Will Google Me be a social networking heavyweight?

Google has tried a number of times to crack the social networking side of the web and come up short. While some would have you believe that the king of search is down and out on the canvas, I’m of the opinion that they’ve just taken a few nasty blows to the head and Round 2 is about to begin. What am I talking about? Google Me.

There have been a number of rumours doing the rounds that Google is preparing a fully-blown assault on the social networking space with a product called Google Me. Now, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I think this will be a success for them, IF, they actually put the resources behind it. Why the emphasis on resources? Simply this, in my opinion when Google actually put the resources behind a product it usually pretty successful – think Google Earth, Maps, Chrome etc. However, when we get some of their “projects” it tends to fizzle out quite quickly – think Wave, Buzz. According to the rumours out there, Google Me is actually being supported with some serious resources.

Why is this important for Google? It’s about capturing the eyeballs, getting that share of your online day. You may have read recently that traffic to social networks outstripped traffic to search sites for the first time recently, so there’s clearly a need for Google to put some serious effort into developing a seriously compelling social networking offering. Key to success here is going to be how Google uses its position of strength in strength and video content to build a network that offers full functionality, but doesn’t make it complicated. Will that be Google Me? I think so….

Will Brazil 2014 be all about the mobile?

For me, the World Cup is by far and away the premier sporting event in the world. It’s a sort of global carnival with local charm and flavour, featuring the world’s best players. So, it’s easy to see why it represents a huge marketing opportunity for brands. An interesting thing about World Cup marketing campaigns is that act as a snapshot to consumer media consumption.

Take Germany 2006, social media and social networking was still yet to envelop the masses. Sure, we had YouTube, but Facebook was not the huge entity it is today and I think Twitter had just launched. So, naturally, campaigns were more skewed towards traditional media. Fast forward to 2010 and social media and networks has played a very large part in many brand marketing campaigns, but I will say not as much as I thought it would. For example, I thought more would be made of Twitter and geo-location networks like FourSquare and Gowalla. Which brings me to the point of the post – will Brazil 2014 be all about the mobile?

It would seem the be next big opportunity. We’re spending more and more time on our mobile devices and they increase in sophistication almost on a monthly basis. Networks such as Twitter were born with mobile in mind, but it has to an extent migrated onto desktop-bound machines. However, the true power of Twitter lives in the mobile phone as it allows instant sharing. And from that, we move to geo-loaction networks like FourSquare and Gowalla which are increasing in popularity at a rapid rate. Not only is there a huge opportunity via social networks, but also through app development and other forms of mobile marketing, such as live streaming – imagine having goal-replays sent to your phone while you’re at the stadium.

My opinion is that Brazil 2014 will be the biggest social media World Cup ever and we’ll see major brands invest heavily in mobile campaigns as a way of getting to the consumer.  Those that want to come out on top will figure out two things: 1) How do I get into the match experience with the consumer, 2) How do I get them closer to what they want, so that I become an integral part of that experience

Celebrities, Forbes cares if you’re social

If you were checking out the Forbes annual most powerful celebrities list, you may have noticed an additional ranking criteria – social. Other ranking factors include things like pay, TV/radio rank, press rank and web rank. According to Forbes, the move comes predominantly as a result of the growth of Facebook and Twitter and not necessarily as a result of their wider social footprint.

While this may look a little gimmicky on the surface, there’s actually much more to this than just who’s the most popular on Facebook and Twitter. From a brand perspective, rankings like this could enable you to make smarter decisions when looking to sign-up brand ambassadors for social media campaigns. After all, what’s the point of signing-up the top ranking celebrity from a TV/radio perspective when you’re looking to deploy a social media campaign heavily focused on Twitter.

In addition, we could also start and see social media take on much more significant role within the negotiations between brands and celebrities. For example, the number and frequency of tweets, how branded they are, what type of content is to be shared, will it be purely 1-way, or are there expectations around engagement. Of course, with all these elements there comes a price……if you’re a top 10 social media ranking celebrity, that price suddenly becomes easier for you to negotiate.

Coca-Cola scores big with World Cup tweets

Only the second company to purchase a Promoted Tweet advertising package, Coca-Cola has reported seeing some “phenomenal” results, securing around 85 million views within the first day of their World Cup campaign. Whilst they haven’t revealed how much the entire package costs, it has been hinted that it’s not been that expensive compared to other types of online advertising.

Since its launch in April, there have been only two companies run Promoted Tweets advertising packages, with Pixar being the first with a campaign for Toy Story 3.  Early reports on performance are very good with engagement rates up at around 6 per cent, which is fairly impressive stuff in the world of online advertising.

