The Social Habit: Who Uses Social Media and How

Edison Research just released its latest report on social network usage. The study compares the behavior and demographics of frequent users of social media to those of the population at large. The data is based on a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,753 Americans (including 371 mobile phone interviews) ages 12+ conducted in February, 2010.

Here are the principal findings from the report:


1. With both usage of social networks and the frequency of that usage increasing dramatically, we are truly witnessing a sea change in how mainstream consumers communicate.


2. Though social networking is rapidly becoming more common throughout the wider population, it is still most popular among the young; students are especially overrepresented.


3. Women are bigger social media users than men.


4. The biggest social networkers are, unsurprisingly, more likely to be big Internet users and early-adopters of new gadgets. But they still think the mobile phone is the technology that has had the biggest impact on their lives.


5. Frequent social networkers are also more likely to update their status on those networks — i.e., create content online — which has implications for word-of-mouth marketing and search.


6. Not only are frequent social networkers posting more status updates, they are also more likely to follow brands/companies than the average social media user — which makes identifying and appealing to those with the “social habit” crucial for brands.


7. Mobile access to social media is almost certainly a significant contributor to frequency of usage.


8. The data for frequent social networkers’ usage of podcasts, online video, and online audio supports the assumption that a significant amount of content is being consumed on-demand, potentially at the point where such content is shared.


9. Americans with “the social habit” are watching significantly less traditional television, but potentially consuming (and sharing) more “video” through alternative means.


Download the entire report (PDF) here →



Facebook is Trampling Other Social Networks

Back in March 2008, Facebook was poised to overtake MySpace, but it wasn’t yet the most popular social network in the world. Now it’s obliterating everybody. This chart from a report on SharesPost tells the story: Facebook’s popularity is unmatched — it’s on a completely different scale than its competitors.

And Facebook’s advertising business is booming thanks to brands marketing their Facebook pages (and spamming their customers like they used to in the good old days via e-mail) and virtual game studios’ steady acquisition of new users. There’s also “Pay With Facebook”, which gives Facebook a 30% cut of its insanely fast-growing virtual goods market AND could wind up us a one-click payment option across the Internet.

(Via Business Insider)

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If Size Matters, Social Media is Huge in the U.S.

About 127 million Americans, or three-quarters of the population, use social media, according to Nielsen Online. In a survey of 1,700 Internet users, researchers found that 73% engage in social media at least once a week. Engagement was defined as reading a blog, visiting a social network, or reading/commenting on a message board.

The Nielsen study, commissioned by women-focused blog network BlogHer and NBCU’s iVillage, found that Facebook is becoming a major attraction for a majority of the population, rivaling the reach of traditional media channels. Of the online population, 47% visit Facebook daily, according to Nielsen, nearly rivaling the 55% that watch TV. Facebook daily use easily beats out other traditional media like radio (37%) and newspapers (22%).

Social gaming is a daily habit for a huge number of people. According to Nielsen’s survey, 32.7 million people play social games daily. That’s equivalent to newspaper readership and more than double the readership of magazines in the sample. Social games are polarizing, however, as over 50% said they never play them.

For all its buzz, the study found Twitter is still a niche activity for all but a small segment of the online population. Twitter boasts 105 million registered users — but according to Nielsen, just 11.4 million (6%) use it daily.

BlogHer and iVillage commissioned the research to determine the role of social media in the lives of women versus the general population. It found little differences between the sexes when it comes to social media adoption, with women slightly more likely to tweet and blog while men watch more videos.

Blog reading remains a niche activity for online users, with just 11% saying they read them daily — it trailed message board readers (17%). BlogHer’s audience, of course, is more inclined to visiting blogs as a habit, with 77% reading them daily and 96% weekly. The BlogHer audience sample also identified blogs as trailing only search among ad-supported media in purchasing decisions.

