As an everyday user of the criminally addictive social networking site Facebook, I rolled my eyes when I saw the new “Timeline” design. Why fix something if it’s not broken? Didn’t I just get used to the most recent interface? While I sat absorbing all the new features, Facebook was busy launching a revelatory tool for marketers.
Previously, the popularity of a business’ Facebook page was driven by the number of “likes” and “comments.” Businesses could hide behind the “like” button. Now, marketers are forced to tell a story about their brand (and if you know anything about CMB, we LOVE to tell a story). Customer engagement is now driven by a personal connection developed through captivating storytelling as opposed to an unimpassioned click of a button. Users can follow their favorite brands from conception to the present through the Timeline layout.
With the new layout, fans and visitors now see the same landing page. Everyone is privy to the same content, and it must be appealing enough to convert the “lurkers” into “likers.” Marketers need to achieve this through good storytelling, and Facebook has developed several new tools on the Timeline that allow users to make their stories unique.
New features like pinning and starring posts allow developers to anchor their most important posts at the top of their page for seven days. This ensures that the best stories don’t get lost in daily posts. Videos and pictures are now amplified on the pages, helping drive deeper engagement by existing fans, and piquing interest in potential ones. Milestones can now be defined by the business and posted publicly when they are achieved; allowing companies to share their successes with the people who helped get them there.
The most controversial of the new additions, is the ability to privately message people. This tool is being viewed as a way to individually engage with fans, and allow for quicker and more personal responses. However, companies should proceed with caution in using this feature. Bombarding their fans with an abundance of messages is a surefire way to turn off their support base. This tool should be used to help foster, and not strain, the relationships between businesses and their consumers.
A common driver of the old Facebook interface was quantity of content. The new Facebook Timeline pushes the focus to quality. Developers are encouraged to optimize the content they have in order to engage fans by telling their story during their fans’ “peak” usage periods and pinning popular posts.
As professional story-tellers, we are excited here at CMB to launch our Timeline here
Posted by Keri Ibbitson. Keri is an Associate Researcher with the Travel and Entertainment team. When not writing about the complexities of Facebook, you can find her watching the Bruins, wrapped up in an Intervention marathon, or dreaming of going back to London.
Last year we partnered with Constant Contact to learn how consumers use Facebook to connect with brands. Take a look at this cool infographic from Intuit and Column Five featuring some of our findings and how small businesses are using social media:
Download the full report here.
This week we released a new Consumer Pulse report highlighting 10 Quick Facts You Should Know About Facebook. In collaboration with our friends at Constant Contact, we asked nearly 1,500 Americans over 18 about their Facebook habits. While it may not surprise you that 75% of American adults who go online have used Facebook, how they use the site to connect with companies and brands just might. Here are a few of my favorite facts:
56% of consumers said they are more likely to recommend a brand to a friend after becoming a fan on Facebook (tweet this)
Mark Schmulen @mschmulen, Constant Contact’s GM of social media and I were chatting a lot about this point. I loved that Mark calls Facebook a “recommendation engine,” I couldn’t agree more. While I would normally think of Yelp and other online review sites, Facebook is playing a big role in today’s social word of mouth and is indeed becoming a recommendation engine. Facebook users are not only creating a more personal relationship with a brand, they’re sharing that relationship with their friends and family. Brands have the opportunity to deepen and better relationships with consumers even after they’ve gotten their “thumbs up” on Facebook.
78% of consumers who “Like” brands on Facebook said they “Like” fewer than ten brands (tweet this)
Those who choose to fan a brand don’t do it to every brand that catches their eye. As consumers we tend to like brands we feel connected to and are happy to put our name against. Sure we have all different motivations for liking a brand from discounts and coupons to showing our support, but the good news is for the most part when we like a brand we tend to keep it that way; 76% of Facebook fans say they’ve never “un-liked” a brand.
45% of consumers said they spend most of their time on Facebook in the newsfeed (tweet this)
As a marketer I think this is one of the most important points to understand. A key ingredient to successful marketing on Facebook is consistently posting in the newsfeed. The research tells us 77% of those who are fans of a brand spend their time in the newsfeed. This is the opportunity brands have to engage in a two way conversation. Listen to what your fans are saying and contribute to the conversation.
