloggers. Identify content creators with influence in your market and acquire their relevant content for branding and sharing with your customers. How this content is “acquired” can range from direct purchase to in-kind compensation with products and services.
  3. Partner with a digital agency. Work with a digital agency that understands the social and digital environment and has a proven track record of scaling content and producing results. The agency should help you create new content, and mine and repurpose existing content of value.
  4. Curate content. Creating new content is demanding and daunting for many companies. Content curation will help you find the best content related to your brand, enabling you to organize and package it in a way that adds a whole new level of value.

In closing, allow me to return to Foremski’s idea of an impending “media tsunami” by asking, have you turned your brand’s bow to steam headlong to the crest of the wave? Or is your brand sitting in a life raft while you hope and pray it will somehow surface on the other side?

February Speaking Engagements

SMG speakers will be coming to a city near you! Throughout the month of February, three members of the SMG team will be speaking at events across North America, check out if they will be coming to you:

Google+ PR Summit

February 14, 2012, Las Vegas, NV
Tactics and strategies for engaging customers, clients and the public on the newest social network.
Speaker: Maggie Fox, register online here

SAP Global Marketing Social Media Week Event

February 15, 2012, Palo Alto, California
Discussing The Great Content Disruption: How Content Marketing is Changing Everything
Speaker: Maggie Fox, register online here

The Changing Face of Research and Implications for Marketers: You’re not in an interview anymore, Dorothy.

February 16, 2012, Toronto
Discussing advances in our understanding of behaviour and decision making, how insights are collected in a fully digitized world and new tools and opportunities. A must for those looking to understand narratology, gamification and how to leverage online advocacy!
Speaker: Patrick Gladney, register online here

5th Annual Social Media Marketing (Open Dialogue)

February 22-23, 2012, Toronto
Discussing Social Marketing to Business vs. Consumer Audiences: What’s the Difference?
Speaker: Ruth Bastedo, register online here

Is Twitter the New Help Line? Improving Customer Service with Social Media (Webinar)

Join Maggie Fox next Tuesday February 14th at 12pm EST / 9am PST, as she hosts an exclusive, live webinar from Social Media Today on Is Twitter the New Help Line? Improving Customer Service with Social Media.

More companies now are monitoring Twitter and other online social channels and responding in real-time – often within hours or even minutes. They know the power of social media and the capability of bad news to spread like wildfire. They also recognize the opportunity to influence the message by jumping into a conversation sooner rather than later.

Join this panel to examine:

  • Why social media and customer service are made for one another
  • How your company can jump into social monitoring
  • Notable corporate social media gaffes and what was learned from them
  • Best practices for companies actively engaging customers online
  • The cost-effectiveness of social media monitoring and immediate response as customer service tools

Register online, here




Social Media Round Up for February 3rd

By Kirsten McNeill and James Cooper

Kirsten McNeill is a Co-ordinator on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @kirstenmcne.
James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @jamescooper

This week, we got our first look into Facebook’s financials with their historic IPO, saw a lot of action on Google+ hangouts, watched a video of Steve Jobs being mocked in an ad for an Android tablet and learned of a partnership between Foursquare and American Express that will save us some money on Pizza Hut pizza for Super Bowl XLVI.

Obama, Giants Hangout on Google+

We saw a lot of action on Google+ this week with both U.S. President Obama and the New York Giants engaging with the public through Google+ Hangouts.

Obama held the first all-digital interview from the White House on Monday night in a Google+ Hangout.  The Hangout — which aired on the White House’s newly created Google+ page — attracted more than 227,000 questions from YouTube users, five of whom were invited to participate in the live event.

To feel the support of their fans and get psyched for Super Bowl this Sunday, the New York Giants hosted Hangouts last night. Twenty lucky fans were randomly selected to chat live with Giants Victor Cruz, Corey Webster, Mark Herzlich and Henry Hynoski.

Fans not selected for the Hangouts weren’t completely left out. They were invited to submit questions to their favourite players via Twitter, Facebook and Google+ using the hashtags: #askBallard, #askSteve, #askSash and #askPrince to be answered during the live webcasts.

Facebook Files an Historic IPO

On Wednesday, Facebook filed for an initial public offering that could value the social network between $75 billion and $100 billion. The offering has put Facebook on track to be one of the biggest U.S. stock-market debuts of all time. The first look at Facebook’s financials showed the company produced a $1 billion profit last year from $3.71 billion in revenues, deriving 85% of those revenues from advertising, with the rest from social gaming and other fees.

Android Tablet Ad Mocks Steve Jobs

A Taiwanese ad for an Android tablet hit YouTube this week with what looked like Steve Jobs, talking up the Android tablet. While not actually mentioning Jobs by name, the ad features Taiwanese comedian and impersonator Ah-Ken dressed in a black turtleneck, jeans and round glasses, with a halo and wings.

See the ad here:

A spokeswoman for Action Electronics, Chelsea Chen, told Reuters that there is nothing wrong with the ad because “Steve Jobs always promoted things that were good for people, Apple products, so his image can also promote other things that are good.”

Apple reps have not made any comments about the ad. What do you think, too soon?

Foursquare + Super Bowl + Pizza Hut + American Express = Savings

Thanks to foursquare and American Express, you’ll be able to save some dough on your Super Bowl pizza order this Sunday. By checking in to the nationwide Super Swarm (which foursquare offered on gameday during last year’s Super Bowl), you’ll be eligible for $5 off at Pizza Hut when you pay for $10 worth of pizza using your American Express card.

Here’s how you take advantage of the deal:

Planning on checking in to get the deal?

