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Not All Social Media Platforms are Equal – How to Pick the Ones That Work for You

Soshable

Launching a new business? Or promoting an existing one? Either way, my guess is that social media figures pretty high on your priority list when it comes to marketing your brand.

Over 70% of all online adults in the United States have a Facebook account. For the first time ever, 56% of senior citizens are on social media. That figure stands at 89% for young ’uns, or users from 18 to 29 years of age. The millennial generation, consisting of young adults born between 1980 to 2000 and accounting for nearly 30% of the US population, see social media as their primary means of connecting with brands. Over half of them claim that “social opinions” directly influence their purchase decisions.

So we all agree that being on social media is unavoidable if you want to be relevant to today’s consumer.

With the explosion of social media platforms, the question now arises, “which social media platforms will give me actual results?” And this, my friends, is the most sensible place to begin your social media journey.

Research Your Options

The first step to social media success lies in being active on the right platforms and engaging with your target audience in the form that they prefer best. But before you make a choice of which platform would work for your business, you need to first figure out what each platform has to offer you and then proceed by eliminating the least attractive ones.

Before we analyze each platform’s pros and cons, let’s see where they all stand with respect to each other.

The data above clearly shows Facebook as the leader in terms of number of users, followed by LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter – in that order. This data also shows us how in a matter of a couple of years, Twitter has gone from being the third largest network to a lowly number five. At the same time, we see Facebook stagnating in its usage figures in the last year with a barely-there upward blip in 2013.

Let’s arm ourselves with some more facts about the top five social networks before we decide which ones work best for our business.

Facebook offers brands the widest possible reach – with 1.34 billion active users per month, Facebook is light-years ahead of competition. As a platform it is marginally more popular with women than men, it’s also more popular among Hispanics and Whites as compared to African Americans. A trend that has been accelerating in recent years is the exodus of teens from the site with 3 million teens dropping off in the last three years.

Read More… 

 

Forrester: Pinterest Doesn’t Work For Marketers

MediaPost

While Pinterest’s ad strategy is taking shape, analysts remain on the fence about the pin-based social network, and its near-term marketing potential.

“Many marketers just can’t seem to find success on Pinterest,” Forrester analyst Nate Elliott writes in a new report. “Barely one-half of top brands maintain branded Pinterest boards — and those that do are unsure what to post, collect few followers, and see little user interaction.”

Coca-Cola, for example, has fewer than 5,000 Pinterest followers, while its last 50 pins have been repinned an average of just 11 times each.

After eight months in beta, Pinterest officially launched its Promoted Pins program, at the beginning of the year.

Yet the new program doesn’t give marketers enough Web-based targeting criteria, according to Elliott. “The result of such limited targeting is unclear ad performance,” he suggests.

In its defense, brands that participated in the Promoted Pins beta program saw a 30% increase in “earned media” — i.e., the share of users who saved a Promoted Pin to a board, according to Pinterest. Per internal findings, Promoted Pins are “repinned” an average of 11 times — the same as non-branded pins.

Pinterest is also more popular than ever. The proportion of online adult women using the service increased from 33% in 2013 to 42% in 2014, according to recent findings from the Pew Research Center.

Continue Reading…

How Brands Can Convert Facebook Users Into Customers

CITEworld

Marketing is sometimes considered a niche form of storytelling, but its stories mean nothing if they don’t make brands resonate with potential customers and ultimately lead to sales. Many modern marketers view the people who connect with their brands on social media as potential leads that could become customers.

Converting users to customers on social media platforms such as Facebook isn’t always a straightforward process. The journey is often riddled with challenges and unmet opportunities. Using social media to achieve brand lift, loyalty and engagement is typically easier to do but harder to quantify and justify as a business investment.

“No one trusts a brand or brand stories anymore,” according to Cameron Friedlander, marketing technology strategy lead at Kimberly-Clark, a consumer packaged goods conglomerate. “As a brand speaking directly to consumers all you can do is give them facts either about the category, the brand, product or company.”

The most important thing any brand can do to cultivate and eventually convert Facebook users into customers is provide useful facts, insights and ideas, he says. “Doing this requires brands to think differently about content and consumer engagement.”

Consumer Trust Doesn’t Come Easy

Consumers trust and listen to individuals with whom they have personal relationships more than brands, Friedlander says. “Consumers value each other’s opinions, not brands or companies.”

Brands need to build content ecosystems that inspire users to engage with each other and share insights and ideas on behalf of the brands, “to help nudge them towards a brand when it comes to purchase time,” Friedlander says. “Recommendations from people you know are what count when it comes to conversion.”

Ecommerce platform Shopify, which powers more than 120,000 online retailers including Amnesty International, General Electric and Tesla Motors, says Facebook is fueling the vast majority of its orders that come from social media. More specifically, Facebook drives 63 percent of all social media visits to Shopify stores and accounts, for an average of 85 percent of all orders derived from social media, according to Shopify data based on 37 million social media visits that led to 529,000 orders.

