Rewarding New Facebook Fans: Good Business Or "Black Hat" SEO Tactic?

Rewarding people for "liking" a brand on Facebook has created some eye-popping headlines.  Bing offered FarmVille players three units of "Farm Cash" for friending the search engine on Facebook, and the outcome was 400,000 new fans in a day.  Einstein Bagels offered a free bagel to new fans and increased its fan count from 4,700 to near 350,000 in three days.  It's hard to argue with success, but could tactics like these come back to haunt brands as the next generation of search evolves in the coming years?  

Bing recently launched a new social feature on its search engine.  If you're logged into Facebook when you conduct a search on Bing, you will see specially highlighted search results of links or brands that your Facebook friends have liked.  The "Liked Results" feature makes sense--it's as if your friends are beside you as you search and chiming in with their personal recommendations.

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Three Reasons To Stop Demonizing Facebook And Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook owns spectacular portions of its users’ time and has the right to use their data; this is the basis for Facebook’s significant revenue potential and is a great reason why we should hold Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to very high standards.  But Facebook’s success is not nearly sufficient cause for the level of demonization that occurs today in popular media and among social media insiders.  Facebook deserves the scrutiny it receives, but the excessive reputational lynching that is underway could result in outcomes that are contrary to the interests of both consumers and marketers.

How bad has the Facebook scaremongering gotten today? I opened my latest issue of Maxim to find “The 12 Most Dangerous Men in the World: Meet the Dirty Dozen who very well could be the last people you see before you die.”  And there, stuck between the Mexican drug lord who uses severed heads as a warning to rivals and the Jamaican drug lord responsible for street battles, is Mark Zuckerberg.  To be fair, the magazine was being comical, citing as a threat “annoying people from your past ‘friending’ you” and including Brian Austin Green in the same list;  still the casual and easily accepted association between Facebook and evil is not without repercussions.

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Use Advanced Analytics To Spotlight People Who Have The Biggest Impact On Customer Satisfaction

Community is an ideal toward which all social networks should aspire. In a true community, everybody is pulling for everybody else, sharing whatever assistance, expertise, and insight they possess with anybody who might benefit.

We all know that most communities are a bit more one-sided than that. In most communities, most people are essentially there for the ride, contributing little while benefiting from whatever resources the more generous among them have chosen to share. This is not necessarily a criticism of individuals or of society in general, but rather a recognition that as communities scale beyond close personal relationships, the bonds of reciprocity and altruism often grow weak.

This truism applies just as much to customer communities as to any other. Enterprises have avidly adopted social networks as virtual extensions to such customer relationship management (CRM) functions as call centers and user groups. In the new world of social-network customer communities leveraging blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other channels, it is not uncommon that a handful of individuals post most of the useful content and feedback while the majority simply consume without contributing. And that’s fine, as long as you keep encouraging and incentivizing these actively engaged individuals —whom Forrester refers to as CRM highly empowered and resourceful operatives (HEROes) — to keep the useful content coming. In the final analysis, these are the sorts of individuals — expert customer service professionals, longtime customers, or even highly enthusiastic hobbyists — who can spell all the difference between true community and a haphazard scattering of nominally affiliated strangers.

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NHL Scores Hat Trick With Twitter

Next week, Perry Cooper, senior vice president of Digital Media, is speaking at the Forrester Consumer Forum in Chicago.  In preparation for this event, I had the opportunity to learn about how the NHL is empowering it fans and delivering demonstrable results using social media. 

The league is leveraging digital media in many ways to produce benefits for fans, sponsors and the NHL.  One such program was #NHLTweetup, which saw the league sponsor fan tweetups in locations such as Chicago, Nashville and New Zealand.  The program was run at minimal cost to the league; the investment included 250 man hours, 13 pieces of autographed merchandise and gift bags with a total value of just $1,000.

The power of combining Twitter and real-world events is pretty easy to recognize, but the NHL took the time to quantify it.  This program created results for the NHL in at least three ways: 

  • Reach and impressions:  Out of 150 people who attended one NHL tweetup in New York City, 100 of them had Twitter personas that could be analyzed.  The NHL found out each fan had an average of 213 followers per person.  Extrapolating this across all of those who attended the international events, the league estimates that the program created impressions on more than 230,000 people via Twitter.  Of course, the social impressions didn’t stop there — the tweetups resulted in the most blog posts the sport had seen since the NHL Winter Classic. 
     
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Understanding The Distinctions Between Social Marketing And Social Customer Service

The relationship between social media and customer service is no longer just flirting; it’s getting serious.  Among US retailers, 23% offer customer service via community forums and another 27% plan to implement; 16% offer customer service via Twitter and another 21% plan to implement. We’re starting to see Twitter listed in an online Contact Us support section (see Xbox and Rogers).

The essence of social media is having conversations. Customers want to talk about their experiences. These experiences relate to customer service -- complaints, compliments, looking to peers for support.  Savvy eBusiness professionals are leveraging social media to offer social customer service in several forms, including facilitating (i.e., helping customers assist each other), resolving (i.e., using social media such as Twitter to resolve customer service issues), and redirecting (i.e., using social media to listen and redirect customer service issues to appropriate customer service channels for resolution).

