The Death of Facebook has been Greatly Exaggerated (and other social media insights)

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By Sue Brady

social media montageSocial media has seen a lot of change this year, and the coming year will be no different. Social media is only going to become more important in our personal and professional lives.  A huge 73% of Americans have a social network profile!

Messaging. Messaging apps have taken off, enjoying huge popularity, especially with the younger adult crowd. WhatsApp (bought by Facebook for $16 billion) leads the pack with 900 million monthly active users. Facebook Messenger is second with 700 million. It’s an astounding number of people now communicating in a way that would have been completely foreign just 2 or 3 years ago. Back in the day at AOL, we used AOL Instant Messenger (aka AIM) to communicate with our coworkers and friends. It was easy to keep your buddy list open on your computer to see if the person you wanted to chat with was around. But now, with the proliferation of cell phones, and apps to make them even more useful, you can ‘chat’ with your friends/coworkers using your phone. Being near a computer isn’t important.

Popular Social Media Sites. What hasn’t changed much is the popular social media networks are still popular. The most used social media network is still Facebook with 1.55 billion monthly active users. In the US, Facebook is well ahead of the pack in terms of market share based on visits, at 45%. The next market share giant is Youtube, with half that market share at 22%.

Ebizmba just published its <slightly different> list of  traffic rankings and found that:

Facebook tops the list at 900 million unique monthly users

Twitter has 310 million

LinkedIn has 255 million (though 400 million registered users)

Pinterest has 250 million

The remaining platforms fall well below these sites, but still have millions and millions of users:

Google+

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Instagram

Marketing Spend. In terms of marketing budget allocations, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn rank the highest for investment. Facebook introduced the ‘buy’ button this year, adding to its usefulness as a platform for marketers. Advertisers are learning how to use Facebook and other social media platforms to sell product. It’s not a fad people! If you haven’t tested Facebook in the last year, you really should give it a try. Facebook made almost $4 billion in ad revenue in 2nd quarter, 2015, most of it from mobile. It’s working.

Checking In. What is dead however is the concept of ‘checking in.’ The idea of using your phone to let people know where you are at the moment you are there, didn’t really catch on. In fact, only 3% of Americans say they have ever ‘checked in.’

Videos. But what IS happening with increasing frequency is people are posting and watching videos. Youtube isn’t the only place, though there are over 1 billion users there watching 4 billion videos a day (with a billion of those views coming from mobile devices). 81% of US Millenials use YouTube, followed by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers after that (source: expandedramblings.com). Vine launched in January 2013 and has 200 million monthly active users. 12 million Vine videos are uploaded to Twitter every day. In one article I found written by Molly Buccini, she sited that Videos trump photos for engagement by 62%! She also states that ‘video shares’ have gone up by 43% since the start of the year. If you aren’t already using videos in your social marketing, now is the time!

Social media spend by brands has seen dramatic growth. According to Statista, spend will go from $7.5 billion in 2014 to over $17 billion by 2019. Make sure you’ve allocated enough of your marketing budget for 2016 to Social Media to take advantages of the opportunities!

7 Steps for Using Social Media in Times of Crisis

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By Sue Brady

Ambulance

There will be a time in the life of your company where you may need to manage a ‘situation.’ Thank heavens for social media. Social media has transformed the way companies can talk to their customers quickly and broadly.

One of the many advantages of using social media to manage a crisis, change of event, weather situation alert and the like, is that you can reach a large number of people quickly. Amber Alerts are a great example. You can sign up to follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and even have alerts buzz your cell phone. It’s a powerful way to use social media to have many eyeballs looking for a lost or abducted child fast.

If your company plans to (or might have to) use social media to relay timely information, have a plan. Waiting until you’re in need is NOT the time to create a plan.

Step 1: The first step of course is to know where on social media your audience actually is. This might require some research on your part that goes beyond looking at where you have the most followers (thought that’s critically important as well). Let’s say your customers tend to be active on Twitter. Look up some of your faithful followers that also Tweet, and take a look at the links they tweet out. You may find patterns that will give you some ideas of other websites/social media platforms where you’ll want to have a presence. Marketing tip: you can do this to find new places to advertise and attract new customers!

