Friday Wrap #70: Brand sharing, content’s importance, B2B and emotions, RSS is back, and more2013-10-04
Image (c) CanStockPhotoIt was hard keeping the Wrap down to a reasonable number of items this week, so I stopped trying. Not everything I flagged is here, though, so if you want to see all the entire collection of stories from which I drew this week’s bits and pieces, visit my link blog at LinksFromShel.tumblr.com.
Brands should share more; consumers don’t think they do
Sharing content is great, but limiting sharing to content is one-dimensional thinking. Ninety percent of customers want marketers to disclose more about their brands, according to a new Edelman report, but only 10% of customers think brands are meeting this need. The report, Brandshare, lists three mandates “for brands to gain business value through sharing,” writes PRWeek‘s Sarah Shearman. “The first mandate is for brands to change their marketing ethos and involve consumers in every part of the brand-development process, rather than just at the end.” Ninety-one percent of survey respondents want to play a part in design and development, and nearly as many want insights into how products are made and how they stack up against the competition. Mandate number two: brands need to craft “a single narrative that engages people in the full brand story.” The study found 92% of consumers prefer doing business with companies that share their values, something organizations share with employees and other audiences, but rarely with consumers. Finally, brands should integrate sharing “across all channels and redesign communities to actively listen and respond to consumers’ questions, ideas, and needs.” “People now have a wider look of the world and more exposure to information,” according to Jennifer Cohan global chair of consumer marketing. “As brands have started to talk to people, their expectations have elevated. Brands have provided people with an opportunity to express their own values.”
Content marketing vital to customer engagement
Original quality content is critical to reaching and engaging customers, according to a study from SEO firm Skyword and Unisphere Research. The study analyzed overall content creation activities as well as the social media dimension of content amplification “and how it is shaping the content marketing landscape,” according to a Bulldog Reporter Daily Dog story. Three key findings emerged from the study. First, close to half the companies participating in the study have formal content marketing strategies and 37% more are giving it serious thought. That means content marketing is gaining traction, even though only 25% “actually measure the results of the individual pieces of content they produce and distribute.” Second, “more than two-thirds of respondents indicate the primary objective of their content marketing program is to engage customers and prospects.” Third, 70% of responding executives said they are using social media to distribute content, with Facebook and Twitter leading the pack. Most brands are creating their own original content and would like to produce more than they already are. The biggest challenge, in fact, is producing “enough content to keep audiences coming back on a regular basis.” The importance of content marketing is reinforced in an Unisphere Research report shared via eMarketer, which found that 48% of marketers “devoting at least 10% of their budget to content creation, with 19% of marketers allocating 25% or more.”
Facebook Graph Search now uncovers comments and posts
Facebook’s Graph Search has been a useful tool for identifying people based on combinations of criteria, but you were out of luck if you were looking for a post or comment on a particular topic. That changed this week with an update that lets users search for conversation topics within status updates, comments and posts. The update is rolling out over time—as do most new Facebook features—but it makes Facebook “much more conducive to real-time conversations, an area where it has been making major strides to compete with the likes of Twitter,” according to Mashable‘s Kurt Wagner. “When a user logs into his profile during a primetime event, he can quickly scan all conversations about the game or his favorite show, even if he isn’t near the top of the News Feed.” The searches could also be a boon to marketers looking for trends to tap into as part of their real-time efforts. Of course, there’s equal danger that revealing this trends will just lead marketers to pollute the social space with more predatory weeds. (Read the next item for clarification.)
B2B marketing needs to get emotional
There’s a higher level of emotional connection between B2B brands and their clients compared with B2C companies and their customers, according to a Corporate Executive Board study, which suggests that ‘emotional connections across the organization strengthens business relationships.” According to Laurie Sullivan, writing for MediaPost’s Online Media Daily, “The relationship now requires the business to fulfill the personal and the emotional needs of the client…which should also change the focus of advertising and marketing campaigns.” Customers of companies like Oracle, Accneture, FedEx, SAP and Salesforce feel stronger emotional ties to the brands than do customers of CVS, L’Oreal and WalMart.
Google brings RSS subscriptions back to Alerts
Google has restored RSS feeds as a means of checking updates to Google Alerts, writes Thornley Fallis CEO Joe Thornley on his ProPR blog. The feature was phased out last spring at the same time Google did away with Google Reader. “I don’t know about you, but I try to preserve my email inbox for one to one interactions,” Thornley writes. “That means finding other ways to receive one to many and other types of notices and news. And by far and away, RSS is my preferred method for this purpose.”
Those parody social accounts don’t violate the law
I imagine exasperated lawyers and marketers wondering if they can sue the creators of accounts that poke fun at their company. (Remember the fake BP public relations Twitter account during the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill?) They may wonder if the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act offers grounds for putting a stop to the satirizing of the brand. But a recent ruling has put an end to any such hopes. Eric Goldman writes on his Technology & Marketing Law Blog that the law applies to the use of protected computers only. The ruling was part of a suit brought by an assistant middle school principal who was unhappy at the social media accounts some of his students created using his name and likeness. The court dismissed the case because the fake accounts exceeded the scope of the law. “Congress did not intend to target the misguided attempts at retribution by juvenile middle school students against an assistant principal in enacting RICO,” the magistrate judge wrote. Goldman comments, “Talk about the understatement of the century!” Rather than sue, maybe brands should just develop a little thicker skin and a sense of humor.
