Tag Archives: Facebook

US PR report shows big use of Facebook in engaging with publics

When it comes to marketing, UK professionals often look to the US to see what new trends and practices being developed that will wash up on our online and offline shores.

So it is with some interest that I came upon University of Southern California’s Annenberg Strategic Communication and Public Relations Center’s bi-annual PR report.

I do have a note of caution that there are notable differences in the scale (for instance US trade magazines generally having much larger readerships), approach and delivery as well as the business culture.  Something perhaps that is overlooked, as US culture seems so familiar to many in the UK.

However the results of the report still might have resonance for UK based PR professionals.

The GAP (Generally Accepted Practices Report) VII is quite a detailed document so I will look in this entry at digital marketing section and how it relates to PR and look to cover another aspect in a following post.

Firstly the report rates social networking sites and sharing online video as the most used digital tools by (corporate) PR professionals.  Online audio comes in lowest although it is simple to utilise mobile apps such as Audio Boo as an expedient way to place content (and higher quality should be easy to implement as well).

Facebook comes out top in the increase of use, substantially above Twitter and blogs, which are still growing in numbers, some 181million (for all uses) according to Technorati’s 2011 State of the Blogosphere.

Perhaps, not unsurprisingly virtual worlds are declining in popularity, and so are wikis. (It would be good to have further explanation, a weakness of the report).

Budgetary and strategic control (over 50% in both cases) of digital marketing, including SEO, is favouring the PR department rather than the marketing or customer service teams, the latter by a considerable margin.

66% of not for profit organisations – the highest recorded, compared to 36% public and 47% private companies – are frequent users of digital and social media tools and they favour Facebook and Twitter most.

So the most intriguing issue is Facebook emerging as the preferred mode of engaging audiences.  Why do many US PR companies and practitioners favour a medium that corporate B2B and public sector would often treat with caution for their PR delivery in the UK?

But without deeper analysis, interpretation and more qualitative information we are perhaps just seeing the surface and not what lies beneath.

What’s your Klout?

Klout

While we are busy racking up followers, friends or connections, getting a re-tweet or comment here or there, how much do we analyse the effectiveness of our social media output?

Probably for many it is based on just that: amassing a large number of followers, with some nods towards interaction.  How else can you do it?

One free tool available on the Internet is Klout.

Simple and easy to sign-up with and use, it assesses the power of an individuals or company’s social media through algorithms that give feedback on three key elements:

How many people you influence (True Reach)

How much you influence them (Amplification)

How influential they are (Network Score)

If we take Twitter (there are other social media that can be analysed such as LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook) I have a Klout score of 37.88 out of a possible 100, up from 34.65 a few days ago.

My true reach is 286 (rather than the nearly 800 followers I have) although I am not sure if the lists I am noted on are included, there are about 50 and range from one follower to several hundred.  It is an important point as I have more followers on lists than the almost 800 cited.

Network influence is 41 and and amplification stands at 14.

I am also influential about “lawyers, journalism and Manchester.”

I thought I saw “Alan Carr” the other day in that list, but  it must have been my imagination.

It is quite fluid system, scores can go up and down.  When I looked at “I Love Manchester’s” scores, as a test, it went up straight after the riots when many wanted to show support for the city – so first test passed.

With a claim of over 85 million Twitter accounts assessed, you are free to compare scores, quite impressive as the majority of accounts are not signed-up to Klout.

I will mention two more features.

The first is a grid, reminiscent of a marketing or business matrix.  This is an account’s “Klout style,” mine is between “casual and listening” and “focused and consistent.”  As with the other indicators comparisons with friends or rivals accounts can be made.

It adds: “You actively engage in the social web, constantly trying out new ways to interact and network. You’re exploring the ecosystem and making it work for you. Your level of activity and engagement shows that you “get it,” we predict you’ll be moving up.”

I am getting falshbacks to school reports.

The other is “Klout perks.”  If you are an influential social media operative you can try or be given gifts,  with the aim of promoting the brand – being influential on journalists and lawyers might not be helpful in this regard, but Manchester might be.

So for any PR that has to justify social media or simply for interested parties who want the gratification that their hours of tweeting are changing the world, it is a fun, easy and perhaps a useful tool.

The fickle world of social media platforms – Bebo to close if not sold

About two years ago I published a small piece commenting on the Manchester Evening News noting a drop of several hundred thousand Facebook members.

Well, as thought the demise of Facebook or even a small drop in its popularity did not last.  It now stands at 463 million worldwide users, up from 200 million at the start of 2009.  What’s more visitors spend 261.6 minutes (per a month) compared to 178.3 minutes just a year ago.

Some more Facebook statistics to amuse and hold you in awe click here.

At the same time Bebo looks as though it will be sold or shutdown by owners AOL who paid $850 million for the site in 2008.

Figures from marketing firm comScore show the dramatic shift – Bebo’s monthly users in the UK fell by 60% from February 2009 to February 2010 to 3.8 million, while Facebook’s grew 24% over the same period to 28.1 million. MySpace fell 50% to 3.5 million.

