China's social media and Internet landscape
CIC has created a concise infographic that shows the leading Chinese web and social media platforms in each category alongside their western counterparts for 2012, from content-sharing services similar to Dropbox (which is blocked in China) to social aggregators and dating networks. Even though some don't exactly fall within a standalone category, such as Sina Weibo which has features that are similar to a social networking site other than its 140-characters micro-blogging function, this is still a great introduction to China's web scene.
Sina Weibo's real-name registration peculiarities
Even though Chinese micro-blogging service Sina Weibo's real-name verification deadline on March 16th has passed, it appears that many users who have not verified their real identities are still able to post through their unregistered accounts. We'll keep a lookout to see if and when the ban does come into effect. Read more about Tech In Asia's Charlie Custer's experience here.
Social media not a main driver of news
Even though Facebook and Twitter have well over a billion users between them, and host a constant stream of news and content through its users' posts, Pew Research Center's 2012 State Of The News Media report discovered that users are far more likely to go directly to a news website, search online or visit a news aggregator than specifically head onto Facebook or Twitter to search for news. Only 9% of respondents get news through Facebook or Twitter recommendations, as compared to 36% who head directly to news websites or applications, or the 32% who specifically type in a keyword search. Even though ample sharing of news occurs on Twitter and Facebook, these platforms have not become a replacement source through which people search for news explicitly.
Search vs. Social
This infographic by MDG Advertising pits search marketing against social media in terms of the results they bear for marketers. Search triumphs over social in terms of lead generation, where it drives 41% of lead generation as opposed to the 34.2% by social media in B2C, and 57.4% as opposed to 24.8% for the B2B sector. However, social media is a greater driver of brand awareness. Together though, they make a powerful combination. 50% of marketers say social media has impacted their search engine marketing, and 29% have merged parts of their social and search strategies. As demonstrated by Google's social search functionalities, search and social are becoming increasingly intertwined and marketers should leverage on both to better reach relevant audiences.
Facebook’s global takeover
eMarketer predicts that there will be 1.43 billion social network users in 2012, which amounts to a substantial share of the world’s entire population. 1 out of 5 people will use a social network this year and Facebook is a key reason for this. Facebook has rapidly expanded into India, Indonesia and Brazil who now join the US and Mexico in the top 5 Facebook countries:
In fact, if Brazil maintains its current growth it could easily jump from fourth to second place, as soon as next month, having already taken over Google’s Orkut which had been leading in Brazil since 2004.
Facebook is also doing well in Japan, where they now have 10 million monthly active users. This figure has doubled in the last 6 months.
Share Dropbox folders with Facebook friends
Dropbox has joined in the Facebook Open Graph party and now allows its users to connect to Facebook so that content can be shared amongst friends. Users no longer have to input the email addresses of intended recipients in order to share content. Sure makes life a little easier.
Facebook updates Timeline Page ‘beginnings’, adds recommendations and launches Mobile app stats
Facebook has added the option to describe the beginning of a page as ‘created’ or ‘launched’. The original options ‘founded’, ‘started’ and ‘opened’ are still available but these new variations make a lot of sense for the different types of entities that run pages on Facebook.
Facebook have also introduced a recommendations feature for place pages that have switched to the new Timeline format. These are displayed in a box beneath friend activity and include a prompt for people to write their own recommendations. These are only available to pages that are associated with locations so if a brand wants to enable this function page owners have to provide an exact address in their About sections.
Another development from Facebook is the launch of a new Mobile Referrals dashboard in App Insights which helps understand the traffic an app receives from Facebook mobile sources. This features data on total mobile app clicks and source, demographic and device breakdown amongst other insights.
Facebook Timeline Apps and Foursquare’s new Facebook look
In other Facebook news, 3,000 Timeline apps have spawned since Facebook launched the platform 3 months ago and last week Foursquare among others such as Nike and VEVO unveiled theirs. These new launches are likely to persuade more brands and startups that Timeline app development is worth their investment, meaning that soon there will be even more apps channelling user behaviour into Facebook’s content feeds and ad targeting engine. Pinterest is a key example of the success of Timeline apps as it has seen its Facebook userbase grow by 60% since it launched its Timeline app in January. The Onion definitely wins the award for the most amusing integration below:
Foursquare’s Timeline app has a new look for check-ins, badges and mayorships. This features check-in photos showing up full size, a summary of a user’s past month foursquare activity and if a person checks in a few times these will display as a story rather than separately. Neat!
