Social media

The 2013 Social Rich Media Benchmark Report

 

A new Social Media benchmarking report has compared 2000 Facebook posts, which had exposure on more than 2 billion impressions, from companies to determine the most effective combination of types of posts (updates, questions, polls), those that are sponsored vs organic and those with and without imagery.

As a quick excerpt, I’ve extracted one of the key slides, which demonstrates Paid vs Organic engagement across multiple post types. It’s interesting to see the ‘discovery’ nature of Social media coming through pretty strongly here. In notes, photos and offers – consumers are more than happy to engage with Paid posts from company’s (which they may or may not be following).

Paid vs organic engagement rate by post type - Facebook.

Paid vs organic engagement rate by post type – Facebook.

Download the full report, free, here.

 

——————————————

I also run a Google+ page, check out Digital Optimisation Reports for the latest analysis and studies of best practice Digital marketing and optimisation from around the world.

 

 

“To help us show you better ads, tell us what you like”

Facebook ads

Facebook’s plea for more information to show you target ads.

OK, I’ll admit it, I’m curious. Very curious. I’ve hidden plenty of Facebook ads in my time. From FOREX trading companies to pregnancy advice (not sure how that one got there), all the way through to ‘win an iPad!!!’ I’ve blocked it all. And every time I do it Facebook makes an almost pitiful plea, to help them make more money from my personal information. If you’ve ever hidden an ad, or advertiser, from the right handside of your Facebook feed, you too will invariably have seen the words “To help us show you better ads, tell us what you like.”

Googling around, it seems not many people have actually gone through with it. The typical response I’ve seen in a few places is:

“To help us show you better ads, tell us what you like”… “I’d like no ads”. Funny. But it’d be less funny if Facebook started charging a monthly fee for access, so let’s assume that ads are going to be around for a while.

There are a few things about Facebook’s request that are interesting to me:

– Aside from my belief the click through rate on this must be staggeringly low, I can’t imagine that the completion rate is even worth talking about.

– Is this the worst or the best timed message on the internet? Sure the user has just hidden ads which annoyed them, but Facebook are offering the user the chance to not be so annoyed in the future – I honestly can’t decide if it’s genius or folly.

– What’s in it for me? As the consumer who will – post completion – just be shown more ads which hopefully are more relevant, what benefit am I really deriving from this exchange of time vs. ads?

– What’s in it for me part 2 – When Facebook are already making record profits, where’s the incentive to provide more information to help them make even more money?

Going where (probably) no one has gone before.

So what happens when you click on the link? What does Facebook ask? What don’t they know about me already that they need to know to show me even more relevant ads? Well there was only one way to find out.

I’ve clicked so you don’t have to.

The first thing you see is the screenshot below – the recommended pages.

Facebook recommended pages

Facebook recommended pages

I have to admit as first stages go, this was a bit underwhelming. I was expecting some sort of uber ‘let’s get to know you portal‘. Instead it’s just the typical ‘click on some pages we think you may or may not like, that are already pretty popular‘. Another part of the experience that makes this underwhelming is that Facebook aren’t really wanting to know me, they just want to be able to categorise and filter me based on existing parameters.

Note the language too “Get updates from your favourite businesses and brands.” OK, but not all updates from ‘my favourite’ businesses are advertising, and as a user I’ve just told Facebook I’m willing to give them more info about me to give me a better advertising experience. C’mon Facebook, this is your chance – ask me anything, let’s sit down and have a good ol’ chinwag!

Never the less, and putting all disappointment aside, I clicked on a random selection of pages and bravely ploughed on to step two. But….

Disappointingly short, and a missed opportunity.

Disappointingly short, and a missed opportunity.

OK, so that’s it. I’m actually really disappointed. Granted I don’t think that Facebook’s request for more information is particularly great – especially given that the general public probably couldn’t care less if Facebook make more money from more targeted advertising or not (except for the stock holders) – but this just feels like such a huge own goal… such a missed opportunity. If Facebook are going to go to the trouble of giving users the opportunity tell them more information to hopefully have a chance of seeing marginally less annoying ads at least do it better.

