Monthly Archives: January 2011

Facebook ‘Like’ is Currency for Brands; What about Facebook Users?

Your clicks of Facebook’s “Like” button and check-ins at restaurants, stores and other establishments are already valuable marketing material. Facebook is now letting companies and individuals buy the right to republish those actions to your friends in ads — including your name and profile photo — on the social network’s site. Facebook calls these ad units ‘Sponsored Stories’.

The ubiquitous “like” has now become currency!

What are these ‘Sponsored Stories’? How does Facebook plan to make it work?

Theses are the new ad units which will occupy the third position within a News Feed, either as a small banner-like placement or as a video clip, as per MediaWeek . When a user clicks on the ad, his entire network of friends is alerted, and they can then interact with the ad. According to Facebook, the ad will allow advertisers to harness the site’s social-networking dynamic and leverage social-networking behavior.

According to Mike Murphy, Facebook’s chief revenue officer, the new units are geared for advertisers that are looking to create customized offers for the Facebook community that go beyond standard banner messaging. “Up until now, most advertising on social network sites hasn’t leveraged social networking behavior,” he said. “This offers a viral opportunity that is unique for advertisers that is not disruptive.”

Okay, sounds good for the advertisers. How does it do for User Experience?

As Facebook evolves, I find it harder and harder to know where anything is! This should be a cause of concern. Facebook WAS once the clean and safe alternative to MySpace. The more convoluted and cluttered it gets, the more room opens up for someone to come in and supplant them with a better UI. I bet if Facebook were to  dare enough to put a “Dislike” or “Suck” button near “Like”, I bet there will be way much more of those than likes.

This way of monetizing “Likes” feature for enhances advertisers’ paid messages but it also irritates Facebook users and diminishes their experience. The way they could or should have monetized the  “Likes” is to charge advertisers every time a friend’s “Like” appears on another friends wall, vs. a paid ad with a “Like” incorporated appearing on a friends page.

By the way, shouldn’t users getting a cut of this advertising deal? Or is the joy of using Facebook our only payment? Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself…

Let me know what you think!
@ajaxjoshi

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Sign Your Emails With Tweets and Stumbles And Plans

Using signatures to add contact info and a bit of personality to your emails is both useful and a lot of fun. Today I ‘stumbled upon‘ a App called WiseStamp! Its a great App to organize your social media presence and send it out with every email. I downloaded the firefox addon and I love it already.

It is simple to use and quickly adds your social media presence to each outgoing email with dynamic content such as your stumbles, recent blog post, your latest tweet or a cause to promote. The recipients of your email will see the updated content of the Email App and will be able to also interact with it directly from the email . for example, retweet or follow in the Twitter App.

Try it! Let me know how it works for you. Reach me at www.avinashjoshi.com or follow me on Twitter @ajaxjoshi

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HOW TO make members of your online community feel special

Regardless of whether you’re building an online community from scratch or managing an existing one, be prepared for a lot of hard work! Don’t expect to write a forum post every now and then, delete the odd post and ban the odd member. There’s far more to it than that. In fact, much of your work won’t even be visible – you’ll spend most of your time behind the scenes.

The more valued a member of your community feels, the more likely they are to stick around and get involved.

Here are some ways you can make members of your community feel special.

1. Read, follow and comment

on their blogs, Facebook page, Twitter stream, and so on.

Keep in touch with them away from the community website. A community doesn’t exist solely within your community website. Your members have lives away from the community too.

If a member has a blog, read it and leave comments if relevant/necessary. Follow and talk to them on Twitter and Facebook.

Ideally, you should spend 2/4th of your time reading, 1/4th commenting and 1/4 writing your own stuff/sharing. This is how I compartmentalize my time and it helps me manage it better.

2. Interview them

A time consuming but well worth the effort. Try interviewing them viz email to save some time, if you have to. Have a hashtag interview setup on twitter, whatever suits you community members. Not only do your members get to know him, the interviewee will feel special about being chosen to be interviewed. It’s a big spotlight being turned their way, and none will ever miss it

3. Send them stuff

A small out of turn gesture goes a long way. If for instance a valuable member mentions they like chocolates, send them a pack. It’ll cost you a little, but they’ll remember the gesture forever.

4. Talk to them

A very obvious action, but a community manager should make it a point to be talking to the members that make up the community and not the community. Individual conversations are a big thumbs up – both within public discussions and privately.

5. Talk about them

Just like a member feels special and valued when interviewed, talking about him would have the same effect. Though, I must add not to go overboard and show favoritism towards specific members. You could acknowledge the members that contribute great content or otherwise add value to the community, and that would do the trick.

6. Remember them

As your community grows, remember the ones who had helped it become a success. Never forget those early members, but at the same time, don’t forget the newer ones, either.

