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Arkansas-based Collective Bias posts $10.5M first round

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

social mediaCollective Bias, a social shopper media startup, has closed a Series A investment round led by Updata Partners for $10.5 million.

Based in Bentonville, Arkansas, Collective Bias is a social shopper media company that weaves organic social content into engaging, real-life stories to create millions of impressions leading to increased share of voice, SEO, and ultimately sales for brands and retailers such as Tyson, Nestle and Smart & Final. The company has satellite offices in New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Toronto and London.

Collective Bias was named one of America’s Most Promising Companies in 2013 by Forbes.

The company concluded 2012 with its third consecutive year of triple-digit growth, along with validation from major Fortune 500 companies.

We only cover a handful of startup funding stories at the TechJournal these days, but Collective Bias touches a lot of the bases we cover here, social media, ecommerce, and Southeast and Southwest startups.

Social shopper marketing evolution

“We believe that social shopper marketing is the evolution of shopper media, and supplants tired traditional media like FSI’s, retail circulars and digital display advertising,” said John Andrews, co-founder and CEO of Collective Bias.

“This investment round provides Collective Bias with runway to extend our four year leadership role in this new media category. We will employ these dollars to robustly enhance our Social Fabric content management platform, enter new markets and grow our team.”

Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report indicates that “consumers are turning to blogs when looking to make a purchase.”

Collective Bias is based on the insight of Andrews and co-founder Amy Callahan that advertisers could create greater engagement with their shoppers through the channels in which they engage today – be it Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or a simple, pre-shop search.

Drive brand recognition

“Harnessing the power of social media to drive brand recognition, loyalty and sales are C-level priorities for consumer-focused companies, and Collective Bias has a record of delivering impressive results for its customers,” said Jon Seeber of Updata Partners.

James Socas, a general partner at Updata Partners, added, “Collective Bias’ combination of shopper marketing expertise and brand and retail experience are a powerful combination in the new era of marketing, and we look forward to helping them drive even more value and growth.”

Collective Bias operates Social Fabric, a proprietary community of over 1,400 shopping-focused influencers, blending members’ shopping experience and product usage through engaging stories that are published online and shared with like-minded friends and followers.

With an aggregate multichannel reach of more than 50 million, the Social Fabric community represents a true extension of the Collective Bias team, providing continuous, valuable feedback that has redefined the relationship between brands, retail clients and consumers.

The financing process was facilitated by Gridley & Company, LLC, a New York-based boutique investment bank that provides financial advisory services to companies in the digital and information services industries.

Social Fabric is a proprietary community consisting of approximately 1,400 shopping-focused influencers with an aggregate multichannel reach in excess of 50 million.

Mobile phones driving revenue growth for major digital stocks

Monday, April 1st, 2013

smartphonesMobile phones are expected to remain the main driver of advertising revenue growth for Internet information providers such as Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO), Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA), LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD), Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), and AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL).

With more and more people switching to smartphones and tablets, the shift to mobile is expected to grow even more. As a result, advertisers are likely to allocate more of their budgets to mobile advertising.

 

While we don’t generally cover the stock market this specifically at the TechJournal, we thought these reports would be of interest to many of you in digital marketing and other tech areas in which these firms are major players.

On Thursday, which was the final trading day of the month of March and the first quarter, shares of Internet information providers ended on a mixed note even as the broad market posted gains.

StockCall has taken an interest in these companies and you can now sign up to download the free technical research on YHOO, ZNGA, LNKD, FB, and AOL at

http://www.stockcall.com/registration

Yahoo!

YahooYahoo! Inc.’s shares struggled in Thursday’s trading session even as the broad market edged higher. Shares of the Sunnyvale, California-based company closed 0.26% lower at $23.53 on above average volume of 17.61 million.

Shares of the company had an excellent run in the first quarter of 2013, gaining more than 18%. In the last one year, the stock has now gained more than 50%, which makes it one of the best performing technology stocks. Yahoo’s shares are currently trading well above their 50-day and 200-day moving averages. Sign up today to read the free research report on YHOO at

http://www.StockCall.com/YHOO040113.pdf

Zynga

Zynga Inc.’s shares posted modest gains in trading on Thursday. The stock closed 0.30% higher at $3.36 on volume of 9.38 million. Shares of ZNGA are trading nearly 75% below their 52-week high of $13.15. However, the stock has had an excellent run in 2013, gaining more than 42%. The company’s shares currently face stiff resistance at around $4. Register to download the free technical analysis on ZNGA at

http://www.StockCall.com/ZNGA040113.pdf

LinkedIn

LinkedInLinkedIn Corp.’s shares fell sharply on Thursday. The stock touched an intra-day low of $175.12 before finishing the day 1.02% lower at $176.06 on volume of 1.23 million. LinkedIn’s shares fell nearly 3% last week even as the broad market posted gains for the week.

For the first quarter, however, shares of LNKD gained more than 53%, compared to a gain of more than 10% for the S&P 500. The company’s shares are trading above their 50-day and 200-day moving averages. However, the stock’s MACD has slipped below the signal line, which suggests that market sentiment is bearish on the stock. Free report on LNKD can be accessed by registering at

http://www.StockCall.com/LNKD040113.pdf

Facebook

FacebookShares of Facebook Inc. tumbled in trading on Thursday even as the broad market posted gains. The stock ended the day 1.95% lower at $25.58 on volume of 28.59 million. Facebook’s shares finished nearly 0.60% lower for the week. Its shares are currently trading below their 50-day moving average. The stock currently faces resistance at around $26. Register with StockCall and download the research on FB for free at

http://www.StockCall.com/FB040113.pdf

AOL

AOLAOL Inc.’s shares struggled in trading on Thursday. The stock fell to an intra-day low of $38.14 before finishing the day 1.81% lower at $38.49.