Blogs are not dead. There are 6.7m bloggers, half aged 18-34
NM Incite have released research that shows that consumer interest in blogs continues to grow with over 181 million blogs at the end of 2011, up from 36 million just 5 years ago. Not surprisingly this mirrors a growth in bloggers – 6.7 million of them publishing through blogging websites such as Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr whilst another 12 million write blogs using their social networks. The question is, who are these bloggers? Well, half are aged 18-34 and the majority are women, over 2/3 of which are mums.
Social media ads ‘justifying hype’
ZenithOptimedia have boosted their forecast for 2012 global internet adspend by 4.5%, now predicting a spend of £2.2bn. The sudden rise of social is evident in a revision to its US forecasts, which had pegged social media spend for 2012 at $1.33bn (£851m) in December, but now predicts $3.42bn (£2.2bn), partly due to $1bn (£640m) of display spend being recategorised as social media spend, and partly due to the medium growing faster than previously thought. Jonathan Barnard, head of forecasting at ZenithOptimedia, said:
Social is justifying its hype now. A third of all display impressions in the US are social. Advertisers are learning to be less interruptive.
Why James Whittaker left Google…
James Whittaker, who worked on Google+ as a development director, has written a controversial blogpost describing why he left Google. He described his passion for Google when it used to be a technology company that empowered their employees to innovate whereas now he sees it as an advertising company with a corporate focus. He has an interesting take on Google+:
Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+. It was an ominous name invoking the feeling that Google alone wasn’t enough. Search had to be social. Android had to be social. YouTube, once joyous in their independence, had to be … well, you get the point.
Officially, Google declared that “sharing is broken on the web” and nothing but the full force of our collective minds around Google+ could fix it. You have to admire a company willing to sacrifice sacred cows and rally its talent behind a threat to its business. Had Google been right, the effort would have been heroic and clearly many of us wanted to be part of that outcome.
As it turned out, sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn’t part of it. People were sharing all around us and seemed quite happy. A user exodus from Facebook never materialized. I couldn’t even get my own teenage daughter to look at Google+ twice, “social isn’t a product,” she told me after I gave her a demo, “social is people and the people are on Facebook.” Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room.
According to Whittaker Google+ deserves a -1, what do you think?
Versus – Google+ Hangouts Debates
Google have raised the profile of Google+ Hangouts by introducing live debates under the banner of Versus: The Google+ Debate Series. The first one happened last week and featured Richard Branson, Russell Brand, Elliot Spitzer and Johann Hari talking about drugs.
The expert’s view on Twitter’s acquisition of Posterous
Twitter recently announced the acquisition of blogging platform Posterous. The exact details of the deal have been kept secret but Econsultancy have brought together various expert views to discuss the motivations behind the takeover and what it means for both Twitter and Posterous including those of our very own Mr Jordan Stone.
Pinterest is now a top 30 US website
As we all know, Pinterest has been the subject of much attention recently and this is set to continue with the news from Experian Hitwise that it is continuing to rapidly grow. After cracking the top 60 list of US websites six weeks ago they have now entered the top 30. The site received more than 103 million visits in the US this February, which was up 36% on January. With revelations the company is working on an iPad app, growth seems unlikely to slow soon.
Volvo Cars has just signed an agreement with NBA New York Knicks star Jeremy Lin, who will likely be the focus of an ad campaign for the brand's increasingly important Chinese auto market. Volvo hopes to double its global sales to 800,000 by 2020 after having sold about 47,000 cars in China last year. This move seems to be aligned to Volvo's social media strategy, especially since Jeremy Lin blogs in both Mandarin and English, and has a Twitter following of more than 664,000. Earlier in Septe mber 2011, Volvo's VP-Global Marketing Richard Monturo pronounced that the company is focusing on social media and digital.
"We think the primary device in auto marketing is the Internet. We have teams focusing on how we can upgrade the user experiences in all our social presences. We're using the 'designed around you' idea but trans-creating around the world."
Let's see if the Linsanity phenomenon can help shift its car sales in China.
American Express gets customers tweeting for dollars
The Tweet and Save program recently launched by AmEx got customers saving $1.3 million dollars in nine days, on products such as burgers and iPads. It works by customers syncing their AmEx cards to their Twitter accounts, Tweeting using hashtags such as #AmExZappos the coupons are then loaded directly to their credit cards and can be redeemed at point of purchase. A win-win for both Twitter, AmEx and its partners.
