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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Searching for a social CRM strategy, companies pin hopes on Pinterest


It didn’t take long for businesses to recognize the potential value of social media sites Facebook and Twitter. Now another hugely popular site has piqued their interest: Pinterest.
The site invites users to organize and share the images they find when surfing the Web. Since it launched in 2010, traffic has grown by about 50% a month, making it the third-largest social network in the U.S., thanks to an audience that skews mostly female, according to Mashable’s recent study “13 ‘Pinteresting’ Facts About Pinterest Users.”
But the Pinterest experience -- people peruse the Web for photos of their favorite fashions, decorations and recipes, much like pulling magazine clippings, and “pin” them to the site -- is changing. Businesses are learning about benefits Pinterest can bring them, too, and are considering using it for social CRM as part of an overall customer experience management (CEM) strategy.
“Pinterest’s heavy use of visuals seems to work best with businesses in the home decor, hobbies, crafts, food and fashion categories,” said Tim Peter, of Tim Peter & Associates in Long Valley, N.J., a company that uses the Web to help businesses grow. Any company looking to support its brand with visuals can use the site to promote its products or services, he said.
One key feature of Pinterest is the “re-pin” process in which users find images on fellow users’ boards and repost them on their own boards. Re-pinning credits the user who first pinned the image and maintains the source link -- regardless of how many times it is re-pinned. The option has opened up the opportunity for businesses to promote brand recognition and directly encourage people to buy products and services.
Using Pinterest for Social CRM
So Pinterest is the next big thing on the Web. But will it stay that way for businesses, and is it worth a company’s time to create an account? Opinions differ. According to Cyndie Shaffstall, specialist in search engine optimization and search media optimization for Spider Trainers in Lakewood, Colo., which optimizes professional Web visibility, it also depends on the type of company.
“Pinterest is a visual social network, and this means that companies that can present their products or services in a vibrant, engaging manner will derive the most benefit,” Shaffstall said. “With the right type of products and good photography, this site can provide you invaluable feedback on the viability of products you are vetting.”
Big brands, from Whole Foods Market and the Travel Channel to the popular site Etsy, where artists sell their work, and even Drake University are using Pinterest. Those seeing the most success are building deeper relationships with customers and using them to find new ones. And they are doing that by giving customers incentives to share brand content with their Pinterest followers, Peter added.
“Companies looking to get the most from Pinterest should post shareable content, ask consumers to share the brand’s content and provide incentives for customers to share content,” Peter said. If companies offer the Pin It button on their own websites, they can also allow their consumers to add items to their wish lists and eventually buy those items.
He points to home goods retailer Wayfair, based in Boston, as doing a particularly good job of highlighting brand experiences and merchandising its products.
“Wayfair is effectively extending the shopping experience across sales channels to continue engaging customers,” Peter said. The company’s “Share the Love Pinterest Contest,” which it launched on Facebook, awards $50 gift cards to several random customers as well as those who built the best pin boards. It not only engages customers but also encourages Wayfair’s existing 28,000 Facebook followers to tout the brand.
Is Pinterest Mature Enough for Social CRM?
There are a few things companies should consider before joining Pinterest: Copyright infringement is one of them.
“Ensure that anything you're pinning or re-pinning to your brand's boards [doesn’t] infringe someone else's copyright.” Peter said. “Brand marketers should tread lightly if they're unsure of the terms of use on content they're pinning.”
Peter also warns that some site architectures don’t easily allow you to pin content -- JavaScript image expansion code in particular can be a problem.
Others are more hesitant to conclude that Pinterest can offer businesses concrete CEM benefits -- yet, anyway.
“Forrester doesn’t advocate a platform lead strategy -- i.e., pinning for pinning’s sake -- and the service is still way too new to have a concrete role to play in a specific area like social CRM,” said Darika Ahrens, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. That doesn’t mean, however, that businesses with adequate time and budgets shouldn’t experiment with Pinterest, she said.
“Early rumors suggest Pinterest would be useful to brands looking to drive traffic to their website. What happens to that traffic when they hit your website -- do they bounce? Do they buy? It is yet to be quantified with any real data,” she said.



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What Kind Of Social Media Animal Are You?



Social media as a phenomenon is successful because it satisfies a few basic human needs. We are all programmed to connect, to gossip, to show off our status to the pack and to want to know what everyone else is doing.
I recently read an article that suggested all users were the same mindset, a totally ridiculous idea as there are many types. So forget Myers Briggs, this is myer’s blog guide to social media types. I have no idea what bird Twitter’s logo is, but here’s 10. Which one are you?

