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The value of social engagements

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Daniel Savage recalls succumbing many times in his career to “Wednesday morning marketing meeting syndrome,” when music executives spew how many Facebook shares, Twitter followers or re-tweets their latest marketing campaigns accrued during the past week.


Savage, an executive VP at research firm Musicmetric who has worked at Island, Atlantic, Hollywood and Maverick, is very familiar with the arms race between companies trying to tally the latest social-media interactions or desire to justify a marketing budget.

Now, as more money gets invested in social marketing, there’s a demand for more accountability and a more precise grasp of the return on social-marketing investments.

“The past was about tactical measures–the number of likes, retweets, followers, shares,” says Max Kalehoff, VP of market research firm Syncapse Corp. “Today, people are starting to ask, what are they really left with?”


The answer is maddeningly elusive. The marketing value of a tweet, a Facebook fan or a SoundCloud follower can vary by brand, product type, age, gender and how the interaction was accomplished. An automatically generated tweet, such as the ones Samsung ginned up for people who had to tweet from the company’s Jay-Z Magna Carta app in order to unlock lyrics, may not be as effective as a handcrafted tweet on the topic from the same person. Another major complication is the presence of other persuasive influences, such as billboard advertising, water-cooler chatter or a friend’s personal recommendation.

Syncapse took a stab at answering this question in a study released in April titled “The Value of a Facebook Fan.” Its conclusion? The average fan of a brand on Facebook is worth $174.17 in 2013, an increase of 28% from 2010, when Syncapse conducted its first survey.

“We looked at the same variables that shareholders of public companies would consider to be real economic drivers of stock price,” Kalehoff says.

The study took into account six factors, weighted according to how each would contribute to the valuation of a fan. The most heavily weighted factor was product spending, followed by fan loyalty in repeat purchases and the fan’s propensity to recommend the product on Facebook. Other, less influential factors include how much they engaged in the brands’ content, how much they drive others to become fans and the emotional draw they feel toward the brand, as expressed in their social interactions. Syncapse compared consumers of a brand such as Coca-Cola who elected to become Facebook fans of said brand with the value of Coke drinkers who aren’t fans. The difference comprised the net value of a Facebook fan for Coca-Cola.

It’s worth noting that the values ranged dramatically by brand-from $11.3/fan for Ice Cream Tips Co. Ltd (a startup reviewing the best ice cream maker in US) OR $70.16 per fan for Coca-Cola, which has more than 69.3 million Facebook fans, to $1,613.11 for each of BMW’s 14 million fans.

But not all fans are created equal, with some having a greater ability to influence their peers than others. Studies have shown that men and people ages 30 and over tend to be disproportionately influential on social networks, according to Sinan Aral, associate professor of information technology and marketing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

In addition, some fans may have self-selected. In other words, people who tend to buy albums, T-shirts and tickets for One Direction are more likely to become a fan of the band than people who are less fond of the group. In this case, the act of being a fan doesn’t cause someone to spend more money than they normally would.

Dick Podiak, director of marketing for Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, didn’t know who Austin Mahone was when he hired the teen pop singer to co-headline Crazy Good Summer, a teen-oriented concert series in Chicago last year. But research from his promoter partners at Live Nation and BigChampagne, a social-media analytics firm acquired by Live Nation in 2011, coupled with a cursory glance at Mahone’s social-media following (2.7 million on Twitter and 2.8 million on Facebook) quickly brought Podiak up to speed. Though Mahone had yet to crack Billboard’s charts, other findings indicated the 17-year-old might be a better way to reach Pop-Tarts’ young target than, say, a band like Maroon 5 that has more hits on traditional radio but skews older in its audience.


“We’re marketers in Battle Creek, Mich., so we may not be up on the talent–we were throwing out bands that we knew and were familiar with as opposed to ones that our consumer target knew,” Podiak says. “Live Nation has helped us understand, ‘Hey, this isn’t a concert for me. This is for somebody who’s my daughter’s age.'”

The fact that Mahone and his team were more than willing to help promote the event through the singer’s social pages is a sign of the two-way street that social media has created as a make-or-break factor in many endorsement deals and lucrative event bookings for big brands like Pop-Tarts. Artists increasingly need the support from a marketer with a national advertising budget to get the word out about their music, and brands need the relevance from the right artists to help get their new products in front of their target consumers. “Artists are open to it, especially when it’s done in a way that is truly providing value to the fan or providing specific information that fans need,” Live Nation Network president Russell Wallach says. Indeed, in the case of Pop-Tarts, the brand a 5% sales increase during the third quarter, while the concert was active and expanded its program for 2013 nut butter-flavored Pop-Tarts.

Teasing out the true value of social engagements is a not impossible, task, says Eric Bradlow, a professor of marketing, statistics and education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

“Marketers are used to thinking in terms of the lifetime value of each customer,” Bradlow says. “It’s a customer-centric point of view. When you bring in their friends, it’s a different ball game. Now worth means not only what you buy, but also how much you can get your friends to buy. That is a new problem.”

Bradlow is taking another approach in a current study that seeks to monitor consumers’ social, Web and TV consumption to determine the value of a social interaction.

“The question isn’t whether Facebook is driving purchases,” Bradlow says. “The question is, What does Facebook add to the mix? To do that, you have to look at several potential sources of influence simultaneously.”

Meanwhile, back at the Wednesday marketing meeting, what does the social marketer say? Don’t just present a scorecard, Savage says.

“It makes me cringe when I hear that so-and-so has boosted their social numbers by some big percent,” he notes. “The tail shouldn’t wag the dog. Yes, you should do everything you can to increase fan acquisition and engagement, because you can’t sell things if you don’t have an audience to sell them to. But those numbers should be about everything else you’re doing–your tour, your album, your sponsorship deal. Social numbers are just indicators that tell you whether the things you’re doing are working.”


