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A tool for predicting social trends instead of reacting to them

eMedia Vitals

How would your marketing or editorial strategy change if you could predict the future? A startup called Blab believes it has unlocked the key to forecasting highly viral trends – before they break.

Blab this week plans to introduce BlabPredicts2, a “predictive social intelligence” tool for gaining insight into trends – including non-obvious ones – that are about to go viral. The company claims that its proprietary technology can accurately predict what, where and when online conversations will gain steam as much as 72 hours in advance.

In the rapid-fire social media universe, predictive intelligence is an important step beyond social search, which tracks the topics that are trending right now.

“We don’t want to search for what we think the hot conversations are – we want to discover what they are,” Blab CEO Randy Browning said in a phone interview. “Once we discover them, we can start to create relevant content to influence and lead those conversations.”

BlabPredicts, he added, “takes analysis out of the back room and lets line managers and account planners make informed decisions about what’s going to resonate, so they can optimize their media plan and engage the conversations in their terms.”

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Consumers Favor Small Businesses Because of Their Customer Focus

eMarketer

US consumers are choosing small businesses because of the personalized experiences they provide compared with larger businesses. According to April 2014 data from AYTM Market Research, personal service was the No. 2 reason US internet users preferred small businesses vs. large companies, cited by 52.7%. This trailed supporting the local economy (56.2%), but it led all other options by at least 23 percentage points. Lower prices did not play a huge role in choosing small businesses. In fact, 61.2% of respondents said they would pay higher prices to support small businesses.

An August 2013 study by Web.com and Toluna found similar results. The factor that US consumers considered the most important when choosing small businesses over other types of businesses was customer service (86% of respondents). Personalized and intimate experiences as well as small businesses’ understanding of customers’ needs were also popular, each cited by 84%.

Web.com/Toluna found that US consumers and small-business decision-makers were relatively aligned when it came to characteristics they associated with small businesses, but the latter tended to focus more on what went into building the company. Unsurprisingly, a focus on the customer was the top characteristic cited by consumers. Meanwhile, small-business decision-makers stressed the fact that businesses of this size were owner-operated and accountable.

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How publishers tweak content for the social Web

Digiday

There’s an optimization gap in digital publishing. While advertisers are using sophisticated targeting for ads, publishers are usually showing the same content to all readers, no matter who they are or where they came from.

Many, however, are slowly catching up. Publishers like Upworthy, BuzzFeed, and The Washington Post are realizing that success in digital publishing is a game of tiny optimizations. Most readers aren’t visiting sites via their front pages, making it key that publishers tweak reader experiences, headlines, and page layouts in an effort to make their content more palatable and sharable for specific audiences.

BuzzFeed offers a particularly good example. When a reader visits BuzzFeed via Pinterest, the site not only increases the size of the Pinterest “Pin It” button but also removes the Twitter share button entirely. That’s because only 8 percent of users who click BuzzFeed link on Pinterest end up sharing the story via Twitter. BuzzFeed also adds a “hot on Pinterest” module when readers visit the site via Pinterest. The result: Pinterest drives more referrals to BuzzFeed than Twitter.

Upworthy, which also gets most of its traffic through social channels, is also looking at how it can tweak user experience based on whether readers come to the site directly or through other means. The move is a sensible one considering that Upworthy is already well-known for giving its stories at least 25 possible headlines each. Extensive A/B testing is already a part of its core formula.

“We’re doing it in a way that looks at the net effect,” said Ed Urgola, Upworthy’s director of marketing. “Whether it means starting to personalize based on the source or show a new user something different from a returning one, everything is done by considering how it affects that one decision that the reader’s going to make when they’re finished reading a story.”

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LinkedIn tackles China with a startup approach

IDG News Service

China has been a tough market for U.S. Internet companies to crack, but LinkedIn has high hopes it can buck the trend and increase its user base in the country to as high as 50 million over the next five years.

“This is a very long-term investment, it’s not an experiment,” said Derek Shen, head of LinkedIn’s China operation on Friday.

The social networking site officially entered the nation’s market back in February, and is targeting China’s growing number of working professionals, numbered at over 140 million, according to the company. To reach those users, it launched a Chinese language site called Lingying.

LinkedIn, however, wants to avoid the same fate as other U.S. Internet companies that have struggled to take off in the nation’s competitive market. Google, eBay and Groupon have all come up against local roadblocks, including stiff competition from domestic rivals, and China’s notorious online censorship.

