Archive for the ‘social networking’ Category
Crowdsourced comments on sites such as TripAdvisor are proving increasing popular with consumers. Rather than rely on company self-promotion or professional critics growing numbers of people prefer to read comments from ‘people like us’ even where they do not know them personally.
It becomes a numbers game in the sense that if enough people over a period of time rate something good there is a good chance we would too if we went. Equally you can avoid those hotels, attractions and restaurants that score badly. In this sense no amount of advertising and glossy brochures will attract people who read these ‘crowdsourced reviews’. We are happy to trust the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ and discount a few bad reviews if they seem out of place compared to the majority.
The Travel industry has recognised this growing trend and is hosting a social media conference next month to help organisations understand the potential of this new media.
As someone told me when they came back from a week in Cornwall earlier this month. The hotel they stayed in asked them to fill in a feedback and comment card but also added ‘If you had a good time could you write something on TripAdvisor please’. That shows the hotel understands the power of social media and social networking.
Security issues had previously meant that access to social media sites from US miliary computers was restricted. This has changed with access now allowed according to a blog post from a serving marine.
The post quotes the Director of Command, Control, Communications and Computers and CIO of the Marine Corps – Major General George J Allen
“The Marine Corps understands and embraces Internet-based capabilities….We can collaborate and enhance our business processes, and also provide a level of morale for our force that has never been seen before.”
An interesting article from Fresh Business Thinking about how important Social Media can be in helping support online buying decisions.
Certainly if we look at the growth of Forums and ‘Fans/Friends’ pages on social networking sites plus ‘crowdsourced’ feedback sites like TripAdvisor we can see (and maybe have personally experienced) the value and power of 3rd prt recommendations.
As Seth Godin is saying ‘Tribes’ – creating, supporting and engaging with people who are interested in your brand – is very important. What is really exciting is that social media and networking is easy to use, needs very little budget and yet by using it companies can become big-brands. With a lot of fans using social media to share their experience (good and bad!) they can in effect become part of the story by telling their friends. This ‘cascade’ communication can grow to a sizable number so providing a powerful communications network to support commercial activity and promotion.
Socitm recently published a report – Twitter Gritter - on how local councils used Twitter during the snowy weather. It was interesting to see how citizens were using data on school closures, road gritting and bin collections to help them cope. In some cases the councils used citizen feedback to help focus their resources on the replenishing of grit bins and also request specific help such as the use of privately owned 4×4’s to help to get to vunerable people who depended on council home-help services.
Twitter have just published a Government case study on how the US Geological Survey (USGS) uses citizen Tweets to capture details of earthquakes as they happen. This can then be mapped and added to data coming in from instrument monitoring stations providing a richer picture.
A great post by Brian Solis sharing data on the demographics across 19 social networks. By drilling down into the data Brian highlights the age profiles of people overall and across each of the 19 networks.
This is very useful if planning a campaign to ensure clear targeting and ensure building ‘communities of interest’ is a success. It also helps explain why President Obama and his team did not focus on only one or two sites but had profiles and activities on 15 sites.
Two statistics stand out:
- the biggest group of users at 57% of all those online are aged 35+
- the 25 – 34 year old age group only places at 3rd largest with 18% share and after 35 – 44 (25%) and 45 – 54 (19%) age groups.
Well at least that is what research from the US is suggesting.
This is the link to the blog posting of the company that did the research – Retrevo Inc – an online consumer electronics company in the USA.
When researchers ask if people checked Facebook or Twitter after they had gone to bed and not just throughout the day almost half of reponders said they would.
Even more interesting was the answer to the question about where they were prepared to be interupted by Facebook or Twitter ‘at any time’. It would seem that quite a few are prepared to be interupted and get social online rather than have sex.
The research did not investigate the differences across the age groups so we will never know if the over 25’s have sex less than younger people so do not get the problem of being interupted as often or for some other reason. That is one for the Social and Behavioural Scientists to investigate.
From my own non-scientific research (asking people about their habits during my Web 2.0 and social media training courses) I know that most people sleep with their mobile phones by their bed. They check first thing in the morning and last thing at night for messages. Younger people usually check Facebook and similar social networking sites and older people their ‘Blackberry’ or similar mesaging services. A number of people will use their laptops/netbooks in bed but everyone has their mobile phone (Only 4 people out of over 300 said they left their phone ‘downstairs’ or ‘in their briefcase/handbag’)
There is another interesting split in the people in my courses.
Recent graduates (average age 21) are almost 100% Facebook – only a handful out of the hundreds I have worked with said they were not on Facebook but quickly add they are on MySpace or another social networking site. Twitter is hardly ever used and only a few use LinkedIn.
Business people who attend and so are already established in a career (aged 25 – 45+) are more varied. About 20% are usually on Facebook, about a third are on LinkedIn and 10% on Twitter.
Penguin are famous for their ‘Classic’ series of books. When I was at school we had a book buying club. Each week we paid a small amount into a personal fund and once a month (or was it less frequent?) had the choice of a number of books published by Penguin.
I remember the excitement we had discussing with classmates what book we were going to select and ensuring we did not duplicate our choices so we could then swap them after reading them. That was the start of my life long love affair with books and reading. It continues today with a study full of books and bookcases throughout the house. No doubt if we had access to blogs, Twitter and Facebook back then we would have had cyber-chats and shared information that way.
A few years ago in an earlier blog I wrote about Penguins creative use of podcasting to listen to interviews with authors. It is nice to see it has just had its 3rd birthday.
When audio podcasts are added to book readings online and at special events, author tours and ‘meet the author’ evenings we can see how traditional book promotion can be blended with digital media. Add in social media in terms of building a community and engaging in conversations with it and we can see how a new classic form of product promotion can be created. One that provides a richness of experience and interactivity and conversational engagement via comments and feedback.
Can it only work for authors? No. Everyone with a story to tell (and a product/service to sell!) can use the medium of podcasting (audio or video) to help create and engage with a community. Is it worth the time and effort? Yes. If you make a monthly podcast it maybe listened to by a few dozen, a few hundred or maybe thousands of people. Whatever the number it is highly unlikely any business – except a multi-national with call centre staff – will have the time or budget to contact that number of people every month. Also would you want to contact them every month or would they for that matter? No. But someone may choose to listen or watch each month.
Podcasting is a wonderful way to keep people updated about your businesses news. But how do you get the content interesting enough to attract and retain an audience? You probably already know how to engage and talk to potential customers. You know when you have their attention and when you are boring them. It is the same with an audio or video podcast but without you seeing people yawn or obviously stop listening! You do need to consider carefully what ongoing information or news would be interesting so you can create a ’series’. You can always ask the audience what topics would be of interest. Include a request for comment in the podcast but also ask via any social media tools that you use such as Twitter, blogs or Facebook etc.
A good rule to use when considering podcast content is ‘edutainment’. If people enjoy time in your company when you are networking and learn something (about you and your product) then they will come back. Many organisations have created a loyal following who in turn have used social networking and Word of Mouse marketing to spread the word.