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Does it matter that some New York Times editors and writers don’t tweet? Yes and no

Gigaom

BuzzFeed recently ran a post on what it called the New York Times‘ “Twitter graveyard,” which turned out to be a list of accounts set up by the newspaper’s editorial staff that are either dormant or unused, including some that still have the default egg avatar given to Twitter newbies. But does that mean some staffers just haven’t taken to a particular platform, or does it mean the paper’s writers and editors aren’t doing enough to engage with readers?

That was the underlying question behind a discussion I had with a number of senior NYT staffers on Monday — including the paper’s deputy digital editor and co-author of the recent internal “innovation report” — after one (a senior member of the paper’s development team, Jacob Harris) referred to the BuzzFeed piece somewhat dismissively, implying that using Twitter accounts as a proxy for whether journalists are doing their jobs is neither fair nor particularly enlightening (I’ve also created a Storify collection of some of the relevant tweets).

I tried to argue that focusing solely on whether someone is on Twitter is trivial, and may even be unfair, but the larger point being made by BuzzFeed and others is that the Times may be lacking in the area of social engagement with readers. And this is important because it could literally be the key to survival for media companies and journalists alike, as social starts to replace search.

Engaging means more than just listening

A number of Times staffers, including deputy international editor Lydia Polgreen, made the point that there are plenty of reporters and editors who use Twitter regularly and are open to engaging with readers, a group that includes media writerDavid Carr, Polgreen herself, science writer John Schwartz, columnist Nick Kristofand others. As she pointed out, readers have far more engagement potential with NYT writers than they have ever had.

Foreign correspondent Damien Cave and others echoed a common refrain, which is that just because a New York Times reporter or editor doesn’t tweet a lot doesn’t mean that they aren’t listening to readers and following conversations about stories — a point that deputy digital editor Amy O’Leary also made. Others noted that there are lots of different ways to respond to readers and engage with them, including Facebook, email and in person.

As I tried to argue, however, listening is only part of the equation when it comes to engagement, and it’s likely the easiest part. The hard part is having to respond when someone criticizes your piece or points out an error — but that is also when engaging is at its most powerful, and it can ultimately result in better journalism.

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How Did Promoted Tweets Do During H1 2014?

eMarketer

Promoted Tweets have been around for a while, and according to recent research, they’re the Twitter ad format of choice among marketers.

176240 How Did Promoted Tweets Do During H1 2014?

According to a June 2014 study by RBC and Advertising Age, nearly 80% of US marketers were using Promoted Tweets, up from 44% in 2013. Meanwhile, just 32% were using second-place Promoted Accounts.

How are Promoted Tweets performing? Looking at Twitter campaign activity run on its own platform, AdParlor found that for Promoted Tweets in North America, CPM, cost per click (CPC), and cost per engagement (CPE)—which includes clicks, follows, replies and retweets—had risen between January and June 2014.

During that timeframe, average CPM increased from $10.26 to $11.59. However, this metric fluctuated every month, moving up and down several times between January and June 2014, when it showed its second-highest level.

177403 How Did Promoted Tweets Do During H1 2014?

Meanwhile, CPC rates rose throughout the first half of the year (with the exception of May, when they dipped by 1 cent) and hit an average 29 cents in June 2014. Further, CPC averaged 25 cents in Q2 2014, compared with 11 cents in Q1 2014.

CPE also followed the trend, rising from 10 cents, on average, to 28 cents between January and June 2014. AdParlor noted that this made sense, since nearly all engagement with Promoted Tweets in North America was via clicks (95.8%).

Facebook is best for small businesses

Warc

Facebook is by far the most effective social media platform for driving offline sales for small businesses, according to a new report.

Digital marketing company G/O Digital surveyed 1,000 US users aged 18 to 29 for a study on Facebook advertising and found that 84% of respondents said local deals or offers on that site were a major influence on their purchasing decisions. Further, 25% said “it’s very important and I would be likely to make an in-store purchase within a week”.

Facebook offers that could be redeemed at a local store were by far the most persuasive marketing tactic. Some 40% cited this as being most likely to influence them to make an in-store purchase at a local or small business.

