Best of 2014: Does Engagement Matter More Than Followers?

By Sheldon Levine - December 11th, 2014

The question in today’s post has been one that has plagued marketers since social media started to rise and “followers” became an everyday term. A lot of times you’ll hear people say something like “I’d rather have 50 engaged followers than 500 passive ones.” So what will it take to make people look more at engagement numbers than follower numbers?

This post was chosen by our staff as one of their favourites from 2014.

This post was first published on August 18, 2014:
Pied_Piper2For social media success, what is more important: engagement or followers?

This question came up recently during a strategic planning session when an organization talked about how the number of Facebook followers surged after a recent contest.

While having more followers looks impressive, the digital marketing team was asking what it really meant. Does having more followers mean their social media efforts are more successful, or does it give them more opportunities to be successful.

It’s a quality versus quantity proposition.

Personally, engagement strikes me as a more important consideration, although size does matter. A vibrant and active community can provide brands and organization with a powerful platform to drive strategic and tactical initiatives.

A large community, however, that is inactive or not terribly engaged delivers far less value.

In an ideal world, it would be great to have engagement and big numbers but this is probably a luxury that few brands get to enjoy.

In a recent blog post in Marketing Magazine (U.K.), Matthew Burns talked about how brands such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull are taking a close look at the effectiveness of Facebook as an engagement platform.

“The brands that are huge on the social site are the ones that were fastest to appreciate Facebook’s strengths, but are now also first to be wary of its limitations: why pay Facebook to reach and engage fans if we can achieve similar objectives, mostly for free, on other networks?”

Burns discovered, for example, that Red Bull’s main Facebook page has 44 million fans but it generated only 330,000 interactions in July. This is less than one monthly interaction for every 100 fans.

As brands look to drive more engagement to extract value from their social media activity, Burns suggests brands will start to explore other platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

The focus on quality versus quality reflects the fluid and dynamic of social media. As brands looking to drive return on investment, they are constantly tweaking the dials and looking for competitive advantages.

The interest in engagement suggests there may be too much of an investment happening to build bigger and bigger audiences. It could be that some brands will start to redeploy their social media efforts to get more people actively involved.

If engagement gains more momentum as a social media “must-have”, it could do two things: force existing players such as Facebook to adopt, or open the door for new engagement-friendly players to seize a golden opportunity.

What do you think? Is social engagement gaining more momentum?

Best of 2014: Big Data = Big Social Marketing Opportunities

By Sheldon Levine - December 10th, 2014

Big data started to become a hot buzzword in 2013, but it showed no sign of slowing down in 2014. In this blog post from earlier this year we talked a bit about what big data is, what it means and how companies can start thinking about how to use it.

This post was first published on May 9, 2014:

 

There’s a lot of buzz about “big data”. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to expect it.
In simple terms, it’s based on the idea that brands can leverage large amounts of data to extract insight to make their businesses more successful.
img vspace=Big data is being applied in a wide variety of industries, and being propelled by startups trying to develop disruptive technology and services.
Rubikloud, for example, is looking to make a splash in the e-commerce market by giving marketers easy ways to see how their online operations are performing.
It should be no surprise that big data is alive and well within the social media world.
Given all the activity – the tweets, updates, posts, likes, etc. – there is an enormous amount of data being created, analyzed and crunched.
Sysomos is no stranger to big data. MAP, our flagship product, was developed on its ability to let brands monitor and visualize huge amounts of social media activity.
In many ways, however, big data’s impact on social media is still in the early days.
One of the biggest opportunities will be using big data to provide brands and individuals with more insight.
How do brands, for example, tap into the power of big data to discover and identify interesting changes, important trends and quirky behaviour.
It’s based on the idea that the better insight allows for better decisions, not only about social media but content marketing, e-commerce, etc.
When you think about it, big data has the opportunity to dramatically change the social media landscape. Using big data technology, brands will have valuable information at their fingertips in real-time.
It will mean less guessing and speculating about what’s happening and how the business is being impacted.
For digital marketers and social media leaders, big data will be a big challenge because it will change brands operate, make decisions and interact with consumers.
At the same time, it will be a big opportunity to gain more insight to improve social media operations and carve out a competitive edge.

