Hashtags: Useful or Nuisance?

Are hashtags obsoleteWe have all seen them, use them or been annoyed by them when abused, something I call hashtag vomit.  Users who don’t understand hashtags tagging their post with so many irrelevant and annoying hashtags you just want to move on without reading the post.

It started on Twitter, Facebook unsuccessfully tried to incorporate them in posts, LinkedIn gave up on them, Instagram and Pinterest users swear by them but few actually understand their use and purpose.

By definition, A hashtag is a type of label used on social network and micro blogging platforms to make it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content. In short, hashtags are like keywords allowing readers to find content related to a subject and should be treated as such

Social media “gurus” have been promoting hashtags as essential to social media posts and content success, advising marketers to use hashtags as a critical  element of any high-performing social media update without educating their clients and the public about the way to effectively use them

The result has been hashtag vomit, what mainstream search engines would classify as spam.  We have seen updates and content with plethora of hashtags, some relevant most irrelevant for the sake of trying to maximize potential exposure.

The question has long been,  do hashtags actually work?

The answer is yes and no, depending on your purpose

Twitter recently released a study focused on direct response ads, which are intended to drive a specific result, like an app install or a website visit, suggesting that when these ads included a hashtag or mentioned another account, they didn’t perform well

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Retailers Are Turning to Social Media For Market Research

Social media often overlooked for market researchSocial media permeates every facets of business, from branding to marketing, sales, customer service and to often overlooked market research, product development and HR

Increasingly though, retailers and brands are turning to social media for market research.

Consumers have adopted social media in a massive way and, in spite of concerns for privacy, are sharing what they like, buy and want on platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram to name the biggest ones. Continue reading

Disclosure Is The Key

us-federal-trade-commission-logoRecently an advertising agency learned a hard lesson about social media promotion: Disclosure is the key.

The FTC recently settled with Interpublic’s Deutsch LA advertising agency and  Sony over claims the companies engaged in deceptive marketing during the launch of Sony’s hand held PlayStation Vita gaming console.

The lesson should not be lost on any marketer.

According to the complaint, one of the agency’s assistant account executives sent an email asking the agency’s staff to help promote the PlayStation Vita ad campaign by posting positive comments about the console on Twitter using the hashtag #gamechanger.

Deutsch LA employees posted tweets promoting PlayStation Vita without disclosing their connection to the agency or Sony.

According to the FTC these tweets were misleading because they didn’t reflect the views of actual consumers-users.

Agencies have to exercise a lot of caution when talking about a client’s work on social media, though best practices in that area aren’t always well codified, said David Berkowitz, chief marketing officer at digital agency MRY.

“This will be a wake-up call for agencies in terms of how they communicate work they have in market and what they encourage employees to do,” Mr. Berkowitz said.

It’s not the first time the FTC intervenes against agencies for deceptive marketing and it’s not likely to be the last and they will not stop at tweets.

The FTC is clear o that matter (and further clarified recently), marketers when they post on social media must disclose and consideration whether financial or in products and must disclose their connection to the agency, client or marketer.
What that means is that the poster must disclose if they work for the agency or the brand, they must disclosed if they have been paid or received free products or have received the service for free as a consideration to write and post about the product or service

In social media more than any other form of PR or advertising transparency is the key to keeping regulators at bay, to ensure brand integrity and to keep consumers trust.

4 Reasons Industrial Marketers Should Adopt Social Media

industrial marketersEven if studies have shown that, so far, industrial professionals have been a relatively passive social media audience, their presence and social media usage is far from negligible.

In a recent study, “2014 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector,”  IHS GlobalSpec found that 44% of technical professionals spend more than an hour per week on social media for work-related activities.

The study indicates that technical professionals maintain social media profiles on LinkedIn (74%), Facebook (61%) and Twitter (17%).

In addition, 47% of them spend time on LinkedIn reading product or industry news while 26% research suppliers.

69% of technical professionals with a Facebook profile follow businesses or groups within their industry and 38% research or read work-related content.

These statistics are far from negligible and show that industrial marketers need to take a serious look and consider integrating social media in their marketing mix.