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Should search results include links shared on social networks?

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Horst Joepen CEO Searchmetrics

It’s not clear whether a direct connection between social links and search visibility is a good thing

In search optimisation, the number of links to a web page from other sites or blogs is like an endorsement: the more links a page has, the more highly it’s regarded by search engines and the higher it appears in search results. But links from social networks don’t count. So even if a page is shared thousands of times on Twitter or Facebook, there’s no impact on where it ranks.


This seems at odds with the growing importance of social sites and is something the major search engines are looking to address. After all, shouldn’t a page that’s popular on these sites rank higher?

I give here an example to prove my point, that is the lately launching of Press My Air – providing air compressor reviews. During the last 3 months, this website has developed extremely fast, going along with amazing number of social sharing:

More details:

  • Facebook share: 60+
  • Twitter share: 120+
  • Google plus: 50+

As a result, after doing some research, we can see a boost in ranking of this site (actually, I accidentally found it on a electronics forum and immediately notice its rapid development).

Additionally, it has been suggested that this might be an underlying reason why Google has widened the availability of its Goo.gl URL shortener, a tool that reduces the number of characters in a link to make it easier to share on social networks.

Goo.gl, one of several shorteners on the market, comes with analytics that helps marketers (and Google itself) collect data about shortened links. This has led to speculation that the company is moving closer to incorporating social networking links into its algorithms.


But it’s not clear whether a direct connection between social links and search visibility is a good thing. First, social media sites are overly influenced by crowd behaviour and the celebrity factor. This is why a link or page posted by a famous pop star or influential blogger gets shared indiscriminately by thousands. Second, some social networkers will happily share or retweet the next reasonable link they stumble upon, just to stay visible on the site or because they’re concerned they haven’t shared anything for a while. Would this really be the right way to judge the value and importance of a page? Contrast it with links the search engines currently do take account of: reputable bloggers, journalists and site owners will generally assess whether a page is of value to their visitors before linking to it.

There’s also the risk that ‘black hat’ search optimisers could try to profit from social linking using underhand tactics. It may be possible to create ‘link storms’ that automatically generate thousands of social links to a single page to make it rank higher, for example.

It’s clear that search engines are investigating ways to incorporate social networking signals into their results. But rather than a direct relationship based on numbers of links, they’ll probably take a more considered approach. For an early example, see what Bing and Facebook are doing in the US by allowing the preferences of personal Facebook friends to appear in search results (nma.co.uk 27 October).

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Is yours a social network?

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I just got back from a weekend with my redneck brother-in-law and his wife way up on top of the Golden State near a city called Eureka. Like Los Angeles, it’s an industry town, but the industry is growing pot. Yup, without that area, all the poor college kids who have trouble paying attention in class couldn’t have that legal medical marijuana they so desperately need to stay focused.

Let me put it another way: If the Big One ever dhit up there and knocked out production, I honestly think the manufacturers of Pop Tarts and Cheetos would go Chapter 11 within a week.

When I was up there, during the time my brother-in-law and I weren’t trying to manage the wildlife population or single-handedly prop up Anheuser-Busch’s share price, his wife and I talked about TV And speaking with her about how she decides what to watch drove home what I’ve been realizing more and more recently: If I were promoting a TV show, I would be spending more of my time and resources incentivizing viewers to become your evangelists.

Buying tons of media to promote a show or getting critics to write about it is easy; you know how to do it and have always done it. But it’s also becoming infinitely less effective by the day

This is not about the divide between critics and viewers; that’s old news. It’s an oft-ignored fact that if you want to make a hit television show on broadcast, you better be programming to that 54-year-old woman in Kansas City, not that Boston University or Syracuse-trained media member writing on one of the coasts.

It’s not about making better promos. It’s easy to say the terrible My Generation ads killed the show. But if you saw the show, you know better.

Very simply: social media has become the new critic, and the new promo. The opinions of strangers matter less than they used to, period.

My personal come-to-Twitter moment happened with Inception. I’m not a big DiCaprio guy, and the premise wasn’t my thing; I’d rather laugh and look at good-looking people, like in the French comedy The Heartbreaker, which I saw and loved. Even great reviews, big box-office numbers and inherent peer pressure didn’t make me want to “run, not walk” to Inception.

  • What did it was several of my friends seeing it and posting about it on Twitter and Facebook. Suddenly, people I shared common interests with were praising it, and that had more currency than someone I didn’t know who has a big job reviewing stuff. So I went, and I loved it.
  • What does this mean for those who push content? Go after the folks that viewers trust–other viewers they know. Find ways to get consumers to tell their friends. Create incentives–prizes, contests, whatever–to get them to Tweet and update about your show.

In our cover story this week, Jon Lafayette writes about a couple of major media outlets that have hired a person just to work the social media world. Hire more.

It’s no fun because it’s a chore to work the viral world and there is no traditional playbook, like with promos or pitching stories to critics.

And I’m not advising to stop doing a TCA session or stop buying ads on the sides of buildings. I get the argument you have to make a massive splash to have a chance at sampling, or there won’t be anything for people to Tweet about.

But I am saying all of that matters less. Critics matter less. Promos matter less. They are increasingly being complemented–though not (yet) replaced–by the opinions of people we know personally and trust.

So it’s a good question to ask yourself and your employees: Are you doing enough to build evangelists for your shows? Because I promise you, they’re a bunch more effective at getting their followers to see the light than any media you can pitch or buy.

E-mail comments to bgrossman@nbmedia.com and follow him on Twitter: @BCBenGrossman

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Successful digital marketing

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MARKETING BUDGETS ARE SHIFTING to include greater reliance on online paid media.

