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Mar 2011

What we’ve learned.

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Well, it’s been a big rush, but after a brief chat today, me and Jason have accepted that convincing the many, many people who viewed the video of his proposal to fiancée Stephanie to actually vote for the happy couple to enjoy a free, luxury honeymoon was just too difficult. The three of us made an effort to make this work, but unfortunately there are some people out there who have colossal resources when it comes to click-happy online friends who don’t mind a five-minutes-or-less registration process when voting for someone they care about.

I commented earlier today that it says a lot about people when there’s 4,104 views on the counter, and only 570 votes. Sure, there were quite a lot of people who would’ve viewed it to double check (I probably account for almost a hundred visits to that page, not so sure about views though) but that’s not the point. It’s, if anything, a commentary on how unwilling some people are to spend a few minutes registering or logging in via Facebook to help a friend towards their dream honeymoon.

Am I disappointed that our little Twitter and Facebook campaign failed? Yeah, of course I am, and I feel bad knowing Jason and Stephanie are going to have to work out what they’ll do instead. But it’s taught me that there’s a lot more to social media campaigns than I previously believed. You can’t just say “jump” and expect trampolines. You need to own a few, first. Internet users are like children – if you want something from them, you have to give them an incentive and a means to claim their reward all within a minute or less, or they lose interest.

I don’t know if I’ll ever do a Twitter campaign of this kind again, but I will say that it was definitely nice to use a few tools to help someone and make them happy. I think you can offer a lot to someone in today’s economy – vouchers for HMV could be domain-name registrations, if you’re geeky enough. But a nice wedding present would’ve been the honeymoon. For anyone who’s been following the progress on this blog, don’t lose heart, because it is possible for these things to work. You’ve just got to really take it on as a full-time job, and that’s something neither myself nor the happy couple were able to do.

Until the next time, and once again – congratulations to a happy couple who may not have won, but are still happily planning a wedding and the rest of their lives together, because the latter is really the thing that matters.

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Mar 2011

The Jason-Stephanie campaign – update #3.

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

Okay, so, this could be going better.

It’s week four of the campaign (no update last week due to the huge interview with Michael Chorost which resulted in four posts over the regular three), and Jason’s video is just out of qualifying for a holiday by sitting in fourth place. However, this is not the end of the world, as an interesting opportunity is arising.

With three and a bit weeks to go before the competition ends, there are two videos each with just over 500 votes taking first and second place. However, there is also a video in third that only has 400 votes. Jason has around 370. The gap has closed once again, and if we can take it now, we’re fine. The main strategy would be to get to 1,000 votes, so far in the lead that it’s tough to usurp him, let alone have him finish outside the winning trio of happy honeymoon couples.

A lot of tactics have been discussed, and unfortunately it’s come to light that due to the lack of any campaigns on behalf of some of the other videos, we may be competing against people that are either manufacturing votes, or simply using their Facebook and a rather unique community angle. The angle is simply a stronger sense of community than ours – namely, that two of the top three video posters are devout and active members of the American Christian community, and out of them and Jason and my journalist circle, we’d wager the former are more likely to go the distance for someone who has their respect. This, in itself, is really quite sweet and I wish I had this behind me, but I don’t, because I’m not introducing God to universities campuses across the American Northwest.

But how do you manufacture that kind of popularity? Jason’s Facebook and Twitter have been ablaze with requests for votes, and I’ve done a fair bit of work with Twuffer and the MoreDigital Twitter, in addition to my own and retweeting his. The hash-tagging does help, but do hash-tags sometimes make it seem a tad less inviting, and more like spam? I’m not sure. But I will have to approach the people I know who have the pull to really draw some attention to this, and ensure that he stays in the running.

It’s not about the fact that the blog’s been following this, because if we didn’t succeed, I’ll write about what we may have done wrong, what we did right, and I’ll still have a blogpost. But this is also Jason’s honeymoon, something that won’t happen again in his or his fiancée’s lives. We need to crush the opposition, and I only have to say it once:

Battle stations.

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May 2010

Small businesses use social media: True or False

Posted in Social Media | 4 Comments »

If asked whether small businesses currently use social media, most of us would reply ‘of course’ and wonder why I’m even bringing it up. Well, all I seem to read about nowadays is how small businesses are benefiting from social media and using it to expand their businesses. Even my colleague Christos Reid wrote an blog titled ‘Businesses are growing through social media’. However, I know a number of people who have small businesses, admittedly many of whom aren’t in the ‘digital’ industry, that don’t use social media as their main tool for growth. This got me thinking and led to some research to see if this was really the case.

Expelling the myth

One of the most interesting things I found was a survey carried out by Citibank which clearly shows that small businesses are not, in fact, using social media. Out of the 552 small businesses surveyed throughout America, in the last year 37% of small businesses have not used a website to increase business for their company and a huge 84% have not used e-commerce to sell their services or products. What’s more 62% don’t even use basic email as tool for drumming up business. These are quite astounding statistics, in a country were about 76% of the population use the internet regularly, yet such a tiny proportion do not use it to fully benefit their businesses.

Of those who do have a website, 74% say that it has been effective at generating more business. So, why haven’t others picked up on this? This isn’t the only contradictory piece of information found in the survey. 63% said that word of mouth is the most effective marketing tool, yet they hadn’t translated this to the online world. 81% said they haven’t used Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. Of those who do use social media sites, 47% said they didn’t think they were of any use to their business. 21% thought the sites are most suitable for personal rather than business use, and 18% said they thought they didn’t know how to use the sites well enough to benefit their businesses.

