I visited this morning with KATV to talk about location-based apps and the predictability of users travel patterns. Check it out here:
July 26, 2012
July 20, 2012
This morning, I gave a quick presentation to our interns about how to keep up with all the news and information in our industry on a daily basis. You can check it out here:
July 18, 2012
Yesterday, I wrote about Google+ and the reasons for brands to consider using it. And then yesterday afternoon, I discovered a report that said Google+ users were more satisfied with Google+ than Facebook users were with Facebook. How timely! My favorite quote in the article:
“Facebook is the addiction we hate, but just can’t kick.”
It is so true. Facebook has become on our connection to friends, family and even news–world, national, and local. It is the one place we can go to get all the information we have selectively aggregated for our interests and needs. Which means that we are highly dependent on it and addicted to it (even checking while in the bathroom).
But why do we “hate” it and why are satisfaction reports saying that we don’t love it as much as we used to? My speculation is that in addition to just not liking that we need Facebook, we are frustrated with Facebook’s constant changes (it is just as frustrating for individuals as it is for marketers). It is hard to keep up and adapt to the changes, though eventually, everyone gets over it and loves the new things. And we are never sure if our privacy settings remained in tact, or even how to check to make sure that they are set as we want them in the first place. I’ve talked to many people that are on Facebook, but really don’t use it because they are scared that something about their posts won’t remain private.
“The survey attributes Google+’s high marks to the social platform’s ‘superior commitment to privacy,’ lack of traditional ads, and overall better mobile experience. Those surveyed by ACSI expressed distaste for Facebook’s Timeline feature, ads and privacy policies.
Enter Google+, where people are supposedly more satisfied. Google+ has a few features that differentiate it from Facebook. And it is a little more obvious as to how to control who sees your messages. And it is too new to have a lot of changes flying at us constantly. But one of the sole reasons for Google introducing Google+ was to use your Google+ content to customize your search results. So concern for privacy can not be the reason that people are more satisfied with Google+ as compared to Facebook. Google will be making relevant recommendations based on our profiles, habits and location. Google+ is socially annotating our search results with friends’ activities and recommendations and garnering an uptick in click-through rates of 5-10% as a result. This can be a good thing, or a scary thing, depending on your point of view.
I like the idea of Google+, but I am not a committed user quite yet. It is overwhelming to me and I don’t know as many people using it regularly yet to be able to count on it to get all of the information I need and want. Ultimately, I can see myself using Google+ differently than I use Facebook. I am quite addicted to Facebook as a connection and information source. Both networks have their places in our worlds and may not need to be compared to each other if we are going to use them in different ways.
July 17, 2012
These kind of requests pop up throughout our days on a regular basis. And they are good questions to ask. It shows thinking about new channels and an understanding that jumping in without planning is not usually the best approach. This particular question came up yesterday, so it seems timely to share some considerations towards a decision to include Google+ in communications plans.
Google+ is a social media channel. Before deciding on a channel for communication and engagement, we must first have an understanding of what we are trying to achieve. This is a too common mistake when it comes to social media: brands want to be on a channel and don’t think through whether it is right for them. And we shouldn’t let a channel drive our strategy. We want to think first and foremost about (1) who the target audience is and (2) what we want to achieve and (3) then figure out if a channel, Google+, is a channel that will help meet those objectives.
Who is on Google+?
A full two-thirds of Google+’s users are men. A sizable number of Google+ users (42%) are single, and the most popular occupation listed is “student.” While it has a long way to go before it catches up to Facebook in popularity and adoption, with over 100 million users, it would appear that Google is off to a decent start. However, everyone who has a gmail account is automatically signed up for Google+, whether they actually use the service or not. This inflates the number of users making the service seem more popular than it is so far.
Why should a brand consider a presence on Google+?
