Real-Time Marketing and Unified Communications

In this video blog, I discuss real-time marketing, recent trends in digital, and our Unified Communications group at Definition 6 with our Chief Technology Officer Paul Hernacki:

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Storytelling on Pinterest – Takeaways from Ragan Disney

You don’t have to win The Super Bowl to have an excuse to go to Disney World in February, you just have to keep tabs on the Ragan Communications’ Events calendar. I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of beautiful, sunny days with a few hundred of the best and brightest minds in communications last week at the 6th Annual Social Media for PR and Corporate Communications Conference at the Walt Disney World Resort.

The conference featured presentations from communications professionals at Disney Parks, The Phoenix Suns, Whole Foods, Google, ESPN, Southwest Airlines, Marvel, Microsoft and Zappos to name a few.

I was fortunate enough to participate in a panel discussion about how brands can use Pinterest for Storytelling. The panel featured Whole Foods’ Michael Aaron Bepko, Global Online Community Manager; Samantha Hosenkamp, Social Media Director of Ragan Communications, and Kevin Dando, Director of Marketing Communications for PBS.

 

As a supplement to the ideas I shared during the lively discussion (thanks to everyone that turned out to pack the room during our session), here are 6 tips brands can use to leverage Pinterest for brand storytelling:

1. Incentivize Your Community to Participate - consider sponsoring contests and promotions to reward your community for generating content on the platform. For example, start a "Pin It to Win It" campaign where Pinners - users who pin specific images related to your brand. Everyone that pins within the guidelines of your promotion are entered to win a prize or some recognition for their efforts. Perhaps the winner serves as your Pinterest brand ambassador or gets some more formal role for a period of time (e.g. summer intern for your brand).

2. Tell Your Story Over Time - use a Pinterest board like you would time-lapse photography or a flip book to tell your story. Do you own a pumpkin patch you want people to come to this fall? Start by pinning images of you unpacking the seeds, planting the seeds, watering the seeds, watching the seeds sprout, etc. - tell the story of pictures all the way through families coming out to your pumpkin patch to get their prized selections. You can do this over the course of a long period of time, or you can do it in a day - for example, show images of your upcoming road race starting with setting up the course, runners starting to pile in each hour, people running the race, and the first and last people to cross the finish line. There are endless opportunities for using images over a designated period of time like this.

3. Guess The Picture - ask your audience a trivia question, with an image-based question. For example, guess the destination we're sending one lucky winner too. Take a picture of the event and cut it up into 20 different images. Post different pieces of your image puzzle over the course of the contest and enter all correct guessers into a drawing to win - then pin a picture of the winner receiving their prize.

4. New Product Launches - there's no rule that says you can't use your Pinboards to promote the products or services you sell. When you get in a fresh batch of your latest product, why not pin an image of those products going onto the shelves? Come in and get yours before they're all gone. Feel free to update the board as your limited supply leaves the shelves - you just might drive in-store traffic. You can do the same with sale items, clearance items or event items that you sell online. Show images of your trucks being loaded with product heading out to all your retail stores if you're a wholesaler. Customers buy from you, why not remind them what they buy?

5. It's Okay to Be Fun and Goofy - you don't have to be serious with everything on Pinterest. Consider putting a funny or witty spin on the drab and boring stuff some might perceive about your business. GE does a great job of this with their "Big Ass Machines" board. They show pictures of, well, big ass machines they manufacture. They could have called the board something more descriptive (and boring), but we wouldn't be talking about it. What do you joke about inside the company that people outside your company wouldn't know about? That type of stuff can be gold on Pinterest.

6. Pay It Forward - it's not all about you. Consider sharing content from other brands' boards to generate interest for your own brands. Are you inspired by the products and services other brands post on their boards? Create a board of your inspirations or things you love and share it with your community. Those brands - and the people enjoying your curated content - will reward you by sharing your content. Pay it forward.

 

BONUS: here's a bonus tip for you… are you looking for clever images to include with your blog posts? Embed an image from your Pinterest board as the visual to complement your next blog post. You'll drive traffic to your Pinterest boards from your blog - but you'll also attract new readers to your blog from Pinterest.

What ideas do you have for telling your brand stories via Pinterest? How can your favorite brands leverage Pinterest to make their content more interesting and engaging? What are you doing on Pinterest that our readers would be interested in? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Want more about Pinterest? Check out these Definition 6 resources:

 

Check out our photos from the event: 

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4 Ways To Design for Content Consumption

There was a lot of great content presented at Mashable’s Media Summit last week in New York – far too much for me to summarize for you in 500 words. That said, Mashable did a great job summarizing the day via Storify. If you weren’t able to attend, you can get a good feel for the day’s content over there.