Best of 2014: Cadbury’s Big Social Bet on Black Forest Chocolate

By Sheldon Levine - December 9th, 2014

As we draw closer to the end of 2014, we thought it would be interesting to take a look back at some of our most popular posts of the year. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting our best posts of 2014 that have been determined from looking at Google Analytics, social shares and a few that our team members have chosen as their favourites.

We’re kicking off our best of 2014 series today with this great post below that highlighted how Cadbury, the infamous chocolate makers,  heard an uprising from their Facebook fans in Australia to bring back a fan favourite flavour that had disappeared. The chocolatiers used social media as a focus group to get to know their fans and what they want better, and then used social media to give it back to them.

The following was originally published on May 12, 2014:

 

img vspace=Brands across the world have probably run into the situation where their Facebook audience has demanded something to the point where they need to act. 

If they didn’t act, it definitely got them thinking.

This isn’t a negative things by any means, it actually illustrates a fanbase’s passion, and how it can lead to solid social media activity. 

Cadbury was monitoring their Facebook page when they realized a high number of requests from fans in Australia for their popular chocolate bar, Black Forest, which hasn’t been available for some time.

This forced them to consider bringing it back as part of a new $7-million campaign geared towards Australia that features TV ads, new packaging and flavours for their  historic product line.

The most vital aspect of the campaign is social media.

Besides the fact it was all prompted by social media, social media will be the platform that launches the integrated campaign. Cadbury is making a huge enormous investment ,and the success will reside in the activity that happens during and after launch.

Cadbury seems to put a lot of trust into sentiment and how social media opens a window into what your fans and customers think and want.

The social media side of the campaign is fairly inventive and intriguing.

Cadbury will assign a personality to each of the 17 flavours. From there, it will create new and specific content. The hope is their fans will be compelled to share and discuss. The quality of the content will be key.

Integrated campaigns are becoming more popular. How many times have you been watching something on TV (an ad or a show) and you are asked to tweet using a hashtag, watch a video, or to go online to give your thoughts.

Cadbury uses Facebook as a vehicle for two-way communication with a foundation of real time market research. The success of this campaign will be determined by their online fans. You can be sure that other brands are watching closely.

Argos Gloriously Chirp Ticats

By Mark Evans - December 5th, 2014

07b33e51-4edf-49a0-ae26-ad5675dfc6af_300Social media is a digital battleground for enemies to meet and exchange barbs. It’s all in good fun and can even make brands and organizations more appealing to users.

Even a generally polite Canadian brand was getting into the fun, when a moment to stick it to an old foe presented itself.

Nothing says good clean fun like the big game which brings out all sorts of characters from opposing teams (even though  those not participating). this was evident in the CFL Grey Cup from last weekend where The Calgary Stampeders defeated the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Once the final score was in, the Tiger-Cats arch-nemesis The Toronto Argonauts wasted no time in taking to Twitter to let them know that they had once again lost the big game.

The tweet was brilliant. It was an image of a ribbon that read “Back to Back Grey Cup Participants”. How much do you love the Argos right about now? Of course, it is not lost on many that the Argos did not make the playoffs. In fact, this became a sticking point.

This started a fun back and forth and fans were happy to join in and take a side. Canadian sports journalists are even taking sides and it seemed to generally favor the Tiger-Cats as opposed to the trash talking Argos.

Fans of each CFL team should continue to keep the fun going, and hopefully help keep it strong through the offseason creating buzz for the 2015 season.

This is one of the best benefits of social media. It can be used to bring enemies together and allow them to assist the other to market and communicate while getting fans excited. For a brand like the CFL utilizing Twitter is a great way to build your brand in a different but positive light.

Please remember to keep it light and fun, and even consider creating the strategy with your competition. When you think about it…why wouldn’t you?

Giving Tuesday Gets Bigger In 2014

By Sheldon Levine - December 4th, 2014

Giving TuesdayOn Tuesday we took a look at some of the social numbers behind the people talking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. But there’s one other important day that has come in to play to help kick off the holiday season in the past few years; Giving Tuesday.

