Friday, March 15, 2013 | Edited by Daniel Moores
||Tips and Tricks For You to Research the Social Web
Without a doubt, research is incredibly important in every industry. You not only want to research a specific topic in your field or a topic that interests you, but you want to research -- how to research.
It's research that powers Google and gives search engines such importance. In the world of online marketing, there is plenty of talk that discusses how to improve social media marketing or tips to complete a certain action regarding social media.
But it's always good to take a step back and determine where you're really finding this information.
How do you research social media and the social web?
Tips and Tricks to Research the Social Web
Researching the social phenomenon is all about understanding the resources available. It's no secret that social media is becoming more and more important for businesses. So as you can imagine, there are many different resources out there to help make your life easier. Unfortunately, there are so many resources available that things can get overwhelming.
It helps to break up some of these resources into sections. Below details different aspects of social web research and some of the most popular ways to make sure you’re taking advantage.
Forums and Q&A Tools
Learning more about social media for your business often involves finding forums and having places to ask questions. Ironically, using social media to learn about social media is a great trick:
LinkedIn groups and communities are often great ways to ask questions and get answers from those in the social media industry. (Or your industry, for that matter.) It’s also great because you can see exactly whom these answers are coming from.
Another great place to ask questions. I once asked a question about a service called BuzzStream, and I received several well thought out answers. One from the owner of the tool.
Here you can ask questions and usually get straightforward answers. You don’t always know if the answers are reliable because anyone can get involved. But it often works very well for basic inquiries that you need an answer to fast.
Trends and Search in Social Media
You want to know where to go to search for different things regarding social media on the social web and you want to know where you can go to really find trends:
This is one of my favorite resources when it comes to researching social media and the social web. It splits up different blogs and different categories to help let you know what's going on across the Web. It's easy to navigation and easy to understand.
Google Custom Search
This is an easy way to use Google. But customize it so that you're only seeing results from blogs or social networks that may have the answer.
This is another resource you can use to see what is being said across the social web. It's easy to use, so you don't have to sift through Google results. Instead, you can head right over and know that you're getting the most recent and up-to-date information. Not just an article that happens to have a lot of backlinks.
This is probably the best way to see what is trending in social media on the social web.
It's important to remain organized now that more and more social networks are beginning to emerge, all with different expertise. A few tools to use include:
There are many different social media dashboards such as TweetDeck, Hootsuite, etc. You can use these to keep your research organized, which should help you research successfully.
This is a great tool to help you keep all of the information you find from different RSS feeds organized.
This is one of the most popular research organization tools no matter what it is you're trying to research. It helps you take notes when you're on the go as well as when you're online. Here's a tutorial on how to use Evernote to help you keep your blog active by collecting and storing researched items. There's also an Evernote business app available.
Social Media Tips
Below are a few miscellaneous tips about researching the social web.
Many businesses sign up for subscriptions or RSS feeds of websites that might be of value. But this can get cluttered and turn into a situation where you don't read anything. Go through all of your subscriptions monthly and make sure you're only following relevant content.
Setting up Google Alerts is a great way to keep your research going even after you may have given up or found what you needed. It's an easy way to get an email every time your topic of interest is mentioned on the social web.
Waiting around for alerts and going through and researching is great. But it doesn't hurt to have an RSS feed setup to help do some of this collecting for you.
(Source: Amanda DiSilvestro, SmallBizTrends, 03/07/13)
||Brand Marketing Social Ad Spend Skyrockets
According to the Technorati Media 2013 Digital Influence Report, 60% of brand marketers predict an average increase of 40% in social spend for 2013.
Currently, the bulk of brands' overall digital spend goes to display advertising, search and video, with spending on social, including influencer outreach, making up only 10% of their total digital spend. Within their social budget, more than half goes to Facebook, followed by YouTube and Twitter, with the remaining 11% of their social spend going to blogs and influencers.
Though blogs and influencers don't get a large portion of brands' digital spend, they rank high with consumers for trust, popularity and influence, says the report. When making overall purchase decisions, for consumers, blogs trail only behind retail and brand sites. With regard to overall sources for information on the internet, blogs rank among the top five "most trustworthy" sources.
As an example, according to consumers, blogs are more influential in shaping opinion than Twitter, and when it comes to affecting purchase decisions, more important than Facebook.
The report details how different social platforms stack up against each other. Influencers ranked page views above all other metrics when focusing on their own key metrics, while Google Analytics is the leader among tracking tools. Brands had different top metrics for identifying and selecting influencers, with comScore/Nielsen ranking first, closely followed by number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, and the influencer's potential to draw likes. It is important to note, says the report, that due to their niche size, influencers are not well represented in comScore/Nielsen.
According to brand marketers, when metrics from their earned media goals are ranked, Facebook likes, traffic to their website, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers are the main contenders, a reversal from influencers, where monitoring traffic/page views ranked No. 1, followed by Facebook likes.
Brands' digital messaging has gone social. More than 90% of brands surveyed for the report stated they have a presence on Facebook. It's nearly as high for Twitter and YouTube. Google+ wasn’t as popular with brands.
