What Types of Social Media Ads are Most Effective for Brands? [Stats]

As new ways to engage consumers and market products on the social Web keep multiplying, it’s important to stay abreast of best practices for brands. Research firm Psychster partnered with Allrecipes.com to find out which types of advertising yield the best results.

The study tested 7 different types of ads on two different publisher Web sites, Facebook and Allrecipes:

  1. Banner ads
  2. Newsletter subscription ads
  3. Corporate profiles with fans and logos
  4. Corporate profiles without fans and logos
  5. Get widgets
  6. Give widgets
  7. Sponsored content

Participants were shown a video of an ad type and an interaction and were asked to rate how likely they were to interact with the ad as the video did. They were also asked what their opinion was of the brand sponsoring the ads (either a car brand or a soup brand).


  • Banner ads and newsletter links were the most successful at encouraging purchase.
  • Sponsored content produced the highest interaction ratings, but the lowest purchase intent and viral recommendations of the 7 ad types. So this type of ad may be a good marketing strategy for raising brand awareness and generating positive associations/brand engagement, but isn’t the best choice for increasing sales.
  • Corporate profiles caused higher purchase intent only when people could become a fan and put a logo on their own profile.
  • Give and get widgets were more engaging than banners and newsletters, but they didn’t increase purchase intent or the likelihood of recommending a product to a friend. Since widgets are pricey, tweets and links may be a better choice.
  • The success of an ad was increased by matching the brand with the Web site (e.g. a soup ad on a recipe site).


  • If your goals are brand awareness and positive associations, sponsored content may be your best bet.
  • If you’re trying to increase purchasing and loyalty, go with profiles that allow people to become fans and add logos to their own profiles.
  • If you’re targeting purchasing and the best ROI, good old banners and newsletters rule.

Download the study results (PDF)

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35 Great Social Media Infographics

[Note: I recently updated this compilation to include some more recent visualizations… you can see it here.]

Here’s a collection of terrific social media infographics that might come in handy. As you probably know, infographics are visual representations of information, data, or knowledge. They illustrate information that would be unwieldy in text form and they act as a kind of visual shorthand, making information easy to understand and consume. They are driven by the same information as charts, but they’re often a better form of communication because of their pleasant aesthetics — charts and graphs can communicate data, but infographics turn data into information.

It’s very helpful to use infographics in presentations, reports, articles, etc., to convey concepts. Instead of poring over figures and long reports to decipher data, an infographic can immediately explain what the data actually means.

Most of these have been scaled down or cropped. Each one has been linked to the original, so please visit the links to view them full-size.

If you know of any good ones that I’ve missed, please leave a comment and let me know!

1. The Social Engagement Spectrum

2. 10 Levels of Intimacy in Today’s Communication

3. The Social Media Effect

4. Social Marketing Compass

5. Facebook vs. Twitter

6. Balance Your Media Diet

7. Social Media Statistics

8. Social Web Involvement

9. The Spectrum of Online Friendship

10. How People Share Content on the Web

11. Donut Marketing

12. Twitter Territory

13. Twitter PR Strategy

14. The Journey of a Tweet

15. The Hierarchy of Digital Distractions

16. When Social Media Attacks

17. The Art of Listening

18. The Conversation Prism

19. Word of Mouth Visualized

20. Social Web Reputation Management Cycles

21. Twitter Statistics

22. The Story (So Far) of Twitter

23. Who Participates Online

24. Gender Balance on Social Networking Sites

25. Building a Company With Social Media

26. The Life Cycle of a Blog Post, From Servers to Spiders to Suits—to You

27. Social Media Spending

28. The Facebook Juggernaut

29. Twitter Perceptions of Google Buzz Over Time

30. Breakdown of the Blogosphere

31. Visualizing 6 Years of Facebook

32. The Boom of Social Sites

33. Age Distribution of Social Sites

34. Make Social Media Work for Your Company

35. The World Map of Social Networks

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Social Media is a Lifeline After Haiti Quake

As we’ve seen lately with other emergencies and disasters, the news about the devastating earthquake in Haiti materialized online. After the 7.0 quake struck yesterday, with most power and services knocked out, Haitians turned to Twitter, Facebook, and other Web sites to show the world what had happened.

The first images to emerge minutes after Wednesday’s calamity were blurry and dimly lit, but the story they told was unmistakable. One showed a man, almost out of frame, screaming. In another, a woman covered in dust reached frantically toward the camera. The Internet proved to be a lifeline for news out of the hard-hit country, with tweets from Haiti delivering a myriad of photos, videos, and eyewitness descriptions — all well ahead of most cable news and other services.

Here’s a good overview from the Sydney Morning Herald of how Web coverage played a vital role in the aftermath. An excerpt:

As phone lines went down and darkness fell over Haiti, the full impact of today’s massive earthquake was difficult to know.

But as with many recent natural disasters and emergencies, the extent of the chaos in the impoverished Caribbean island emerged quickly online.

Graphic pictures of Haitians covered in rubble, bleeding and in shock, purportedly taken soon after the quake, bounced around Twitter even ahead of anything similar coming via news wire services.

And from a report on Mashable:

An outpouring of well wishes and support for the Haitian people has swept the web in the wake of a devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti. And just like during the Eureka earthquake, tweets have quickly spread moving and gut-wrenching TwitPics of the disaster.

