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Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Giving social media users a voice helps them adapt to changes

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

By Matt Swayne

FacebookSocial media companies that give users a greater sense of control can ease them into interface changes, as well as curb defections to competitors, according to researchers.

“Several studies have looked into how social media companies have failed,” said Pamela Wisniewski, a post-doctoral scholar in information sciences and technology, Penn State. “What we need to think about is how social media companies can be more adaptive and how they can improve the longevity of their sites.

In a study of the reaction to the introduction of Facebook’s Timeline interface between 2011 and 2012, researchers found that users considered the mandatory transition to the new interface highly stressful. They also found evidence that suggests that giving users a voice can give them a sense of control to better adapt to new online environments.

Facebook’s Timeline interface allowed users to access posts by date, highlighted certain events and set privacy controls to remove, modify visibility or hide posts on their page.

Feeling out of control

The company initially provided a blog to release information to users, but then closed the blog, said Wisniewski, who worked with Heng Xu, associate professor of information sciences and technology, Penn State, and Yunan Chen, assistant professor of informatics, University of California, Irvine.

Denying users the ability to use the blog as a place to voice their concerns and give feedback may have thwarted one of the positive strategies people use to cope with changes in their environment, the researchers said.

People who feel more in control become focused on solving problems and adjusting to the change, while those who do not feel they have control tend to focus on their emotions and resort to more negative coping strategies.

The researchers, who presented their findings at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, said that 67 percent of users’ coping strategies in the Timeline transition were negative.

The users complained, threatened to switch to another social network and urged others to drop Facebook.

No feedback led to negative response

“Without giving people a way of offering feedback, you make them feel less empowered and they have more of a feeling of hopelessness,” said Wisniewski.

Some users did adapt more successfully and took positive steps to use the new interface, including learning about Timeline and finding new ways to customize it.

Companies that halt communication run the risk of allowing false information to circulate among users.

“Without providing more users feedback, not only was there more negativity, but a lot of the information that was causing the negativity was actually based on misinformation,” said Wisniewski. “Being more responsive and sharing information with users can stop some of this misinformation.”

Changing too many features leads to backlash

The researchers also said that changing too many features at once can confuse users and may lead to a harsher backlash.

“In the Timeline rollout, they added several other features at the same time as Timeline,” said Wisniewski. “These weren’t necessarily part of Timeline, but were thrown in at the same time.”

The researchers examined users’ perceptions and signs of coping strategies by reviewing 1,149 comments posted to Facebook’s Timeline release blog from September 2011 to April 2012.

 

For insights into social media, mobile strategy, digital technology, marketing and much more, join top thought leaders from brands that include Google, Yahoo, and Twitter – as well tech icon Steve Wozniak at the upcoming Digital Summit Atlanta, May 20-21.

 

opt-in feature. The interface became mandatory for Facebook users on May 21, 2012.

The National Science Foundation supported this work.

The Woz, Randi Zuckerberg, and Siri headed to Dallas Digital Summit 2013

Monday, December 2nd, 2013
The young Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

The young Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

A star-studded lineup of Internet mavens,  digital media icons, and top brands such as Google, Twitter, Bing, AOL, Advertising Age and Forrester are headed to Dallas next week (Dec. 10-11) for the 2013 Dallas Digital Summit. Headliners at the event include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, best-selling author Randi Zuckerberg, and Susan Bennett, the voice of Apple’s Siri.

The two-day event at the Irving Convention Center presents more than 75 speakers on topics such as content strategy, usability/design, mobile marketing, customer engagement, social media, ecommerce, email, search, marketing automation, video, the multi-screen experience, and a great deal more. Preconference intensive workshops provide five hours of insights into best marketing practices from roll-up-your-sleeves professionals.

Woz quoteSteve “The Woz” Wozniak, an iconic figure in the history of the digital era, designed the first Apple computers for the company he founded with the late Steve Jobs. His quotes get boxed and go viral on social media.

Randi_ZuckerbergRandi Zuckerberg has enjoyed a wave of media exposure over the last month since publication of her two new books. “Dot Complicated, Untangling our Wired Lives,” discloses that even at Facebook she had some difficulties with social media when she posted so many pictures of her new baby they asked her to stop.

She argues that we should share “authentic details” of our lives online – but nothing that we wouldn’t be comfortable seeing appear in a newspaper.

Ugly comments on social networks have driven her to tear, she admits. “Don’t be a jerk online,” she says, which is advice we wish more people would follow.

She also advises taking breaks from our overwhelming digital lives.

As an early marketing executive at Facebook, Randi created and ran the social media pioneer’s marketing programs. She led the company’s U.S. election and international politics strategy and created Facebook’s live streaming initiatives during the 2008 Presidential Inauguration. Randi was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2011 for her innovative coverage of the 2010 mid-term elections that integrated online and TV coverage in unique formats.

Since starting Zuckerberg Media, Randi has produced shows and digital content for BeachMint, the Clinton Global Initiative, Cirque du Soleil, the United Nations, Bravo and Conde Nast, with many other projects in the works.

Susan Bennett is the funny and personable voice actress who the users of Apple iPhones and iPads have heard as the voice of Siri.

Susan BenettBennett appeared at an earlier TechMedia event, The Internet Summit in Raleigh in November.

The Big Bang Theory, the popular TV comedy, plans several episodes built around Siri later this season, we hear.

You’ve more than likely heard Susan’s voice on a number of commercials and productions as one of the most active voice-over artists working with such clients at Ford, Coca-Cola, Fisher Price, McDonald’s, The Home Depot, Goodyear, VISA, Macy’s, Club Med, Delta Airlines, and The Cartoon Network.

Also on this year’s agenda:

AOL’s “Digital Prophet,” David Shing. Engaging, witty and  candid, Shing provides both historical perspective and current context as he lays out his vision of the brave, new world of marketing to come – one he believes will belong to those willing to embrace change and take risks now, and that he dearly hopes will suck a great deal less than it does at the moment.

 

Brent Herd, director of Southeastern US sales for Twitter, began his digital career at Yahoo in 1998.

Simon Dumenco, the Editor-at-large adn “media guy” at Advertising Age, has worked at and consulted for a wide range of media companies, including Condé Nast, Hearst, IAC, Time Warner, Viacom, and Wenner Media. He was founding editorial director of New York magazine’s NYmag.com and founding editor-in-chief of VeryShortList.com. At New York magazine, he was business/technology editor, editor of the National Magazine Award-winning media column, and advertising critic and pop-culture columnist.

Here is a full list of speakers.

We’re told a limited number of tickets remain. If you’re quick, you might grab one here.

Retailers see less Facebook fan engagement, numbers, despite more posts

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

FacebookFacebook saw the slowest growth for retailers during the first half of 2013, with a decline in fan engagement and numbers despite increasing numbers of brand posts published, says Expion’s Social Retail report.

 The report analyzed the top 50 retail brands performance in H1 2013, identifying two luxury brands, Tiffany & Co. and Victoria’s Secret, as leaders in Facebook engagement across the retail industry.

“Expion analyzed more than 16,000 posts from retailers in the first half of this year to take a deep look into which brands, and which content, are leading on Facebook today,” said Peter Heffring, CEO of Expion.  “Key findings showcase that compelling content is still king, and brands that organically are tied to style and pop culture, like luxury brands, tend to benefit from the strongest engagement with their fans.”