BlogHer COO Elisa Camahort said the popularity of social networking is not stealing time and attention from blogs. “It’s like any media progress we’ve had,” she said. “Nothing is killing the other media source. Blogs are still where substantive conversations are happening. It’s not on Facebook.”

Download the study results (PDF).

(Via Adweek)

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How to Use LinkedIn to Market Your Business

More and more professionals are using social networks to build relationships, meet new contacts, and market themselves and their businesses. But diving into the virtual meet-and-greet can be daunting. Where to begin?

The answer is LinkedIn, a social network for professionals who are looking to promote both themselves and their companies. Developed specifically for business, you don’t run the risk of blurring your professional life with your private one. LinkedIn offers an amazing opportunity to generate new leads — you can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals who can help you accomplish your goals and grow your business.

LinkedIn has great tools for connecting you to customers, prospects, and industry thought leaders alike, and many marketers are under-utilizing its functionality due to simple lack of awareness — joining LinkedIn is simple, but turning it into a powerful networking tool takes a bit of know-how.

Some LinkedIn facts

  • The site has over 60 million members
  • A new member joins approximately every second
  • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are members

Benefits of a complete and well-developed LinkedIn presence

  • Increased visibility for your company and products
  • The ability to research your competition, customers, or partners
  • Easy collaboration with colleagues, customers, and industry thought leaders
  • Excellent source of SEO-friendly links: LinkedIn has great authority in Google; and you can can create unique anchor text for your Web site links, which are given the dofollow attribute (LinkedIn’s PageRank is 9).

How to get going with LinkedIn

If you don’t already have a personal profile on LinkedIn, here are some simple steps you can follow to set one up:

1. Create a complete personal profile

When you interact with others on LinkedIn, your profile is the first thing they see so it needs to be complete. Make sure you fill in all relevant information about yourself, your areas of expertise, and your experience — visit the site’s main page to get started.

  • Upload a professional photo of yourself. Profiles with photos are more credible, so people are more likely to engage with you.
  • The more optimized your profile is, the more relevant it will be in search results. Use some basic SEO techniques, including hyperlinking targeted keywords. When you post the URLs for your company and your blog, make sure you customize them — for example, instead of using the default anchor text for linking to your blog (“My Blog”), change it to your blog’s actual title (“Pamorama” in my case).

  • Use keywords in descriptions. Make your profile more search-friendly by including your keywords in your summary, specialties, and experience.
  • Create a vanity URL. Doing so will solidify your professional brand:

2. Get recommended

Your profile is not complete if you don’t have some recommendations. You can ask for a recommendation from previous employers, your current employer, or other business contacts. Getting recommended is important because it adds to your credibility — it demonstrates that your expertise is valued by people who have actually worked with you.

3. Build a strong network of contacts

Now you need to start adding connections. Make sure you connect to friends and colleagues — LinkedIn makes this easy for you by looking in your e-mail address book to find contacts who are already on the network. You can also use the search box on the top right to look for people you know:

Encourage every employee to have a LinkedIn profile and to link to each other. Extending your network in this way increases your exposure outside your company.

Once you’re connected to colleagues and friends, you can browse their networks, find potential prospects and ask your connections for an introduction, or simply contact the decision-makers in these businesses directly. You can also find people who are considered authorities in your industry and try to get in touch with them.

4. Use third-party applications to make the most of your profile and promote your company

There are many third-party applications on LinkedIn that can help you effectively promote yourself, your company, your Web site, and your blog. You can use SlideShare so visitors can see your business presentations, Company Buzz to monitor what’s being said about your company on Twitter, or Box.net to upload and manage files. And the aptly named Tweets displays your most recent Twitter updates.

With the WordPress application, you can synchronize your blog with your profile and display your most recent posts with summaries — updates are automatically sent to your network when you write new content:

5. Promote your personal profile

You can promote your profile on LinkedIn itself and via other means. On LinkedIn, users see a link to your profile wherever you participate (in groups, discussions, etc.), so the more you interact the more exposure you’ll receive. You can also post your profile URL on your Web site, your blog, your business card, in your e-mail signature, on any other social networking sites you use — anywhere you provide information about yourself.