1. THE STARLING. Starlings are pack birds and move in groups. It’s all about feeling connected, you must always be part of the group. So get lots of friends, lots of followers and follower lots of people too.
It’s important to know what is going on in the pack or you may get left behind, in fact this can be more important than real life. And keeping up with the pack is essential. This is a perfect example of submissive ‘social norming’ where the pack behaviour dominates the individual’s behaviour. You may recognize the typical teen girl here. You see them walking about with phone in hand so absorbed they are cut off from the real world.
Many psychologists have deep concerns about the effect SM has upon vulnerable teens minds. (I think this is the bird most like the Twitter logo.)

2. THE CROW constantly crows for seemingly no reason, they just seem to like making a noise. See the comparison to Twitter, or maybe it should have been called ‘crowing’ rather than twittering. For the Crow it’s all about getting attention by making noise and humans being social animals need attention. The more social media noise we make, the more we feel we are being herd. The fact few people are actually listening is not the key factor. It’s about monologue not dialogue.

They also like to criticise, YouTube is a must, here it’s acceptable to slag off the video. A Twitter fact, 50% of al Tweets come from just 0.5% of Twitters, 90% from just 10%. And I bet a lot of those are PR agencies! That’s a lot of crowing.

3. THE PEACOCK. What you Tweet or post on Facebook or LinkedIn says a lot about you. We all know that social media is the best lie ever. We can fake an identity, make people think we are dynamic, party going people who live for the moment and live life to the full. That we have hundreds of great friends who all love us.
There has been a defining type of party image that now results in what is called the ‘Facebook pose’. Hands spread out, head towards camera, wide eyed and big mouth open. Yet we also reveal another side, one that shows we are caring community grounded people with a passion for justice. And we like cute kittens too.

Psychologists say that this act of making ourselves look like we are living wonderful lives actually has a downside, we can easily feel inadequate, that others are actually living better lives for real, so leading to depression and isolation.

4. THE MAGPIE is one creature that seems to display OCD. Some people just can’t help themselves, collecting as many friends as they can, endlessly Twittering and messaging the world. It’s an obsession, a deep psychological need. They search the web for articles to collect.

Every new social networking gimmick becomes another chance to waste more time in between therapy sessions. Take Pinterest… perfect for exercising your OCD, the chance to post your collection of nothingness so others can view it. They are also the same at home in, where they cover the fridge in notes, sayings and postcards. You know the type.

5. THE OWL. Some people just like to be know it alls. One upping on others to find the newest, must unusual or extreme blog, article or video. They want you think how clever, finger on the pulse, trend hunting person they are. Desperate for recognition.

6. THE VULTURE is all take and no give. They use SM for their own greed gains. They love networking with a mission, linking up with people who may serve a use. Often bragging about their ‘who’s who’ list of connection.
Ambitious, driven and curious, they also prey upon others, listening but never returning. They nose into your picture gallery, interrogate your messages, what you are up to, check out your friends and then next day make that comment that lets you know they are watching.

7. THE PIGEON has been called a ‘rat with wings’ or ’a flying goat’ as it eats almost anything. Pigeons are interested in offers, deals, knowing what’s happening. They are hanging around everyone to pick up the scraps. Social media sites are like crumbs on the pavement, the next meal. They like to re-message other people’s messages, finds and ideas.

8. THE PARROT does it because everyone else is doing it. Not much else to say really.

9. THE PENGUIN is a light user of social media they almost don’t count. They don’t do a lot. They pop in and out as they please. No loyalty except to vouchers. They are on SM because they occasionally need to be.

10. THE DODO. “I don’t do social media.”
I’m sure we could add anouther 10 types, what would an Eagle be? Or a Pelican? Or an Ostrich?
So where do brands fit in? Do we have a special category for them? I’ll let you figure out if most just end up as crows or as one of the others.
If you like this article don’t forget to impulsively click the LIKE button, or why not post it on your Facebook page and look one step ahead, and Twitter it too. #SMbirds



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Bing introduces friend tagging through search

has announced a new feature for Bing search to further draw from a user's social network.

Bing search now offers the option to tag friends in search, allowing users to ask their friends directly about search queries.

A drop-down menu on the Bing search page provides a user with instant access to their Facebook friend list, allowing any of those friends to be tagged in the search. Tagged users receive a Facebook message asking them the search query, providing direct feedback from friends in addition to Bing's search results.

Microsoft provided the example of searching for a new restaurant and tagging friends who may have the best restaurant suggestions.

Bing is billed as a social search engine, having already been integrated with Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook and Twitter.

Earlier this month, Microsoft updated Bing with a new layout and faster search results, along with a partnership with Encyclopedia Britannica to enhance search results.

