Thoughts on Social Media

Social Media

I wrote this note out for a discussion on Social Media sites and how their relationship with publishers has evolved over a period of time. It goes to show that too much of reliance on any one channel may not be such a good thing after all!

Can we as digital marketers and analysts create a measurement model that can reliably help us to identify whether our social media investments are justified?

Social Media and Creators

One of the problems that new Social Media websites face is generating enough content that users want to consume. This they do by welcoming publishers to come and register on their websites. This is the main fuel for their growth.

The social media site in question (including Facebook) does all it can to attract publishers and creators. The focus is on getting more creators and therefore more users. Users get to follow their favorite brands and celebrities on these sites. Brands and celebrities get a scalable way to engage with their fans. A win-win on paper.

A platform is born

As more users sign-up and start using the site, it soon starts being recognized as a platform. This platform now is independently known and now, creators are attracted to the platform not because its easy to publish their content or its easy to create their content … but because that platform already has their potential target audience.

So, from engagement at scale, the reason why the platform is being used shifts to reach and discovery. The very publisher who used to get throngs of crowds flocking around them now is looking at the platform as the source of that crowd. The shift of behavior due to the change in thinking is not amiss to platform owners.

From Win-Win to Monopoly

The platform owner now knows the dependence of the publisher upon the platform. E.g Facebook single-handedly crippled the stock prices of Zynga (famous for Farmville app on Facebook) by taking it off their Featured apps page.

Take the organic reach that Facebook now provides. Some years back (circa 2012), a single post on your Facebook page would be shown to 10-12% of your followers. This has slowly trickled down to 1% now (3%-4% if you have high engagement on the page). The reason behind this is because every brand out there is pushing out more and more content than what the platform was designed for, and every brand / celebrity out there wants to create content that goes viral.

Pursuit of Viral

Publishers in the pursuit of this holy grail tend to create a Sea of Crappy Content. This is loads and loads of content which does not drive engagement. Platform owners now are scared by the very publishers they used to chase. Not because they don’t need them … but because they are not clearly able to differentiate the good ones from the bad ones. The definition of quality becomes more blurred.

Zero Organic Reach

In the end, the platform owner plays the one card that they can control. Throttle the impressions and reach of the publishers. Quality is then replaced with budgets, with the underlying assumption – if you can create great content, most likely you have enough budgets to buy the impressions required to go viral.

Another example to highlight this is to look at any Facebook page which has over 10,000 likes, the last post of that page won’t even have an engagement rate of 1%. The problem may not with the page or the post in itself, it stems from the throttling down of organic reach.

So what can be done?

Do we pay the piper and buy our followers? Or do we dance to the tune of the platforms and keep pushing more content in the hopes of getting that one beautiful post that gets shared by the millions.

Can we instead, arrive at a scientific method of identifying what platform works and what doesn’t in furthering our objectives?

Is there a point to Social Media Management?

Life is short. It is time to point out an ugly truth, and to be the brave person that you are, the intelligent rational assessor of reality that you are, and kill all the organic social media activity by your company. All of it. Seems radical, but let’s take it one step at a time.…

via Stop All Social Media Activity (Organic) | Solve For A Profitable Reality — Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik

Any Social Media Marketer would take this as an affront, but the wealth of insights based on pure data that’s being shared by Avinash in the above article is something to think about.

Social Media Platforms are not to be confused as Owned Platforms

There are platforms which we build (such as our very own discussion forum) or a blog. These are Owned Platforms … and then there are platforms where people exist and we simply establish our brand’s presence on those platforms. Such as any Social Media sites e.g Facebook, Twitter.

In such cases, your brand’s outreach is subject to the policies dictated by that platform. Zuck’s Death Spiral (ZDS) is one such example that Avinash is talking about.

Shouldn’t brands adopt Social?

By all means adopt social and engage with your customers online. However, keep in mind that when in Rome, you do as the Romans do. That means, on Facebook – you follow the rules that Zuck lays out. Ergo, the same rinse repeat formula of posting 4-5 Social Media posts a day may not work.

What is required instead, is a concerted effort to truly wow your fans. If you do not wish to do that and want to instead rely on the same well worn formula of doing selfies of your brand, then your social media team is doing you a grave injustice.

Rise of Social Media in E-commerce

Rise of Social Media in E-Commerce

If you have an e-commerce start-up and are just starting your marketing outreach program, then this is a great infographic which can be of help.

Social Media can be used by organizations for ATL activities such as branding and for BTL activities such as promotions. The visual and witty element inherent in social media helps brands to sell well. The infographic above shares some stats which are quite high and make a marketing manager relook at Social as one of their channels.

For some sites such as Pinterest where the look of the product on display really matters, e-commerce becomes a natural extension. Go to any of the boards on the site and you will find atleast a series of photos which turn the social media site into a catalog of retail products.