In LinkedIn’s case, the company studied the Chinese market for four years before finally deciding to enter the market, Shen said at China 2.0 Forum, an event in Beijing organized by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Currently, the site has about four million users in China.

The failure of some international companies in China may be due to their structure or lack of incentives for the operation to succeed, Shen said. “So we decided in China, we wanted to do a startup,” he added.

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LinkedIn Hits 300M Users, Pushes Mobile Options

MediaPost

LinkedIn on Friday announced it has surpassed 300 million active members worldwide, up from 277 million at the end of 2013. The roughly 36% growth rate in the first quarter from a year ago is on par with 2013. The professional networking site said 67% of its users come from outside the U.S., with more than 100 million in the U.S.

“While this is an exciting moment, we still have a long way to go to realize our vision of creating economic opportunity for every one of the 3.3 billion people in the global workforce,” stated Deep Nishar, LinkedIn’s senior vice president of product & user experience, in a blog post.

Mobile has become a growing focus for LinkedIn in the last couple of years, as more users access the service on devices. Later this year, Nishar noted that LinkedIn will hit the point where more than half of its global traffic comes from mobile.

“Already, our members in dozens of locations, including Costa Rica, Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, use LinkedIn more on their mobile devices than on their desktop computers,” he wrote.

Overall, the site each day gets an average of 15 million profile views, 1.45 million job views and 44,000 job applications in over 200 countries through mobile. As the company expands its mobile portfolio, with new releases such as its slideshare app, LinkedIn plans more strategic partnerships with major mobile players like Apple, Nokia and Samsung.

LinkedIn made a splash earlier this year with its push into China. In his post, Nishar said the goal now is to connect more than 140 million Chinese professionals with each other and the worldwide work force.

In a research note on Monday, however, analyst Michael Purcell of Stifel Nicolaus pointed out that LinkedIn still monetizes international users per member at one-third the rate of their U.S.-based counterparts. That translates to average revenue per user (ARPU) of $3.76 abroad versus $11.30 in the U.S.

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5 Tips And Even More Reasons To Integrate Search And Social Campaigns

MediaPost

Consumers clicking on an advertiser’s paid-search and social advertisement will double conversion rates, compared with those who only click on the former. Consumers who click on search and social ads also spend more. The ads generate four times more revenue per click than users who only click on a social ad, per a study by Marin Software.

Findings from the report, titled “The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising,” provide insight into the ability of searches to pull in users based on a brand’s message, as well as the ability of social to push a message to targeted audiences.

Despite the differences that audience search and social foster, experts suggest each media helps the other in the path to conversion far more than directly than contributing to conversions on its own. A fragmented path leads consumers down multiple steps and can last for days. In fact, the report points to a Google study, which suggests that 65% of revenue comes from purchases made in more than one step, and 47% of revenue comes from purchases made in more than one day.

Marketers who manage social advertising campaigns in silos ignore roughly two-thirds of the channel’s influence in the path to conversion and are most likely undervaluing their performance. Search campaigns managed alongside social campaigns have 26% higher revenue per click than search campaigns managed in isolation, per the study. It also benefits an advertiser’s revenue per conversion. Advertisers have 68% higher revenue per conversion from their search campaigns when managed alongside social advertising campaigns.

The report also guides marketers through the process of how to integrate search and social marketing programs (You can come to the MediaPost Search Insider Summit in Key Largo, Fla., April 27-30, to learn more.)

Here are some tips from the report. Conduct an honest assessment of the organization’s cross-channel capabilities. Adopt a multichannel digital marketing platform with audience retargeting across search and social publishers. Of course, the Marin report suggests theirs, but there are others from BrightEdge or Kenshoo. Monitor, measure, and gain insights from analytics that aggregate search and social marketing campaigns in one interface. Optimize toward lifetime value across search and social or run the risk of developing a myopic view.

Facebook’s Declining Organic Reach a ‘Real Nightmare’ for Marketers

Eye on Media, Matt Kapko Blog

Facebook can’t be faulted for following the same path as other mass media channels that came before it with regards to advertising, but there are many marketers who are still hoping for something different this time around.

Over the past couple weeks numerous reports have surfaced indicating a sharp decline in the organic reach of Facebook posts. The slowdown is nothing new. In a short pitch for ads in April 2012, Facebook calculated the average organic reach of page posts at 16 percent of all fans.

