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 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.