Saturday, July 30, 2011

Creative Branded Pages or Engaging Newsfeeds? Balancing Your Social Media Strategy.

Of late there has been heavy speculations about a tech bubble on the rise. While the legal Q&A website Avvo published a report pointing out a 3,000 percent increase in startup-related pageviews in the Silicon Valley over the past 6 months, Venture Capital Investments have been on the rise with numerous IPOs, mergers and acquisitions. Following Linkedin's and Groupon's recent successful IPOs we have Yelp and LivingSocial expected to file for IPOs as well. Facebook is also reported to likely go public next year with an estimated valuation of $100 billion.

AVVO Chart


Bubble or no bubble, there definitely seems to be ample room for a strong competition leaving the choice right at the hands of the most important mix - the user. Google+ is only a month old and most importantly in a limited beta release. Facebook on the other hand is dealing with an all time low in user rating thanks to its user experience issues. An informal poll by PC Mag revealed that 50% of those questioned were prepared to abandon the social network.

PC Mag Poll
Experian Hitwise published a report that stated Google+ on the other hand, saw visits drop to 1.79 million in the U.S for the week ending July 23 - a 3% drop compared to the previous week of 1.86 million. But then this could be because of its exclusivity as even members with access may be slowing down their usage due to a lack of friends in their network. By contrast visits for the week ending July 16 shot up 283 percent from the week before, and 821 percent from the week before that, Hitwise said last week. Invites taking too long? As of July 16, Google+ ranked as the 42nd-most-visited social networking site and the 638th-most-visited site overall in the U.S., Hitwise said last week. Hitwise didn't update those rankings Wednesday, but given the drop in usage it's unlikely that Google+ improved its position on either list.

While all of this are interesting news for the social media world, there is no doubt marketers are left searching for the right mix for their social media strategy. Larry Kim has compiled interesting results titled The Social Media Showdown: Google+ vs. Facebook vs. Twitter vs. Linkedin for the Worldstream Internet Marketing Blog. Below is the infographic representing Kim's finding:

The Social Media Showdown
For the case study, Kim compiled web analytics data for WordStream’s blog for the week of July 18 – July 24, which was an unusually high traffic week for the firm. He analyzed which social networks drove the most referral traffic and got the following results:

  1. 1st Place: Facebook with 47.26% of visitors
  2. 2nd Place: Twitter with 27.51% of visitors
  3. 3rd Place: Google+ with 15.42% of visitors
  4. 4th Place: LinkedIn with 9.81% of visitors
He summarised the above as "Google+, despite only being around for 1 month – and even then, being released in a limited “field testing” mode, drove more traffic to our blog than LinkedIn – it was roughly a third of our Facebook traffic and over half of our Twitter traffic. This was a huge surprise given how many Facebook fans and Twitter followers we've accumulated over the last several years, and given that at the time of this writing, I don't even have a company presence on Google+ yet, or any Google +1 buttons on our website."

He goes on answering his own question "How is it possible that Google+ with just 20 million users could beat LinkedIn with over 100 million users, and be closing in on Twitter with 175 Million Users?
I believe it may have to do with:
  • Novelty, Spam: Because Google+ is so new, it hasn't yet been ruined by spammers in the way Twitter has been taken over by so much automated Twitter spam or how Facebook is overrun by so many annoying apps – less spam might make it easier for users to find shared content.
  • User Engagement: LinkedIn boasts 5x more users than Google+, but LinkedIn may likely have lower user engagement metrics. A recent Pew Internet study showed that just 3% of LinkedIn users check the network several times a day, compared to 31% – or about 232 million – of Facebook users, or 20% of Twitter users. And over half (53%) of Twitter profiles use the network somewhere between every four weeks and never."
In a recent whitepaper title The Power of Like, Comscore found that its not your Apps or Branded Pages that engaged your audience the most. It is the quality of your newsfeed.

Share of Time Spent on Facebook.com by Content Section

At Brand Impakt, we address branding of your social network as the initiation phase. How you harness the medium to deliver the required audience engagement is clearly dependent on how you fashion the communication strategy. An active and engaging newsfeed is definitely the strongest driver of all and the branding part only a component to attract that initial eye ball impression.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Google +1, Connected Devices and HTML5 - Is it part of your strategy?

The online world is converging and evolving every day. Just when everybody is waking up to the importance of integrating social media with their online brand strategy, comes along Google+ promising an exclusive commercial version to be launched soon along with Google +1, creating fears that this could be the next most important algorithm that will make you pull your hair out like page rank. And we are not even going to talk about the rumours of the launch of yet another social platform by Microsoft.


