Mobiles and social networks may be less popular than first thought for younger generations

A new study from Redshift Research has suggested that mobile devices and social networks might be less popular among younger generations than previously thought.

The study surveyed 2000 people between the ages of 17-31 to better understand how younger people are spending their time online.

Some of the findings were quite surprising, for example 43% of the respondents claimed not to use Twitter at all.

Furthermore 65% claimed that the majority of their internet access came through a laptop or a desktop PC opposed to a tablet or a smartphone.

You can see the research in full here, and tell us if you find these results surprising.

Facebook reveals the biggest trends of 2013

Facebook has released new data from 2013 which reveals the most talked about topics of 2013.

The list includes some obvious contenders and some more less obvious topics.

Predictably the Royal Baby and Pope Francis both feature highly, however so does Miley Cyrus and the Harlem Shake.

The data also contains the locations that people have ‘checked in’ at the most – which also provides an interesting read.

Take a look at the Facebook trends of 2013 here, and tell us if you have contributed to these online topics.

Budweiser lets you make friends with a clink

Buddy CupBuddy CupIt’s an age old tradition across the globe, you say “cheers” (or regional equivalent) then ‘clink’ glasses, an almost universal symbol.

Now American beer brand Budweiser in Brazil wants to make this social act, even more social, with their Buddy Cups.

The smart cups detect the contact between them and adds the other person as a friend on Facebook, this is done via a chip in the bottom of the cup and a code which you scan with your smart phone to activate it.

The cups are reportedly going to be used for events and concerts, but how far afield no one is sure.

Watch a video about the new cup below.

Talk to street furniture in Bristol

HLP ConvoHLP collageThe winning project of the first Playable City Awards will allow residents of Bristol to text lamp posts, post boxes and other street furniture.

“Hello Lamp Post” is an interactive art project, that allows users to text a number with the message hello, the objects name and the identifier code used on all street furniture. In turn they will receive a reply from this item, leading to either a conversation or possibly a game.

The project was conceived by London-based Pan Studios and locals will be able to start conversing with bus stops and more from June this year.

You can download the full proposal here.

The impact on brand of social media mistakes

The Think Tank has recently been taking part in a series of seminars, talking about issues surrounding the use of social media in the workplace and the impact that it can have upon brand and reputation.

These have been very well attended and judging by two recent Twitter abuses in the United States it is becoming a very important factor for businesses, both internally and externally.

Last week a disgruntled employee at a company called Stub Hub sent out a tweet riddled with profanity, which the company subsequently had to apologise for and issue a withdrawal. We have added an image of this below but it does use quite strong language – you are warned!

Another business, Kitchen Aid, mistakenly retweeted an offensive joke about President Obama’s grandmother – possibly as a result of social media automation. Again, this is below but the content may be deemed as offensive.

These types of social media interaction may be mistakes or they may be on purpose but the problem is the same; Social Media poses new challenges to business as to how they and their employees interact online and the increasing possibility of damage to brand and reputation.

If you would like to discuss any of these topics and how they could impact upon your business then please get in touch.

Twitter profanityTwitter apology

Bad Taste Tweet
Twitter retraction

Responding to customer complaints on Twitter

Sainsbury's twitterTaking the engagement of their customers on Twitter very seriously, the Sainsbury’s PR team this week posted an interesting response to a complaint by U.K. blogger October Jones.

He complained that the chicken sandwich that he had bought “tastes like it was beaten to death by Hulk Hogan.”

The response? - “Really sorry it wasn’t up to scratch. We will replace Mr. Hogan with Ultimate Warrior on our production line immediately.”

Another Sainsbury’s account replied by providing a phone number for Jones to call and said the company sincerely regrets that “you had to wrestle your way through the sandwich.”

These are great responses but are they really appropriate when dealing with customer complaints? Made us smile though.

Earned, owned and paid for

Media FragmentationThe Think Tank PR team has been discussing ‘Earned’, ‘Owned’ and ‘Paid for’ media.  This came about as we saw a quote in PR Week from Freud Communications’ chairman, Matthew Freud, saying that: “The basic model for media and marketing is broken”.  

While media fragmentation has long been talked about we thought it was interesting that it is the interactive marketing space which is helping use define new universes.  

Although full definitions may vary, the basic premise is that ‘Owned’ media is the channel you control such as your website, or partially-owned, your company Facebook page or Twitter account.  

‘Earned’ media covers press coverage, however the term has evolved to cover the word-of-mouth that is being created through social media channels.  

‘Paid for’ media does what is says on the tin, and covers advertising in its many formats online and in print, and extends into paid search for example.  