Facebook also delivers the highest conversion rate for all social media ecommerce traffic, at 1.85 percent, according to the Shopify data. Conversion rates for Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn were all below 1 percent during the same period.

The average value of sales generated via Facebook for Shopify’s stores was $55, which is below the average value of Pinterest, Instagram and Polyvore sales. Facebook dominates social orders in markets including photography, sports and recreation, pet supplies, jewelry and apparel, but it faces tough competition from other networks in the collectibles, digital products, services and consumer electronics markets.

Continue reading… 

Pinterest has hired its first media partnerships manager. Why now?

GIGAOM

Pinterest has hired a head of media partnerships for the first time. The company has brought on Robert Macdonald, formerly of Google, to do the job. Macdonald previously managed publisher relationships at Dstillery, Scribd and Google. In an interview with the New York Times, Pinterest’s head of partnerships — general, not just media — said, “We don’t think we’ve invested enough yet to totally capture the opportunity and to help these publishers.”

When asked what publishers Pinterest will be courting, a spokesperson told me, “We are looking to work with a wide range of traditional and digital publishers across all verticals, many of which are already using the platform.” A handful of companies swear by Pinterest’s traffic referral potential. For example, Buzzfeed’s second biggest social driver of traffic is Pinterest, after front-runner Facebook. As I previously reported, Pinterest is also looking for someone to manage their relationships with Hollywood, so it’s going after media organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Read on…

Publications See Pinterest as Key Ally

NY Times

Autumn is not yet upon us, but Jill Waage, a top editor at Better Homes and Gardens, has already predicted some of the biggest trends of the coming holidays. Painted pumpkins are about to replace carved pumpkins. Snowman cookies with jiggly eyes will overtake traditional gingerbread men. And decorative ribbons on Christmas presents are going to get much more creative.

But instead of spotting these trends by consulting colleagues or outside experts, Ms. Waage has tapped Pinterest, the social media site that lets its members pin, or post, images of their favorite foods, hairstyles and clothes. Pinterest has forged close relationships with magazines, especially those focused on women, who make up 71 percent of Pinterest users. It is a leading driver of traffic to certain magazines, and in some cases — like Self — it serves as a bigger source of reader referrals than either Facebook or Twitter.

“That’s one more piece of brain food that editors have,” Ms. Waage, the editorial director for home content at Better Homes, said of Pinterest. “It’s just a subconscious part of their lives now.”

And Pinterest is redoubling its focus on working with publishers. On Monday, Robert Macdonald will join the company to manage media relationships for the site, a job he previously held at Google, and it plans to hire more people in the coming months to work with digital and print magazines.

Joanne Bradford, a Pinterest executive who runs all of its partnerships, noted that because the majority of the content on Pinterest comes from what she described as “professional content creators” like magazines, it’s crucial to educate these titles on how best to use the service.

“We don’t think we’ve invested enough yet to totally capture the opportunity and to help these publishers,” Ms. Bradford said. “We think that they make a lot of quality content that pinners are very passionate about.”

Continue reading…

 

Pinterest peaks, Facebook falters in customer satisfaction survey of social sites

TechHive

Billions of people use assorted social networking sites, but just how happy are they with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and the rest? The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which measures exactly that sort of thing, put out its latest report on consumer satisfaction with e-businesses—that’s social media, search engines, and websites—and it’s an interesting look at just which service’s Like button is getting a workout.

Historically, social media sites tend to rank among the lowest-scoring companies on ACSI’s 100-point scale. This year, social media boasted an overall customer satisfaction rating of 71, up 4.4 percent from the previous study. The 71 rating puts social media companies above airlines (69), subscription television (65), and Internet service providers (63).

acsi rankings social media 100360859 large Pinterest peaks, Facebook falters in customer satisfaction survey of social sites

The American Consumer Satisfaction Index started rating social media companies in 2010. Scores are based on a 100-point scale. In this year’s rankings, Facebook and LinkedIn finished at the bottom, though both saw their scores improve over 2013.

Of the individual social networking sites, Pinterest was the most beloved site in 2014 with a customer satisfaction score of 76, stealing the crown from Wikipedia (74), which coincidentally was the only site to lose ground from 2013, falling 5 percent from last year’s score. Google’s YouTube and a newly-created “all others” category (which includes Instagram, Reddit and Tumblr) were hot on Pinterest and Wikipedia’s heels with a 73 rating, followed by Google+ (71) and Twitter (69).

Perhaps most notably, tied for dead last among social media ACSI still measures with scores of 67 apiece were LinkedIn and Facebook. Yep, you read that right, Facebook, the first network to crack a billion users and widely considered to be the pace-setter among social networking sites, couldn’t manage to top LinkedIn for customer satisfaction. That’s LinkedIn, the social networking site for professionals that most people begrudgingly join for the sole purpose of scoring a better job.

