Category Archives: Social Media

Facebook users decline in 14 of top 20 markets over last 3 months

Facebook has been in the news a lot this week, Facebook home is certainly an interesting development but that’s not what I want to write about today, its this:

Social bakers

That data is taken from Social Bakers for Q1 2013, it shows that Facebook users have declined in a whole load of markets. Europe and the USA are most numerous in the list of markets but the biggest % declines are in Indonesia and Malaysia.

This is a concern for Facebook, when combined with other recent surveys about Facebook losing their younger user base this could become a real problem.

Now the real question is does this mean that Facebook only continues to show paper growth as older users and lagards get into it and due to a few developing markets (Brazil etc.) but it’s not as important as it was 12-24 months ago as sites like Tumblr, Twitter etc. grow?

What do you think?

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Dan Wieden on the future of TV and social

Really interesting interview:

What I find particularly smart is the view on broadcast media as a conversation starter. The message here is simple really: Integrated marketing works. 

Is community management a bad idea?

I had an interesting conversation on Friday with a marketing agency called Qube from Brighton, we sat on the roof terrace at Nokia’s Soho office and began by discussing the state of the industry, a point I made in that meeting and a point I fully planned to carry through into a blog post was that community management is, to an extent, becoming a commoditized offer, as the scale of online communities grow managing the 100’s, 1,000’s or even 100,000’s of engagements every day with large brands social accounts, on key networks, Twitter, Facebook and blogs to name a few becomes a huge scaling challenge. So how do brands solve that challenge? They look at technologies and outsourced or in-house solutions (people) to solve the scale issue, to deal with these queries efficiently.

The problem we have at the moment are that most of those solutions are driven from comms and marketing, but these are not comms or marketing problems, many brands still look to marketing or comms agencies (be they social media specialists of not) to run their social presences and engage on their behalf. Agree or disagree with this approach scale makes doing this for much longer untenable, in the same way that you don’t pay marketing agencies to staff your inbound call centres you don’t pay them  to engage with customer service queries in social.

So we begin to look to the same technological and outsourcing solutions we looked at for our customer care (read: call centres), we implement systems to find, batch, and present these Facebook or Twitter queries to lower-skilled and (crucially) lower priced customer care representatives who duly answer from their digital call centre, or “social media hub”, “war room”, “control centre” or whatever you want to call it. Even back in my days at 6Consulting (Now Radian6 UK) selling monitoring software I pitched, and sold, to call centre operations looking to get in on this game…

So that’s it, as these brand social presences evolve then the CS teams come in and take on the reactive elements, leaving marketing to get on with using the “reach” and “engagement” to generate “buzz” and sell stuff while CS clean up the mess, everyone is back in their box and we all move on.

No way! The problem is that as we look to engage at real scale we industrialise the process and it loses the point. Sure you can tick your hypothetical “social business” box and tell your CMO or CEO “we’re engaging X people per day” but you’re missing the point. Why did customers come to bitch on your Facebook page (for example) in the first place? They lacked a voice, they felt like a number stuck on hold to a call centre to talk to someone who didn’t care, didn’t understand and read a script, so they found a new place to go. If you turn this new place into a microcosm of the old place (marketing broadcasting messages and a cost-managed “social call centre” team dealing with complaints) then you have failed and missed the point: Customers are complaining for a reason.

Instead of thinking about how best to segment or manage your customers, promoters and detractors between different silos, cost centres and processes, why not put your customers at the heart of your business? I mean right in the middle, forget trying to “manage the community” and instead listen to them. No that doesn’t mean listen as in “I got me a monitoring tool and an analyst / agency to give me a monthly PowerPoint” I mean active listening, horizontally across the business. Democratise within the organisation and give your employees the power to listen, engage, learn and act, give them tools to help, tie bonuses to it, make it part of the contract that they have to spend 1 day a month responding on facebook or whatever it might be!

But what about managing the community? Is it really a bad idea? Well, as usual there is no easy answer, but my response would be to think about this differently: Manage your community by showing them you care, really care, not by @replying them and saying so, but by fixing the problems, by making better products and by making sure they get a first class experience at all touch points with social as a key feedback loop. 

In short, Community management is only a bad idea if it’s done badly. Find the problems and inefficiencies that lead to people coming onto your social properties and bitching, fix them. I have said this before and I will say it again:

Forget trying to be a social business, be a good business!

There won’t be a Facebook killer…

When Mark Zukerberg first started thinking big about Facebook he wasn’t thinking about the company as “cool” or about how to maximise revenue (he actively opposed advertising on the site) he was thinking about how to create a utility, something that became part of the collective routine of the internet generation. Not an easy thing to do, but now Facebook sits alongside Google as a true internet utility, it is THE social network.

And that’s the thing, the ubiquity of the site, particularly in the sub 30 demographics, have led to investment among its users, by that I mean investments of time… People have invested a lot of time learning Facebook, adding friends, uploading photos, building networks and it has entered our lexicon, “Facebook me” or “I facebooked them” is universally recognised.

So when you think about “the next facebook” or “a facebook killer” you are thinking in the wrong way, the development cycle in social networking has gone beyond that now, just as the search engine wars ended and are now dominated by Google the social networking wars are now ending with Facebook and twitter dominating the mainstream. That does not mean there is not room for innovation and new ideas, sites like Pinterest show that all too clearly, but these sites need to think about how they work with the big boys, not how they usurp them.

Let me put it really simply: Who wants to spend a load of time setting up and maintaining ANOTHER site like Facebook. The next big innovation will integrate it, not replace it!