7. Ask about them

If you don’t see a member for a while, ask after them. Drop them a line – make them know that you’ve noticed their absence. Get other members to ask after them, too.

8. Give them prestigious titles

Choose people that have the right blend of respect and maturity – this shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Give these superstars of your community unique titles, ranks or badges. Mark them out as special, and make sure the community knows why they’ve been marked out. This would lead to more members wanting the same treatment, in turn leading to more of suck behavior and contributions you want to see in your community.

9. Give them responsibility

This will always work Set them targets of increasing the number of discussions about a specific topic, or of extending and rejuvinating existing discussions.

If possible, consider naming a community after them if they’re particularly active in a specific section of the community.

10. Give them an ‘in’

This could be a telephone number or email address that isn’t normally given out. Obviously, be careful to only give this ‘insider access’ to a select number of members that you trust, and that you feel your community really needs to keep hold of.

There isn’t much that’s more special than insider access!

11. Last but not the least – Patience

Remember that everything grows from scratch and so will your community. Remember to start a community with the right ingredients and nurture it then on.

Best of Luck!

I would love to have your comments and suggestions, so please keep them coming.

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Social Media – Why Should I Care?

Going ahead of my first post titled ‘The Power of Social Media’, here is why you need to join in and get on the Social Media bandwagon. Social Media is the medium to reach out and market to the millions of people who are interacting and having discussions online 24/7.

So, why should I care? why should I come onto social media?

Here is why…

  • 3 out of 4 Americans use social technology
    – Forrester Research, The Growth of Social Technology Adoption, 2008
  • 2/3 of the global internet population visit social networks
    – Nielson, Global Faces and Networked Places, 2009
  • Visiting social sites is now the fourth most popular online activity, ahead of personal email
    – Nielson, Global Faces and Networked Places, 2009
  • Time spent on social networks is growing at 3x the overall internet rate, accounting for ~10% of all internet time
    – Nielson, Global Faces and Networked Places, 2009
  • “Technology is shifting the power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it’s the people that are in control.”
    – Rupert Murdoch, Global Media Entrepreneur

To see Social Media by the numbers, see my earlier blog post.

Is Social Media any Good for Me?
The answer is … Yes…

  • 93% of social media users believe a company should have a presence in social media
    – Business in Social Media Study, 2008
  • 85% of social media users believe a company should go farther than just having a presence on social sites and should also interact with its customers
    – Business in Social Media Study, 2008

Social media is more than a mere marketing channel: Public Relations, Customer Service, Loyalty Building, Collaboration, Networking, Thought Leadership and
Customer Acquisition.

Still not convinced. Doubts? Stay tuned in to this blog for more or contact me.

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The Power of Referrals

Creating and using a strong referral system is a very effective marketing strategy. Every business should take advantage of it.

One of my earlier posts highlighted The Power of Social Media, significantly showing why social media needs to be a part of your social media strategy. Business owners will you about the return on investment (ROI). What they are simply asking you is ‘How much will we make today?”  A better way to measure the effectiveness is to measure the non-financial KPIs. One of them, we will be talking about in this post is the Centers of Influence (COI).

COIs are the people in the community that generate sales for your business through referrals. At times they are your customers. Then at times, some are members of your target market who influence their peers, some who operate complimentary businesses and share their customers.  They are typically well connected with the  ability to generate large volumes of business for your company by referral — and they’re online.

So, the next time you communicate about social networks to business owners, explain them the referral opportunity they represent:

Facebook – the largest referral network
If Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world. It has over 500 million users. An average user creates 90 pages of original content each month and is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. This social network is the best place for consumers to share brand-related experiences with their friends and family.

Twitter – the loudest referral network
Though Twitter is not as big in size but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in volume. *180 million unique users access Twitter each month and the 10 billionth tweet was posted in March 2010. With over *110 active users, Twitter is the first place that it’s users go to praise or complain about brands. *More than 6 million searches happen on Twitter each day. Twitter’s search makes it easy for companies to find and respond to all brand-related conversations on the site.

LinkedIn – the largest B-to-B referral network
LinkedIn has more than 60 million worldwide users with about half of its users outside the US.  ** It has executives from all Fortune 500 companies and every second a new member joins LinkedIn. It attracts and connects business professionals, business owners, sales people and corporate decision makers — making it one of the best resources for fostering COI relationships.

Each of your customers on  social network is likely to have many friends and acquaintances who fit your “target customer” profile. You’ll be amazed at how social media will be a big help in growing your business. Referrals are valued by social network users as a credible alternative to time-consuming research. Referrals are valued by business owners because they result in more sales over the long haul and a shorter sales cycle.