Categorising your media in this way helps to identify the roles they can play in delivering your communications; understanding their benefits and challenges can be a critical next step, and of course that they work best working together.  

But of course the real test is what you say, not just how you are delivering your message, and increasingly how you are then listening, engaging and responding is key in this new ‘networked’ age.

Facebook highlights factors that increase ad performance

FacebookIn an attempt to boost its ad revenue and improve the quality of advertising, Facebook’s measurement team is making public its research on the types of ads that work best on its platform.  

After talking with marketers, Facebook identified six elements of ad creative that impaceted upon recall and purchase consideration including two visual elements of focal point and noticeability and four that looked at messaging and a range of things, from whether it’s easy to see the brand to whether the ad is succinct and to the point.  

They then asked 109 marketers to rate around 400 ads on each of the six elements. All were from the Facebook premium-engagement format, which appear on the right column of a Facebook page and is restricted by image size and copy length.   All of the ads chosen were brand or product ads rather than direct response.  

The results for recall highlighted three factors that were particularly important: Images needed to have an obvious focal point, the brand had to be clear and the ad needed to fit with the brand’s personality.   

Not rocket science but at least an indicator of best practice winning out.  

Failing focal-points were fairly common, due to the lack of space for images, however this was increased by brands which opted for small product images on cluttered backgrounds. This got in the way of consumers recalling brands – therefore simplicity is best.  

The ads should also be clear about the brand they’re promoting, which may sound obvious but many brands were obscured in the ads or missing associated brand colours.  

When looking at purchase consideration the main aspect was whether the ad rewarded the viewer. Very important in encouraging interaction.  

“Ads that were rewarding tended to be pretty clear — there wasn’t an overload of information,” said Mr. Bruich, who conducted the study with measurement researcher Adrienne Polich. “But [the] rewarding ads also seemed to connect. The information seemed meaningful.”  

The importance of offering a reward was the single-biggest creative predictor of an ad’s success, which apparently surprised the Facebook team.  

The full study will be presented in the US next month however those that believe that bright colours or crazy fonts would create noticeability will be sorely disappointed as the survey found that this was not predictive of either recall or purchase consideration.  

So it’s goodbye to psychedelic Facebook ads and hello to minimalism.

Goldman Sachs ridiculed across social channels

This was a bad publicity week for Goldman Sachs following the publishing of a letter from a disgruntled employee.   

The content of this letter hit the news worldwide and soon became a social media talking point, at which point it took on a life of its own. From comic blog entries like this one called ‘Oscar the Grouch Resigns’ (from Sesame Street fame) to a plethora of entries across Pinterest.  

This is a classic case of how just one employee can quickly damage the reputation of a business and how social media spreads the message at an exponential rate.   Whether the employee was right or wrong is not for us to judge however it does demonstrate why businesses should have crisis planning in place to quickly limit the potential damage of such an action. Social Media adds to the potential risk and businesses should be actively monitoring channels to ensure that they are aware of what is being said about them by customers, employees and the general public. A forewarned business is a prepared business.  

It is frightening just how quickly the reputation of a business can be damaged through the posting of video content on social channels – remember the safety demonstration that turned out not to be so safe!

It is difficult to tell just how much this will damage the reputation of Goldman Sachs however in the short term it wiped $2bn off their market value – not a good day at the bank!



Research says that 80% of US brands respond to online customer feedback

In a recent article in Corporate Comms a survey by software comapny ‘Get Satisfaction‘ measured houw US brands monitor online converstaions and feedback.

Nearly 90 per cent of US brands say that they monitor online conversations and feedback while 80 per cent also respond to feedback. More than three quarters of those polled also distribute customer feedback internally and nearly two thirds thought that listening and engaging on social media has raised brand awareness.

The article also highlights that more than two fifths cited availability of budget as the greatest internal challenge to listening and engagement, while more than a third said the same about their difficulty in managing programmes across multiple platforms.

‘Almost a fifth cited privacy issues as the greatest challenge, while 30 per cent said the same about availability of talent. The top five departments that create strategies to listen to consumers are, in order, the social media team, marketing or public relations, web-interactive marketing, product marketing and marketing operations.

Half of businesses say that listening to their customers on social media is not a core function of their business. Just six per cent of companies said that listening and digital engagement initiatives are integral to their organisation,’ the article says.

It seems that brands in the US are taking social media engagement seriously. It would be interesting to carry out similar research in the UK.

Article by Emily Nicholls for Corp Comms Magazine.


Social media explained

Found this in one of the blogs we follow and it made us smile. By Douglas Wray.


Twitter opens up advertising to 10,000 small businesses

Twitter has started to broaden its revenue streams by rolling out its self-serve ad platform to 10,000 small and midsize businesses in the US through a partnership with American Express.  