6. Engage with other users

The more you actively engage and provide valuable contributions, the more you’ll be appreciated in the community. Make sure you participate in discussions, ask and answer questions, and update your status on a regular basis.

7. Keep your profile up to date

It seems obvious, but many people create a profile and then let it languish. Updating relevant information on a regular basis is essential for credibility.

Establish your company’s presence

Now that you’ve created your own presence on LinkedIn, it’s time to do the same for your company:

1. Create your company’s profile

  • To get started, go to the “Companies” menu on LinkedIn. From there, select “Add Company”.

  • Follow LinkedIn’s wizard and enter basic information about your company, like its description, number of employees, and industry it operates in — you’ll be able to add a logo, locations, and a feed for your company blog. As with your personal profile, make your company profile more search-friendly by including your keywords in its description.

In addition to showing off the basic information you provided, LinkedIn will pull in data about your company from around the site. So, for example, all of your job listings will automatically show up on your profile, along with links to the profiles of all current employees, former employees, new hires, and recent promotions. LinkedIn also does analysis of your company and the connections that your employees have on the network. For example, it will automatically calculate your employees’ median age, top schools, and determine other companies that they are well-connected to.

All of this aggregate data about your company gives potential customers, partners, and anyone else who’s interested in your company a lot of information to dive into and help determine if it might be a good fit for them. And for you, once it’s set up, it all happens automatically as you and your employees use LinkedIn. Make it a point to edit your company’s basic profile information as necessary to keep it up to date.

If you’re interested in leveraging the network for recruiting, LinkedIn offers a premium product called Custom Company Profiles that lets you add more features, like videos about your company and positions, interactive polls, and other recruiting-specific customizations. These are worth considering for larger companies (they’re pricey), but for small businesses, a basic LinkedIn company profile should be enough to create a brand on the site.

2. Promote your company’s profile

Use the same methods to promote your company’s profile as you do for your personal one — on LinkedIn, point people to your company profile link when you participate in discussions and ask questions. In other places, post your company profile URL on your Web site, your blog, your business card, in your e-mail signature, etc.

3. Develop relationships with key business partners or media contacts

When you search for someone on LinkedIn, you can be very precise about who you want to reach. So, for example, if you know that your business needs to expand into the smartphone market, you can start targeting and reaching out to companies like Apple, Research In Motion, and HTC. If you want to increase your visibility, start reaching out to media members who cover your industry.

4. Start a group

Demonstrate your willingness to share information about your industry or niche by creating a group:

Here are some suggestions to get it started right:

  • Choose a relevant name. The name of your group should contain keywords so it can be found by people interested in your industry.
  • Add a logo. In the same sense that a photo is important for your personal profile, a good logo helps with branding.
  • Use the available option to display your group in the Group Directory and on member’s profile.

5. Promote and manage your group

Creating a group and then abandoning it won’t help you — you need to promote it and manage it. In order to get members, you need to promote your group — start by inviting your connections who might be interested in your industry, but don’t limit the group to your connections. And keep members engaged by starting discussions and posting interesting news, sending announcements, importing your blog’s RSS feed, etc.

Group promotion tips:

  • Send e-mail to your customers to introduce them to your group and invite them to participate
  • Add the group’s logo to your Web site or blog and link it back to the group itself
  • Promote the group on other social social networking sites

Do you use LinkedIn to market your business? Please share your experience!


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Social Media Users’ Interests and Expectations Vary by Network [Stats]

If you’re thinking of committing precious time or marketing dollars to social media, a new study from online advertising network Chitika offers some useful insights and may help ensure that your message is reaching the right audience. It shows that users’ interests and expectations vary sharply depending on the platform they’re using.

