Companies’ Approach to Advertising on Social Media

Since the arrival of social media platforms, companies have tried to figure out how to best use them to get their messages to consumers, often with mixed results. Some brands have embraced the notion that social platforms like Twitter allow constant interaction, for better or worse, with their customers.

Others have turned away from some strains of social media, as General Motors did last spring when it stopped advertising on Facebook while raising questions about the return on its investment. The move had a ripple effect in the advertising world, with many brands questioning whether the costs of being on social media were worth it.

A new report issued Tuesday by Nielsen and Vizu, a research company owned by Nielsen, shows that brands think they might be turning a corner, specifically when it comes to paying for their use of social media.The report examined the opinions about social media marketing among more than 500 digital media professionals — including brand marketers, media agencies and advertisers — from September to October 2012.

The study found that that

  • 89% of advertisers continued to use free social media products. Nielsen did not release the names of specific social media platforms mentioned by the respondents, but they are likely to include Facebook and Pinterest, as well as Twitter.
  • 75% of the companies surveyed said they were also spending more for social media content, which could include paying bloggers to write posts about a product or using third-party technology to push videos on to the Web in the hope that they become viral.
  • 70% of the advertisers surveyed said they dedicated up to 10 percent of their budget to paid social media advertising, while 13 percent dedicated more than 21 percent of their budget. Those numbers are expected to increase in 2013.

The results come as companies like Twitter and Facebook are making more diverse advertising options available to brands. Last year, Twitter announced a number of advertising and media initiatives, including a survey product that enables marketers to ask Twitter users a handful of multiple-choice questions. Facebook began testing a new advertising mechanism using a technology called real-time bidding, which allows advertisers to place bids on ad space at specific times.

“Advertisers are starting to look at social media as an integrated part of their advertising strategy,” said Jeff Smith, the senior vice president of product leadership for advertising effectiveness at Nielsen.

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New Google+ Study Confirms Minimal Social Activity, Weak User Engagement

Larry Page recently called Google+ the company’s “social spine.” If that’s the case, then Google’s backbone might be much weaker than Page has been letting on, at least according to a new report from RJ Metrics.

This week, the data analytics firm provided Fast Company with exclusive new insights on Google+. The findings paint a very poor picture of the search giant’s social network–a picture of waning interest, weak user engagement, and minimal social activity. Google calls the study flawed–we’ll explain why in a second–and has boasted that more than 170 million people have “upgraded” to the network. RJ Metrics’ report, on the other hand, is yet another indicator that Google+ might indeed just be a “virtual ghost town,” as some have argued.

Let’s start with the findings. For its study, RJ Metrics (RJM) selected a sample of 40,000 random Google+ users. RJM then downloaded and analyzed every sample users’ public timeline, which contains all publicly available activity. One important caveat: RJM was only able to look at public data, which as it points out, “is not necessarily reflective of the entire population of users,” since some users are private or at least have private activity. That said, the stats are eye-opening:

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Three Facts About Facebook Advertising

Buddy Media. has been helping advertisers succeed on Facebook, and the other major social networks, ever since. Today, close to 1,000 companies, including 8 of the world’s top 10 global brands, use Buddy Media to manage their Facebook advertising and social marketing programs.

This has given Buddy media a front-row seat to the social marketing game, and with it, access to a large set of aggregate data about the state of Facebook advertising and the the actual results they are seen are different from some of those cited in a story from The Wall Street Journal that mentions brand advertisers are souring on Facebook advertising.

The aggregate, quantifiable numbers, as well as knowledge of  brands’ ad spend, show the speed at which brand advertisers are investing into Facebook.

Companies that spent $1 million last year are spending $5 million this year. Companies that spent $10 million last year are upping spend to $25 million or more.

In the first quarter of 2011, our technology managed 3 billion social ad impressions. In the same period this year, we managed 127 billion impressions. That’s a 42-fold increase in just a year.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a brand manager at Kia Motors as evidence of advertisers’ “big doubt.” “The question with Facebook … is, ‘What are we getting for our dollars?’” asked Kia’s Michael Sprague.

To address Michael’s question–as well as any doubts about the state of Facebook’s advertising business–you need to understand three simple truths.

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For Brands, Social Media Shows Returns but Measurement Hurdles Remain

Executives see improvements in marketing and sales efforts, and market share gains as a result of well-planned campaigns

C-suite executives are increasingly convinced of the benefits of engaging with their customers on social media platforms. A February 2012 survey of 329 senior executives in North America by management and digital consulting firm PulsePoint Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit found that the vast majority of companies who had invested in social media saw a positive shift in their bottom line as a result.

Executives who said their companies had established an extensive social media presence reported a return on investment that was more than four times that of companies with little or no social network engagement activity

Companies should use social media to create spaces for consumers to have meaningful conversations with employees and other stakeholders. Almost seven in 10 respondents said they had seen a spike in their sales by letting customers talk about their brands on social media platforms, even if some of that dialogue was negative. This kind of approach builds trust and credibility with consumers, potentially transforming them into brand advocates whose value is immense, if difficult to measure.

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Targeted Follower Tools For Marketers

LinkedIn will launch two new functions for companies who have followers on LinkedIn, both of which will be of interest to marketers and advertisers: “Targeted Updates” and “Follower Statistics.”

Targeted Updates will allow companies to segment their followers by a range of variables such as industry, seniority, job function, company size, non-company employees, and geography. Companies will be able to send different status updates to different groups of followers,

Follower Statistics will essentially be an analytics dashboard that will allow companies to see how effective their updates have been.

Is Facebook overstating it’s number of monthly active users

On the first page of Facebook’s prospectus for its sale of stock to the public, it pegs the number of its “monthly active users” at a whopping 845 million people. The social networking site arrives at an even more astounding number when it comes to “daily active users”: 483 million people.

Those are some huge numbers. If it is hard to believe that so many people are clicking on facebook.com every day, that’s because well, they aren’t, exactly. Those eye-popping numbers should have an asterisk next to them.

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The Coca-Cola Company: Social Media Monitoring on a Global Scale

The Coca-Cola Company’s Digital Manager of Communications, Natalie Johnson, shared how they monitored conversations about their brand on a global scale across the web.