I would like to take a moment to highlight a couple of significant themes that emerged throughout the day, particularlyaround the rapid developments in Web design we’re seeing materialize before us on a daily basis. For a great current example, head over to Mashable today to witness the execution of the ideas I’m about to summarize. Mashable has revamped its Web experience to take full advantage of how content is discovered and shared on the Web today – across every type of device we use.

 

Here are my key takeaways from the day – consider this a cheat sheet for revamping your Web content experiences in 2013.

 

1.      Mobile first, not desktop – the post-PC era is here. It no longer makes sense to design Web experiences around the desktop as the primary device. Device proliferation requires a new solution, one that optimizes the experience for every reader. The most buzzed-about approach to designing for this new era – which you’ve no doubt heard of by now – is responsive Web design, where the Web experience adjusts to the device and browser used by the visitor. Responsive Web design only scratches the surface, addressing the problems of device proliferation. What about context though? Some would argue responsive approaches address context, but expect a new term – reactive Web design – to creep into the lexicon in 2013. Reactive web design as a label expands upon responsive approaches and strives to adapt the digital experience to predicted needs of the user. For example, using IP lookup, geolocation, or some other known visitor data, the Web experience (and content) can be tailored to render a more contextual Web experience. These will be exciting times for content marketers.

2.      Social first, not search – there’s been a lot of talk about social being the new search. I don’t like this, because social is not search – but I get the point. Old school SEO tactics – pre-Panda tactics – aren’t what they once were. Content that is shared aggressively will drive more consumption than content that is simply linked to a lot. Shares impact SEO – in many cases, impacting search rankings more than links. When planning your content strategy, search should follow social in order of importance. Writing a great, sharable headline that gets readers to read is more important than getting high authority links to that same piece of content. If it’s shared at a high frequency, search engines will reward you and the traffic will come.

3.      Visuals matter – high-quality imagery amplifies content consumption by a factor of two or more. Mashable reports that it generates 8 times more traffic on a post with a video than plain text. Brands should use images and video liberally on their content sites, and those images and videos should be easily shareable. In many cases, the images and video themselves serve as micro-content that users will share independent of the content on the site. This is particularly evident across the newer image-centric social channels such as Instagram and Pinterest. If you have high-quality images and video in your content, people will share your content across these channels. Remember, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster. For example, posts that leverage video generate three times more inbound links than plain text (SEOMoz).

4.      Ads are content too – If you have ads on your sites, you need to remember that ads are content too. There was a lot of talk about native and responsive advertising at the Mashable Media Summit event. Stated plainly, responsive advertising is the application of responsive Web design to the ad units. Your ads should look great across any experience. You don’t have to be a responsive Web design expert to capitalize on responsive advertising. Expect ad-serving platforms to support your responsive advertising needs in 2013. Slightly different from responsive advertising is native advertising, where advertising is built into the content experience itself. Facebook’s sponsored stories or Twitter’s sponsored tweets are an example of this evolving ad unit.

 

I’m excited to see so much fresh innovation going on in Web design. It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve seen this much change in so little time. Then again, most of the innovation in  recent years has come on the back end of our sites. As we move into 2013, expect to see more site experiences built around content, context and conversations, the essence of our Unified Marketing strategy here at Definition 6.  

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Google Offers Instant Gratification with Google Instant

Google Instant is a new search enhancement from Google that loads new search results with each keystroke you type – it performs queries in real-time. Google is now pretty much predicting what you are searching for before you finish typing your query. Of course, this confirms what we've all known for years, Google IS actually smarter than you.



According to Google, the primary benefits of Google Instant include:

•    Faster searches – Google Instant predicts what you are looking for before you finish typing (Google states this can save a user 2-5 seconds per search)

•    Smarter predictions – Google knows the words people use to search for different things – as you start typing, Google produces a list of search terms (usually including the one you were about to type)

•    Instant Results – you no longer have to hit return to get your search results – your search results load as you’re typing.

Those are some pretty meaninful benefits. For me, I"m most excited about the fact that Google has unveiled some pretty significant innovation around what it does best: search. 15 new technologies contribute to Google Instant and with this launch, it's pretty clear Google plans to maintain its market dominance as the world's most used search engine.