Last year, we wrote about Giving Tuesday on the Marketwired blog, which was only in it’s second year of existence. While 2013 was just the second year that Giving Tuesday existed, it was only the first year we had heard about it. The idea of Giving Tuesday was born from the idea that after Americans have spent a weekend on buying things for themselves and loved ones on Black Friday through Cyber Monday, there should be a day where people can help others, which is also in line with the holiday spirit of giving.

Since last year was only the second year of Giving Tuesday’s existence, we looked at how much spread the idea had got through social media. Well, now that Giving Tuesday has had it’s third year of doing good for others, we thought it would be interesting to use MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to see how it grew in 2014.

In 2013, “Giving Tuesday” or the hashtag “#GivingTuesday” appeared in about 472,000 social conversations across blogs, online news, forums and tweets. This year we saw the number of mentions rise by over 100,000. This year we found Giving Tuesday being talked about in 1,218 blog posts, 7,649 online news articles, 259 forum postings and 570,016 tweets on just December 2nd. Interestingly, most of that jump of 100,000 mentions happened on Twitter as the other three channels we looked at actually dropped.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

Since Twitter was the main driver of conversation this year, we dug a little bit deeper into what happened there. As it turns out, the number of tweets about Giving Tuesday jumped from about 19,000 mentions an hour last year to almost 24,000 mentions an hour this year. Also interesting was that we found who was tweeting about it also changed. Last year women tweeted more about Giving Tuesday than men at 52% to 48%. This year that gap widened though. In 2014 even more women were talking about Giving Tuesday and the gap grew to 54% vs 46%.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Activity Summary

Last year we also found that 74.7% of the Giving Tuesday tweets came from the United States. This year, that number grew to 75.3% of all the tweets. But just because the United States seems to be the most involved in Giving Tuesday doesn’t make them the only ones. When we pulled up our geo-location heat map of where tweets were originating from we can actually see that people from around the world were tweeting and taking part in Giving Tuesday.

Sysomos MAP - Geo Location Heat Map of Tweets

Last year we also looked at how popular the #GivingTuesday hashtag was on Instagram. Last year we found 17,630 pictures tagged with the hashtag. This year though, that number rose to 70,708… which is a fantastic rise for a great event.

Sysomos MAP - Instagram Activity Summary

The best rise in activity that we found this year though was through the sentiment around Giving Tuesday in social channels. Last year 40% of the conversation was positive, while 13% was negative. However, this year, positive sentiment around Giving Tuesday rose to 57% and negative sentiment shrunk to 2%.

Sysomos MAP - Overall Sentiment

We were really happy to see that Giving Tuesday has seen a rise in awareness in the social sphere. We hope that it goes up even more for next year.

We’re curious to know how charities saw a rise on Giving Tuesday though. If you work for or with a charity, please leave us a comment and let us know what you saw happen on Giving Tuesday and how it changed from last year.

Twitter’s Teen Journalists Breaking News

By Mark Evans - December 3rd, 2014

IcVIMZnTwitter is a funny thing when you actually stop and think about it. It’s a content aggregator where news stories of all sizes are broken, discussed and debated.

Twitter (and all social media) delivers breaking news stories and, in the process, become an opinion leader in an open and level playing field.

No one proves this reality more than Jake Wesley, a high school freshman from Missouri. This young baseball fan has become one of the most respected baseball voices for his ability to break stories on Twitter.

Wesley was the first to disclose the Boston Red Sox’s dual signing of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. He has verified anonymous sources, and his tweets are respected by longtime baseball writers like Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

You have to give full marks to Wesley because he has achieved success in a field dominated by more seasoned professionals.

You also can’t disclose Twitter’s role in Wesley’s success, or the success of any non-established journalist able to build a name and brand for themselves.

Days before Wesley broke the signing of two of the biggest free agents in baseball, another young teen, Devon Fink, broke the story of Billy Butler signing with the Oakland Athletics. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirmed the story for Fink.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

These teens are earning kudos by putting in the work, stay active on Twitter, and using a platform that gives them a global platform.

When you think about it, Twitter has broken down the barriers of entry to activities such as journalism. It has allowed for the rise of the independents who want nothing more than to report the news and break stories.

