Info-Currents June Issue: Measuring Pins and Photos, Facebook Hashtags, Soft Science Skills

Emerging trend: Systems that analyze visual social media, such as Curalate, add new dimensions to measuring online behavior. 
Implication: Photos generate significant interaction in social media. The ability to capture words and images will increase the value of online content and highlight those influencers who speak through images.
Action: Not everybody wants to write. When drafting your content marketing strategy, balance verbiage with visual images. Allow your followers to be able to clip and share those images on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and elsewhere.
Emerging trend:  Facebook will mirror Twitter’s power in trending topics by adopting hashtags.
Implication: Facebook will become more useful to those who want to generate awareness on brands and issues. The hashtag streams will expand closed-in friend networks and increase Facebook pages’ search visibility.
Action: Identify words people are most likely to use in reference to your topic. Use these as hashtags consistently across all of your social media platforms.
Emerging trend: As hard technologies (i.e., machine-based) become automated, soft technologies (e.g., social technology, behavioral sciences) gain value as they still rely on human interpretation and creativity.  
Implication: Qualitative analysis skills, humanities education, and the ability to process emotion will be critical to business success.
Action: Supplement hard science curriculum with social sciences and humanities. Watch for executives who can fuse analytical thinking with emotional intelligence and a sharp eye for observations.
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Novo Nordisk Handles Paula Deen Reactions on Facebook

I received this interesting clip from a friend. Novo Nordisk fans were reacting negatively to the Paula Deen deal on Facebook, but some advocates stepped in to defend the brand without brand interference. Below, you’ll see that the Novo Nordisk community manager “played it cool” by only reminding the fans of the FDA guidelines. Good approach to issue management in social media.

Here are the best practices this mini case study underscores:

  • First, monitor closely
  • If the community handles the issue itself, continue to host the conversation — do not interfere
  • If someone does not abide by the communication guidelines, step in and send a reminder



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Like Zynga, More Game Publishers Will Venture Outside of Facebook

With its vast and diverse audience, Facebook has become an incubation ground for game publishers and app developers. Those who can command millions of users on Facebook, have evidence that their business can survive beyond the social network.


What it means for marketers: Experiment with placing brands in games and apps that reach and engage sizable audiences. Add the following to game storylines and app functionalities:




          Links to owned media through animated logos


Brands can gauge the success of such initiatives by tracking:


          Coupon redemption

          Video views and sharing

          Conversion from user to site visitor



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Facebook Ad Credits Will Not Solve Small Business’s Social Media Problem

Facebook is giving small businesses advertising credit in hopes of getting this substantial audience to use the platform for customer acquisition. The mammoth social network is up against a tough challenge: Grand majority of small business owners do not see social media as a priority in their digital marketing list. IIn fact according to a Hiscox survey published by eMarketer, only 4 percent list it as a must-have. Many small business owners say they could live without it (43 percent). Some add that they don’t get to it everyday (24 percent). There are still those who don’t even know where to start (14 percent). Facebook may need to think of a more comprehensive plan than an ad push to secure time on small business owners’ schedules. 

I know the challenges of small business social media  first hand. I am West Side Art Studios‘ self-appointed social media consultant. Greg Kessler, the artist behind the studio, is busy creating and teaching art day in, day out. He uses Facebook to stay connected with friends, but he rarely has time to devise a social media calendar, identify and engage his influencers. He does a good job of announcing milestone events and the rest of his time has to go to creating the product. 

    Social media outreach requires time — you need time to build a following and to engage in genuine conversations with them (vs. pushing messages at them). That’s not a problem Facebook ad promotions will solve. 

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Google+1 May Face The Same Challenges As Facebook ‘Like’

PowerReviews and BazaarVoice, which are the names behind many customer review and ratings systems, are adding the Google +1 button to their feature suite. The partnership is giving Google an amazing distribution platform — PowerReviews alone catalogs more than 35 million products and 5,500 branded products. Jockey is among the first PowerReviews brands to integrate the +1 button. While it’s nice to see the +1 option in review boxes as a choice of expression, this initiative makes me think +1 may face some of the same challenges as the ‘like’ button, in terms of user privacy: 

Will consumers want to show to their whole Google network what they used and reviewed? Giving a camisole a +1 on connects my personal shopping habits with my email, blog, Google+ network, YouTube and Adsense accounts. This might be a bit too-much-information. 

Will consumers give a +1, in addition to using a 5-star system? Within the PowerReviews system, consumers still have regular features to rate a product on a star scale and write reviews. Clicking on the +1 would mean I want to make sure everyone hears about what I have to say. What percentage of consumers would go through the extra step? Will we see a correlation between types of reviews, average star ratings and +1’s?

How does the +1 system benefit the ad consumer? If I am sharing so much information about my likes with a giant advertising platform, will I get more targeted, useful ads? How would this type of information matching make consumers feel about using the +1 button or clicking through online ads?

