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Consumers use social media to tell brands: “We want to help” (Part 1)

October 8, 2012 Comments

Part 1 of a guest post by Steven Van Belleghem, author of The Conversation Company & The Conversation Manager.

A few days ago, InSites Consulting, SSI and No Problem! launched their “Social Media around the World 2012” study. One of the main conclusions of this year’s edition is the consumer’s eagerness to help companies on a structural level. Consumers would like nothing more than to help businesses improve the quality of their existing products and services. They see it as a win-win situation. This article highlights the most striking conclusions from this large-scale study.

Social media landscape is stabilising

The big social network sites are getting bigger and the small ones are getting smaller. This is one of the conclusions of our report. The big four all continue to expand: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Clearly consumers are no longer waiting for the “next big thing”. The average consumer maintains a presence on no more than 2 social networks (usually Facebook + Twitter or LinkedIn). Just 8% of consumers use 5 or more sites. Consumers are satisfied with the current offer: they have integrated their social media use in their daily lives and have no intention of making changes any time soon. The new routine is set and that makes it doubly hard for new social networks to reach a large audience.

However, there is one notable exception. Consumers are willing to fit in unique applications. Instagram and Pinterest are the two rising stars that meet this requirement. Use of the two sites is still very limited (3%-4%) but a good portion of consumers intend to start using them in the future. Also, their current users are extremely enthusiastic. We expect more users to discover Instagram and Pinterest in the near future.

Consumers limit the number of brands but have clear expectations

More than half of consumers are connected to at least one brand on social media. The average consumer follows some 10 to 15 brands. Most brands are monitored passively. Consumers only interact with a handful of brands. This means brands have just a small window of opportunity to make the shortlist.

Consumer communication with brands is unambiguous; they know exactly what they want. They like to keep informed of new products and news in general. In addition, they are interested in promotions and free goodies. Consumers want to be actively involved in the management of the companies they are following. They are primarily interested in improving existing products and services. Ultimately they are also trying to do themselves a favour: as loyal customers, good products and services are in their own best interest.

80% of consumers want to help but only 16% of companies let them

The study conducted by InSites Consulting, SSI and No Problem! shows that the overwhelming majority of consumers are prepared to collaborate with companies they are interested in. 80% wouldn’t mind receiving an invitation. However, other studies by InSites Consulting have found that only 16% of companies have any experience with consumer collaboration.

Consumers still prefer to give companies feedback via e-mail. The website comes second and social media are back in third place. As stated above, consumers have a preference for improving existing products and services. Still, quite a few consumers are interested in brainstorming about other things such as new products or a new advertising campaign. Some even dream of having a say in the company’s overall strategy.

65% are prepared to join a company’s community in order to collaborate with that company. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is the preferred channel for this purpose but the second place of market research communities is less self-evident. The conclusion that consumers prefer to involve a market research agency is remarkable in and of itself.

To better understand the results, we looked into consumer motivation to help companies. The main reason is simple: consumers hope companies will put their feedback to good use. Consumers with this motivation join a research community because they think companies are likely to act upon the advice of such a community.

For the full InSites Consulting report click here, and here are Steven’s website and slideshare links.


Ten reasons social media will decide tonight’s debate and the Presidential Election

October 3, 2012 Comments

Image: Roanoke

With less than thirty-five days until this year’s Presidential election and early voting already underway, tonight’s debate represents a critical opportunity for both candidates to determine the outcome of the election. This is more than an issue of timing.

The proliferation of citizen media, and especially social media, has given potential voters more information and campaign marketing in a condensed time frame than ever before in electoral history. What’s more, their own social media channels has allowed every citizen to share their opinions, choice and even parodies with friends, peers and colleagues using their own social media channels.

As a result, notwithstanding the important role that a small percentage of undecided voters in the swing States will play, tonight’s debate and the social media spectacle it has become will have a profound effect on the Presidential election.

Here are ten reasons social media will dramatically increase the impact of this first debate on the final election outcome .

1.  SOLIDIFICATION: The debate and surrounding news coverage will crystallize voter sentiment that will be shared in real-time before, during and after the debate across all social media channels.

2. HEIGHTENED STAKES: As Mitt Romney prepares ‘zingers’ and President Obama seeks to address economic issues, the heightened scrutiny of real-time social media engagement makes such choices even more consequential.

3. MEDIA CONVERGENCE: Social media has now been fully integrated into traditional news coverage of the debate complete with real-time updates and viewer sentiment reports before, during and after the event.

4. TECH FLUENCY: A steady diet of social media tools and content has elevated the media literacy of the viewers such that ever spectator is now a potential pundit tracking the words, body language and tone of each candidate.

5. SPECTACLE: Both parties have adjusted their strategies to factor in the social media spectacle of the debate whether it be through 140 character ‘zingers’, partisan ‘soundbites’ or campaign marketing that invites viewers to share moments favorable to their Party in real-time.

