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Simon Beardow - Deputy Director, British Council, Vietnam

Saturday, 24 September 2011

On The Shelf

How effective is the links that you have shared? Looking for a longer 'shelf life' for your content?  It might pay to use video as it has been reinforced yet again, that the internet has a very short attention span.

YouTube has a half-life of around 7 hours as viewers need to concentrate more than reading simple text.

The news is worse, according to Bit.ly,  for links posted on  direct web pages and social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter . If you haven't captured their click-throughs when three hours have passed then your chances of doing so get a lot slimmer.  Click rates drop by half after this period of time

Breaking news that generates wide interest has an even steeper drop-off rate. The first five minutes of release results in half of the click-throughs these items will ever receive.

Distribution of half-lifes over four different referrer types. Facebook, twitter and direct link (links shared via email, instant messengers etc.) half lifes follow a strikingly similar distribution
Bity looked at the half life of 1,000 popular bitly links and the results were surprisingly similar.

"The mean half life of a link on Twitter is 2.8 hours, on Facebook it’s 3.2 hours and via ‘direct’ sources (like email or IM clients) it’s 3.4 hours. So you can expect, on average, an extra 24 minutes of attention if you post on Facebook than if you post on Twitter."

Their key finding is "that the lifespan of your link is connected more to what content it points to than on where you post it: on the social web it’s all about what you share, not where you share it!"

Twitter would appear to be the better channel if you want people to view your content quickly.

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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Facebook Is The New Internet, Or Is It?

For many people online in 2011 Facebook is the internet and viceversa. This as I've written previously can be problematic, as it is a closed social media platform at variance with the open philosophy of the the Net itself.

But businesses are pragmatic, they have to be, and so more and more of them are building Facebook pages in the belief that a 'like' will turn into purchase intent.

Market Sentinel puts the dampener on this belief.  They found that:

  • Facebook Ads don't work for brands with small click through rates of 0.011-0.165%
  • Facebook Fan Pages don't work for brands with the number of “core fans” (fans who have commented more than average for the Page) being far lower than the actual fan count. For example while Lady Gaga has 39 million plus fans, only 1,231 could be counted as "core fans".
    The core fan count is calculated by the average number of posts-per-contributing fan.
    Because of the way Facebook works a fan needs to actively participate in a brand’s Facebook Page their activity needs to be continuous, otherwise status updates for the brand will cease appearing in the fan’s Facebook stream.
  • While Facebook apps should work for brands they often don't as brands are reliant upon people installing them, being prepared to share data with the brand and companies often don't provide a lead-in opportunity to purchase through the app.
Before you ditch your Facebook Business Page and revert back to paper and pencil, the above findings need to be balanced by the fact that many businesses do indeed find their Facebook Page a more than useful platform for building brand awareness and offering incentives.

A business needs to clearly define its Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) for the use of Facebook and other social media to truly determine its Return On Investment (ROI).

Fans are also a fickle bunch as this chart proves. DDB Paris and OpinionWay surveyed 1,528 Facebook users and found that 630 of them clicked the unlike link on a page; that's two out of every five.

Source: DDB

Meanwhile Facebook itself is working upon improving granularity to its “Like” concept. New buttons called “Listened,” “Read,” and “Watched" are about to be added and social commerce buttons such as “Want” will follow soon after the roll-out of the aforementioned new buttons.

And clearly unfazed by the recent debacle of MySpace, Rupert Murdoch's recent acquisition, the Wall Street Journal has just launched an app of its own.

So now within Facebook itself you can read, comment and share WSJ.com content with other Facebook users.

And you can choose which editorial content interests you most by adding or deleting the Top Editors from your preferences list. Within the app, a user has the ability to subscribe to different content, curated both by other users and by the WSJ itself.

As  Maya Baratz puts it in an interview with Niemanlab:

"You can’t rely on users coming to you anymore. WSJ is navigating the content within the app around people, making every user an editor. WSJ Social is about elevating the role of people as curators of content. When you walk into the app, you have this very curated publication"

The official press release goes further quoting Alisa Bowen, the WSJ's Digital Network general manager:

"We’re breaking the mold of using Facebook simply to drive traffic to our websites and are now creating an opportunity to engage with the Journal directly on the Facebook platform. WSJ Social creates a more integrated experience for users and innovative opportunities for advertisers." 

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Influencing South East Asian Consumers and Small Business Survival

According to a recent Nielsen report, South East Asian's respond well to advertising delivered on social media and mobile phones.

73% of these South East Asian consumers said they were “highly” or “somewhat” influenced by web site advertisements on social media.  This is 13% higher than  the global average (60%).

They also respond well to advertisements that acknowledge their previous purchase habits or third party site visits.  Living as they do, a full and active digital life, means that they think such personalised advertising techniques makes their lives easier.  74% found this to be so with the global average of similar sentiment being 58%.

Vietnam consumers were by far the most receptive to such personalised inducements.

Nearly 70% of SE Asian consumers have “liked” or followed a brand or company on social media which proves how vital it is for companies to develop a robust social media presence if they hope to succeed in this part of the world.

Consumer comment and sentiment posted online proved to be one of the most trusted forms of engagement and communication amongst those surveyed by Nielsen. 54% of respondents claim to completely or somewhat trust consumer opinions posted online.

All of which goes to prove that if you don't build your own online reputation others will do it for you.  The need to monitor the 'Buzz' and respond to it is vital for any business and this in turn requires understanding from management and resourcing to manage the process. This includes having the right person in charge of social media strategy and development.

And it is not just large scale enterprises that waking up to this realisation. Small Businesses are also growing through the use of social media although a significant percentage still do not see it as important, with just 12% of US respondents in a July survey seeing it as 'a must'.


It also need to be said that in the same eMarketer report, 50% of small business respondents saw word of mouth as essential to business. Either they have not realised that 'word of mouth' in the 21st century is largely a social media exercise or they do not have the time and resources to use social media to its fullest extent.


Patrick J. Chambers, organizer of the Small Business Survival Summit however sees social media as critical to business survival.

"For most small businesses, word of mouth is the predominant way of getting leads and finding new business.Social media is an extension of the word of mouth platform. Social media education with practical application is the missing piece today - small businesses need to be comfortable with social media in the same way that they may have evolved from being a wallflower at a Chamber event to someone who is actively seeking to introduce themselves and engage with prospects."
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