A substantial group of people use the +1 button, across 1 million+ sites. Coupled with consumer review content, Google will be collecting considerable data on the most outspoken word of mouth agents who regularly publish their opinions online. 

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How to Estimate Value of an Online Coupon Program?

Online coupons are often used to boost Facebook fan base. But they come at a cost to the company. Brands looking to throw a coupon out there need to have a good estimate of redemption rates for their category and the value of actual purchases couponing fans will generate. Consider this:

CPG brands can expect 17% online coupon redemption: The U.S. Mid-Year 2011 CPG Coupon Industry Facts report by NCH Marketing Services shows Internet home-printed coupons’ redemption rate in second place with 17%, right after instant on-pack coupons (23%). (Source: In other words, online coupons have become the next best option for deal seekers after finding the coupon on the package. 

Online coupons bring in new customers: Another important finding comes from Knowledge Networks, which found that nearly half (46%) of CPG digital coupon redeemers from 2008 to 2010 had not previously bought that product. (Source: 

This is terrific news so far, but we need to add a few more variable to the equation to make sure that the online coupon will be worth your efforts:

Organizational cost based on:

  • Cost of product * expected number of redeemed coupons
  • Cost of fulfillment

Agency cost based on:

  • Cost of designing/programming the coupon
  • Team hours to promote the deal
  • Team hours to manage the process before and after posting coupon

If the coupon is on a Facebook fan page, adding all costs and dividing them by the number of new fans will give us the cost of acquisition for a new fan

Will each fan be worth the same? Probably not, considering some will never come back to visit the page while others will recruit friends. Let’s think of a scenario where

  • 50 percent of new fans never visit the page again, nor do they purchase the product at full price
  • 20 percent visit the page again, but do not purchase again at full price
  • 30 percent become loyal fans who visit again and purchase at full price

The real value of the coupon effort will come from those who become loyal fans and customers. In this case, we’d need to take 30% of those new fans and multiply their number by the average profit they bring to the brand.

Gain from new fans:

(Total number of new couponing fans * % who become customers) * Average profit from new customer

Take the cost of acquiring new fans through a coupon out of this gain and you’ll find the real value provided to the organization. 

Coupon Program Value = Gain from fans who became customers – Cost of acquiring all fans

In a low or negative value scenario, you may find that you spent too much to acquire the few fans who became customers. In a positive value scenario, you’d find that enough fans converted to customers, covering the cost of the program and bringing profits. 



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Making Social Media Work for Your E-Commerce Site

While many marketers remain doubtful of tangible returns from their social media endeavors, transactional sites (e.g., e-commerce, donation, banking, etc.) are uniquely positioned to show the loop from conversation to purchase. To gauge conversions from social media posts to purchases, brands need to look further than the flux of traffic from their social network profile areas to their Web sites. Search advertising, e-mail programs, mobile apps, branded videos also fuel word of mouth, increase online visibility and lead people to online payment pages.

Consider these social-media driven tactics to boost online transactions: 


Say it with pictures: Having a clear, easy to adopt and pass along message is priceless in social media. On Twitter or Facebook, you do not have much room to pitch. Use these spaces to hit on key points and plug in photos and videos to tell a deeper, emotional story. Charity: water’s recent fundraising campaign to bring clean water to the Bayaka people in Central African Republic (CAR) did just that. The organization made the strategic decision to use Facebook as the hub of the digital campaign. Visitors could choose from a series of one-sentence key messages, bundle the phrase with a striking photo of people who lack access to clean water in CAR and send it off to their newsfeed.

Offer value on the (engagement) spot: The pathway between social messaging and transaction should be short. The longer your visitors have to look for the check out button, the more customers will lose interest and drop off. Smart shopping apps allow brands build pop-up stores on Facebook. Take a look at these custom tabs 1-800 Flowers and Delta, powered by Alvenda.

Use social media to enhance search engine visibility: Repeating calls to action or news announcements on Twitter is a necessity. Your message may otherwise be lost in a steady stream of updates. Tweeting regularly and updating social media posts increase the number of tags and keywords associated with your brand in cyberspace. These activities give search engines more to grab and catalogue. Embedding keywords in your Twitter editorial calendar can bring you closer to shoppers who start their online journey on Google.

Set your mobile app to accept credit cards: Apps are not just for fun and games on Facebook. Boost your branded app’s functionality with an online store. The grocery store Fresh Direct cuts to the chase with its mobile app that lets customers fill their shopping carts, change orders and have items delivered to their doorsteps. Moviefone’s app marries trailers and reviews with movie ticket purchases. 


Get closer to your loyalist through e-CRM: E-newsletters can offer a steady stream of shopping news to brand loyalists who opt-in to receive emails. While Facebook and Twitter give brands a place on fans’ walls and Tweet Decks, the inbox is still one of the most coveted places in social marketing. Membership clubs, insider deals and discount offers delivered through email can turn engaged customers to e-commerce sites and Facebook tabs. 