So what’s changed? A survey last month of more than 100 brand pages by Ogilvy concluded that “it’s only a matter of time” before the organic reach of content published by brands is “destined to hit zero.” The analysis found that organic reach of those brand pages was hovering at 6 percent, marking a 49 percent decline over a four-month period.

The organic reach of brands with more than 500,000 likes was barely hitting 2 percent in February, according to the Social@Ogilvy report.

“Right now we’re very mad at Facebook,” Dave Martin, Ignited’s senior vice president of media, said earlier this week at the Mobile Media Summit. “The reason we’re so mad at Facebook is because Facebook won’t allow us to share content with our followers and fans as we could a week ago.”
Pay for Play? No Thanks

The pay-for-play option isn’t exactly paying off in spades either, he says. Now when Ignited purchases ads for its brand clients on Facebook it “takes longer and costs more than it ever has and our engagement scores go down,” says Martin.

Worse yet, because there’s so much uncertainty about the genuine interest of many brands followers, far too many ads are simply “reaching people that don’t even care,” he adds.

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Report: Digital Transformation and the New Customer Experience

Brian Solis

We’re under attack! Social, mobile, real-time, cloud, big data…it’s coming at us all at once! Rather than miss out, many brands are jumping from trend to trend as a way of staying relevant in an increasingly digital market.

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest…we’re covered. We have and had a strategy for a while now.

Mobile. Yep, we’ve got an app for that…plus we’ve got adaptive and responsive web design that makes old sites new again!

Snapchat…our brilliant strategy vanishes in 5,4,3,2,1.

Jelly? We’ve got the answer.

Whisper, Secret…shhh, don’t tell anyone, but we’re already marketing there.

There’s a difference though between marketing AT people in new channels and learning about their behavior, values, and expectations to optimize their digital experiences and introduce mutually-beneficial outcomes.

Social, mobile, and real-time strategies are not enough. These disruptive technologies are merely just the beginning of a still shaping era of connected consumerism.

Each in its own right is significant affecting how business is done. But customer behavior and expectations, and that of employees for that matter, continue to evolve. And, the list of disruptive technologies that’s pushing business leaders and processes out of their respective comfort zones is far more exhaustive and constant.

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Steer clear of these 15 social media mistakes

Ragan

Social media is the most popular online activity, so it makes perfect sense for businesses to want to tap into it to increase sales. More than 90 percent of businesses use social media.

But simply opening an account or sending out some tweets is not enough to make social media platforms a viable and profitable part of your marketing strategy. By avoiding some missteps, businesses have the ability to increase their return on investment (ROI) and create more opportunities from social media accounts.

Avoid these mistakes:

1. Not having a strategy.

Less than 20 percent of businesses say their social media strategy is mature. Social media users are constantly inundated with information and messages. Businesses that don’t have a social media marketing strategy won’t ever cut through the clutter and deliver an effective message to their target audiences.

Creating a strategy includes having distinct and measurable goals, developing a clear social media policy, thinking through a brand’s social media voice and planning out a content calendar with end goals in mind. Without a clear strategy, businesses could create the best content on the Web but receive little to no engagement.

2. Not integrating with other digital assets.

Social media works best when you integrate it with other digital marketing efforts. One mistake many businesses make is to leave their social media accounts on islands. Not only should you link the accounts together, but tie them directly to websites, emails and paid search advertising campaigns.

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For Facebook, Measuring Across Devices And Apps Is A Huge Focus

AdExchanger

Facebook is increasingly focused on connecting audiences across screens and channels, and helping clients measure those results.

Graham Mudd, the company’s director of advertising measurement for North America, described aspects of the company’s approach to AdExchanger at the IAB’s Mobile Marketplace conference.

“We believe the future of marketing is being able to find specific consumers based on what the publisher, advertiser or intermediary knows about the consumers,” Mudd said. “And [to do that] we need to move beyond panels and cookies to census-based measurements.”

Instead of relying on consumer panels, which Mudd said fail to provide the necessary scale to measure diverse audiences across channels, Facebook is focusing on a combination of CRM data and third-party data from companies like Datalogix, Acxiom and Epsilon to help clients enhance their measurement capabilities.

Mudd also confirmed that the new “people-based measurement capability” that Facebook ads product VP Brian Boland alluded to in an AdAge op-ed will include partnerships with other data providers, although he declined to name the providers.

Facebook uses Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings (OCR) and Datalogix to measure the effectiveness of ads on both Facebook and Instagram, even though the latter is positioned as a separate brand and service. The company does not however, target users with ads based on data collected from both Instagram and Facebook.

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