Marketers Say Social Media, Search Are Industry’s Hottest Ad Tools

pointroll most popular advertising tools in 2012 march2012.thumbnail Marketers Say Social Media, Search Are Industry’s Hottest Ad ToolsSocial media and search advertising are projected to be the most popular advertising tools this year, each cited by 24% of respondents to a PointRoll survey [pdf] of US marketing professionals, conducted by Kelton Research and released in March 2012. Display advertising followed closely, chosen by 22% of respondents. There was then a significant drop-off to online video (11%), mobile or tablet ads (7%), and mobile or tablet apps (6%). Just 1% chose email, text/SMS, or social gaming. Search advertising is more popular among respondents at director level or above, compared to those in supervisory or managerial positions (30% vs. 19%).

Most Will Increase Spend on Digital Channels

In fact, a majority of respondents are planning to up their spend on a variety of digital channels, a position that traditional channels are not slated to share. Among digital channels, the largest proportion say they will increase their spending on social media marketing or ads (79%), closely followed by those who will increase their budgets for mobile marketing or ads (75%). A comparatively fewer 55% say they will increase spending on search advertising, though this compares favorably to just 7% who will either decrease spending (3%) or not use this tool (4%).

Conversely, out-of-home marketing or ads will get an increase from just 16% of marketing professionals, on par with the proportion who will decrease spending in this area. And while 15% will budget more for traditional marketing or ads, 21% will scale back their budgets. Even so, traditional marketing channels still get a big chunk of budgets: 57% of marketing and advertising executives in organizations with revenues of $10 million or more said that most of their spending in 2011 went to traditional efforts.

Audience Targeting Proves Exciting

Meanwhile, audience targeting (49%) tops the list of industry trends that respondents are excited about, ahead of other movements including cross-screen media (40%), web TV (30%), Facebook marketing (37%), social gaming (22%) and digital out-of-home marketing or ads (19%). Excitement about audience targeting is higher at the directorial level and above than at the supervisory or managerial level (56% vs. 44%).

Some of that excitement may be related to necessity: 17% of respondents said that identifying the right audience has been holding them back from doing their job more successfully. According to March 2012 survey results from Acxiom and Loyalty 360, just 49% of company executives agree that they know who their most loyal customers are, and the best way to reach out to them and get them to engage with their brand. In fact, just 10% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, while about one-third were neutral and roughly 1 in 5 disagreed.

Marketers Using Numerous Tools and Partners

pointroll no tools used single campaign march2012.thumbnail Marketers Say Social Media, Search Are Industry’s Hottest Ad ToolsData from PointRoll’s “Marketing Tools Study 2012? indicates that 28% of marketing and advertising professionals use at least 7 tools during a single campaign to reach their target market, while 62% use between 3 and 6 tools. To help with their efforts, roughly 3 in 10 respondents call on at least 10 partners to help them during a campaign. Even so, this sometimes has the opposite effect than intended: about one-third say that managing multiple vendors typically prevents them from doing their job better, and 1 in 10 say that working more efficiently with vendors is their biggest goal this year.

Other Findings:

  • Marketing professionals would pay a company an average of $107,500 to manage an integrated digital campaign.
  • Increasing sales (31%) and ROI (28%) are the goals most commonly cited as marketers’ most important for this year.
  • Slightly more than half of respondents say that inefficient ROI tracking and measurement has hindered their success at work.
  • Almost all respondents predict they will use online video this year. The most popular formats are in-banner (60%), in-stream (49%) and dynamic or customized video ads (42%).
  • Roughly 2 in 5 respondents believe that they are behind the curve when it comes to digital marketing.

About the Data: The PointRoll data is based on a survey of more than 250 marketing professionals from across the US at supervisor level and above, conducted in January 2012.

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How Blogs Influence Purchases and Recommendations

blog thumb How Blogs Influence Purchases and RecommendationsBloggers comment on brands and post to social media, expanding reach

Bloggers, from hobbyists to professionals, often write about brands, and their growing influence should make brand representatives continually evaluate the relationships they have with these bloggers.

Most bloggers write about brands in some way or another. According to the “State of the Blogosphere 2011” report from blog directory website Technorati, 38% of all bloggers post about brands that they love or hate and 34% write product or service reviews. Professional full-time bloggers or part-time professional bloggers who write as a way to supplement their income are more likely to blog about brands than their hobbyist, corporate or entrepreneur counterparts.

134484 How Blogs Influence Purchases and Recommendations

Bloggers are increasing in their influence over readers and other bloggers. Last year’s Technorati “State of the Blogosphere” reported that 29% of bloggers are influenced by other blogs they read. This year, that number jumped to 68%.

