Oct 30, 2009

Brands Billed in the Blogosphere!

 Are Brands moving in the blogosphere?

This would be consistent with the growing influence of bloggers and brands trend to move towards Social Marketing.  We sometimes forget, that blogs, despite their disseminate nature, are one of the most dynamic social media tools.

Gary Hayes' Social Media Counts  , that displays in real time the evolution of social medias, indicates, for example, that in one minute, 630 new posts are published on blogs for 2806 new tweets, equaling a ratio of 1 to 4.5.
A very positive ratio for blogs, given that posts are much denser than tweets.

Technorati, the famous blog search engine, annually publishes a State of the Blogoshpere, which also analyzes blogs economic activity.

Marketing executives admit more and more that bloggers post high quality content and attract growing and loyal audiences.
The 2008 study already suggested that a strong percentage of bloggers monetize their sites in different ways:

Average revenue generated by blogs was $6000, with 1% of blogs yielding sales of more than $200,000!

The 2009 study,  just published by Technorati, indicates that a large majority of bloggers monetize their sites or would like to.

Nevertheless a variety of ways characterizes the monetization of blogs:

Advertising is not the only path offered to bloggers.  As leaders of opinion the influence acknowledged by bloggers is highlighted in the graph below:

This reality can only precede a strengthened investment of brands in regards to blogs. 

Even more so, given that posts often mention brand names. 70% of bloggers confirm that they talk about brands. 

Technorati, classifying bloggers into several categories (hobbyist, part-timers, self-employed and corporate workers), reveals the following motives:

Ratios and cases already analyzed for Twitter emphasize how important it is that brands consider the influence of blogs. Among those bloggers that mention brands or products in their posts, 47% do so on a monthly basis.

It is in this context that the F.T.C. (Federal Trade Commission), responsible for protecting the American consumers, decided that bloggers, starting on December 4th, should disclose all advertising revenue or sales generated by their blogs. 

However, will this apparently positive decision for a greater transparency, be applicable  ?

The obligation to disclose all “material connections” between brands and blogs, which is not forced upon traditional media,  also risks affecting the press copies for writing reviews.

Facing much protest, which was touched upon this weekend by L. Gordon Crovitz, the influential columnist of The Wall Street Journal, there is a possibility that the FTC is backtracking, at least in part. 

 Since  the FTC decision is likely to include tweets or updates on Facebook, Gordon Crovitz questions,

“There are also practical objections.  For example, if you get a free copy of a book and then post a comment about it on Twitter, how many of the permitted 140 characters must be dedicated to the disclosure?  Do employees of a company have to disclose the fact of their employment every time they comment on its products through their personal Facebook accounts?”

In wanting to over regulate Social Commerce, will governments become anti-social?

Oct 27, 2009

TwitPay, The Sweet Tweet of Money

Those who say social network in turn say, (or will say), social commerce since conversation and commerce are interlinked, even if there exist many different types of commerce.

Can Twitter, the quintessential conversation platform, also become a commerce platform?

TwitPay, launched in November 2008 as a payment solution between Twitter users, is betting on it.

TwitPay presents itself as a way to transfer money from one user to another.  Its strength is its simplicity.  All you need is a Twitter account and…….a PayPal account, because the second asset of TwitPay is that it works with PayPal and, therefore, benefits from its user base, its security, and its credibility.

To make a payment simply send a tweet.

Nevertheless TwitPay has not shown huge growth and only has a few more than 5100 followers, (you must follow TwitPay to have an account).

The main reason is that TwitPay can currently only carry out hypothetical transactions between Twitter users, since there is no organized supply market currently on Twitter. 

Also, your account risks looking like this:

However, let’s take the gamble that commerce will develop on Twitter and that TwitPay, which takes, in addition to the PayPal commission, only 5 cents (1 nickel) on all transactions less than $1, will find its place, if it lasts until then.
While waiting, here is the “tweetflow” of TwitPay happening simultaneously as I’m writing.

Oct 26, 2009

Have you Read Half a Million Tweets?

Probably not.  Even at the height of the live tweet feed #iranelection, I read only around 200 tweets a day, equaling a potential annual amount of 72,000 tweets.

However, Jim Jansen, associate professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), did!
Assisted by a small team of two students along with Abdur Chowdhury, Twitter’s chief scientist, Jim Jansen analyzed 500,000 tweets to study the presence of brands on Twitter.

In the crossroads of marketing, sociology, and technology, social commerce is becoming a “red hot” subject of research and business.
The results of their study were published in the Journal of the American Society for Information Sciences and Technology.”

Confirming my post “The Twitter Paradox”, brands are often cited on Twitter.  With 20% of tweets being about or mentioning brands, Twitter is the quintessential word of mouth marketing platform.

Considering that there are 6 million people who use Twitter on a daily basis who tweet around two times a day, this equals 2.4 million tweets about brands.

Jansen adds:
“It may be right up there with e-mail in terms of communication impact.”

“Businesses use micro-communication for brand awareness, brand knowledge and customer relationship.  Personal use is all over the board.  A lot of the brand comments were positive.  There are some good products out there, or at least products that people are happy with.”

When one of the biggest hesitancies in using social networks by brands is the fear of “bad rap”, it is debatable whether adopting the use of social networks as communication tools is close and unavoidable.

In fact the results of the study by Jansen’s team are telling and can be broken down as follows:
  • Very positive (no criticism, buying recommended)……..29.8%
  • Positive (positive feedback, prevails over criticism)……30.8%
  • Balanced (positive status is mediocre or balanced)…….12%
  • Negative (globally negative or deceiving)……..15.7%
  • Entirely negative (no positive feedback, not recommended)……..6.5%
  • Neutral (no opinion, ask questions)…….5.2%
Brands need not worry because the percentage of negative tweets only account for 22.2% of the total.

Contrary to other marketing strategies which are based on the purchase of key words or the diffusion of emails, social marketing on networks is founded on the creation of conversations, the differentiating feature of the word of mouth strategy.

A challenge for all who think that it is only a question of money and that they would be running the risk of the networks being spammed, word of mouth works according to the relationship system that Jansen presents above.

The publication of a tweet can positively or negatively affect the image of a brand and marginally improve its notoriety.

The tweets circulation among followers and eventual retweets reinforce the confidence and satisfaction and generate loyalty or strength, which in turn shows in an immediate or future purchase. 

Oct 25, 2009

EBay, With a Little Help From My Friends (The Page Mage Solution)

EBay to my friends, the Page Mage solution
Talk about Social Commerce to your friends and they will give the name Ebay.  And rightly so, since the auction site is the referent of social shopping.

However, Ebay, in its own turn, is impacted by the rapid expansion of social networks and their user friendly quality.  Doesn’t auction selling on Ebay run the risk of giving way to social networks where internet users are increasingly spending the majority of their time?

This is where Page Mage can be helpful.  A platform for designing Ebay auction templates, which helps improve ones selling page using videos, slideshows or even pop ups.

Page Mage is even taking it one step further by incorporating a “share” function that enables to post a page on Blogger, Facebook, MySpace or LiveJournal.

As indicated by Eric Scifres, CEO of Page Mage,
By sharing the listing where people are congregating, a listing’s visibility grows exponentially.”

For example, on Facebook, your Ebay offers will appear on your “wall”, allowing your friends to leave comments or to share, in turn, your offer with other friends.

If the transaction is still done on Ebay the solution proposed by Page Mage takes the opposite direction of Facebook Connect by releasing the offers into the social network.

Is this a new trend?
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