Archive for ‘Trends’

December 22, 2014

Amazon reviews are almost as trusted as peer recommendations [Infographic]

A recent survey suggests that 50% of customers are actively using their smartphones to compare prices while in store.

A recent survey says 50% of customers are using their smartphones to compare competitor prices while in-store.

CRM software providers crowdtap published an infographic (below) this month to share some emerging trends in the ability of social media to influence consumer behaviour. After surveying over 3,000 US customers in 2013, and again in 2014, they found that social media is increasing its value to businesses who want to influence buying decisions throughout the holiday season.

A few things caught my eye:

1. Amazon reviews are almost as trusted as peer recommendations. I was a little surprised to see the difference between trusting a peer and trusting an online review was only 5 percentage points. I suppose this speaks to the importance of hearing directly from an existing product owner, rather than just trusting somebody in your network who you happen to already know who may not actually own the product.

2. Facebook dominates. If your business is only going to participate in one social media activity, you better make it Facebook. The survey results suggest that people are turning to Facebook, more than any other social network, to research gifts, look for promotions, and share their purchases. The only category where Facebook finished second was “gift inspiration” – losing the top spot by only one percentage point to Pinterest. Twitter seems to be rounding out the bottom of each of these categories. Perhaps this could be due to the transient nature of the messages, and also because Twitter relationships are often centered around topics of interest rather than trusted personal connections.

3. People are shopping at your competitors, right from within your store.  The survey results suggest that 50% of the people physically walking into your store will whip out their device and check a competitor’s price to see where you compare. I do this. I do this all the time. I expect this trend to continue to grow year-over-year.

4. Social media supplants TV as the most popular source for “inspiration”. For the first time, we’re relying on social media to provide us with gifting ideas more than any other medium; overtaking traditional television’s historical dominance in this area. This could be a symptom of the declining TV viewership numbers across every age demographic – with the largest decline in television consumption belonging to the 18-24 segment.

How does social media impact your holiday shopping behaviour? Check out the following infographic, and let me know what you think.

HolidayShoppingSocialMediaInfographicSmall

September 29, 2014

The Science of Marketing – 6 Key Takeaways [Book Review]

science-of-marketing

August is the only month on my calendar where I get a bit of time to catch up on my personal reading list. This year, I spent much of that month reading book after book about social media, marketing, communications and leadership. One book that had immediate actionable content for social media community managers, was The Science of Marketing (2013) by Dan Zarrella. Working for HubSpot since 2009, Zarrella has access to the tens of thousands of data-sets he uses to identify trends and make process and content recommendations on how to improve your organization’s social media presence. Once you get past Zarrella’s description of himself as a “Social Media Scientist”, you’ll find some rather useful information that can help you benchmark and experiment with the social media communities you manage.

This is a tactical book, not a strategy book. If you are looking for ways to tweak your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, email marketing, blog, and lead generation efforts, this book is well worth the 200-page read. A few key takeaways:

  1. Content is still your biggest ally, and the most important piece of the social media puzzle. Zarrella’s response to the question “how much should I be blogging/posting” is “more than you are now”. He even suggests that, to increase engagement and shares, the optimal amount of blog posts is three per DAY.
  2. Blog posts published on Saturday and Sunday get more comments than posts published during the week. Zarrella considers two reasons for this. First, weekends allow users more time to actually read a blog post. Second, fewer companies publish content on the weekend, which means less competition for attention. In fact, Zarrella suggests that we should seek to publish our content when others are not. He calls this “contra-competitive timing”.
  3. Sentiment is important. Posts that are positive get the most comments, shares, and likes. The second most effective are negative posts, which leaves neutrality as the last place finisher. In other words, neutral is boring. If you are going to post something, make sure it contains your tone and think positive first.
  4. Calls to action work. The primary example used in this book is the correlation between retweets and asking for retweets. Zarrella found that simply asking people to retweet your content delivers four times more retweets than tweets that don’t make that request. I wouldn’t use this tactic for every piece of content I tweet, but it’s good information to know if you are responsible for managing an emergency/crisis situation where you need information to spread very quickly.
  5. If you want to catch your audience’s attention on Facebook, photos are by far the best option. Zarrella’s research indicates that photos are the most sharable form of content on Facebook, blowing text, video, right out of the water.
  6. He even gets down to a very granular level of detail by looking at where within a tweet is the best place to include a link in order to maximize clicks. The answer: right in the middle. He even provides lists of the most, and least, sharable/retweetable keywords.

All of these ideas, and about 100 more, are laid out in simple language and charts in this book. The author is quick to mention that his findings are in no way the set-in-stone way to do things that will guarantee success on social media. They are merely data-backed observations that can help marcom professionals tweak and tailor their social media program. In essence, what Zarrella has presented in this book is a look at trends in social media engagement. It’s now up to us as social media managers to use this information to benchmark and experiment and see what works in our communities.

You can find this title on Amazon for about $20, well worth the investment.

January 31, 2013

The ONLY Super Bowl social media account you need to follow

This Sunday. 6:30 p.m. EST. Finally. For the first time since January 29, 1995, my San Francisco 49ers have made it to the Super Bowl. This is a big deal to me because the sports teams I root for typically don’t make it to the final game (Toronto Maple Leafs last Stanley Cup – 1967) ( Toronto Blue Jays last World Series 1993).

