Tag Archives: social networking

Chasing the Now: Small Businesses and the Social Network

This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com.

Small Businesses and social media marketingThere are countless “tips” and “guides” out there for small businesses, all designed to unlock the secrets to a successful social media strategy. Unfortunately, due to the pace of today’s information age, such pieces often become dated or obsolete before they’re even published. While the Internet may be shrinking in terms of the size of the content we digest, it’s only expanding in terms of what we’re sharing with each other (not to mention how much).

Small businesses represent a group that has traditionally struggled when it comes to the social network. Between constant economic interruptions and the fact that it seems like there’s never enough time in the day, it’s difficult for SMBs to find the proper resources and hone in on a social strategy that works. That is, a strategy that results in:

  • Engagement and response from customers, both potential and existing
  • A return on investment, either in the form of cash, traffic or simply buzz

Yet buzzwords such as “engagement” and “ROI” don’t really get us anywhere, do they? When it comes to social media and our businesses, we are constantly in search of attention.

The Chase

We work tooth and nail to chase the illustrious tweet, post or blog that will get people talking. We follow the white rabbit of topics and trends in order to pique the interest of our followers. Sometimes we succeed, yet oftentimes we find ourselves searching for the next big thing. It’s a chase that doesn’t seem to have an end and the search becomes exhausting.

Why bother? Is it worth it?

Yes, especially if we look at the statistics:

Translation?

The social network isn’t just something “for the kids” anymore. There’s something for everyone, and the numbers tell us that the audience willing to buy via social is only growing. With both B2B and B2C transactions happening on a more continuous basis, many through mobile devices, social media as a source of revenue no longer seems so farfetched. If 93% of marketers are on board, there’s most certainly a reason why, isn’t there?

The Now

The fact remains that the modern user, whether aware or not, is constantly looking for “the next big thing.” They want a story or image to pull them in and they’re constantly clicking around, ready to take it in. It’s up to us as business owners to produce or provide it to them; however, that’s easier said than done.

Finding a Pulse

The topical, ever-changing nature of today’s web and our shortened attention spans cause us to jump from one craze to the next. While a celebrity meltdown may have rocked the Twitterverse one day, we immediately move on to a political snafu or series finale the next. It takes a bit of work to find the pulse of our users, but it’s important in order to keep up with what they’re looking for and what’s on the tongues of the world at large.

Whether through newsjacking or keeping a close eye on trending topics, it’s our responsibility to be relevant and understand our audience. Oftentimes, the task in and of itself is exhausting. Finding topics that tie in to your products and services can make this even harder and more daunting. But the exercise of making such news relevant to your business is worth it if done right.

Update Often

Consider also the rate which things change. The modern marketer is pretty much forced into a position where they have to update often. History tells us that hard work pays off, so the more we update, the more opportunities we have for engagement. A dead site or blog is a major turn-off and it’s been proven time and time again that blogs that update often drive more traffic.

Facebook posts, for example, get the most traffic within the first five hours of their lifetime. Therefore, we’re tasked with bringing something new to the table almost constantly. The problem becomes when we fight a war with ourselves of spam versus content. For this reason, it’s important to stay on the pulse of our users and provide something relevant to them.

Living in the Moment

The recent finale of Breaking Bad gave us insight as to how much today’s users are utilizing the social network simultaneously. With millions of engagements happening over the course of the show, and on such a large scale, the social grip on today’s users is rather unbelievable. In short, we know for a fact that people are really hooked on social regardless of what they’re doing and therefore we become responsible for marketing in real time. Once they’ve moved on from something such as the aforementioned finale, they’re still around. Then what? They move on to the next big thing and we chase the traffic.

The Bottom Line

The pace of today’s social network is frantic to say the least; however, it’s the responsibility of businesses and marketers to be on the lookout for what their users are talking about. With engagement and activity up like never before, there’s plenty to learn and a lot more to gain when it comes small businesses and the social network.

Image: winui/Shutterstock

 About the Author

Megan TotkaMegan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

 

CoWorks: Connecting Buyers and Freelancers Through Social Media

There are 42.6 million people working as freelancers in the United States — how do they connect with good clients, and how do potential clients find freelance workers they can trust?  New platform Coworks looks to answer both questions by using social networks to link freelancers with businesses and buyers.

