Archive for February, 2010

Which works best for marketers – Twitter or Facebook?

Jack and Jill, bread and cheese, Facebook and Twitter – the pairing seems to have stuck. But assuming these two rule the roost when it comes to social networking, does one or other predominate? If a business had to choose between them, which would it be?

There’s a fascinating piece here by Scott Moir that examines this question in some detail.

Starting with some stats: Facebook users spend around 32 minutes each day on the site, while for Twitter the figure is around eight minutes. So Facebook clearly has the edge there.

It also is more easily compared to a stand-alone website than Twitter, as you can include photos, detailed information, videos and other business applications. Many small businesses rely wholly on Facebook.  Business-related Twitter accounts, by contrast, tend to link to a blog or website to get that kind of flexibility.

But Twitter has a lot of advantages over Facebook, and surveys suggest it is preferred as a business marketing tool, thanks to its viral qualities. Tweets get distributed widely and quickly, which makes its reach much greater.

Lots more interesting stuff here.

Dr Currah joins ItsOpen’s blogging team

Dr Andrew Currah, research fellow from Oxford University, who specialises in the digital economy, has joined our blogging team and will be posting regularly.

His first post this week looked at the controversy surrounding Google’s introduction of Buzz.

We are really pleased to have Andrew working alongside us and there are plans for him to get involved in other work we are doing for all our forward-thinking clients – existing and future ones.

We are sure that you will find Andrew’s insights provocative and useful over the coming months.

I’d also like to thank Rob McLuhan for all his on-going incisive blog commentaries and comments for us on the emerging world of social media.

Wikipedia founder claims newspapers are no longer the force they were

Fortune Magazine (March 1) has a fascinating short comment piece by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, on the decline of newspapers.

Wales says that the quality of content created by some consumers is now much higher than that created by newspapers.

‘Already there’s a large movement of consumers generating all kinds of information online, and in many cases the quality is much higher than the content produced by media companies. This doesn’t mean people don’t trust newspapers but they’ve lost their exclusivity as an authoritative voice,’ he says.

The whole ecosystem of news is changing radically with blogs, tweets, YouTube videos all competing for attention. Newspapers are operating in a totally different environment which obviously has massive implications for managers of corporate news and guardians of brands. In the words of US social media commentator, Clay Shirky, ‘Here Comes Everybody’!

Managing news from a corporate perspective and brand perspective is about managing the process of news, managing the flow of information, and that means making corrections, putting news in context, linking to interesting sources of information, inviting comments and collaboration. For more insights on this development read Jeff Jarvis on Buzzmachine.

Some broadsheet journalists used to be treated as high priests talking from the pulpit, but no more. A gust of online democracy – messy, creative, collaborative, rowdy, disrespecful, well-informed, insightful and fast – has burst in, and it’s not stopping. Facilitated by broadband, spurred on by mobile companies, the battle is about organising all the information that is available.

It’s time for companies to bring down the firewalls and get involved with these new technologies, internally and externally. Now it’s a very different game. It doesn’t matter which school you went to, it’s about the quality of your ideas and insights, the influence you carry online and the attention you are gaining. The audience is no longer passive. They were once glued to their seats watching the action passively unfold in front of them. Now they are on centre stage: online reality, it’s 24/7 and it’s fast.

Google buzz shows importance of open thinking (and testing) around social media

There are two important lessons to be learned from the negative buzz surrounding Google’s recent Gmail update, an ill-fated attempt to mimic platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

The first is that top-down and centralised approaches to social media innovation are doomed to failure. Although tested internally by some 20,000 engineers and sales professionals, Google buzz was never fully thought through. As Charles Arthur comments in Media Guardian, the launch design of buzz reflects a ‘failure of the engineering imagination to deal with the reality of human interaction’. Google’s products and services now permeate our lives and careers; but the culture that gives rise to those products and services remains surprisingly (and stubbornly) insular.

Which leads to the second lesson: that the design, testing and launch of social media innovations all require the same openness and transparency that social media has brought to society, business and government more generally. Rather than simply trying to throw social media functionality into the design mix of existing products, companies need to start by carefully understanding the needs and expecations of users – and in turn, how software updates will impact their behaviour. Social media innovation has to be part of a wider dialogue with users, not the byproduct of competitive mimicry.

With Google now facing a potential investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission, on the basis that it may have broken consumer protection laws, it is clear that open thinking (and testing) of social media is vital both from a commercial and legal perspective.

UK retailers slow to warm to social media

Found some interesting stats here on the extent to which UK retailers are using social media.

The take-up is steady, but patchy, according to a study by dotCommerce. It found that 42% have a social media presence, but that only 10% use more than one social media network and only a third of retailers with a Twitter or Facebook account promote them on their web site.

Twitter is more popular with larger brands than smaller ones – 42% compared with 12%. But the smaller companies are more active when it comes to blogging.

The report is free to download here.

How airlines are benefiting from social media

There’s an in-depth piece here about how North American airlines are using Facebook and Twitter as a customer service channel.

After the terrorist attempt at Christmas the US authorities issued a security alert, which most airlines passed on to their customers through vaguely-worded statements, warning them to expect new security measures. By contrast, Canada’s low-cost operator WestJet posted regular tweets on Twitter, which enabled it to provide more details about the security measures and respond to customers’ concerns in real time. These followers retweeted the information to their social networks via the Internet and mobile phone. The company’s Facebook page carried discussion about the new measures.

Twitter is also being used for promotion by North American airlines. JetBlue Airways claims over 1.6 million followers and last year ran a promotion offering unlimited travel for a month. United Airlines offers special fares called ‘Twares’ to its 51,000 followers on Twitter.

But few airlines use social media as effectively as Southwest Airlines, which runs a highly active blog, containing news, photos and videos about the company and its marketing activities, to generate content for Twitter and Facebook.

See the full article here.

Toyota CEO joins live Digg Q&A

With Toyota facing a host of problems, it is interesting to see how they are using social media to grapple with the crisis.

Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer at Toyota Motor Sales USA, recently took part in a live streaming Q&A on Digg Dialogg.

He answered the top 10 voted for questions from about 1000 submissions from the Digg community. He answered personal questions about the car he drives and about the problems that Toyota is facing and the background.

See here for more information about how the live Digg Q&A works.

Obama hunts for ghost twitterer

President Obama is looking to expand his social networking team. It could be a tough job given the amount of followers he’s got.

Obama’s campaign harnessed social media brilliantly. So it is worthwhile reading this piece to get insights into what they are looking for and how they are planning to develop Obama’s online presence.

Responding to ugly comments online

How do you handle a bad online review of your products and services? It is something that restaurants are having to deal with. Interesting piece here about how restaurants can turn a negative into a positive, which is relevant to other sectors as well.

The key point is that people are having conversations online and you need to get involved in order to protect your position and reputation and in order to promote positive things you are doing.

Harnessing Social Media at The Economist

Ben Edwards, Executive Vice President for The Economist Group, who runs The Economist’s online publishing business, will be giving a breakfast seminar to members of the Social Media Leadership Forum on March 4.

In this seminar, Ben will be talking about how The Economist Group is using social media – how their strategy is evolving, the social media channels they are using and how they are measuring the results.

The Economist is using Twitter, blogging, YouTube and Facebook. In particular it is interesting how they are using Facebook – with the number of fans building impressively.

It is good to see a global media organisation which has such a strong reputation in business circles embracing social media in innovative ways.

Members of the Social Media Leadership Forum – which is managed by ItsOpen – include Aviva, Shell, Motorola, First Direct, Unilever, Asda, SAB Miller and Vodafone.