Watch an overview of friend tagging with Bing below:





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The Top Social Media Tracking Tools


Social media audiences have effectively become another universe of prospects to tap, which means measurement and tracking is essential to yielding from these visitors both direct and indirect revenue. While Facebook and Twitter offer their own analytics tools, a host of third-party offerings exist to pick up where they leave off. Here, digital audience marketers chime in on the ones they’re using now, and why.
Tool: Adobe Sitecatalyst
URL: Omniture.com/sitecatalyst
What it does: Segments traffic to determine “high-value” Web visitors and offers real-time analytics.
The breakdown: “We get most of our Facebook data by marrying up Facebook Insights data with our Web analytics from Adobe Sitecatalyst. We use Sitecatalyst to analyze all of the traffic coming back to our sites and what is getting them there. We have integrated some of our other social vendors like Gigya into Sitecatalyst so that we can look at our shares, likes, tweets, pins, social logins, comments, etc., and the impact of those for our traffic.”
–Erin Hoskins, Senior Marketing Director, New Media, Meredith
Tool: Curalate
URL:
 Curalate.com
What it does:
 Monitors and measures traffic from “visual-based platforms”—namely (for now, at least) Pinterest.
The breakdown:
 “Pinterest doesn’t have an open API yet, so data has been pretty limited. Curalate allows us to see how the content we pin to our boards is performing, as well as the content people are organically pinning from our sites, and more importantly how viral those actions are, since it’s reported that 80 percent of Pinterest activity comes from repins.”
–Erin Hoskins, Senior Marketing Director, New Media, Meredit
h
Tool: Bitly (formerly Bit.ly)
URL: Bitly.com
What it does: Allows users to share and bookmark links, powers shortened URLs used especially on Twitter and offers an enterprise analytics platform.
The breakdown: “I like Bitly to measure external traffic, so looking at our brands versus the competition.”
–Leslie Ellwood, Executive Director, Audience Development, American Media Inc.
Tool: Radian6 (Salesforce)
URL: Radian6.com
What it does: Gathers, tracks, analyzes and reports on what people are saying about a brand, on blogs and through comments and posts on social media sites.
The breakdown: “Capturing conversation outside brand-owned channels is not a perfect science, but at the moment, Radian6 is leading the pack. It’s decent at capturing blog and Twitter-based content but not as accurate at capturing content that is behind a ‘sign-in’ gate, most notably Facebook. This means there is always a margin of error in what the tool is measuring. For this reason, we prefer to pull specific data on each platform from each platform and create our own cumulative reports.”
–Raman Kia, Executive Director, Digital Strategy, Condé Nast Media Group
Tool: Sysomos (Marketwire)
URL: Sysomos.com
What it does: Like Radian6, Sysomos is designed to help brands “listen” to what people are saying about them online, particularly through social media.
The breakdown: “This is a new vendor for us. It will allow us to track conversations about our brands and campaigns, spot trends in core content areas and identify key influencers that are connected to our brands.”
–Erin Hoskins, Senior Marketing Director, New Media, Meredith
Tool: Open Site Explorer (SEOmoz)
URL: Opensiteexplorer.org
What it does: Offers data on most-linked-to content and most-linked-from sites, and allows Web publishers to compare their own data against the competition.
The breakdown: “We prefer to take the extra step when measuring ‘influence’ and look at the value of referral links in terms of page authority. Open Site Explorer is a great tool for this.”
–Raman Kia, Executive Director, Digital Strategy, Condé Nast Media Group
Tool: Chartbeat Publishing (formerly Newsbeat)
URL: chartbeat.com/publishing
What it does: Shows the most popular content on a site at a given time, how readers move around the site, the level of engagement for each story and which stories people read all the way through versus abandoned after one paragraph.
The breakdown: “The Chartbeat interface is very intuitive and visual, so you can get a lot of information in one place. There is something about the color and tone that’s very easy to look at for hours. It’s also simple to customize.”



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Twitter Launches 'CashTags'


Twitter started prioritizing money talk on its site today with the announcement of "cashtags." These are clickable ticker symbols, like $AAPL, $GOOG, and $FB, which take users to search results about the company's finances and stocks.
Twitter made the announcement via a tweet in which it wrote: "Now you can click on ticker symbols like $GE on http://twitter.com to see search results about stocks and companies."
According to The Verge, the cashtags come on the heels of other user-created Twitter innovations, such as the @reply and the #hashtag. (The hashtag, for instance, evolved into the social network's "Discover" tab.) In this case, cashtags also appear to be part of Twitter's emerging strategy to keep users on twitter.com instead of clicking away.
StockTwits co-founder Howard Lindzon, however, charged that Twitter has hijacked one of his company's key features. "You can hijack a plane but it does not mean you know how to fly it," Lindzon wrote. The entrepreneur claimed that Twitter had told him as recently as a few months ago that it wasn't interested in making its own cashtags. 
Despite the "he-said, she-said," Twitter definitely seems interested now.
Currently, the cashtags take users to a Twitter search of the ticker symbol but don't yet show any expanded information within the Twitter service. Of course, this could, and probably will, change in the future.