The idea is to find “word-of-mouth” recommendations using the power of online social media connections.  Instead of glancing through hundreds of recommendations from random people, buyers are now connected to freelancers that have already worked with one (or more) individual(s) within that buyer’s social network.

For freelancers, it’s an opportunity to gain reliable clients  — according to Coworks, 77% of freelancers have experienced client nonpayment during some point in their career.

“Rather than providing buyers with an overwhelming amount of unqualified freelancers as many services have done, Coworks recommends only high-quality freelancers based on connections within the buyer’s own network.”  The pre-existing connection – through social media – “helps to foster a relationship of mutual trust right at the outset.”

Coworks screenshot

Coworks focuses on four key categories of freelancing jobs in the creative sector: writing and translation, design and illustration, photo/video, and web/apps.  In addition to connecting freelancers and buyers, the platform also provides tools for posting, bidding, profile promotion, social network invitations, billing, payments, workflow, taxes and VAT.

Coworks calls itself “the first and only” online platform of its type.

“Traditional online freelancing solutions provide buyers with literally thousands or even millions of freelancers to choose from,” says Jill Gutierrez, Community Manager at Coworks. “At Coworks, we focus on personal connections and recommendations. The most comfortable and successful path to finding freelance resources has always been asking friends and colleagues. Coworks takes this important concept and combines it with an online platform that makes working together easier for everyone.”

Has anyone tried Coworks — were the recommendations helpful?

The 2012 Political Conventions on Social Media: 13.5M Tweets Strong

The Republican National Convention saw sharply dropping numbers in TV viewership – but online and social network participation numbers are up.  Tweets from both conventions numbered 13.5 million, up from just 365,000 four years ago.  Is the political conversation migrating from traditional media to the internet?

Republican candidate Mitt RomneyTV Audience Down

Nielsen estimated that just over 30 million viewers watched the RNC during Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech – a 23% drop from the same night four years ago, when 39 million viewers watched John McCain’s speech.  And only 22 million watched Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, give his acceptance speech, vs. Sarah Palin’s audience of 37 million in 2008.

Granted, the 2008 election featured new and exciting elements, including Obama as the first African-American presidential nominee and Palin as a rising Republican superstar.  But 2012 still has many viewers – it’s just that more and more Americans are watching online and via social networks at their own convenience, rather than relying on a specific TV broadcast.

Social Media Audience Up

The Republican National Convention’s YouTube channel received 2.8 million video views, and online engagement around the convention was also available on the websites and Facebook pages of several TV and print news organizations.  The GOP convention was “one of the most talked about news events of the year on Facebook,” (Associated Press) according to data analysis from Facebook.

But it’s President ObamaTwitter that has entered the political conversation in a big way.  In 2008, the micro-blogging network drew only 365,000 tweets between the two conventions; this year, the Republican convention alone drew 4 million tweets, the Democratic convention a whopping 9.5 million.

Twitter Buzz

To date, Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention was the most tweeted US political event in 2012, with over 52,000 tweets per minute, followed by Michelle Obama’s speech, which peaked at 28,000 tweets per minute.  Romney’s acceptance speech saw half that number, peaking at 14,300 tweets per minute.

Twitter also saw significant buzz with President Obama’s cheeky reply to Clint Eastwood’s speech to an empty chair; Obama’s “this seat’s taken” tweet (with photo) ended up being the most re-tweeted item of the entire GOP convention.

[tweet https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/241392153148915712]

Audience Demographics

Demographics also plays a big role in political viewership. The Republican convention drew a significantly older audience on TV: out of 22 million who watched Ann Romney speak, Nielsen reported that nearly 15 million were 55 or older.  Just 1.5 million viewers were ages 18-34 (Associated Press).

On Facebook the average audience (more surprisingly) was again older for the Republican convention, with the speeches by Mitt Romney, Ann Romney and actor Clinton Eastwood drawing the most buzz among people over 55. However, Paul Ryan’s speech drew out discussions among a younger demographic on Facebook.  And many younger voters are now getting their political news through online and social media channels.

Television may still be the dominant force in political communication, but the role of online video and social networking is rapidly growing.  According to Adam Sharp, Twitter’s director of government and news, “You are no longer tethered to that screen in your living room or anywhere else — you can actively participate in these events while you’re in line at the supermarket or waiting for the bus. It’s incredibly transforming and freeing.”

How did you watch or follow the 2012 political conventions?