I think a lot of people were a little unsure about this when it was first launched, but the early signs are looking very positive. Brands with a passion for cutting-edge techniques and those that are brave enough to be in that early adopter pool should seriously consider getting involved. However, in just the same way that brands saw so much success in the early days of Facebook’s branded platform, they’ll need to think about the whole package and produce a brand story that can move fluidly between owned, bought and earned.

90-9-1

PR has argued for a long time that one of the keys to successful communications is defining the right people to talk to. Ultimately, who are the most influential people that your audience look to. Until a little thing called Social Media came along, this meant journalists. Having spent the last four years working in digital/social media communications I can tell you that you we’re increasingly seeing these influencers emerge within a whole host of social contexts online – social networks, blogs, community sites, forums and so on.

So, what’s 90-9-1? Well it was something that I’ve been seeing crop-up on a number of other blogs, Twitter feeds and I think it originated with the BtoBOnline magazine. It essentially states that 1 per cent of a community contributes 90 per cent of the content online and are by far and away the most influential. The remaining 9 is the percentage of people that interact and comment on this content and in addition to this, the 90 also represents the number of people that passively (read/view) engage with the content.

While I think this a very smart way of looking at audiences within social media, I think that it lacks flexibility in terms of the the communities themselves. I can tell you from personal experience that the ratio of influence and content production is very different from say a gaming community and a community around fitness. What this rule does show us is the need to map out the ratio of influence based on the specific communities you’re looking at, it would be extremely helpful to know that the community you’re targeting is say  80-15-5. By establishing this, you can better develop your strategy and resulting tactical plan to the point that you’re actually using the structure of the community to your (and their) benefit.

The value of a Facebook fan is……$136.38

I remember giving a presentation on Facebook brand pages when the Facebook phenomenon first started to take-off and while most of the resulting questions tended to be fairly standard, there was one that stood out – What‘s the value of a fan? What a great question……one that I couldn’t really answer at the time with any real specifics. Sure, we can talk about engagement, WOM tracking, sentiment and so forth, but what is that fan worth to that brand?

Well, we may just have that answer, or at least a step towards figuring it out. In a recently released paper, Syncapse and Hotspex have jointly developed a model that can places a monetary amount against a Facebook fan. You can download the PDF report here, but topline, here’s what they say. Their model looks at the value of the audience, not just the simple action of becoming a fan. To establish this, they tracked a number of variables – Product spending, loyalty, propensity to recommend, brand affinity, media value, acquisition cost. In the paper, they describe a brand’s fan base a “self-segmented group of highly valuable customers”. I think is interesting on a number of levels as the they’re hinting at a target audience that is in fact built by the audience by the mere fact of networking around the brand.

So, what does the paper say? As you’d guess, it’s about the numbers:

  • On average, fans spend an additional $71.84 on products for which they are fans compared to those that are not fans
  • Fans are 28 per cent more likely than non-fans to continue using the brand
  • Fans are 41 per cent more likely than non-fans to recommend a fanned product to their friends
  • The average value of a fan is $136.38, but can go up to as much as $270.77, but can also drop to $0.00

I’m planning to write more on this later in the week, but I imagine we’ll see a few more developments over the coming weeks and perhaps even some alternative opinions…..

You can’t own an entire communications channel, just ask the Murdoch’s

According to the latest PR GAP study, PR “owns” social media. More than a quarter of companies they surveyed stated that they gave 80 per cent or more of the budgetary control of social media to PR. In addition to control of the budget, almost a quarter said that PR is also the strategic lead when it comes to social media. But, does PR really own social media? Can you possibly own an entire communications channel? The answer is no.

Does advertising own TV? Media buyers outdoor display? Do the spin doctors and publicists get the red tops? Again, no….PR doesn’t own social media, we just get it more than the other disciplines. Ask any PR person what the key to their success is and they’ll tell you – developing and maintaining relationships with a diverse range of media, making sure that the conversations they’re having with each one is both meaningful and rewarding. It’s this that put’s PR in the driving seat when it comes to social media, but it doesn’t give us ownership of it.

This space is going to require a truly integrated approach to make it work, having a conversation is fine, but what are you going to talk about, what do you want to share? Ultimately, the question is this – what’s your brand story? This isn’t a PR-only job, it’s a wider job that requires brains from our buddies in advertising, branding, media buying, research. Don’t agree? Put it this way, if PR owned TV, there wouldn’t be any TV.

So, I go back to my initial point – you can’t own an entire communications channel. But there is something that you can own in social media – you brand story. But like any good story, it’s got a lot of different characters involved, many twists and turns and ultimately, that story means something different to everyone that reads it….you get me?

Is IR the next big social media milestone for PR?

