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World Cup 2010: Magnification Social Media Style

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on June 11, 2010

One of my earliest recollections of big sporting event was the Mexican Wave in the 1986 FIFA world cup at Mexico. That was the year of Maradona. 24 years later, its Vuvuzelas inside the stadiums and its Social networks outside it. The magnification effect that social media has on such large scale events is on a mind boggling state.

So far Audiences around the world have been audiences. Now they are playing the games, teams, themselves and others as much as the players are. The Number of fanpages in Facebook, the levels of participation and the frenzy; the Twitter groups, World Cup apps for Smartphones are beginning to come of age and the decibels levels dont seem to abate any soon.

Already the number of tweets weighed Twitter down when the South Africans scored the first goal of FIFA WC 2010. Just to prove point, the equalizer from Mexico also had Twitter down.

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The rise and rise of Facebook

Posted in Internet and Search, Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on February 16, 2010

Social Media is fast coming of age, given that Facebook has eclipsed Google as the biggest referral site on the Internet. The “friend-casting” of information has helped propel Facebook into a major force in directing traffic around the Web according to traffic analysis firm Compete. This is just another sign of how the “social web” is becoming an increasing dominant force in terms of driving traffic flows on the Internet making it a big threat against web giants such as Google, MSN and Yahoo. 13 percent of the traffic to major web portals like Yahoo, MSN and AOL came from Facebook. Traffic from Google generated just 7 percent, which Compete said actually put it third in traffic sources behind eBay, which accounted for 7.6 percent. Facebook’s prominence positions social media as Internet’s next search engine.

In an earlier post, i had blogged about Google and Facebook on a collision course with Facebook entering the web mail space, while Google integrating Google Buzz on GMail.

Stumbled across a set of stats on Facebook’s increasing influence.

Statistics
Company Figures

• More than 400 million active users
• 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
• More than 35 million users update their status each day
• More than 60 million status updates posted each day
• More than 3 billion photos uploaded to the site each month
• More than 5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each week
• More than 3.5 million events created each month
• More than 3 million active Pages on Facebook
• More than 1.5 million local businesses have active Pages on Facebook
• More than 20 million people become fans of Pages each day
• Pages have created more than 5.3 billion fans

Average User Figures
• Average user has 130 friends on the site
• Average user sends 8 friend requests per month
• Average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook
• Average user clicks the Like button on 9 pieces of content each month
• Average user writes 25 comments on Facebook content each month
• Average user becomes a fan of 4 Pages each month
• Average user is invited to 3 events per month
• Average user is a member of 13 groups

International Growth
• More than 70 translations available on the site
• About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States
• Over 300,000 users helped translate the site through the translations application

Platform
• More than one million developers and entrepreneurs from more than 180 countries
• Every month, more than 70% of Facebook users engage with Platform applications
• More than 500,000 active applications currently on Facebook Platform
• More than 250 applications have more than one million monthly active users
• More than 80,000 websites have implemented Facebook Connect since its general availability in December 2008
• More than 60 million Facebook users engage with Facebook Connect on external websites every month
• Two-thirds of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 websites and half of comScore’s Global Top 100 websites have implemented Facebook Connect

Mobile
• There are more than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices.
• People that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice more active on Facebook than non-mobile users.
• There are more than 200 mobile operators in 60 countries working to deploy and promote Facebook mobile products

Is social media a marketing hyperbole? (Part III)

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on January 28, 2010

Dell is one of the few companies which have driven the social media to their advantage. While such examples are widely acknowledged and appreciated, working out such examples and such business models is tricky.

However, driving social media to one’s advantage isn’t as easy across. The beauty (and the problem) with social media marketing is that it’s a new field. As of now it’s more of an art than a science. I think we just need to see marketing guess/test/refine to find the perfect balance of advertisement and engagement. Also it is important to have the relevant engagement strategy. More often, companies are planning social media for the heck of planning it without a core idea of what they would like the social media to achieve for them. Until a good mix is found we probably will see approaches flounder… when was the last time you clicked on a FB ad?

2009 was also an year of experimentation with Social media launched to drive brands towards perceived relevance. Budgets for most parts were borrowed from other divisions to fund largely experimental programs. In many cases, these Social media programs were introduced without a relevant and integrated strategy and in 84% cases the ROI was not even monitored. In 2010, executives are demanding scrutiny, evaluation, and interpretation. Even though new media is transforming organizations from the inside out, what is constant is the need to apply performance indicators to our work. They want measurable results from social media but the exact implications of social media still evade CMOs.