Eden Zoller an analyst at Ovum said: “The original motive to buy Bebo made sense at the time.  In 2008 it was up and coming, growing well and had targeted and attractive demographic.  Facebook  wasn’t the huge animal it is today either.”

Lack of investment, lack of leadership, lack of innovation are cited in The Independent as some of the main reasons why Bebo has been overtaken by Facebook, which “took risks and was very focused.” (Ray Valdes VP at Gartner)

Friends Reunited suffered a similar fate to Bebo, being sold in 2009 at a fraction of the £125 million ITV paid for it in 2005.

It seems as though constant innovation and drive in social media platforms is key to their slippery hold on social networking domination.  It makes communications all the more interesting – very little stands still.

Is Facebook appropriate for business?

Could you imagine a lawyer or accountant using Facebook to engage with their publics?  No, unless they are catering to a rather young set, this would be the received wisdom.

Personally I have not historically been a fan of Facebook.  It is a bit, well, it’s for kids isn’t it and other people with hands on their time?  I never really took to the platform and I never bothered.

Of course for B2C products and services it is rather more promising.  Unfortunately my work is nearly all B2B – PR for men and not boys – actually happy to receive inquiries from B2C businesses.

So does Facebook have a role for those that do not run B2C campaigns?

I think it can.  I have been using it more recently and although I prefer Twitter and LinkedIn to help my clients craft their communications, Facebook can have a role, for me at least.

Your clients are your sales team, if you do your work well.

But your friends can also take up that role, if only occasionally.  With a Twitter app pulling through content it is possible to give your friends more of an idea about what you do.  They might have a vague idea, but if they become more familiar with your enterprise, well.

The other thing is that Facebook builds up relationships, which is what social media is all about.

Some friends on Facebook will not know you as well as an old school friend, so there is the opportunity to talk and get to know each other.  Sometimes small talk and fun is the best way for friendship, for work.

Now I know what you are thinking: it is all a bit mercenary.

I wrote a little time ago that the boundaries between work and the personal life are disintegrating.  I am not happy about it.  Yet where does your personal life stop and your business life begin?  Mmmmm

So where before I refused requests from business contacts into my Facebook arena, now I am minded to accept.

There is the ever present danger of not looking professional or exhibiting an opinion that is not for professional consumption although my Facebook pages are not really controversial.

The thing about social media is that it is like water: you can contain it for some time, but if it wants to break a barrier, social media will and can.

Don’t get me wrong I will continue to use Facebook for friends and it is not a business tool primarily.  I will just occasionally mention my work – I have anyway given in to trying to stop the tide.

Postscript

Toprankblog has a good little entry on using Facebook more effectively for business – take a look.

Is Facebook the crack cocaine of social networking?

Madmusings first e-mail bulletin to me from those crazy guys at MAD, a valuable source of marketing news, certainly grabbed my attention.
So what are those wild cats on about?

Simply that Facebook, far from waning in popularity is still on an upward curve, with new sites being launched specifically for Germany, France, Spain and China.  It could be just the start.

As madmusings points out Facebook has been dismissed as a fad, among the number of critics is Rupert Murdoch who said it was “more of a directory.”  Well you would say that….especially if you had pulled off a master stroke, worthy of Monty Pansear’s batting (which is not good), of buying MySpace’s parent company for a “cool” £330 million.  Better to have invested in Coke, the drink or even the coal derivative, seeing we are using that colourful imagery.

One thing is clear MySpace was in the international market with country specific sites long before Facebook.  But who would you bet on to succeed in a couple of years?

Tom Cheesewright of IO Communications told me (I am going to be pulled up on this aren’t I?) that the Internet allows the best sites to succeed even if they are new entrants to the market.

The traditional marketing model is that the first in usually captures the biggest share, I think it is 30% or 40% if I remember all that education.  Early followers grab a lot of the remainder and the rest , the crumbs.

As for the attention grabbing headline?  It grabbed my attention, even if did not quite live up to its shock value.

Facebook on the way out

The Manchester Evening News mentioned a survey that Facebook had lost 400,000 users last month and Bebo and My Space had a drop of 2% in numbers.

Is this the end of social networking.

No!

I am not very good at maths but if you have 5 people sign on to my Artisan social networking site and they each tell 5 more people and each new friend does likewise. Then after a cycle of this occurring 10 times you have 9.7m users.

The dynamics of this mean social networking sites can gather pace quicker than an August forest fire in California. A dampening in enthusiasm members is to be expected and can easily be in the hundreds of thousands.

What it all means is that social networking sites can be as transient as a pop star: some will survive others are waiting to be usurped by new pretenders.

Lessons in social networking

My local adult education college is now offering courses in social media networking or more precisely how to customise your My Space page.

While it has seen a demand and you could say its marketing is proactive, has it missed the boat already?

As one client in IT put it (more or less) to me when I expressed my surprise at the course being offered, next to traditional lines in cooking and ceramics: “Shouldn’t it focus on Facebook, My Space is already on its way out.”