Add to this, people love posing for pictures on the new products they have. There’s a whole element of showing off the latest purchase through unboxing videos, through product reviews.

What makes the Perfect Post on Social Platforms?

Perfect Posts On Social Platforms

Perfect Posts On Social Platforms

 

When it comes to maintaining your presence on different Social Media networks, the key to this is timing, consistency and knowing what your audience appreciates. As your channel matures, your audience will start realizing that your updates are according to a schedule, which means your interested audience can know exactly when to check your channel for news they can use.

The time in these platforms and the platforms themselves should also give you a cue as to which social update to put where and when.

Google Plus banned my Profile

I am trying to develop a regular rapport with this Google+ since I believe that over a period of time, this will affect in a big way on how search results are displayed to users. I do not have definitive stats which indicate that a person in higher number of circles result in higher SERPs, but this is a gut feel and more on that later. Visiting Google+ and engaging on the social network is part of my daily agenda. If you are a blogger, you should try it out some time.

However, when I logged onto Google+, this is what I saw on the top of my screen

Google+ ban

So I did what any normal person would do.

I raged. Then I calmed down and tried to reason with the system as to why this could be the case. After reading through the myriad of support articles that were linked in the notifications, the only action one could do was delete all content that I had submitted and submit the profile for review.

Google Suspension

After submitting my profile and waiting for a day, the good folks at Google decided that my profile was still violating some of their policies.

As a user, it would have been great if they could clearly point that out, however much to my chagrin there has been no actionable point from Google. Big Brother wants to disable my profile and that’s the way it would stay. An automated system is a good thing, but an iron wall is bad … I cannot even question why my account was suspended … the two documents that suggest probable reasons are Google+ User Content and Conduct Policy and Name Policy.

The former suggests that I have uploaded some content which could be hate comment, spam, …. the later suggests that my name does not seem genuine. I don’t know which allegation is more disturbing. I would love to contest these allegations, but there is no committee with whom I can take this up with … there is simply a red notification about the ban.

I have always been a Google Fan-boy, perhaps I still am, but this system makes me question their approach at trying to launch a social network. If you are spurning away your active users, how do you propose to get more users to stick to your social network?

New social network on the block So.cl

So.Cl

On 2nd Feb 2012, I received a mail from FUSE Labs. It was about Microsoft Research team’s new experiment. Happy to get a beta invite, I jumped on-board – it was 7am early in the morning when I had decided to check my mail. I got so absorbed checking out the site that I hardly noticed an hour fly by!

Up front So.cl is less confusing than Google+, here’s what it seems to do –

  • You can get in touch with random people and can follow-unfollow them (ala Twitter, G+)
  • Rich media looks really good on the site
  • A new feature which I found really cool was Video Parties (crowd-sourced video playlists which keep playing in one section of the site)

Here’s the catch!

To add posts on this social network, you have to search for terms … on Bing. Yes. on Bing.

They have really taken search social. Something that Google+ is doing slowly and carefully, Microsoft has twisted the entire approach and done a bold step under the name of an experiment.

It’s definitely worth a shot, do give it a whirl here.

You will require a Facebook ID to register and login, which kind of acknowledges FB as the king of all social networks.

Peerindex, Klout Beware!

routed People who are in Social Media would already know of influence monitoring tools such as Klout, Peerindex, and Rapportive.

I started using Klout the minute I discovered it using the Rapportive add-on for Firefox. Measuring and monitoring your klout score seemed cool. Soon after that I chanced on Peerindex as well.

The approaches employed by Klout and Peerindex are slightly different. Whereas Peerindex considered the reach of your tweets and conversations, Klout seemed to focus on the richness. Both the web-apps seemed cool, since both of them gave you an indication of what and how to increase your respective scores. So I managed to hike up my Klout score from the low 40s to the low 60s. I was happy with what I had achieved, until one conversation with Sushrut at a Tweet-up made me realize, that a high Klout score or a high Peerindex score is not really the outcome.

The business model that both these web-apps adopt to monetize their influence measuring algorithms is pretty much the same. Organizations that need to reach out to the influencers and decision-makers in their particular niches can now do so … at a price of course. Peerindex for example, charges 50 GBP for identifying a single influencer in the topic of your choosing. Of course there are people who are willing to pay, but the question I want to raise is till when?

I recently read this article on the openview blog, and found this great directory of twitterati – Twellow. One simple search confirmed this, the application is a directory of topic-wise experts, whereas this might seem commonplace, what this means for Klout and Peerindex is that their premium services now seem overpriced. Why would an organization pay a premium for the same information which is available for free?

Agreed, that Klout and Peerindex do provide “perks” for influencers, but at the end of the day, the deliverable for which the organization is paying up good money is to get twitter handles of influencers to start engaging with them. Perhaps, if the engagement can be somehow integrated into these perks … but till then I am firmly sticking to Twellow!