Real-time marketing takes more heat
Critics of real-time marketing continue to emerge as news feeds and Twitter streams are increasingly filled with brand efforts to capitalize on what people are talking about right now. “The hope and belief that brand would connect with people has in large part given way to brands publishing to them by hijacking social buzz,” laments Mike Proulx in an opinion piece in AdAge Digital. The article headline: Real-time marketing is nothing but a predatory weed. Proulx echoes my own concerns when he says that “Being relevant in real-time takes restraint much more than zealous community managers armed with holiday calendars, trending topics and Photoshop templates.” On Digiday, Saya Weissman calls the Oreo Super Bowl tweet that ignited a lot of the real-time frenzy “an isolated situation.” She adds, “the risk is the vogue for real-time marketing blips distracts brands from doing the hard work to fix their internal systems and processes to be more nimble, not just ‘real time’ for the odd event. That work—call it high-metabolism marketing—is harder but offers a far higher long-term payoff.”
One out of every 200 social media posts is spam
We’ve gotten pretty sophisticated in our efforts to banish spam from our inboxes, but if you think that means spammers are going to sive up and fade into the sunset, guess again. Instead, they’re shifting their focus to social media where spam filtering is a more nascent technology, writes Mashable‘s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai. Social media spam has risen 355% in the first six months of the year, according to Nexgate’s State of Social Media Spam Report. “Social spam is quickly becoming a booming business,” Francheschi-Bicchierai says. “The biggest strength of social spam is its reach. Email spam is delivered to one user at (a) time, while a spammy post on social media can potentially reach thousands or millions of people.” It’s harder to detect and there are multiple ways to spread spam via social channels. The study estimates social media spam is currently a $200 million business; 5% of all social media apps “promise a potentially useful service and then send spam updates instead.”
“Stories” continues Snapchat’s assault of Facebook’s youth audience
Reports continue to emerge portraying an exodus of teens from Facebook, with some saying they’re opting for Twitter while others show them fleeing to mobile messaging apps. Among the messaging apps, Snapchat is wildly popular, with users sending 350 million “snaps” every day. Of course, part of Snapchat’s appeal is that the pictures sent vanish after 10 seconds, eliminating—theoretically, at least—the possibility that an embarrassing photo can come back to haunt the user. In an effort to become even more appealing to those seeking alternatives to Facebook, Snapchat has introduced Stories, “a rolling compilation of snaps from the last 24 hours that your friends can see,” writes Ellis Hamburger for The Verge. To save a photo for a Story, a user taps “My Story” above the icons representing the friends with whom they want to share the images, “or, you can tap a new shortcut button in the app’s camera screen to instantly post a snap to your Story.” These images don’t evaporate. Instead, they represent “the sum of all the snaps you’ve added over the last 24 hours, which means its size is always fluctuating.” Viewing a friend’s Story could be “the fastest way to see what a friend’s been up to.” According to Hamburger, this is a direct assault on Facebook’s News Feed.
Clichés are real on Facebook
Knowing your audience is a key to success in PR and marketing. We conduct studies and review research to get a handle on just who we’re trying to reach so we don’t succumb to stereotypes. When it comes to gender on Facebook, though, stereotypes are exactly what you get according to research conducted by University of Pennsylvania scientists. TIME‘s Charlotte Alter reports that the researchers were able to “predict a user’s gender with 92% accuracy just by looking at the words in their Facebook statuses.” Men talk about sports and women talk about shopping. Researchers “found that words like ‘mommy,’ ‘boyfriend,’ and ‘best friend’ were more common ly used by women, while men tended to post words like ‘Xbox,’ ‘World Cup,’ and Chuck Norris.’ Women said ‘sooo,’ ‘yummy,’ and ‘super excited,’ while guys said ‘ftw,’ ‘epic,’ and every possible variation of the F-word…Girls used the word ‘dress’ about as much as boys said ‘engineering.’” This doesn’t mean there’s no nuance to men and women, but “Facebook is not the place for breaking norms, it’s where we go to have those norms reinforced.” Which could be useful for marketers planning Facebook campaigns to know.
Sad but true: Most sharing happens via email
Email is 50 years old. It’s a creaky technology, far from the best tool for sharing. Yet email accounts for more online sharing of coupons and other offers than Facebook and Twitter combined. More than 55% of brand advocates used email to share this kind of information, vs. 41.8% who used Facebook and a mere 2.6% who used Twitter. “Emil proved to be the most effective channel for reaching consumers who ‘engage and convert’,” according to a Socialtwist study reported by AdAge‘s Jack Neff, who defines “engage and convert” as those who click on offers and redeem them. “Across its campaigns, 50.8% of new consumers were reached via email, vs. 26.8% via Twitter and 22% via Facebook.” That bodes well for Twitter, which may be the least popular channel for sharing but performs better than Facebook when it comes to reach and conversion (it accounts for 16.8% of offer redemptions). But email’s dominance surprised SocialTwist CMO Vijay Sundraram, who thinks its popularity is based on its one-to-one nature.
All you can read for one low price
When the idea of music subscription services first arose, critics responded with universal skepticism. Who wouldn’t want to own their own CDs or MP3s. Today, services like RDIO, Spotify and the new entry from Apple boast big subscription numbers. (I’m a convert myself; it has been a couple years since I paid for a track, opting for all I can eat for under $20 a month—the cost of two albums.) The same concept is working effectively for TV and movies with services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. But can the idea work for books? HarperCollins aims to find out, signing up with online document service Scribd to make a backlist of its books available. Music and video successes inspired the company, as did the launch of Oysterbooks, which offers all-you-can-eat reading of 100,000 books for $9.95 a month. “With only one major publisher on board, the subscription service will be a tough sell for consumers who are accustomed to the seemingly endless selection of books on Amazon.com,” writes Julie Bosman for The New York Times. Who knows, though? If subscription-vs-ownership is truly a trend, more publishers may follow.