So, what does this mean for a small business? Great News, if the website accommodates this converging environment, that is. The first question that comes to anybody's mind before assigning a web design project is whether to have a flash based website. At Brand Impakt we ask many counter question instead of answering that: What is your site objective? Who is your target audience? Are they social or corporate? Could it be that they are mostly mobile? and so on. The answer lies there. If you are a small business and targeting end customers as well as having a b2b objective, it's time to start using the powers of HTML. Using inclusive elements like JavaScript, JSON feeds, CSS, AJAX and so on you can create an experience akin to what you are expecting out of a flash website (I hear you ask what about animation? Well, amazing animations looks cool and can also get the site an award or two.. but not necessarily a good model for a business website trying to engage and retain an online audience, especially in this converging world of gadgets and platforms. But that is food for thought for another article).

A good website needs to address first the content. Make it exciting and most of all... engaging! The audience should not be left to search for a needle in a haystack. Bring them out using an innovative home page layout and further more create inside pages to drive traffic to the other pages of your website, again by bringing out the hidden essence of your website using innovative layouts.

The next step is integrating social media. This does not end in just putting a link to your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or YouTube pages. Give the ability for the user to share content from your website with their friends. Give this ability with the utmost ease of use and the most innovative way possible. People are driven by curiosity and so if you integrate these sharing plugins with a little bit of creativity, the chances of your site going viral is higher.

Most of our clients wonder why should we use Facebook. They seem more confident in having an email blast, though they have no permission based database in hand. The answer is simple. Almost everybody we target has either a Facebook, Twitter or a LinkedIn profile. Google Plus has only made sure that it starts involving those few who were not yet using the social connections actively. Most importantly these people visit their social spaces with an open mind. It's their quality time. A time-space when they are open to ideas and conversations. What better environment do you need to start an engaging conversation? An email marketing campaign on the other hand is usually targeting a user who is prone to register for such newsletters and permission based marketing database. By the time your third issue reaches the user, you might be simply targeting someone who is already overwhelmed by the amount of email blasts that is reaching his/ her inbox which in turn makes it convenient to skip or sort out the most important emails to read. More importantly, you can never gauge what time of the day he/ she has an open and clear mind to absorb the essence of your mail. So, if your email reaches in the middle of a project documentation deadline or before a sales forecast meeting, chances are that issue goes unread for ever.

And now, coming back to our main theme - using the powers of HTML. We are at a transitional phase in the internet world. We are being exposed to innovative modes of communication with the advent of the Apple iPad, Blackberry Playbook, Viewsonic Viewpad, Samsung Galaxy Tab and many more devices. On the other end of convergence we have the Sony Internet TV and Google TV taking the internet experience right where every marketer want it to be - the couch. The focus of your web architecture has to be compatibility. Your website should work across all these gadgets and those which will be in the market sooner than you think. Mobile sites were easy to ignore. Tablets cannot be and they are already eating into the shares of the desktop computers.

The Sony Internet TV Ad


Being an Advertising Agency that also has a reputation of being an active Web Design Company in Dubai, we are exploring how to make websites engaging, not necessarily only through flash animations. If you need to learn more just give us a call!

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Do you 'get' branding?

Alot of companies contact us with the most important step they feel that needs to be taken - branding or re-branding their business. Most of the time the wish list is so inspiring, that just to be a part of it, seems a fulfilling idea in itself.

And then, the million dollar curtain is dropped, to reveal the budget which will put your average logo factory offers to shame. My question is, how many companies really 'get' branding? We know that 'Al-Qaeda' got some of it - Just to admit that they had a branding and pr problem requires some understanding of branding.

What would it take for a CEO or the Board of Directors to invest more in branding than they would spend on their branded suit and the fancy cars?

Being an Advertising Agency in Dubai, we come across a lot of businesses looking forward for a re-branding concept without even a budget that would buy them a decent bike. So, is re-branding all about changing the shape and colour of a logo?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Welcome!

Finally we have our blogger account up and running. It has been long overdue. This space has been quite necessary to keep the visitors to our website up to date with what we have been up against and what trends have we learnt of late. For those who have just stumbled across this blog, we are Brand Impakt, a 5 year old Advertising Agency in Dubai.

So, keep wired in and post your thoughts as we go along.

Cheers!