That’s just basic marketing techniques, if we look at slightly more advanced methods like SEO, PPC or banner adverts, over half of the businesses surveyed haven’t used them either.

What on earth is going on?

Now we know that American small businesses are not taking full advantage of social media, but we don’t really know why. I have tried to find statistics for the UK, but there does not seem to be an equivalent survey. It would be interesting to see if UK businesses are also shunning social media or if we are more technologically savvy.

It seems that age does matter, the older the person behind the business, the less likely they are to use social media as a marketing tool. It makes sense, the younger generation or millennial generation as it is known, have grown up with social media sites, they didn’t have pen-pals, they had friends and followers. Whereas the older generation have had to adapt to it. My dad is still slightly miffed by the whole thing, he asks me why I can’t just talk to these people and why I have to spend hours spying on my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. If he can’t understand that, then I can’t see him using Facebook as a means to gain extra clients.

The Citibank survey confirmed this, showing that small business executives of 45-years-old and over are less likely to use online tools than younger business executives. A healthy-ish 27% of executives under-45 used social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter as marketing tools in the last 12 months, while only 16% of those who are 45 or over used them.

You can teach an old dog new tricks.

If the case is that the older generation simply don’t fully understand how to use social networking to help their business, then surely this is easy to solve? The Citibank survey shows that those who do use social media for their small business have found it beneficial. Gradually more and more people will start doing the same. Social media is a great marketing tool and anyone who does use it is likely to say the same. People need to see that social networking is not as daunting as it looks, and once you’ve got the hang of it, you will see your business grow.

Some people refuse to use social networking sites because of security fears. So, what you can do is encourage those around you who don’t use social media sites, to start a Facebook page or Twitter account:

  • Remind them that now you can have a pretty secure Facebook page, which will only allow those you want to see things.
  • If they don’t want people to see certain things, don’t put them up in the first place, it’s as simple as that.
  • Update their sites at least twice a day to get the most from it.
  • Help them find groups or trends to follow that they will find interesting and relate to them, so they can start getting involved with dialogue.
  • You want them to realise that a part of these sites is about self publicity. If you post your blog on Facebook, it generates traffic to your blog. Once the social media shy see this, they will see the power and benefit that these sites offer.

Once they have found their footing with a personal account, it shouldn’t be hard to help them move over to a business account. There are hundreds of videos and blogs that can help. They will soon see that it is more beneficial using Facebook to network with business clients, than just with old friends.

And the future?

The Citibank survey found positive answers for the future. 72 % say they are likely to use a website for marketing or expanding their business in the next 12 months – up 14% from those who do today. 24% are likely use e-commerce to sell their products or services online over the next 12 months – up 50% from those who do today. And 30 % say they intend to use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin for marketing or expanding their business – up 58% from those who do today.

Get Tweeting for your business!
Whether this is all just wishful thinking, only time will tell. What this has showed us, however, is that bloggers, SEO guys and social media commentators believe that small business are already using online channels to the full, and reaping the benefits. We’ll just have to wait and see if all this hype will turn into money for small businesses.

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Feb 2010

Australians the most active social media users?

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A Neilsen study conducted in December has returned some very interesting statistics on the world’s social media usage. Apparently, it is not the Americans or the British spending the most time on sites like Facebook and Twitter, believe it or not, that title belongs to the Australians.

The global comparison study revealed that despite all the sunny weather and beautiful beaches, Australians on average spend 6 hours and 52 minutes each month on social media websites—some distance in front of the United States and the United Kingdom who spend 6 hours and 9 minutes and 6 hours and 7 minutes respectively on these sites.

Here’s the full list (h:m:s):

  1. Australia – 6:52:28
  2. United States -6:09:13
  3. United Kingdom – 6:07:54
  4. Italy – 6:00:07
  5. Spain – 5:30:55
  6. Brazil – 4:33:10
  7. Germany – 4:11:45
  8. France – 4:04:39
  9. Switzerland – 3:54:34
  10. Japan – 2:50:21

Doesn’t make sense, right? How can Australian’s who have such a major outdoor culture be ahead of these other countries? Well, being Australian and a social media frequenter myself, I think I can come up with a few reasons why.

Firstly, I think the biggest reason for their heavy usage is due to the fact that Australians love to travel. It’s pretty much tradition to fly off somewhere as soon as you finish your education. Actually, Australians will take advantage of any chance to jump on a plane and an interesting little statistic is that around 5% of the Australian population is abroad right now as we speak. Anyway, in the words of Andrew Weiner, “social media is to world travelling as steamed lobster is to hot drawn butter”. It simply is the best way to stay connected and share photos while you are overseas and Australians are making the most of it.

Some other reasons are Australia’s geographical isolation, its mateship culture and, I hate to say it, its laziness. Some people have also mentioned that it’s too hot to go outside while others like andymurd believe Australia’s internet speed is to blame. He writes, “Maybe Australians spend so much time on social networking sites because our internet is so slow – we’re just waiting for the page to load”.

If you want some more reasons, Ross Dawson on his blog has come up with a rather comprehensive discussion on the subject and it is definitely worth a read.

Another equally compelling statistic that came out of the Neilsen study was that social media traffic worldwide had surged 82% over the past two years. The global average of time logged onto social media has jumped to 5 and a half hours—that’s two and a half hours longer compared to the same statistic two years ago. Nielsen also reported that there are now 300 million social media users worldwide and Twitter was the fastest growing social media network.

Very interesting indeed. No doubt these statistics will have digital marketers across the world drooling all over their keyboards.

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