Zappos TweetWall shows products as they trend on Twitter
Taking more than a little influence from Pinterest, Zappos’ new TweetWall displays a page of products in real-time as they are being talked about on Twitter. This allows shoppers to see what’s trending as well as discovering fun talking point products.
McDonalds #shamrocking has greater success than #McDStories
Following the #McDStories debacle where McDonalds’ own hashtag was hijacked by disgruntled customers, the company are back and seem to have learned a valuable lesson by creating a somewhat more successful meme. Taking its inspiration from Planking and Tebowing, customers share pictures of themselves doing a jig whilst holding a shamrock milkshake. See example below…
‘Dethroned’ app allows you to behead your Facebook friends
In order to promote the premiere of HBO’s returning series, Game of Thrones, they’ve unveiled a new Facebook app that allows fans of the series to battle against each other in a loyalty contest which is judged by the players’ mutual friends. Once the winner is decided, a video plays showing the winner vividly beheading the loser and holding up the head of this now-vanquished foe… gory, but we say let the games begin!
PG tips is ‘most engaged with UK brand’ on Facebook
PG tips has been crowned the most engaged with UK brand on Facebook. The page themed around Johnny Vegas and brand character Monkey got nearly 2 out of 10 of its fans actively liking, commenting and responding in one 7 day period. The most popular post being on Valentine’s Day… ‘Like this post for a Valentines surprise,’ the suprise being an e-Valentines card from Monkey. Other top rated brand pages for February were Jaguar and Bang & Olufsen.
Twitter agrees to help Locog prevent ambush marketing during Olympics
Non-sponsors of the Olympics will be prevented from buying Twitter ads based on Olympic game related hashtags such as #London2012.
Domino’s increases social media effort
Domino’s UK has created as a TV advert that will only be shown on Facebook to its fans in order to promote a free cookie offer for fans who spend £10 on pizzas.
In the meantime, Domino’s Australia are letting their Facebook fans decide what the next Domino’s pizza will be: from toppings to dough, the fans can decide what the “social” pizza will taste like. How the pizza will turn out is anyone’s guess, but it appears Domino’s may have another social hit on its hands. Who knew pizza could be so shareable…
Peugeot Panama launches Pinterest puzzle
As we all know, Pinterest has been hogging the marketing headlines for the last few weeks, so it hasn’t been a surprise to see an increase in the number of brand competitions running on the platform. Peugeot Panama is one of them. They’ve been asking fans to find the missing puzzle parts of their models across the Peugeot Panama Pinterest account, their Facebook page and also their website… However, the tale does not have a happy ending as unfortunately, the Pinterest layout was slightly updated during the activity, rendering the competition obsolete.
Topman relaunches its lifestyle website to be more social
The new Topman CTRL website will host curated content by Radio One’s Huw Stephens who will be using Facebook, Mixcloud, YouTube and Instagram to feed music and lifestyle content directly through to the site. Visitors will also be able to submit their own content to the website. This could be the perfect delivery method to promote CTRL as a lifestyle site rather than something more corporate and could prove to be an excellent way to extend the brand online.
Jimmy Carr supports Starbucks’ Free Latte day on Twitter
To promote their brand new double shot latte, Starbucks invited customers for a free latte last week. The in-store promotion was supported by a selection of celebrities on Twitter such as Jimmy Carr who posted several tweets to express his enthusiasm about the latest addition to the Starbucks range. Although we wouldn’t dare doubting Jimmy Carr’s passion for a latte, it does seem that he should have added #thisisanadvertforstarbucks on the end…
How a TV hashtag has been sparking conversation: Channel 4 and Dispatches
When Channel 4 aired an episode of Dispatches about tickets resellers last week, it flashed the #ticketscandal hashtag on the screen throughout the show. Reactions about the underhand practices showed in the documentary were fairly heated online and it spawned several Twitter trending topics that night (including the name of the show but also the name of one of the incriminated resellers). Twitter figures show that there were a total of 11,870 using the hashtag in the course of 24 hours. It would be interesting to see how the rating figures were affected by the online conversations that night before we can deem this a complete social TV success.
Blogger relations done right
We were pleased to see our campaign for Orange’s ON Voicefeed featured by Econsultancy in their 9 examples of great blogger relations. They gave a great review of the “digital only” launch of ON Voicefeed in Spain which included a beta-testing phase with key tech Spanish influencers. Win!