Social media

Facebook in focus. Analysis of over 400 Australian companies.

Australian Social Media agency, The Online Circle, has recently released it’s June 2013, Facebook report for Australian companies.


All in all, it’s a pretty interesting report, effectively benchmarking the top companies in Australia by volume of likes.

The report also goes some way to  snapshot benchmarking the top likes by business for:

– The ASX 20 companies

– The top 10 pages, ranked by likes, from the ASX 100

– Top 20 industries by fans

– Explores top posts, and engagement by industry, across 30 industries.

The Online Circle is one of the few companies in Australia bringing this kind of transparency and insights based on data to an industry that is still fairly immature in this regard.

Download Online Circle’s June Facebook Report.

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Not so social media

Note: for the purposes of this article the term Social media refers to both traditional social media, and social networks as the lines are becoming increasingly blurred.

Social media has been marvelled at for a few years and amongst the pleas of companies and private individuals to ‘follow’, ‘like’ and join their social stream a few things stick out for me as challenges which still need to be overcome with social media in general.

The short points below don’t in any way mean that I’m ‘anti social media’ – not at all. I think social media is a growth area and, just like retailers are now facing a ‘multi-channel’ future, digital marketing for all companies must look to social media as a great way to touch the right groups.

1. Social media really is social – until someone screws up…..and then it’s on for young and old. Social media, particularly twitter can be your best friend one minute and almost instantly go against your brand the next. This is hard to manage. When your brand is just one voice and the masses won’t listen to what might just be a very good explanation or a miscommunication, or just a blatant untruth. It’s hard to rebuild that rapport and trustworthy standing you once had.

Moreover the group of people who may be attacking you could be the very people who up until that point had been quite happily following your brand, or worse, your loyal customers had no idea about the accusations but because your brand is using social media to defend itself, they become educated about the topic (which could be completely baseless accusations) and then have to make up their own minds too, potentially losing some as a result. Winning back those loyal users can be a tough tightrope walk, and may not always be successful. (As I was typing this post, this article dropped into my twitter stream and illustrates exactly what I’m talking about in this paragraph)

2. Over-fandom. How does one deal with overly hardcore brand advocates: Those consumers for whom a brand isn’t just something they wear, or buy, or use, but it becomes an obsession. In almost any other situation those individuals can be managed effectively. But on social media their interaction – which was encouraged by the brand in the first place – while well-intentioned can become worrying, spammy and even harmful. Whether this group of individuals fits your target market or not, when everyone has the same share of voice, (and in-fact the more someone speaks the more share of voice they have), moderating the conversation without cries of ‘censorship!’ can quickly become very difficult. Passionate and loyal customers they may be, but they’re also the most likely to start voicing their displeasure passionately, loudly and frequently when they see something happening with the brand that they don’t like. Bonds recently discovered this with their ‘beautiful baby competition’. Will we see the competition in a social media context next year? Sure, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them use it almost exclusively as a way of directing people to a microsite where the company can more closely monitor and moderate all submissions and comments.

3. Personalised experiences. For all the hype about social media bringing brands and customers closer together, there doesn’t seem to be many great examples of personalised experiences and dedicated interaction. Many companies seem to engage with their twitter and Facebook followers as little more than silo’d databases of loyal users who are ready to click on the next link with info about a new product or service. It is difficult to bring a large volume of people and tailor an experience for each one, granted. But at the same time, what does it say to those that are loyal, long time customers when their interaction opportunities are exactly the same as a new user? And where does a brand’s story go?

While they’re great content syndication networks, marketers need to be smarter when it comes to disseminating information across a large and varied group of users, some of whom may be current customers, some of whom may be prospective customers, and some of whom may just have joined because they like the content but have no intention of ever purchasing from you. When barriers to entry are so low – a simple finger swipe on mobile touch-screen glass, or a click of a mouse on a ‘like’ button – and qualification of the participant is strictly limited to that ever elusive group called ‘absolutely anybody’, is it any wonder that companies are waiting to see who is loyal and who isn’t, or keeping the real goodies behind a CMS of actual consumers?

4. The front door is the same. Tied to personal experiences in the point above, every brands ‘front door’ and call to action is the same. Saying ‘like us on Facebook’, ‘follow us on twitter’ is now so ubiquitous that no brand ‘owns’ it as front of mind statement, and no brand can. Savvy consumers are already becoming skeptical to ‘like us on Facebook’ requests, wanting to know why they should – and that will increase over time. Simply put, the value proposition will have to get a lot better for a lot of companies very soon. Tied to the above point the question then comes back to how much to invest – it’s a great hook into a brand,  but would loyal customers resent people who may have never bought a thing, getting so much for free?

At least with a mobile app, with the right strategy, planning, content, UX and customer intelligence, various inputs, displays, fields, content and access options could be filled dynamically to create better, richer and ultimately more rewarding experiences – but that is a topic for another post.