But Wait, Do I Need to Change My SEO Strategy?

The most common question people will want to know about Google Instant is what impact these changes will have on search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. The short answer: none. According to Google, Google Instant doesn’t change page rankings at all, so your current rankings will be intact.

Realistically, SEO strategies will need to change as a result of Google Instant. For starters, marketers should pay attention to what alternative terms appear in Google’s suggestions list under the new Google Instant model.

Google's suggestions can sway users to select a term other than the one they intended to search. Depending on the terms your site is indexed for, and the volume of searches for the particular term each month, websites could notice a decrease (or increase) in traffic as a result of the suggestions.

Search engine marketers would be wise to optimize their sites for suggested terms that may compete with terms they already enjoy prominent ranking.

Closing Thoughts

Google Instant is a significant change in the way Google works. I like the change and feel it’s a great enhancement to the user experience. I also like anything that saves me time in my workday (even if it’s only five seconds at a time).

By improving the user experience and delivering more instant gratification for users, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google’s market share tick up a bit. As usage increases and user experience improves as a result of Google Instant, organic and paid search strategies may need to evolve to adapt to changes. For now, marketers should hold tight, but earmark some more budget for search enhancements in 2011.

What do you think? Do you like Google Instant? Does it improve your search experience?


BONUS: Want more on Google Instant? Watch Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of Search, discuss these changes in her interview with TechCrunch:


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Trendwatch: The Social Graph

What’s the biggest buzzword around social networking right now? If you guessed location-based services, it would be hard to argue with you. If we ask you again in six months, chances are good you’ll answer the social graph.

The social graph questions keep coming up in client and prospect meetings. What is the social graph? What do we need to know about the social graph? How can we use the social graph to deepen relationships with customers? So on and so forth...

While I can’t answer every question you have about the social graph, I can help to start framing the conversation for executives struggling to gain a deeper understanding of the impact social graphs will have on their business.

For starters, the social graph is just a fancy way of describing relationships or connections with people, places and things. It’s a map of your social connections and preferences – a visual data model if you will, with hubs and nodes. For you, your social graph could be the Connections you have on LinkedIn, the places you’ve checked in on FourSquare, or the brands you’ve ‘liked’ on Facebook.

For illustrative purposes, there a few dozen lacrosse fans who are my Friends on Facebook. How many of them are from upstate New York? Syracuse fans? Of those, how many also listened to a lot of grunge in college, now live in Atlanta and work in marketing for an integrated interactive agency?

Granted, there’s probably not another one of me – at least not that specific, but you can see the potential. You’ve never been able to slice and dice data with this level of precision before. It’s this unprecedented level of targeting that gets innovative marketers excited, while privacy advocates reach for their pitchforks and torches.

Of course, my example above only illustrates relationships between connections and doesn’t get into activity, preference or myriad other social graphs that can be linked to one another. For example, who likes the same things or has been the same places as me? Who’s reading this article at the same time you are? These are questions you will be able to answer as social graphs get more sophisticated.

Where Did The Social Graph Come From?

Social graph has been popularized by Facebook, the world’s largest social network and the company most likely to serve as the epicenter for social graphs. While Facebook has plans to be the only social graph, recent announcements like its “Open Graph” suggest the company is happy remaining the epicenter of all social activity online. Plus, it’s unrealistic that Facebook could sustain a monopoly over the social graph – we all want to use other stuff.

With offerings like “Open Graph”, any electronic asset online can be linked to an individual’s social graph. In the months to come, look for this to include every place you go, everything you do, and everything you buy.

While Facebook has a lot of influence, there are no rules to the social graph. Any piece of social data can be woven into your graph to provide a more accurate picture of the interdependencies between your relationships and preferences. Privacy concerns aside (a future post perhaps), this stuff is truly amazing.

In the first wave of the Web, we were excited to discover new websites via links to other sites or search results. Early social networks encouraged us to link to one another, which dramatically accelerated our discovery of mutual relationships and made networking (the human kind) much faster – and in many ways enjoyable. Now everything is getting out there.

What’s All This Mean for Business?


For starters, you’ll start to have a crystal clear view into who your potential and current customers are. In the short-term, this will provide you with tremendous targeting advantages over your competition. For the 1st time ever, you’ll be able to customize incentives for all the 32 year old homemaker motor cross fans that have purchased a tofu burger from you in the past year.

