Autospeak-Straight Talk contains articles covering digital and social media marketing social communities and events marketing

Social Organic Reach Is Trending Towards Zero-How to meet The Challenge

(Posted on May 24, 2014 at 06:31AM by William Cosgrove)
Social networks are maturing and evolving by answering the need to monetize the value they are creating. Brands need to mature and evolve, too.

For years now, Facebook and other social platforms have been encouraging brands to build brand communities of fans and followers, and advocating, with good reason, the value of reaching those fans organically with timely and socially savvy messages in the News Feed.

Fast-forward to 2014. According to a report last week from Social@Ogilvy, organic reach through Facebook is now down by as much as 49 percent, with the average number of fans reached by brand posts hovering around 6 percent - even lower for brands with larger fan bases. And future expectations are more of the same for Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. The result is a challenging landscape for brand marketing on social.

So how should brands be dealing with this?

Organic reach - as defined on Facebook's own site - is no longer guaranteed. But that doesn't mean there aren't hugely powerful, and creative, opportunities for brand marketing on social. Brands need to take a strategic, decisive, and holistic approach to social marketing - and plenty are doing this very successfully.

Because here's the reality: the social networks own their social platforms. Not the brand. Those channels are not traditional "owned" channels. They are "leased" channels, where the audience has to be qualified, targeted, and managed, just as they are everywhere else.

Just as brands had to evolve from their early thinking of the Internet as "free," they're going to have to do the same thing for social. Marketing on social isn't going away. It remains an incredibly powerful platform. But it's evolving, and brands have to evolve, too.

Here are some pointers for how to think about these changes:

Earn Impressions "Through" Fans, Not "at" Fans

Brands should not be relying solely on posting to the News Feed and promoting those posts through paid media. In addition, brands should be giving fans something to do - answer questions, participate in promotions, contribute content through social apps - and deliver those activities in a way that encourages their fans to share their participation to their own network. This creates new earned impressions. Yes, brands will need to promote that initial touch point through media, but each purchased media impression earns more impressions if the social app is designed to maximize sharing.

Leverage Crowdsourced Social Content

Crowdsourcing, and curating, content on social offers a huge value to brands. Brands that call out for content on all social wavelengths - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, etc. - through paid media, can then bring that crowdsourced content together for further browsing and sharing. And bringing all that fantastic content together in an organized way becomes an opportunity to socialize where brands have the most control - on their (fully owned) brand website.

Spread Across All Social Touch Points

It's clear to everyone now that social doesn't begin and end with Facebook. Running cross-social promotions allows brands to cumulate engagement. If a brand gets a 10 percent reach on Facebook, and another 10 percent on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, that adds up to meaningful numbers of cumulative fans and followers who have opted in to engage with the brand.

Find and Engage Evangelists and Influencers

Back when blogging was new (pre-social platform days!), engaging blogger-influencers was a big focus for savvy brand marketers. Well, it's still is. Or should be. Engaging those fans and followers who have influence as brand "ambassadors" will help brands earn new media reach, and works well for brands that foster loyalty and passion, and/or are part of a highly specialized or special-interest community.

Socialize the Corporate Website

Which brings us onto the corporate website. Brands need to bring their corporate websites back to life, and back up to date with social content and social participation. The corporate website is 100 percent owned. So brands should do all they can to reflect the energy and enthusiasm - and content - from the social world on their corporate website.

Combine Social With Lead Generation

There are all kinds of ways through social apps and social participation to have fans and followers opt in to connect directly with the brand. Asking for emails sounds very retro, but it works. It allows brands to pull leads into a CRM system, where they can then be encouraged and incentivized to head over to their owned world - the corporate website.

Bottom line: The sky isn't falling because social platforms are answering the need to monetize the incredible value they are creating by building networks of engaged, connected consumers. Social is maturing and evolving, and brands will do the same, too.

By Roger Katz is the CEO and founder of Friend2Friend

Everything You Know About Social Is Wrong (Statistically Speaking)

(Posted on May 20, 2014 at 04:56AM by William Cosgrove)
There are a lot of disparate social media statistics out there. Facebook grows while declining. Google+ is bigger than Twitter except it’s not. Pinterest is the best social selling platform… unless Instagram is. Snapchat is the fastest growing social network… unless it’s Tumblr.

Many people want to bombard you with social media statistics that support their opinions and agendas, and you may be persuaded by their confidence. But they’re almost certainly wrong.
The reason that there is so much conflicting data isn’t that there is so much variation in what people are doing. A lot of the misinformation about social media is generated (deliberately or not) by poor statistical practice.

What I want to do in this post is talk about some of the common statistical errors that cause people to draw inaccurate conclusions about who, what, why, where and how people are using social media.

Sample PopulationThe premise of most social media statistics is to make a generalized statement about the behavior of an entire population of users. It may surprise you to understand that statistical analysis often isn’t the cause of poor statistics, it’s often that a sample population isn’t representative of the general population.

A good example of this is Stephen Wolfram’s Facebook research from last year. It’s a fascinating study of Facebook connections, but it’s drawn from a population of Wolfram Alpha users (Wolfram Alpha is a computational search engine) who volunteered their Facebook data. To say that a bunch of people using a computational search engine are representative of the all social media users is in all likelihood wrong. The fact that people volunteered their data is another source of bias that I’ll touch on when I discuss sampling method.

Another good example of a non-representative population are IBM’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday reports. They are a well-known bellwether of online customer sentiment in the holiday shopping season, yet their data is drawn from 800 retail sites that use their software.
I mention the Wolfram study and the IBM studies because I draw from them frequently. These clearly are not representative studies because their sample population is different than the general population they want to represent. Yet, I make some assumptions about the populations and draw conclusions anyhow. Specifically, I assume that the Wolfram Facebook user is likely a less-engaged user than a typical Facebook user and conclude that the ties that are described in the study are at least accurate. I assume that the IBM software is used so diversely that there may be some applicability of the data to similar verticals.