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Trainee fined $280k for illegal FB party


BERLIN: A German court has handed a 20-year-old apprentice a 227,000-euro ($280,000) bill to cover police costs after he organized an illegal party through the Facebook social network in the southern German town of Constance.




The man identified only as Matthias L. told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he attended a number of other parties announced on Facebook and got the idea to have an even bigger event at a public beach on the shores of Lake Constance.

The newspaper said thousands had signed up to attend, clicking the 'join' button, but town leaders banned it in advance. Nearly 300 police were dispatched to prevent revelers from gaining access to the beach area. Only about 150 people showed up and eight who refused to leave were detained.

"I had been to some other illegal Facebook parties and thought to myself 'I can do better than this'," Matthias L. told Bild am Sonntag.

The newspaper said he earns about 560 euros a month but will now have to reimburse the city and police 227,052 euros.

"When I look at the bill I feel ill," Matthias L. said.

Guenter Loos, an official at the Baden-Wuerttemberg state interior ministry, said the state will insist on reimbursement.

"We're definitely going to collect these fees in accordance with state rules," he said.



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Sunday, 22 July 2012

5 Reasons To Use Social CRM


So this article may come as something of a surprise, as I'm going to be beating the drums about social CRM again, this time for the service and support organization. Why? Social networks give you the quickest access to customers where they already are.
Almost anybody you want to do business with is somewhere on Facebook or LinkedIn or product-review networks, at least in the United States. More importantly, these networks are the cauldron that brews the buzz about your products. Social gives you access to new kinds of information and real-time feedback for critical parts of the service, support, training and professional services business processes.
I'm not pumping products here-I'm pointing to business processes that need to evolve to improve profitability. Here are five ways social CRM can help.
1. You Can't Make Support Access Too Easy.
Making it easier for customers to find the specific support resource they need is half the battle of making support feel easy to use. Customers are easily overwhelmed by large companies' websites, online resources and call center processes. (Ironically, these were the mechanisms intended to make the customer experience better.)
There are just too many pages to navigate, and the customer may not use the same vocabulary you do, so both search and ontological approaches may lead to nothing but frustration. The simple act of having familiar Facebook and LinkedIn pages for each of your products can make customers' lives easier. The same idea applies to product-review and professionally-focused networks specific to your industry.
Tip: How Social Customer Support Brings Social Media Beyond Marketing
There are two underlying principles here-getting to customers where they already are, rather than making them switch media, and shortening the distance to answers by providing multiple streamlined routes. To harness the power of these relationships, support's social network conversations should be linked-better yet, threaded-with the CRM software's Case, Contact, Account and Opportunity records.
2. You Can Make Self-Support Work Better.
Many support organizations for technical products depend upon user self-support, as the community is "on the air" 24/7 and can often provide answers faster than the support team. Even if the user base cannot provide the answers, it can certainly generate the widest range of test cases and real-world workarounds. If the economics of your support depend upon the community-where the "customer experts" become an active part of the knowledge base-then the CRM system needs to make community dynamics work better.
Within each social media channel, identify and profile the local customer heroes-presenting only a Twitter handle within a Facebook page doesn't cut it). Customer heroes should have credibility scores based on the number of posts they have, and those scores should be part of that person's Contact record in the CRM. When it's time for new product introductions, both marketing and engineering will want to know the heroes in each channel for early testimonials and testbeds, respectively.
3. Extinguish the Fire Before It's a Firestorm.
Internet discussion boards and social networks collect and foment customer reactions at light speed. You don't want to be blindsided by a firestorm of negatives, particularly if Google News happens to notice it and alerts your competitors.
Support, then, needs real-time monitoring for sentiment of customer posts and questions in social networks and the blogosphere. While a range of products conduct reputation monitoring, most tend to focus on the corporate brand. What's needed for support and service is a sharper focus on particular product names and keywords that relate to areas where defects could be suspected-"Volt" and "battery fire," for a completely innocuous example.
Case Study: How Citibank Uses Twitter to Improve Customer Service
When the social network monitoring engine identifies a new trending issue, the CRM cases should be queried to match against tags and keywords. In this way, support becomes an active part of the early warning system-and can provide information to help put out the fire-right in the medium where the situation is developing.
Part of the puzzle is identifying the mavens and what they are saying. Because mavens have the widest reach, you need to identify who has the loudest voices when it comes to your products. This requires a lot of data mining, but it can be automated and correlated with CRM data to improve your company's leverage within the community. For example, if you find a key customer who's a maven, you can auto-create a case for any of her Tweets and automatically escalate the case following that customer's SLA-even before that customer has even contacted your support team.
Of course, all these goodies don't come off the shelf from any vendor. For the next few quarters, this is integration and coding territory.
4. Support Is the New Sales.
Support staff have more continuous conversations with customers than sales reps do. Your best intelligence on emerging needs and therefore upsells will come from the support, training and consulting teams.
How-to: Get Customer-Driven Data From Your CRM System
To reap the benefits of these "zero-cost sales cycles," make support, services and training conversations with customers easy and natural in the social media. Make those conversations visible within the relevant CRM records, too.
5. Without Organization, Social Media Is Just Noise.
Simplistic support CRM systems use your internal effort as the organizing principle. Your people create the cases, the solutions and the articles that feed the knowledge base.
There's nothing wrong with that-but social networks are known for producing user-generated content. If your community managers are doing their job, the amount and coverage of UGC (particularly videos) can be significantly larger than your formal KB.
The problem is, customer conversations about symptoms won't use the same terms you do. Is the customer's question about a network drive, a file share or a NAS server? All that extra content may just be adding confusion. Consequently, searches and navigation of the UGC needs to be unified with the formal KB documents, at the very least with liberal use of tags, aliases and hyperlinks.
On the flip side is your support problem: correlating apparently disparate symptoms with solutions. To make the noise meaningful, social media conversations need to be fully threaded with the formal incident/case and bug/solution records in your CRM system.
The support and customer service departments were the original pioneers of early CRM, and the underlying concepts and metrics of those systems were oriented mainly toward reducing queue depth, time to respond and time to resolve. Essentially, the focus was on reducing costs.
Today's opportunity with social media, on the other hand, is to make service and support the fulcrum for new revenues by improving customer loyalty, improving renewal rates and more quickly grabbing upsells of your products. Leveraging social CRM can bring those goals into sight.
David Taber is the author of the new Prentice Hall book, " Salesforce.com Secrets of Success" and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy focused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems. SalesLogistix clients are in North America, Europe, Israel and India. Taber has more than 25 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at the VP level or above.
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DATA: Pinterest Now Bigger Than Google+ And Tumblr For Brands


