Fortune 500 companies embrace social media
The American magazine Fortune, has long compiled its Fortune 500 list, which details the top 500 PLCs by gross revenue. SMI reported this week that 22% of companies in the list now have an active company blog (a 6% increase from 2008). Of these companies, 31% now use their blogs for video posts – a 10% increase from 2008 to 2009. With no data out yet for 2010, a further increase in top companies blogging looks likely.
That said, the number of Fortune 500 companies blogging compares unfavourably with Inc. 500 companies – the list of the fastest growing companies in America. There, 45% maintain an active company blog, suggesting that social is the way forward.
Marketers use social for SEO
A study from search marketing software provider SEOmoz has revealed that one of the main reasons companies blog is for SEO. 71% of respondents to the survey said they use social media as part of their SEO strategy, with Twitter an easy way to drive inbound links. 20% of those who responded said that improving visibility was their main reason for embracing social media. It’s interesting to see just how important social media has become to SEO - in fact you could argue that once you've taken care of the hygiene factors, SEO is purely about social media these days.
Facebook’s astounding growth
15 months ago, Facebook was in a battle with Twitter as to whose ‘live search’ feature would work better. While it would be disingenuous to say that Twitter’s had a bad year (30% year-on-year growth in the US) it doesn’t quite compare with Facebook’s 55% year-on-year growth. Facebook has had such a good year that according to Hitwise, it now accounts for one in four page views in America. That, truly is amazing.
Facebook Credits on sale in the UK
From this week, gift-cards for Facebook Credits – its virtual currency – will be on sale in UK high street shops including Tesco and Game. Facebook Credits can be used to buy virtual objects within games and can also be earned through some applications (in a manner similar to air miles). Deborah Liu, manager of product marketing for Facebook Credits was quoted as saying that
using major retailers such as Game, Tesco and others in the future is also intended to give small developers who sign up to use Credits a wider reach into a new source of income.
This seems a good idea and ties in with the general perception of Credits – that they give a trusted and convenient way to buy premium features within apps.
MySpace introduces Mashup with Facebook
The re-launch of MySpace is gathering pace with its launch last week in the UK and now MySpace revealing its new feature: Mashup with Facebook. As the video above shows, simply by using Facebook Connect, MySpace can import a user’s likes and create a stream around it. As the new MySpace is all about being an entertainment destination, this seems a really cool new feature – it means that MySpace will know what a user already likes and therefore, can recommend new content and introduce users to things they might not know about. It also means MySpace is living up to its word about it being an entirely different product from before.
Twitter launch official analytics product
According to Mashable, Twitter has started inviting users to test a new real-time analytics product. This comes as no surprise since a Twitter exec said earlier in the year that we should expect a Twitter Analytics product by the end of the year; but what will be an unwelcome surprise to the third-party clients which already offer analytics, is that Twitter plan to offer this service for free. As the screenshot below shows, Twitter will be offering extensive analytics, and it’s hard to see how these businesses can survive.
Foursquare launches partner badge program
As part of changing the way it displays badges, Foursquare now differentiates between Foursquare badges and partner badges. Partner badges come from other organisations and have a distinct shield shape to highlight that they’re not from Foursquare. For the first time, they're encouraging organisations to take part in its partner program by applying online. Early partner badges have come from the American Red Cross and MoMA, among others.
Foursquare’s response to Facebook Places
On Thursday Foursquare launched a pilot programme together with Safeway and PepsiCo which may well be an indicator of the direction the company is headed in.
The new idea is to tie existing loyalty accounts with Safeway into Foursquare. It’s designed that it can move bigger and could even incorporate Walmart. But crucially, it’s designed to be a far longer-lasting rewards programme than what Facebook Places had to offer – there were 10,000 pairs of Gap jeans to give away but then they were gone. As Austin Carr from Fast Company explains:
Now, when participating customers earn Foursquare's "Gym Rat" badge, they might be offered a SoBe Lifewater; or, if you often check in bright and early, Foursquare will recognize you're a morning person, and may offer Tropicana orange juice or Quaker Oats--all specials on PepsiCo products, redeemable at Safeway stores.
Foursquare only has 4 million users compared to Facebook’s 500 million; but this seems a far less ephemeral way of handing out rewards, and indeed, may well help grow their user base.
Coca-Cola team up with SCVNGR, Disney with Gowalla
Coca-Cola have shown that they believe the location based world is bigger than just Facebook and Foursquare by teaming up with SCVNGR, the location based gaming app. This follows from Ben and Jerry’s working with Stickybits, and suggests that the big companies aren’t just going straight to the market leaders. Coke are using SCVNGR by asking users to complete tasks in the real world in return for prizes ranging from bottle openers to gift cards. The campaign is currently only for 10 malls in America, but if successful it may well be rolled out further. Disney have also launched a new location-based campaign for their theme parks. They’ve teamed up with Gowalla to create virtual passport stamps to collect while going round the theme park. This is sure to be popular with kids!
Onitsuka Tiger’s Facebook Places campaign
Onitsuka Tiger ran a pretty cool campaign to tie in with the Sydney Bicycle Film Festival. As the video shows, all people had to do was check in with Facebook Places at three of the locations and then post on the wall of the Facebook page, to be in with a chance to win. The campaign was the first of it’s kind in Australia so it’s success is really impressive: over 50% of attendees at the first event checked in, giving Onitsuka Tiger huge exposure.
Facebook as a real book
Bouygues Telecom wanted an idea to launch their Facebook platform with, and came up with the very cool idea of creating a real book…
Brands invest in online co-creation
This week Tim Burton launched a collaboration with MOMA in New York to tell a story on Twitter – by making use of user-generated content. This seems very similar to the work we did at Halloween, where we used the Tesco Twitter account to tell a great ghost story. There’s an interesting wider point about this though which is discussed in this week’s NMA. It highlights how New Look launched MyLook to give customers a say in business decisions, and how it’s looking to take this forward with a loyalty scheme. But Jim Coleman, our very own client services director, makes a very salient point in the article:
There are those low-engagement brands where using social media to divulge opinion and insight is just not going to work, or at least it may not provide enough of a trend to gain real insight; and then there are those that are high-engagement, such as Marmite, Tesco and Dell, who’s brand ubiquity generates enough conversation to make it useful for the brand.
What this hits on is the crucial point: online co-creation doesn’t work without an existing audience.
Question Time as big as The X Factor
David Dimbleby made an interesting aside during last week’s Question Time when he pointed out that the Question Time hashtag - #bbcqt – is now bigger than The X Factor on Twitter. The Guardian ran an interesting article on how it’s helped the programme develop, but it also alludes to a general point about how TV is now consumed: research from Cisco suggests that 47% of 16-to-24 year olds regularly engage in ‘social TV’ – writing about a programme on the internet while watching it – and whilst this percentage falls among older demographics, it explains why TV programmes like Question Time are so popular on Twitter.
The newest Youtube sensation
Natalie Tran has almost 800,000 subscribers to her Youtube channel which is the 22nd most popular of all time. It’s fair to say that she’s a Youtube sensation. Her two minute long videos are basically ‘skits’ where she plays all the parts. In a surreal way, they’re funny, and they’re clearly incredibly popular. But, the good news is, in spite of all this popularity, she has no ambitions to be the next Justin Bieber. Phew.