Keep in mind, the more accurate you can target customers, the more accurate customers can target you. It is yet to be determined how consumers will react to the knowledge that they are your best customer. How much longer will it be before Foursquare mayors start demanding more incentives for the role they play in your viral marketing? What happens when Blippy users start demanding special incentives for all the purchases they’ve made?
These are good problems to have. Smarter brands and smarter consumers always forces us to innovate and push the needle farther. And who doesn’t love a good challenge?

Bottom line? The social graph takes a lot of the fun out of the guessing game of life – learning about people and things over time. Only time will tell whether or not instant gratification is a good thing or not. As marketers, it’s hard not to get excited about the potential to target with the greatest accuracy, reliability and ease ever. Bring it on.

At the same time, let’s tread forward lightly. We don’t want to create such huge concerns over privacy that regulation and oversight come in to drain the life out of the creative process.

What do you think? Are social graphs a good thing or a bad thing? Do you want people to know what kind of ice cream you like or what kind of car you drive? How much sharing is too much?


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Twitter for Media Relations

By now, Twitter should be an integral part of your media relations strategy. Twitter has become one of the most efficient tools PR professionals use to manage relationships with journalists and other influencers. Why is Twitter such a great channel for media relations? Here are a few reasons:
  • Fish where the fish are: most mainstream and amateur journalists and bloggers are on Twitter. There are many tools for finding journalists on Twitter, such as MediaOnTwitter, MuckRack or JournalistTweets.
  • Mix business with pleasure: Twitter provides the ultimate glimpse into a person’s world. You can learn a lot of about journalists and bloggers by following their tweets and getting involved in conversations. This will help you not only identify ways to approach the journalist better, but also to monitor and respond to journalists’ needs – positioning you as a trusted expert.
  • Get to the point: journalists are overwhelmed with pitches. The short message format of Twitter makes it easier for journalists to scan brief messages. The chances of your tweet being read may be better than with email – just make sure the journalist is cool with being pitched via Twitter before you tweet it.
  • Pass it on: a tweet (Twitter status update) mention of your company or product by an influential journalist can be just as effective as a mention in a print publication. In many instances, the tweet may drive more traffic to your site in a short period of time. If increasing qualified site visitors is a core objective of your PR plan, you may want to consider Twitter.
  • Track results: most of your activity can be tracked through Twitter. Whether you want to track the pace at which you’re gaining new followers, the number of times your tweets are re-tweeted (passed along to others), or how many people click on a link that you share (using trackable URL-shorteners like Bit.ly or Su.pr), it’s easy for you to keep tabs on the effectiveness of your social media impact.
  • Build relationships: Twitter is all about relationships. The longer you use Twitter – actively use Twitter – the more relationships you will form. I can honestly say that I’ve built more relationships with media in the past two years on Twitter than I had in the previous five using conventional methods.
So how can you use Twitter for media relations? I suggest you look at Twitter as a channel like you would any other outlet. Treat journalists and bloggers with the respect they deserve – you know, the way you would like to be treated. Listen and observe at least (if not more) as much as you talk or tweet, you’ll be surprised what you can learn from journalists and bloggers. If you follow the media on Twitter long enough, you’ll notice that most tell you exactly what it takes to score publicity opportunities with them step-by-step.

Here are some general tips for using Twitter as a media relations tool:
  • Follow journalists and bloggers relevant to your organization and read what they tweet about. If you see a tweet you really like, consider passing the tweet along or sharing your feedback with the person. This is a great way to build relationships, outside of just wanting coverage.
  • Use the Twitter Search function to search for keywords related to your business. This will make it easier to see which of the users you’re following are talking about relevant topics. You can also set up saved searches for keywords or hashtags (#journchat for example), so you don’t have to read every tweet that comes along.
  • Monitor Twitter users like @prsarahevans, @skydiver and @profnet to keep tabs on publicity opportunities issued through Twitter. You should follow each of these users if you’re not already.
  • When it’s time to pitch a story, you should know that the journalist or blogger is open to being pitched through Twitter. If you’ve followed the steps above, you’ll know the answer.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of thinking Twitter is just another social media fad. As someone with firsthand experience using Twitter for media relations, I can tell you that – for today, at least – it’s the easiest and most effective way to get the attention of today’s busy journalists. It’s also a great way to accelerate your learning around PR, with thousands of helpful PR professionals at your disposal for advice at any hour of the day.


(Image Credit: Twitter Badge by 7son75)

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What Are Your Plans? Why Not Share Them?