Social networks are the most affordable and powerful resources for identifying COIs, monitoring the perception of your brand, and placing your brand high among the ‘add to cart set’ when prospects are ready to buy.  Social networks are good marketing tools — and they are good business if you use them to be.

The goal of an effective social media program is to attract, gather and nurture these COIs and customer relationships that will generate ongoing referrals, increased awareness and future sales.

Sources:
* Statistics from Twitter and Chirp Conference
** Statistics from LinkedIn Press Centre and SysComm International

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HOW TO Measure Engagement – Social Media KPIs

I think that social media measurement is something that  should be undertaken with a sense of perspective: Stand Back and Look at the Big Picture.

A wide screen approach to social media measurement may not be enough for your number crunching boss who would want to see proof for this optimism.

Do not worry, there is a lot you can measure, but first things first. Its all about engagement and interaction. The goal of your social media strategy should be to provide the tools for people to engage with your brand / people / products / services.

It is important to understand that both financial and financial KPIs are important is measuring the success of your campaign. Non-financial KPIs more often than not lead the way to for your team to work on the financial KPIs. Let me explain this with an example. A Facebook campaign will get you a fan following (non-financial KPI) which will build a nice big database for your email campaign. Now it depends on how successful your email campaign is to convert the fans to customers (financial KPI – ROI). Here, I would like to mention that the email campaign and facebook campaign would continue to run together. Facebook is where your conversation with your prospective customers started and that’s where the engagement has to continue to build the trust.

(More to follow on how to build social communities and run an effective social media campaign in subsequent posts)

For now, here is a list of some KPIs:

  1. Social Media sharing/participation (activity on key social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  2. Fans
  3. Followers
  4. Groups (owned/joined/group members/activity)
  5. Like this
  6. Posts
  7. Comments
  8. Forward to a friend
  9. Print page
  10. Bookmarks
  11. Feedback
  12. Reviews
  13. Messaging (onsite)
  14. Testimonials
  15. Ratings
  16. Polls (participation)
  17. Report spam/abuse
  18. Tagging (user-generated metadata)
  19. Favorites
  20. Alerts
  21. Email subscription
  22. Invite/refer
  23. Downloads
  24. Install widgets
  25. Personalization (display, themes, pages)
  26. Registered users
  27. Uploads (add an item, e.g. articles, links, images, videos)
  28. Views (videos, ads, rich images)
  29. Wishlists (save items to wishlist)
  30. Time spent on key pages
  31. Time spent on site (by page, by entry page)
  32. Profile (e.g. update avatar, bio, links, email, customisation, etc)

The above lists comes out of the actions that you want your users to perform, which would be one or all of the following:

  • You want people to make a noise.
  • You want people to store and share things.
  • You want people to love your website.
  • You want people to visit more frequently
  • You want people to refer your company to their friends.
  • You want people to buy into your brand.
  • You want people to buy your products.

Please feel free to let me know if I missed some. Let me know if they are any good at @ajaxjoshi

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Facebook is now worth $50 Billion

According to a new report, Facebook has  received a massive $450 million from Goldman Sachs and $50 million from Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies in a new round of funding.

In September2010, Facebook was worth between $23 billion and $33 billion and in November it was worth $41 billion. The New York Times says that the deal sets the popular social network’s valuation at a whopping $50 billion. Facebook has raised over $800 million over five rounds of funding. With this round, the social network will have raised over $1.3 billion.

The stake by Goldman Sachs, considered one of Wall Street’s savviest investors, signals the increasing might of Facebook, which has already been bearing down on giants like Google. All this new money will give Facebook more firepower to steal away valuable employees, develop new products and possibly pursue acquisitions. This may also serve as an opportunity for earlier shareholders, including Facebook employees, to cash out at least some of their stakes.

 

Facebook Outshines Google

Facebook knocks off Google as the No.1 most-visited site in the United States in 2010, according to Internet analytics firm Hitwise.

It accounted for 8.93 % of all U.S. visits between January and November 2010 with  Google.com ranking second with 7.19 % of visits. Yahoo! Mail was pushed down to the 3rd spot from 2nd last year  with 3.52 % visits.

I would also admit though that Hitwise data does not represent the whole truth. Hitwise only measures unique visitors in the United States and sites on a per domain basis. If they were to include Google-owned YouTube in its calculations, Google’s network of websites would outrank Facebook properties.

Nonetheless, there’s a fundamental shift at work. Facebook, once easily dismissed as the next social networking fad, has seemingly discovered Google’s weak spots.

We’ve seen the trend develop for months: It’s only a matter of time until Facebook topples the entire Google empire. According to comScore, Facebook’s U.S. traffic grew by 55% in the last year and has shown no sign of slowing down.

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