In the last few years I have witnessed something remarkable. A broad community of “digital enthusiasts” has gradually banded together realising that the sum is always greater than the parts.
These people were originally only connected online via social networks but then they started meeting at coffee mornings and soon the conversation drifted to “what else can we do”.
Before long there were monthly events where this community could meet, socialise and learn more. More coffee mornings also sprung up allowing even more people to connect in real life.
Naturally, many in this community started doing business with each other and introducing others to the group.
The potential of this community began to be seen and so a taskforce was formed to help harness its collective power. This served to place decision makers and influencers at the same table with the same broad goals for the community.
Others began to take notice. Big initiatives became realistic. Things started to happen.
Which brings us to today.
The community I am referring to is in my home town of Newcastle. What has been for years referred to as “Steel City” or “Coal Town” is now mining nerds. What began as a loose collection of “digital enthusiasts’ now constitutes a serious digital ecosystem.
- A growing collection of small tech start-ups and digital agencies.
- Co-work spaces like StartHouse and others.
- A monthly educational meetup with The Lunaticks.
- A $10 million startup accelerator at Slingshot.
- An industry taskforce at HunterDiGiT with a strong agenda for the region.
- An Open Innovation event connecting major organisations with the local innovation community.
- An ambitious annual industry event, DiG Festival, which aims to attract participants from throughout Australasia.
- A University and TAFE who are increasingly embracing change and engaging with the community.
You really get the feeling that this is just the beginning. There is so much more to come.
And its all the result of a bunch of passionate people working together to focus on the big picture. Its not about the individual or personal reward, instead its for the collective good of the region. It relies heavily on collectively supporting any initiative that will benefit the wider community.
If you live in this region, get on board, get involved and support those who are trying to make a difference.
If you live elsewhere, be reassured that this can also happen in your region. Change isn’t easy but there’s no denying the power of a focused community.
When it comes to selling online, not all social media platforms are created equal.
Have you noticed more ads lately on the social media sites you use? There’s a good reason for that. Companies are trying to dip into the massive pool of social media users; what platforms are they using – and how is that likely to change?
This infographic – Selling Social: How Companies are Connecting with Social Media – explains which platforms companies are using, which they feel are most important, the reasons why they are using social media and what the future holds
Source: Social Media Examiner, “2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report”
As social networks grow and mature it has become inevitable that revenue streams such as advertising have become a key aspect of their long-term viability.
It is now predicted that social media ad revenues will to grow to $11 billion dollars by the year 2017 and so social advertising has become a huge topic of interest amongst marketers. In fact, Facebook alone is expected to make close to $1 billion from its mobile ad revenue in 2013, according to the latest estimates.
As Salesforce Marketing Cloud VP Peter Goodman notes, “Social ads reach the audience in which you’ve invested a lot of money and time into nurturing. You can see which audiences are engaging the most, so you can ensure that your ads are being bought correctly and you’re actually growing your fan base based on true data.”
This new infographic from Salesforce looks at the current state of the social ads ecosystem, including why you should consider using social ads.
Social influencers are possibly digital marketing’s most underutilised resource.
Let’s face it, we’ve always been influenced by people we admire or know. But online influence takes it to a whole other level. Buyers are listening to what their key online influencers are saying and sellers need to start paying attention.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone. When Tim Ferriss talks about a new product, book or brand I usually check it out and often buy it. Same for Chris Brogan, Chris Guillebeau or Gary Vaynerchuk. These guys know their stuff and I (and many others) tend to trust their opinions.
Technorati’s 2013 Digital Marketing Report revealed that brands spend the least on the outlets consumers trust the most: the word of mouth of their friends and those they follow.
The Word of Mouth Marketing Association defines a social media influencer as a person or group of people who possess greater than average potential to influence due to attributes such as frequency of communication, personal persuasiveness or size of and centrality to a social network, among others.
Yet fewer than half of social media influencers follow brands on Facebook (47%) or Twitter (38%) while well over half of the social media marketing budget goes toward those outlets. Why? Because they are being ignored by brands who would be better off engaging with them.
Here’s the bottom line:
- 74% of consumers rely on social media to influence their purchasing decisions.
- 81% of consumers are influenced by their friends’ posts on social media when making purchasing decisions.
- Facebook and Twitter are the top platforms used by bloggers and the top platforms for generating blog revenue.
- Facebook is the number one platform for mobilizing consumers to be brand advocates.
Marketers must start to invest in influencing the feeds of key influencers and bloggers.
Who do consumers trust when it comes to their purchasing decisions? This great infographic from MBA in Marketing explains all.
Expect a growing wave of complaints and resentment on social networks over the next few years as the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn increase their efforts to generate revenue through advertising.