Twitter wanted to know "What are you doing?", though today they just want to know "What's happening?" Then there's Foursquare and Gowalla. They just want to know where you are. Now there's a new breed of social services catching on that want you to tell people what you're going to do.



The front runner in this new social planning category is Plancast, with their tagline "You've got plans. Spread the word." Early adopters and Twitterati flocked to Plancast during SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) last month, sharing the minute details of every session and party they planned to attend. HotPotato, a similar social event sharing service also got tossed around at SXSWi, promoted through the mobile Foursquare app at the festival.

Unlike traditional calendar sharing, services like Plancast and HotPotato enable you to create and share an event with your social media friends, which at first glance seems like a brilliant way to get all your friends to rally around an event.

The big question here is how much sharing is too much? If you use Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and a service like Plancast, you're providing an incredible amount of personal data to all kinds of people you don't know all too well.

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of all these new social services, and none of us want to be left behind on the next big thing in social media. I'd just urge you to consider what you share across these social channels until you have a firm understanding of your privacy risks (or at least your privacy settings).

I use all these services, and I tend to be a bit of an over-sharer when it comes to the details of my personal and professional lives (they're one and the same to me). If anybody wanted to use my information for ill-will, I'm sure they could. The Please Rob Me service that popped up recently is a good signal for the potential risks here. While the service has since been deactivated, it was effective at rasing awareness around the social media privacy issue (which was also a central theme at SXSWi).

I think the benefits of these social tools far outweigh the potential privacy risks - but that might not be the case for all of you. Before you start sharing details about that month-long trip you plan on taking this summer, you might want to think twice about who is following your feed.

For now, if you plan to attend a big event, or you'd like to rally support for an event you're close to, consider using a platform like Plancast or HotPotato to get the word out.


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SXSW Interactive 2010 Wrap-Up: All About the Check-In

I just returned from SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) and was blown away by the scale of the festival. There were more than 15,000 people in attendance, looking to expand their knowledge around the Web, social and mobile (for the most part).

It would be impossible for me to summarize the entire festival for you, so here's the "what was trending" version with what you might have missed in the stream:

#1 Location-Based Services Stole the Show

For the first time in many months, something made more noise than Twitter among the Web crowd, namely Foursquare and Gowalla. While there are a bunch of location-based services (LBS) out there, SXSW Interactive was a showdown between Foursquare and Gowalla.

SXSWi was the perfect venue for LBS to take off, due to its geographic focus, large number of events and high concentration of early-adopters. I saw more people checking in on Foursquare than tweeting. Foursquare hit a new usage record at the show, with more than 347,000 check-ins in a day.

Every inch of Austin was checked-in to on one or both of these services during SXSWi, with attendees trying to take over mayorships on any piece of fictional real estate they could find. There's still some question over business models and monetization, but with usage levels like this, there remains a lot of potential.

Gowalla (a similar service) made a fair impact at the festival, but was overshadowed a bit by Foursquare's daily four square games, custom SXSWi badges, heaps of swag, and its star-studded party with the likes of Ashton Kutcher.

While there was a lot of buzz for Foursquare, you really need massive user adoption to make this stuff work. At a show with 15,000+ people, you're bound to have a friend nearby. To really make LBS stick, locations will have to start offering up incentives to people who check in (the most logical extension to all this stuff).

To quote Gary Vaynerchuk's keynote (see #3): "Why the heck would I check in somewhere? If someone gives you a f**king beer for checking in, you're going to check in."

It's true, once businesses start rewarding customers for their check-ins, services like Foursquare are going to explode in popularity (which is what happended when Twitter followers started to get hookups). I wouldn't be surprised to see Foursquare owned by somebody else by the time SXSW rolls around next year.

#2 Private Parts


The more people share online - such as where they're having lunch or who they're hanging out with at SXSWi - the more privacy becomes an issue.

Danah Boyd, Social Media Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, delivered the opening remarks at SXSWi, quickly launching into a mild attack on Google Buzz and Facebook for their recent, well-reported missteps regarding privacy. "Just because something is publicly accessible, it doesn't mean people want it publicized," said Boyd.

As more and more people take to lifestreaming, there's mounting concerns over the sharing of sensitive information. Boyd says she's never met anyone that really knew what their privacy settings were on any social site they use.

While on one hand brands want to open up the lines of communication with customers, they also need to consider any potential privacy implications.

There's a great write-up on Danah's keynote on Techcrunch here.

