Visual outperforms text when it comes to social media engagement

According to a new study from M Booth and  Simply Measured, visual content is not only taking over the digital and social media landscape, it’s also outperforming all other mediums when it comes to engagement!

  1. Videos are shared 12X more than links and text posts combined on Facebook
  2. Photos are liked 2X more than text posts on Facebook
  3. 48% of all Tumblr posts are photos.
  4. On YouTube, 100 million users are liking, sharing or commenting on videos every week.
  5. Pinterest refers more traffic than Twitter, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and Google+ combined
Graphics and videos drive engagement in social media

Social Media Marketers Must Provide Disclosure

Advertisers who make claims about their products on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest need to be mindful of the fine print they use, or forget to use, in their postings and provide disclosure.

Last week, the National Advertising Division, an investigative unit of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, reviewed photographs that Nutrisystem had “pinned” on Pinterest boards and determined that the photos were testimonials requiring disclosures. The photographs in question showed people who said they had lost weight by using Nutrisystem, but there was no disclosure that the people had been paid or that the results of their weight loss were not typical. Instead, the photos simply said, for example, “Christine B. lost 46 lbs on Nutrisystem.”

The self-regulatory council conducts independent reviews of marketing and advertising on all platforms, including social media. The group often responds to complaints brought by competing marketers who accuse others of violating advertising guidelines, like making unsubstantiated claims. Following a review, marketers often comply with requests to modify or settle the claim. If they refuse, the claim can be sent to the Federal Trade Commission for further review.

Andrea Levine, the director of the National Advertising Division, said the organization tends to monitor advertising in categories like health and nutrition, dietary supplements and cosmetics closely. “Those are categories where companies are not watching each other as closely and bringing their own challenges,” Ms. Levine said.

In the Nutrisystem case, the company immediately agreed to add disclosure statements to its photographs, Ms. Levine said. “As long as their stories are truthful and as long as the advertiser discloses what is the normal weight loss range, which is 1 to 2 pounds a week, that lets the consumers put the success story in context,” Ms. Levine said.

Advertising on Twitter and Facebook is also monitored closely by the investigative units in the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council. In November 2011, for example, 1-800 Contacts challenged claims made on Facebook by a competitor, Coastal Contacts.

Coastal Contacts encouraged Facebook users to “like” its page and in doing so, promised them a free pair of glasses. It also promised discounts of 70 percent on contact lenses. The rival, 1-800 Contacts, said that Coastal Contacts did not disclose the shipping and handling fees associated with the offer for free glasses and that not all styles of glasses or lenses were available in the offer.

In addition, the company contended that users who “liked” the Coastal Contacts page in order to get the free glasses were inadvertently endorsing the company.

The National Advertising Division ruled that all claims for free merchandise must clearly disclose any hidden fees and conditions at the outset of the offer, including increasing the font size of the message that “conditions apply.” Facebook likes can be interpreted as “conveying a message of general social endorsement,” the ruling said.

“If what you are offering them in exchange for likes is not real, then those likes were obtained through deceptive advertising,” Ms. Levine said of the ruling.

One of the first social media cases taken up by a related organization, the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program, involved Twitter. In July 2010, the program recommended that Liquid HCG Diet discontinue using testimonials that it made on Twitter — such as, “Becky and husband lost 14 lbs in 2 days!” — and claims on Facebook that said “Lose around a pound a day” and “Lose 30 lbs in a month, it’s easy and quick!”

Twitter now offers advertisers options like promoted tweets that make it more clear to users which posts are advertisements and which are authentic content.

“It’s kind of a reminder to advertisers that even though the medium changes the rules stay the same,” Ms, Levine said.

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Facebook Paid Ads, GM Cuts But Ford Steps on the Gas

On the eve of Facebook’s wildly anticipated initial public stock offering, General Motors said Tuesday that it is “reassessing” its spending on Facebook paid ads — about $10 million — but “remains committed” to the social network as part of “an aggressive content strategy with all our products and brands.”

In other words, GM will not pay Facebook for ads but will continue to maintain content, for which Facebook doesn’t collect revenue. News of the decision was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

GM’s position is far from universal. Ford Motor said it would “accelerate” Facebook paid ad spending in conjunction with the content it’s producing for the network.

But GM’s pullout points to Facebook’s biggest challenge: Though most consumer brands see the social network as a way to connect with consumers, opinions are mixed on the value of paid ads there. Posting messages is free, but Facebook astonished the market in February when it revealed that only 16% of “fans” see any given piece of content. To reach more “fans” as well as their friends, marketers were urged to buy advertising.