Step 2: Identify who in your company is going to post. This may be a team of people or just one person. If approvals are required prior to posting, make sure the chain of approvals is clearly spelled out, including who can approve posts if someone is not available.

Step 3: Know who your influencers are, so that they might be able to help you get the word out too. Influencers are consumers who follow you and have a large following themselves. Influencers can be a very effective way to spread your message even further.

Step 4: Craft your messages to be accurate and consistent. When creating messages to serve as notifications, make sure the facts are correct, the phone number you are showing is working, the URL you are providing works.

Step 5: Include a hashtag to make it easy to follow the topic. This also can give you control over where the conversation happens and is critical especially on Twitter.

Step 6: Monitor what’s being said about your situation on social media so that you can respond or change your approach as needed. If a statement you’ve made is being misinterpreted, you’ll want to correct that in a hurry.

Step 7: After the crisis is over, make sure to pull the team together to discuss how well your plan worked and whether or not you should make changes.

Last summer, I was on a train with the hubs headed downtown for an outdoor Lucinda Williams concert. The train was definitely not as crowded as we expected it to be (it was Taste of Chicago weekend, an event that attracts over 1 million people), but it wasn’t until we overheard a passenger tell someone else that The Taste had been flooded out and cancelled for the day, that we realized why. We wanted confirmation so of course pulled out the iPhone, and looked up #tasteofchicago on Twitter where the closing was in fact posted. If we had thought to look, Chicago had done a fine job of letting Chicagoans know of this unusual event cancellation.

Postscript: We thought it would be just like Lucinda to do an impromptu concert in her hotel bar and certainly didn’t want to miss that. We searched twitter to see if we could figure oGuitarut where she was staying. Alas, we could not. We hung out for a while downtown and then headed home. Epic social media fail on our part. The next day we found out that Lucinda in fact DID play an impromptu concert that night. She played at a local bar, and she told fans about it via social media. But we had stopped checking by then and hadn’t heard the news. We missed out on an opportunity for a concert by one of our faves, in a small venue, and at no charge!

#epicsocialmediafail

 

Happy 1-Year Blog Anniversary to Me!

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By Sue Brady

birthday-border-edges

It’s been exactly one year since I posted my first article to this blog. It’s taken me down many paths and I’ve met some really cool people as a result. For my anniversary post, I thought I’d call out some of my ‘most read’ posts for your enjoyment…just in case you missed them. Next week’s post will return to the Social Advertising 101 series (Parts 1 – Facebook and 2 – Twitter can be found here).

Maybe it should come as no surprise that not all of the popular posts were marketing related. Enjoy the reads!

Creating Content: 6 Goldmines for Finding Relevant Topics

How to Setup Twitter, LInkedIn, and Facebook for your Business

Why Everyone Should Take Acting Classes

The Multi-touch, Multi-device Attribution Dilemma

How I Added Two Hours Back to my Day

Is Native Advertising the New Online Banner?

How to Handle an Internet Troll

You Are Losing Sales if you Don’t Buy Your Own Branded Terms

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Build it, They Will Come: How to Get Facebook to Work for You

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By Sue BradyBuild a social media plan

With over 500,000 million active users, Facebook is an important tool for your social media strategy. If you aren’t sure how to set up your page, you can read this post. If your page is already setup, read on.

Goals. What do you want to get out of Facebook? Is your goal customer engagement? Are you trying to reach influencers to spread the word about your product? Do you want prospective employees to see your page and want to come work for you? Or is your goal simply to get as many followers for your page as you can (aka ‘likes’) in the hopes of driving more business?

Content. After you’ve set your goals, think about what you want to post about. Your topics should support your goals. Are all of your posts going to be product-centric, can they Editorial Calendars are Importantvary with the seasons, do you want to include personal stories about some of your employees? Whatever it is, establish a content calendar to help guide you. This calendar can help you organize all of your social media content (across different media), and probably should. I have a client who lets multiple people post dependent on the day, but the theme for the content is provided by management. Your content calendar can be a simple excel sheet that tracks date, title, topic and keywords.