At least Facebook and LinkedIn can console themselves in that they scored an improvement over last year, when both companies scored only a 62 on ACSI’s scale. That makes them big winners in terms of year-over-year improvement.

That good news comes with an asterisk for Facebook, though. ACSI notes that the scores were measured before Facebook revealed it had manipulated news feeds as part of a psychological test on hundreds of thousands of users. (That’s in contrast to the regular manipulation Facebook performs on our news feed.) But customers in this go-around seem happy with their revamped news feed and other enhancements, so maybe it’ll end up a wash. For now, Zuckerberg and Co. can take solace in a strong improvement in customer satisfaction, even if they are still tied for last in the category.

Pinterest’s interest-following feature could be advertising gold mine

Digiday

Pinterest today made it that much easier for consumers to explore specific interests, and agency execs are already looking toward its potential advertising uses.

Previously, Pinterest curated pins around broad categories such as “outdoors.” Now, when users click on “Outdoors,” they’ll be able to find pins curated to interests as narrow as “ultralight backpacking” and “saltwater fishing.”

Pinterest is in the midst of introducing ads to its platform, but a Pinterest spokesperson said there are no immediate plans to allow advertisers to target users based upon the interest pages they chose to follow. But this being a platform whose only revenue source is advertising, it’s fair to assume that, if interest pages catch on with users, ads will be sold against them.

At least agency execs, always looking to target consumers based upon their interests, hope so.

“All we’re trying to do is go deeper based upon targeting people on interest. The ability to hit them in that context makes a lot of sense,” Jordan Bitterman, chief strategy officer at media agency Mindshare, said.

Pinterest’s 32 categories — such “travel,” “animals” and “kids” — were too broad to serve finely tuned ads, according to Jill Sherman, group director of social and content strategy at Digitas. Agency execs routinely describe Pinterest image as a visual search engine. Adding interest collections — essentially more-nuanced tags – can only enrich that database.

“It was basically a collection of boards. Now it’s much more: a very deep directory of interest,” Chris Bowler, Razorfish’s global vice president of social media, said.

Interest pages are also a way for Pinterest to broaden its appeal, or at the very least, prevent it from losing users. Pinterest’s user-base still skews female despite its incredible popularity, Providing more pinpointed collections could attract even more users.

“This is where the entire social world is going; niche communities that have much higher receptivity than your broad-based Facebook and Twitter platforms,” Chris Bowler, Razorfish’s global vice president of social media, said. “This is Pinterest’s way of serving a community of rock climbers versus someone creating another online community around rock climbing.”

Bitterman added that the tool would also likely increase the amount of time Pinterest users stay on the platform in a given session, another selling point for Pinterest as it ramps up ad selling efforts. The prediction speaks to the power of catering to people’s interests: it makes Pinterest more appealing to consumers, and more alluring to ad buyers.

Sharing On Twitter And Pinterest Leans Mostly Mobile

MediaPost

By now it’s clear that mobile and social have become more than a shotgun marriage.Findings from comScore last month showed that more than 70% of time spent in social media takes place on mobile devices (including tablets). And total mobile engagement on social is up 55% in the last year.

In its latest quarterly report, ShareThis took a closer look at sharing activity among top social platforms on mobile. Twitter and Pinterest emerge as the most mobile-centric networks, with 75% of all content sharing on those platforms happening in mobile. By comparison, half of sharing activity on Facebook is mobile.

However, because of Facebook’s size (1 billion monthly mobile users), it accounts for 72% of sharing on smartphones, versus 14% for Twitter, and 12% for Pinterest. On tablets, Facebook’s share falls to 64%, and Twitter’s to 7%, while Pinterest sees a bump to 22%. “There is a clear preference for channels based on different devices. Pinners are more active on tablets whereas tweeters flock to smartphones,” states ShareThis blog post today.

Furthermore, Facebook is where people go to share content about politics and parenting, while Twitter — because of its real-time DNA — leans toward sports and business, and Pinterest sharing is focused on shopping. That’s a natural outgrowth of Pinterest’s emphasis on visual presentation and consumer products.

In that vein, mobile users are twice as likely to interact with desktop content as any other category.

When it comes to mobile operating systems, Android users are more active on Facebook, while iOS users are more likely to share material on Twitter and Pinterest. In terms of demographic trends, sharing on tablets among people 55 and over nearly doubled over the first quarter. And 43% of social activity on tablets is driven by people in that age group.

Social interaction on mobile devices also grew 13% among African-Americans and 6% among Hispanics in the quarter. Overall, sharing from smartphones and tablets grew more than 30%, while that on the desktop fell 5% between the first and second quarter. The mobile gain was driven mainly by activity on smartphones, which was up about 28%.

Across desktop and mobile, Facebook accounted for almost two-thirds (64%) of sharing, with Twitter and Pinterest each claiming 9%. But the two smaller competitors together gained 2% share on Facebook from the prior quarter.