The repor unearths key social trends in the retail industry, as well as winners and losers across brands, posts and post types in terms of both engagement and volume. Walmart, Victoria’s Secret and Tiffany & Co. were the big winners.

  • 2013 is Slow Going: In H1 2013, the retail industry had its slowest growth period since 2011, with an actual decline in engagement and volume, despite an increase in the number of posts that were published.
  • Quality versus Quantity with Content Strategies: The report shows that brands publishing fewer highly effective posts are creating nearly as much volume as brands relying on a quantity-driven approach. We expect to see a greater dichotomy between these two strategies, and as Facebook becomes more saturated, the quality-driven approach should overtake the quantity-driven approach.
  • Growth Regression: While there was an even split across the 50 retailers in social volume growth – 25 saw positive growth and 25 saw a decline – eight of the top 10 brands experienced a decline, showing that the top retailers took a step backward during H1 2013.
  • Video Did Not Kill the Image Star…Yet: Despite video popularity across social media platforms like Vine and Instagram, posts with images still dominated Facebook. Images represented 80 percent of posts while video posts accounted for a meager 3 percent.
  • It’s a Luxe Life for Retail Fans: When looking at industry sectors, luxury brands were the highest performing in terms of total fan engagement, driven by captivating product images, often tied to pop culture.  Retail sectors such as drug stores, supermarkets and small-format value, which depend on mass appeal, fell to the bottom of the list.

To read the full FAVE 50: Social Retail Report, please visit: http://www.expion.com/retail-index-data-report/

More small businesses using social media but most unconcerned about customer data

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

social mediaMore small businesses are taking to social media, according to Newtek Business Services, NASDAQ: NEWT, The Small Business Authority, with a portfolio of over 100,000 business accounts.

Newtek says 57 percent of more than 2,000 businesses it polled  have a Twitter or Facebook account. The findings from last year compared to this year show 10 percent  more business owners are using social media.

The poll also reveals a potential problem. Only 30 percent of those polled are concerned about Twitter or Facebook using their clients’ data. That reminds of how cavalierly restaurants and other retail businesses often treated credit card receipts and point-of-service records, which often had unfortunate results.

The full July 2013 results showed the following:

Poll Question Poll Answer 2013 Percentage
Does your business have a

Twitter or Facebook account?

Yes 57%
No 43%
Are you concerned about Twitter or

Facebook using your client data?

Yes 30%
No 70%

Barry Sloane, Chairman, President and CEO of The Small Business Authority commented, “Our poll recognizes that not only do small businesses underutilize a great marketing tool in social media, most do not worry about the risks or trade off inherent in social media. We do see a year-over-year increase in total utilization of social media by 10 prcent.

“This is a good trend for small business, however we are amazed that, while consumers are outraged at the concept of the federal government having access to personal phone and internet data, businesses and consumers regularly share their most sensitive information such as customer lists and other data with Google, Facebook and Apple while using “free” social media services. Further education in the use of these tools should broaden their usage and educate independent business owners about its positives and negatives.”

Who are the top 50 brands on Instagram?

Monday, June 24th, 2013

InstagramIt seems as if marketers have to consider a new social tool about every ten minutes. For those who are image-oriented, Instragram, which is up to 130 monthly active users, plays a strategic role.

While some big brands want ads on the photo service, owner Facebook says it is focused on growth right now.

Which brands are using Instagram already? Nitrogram, which is an Instagram analytics and engagement platform for brands, has named the top 50 brands on Instagram.

Overall winner is a social media superstar

It used two factors to compile its list: the number of followers on the brand account and the number of photos posted on the brand’s hashtag.

Nike sneakers

Nike Olympic inspired sneakers.

The overall winner has been a social media star from the get-go: Nike. In addition to its own activity on Instagram and the @Nike account, the company also created campaigns to get their fans creating content.

But others among the top 50 also tend to show up when top social media players on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms are named: Starbucks at No. 2, Addias at 4, Victoria’s Secret at 6, and Red Bull at 8, for instance.

The Nitrogram data provided some other insights: eight of the top 10 brands by followers are related to fashion or footwear.

The top 50 brands also publish about twice as many photos to their Instagram account as they have followers.

Here’s Nitrogram’s lists:

THE NITROGRAM TOP 50 BRANDS ON INSTAGRAM

  1. Nike
  2. Starbucks
  3. Forever 21
  4. Adidas
  5. Topshop
  6. Victoria’s Secret
  7. Vans
  8. Red Bull
  9. Michael Kors
  10. Converse
  11. H&M
  12. Go Pro
  13. MTV
  14. Burberry
  15. Audi
  16. Louis Vuitton
  17. Hollister
  18. BMW
  19. Gucci
  20. Louboutin
  21. Zara
  22. Sephora
  23. Marc Jacobs
  24. Asos
  25. Playboy
  26. Beats by Dre
  27. Steve Madden
  28. Youtube
  29. Roxy
  30. Monster Energy
  31. National Geographic
  32. American Apparel
  33. Abercrombie
  34. Urban Decay
  35. Disneyland
  36. American Eagle
  37. Disney
  38. Coachella
  39. Volkswagen
  40. Juicy Couture
  41. Armani
  42. Urban Outfitters
  43. Free People
  44. Taco Bell
  45. GQ
  46. Oreo
  47. Versace
  48. Brandy Melville
  49. Mercedes-Benz
  50. Guess

TOP 10 INSTAGRAM BRANDS BY FOLLOWERS

  1. The Ellen Show 2.3MM
  2. Victoria’s Secret 2.1MM
  3. National Geographic 2MM
  4. Nike 1.6MM
  5. Louboutin 1.3MM
  6. Forever 21 1.3MM
  7. MTV 1.3MM
  8. Starbucks 1.3MM
  9. E! Online 1.2MM
  10. Topshop 1MM

 

 

Annenberg study finds “Millennial Rift” in Internet use

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Student laptopA new study identifies a “Millennial Rift” in between how Millennials (age 18-34) and non-Millennials use and perceive online sites and services.

This was among the the findings of the annual study of the impact of the Internet on Americans by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.

The “Millennial Rift”: Differences between Millennials and non-Millennials in the spectrum of online behavior

The Digital Future Survey found that Millennials, when compared to non-Millennials, have different views about using the Internet and report significant differences in many aspects of their behavior online.

Buying online:

  • Millennials are more involved with mobile shopping and comparison shopping than non-Millennials.  Sixty-eight percent of Millennials have done a price comparison on their mobile devices while in a store to find if there is a better deal available online, compared to 43 percent of non-Millennials.
  • Twice as many Millennials (23 percent) as non-Millennials (10 percent) have purchased products online on their mobile device while in a traditional retail store.
  • Forty-six percent of Millennials compared to 24 percent of non-Millennials have done an online price comparison in a store to find a better deal at another retail store.

Millennials as consumers of online media content – Compared to non-Millennials in the study, Millennials spend:

  • three times as much time watching movies online.
  • twice as much time listening to online radio.
  • four times as much time watching television online.
  • more than twice as much time watching paid online television services such as Hulu Plus.
  • and almost twice as many watch movies sometimes or often through a fee service such as CinemaNow or Netflix.

* Online video content – More than twice as many Millennials as non-Millennials watch online versions of television shows or music videos.