Brands are spending the largest parts of their digital budget on display advertising, search and producing video. Spending on social, including influencer outreach, makes up only 10% of brands' digital marketing spend.
Of that social budget, more than half goes to Facebook. YouTube and Twitter each get 13%, while about six% is spent on influencers and 5% advertising on blogs.
Brand managers report an expected increase in budgets for digital marketing in the upcoming year. Mobile spend is expected to increase for 79% of brands surveyed, while social and video tie at 59% of brands expected to spend in those two areas. Of the additional budget, most of the increases are going to display advertising (73%) and search (52%). Social and mobile make up the second tier of expected increases, each category getting 37% of budget increases. Only 3% of brands say they expect to decrease social spending.
(Source: The Center For Media Research, 03/13/13)
How You Can Make Money:
As your advertisers plan to spend more in social marketing, include your social media offerings as part of your integrated media proposals.
||Online Advertisers Are Soliciting Trouble
Ever get the feeling you're being watched? Here's a statistic that won't help: A morning-cup visit to four websites can produce more than 300 cookies, sent to your browser by over 100 third-party domains.
Some of these cookies simply make the Web experience more enjoyable while others glean personal information and track your movements. A quick check on my laptop showed me that Google Chrome had baked enough of these things to fill 800 pages. That's just the tip of the iceberg; most information collected never leaves the Web servers, and a great deal of it is sold and shared.
Privacy has been an issue throughout the Internet age, but these days, it's taken center stage. Movement is afoot on the regulatory front with the EU passing major legislation in 2011 and similar laws (like the Do Not Track bill) being attempted in Congress. The FTC has appointed privacy expert Paul Ohm as a senior advisor. Ohm is a man best known for the concept of a "database of ruin" -- a conglomeration of personal data so large and so detailed that it can no longer be called anonymous.
The conflict is also playing out in the marketplace. Microsoft has accused Google of reading emails with its "Scroogled" campaign. A month ago, Mozilla announced that the new versions of Firefox would have third-party cookies -- the lion's share -- disabled by default, a move that the ad industry calls "a nuclear first strike." The New York Times has called these battles part of a larger war between advertisers and browser developers. If so, it's an underhanded one: Last year, Google was fined for sabotaging cookie restrictions on Apple's Safari.
The Web's lack of privacy brings some clear benefits to consumers, not the least of which is all of the "free" content and services that we can access online. Free sites stay in business by selling ads against collected data. It's a large enough business that Google can pull $40 billion per year from it, a number made possible by the company's expertise on where Web users go and what they view. Social media, free email, and much of the cloud are made possible by targeted ads and the databases that guide them. It's a little like The Truman Show -- life is good, if you can ignore the cameras.
There's something disquieting, though, about having information accumulated and shared by firms -- and governments, and anyone else with a use for it -– that we have nothing to do with. It's an asymmetrical marketplace; the trust flows in one direction and we give an implied consent by simply being there.
The growth of social media, and the lengthening of our personal, digital shadows, has provided both a goldmine for advertisers and a huge source of concern for users. Foursquare encourages us to "check in," Twitter prompts us to voice every opinion, and that microphone is in our face for a reason. This is valuable information we're being asked to give up. We're left with the uncomfortable choice of avoiding these forums altogether -- becoming one of those strange, antisocial creatures without a Facebook page -- or agreeing to live publicly.
The second option may be an acceptable compromise for some, but it's threatened by the fact that two-thirds of Web users would block data tracking if they were easily able to, according to a recent global survey by Ovum consultancy. This is a demographic that browser developers are competing for, and politicians are doing the math as well.
The ad industry has implemented some voluntary restrictions, like a do-not-track request that can be enabled in most browsers, but so far the initiative lacks teeth. In the end, consumers won't need to search their preferences for a privacy option; the race is on to provide it to them.
If browsers like Mozilla's take the lead, it would be to the detriment of third-party ad vendors and small websites that rely on external analytics to find out about their visitors. Only Google and Facebook -- who have organic access to customer information -- and websites large enough to do their own tracking would benefit from the shift.
Since the ad industry has already indicated a willingness to subvert privacy restrictions, industry watchers believe regulatory action targeting the tech giants is more probable. The EU has expressed a desire to go after the big fish, and in the US as well, any legislation will likely be aimed at the use of personal data and not simply its generation.
In any event, an industry that lives and dies by intellectual property may soon be forced to grant some to its customers. One can only hope that consistency won't be the death of the Internet.
(Source: USA Today, 03/12/13)
Daily Sales Tip: Mobilize Your Advertisers
Here's a tip I picked up at the Borrell Local Online Media Conference last week. Check out your client's websites from your smartphone. If the site is not optimized for local, this is a candidate for you to sell them a mobile website.
If you don't have resources within your station to develop the site, work with a third-party developer and pass along marked-up costs to the advertiser. Include the mobile site recommendation into an annual integrated contract.
Source: John Potter, SVP/Professional Development, RAB