Pinterest sharing is now greater than Google+ and Tumblr according to new data from social bookmarking service AddThis.
The data dovetails with earlier reports that marketers were giving up on Google+ in favor of Pinterest, with its shopping-friendly audience.
Sharing to Pinterest is 6% greater than Tumblr and 7% greater than Google +1, AddThis said. The company's data is drawn from 1.3 billion unique users monthly.


The service also reported that referral traffic from Pinterest was 30% higher than from Twitter across its 14 million site network in the month of May.
According to AddThis, people following brands increased 26% in the last month. In addition, the service gave insight into its mobile platform breakdown for Pinterest usage:
That means almost three-quarters of its mobile users are accessing Pinterest via an Apple product.


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Facebook & It's Changing Metrics For Measurement


Brand marketers may 'like' Facebook, but the world's largest social network has created numerous challenges. ROI is often hard to find; Facebook says it can take a year to produce. And despite the promise, certain kinds of initiatives may simply not work.
Now that it's a publicly-traded company, Facebook is under even greater pressure to live up to its valuation, which currently reflects the fact that investors believe the social network has significant room to grow. To deliver the necessary growth, it has to find ways to convince marketers that it's a productive marketing platform.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, that may not be easy, and it may create big headaches.
Case in point: Dan Wilkerson, a social media project manager at analytics consulting firm LunaMetrics raisedsome interesting questions about recent changes Facebook made to how it calculates its reach metric. Wilkerson explains that "As of July 3nd, Facebook’s reach metric will include both mobile views and will now only count a ‘reach’ if a user scrolls down and loads a Page’s story."
The problem, as he sees it, is not the change itself, but what it implies about the accuracy and utility of the reach metric prior to July 3:
...it was always implied that each ‘reach’ point was a fan that had been exposed to your story at least once, just like the advertising parallel. However, according to the update, they apparently were counting reach as users who may or may not have seen your story, and were outright ignoring mobile exposures....This was a jaw-dropper for me. Over 500 million members of their user base access the service via mobile device, well over half their accounts. You mean to tell me that this entire time those views were unaccounted for in the reach figure?
Wilkerson makes the point that "without reliable metrics, we can’t make informed and strategic decisions" and given the nature of the changes Facebook has made, he believes historical reach data is essentially useless.