Despite the sharp decline in the session, AOL’s shares have gained more than 7% in the last three trading days. The stock has gained nearly 30% in 2013 so far, easily outperforming the broad market. Read the full free research on AOL by signing up to StockCall at

http://www.StockCall.com/AOL040113.pdf

Number one use of mobile: local business search (infographic)

Friday, March 29th, 2013

mobile devicesNever mind talking: For more than half of all mobile device users, the number one function via their internet browser is search.

In the past nine months, the total number of visitors to search navigation sites conducted via mobile devices has jumped by more than 25%, with local searches playing a particularly important role – nearly 86 million people now seek local business information on their mobile phones in the United States alone.

More than half of those who conduct local business searches said they use mobile phones for searching because they are on the move. In fact, 56% of those who use local search sites primarily for local business information use these sites on a weekly basis across all devices.

Tip of the iceberg

That is just the tip of the iceberg uncovered in the Neustar Localeze and 15miles Sixth Annual comScore Local Search Usage Study, which analyzes a target sample of more than 3,000 users of local business Internet search.

“What we can clearly see is that the local search market is maturing – what we previously described as a Social, Local and Mobile (SoLoMo) revolution is now embedded in consumer behavior,” said Jeff Beard, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Neustar Localeze.

“Tablet adoption is growing at a blistering pace: It took smartphones nearly a decade to reach 40 million users, while that number was crossed only two years after the iPad arrived. This market is set to keep growing, and businesses need to fundamentally rethink the way local customers are going to find them.”

Mobile and Tablet Searchers Continue to Sky-rocket:

mobile devicesThe study demonstrates that the total number of U.S. searchers on mobile phones grew steadily last year – from 90.1 million mobile phone visitors to search/navigation sites or apps in March 2012 to 113.1 million in December 2012.

Tablets also grew as a source for online searches, with 19% growth between April 2012 and December 2012. Both mobile phone and tablet searchers find accuracy of information to be more important than depth of content.

However, tablet searchers are placing more importance on depth of content over time, while mobile phone searchers are placing less importance on this measure. Additionally, mobile phone searchers are more likely to cite maps, driving directions and distance as key information, while tablet searchers are more likely to find consumer reviews and online promotions most helpful.

Successful local business searches conducted via mobile phones are most likely to result in an in-store visit when compared to the outcomes of searches conducted on other devices.

Online mobile phone and tablet searchers, however, are more likely to continue searching and conduct multiple searches than PC/laptop users. Even more significantly, local business searchers using a mobile phone or tablet have a 78% and 77% likelihood, respectively, to make a purchase as a result of their last search, with tablet searchers skewing toward more expensive purchases.

Search via Apps is on the Rise – Facebook and Google Maps Dominate:

GoogleThe study also offers a telling glimpse into other current trends, from application usage to social media. Application-based local search nearly doubled in just the past two years, significantly outpacing the SMS and browser markets.

More specifically, of the mobile phone searchers who said they use applications to search for local businesses, 35% use Google Maps. Finally, turning to social media, 92% of those who searched for local business information on social networking sites from all devices used Facebook for that purpose in 2012.

Here’s an infographic detailing some of the study findings:

What are Consumers Searching for?

There are also clear patterns in the choice of local search categories. The healthcare industry in particular needs to take note: pharmacies lead the pack with 86% of consumers looking for a specific pharmacy, while doctors and hospitals rank second with 75%. Banking and finance are not far behind (69%), followed by restaurants (65%). In fact, 23% of those surveyed said the last local business they searched was a restaurant.

“The greatest impact of the Internet is to offer access to information on a global scale, yet it’s equally important in driving business at the neighborhood level,” said Gregg Stewart, President, 15miles. “Consumers now expect accurate, easy-to-absorb information on local businesses on a variety of computing platforms, and those companies that can adapt to this new world have the most to gain.”

For more information on the survey, click here.

Google funds research into the “social” of Social Networks

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

GoogleGoogle has awarded a multi-year grant to Polytechnic Institute of New York University’s (NYU-Poly) Oded Nov to further his study of the role of design in shaping online behavior.

Nov, an assistant professor in the Department of Technology Management and Innovation, has long focused on social media, and the behavioral aspects of information systems. Working with Mor Naaman of the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, he will embark on an ambitious new two-year project to examine the factors that impact users’ interactions with and contributions to social media.

“In particular, we will focus on the impact of social traces created by users’ feedback and inputs – the social cues about the attributes of the users, their opinions and the community they form,” Nov said. “As in the physical world, your behavior online changes depending on the others around you.”

While in no way connected, this comes on the heels of Facebook reporting that your “likes” on the site reveal much about you – possibly your I.Q., sexual and political persuasion, and even drug use. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that social media’s interactive nature affects much as other communities we may belong to in the real world.

We’ll be interested to see if this study addresses how the apparently never-ending design changes on Facebook, Google+ and other social networks affects their use (other than sparking cries of protest).

Google bestows the Focused Research Award, as the unrestricted grant is known, upon scientists working in areas of key interest to the company as well as to the broader research community.

Facebook Graph Search could be vital to local businesses

Monday, February 25th, 2013

FacebookFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Graph Search on Jan. 15, and already marketers say it could be a vital tool, particularly for local businesses.

Although in its infancy, search experts at Sinai Marketing, a dental and legal marketing firm, are considering its SEO implications.

Graph Search is a new service where Facebook users can search their connections for information. Search results are based on information shared by friends and other users. Example: Planning a trip to Chicago? Conduct a Graph Search to find friends who live there.

Graph Search generates results based on data that is completed on users’ personal and business pages. The more friends and likes there are, the greater the chance a personal account or page will appear in relevant Graph Search results.

Lorrie Walker , an SEO writer at Sinai Marketing, shares tips for helping a page appear prominently in Graph Search for searches related to a business:

  1. Users should fill in as much information as possible about their business including keywords.
  2. Encourage others to like the page.
  3. Update often with photographs, links and comments.

Doing these things is similar to SEO techniques for websites, says Saeed Khosravi, Sinai’s operations manager.