Yes the participation rates are probably incredibly low for this section of the website, but for those people who care, and are actually are willing to give Facebook more information for this purpose I can’t believe it just takes people to the ‘recommended pages’ link which is accessible at all times in a user’s page anyway.

So there you have it. It’s not a link to be scared of, but it doesn’t appear to be worth doing anyway, because in all probability the chance of you clicking on ‘Like’ for a page about George Takei, the local pizzeria, or some movie you may like and seeing less ads for baldness cures, FOREX trading systems or ‘local sexy singles in your area’ are really slim.

——————————————

Check out Digital Optimisation Reports on Google+ for the latest analysis and studies of best practice Digital marketing and optimisation from around the world.

Is Microsoft about to dump Bing?

A piece out of Business Insider today, by Matt Rosoff argues that maybe Microsoft is giving up on Bing. It’s a quirky question, businesses of this size don’t usually give up on products that are growing like Bing is. But nontheless Matt has some decent points, as below.

microsoft bing

Earlier today, Google and Mozilla renewed their deal to make Google the default search engine in the Firefoxbrowser for another three years.

This seems like Microsoft passed up a great opportunity to get more traffic to Bing. Right now, Firefox has about 25% market share and is used by more than 400 million people. According to Comscore, about 75% of the searches conducted from Firefox go to Google. (Users can manually select Bing or another search engine, but most don’t.)

Last year, Google paid Mozilla about $103 million for the right to be the default search engine. (That’s 84% of the Mozilla Foundation’s total $123 million, as per its 2010 financial statement, which were released in October — PDF here.)

That’s chump change for Microsoft. Even if the deal was much more expensive this time around as both companies bid up the price, Microsoft blinked first. Why?

Microsoft had no comment, but here’s one possibility: Microsoft has already reached its market share goal with Bing and is tightening the wallet to bring expenses under control.

The evidence:

  • Microsoft decreased Bing’s marketing spend last quarter. The Online group’s operating loss decreased for the first time in ages last quarter. That’s partly because sales and marketing expenses for the Online group dropped 25% last quarter (compared with the year-ago quarter). That’s a big shift from the previous four quarters, where sales and marketing expenses for Online rose 5% from the previous year.
  • It’s letting Bing talent migrate. Back in April, a former Bing engineer wrote that Microsoft was no longer spending big bucks to retain the best talent — instead, it was paying “far below market rates.” This year, two top Bing leaders — Satya Nadella and Yusuf Mehdi — took jobs elsewhere at Microsoft, suggesting that they saw more opportunity elsewhere (or that Steve Ballmer wanted to shift top talent away from Bing).

While Matt’s points are well argued he fails to address the fundamentals about why destop oriented browser based search may not be as appealing now, for Bing’s future. Businesses don’t make decisions like the size and scale of this one based on today’s conditions, they make them based on at least a 5 to 10 year window.

I’m not entirely convinced Microsoft is giving up on Bing at all. It could be that they’re recognising that desktop based browsers aren’t going as important in the future as it’s going to be – with the rise of mobile and tablet devices and growing search volumes, and it is because of Firefox that more people are willing to check out other browsers like Chrome, Opera etc.

It’s also worth considering that Google gave up it’s Twitter access a few years ago now, but no one seriously suggested that Google wasn’t taking search seriously. I wonder if they’re regetting that decision now?

Finally, it’s worth considering which search engine picked up exclusive access to Twitter, and also has exclusive access to Facebook – yep, that’d be Bing. Social Search – the seamless integration of arguably the world’s two largest Social media platforms and search data will be invaluable for both customer experience and algorithmic learning.

Perhaps it’s not that Microsoft didn’t want Firefox, perhaps it’s that they just think they don’t need it as much – because in the next few years social media sites are going to become even more important desinations than they are today and less people will use Search to get there.

Why doesn’t Facebook optimise their signed out pages?

With all the talk about Google+ and its potential impact on Facebook, there is little disagreement amongst many industry observers that Facebook needs to up its game a bit.