This is fundamentally changing how companies approach social media and challenging notions of who “owns” social media. Social media was born and nurtured in marketing and PR departments, but its customer service objectives come with uniquely customer service requirements including alignment with customer service objectives and metrics, integration into customer service technology, and support skills.

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MR Lessons Learned From Gap’s Logo Misfire

Last week Gap unveiled a new logo on its Web properties, including its Facebook page. This move immediately unleashed a fury of traffic and comments on Facebook, Twitter, and design blogs, with sentiment ranging from “hideous” to “who cares?” In reaction to the momentum behind the negative comments, it didn’t take long for Gap to backpedal, first by trying to hold a competition to crowdsource a new logo. This drew even more ire from the design community, and — as my colleague Doug Williams writes — was exactly the wrong way to go about a crowdsourcing project. So, at the end of the day, Gap scrapped it all and restored its old logo to its Facebook page, its eCommerce site, etc.

This is a fascinating story on so many levels, and overall it demonstrates some serious misjudgment of how the logo and Gap’s strategy for rolling it out would be received by the company’s followers and the social media world in general. As a market researcher, I’d be interested to understand what research the company did before the launch on October sixth. I have two assumptions here:

  • Gap didn’t do much customer research to inform its decision, and it wasn’t very confident in any research it did carry out. Did the company take the time to build a keen understanding of the particular kind of Gap customer it was targeting with this rebranding?
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Bing's New Social Search A First Tiny Step Toward A Giant Future

Today’s Bing news is very interesting, not because the new functionality that Microsoft and Facebook announced is terribly powerful, but because it demonstrates how the next great evolution of search will occur.  In brief, Bing announced two new ways it is introducing social data into its search results:

  • Enhancing results with Facebook Likes:  If you search on Bing and your Facebook friends have "liked" something related to your search term, you will see those "likes" highlighted within your search results.  The idea behind this functionality is that something your friend "likes" will be more interesting to you than other search results.
     
  • Facebook profile search:  Bing reports that more than 4% of searches are for people. Of course, trying to find a particular Bob Smith can be a challenge, which is why Bing will utilize your Facebook network to help you find the Bob Smith that is most likely the one you seek. 
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Tell Us How You Connect With Your Customers In Australia Using Social Media

An awful lot has happened since our last major review of how Australian consumers use social media and how marketers should respond. For example, we are seeing continued growth in the use of social networks worldwide, while the growth in some other social activities — such as writing blog posts — has stalled or even slightly declined. My report will explore how Australian consumers use social media, how this has changed in recent years, and the implications for marketing.

As part of our research for this report, we would like to ask a number of questions of the marketing leaders responsible for Australia's most significant brands:
  • How has your use of social media marketing changed in recent years?
  • How have your customers changed how they interact with you via social media in recent years?
  • What success stories and warnings would you offer based on your experience?
  • What is the cost of these programs in terms of people, time, and media costs?
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Three Biases That Prevent Social Media Gurus From Objectively Evaluating New Social Tools

Yesterday Facebook released new tools to help improve users’ control of Facebook sharing and data.  The reaction to these new tools has been generally very positive (and, in my opinion, deservedly so).  But there's been some interesting buzz among social media gurus, particularly about problems with the new Facebook Groups functionality.  These gripes seem to be based less on a consideration of how the average consumer will use Groups than on a set of use cases and problems unique to social media professionals.  In short, I worry social media specialists are making the classic mistake that trips up marketers time and again: You are not the target market!

I believe there are three reasons that social media professionals may end up judging new tools based on their biases and not upon the potential use and adoption by the average consumer.  These reasons are:

  • Social media professionals are Creators and Conversationalists: Creators create the content that others consume in social venues, and Conversationalists post frequent status updates. Social media professionals are (not surprisingly) big Creators and Conversationalists, but the average consumer is not--fewer than one in four online adults in the US have Creator behaviors and fewer than one in three are Conversationalists. 
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Welcome To The New Facebook: What Facebook's New Features Mean

Welcome to the new Facebook.  No, I don't mean Facebook the social network, although today's changes do represent some exciting new capabilities for Facebook users. Instead, I mean Facebook the company.  The organization that today announced new features seems a different Facebook than the one we’ve seen in the past.  Today’s Facebook is one committed to transparency and user control and mindful of its increasingly vital and high-profile position within people's communications and lives.

By now you may have heard of (or seen) the new features Facebook announced at its press event this morning. Here is a brief summary:

  • Download Your Info: You can download a copy of everything you’ve ever posted to Facebook. Go to “Account: Account Settings” in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook page to access this new feature. As an extra security measure, you will be asked to authenticate yourself before downloading your data as a ZIP file.  This file will contain your posts, pictures, list of friends, events, notes and more (see Figure 1).
     
  • Applications You Use: To date, once you allowed a third-party application to access your Facebook data, you had no ability to see what personal data was transferred and had few options to manage the application permissions.  Facebook is now offering greater transparency and control over this data sharing. Go to “Account: Privacy” in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook page, then click “edit settings” to review the applications you have authorized.  You can see the data each application has accessed; if you are unhappy with the amount of personal information provided, you may easily remove optional permissions for an application or deauthorize it completely from accessing your data (see Figure 2).
     
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