As bloggers gain influence and write about brands, the relationships between blog writers and brand representatives are important for companies to focus on. Most bloggers have a good relationship with brand representatives. Nearly half of all bloggers (49%) characterized their interactions with such representatives as somewhat or very favorable. Only 3% said their interactions were not at all favorable. However, 40% of all bloggers said they didn’t know how to characterize their interactions with brand representatives.

134489 How Blogs Influence Purchases and Recommendations

This large group of unsure respondents could have mixed feelings about the communications they receive from these brand representatives, affecting their relationships with the reps and their brands. Of all bloggers, 17% said brand representatives had asked for things that would compromise the credibility or content standards of the blog. This is roughly the same percentage of those that said the representatives were knowledgeable about their blogs and content (14%), are genuinely interested in building a relationship (16%) and provide information that has value for readers (23%).

As bloggers continue to grow in influence, their coverage of brands and their interactions with brands’ products, services and employees will be of greater interest to companies. Brand representatives who connect with bloggers must be sure to work with these writers to keep the relationships thriving.

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Study: Half of all social media campaigns fall flat

Trash thumb Study: Half of all social media campaigns fall flatBefore you launch your next big social media campaign, you may want to ask: Is anybody really listening?

A new TNS report reveals that as many as half of all social media marketing campaigns are going unnoticed.

Matthew Froggatt, the company’s chief development officer, says in a press release that 57 percent of consumers in developed markets do not want to engage with brands in the social sphere. The number is as high as 60 percent in the U.S., while 61 percent in the U.K.

TNS’s Digital Life study drew on findings from 72,000 consumers in 60 countries. It also revealed that 54 percent of people admit that social networks are a good place to learn about products.

Fear not—there’s hope for us yet.

Froggatt has advice for social media marketers:

“The key is to understand your target audience and what they want from your brand — social networks aren’t always the right approach. If consumers in one market don’t want to be talked to, can you use an alternative online method — creating owned digital media platforms, targeted sponsorship or search campaigns — to engage in an appropriate way that will achieve business results without adding to the digital waste pile?”

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What Encourages Facebook Engagement?

Facebook thumb What Encourages Facebook Engagement?Brands that include photos and calls to action see higher engagement rates with those posts

Companies on Facebook and other social sites are always trying to determine what to post to get fans engaged. While each brand is different, and its fans will respond to different things, there are some common threads that companies can keep in mind when planning social media posts and status updates.

Digital marketing agency Web Liquid analyzed 16 brands and more than 1,500 brand posts from March to May 2011 to see which Facebook posts saw the most engagement, such as comments and “likes.” Web Liquid found that Facebook posts with photos saw a 0.37% engagement rate, higher than posts with videos (0.31%), text only (0.27%) or links (0.15%).

133951 What Encourages Facebook Engagement?

Momentus Media, which provides marketing software for use within Facebook, came up with similar findings, even when analyzing the top 20,000 Facebook pages and between 10,000 and 250,000 posts overall. Facebook posts with photos saw a 0.21% engagement rate, while videos saw 0.11% engagement rate and links saw 0.07% engagement.

Within the text of a post, companies can encourage action by asking fans to “like” or comment on the post. Momentus Media found that Facebook status updates that contained the word “like” saw a 0.38% engagement rate and those that said “comment” saw a 0.14% engagement rate. Text updates without “like” or “comment” saw 0.11% engagement.

132605 What Encourages Facebook Engagement?

While these statistics are interesting, brands should determine which tactics work best for their Facebook page and their fans. Additionally, the upcoming changes to Facebook’s Timeline feature and brand pages will change the way consumers interact on the social network.

Facebook’s new Timeline relies heavily on photos, so it seems that posts with photos and videos will continue to perform well for brands. And as Facebook introduces more verbs beyond “like,” companies could develop interesting ways to increase engagement on their pages. By testing different types of posts and continuing to learn what spurs a reaction, marketers can keep up with what content fans prefer on their brand Facebook pages and keep engagement up.

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Most Social Shoppers Trust SocNet Reviews

Social Shopping thumb Most Social Shoppers Trust SocNet Reviews

performics social shop influence.thumbnail Most Social Shoppers Trust SocNet ReviewsA majority of social shoppers trust user reviews and recommendations on social network sites more than other sites, according to a study released in October 2011 by Performics and conducted by ROI Research. Data from the “2011 Social Shopping Study” indicates that among participants who use social networks at least occasionally during the shopping process, 58% trust the recommendations they find on social networks more than other sites. Shopping sites (57%) and deal sites (53%) follow closely as trusted sources of product recommendations. According to the study, about one in 2 social shoppers are positively influenced by favorable reviews and recommendations. This compares to roughly 45% of social shoppers adversely influenced by negative reviews.

Shopping Sites Most Important During Process

Almost three in 4 (72%) social shoppers consider shopping sites to be an important part of the purchase process, about 25% more than those who report deal sites (58%) to be an important factor. Just four in 10 (41%) find social networks to be a significant part of the shopping process.