Automotive is a tough category for Facebook, as the purchase cycle is long and many factors influence a decision. A spokesman for the company said it would have no comment on GM’s decision.

Sources told Ad Age that world’s second-largest automaker has been reviewing the effectiveness of Facebook paid ads vs. placing content on the site for a while. (GM named Carat as its new media spending agency in January.). GM spokesman Tom Henderson said that the carmaker would continue to budget for content spending on Facebook “because Facebook continues to be a really effective tool for engaging with our customers.”

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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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Demystifying social media

As the marketing power of social media grows, it no longer makes sense to treat it as an experiment. Here’s how senior leaders can harness social media to shape consumer decision making in predictable ways.

Executives certainly know what social media is. After all, if Facebook users constituted a country, it would be the world’s third largest, behind China and India. Executives can even claim to know what makes social media so potent: its ability to amplify word-of-mouth effects. Yet the vast majority of executives have no idea how to harness social media’s power. Companies diligently establish Twitter feeds and branded Facebook pages, but few have a deep understanding of exactly how social media interacts with consumers to expand product and brand recognition, drive sales and profitability, and engender loyalty.

We believe there are two interrelated reasons why social media remains an enigma wrapped in a riddle for many executives, particularly nonmarketers. The first is its seemingly nebulous nature. It’s no secret that consumers increasingly go online to discuss products and brands, seek advice, and offer guidance. Yet it’s often difficult to see where and how to influence these conversations, which take place across an ever-growing variety of platforms, among diverse and dispersed communities, and may occur either with lightning speed or over the course of months. Second, there’s no single measure of social media’s financial impact, and many companies find that it’s difficult to justify devoting significant resources—financial or human—to an activity whose precise effect remains unclear.

What we hope to do here is to demystify social media. We have identified its four primary functions—to monitor, respond, amplify, and lead consumer behavior—and linked them to the journey consumers undertake when making purchasing decisions. Being able to identify exactly how, when, and where social media influences consumers helps executives to craft marketing strategies that take advantage of social media’s unique ability to engage with customers. It should also help leaders develop, launch, and demonstrate the financial impact of social-media campaigns

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Consumer Trust In Traditional Media Ads Fall, Confidence In Mobile, Social And Online Rise

Word-of-mouth recommendations and reviews, either from someone they know or a stranger’s opinions online, are the most trusted sources of information for buying decisions, according to the latest Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report, The findings speak highly for information gathered through social media or other forms of user-generated content.

Meanwhile, though traditional paid media still are trusted by a great number of consumers, their influence is on the decline. Nearly half of consumers around the world say the trust ads on TV (47%), in magazines (47%) and in newspapers (46%), but those numbers dropped by 24%, 20% and 25% respectively, in a relatively short period of time — between 2009 and 2011.

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7 Lessons From The Nikon Social Media Faux Pas

In the world of social media you have to be careful as to who posts on your walls, what they say, how it can be interpreted and what the consequences can be.

Nikon, the famed photographic equipment manufacturer learned the lesson the hard way.

Back in September of 2011, a the following post appeared on Nikon’s Facebook page:

“A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our Facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?”

Now, anybody involved to some degree in photography knows that a statement like this will infuriate most of the photographers who read it.

I understand what the Nikon employee may have been trying to say, but the way he or she said it came out totally wrong.  It is true that a good camera and good lenses will make a big difference on the quality of the photograph, but at the end of the day, the talent of the photographer remains the key.

Withing hours, the post received a couple of thousands of comments, something most brands would rejoice at, unless, like in this case, the comments were overwhelmingly  negative and the brand had just invested a lot of money on the launch of a new camera.

What can we learn from Nikon?

1-Monitor the conversations about your brand

2-Who you allow to post on your wall is important, make certain they understand and relate to your community

3-Before posting, think about your post a few times.  Is that the message you want to send out?  In doubt, ask a few colleagues, insure it’s congruent with your communication and marketing message

4-Remember that it does not take long for a post with a lot of comments on a business page to attract the attention of search engines, influential websites and blogs and be indexed.  Do a search for the Nikon Facebook page and you will see several pages of websites and blogs with negative reactions to the post, not something you want your community to see.  Bad news travels faster than good and stick longer.

5-When you put your foot in your mouth, don’t wait to see 2000 negative comments to react (it took Nikon over 12hrs to apologize), apologize, do it quickly, sincerely and repeatedly.  If you take into account that a Facebook user has an average of 150 friends, at least 300,000 Facebook users saw the post, that’s not counting the re postings and shares.The kind of exposure no brand wants.

6-Reach out to the blogs and websites that covered the story

7-Building a reputation takes time, damaging it only a few seconds and repairing it a long time.

What are your thoughts?