* Perceptions of social networking sites – Higher percentages of Millennials (70 percent) compared to non-Millennials (51 percent) value social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus as important for maintaining their relationships.

* Following and friending companies and brands – Compared to non-Millennials, Millennials follow nine times as many companies and brands on Twitter, and “friend” more than twice as many companies and brands on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Changing patterns of online purchasing; views about sales tax

The 2013 report explored a variety of new issues involving online buying, including purchasing on mobile devices and the impact of sales tax on Internet buying:

Sales tax and online purchasing – More than half of Internet buyers (52 percent) said that if their state starts to collect tax for online purchases, they would buy less online, and 9 percent said they would stop buying online altogether.  Only 39 percent said that sales tax charged for online purchases would not change their purchasing.

Browsing and price-comparing in retail stores with a mobile device – The survey found popular use of mobile devices while shoppers browse in traditional retail stores:

* Forty-nine percent of Internet purchasers who browse in local retail stores said they have compared prices on a mobile device while in a store to see if there is a better deal available online.

* Thirty percent of Internet users overall said they have used a mobile device while in a store to determine if a better deal was available at another store nearby.

* Thirteen percent of online purchasers who browse locally said they have purchased a product online with a mobile device while in a store.  Seventy percent of that group made the purchase from a competing online retailer, and not from the store’s website.

Digital first is the new normal for newsrooms

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

newspapersThe full digital tool-set is now in use in newsrooms and editorial offices around the world – with far-reaching implications for the public relations industry, the latest Oriella Digital Journalism Study has found.

 

Back at the first part of this century we worked for one of the first online tech news outfits and broke a considerable number of technology stories online ahead of local media. A columnist for a local publication said it probably gave established traditional print news outlets morning headaches. Now, however, most news organizations understand the importance of breaking news online.

A ‘digital first’ policy, breaking news online as it happens, is in place at over a third of the media titles surveyed with use of mobile apps, in-house produced video and social media as a news source all on the rise.

The Oriella Digital Journalism Study, based on a survey of almost 550 journalists from 15 countries spanning Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas, tracks how digital technology is impacting how news is gathered and published around the world.

Wholesale changes in gathering and reporting news

This year’s study – the sixth – provides evidence of wholesale changes in how publications gather and communicate stories. This year’s study further found a quarter of the journalists surveyed often prepare multiple versions of the same story as it develops, while a fifth said that ‘citizen journalism’ now carries as much credibility in their organization as mainstream reporting.

mobile devicesDigital media is also shaping publications’ revenue models. The proportion of respondents saying their outlet has a mobile app has nearly doubled over the past two years to 40 percent. In addition, use of premium apps to monetize content has increased by a third since 2012.

Robin Grainger, Director of the Oriella PR Network, said: “Our study suggests 2013 is a watershed year for the world’s media. The growing interest in ‘digital first’ reporting, video, real-time news, mobile content and citizen journalism all exemplify what we’re calling the ‘New Normal for News’.”

Game-changing ramifications

“If these trends accelerate, there are some potentially game-changing ramifications for media and communicators alike. First, touch-screen interfaces will open up new possibilities for storytelling. One example could be interactive graphics (or ‘digi-graphics’) which blend high design and big data to enable readers to navigate their own path through stories.”

“Second, we may see a polarisation of journalistic output. At one end short, ‘tweet-like’ news updates will provide near real-time coverage of events in print and on video, optimized for small screens.

At the other end, we may see much longer-form feature and investigative pieces. ‘Shorter but quicker’ journalism could also afford media brands greater prominence – and consequently greater traffic – in search rankings, news readers and ‘social news aggregator’ apps such as Flipboard and Pulse News.”

Amid the technology change, traditional values remain

social mediaThe study finds that journalists are using social media for newsgathering, but continue to place an emphasis on trusted sources and pre-existing relationships.

For example, 51 percent of journalists said they source new stories from microblogs, such as Twitter and Weibo, but only when they already know the source behind them.

When the source is unknown, their use by journalists halved, to 25 percent. By contrast, 59 percent of respondents said they sourced their news from conversations with industry insiders.

The sources most trusted by journalists were academics and other experts, who were trusted by 70 percent of journalists; technical experts in companies (trusted by 63 percent) and analysts (trusted by 49 percent). Generally, we’ve found, academics and technical experts are much more oriented toward telling what they see as the truth than other sources, so this makes sense.

Company CEOs were trusted by only 41 percent, and actually distrusted by one in eight journalists. The least trusted individuals were politicians, PR professionals, heads of marketing, and community managers – all of whom were more distrusted than trusted by journalists (see chart).

Personally, we’ve had nearly all of these sources attempt to mislead us over the years. A CEO, PR pro, or politician will outright lie if they think they can get away with it – and some will do it even knowing you’re aware that they’re lying or fudging the truth. That’s why multiple sources are important on stories where there is any doubt.

Journalists’ attitudes to their job

Despite all the changes occurring within newsrooms, the study found journalists remain upbeat about their jobs. Thirty-four percent said they believed digital media had improved the quality of their journalism over the past two years. However, the digital model is creating headaches for many of them: almost a third (32 percent) agreed that they are finding it harder to keep abreast of events on social media.

Grainger continued: “For all the technological change, the fundamental role of journalism remains the same – to gather evidence from sources, build narratives, and then convey them.

What has changed, however, are the tools at their disposal. The brands that achieve cut-through in the ‘New Normal for News’ will be those keeping abreast of these changes. They will be the ones that integrate their storytelling – using conventional text, video, graphics and interactive content – as well as harnessing the social media profiles of their own people, and those of key influencers around them.”

The ROI of social media is not hit and run

Monday, June 10th, 2013

By Marsha Friedman

 

Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman

I was never a fan of the cocktail party-variety networking scene. I will never be one to dart around a room shoving business cards into people’s hands. I prefer meaningful conversations with people, getting to know them and vice versa.

But social media networking? That’s something different altogether. Done right, it’s never a hit-and-run. Rather, it consists of building relationships over months and even years by sharing information – both professional and personal – through posts, comments and responding to questions in various online communities.

What’s the return on investment, the ROI, for putting that kind of time into social media? Actually, it’s called the RON – the “return on networking.”

And for me, it’s huge.

I’ve been on Facebook for five years; I also have Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts, among others. All totaled, I’m now approaching 100,000 friends, followers and connections. Those followers expose my name and message to their audiences every time they “like” one of my posts or share one of my links.

Talk about exposure!

Recently, someone re-tweeted something I’d shared on Twitter – he had 130,000 followers. That’s a potential audience of 130,000 people I likely would have never reached otherwise.

Talk about exposure!

Who knows how many of those people may someday become my clients? Who cares? I’ll still consider the exposure a good return on networking. Here’s why.

The RON of social media isn’t always tangible, not immediately, anyway. By establishing a continued presence online through regularly sharing content of use to my followers, I’m building my platform and my reputation as an expert. That grows in surprising ways – and it lives in surprising places.

A recent case in point: Late last year, I got a call from a prominent New York City hair stylist, the director of a salon in one of that city’s premier department stores. He wanted to talk about some publicity needs and what my company could do to help him.

When I asked how he got my name, he explained he’d written some books over the years with a co-author, and she’d heard me at a speaking engagement.

Well, that made sense. Speaking at conferences is still a great way to get your name out while also building credibility.