From 16th February American Express card members and merchants are able to register to use the platform on a first-come, first-serve basis.  They will receive $100 in advertising credits to put towards bidding on promoted tweets and promoted accounts. Twitter had begun the rollout of self-serve, which lets advertisers make electronic payments instead of being invoiced by the sales team, in mid-November with a group of fewer than 20 advertisers and expanded the group to about 100.  

Dick Costolo, CEO, commented, “So many hundreds of thousands and even millions of small businesses have been using Twitter effectively for years already, so by opening up our ad platform to all these folks as a mechanism for them to amplify the value they’re already creating.”  

Find out more on Adage.


Is this a social media turning point?

A great deal has been written about social media and most of it about the opportunities that it offers brands and marketers. However, a recent survey by YouGov has suggested a negative side to using social media for marketing. Is this a turning point?

New research has revealed that brand engagement on social networks is not as positive as first thought.  

According to B2B Marketing Magazine, ‘Although the uptake remains high, users are demanding more, with two in five participants claiming to be ‘getting bored’ with social media.  

The survey of 1275 British social media users found that just under half of respondents would not be positive about a product their ‘friends’ have followed and/or ‘liked’, with 43 per cent saying they are unlikely to talk about a brand on social media sites. In addition, just over half of participants revealed that they ‘do mind’ seeing ads on social networks that are based on their profile activities.  

Dan Brilot, media consulting director at YouGov, says, “It appears that while social media can be a key tool in the brand marketer’s armoury, in particular to maximise commitment among those already highly engaged with the brand, it has not quite reached the effectiveness necessary to be considered as a truly mass media marketing tool.” 



Olly and Molly reward your social interactions

Olly is a scent-based system rewarding social media activity designed by Foundry, a small research team at Mint Digital. They call it a “web-connected smelly robot.”

Linking to web-based social applications, Olly emits a fragrance when you receive emails, re-Tweets, instant messages and various other pings across social channels

Joining Olly is Molly, a robot that dispenses sweets in a similar way. They are both available on Kickstarter for $50 each.

Great fun and nice to be treated occasionally! 

Molly – turns your retweets into sweets from Olly Factory on Vimeo.



Salesforce launches Social Media best practice website

Salesforce has recently launched a Best Practice website called ‘Social Success‘, covering Cloud Computing and Social Media.

There are some great case studies here as well as a free 25-page book looking at how Social Media is affecting Sales, Marketing and Customer Service.

Click here to see more 


Most overused buzzwords and best ways to increase your profile on Linkedin

LInkedin has been looking at some of the most overused terms and buzzwords of 2011, comparing them to 2010, and also suggest ways that professionals can increase the number of visitors to their profile.

In the 2010 study, buzzwords like “extensive experience,” “dynamic,” “motivated,” and “innovative” were the most overused buzzwords in various countries however LinkedIn says that since its global membership has grown from 85 million to more than 135 million members since 2010 the list has changed. 

Here are the 2011 most used buzzwords:

1. Creative
2. Organizational
3. Effective4. Extensive experience
5. Track record
6. Motivated
7. Innovative
8. Problem solving
9. Communication skills
10. Dynamic

Linkedin has also suggested some tips professionals can act on to increase the number of people viewing their LinkedIn Profile.

Click here to find out more

Twitter launches Brand Pages

Twitter has announced that it is launching ‘Brand Pages’ to meet the growing demand from advertisers to be able to promote their products more prominently than at present.

The pages have two key elements, both of which are free. Ad Age tells us ‘They can be customized with large header images that advertisers can use to display their logo and tagline more prominently than under the standard format, where branded elements of the page design are often partially covered by the time line of tweets. Brands can also choose to keep a particular tweet at the top of their time line, and that top tweet also auto-expands to reveal an embedded photo or video from Flickr, YouTube or other sources, without requiring the user to take action.’

Ad Age interviewed Twitter’s Chief Revenue Officer Adam Bain to find out more about their plans. The launch will initially include brand pages for 21 marketers including American Express, Best Buy, Bing, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Dell , Disney, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and McDonald’s who are all deemed strategic partners.

To read the full article please click here or to find out more about how to enhance your page click here.


Twitter reviews the last year – what have we been searching for?

Twitter’s latest instalment of a year in review shows what we’ve all been searching for and hastagging over the last 12 months.

It does have a bias towards US trends however this series of lists, blog commentary and  well presented overviews should be essential reading for anyone with an interest in social media.

Click here to view the latest installment


Which social media tools are B2B marketers using?

Pardot Marketing Automation has been looking at the most popular social networks amongst B2B marketers.