Based on a sample of over 287,000 impressions, the study examined outbound traffic from four social sites. Researchers learned that nearly half of the traffic (47%) that Twitter generates goes to news sites — Twitter users’ interest in news outpaces that of Facebook users by nearly 20%, apparently making it the most popular social network for news junkies. On MySpace, users seek out celebrity gossip and video games — and MySpace is the only site in the sample that doesn’t refer a significant amount of traffic to news destinations. Celebrity/entertainment is the only genre in the top 5 of all sites, demonstrating that many of us are very interested in exploits of the rich and famous.



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Social Media Users More Likely to Buy From Brands They Follow

People who follow a brand on Facebook or Twitter are more inclined to shop that brand or recommend it to others, according to a new report by Chadwik Martin Bailey. The study, released on March 16th, showed that consumers were up to 67% more likely to recommend or buy products from a brand after following it on social networking sites.

The survey of over 1500 consumers showed that the top reason to friend a brand on Facebook was to receive discounts, followed by simply being a customer of the company and a desire to show others that they support the brand. Twitter users were more likely to follow a brand to receive real-time information and preferred offers; only 2% of respondents followed brands on Twitter to show their support.

The study also revealed negative consumer attitudes about brands that aren’t engaging in social media. When asked, “What does it say about a brand if they are not involved with sites like Facebook or Twitter?” they said:

  • “It’s EXPECTED that a company have some digital face – whether it’s on FB or Twitter I don’t know – but they need a strong electronic presence or you doubt their relevance in today’s marketplace.” (Female 50-54)

  • “Either they are not interested in the demographic that frequents Facebook and Twitter or they are unaware of the opportunity to get more exposure in a more interactive method.” (Male 35-39)

  • “It shows they are not really with it or in tune with the new ways to communicate with customers.” (Female 18-24)

  • “If they’re not on Facebook or Twitter, then they aren’t in touch with the “electronic” people.” (Female 55-59)

“While social media is not the silver bullet that some pundits claim it to be, it is an extremely important and relatively low cost touch point that has a direct impact on sales and positive word of mouth,”  said Josh Mendelsohn, a vice president at Chadwick Martin Bailey. “Companies not actively engaging are missing a huge opportunity and are saying something to consumers — intentionally or unintentionally– about how willing they are to engage on consumers’ terms.”

What’s your take? Have you followed a brand on Facebook or Twitter? Why?

(Images: Chadwik Martin Bailey, eMarketer)

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Facebook CEO Bares All, Embraces New Privacy Settings

While privacy gurus, security firms, and users try to decipher the implications of Facebook’s new privacy settings, at least one person is embracing them: Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

zuck_f

Zuckerberg, who is usually extremely private, has opened up his profile so that anyone can see his wall, events, and photos. And what’s in the CEO’s profile? His photo album is pretty benign; Valleywag has posted their favorite images. It appears that he’s a fan of the Killers, The West Wing, and Taylor Swift. And his wall shows he actively uses Facebook’s “like” and commenting features.

Nothing has the potential to irritate the legions of Facebook users quite like a mammoth site update. Facebook says the new privacy settings make it easier to control the information users share (even though it’s really about increasing traffic and visibility). The reaction to the privacy changes was mixed. Zuckerberg’s blog post got the thumbs up from over 48,000 users, and the comments section of the Facebook blog was loaded with praise for the new rules. But there was also a lot of complaining and a brewing backlash. Instead of being thankful for having more control, most users are just confused by the changes. Those who aren’t confused are angry — or an unfortunate combination of both confused and angry.

(Remember when Facebook rolled out a minor redesign of its status feed in October? Lots of Facebook users were pretty angry then, too.)

TrueSlant’s report suggests that Zuckerberg doesn’t understand the new settings, which is highly unlikely. It’s more plausible that he’s trying to show everyone else that there’s no harm in opening up. He would certainly look hypocritical if he kept his profile limited to his friends. So opening up his profile was a smart, premeditated move — he’s leading by example. But it’s not likely to sway Facebook users who are skeptical that openness is in their best interests.