1 in 5 Use Sites Daily to Find Deals

performics social shop daily.thumbnail Most Social Shoppers Trust SocNet ReviewsAmong active social networkers, nearly one in 5 (19%) turn to deal sites to find specials, coupons, or deals on a daily basis. Social networks (18%) and shopping sites (17%) follow closely as deal sources. While 15% of social shoppers use social networks daily to learn about new products, only one in 10 use social shopping sites on a daily basis for other key stages of the shopping process, including to research product information, read product reviews, compare products, and find product availability.

Shopping Sites Most Popular Before Purchase

Although social networks are most frequently used to learn about new products, the vast majority of social shoppers (87%) turn to shopping sites while searching for a product, while 83% use these sites right before committing to a purchase. This compares to roughly two-thirds of social shoppers who frequently use social networks or deal sites prior to purchasing a product. After the purchase, however, the focus shifts to social networks: almost six in 10 (59%) frequently share their experiences on social networks after the purchase, compared to 57% for shopping sites and 51% for deal sites.

Other Findings

  • Almost seven in 10 (69%) social shoppers visit Amazon at least once a month, making it the most popular shopping site, ahead of eBay (53%) and retailer websites (52%). Search sites fare less well: just 27% visit Google shopping on a monthly basis, followed by Yahoo shopping (23%) and Bing shopping (13%).
  • Close to half of social shoppers (47%) have a Groupon account, far more than those with a Living Social (27%) or Eversave (15%) account.

Nielsen: SocNet Users Most Trust Info from Consumers

Social network users are most likely to trust product and service information provided by other consumers, according to data released in October 2011 by NMIncite and The Nielsen Company. Sixty-three percent say consumer ratings are a preferred source for product information, while 62% say consumer reviews are a preferred source. Company websites come in a distant third, preferred by 50% of social network users for product and service information. Call center (47%) and email (45%) closely follow. Interestingly, company Facebook page (15%) and company Twitter (7%) are among the least preferred product information sources.

About the Data: The Performics survey was conducted among 1000 participants who were required to have an active social network account and use social networks at least occasionally in the shopping process. The online survey was in field from 9/27/11 to 10/4/11.

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Web founder says Facebook a danger

Facebook thumb2 Web founder says Facebook a dangerThe man credited with inventing the internet has lashed out at Facebook and other social networking sites saying they are moving the web away from its founding principles.

In an essay in Scientific American magazine, Tim Berners-Lee says social networking sites are tightly controlling the information put on there by users meaning the internet’s being split into fragmented islands.

Berners-Lee said there is a chance Facebook could become so big that it could limit innovation.


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Companies Struggle to Keep Social Media Content On-Message

Nearly three-quarters of blog posts don’t reflect corporate messaging

Marketers and other corporate communications professionals may sometimes feel they have a thankless task: carefully craft messages about their company’s thought leadership, social responsibility efforts and new product or service launches, only to find those messages distorted as they’re disseminated through the media.

PR and communications firm Burson-Marsteller analyzed more than 150 messages sent out by companies in the Financial Times Global 100 list of firms and discovered a large gap between the messages that went out and how they were covered on blogs.

Message distortion was highest for companies in Latin America and the US, with a global average of 69% of blog postings not reflecting the message companies were trying to send. According to the report, bloggers tended to include “opinions, personal experience, knowledge of competitors and products, and speculation.”

119961 Companies Struggle to Keep Social Media Content On Message

Distorted messages are not a new phenomenon; they have been a problem in mainstream media as well. Still, the message gap between companies and the traditional media is significantly smaller: Less than half of all messages in mainstream media failed to reflect company messages, and here the US performed above average.

119960 Companies Struggle to Keep Social Media Content On Message

But as blogs continue to grow in importance and become integrated in mainstream outlets, along with the growth of other forms of social media, the chances for message distortion are likely to be high.

One way companies can combat the message gap is to make the most of owned media. If companies create their own compelling content and distribute it across social networks, there is no room for such a gap. Bloggers are not likely to simply reprint such old-media items as press releases, but relevant branded content can attract links across Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social web.

According to the “2010 Social Media Usage, Attitudes and Measurability” study from King Fish Media, HubSpot and Junta42, 73% of US companies with a social media strategy were using branded content they created in their campaigns. Such original content was considered the most important part of a successful social campaign, with nearly half of respondents calling it “extremely important.”

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Small Businesses Change Social Media Expectations

About a quarter of small businesses now marketing via social media

After climbing steeply, according to research from Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, small-business adoption of social media marketing has plateaued at 24%.