A complete surprise

But the next thing he said came as a complete surprise.

“So, then I contacted the corporate office (of the department store chain) and asked what PR agency they would recommend.” And they recommended me and my company.

I don’t know a soul in the corporate offices of that high-end retail chain. I can only guess they learned of me through social media.

Just being on Twitter or Google+ isn’t enough, of course. You have to make a diligent effort to regularly post content that people find valuable, including links to informative articles, tips relevant to your topic, and/or informed insights on topics in the news.

You also have to “be a human,” as our lead social media strategist, Jeni Hinojosa, likes to say. She and our other social media producers encourage clients to send photos when they go on vacation, celebrate milestones or engage in hobbies. Posting those photos with a comment adds a personal touch that allows followers to connect on a more emotional level.

social mediaOur social media producers also make sure clients’ personalities shine in their posts, showing their sense of humor and letting followers in on the other things they care about, whether it’s victims of a natural disaster or a favorite charity.

Interaction is equally important. Strive to respond to every comment or question posted on your networking sites. Interacting is engaging, and people who are engaged tend to be happy followers. The more you take part in conversations via comments and responses, the more lively and visible your presence becomes.

The RON includes increased traffic to your website; increased trust in your brand and what you’re selling; and greater word of mouth than you could ever hope for by attending a cocktail party or even a speaking engagement.

Marsha Friedman is a 23-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself and she can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3:00 PM EST

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SoLoMo changing how moms interact with brands

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Shopping cartSoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile) is changing the way people are interacting and learning about brands and products.

That’s according to industry experts Rajat Shroff, Vice President of Product Management and Business Development at Brand.net, and Barbara Liss, Director of Digital and Social Media at Quaker Foods of PepsiCo.

In the early 2000s, moms weren’t as digitally connected, spending only about one hour online a day versus more than three hours a day in 2012.  Rather, it was her family spending time online, finding products they wanted her to purchase for them.

Today’s mom now spends an average of 6.1 hours a day on her smartphone. In addition, 1 of every 3 minutes a mom spends online is on Facebook. She’s also joining online mom clubs and is more aware of product attributes than ever.

Faster, smarter, better buying decisions

social mediaToday’s SoLoMo mom is becoming aware of products on social sites, researching on parenting blogs, and then making the buying choices for her family.

Her multi-media consumption is leading to faster, smarter and better buying decisions. Shroff and Liss also discussed the differences in how media behavior, geography, culture and other demographics impact the SoLoMo mom.

Shroff heads up product strategy with a specific focus on unlocking the unique data and assets at the company to make them actionable for digital advertising.  He has also held product management leadership positions and led strategy and delivery of products for analytics, personalization, search, advertising and merchandising.

Leading to loyalty and activation

“Brands are engaging with consumers, especially with moms, in so many different ways today,” Shroff said. “Media consumption continues to grow on digital screens and the opportunities to engage with consumers innovatively across them is leading to loyalty and activation.”

Liss is responsible for driving the digital agenda across the Quaker portfolio.  During her tenure, she has spearheaded the brand’s e-commerce initiatives, enhanced Quaker’s social CRM program and overseen their entry into mobile marketing.

According to Liss, “Social, Local and Mobile are key engagement arenas for Quaker Foods to connect with the Digital mom.  We are continuously pursuing new areas to reach, engage and activate moms.  Brand.net has been open to working with us on new techniques and the early signs are successful.”

Social media worm returns, spam rises dramatically

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

lockA significant spike in instances of the Koobface social networking worm and a dramatic increase in spam, among other security threats are reported in the McAfee Threats Report: First Quarter 2013,

McAfee Labs also saw continued increases in the number and complexity of targeted threats, including information-gathering Trojans and threats targeting systems’ master boot records (MBRs).

McAfee Labs found almost three times as many samples of Koobface as were seen in the previous quarter, which is a high point for the social networking worm that targets Facebook, Twitter and other social networking service users. After three years of stagnation, spam email volume rose dramatically.

Stock pump and dump campaigns

One significant element behind this growth in North America was the return of “pump and dump” spam campaigns, which targeted would-be investors hoping to capitalize on all-time equity market highs. The McAfee Labs report showed the continued increases in Android malware, malicious web URLs and overall malware samples.

But the increase in the number and sophistication of targeted advanced persistent threats (APTs) represented the most notable evolution in the threat landscape, as information becomes as valuable as money on the cybercrime landscape.

The report found a 30 percent increase in MBR-related malware and new instances of password-stealing Trojans being repurposed to capture information on individuals and organizations beyond the financial services industry.

“Cybercriminals have come to appreciate that sensitive personal and organizational information are the currency of their ‘hacker economy,’” said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president, McAfee Labs.

Koolface return

social media“The resurrection of Koobface reminds us that social networks continue to present a substantial opportunity for intercepting personal information. Within the enterprise, we see password-stealing Trojans evolving to become information-gathering tools for cyber-espionage attacks. Whether they target login credentials or intellectual property and trade secrets, highly-targeted attacks are achieving new levels of sophistication.”

Each quarter, the McAfee Labs team of more than 500 multidisciplinary researchers in 30 countries monitors the global threat landscape, identifying application vulnerabilities, analyzing and correlating risks, and enabling instant remediation to protect enterprises and the public. This quarter, McAfee Labs identified the following developments:

  • Koobface Trojan. Koobface, a worm first discovered in 2008, had been relatively flat for the last year yet it tripled in the first quarter of 2013 to levels never previously seen. The resurgence demonstrates that the cybercriminal community believes that social network users constitute a very target-rich environment of potential victims.
  • Spam Volume. McAfee Labs found the first increase in global spam volume in more than three years. In addition to popular “pump and dump” scams, a surge in growth hormone offers and an escalation of spam campaigns in emerging markets accounted for category growth.
  • Targeted Espionage. McAfee’s latest analysis of the Citadel Trojan found that criminals have re-purposed the bank account threat to steal personal information from narrowly targeted victims within organizations beyond financial services. The industry should expect to see more instances of banking malware used for cyber-espionage operations within non-financial and government organizations.
  • MBR Attacks. The 30 percent increase in Q1 MBR-related threats included instances of StealthMBR, TDSS, Cidox, and Shamoon malware. Key to performing startup operations, MBRs offer an attacker a wide variety of system control, persistence, and deep penetration capabilities. The category has set record highs over the last two quarters.
  • Malicious URLs. The number of suspicious URLs increased 12 percent as cybercriminals continued their movement away from botnets as the primary distribution mechanism for malware. Malicious websites launching “drive-by downloads” have the notable advantage of being more nimble and less susceptible to law enforcement takedowns.
  • Mobile Malware. While the growth of mobile malware declined slightly during the quarter, Android malware still managed to increase by 40 percent.
  • PC Malware. New PC malware samples increased 28 percent, adding 14 million new samples to McAfee’s malware “zoo” of more than 120 million unique malware threats.

To read the full McAfee Threats Report: First Quarter 2013, please visit http://www.mcafee.com/us/resources/reports/rp-quarterly-threat-q1-2013.pdf.

Ebook guides SMBs to effective social media listening

Friday, May 31st, 2013

 social media“The Art of Social Media Listening: How to Use Social Media Listening to Build and Manage Your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest Pages,” by Jennifer Finke ,  available via Amazon.com Kindle Edition, offers readers an overview of how to manage and grow a social media presence through active listening online.