But when any of these teams were last at the big dance, social media was nowhere to be found…it just didn’t exist. Now the non-stop flow of photos, tweets, taunting, scandal, and general nonsense is almost nauseating. ESPN posted an inforgraphic about who to follow on Twitter; Hootsuite has a dashboard where you can track what quarterback has the most tweets, day-by-day; and at last check, social media mega-blog “Mashable” has 144 recent stories tagged “Super Bowl”. It can all be a bit overwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong, the enjoyment of these global events is enhanced by social media. I love being able to connect with fellow sports fans and chat about game. My favourite fan to connect with is the one who is actually there. Enter the Twitter account from the New Orleans Host Committee. If you are looking for one social media touch point for the big game, this is it. The @nolasuperbowl account is entirely focused on fan (user) experience, and they sure are responsive. Powered by a team of over 100 volunteers they field questions, suggest places to eat, share interesting stories about the game, promote their activities (#NFLexperience), and share photos from the festivities.

A few examples:

I’ll definitely be watching the @nolasuperbowl along with the game this weekend with a big thanks to all the volunteers that make it happen. The video below provides a decent idea about what it’s like to be inside the command centre during Super Bowl Week. It’s a recap from last year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis, but it does a good job explaining what they are looking for, how they find it, and how the team of social media volunteers go about responding.

Well, I guess there’s only one thing left to say: #Go49ers #QuestForSix

UPDATE (01.31.13): As a further comment to their responsiveness, after I initially shared this post on Twitter, the @nolasuperbowl account was quick to RT. In fact, they were the first to do so.

December 12, 2012

Social Media trends in 2012 by the numbers [Stats]

WhereWeConnect2012For those of us watching social media usage trends, last week was a good week as Nielsen published its annual State of the Media: Social Media Report. This document is a must read. It compares the 2011 and 2012 statistics about how we use our devices and social networks. Some of the findings seemed to be obvious. For example, each year, more people are connecting to the internet, and when they do, they spend more time on it. We already knew that.

Other findings, however, were much more intriguing: notably, the continued growth in the amount of users interacting with their social networking accounts using mobile web and mobile applications. People are slowly straying away from their PCs as the Nielson report shows that the use of both mobile web and mobile apps nearly doubled when compared to the 2011 figures:

SocialGoingMobile

I’ve written about the continued growth of the “second-screen” before, and the numbers from this report seem to support that trend. Personally, I always watch TV with my laptop or smartphone, and it looks like this behaviour is becoming more common-place. The Nielson report found that 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smartphone owners use their device daily while watching TV, and they are using this internet access to add to their TV watching experience. For example, viewers use their devices to look up product information after they’ve seen an advertisement, search for coupons or deals, look up information related to the program being watched, and (of course) use social media while watching the show. Twitter emerged as the social network of choice when interacting with TV shows – About 1/3 of active Twitter users tweet about the TV show they are watching.

SecondScreen2012

Another finding in this report that is close to my heart is that 47% of social media users engage companies to get customer service from brands with which they do business. About 30% of them (including myself) even prefer getting customer care using social media. This drives home the point that as each year passes, it becomes more and more imperative for companies to take a pro-active role in managing their reputation online.

SocialCare2012

Plenty more findings are available in this report, and it’s well worth the read, so be sure to check it out.  Special thanks to colleague @DanPihlainen for originally sharing this document.

November 25, 2012

Talknowledgy Podcast #108: Black Friday, American Thanksgiving, the business cost of slow performing websites, and more

Phil and Dave talk turkey on this week’s show with coverage of Black Friday and the role Facebook played in this year’s Presidential turkey pardon. We also take a look at foursquare’s dismal 2012 revenue predictions and the latest in the Apple vs Samsung saga.

We have two Hashtag Fails of the week this week. First, we chat about Lindsey Stone’s tasteless Facebook photo that got her in hot water with her boss. We also look at slow performing websites and how much it costs businesses annually when their sites take longer than three seconds to load.

And finally, our YouTube (anti)Hero this week is Nicole Westbrook. Her video “It’s Thanksgiving” has become the third most disliked YouTube video of all time, and it was only released on November 7, 2012.


If you liked the show, feel free to subscribe to this blog or our RSS feed to make sure you’re always up-to-date with Talknowledgy. We’ll be back in a little while!

November 21, 2012

The social side of Black Friday: Where will you be checking-in? [Infographic]

It’s almost upon us again. That’s right, Black Friday. When our American friends line up for some great holiday deals on the day following turkey and football day. And it’s a big deal. Some wait in line all night for the stores to open to get one-day-deals of around 60%-80% off, even on big ticket items.

If it’s a big deal in real life, it’s a big deal online. Just take a look at the #BlackFriday hashtag. It is filled with tweets of excitement and plenty of businesses trying to get the word out about their great deals. And the tweets keep mounting up. When I took the screenshot below from hashtags.org on November 21, 2012, it clearly showed the sheer amount of Black Friday related tweets going through the roof.

Twitter will be a great source of information this weekend, but the one social network I’m most interested in for Black Friday is Foursquare. Will a Black Friday badge be available? Who will be the most popular retailers? Who’s offering discounts and sales to people who check-in at their store? I couldn’t find many answers online, or through my own Foursquare app (perhaps because I’m in Canada). To be quite honest, the lack of Foursquare specials in my city has led me to stray away from that social network altogether.

But Foursquare has been very popular in the past. Check out the infographic below released by Foursquare that outlines last year’s activity on the network. It shows that Black Friday is the day that sees the greatest number of check-ins at retail outlets. It also suggests that people start arriving at their shopping destinations around midnight of the day before to either stake out their spot in line or to participate in Black Friday Midnight Madness events.

I would like to ask my American readers if they can add some first-person accounts from the Black Friday social media front. Will you be looking for deals using apps or social media sites? Is Foursquare part of your game plan? What hashtags do you find the most value in? If you are a business owner or retailer, will you be offering any incentives to your social media audience? Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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