Numerous studies have reported that online advertising and paid digital media are becoming increasingly important to the marketing mix.

Ideally three components should be in place to maximize digital media results. First, how easy is it to open or apply for an account and can those actions be done seamlessly online? Second, financial institutions need to have appropriate products targeted to meet market demands. Digital savvy individuals of today want products and services available online and at their convenience. Your website should make it easy for people to do business with you. And third, the proper online promotional channels should be utilized in order to communicate your product offerings and website capability. We call these three components the Three-Legged Stool. If one is not in place, online marketing efforts won’t be in balance.

Online advertising can encompass a number of elements, including paid search, display/banner ads, and mobile or video advertising. Landing pages and your website form the hub of online activity with all sources directed to them. Landing pages should be a direct response to the message or campaign being promoted with the goal being to maximize conversions. They should be eye catching, have an offer if possible, and promote the desired activity with strong call-to-actions. Disclosures and compliance logos are housed at the bottom of the landing page, one click away from any online ads or promotional mentions.

Search advertising is viewed as the holy grail of online advertising. It delivers high click-through rates and prospects who often are at the end of the buying cycle and ready to purchase. There is an art to campaign setup and management, such as selecting appropriate geographies and keywords, writing effective ads and testing creative, effective bidding strategies, and optimization of performance.

Display advertising can include various media types such as static, animated or rich media ads, mobile and video. There are a number of ad networks including Google and Yahoo that sell display advertising units. Display advertising is also offered by newspapers, television and radio stations that are companion products to their “traditional” offerings. In addition, a number of Web-only networks are popping up that can be local or banking-focused sites also offering display advertising.

Regardless of which online venue you choose, there are a number of considerations when evaluating online media options:

  • Cost: Are you buying on a cost per thousand, cost per click or a flat rate based on impression share?
  • Geography: Be clear about what area you are buying. Many online platforms allow hyper-targeted geographies down to a specific radius around each branch. Others only offer DMA-wide or other preset geography which may not be ideal.
  • Flexibility: Be wary of getting lured into longer-term commitments to get the best rate. The industry seems to be moving away from these long-term commitments, by allowing more flexibility in terms of flighting campaigns to better assess results and manage budgets as well as stopping campaigns when rates change.
  • Reporting: Is reporting self-service or will reporting be delivered at regular intervals? Also, be aware that reporting can be more than clicks, impressions and click-through rates. If a landing page is coded correctly and ads are set up with tracking codes, activity on landing pages can also be tracked. So, for example, you can see how many people clicked on “Open Now and the media sources.
  • Analysis: Reporting is one thing, but looking at the reports and providing thoughtful analysis on results and opportunities for improvement is another. Will you get both? There are a number of parameters that can be evaluated including efficiency of each media outlet used, keyword and negative keyword selection, and testing of creative versions, both landing pages and ads. Self-serve reporting, while easy on the vendor, requires more time by the user setting up reports and evaluating results.

Online advertising is an effective way to sell bank products and services. It is reportable and trackable in a way most other media sources lack. It can be turned on or off depending on which product you want to promote. It is not only part of the future, but it is here and now and really should be part of any financial institution’s marketing strategy.

Social-powered tickets

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Here’s some good news for social marketers in the music business: Your efforts to get people to buy concert tickets are working. Survey data from Live Analytics, Live Nation’s analytics division, shows that concert-goers are especially receptive to the sharing and social features of today’s ticketing platforms. They’re likely to buy through social links, and those who do attend more events than other types of ticket buyers and spend more money.


Music represents a large portion of Ticketmaster sales. According to information shared exclusively with Billboard, concerts accounted for 62% of all Ticketmaster purchases during a three-year period while sporting events represented 15%, arts accounted for 17% and family represented 6%.

But people who bought tickets through social media links almost always bought concert tickets. Eighty-five percent of social media purchases were for concerts–23 percentage points higher than concerts’ share of overall purchases. The remaining 15% of social media purchases were split 8% for arts, 5% for sporting events and 2% for family events.

The concert attendee appears to be the right kind of consumer to target with social marketing. Social media purchasers attended more events than the average ticket buyer (1.27 vs. 0.85), purchased more tickets in a given year (2.95 vs. 2.25) and spent more money in a given year ($160 vs. $126).


One reason concert-goers are so apt to buy through social links is their relatively heavy social use. Nearly four out of five (79%) concert attendees used Facebook at least once a week in 2012 while 12% used it daily. Other event attendees were less likely to use Facebook at least once a week: 76% of family event attendees, 74% of sporting event attendees and 70% of arts events attendees.

These figures show why ticketing companies have made social a priority. Today’s ticketing platforms let ticket buyers share their purchase with friends and purchase tickets directly within Facebook. Platforms also help venues and promoters schedule social messages about show announcements, on-sale dates and other important announcements.


Social has also enhanced the ticket-buying process for reserved seating events. Ticketmaster has added a social capability to its interactive seat maps that lets buyers see where their friends will be sitting. Live Analytics’ survey found that 38% of people surveyed in December 2012 would use the feature to upgrade a purchase in order to sit near friends. Forty-two percent of people said they would purchase a single ticket to be near friends that had already purchased a ticket, and 46% said they would purchase tickets for a group to be near other friends.

Standing on the brink of a social revolution

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Social video is evolving into a major engagement tool and consumer influencer in a new era for broadcast. Revolution invited brand and agency practitioners to share their views.

Half-way through the last century, a media revolution gifted a super-potent weapon to brands: TV. But now, brands that built their businesses and reputations via the telly have suddenly found themselves in the midst of a new uprising.