53% CMOs are unsure about return on Twitter
50% are unable to access the value of LinkedIn.
Source: Bazaarvoice 2009

Most importantly, about 15% believe there is no ROI associated with Twitter, and just over 10% cannot glean ROI from LinkedIn or Facebook. This may be because of a direct disconnect between social media activity and a clearly defined end game. CMOs must establish what we want to measure before we engage. By doing so, Marketing Organizations can answer the questions, “what is it that they want to change, improve, accomplish, incite, etc?”

Quoting Brian Solis, Social Media expert, principal of FutureWorks and author, observer of Social media trends:
The debate over measuring social media investment inspired many brands to cannonball into popular social networks and join the proverbial conversation without a plan or strategic objectives defined. At the same time, the lack of ROI standards unnerved many executives, preventing any form of experimentation until their questions and concerns were addressed.

In 2010, we’re entering a new era of social media marketing — one based on information, rationalization, and resolve.
Business leaders simply need clarity in a time of abundant options and scarcity of experience. As many of us can attest, we report to executives who have no desire to measure intangible credos rooted in transparency and authenticity. In the end, they simply want to calculate the return on investment and associate social media programs with real-world business performance metrics.

Over the years, our exploration and experience has redefined the traditional metrics and created hybrid models that will prove critical to modern business practices and help companies effectively compete for the future.

Thus 2010 would be the year when Social Media Marketing takes on wings but the flight would need a well charted plan, a clear intent and dimensional details of what the Advertisers want to do in the first place. The greater the clarity on these aspects, the better the focus and the definition, the greater the efficiency for the marketers from social media. Unless it is backed by a strategy, intent and proper metrics, a hyped-up approach to social media will only make it a marketing hyperbole.

Is social media a marketing hyperbole? (Part II)

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on January 27, 2010

Is Social Media a Marketing Hyperbole? This was an earlier post that I had written 9 months back. I return to this topic not any clearer after 9 months of social media exploits though. There is lot of hype around, but is there enough substance backing the hype.

Money spent on social media-related advertising is expected to grow this year significantly. Forrester Research’s Interactive Marketing Forecast for the next five years, estimates social media marketing to grow at an annual rate of 34 percent – faster than any other form of online marketing and double the average growth rate of 17 percent for all online mediums. Forrester had estimated that $716 million would be spent on the medium this year in 2009, growing to $3.1 billion in 2014. At that point, social media will be a bigger marketing channel than both email and mobile, but still just a fraction of the size of search or display advertising ($31.6B and $16.9B, respectively). Not surprisingly, some of this growth comes at the expense of offline advertising. Forrester estimates that online advertising will grow from 12 percent of total marketing spend this year to 21 percent by 2014, meaning that offline ad spend will fall. In fact, Forrester concludes that “overall advertising budgets will decline,” meaning efficiencies are being had by shifting money to the Web.

Another recent report published by eMarketer, has now declared that the medium is considered the top priority in the digital space according to a survey of senior marketers. 45.4% of respondents considered social a ‘top priority’ while another 42.2% deemed it ‘important’. That narrowly beat out digital infrastructure for the top spot, with other marketing tactics like search, mobile, and blogger outreach trailing significantly. The data, also indicates that ‘time on site’ is now the metric marketers are most interested in, followed by unique page views, click-thru rate, and the traditional page view. that engagement is here to stay as the preferred way of doing business. That means both more engaging ads that leverage social media, and more engaging web sites that keep users around beyond a simple page view.

Social media marketing will definitely be an important portion of the marketing mix as businesses are able to tailor their products better with engaging with users using sophisticated communication platforms. Marketeers around the world are watching some successful models like Dell execute social media in an optimal way.

Dell is one of the few companies which have driven the social media to their advantage. While such examples are widely acknowledged and appreciated, working out such examples and such business models is tricky. We would discuss the Marketeer’s dilemna in going for Social Media in my next post.

A movement called Twitter

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on June 20, 2009

twitterFor an internet portal just two years in existence, the amount of news that Twitter has been making is like nothing ever before in the history of communications. Sample this:

  1. The micro-blogging site has featured in Time some days back
  2. Oprah Winfrey is the latest celebrity tweeting on the already huge celebrity list of Twitter
  3. Iranians turned to the service to protest the results of their presidential election and get the news out …
  4. … if that wasn’t enough, the importance of the San Francisco-based startup was underlined by the US State Department, which asked Twitter to postpone a planned maintenance shutdown on Monday because of the situation in Iran.
  5. Reacting to the Iran situation, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said, “It’s humbling to think that our two-year old company could be playing such a globally meaningful role that state officials find their way toward highlighting our significance.”
  6. Access to the popular social networking service was blocked across mainland China on Tuesday afternoon, two days before the 20th anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown following calls for a re-evaluation of the protest movement that have been published on the Internet, and may have prompted the black-out
  7. Twitter has been adding millions of users a month for the past several months and its website received 32.1 million unique visitors in April, according to comScore.
  8. #cnnfail hashtag on Twitter, came out as a result of Twitter users venting out their frustration on CNN for not giving enough coverage to the Iran incident. CNN had to issue an official response to the allegations.