I could be entirely wrong about the assumptions I make about these studies. And these are the class of social media studies (aside from the research by Pew Research Internet Project, which is oftentimes randomized and controlled). The reason there is inherent bias in so much research about social media is that the cost to do a statistically significant study that is randomized and representative is expensive.

Sampling methodSampling error is a huge impediment to the accuracy of all studies. If people volunteer information, that causes sampling bias. If you only ask a certain subset of a population, that causes sampling bias. If you use weighted results and make poor assumptions, this causes sample bias. If a statistician deliberately decides who gets asked questions, this causes sampling bias.

This is probably most notably seen in Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight political polls which interpret the sampling bias of individual polls, and weight them to create a more accurate meta-analysis of political polls.

The gold standard for research is the double-blind, randomized, controlled study. Double-blind means that neither the researcher or subject knows ahead of time who gets what treatment (or question). Randomized means that anyone (in a proper representative population) could be chosen, and controlled meaning that the study is set up in a way to isolate variables to determine causation.

Here’s what you need to know about this: nobody studying social media can afford to do this. If they did, they would tell you (BIG TIME). Between sample population and sampling method, nearly every study about social media is inaccurate to some degree.

The jump to conclusions boardOnce in awhile I’ll have a person controvert something that I say about social media by saying that “correlation is not causation.” It’s a concept introduced in statistics 101 to explain that because something happens concurrent to something else doesn’t mean one is causing another. For instance, there’s a strong correlation between purchase of swimsuits and sunburns. Neither causes the other, in fact nicer weather probably causes both.

The ironic thing about social media zealots arguing that correlation isn’t causation is that many social media studies don’t even show correlation. We established that somewhat above, but let’s take it a step further:

Many studies show raw percentages of observed events without understanding the size of the sample or the calculated margin of error. Statistical confidence intervals (the most common being 90 percent, 95 percent and 99 percent) can communicate how likely it is that the same research would be duplicated if done again. Of course you probably don’t hear too much about confidence levels with most social media studies, because they don’t meet any threshold of accuracy (and because poor data in makes the point moot anyhow).
Drug research is a good example of causation, where a drug researcher must show positive outcomes with 95 percent confidence before it can be approved for consumer use. That doesn’t mean that 95 percent of people have positive outcomes, just that it is probable that positive outcomes are caused by the drug. And the data has to be good. It’s expensive.

Correlation on the other hand is oftentimes statistically determined by a correlation coefficient, which is a number between -1 and 1 that communicates how likely two events happen concurrently (correlate). -1 shows negative correlation (me playing drums would correlate negatively with my wife’s mood for example), 1 shows positive correlation (me doing dishes would correlate positively with my wife’s mood for example), and o shows no correlation (me changing a diaper has no correlation with the Earth’s rotation).

Correlation coefficients are most notably used in Searchmetrics and‘s annual/bi-annual ranking factor research. They assess different SEO variables to determine what aspects of a web page make for higher search rankings (specifically with Google). They use correlation coefficients of .30 and below to determine what feeds Google. Since you understand that .3 is very weak correlation you might wonder whether this data is useful at all and it is, but it can lead to some very bad conclusions.

Since any unrelated event (worldwide meat loaf consumption) might show weak correlation to search engine rankings, it may give some false positives. Facebook shares for example show relatively strong correlation to search results even though Google can’t index most of Facebook. And once again, this is one of the best examples of correlation with social media. Outside of these analyses, you’ll rarely see correlation coefficients described.

Point being that while it’s true that correlation doesn’t imply causation, what some people think is correlation isn’t.

Mean versus medianSeven statisticians are sitting alone in a bar. Their net worth with sizable college debt is $200,000. Bill Gates strolls into the bar and the mean net worth of all of the people in the bar is about $7 billion. The median net worth is still $200K. This is the difference between mean and median. Median is the midpoint of all values, mean is the average of all values.

You’ll see this oftentimes when it comes to the numbers of followers/Fans or time on site. Using a mean instead of a median is a way to artificially inflate a statistic by incorporating the biggest outliers (superusers as an example) into the aggregate.

When I see “average” or “mean” I always make the assumption that the statistic is less fantastic than it purports to be.

Is the metric given what you really want to know?Most of the big social networks tout a statistic called “monthly average users (MAU).” To be included in this group, a person must log in at least one time in a 30-day window. How important is that statistic? Not at all.

People pay their phone bill once every month. It doesn’t tell you how they pay it, how much they pay or who they pay. Point being, the easiest metrics to gather are also the most useless. Because statistical analysis is expensive to do, most people want to give the qualitative equivalent of MAU. Marketers need to be smart about what statistics are relevant to them and statistics are just noise.

There is a special place in hell for infographicsInfographics are immensely popular, and many are extraordinarily inaccurate. A good way to sum up what’s wrong with social media statistics is to talk about the collection of data in infographics, because the inaccuracy of an amalgamation of bad statistics multiplies how poorly informed a user might be.

Say an infographic has five data points about a web property.

  • Point one shows an Alexa or Quantcast rating which is biased in its sample population.
  • Point two shows a statistic from Facebook showing the reach of my Facebook page based upon monthly average users.
  • Point three shows a demographic from Pew generalized about all websites.
  • Point four shows a study about my vertical, which is derived from a population of users of a prticular e-commerce platform.
  • Point five shows an opinion poll by people who volunteered their opinion using a Sodahead widget.
None of these points gives you a great idea of who, what, when, where, why or how people are using this property, and in aggregate they collectively obscure your insight even further. And it’s probably written with a very specific point of view relative to who constructed it, which is even more dangerous because bad statistics regularly are cherry-picked to give specific narratives about products and services.