90% Of Small Businesses Are Networking Online

Nearly 90% of small businesses are spending time networking online, according to a new study by small business forum Manta.  Out of 600 small business owners nationwide, 74% believe social networking platforms are as important as in-person networking – if not more so.

According to Manta Chief Executive Pamela Springer, “Small businesses understand they need to go where their audience is.” Nearly half of small businesses owner surveyed said the most valuable benefit of networking online “is gaining and targeting prospective customers.”

Do social networking sites really lead to new business?  An impressive 78% of small businesses reported that at least one-quarter of their new customers came from online or social media channels this year.  But many of these leads may come from  company websites, which still drive the most business for 24% of small businesses.

Here’s a look at the online and social channels driving traffic to small businesses:

  • company website -24%
  • Facebook – 19%
  • LinkedIn – 12%
  • Google+ – 10%
  • Twitter – 5%
  • Pinterest – 1%

And once small businesses are on social networks, the benefits are not always clear.  While 42% of small businesses have a Facebook presence and find it valuable, another 30% “don’t find it valuable.” Nearly one-quarter (23%) of small businesses still don’t have a Facebook presence, and 5% stopped using Facebook because they “saw no value” in doing so.

Manta surveyed 614 small business owners across the nation via an online survey between August 16 and August 22, 2012.

See the full Manta infographic here:

 Manta Small Businesses and Social Networking Survey

82% of US Moms Are On Social Networks

Moms are more likely to use social networks, and more likely than the general population to have over 200 friends and to “like” brands.Nearly 28 million moms will use social networks this year in the US – that’s 82% of mom internet users who have children under 18 in the household, according to the latest estimates by eMarketer.  By 2014, nearly 85% of mom internet users will be on social networks.

Moms are 45% more likely to use social media than the general population, and 55% more likely to use social media via mobile device, according to a study released in April by BabyCenter.  Over half – 53% – of these moms used social media on a daily or weekly basis to learn about parenting issues from other parents.  According to eMarketer, the internet is the “ideal research library” for information about baby care and products, and moms – especially first-timers – are turning to social networks to find that information.

This is supported by a small study, “New Parents’ Facebook Use at the Transition to Parenthood,” of  154 mothers and 150 fathers, most white and highly educated.  Mothers in particular tended to increase their online activity after giving birth, using Facebook more often than their partners.  Parents who reported higher levels of stress tended to visit and manage their accounts more frequently, as reported by The Atlantic.

Nearly 100% of these moms uploaded photos of their baby onto social networks, and 83% of fathers did so as well.  The vast majority – 93% or mothers and 71% of fathers – said it was “likely” that their online friends would comment or “like” these photos.

82% of US Moms Are On Social Networks

According to the study’s co-author, Sarah J. Schoppe-Sullivan, “”Parents [on social networks] may feel like they’re getting positive feedback about their role as parents, and they particularly need that.”

Social networks – particularly Facebook – are huge for moms, and new parents in general.  Are marketers engaging with them effectively on those platforms?

China: Microblog Users Increase 296% in 2011

Microblog Users Now Outnumber Social Network Users in China via eMarketerData recently released from The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) – a state-supported research organization – revealed that the number of microblog users topped the number of social network users in China in December 2011.  According to the “29th Statistical Report on Internet Development in China,” there were 513.1 million internet users, 249.9 million microblog (aka “weibo”) users and 244.2 million social network site users in China in December 2011.

The number of microblog users in China increased a whopping 296% in 2011, according to the report.  Social network user growth was even slower than the growth of general internet users, showing a decline in total penetration for social networks in China (eMarketer).

But according to eMarketer, these growth levels are unlikely to continue. “Regulators are rolling out real-name registration requirements to tighten control over popular social media services, which will likely deter new (and multiple) signups.”

How will social networking and microblogging growth continue to play out in countries where social media platforms are heavily regulated by the government?

Marketing to Moms? Mobile Is Now Required.

Moms and mobiles - data from BabyCenter's Michael FogartyMobile phones, especially smartphones, are a huge resource for moms – 53% actually purchased a smartphone “as a result” of becoming a mom.  eMarketer’s interview with Mike Fogarty, Senior Vice President and Global Publisher at BabyCenter (an online resource for parents), reveals how moms are using their phones in comparison to regular users, and when they are most likely to be reached by marketers.