Have you adjusted your privacy settings? Do you think Zuckerberg’s move will convince Facebook users to open up? Please leave a comment!

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6 Ways Social Media Can Enhance Your Business

Social media is the new face of the Web. Just as the Internet revolutionized information sharing during the 1990s, social media is radically altering how people communicate and share information today. If you want to succeed on the Web, a solid social network presence is required. Search engines like Bing and Google have recognized the power of social media, opting to include updates from Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites in their search results. Optimizing your business for social media is quickly becoming a must to gain top SEO ranking.

Here are some of the ways the power of social media can help your business:

  • Understand your audiences: Social media facilitates direct one-on-one interaction with your target audiences. This can help you better understand their needs, enabling you to develop more effective, targeted marketing strategies.
  • Enhance brand awareness: Social media can help you communicate your brand identity and create awareness among your audience. The more that people have a credible image of your brand, the more likely it is that they will keep your business top of mind when they evaluate products and make purchase decisions.
  • Promote your products and services via word of mouth: Social media is the new word-of-mouth marketing channel. Because of the personal nature of the communications between individuals, it’s generally true that product information communicated in this way has an added layer of credibility. If one happy customer makes a favorable comment about your company or its products and services, many other people will notice and are likely to share the information with others.
  • Keep your audiences up to date about your company: People probably don’t visit your Web site every day, but they definitely engage via their social networks on daily basis. To keep your audience updated about the latest events and happenings in your company, it’s important to make the information available on social networks in addition to updating the news/current events section of your Web site.
  • Manage your reputation: You can track social media channels to see what’s being said about your company and its products and nip potential problems in the bud. (See #2 in 5 Steps to Developing a Meaningful Social Media Strategy.) The nature of the back and forth dialogue on social networks enables you to engage and turn around negative reviews and comments — this communicates that you listen to your customers and value their input, and acts to enhance your reputatuion.
  • Share your content virally: When you share something on social networks, it’s not just your immediate connections who read it. If they like it, they will spread it to their networks as well, which increases your reach to a much larger audience. From sharing a link on Twitter, posting a a story of Facebook, or bookmarking on Digg, Delicious, or Reddit, social media has the power to spread your content on massive scale.

How are you using social media to enhance your business and drive its growth?

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New Socialnomics Video: Social Media ROI

The folks at Socialnomics have just released another amazing video: Social Media ROI. It offers some terrific examples of how companies and organizations are leveraging social networks to drive business growth and brand awareness. It lays out the case for social media engagement and how it can help you achieve success.

Marketers continue to struggle with how to measure social media. Instead of trying to determine Return on Investment, they need to quantify a new kind of ROI:  Return on Involvement.

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NHL: Great Use of Twitter Lists for Branding, Outreach

Wondering how to use Twitter Lists to support your marketing strategy? Let’s take a look at the National Hockey League’s use of this new feature to engage its fans.

National Hockey League
Image via Wikipedia

As I described recently, Twitter Lists enable you to easily follow a group of users who have been grouped together by other Twitter users. Selecting people to include on a list is an endorsement of the value of their contributions.

The NHL has taken this concept one step further by leveraging lists as a crowdsourcing tool. Here’s what they did:

Yesterday morning, they tweeted

nhl-twitter-lists

Tweets flooded in from their 115,000+ followers. There are now 20 lists for users to check out, which is unfortunately the upper limit. (Twitter may want to rethink this in general, but especially for brands trying to reach out to their customers.) While the NHL waits for approval from Twitter to add more lists, some can be found here at the account of Michael DiLorenzo, Director of Social Media Marketing and Strategy for the NHL. In addition, the NHL’s Twitter account is now part of more than 800 user-created lists.

Quite a success story. The NHL’s effort has enabled it to collect customer data and helped its fans to connect with each other. The response from fans definitely shows how Twitter Lists can be a major resource for companies and organizations seeking to reach out to their constituents.

Related articles:

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