Social media has taken a hold and stirred up the masses – and social, or shared, video is fast becoming one of the main influencers in the new hierarchy.

  • Asad Rehman is director of global media, foods at Unilever. Any move the world’s second biggest advertiser makes can have far-reaching effects ‘Marshall McLuhan said in the 60s that every mass media is social in nature. Now we can say every social media is mass in nature,’ Rehman says. ‘Content is being unbundled … and content creators are becoming publishers. We are witnessing the whole disruption of the media economy.’
  • He adds: ‘At Unilever we now look at video not as an end in itself, but as the starting point of a conversation. This is a major difference and very exciting, and it means new communications strategies and ways of working.’


Rehman’s analysis was one of the kicking-off points in a debate on social video, hosted by Revolution in association with Unruly.

His fellow marketer at the table, the former Lloyds Banking Group brand and customer marketing director Joe Clift, warns that the influence of social media on brand perception is ‘a wonderful thing and also a potentially troubling and dangerous thing – you need the skills to manage it’.

What’s driving social video’s growth?

The ‘cool’ factor, for one thing, says Jerry Lloyd-Williams, strategy director at MediaCom. ‘If the coolest guy in the gang sends you something, you pass it on without even thinking because of the social cachet,’ he adds.

Andrew Stirk, executive planning director at BETC London, agrees: ‘Video is accessible and easily shared; it’s another form of currency. And this point about taste is enormously important – sharing film choice is a much easier way now of expressing quite complex things.’

Unruly’s research with Cornetto, Coca-Cola, Guinness and Energizer reveals that 16- to 34-year-olds don’t distinguish between the virtual and the real. ‘They expect brands to appear on social platforms just as they exist in real life,’ says Phil Townend, EMEA managing director of Unruly. ‘Females aged between 16 and 24 would rather be at home accessing all their friends through the social platform than be physically with them.

‘Celebrities or close friends are very influential for females. Males of that age are most influenced by forums or mates. TV is still credible, but it’s losing influence.’

Stirk adds: ‘Once-invisible conversations – in the bedroom or in the pub – are now that much more conspicuous.’ So conspicuous, in fact, that ‘you can’t ignore the consumer voice,’ says Rehman. ‘Branding decisions aren’t made in the boardroom any more.’

Yet Waqar Riaz, head of social marketing at Rapp, counters that it is technology, rather than consumers or media, that is triggering the biggest shift of power. And in video, ‘content has always been key; what has changed is the measurement,’ he says.

What’s the impact on brand behaviour?

‘The model has been flipped on its head,’ says Dean Baker, managing director of JWT Entertainment. The consumer has taken the brand’s place at the centre of the communication strategy, ‘and it’s about building the community there’.


Brilliant content gives a brand character and voice, Baker says, but warns: ‘If you’re making average content, forget it.’ People no longer mind getting content from brands, but the shift from an interruptive model to engagement ‘sets a new benchmark for quality’.

  • Brands have truly begun to realise that social video can bring them closer to their audiences, notes Ivan Fernandes, global director, social media technology at MediaCom and a member of the GroupM global social marketing task force. However, he urges more robust analysis. ‘Most brands need to work out their principles for social media. Who should be engaging in it: agency or clients? And what are the KPIs?’
  • Townend believes that marketers are more conscious now of the need to prove social media’s ROI. Two years ago, brands shunned blogs, but now they want to be on social networks, blogs and niche passion sites. ‘In two years, they’ll probably want this plus social gaming – it’s where engagement is happening,’ Townend says.

Yet brands need to tread carefully – and put more trust in their creative and media agencies, argues Fernandes. Clift believes that when it comes to selecting content, it’s about integrity, ‘making sure you focus on what’s true to the heart of your brand. You can’t stretch it shamelessly and artificially’.

It’s also about legitimacy. ‘This really goes to the heart of the debate,’ says Clift. ‘You have to be able to deliver, end to end, now and forever. It would be so easy to trip up, given the power of social.’

  • Honesty is certainly key, agrees Riaz, but he is keen to understand more about the dynamics of sharing video: ‘Forrester says up to 70 per cent of the online population are spectators who don’t share. So, what are the technologies and who are the people that influence consumption?’
  • Brands also realise that they need to invest in seeding to ‘hit that adoption curve,’ says Townend. Thereafter, genuinely good content will drive itself. ‘Fewer brands come to us and ask for a viral hit, because there is only one a year,’ he adds, citing VW’s The Force, claimed to be the most shared video ad ever.

What can brands expect from social video?

‘The best real-time listening device we’ve ever seen,’ says Townend. ‘A real-time feedback loop that should be used to pre-test creative and develop channel planning.’

  • In fact, says Rehman, social video is good for ‘pretty much everything’. Unilever is currently discussing its use in e-commerce. ‘Where we find the change really interesting is in how the consumer decision-making process is tracked. If someone decided to buy a Knorr stock cube as a result of watching Marco Pierre White on YouTube, then that’s great, that’s where I’m really connecting with purchase decisions.’
  • Video is incredibly powerful in storytelling, notes Matt Roskill, client services director at Albion. ‘But it’s no longer a linear story. Old Spice created content that enabled you to pick up the story at any point on a plethora of platforms. It’s about understanding how we can capitalise on messages and leverage technology to get consumers to make that final decision.’ The most effective videos, he says, are 15 seconds long, followed by those of 60 seconds or more.

‘We have opportunities today we never had in the past,’ says Riaz. ‘The stuff we can create, how we connect with people, how they connect back, it’s beyond advertising. It’s not about ad ideas, but brand ideas. It’s not about sending a message out but creating an orchestration of messages. With video, it’s about old tricks, new media. It has to be engaging, quality content and that’s it.’