 

The actual number of users of the micro-blogging service is hard to figure since Twitter can be accessed using personal computers, mobile telephones and dozens of custom-built applications such as the popular Tweetdeck.

The Twitter co-founders have reportedly passed up offers running into the hundreds of millions of dollars for the service and have so far only unveiled vague plans to turn it into a money-making venture.

Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist whose firm Union Square Ventures is an investor in Twitter, made it clear at the Twitter conference in New York on Tuesday that he believes Twitter has a bright— and profitable — future.“Links are the currency of the Internet,” Wilson, who sits on Twitter’s board of directors, told the 140 Characters Conference.

“If you look at the power of Google, and why Google is currently the king of the Internet, it’s that Google drives more traffic to more places on the Internet than anybody else,” he said.

“Social media, particularly systems like Twitter and Facebook that are good at driving traffic out into the Internet the same way that Google does are very important and powerful economic forces,” Wilson said.“It’s a natural thing for services like Twitter and Facebook to eventually figure out how to inject some sort of a paid model into their systems.“It’s the obvious thing to do and if they don’t do it some one will figure out how to do it as a third-party application, and people are already doing it as third-party applications,” he said.

John Borthwick, whose company Betaworks is among the hundreds that have developed tools for Twitter, said it is this “incredibly vibrant ecosystem of applications” surrounding Twitter that is one of its strengths.

Jeff Pulver, organizer of the 140 Characters Conference, said it is too early to tell exactly where Twitter is going, but “I think what we’re experiencing is something that’s much bigger than all of us understand.We’re living in a time where access to information is available to anyone and everyone,” said Pulver, a web entrepreneur. “The advent of Twitter has democratized access to information to everyone.

“When more and more people have real-time information we’re going to see transformations happen that no one expected,” he said. “Businesses will fail, others will flourish and there will be billions of dollars of opportunity created.”

 

The impact that this 2 year old micro blogging site seems to have in real time world is scary and there is little wonder that Google wants to either buy out or partner Twitter. Twitter’s ascent would not leave Google very comfortable. Would it?

Reference: http://www.livemint.com/2009/06/17131454/From-Time-to-Oprah-to-Iran-Tw.html?h=B

http://www.livemint.com/2009/06/03121331/China-blocks-Twitter-ahead-of.html?d=2http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/5351937/Google-chief-hints-at-partnership-with-Twitter.html

http://www.watblog.com/2009/06/18/the-iran-controversy-and-the-importance-of-social-media-communications/

Calculating your social media initiative payback

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on April 22, 2009

While Social media is a new kid in the block, the promises it holds are huge. It enables the marketeer to host a platform to hear what his consumers have to say about him, engage them and engineer products/services. In short it allows the marketeer to pro-create with the consumer.From a marketeers point of view, their is an abundance of media vehicles and the final choice of media is very often led by RoI or Cost/Benefit analysis. It is very interesting that calculating the RoI/ Payback of Social media is still based on the age old business perspectives and principles. So the tool and the procedure remains the same.It is just the metrics that have evolved.

Presenting the pointers to calculating the efficiency of marketing initiatives in social media:

1. Start from the objective. The more precise and focussed defination of the question, the better is the probability of a meaningful answer.

2. Identify ways to measure your objective/put metrics

3. A prior measurement of scores in the metrics sets the base

4. Identify gaps between your objective metric scores and the base scores.

5. Set time bound targets on the Gaps

6. Identify the investments you are willing to put in targets and gaps

7. Execution of the plan

8. Against the investments that have been put, the %age increase/decrease of your metrics against your targets will give you the efficacy of the programme.

Since we are talking social media initiatives, the metrics can be chosen from the list:
Views/hits; Followers/Subscribers; Comments/Blogs/Tweets/Board Posts; Tonality; Frequency; Sales; Inbound Links; Engagement Metrics; Visibility/Credibility; Inbound Links; Profile visibility @ SEO; Referrals and others.

There is another part that cannot be measured: Cross Referencing of the suite of products/services through Social Media (i.e influence of social media on perception of the brand when you seem to be only talking about the product/solution/platform.)

Is Social media/networking a marketing hyperbole?