I came across an interesting press release from Furlong PR suggesting that FTSE 100 companies are missing on the investor relations potential of social media. The press release mainly cites some research that Furlong has conducted which looked at a number of FSTE 100 corporate websites. Unsurprisingly, most of them lack any kind of social media elements, even the basics such as RSS feeds. In the release, they also make reference to a Canadian company that began integrating social media into their investor relations and saw traffic to their site increase from 100 to 4000 per week, and also saw the share price double from $0.06 to $0.12.

With most experts assigning social media “ownership” to PR, is IR the next big milestone for the PR industry? In my own experience over the past four years working with social media, it was initially quite difficult to convince traditional PR teams to invest in social media and I envisage the same journey unfolding with IR teams. So, what lessons can we learn from our social media journey with traditional PR teams? It surely has to be simplifying the entire process:

  • Clearly outline the objectives to be achieved – drive further traffic to IR information, increase conversation around this information. Ultimately, help increase the reputation of the company and therefore help the share price
  • Clearly identify the audience – understand the stakeholders that are important to IR, outline the different groups within these and rank their importance
  • Identify relevant channels – where do we best focus our efforts? Looking at he audiences, where do they spend their time and where are we most likely to be able to deliver our information and meet our objectives
  • Measurement – we know what the objectives are, who the audience is and the channels we’re going to use, so therefore we should know what we’ll measure to judge success

Sounds simple and straight forward doesn’t it? But what’s not addressed here is the fear factor that we all faced with those initial projects with clients. This is something that we’ll need to address with more authority and vigor with this audience. So, how do we do it? Do we employ the tried and tested methods of crisis communications, do we wheel out the Crisis comms chap? Nope, that’ll just increase the fear factor by 10! So what do you do? You follow a method that’s not readily employed in PR, but one that encourages companies of all sizes invest anything from a few thousand dollars to billons of dollars – you assess the risk, independently if you can.

Risk assessment is something that FTSE 100 companies undertake in most major projects, either externally or internally depending on the size and scope of the projects. Why can’t PR do the same when dealing with IR in social media? Most PR firms have IR, corporate and even legal teams that could help produce such an assessment, so it seems a logical step to take and one that FSTE 100 companies are very comfortable with.

Are Promoted Trends on the way?

It wasn’t so long ago that we all welcomed the news around Promoted Tweets, and now after a lot of waiting, it seems that we might be getting another bit of news on the Twitter brand platform. According to a few sources, Twitter is considering selling trending topics as ad space. Apparently, Twitter is even having preliminary conversations with existing partners about this potentially new ad stream for them.

According to the Mashable post on it,  “Promoted trends” would let advertising partners create and sponsor a trending term to appear alongside organic terms for a set period of time. Should a user then click on the Promoted trend, they would be redirected to the Twitter search page with the same advertiser’s Promoted Tweet featured at the top.

There’s a couple of interesting points to consider here if this is in fact going to launch and it will function as detailed above. The first is the eyeballs the trending topics actually get – I for one use TweetDeck and don’t actually look at the trending topics that much and tend to rely on watching what’s happening in my own circle. Second is the fact that for a topic to trend, it must generate a lot of mentions – having a “promoted trend” surely doesn’t make sense as it isn’t a “trend” but an ad unit that looks like a trend. Third, the mechanic above drives further traffic to the search page – Twitter is probably one of the only networks where the majority of links drive you to other pages, in this case and the case of the promoted Tweets, they are both focusing on the Twitter Search page.

It’s going to be very interesting watching the Twitter brand platform develop. I for one welcome any move to make the network more brand friendly, but you can’t help but ask the question – why are you focusing on the Twitter search page and not applications, specifically mobile-based applications where many see the big money moving forward?

Is Facebook about to give YouTube a bloody nose?

According to ComScore, more Facebook users than ever are watching videos on the site and this has been growing at a fairly healthy rate over the past 12 months. In fact, Facebook could end the year second behind YouTube in terms of reach for online video providers. The data shows that video viewing figures are at around 41.3 million per month as of April 2010 representing huge yearly growth at over 200 per cent. The interesting facet about those numbers, it’s that only counts the video hosted on Facebook itself, not YouTube videos viewed on Facebook……

Mirroring a similar trend to the “social search” post from yesterday, Facebook really is turning out to be the King of Content, but could we soon see them take on the might of YouTube when it comes to video hosting? Hey, it’s possible. The question to ask is this – how can they take on an open platform like YouTube from behind the closed doors of their network? Could we start and see a partially open Facebook where more and more content is placed outside of the confines of your network? With figures like these, I guess this is all going to be (a lot of) food for thought for the guys and gals at Facebook