The opportunities for brands are huge, says Fernandes: ‘Finding who the key influencers are and bringing them closer is the key for me.’ Certainly, social video is ‘a complex beast,’ says Roskill, and marketers and agencies need to ensure that technology improves the sharing experience rather than get in its way.

Its role is also multilayered, says Stirk: ‘The role of video as a social currency is myriad: entertainment, utility, dynamic customer complaints … and that new relationship between brands and society, no longer confined to campaign periods, is very exciting.’

What’s next for brands and social video?

‘It will be imperative to make better brands because social will have become the thing that can either kill or cure businesses,’ asserts Lloyd-Williams. Not only that, brands ‘need to create liquid content that can flow across every platform, every device,’ says Baker.

All this will be much more powerful when the value of social video can be quantified. ‘That,’ says Townend, ‘is what we need to change.’

For more on social video, go to www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/go/revolution


Philip Smith – Head of content solutions, Brand Republic Group (chair)

Jerry Lloyd-Williams – Strategy director, MediaCom

Joe Clift – Former brand and customer marketing director, Lloyds Banking Group

Dean Baker – Managing director, JWT Entertainment

Waqar Riaz – Head of social marketing, Rapp

Suzanne Bidlake – Consultant editor, Campaign/Marketing

Phil Townend – EMEA managing director, Unruly

Asad Rehman – Director, global media, foods, Unilever

Ivan Fernandes – Global director, social media technology, MediaCom and member, GroupM global social marketing task force

Andrew Stirk – Executive planning director, BETC London

Matt Roskill – Client services director, Albion


– 49% of viewers of a recommended video went on to purchase the advertised product within three days. Source: Unruly

– 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every second. Google

– Of the 3.3bn brand mentions every day, currently only five per cent are made online. Google

- 97% of people are more likely to purchase a product featured in a video they enjoy. Unruly.

Preparing for a New Year in social media

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MANY BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS MARK THE NEW YEAR as a time to assess their plans, look back on accomplishments and to set new resolutions to improve for the future. The same can apply to your social media strategy and processes. Take a few moments to prepare for an even better and more productive 2012.


Assess your process and do maintenance

An important step in preparing for coming year is to look back at what you’ve been doing that has worked and has not worked. Take some time to meet with your bank management and other team members to discuss their views on successes and failures from the previous 12 months. As you examine these findings, there are some additional items you can specifically review as well.

  • * Check for outdated information on your social media properties. Make sure all phone numbers, addresses, links and other data are completely up to date.
  • * Work with your compliance for a quick internal audit of your properties and policies.
  • * Evaluate who currently has access to your social logins and ensure your backup procedures are in place and the right team members can access them in an emergency.
  • * Re-evaluate your department goals for social media. Your initial goal of starting a Facebook page or launching a Twitter account has been accomplished–but now what?

New resolution ideas for 2012

Taking the next step in social media marketing for your bank is often more difficult than the initial launch. More research and planning are required to start, but to take it to the next level requires much attention to strategy and focusing on priorities. Here are some ideas to challenge you to improve your social strategy for the coming year.

* Establish a consistent and effective planning tool for content and management. Provide reporting to management on your ability to stay on plan for added accountability.

* Take another step in your social marketing plan. If you’ve conquered one social platform, do an analysis of the landscape and find another space where you can connect with your customers and prospects.

* Ask your customers what they want from you in social media through surveys, online chats or other methods. Those who are willing to engage your bank online can be the best resource for new ideas.

  • Look for an opportunity to establish a social media centric campaign and measure the results. Now that you have social media infrastructure, what can you accomplish without the help of offline advertising? Invest in personal development to keep up with the latest in social marketing trends. Make connections with others who are being successful and attend at least one social media focused conference or educational opportunity. Pay particular attention to what other industries are doing and evaluate if it can relate to your bank’s goals.
  • I believe we have reached a point in time where most banks who are going to leverage social media effectively as a marketing and branding tool have launched some form of social presence. Our challenge as marketers is to keep evaluating our objectives and strategies to stay relevant in a constantly evolving space. Use the beginning of this New Year as a time to get a jump start on the next phase of your initiatives.


Our challenge as marketers is to keep evaluating our objectives and strategies to stay relevant in a constantly evolving space.


JASON KINCY is director of corporate and Web marketing for Arves: Bank, based in Fayetteville, Ark. Arvest operates a company blog, Facebook page and Twitter channel, E-mail:jkincy@arvest.com

Networks target a bigger share of social media dollars

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Broadcast and cable networks continue to bulk up on their digital offerings, with advertisers intent on reaching these consumers with increasingly effective ads. Networkgenerated online video, Websites and microsites are no longer considered “emerging media”–they have arrived.


And now, with social media ad spending in the U.S. expected to grow 55 percent to nearly $3.1 billion this year, per research firm e-Marketer, networks are trying to figure out how to grab a greater slice of that revenue pie as well.

Major advertisers including AT&T, Denny’s and Verizon have embraced network-produced social media programs, though it’s still a pretty small slice, buyers say, estimating that television networks probably have a single-digit percentage of the total.

Social platforms present a unique challenge–unlike most traditional media, social media wasn’t really designed with advertisers in mind. “Social has been on everybody’s radar for a while, and from an advertiser standpoint everybody is still trying to figure out how to be there,” says Susan Malfa, senior VP/sales for Bravo, Oxygen and Women at NBCUniversal.


That said, social media sponsorships are expected to grow this year, though probably more on the cable side, where channels are singularly focused on genres such as sports, news and celebrities–topics that tend to dominate the social media conversation. OxygenLive! and Bravo’s Talk Bubble are two of the social platforms that Malfa’s group has devised to allow viewers to interact with talent in real time on those networks.