What I wanted to point out in this piece is that there is inaccuracy in nearly every statistic that you read and see about social media. It’s important for marketers to understand this and to vet these statistics and studies before accepting them as truth. Infographics in particular have a specific agenda and a tendency to mash bad data together to make it worse.

Jim Dougherty is an expert on social media and technology who blogs at Leaders WestFor more marketing advice from Jim, click here.

Image: Jan Willem-ReusinkJohn LesterKathleen Deggelman (Creative Commons)

Why Most Social Media Strategies Fail

(Posted on May 12, 2014 at 04:15AM by William Cosgrove)
You do know that social media is important for your success online, right? Of course you do. It’s the 21st Century and pretty much everyone has some sort of social media account. Well, at least 73% of adults do. But just because you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest doesn’t guarantee success. Even if you have a decent amount of fans, likes, or followers, it doesn’t mean that your social media strategy is working. If you’re not generating conversations or new subscribers, or making any money, then whatever you’re doing has failed.

Establishing a social media strategy is more than just posting an update informing people that a new product or service is on sale. It’s more than just sharing a piece of relevant information. A social media strategy is a success when you are able to engage and interact with your target audience.
Social Media & Small Business (Photo credit: deanmeyersnet)

If that’s simple, then why do so many social strategies fail? Chances are that they’ve committed one of the following mistakes. But, don’t worry. These are mistakes that should be easy to correct.

Values Don’t Match

You’ve obviously created a list of core values for your business. If not, how else can you explain to others the purpose of your business? Because you have already established a mission statement, goals, deadlines, and a brand image, setting up a social media strategy should fall into place. At least in this area.

Everything that you do, or want to accomplish, on social media should be based on the values of your business. This not only guides your content and business objectives on social media outlets, but it can also generate some buzz about your brand, since you’ve also already identified your target audience and are aware of their wants and needs.

So, if you open a restaurant that serves only organic items, explain your reasons for opening up that business to potential customers. You’re not doing this because it’s a trendy business right now. You’re doing this because people aren’t eating healthy and you want to change that, at least in your neck of the woods. Share content that explains why organic food is healthy for locals and what your menu has to offer your neighbors.

Not Consistent

What’s the point in creating something awesome if no one is going to check it out?

A social media campaign demands consistency. We’re not just talking about quality and useful information for your audience, either. We’re talking about frequently sharing that valuable content. But, how much and when do you update statuses?

Unfortunately, there’s no correct answer here. It depends on your business and customers. This is where a little bit of research can come in handy, like searching for important people in a social network’s search tool. You could also use a tool like SocialBro or to find out some more information on your audience, like what topics are trending

You also want to know when do they go on social media outlets. For example, you could send out about 14 tweets per day, from midnight to 10pm. They just have to be spread out during the day so that your followers’ accounts aren’t flooded. The reason why you want to post throughout the day is in case if you have a global audience, which is why you could schedule posts at 2 a.m.

To make sure that you remain consistent, try using a tool that schedules and hosts all of your accounts in one place, like HootSuiteBuffer, or SproutSocial. I personally like Buffer.  And it wouldn’t hurt to create an editorial calendar, which you can do on a program like Excel. An editorial calendar keeps you organized and directed since it contains a deadline, target keywords, the format of the content, call to action, and status. And it has the ability to double your ROI.

Misunderstanding How Social Media Really Works

Here’s a common mistake: not understanding that all social media outlets are different. For example, Facebook is great because it’s the most frequently used social media service and it’s the most trustworthy. But, it may not fit your business.

Prominent social media strategist Bob Mangat says, “I think social media is an extremely effective tool, but a lot of people who say it doesn’t work, I think, are not using it right. People are not focused on where their market is. Before starting anything online, you need to have a strategy down pat to go after your target market. By spending time identifying target audience, crafting a message, and choosing the correct outlet, you can save a lot of time, energy, and frustration by doing it this way. A lot of people who fail using social media, I bet, are not spending enough time on strategy.”

Going back to the organic restaurant example, that business should focus on a more image-based platform like Instagram or Pinterest because that’s where foodies go to share and engage. But, a law firm wouldn’t really benefit from being on Pinterest. That audience isn’t there because they don’t want to look at images of a law office; they want information on how they can be helped. A final example would be not targeting baby boomers on social media, despite the fact that they’re the fastest growing group on social media.
Social Media apps (Photo credit: Jason A. Howie)

Again, it’s discovering who your audience is and where they spend most of their time. Doing this ahead of time will determine where you should focus your social media efforts. And it doesn’t take much time either. You could begin by checking out stats, like from Pew Research, that break down the demographics of each social network. Or, simply ask current customers. Just spend the extra time in understanding which network is most effective in reaching your audience.

Not Providing Anything Different

Content. Content. Content. That’s all you keep hearing about when it comes to a social media strategy. And that’s because it’s a major part of your campaign. But, if everyone else is creating and sharing content, why should people like, share, or comment on your content if it’s the same as everyone else’s?

When coming up with ideas, try and develop ones that are unique. At the very least, your ideas should be tailored to your audience. What we mean by that is putting a spin on your particular content. For example, that organic restaurant we’ve kept talking about wants to create an article like “The 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Eating Organic Food.” Sure, that gets to the point and works for that business, but it’s been done many times before. Instead, narrow that topic down to something like “The 10 Reasons New Yorkers Should Eat Organic Food”. It’s the same idea, but it now focuses on the people where the restaurant is actually located. This is more beneficial than paying someone to write or create content that has already been done hundreds, even thousands, of times before.