  • Getting likes for a Facebook page is like getting backlinks for a website.
  • Using keywords on a Facebook page is like on – page optimization.
  • Being active on a page is like updating a website with fresh content.

A vital role for business?

“I think Facebook Graph Search is going to play a vital role for businesses because the results it gathers can be tailored based on where you live,” he says.

One characteristic that sets Graph Search apart from Web search, Khosravi says, is Web search helps people discover information on the Internet, while Graph Search enables people to explore information shared on Facebook.

It’s early in the Graph Search game, so determining its long – term SEO role is premature, Walker says.

A question she predicts will need to be addressed in the future is whether Graph Search will become important enough for SEO companies to track it along with Google and Bing.

Social media drives investor decision making, research says

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

social media logosOne-third (34%) of affluent investors are using social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and company blogs specifically for personal finance and investing (PF&I) purposes.

While most investors continue to rely on a variety of resources for investment information, nearly 70% have reallocated investments, or began or altered relationships with investment providers based on content found through social media, thus reflecting the importance of a strong social media strategy for asset managers and distributors.

These and other findings are included in a new report, Social Media’s Impact on Personal Finance and Investing, recently released by Cogent Research. The report is based on a nationally representative survey of over 4,000 investors with more than $100,000 in investable assets.

Investors using social media for research

Investors who use social media for PF&I purposes are using various platforms to form first impressions about providers, and their decision to use a firm’s investment solutions. Regardless of the platform, investors primarily turn to social media to conduct research on investing, products, and companies or to seek advice regarding investment decisions.

“Today’s investors’ are scrutinizing ‘traditional’ sources with content and commentary they are finding through social networks, and are becoming much more critical and conversant when it comes to their investment choices,” said Remy Domler Morrison, Project Director and co-author of the report.

A double-edged sword

“On a positive note, social media is also motivating investors to engage more with their advisors and investment firm representatives, which can lead to more asset gathering opportunities for providers.”

For financial companies, investors’ use of social media for PF&I can be a double-edged sword. While engaging in social media presents the opportunity to increase and develop relationships and trust, it also presents the risk of getting negative feedback.

“For every positive comment and favorable investment decision comes the possibility for damaging content. However, the larger risk to a firm is ignoring negative comments that may already exist.

Overall, there are significant opportunities to strengthen brand equity for firms that regularly pursue strategies to foster positive relationships with brand followers and address negative sentiment,” says Tony Ferreira, Managing Director at Cogent Research.

In general, investors recall a higher ratio of favorable to adverse brand-related content for several firms on social media, including Fidelity Investments, ING, and Vanguard.

Top 10 Brands with the Highest Ratio of Positive to Negative Impressions Via Social Media
BASE: Among investors exposed to respective brands on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter

Rank Provider
1. Fidelity Investments
2. ING
3. Vanguard
4. USAA
5. Charles Schwab
6. John Hancock
7. American Funds
8. Wells Fargo
9. T. Rowe Price
10. Janus

Two types of stories get the most attention on Facebook (infographic)

Monday, February 18th, 2013

FacebookOne if five websites now use Facebook’s “Like” button, which amounts to more than 125 million sites globally. But did you know that on average, people who like websites on Facebook have 2.4 times more friends?

Here’s an infographic taking a look at the power of Facebook’s “Like” button.

behind-the-facebook-like-button

Study reveals the top 20 brands with the most loyal Facebook fans

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

FacebookCan you guess which brand has the most loyal fans on Facebook? While familiar names such as Facebook itself, Google, Walt Disney World and Starbucks make the top 20 list, a non-profit is number one, according to LoudDoor, a Facebook Insights Preferred Marketing Developer.

Brand Satisfaction, a new dashboard powered by over 1 million monthly survey responses. The largest market research of its kind, Brand Satisfaction tracks every major brand on Facebook and how likely Fans are to recommend those brands to friends or colleagues.

For its first study, Brand Satisfaction compiled millions of responses from Facebook Fans of over 15,000 Facebook pages to determine the Top 20 brands with the most loyal Fans.

The surprising survey findings reveal that a non-profit tops the list over brand stalwarts Facebook and Google:

1.    St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

2.    Facebook

3.    Google

4.    Walt Disney World

5.    ALDI USA

6.    Xbox

7.    Starbucks Frappuccino

8.    Google ChromeGoogle Chrome

9.    Duncan Hines

10.  Adobe Photoshop

11.  Tim Hortons

12.  Hershey’s

13.  In-N-Out Burger

14.  Dove Chocolates

15.  NFL

16.  Portillo’s

17.  BRAVO

18.  Disneyland

19.  Dollar Tree

20.  AMC Theatre

“Demographic and behavioral data is the cornerstone to understanding a brand’s Facebook audience and powering game-changing marketing decisions,” says David Guy , CEO of LoudDoor, a leading research and audience targeting platform on Facebook.

“Rather than relying on highly subjective social chatter or experimental ‘listening’ technologies, Brand Satisfaction does the hard work of asking brands’ Fans directly about their attitudes, behaviors and motivations. We then package this powerful data in a simple dashboard interface to empower brands to harness their Facebook asset.”

Survey methodology

Starting January 1, 2013, Brand Satisfaction asked consumers to rate how likely they are to recommend a brand page they “like” on Facebook.

Participants also completed a demographic, behavioral and attitudinal survey. Millions of anonymous responses are summarized in a user-friendly Brand Satisfaction insights dashboard currently in limited beta release.

Adds Guy, “We’ll be conducting our study every month and releasing new brand insights and tips with the goal of making marketing professionals that Follow brands on the Brand Satisfaction platform the smartest people in the room about the brands they care about on Facebook.”

Eligibility for the Brand Satisfaction Top-20 list requires that the brand page have at least 50,000 Fans and a minimum of 300 completed surveys on the brand.

For more information and to sign up for a private Beta invitation, visit www.BrandSatisfaction.com.