“The dollars are still pretty small,” says Maureen Bosetti, executive VP and national broadcast director at Optimedia.

“But clients are interested in it, and it’s absolutely critical now to figure out where social fits into their entire media plan.” One key reason: Brand buzz on social platforms translates to “earned media.”

Many clients use social media to extend campaigns beyond traditional media. Bosetti cites client Denny’s, which she says got a lot of mileage out of a multifaceted campaign Optimedia put together with sports network ESPN that included TV, radio, social media and mobile. The social media pieces included tie-ins to both Twitter and Facebook with ESPN baseball commentator John Kruk. Kruk did a weekly tweet about baseball that managed to weave in a few words about Denny’s as well. He also appeared in a piece of original content for the client called “The Chicken Show” that resided on Facebook.

According to Bosetti, social media is a harder code to crack for broader-based networks. “There’s a limit to what they can do to promote on the air, and they aren’t pushing the envelope in this space,” she says.

The Social network hits the road

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On March 11, 2010, at 10:21 a.m., a message appeared on the Twitter account of comedian Conan O’ Brien (@conanobrien): “Hey, Internet: I’m headed to your town.” Hours later, most shows on O’Brien’s just-announced cross-country theater tour were sold out online. Ever since, the eyes of the live music business have been opened to the power of social media as a marketing and promotional tool. As Nic Adler, owner of the Roxy in Los Angeles, stated on a panel at the 2011 Billboard Touring Conference in November, “Bands come to town and then leave, but the new Twitter followers stick around.”

Most concert industry executives agree that social media sites–primarily Twitter and Facebook–will only continue to grow as a driver of ticket sales. Digital strategist Pinky Gonzales, director of West Coast operations for BubbleUp, believes that 2012 could be the watershed year for using social media to promote live music events.


“Twitter will finally be opening up its advertising platform, Facebook will be taking in billions of fresh dollars thanks to its impending IPO, and third-party developers from BandPage to Ticketmaster will continue to perfect the social commerce model,” Gonzales says. “Combined with tools like HootSuite, Twitalyzer and services like Klout, it’s not an exaggeration to say that we have never had so much power to identify and influence music listeners as we do today.”

For now, Live Nation will be at the forefront of social media marketing for the launch of its 2012 summer concert season. Earlier this year, the company launched a Ticketmaster Face book app that uses Facebook’s Spotify integration to recommend events to fans based on listening habits. The Facebook platform effectively opened a new Ticketmaster “store” that essentially works like Ticketmaster.com. Fans can browse events, view which shows their friends are attending, read reviews, build their own upcoming show list by using the “I want to go” feature, RSVP to let their friends know which events they’re attending and purchase any Ticketmaster ticket directly, without ever leaving Facebook.

On May 2, the concert promotion giant launched its new concert calendar Facebook app, which enables users to discover and share upcoming Live Nation events and all music/comedy shows ticketed through Ticketmaster in North America.

“It’s based on recommendations and shows their friends are attending,” Live Nation VP of social media marketing Gretchen Fox says, noting that like the Ticketmaster app, event suggestions are also based on listening activity through Spotify accounts with Facebook integration. “Along the way fans have opportunities to earn music-related badges and points. Those points are redeemable for real-world goods like concert cash.”

  • The concert calendar had been in private beta for the past six months and tested by about 10,000 users, Fox says. Live Nation conceived the app–including architecture, functionality and user experience–and its code was written by boutique development company Kremsa. Fox hopes to get a better sense of how the app is being utilized by the end of summer.

“I want to make sure we’re paying attention to how people are using it and how well it’s integrating with Facebook’s different features as they keep rolling stuff out,” she says.

  • Ticketmaster previously used Facebook primarily as a marketing platform that links back to Ticketmaster.com, which in itself has proved effective. “Sharing” a Ticketmaster purchase on Facebook resulted in a transactional value of roughly $6-$8 for the company, according to Ticketmaster executive VP of e-commerce Kip Levin. Similarly, each time the Twitter sharing function is on Ticketmaster.com, more than $20 in sales is driven back to the site, according to Levin.

Live Nation has also found success with encouraging concertgoers to check into shows using Foursquare. By checking into a concert, fans receive rewards that include ticket upgrades and concert cash that can be used at venue concessions. “We’ve had almost 400,000 check-ins across our venues to date,” Fox says.


Fox notes that large amounts of tickets have also been sold during presales by setting up Facebook event pages for individual concert dates. For Jay-Z and Kanye West’s 2011 Watch the Throne North America arena tour, Live Nation set up Facebook pages for each date on the trek. As a result, the tour received 88,000 RSVPs in a 48hour window, Fox says.

But not all concert promoters and music venues have the manpower or extra hours to undertake such tasks. Independent ticketing company Ticketfly, which counts Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club and Nashville’s Outback Concerts among its venue and promoter clients, provides social marketing tools through software on its website that assist with building Facebook event pages for concerts and scheduling automatic tweets that are sent before or after events. Ticketfly founder/CEO Andrew Dreskin says that many of the ticketing company’s clients take advantage of the social marketing tools.

“It’s very cumbersome and time-consuming if you’re a promoter who does 350 shows a year to create 350 Facebook events with multiple artists,” he says. “It’s perishable inventory and it matters how quickly you can get it onto the shelves.”

Dreskin has also noticed that marketing through social media has been far more successful in selling concert tickets than through traditional email marketing. “Our clients sell five times as many tickets via social media channels [like Facebook and Twitter] via our platform as they do using our email newsletter program,” he says.