Tremendous opportunities wait for brands that can provide engaging content and conversations with their fans. The chance to create a base of loyal, influential, and active consumers is too good to pass up for businesses of any size. I’d love to hear how you engage with brands as a Facebook user, and how your company makes its Facebook presence known.
Download the full report: 10 Quick Facts You Should Know About Consumer Behavior
Posted by Kristen Garvey. Kristen is CMB's VP of Marketing, a mom of two and she “likes” of The Wildflower Inn in Vermont because vacationing there was a great experience and she recommends it to friends all the time.
There was great energy and excitement among both the panelists and attendees at the MarkeitngSherpa B2B Marketing Summit in Boston this week. To a large extent, this whole new world of social media has really invigorated B2B marketing. In a world where it always seemed like B2C marketers got to do the “fun” stuff, B2B marketers seem to be as engaged as ever and having a blast doing their job.
The event was excellent and while there were a lot of great take-a-ways here are a few that stuck out in my mind:
Size Doesn’t Matter– It’s not about how many Fans or Followers you have, it matters who they are. With so many brands having thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of Fans the numbers have lost their WOW factor. As marketers we need to dig deeper and take a more deliberate approach to finding the “right” people to engage with. It’s the engagement that matters.
Measurement Remains a Challenge- There was a lot of discussion around what people are measuring and what tools they are using to measure their success. There were many suggestions from free options like Social Mention to more robust enterprise solutions like Radian6. It was interesting to hear the various metrics, but it is clear there is not yet a true standard and the metrics will (and should) differ depending on the objectives. It all goes back to what you want to achieve.
Start With a Plan and Re-evaluate- Just like any other marketing initiative, it is important to look at where you are now and where you want to go. Make tangible goals, and those will be the measurement of your success. I thought Vanessa Dimauro (@vdimauro) said it best when she said: Patience, persistence and being proactive are key to your strategy. Along with having fun and enjoying the ride!
Vanessa reminded everyone as marketers we are part of a new generation of marketing. We get the benefit of being able to forge a new path, experiment, learn and enjoy! Check out some of the conversation on Twitter (#b2bsummit) and feel free to download our social media reports to learn more about Why Social Media Matters and Social Sharing.
Posted by Kristen Garvey. Kristen is CMB's Director of Communications, a mother of two, and B2B marketer enjoying the ride. Follow her on Twitter @KristenGarvey
Yesterday we released a report that takes a closer look at the Social Sharing phenomenon and the why, what and how behind it. There's no doubt social media has amplified traditional word of mouth. For marketers, understanding what kinds of content people are likely to share and making sure it’s easy to share are both key to any content generation strategy.
Content generation isn’t just for publishers and authors anymore. As marketers we are all content generators, from blog posts and email campaigns to web pages and research reports. And our research shows that most consumers don’t care if it’s branded or created by a “professional,” what they care about is the content itself.
Four Tips to Make Sure Your Word of Mouth Strategy is “Socially Sharable”
- Consistency- Creating good relevant content on a regular basis is very important to building a solid inbound marketing campaign
- The Easy Button- Make it easy to share on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and of course thru email
- Relevance- Know your audience and what they find interesting, research shows if they find it interesting they will share it
- Engage!- Take this opportunity to engage your customers with your brand and amplify your message by creating an online dialogue
Download the full Social Sharing Report: How, Why, and What Content People Share Online.
Posted by Kristen Garvey. Kristen is CMB's Director of Communications, a mother of two, and a regular contributor to the CMB blog.
Today's post is from Jon Giegengack, a director on our retail and ecommerce team.
Even in comparison to other fast moving Internet trends and technologies-the social media revolution is expanding at phenomenal rates. Everyone feels the growing ubiquity of these networks, and there's plenty of published data to put hard numbers to that feeling.
- In the U.S. the active unique social network audience grew roughly 29% from 115 million in February 2009 to 149 million in February 2010.