As I said at the start of this post, these four challenges aren’t insurmountable but brands will need to put more effort into them – if they aren’t already – if they see it as a core part of their growth and communications strategy. Working to overcome the challenges above may help ensure a richer, better, happier social media experience and will ultimately be more rewarding for both the user and the brand.

Social media presents big opportunities for banking

Comscore released their US 2010 online banking survey recently.

Most of it was what you’d expect to see year on year: credit cards use down, cash up, trust up, confidence up.

So all good then. Well, sort of.

What became immediately obvious is that there are a series of challenges for conversion from paper to online for things like paying bills.

– 29% of respondents indicated they still don’t trust online security
– 22% said they like having the paper as a reminder, and
– 21% bills were paid by someone else (so why would they?)


So, what to do? Thankfully the answer – at least part of it – on how to convert people online came from within the survey’s own respondents.

When asked why people would engage socially with a bank the answers became obvious immediately.

– 44% of respondents would, or do, engage socially for exclusive online retail promotions.
– 27% said, effectively, they’d do it just to learn how to manage their money better (14% for tips, 13% for financial advice), and
– 14% said they’d engage socially for promotions about opening new accounts


So what’s the future for banking? Well, it seems like social media and social networking may be the future. Not only does it get you closer to your consumers but it affords opportunities to convert them to new accounts and online.

There may be brand risk in the future (2-5 years) regarding trying to constantly leapfrog themselves and their competitors for exclusive offers, but that’s in the future, the ‘now’ is nothing but big opportunity.

Ah blogging, did I miss you too?

Ah blogging, that slightly-older-uncle in the ‘new media’ family.

You know what? I missed it, I missed it like crazy. I missed being a part of a conversation, I missed contributing, but more importantly I missed listening, reading and seeing other people’s opinions. Blogging, in my opinion, is one of the best things you can get into, even if you’re just a lurker for a while first.

Forrester Research did some amazing, well, research about percentages of people who create, engage, use, comment and lurk, it’s below (until they ask me to remove it)

I suppose it comes back to an issue of feeling like you’re part of a group, an immersion, so to speak, as Seth Godin would call it, a tribe. But it’s also worth considering that’s it more than just being a part of something. It’s is about being heard in that group. You’re not just a follower, you’re a contributor, even if your voice is small and only a few people hear it, at least it was heard.

Cutting off the blogging voice for a while, was an experience I don’t intend on repeating but one worth enduring.

Rove and Dave Hughes – Shark jumping or just playing around?

According to mumbrella today,  Rove may have ‘Jumped the Shark’ by using twitter with his mate, Dave Hughes while getting makeup done pre-show.

Tim Burrows, editor of asks the question “Could this be the moment that Twitter ate itself?” – Rove took a photo of Dave, Dave took a photo of Rove and they both then tweeted it. He then says “The celeb Twitter shark has officially been jumped.”

Yep, I get the point about shark jumping but is that what’s really happening here? – isn’t this just like any other brand playing with social media?

Were their actions for the benefit of other media to comment on more likely were they for the 48,000+ followers between Rove and Dave to enjoy and experience? – Isn’t conversation and communication the point of twitter? Isn’t that what Rove and Dave were doing?

It should be noted that neither Rove’s or Dave’s tweets said anything about ‘watch tonight’s show’ or ‘tune in to channel 10 tonight’ so I don’t know what’s so wrong about them doing this.

I can’t help but think that if this was Miranda Kerr and Megan Gale photographing each other in during a makeup session at Fashion Week the marketing and ad industry would probably collectively coo and fawn all over them (and the photos for the clicks) and consider this as ‘brave’ and embrace it as a new way for brands to play with twitter and social media.

I also think  Channel 10 should be given kudos on two points:

1. For supporting Rove as long as they have and regardless of a shifting demographic watching it,  it wouldn’t have run this long without the numbers behind it – even if they are falling now.

2.  For not instigating some stringent policy about their stars using social networks such as twitter.

Am I a massive, Rove fan? No I’m not. But I do know that Rove is better than a lot of other local content – does anyone really think we need another a season of ‘Australian Customs. We caught this guy trying to bring in an open bag of chips and a banana’?

And Rove, while more expensive to produce is much better than buying in cheap US or UK syndicated content like ‘World’s most *insert dramatic sounding words* you’ve ever seen!‘ Thankfully Channel 10 hasn’t and I think the domestic TV industry is all the richer for it – rather than us decrying the end of Aussie TV we should be championing programs like Rove.

Maybe it’s all just a mountain out of a molehill but all I can say is God help the next Australian comedians or celebrities that try to do something they consider fun on twitter/FB etc if this is the sort of reaction they get.

Seth on bread at TED

I never get tired of watching Seth Godin at TED, talking about bread.

It’s fantastic and during the financial crisis marketers and general managers should watch it over and over and over.

It’s easy to get swept up in social networking but it’s important to remember the roots of marketing and what you’re ultimately trying to achieve.