Agora: Doing, not talking

I am very proud to have worked on this project (even if my role was not huge), along with a number of very talented colleagues, both at 1000heads and at Nokia:

It’s just a start, but making things visual really helps the internal community at Nokia (and there are a lot of us, so it is really a community) to understand the impact of the actions and decisions taken, so this was a big step and a good one.

Nokia are not the first to do this, but this isn’t about being first, and this isn’t about hiding all this away in a command centre or “war room” it’s an open space, it’s for sharing and for discussing, it’s social.

 

The Facebook myth…

One in every seven minutes on the web are spent on Facebook, it is taking up 2.6m minutes each day. The reasoning then goes that because all our “consumers” are on Facebook we as brands have to be there too, OK, makes sense. Now, since our customers are there then why don’t we let them shop there? Why not put up a storefront inside Facebook!

This idea isn’t new, Pampers did it in 2010 and We Are Social did it with Heinz in 2011, and (according to the linked articles) this has had some great results.

But here is the thing: Just because people spend a lot of time on Facebook doesn’t mean it matters as an E-commerce or “F-commerce” channel… Think about how most of those 2.6m minutes each day are spent: Facebook will sit open in a tabbed browser, toward the back, with the user occasionally bringing it up to see what their mates just did or what they plan to do for lunch etc. Then think about mobile, according to that same Mashable article almost 40% of Facebook user time is now on smartphones, that is sure to rise, and Facebook mobile / Facebook apps do not have inbuilt adverts for your fans or target market to see and they cannot view those lovely iframed tabs your agency build for you on a smartphone! Bugger.

I like Facebook because I use it to connect with my friends, some people use it to connect with brands they’re passionate about, others like brands to get cheap stuff, free stuff, exclusive stuff (more on that in another post). Yes, some of these people are core consumers, they are often more likely to buy your stuff than random “man on the street” but your main goal should to be to enable and encourage this audience to become full on advocates creating buzz and recommendations for your products (the above Heinz and Pampers campaigns achieve that goal) through clever and targeted uses of F-commerce tools.

So the facebook myth is this: “We have to be looking at F-commerce selling stuff on Facebook because all our consumers are spending more and more time there so we have to come to them” – that’s rubbish. People use Facebook in a different way, see the wood from the trees, this all comes back to leveraging the loyalty and passion of genuine fans not building more storefronts.

I remember when I used to work at GAP when I was a teenager, we had friends and family days: We all got 30 tokens to give to our friends and it entitled them to 30% off at GAP over a given weekend… What about friends of fans days? – Same idea, different medium. – People who are passionate about a brand will want to share it, “introduce a friend schemes” have been around for years, isn’t facebook the most natural medium to supercharge this?

Some really simple thoughts but the message is: Don’t think about where to stick a storefront, think about how to empower your fans to sell your product for you, think about loyalty rewards, friends of fans discounts etc. – That, to me, is the future of “F-commerce”.

Is it time to unfollow EVERYTHING?

This week has been social media week and I have been busy. Partly because Nokia were the headline sponsor, doing lots of amazing things and partly because I have been talking on various panels about the future of social media and such things. here I am with guys from Ogilvy and Yorkshire tea talking about “the battle for attention” (I am on the panel, starting at about 30 mins, but listen to the Yorkshire Tea guy, he gives a good presentation.)

One point I have been raising all week is a trend beginning to unfold among my peers over the last 6-12 months, that of “unfollowing”: Initially this trend seemed to focus on younger females, I noticed a lot of people I went to uni with and people I knew from school begin to reduce their number of friends on Facebook dramatically, independently and from different social groups I noticed a lot of friends reduce from several hundred Facebook connections down to 50-100. – That was early to mid last year. Since then limited profiles have come up a lot more and, in short, people are being more picky about who they connect and share with. This has also been reflected in our industry: In September 2011 Chris Brogan unfollowed, well, everyone, in a “great unfollow experiment” several others did the same.

2 parallel but interlinked trends have driven this in my opinion: Firstly a greater desire for privacy and tales from across the world of people making asses of themselves, losing jobs or even getting stalked or robbed (!) due to a careless use of social networks, in short: People are now more picky about who they share with and what. The second is that as social networking matures people are more picky about what they want to see, do I really care what a guy I used to know in primary school is now doing for a living or that his cat is sick? – No, unfollow / unfriend… We all have too much info about everything anyway, why do I need more?

Now here is my question: When will this spread to brands… If I don’t care what a lot of real people are doing in social, why would I want to hear about a brand? Particularly a brand I don’t really care about, but I have “followed” or “liked” to enter a competition or get a store discount! – Will we begin to see more people clean house in the brands they follow and engage with? How can brands stop this or counter it?

Well, there are 3 approaches in my opinion:

1) stay relevant with content people want: People want discounts? OK, give them more! But wait… Then Facebook just becomes one giant coupon mail list, is that what you want? Is that what the promised land of social media has become?

2) Become a hub of amazing created and curated content: This has to be fun, it has to be emotionally resonant (make me laugh, cry or smile or feel something, so I share it!) and it has to be consistent, a lot of it. – This is nice but it’s a real brand play, how does this drive business value?

3) People: Forget garnering attention for yourselves, focus on your core fans and those people you want to make core fans and use personal relationships, engagements and offline events to build them into powerful advocates – People listen to people and buy from people so make people advocate your brand and you will thrive!

The Answer: At this stage it’s hard to say, but as with so many things a little of each, you drive direct business value with #1, brand value and engagement with #2 and you drive NPS, peer recommendation and all the above with the all important #3…

But most importantly: Ground everything you do (including your social strategy, if you have one) in this: “Does this activity add value to the community?” – Simple, but easy to forget…

As things get saturated it’s going to get tough out there, good luck!