With Facebook change may be the only constant

Is he right? I'm sure there's room for debate. But one thing is clear: marketers are going to need to accept that change is the only constant with the world's largest social network. Need evidence of that? Beyond reach, there are other metrics-related changes Facebook has rolled out. In an AdAge piece, Dave Williams, CEO of Blinq Media, provides details:
With conversion tracking and analytics, advertisers can now specify a single action or multiple actions to be measured for any ad group, and can optimize to these metrics. For ads and sponsored stories pointing to internal Facebook pages, marketers can now track page Likes, page post Likes, comments, @ mentions, check-ins, photo tags, and page post shares (including shares of special offers from brands). Marketers can also track 'claimed your offer,' 'answered your question,' 'clicked on the Page post link,' 'viewed the page post photo,' 'viewed the Page post video,' and 'viewed a tab on your Page.'
For ads and sponsored stories pointing to Facebook applications, this list includes installs, users, and the number of times Facebook credits were spent in the app. When it comes to Facebook's events feature, they can track "yes" and "maybe" RSVPs. Marketers will be able to look at these metrics in 1-day view-through and 1-, 7-, and 28-day click-through attribution windows.
Williams largely seems to believe these changes are a step in the right direction, but acknowledges that they "are catching some advertisers and agencies off-guard."
That, in the end, may hint at the biggest problem here: Facebook is running the measurement show and marketers are largely along for the ride. So long as marketers focus much of their investments on driving activity on Facebook (such as using Facebook ads to drive users to their Facebook Pages), they will largely be dependent on Facebook and its data to determine if those investments are paying off.
That data, as Wilkerson suggests, may not always be accurate, and even if it is, it's worth keeping in mind that Facebook has every incentive to position activity on its social network in a positive light.
From this perspective, marketers should remember: Facebook can up the amount of measurement data it provides and create all sorts of new metrics for marketers to digest, but at the end of the day, when it comes to analytics, prolificacy of data and metrics should never be assumed to correlate with the productivity andprofitability of a marketing campaign.



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Monday, 16 July 2012

How valuable is a Facebook like? Virtual bagel fans show it's hard to find out


The quality of Facebook 'likes' as a useful indicator of advertising success on the social network has again been called into question, this time by a BBC investigation that suggests many come from spammy, fake profiles.
The investigation, conducted by BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, involved the setting up of a page for a fictitious UK company called 'VirtualBagel Ltd', along with an accompanying ad. Despite the fact that the page only contained scanty information, it amassed almost 3,000 likes within four days, many of which were from clearly fake profiles of people living in Egypt, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Facebook like
How valuable is a Facebook like?
Security expert Graham Cluley, quoted for the piece on Thursday, said that "spammers and malware authors can mass-produce false Facebook profiles to help them spread dangerous links and spam, and trick people into befriending them", and that many likes come from such profiles.
Cellan-Jones' experiment did not constitute an extensive study (and yes, the ad was poorly targeted), but it was not the first to highlight the 'social spammer' problem. And, as a recent 33Across survey showed, many brand marketers are becoming increasingly concerned about the viability of measuring their campaigns on Facebook.
This matters because advertising is central to the company's future revenues. When people bought into Facebook's glitchy IPO, they were betting on that future. Facebook's 2012 revenue forecast at the flotation was $4.85bn (£3.14bn), but its valuation was $104bn. The value of the company was in what it would supposedly achieve in the coming years.
The two big variables in how that future will play out are advertising and Facebook's mobile strategy. The latter is no sure thing because Facebook is effectively engaged in 'co-opetition' (horrible word, but it fits here) with other platform companies such as Apple and Google — it needs their platforms to run its own, so it has to walk a very fine line there, and it's very uncertain where that line will lead.
But that platform issue is of a kind we've seen before, in the early days of the PC, and in any battle over who 'owns' the customer. Betting on future revenues in a space where it's near-impossible to get accurate measurements of 'engagement' and 'ROI' is a much more modern phenomenon.
Facebook needs to convince advertisers that it is where the money is. Its success or otherwise in doing so will be incredibly important not only for its own investors and ecosystem, but for judging the value of the thing we call, well, 'value'.



