Posts tagged ‘community buying’

January 4, 2012

3.5 social media trends to watch for in 2012

I began 2011 with a post of social media trends to watch for the year. In that post, I spoke about monetization, community buying, geo-tagging, and the rise in the interest of international networks. 2012 is a bit of a different animal, so here it is again for the 12 months ahead of us; 3.5 trends to watch for this year.

1. Better use of the “second screen”. This is the one that excites me the most.  According to Wikipedia, the second screen is  “the electronic device that a television watcher uses to interact with the content they are consuming.” Over 75% of Americans use the internet and watch TV simultaneously.  This means we’re on the couch with our laptops, smartphones, tablets googling actors, tweeting and interacting with personalities, voting on reality TV outcomes, and so on.

The Toronto Blue Jays are one of my favourite examples of using social media to enhance the game experience. I know what you’re thinking: “Why would you need to use social media to make baseball more exciting?” But it’s a great feature of Blue Jays telecasts. Tweeting Tuesdays allows fans at the game, and at home, to connect with broadcasters and other fans, ask questions, answer trivia, and win prizes. Originally (2010), the Jays had only planned on doing this about once a month, but by the end of the 2011 season they were doing this every week. For more on the Blue Jays’ social media efforts, check out their “Social Media Clubhouse“.

The second screen goes further than just using your laptop to interact with and google content. Enter Apple TV and Google TV.  These products are already available and serve to further integrate your TV, online, and smartphone experience. They allow you to access on demand content, are similar to many digital cable offerings, record programs, share with your other devices, etc. Download the Buddy TV app and you can control your entire experience from your smartphone including personalized channel guides, TV time reminders, and recommendations. Are you watching this?! is a great app for the sports fan that helps to keep tabs on your favourite teams and will let you know when other great games are underway. You can then use your smartphone to switch between the games.

2. Continued decline in quality of social deals. In 2011, I predicted that we would see an increase in the number of social deals, but a decrease in the quality of the offerings. This trend will continue in 2012. When community buying started to get big, customers were being offered 70%, 80%, and 90% off quality merchandise, services, and restaurants. Now, things have changed, and will continue to degrade. Example: The Groupon for January 3rd, 2012, was 53% off two singing Justin Beiber toothbrushes. There will still be good deals to be had, you just have to be diligent in finding the worthy ones.

3. Growth in social media measurement tools, but no winner established.  This has been the elephant in in the room of community managers for years. We’ve been able to make due by clustering together a variety of analytics, influence measurement, and link tracking to get a good idea of active audience size and engagement.  Several companies are competing for this space (Radian 6, Klout, PeerIndex, Twitalyzer, Crowdbooster, Sysomos, etc.) Some are free, some cost thousands of dollars a year, but nobody can paint the complete picture. Unfortunately, solving the social media measurement problem won’t come in 2012.

3.5 More IPOs. We saw 19 social media IPOs in 2011, and over 80% of them are trading below their opening price as we start 2012…not a good track-record (more on that story from Mashable). This year will certainly see it’s share of IPOs, perhaps the anticipated Facebook IPO will be the largest in history, but the viability of these properties will continue to be called into question. It’s hard to predict who will to what with whom, but if you do decide to invest, history tells us that you will be losing money. This one only gets 0.5 because the Facebook IPO is an easy one to call, but we also can anticipate others going public this year, including Livingsocial, Dropbox, and Yelp.

September 1, 2011

Seller Beware: What your business needs to know about Social Coupons and Community Buying [Interview]

One of the best take-aways from the Social Capital Conference this summer was the connection I made with Vivian Chang, Owner of BlendCreations.com (contemporary jewelry designers). Vivian had used a series of social coupons to drive business development, and I wanted the dirt. Of course, the main reason she decided to offer a social coupon for BlendCreations.com was to attract new customers, but it turns out that there are some other unexpected results you should think about if you are considering offering a social coupon for your business.

Vivian agreed to a quick interview to dive a little deeper into her social coupon experiment. During our conversation, she touches upon the quality of customer these sites attract, having to honour expired coupons, tips for other businesses considering social coupons, and more. Here are some of the highlights from the interview:

Q1 – What was the perceived benefit, and actual outcome, of offering a social coupon?

The perceived benefit was reaching a large, new customer base in cities where we had never had much exposure. While this was true — we did get an increase in traffic from the targeted cities — the resulting number of sales was disappointing. In hindsight, it’s not surprising because our product is quite niche. Remember, not everyone in the Groupon customer base will be interested in your product.