Many Facebook users take long breaks from the site

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

PewInternetTwo-thirds of U.S. adults online use Facebook, but many of them take breaks from the site and 20 percent of online adults not using it now once did. This shows that while Facebook is the dominant social networking site in America, it’s user base is fluid, says the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Have you taken long breaks from using Facebook? It’s clear to us that a number of our friends do. They disappear from our news stream periodically. We frequently take breaks ourselves when work or weekend activities interfere, but we’re seldom gone more than a few days. Even that will adversely affect your scores on measures of your social media activity, such as a Klout score, if you care about such things.

Among Pew’s findings:

  • 61% of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more.
  • 20% of the online adults who do not currently use Facebook say they once used the site but no longer do so.
  • 8% of online adults who do not currently use Facebook are interested in becoming Facebook users in the future.

Pew asked the 61% of Facebook users who have taken a break from using the site to tell us in their own words why they did so, and they mentioned a variety of reasons.

FacebookThe largest group (21%) said that their “Facebook vacation” was a result of being too busy with other demands or not having time to spend on the site. Others pointed toward a general lack of interest in the site itself (10% mentioned this in one way or another), an absence of compelling content (10%), excessive gossip or “drama” from their friends (9%), or concerns that they were spending too much time on the site and needed to take a break (8%).

We’ve seldom noticed a lack of compelling content on Facebook. Quite the contrary. It can be more interesting than more pressing duties, like washing the dishes or doing the laundry or writing that article. Since social media marketing is part of our job (as it is to most people in the media), we have to use multiple social networks, and it does become a job in and of itself keeping up with them.

How about you? Experiencing Facebook fatigue?

(Comments by TechJournal Editor Allan Maurer)

Small & medium sized businesses embracing social media marketing

Monday, February 4th, 2013

socialmediaopolisSmall and medium size businesses are embracing social media as a key strategy in their marketing programs internationally, according to SocialMediopolis.com, a website for social media marketers.

“While most people think of major consumer marketers as driving the growth of social media venues such as Facebook, Twitter Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms, the reality is that many more small and medium size businesses are now successfully driving social media marketing programs,” said Michael Crosson, who publishes the site.

Crosson states that a key venue leading this increase is LinkedIn.com, which recently passed the 200,000,000 member mark. “We have seen a significant increase in companies from one to 100 joining the Social Media Marketing group over the previous year. More importantly, these companies have expanded their use of social media into other services besides Facebook and Twitter. We have seen incredibly strong growth in Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr, for example.” Said Crosson.

The survey can be seen in its entirety here: http://www.SocialMediopolis.com/resources/research

Some of the highlights from this study include:

  • The U.S. represents 65.7%, and the rest of world is 34.3% of responses. (Infographic #1)
  • Independent consultants and Small/Medium Size Businesses (up to 100 employees) comprise the large bulk of the responses: 80.4%. (Infographic #2)
  • The various social media venues such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others are fairly even divided, but MySpace continues to lag far behind at 4%. (Infographic #4)
  • 54.7% are primary decision makers. (Infographic #4)

“This survey is a good snapshot of the international social media playing field at the moment. Members of our Social Media Marketing group on LinkedIn.com, which has over 500,000 members, participated. The group is growing by an average of 1,100+ new members every day, and we poll them annually,” continued Crosson.  The full results of the survey are available at http://www.SocialMediopolis.com/resources/research

Social media drives business technology buying decisions

Friday, February 1st, 2013

social mediaSocial media not only influences IT purchase decisions, it drives many of them, according to UBM Tech‘s annual Social Media @Work research. The study found that social media now plays a critical role in the business technology market.

Study highlights include:

  • Social media influences and drives IT purchase decisions: 66% of tech professionals say that they have used social networking sites to obtain information for a technology purchase.
  • 92% of IT respondents have taken one or more actions as a result of using social media, including visiting a vendor web site, or contacting a vendor directly for more information, and registering to download content such as research or a white paper.
  • Social media is gaining credibility among IT professionals:  42% of respondents say that social media is “productive” — an increase from 36% two years ago. The percentage of respondents who describe it as simply “fun” decreased by 6 points.
  • Social media has also gained credibility with tech marketers – the majority of tech marketers surveyed now have a business presence on all four of the major social networking platforms, with close to 90% maintaining a business presence on Twitter and Facebook, 84% who have a business presence on LinkedIn, and about three-quarters on YouTube.

“Social media is now completely ingrained into the workflow of business technology decision makers,” said Scott Vaughan , UBM Tech’s Chief Marketing Officer. “This poses challenges for tech marketers who lack resources to develop and execute effective, cohesive social media strategies. Our report incorporates practical tips to help even the most time-strapped tech marketers leverage social media as part of their overall marketing strategies.”

The full report, including strategies that marketers can use to maximize social media to engage IT decision makers, can be downloaded from CreateYourNextCustomer.com, an online resource for technology marketing best practices, research and solutions.  Access the free report at http://bit.ly/WzkiMy; registration is required.

Facebook’s Graph Search means brands need to emphasize local (infographic)

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Social GraphWhat does Facebook’s Graph Search mean to brands and marketers? While brands can’t use it to discover more about their fans, some marketers see opportunities in it nonetheless.

Malcolm Gladwell assessed what it might mean for brands in a Huffington Post article, noting that “brands with multiple locations will soon find their Facebook strategy turned on its head.” He explained that the value of marketing on Facebook “is about to shift dramatically and disproportionately form the brand level to the local level.”

That means, he adds, that local pages are as likely to show up as brand pages.

Sally Falkow took a look at how it might be useful at Content Management News.

Sarah Skerik, PR Newswire’s vice president of social media has four tips on how to double down on local presences and increase fan engagement.

They include offering Facebook friends early-bird alerts about new products or special sales, partnering with local charities or groups, and setting up real-life opportunities for people to things such as taking photos they’ll share on Facebook.

Craig Smith over at wedu, also took a look at how Facebook’s Graph Search will change digital marketing.