They found some interesting facts and created an infographic to show some of the key results. Twitter was deemed to be the most popular social network among B2B marketers however LinkedIn was found to create the most leads. 

See the infographic here to find out more of the interesting results.

social-infographic-pardot.pdf (169 kb)


So what are Google+ Pages all about?

This week saw Google+ launch ‘company’ and ‘brand’ pages, expanding its infant social networking platform designed to challenge Facebook.   This is all very new and it is difficult to gauge how it will develop however if anyone is going to challenge Facebook then Google certainly has the online presence and profile to do so.  

To understand what it is all about and how it is going to work The Think Tank has been playing around with Google+ Pages and testing out its viability for network and social marketing.   The system is certainly in its infancy and we assume that many features are to be added however below we summarise some of the pros and cons we have found so far:  

The ‘Plus’ Points  

1. Simple to Set Up  

Google+ Pages are quick and easy to set up but somewhat limited at present in certain areas which we cover below.  

2. Circles of Influence  

Google+ is based upon creating a network of contacts which you add to ‘Circles’. These can be friends, colleagues, clients, acquaintances, media or any other category that you wish to create. The great thing is that you can select who to share your content with so that if you only want to share with one or many of your circles you can or you alternatively you can share publicly.  

This is great for sharing with customers, staff or specific groups that you may be marketing to and engaging with.  It is simple and quick to add to your circles when searching within the network.  

This organisation of contacts is a significant benefit over Facebook and offers many opportunities to businesses looking to engage with a range of stakeholders.  

3. Tracking your Impact  

Google+ had introduced ‘Ripples’. This is a very graphical way of demonstrating the impact of one of your posts as the community share it across the network. In a simple to understand format you can instantly see who has shared your content, how many people they have shared it with and whether they in turn have passed it on.  

If shared publicly you can see biogs of those that share and add them to your circles. You can also view other stats including influencers, chain lengths and languages.                  

4. Spreading the Word  

Sharing content is simple, fast and not limited by the number of characters, as far as we can tell. You can add images, video, links, locations and graphics such as animated gifs that can certainly enhance your message.  

These can be shared publically or just to the circles that you choose.  

5. Get Face to Face  

A very useful tool is the ‘Hangout’. This is simple video conferencing between your circles.  

Hangouts can be created quickly and you can invite those in your circles, individually or in groups to join in a video conference as long as they are online.

This is going to be a great tool for getting face to face with contacts and just think of the opportunities it offers in marketing terms.   

6. Google+ Direct  

This is an added function that will allow those using Google to add the + sign after a search term, taking users directly to the Google+ page for the brand they are looking for.  

Apparently this is going to be based upon ‘algorithms’ so we will have to wait and see what is required for your page to start to work with Google+ Direct.    

Now for some of the not so great bits:  

The ‘Negative’ Bits  

1. Limited Function  

The integration of Google+ does not seem to be quite there when compared to Facebook and other platforms. We are sure that this functionality will come however at the moment there are certain areas that are lacking.  

2.  Set Up  

You would expect Google+ to link and import directly from your YouTube and Picasa streams for video and images but at present you have to load all of your content individually, one image or video at a time. It would be much more useful if you could link to your YouTube channel and pull across your videos.  

Profiles are also limited in content that you can add and link to and offer minimal functionality and flexibility.  

3. Monitoring, Moderating and Notifications   

There is little functionality for the above at present. Firstly you cannot restrict people posting comments on your public posts and secondly there is no email notification to warn you that they have done so. This means that you have to constantly check online to ensure that your stream is not being attacked or having a negative impact. Privacy settings are very limited.  

4. Building your Circles  

There is limited integration with email clients at present. For example, if you want to add your Outlook contacts to your circles you have to firstly export them to a .csv file and then upload into Google+. Inviting these individuals to join your circles is equally laborious. Oh, and by the way, there is currently no way of inviting people to join your page, as far as we could see, only for an individual’s profile.  

5. Showing your Circles  

Finally, and really only of interest to those starting out, you can decide to show or not show your circles publically. This is great when you are starting out and only have a few followers as you do not want the world to know that you are not that popular. However, the downside is that if you decide to hide your circles your profile tells the world that you have ‘0’ people in your circles – GREAT!    

We are sure that this is just a first stage in the introduction of Pages in Google+ and that in due course many of the points above will be addressed. It is going to be interesting to see whether Google can challenge Facebook and whether those that are comfortable with Facebook will want to switch over and start building their networks again. What Google has in its favour is its reach and influence online. We wait with baited breath.  

If you have found this interesting give us a thumbs up and +1 our Google+ Page. Click here to view or get started.





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