If you need some ideas, we suggest that you read this article from Search Engine Journal for blog ideas.

Shouting, Not Listening

While you’re on social media to push or promote a product or service, you can’t do that all of the time. People will tune you out if all you’re doing is throwing out sales pitches. Why? Because that’s not the point of social media. It’s about conversations and engagement.
Two people in a heated argument about religion when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. Click the audio button found above and to the left to listen to them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Instead of just shouting at your audience, take the time to actually listen to them. This could be as easy as asking for feedback or sharing their thoughts on a piece of content that you shared. When you actually listen to your audience on social media, you’ll get a better understanding of what they liked and disliked, as well as the information that they would like to see.

When you understand your audience, you can produce content that they would actually want to read and share. That’s a better option than wasting resources on content that your audience doesn’t respond to.

Lack of Monitoring and Measuring

What all of the previous example boil down to, however, is monitoring and measuring your social media outlets. Even if you have identified your audience and the right network to deliver your message, you still need to keep tabs on how effective your content has been.

For example, you realize that Facebook is the best network for your brand. But, how well is your Facebook campaign doing? How many likes or shares is your content receiving? Are people leaving comments? Are you making any money or new subscribers because of your awesome Facebook content? These are important questions that need to be answered. If not, you’re continuing to create and promote content that isn’t triggering a response from your audience. And that’s just a waste of time and money.

The best way to discover this information is through the use of tools like HootSuiteKloutSocial MentionTwitter AnalyticsFacebook Insights or Keyhole. Not only will these tools measure your social media success, but they will also increase your ROI. And did we mention that they are all free?

By John Rampton


(Posted on Apr 30, 2014 at 04:30AM by William Cosgrove)
Socialcasting is not a new phenomenon but new technologies are providing more effective ways in which to capitalize on it. Social Casting has developed out of several technology trends including:

*instant messaging
*Social networking
*Blogging and Video Sharing

All combining stream information and photos in “Real Time” across the internet and social channels.

Socialcasting is a movement in online and onsite generated content that combines traditional media content, social networking, and interactive community to create a unique experience for viewers on the internet.

Some have called socialcasting where Web 2.0 meets TV 2.0, offering new ways for video content to be experienced and shared by viewers in an online community.

A Web 2.0 site or a social community allow users to interact and communicate with each other as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where people are limited to the passive viewing of content.

This Social integration is the process of linking information--whether in blogs, forums or other networking options to the Internet. Search engines and communities are instantly alerted to the presence of a particular item. This allows users to quickly find what they need when they need it.

More and more companies are creating onsite social communities for their customers in which to interact. Companies can read the needs and concerns of their customers in new ways and can benefit from the relevant content being generated in the community via comments and articles that can be integrated into their Digital marketing initiatives.

Socialcasting is also seeing a lot of success in “real time events marketing.” On site events are seeing a much greater impact and reaching a much larger audience by going beyond the physical location and traditional media by simultaneously broadcasting the event in real time over the internet and through social channels. Through the real time streaming of photos and video, texting, blogging and social networking many people are engaged which causes the event to virtually feed on itself before, during and after the event.

The use of Socialcasting in digital marketing has increased in popularity but has been being used very successfully for many years. Sporting events of all kinds have been big beneficiaries of socialcasting using the internet and is now being utilized more and more for conferences and onsite promotions with great success.

Socialcasting in its many forms can boost page ranking and drive traffic in ways that no other form of media can. This can positively impact your overall marketing efforts and is something that any business can benefit from. Technology is constantly providing us with new and creative ways of marketing. Socialcasting is a product of all this new technology and is another way of driving social content to get help get your message out, create attention and drive traffic.

William Cosgrove

Introducing “MyPhotoRep” Testimonial And Photo In One

(Posted on Apr 27, 2014 at 06:15AM by William Cosgrove)
MyPhotoRep, is the first automated photo and text app of its kind developed by award winning OneBigBroadcast’s innovative technology to:

*Augment your reputation management

*Raise social awareness,

*Increase SEO rankings

*Encourage employee participation

*Solidify your brand through positive feedback and referrals from satisfied customers.

* Instantly share MyPhotoRep on your social channels and Testimonial page on your website with our fully integrated plugin.

The happiest time in the buyers experience is:

*The day they pick up their new or preowned vehicle

*Buy a home

*Eat that great meal

*Pick up that new product or:

*Get that great service.

We have made it easy to capture that moment with a photo and text statement from the customer as to why they purchased from your business. There are also many times when a customer is more than satisfied with the prompt and friendly service they recieved.

You no longer need to let these invaluable marketing opportunities slip by. Capture these happy moments on any mobile device as they happen and share them instantly on your Testimonial Page, with a blog and across your's and your sales or service representative's social channels.

These pictures and statements from satisfied customers will do more for your reputation and social awareness than anything that is available to you today and will also help with your search rankings. Your employees will also benefit from sharing these treasured moments on their social channels.

Plus, You can capture those funny or treasured moments that occur during business hours and share them with your current and potential customers to show them that you are people to, transparent and customer centric.

Search Engine Watch reports that 85 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses. Dimensional Research reports that 90 percent of consumers say that positive online reviews had a direct impact on their buying decision.

Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. 20 Marketing Trends and Predictions to Consider for 2014 (Social Times)

55% of young shoppers said that a recommendation from a friend is one of the strongest influencers in getting them to try a new brand. 47% consider brand reputation to be almost as important.

60% of Millennials said that social advertising has the most influence over them in how they perceive a brand and a brand’s value and Hispanics represent the youngest segment of the population here in the US. The Millennial tech-savvy and fast-paced crowd has now surpassed Baby Boomers spending $600 billion a year compared to Baby Boomer’s $400 Billion

The MyPhotoRep will allow you to easily attract customers, build a brand around your company, and ultimately drive more traffic to your website and convert more leads. 