Content Sources. Sources of content are plentiful. Think about asking your sales people for the types of questions they hear from customers. Or talk to your customer service phone or sales reps. They have daily interactions and are a wealth of information. Ask other employees if they have a pertinent topic they’d like to write about. Take a look at your competitors and see what they are writing about. Or check out what experts in your industry are saying.

Posting. Decide on your posting frequency. Will it be multiple times a day, daily, weekly, monthly? It’s important that you are clear here. If you post too much, fans may ‘unfollow’ you. And the same may happen if you don’t post enough. Facebook is a visual medium, so post with pictures. Here are some statistics from KISSmetrics that show the value of posting with pictures:

  • Posts with photos get 53% more likesPhotos with likes get more shares
  • Posts with photos get 104% more comments
  • Posts with photos get 84% more click-thrus

KISSmetrics also states that posting with a question generates 100% more comments than posting a statement. Get users to engage with your brand by asking questions!

Gaining Fans

  • Ask your personal network to ‘like’ your business page. It’s a great way to gain exposure early on, and to generate some immediate buzz and activity on your feed.
  • Include ‘Please share this’ in your post. You’ll generate more shares that way.
  • Advertise. Advertising on Facebook took a while to work for many brands. But that’s been changing. I know a company who went from a fan base of less than a few hundred followers to over 5,000 fans in three months. How? After about 6-months on Facebook they started running ads that offered a cents off coupon. Now they are enjoying much greater customer engagement, with fairly frequent posts from customers on their page. Facebook has some easy to use methods to help you maximize return on your advertising. This post is a great read on the subject. (Little known fact from the folks at Hubspot: you can test your messaging before you run your ad by creating unpublished posts, known as dark posts. Dark posts appear in the News Feed but not on your timeline. This article tells you how to do it.) If you aren’t sure how to get started, here’s another gem from Hubspot explaining the options.

Why do consumers follow brands?

  • It’s no secret that a big reason consumers like brands is because they are hoping for coupons. In a survey by market research company Lab42, they found that 77% of those who had ‘liked’ a brand saved money as a result. Tweet that stat! In the same study, 69% said they ‘liked’ a brand because a friend did.
  • Understand the Facebook Algorithm. Facebook’s goal is to keep users interested, and to do that, they show content they think will be of interest, based on past behaviors. It’s important to understand this because it impacts how your posts will be ranked. Rank is determined through an algorithm, formerly known as EdgeRank. EdgeRank was created as a way to prioritize stories in a user’s news feed and referred to the concept of ‘gaining an edge.’ The key elements have remained the same over the years, although according to Facebook, they now use over 100,000 factors.

Key Elements in Facebook’s EdgeRank

  • Affinity Score – This is based on an action the user took, his ‘closeness’ to the person posting, and how much time has passed since the posting. Commenting on someone’s posts, or ‘liking’ those posts, increases a fan’s affinity to a brand. ‘Liking’ gives that brand an edge.
  • Edge Weight – Edges are weighted based on the effort required on the part of the user. Leaving a comment has more weight than leaving a ‘like.’ A video view has more weight than leaving a comment.
  • Time Decay – This refers to the length of time that has passed since an edge was created. As time passes, it loses value. However, if a story is very popular, even if it’s a few hours old, it could be bumped to the top of a feed.

You can read more about EdgeRank here.

3. Promotions. Promotions are a great way to garner fans on Facebook. But there are rules that have to be followed. The rules around promotions continue to evolve, so make sure you are using the most current set. For instance, it is now okay to use the ‘like’ functionality as a way to collect entries. Here’s a summary of the <current> Facebook rules as of August, 2013. You also must follow local and national rules imposed by the government (check with your lawyer!).

Be prepared for trolls. A troll is someone who frequently posts negative comments on your page. Trolls can be problematic. They may have a legitimate beef with your company or maybe they have nothing better to do. Have a plan. And, let management know that they are likely to see some negative comments on the company Facebook page. No surprises. And also let them know you have a plan.

See you on Facebook!

Do You Know Where Your Teenager Is (online)?

