Friday Wrap #16: upside of showrooming,Google plays 6 Degrees, small and large businesses go social

Posted on September 14, 2012 2:25 pm by | Blogging | Business | Facebook | Marketing | Politics | Social Media | Social networks

Friday Wrap
Image (c) Can Stock Photo
“Thank God it’s Friday,” I hear you shout, since Friday promises another edition of the Friday Wrap. And indeed, here it is! I draw these items from the last seven days of my various feeds. I save the interesting items for consideration in the Wrap (and for Monday’s episode of For Immediate Release) on my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.

Showrooming could be good for retailers

One of the reasons Best Buy is on the ropes, according to analysts, is that the brick-and-mortar stores have become showrooms for Amazon.com. Visitors can check out the physical products, make their choices, then order them from Amazon for less money. Writing for Time, Brad Tuttle suggests the practice of showrooming could actually work in retailers’ favor—if they develop strategies knowing that customers are likely to use their phones to place an online order. According to a study from the mobile marketing firm Vibes, most customers aren’t inclined to give up on an in-store purchase and order online from someone else. Only 6% of shoppers order online from a competitor after checking out the products in person. Since 82% do bring their smartphones shopping with them, that 6% doesn’t sound so bad. And 29% reported showrooming but buying from the same store’s website. Rather than treat the etailing site and the physical store as two separate and distinct entities, retailers need to consider a seamless connection between the store and online ordering.

According to Tuttle, “Instead of battling against showrooming, retailers should embrace it. First off, ‘If you offer price matching, your associates should be trained to observe ‘showrooming’ behavior and approach customers proactively with offers and information to help close the sale,’ the study states. Retailers should also understand that the presence of a smartphone in a shopper’s hands can be an aide to closing the sale. In the survey, 48% of showrooming shoppers said that they felt better about their purchase after doing some in-store research and shopping around on their phones.”

Questioning Facebook’s effectiveness? 340,000 voters can’t be wrong

One single Facebook post on November 2, 2010—election day—inspired 340,000 users to go vote. If that’s not an endorsement of Facebook’s influence, I’m not sure what is. According to a study from UC San Diego, “more than 60 million people on Facebook saw a social, nonpartisan, ‘get out the vote’ message at the top of their news feeds Nov. 2, 2010. The message featured a reminder that, ‘Today is Election Day’; a clickable ‘I Voted’ button; a link to local polling places; a counter displaying how many Facebook users had already reported voting; and up to six profile pictures of users’ own Facebook friends who had reported voting.” The result: 60,000 people voted as a direct result of seeing the message, and another 280,000 voted because those 60,000 shared the message with their networks. According to study author and political science professor James Fowler, “Social influence made all of the difference in political mobilization. It’s not the “I Voted” button, or the lapel sticker we’ve all seen, that gets out the vote. It’s the person attached to it.”

Google makes it easier to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

Google has woven the party game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon into its search results. Next time you’re at a party and it comes up, sneak your phone out and do a Google search that starts with “Bacon number,” then the name of the actor you’re trying to connect to Bacon. For instance, want to find the distance between that actor and Bacon (e.g., “Bacon number Elizabeth Taylor”).  Don’t use the quote marks. The results for Liz, in case you’re interested, is 2: She and Tim Robbons appeared in Malice in Wonderland; Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon appeared in Mystic River. A Guardian article explains that the project was undertaken to showcase Google’s search engine’s capabilities.

Small business has embraced social networking

Depending on whom you talk to, small businesses just aren’t jumping on the social network bandwagon. Manta, an online small business forum, begs to differ. Based on a survey of 600 U.S. small business owners, 90% are devoting time to online networking and 78% find it as important as in-person networking. Quoted in a Los Angeles Times article, Manta CEO Pamela Springer says, “small businesses understand they need to go where their audience is. “Participating, networking and being found online is extremely important today in growing their business.” Fifty-eight percent of small businesses still struggle to tease value out of Facebook (or don’t have a Facebook page at all) and 25% said their company website is still the top driver of business. Still, 42% report they found a quarter of their new customers via social media sites.

Social media surging at large companies

We talked about small businesses. In the interest of equal time, let’s look at the big dogs. Nora Barnes Gamin is back with another study out of the University of Massachusetts that looks at social media usage among the Fortune 500. The results: While the INC 500 (the fastest growing companies) are outpacing the biggest companies on the Fortune list, these huge companies continue to increase their adoption of social media. Blogging is up 5%, twitter for corporate communications has risen 11% and Facebook pages are up 8%. According to a post by Mark Schaefer, “The 139 corporations with blogs come from 54 of the 71 industries represented in the F500. The industries that blog the most are Telecommunications, Banking, Specialty Retail, and Utilities. The 17 industries with no companies blogging include Forest and Paper Products, Railroads, Tobacco, Toys/Sporting Goods, Real Estate, Building Materials/Glass, Trucking and Waste Management.” 66% of the biggest 500 companies have Facebook pages, an 8% bump over the 2011 numbers. Berkshire Hathaway and Exxon are the only Fortune 10 companies without a Facebook presence. Seventy-three percent of the top 500 have active corporate Twitter accounts, up from 11% last year. For 2012, the study added YouTube and Pinterest. Only 2% of the Fortune 500 had Pinterest accounts, but 62% are sharing videos on YouTube.

How many influencers do you need to reach out to? Maybe just one

I have to admit I’ve never heard of the band xx, but I’m pretty impressed with their outreach effort. They shared the stream of their latest album with one (count him, one) fan (via Facebook) before its release in the U.S. Within a day, the site hosting the album crashed from multiple millions of streams. The average user spent 2.1 hours on the site. The band identified the superfan who was targeted with the message by monitoring who was posting most often about the band on social sites. The experiment speaks volumes about the importance of identifying superfans, treating them special and letting them do the heavy lifting. “A day before the album’s official US release, the viral move made it to the homepage of Reddit, where fans motivated by the visualization initiated a campaign to get the album spread in each country of the globe,” according to the story in the Guardian.

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