You see, since the launch of these hugely popular social networks many of were under the misguided impression that we were the customer. We enjoyed using these amazing free services, connecting with family, friends, colleagues and new people around the world. Its been wonderful and it has revolutionised the way we communicate.
And its free!!! How good is that?
Hold on, didn’t your parents always tell you “nothing in life is free”?
Well, they were right. You pay one way or another for most “free” services. Payment doesn’t always have to be financial. Sometimes we pay in time or attention. That’s how traditional “free” media like TV and radio works. It interrupts our attention and asks for 30 seconds of our time in return for free entertainment.
And so it will be with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. These are big expensive beasts to run. Free memberships don’t pay for staff, servers, large buildings, Segways and funky cafeterias.
Up until recently Venture Capital was funding the growth of these services and the focus was on attracting users who in turn shared their life, loves and information. Eventually these networks had to start delivering a return to the VCs and shareholders and inevitably advertising would be the solution.
The good news is that the services are still free…. BUT you are now the product. All that information you have shared, all those like buttons you have clicked, all those groups you have joined have helped the networks understand more about you so they can attempt to deliver more valuable solutions to their real customers; the advertisers.
Ask most people what they think Facebook is for and they’ll say ‘it’s there to help me make friends’. Guess what? Facebook’s boardroom isn’t talking about how to make you more friends. It’s talking about how to monetise your social graph.” Increasingly that will be via a range of “targeted” products like Graph Search, Suggested Apps, Sponsored Posts and Sidebar Ads.
Facebook has been doing advertising for a while but its only recently that users have really started to complain about it. That’s because initially the ads were focused on the sidebar and we’d grown accustomed to that style of advertising on other sites and Google search results.
But the shift to mobile forced Facebook, and others, to rethink how they serve up advertising. There’s now room for sidebar ads on the mobile site so now the ads are steadily being seeded into your stream or newsfeed. And that’s not kosher according to some users.
Now Twitter is evolving from it’s Promoted Posts product to unveil its newest ad product, which enables “keyword targeting in timelines” allowing brands to serve up ads to users based on the content they’re actually tweeting. (Read more about it here)
The bottom line is you need to get used to it or unsubscribe. These networks need to make money in order to continue providing you with a “free” service. They will push the limits of your loyalty to their service over time, but as long as they aren’t losing more users than they’re gaining they won’t desist.
Whether you like it or not…you are now the product.
Social media has become an invaluable marketing and communications asset for many organisations over the last few years but it also represents yet another task for marketers and business owners to cram into their already busy schedule. And there are now quite a few social networks that can’t be ignored, so it can been seen as quite a burden.
The most common question I receive when recommending a social media plan to clients is “but how much time must I dedicate to it?” The good news is that, with a bit of planning, organisation and automation, you don’t need to become a slave to social networks. In fact, you can manage 6 popular social networks in just half an hour a day.
The team at Pardot have assembled this great guide to demonstrate how you can rock social media in just 30 minutes a day. It covers, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram and also has some excellent automation tips.
Follow this plan, fine-tune it for your business and social networks and then be consistent and you will have gone a long way to really optimising the benefits of social media.
Social media has become ubiquitous and naturally the world’s advertisers and marketers are following the trend and allocating an increasingly larger share of their budgets to the leading social networks.
If the future of advertising is to start participating in the stream that people want to use and around 80% of active internet users are visiting social networks and blogs, then its only natural that the marketing dollars will follow. In fact, in the USA over 75% of brands have already incorporated social advertising into their integrated marketing budget.
So what does the social advertising landscape look like? The team at Uberflip have compiled this infographic to illustrate the increasing adoption of social ads among marketers, the amount of dollars allocated on these channels, and the effectiveness of these paid social media campaigns.
The future of advertising27Feb13
The future of advertising is to stop trying to advertise to people, and instead start participating in the stream that people want to use. People will follow your brands if you contribute to whatever it is the people are up to.
This is a modified version of a statement Stowe Boyd made recently in a post. He was talking about the future of advertising on mobile but I feel it applies everywhere now.
In fact it nails it.
Stop advertising. Start participating and contributing.
Social media is ubiquitous now and for many organisations it has become an essential and effective marketing tool. But social media can also be highly effective as a customer service tool, something that relatively few organisations realise or utilise.
I have found from interactions with larger organisations that if you can fix an issue that a customer is having via social media you’ll find it’s one of the best marketing channels you’ve ever worked in. Leave them hanging, and you’ll find out the opposite is true.
This Infographic from ClickSoftware highlights compelling stats, for example, customers who engage with companies via social media spend 20%-40% more with those companies. So, how do you use social media when interacting with corporate brands or with your own customers?