Saturday, January 22, 2011

US Hispanics Are Creators, Not Just Spectators

Much has been written about the US Hispanic population's affinity towards social media, but this slide brings it home. We do not have to wait for Census results to recognize the power of the Hispanic audience online. Take a look at their online behavior. Hispanic users overindex in almost every category - particularly in online entertainment (music, videos, photo sharing) and in driving online conversations. They are much more likely than their counterparts to use IM or to go on message boards. Nearly one half (48 percent) of online US Hispanics have a social profile and are considered content creators (47 percent). They also contribute their opinions as critics (41 percent).  

Social media offers a shortcut to those marketers who want to honor the Hispanic audience and need to engage the conversation drivers in this segment. Inicie la conversacion. 

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Socialgraph Helps Search Engine Listings

When showing the value of an online community you are building, do not forget about checking the search box. Typical questions about expected outcomes from a community may still center around reach metrics. How many people am I reaching? How many eyeballs am I catching with my messages? The comprehensive answer includes reach (unique visitors, community members, etc.), engagement (i.e., conversations among fans and your brand) and search rankings. And your search listings are related to reach and engagement. 

The basic principle of affecting organic search results is strong and relevant content that gets repeated, cited and linked in online conversations. When you build a community page or a fan page, steer your editorial calendar to include bits of newsworthy information that can easily grab and pass along to their networks. When sharing news about a discount, expert tips or a new product launch, your audience expands your digital footprint, brings you more visitors/fans and generate links. The sum of these activities have a positive impact on Google search rankings and your content rises higher and higher as your community expands and chatter grows through tweets, discussions and blog posts. 

In fact, Web analyst Brandt Dainow's list of rules for beating Google at SEO includes the following audience behaviors, which help search rankings:

  • Fans who like/follow you
  • Impressions from social graph fans (i.e., they talk about your brand in social media, including your message points, brand name)
  • Impressions from social graph fans with links (i.e., fans are citing your community page and referring traffic)
  • Secondary fan connections (i.e., friends who tell friends who then become your fans and/or referrers)
  • Other citations (i.e., links, references from people who are not your fans/followers)
  • Number of visits, click-throughs

Online conversations increase the value of your community. A bustling online hub means higher visibility and accessibility. 


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Online News and Buzz Predict Stock Value

SENSEnews, a service brought to you by the people behind the semantic search engine hakia, is able to make sense of it all for investors. The system aggregates vast amounts of information such as facts, news events, financial interpretations, speculations, market factors, sentiments and reviews. Then, it plugs this knowledge into an intricate algorithm. The result is a computation of unrealized stock value. You know when your investments are overpriced or undervalued. You decide to sell, hold or buy more.

As the co-inventor of SENSEnews Dr. Riza Berkan, indicates, the average person cannot track and analyze such vast amounts of data. Whether we get our news from the media or through word of mouth, we are always a few steps behind in the information game. Therefore, SENSEnews offers an incredible advantage to traders and those who manage their own portfolio. 

While the relationship between news and stock value have been studied in depth, the addition of social media to the mix elevates the conversation about the value of online word of mouth to a new level. Services like SENSEnews also underscore the importance of financial information companies release online. Through the funnel of SENSEnews, what companies publish about themselves, what the media say about companies and what citizens publish online can affect perceived stock value (and performance.)  



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Monday, January 10, 2011

Email Still Has It

Long before myriad of apps took over itunes, there was talk of the sticky app. In Web 1.0 days, techies would wonder "What will be the one application that will have the 'it' factor?" Email would often come up. Then it would be quickly dismissed--many believed it had to be more complicated or futuristic than that. Fast forward to 2011, email is still going strong. In fact, according to a recent Technographics report from Forrester, consumers are now less likely to delete messages without reading. They are also less likely to opt out or wish they had opted out. 