Moms are 18% more likely to have a smartphone than the average population, and moms tend to use the device for a wide array of services, including the calendar, scheduling, communication, looking up recipes, products, and more.  While the contacts, address book, text messaging and email were the most important features before becoming a mom, once ‘baby’ arrives the top features become the camera, the video camera and apps.

The “mom schedule” for mobile use:

  • mobile usage peaks in the morning, and during naptime (middle of the day)
  • “Naptime is the new primetime.” – a Babycenter marketing sound bite
  • moms combine mobile with traditional media (TV) at the end of the day

Mothers use their mobiles to share, bigtime.  This includes photo of their kids, but social networks – often via mobile – have also become a great space for moms to share their opinions about brands and products.  If a mom gets a coupon relevant to her stage of motherhood, she’s going to want to share it with her social network.  And moms are less interested in products that benefit them personally – it’s mainly about price and convenience for the family.

Fogarty tells eMarketer that “The recognition that moms are using their mobile phone differently than they’re using their desktop or their laptop is really important.”  BabyCenter is creating apps that moms will be able to utilize in brief moments when only mobile access is available, whether it’s on the checkout line or waiting to pick up the kids after school.

eMarketer concludes: “Reaching mom at the right time and place requires mobile. If you’re not there, you’re missing her.”

Is your brand reaching out to moms via mobile?

 

Moms on Social Networks: 87% Use Facebook

US Mom Facebook Users via eMarketerNew data from eMarketer examines the statistics for US moms – women with children under 18 in the household – on Facebook and other social networks for the next three years.  Over two-thirds of all US moms – approximately 23 million – are on Facebook in 2011, meaning they use the site at least once a month.  This is significantly higher than the 57% of general internet users who are on Facebook monthly.

69% of US mom internet users use Facebook.  Out of US moms that use social networks, 87% of them are on Facebook.  This year, moms make up 18% of all US social network users and 17% of Facebook users.

For social networking sites in general, 79% of moms use a social network at least monthly, compared to only 64% of internet users overall.

Moms on Facebook have become such a phenomenon that even Saturday Night Live has come up with a “D**n it, My Mom Is On Facebook!” filter for older teens/college age kids.

Is your brand reaching the mommy demographic on Facebook?

 

USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad-Meter Gets Social With Facebook

USA Today Teams With Facebook To Create Super Bowl Ad Rating AppThe Super Bowl is the biggest advertising event of the year, and Facebook and USA Today have partnered to create an application that allows fans to rate commercials during the event. Called the “USA Today-Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter,” the app will be online through Facebook and USA Today, and available via mobile, for users to watch, rate, and share ads during the Super Bowl.

According to Mashable, USA Today has had an ‘Ad Meter’ running for years, but this is the first time that online consumers will help decide the winner.  Previously, USA Today organized volunteers and followed their immediate reactions to Super Bowl ads to determine the overall rankings. This year, the rankings on the Facebook app will be the main measure of ad performance, with the live volunteer group ‘supplementing’ the Facebook results.

Mike Hoefflinger, director of global business marketing at Facebook, told Mashable that “Making the Ad Meter social brings it to an entirely new level and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Both companies expect the app to bring in some major sponsorship dollars, and joint packages will be available for advertisers who would like to purchase space on both platforms.

Mashable speculates that after a failure to secure rights to all of the Super Bowl advertisements last year, Facebook is eager to become “the definitive social network” for both ranking and sharing Super Bowl ads (against competitors including Hulu and YouTube).

Social Networking Stats: Asia Pacific Has Highest Visitation, Europe Shows Greatest Engagement

Social Networking Visitation and Engagement via comScoreA recent report from comScore measured social networking visitation and engagement around the world, by region.  Asia Pacific saw the largest percent of worldwide visitors to social networking sites and Europe had the highest engagement.

The results for global visitation to social networking sites:

  • Asia Pacific – with the largest online audience of the 5 global regions – topped the list with 32.5%
  • Europe had 30.1%
  • North America 18.1%
  • Latin America 10.2%
  • Middle East – Africa  9.1%

The results for engagement showed some interesting variations:

  • Europe moved to the top of the list, with 38.1% of minutes spent on social networks
  • North America had 21.4% of minutes
  • Asia Pacific accounted for only 16.5%
  • Latin America had 12.8%
  • Middle East -Africa garnered 11.2% of minutes