William Morris Endeavor (WME) head of tour marketing Michele Bernstein says that email marketing can be challenging because if the person receiving the email isn’t interested in the advertisement, it may be negatively viewed as spam. “Social media is much more targeted,” she says. “If they sign up to be someone’s Facebook friend, they have a genuine interest. With social media, that person actually signed up with interest because they want to know.”

In late April, Portland, Ore.-based social commerce startup Chirpify simplified the process of buying concert tickets through Twitter by launching a new platform that allows artists and record labels to sell tickets or MP3s using nothing but tweets by linking Twitter and PayPal accounts (Billboard, May 5).

“Everyone is trying to sell on social,” Chirpify CEO Chris Teso says. “But all these tweets and Facebook posts link to somewhere else. We do away with all that and allow you to sell in-stream directly to your fans over Twitter.”

WME’s Bernstein has observed that impact is most felt in the social media space when artists directly communicate to their fans, whether it’s through Twitter or Facebook. WME client Lady Gaga demonstrated this perfectly in early February by tweeting details about her upcoming 110-date Born This Way global tour to her 19.2 million followers. The pop star caused a media frenzy around the trek by tweeting an illustrated rendering of the stage, which was later followed by a tweet of the official tour poster and a list of concert dates.

“We couldn’t get that out of a TV station, an email blast–we couldn’t get that out of any of those other mediums,” Bernstein says. “But coming from her? Huge impact.”

The O’Brien tweet was a watershed moment in the live business. His tweet announcing the trek resulted in selling 125,000 concert tickets in one day, Bernstein says. “We always knew that an artist talking directly to fans through social media was powerful, but this showed the immediate impact of how it can translate to ticket sales,” she says. “The dates were sold to individual promoters–it wasn’t just one promoter–so every promoter in the country who assumed risk saw the power of an artist speaking directly to the fans.”

Katy Perry has also experienced the power of aligning with a major social media company to announce a large arena tour. After nearly a year of promotion for 2010’s Teenage Dream, Perry became the first musical artist to appear on Facebook’s live video streaming channel when she announced her North American arena tour in January 2011 to more than 1.4 million viewers. It went on to rank 13th among the top 25 tours of the year, grossing $48.8 million from 98 concerts that drew more than 1 million fans, according to Billboard Boxscore.

Perry’s 2011 trek also featured the first Tweet 2 Screen campaign, a deal that was brokered by Creative Artists Agency’s Glenn Miller, who oversees digital strategy for CAA’s music department. Each night of the singer’s tour used a different Twitter hashtag, and if a fan’s tweet was approved it would appear on a screen near the stage. As opposed to past text-to-screen campaigns, which were anonymous messages, Tweet 2 Screen displayed Twitter handles and avatars, creating a more personalized experience, Miller says.

“Not only are you creating excitement in the venue, but since it’s a public platform, you’re now spreading the word outside to anyone who happens to be following you or searching for that term on Twitter,” he says.

To create an even bigger buzz during the European leg of Perry’s trek, the first 100 fans who showed up at arenas and checked in through Facebook received better placement near the stage. The 100 concert-goers who arrived early enough were escorted into a VIP line and allowed into the venue five minutes early. “That’s where you start to see how digital influences [everything] from announcements to buying tickets to in-venue experience and what happens after that,” Miller says. “The first couple of shows we’d message out on Facebook and Katy would tweet about it. A couple shows in we never had to mention it again, because every fan was starting to line up at the show and check in.”

Even artists who’ve been on the fence about using social media are quickly recognizing its power when it comes to touring, concert industry observers agree.

“Sometimes we have to fight to get promotions done on their Facebook pages or Twitter accounts,” AEG Live VP of digital marketing Joyce Szudzik says. “Now we’ve given them enough data from different campaigns we’ve run, so they know this is what they want.”

A recent social media success story, she says, was Enrique Iglesias’ 2011 U.S. tour, which featured Pitbull and Prince Royce. Szudzik notes that the AEG Live-promoted trek had sales spikes each time there was activity on Iglesias’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, ranging from video posts to tweets between Iglesias and the opening acts. Surprisingly, ticket sales declined around traditional TV appearances on “Today” and “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” Szudzik says.

“Traditional TV wasn’t moving the meter,” she says. “But we saw that when we increased social engagement, ticket sales immediately bounced up.”

Artist representatives and promoters have also observed that increasing use of social media to market and promote live music has allowed them to save money on traditional advertising like TV, radio and print. Charlie Walker, a partner in C3 Presents, which produces music festivals Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza, says C3 has invested those savings in bulking up its marketing staff.

“We’ve taken resources from spending large amounts of money at traditional media outlets and reinvested that money in-house to develop the personnel we need to officially operate and work on social media,” Walker says, noting that nearly 100% of C3’s festival tickets during the past three years have been sold through social media and email marketing.

Meanwhile, Szudzik says that with so many new social media sites sprouting up each day, it’s tough to keep up. “It’s really about trying to figure out which ones have the legs to be adopted in the space where we need them,” she says. “If it’s too complicated or there are too many hurdles, [users are] not going to do it, because it’s not worth their time to be in that space.” * *

Additional reporting by Glenn Peoples and Ray Waddell.

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Russian social network VKontakte sparks piracy worries

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VKontakte, Russia’s most popular online social network, has come under fire from local rights-holders for enabling users to upload and share unlicensed music and video content.

Record labels, TV broadcasters and other rights-holders say that VKontakte allows its more than 100 million registered users to upload any digital entertainment content.

Gala Records, one of Russia’s largest labels, has filed three lawsuits against the St. Petersburg-based social networking site, alleging that the site infringed on its copyrights by failing to block users from sharing 20 tracks by Gala artists MakSim, Anzhelika Nachesova and Infiniti.