Black Friday by the Social Numbers

By Sheldon Levine - December 2nd, 2014

Black Friday SaleNumbers vary on depending on where you look, but a lot of people seem to think that Black Friday this year didn’t generate the sales numbers that retailers were looking for. In fact, a lot of outlets are claiming that Black Friday sales numbers this year went down when compared to last year.

But sales numbers aside, Black Friday was still event that people were talking about. And a lot of that talk and sharing of sales and deals was happening though social media.

We decided to take a quick look to see just how many conversation were happening about Black Friday this year using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software.

Looking for mentions of “Black Friday” or the “#BlackFriday” hashtag on Friday November 28th, we found over 3.5 million social mentions on just that single day. That was 17,330 blog posts, 31,221 online news articles, 51,741 forum postings and 3,426,440 tweets.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Black Friday

While shopping is sometimes seen as something women prefer to do over men, when we looked a little bit deeper into those Black Friday tweets on Nov. 28th, we actually found that men were tweeting more about it than women by just barely more at 52% vs 48%.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Activity Summary for Black Friday

Now, if you think that 3.5 million conversations about shopping sales in a single day is a lot, you’re probably right. In fact, when we looked at the mentions of Black Friday for the week culminating on the 28th, we actually found that mentions on the day were half of all the mentions. From November 22nd through the 28th the total mentions of Black Friday across social channels was just over 7 million.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for the Week of Black Friday

When we trend those numbers out across the week, we can actually see just how much the mentions of Black Friday rise until the day actually hits. Most of the week before seems to have a few mentions happening each day, but we can really see people starting to prepare and talk about Black Friday on the 27th (which is the American Thanksgiving). But then on the 28th, when Black Friday hits, the numbers just skyrocket.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart for the Week of Black Friday

When we dug deeper into Twitter mentions for the whole week, we found that men and women equaled out in their shares of mentions. What’s more interesting though, is the actual number of tweets that occurred. Even if we minus the number of tweets we showed above that happened on Black Friday (3,426,440) we still have 3.3 million tweets that mentioned Black Friday leading up to the actual day. This is very different than we saw in a post that we did back in 2012 that showed only 1.1 million tweets in the two weeks leading up to Black Friday. That means talk of Black Friday has tripled in those two years.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Activity Summary of the Week of Black Friday

Now, just to be fair, since yesterday was “Cyber Monday,” we thought it would be interesting to also compare the mentions of that to Black Friday. We were really surprised with what we found here.

Many financial publications speculated over the weekend that Black Friday sales weren’t as high this year because people were waiting buy their stuff online instead on Cyber Monday. However, when we looked at how many times “Cyber Monday” or the hashtag “#CyberMonday” was used yesterday we were very surprised. Mentions of Cyber Monday didn’t even hit the 1 million mark yesterday. There was only 7,099 blog posts, 13,065 online news articles, 10,703 forum postings and 806,668 tweets yesterday containing our key terms.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary for Cyber Monday

Now none of these mentions have any real effect on what sales were like, but we were surprised to see the low number of mentions of Cyber Monday yesterday.

What do you think is happening here? Are people done with the big shopping sales day? Or people just not talking about it as much through social media? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Why Do Social Media?

By Mark Evans - December 1st, 2014

I was approached last week by someone working for a large brand that has yet to jump on the social media bandwagon.

The brand, which operates in a regulated business, believes it needs to explore its social media options as a way to stay digitally relevant.

social mediaOne of the key questions I asked after getting a mini-brief was “Why does the brand want to do social media?”

It sounds like a straightforward question, right? But the answer can be complicated and multi-faceted.

For some brands – e.g. Starbucks, Oreo, Einstein Bros. Bagels – social media is a no-brainer. It’s a way to engage with an audience of people who consist of evangelists, fans and loyal customers. These brands use social media to amplify the overall experience by offering different ways to have conversations about their products. In a competition market, social media can be a vibrant and valuable marketing platform driven by consumers.

For other brands (banks, pharmaceuticals, pension funds), social media is a completely different proposition. The rules of engagement are different, the regulatory landscape can be restrictive, and conversations with consumers can be challenging.

For many reasons, it’s easier to stay out of the social media fray. No fuss, no muss, no social media.