Enterprise 2.0 Summit

Do you want to learn how to design your social enterprise? The 2012 Enterprise 2.0 Summit is happening next week (February 7-8) at the Cercle National des Armees in Paris. Speakers and attendees will dig into the understanding and designing of social business excellence.

Enterprise 2.0 and its social techniques are nowadays an integral part of many corporations on their way to business excellence and improved performance. They strive for the design of a new model for the enterprise, the value creation, the business processes as well as the collaborative environment.

The conference will discuss current practices and future visions on how to provide more business excellence by the introduction of a social business design. The focus will be on the key challenges and success factors for three crucial parts: The new model of the organizational setup, the “socialized” processes and the collaborative workplace. The topic will be discussed from three different angles in parallel tracks addressing:

  • Enterprise 2.0 Project Excellence: The key excellence factors for the transformation phase
  • Enterprise 2.0 Practice Excellence: The overall use scenarios
  • Enterprise 2.0 Organizational Excellence: The new organizational setup

What is the Summit about?

Some of the keynote leaders of the conference include:

It’s not too late to register!

For interesting news leading up to the conference, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

The Connected Evolution

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

Smart Washing Machine

Historically, connecting to the Internet has always been on computers, but over the last five years connectivity is no longer confined to a desktop or laptop – all thanks to the evolution of “smart devices”. Smart, or connected devices are changing how people create, consume, share, and control the content in their life.

Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in January provided preview of the new direction of major electronics manufacturers, and how they plan to design devices that not only provide value by leveraging smart capabilities, but also solve problems in an intuitive way. According to the GSMA and a post at RedWriteWeb, 90% of TVs at CES, 70% of automotive devices, 44% of health devices, and 30% of cameras were Internet connected.

Of all connected devices at CES, 30% were from the “home lifestyle” category, which includes TVs, refrigerators, and even washing machines!

GSMA Stats

What it means for the living room

The potential benefits of having so many connected home devices are mind boggling, but this post covers how these changes could affect the current family living room.

Smart phones changed the way we use our mobile devices. They provided easier and more efficient access to music, games, social media, and communication tools like instant messaging and the almighty email. Most people I know, even the highly skeptical, never looked back after upgrading to a smart phone (be it Android, iPhone, or Blackberry).

A similar principal applies to the connected TVs showcased at CES – picture many of the benefits that a smart phone brings, and apply it to your living room on a screen 10 times bigger. Older TV owners can still rejoice that set top boxes like ROKU, Boxee, or AppleTV, and game consoles such as Xbox can be used to turn any TV into some form of Connected TV.

1. Social TV

People love to talk about TV with friends, which make social elements an integral feature for all connected devices. Social components should be integrated seamlessly when possible. One main problem is that unlike smart phones, TVs are “shared screens” – making it even more important to utilize social privacy elements. Michelle, a colleague here at Social Media Group recently shared her thoughts on The Rise of SocialTV here.

2. Apps

Apps have been integral part of making smart phones the awesome devices they are today. They provide a never-ending supply of new content to learn from or play with. The same is true for TV. Having access to apps will let users control what additional features, games or widgets they want to use, ultimately leading to a more controllable, and enjoyable viewing experience.

3. Custom Streaming

Continuing on the DVR trend, connected TVs will also allow viewers to choose what they want to watch, and when. As content producers continue to align their service offerings to support a streaming model, more people will continue to cut or cancel their cable/satellite bills. Netflix and Hulu have also helped push the streaming model to the mainstream. This is one of the largest game changing features of Connected TV – user control.

Internet Connectivity is no longer a feature that is limited to the top of the line TV models – it’s now a requirement. TV manufacturers have to rethink what a TV is, which includes how to leverage Internet capabilities, but more importantly the overall user experience that allows TVs to interact with traditional computers, smart phones, and tablets.

The Ecosystem Approach

Many major TV manufacturers lost money last year, Sony included. Samsung was fortunate to only incur reduced profit margins. The root causes were eroding retail prices, and sluggish consumer demand. The time has come where device manufacturers have to become content suppliers in order to maintain profitability and survive, which essentially means more ecosystems.

Molly Wood from CNET recently wrote her thoughts on what a connected device ecosystem really means:

A perfectly constructed ecosystem turns a smart phone, a tablet, or even a TV into a symphony of interoperable, always-on, one-stop-shopping gadget glory. No device is just a device, anymore. Now, every device is a platform, and everything works together perfectly

Love it or hate it, Apple pioneered the closed ecosystem with iTunes and iDevices. The closed ecosystem means more consumers are locked in – essentially raising the costs to switch to a different platform. Their strategy is paying off too, which is evident in their recent first-quarter record profit announcement.  Rumors also suggest that Apple is making a big play into the TV market, a move that will definitely shake things up.

Samsung and Microsoft also have the right idea. Samsung has made major moves this year to create an ecosystem that will compete head on with Apple. Their TVs will work seamlessly with both their Tablets and popular (record breaking) smart phones. Microsoft’s new Metro UI will ensure Windows 8 devices, Windows Phones, and Xbox will all share a universal user experience and content repositories. Let’s not forget about Microsoft Kinect, which could bring a Minority Report type experience to your living room!

We’re moving into an all out clash of the TV titans for 2012. Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung will likely continue to fight over patents and designs, while advancing product capabilities, and refining their service offerings.

Clash of Titans - Apple vs Smasung

To Sum it Up

A huge influx in the variety and quantity of connected products are coming directly to consumers, but the true benefit of these changes really comes down to implementation.

Only time will tell if these products solve more problems than they make, but the awesome part is that this is one of the few circumstances where you can literally sit on the couch and enjoy the changes!