Five Friday Facts #33


Sina Weibo begins charging premium users
Yesterday, Sina Weibo launched its paid premium service for users who would like extra features such as a more personalised page, voice posts, increased security and other enhanced mobile features. The membership fee provides for 15 of such services in all. After implementing social gaming and virtual currency, Sina reported losses of US$13.7 million or S$17.50 million in the first quarter of 2012 due to high costs in maintaining  and running the microblogging platform. To monetise the 300 million strong Chinese user community, Sina has previously tried offering paid services for a better SMS tweeting support. However, this time it is going all out with a monthly flat fee of 10RMB or S$2.00 and a discounted annual fee of 108RMB or S$21.70 for premium services. These superior features are available on the page when signed in. A VIP weibo user will have a golden crown icon on their profile page next to their name, showing their network of connections that they have opted for premium services. This is an unusual method of monetising for the western social networking sites like Facebook or Google+ where the primary sources of income is derived from advertising. However, with the Chinese market this might well prove to be profitable.

Facebook on phones without a mobile data plan
Fonetwish is a mobile solution developed by a Singapore-based company called U2opia Mobile that allows users to access Facebook without a mobile data plan. In countries like Indonesia and India where feature phones still largely dominate the market, this solution was very much welcomed. To access the social networking site, users can dial *325# from their handset, and will then be shown a menu on their screen to enter their username and password, and taken to the homepage as shown below. Unlike Facebook, Fonetwish allows for a maximum of 140 characters for status updates similar to an SMS. With the support of the largest mobile carriers in each region, Fonetwish gained immense popularity in India, Indonesia and Africa, with over 300 million users globally. U2opia announced this week that it now handles a whopping 1 billion user interactions per month. Empowering the masses in emerging mobile markets to use social networking sites is undoubtedly well received.

Are social ads paying off?
Facebook introduced Sponsored Stories early last year as a paid marketing mechanism that will show brand pages or posts that your friends have Liked on your Newsfeed.  After Facebook’s quiet IPO period, it decided to churn out some statistics on the success brands have seen using these social ads. This comes as a response to counter the apprehension around whether Facebook ads really work. Facebook revealed that video game giant Electronic Arts(EA) built a fan base of 1.5 million before the launch of its new product Battlefield 3 in October last year. An estimated $2.75 million or S$3.51 million was spent on Sponsored Stories where the ads highlighted people’s Likes and comments on EA’s posts to their Facebook friends on the their Newsfeed. In EA’s case, the links from the ads led directly to the online ordering website resulting in an additional $12.1 million or S$15.47 million in game sales, which is US$4.38 or S$5.60 generated in additional revenue for every dollar spent on Facebook advertising. Likewise, American Floral delivery service 1-800-Flowers saw a 300% jump in transactions from 4,000 to 12,000 through both Sponsored Stores and non-paid Facebook activities. Also, ads that performed best logged 10 times more clicks and other engagement than standard display ads.

Facebook mobile ads are doing better than desktop ads
Multiple studies reveal that Facebook’s mobile ads are doing significantly better than the desktop ads as the 900 million strong Facebook user base shifts more of its time on mobile devices than accessing the social networking site on desktop. Earlier this month, Facebook allowed advertisers to purchase Sponsored Stories that are specific to mobile devicesSocialCode, a Facebook Ads API partner revealed that ads that appear in mobile Newsfeeds get more clicks and Likes as opposed to those in the desktop Newsfeed. The findings were culled from 7 million impressions over 10 days after the launch of Facebook’s mobile-only Sponsored Stories. Out of the 7 million impressions, 242,000 were shown on mobile devices. The number of Likes per thousand impressions on mobile averaged at 0.62% compared to 0.219% on desktop. The click-through rates averaged at 0.79% from mobile feeds and 0.327% for desktop feeds. In terms of revenue, for every thousand impressions, this generated $7.51 or S$9.60 for mobile ads and $2.98 or S$3.81 for desktop ads. Revenue on mobile ads already proves to be 2.5 times more than that of the desktop in the first month of its launch.

A new industry standard, Socially Devoted
SocialBakers introduced a new industry standard for social media marketing and influence by launching the website, Socially Devoted. According to Jan Rezab, CEO and founder of SocialBakers, organisations at large are not handling customer care well on social media; 70% of fan queries on social media do not get answered. Rezab acknowledges the enthusiasm businesses show around the social web but points out that the needed engagement is not given, as “the average response time at the moment is 28 hours while most fans expect a reply within 5 to 10 minutes.” SocialBakers also reported that the most socially devoted brands respond in 4 minutes. Upon the launch of its website ‘Socially Devoted’, SocialBakers has revealed the most fan devoted industries to illustrate the benchmark in customer care:

Check out the breakdown of these statistics here.