The study of US small business found that those that do market via social media primarily use Facebook (82%), and that the most common activities are maintaining a company page on a social network and posting status updates or links to interesting content. About half of businesses that used social media also monitored brand chatter on social networks.

As small businesses have gained experience with social media, some have realized their expectations for the channel did not line up with the reality of the social web. As the wider marketing world begins to look at social as more of a loyalty channel than one for acquisition, small businesses are also finding that their hopes for spreading brand awareness and attracting new customers have not been fully met. By contrast, somewhat fewer small businesses had expected to use social media as an engagement channel, but nearly two-thirds have had success in that area.

119890 Small Businesses Change Social Media Expectations

The most common business objectives small businesses have achieved through social media marketing tell a similar story: Customers are connecting with companies through sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, but relatively few sales leads have been received through the sites.

119892 Small Businesses Change Social Media Expectations

Small businesses have found other frustrations as well. Many say their efforts take up more time than they had expected, although that percentage dropped from 50% to 43% between December 2009 and June 2010, suggesting companies are being more realistic about what’s involved in social campaigns. At the same time, however, the percentage saying their business had been criticized online nearly doubled, reaching 29%. Still, just a tiny 1% of small businesses said their image was hurt more than it was helped by social media—a number that’s also down, from 6% in December.

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Consumers Force Retailers to Adopt Social Strategy

Confusion about ROI, disagreement about performance indicators

For most web users, online shopping is not a fully social activity. A few leading-edge retailers have begun allowing transactions to occur on sites like Facebook, but social media users do not typically report starting a search for a product on social sites.

Still, they do use social networks and other tools like Twitter to discuss brands and products and to get advice and feedback from friends and family on potential purchase decisions—and retailers have noticed.

According to August 2010 data from Aberdeen Group, more than half of retailers felt they had been pushed into using social media because more consumers were using it as a primary shopping vehicle. The second-largest pressure causing them to adopt social media marketing was increased use by the competition.

119539 Consumers Force Retailers to Adopt Social Strategy

Social networks are a clear winner of retailers’ attention. The top social media tools used by the retailers surveyed by Aberdeen included social networks (85%), microblogging (51%) and blogging (43%). In Q1 2010, the e-tailing group also found that social networks were the top community or social tool retailers used or planned to use in the next year; Facebook fan pages specifically were cited by 91% of respondents to that survey. Four in five used or planned to use Twitter, 72% blogs and 71% Facebook Connect. The e-tailing survey was conducted before Facebook introduced its “like” feature, which has also been widely adopted by retailers including Levi’s and Sephora.

But like many marketers in other industries, retailers don’t yet have a clear picture of what social media success will mean. The top key performance indicator respondents to Aberdeen’s survey looked at was the quality of consumer insights they gleaned from social efforts, followed closely by number of repeat visitors and quality of new sales leads.

119540 Consumers Force Retailers to Adopt Social Strategy

The report noted that some disagreement on key performance indicators is to be expected, since their usefulness is likely to differ from retailer to retailer. “Retailers would be wise to explore which KPI provides the most value to the retailer, and use accordingly,” the report said.

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Are Twitter Followers Better Than Facebook Fans?

Marketers looking to push out the most effective messages to opt-in recipients must understand how audiences differ across channels and what causes them to connect with brands. Marketing venues that seem similar may differ strongly if their users have different needs and motivations.

According to the final edition of ExactTarget’s “Subscribers, Fans and Followers” report, the differences between email, Facebook and Twitter also include their influence on customer loyalty.

Daily Twitter users who followed a brand were more than twice as likely as daily Facebook users who “liked” a brand to say they were more likely to purchase from the brand after becoming a social media follower. What’s more, Facebook fans were the most likely group to actively disagree with the question. Subscribers to opt-in marketing emails fell in the middle.

119500 Are Twitter Followers Better Than Facebook Fans?

The pattern among Twitter followers, email subscribers and Facebook fans was similar when asked about whether they would recommend a brand. A third of Twitter followers said they were more apt to make a recommendation now that they followed a brand, compared with 24% of email subscribers and 21% of Facebook fans. Again, those who “liked” a brand on Facebook were most likely to actively disagree with the statement.

119501 Are Twitter Followers Better Than Facebook Fans?

A February 2010 survey by Chadwick Martin Bailey also found that Twitter followers were more likely than Facebook fans to say they had an increased chance of buying or recommending the brands they connected with in social media.

These factors make Twitter followers attractive to marketers, but as the ExactTarget report notes, because of Twitter’s much smaller user base just 3% of US internet users follow a brand through the microblogging service. Those who do follow brands on Twitter are likely to be influencers in general, while Facebook users are more like the average consumer. And since Facebook users often become brand fans on the site because they are already fans in real life and want to use the brand as part of their self-image, it may be more difficult for them to actually increase their spending or advocate for the brand more than they did before “liking.”

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