6. CONTRACTION: Social media has accelerated the drift towards bullet-point and sound-bite reporting in which the winner of a nuanced and lengthy debate is determined by messaging short and simple enough to spread exponentially.

7. PARODY: Social media and auto-publishing has empowered citizens to ridicule and expose political candidates with ruthless efficiency further polarizing voter positions.

8. IMPATIENCE: A real-time mentality driven by platforms like Twitter has compounded an natural impatience in voters  to the point that viewers and pundits seek to declare a winner in the opening volleys, or in the first debate, that will shape their opinions till the election.

9. ACTIVISM: An early consolidation of voter preferences allows citizens to then invest their own energy sharing their opinions with their closest family, friends and peers across social media channels.

10. PREDICTIONS: Dense engagement with voters has accelerated decision-making and in turn will lead to even earlier predictions of a winner prior to the Election.

Increasingly the four year election cycle and political campaigning are under siege form the real-time demands of citizens fluent in social media. Its effect has been to condense time and decision making when it comes to voter preferences, and tonight represents a watershed moment after which it will be hard to shift such perceptions. As such, social media isn’t merely changing voter engagement, it’s redefining how politicians win elections.

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Why social media is critical to the future of TV

October 1, 2012 Comments

Last week I had the pleasure of doing a keynote at the Televisa Conference in Mexico City. I talked about the shared future of TV and social media and wanted to pass on some thoughts from the event. I cannot stress enough how important the relationship between the two is, whether viewed through the lens of studios and network television, second- screen technology and e-commerce, or social media and viewer engagement. Here are four key reasons social media is so critical to the future of TV:

1. Product placement and social media increase the importance of television and advertising.

2. Viewers can now buy direct from television programming in real-time and share what they bought with friends.

3. By sharing purchases, viewers earn social currency and engagement with friends through discussions about the shows and what they bought.

4. TV programs are using social media to expand their audience, celebrities are using it to drive fans to their shows, and advertising and social shopping are connecting the two.

In fact, according to Accenture’s  U.S. Consumer Study, April 2012, information about a show, product or service was the #1 motivator for interacting with a social media while watching TV (43%). Other reasons included getting coupons and promotional codes (32 %); entering a contest/sweepstakes (31%); watching another video (26%); interacting about the show or product on social media (26%); connecting with others with similar interests (21%); sharing or recommending video/program to others (20%); and making a purchase (16%)

Currently TV can become social in 3 three ways:

1. Second screens: The number of television and Social TV viewers using second screens (laptops, smartphones & tablets) to interact with television is at an all time high.

2. Smart TV’s: Smart TV sets (Social TV sets), outfitted with easily accessed social networks and social applications, are rising.

3. STB’s: Newer Pay-TV Platform Operators’ newer STB’s (Set Top Boxes) outfitted with social networks and social applications that essentially turn them into Social TV STB’s.

So as, Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, succinctly put it earlier this year:

“The future isn’t either traditional or digital: it’s a feedback loop between the two. Television fans want to get involved and be counted. It’s how creative we are in engaging those fans – and keeping them connected even as they may move away from the traditional network – that will determine how potent and profitable we will be in the future.”

As a result each player in the Social TV ecosystem must assume a new role:




This shift has already begun as leading networks and innovative start-ups are racing to secure the advertising spend and eyeballs of the interactive and multi-screen Social TV space. So as you plan your content calendar for 2103, ask yourself what the marketplace will look like and how can you tell that story across multiple screens to get the greatest impact.

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The New Measure of Networked Non-Profits: A book by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine

September 25, 2012 1 Comments

Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine have written a book that is the essential 21st-century guide for non-profits using social media. Kanter, a long-time thought leader in the non-profit field, and Paine, a leader in measurement for organizational communications have …

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U.S.-Muslim relations: How social media can help build civil society

September 17, 2012 0 Comments

In the context of the violent attacks on the U.S. embassies, catalyzed in part by a hateful anti-Muslim film, I wanted to share this panel discussion around the role of media, including social media, in promoting tolerance and understanding between …

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U.S. Embassy Attacks: How to control hateful uses of social media

September 14, 2012 2 Comments

The tragic unfolding of violence and protests at U.S. embassies around the world in response to the hateful anti-Islamic film created by an individual in the U.S. and posted on You Tube in an edited form, begs the question of …

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How to take a social media platform and turn it on it’s head

September 10, 2012 2 Comments

I recently wrote about what the famously creative brand, Uniqlo, did to make Pinterest their own and last week we saw another example emerge but this time for a very worthy cause. UNICEF demonstrated an inspired moment of creativity when …

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What social consumers want from your brand

September 6, 2012 1 Comments

Much has been made of arguably elusive, fickle and distrustful social consumers equally adept at social media, exposing your products or services, and moving on to the latest social technology. Yet approached appropriately, the media-savvy consumer is equally disposed to …

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We First training and consulting helps the world’s most innovative brands tell the story of the good work they do in ways that build their reputation, employee productivity, sales and social impact.

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