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Sunday, 8 July 2012

Is your business using Pinterest effectively? How to measure success on the viral social media platform


One of the beautiful things about social media marketing is that its reach and reaction can be tracked. In comparison to direct mailings or print magazine advertisements, a business can actually count the potential customers who lay eyes on their tag lines and read over their reactions immediately, as they happen — right from their office computer screens.
With that said, it’s pointless to waste your payroll establishing a presence on a social media platform without accompanying your company efforts with a measurement plan. This is especially important when exploring Pinterest, a relatively new — and particularly segmented — platform that can do wonders for a startup’s brand and bottom line.
I asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs the following question:

Are you (still) using Pinterest for your business — and if yes, how are you measuring if it’s working?

Here are 7 startups that are making their presence known on Pinterest, and collecting tangible metrics along the way:
1. Pin, Repin and Repeat
 Is your business using Pinterest effectively? How to measure success on the viral social media platform“Our customers love following us on Pinterest. We get to show off our work, new things we buy for the business, and pin photos that inspire our company’s vision. We measure success on Pinterest by the number of followers and repins.”
2. Tracking Pinterest Analytics
Lane Sutton Is your business using Pinterest effectively? How to measure success on the viral social media platform“Pinterest does not have many features besides your typical following, pinning, comments, etc. However, a few third-party apps have been founded. PinReach measures trending pins with percentages, assigns scores to accounts. Pinerly allows you to mass-follow, unfollow, schedule pins, and view stats.”
3. Go With Google Analytics
Weiss Is your business using Pinterest effectively? How to measure success on the viral social media platform“We are making a big push on Pinterest and we track its success through Google Analytics. As long as we keep seeing a steady stream of visitors and conversions, we will keep up our efforts on the site.”
4. Not Much Yet…
Matthew Ackerson Is your business using Pinterest effectively? How to measure success on the viral social media platform“Pin Pinterest to our growing list of social media to-do’s. It’s a trendy thing to talk about, and surely now is the best time to begin building a following on it, but with sales and client management as the higher priority, it’s something we’re going truly into probably 3-6 months from now. For now, we have a meager profile and publish our design work and interesting articles/media on occasion.”
5. Are Your Fans Pinning?
 Is your business using Pinterest effectively? How to measure success on the viral social media platform“We measure fan engagement by repins, likes and, most importantly, original Pins! It’s easy to create something that folks will share. Our fans vote on new designs through Pinterest. More impactful, though, is when fans create content themselves (i.e. sharing a photo with our product). We closely track our fan engagement through the number of original Pins.”
6. Put the Tools in Place
Natalie MacNeil Is your business using Pinterest effectively? How to measure success on the viral social media platform“We use Pinterest to promote our content and create boards around subjects our readers like, for example, Favorite Books and Fashion Picks, which we don’t typically cover in depth on the site. Over the last few months, traffic from Pinterest has almost surpassed our Twitter traffic which we track through Google Analytics. Now we’re experimenting with the Pinerly platform which is more robust.”
7. Drive Traffic and Build the Brand
Stephanie Kaplan Is your business using Pinterest effectively? How to measure success on the viral social media platform“We use Pinterest to further engage Her Campus’s audience of college women. We pin images from articles on HerCampus.com as well as other images we like. Pinterest has become a significant traffic driver for us — even surpassing Twitter in some months — as well as a helpful brand-building tool and additional platform to connect with our audience to further Her Campus’s community feel.”



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Tips On How Social CRM Transforms Businesses