Q2 – Tell me the worst part about offering a social coupon?

Getting the less-than-ideal customer. This would be someone who is a bargain hunter, who has saved up enough referral money to spend the minimum value on your deal. These people often have no intention of buying again. By using ‘referral money’ (the kickbacks that many social coupon sites give customers for referring others), it further devalues the perceived value of our product.

Q3 – Was there anything unexpected that other business owners should know?

It’s easily overlooked, but in Canada gift certificates cannot expire. So a social coupon is essentially selling a discounted gift certificate — it has a monetary value that the customer has purchased. Once the social coupon has expired, the deal price is no longer valid, but the customer is still entitled to use their coupon for the amount they paid. In other words, if the coupon was $10 for $20 worth of merchandise, once the coupon expires, the customer can still use their coupon for $10 worth of merchandise. In that sense, you still have to deal with honouring expired coupons.

Q4 – Would you do it again?

While our experience was “okay” — we did not lose money in doing social coupons — we have decided not to continue this type of marketing. Part of the reason is that there are just so many social coupon sites out there. The novelty of the social coupon has kind of worn off for the average consumer, so getting your deal noticed in a sea of a dozen or more daily deals is getting harder.

The other reason is the prevalence of the “bargain-hunter” — someone who has no intention of repeat business —which makes it hard to want to do more social coupons since it can be the same bargain-hunters who repeatedly only buy with a steep discount. In many ways, doing more social coupons would result in exposure to an audience who has either already seen us, or is only interested in us as a ‘bargain’ and not as a business they’d otherwise patronize.

Q5 -Would you encourage other small business owners to offer social coupons?

I would encourage other small business owners to go in with their eyes wide open — read the fine print and calculate whether or not there is a good return on investment. Make absolutely sure that selling a large number of social coupons does not actually cost you money. Also know that you are going into a social coupon as a marketing venture and not a way to make money off each sale.

About Blend Creations Contemporary Jewelry Designers

Blend Creations seemed like a fitting name for a contemporary jewelry line when husband & wife team Eric Jean-Louis and Vivian Cheng decided to partner in an artistic business venture. Together, graphic designer Eric, and industrial designer Vivian, combine their divergent design approaches to create a contemporary jewelry line that is clean and modern in aesthetic, yet also blends their respective cultures in East meeting West. Find out more at BlendCreations.com.

July 25, 2011

The Awesomeness and Oddities at the Social Capital Conference

With great anticipation, the first annual Social Capital Conference was held in Ottawa last weekend. The sold-out event gathered 150+ of the region’s top thinkers, social networking professionals, and most enthusiastic social media beginners to discuss issues divided into three streams: fundamental, advanced, and business. I spent all day in the business stream, but I also heard great things from each of the other sessions.

Now onto some of the awesomeness. It truly was a successful event. A great crowd, great conversations, some interesting speakers. The part of the day I enjoyed the most was the 90-minute session of organized-chaos where attendees were encouraged to roam freely between about a dozen facilitated conversations about podcasting, SEO, social coupons, risk management, WordPress, Twitter, community management, and so on.

Best takeaways. First, my conversation with Vivian Cheng, Owner of Blend Creations. She was discussing how she uses social media for her business, and her experience with community buying services (or social coupons). The plan is to interview her for a later post on community buying from a (small) business perspective.

Second was a conversation with @Kmarketing, facilitated by @benkmyers, about SEO. It was less of a conversation, and more of me asking a few questions and trying to absorb all the details and knowledge spilling out. If you want to chat about SEO and analytics, talk to these guys.

Now the Oddities. Before I get into this, I want to be clear that I’m pointing out the challenges in the interest of improving an already great event for next year, not to be insulting. A few logistical snags were the only thing holding this back from being the one of the best conferences I have been to: long lunch lines, running out of food, not enough conference “gift bags.” For some people lunch consisted of a half of an egg salad sandwich and a diet coke; not the best value for a $75 ticket.

This was all minor stuff that the content of the conference helped you forget about, but the one thing that was really a pain point was the lack of WiFi service. Yup, that’s right, it was a social media conference, in the Nation’s Capital, and there was no Wifi. It was so important to the function and optics of the event. I even asked about WiFi service the week before the event, and I was assured it would be there…and it wasn’t – #fail. Also, no tweet wall was used to help people keep track of the conversations: that’s another easy one to fix for next year too -visible tweets is a good option.

Overall, it was a solid conference, and I hope they do it again in 2012, if not sooner. It’s always great to designate at least one day a year to meet some of your “online friends” IRL.

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