But here’s a question these brands probably need to ask themselves: how long can this approach last? The reality is social media isn’t going anywhere, so every brands need to explore how to participate in one way, shape or form. Even it means having a “lite” presence, social media will likely need to be part of their digital portfolios.

For these brands, making their way onto the social media dance floor takes strategic assessment and a nuanced tactical approach. Social media isn’t something they can simply decide to do; it needs to be addressed in a more measured, pragmatic way.

At first, it could simply mean establishing social media policies to set the stage for their eventual leap into a new opportunity.

The next step could be establishing a presence on the social media platforms that make the most sense.

Then, these brands have to decide how they are going to participate. Will they simply share content, or will there be opportunities to engage with other people.

In other words, there will be a lot of steps along the way, and the embrace of social media could be a long process.

That said, it’s probably a better scenario than avoiding social media, which is too big, too ubiquitous and too powerful.

All of Social Media is Talking about…a Podcast?

By Mark Evans - November 28th, 2014

Serial-2Every now and then there’s a piece of rich content that grabs hold of users’ imagination and doesn’t let go. The results are always fun to watch.

Serial Podcast has gotten the attention of listeners, Hollywood and even social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Reddit.

If you haven’t heard of Serial, well you need to read this post then immediately go to serialpodcast.org and give it a listen. Produced by the team behind “This American Life”, it’s an innovative and engrossing digital exercise that proves the value of great content.

Serial unfolds the 1999 non-fiction murder case week by week of Baltimore student, Hae Min Lee, including the investigation and the eventual arrest and conviction of her boyfriend Adnan Syed.

The subreddits dedicated to Serial are incredibly impressive, as is the amount of Facebook groups and Twitter accounts dedicated to exploring the mystery of who killed Hae Min Lee.

It’s a phenomenon that has social media not just talking but jumping into action. Some passionate users have gone to the crime scenes, took photos and posted them on several networks.

It has even started the idea of crowd murder games which utilize social media to solve real-life murder mysteries. How many podcasts or videos can claim this kind of engagement over the last few years?

It’s completely taken over the lives of some people, and it could not have done this without the power of social media. Social media has a history of taking something well crafted and blowing it up to be consumed by the digital masses.

It’s been hard for even Hollywood to overlook Serial’s social popularity. It’s been reported that several offers have been made for the rights to the podcast but the producers have resisted the urge.

Serial might turn out to  be one of the most active and engaging social media examples of the year. It’s definitely not a flash in the pan and further proof that users crave great content.

What Social Media Network Is Near The Tipping Point?

By Mark Evans - November 26th, 2014

tipping-point-pictureFacebook, Instagram and Twitter are social media royalty when it comes to users, activity, engagement and where advertising dollars are spent. There’s no denying their supremacy.

In the last little, we have seen Snapchat enter the market and make a fairly substantial dent. Others social networks have also gotten some attention, which suggests people are open to joining new networks if they are compelling.

This show there is still room in the digital sandbox, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see a few more players enter the ring and rise to become serious competition.

Here’s a few social networks to keep an eye on for 2015. They are already in the market and have some traction but haven’t reached the next level just yet. They are at the tipping point of popularity.:

Shots

Shots has been on the rise and is perfect for our selfie addicted world. It’s a mobile network that lets you to take and share selfies along with commenting and private messaging. There is speculation that Twitter may be interested in buying it. Shots’ success hinges on the selfie phenomenon remaining strong, so it should grow in popularity in the near future.

Whisper

Whisper is popular and has been on the rise for some time. It’s an anonymous social network where users can share their “secrets”. Whisper perfectly plays on the voyeuristic aspect of social media, while giving users an outlet to talk about anything they want under the veil of secrecy. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Whisper take the next step in 2015.

Medium

Medium is a popular social network which has successfully built a community of writers and readers. While it’s credibility and usage is solid, it still needs to become the hub for articles and stories (see Wattpad and what it’s done with serialized stories).

Ello

Ello might be the quickest to reach it’s tipping point, mainly because it’s advertiser free platform that has been the talk of the town for months now. It’s still in public beta but the anti-Facebook might hit very impressive numbers once it goes live to the world. It’s starting point is already quite advanced.

What social networks do you think are on the precipice for 2015?