Here’s wedu’s infographic summing up:

Facebook Graph Search Infogrpahic
Courtesy of: wedu

Companies need this to attract and keep talent

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

social media logosCompanies need to be socially engaged and develop a great online reputation to attract and keep talent these days, according to a comprehensive study of U.S. employers and workers from Spherion Staffing Services.

The study revealed the importance of a company’s social media practices, reputation and beliefs on how well businesses attract and engage their workforce.

According to the Emerging Workforce Study, nearly half (47 percent) of workers strongly agree/agree that when they consider new employment, a company’s online reputation will be equally as important as the offer they are given. However, only 27 percent of companies believe social media outlets are influential on how a candidate views their organization.

Further findings from the study include:

  •  Online Corporate Reputation Impacts Worker Behavior, Employers Lack Belief
  • Employees who are highly satisfied with their employer’s online reputation are nearly four times as likely to have high job satisfaction (76 percent) than those workers who are not satisfied with their employer’s online reputation (20 percent).
  • Forty-five percent of all workers believe a company’s social media outlet is influential when choosing a new employer. 
  • Only 44 percent of companies strongly agree that “having a great online reputation is important to our organization.” 
  • Employers Lack Belief and Effort in Building Corporate Mission

The Emerging Workforce Study found that only 54 percent of employers strongly agreed with the statement, “our organization works hard to promote our culture and mission as a company in both online venues and in our day-to-day operations.”

  • Only 46 percent of employees say their company is extremely/very effective at communicating their corporate mission.
  • Only 51 percent of employees say their company follows-through on their mission extremely/very well.
  • Current State of Employer’s Social Media Practices
  • The number of companies that have a social media strategy increased by 21 percentage points (to 45 percent) since 2009.
  • However, among those companies that have social networking initiatives, the percentage that felt their social media strategy was successful increased only slightly, from 24 percent to 30 percent.
  • This year’s study revealed a significant increase in the number of companies utilizing nearly every social outlet listed, with Facebook clearly leading the bunch with 61 percent of companies using the tool.

Consumers want to see marketers invest in email, Facebook, web sites

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Consumers want marketers to invest more in email, Facebook and the Web, according to a new study by global interactive provider ExactTarget (NYSE:ET).

ExactTarget’s Marketers from Mars study found 33 percent of consumers want marketers to invest more in email, 24 percent want marketers to invest in the brand’s website and 22 percent of consumers want marketers to invest in creating a better Facebook experience.

“Consumers are moving from single channel interactions into multi-channel relationships,” said Jeff Rohrs, ExactTarget’s vice president of marketing.

Here at the TechJournal, we want to point out there is some disconnect between marketing practices and consumer preferences. Also, whenever we look at percentages, we always consider the number not cited. If 49 percent prefer something, 51 percent preferred something else.

Key findings of the research include:

  • email graphicEmail
    • 45 percent of marketers prefer to interact with brands on email compared to 36 percent of consumers with a smartphone, and 49 percent of consumers who do not own a smartphone
    • 93 percent of marketers and 49 percent of consumers have made a purchase as a direct result of an email marketing message
    • 93 percent of consumers subscribe to at least one brand’s email, remaining consistent compared to 2010
  • FacebookFacebook
    • 21 percent of marketers prefer to interact with brands on Facebook compared to 31 percent of consumers with a smartphone and 26 percent of consumers who do not own a smartphone, making it the second most common place both marketers and consumers look to connect with brands online
    • 58 percent of consumers have “Liked” a brand on Facebook, a 20 percent increase since 2010
    • 41 percent of marketers report they have made a purchase as the result of a message they saw on Facebook, compared to 21 percent of consumers
  • Twitter bird

    Just call me Larry.

    Twitter

    • Among those actively using Twitter, 58 percent of marketers and 46 percent of consumers follow brands to receive advanced notice about new products
    • 61 percent of marketers Follow at least one brand on Twitter
    • 12 percent of consumers Follow a brand on Twitter, a 7 percent increase since 2010

To download the complimentary researchvisit www.exacttarget.com/MarketersFromMars.

The study is based on a survey of more than 1,200 U.S. consumers and more than 400 U.S. marketers.

Social media empowering change where politicians fail

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

social mediaWho has the most power to effect change today? If you think it’s the world’s political leaders, you’re in the minority.

According to a new study from Havas Worldwide, the single greatest agent of change is “the people, empowered by social media.”

It’s part of a shift that is seeing the responsibility for solving our most pressing challenges shared not just by the world’s governments, but also by citizen-consumers and businesses.

Anyone following the news in recent years has seen the seismic shifts in power via movements sparked by social media such as Twitter and Facebook and YouTube videos.

Agents of change

Thirty-five percent of the sample cited social media-empowered citizens as the greatest agent of change, while 25% picked “government/politicians,” 24% said “what we consume,” and 16% chose “corporations and companies.”

The Havas Worldwide survey was fielded online by Market Probe International among more than 10,000 adults in 31 countries.

Additional findings:

We don’t trust politicians to do their jobs: The survey respondents live under a variety of forms of government, but few are satisfied with the results they’re seeing from their political officials.

  • Fewer than 4 in 10 (39%) say they have moderate or a lot of faith in their national governments, while only slightly more (42%) have faith in their local governments.

Social media is motivating and empowering people to push for change: Faith in government may be diminished, but people are taking advantage of digital communications to get informed about issues and try to make a difference themselves.

  • Eighty-eight percent of the global sample use social media at least once a day, and 45% say it has made them more politically aware/active. The latter is especially true of two subsets within the sample: leading-edge Prosumers (62%) and millennials, defined here as ages 18-34. Fifty-four percent of millennials say social media has made them more politically active, compared with just 24% of those aged 55+.
  • Forty percent of the global sample believe social media has made them more influential/powerful, including 57% of Prosumers and 49% of millennials.
  • A third of the sample already use social media to change the world for the better, and 42% expect to use it more in the future to promote worthy causes.