Promoted Posts were effective for 12% and photos/videos for 11%, while loyalty app promotions gained a 10% response.

Facebook was also way out in front when respondents were asked which social media channel they found most useful for researching products or services before visiting a local business. Fully 62% opted for Facebook, with Pinterest (12%), Twitter (11%) and Instagram (9%) trailing in its wake.

“The most bang-for-your-buck way for many small businesses to drive in-store activity and sales through social marketing in the short term is going to be Facebook,” Jeff Fagel, G/O Digital CMO, told ClickZ.

“Pinterest and Twitter should definitely have a place in their larger social marketing strategy, but will serve different purposes and support different objectives,” he added.

Amid the ongoing debate about privacy, and recent revelations surrounding Facebook’s manipulation of news feeds, G/O Digital’s research suggested that local relevance and personalisation might be more important for users.

It found that just over one third (36%) of respondents felt that “ads that are targeted based on your personal interests and past purchases” were most likely to influence them to interact with Facebook ads from small businesses. More than one quarter considered “ads that are targeted based on current location” to be most influential.

“It’s all about relevancy,” Fagel declared. “For example, if you offer me $2 off a hot dog at a baseball game, I won’t mind having my mobile viewing experience interrupted by this ad, because it’s solving an immediate, relevant need that I have: feeding my hunger and giving me a discount at the same time.”

Twitter touts ‘objective-based campaigns’ to advertisers

MarketingWeek

The social network is introducing the model through four ad formats that brands will pay for if a user takes the desired action as a result.

This means brands can choose to pay based on tweet engagements, web site clicks and app installs, as well as gaining followers. For example, app installs or app engagement campaigns will only be charged on a cost-per-app-click basis. Targeting options are also provided to ensure tweets reach users at the right moment, the company added.

Twitter will suggest the appropriate ad format to advertisers using the self-serve tool.

The company said the launch aims to encourage brands to think harder about campaign objectives in order to lift performance to “the next level”.

“Let’s say you’re a camera retailer, and you want to drive more visitors to the summer promotion on your web site. You can create a website clicks or conversions campaign and then promote a tweet with a website link or website card our recommended ad format that is specifically designed to drive website traffic,” the company said in a video (see above).

Twitter said the tool delivered positive results during initial tests earlier this year and is currently offering the service to small and medium-sized companies ahead of a wider invitation-only rollout. The business has said in the past the majority of self-service buying on the network comes from smaller companies.

The launch aims to refresh the company’s pricing model, which previously only let ad buyers pay for Promoted Tweets when they were clicked, replied, retweeted or favourited. It is the latest in a pipeline of products from Twitter as it looks to lift ad revenues and address criticisms from some observers that user engagement and growth is stalling.

An upcoming tool will make it easier to create ads on the platform, allowing brands to crop images and more easily customise photos. Earlier this week, it launched its “Flock to Unlock” tool via a tie-up around Puma’s “Forever Faster” global campaign.

Twitter says it sees the “hundreds of millions” of visitors logged-out of its platform as the next key revenue generator for its nascent advertising offering and is exploring ways to monetise the audience.

Social media marketing must move beyond buzz baiting

MarketingWeek

European brands are spurning chances to convince and convert social media fans into long-term leads by concentrating on attention-grabbing campaigns instead of functional content created to serve a specific purpose.

Marketers know the likes of Facebok and Twitter are key to online success but all too often talk about “likes” and “retweets” as indicators of success. Granted, buzz is important when tussling with competitors for share of voice. Nevertheless, with all the data and tools at a marketers disposal surely the need for more long-term objectives is far bigger.

It has not gone unnoticed by Twitter. The social network is letting advertisers from today (8 August) create content focused on specific marketing goals or what it dubs “objective-based campaigns”. It is part of a wider masterplan to get marketers to think harder about campaign objectives with the business realising its cost-per-engagement will only go so far before brands shift social media strategies to be more business focused such as driving web site visits or app downloads.

