Friday Wrap #13: Facebook pages ruling; how professionals, journalists & everybody uses social media2012-08-10
Every week, I find fascinating items in my various newsfeeds. I’d like to blog about them all, but time is short. The Friday Wrap is a review of some of the most interesting. I select them from my link blog.
In Australia, it’s all just advertising on Facebook
So you’re an Australian company and you’ve set up a Facebook page dedicated strictly to customer support. The focus of that page no longer matters as far as the Australian government is concerned. According to the Advertising Standards Board, posts made to any Facebook page you may have established—along with comments left by your customers—are all considered advertising and must comply with advertising laws. According to the Telegraph, “The judgment has already caused widespread concern in Australia and threatens to undermine Facebook’s advertising on a worldwide basis, as posts made by users in any country can appear on companies’ Facebook pages.” The ruling stemmed from posts on Smirnoff’s Facebook page. The consequences could be huge. Companies with pages will have to resource to vet user comments on their pages. “If, for example, a user (on Smirnoff’s page) claimed that Smirnoff voda was the purest Russian vodka or it could lead to success with women, the compan would be liable on multiple counts, accordin got John Swinson, a partner at King Wood Mallesons said,” writes Telegraph reporter Katherine Rushton. Others believe the ruling could stand only for a short time before common sense prevails down under.
New evidence supports unblocking employee access to social media
Productivity is one of the biggest concerns of companies that block employee access to social media. Over the years, ample research has emerged to show how absurd that fear is. Now there’s new evidence for companies to ignore. Professionals spend 40% of their time online interacting in peer-based communities, and 65% participate specifically to engage with a professional community of colleagues and peers via social media networks. The fact that professionals spend considerable time and effort via social media for work related purposes is the result of a new study from the Society for New Communication Research (of which I am a Founding Fellow). The Social Mind found that 80% participate to help others by sharing information, ideas and experiences, and 82% exchange information with professional networks. According to a press release, “For seeking information about companies, nearly 50% of respondents said that visiting company websites was most meaningful, 45% read blogs; followed by microblogging (41%), direct email (40%) and information exchange in online groups or forums (41%).”
A snapshot of journalists’ use of social media
It’s a microcosm of the journalism world, to be sure, but UK PR firm Broadgate Media’s study of how financial journalists in England use social media has results that are worth considering and comparing to studies of other media segments here in the U.S. and elsewhere. The agency’s 2012 Digital Trends Survey (PDF)—which also looks at in-house use of social media among companies in the financial services sector—finds that journalists aren’t engaging on Twitter; rather, they’re “Tweeting Toms,” as the study puts it, with 43% of respondents saying they use Twitter to listen in on other conversations. 38% use Twitter to research stories, while only 12% are using it as a two-way tool, a substantial decline from the 47% who engaged in conversation via Twitter just last year. As for pitches, these journalists want email only. “To the media, services like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook remain completely inappropriate ways to pitch stories,” the study reports. Wikipedia is an important tool for both journalsits and communication officers in financial services companies, according to the study. “Responses from journalists indicated general suspicion and cynicism about the accuracy of Wikipedia,” the study reports, yet 80% of respondents admit to using the crowdsourced encyclopedia for research. The research also finds that companies are having some success altering Wikipedia entries despite conflict-of-interest rules (see chart). The study is free for the taking and contains other feedback on pitching preferences, use of smartphones and more.
LinkedIn rolls out tools in push for more content
If you don’t think content is critical, consider LinkedIn’s roll-out of new developer tools and resources designed to encourage the creation of applications and “supply its service with enough content to keep members contnually engaged on its web and mobile platforms,” according to VentureBeat‘s Jennifer Van Grove. The news comes on the heels of a surprisingly strong earnings report, one of the few standouts for a social media company as Facebook, Zynga and others suffer ongoing declines from their original IPO pricing. Among the improvements is a spiffier share API that will make it easier for a linkedIn user to share content to the site, with the source of the content getting credit with a link appearing at the top of the post. “The message from LinkedIn today is this,” writes Van Grove: “Come build your media-rich applications on LinkedIn and integrate with us, and we’ll put your content in front of 175 million people. In return, LinkedIn gets content flowing into its network that should further engage its membes who, especially on mobile, are consuming it even more rabidly with each passing month.”
Reasons for following brands on social media undergo a shift
For a few years, we have taken it for granted that people mainly follow brands on social media so they can get coupons, discounts and notices of sales and specials. While that’s still important, 59% said they followed the brand because they were already customers. Respondents also said that entertaining content is as compelling a reason to follow a brand as announcements of money-off offers. Nearly half of U.S. social network users who visit a social site at least daily reported liking or following an entertainment related company or product on a social network, and “43% said they ‘liked’ or followed restuarants and food-related companies, and 37% said they were interested in celebrity-related companies or products,” eMarketer reports. “Sports were also on the list, with 32% of respondents having ‘liked’ or followed such companies on social networks. Industries with less entertainment appeal, such as appliances, were ‘liked’ by just 10% of respondents.” Reading this, I was suddenly reminded of “Will It Blend” and wondering why other appliance manufacturers aren’t jumping on the content marketing bandwagon. The Performics study also looked at the categories of content that resonates with social media users, and “the entertainment rend continues.” At the top of the list are photos and videos; 44% of respondents said they were “likely to engage with brand posts that contained pictures.”
Mobile gradually replacing the desktop
If I were working with an organization on a new online home for content, I would strongly advise to design for mobile first. Evidence continues to mount that smartphones and, to a lesser degree, tablets are replacing desktop and laptop computers for some routine activities. The latest: ClickZ reports that 36.9% of mobile users accessed a social network or blog on thieir phone during the second quarter, up almost a point from the first quarter. Mobile gaming crept up the same point, from 32.6% to 33.4%. “the numbers might only be slowly creeping up,” writs ClickZ staffer Madeline Bennett, “but the overall pattern shows a greater proportion of mobile subscribers are using their handhelds for traditional desktop tasks.”