Google+ is influencing the integration of search and social. Searches for brands on Google are showing Google+ pages near the top. And content and pages that have received +1s also show near the top of Google search results. For SEO purposes alone, Google+ is worth the investment in time and effort. For example, someone who is logged into Google (any Google account is a Google+ member, remember), and may have played around with Google+ by adding a few people to circles or uploading some images to Picasa, but is not really active on the network, will still see their connections +1s in their search results, giving those results a great weight in importance. There is definite value in the tie to search results as Google turns on its social search function. This means that a brand’s content that fans share will be more widely seen by their peers in relevant search results.
It is not a bad idea to claim your space before someone else does. Even if you are not sure how you will use it, or if you will, claiming the brand name while you decide will save you trouble later.
Google Hangouts. Hangouts is a feature unique to Google+ that makes it worth using if video conversations would be relevant and effective for the brand.
Engagement with content will mostly be driven by photos and videos. If the brand has highly visual content or can come up with a way to share highly visual content, Google+ may be a viable outlet for sharing and engaging. Take care, however, not to post the same information on Facebook; give fans more than that. Consider posting original content, like archival photos or live video chats with team members. Ask fans what kind of content they want and figure out a way to deliver that.
What should a brand expect from a presence on Google+?
Keep in mind that Google+ doesn’t have the user base yet that Facebook has and the user base they do have is quite different. So, don’t use Facebook as a gage for expectations on Google+ engagement. And as with any other social network, a brand is only going to get results out of Google+ if they put effort into developing and maintaining good content.
As a benchmark, consider Ferarri. On Google+, Ferarri has a 1.2 million circle count, but has more than 8.8 million likes on Facebook. Or consider Adidas, which has a 3,000 circle count, has an equally impressive 8.5 million likes on Facebook.
July 11, 2012
“Foursquare is setting itself up as mobile users’ go-to app for socializing around a location.” - TechCrunch
Discovery, serendipity and exploration are all words that Foursquare has been using to describe the promised evolution of their location-based check-in app to a tool that gives you more. Foursquare has delivered on that promise with the introduction of Connected Apps.
Connected Apps are apps that function within Foursquare and are triggered by check-ins. The examples provided by Foursquare:
These kind of apps expand and enhance the user experience, providing them with information, suggestions and revelations they might not otherwise have encountered. The information delivered is customized for that user’s location and delivered exactly when it is relevant to them to make a decision about how to interact in and with that location.
This addition gives users a new reason to check-in and could drive increased use of the app. With these check-ins, Foursquare continues to grow its database of user preferences to further power its recommendations for new business, products and services nearby, making it a more valuable tool for businesses and brands to engage with consistently.
“Foursquare is setting itself up for an interesting niche in the future of the mobile/local/social web. Facebook is the network of people, but Foursquare’s Connected App platform could see itself turning into the network around places. For a service that’s struggling to remain relevant as the lure of gamification wears off and the local offers plan fizzles, becoming the go-to app for the location-based social web is not a bad position to take.” - TechCrunch
It will be interested to see how brands and marketers take advantage of this opportunity to communicate messages within the Foursquare app about new products, services and surrounding opportunities to the location where the user has checked in. I see brands partnering with the third party apps, not Foursquare to create their own apps. For example, restaurants might partner with a travel app to negotiate recommendations for their restaurants in cities where a user checks in. Or gyms might partner with the healthy eating app to push messages about nearby workout facilities. The possibilities are many.
Shazam is so much more than I originally thought that it was, and I like its potential.
I’ve seen the Shazam logo popping up on commercials and television shows the last several month and just couldn’t understand why I would Shazam these things. In commercials, I can never get my phone out and Shazam open quickly enough to capture the sound. In television shows, I just didn’t get it. My use of Shazam has always been for identifying a music selection that I liked and wanted to note and/or buy. This seemed good enough to me and I liked it for just that purpose.