Photos taken by journalist @CarelPedre on his mobile phone are providing a glimpse into the devastation that has slammed the Caribbean nation. Another Twitter user, @MarvinAdy, shared those pictures through TwitPic, resulting in tens of thousands of views and countless retweets.

There are also thousands of Facebook and Twitter updates on the disaster appearing every minute. The web has been moved by the plight of the Haitian people. Social media has quickly become the first place where millions react to large-scale catastrophes.

Here’s another site that sprang up to provide ongoing feeds and up-to-the-minute video of the disaster.

Countless updates were also available on Facebook. A group called Earthquake Haiti already has almost 37,000 members and is being used to exchange valuable information about earthquake damage, requests for assistance, and to show support and solidarity for the Haitian people.

More than 100,000 people are now feared dead. It’s unimaginable, really.

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Coca-Cola’s Shrewd New Social Media Policy

The buzz about social media and how to leverage it for branding, marketing, advertising, PR, and CRM has been building over the past few years. For the most part, companies have made up their approaches to this new medium as they went along. Many that took the plunge did so by accident, guided by technically-savvy employees who urged their employers to recognize the value of social nets and to become early adopters.

As a result, many companies are just beginning to develop corporate social media policies. According to  Deloitte’s 2009 Ethics and Workplace Survey, “55% of executives admitted that their companies do not have an official policy for social networks — and 22% would like to use social nets, but don’t know how.” Those that were savvy enough to draft initial guidelines are now tweaking them as the playing field shifts.

Coca-Cola just released a new social media policy that’s short and to-the-point, offering common-sense guidelines for its employees. Here are the best parts about Coke’s new policy:

  • It’s only 3 pages. A social media policy should augment existing company policy — you don’t need to create a code of conduct from scratch.
  • Always remember who we are and what our role is in the social media community. “The same rules that apply to our messaging and communications in traditional media still apply in the online social media space; simply because the development and implementation of an online social media program can be fast, easy, and inexpensive doesn’t mean that different rules apply.”
  • Have fun, but be smart. “The best advice is to approach online worlds in the same way we do the physical one — by using sound judgment and common sense.”
  • Transparency is of paramount importance. “Every Web site, “fan page”, or other online destination that is ultimately controlled by the Company must make that fact known to users… We also require bloggers and social media influencers to disclose to their readers when we’re associating with them, whether by providing them with product samples or hosting them at Company events, and we need to monitor whether they are complying with this requirement.”
  • Be conscious when mixing your business and personal lives. “The Company respects the free speech rights of all of its associates, but you must remember that customers, colleagues and supervisors often have access to the online content you post. Keep this in mind when publishing information online that can be seen by more than friends and family, and know that information originally intended just for friends and family can be forwarded on.”

Coke also outlines “10 principles to guide how online spokespeople should represent the company” that everyone should duplicate:

  1. Be Certified in the Social Media Certification Program.
  2. Follow our Code of Business Conduct and all other Company policies.
  3. Be mindful that you are representing the Company.
  4. Fully disclose your affiliation with the Company.
  5. Keep records.
  6. When in doubt, do not post.
  7. Give credit where credit is due and don’t violate others’ rights.
  8. Be responsible to your work.
  9. Remember that your local posts can have global significance.
  10. Know that the Internet is permanent.

Read the 3-page policy in its entirety.

Watch Coke’s Head of Social Media, Adam Brown, explaining it:

Social Media Governance has a database of 114 brands’ social media policies.

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg: Privacy No Longer a “Social Norm”


In an interview with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said that he had done an “about face” on privacy and argued that it is no longer a “social norm”. The 25-year-old Facebook entrepreneur was speaking at TechCrunch’s ‘Crunchie’ awards in San Francisco over the weekend.

Zuckerberg’s privacy stance dovetails with the recent dubious changes to Facebook’s privacy settings, which made more personal information public and reduced users’ control over their personal data. (The Electronic Privacy Information Center asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into the changes Facebook made to the privacy settings and to force Facebook to restore its old privacy protections.)

Claiming that online users have adapted to sharing information online via blogs and other social media, Zuckerberg said that “if he had created Facebook today, as opposed to several years ago, he would have made user information public, not private, by default as it was for years until the company changed dramatically in December,” ReadWriteWeb reports.

Here’s the portion of the interview in which he discusses his views on privacy, transcribed by ReadWriteWeb. In response to the question, “Where is privacy on the Web going?”, Zuckerberg says:

“When I got started in my dorm room at Harvard, the question a lot of people asked was ‘why would I want to put any information on the Internet at all? Why would I want to have a website?’

“And then in the last 5 or 6 years, blogging has taken off in a huge way and all these different services that have people sharing all this information. People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.

“We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are.

“A lot of companies would be trapped by the conventions and their legacies of what they’ve built, doing a privacy change – doing a privacy change for 350 million users is not the kind of thing that a lot of companies would do. But we viewed that as a really important thing, to always keep a beginner’s mind and what would we do if we were starting the company now and we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it.”

Watch TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington’s six-minute interview with Zuckerberg in the video below, and read more in ReadWriteWeb’s excellent piece on the implications of Zuckerberg’s position on privacy on ReadWriteWeb — the quote about privacy is from 3:00 to 4:00.

Is Zuckerberg right about changing attitudes toward online privacy? Do you expect a degree of privacy on social networks? Do you think becoming more public will help or hurt Facebook?

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