Ordinary citizens with extraordinary ability

“Six in 10 of our study respondents—and nearly 8 in 10 Prosumers—believe social media gives ordinary citizens an extraordinary ability to influence others and create change,” said Marianne Hurstel , vice president, Havas Worldwide’s BETC and global chief strategy officer, Havas Worldwide.

“This sentiment is especially prevalent in emerging markets, where 68% agreed with this statement, compared with 49% of those in developed markets. In places where control has traditionally been in the hands of the few, social media may well offer the single most important pathway to power.”

People want businesses to step in where government has failed:

  • Seventy-three percent believe that the more powerful corporations become, the more obligated they are to behave ethically and with the public interest in mind. In fact, more than two-thirds (68%) say businesses bear as much responsibility as government for driving positive social change.
  • Seventy-six percent want corporations and government to work together to make the world a better place.
  • Sixty-one percent would like their favorite brands/companies to play a bigger role in their local communities.
  • And 6 in 10 expect corporations to play an increasingly vital role in addressing the world’s major problems.

Adding to the pressure on businesses to get involved is the widespread sense that they are better equipped than government to get things done:

  • Sixty-three percent say that, in general, businesses are better run than governments.
  • Around two-thirds of Prosumers (67%) and 55% of the mainstream think corporations are better positioned than governments to combat climate change.

“We’re entering the age of damage, where social media has empowered people to hold businesses accountable,” said David Jones , global CEO of Havas and author of Who Cares Wins: Why Good Business Is Better Business.

“As corporations have grown in size and power, people are expecting more from them. They want big business in general—and their brand partners in particular—to play a role in driving positive change and to work toward the greater good rather than acting solely on the basis of their own agendas. Consumers are rewarding those businesses that take the lead and punishing those that don’t.”

To learn more about the study and to download the “Communities and Citizenship: Redesigned for a New World” white paper, see: www.havasworldwide.com/prosumer-report.

Researchers say social networks may reduce self-control for some

Monday, January 14th, 2013

social media logosUsers of Facebook and other social networks should beware of allowing their self-esteem—boosted by “likes” or positive comments from close friends—to influence their behavior.

It could reduce their self-control both on and offline, according to an academic paper by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia Business School that has recently been published online in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Here at the TechJournal, we think the researchers may be drawing questionable conclusions from their studies.

Titled “Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control,” the research paper demonstrates that users who are focused on close friends tend to experience an increase in self-esteem while browsing their social networks.

Losing self-control seen

credit cardsAfterwards, these users display less self-control. Greater social network use among this category of users with strong ties to their friends is also associated with individuals having higher body-mass indexes and higher levels of credit-card debt, according to the paper.

“To our knowledge, this is the first research to show that using online social networks can affect self-control,” said coauthor Andrew T. Stephen , assistant professor of business administration and Katz Fellow in Marketing in the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration.

“We have demonstrated that using today’s most popular social network, Facebook, may have a detrimental affect on people’s self-control.”

Stephen coauthored the research with Keith Wilcox , assistant professor of marketing at Columbia Business School. The paper includes the results of five separate studies conducted with a total of more than 1,000 U.S. Facebook users.

How the research was conducted

In the researchers’ initial study, participants completed surveys about how closely they’re connected to friends on Facebook. Then they were split into two groups: one group that wrote about the experience of browsing Facebook and another group that actually browsed Facebook.

Both groups then completed a self-esteem survey. Regardless of whether the participants wrote about Facebook browsing or actually browsed the site, the participants with weak ties to Facebook friends did not experience an increase in self-esteem, but those with strong ties to friends had an enhanced sense of self-esteem.

Stephen and Wilcox’s second study evaluated why Facebook users with strong ties to friends were more likely to experience an increase in self-esteem.

Participants were prompted to browse Facebook for five minutes. Some were told to pay attention to the status updates and other information people were sharing with them. Others were directed to concentrate on information they were sharing.

When Facebook boosts self-esteem

FacebookThe researchers concluded that browsing Facebook only increased participants’ self-esteem when they were focused on the information they were presenting to others.

“We find that people experience greater self-esteem when they focus on the image they are presenting to strong ties in their social networks,” said Wilcox.

“This suggests that even though people are sharing the same positive information with strong ties and weak ties on social networks, they feel better about themselves when the information is received by strong ties than by weak ties.”

Cookies, granola bars, and word puzzles were part of the methodology of the third and fourth studies, which established the link between self-esteem and self-control.

Participants in the third study were instructed either to check Facebook or read the CNN.com news website, then choose between eating a granola bar or a chocolate-chip cookie. Those who had browsed Facebook were more likely to choose the cookie.

Facebook browsers gave up

Participants in the fourth study were given anagram word puzzles to solve after either checking Facebook or reading TMZ.com, a celebrity news and gossip website. The Facebook browsers were more likely to give up on the puzzles.

The fifth investigation, an online field study, examined the relationship between online social network use and offline behaviors associated with poor self-control.

Participants completed a survey asking about their height and weight, the number of credit cards they own and the amount of debt on them, and how many friends they have offline, among other questions.

Fatter, poorer, and less credit-worthy?

“The results suggest that greater social network use is associated with a higher body-mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit-card debt for individuals with strong ties to their social network,” the researchers wrote.

Personally, here at the TechJournal, we’re deeply skeptical of these findings.

Implications for policy makers?

Stephen and Wilcox say the five studies have implications for policy makers because self-control is an important mechanism for maintaining social order and well-being.

“It would be worthwhile for researchers and policy makers to further explore social network use in order to better understand which consumers may be particularly vulnerable to suffering negative psychological or social consequences,” the authors wrote.

What do you think? Does using Facebook affect your self-control? We’re heavy users of social media and we have a credit rating higher than 99.9 percent of people in the U.S., we aren’t fat and have minimal credit card debt.

 

Net-go-round: Would you give up Facebook or pizza? Cyber security, more

Friday, January 11th, 2013
pizza

Would you find it easier to give up pizza or social media?