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By Sue Brady

cartoon social tools - must say FreeDigitalPhotos.net

source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So much has been written about the ‘demise’ of Facebook and how it’s losing traction with the younger set. Facebook’s audience is changing but that doesn’t mean it’s about to crash and burn. I often hear: The kids just aren’t using Facebook anymore. But is it really true? I did some digging and read a number of articles to really understand what’s been happening to the Facebook numbers. I discovered that yes, teens are leaving Facebook, but Facebook is far from dying. Teens are just turning to other tools.

Piper Jaffray released their semi-annual survey in October, 2013 where they saw a shift from the prior survey done in April, in preferred social media among teens. In the April survey, Facebook was preferred over Twitter with 33% siting the first, and 30% the second. The October study showed a large shift with 26% preferring Twitter, followed by Facebook and new to the top of the list, Instagram, each at 23%. You can read the full article here.

In the US, compared to three year’s ago, overall Facebook users have increased by 23%. The 55 and older crowd has been the biggest reason for this increase. In the last three years, that age group has grown from almost 16 million to 28 million users. And in the same period of time, teen users aged 13 – 17 have declined by 25% while young adults aged 18 – 24 have declined 8%. But somehow that doesn’t feel like the full story. Is it really just the younger crowd moving into older age groups, and not being replaced by the new young teens? It sure seems that way. The largest group on Facebook by pure numbers three years ago was the 18-24 crowd followed by the 35-54 year olds. Now, the largest group on Facebook is the 35-54 year olds, followed by 25 – 34 year olds (source: iStrategy Labs). Facebook’s audience is aging because teens, new to social media, are making other choices.

There are implications for advertisers. Advertisers can still reach a potential teen audience of almost 10 million kids, but that’s 3 million less than they used to be able to reach, and that number is not likely to improve in the coming years.

So where are the teens going for their social media fix? At the end of last year, it was announced that Twitter actually overtook Facebook as the most important social media tool among teens. And there are other, newer social media players too in this rapidly changing landscape.

girl on fone

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Twitter. With 243 million monthly users, Twitter is gigantic. According to AllThingsD, 28% of Twitter’s unique desktop viewers are between 13 and 24 years old. When you look at mobile users, 25% of Twitter users vs 19% of Facebook’s are between 18 and 24 years old.  And, Twitter’s global audience aged between 15 and 24  is over 3 percentage points higher than Facebook’s  (32% to 29%).

Snapchat. Snapchat is the mobile app that allows you to send pictures that are viewable for 1-10 seconds and 15-second video clips can also be sent for a one-time viewing.  Snapchat boasts 30 million monthly users in the US and a full 55% of them use it everyday (source: Business Insider). There are 400 million snaps sent per day, worldwide. (source: Craig Smith, Author of Digital Marketing Ramblings). Its growth has been explosive. Snapchat’s primary demographic is the 13-25 age group, though the 40+ crowd is starting to adopt it as well (source: AllThingsD.com). According to Pew Research, 26% of cell phone owners aged 18-29 use Snapchat. Snapchap is only just starting to allow advertising and it’s not yet known how successful that will be.

Instagram.    Owned by Facebook, Instagram is also a photo and video share app, but the photos and videos don’t disappear.  They boast 150 million monthly users (source: Craig Smith, Author of Digital Marketing Ramblings). 43% of cell phone owners aged 18-29 use Instagram. 18% of those aged 30-49 use Instagram (Pew Research). Snapchat only has 5% of that age group. Like Snapchat, Instagram has been slow to get into advertising, but is definitely planning on monetizing the platform with ads.

WhatsApp. WhatsApp, the mobile messaging tool, has been picking up new users at the rate of a million A DAY. They boast 450 million users to Facebook’s 1.2 billion (worldwide). Their growth has been fairly amazing.  And guess what? Facebook recently announced that it’s buying WhatsApp for a deal valued at $19 billion. Not much is known about the demographics of the WhatsApp users, though in general mobile messaging services have high usage among teens and tweens.  The WhatsApp user base is strong in India, Europe and Latin America.

Facebook is alive and well and making acquisitions to make sure it stays relevant with a variety of age groups. But there’s no question the Facebook audience base is shifting. Perhaps the teen-set isn’t happy that mom and dad are following their pages, or perhaps that age group has just gotten tired of the platform and favors faster communication tools. Whatever the reason, Facebook remains a social media giant.

social media montage