MyPhotoRep is also a great contest app.

How many products have you invested in that produce invaluable guaranteed benefits from day one, do not need to be proven and take no time to implement.

Finish the year on a positive and productive note. It may be the best investment you make this year.

Call me today at 717-889-7030 or email me to set up a demo of this versatile application.

William Cosgrove

The best social media campaigns from auto brands

(Posted on Apr 24, 2014 at 03:52AM by William Cosgrove)
Most brands would kill for the mega marketing dollars behind even the smallest of automotive brands. So it's no surprise that some of the slickest and most luxurious ad campaigns of all time come out of the car industry. Auto brands consistently produce the most immersive, technologically sophisticated experiences in marketing. (Have you seen Lincoln's "Hello Again" interactive music experience featuring Beck? My word.)
That said, while you'll often find auto brands prominent on top 10 commercial lists for any given time period -- and they regularly clean up at annual marketing awards shows -- they're not always at the forefront when it comes to social media. Some of the coolest automotive campaigns are actually severely lacking in the "shareability" realm. It's not all that surprising. The car sales process tends to be more of a one-on-one conversation between dealers and consumers than it is in other industries. But more and more, auto brands are realizing that any great ad or campaign can be even better when given the proper legs in a social setting.

Let's take a look at some of best recent social media initiatives coming out of the auto industry. What would you add?

Dodge Dart Registry

Cars are expensive. We all know this. That's why the notion of giving or receiving a car as a gift is an increasingly absurd extravagance reserved for trust fund kids and Jay Leno.

Until the Dodge Dart Registry, that is. The sheer simplicity of the concept, produced by Wieden+Kennedy, is what makes it brilliant. Can't afford a car? Crowd-fund a 2013 Dodge Dart from your family and friends. It worked just like any gift registry, except that instead of registering for throw pillows and a Kitchen-Aid mixer, you registered for a Dodge Dart, customized to your specifications. Friends and family could then sponsor parts of the car for you, and once you hit your fundraising goal, you headed to the dealership to pick up your new car.

Citroën's C1 Connexion

It doesn't get more social than letting consumers design your brand's next car. But that's exactly what Citroën did (with help from partner Brandwidth). Behold: The world's first crowdsourced car.

As Econsultancy pointed out,there was definite potential for back-firing hilarity with this move. Sometimes all it takes is a well-orchestrated group of pranksters to help your company roll out something akin to "The Homer" (the car famously and disastrously designed by "Average Joe" Homer J. Simpson). But, in fact, the end result doesn't look too shabby, and the initiative drummed up a whole lot of buzz, 24,000 submissions -- and most importantly some sales.
Nissan's "Improv-tastic Road Show"

Automotive marketing is often sexy, but it's rarely funny. (Humor just isn't the first voice to come to mind when trying to peddle a $30,000 piece of machinery with which a driver will trust his very life.) So, if an automotive brand decides to try to elicit a few laughs, it helps to call in the experts.

That's what Nissan did with its Pathfinder's "Improv-tastic Road Show." The automaker partnered with improv troupe Second City in an Old-Spice-esque content crowdsourcing. Over the course of 12 hours, the teams took suggestions from fans related to their favorite musical genres and what they would bring on a road trip. Those suggestions manifested in 50 quickly produced music videos that, while entertaining, also extolled the virtues of the new Pathfinder. Ultimately, in addition to driving nearly 150,000 total video views, the campaign also generated significant Facebook fandom and interest in more information on the new model.

Ford puts a Mustang on the Empire State Building (twice)

If there's one thing the internet loves, it's a good stunt. If it loves two things, it's a good stunt and nostalgia. So, you won't be surprised to discover that people on social media are total suckers for a nostalgic stunt.

OK, OK. I don't know if "nostalgic stunts" were a thing. But they are now, thanks to Ford. Back in 1965, Ford's "Operation Mustang" put a '66 Mustang on the Empire State Building by disassembling the vehicle, lifting the pieces to the roof via the elevators, and then reassembling the car on the 86th floor observation deck. Of course, that stunt was 50 years ago, and no one probably remembered it. That is, until the brand decided to do it again for the Mustang's 50th anniversary. At the time of this writing (March 30), the 2015 Mustang was set to reappear on the observation deck on April 16 and 17. But the buzz on social media and in traditional media outlets was already running wild.

   By  Drew Hubbard

"Car on the road with motion blur background" image via Shutterstock.

Tech Savvy Millenials Take Over Spending From Boomers

(Posted on Apr 22, 2014 at 04:33AM by William Cosgrove)
For marketers, Millennials are the most important generation to come along in the last 100 years, according to a recent Adroit Digital study. This group of young adults is the largest generation by number in US history. Millennials number more than 80 million, a population larger than the Baby Boomers, and it outnumbers Gen X almost 3:1. Millennials came of age in the wake of massive advancements in technology, unparalleled communication access, and media exposure that allowed people to spread information faster to a wider, more diverse audience than in any generation before them.

As Baby Boomers move closer to retirement, they will take with them close to $400 billion in annual spending. Retailers are scrambling to secure the loyalty of the Millennial tech-savvy and fast-paced crowd, which spends $600 billion a year.

By 2030, Millennials will outnumber non-Millennials. In addition to growing up as digital natives, Millennials entered college in the face of the largest recession since the Great Depression. Many of those who completed their college education are accompanied by massive student loan debt, and they also entered college knowing a bleak job market faced them. They also see things differently because they are culturally different. Millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse American generation ever, with over 20% of the population now identifying as Hispanic and 13% as African American.