Social media is one of the most significant forces reshaping  the facets  of business and management. Considering that the basic function of management is to empower people to be more productive, this can be assimilated in social media through social crm. If harnessed through customer relations management (CRM), social media can produce financial benefits for businesses. When applying social customer relations management, brand teams need to alter the mindsets they have on social media as well as the traditional brand planning methodologies. In addition, IT resource infrastructure also needs to be developed. Statistics show that about 76% of businesses are using social media for business objectives.
Social customer relations management transforms businesses in the following ways;
Empowers employees to engage customers
Social business empowers employees including B2B sales professionals to act on behave of a company through different social channels. Today, for instance, Dell has pioneered a response analysis, which identifies issues with their brand and products. This enables them solve customer issues proactively. As noted by the Dell’s Chief Listener Susan Beebe, “We have 10,000 Dell employees trained as social media professionals.” Furthermore, Dell has established a social media university and it aims to see all of its employees trained in social media as Beebe further reiterates “…we want a lot more people at Dell trained to be brand ambassadors.”
Models out customers into brand advocates
Building relationship with customers on social media can easily convert these fans into brand and products advocates. They will talk about the brand name and its features to their peers. This helps in enhancing the reputation of a brand. It also helps in building confidence among potential consumers and these can be easily be groomed to become new clients. Through social media, a company’s social program team identifies industry influencers and nurtures them to reach out to the social community with a deep sense and touch of their minds. This manipulates their perceptions about a company and chances their buying behavior. One of the benefits of creating a brand advocacy is that it helps customers sell a company’s product through word of mouth.
Increases company’s sales data
In the rich data markets, profile data that is provided by customers through social media interactions and lead generation processes is segmented based on needs, value, and psychographics to predict the ability of the customers to buy products and services. Social crm integrates both social data and social concepts to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation. A company can collect data about the fans lives, interactions and the social profile information that is available on the social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Social concepts entail advanced thinking about aspects such as online engagement and influence. This also is touched on in the ROI of social selling webinar.
Increases returns on investments
Businesses are swiftly applying social media CRM to develop virtual social communities and create social commerce programs by enhancing customer care and improving consumer research. A Survey done by Nucleus Research has depicted that CRM decision makers were able to establish that organizations can tremendously increased returns on investment by incorporating mobile and social capabilities that can be applied by sales persons.
Social CRM helps sales professionals to be more productive by intertwining social media networking to customer relations management. By monitoring comments made about brands and products, this can give insights on how consumers feel about the products and what improvements they suggest. This helps in product research and formulation.
In essence, the aim of social business is to create and fortify customer relations. Customers are seeking for tangible value, something that businesses are likely to confuse and this means that entities need to intuitively engage the social communities and understand what they really want in a brand. Nonetheless, the bottom-line is that social media when complimented with social crm brings forth great potential where companies can get closer to their customers. This enables businesses to increase revenue, improve on efficiencies and reduce costs.



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Social CRM Is A Must - Q&A Mikkel Svane - CEO Zendesk


CBR talked to Mikkel Svane, CEO of Zendesk at LeWeb'12 in London to talk about the future of Social CRM.
Zendesk is a provider of cloud-based helpdesk software for growing organizations to help them provide better customer service. More than 15,000 Zendesk customers, including Adobe, Sony, OpenTable and Groupon use the cloudbased helpdesk software. Zendesk is funded by Charles River Ventures, Benchmark Capital and Matrix Partners.

CEO of Zendesk
Mikkel Svane, CEO of Zendesk

What is Zendesk's specialisation?

We offer the market a tool for helping companies provide better customer care. Alongside having an email service operation or a call centre operation, businesses need to be able to deal with customers on Facebook, Twitter and so on, as well as managing customers in the same workflow.

Tell me a bit about Zendesk's background...

Zendesk is originally a Danish company I started in 2007. We were in Copenhagen from 2007 to 2009 and moved the company to San Francisco in 2009, and raised $26m. Today we are 250 people all together. Our European operations have around 40 people and we have 25 people here in London - the UK is our second largest market. We have 5,000 customers in Europe and more than 15,000 customers worldwide. It's a fast growing business.

What are some of the benefits that Social CRM offers companies?

We came to the market with a tool for helping companies provide better customer care, I think today that means communicating and engaging with your customers on channels where they are, where they have their life and where they communicate. So for companies that means they need to extend their customer care operations to cover social channels.

Do you think the enterprise aspect of social media will remain solid?

My nephew and niece are teenagers and when they communicate with me they don't send me an email or call me on the phone, they send me a message on Facebook or they start following me on Twitter. That's how the new generation is communicating; they're using these social channels as their medium; that's the way for them to engage. Enterprises have to communicate with customers the way they want to be communicated with and that includes social media channels.

Do you notice any differences in social media use in Silicon Valley compared to Europe?
First and foremost Twitter is still a lot bigger in the U.S than it is here in Europe. In Silicon Valley, the social presence and the various ways we embrace social channels in our day to day routines is much more natural. It's much more saturated in the culture there than you see elsewhere, but I think that's mainly because it's a first mover society.
How can businesses use social CRM to specifically measure their return on investment (ROI)?

The economy is very much changing. Businesses used to count their revenue on how much it can sell to you right now. More businesses are now turning into subscriptions businesses, within a subscription economy; meaning it's the long term engagement with a customer that matters. It is better to get someone to pay $10 each month than it is for them to pay $100 right now. That kind of long term perspective on the business relationship - and on your revenue stream - changes how you engage with customers. Long term relationships support the subscription economy very well.

Isn't that ROI hard to measure? What are some signals companies should look for?

Businesses have to rethink their businesses model so it is better suited for the subscription economy. They need to be able to sell products that have a long term perspective, rather than just focusing on the short term. In that regard, it becomes easy to say that you are reducing your churn and increasing your retention when its something that you can see on your bottom line. Lowering churn is something that is directly driven by your customer relationships and your social media relationships.



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