Finke says she was annoyed when small business owners told her that they thought “managing” a social media page meant simply pushing out posts, tweets and pins.

“Clients and prospects would ask me to manage their social media efforts, yet they had little knowledge about the effort it took to do so properly. I delivered a presentation on this topic a few months ago to share my insights on the efforts involved in social media management, specifically social media listening.

Several of the participants encouraged me to turn my presentation into an eBook so I could share these practical social media tips more broadly,” says Finke, who is also founder of the Denver PR agency, Red Jeweled Media.

SMBs getting it wrong

Another motivation in writing this eBook, says Finke, is that she says she believes many small businesses are doing social media themselves and getting it wrong.

“The push out a Tweet and a Facebook post and then say, ‘I’m done with my social media efforts today,’ isn’t how social media management is done,” says Finke. “Social media takes time and active listening,” says Finke.

In the Art of Social Media Listening, Finke teaches small and mid-sized business owners and PR professionals how to:

  • Create social media objectives
  • Identify key influencers within their social eco-system
  • Actively listen online
  • Prioritize their social media listening efforts

“This eBook was written for the up-and-coming social media enthusiast, PR freelancer, and do-it-yourself entrepreneur in mind,” says Finke.

Finke adds that the eBook is a quick read because, “Social media listening shouldn’t be an arduous task.” Plus, she adds, “All the recommendations in my eBook are free to implement; I do not push expensive monitoring tools that entrepreneurs and PR freelancers can’t afford and may not need.”

To download a copy of the Kindle Edition of, “The Art of Social Media Listening: How to Use Social Media Listening to Build and Manage Your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest Pages,” ($2.99), visit Amazon.com.

Entrepreneurs looking for an M&A exit need good social profiles

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

mergers and acquisitionsFasken Martineau, a leading international business law and litigation firm, says a survey of senior M&A executives primarily based in the United States that leads to some compelling observations about the growing use of social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook in reporting M&A deals.

The study found that some 32% of respondents reported using a social media platform to communicate a transaction.

Fasken Martineau surveyed these executives before the Securities and Exchange Commission issued its April 2, 2013 report providing companies with positive guidance for communicating material, non-public information via social platforms.

Testing attitudes toward social media

The well-publicized report was the result of an investigation into whether a Facebook post from Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, may have violated Regulation FD, which prohibits public companies from disclosing material, nonpublic information to certain individuals before it is made available to the general public.

This new survey from Fasken Martineau creates an opportunity to test whether the SEC’s guidance alters attitudes towards social media in the M&A realm.

“Our survey revealed that senior M&A executives are certainly using social media, and some are using it to research and communicate deals,” said Kareen Zimmer, a partner in Fasken Martineau’s corporate and M&A practice groups.

“Interestingly, however, social platforms are currently viewed by M&A professionals as having less value than other sources of information, and most don’t currently see great value in social media’s application outside of post-merger integration. It will be very interesting to see if the SEC guidance will impact this perception and if in fact we will see an increased acceptance of these tools in the M&A and general Finance community,” added Ms. Zimmer.

Key Findings

Entrepreneurs looking for an exit should not ignore the quality of their social profiles:

  • 36% of respondents used social media platforms to research potential acquisition targets in the last year
  • 48% used social platforms to investigate companies involved in transactions.

LinkedIn and Facebook play different roles among M&A executives using social media:

  • 72% said that LinkedIn added the most value to due diligence versus other social platforms, while only 50% said Facebook added value.
  • Of those that used social media to disclose a transaction, 78% used Facebook while 44% used LinkedIn.

Even with guidance from the SEC, social media may remain a minor player in the M&A realm for some time to come:

  • Given the unsettled state of regulatory guidance for the use of social media at the time of the survey, the percentage of executives who used social media to communicate a transaction (32%) may be considered high.
  • However, a large majority (77%) said that they do not have a social media strategy specifically for M&A, 65% do not anticipate developing such a strategy, and 74% were neutral to negative on the importance of a having a social media strategy specifically to impact M&A transactions, a bias that may be difficult to overcome despite the SEC’s guidance.

The full Social Media M&A Survey may be downloaded at www.fasken.com/en/social-media-survey.

Social Media and Proxy Contests

Survey respondents reported that among the many types of corporate events, they see proxy issues discussed most prominently on social networks, beating out managerial announcements, M&A transactions, quarterly financial results, restructurings and recapitalizations.

Fasken Martineau has a strong leadership position on the subject of proxy contests, having published its 2013 Canadian Proxy Contest Study in February. This study found that dissident shareholders are winning most proxy contests that occur at Canadian-based companies.

7 habits of highly social CEOs

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

social mediaThe majority of global executives (76 percent) believe that it is a good idea for CEOs to actively participate in social media, according to a new Weber Shandwick study.

These executives recognize a multitude of returns when CEOs are social, including improved company reputation, business results and employee engagement. These findings, from global public relations firm Weber Shandwick and research partner KRC Research, demonstrate that social media is quickly becoming a critical leadership tool.

Just a few years ago, we saw regular reports here at the TechJournal that suggested CEOs and other top C-level executives were not much into social media, but evidently that is changing.

“CEOs are now expected to be chief content providers for their companies. Social media is not only an efficient and engaging way to relay information but is also linked in executives’ minds with being a better leader,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross , Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist.

CEO socialability yields multiple dividends

The research was conducted through an online survey of 630 senior professionals from 10 countries around the world, including emerging and developed markets.

The survey defined social media participation as “posting messages, videos, pictures, etc. on a social media site.” Executives in the study are described as having a social CEO — those with CEOs who participate in social media — versus those with an unsocial CEO.

Highlights from the full report follow. Please view our infographic and report for the full results of the study here.

CEO sociability yields multiple dividends – internally and externally
Executives report that they favor CEO sociability for several reasons: employees, themselves, are already social; CEO sociability instills positive feelings among employees; and social CEOs are considered better leaders than unsocial CEOs.

The top-ranked benefit of CEOs’ sociability, according to 80 percent of executives whose CEOs are social, is company news and information-sharing. Other important advantages include improving company reputation (78 percent), demonstrating company innovation (76 percent), “humanizing” the company, improving employee communications and building media relations (75 percent each) and improving business results (70 percent).

Unsocial doesn’t mean anti-social
A personal Facebook profile, Twitter or Weibo handle and YouTube/YouKu channel may not be attractive or feasible for every CEO. Our study finds that many CEOs who don’t participate in social media are actually already communicating with employees through company intranets (50 percent) and making themselves visible to external constituents on their company websites (62 percent).

“CEOs must strategically utilize the right digital platforms that advance their communications — ranging from their own intranet and website to social network pages and feeds to video and image sharing platforms,” commented Chris Perry , global president of Weber Shandwick’s Digital practice.

Resistance to CEO sociability starts with the CEO
Our survey shows that no single reason for CEO non-participation stands out. However, the leading reasons why CEOs are said not to participate in social media are: it is not typical for our region or industry, the CEO sees no return on investment, there is no demand and it is too risky.

Overall, however, executives’ perceptions indicate that resistance to social media participation starts at the top.  Given that executives, on a global basis project a 50 percent growth rate in CEOs’ use of social media over the next five years, these barriers need to be addressed and overcome.