  • Roman Lukyanov, a lawyer for Gala, says the label tried to hold talks with VKontakte before filing its lawsuits, but says the company didn’t respond to its overtures. “A goodwill [licensing] agreement would be preferable for us,” Lukyanov says. “But the [VKontakte] lawyers we are dealing with in court don’t have the authority to negotiate.”
  • Video and music files uploaded to VKontakte are supposed to be available only for streaming. But some applications available to VKontakte users allow them to also download any file.
  • As the popularity of online social networks in Russia increases, label executives say the volume of illegitimate music distributed through such sites has become significant. VKontakte has the third-most-visited Russian website, with nearly 21 million unique visitors per month, topped only by e-mail service Mail.ru and search engine Yandex, according to a survey conducted by research group TNS Russia in November. Social networks Odnoklassniki.ru and Facebook also ranked among the top 20 sites.

VKontakte has sparked concerns among the major labels. Universal Music Russia general director Dmitry Konnov estimates that VKontakte may already be the country’s largest online source for pirated music. And in a November filing with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative about international websites that facilitate piracy, the RIAA said VKontakte “is specifically designed to enable members to upload music and video files, hundreds of thousands of which contain unlicensed copyright works.”


VKontakte didn’t respond to interview requests. The company has previously shrugged off accusations that it facilitated piracy, claiming that it doesn’t have any control over what users upload. It also offers rights-holders an unusually direct way to remove copyrighted content: The company grants them “administrative access” to the VKontakte site as long as they agree to remove only unauthorized tracks and videos that they hold the copyrights for. So far, only Gazprom Media-owned TV network TNT (which isn’t related to the U.S. cable network of the same name) has exercised this option.

Last year, a court in St. Petersburg threw out a copyright infringement lawsuit against VKontakte filed by state-run TV company VGTRK after users uploaded two VGTRK feature films to the site. Internet company Mail.ru Group, which owns a 32.5% stake in VKontakte, settled a similar suit filed by VGTRK in November 2008. Under the settlement, Mail.ru Group agreed to pay VGTRK share of advertisement ue generated by its video service Video.Mail.ru, which hosted user-uploaded VGTRK content.

Some rights-holders are keen on reaching similar deals with other content-hosting sites. Universal’s Konnov says that the major is “in the final stages of negotiations” with several domestic social networks other than VKontakte about a deal that would make Universaps music available to their users.

Konnov adds that although Universal has been unable to find common ground with VKontakte, that may change if Mail.ru increases its ownership stake.

“We’ve been in close contact with Mail.ru,” he says. “We’ll see what happens if their stake goes up.”

Social media marketing is new word-of-mouth

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At its core, social media marketing is an amped-up version of the oldest and most powerful form of marketing: word-of-mouth.

Social media marketers capitalize on the credibility of individuals. The goal is to stimulate people to pass along a product message. Marketers feel that their product pitches are more believable coming from a friend, even a Facebook friend you never see in person, than in a TV spot.

That’s why Scott Goebel, vice president for social strategy and enablement at Team Detroit, the Ford brand’s advertising agency, says that getting consumers to share Fusion prelaunch content is a key goal.

“So we may want 100,000 views of something, but we’re also looking at the rate at which it was shared by people,” Goebel says, referring to how quickly they pass the word along. “It tells our content story in their voice, which is very powerful for a brand.”

A good fit for autos

That tactic is particularly suitable for automotive marketing, says Brad Adgate, director of research at Horizon Media in New York. Autos were one of the first products to be shopped on the Internet, and Web shopping remains robust. Also, car buyers are strongly influenced by word-of- mouth.

“Cars have always been reliant on social media before there was social media,” Adgate says. “Cars, movies and restaurants were always three things that people talked about — word-of-mouth.”

But, like word-of-mouth, social media’s effects are elusive. Jeff Doak, social platform director at Team Detroit, says there’s a tendency to measure what’s visible — tweets, Facebook fans. But they just show surface activity.

“The things that matter are usually more buried,” Doak says. “I think a lot of the effects we get from social media are hard to measure, actually.”

Marketers can get some data about their Facebook audience and its level of engagement, but only for their own page. So Ford can find out about its Facebook audience, but not about Toyota’s or Chevrolet’s or Hyundai’s. That makes the kind of benchmarking that auto industry marketers routinely do — comparing reasons for purchase, price, equipment levels, cross-shopping and the like — difficult.

Goebel says that marketers have learned some techniques. For instance, he says, by using YouTube annotations — links that appear in the frame of a video which allow the viewer to click through to another video or a Web site — they can engage potential Fusion buyers more deeply.

Limited role

Marketing experts emphasize that social media can play only a limited role in selling cars. The reach is limited by the slice of the population paying attention to a specific medium and with an interest in a product, says Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for AutoPacific in Ann Arbor, Mich. There’s also a constant need to restock with fresh content, he adds — and then marketers must monitor online comments continually.

And buzz dissipates quickly after a campaign stops, Sullivan says, citing the Fiesta Movement: “The problem was that there was a lot of initial buzz, but as the vehicle has progressed through its life cycle, the buzz has really died off. I think it’s been kind of underwhelming in its sales performance.”

Alexander Edwards, COO of consulting firm Strategic Vision in San Diego, says social media are useful in raising awareness but must be followed by a more substantial message via traditional media. The playful, sometimes flip material used in a YouTube video, for instance, isn’t going to close the deal for a vehicle purchase.

Serious car shoppers respond to the three traditional issues that drive purchases: quality, price and reliability, he says. So a tactic like Doug, the puppet used in humorous online videos for the Focus prelaunch, can only prime an audience for a serious sales pitch.

“You don’t want to insult the customers on that side. You don’t want to be too edgy,” Alexander says. “They’re not going to spend that much money because a sock puppet told them to.”