But then I saw this article about Shazam partnering with the Olympics and I got curious. Though they don’t describe it this way in the article, it seems that Shazam can be used for “scanning” to get more information about what you are hearing, like scanning a QR code gives you more information about what you are seeing. This is actually pretty cool:
“Viewers who tag the broadcast from their Shazam app will be able to see additional information on the athletes, engage in polls, view the competition schedule, check the latest results, keep tabs on the medal count and share on social media.”
The tricky part of this for brands and advertisers is going to be consumer education. If consumers are familiar with Shazam at all, they are going to know it only as a music identification app, like I did. But, like any other new tool and technology, once people figure it out and start using it, it has huge potential for communicated extra and bonus information to its users. I like that.
July 10, 2012
Pinterest is still the latest tool that brands are eager to jump into and try out with their messages. I thought I would share some things from the tip sheet I put together for planning discussions when the topic of Pinterest is raised.
A Few Random and Interesting Pinterest Facts
(Relevant as you are thinking about the audience that engages with Pinterest)
- Pinterest users are three times more likely than average Internet users to have visited Disney World in the past year.
- Their favorite magazines are Good Housekeeping, followed by Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle, Woman’s Day and the AARP magazine.
- 80% of pins are re-pins (for comparison, only 1.4% of tweets are re-tweets).
- See more stats here.
Sample Objectives That Using Pinterest Might Help Achieve
- Drive sales through new products boards.
- Create brand affinity (with boards related to topics in which the brand target audience are really interested).
- Build community acquisitions (with pinning of images of things related to the brand offerings).
Some Pinterest Tips
- Claim the username that you want to use and ignore all others. While Pinterest currently offers little, if any, resolution for squatters, if the community continues to grow in popularity it will eventually create a verification program similar to Facebook and Twitter and the squatters will be revealed and exiled. In the meantime, learn from them, take their ideas and make them better for the true brand.
- Image should take center stage. Make sure all images are nicely photographed. If the story can’t be told visually, Pinterest is not the right place for the brand to spend time.
- The information should be presented in a sleek and icon-free presentation.
- Users can attach price tags to pins by typing in a “$” sign followed by one or more numbers in the description box. The price tag appears not only in the description, but also in the upper lefthand corner of the pin thumbnail and image. However, when brands affixed price tags to product pins, users behave differently and are far less likely to repin images with price tags.
- Put the “Pin It” button on all digital presences (websites, microsites, online store, etc.).
- Provide link to “official” Pinterest page on all web properties.
- Create board names and topics that spark interest, going beyond things like expected titles like “products,” “photos,” etc. Instead, get creative with the names/topics, considering titles that align with brand attributes and brand personality.
- Leverage internal resources (employees) to create Pinterest boards beyond products and focus on interests related to the brand and the target audience.
- Consider arranging products in groups that go together in themes such as gift boxes, outfits, complete decor (you get the idea, but it really depends on what products/services your brand offers). Don’t just post a product that is available for purchase; put it in some context. Pull in products from outside the brand that complement it. Always consider the visual appearance of the posts.
- Avoid pure, blatant promotion. Pin a nice balance between brand-only boards and boards that highlight others.
- You can pin videos. Do it, in the relevant board categories.
- Tell a story of their history through photos.
Tips for Building Followers
- Repinning others
- Following others
- Commenting on and liking others’ posts
- Share pins on the brand Facebook page
- Share pins on the brand Twitter page
Monitor how much traffic is driven to site from Pinterest.
- Which posts are driving the most traffic? Consider why and work to repeat those efforts.
- Which posts are being re-pinned? Consider why and work to repeat those types of posts.
- Which posts are garnering the most likes and comments? Examine the users that are commenting and liking, follow them back and respond when relevant.
A note on requests for a “Pinterest strategy.” Pinterest is a social media channel and we shouldn’t let a channel drive our strategy. Think about who your target audience is and what you want to achieve and then figure out if Pinterest is a channel that will help meet those objectives. Don’t jump into Pinterest just to be there.
You can follow my boards on Pinterest here.