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on April 19, 2009

I believe in the power of social media and strenghts of networking. I use my blogs, my Linkedin, Facebook and Orkut profiles to stay in touch, share my life with my network of friends (Facebook and Orkut) as well as keeping myself updated on subjects of interest and learning from forums and other experts (Linkedin, Blogger, Twitter, Word Press). Deep down there is an effort to market myself to the world at large and social media and social networking are important tools to do them. I met my childhood schoolmates on Orkut (after being incoomunicado for over 10 years).The last person i interviewed was a contact from Linkedin (instead of the pay per use job portals). I am trying to actively position myself for my next job through the Social Networking media. I find it difficult to ccomprehend when someone doesnot have a profile/doesnot use Linkedin/Facebook and others. All this is an ode to the virtues of social media/networking: Life, Work, Learning and Friends have become interesting.

Yet, i sense a bubble of social media/networking all around. It is the next biggest thing in marketing. Someway, i have begun to think that from a marketing perspective, if you dont have social media in your portfolio you are “uncool”. Social media experts are mushrooming all over and there are more “social media” bloggers and experts than any other subject (i dont confirm this statement!!) With the rise in Facebook and Twitter and such others, these mediums have become the cynosure of marketing and brand experts. Now everyone wants to have an internet presence/ Facebook profile/ Social Media leg to their marketing campaigns. The efficacy of this idea/thought is questionable.

The central thought when a user is logged into a social networking site is to talk/ bond/ network with his kind of people or friends. A product advertisement/banner/ pop up is seen more as an intrusion into the users time. I may not have the statistics, but i have a hunch that these ads are mostly “skipped” or “closed” or “ignored” by the user. There is a moment of truth, when the user may eye the contents for a brief second, but that happens rarely. Especially in India, where the internet speeds are low, an ad frame that takes time to load and hence impedes the user from doing what he is doing is generally dismissed straightaway.

For a marketing campaign, its cool to have a Facebook user profile and a “fan” following. Except that a large percentage (again unratified) of such profiles are not refreshed for weeks and months and are only used as a platform to “advertise”, not “engage”. A leading marketeer in India has a Facebook profile of its most important gaming service with 46 fans for about 8/9 month now. This platform has a host, but there is no dialogue and no discussion except version release circulars. It doesnot cost a penny to put a Facebook profile up. However, all this without consistency of engagement is a waste.

Similarly, a particular product based company (i know of) believes in 15% allotment of its budget to digital media. Most often digital media is less understood by its marketing folks who judiciously use the money in the banner ads and in page ads, the success rate of which is about 5%! Thats 95% waste, which could have been used better elsewhere. In the company being spoken about, this 95% is seen as an investment (the fruits of which would be borne later).

A recent discussion on Linkedin, featured someone asking for “best ways in Social media/networking to market a consumer product to xyz profile…”. Well, for a start social media/ networking doesnot “Market”, it only generates “Awareness” and can be used to enagage customers in a “Dialogue”. The dialogue also is necessarily not required to be product led… instead it ought to be the platform that the product hopes to provide a solution to. It is a communication media and not an advertising media. Users differentiate between communication and advertising very sharply. An enagaging conversation is one thing, an advertisement is another. One has a lot of credibility and the other has none.

It is important that marketers need to now understand the virtues of marketing beyond advertising and sales is to listen, engage, hear and discuss with the consumers. Social Media has a role in marketing and organization strategy. It has to be treated more fairly than just another media and advertisement vehicle.

Twitter’s first step at monetization of social networks

Posted in Revenues and Monetization by Manas Ganguly on April 8, 2009

exectweets1

Monetization happens to be a tag in my blogs because of the simple reason that i have written a lot about “How to monetize social networks?” in ample.

Twitter’s first attempt to monetize its huge and unique base of tweets is an interesting one in terms of the effort being a coordinated one between itself, Microsoft and Federated Media. Essentially the idea is to collate the tweets of business executives and other insightfull and business related tweets for interested people to follow. In essence it is following the top business executives on Twitter. It is called Exectweets.com . The website is essentially a collection of tweets from top business heads on Twitter like Virgin’s Richard Branson, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar, Digg’s Jay Adelson and Kevin Rose, Twitter’s own Evan William and yes, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg amongst a whole others.

The partners are fairly interesting in the terms of background competencies. While Twitter, champions conversational media, Federated Media is versatile in the conversational mode of advertising and Microsoft is one of the largest users of online advertising. Thus the Twitter promoted website exectweets.com may be an online branding/advertising solution for Microsoft. The neat part is that Microsoft is able to address its cream audience: the business executives through this venture. Twitter would in the back end have a revenue arrangement with Microsoft, though the details are missing at this point of time.

Business heads who want to get into exectweets.com, as a branding opportunity, need to follow@exectweets and the team at exectweets would decide whether to add the twitter stream to their website or not.

Thus this is a convergence of social media vehicle with a very precise audience and a large marketeer. One interesting alliance and effort to follow up.

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