Customer stories weigh more than star ratings: Star ratings sure help to scan through hundreds of product reviews and note the top performing products on a retailer site. Yet there is much more behind a 3.5 star rating. As case studies from BazaarVoice repeatedly show, authentic customer stories have a positive impact on Web sales. If you are sharing customer reviews on your brand site, consider replicating these stories on Facebook where customers are already getting advice from their friends on what to buy. The online customer service system Get Satisfaction now offers Facebook and Twitter integration, channeling customer Q&A to brands’ social sites. 

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Translating Facebook Likes Into Impressions

I participated in an informal research experiment conducted by our friends at Keller Fay Group. The participants got an email invitation from Ed Keller on late Friday afternoon, asking us to post this simple statement on our Facebook Walls. “Hi friends. Please help me with a research project. If you see this, please click ‘like’ on my status. It’s that simple. Thanks.” We were to report back to Ed in 48 hours with the percentage of our friends who actually clicked through. 

Mine hovers around 10 percent. Not bad, considering I am connected to 428 friends, family members and colleagues through Facebook. The one qualitative finding that didn’t surprise me was who commented and who got into a conversation under this comment. I had six comments from four unique users – all of whom are what I would call ‘intensive’ Facebook users and natural conversationalists. I know that their offline networks are pretty broad as well. 

But if you go from 428 to four to have true engagement, then maybe we should not equate the number of friends to actual impressions on a wall post. Of course, we have to consider that my message was not anything counter intuitive or newsworthy. It was a simple (perhaps questionable) call to action that got posted at a time when most people were drifting off of work. In a more formal rendition of this experiment, I would also vary time, quality and content of the message. That would yield pretty interesting results. I am sure not all wall posts are equal.  

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Can’t Buy Me ‘Like’

Facebook has more than 400 million active users, who spend over 500 billion minutes per month on the site and interact with 160 million features (i.e., pages, groups, events, etc.). While the typical Facebook user is connected to an average of 60 pages, groups and events, how is a brand supposed to attract fans and keep them interested? 

There is a surge of campaigns online that encourage users to ‘like’ brand pages on Facebook in exchange for a discount, product trial or charitable donation. As the pressure to show ROI on developing and maintaining a Facebook page mounts, marketers resort to these tactics to give their communities a boost. 

The reality is that Facebook is cluttered space and a brand needs a cohesive set of promotions and smart posts to break through and grow their fan base over a reasonable amount of time. The quid pro quo approach will create a spike for a week and then the brand may need a new idea.

Moreover, this approach is a big no-no if you read the fine print in Facebook rules for companies. As stated in this section, “you cannot administer a promotion that users automatically enter by becoming a fan of your page.” Brands cannot use native Facebook features to run campaigns. Instead, they need to build apps that sit on separate tabs to run their campaigns. The main reason behind this separation is data ownership and potential liabilities that come with it. Facebook wants the brands to handle their own data and provide the following disclaimer: “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to [recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for [brand needs to disclose any way that it plans to use the user’s information].”

Among brands looking to acquire fans with the quid-pro-quo tactic, Ann Taylor has a more refined approach. The brand is leading loyal customers (called the Insiders) to their Facebook page with an e-mail invitation and offering them a discount in a tab dedicated to this initiative. To get the discount, users need to ‘like’ the brand. Considering that they have already opted in to receive emails from Ann Taylor, these customers are bound to click ‘like.’  

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Despite Facebook’s Popularity, E-Mail Leads Brand Communications


As Facebook users increasingly use their social network emails for peer communications, the e-mail marketing industry is pointing to a new study almost every month, underscoring the medium’s validity as a branding and sales channel. The latest is a study by ExactTarget and CoTweet that takes a high-level look at online consumers’ email use.

According to the study, based on more than 1,500 interviews conducted among Internet users15 and older, brands have conquered online consumers’ inboxes, they’ve seized the attention of a sizable audience on Facebook, but they have ways to go on Twitter. The study results show that grand majority of online consumers (93 percent) have signed up for some sort of daily email. Four in10 (38 percent) of online consumers are a fan of some brand on Facebook. Meanwhile, a mere five percent of online consumers follow a brand on Twitter.

Internet users’ daily surfing habits show that checking personal news reign over other online activities. Six in 10 (58 percent) users say they start their day by checking email, one fifth (20 percent) go to a search engine, and one in 10 (11 percent) begin their day on Facebook. Visits to corporate and brand sites trail behind. This hierarchy suggests that the personal inbox is the ultimate place to connect with consumers.

As Facebook took over the Internet, many focused their attention on turning the social network into a valuable relationship platform. While throwing an ever-growing online party with hundreds of Facebook fans is a significant accomplishment, email remains a critical component of full-fledged e-CRM plans. E-mail’s popularity among consumers may pose challenges to marketers to break through the inbox clutter. Yet a balanced program that blends relevant emails and entertaining Facebook content can build brand equity and increase open-rates. 


For additional information on this study, click here


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