The return may not be immediate and as high as their other more traditional marketing initiative but the potential is there for those who get early on on the bandwagon.

  1. At a time when traditional marketing vectors are crowded and customers/prospects are bombarded with messages and ads, social media is still a relatively virgin territory in industrial markets
  2. Social media allows them to find, identify, reach influencers like industry analysts, consultants and other industry thought-leaders
  3. Through social media they can connect and build relationships with influencers
  4. Social media is the medium of choice of the new generations, reaching them is key to future growth

Facebook Cut Posts Reach Now What?

Facebook Cut Posts Reach Now What?

In the past few year we have seen Facebook cut post reach several time.  We can expect other companies to follow suit and artificially cut the organic reach of the posts brands and businesses publish on their page.

A couple of years ago Facebook announced that posts only reached 16% of a page followers, last October the average reach dropped to around 8% and it is predicted that before long, 2 to 3% reach will be the norm… Unless brands and businesses start to pay up.

You spent a lot of time, energy and invested a lot of money building a big fan base on you social media pages and now you find out that your fans are not yours but the social media company’s, they have been cutting the organic reach of your posts and now they want you to pay to reach them. It’s called “Pay for Play”.

That’s a tough awakening but not surprising, in time, most of them will become digital advertising platforms and less and less social.  The writing has been on the wall for sometime now.

These platform were not purely social, they were tools to collect information and what do you do with information, you leverage it to generate revenue and now that they are publicly traded, they are pressured to generate revenue and profit.  It’s business

Facebook has probably been the most obvious but make no mistake, it’s only the beginning, the others will follow

So what do you do? 

You don’t put all your eggs in the same basket and when I say basket, I mean social media.  As a rule, and that applies to blogs as well, you don’t build a presence focusing on a platform you do not own or control. Continue reading

Social Media For Business Mainly a Brand Builder

Social media for business study

Social media plays a significant role in small and medium-sized businesses’ (SMBs) marketing efforts, providing both free and paid exposure to a wide-ranging—and often receptive—audience.

Most important social media platforms for business

According to a January 2013 survey from online magazine Social Media Examiner, Facebook continues to be the most important social network for most business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers worldwide, given its enormous user base. However, for business-to-business (B2B) marketers, there is a healthy competition among other

platforms. Among these marketers, LinkedIn tied with Facebook as the most important social network, while blogging followed 10 percentage points behind.

Interestingly, while YouTube was only the most important social platform for 4% of SMBs total, it is where the greatest percentage of businesses planned to make future investments. Nearly seven out of 10 marketers said they planned to increase their use of YouTube this year.

Benefits of social media marketing

The greatest benefits of social media:

  • 89% increased exposure
  • 75% increased traffic
  • 43% increased sales.

This points to social’s role as a brand builder, first and foremost.

And even as social media may seem like old hat to many marketers by now, quite a few are relatively new to the platforms. About one-quarter of marketers said they had been working with social media for a year or less. And another 30% were 1 to 2 years into their social media marketing tenure. But SMBs have quickly caught on to how important social is as a marketing tool: 79% said they had already incorporated social media into their traditional marketing activities.

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More Women Have Accounts on Pinterest and Instagram

Women are more likely to have accounts on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter

Women continue to lead over men on most social networks, according to a March 2013 survey of over 2,500 adult US internet users from internet advertising network Burst Media. Facebook remained the leading social network by a wide margin, and females were 6 percentage points more likely than male internet users to have an account on the site.

Google+, a social network which had been somewhat marginalized after a lackluster start, is proving itself in US user figures. The site had the second-highest number of account holders among both men and women, leading Twitter by approximately 10 percentage points for both genders. About one-quarter of male and female web users were on the site.

Women more likely to have accounts on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter

On Pinterest, the skew toward women has been well documented and remains firmly entrenched. More than one out of five female respondents had an account on the network, compared with 5% of men. About 6% of both men and women were on Instagram, with slightly more women on the site. On Twitter, penetration rates were also very close, at 17% of women vs. 15.5% of men.

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