Sector and regional variations

  • Executives in financial services and business services expect the highest rate of CEO sociability growth over the next five years.
  • Executives who say their companies benefit most in terms of reputation when their CEOs are social are from emerging Asia Pacific markets.
  • CEO sociability has the greatest positive business impact on companies in emerging Asia Pacific and Latin America.

The Seven Habits of Highly Social CEOs
Weber Shandwick compared the exceptionally active social CEOs (those whose executives say they participate in social media at least once a week) relative to overall social CEOs to develop a profile of the most highly social CEOs.

  1. Highly social CEOs use a more expansive set of social tools. Hyper-social CEOs realize sociability goes beyond dropping messages into a Twitter or microblog feed. World class sociability requires a strategically-crafted plan for driving the company’s content across several channels.
  2. Highly social CEOs own a blog. These CEOs see the value in long-form, content creation as a way of giving their perspectives context, meaning and depth.
  3. Highly social CEOs leverage the company website. These leaders realize that the website remains “digital ground zero” for company information-seekers and offers a platform for content to be delivered in multiple formats. With services such as Weber Shandwick’s Mediaco, the company website can now be a destination for corporate and leadership content.
  4. Highly social CEOs self-author. These CEOs are DIYers (Do It Yourself). Their frequent posting influences their determination to author everything themselves although they most probably take input from their marketing and communications executives.
  5. Highly social CEOs are forward-looking. These CEOs intuitively understand that technology and social media are the future of content distribution and they want to be part of this communications revolution.
  6. Highly social CEOs are spontaneous yet not too informal. These socially adept CEOs maintain the formality of their office but let stakeholders know that they can react quickly and seize opportunity.
  7. Highly social CEOs engage a wider variety of external stakeholders. These CEOs see the value in sociability and use it to reach out to a wide portfolio of stakeholders.

How contact centers can reduce credit card fraud

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

credit cardsEvery credit card transaction conducted over the Internet introduces a security risk for the cardholder. Data stores can be hacked, card numbers overheard, data streams might be vulnerable to interception; even contact center agent integrity is not beyond question.

That sort of concern, backed up by the many high profile data breaches at companies large and small over the last few years, is one reason some people are still wary of using credit cards to shop online. It’s also a motivator to use alternative currencies such as bitcoin.

 To increase controls around cardholder data and reduce credit card fraud, the industry-wide Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council first defined its Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) in 2004 and updated it in October 2010 to current version 2.0.

Frost & Sullivan‘s white paper, Protect Customers with PCI Compliance, analyzes the risks for data breaches and theft in the contact center, and helps contact center managers understand the actions that can be taken to increase agent vigilance and data security.

Rigorous, multilayered response needed

Taking steps to identify and prevent cybercrime in customer contact channels involves a rigorous multilayered response.  This includes meeting and complying with the PCI DSS standard by submitting to and passing periodical comprehensive scoping, assessment, validation, and reporting requirements, and by meeting the standard between assessments.

“Compliance with data standards like PCI DSS is entwined with preventing data theft.  To manage both issues often requires expert advice and recommendations from experienced companies like SPS,” said Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Brendan Read .

Strategic Products and Services (SPS) offers PCI DSS compliance consulting and advice.  SPS also supplies a wide range of other services that support PCI DSS compliance including interactive voice response (IVR) and call recording solution selection and implementation.

Successful social media customer care

“PCI considerations come up in many parts of a contact center’s business processes, many of which have implications on technology choices for encryption, recording, data storage and retrieval,” said SPS Chief Technology Officer, Mike Taylor .

“Requirements differ, based on the customer’s industry and size of the data center operation.  SPS provides guidance to ensure that customer data management is PCI-compliant, especially in the areas of IVR systems and call recording. We tell them what is required and what is possible for an operation in their industry and size.”

social mediaFrost & Sullivan also released a white paper titled: Enabling Successful Social Media Customer Care, which is another goal for many contact centers that are engaging with customers through social media channels.

Customers are already using social media to voice issues, obtain information and support, and to collaborate and network with other customers. Contact centers that successfully monitor and engage with these channels gain an opportunity to display highly proactive customer service.

But integrating contact-center systems with social media channels introduces new business challenges and opportunities, along with the significant IT integration requirements.  Security concerns, confidence scams, and even implications for PCI compliance over social media can raise additional requirements.

Click HERE to access the white papers and videos related to this release .

“Social media is fundamentally different from all other customer engagement channels in that it transmits public conversations one-to-many rather than private ones one-to-one. This factor, above all, makes providing effective and secure customer care over the social channel challenging,” said Read.

Create a single department

To be successful with social media, Frost & Sullivan recommends that firms create a single department responsible for customer engagement strategy across all media – one that has ongoing participation by other departments, including Corporate Communications, Marketing, and Legal.

Making use of customer social media usage requires advance planning, supported with the right blend of social monitoring software.

Using such systems, customers are associated with targeted “social profiles” which enable the firm to pursue a strategic and customized social strategy that correctly targets individual customer contacts.  Policies must also be put in place to govern what content may be published to social media channels by contact-center agents.

“Blending social media into the wider picture of the total customer experience requires a thorough approach, combining business process consulting and communications technology,” said Taylor.  “A strategic communications partner like SPS can help you understand what’s possible, develop and prioritize your plan of action, and provide a single point of accountability through implementation.”

Social media lags as ecommerce traffic source

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

social media logosCompanies haven’t cracked the code for leveraging social media to drive ecommerce.

Social media is not sending much traffic to ecommerce sites despite significant brand investments, according to – Monetate, a customer experience engine. Its Ecommerce Quarterly report (Q1 2013) also found that while tablets and smartphones are grabbing more device share of ecommerce traffic, only a handful of companies optimize for those devices.

Among the report’s key insights:

  • Social media is lagging as direct traffic source to ecommerce websites and for online purchases, despite brand investment. Social media represented just 1.55 percent of all ecommerce traffic, way behind search (31.43 percent) and trailing email (2.82 percent). And social media traffic numbers were down from Q1, 2012, when they were 2.36 percent. The data lead to the question: Should brands change their approach to social marketing?
  • Tablets and smartphones are grabbing more device share of ecommerce traffic. Tablets and smartphones were 21.02 percent of traffic, compared to just 2 percent two years ago. Tablets (10.58 percent) led smartphones (10.44 percent) in ecommerce traffic. Despite the rapidly increasing traffic being driven to sites through tablets and smartphones, only 14 percent of companies optimize for tablet users and only 13 percent optimize for smartphone, compared with 43 percent that personalize for desktop users, based on a recent Econsultancy survey.
  • It pays to market to U.S. military personnel. The numbers show conversion rates among military personnel in the U.S. (5.15 percent), Europe (4.30 percent) and Asia (3.57 percent) were significantly higher than the overall U.S. consumer segment (2.53 percent). And the average order value of military personnel was 23.39 percent higher than shoppers across the U.S.

“As marketers know, data can tell a story and the EQ1 2013 tells the story of a fast-growing ecommerce market where companies face growing opportunities and challenges,” said Blair Lyon , vice president, marketing, Monetate.

Digital east Ecommerce Panel

A panel at TechMedia’s Digital East conference.

“We focused this EQ on social commerce since the data shows the companies have not yet cracked the code in leveraging social media to drive ecommerce traffic. We know that social media plays an important role in influencing social purchases – to what degree brands are able to leverage social to build loyalty is the next big question.”