Some New Year’s resolutions are tough to keep. Especially those aimed at cutting back on junk food consumption.

As of today, most Americans will hit the crucial ten day threshold, the moment where resolutions begin to waver and people succumb to their cravings.

And when it comes to making sacrifices in 2013, most say it would be easier to give up social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter for the entire year than favorite foods such as pizza, potato chips and french fries.

Of 1,000 individuals surveyed, 39 percent expressed difficulty giving up pizza and other favorite foods versus only 25 percent for social media platforms like Facebook.

Cyber Security products a growth market

lockThe global cyber security market is set to be worth $68.34bn in 2013, as exceedingly high-demand continues for information security systems across governments, global militaries, and the private sector.

The Global Cyber Security Market 2013-2023 report comments that: ‘Cyber security is one of the strongest growth markets in the defence & security industry at present.

Moreover, the cyber security market transcends traditional defence spending: the private sector remains very insecure in regard to the cyber threat and the increased importance of safeguarding intellectual property is certain to ensure that higher spending is necessary across all areas of industry and commerce.

Lastly, the threat to national infrastructure cannot be discounted as a major area of spending. Taken altogether, cyber security represents a major growth market which will reward both vendors and purchasers.

Real Estate agents turning to Facebook over web pages

FacebookN-Play, which provides  agent-centric real estate applications and services on Facebook, has reported that 150,000 real estate agents have become members of its social media services platform during 2012.

Agents are looking to social media as the next frontier to reach and connect with customers.

Traditional websites and web marketing services, that until now have been industry necessities, are being displaced with Facebook business pages and real estate applications. This includes the ability to promote services and listings, search for properties, collaborate with customers and connect with new prospects.

“The website is dead for the average real estate agent,” said Mark Bloomfield , CEO of N-Play, the provider of the Real Estate Agent Directory on Facebook.

“As an agent, unless you are willing to shell out substantial dollars each year on website technology, advertising and search engine optimization, you’re not likely to create enough new customers for cost justification.”

He added, “Because this market is now controlled by the big real estate consumer portals, the average agent is just throwing away dollars to compete on the web for customers. As a result, the agent website has been marginalized and an underperforming asset for many years. It’s not going to get better moving forward. It’s time to change the marketing paradigm to compete, and social media is doing just that for agents,” he said.

Net-go-round: video console resurgence? Connected cars, social media stock tracker

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Sony game consoleInternational Data Corporation predicts that video game sales for console systems will rebound from a tough 2011-2012 as new platforms hit the market.

“2011 and 2012 were tough for many console game disc developers and publishers,” says IDC’s Lewis Ward, manager of its gaming service.

“With the advent of eighth-generation consoles, starting with the Wii U, historical norms strongly imply that game disc revenue will stop bleeding in 2013 and rise substantively in 2014.”

“The console ecosystem is in a state of flux since these platforms need to support an ever-growing array of non-gaming features and services at the same time that game distribution and monetization is moving in a digital direction,” said Ward, research manager of IDC’s Gaming service.

“At the same time, it doesn’t appear that alternative platforms — set-top boxes from cable companies, Web-connected smart TVs, and so on — are positioned to materially disrupt the trajectory of the ‘big 3′ console OEMs in 2013 or 2014. Discs will remain the console game revenue mainstay for years to come.”

Key takeaways from the new forecast include:

  • In December 2012, PS3 system shipments eclipsed the number of Xbox 360′s shipped worldwide, despite the PS3 launching a year later than the Xbox 360 (an estimated 77 million bundles versus approximately 76 million bundles shipped)
  • Nintendo’s Wii U will find an audience; global bundle shipments will exceed 50 million by year-end 2016
  • The volume of packaged game discs shipped will decline an average of roughly 3% per year through 2016, as console spending shifts into digital channels

Consumers want car connections

hi-tech carConsumers want digital connections in their vehicles, says a study of more than 2,100 US adults by Johnson Controls.

Some of the key findings from the study include:

  • Interest in greater connectivity via one’s vehicle is high. 84% of vehicle owners1 would like to control the features in their vehicle via a touch-screen infotainment system; 83% want to get updates to vehicle infotainment systems delivered wirelessly; 76% would like to connect to the Internet using their vehicle as a Wi-Fi hotspot; 67% would like to download applications directly to their vehicle; and, 61% would like to pay for something using a debit or credit card linked to the infotainment system in their vehicle.2
  • Safety is the single most important feature3 in the selection of a vehicle (75%). The delivery of vehicle infotainment safely will be critical to consumer adoption and consumption. The second tier of important features includes vehicle diagnostics (49%) and navigation (42%).4
  • Smartphone apps most associated with a vehicle include: Maps/navigation = 52%; News = 45%; and, finding locations = 34%.
  • When it comes to downloading smartphone apps to a vehicle via an interactive screen, vehicle owners who use downloaded apps on a weekly basis would prefer traditional channels. 62% have a preference for where they would download an app for their vehicle, and of those with a preference, 60% would prefer downloading from an existing app store (e.g., App Store for iOS, Amazon Appstore for Android), 38% would prefer a new app store for vehicle-specific applications, and 37% would prefer the app maker’s website (e.g., Pandora, Google Maps).
  • When it comes to accessing a vehicle app, vehicle owners who use downloaded apps regularly want apps they know and are comfortable with. Two-thirds (64%) want the menu options in their vehicle to be the same as on their smartphone (i.e., a full list of menu options available).

Social media stock tracker launched

Google+WebMediaBrands Inc.’s (Nasdaq: WEBM) SocialTimes launched the Social Media Stock Tracker covering the weekly stock performance of companies within the social media and Internet sectors such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Zynga, and Groupon.

Each weekly report, published on Saturday mornings, discusses key developments and provides analytical commentary on the most interesting and controversial events that impact the public companies in these sectors.

The Social Media Stock Tracker is prepared by Nathan Drona, a former senior analyst in equity research with coverage of the Internet and media sectors and the former director of a global hedge fund focused on technology and life sciences.