The dearth of maturity when it comes to social media marketing is highlighted by Forrester in a recent report on social media (mis)use. Social media is a “tick box” activity that focuses on attention-getting campaigns across Europe, it found, as many Europeans show lower interaction and trust levels to social marketing than any other region. The report goes on to draw parallels to search natural search engine results, which a third (33 per cent) of Europeans’ trust in comparison to 45 per cent of US consumers.

It points to the lack of advancement in standard operating procedures for social media marketing across Europe. If a campaign fails, there is a tendency to blame social media not working in that market. In fact, the discipline works just fine in European markets; strategies are just off.

However, there are brands making structural changes to enhance their ability to produce content based on consumer preferences. Pernod Ricard, Adidas and Mondelez have all restructured to give more local spin to their marketing, which could bring about social efforts that better reflect the intricacies of a market’s social media usage.

Like, many marketers, all three are working to find the right balance between global and local, particularly when it comes to digital activations. Key to this charge is community management, one of the most underrated marketing roles and tools. By understanding local nuances and what makes your local fans tick, marketers can augment their investments to secure long-term value though stronger advocacy and ultimately sales.

The need for better social infrastructure investment is pivotal as social spend is tipped to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 17.6 per cent from 2012 to 2017, according to Forrester. With more people using social networks to explore brands, brands need to be more surgical in their efforts to tie activities to users’ preferences and usage of Facebook and Twitter.

Big Brands Are Driving Facebook and Twitter’s Mobile Ad Explosion

AdWeek

Twitter and Facebook are killing it with mobile ad sales right now chiefly because they are expanding their customer base from smaller direct-response and app-install players to big brands, according to industry observers. While Facebook is clearly out in front of Twitter in terms of getting packaged goods and carmaker spends (see graph below), increasing business with such deep-pocketed marketers will likely be key to each of their long-term futures.

“[Facebook is] getting these CPG companies—the Cokes and the Pepsis and the automotives —to look more seriously at their mobile advertising products,” said Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at Altimeter. “I think we are going to see a continuation of this for at least the next year or two.”

Twitter yesterday reported that it raked in $224 million in mobile ad sales during the second quarter, up from $180 million in Q1. The newest figure also represents a 36 percent jump compared to 2013’s fourth quarter, when the social media platform brought in $165 million. The San Francisco-based tech company will achieve more than $800 million in mobile ad revenue if it keeps the pace it has set in 2014 so far. Facebook’s Q2 mobile ad sales were 34 percent greater compared to Q4 2013, and it could draw a whopping $6 billion from the marketing category with a strong finish to the rest of the year.

facebook twitter mobile ad revenue 01 2014 Big Brands Are Driving Facebook and Twitters Mobile Ad Explosionenlarge button Big Brands Are Driving Facebook and Twitters Mobile Ad Explosion

“It is difficult to reach consumers on their mobile devices, and the Twitter and Facebook feeds represent two of the better opportunities for advertisers to do that,” said Jim Anderson, CEO of tech firm SocialFlow. “Put another way: Attention follows eyeballs, and money follows attention.”

And so, they follow brands such asHeinekenTideCharmin and McDonald’s, which have invested in paid ads on the social-mobile platforms. (Neither Facebook nor Twitter categorically break out, as one example, their number of CPGs vs. e-tail advertisers.)

“Everything is moving mobile as our agency is seeing a huge lift in mobile ad spend and response rates when comparing our client data from the end of 2013 to Q2 2014,” said Dinesh Boaz, managing director and co-founder of Direct Agents. “Both Facebook and Twitter are positioned so well for the mobile paradigm shift that the surge in revenues comes as no surprise.”

Alex Taub, SocialRank’s CEO, added, “I believe Facebook and Twitter’s paid mobile advertising revenues will continue to surge.”

Well, they will for a while—but probably only as long as the data warrants the spend.

“They are going to have to answer to the results,” Lieb from Altimeter said. “And I know that Facebook is very assiduously working with its largest advertisers to help them craft really compelling mobile campaigns.”

Twitter sees logged-out audiences as its next ‘big opportunity’

Marketing Week

Speaking on the company’s second quarter earnings call, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said he sees a “big opportunity” in the size of its logged-out audience who visit after seeing tweets on network news or in the newspapers to search for specific content and profiles.