When asked about how they think about brands compared to how their parents think about them, and how brands can gain their future loyalty, 64% of Millennials are more brand-loyal or as brand-loyal as their parents. 24% consider themselves to be more brand-loyal than their parents. Rest assured, says the report, this generation demonstrates strong brand loyalty.

To gain insight into how Millennials view brands and their thoughts on brand loyalty, 60% of Millennials said that social advertising has the most influence over them in how they perceive a brand and a brand’s value. Traditional media, outside of TV, fell flat. In the realm of influence, radio, billboards (OOH), and magazines finished last with mobile and online, both display and video, comfortably in the center.

Key findings in the report show that:

  • 39% of all respondents think that brands that don’t advertise through mobile channels, smartphones, and tablets are outdated and undesirable.
  • 32% of those surveyed said social advertising lends the most credibility to influencing their brand decisions, compared to 35% who indicated TV as the most influential advertising channel.
  • 26% of Millennial respondents said social is the most likely channel to introduce a new product that they will consider for trial.
  • 77% of the Millennials surveyed said they are evaluating brands on a different set of criteria than their parents. Millennials may be brand-loyal, and many use several of the same products their parents are loyal to, but they’ll be evaluating them against a new yardstick.
  • 55% of young shoppers said that a recommendation from a friend is one of the strongest influencers in getting them to try a new brand. 47% consider brand reputation to be almost as important. Product quality ranks fourth at 35%, while price has the most sway at 62%.
  • 36% of Millennials believe digital advertising is the most effective method of influencing their brand decisions, with traditional advertising as a standalone showing markedly less influence at 19%.
  • 52% of Millennials want brands that are willing to change based on consumer opinion and feedback to maintain future relevance. 44% want to have open dialogue with brands through social channels, and 38% want brands to be more about the consumer and less about the brand.
  • 38% of Millennials will switch brands if a company is found to have bad business practices. Outside of financial factors, a business found to have bad business practices is the number one reason that Millennials will switch brands.
43% of respondents indicated they use many of the same brands as their parents, but not all the same brands. There are a few who think Mother knows best. 20% of respondents said they use and are brand-loyal to the same brands as their parents. A larger percentage of men than women think Mother knows best: 27% of men compared to 12% of women fall into the above category of loyalty.

  • I'm brand loyal and use the same brands as my parents   20%
  • I use many of the same brands my parents use, but not all   43%
  • I use a few of the same brands as my parents   26%
  • I use different brands than my parents   11%
Younger Millennials, 18–25, are closer to Mother’s apron strings, with 72% indicating they use or are loyal to all or many of the brands their parents use, compared to 56% of older Millennials aged 26–33. 

Good news for marketers, says the report. 64% of Millennials surveyed feel the same level of brand loyalty or greater brand loyalty than their Baby Boom or Gen X parents. 24% fall into the category of feeling more brand-loyal than their parents.

  • Millennial men feel they are more brand-loyal than their parents compared to Millennial women, 30% and 17%, respectively.
  • As Millennials age, their feeling of brand loyalty compared to their parents drops considerably, with 23% of 18–25 year-olds and 37% of those aged 26–33 indicating they are less brand-loyal than their parents.
For brands’ continued success, securing the loyalty of the Millennial audience in the next ten years will create a tremendous upside in the future lifetime value of this customer set, opines the report.

39% of Millennials consider a brand to be undesirable and outdated if it lacks a mobile ad presence, a large enough that brands and agencies can’t ignore it, says the report. There is a significant difference in this sentiment between men and women, as well as between younger Millennials compared to their elder counterparts. More men than women feel mobile is modern: 50% of male respondents compared to 27% of female respondents. And, digital natives, those aged 18–25, see mobile as modern compared to older Millennials aged 26–33, who didn’t spend their formative years with mobile phones and the Internet at their fingertips: 50% compared to 32%, respectively

If agencies and brands want to hold sway over the millennial audience, says the report, TV is the champ, but social is quickly coming up on its heels. Those who spent their youth in front of the TV and not the Internet or game console say TV is their primary influencer in perceiving brand value. 73% of 26–33 year-olds, compared to 66% of 18–25 year-olds, consider TV to be their biggest influencer when it comes to brand value.

For brands prospecting new customers, TV and social will pave the way with Millennials: 29% and 26% indicated TV and social, respectively, as the media most likely to introduce them to a new product for trial. Both men and women indicated social and online display as their largest influencers beyond TV. Women are 1.5 times more likely than men to discover a new product for trial through social media exposure or advertising—31% compared to 21% of men.

When asked if Millennials chose brands on a different set of criteria from that used by their parents, the majority, 77%, indicated yes. When were asked which criteria they use to select a new brand for trial, quality was fourth on the list, with 35% of respondents. It was preceded by brand reputation at 47% and recommendation of a friend at 55%. The most important criterion to a Millennial is value and/or price, with 62%.

The big standout difference between men and women in their selection criteria is exposure to a brand through traditional advertising (TV, radio, magazines). Women are almost 2.5 times more likely than men to use traditional advertising in their brand selection criteria, 36% compared to 15%.

The criteria for selecting a new brand for trial, the list ranked by % of respondents is:

  • Value/price   62%
  • Recommended by friend   55
  • Brand reputation   47
  • Quality   35
  • Brand exposure through social media   29
  • Eco-friendly brands   28
  • Recommended by parent   25
  • Entertaining ad campaigns   23
  • Prestige/social perception   20
  • Established brands that instill trust   20
  • Brand exposure through traditional advertising   19
The key to brand loyalty is just that. What causes you and other people your age to switch brands, asks the study.