- Active unique users of social networks are also up nearly 30% globally, rising from 244.2 million to 314.5 million collectively.
- Facebook alone boasts over 400 million active users, more than half of whom log on to Facebook in any given day
- Two thirds of all adults in the U.S. say they belong to at least one social network.
None of this is new news to anyone who's been paying attention. Far from it-to some expert observers, the rush of marketers to get involved in social media is reminiscent of another technological gold rush: the Dot Com Boom.
This isn't to say that social media is a "flash in the pan." There are lots of important differences between Web 2.0 and the dot.com era.
- Back then it was the Internet itself that was new; today it's just new applications running on a platform people are familiar with.
- Sites like Facebook and Twitter aren't reinventing consumer behavior, so much as enabling people to do the things they already like to do more frequently, efficiently, and better.
- Finally-social media is creating some new brands. But more often, it's facilitating stronger connections between consumers and brands they already know and use.
Nonetheless-one strong parallel is the "rush to get into the pool". When a trend grows so fast, and under such a cultural spotlight, the urgency among brands to get involved sometimes overwhelms the best decisions about how best to do it (and sustain it.)
What's the Risk?
Investing in social media without a clear strategy can cause a number of problems.
Choosing the wrong platforms: Second Life was created in 2003. By 2006, the company was on the cover of BusinessWeek and Wired; and other major media like Reuters and CNN had actually set up virtual bureaus inside Second Life. Almost overnight, major corporations of all kinds-from Toyota to Sony to Cisco-made major investments to build a Second Life presence. Within a couple of years, however, many of these companies had folded up their virtual shops. The general feeling: the technological requirements, learning curve, and receptivity of Second Life consumers made it too hard to earn a return on that investment.
Ironically-any of these characteristics would have been self evident to anyone who spent some time there. Furthermore--these "limitations" that made Second Life ineffective for some brands and applications, made it just right for others: For example, W Hotels claimed a "hundred-fold" return on its use of Second Life to test new hotel designs. And today companies like IBM and NASA use Second Life effectively for corporate training and collaboration.
The moral: many of the companies that invested in Second Life might have had better results if they'd understood the nature of the network before they jumped into the pool.
Taking the Wrong Approach: Forging ahead without a careful strategy also risks social media investments that miss the right chord with consumers (or even backfire.) For example-the RV Across America blog followed a couple visiting Walmart's across the country. When consumers discovered that the bloggers actually worked for Walmart, however, many felt deceived. Similarly-consumers who are accustomed to advertising on television aren't necessarily accepting of commercial messages on social networks. Many feel that brands who enter the network are on their "turf", and expect them to bring something more to the table than run-of-the-mill ads. It's critical to understand what kinds of communication your consumers will welcome, and what kinds they might resent, before you get into the game.
Solution: Test the water before diving in
Doing very basic research can enable you to make the most of the time and money you put into social media communications. Finding out basic things like...
- Which networks do your customers use? Looking at your target market (all of them-not just the ones on social media) to find out what networks they use, and why.
- What do they use them to do? If your customers don't use Twitter to communicate about purchases in your category, investing in that platform might not help your business even if the reach is tremendous.
- What kind of communications will work the best? Marketing messages that you use in other kinds of media might not work as well in social media; and they might backfire completely.
- Who should "own" social media? Find out what part of your company is best able to leverage social media, based on the needs of the people there. E.g. should these communications be owned by marketing; customer support, public relations; etc. :
- How much is it worth investing? Make sure your investment in social media is commensurate with what you have to gain by doing it well.
This kind of due diligence can make sure your social media strategy includes the right kind of investments, and generates the best possible return.
Posted by Jon Giegengack. Jon is a director on CMB's retail and ecommerce team, a video game and martial arts expert, and will be presenting at this year's Shopper Insights in Action Conference.
Want to learn more about social media research? Watch our webinar featuring Georgeanna Liu and Chris James from AMD as they present a case study of how CMB conducted market research to support key social media strategy decisions and how AMD is using it today. Watch here.