He added: “We feel like we provide limited content to those hundreds of millions of other users who are unique visitors to our properties and we see a big opportunity to serve them just as well as the other two audiences.

“You get a great signal for the kind of content they like to consume and we think those signals will provide the data that we need to deliver the right kinds of monetisation experiences to that audience.”

That could include serving ad units to visitors to profile pages, for example, although Costolo sought to make it “very clear” that Twitter’s focus in the short-term will be enhancing the experience for logged-in users.

Twitter has been criticised by observers and investors for stalling user and engagement growth in previous quarters, but focusing on a different pool of users could allay concerns about its long-term investment potential.

Its number of monthly active users increased by 16 million to 271 million in the three months to 30 June, up from an increase of 14 million users in the first quarter.

Timeline views – Twitter’s measure of user engagement – grew 15 per cent year on year to 173 billion and up 11 per cent on the previous quarter. Ad revenue per 1,000 timeline views grew 100 per cent year on year to to $1.60.

Overall, revenue grew 124 per cent year on year to $312m, with ad revenue up 129 per cent to $277m – the highest rate of year on year growth the company has experienced in six quarters. This acceleration, Costolo said, was driven by higher engagement which “translates into improved ROI for our marketers”. The majority (81 per cent) of ad revenue was generated from mobile devices.

The company reported a loss of $145m, up from a loss of $42m a year earlier, as it continued to make investments in its platform and acquisitions.

Mike Gupta, Twitter head of strategic investments and outgoing chief financial officer, says as the company looks to make improvements to the experience, making it easier for users to find the content they want, it expects timeline views to decrease among monthly active users.

Twitter is continuing with a collection of changes to drive more value to users immediately after they create an account. Costolo said he would not rule out changing the timeline to be curated by an algorithm – similar to the Facebook news feed – as Twitter looks to convert new users into active ones.

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.

If you can’t check in, is it really Foursquare?

IDG News Service

Foursquare unceremoniously dropped its “check in” feature this week.

Now, the service has been re-created as a third-rate Yelp instead of a first-rate Foursquare. Check-ins are now done via Swarm, a new app launched recently by Foursquare.

The trouble with this is that, for many of Foursquare’s most loyal and passionate users, checking in to locations is what Foursquare has always been about.

This kind of late-stage pivoting is something of an unhappy trend. I believe the cause of these strategic errors by companies is a combination of taking longtime and passionate users for granted while simultaneously coveting thy neighbor’s business model.

That’s a risky strategy. A company that goes that route could fail to succeed with the new model and also fail to hang on to its most passionate users. Then it could be acquired by Yahoo, never to be heard from again.

Twitter trouble

The poster child for this kind of error is Twitter.

People who love Twitter fell in love with it when it was a hyper-minimalist, quirky, secret-code-controlled text-centric microblog. It was minimalism that made Twitter great.

But Twitter got a bad case of Google andFacebook envy. The company redesigned its spare minimalism to look almost exactly like cluttered Facebook. The CEO of a company called Berg illustrated this perfectly by putting his Twitter and Facebook profiles side by side. The redesign is part of a larger direction for Twitter streams to move from text-based to picture-based. Twitter is joining Google+ and Facebook in the arms race that has broken out as people use images, rather than words, to compete for attention.

Twitter also embraced the card interface, which Google has rolled out to multiple properties, from Google+ to Android Wear.

Twitter has recently been testing a feature called “retweet with comment,” which gathers up the original tweet in a card and essentially attaches it to the retweet. This moves Twitter away from its core idea, which is forced brevity.

Of course, new features can fail their tests and may never be rolled out. But the nature of Twitter tests suggests that the company is making the dual mistakes of taking its core user base for granted and simultaneously flirting with the business models of competitors.

For example, Twitter tested a feature that causes a link to a movie trailer to automatically appear when a user types in a hashtag for that movie.

Twitter is even considering dropping both the @ symbol, for identifying and linking to specific user accounts, and the hashtag, for linking to specific kinds of content, according to some testing it has done.

Over time, Twitter is evolving from something that people loved to something that is just like other services and has has few differentiating features.

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