  • 56% of Millennials would change brands when they experience a change in finances, as  consumers have to evaluate their current brands and their associated costs and value
  • 41% of Millennials would change brands if their current brand increased in price
  • The other top three reasons that Millennials would change brands are a recommendation from a friend, at 38%; if their current brand is found to have bad business practices, at 32%; and if something newer and shinier comes along, at 37%
  • Women on average are more likely than men to change brands on several counts: something newer, 45% compared to 35%; a brand found to have bad business practices, 36% compared to 28%; and an eco-friendly competitor, 35% compared to 25%.
Outside of the constraints of financially driven motives, concludes the report, brands courting Millennials should adhere to a few ideas: keep people talking about your brand, make sure you’re a good corporate citizen, and keep your products and brand fresh and exciting so consumers aren’t tempted away by the latest new product.

Center for Media Research

For more information, please visit AdroitDigital here to access the  complete PDF file.

The State of Social Advertising 2014

(Posted on Apr 18, 2014 at 03:52AM by William Cosgrove)
Socialbakers surveyed over 500 marketing professionals, spanning 82 countries and 20 industries to better understand where social media is heading in 2014. The State of Social Marketing, Part One, concerned the priorities and practices of marketers. Part Two defines the state of social media advertising, from how Fortune 500 companies operate with no social advertising budget to why Twitter struggles to attract advertisers.

Read Part One: The State of Social Marketing

Supporting organic reach with paid advertising is the new normal in social media marketing. No matter how targeted or engaging your content is, the fact remains, the social party is crowded and you have to pay for a soapbox. But 14% of companies with more than 5,000 employees reported a $0 social ad budget for 2014. Their content stands alone to fight the noise and competition increasingly present in users’ News Feeds, both from personal connections and competing brands.

However, most companies who know how valuable a well-optimized social strategy can be understand that social advertising is a must. Furthermore, it’s money well spent for brands who optimize and measure their social ad performance.
It’s not shocking that marketers say News Feed (native) ads are more effective than other placement options. But when you look closely at specified News Feed placements (desktop News Feed vs mobile News Feed vs desktop/mobile News Feed) it becomes clear that marketers aren’t able to distinguish between the three placement types. This points to the fact that marketers are still evolving and learning to fully leverage improved ad targeting provided by leading social networks. The majority have yet to discover the benefit of creating mobile specific content and CTAs.

However, if we compare similar data from a survey conducted in January 2013, we can see that marketers are getting smarter. Then, 81% of Facebook ads used “Facebook All” placement. As of December 2013, that number has been reduced to 42% and News Feed ads lead the way for effective social advertising by a landslide. Right-hand side ads were so 2009.
The fact that brands are not flocking to Twitter’s adver­tising platform may not speak directly to the platforms’ ability to offer something of value, but rather, to marketers’ inability to effectively adapt to this new form of social advertising.

Twitter launched promoted posts and promoted tweets in March 2012 to a select number of small business and has cautiously expanded this select group to include beverages, athletic apparel, and even a certain Commander-in-chief. Despite Twitter advertisings’ unique appeal, advanced targeting, and proven ROI for a number of brands and verticals, most brands have been quicker to adapt to social advertising on LinkedIn, YouTube, and the Mother of Platform Monetization, Facebook.
13.5: that’s the average number of social media pages managed by marketers in our survey. That’s more than 13 different pages (potentially of various countries, languages, and products) that all need to publish and promote content at the right time, to the right audience. But even so, the majority of marketers replied that they manage their social advertising via native platforms!

While many social networks, such as Facebook, have made leaps and bounds to improve their advertising platforms, this approach does not provide any efficiencies for managing multiple pages across multiple social networks. Using a 3rd party application for social advertising simplifies the experience giving marketers more time to do what they do best – create amazing and engaging content for their audience.
One might conclude that along with company growth and expanded resources, something like social media – a function so close to the heart and soul of brand’s identity – would be reigned-in and managed in-house. This data, however, paints a different picture of social media outsourcing: the bigger the company, the more social media work is outsourced. But if you take a closer look at the data, something changes when it comes to post boosting. When compared to ad management and performance reporting, many brands that prefer to outsource social marketing elements chose to keep post boosting in-house. Perhaps this speaks to the holistic approach of boosting “good” content. When marketers see something going well, they know it, and want to support it with ad spend immediately. Did you know there’s a tool that does this for you?

What Do You Think?What do you think about the State of Social Marketing 2014? Does this reflect your own social marketing practices? Let us know here in the comments, on Twitter, or Facebook. We’d love to hear your feedback.

Stay involved in the ever-changing conversation around social media and join us at Engage London 2014. A social media event for marketers, by marketers. Speakers include Beth Foster, Social Strategist at Google, and Robertjan Groenveld, Social Media Hub Manager at KLM. Early bird registration ends March 31st. We hope to see you there!

Who Did We Ask? We surveyed over 500 marketing professionals for a number of industries including Education (13%), E-commerce (9%), Software (9%), Travel (9%), Nonprofit (9%), and Retail (7%). Because social media marketing is not exclusive to large companies, like many above the line communications are, we asked start-ups and fortune 500 companies a­like.

Carly Guglielmelli, Social Media Manager

Social media can play a role in Business process management

(Posted on Apr 1, 2014 at 05:45AM by William Cosgrove)
Today, organizations need to be able to execute at the pace of global change. Those that adapt to trends before their competitors can create a defensible advantage. But firms may not be able to do this unless they have access

to real-time market data and can rapidly align their organizations to the new priorities. Too often, legacy processes prevent companies from having that agility.

Fortunately, social media offers firms a chance to strengthen the communications supporting process improvement. Leading organizations are already using the power of social media to shape their business process management, or BPM, agendas.

Although the use of social media in BPM may still be in its infancy, its potential for increasing the agility of business processes is immense.