But why wait for Google+ to put on the pressure?  Even basic things, like sign out pages offer huge opportunities for mobile, tablet and other product and service adoption. In-fact Twitter and Linkedin have been doing something similar, but independent from each other, for over a year now.

Namely, they’ve been using their ‘signed out’ pages as ways of driving one final message: mobile and tablets apps and integration. It might sound like a small thing, but when you consider how many tens of millions of users each social network has, and how many times per day, week and month sign out pages would be seen globally, the reason for not using it to push a message is drowned out. The ability to push one last message during the customer experience before they leave is invaluable. Not using it for a purpose, other than to directly sign back in – as Facebook uses it – seems like a lost opportunity.

Even at just 1 percent of Facebook’s approximately 500 million users, seeing the ‘logout’ page everyday that’d equal 35 million page views per week, or 140 million pageviews over a four week period. That’d mean Facebook’s logout page alone would receive more/rival traffic volumes than even the largest media websites.

Three screenshots of Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin’s pages a user goes to once signed out, are below.

Twitter – signed out page

Twitter.com sign out screen

Linkedin – signed out page

Linkedin sign out screen

Facebook – signed out page

Facebook sign out screen

UPDATE, as per a question: So just how many pages could Facebook’s ‘logout’ page be serving each day, week or month?

Back of the envelope guesstimate using fairly conservative numbers:
500 million users, minus 20% of completely non-active accounts = 400 million users.
30% of 400 million users use the site on any given day: 120 million users.
Of 120 million daily users:
@ 30% log out every day: 40 million pages served a day, 240 million ‘logout’ pages every week.
@ 20% log out every day: 24 million pages served a day, 168 million ‘logout’ pages every week.
@ 10% log out every day: 12 million pages served a day, 84 million ‘logout’ pages every week.

It is indeed a pity they’re not using it more effectively.

Wrapped up in our own bubbles – part 2

 This post is the second of a two-part discussion about filters, personalisation, social conversations, social media, anonymity and privacy vs conversations specifically tied to your real life and the real you. Part 1 can be found here.

The second issue is transparency vs anonymity, and whether one is better than the other. Mark Zuckerberg the founder and CEO of Facebook directly profits from personalisation, conversations and interactions argues strongly that tying real life discussion to individuals is important. Christopher Poole, founder of 4chan.org , believes that there is value in anonymity and that it is an important right to be able to speak out without fear of long-term repercussion. I’m still on the fence for the majority of the arguments, but I’m siding with Chris Poole for the most part, and I have a few reasons:

Anonymity is an important factor that can contribute for a more open discussion. If everything you ever said verbally was recorded and could potentially be brought up at any time, for any reason, out of context, from dozens of different parties with their own vested interests people would be reluctant to say anything at all. But this is precisely what happens on the internet. Every conversation, every discussion, everything can be stored forever, somewhere, and might just come back to haunt you when it’s least convenient. I argued this point on mumbrella about a year ago, using my real name, and in the interests of seeing if it was still available, found it via google in under a minute. Makes you think what else it out there about you, me and people you know, huh?

Drinking the coolaid. If every conversation we have online is tied to our real lives, especially when it comes to individuals interacting with brands, then they might be more interested in telling the company what they think the company wants to hear, not what they actually want to say. And that doesn’t serve the company well, as a false sense of security develops.

A common criticism of anonymity is that it quickly reduces to a slanging match and a farce. Not so. If you want to see one of the best examples of growing online discussion, head over to reddit, and check out some of the conversations between anonymous people in the Science, Worldnews or even ‘less sophisticated’ subreddits like the motorcycles or  sewing subreddits. And beyond anonymous thread boards and websites, some people simply don’t care that their real profiles are tied to feisty and downright insulting/racist/abusive discussion. In March this year a Bond’s baby competition almost immediately turned into a slanging match between parents over how ugly other children were and there were even racial slurs thrown around. Every one of those conversations was tied to real people and real profiles, civility wasn’t maintained despite being tied to real profiles.