Here at the TechJournal, we suspect part of the problem of leveraging social media is that it’s time consuming and cannot be simply push, push, push. As many of the experts who attend TechMedia’s digital summits have said time and again, companies have to master techniques that engage their customers in a dialog and that’s a lot easier said than done.

Not only that, in many cases, the tactics a company uses to successfully leverage social media probably vary considerably from firm to firm, industry to industry, and product to product.

It’s a much more complex problem than just post and go.

What 3 factors drive TV social-media related use?

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Samsung Smart TV

A Samsung Smart TV.

Three key types of motivations leading fans to engage in TV-related social media activities: Functional, Communal and Playful, according to “When Networks Network: TV Gets Social,” its new multi-country study investigating the relationship between TV and social media usage by Viacom.

The multi-country study involved social media diaries in the U.S., as well as online communities in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. International online surveys were conducted in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Braziland Russia with more than 5,000 Viacom viewers ages 13-49 who use two or more social media platforms on at least a weekly basis.

“Our objective with this research was not only to understand what drives our audiences to social media, but also to see how their social media activity impacts viewing behaviors,” said Colleen Fahey Rush , Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer, Viacom Media Networks.  “At Viacom, we’re focused on creating social experiences that continue the conversation off-screen and deepen the relationships between our fans and their favorite shows and characters.”

How much do viewers engage in TV-social activities?

Viewers engage in an average of 10 TV-related activities on social media platforms on a weekly basis, including: interacting with friends and fans (72%); following/liking a TV show (57%); sharing or recommending (61%); watching full clips and trailers (61%); searching for info and show schedules (66%); and gaming or signing up for freebies (49%).

Out of 24 social media activities tracked, three distinct types of motivations for TV-related social media use emerged: Functional (searching for show schedules, news, exclusives); Communal (personal branding, connecting with others); and Playful (gaming, entering contests).

Of the countries included in the study, Viacom found that viewers in Brazil embrace TV-related social media activities the most frequently, while those in Germany are the least likely to do so.

1.  Functional: Information Above All

Function trumps all other motivating factors, including socializing, when it comes to TV-related social media use. This is true of all the countries in the study, with viewers in Germany leaning the most towards the functional motivations. Viewers are more interested in the experiences and content offered by networks and TV shows than communicating with others on social media. They use social media sites to:

  • stay informed about air dates and times (44%);
  • keep up with the latest show news (45%); and
  • access exclusive show info (37%), video (36%) and plot clues (36%).

video playerFunctional motives are stronger for teens and young adults. Viewers 13-17 are most likely to use social media to search for show schedules and exclusive videos, while those between the ages of 18 and 24 are most likely to search for the latest show news and to access spoilers.

“We found it intriguing that TV-related social media behaviors and motivating factors were consistent across all five countries that we looked at in this study,” said Christian Kurz , Vice President of Research, Insights and Reporting for VIMN. “Globally, social media is becoming today’s version of a TV guide for viewers – it is really how they prefer to get their information about the shows they watch.”

2.  Communal: The Value of a Facebook ‘Like’ or a Twitter ‘Follower’

Twitter birdCommunal factors are the second most common reason for engaging in TV-related social media use. Viewers reported using social media to brand themselves and share taste (34%); to connect with the show (28%); and to connect with other fans (28%).

One way viewers satisfy their Communal motivation is by “liking” a show on Facebook or “following” on Twitter. Viacom’s research has uncovered the long-questioned value of such Facebook “likes” or Twitter “follows” when it comes to TV. After “liking” or “following” a show, viewers were a full 75% more likely to watch that show. Viewers also watch more in an average of three different ways (live, stream, reruns), and engage more with TV shows and channels on digital platforms:

  • 41% access its social media more
  • 39% visit show/channel site more often
  • 27% are more likely download related apps

“Liking” or “following” also satisfies functional motivations by providing show schedules and updates.

3.   Playful: Social TV Games Matter

Third, playful experiences drive TV-related social media activities, including playing for rewards (24% to get freebies or enter contests) or playing games (25% games; 24% quizzes/polls).

  • Over 30% play TV show-related social media games on a weekly basis.
  • Of the social gamers who watch a TV show and play the related game, about 75% play off-season.
  • TV-related gaming is a persistent touch-point and a way to connect year-round with viewers.

Social media games help drive viewership, with around 30% of respondents having gamed before ever watching a show. About half reported watching a show more due to the show’s social media game. Game shows, comedy and reality shows come in as the top genres for gaming.

Social Media and Show Discovery

social televisionSocial media ranked third (39%) as a source of show discovery, behind promos (54%) and word of mouth (50%).  The exception is Brazil, where social media ranked even higher as a source of show discovery, second only to TV promos.

The research revealed that social media-fueled show discovery uniquely and positively impacts live tune-in, with viewers significantly more likely to watch a show premiere on live TV when that show is discovered via social media.

  • Seventy percent are likely to watch the live debut of a show that was discovered on social media, versus 48% live if it was discovered elsewhere.
  • Forty-one percent are likely to watch a show live past its first season if the show was discovered on social media, versus 28% live if it was discovered elsewhere.

Drivers of live tune-in from social media include Facebook friend’s comment, a show’s post, or a friend “liking” the show.

Yahoo acquiring Tumblr for $1.1B in cash

Monday, May 20th, 2013

YahooYahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Tumblr announced today that they have reached a definitive agreement for Yahoo! to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion, substantially all in cash.

Per the agreement and Yahoo’s promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business. David Karp, who founded Tumbr, will remain CEO. The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators.

With more than 300 million monthly unique visitors and 120,000 signups every day, Tumblr is one of the fastest-growing media networks in the world. Tumblr, founded in 2007, sees 900 posts per second (!) and 24 billion minutes spent on site each month. On mobile, more than half of Tumblr’s users are using the mobile app and do an average of 7 sessions per day.

Personally, here at the TechJournal, we always wince a bit at these billion-dollar deals for companies with no discernible revenue. Also, calling Tumblr’s bloggers creative is something of a stretch. Posting or reposting images primarily from other web sources, most with minimal, if any comment, isn’t all that creative.

A few Tumblr bloggers do more than that, of course, and honestly, we enjoy the service. You can crank through hundreds of Tumblr pages in a short time. We find it particularly useful for finding images we repost on other social networks.

Expected to grow Yahoo’s audience 50 percent

Its tremendous popularity and engagement among creators, curators and audiences of all ages brings a significant new community of users to the Yahoo! network. The combination of Tumblr+Yahoo! is expected to grow Yahoo!’s audience by 50 percent to more than a billion monthly visitors, and to grow traffic by approximately 20 percent.

The deal offers unique opportunities for both companies. Tumblr can deploy Yahoo!’s personalization technology and search infrastructure to help its users discover creators, bloggers, and content they’ll love.

In turn, Tumblr brings 50 billion blog posts (and 75 million more arriving each day) to Yahoo!’s media network and search experiences. The two companies will also work together to create advertising opportunities that are seamless and enhance the user experience.

Redefining creative expression?

Tumblr“Tumblr is redefining creative expression online,” said Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. “On many levels, Tumblr and Yahoo! couldn’t be more different, but, at the same time, they couldn’t be more complementary. Yahoo is the Internet’s original media network.