He was also a senior investment banker focused on M&A for international companies in technology and life sciences, and has been a board director for several public and private companies.

Investment bankers project slow growth in IPO action

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

BDOExecutives at leading investment banks are projecting measured growth in initial public offerings (IPOs) on U.S. exchanges in 2013, according to a new study by accounting firm BDO USA.

Exactly half predict an increase in U.S. IPOs in the coming year, although only 8 percent describe the increase as substantial, while almost one-third (31%) forecast activity as flat compared with 2012.

Just 18 percent expect a decrease in offerings on domestic exchanges. Overall, bankers predict a 6 percent increase in the number of U.S. IPOs in 2013. They anticipate these offerings will average $250 million, which projects to $34 billion in total IPO proceeds on U.S. exchanges.

“In 2012, the number of U.S. IPOs was relatively flat with activity in 2011, but total proceeds raised were the second most in the past ten years, trailing only the pre-crisis high of 2007.

2012 IPO proceeds (minus Facebook) were smaller than 2011

However, more than a third of 2012 proceeds were attributable to the Facebook IPO and, absent that offering, proceeds would have been the lowest since the height of the financial crisis in 2009,” said Brian Eccleston, a Partner in the Capital Markets Practice of BDO USA.

“If you remove Facebook from 2012 figures, the bankers’ projections for the coming year represent an approximate 28 percent increase in proceeds.”

Absent the Facebook offering, the size of the average IPO in 2012 was considerably smaller than 2011 and capital markets executives identified several contributing factors for this trend.

The most frequently cited factors were valuation pressures that forced offering businesses to cut prices (47%), smaller businesses pursuing offerings (31%) and companies offering a smaller percentage of the business in the deal (13%).

IPO Threats

When asked to identify the greatest threat to a healthy U.S. IPO market in 2013, more than a third (37%) of capital markets executives cite the threat of tax increases and government spending cuts and a similar proportion (34%) highlight global political and financial instability.

High unemployment (11%), constrained bank lending (10%) and competition from foreign exchanges (4%) are identified as threats by small minorities of the participants.

Industries

In terms of how individual industries will fair in 2013, approximately two-thirds of the investment banking community are predicting a continued increase in offerings in the healthcare (69%), technology (67%), biotech (67%) and energy (65%) verticals.

A lesser majority (54%) forecast a jump in real estate offerings. No other industry is predicted to achieve an increase in IPOs by a majority of the survey participants.

The healthcare and real estate verticals experienced the biggest jump in confidence (+19%) when comparing the 2013 and 2012 IPO forecasts by industry. (See chart below.)

Industry % Projected 2012 Increase % Projecting 2013 Increase
Healthcare 50% 69%
Technology 73% 67%
Biotech 59% 67%
Energy/Natural Resources 72% 65%
Real Estate 35% 54%
Industrial/Manufacturing 27% 33%
Consumer/Retail 23% 30%
Media/Telecom 39% 29%
Financial 16% 26%

(Proportions of Capital Markets Executives at leading Investment banks expecting U.S. IPO activity to increase in 2013 in specific industries versus the percentage from 2012 survey.)

2012 IPO market topped 2011, and activity bodes well for 2013

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

PwcTotal volume and proceeds raised in the 2012 IPO market increased over 2011, despite the slowdown in activity during the fourth quarter, according to IPO Watch, a quarterly and annual survey of IPOs listed on U.S. stock exchanges by PwC US.

PwC says the IPO market continued to outperform as a sector in the fourth quarter, despite a pullback. And, despite a pause in Q4 IPO pricings, a considerable number of companies are filing under the JOBS act, which “bodes well for the IPO market” in 2013.

 

Following a strong performance in October, the market pulled back as companies waited for clarity on U.S. fiscal policy, PwC said.

138 companies completed IPOs

For the full year, the IPO market saw 138 companies completing their IPOs as of December 13, 2012, raising total proceeds of $40.7 billion, compared with 134 companies that had completed their IPOs for all of 2011 raising $35.5 billion, according to the survey.

Although the 2012 volume of IPOs surpassed 2011, the value raised — when excluding the $16.0 billion Facebook IPO — was only $24.7b, which was a 30% decrease in proceeds raised.

Average IPO size decreased

FacebookThe current year lacked the large number of billion dollar plus IPOs in 2011, and saw the average IPO size in 2012 decrease to $180 million when excluding Facebook, which was a reduction of 32% from the average IPO in 2011 of $265 million.

The IPO market began robustly in the fourth quarter, with October IPO volume equaling that of March – both months were the highest of the year with 21 IPOs. IPO proceeds during October reached the second-highest monthly level of the year, after May, which included the Facebook IPO.

Retreat began in November

IPO activity began to retreat in November as investors turned their attention to the Presidential election and fiscal outlook.

All told, there were 33 U.S. IPOs in the fourth quarter of 2012, surpassing the 29 IPOs in the third quarter of 2012, and 28 IPOs in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Total proceeds raised in the fourth quarter were $6.3 billion, down 5 percent from $6.6 billion the third quarter of 2012, and down 3 percent from $6.4 billion in proceeds in the corresponding quarter in 2011.

IPOs outperformed as a sector

Wall St. signIPOs continued to outperform as a sector in the fourth quarter, with stock price gains exceeding broader equity market returns.

On a quarter-to-date basis, all 33 IPOs that priced in the fourth quarter of 2012 increased their price by an average of 11 percent on their first day of trading, and averaged a return of 12 percent after one week.

In addition, on a quarter to date basis, all 33 IPOs are on average 21 percent above their issue price, again outperforming the S&P500, which showed a quarterly decline of approximately one percent.

According to PwC, despite the pause in IPO pricings during the fourth quarter, the runway for entering the public markets is active as reflected by the considerable number of companies that are filing under the JOBS act.

This underlying volume of activity bodes well for the IPO market as we enter 2013.

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