Longitudinal data from the report shows a steady decline in what email marketers would consider bad behavior. In 2006, 73 percent of consumers deleted most email messages from advertisers without reading. This incidence dropped to 63 percent in 2008 and to 59 percent in 2010. While one-half (49 percent) of consumers wished it were easier to unregister from email offers in 2006, only 28 percent shared the sentiment in 2010. 

While these are good news for e-CRM planners, email could still use the power of organic word of mouth. Majority of consumers do not forward promotional emails. In 2006, some nine percent said they sometimes forwarded promotional emails to their friends. This incidence climbed merely to 12 percent in 2010. In the age of tell-a-friend systems such as AddThis, ShareThis and Gigya, the likelihood to forward an email could have been higher. 

Since the days Microsoft encouraged friends to tell friends to get hotmail accounts, email remains a strong and viable marketing channel. It is increasingly on target. Marketers still need work on delivering value and telling amazing stories to convince their audiences that emails are indeed worth passing along. 



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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Groupon and Yelp: The Combo Works for Small Businesses

I am fascinated to watch the growth of a small business nearby our home: Dahn Yoga Center. They are masters of word of mouth, because they know how to create and share stories. They are also using new tools, such as Groupon and Yelp, to increase trials. 

Part of the ritual in classes is a tea ceremony at the end where happy members take a few minutes to sit down and share how they feel. Some talk about their aches, some talk about moments of enlightenment. Most of the time, the stories are positive, as the method increases and improves circulation, helps people stretch and coaches people to find that point of mental calm. Happy customers, happy business! The center has been getting a lot of new members through genuine, enthusiastic referrals. Friends bring other friends and family in, saying 'You must try this!'

Most recently, they participated in a Groupon deal, offering participants a significant discount on a 10-class card. As a result, the center in Brooklyn Heights got 17 sign ups, Manhattan locations saw 50 participants and Boston Cambridge area got more than 100 walk ins. Thinking about the college audience in Boston area who is hooked on social media and emerging platforms such as Groupon, the high level of participation in Cambridge makes sense. I was told the Boston area center is also doing really well on Yelp. So, people who saw the deal on Groupon were able to check out the real people stories and review the ratings on Yelp before making a final decision. 

The Brooklyn Heights center is going to rely on good service and honest stories to turn these trials into long-term members. I heard that one of the Groupon leads loves the classes so much that she is taking a cab from her far away home to the center for every class. That's dedication! And it is very promising. 

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Pucca's Diary: Authentic Authenticity!

During my latest trip to Istanbul, I had the pleasure of coming across the latest web phenomenon that every other Turkish girl is talking about: Pucca's Diary. It's raw. It's from the heart - more so, written off the top of a young woman's head. Pucca writes about her angst to find love. Nothing new you might think, but her tone and her writing voice is so strong, it makes everyone stop on their tracks. If you can't read Turkish, let me paint the picture for you: Think a young girl who's thinking and talking a mile a minute with slang, SMS shorthand and observations that every woman makes but no one dares to utter. Her chase for the neighbor's son, her competition with an Angeline Jolie-esque colleague to get the only decent looking boy in the office, her bitter break up with her less than handsome and intelligent boyfriend. It's all stories where readers can find a piece of themselves, giggle and tell their friends to check out. 

In fact, that's why the blog has been so successful as a series of authentic drama. Pucca has more than 55,000 followers on Twitter. Her blog has been published as a book in June 2010. By December, it was in its 11th (!!!) print. And it's priced at 20 TL/ $13. For your information, that's very close to the cost of foreign classics whose price tag include import tax. It's not so cheap considering the Turkish book market or what the local publishers coin as 'laptop books.' Go girl!

Authenticity is a much frequently used buzz word in social media circles. While we craft ePR messages, maybe we should first jot down what we really mean and want to say and then dare to publish it. Edits, reviews, 'multiple cooks in the kitchen' sometimes boil tweets and blog posts down to, well, water. If you know your audience, if you know what they want to hear and how they talk, you should write in freestyle like Pucca. 

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