 – Tying real life personas to casual interaction is a barrier to entry for some people, and that might be enough to turn off potential customers. When you buy products at the supermarket your name and details aren’t recorded next to the products and brands you purchase, and then put on display or held in a publicly available registrar for all to search. (There’s a side thought here that if they were we might all eat healthier, but that’s a different argument altogether). When you purchase from a supermarket, or Dan Murphy’s or a chemist there’s an expectation not necessarily of privacy, but certainly anonymity. Buying condoms, or two dozen candy bars, or three slabs of beer? Fine, no one cares, the person at the check out just wants their shift to end, and even if they do care a little it’s not like they know you anyway, so it makes little difference anyway. But, if everything you bought could be searched and sorted in seconds by anyone, how much of your shopping would you re-think? Would you really buy items that could look bad on you in the future, but were well-intentioned, harmless, or casual purchases at the time?

Anonymous interaction isn’t always better, but individuals can be more open honest with companies when their buying habits and other interactions are anonymous, or they are given the choice to do so.

Namesake.com has produced the great infographic below to drive home each sides argument further.

Wrapped up in our own bubbles – part 1

There are several big picture issues floating around on the internet at the moment all of them revolving around filters, personalisation, social conversations, social media, anonymity and privacy vs conversations specifically tied to your real life and the real you. I’m going to try to tackle these issues/discussions one by one and hopefully finish up with a few summarised thoughts, potential implications and lots of questions worth mulling over in the coming weeks, months and years. The issues are too big for just one post however, so consider this to be part 1.

The first issue to tackle is the discussion around filters and personalisation. Eli Pariser, the former Executive Director of MoveOn.org, argues that more and more individuals and companies are wrapping themselves in ‘filtered bubbles’ of information, and that this is ultimately a bad thing. A ‘filter bubble’, is “A filter bubble is a concept developed by Internet activist Eli Pariser to describe a phenomenon in which search queries on sites such as Google or Facebook or Yahoo selectively guess what information a user would like to see based on the user’s past search history and, as a result, searches tend to play back information which agrees with the user’s past viewpoint. Accordingly, users get less exposure to conflicting viewpoints. And according to Pariser, the filter bubble is “that personal ecosystem of information that’s been catered by these algorithms” which, based on past choices, reflect a person’s existing viewpoint.” Source.

I strongly encourage you to watch the video below as Eli draws out, but stops short of describing, some of the impacts of a filter bubble, and what that means for individuals, groups, collectives, societies and nations.

What Eli touches on, but doesn’t go into a great deal of detail about is what this means in the medium to long-term and about the implications of companies. political and social groups trying to communicate to a broader audience. In an era of ‘over-personalisation’ where your future search and online results are influenced by past decisions it becomes easier to be convinced that you are right, because Search Engines – both algorithmic and social – deliver what you want to hear, read and see, and are influenced signficantly based on what you’ve previously asked for. How does an individual grow sufficiently to take in broad opinion if the search results they receive cater to what they know, not what they don’t know? Over time, the delivery of this personalised information leads to more like-minded searches, which in turn deliver more like-minded results. Breaking out of that cycle could be very difficult – how do you for example tell algorithmic search engines that you want to be challenged, if you don’t know what some of the alternatives are?

The challenge for business should be plainly obvious: How do you talk to the unconverted where they aren’t getting the information they might need because years of search history indicates they don’t know and an algorithm doesn’t isn’t programmed to recognise that they might need it? How do you get to individuals that should be looking at you and considering your services but where you might be prevented from delivering that information to new groups because a search engine, or personalisation algorithms have decided that your message isn’t relevant, even if it is. In an online environment a future challenge (to start working on solving now) is how to get your message to those that aren’t already singing from the same hymn sheet.

This may not be a massive issue right now because the internet is still relatively young, and personalisation more so, but consider the current generation growing up now – next generations students, consumers and leaders – how will their lives be affected, and how will businesses talk to individuals who have never known any different?

Perhaps Donald Rumsfeld said it best when he posited this:
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

On to part 2.