Tumblr is the Internet’s fastest-growing media frenzy. Both companies are homes for brands – established and emerging. And, fundamentally, Tumblr and Yahoo! are both all about users, design, and finding surprise and inspiration amidst the everyday.”

Mutual love fest

“I’ve long held the view that in all things art and design, you can feel the spirit and demeanor of the creator. That’s why it was no surprise to me that David Karp is one of the nicest, most empathetic people I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the most perceptive, capable entrepreneurs I’ve ever worked with,” continued Mayer. “David’s respect for Tumblr’s community of creators is awesome. I’m absolutely delighted to have him join our team.”

David Karp, CEO of Tumblr, addressed the Tumblr community, “Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing. But we’re elated to have the support of Yahoo! and their team who share our dream to make the Internet the ultimate creative canvas. Tumblr gets better faster with more resources to draw from.”

You always hear these mutual love fest comments when one company acquires another. The question is whether they’ll still be talking this way in a year or three. (Editorial comments by Allan Maurer).

The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the second half of the year.

Consumers do respond to online & TV ad calls to action

Monday, May 20th, 2013

social mediaThe effectiveness of social cues in advertisements varies by the medium the ad appears in, according to a Burst Media survey revealing how and why web users interact with brands via social media.

Among respondents who recall social media prompts in advertising, digital ads (61.0%) and television ads (58.7%) are most effective at driving interaction with a brand’s social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

These are followed by print ads (52.4%), radio ads (41.5%) and outdoor ads (39.4%).

Notably, two-thirds (67.6%) of 18 to 34 year-old respondents—including 73.9% of 18 to 34 year-old women—say digital ads that feature prompts to social media assets are effective at inspiring them to take action.

“We found that marketers who use social sharing and action prompts within advertisements create authentic interactions that drive further engagement,” said Mark Kaefer , marketing director, Burst Media.

“On the digital front especially, display, mobile and sponsored online content campaigns that include social media prompts can virally and exponentially extend campaign reach through consumer status updates, likes, tweets, pins and more.”

Survey Highlights

Web users interact with brands on social media for a variety of reasons.

  • More than one-half (53.8%) of women and 44.1% of men who interact on social media via cues in advertising cite “to show my support for a brand that I like” as a reason for doing so.
  • The gender divide is even wider with the next most-cited reason, which is to access special offers, coupons and/or promotions: 53.2% of women versus just over one-third (35.5%) of men cite this as a reason.
  • Notably, two-thirds (66.7%) of 35 to 44 year-old women cite the access to offers/coupons as a reason to interact with a brand’s social assets.

The majority (65.4%) of all survey respondents have at least one social media account set-up for personal use.

  • Facebook—at 53.0%—is by far the leading provider. Google+ follows a distant second, with one-quarter (25.6%) of respondents reporting they use the up-and-coming platform.
  • Three-fifths (58.6%) of respondents with social media accounts use them at least once a day, and another one-fifth (22.3%) check accounts at least once per week.

Interestingly, Pinterest and Instagram—as image and photo-driven social platforms—skew towards a female audience.

  • InstagramOne-fifth (21.9%) of all female respondents have a Pinterest account, versus only 4.8% of men. The disparity of Pinterest use between the sexes is even greater among 18 to 34 year-olds: 1-in-4 (25.5%) women in this segment have a Pinterest account, versus just 3.6% of men this age.
  • Instagram’s audience also skews more female than male—10.4% versus 5.8%, respectively. Again, the gender gap is biggest among respondents aged 18 to 34, as 20.8% of women this age have Instagram accounts, versus 8.4% of men.

Download the full “Expanding the Conversation: Leveraging Social Media for Brand Interaction” Online Insights report (PDF) athttp://burstmedia.com/pdf/burst_media_online_insights_2013_04.pdf.

 

 

Nike has most socially devoted fans on top ten list

Friday, May 17th, 2013
Nike sneakers

Nike Olympic inspired sneakers.

Nike is the U.S. brand to beat for Socially Devoted fans, dominating Socialbakers top ten U.S. list with four different Nike handles in Q1 2013.

Socialbakers, the global leader in social media measurement and analytics, monitors the most responsive brands on social media each quarter.

While @JetBlueAirways, representing airlines, and @NokiaCareUS, for telecom, take the #2 and #4 spots, respectively, they are surrounded by brands in banking, sporting goods, food, cloud computing and, a Q1 favorite, tax prep.

On Facebook, the most Socially Devoted U.S. brands in Q1 2013 were uniformly telecoms and airlines, industries where online customer service has become critically important to their business.

“Twitter enables a certain open conversation, and allows brands to address their customers’ needs immediately and directly.

More brands using social, Twitter

Twitter birdMore and more brands are appreciating the value of utilizing social media, and Twitter in particular, to relate to their customers and address their concerns.  These companies should be celebrated,” says Jan Rezab , CEO of Socialbakers.

Interestingly, @NikeSupport can also be found at #4 on the Worldwide list of Socially Devoted Twitter Brands, which is otherwise all telecom and airline.

Overall, worldwide, there has been an incredible increase in response rates on Twitter since Socialbakers began measuring (see graphic). Although the telecommunications, airline and finance industries tend to always score highly, the fashion and retail industries have been gaining traction too. It shows that companies now take Twitter seriously as a communication channel.

Here are the quarterly results:

Social media and review sites play major role for car buyers

Friday, May 17th, 2013

FacebookWith any luck, we won’t have to buy another car for a while, but when we do, we’ll definitely do online research before heading out to dealer lots. We have lots of company doing that.

Online dealership reviews on social media networks are now playing the most important role in the dealership selection process, according to the Spring 2013 Automotive Social Media and Reputation Trend Study released by Digital Air Strike, the nation’s leading automotive social media, online reputation and digital response company.

The bi-annual study included an in-depth analysis of how 650 U.S. dealers use social media and an online survey of 2,000 consumers who purchased a vehicle in the last 6 months.

The majority of car buyers said they consider review sites as “helpful” in their decision as to where to purchase a vehicle. The study found that 24% of consumers consider online review sites to be the “most helpful” factor, exceeding all other factors including the 15%of car buyers who consider dealership websites “most helpful”.

The study also showed that review sites are becoming increasingly important in organic search. 81% of car buyers who use review sites said they look at review scores in search results.

The dealer component of the study revealed that, on average, five review sites show up in search results. Car buyers use the top five sites 13% more than just 6 months ago.

Most popular review sites

The most popular review sites are Cars.com (61%, previously 55%), Edmunds.com (54%, previously 50%),), Google+ Local (37%, previously 44%), Yelp (14%, no change), and Yahoo (11%, no change) – the same rank order as the October 2012 study.

The study went on to reveal that there is a 43% probability that a consumer will search for a local dealer on Facebook using Facebook’s new Graph Search. The study revealed 67% of car buyers search for local business using mobile devices with 41% having “checked-in” to a local business using their mobile device.

Additional Facebook findings include:

  • There is a 59% probability that a consumer will trust a review from a Facebook friend more than reviews on other sites.
  • 27% of car buyers click on mobile ads on Facebook.
  • There is a 45% probability that a consumer will view the dedicated feed for brands in the forthcoming Facebook News Feed.
  • Clicks on automotive dealership Facebook ads more than doubled from October 2012 to April 2013 – from 16% up to 39%