Social tools can make the ‘’process of process management’’ much more nimble by delivering information about needed improvements.

If, for example, there is a quality issue in goods received, immediate online communication between customer and supplier can help the parties address the problem and improve the process.

Social media can also be an excellent tool for bridging the gap between external networking and internal integration.

 For example, an organization’s information technology department can use social media to communicate with the engineering division as it works on new products, often creating a tighter feedback loop between the two departments than existed previously.

Transparency has long been an ingredient of the success of process-driven organizations.

Social media can make transparency easier, gathering and disseminating the feedback that improves existing processes and creates new ones.

Companies can use community-building software or blogs to solicit input from stakeholders in order to gather information that can be used to improve internal- or external-facing processes.

This use of digital channels can become part of the process of process management.

Our research, published in last year’s “Value-Driven Business Process Management,” indicates that fewer than 20 percent of processes truly differentiate a company in the eyes of its customers.

Social BPM can identify and validate those processes that really make a difference.

Those that don’t should be candidates for standardization and automation.

Organizations that embrace social BPM will become more agile, improving their ability to deal with volatility and leaving competitors struggling to evolve.

(Mark Pearson is the managing director of the Operations consulting group at Accenture.)

Learn more

Social Media Measurement and The Only Metric That Matters

(Posted on Mar 12, 2014 at 06:24AM by William Cosgrove)

Regardless of the business, benchmarking, measuring and being able to analyze results is important. If you do not, how will you know if, and to what extent, you are succeeding, or, worse yet, what to change if you are not? The same is true with social media, but measuring social media results is difficult for a couple of reasons. First, the field is so new that there is no consensus on which data is important. Second, there is so much data and hundreds of companies inventing tools all claiming that there tool and the data it provides are the most important.

For my money, if you're only going to track one metric when it comes to using social media for your business, it should be engagement. Tracking page likes and followers is important too, but if your fans aren't interacting with you, what's the point?

When it comes down to it, social media isn't primarily about promoting your business or your content; it's about engaging with your community. If you don't consistently monitor and track engagement levels, you have no way of knowing whether your social media strategies are working.

Following are some of the simplest ways you can track your own social media engagement. We'll start by covering cross-channel engagement, and then move into how you can measure engagement, specifically on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Cross-Channel Engagement


Larger companies often rely on complicated calculations or expensive software to track their engagement levels across the various channels they use. However, smaller businesses have tools available to them that can be very effective as well.

One of the best ways we currently have to track engagement is Klout. When you connect your various social media properties to Klout, the platform will give you various data to help you determine how well your content is performing.

The platform uses engagement metrics such as likes, retweets, shares and "+1s" to determine your overall engagement levels; in other words, how well you and your content are connecting with your audience.

For more info about using Klout see my post, "What the Klout? 5 Tips for Practicing Great Engagement (and Possibly Increasing Your Influence)."

Facebook Engagement

Using Facebook Insights, you can quickly determine how many people are interacting with your posts. When you click on the "See Insights" tab, your default view will be data from the previous week, as shown in this screenshot:


This will be your total combined engagement number for all posts during that time period. If you'd like to view engagement for your individual posts, simply scroll down the page and you'll see data for your five most recent posts (you can of course see data for all your posts by clicking "See All Posts").

On Facebook, engagement is defined by the following equation:

Likes + Comments + Shares + Post Clicks = # of People Engaged*

*Keep in mind this is the number of unique people who interacted with your posts. So if someone clicked on a link twice, it would only count once towards your "people engaged" total.

Some people may find it helpful to define engagement as a ratio for benchmarking purposes. In this case, you would use the following equation:

People who liked, shared, commented or clicked on your posts _________________________________________________People who saw your posts ("reach")

Another popular tools you may want to try to supplement the data you get in Insights is Edgerank Checker.

Twitter Engagement

Screenshot from Twitalyzer

Apart from Twitter's built-in analytics dashboard, there are many free and inexpensive tools available to help you track your engagement. Some of the more popular tools include Twitalyzer, TweetLevel and, of course, Hootsuite.

There are various metrics that can be tracked on Twitter to determine engagement. Some platforms will track and display specific metrics such as most important followers, analytics for individual tweets, and the overall reach of your tweets.

However a basic calculation of your engagement levels on Twitter can be calculated by the following equation:

Replies + Retweets + Mentions = Engagement

Of course, this equation isn't weighted in any way, and treats all engagement as equally important (which we know isn't true). This is where using tools such as the ones I mentioned above can be helpful, as they often give a weighted measure expressed as a ratio or percentage.

Instagram Engagement

With recent research showing that Instagram beats out Facebook and Twitter in terms of brand engagement, measuring your interactions on this platform is paramount.

Instagram currently doesn't provide any built-in tools for measuring your engagement. However there are a number of free or cheap tools that can provide excellent data: Statigram, Followgram and Simply Measured to name a few.

These tools will track and provide data such as total number of likes, average likes and comments per photo, follower growth or decline and more.

A basic measure of Instagram engagement would look like this:

Likes + Comments = Engagement

If you're looking for a basic (and free!) measure of your Instagram engagement,Simply Measured offers an Instagram user report that provides information, such as performance trending and overall engagement levels.


Social media engagement metrics aren't just fluffy numbers meant to help you feel good about your social media efforts. They are the one and only way we can consistently measure how well we're actually connecting with our audience.

If you aren't currently tracking your engagement levels, I'd strongly encourage you to start today!

Looking to significantly boost your engagement levels? Check out my post "The #1 Way to Increase Engagement, Boost Conversions and Gain Repeat Customers for Life."

Do you use any of the tools above? Have you ever learned anything really surprising from tracking your engagement levels? Share below!

By Kim Garst


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