#3 Gary Vaynerchuk's Keynote

There had to be more than 1,000 people there to hear Gary Vaynerchuk have a conversation with the crowd. Gary is all about connecting with people on a personal level. He stood at the door and personally thanked everyone for attending the keynote (did I mention there were about 1,000 people in there?).

Gary has a no-BS approach to his presentations that reallly make you just want to watch him again. Bottom line? Most companies don't care and consumers know it. When companies even show they care a little, they get rewarded (Zappos is a perfect example).

For a great summary of the keynote, check out Andrew Mager's post on ZDNet. And in case you're wondering, he's got a mean four square serve too.

For a more coloful view into the keynote, you can watch it here. The quality's a bit shaky, but you can still get the content. Keep in mind, Gary's a brilliant speaker, but he does have a potty mouth (in case you get offended by profanity).

#4 Twitter Launches @anywhere

While Foursquare and Gowalla drove the buzz, Twitter still managed to get its share of the lime light. Unfortunately, a good part of the chatter revolved around how boring the keynote was, causing about half the room to leave before it was over.

Dissappointing keynote asside, the launch of @anywhere was significant. @anywhere is a new framework that enables developers to integrate the Twitter experience into their sites. Early @Anywhere partners include eBay, Amazon, Salesforce.com, Bing, Yahoo! and MSNBC.

For the full scoop on @anywhere, check out the official Twitter blog.

#5 Can You Digg It?


Almost launched in the midst of SXSWi was the announcement that Digg is getting a major overhaul. Digg CEO Jay Adelson made the announcement at the "Bigg Digg Shindigg" (love the name). The overhaul will include personalized feeds and the return of the Digg leaderboard. You can learn more about the new version (and sign up for the beta) at http://new.digg.com.

#6 QR Codes

There were QR codes (Quick Response code technology) on everything at SXSWi, from everyone's name badges to the fleet of Chevys on display. QR codes, a special type of bar code, are becoming more prevalent in advertising and product packaging. They provide an added way for consumers to interact with content, typically through a mobile device.

For example, if you used one of the QR readers (like I-Nigma for the iPhone) to scan an attendees badge at SXSWi, you were able to save the person's information. It was a cool way to exchange information, despite the experience being a bit slow. Look for QR codes to show up more and more (more on the SXSWi QR stuff here).

Checking Out

In conclusion, when all the hype dies down, everyone will remember this year's SXSWi as the kickoff of LBS for the masses. If last year was the year of "What are you doing?", this year will certainly be the year of the "Check-in".

Were you there? What was your favorite part of SXSWi? Let us know.

(Image Credits: Danah Boyd Art by amanichannel)

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Fortune 500 Companies Love Twitter

Social media marketing is at the forefront of integrated interactive marketing programs underway at almost every Fortune 500 company out there. Corporate blogging, online video and podcasts are among the most popular strategies used by the world's largest comapnies. But what about Twitter?

What might surprise you is how quickly Twitter is growing as the social medium of choice among Fortune 500 companies. According to recent studies like “Fortune 500 and Social Media: A Longitudinal Study of Blogging and Twitter Usage by America’s Largest Companies,” conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Financial Insite, a Seattle-based Research Firm, Twitter is the platform of choice for Fortune 500 social media marketers.

The study examined the 2009 Fortune 500 in an attempt to quantify their adoption of social media tools and technologies, finding that 22% of Fortune 500 companies have a public-facing corporate blog – six percent more than 2008. The study also found that 86% of these blogs link directly to a corporate Twitter account, a 300% increase over 2008. Even more corporations have Twitter accounts, but not all link to them from their blog.

It would appear that Fortune 500 marketers are moving fast to Twitter for engaging with their key audiences. Of course, upon further analysis, you’d find that only 35% of these Twitter accounts are active – described as having been updated within the past 30 days. If I’m reading the study correctly, that means 65% are not being actively used.

While Fortune 500 companies have realized they need to be on Twitter – probably as defense against username squatting – few have truly embraced Twitter as a social channel. 

Of the groups that have engaged most heavily with Twitter, the insurance industry is leading the way, with 13 active Twitter accounts according to the study. Of course there are also companies like Exxon Mobil, the #1 company in the Fortune 500, that have no presence on Twitter.

A separate analysis of Fortune 500 Twitter, “The Global Social Media Check-Up” conducted by Burson-Marstellar, found that 79% of Fortune 100 Global companies are using one of four popular social media platforms, with Twitter leading Facebook, YouTube and corporate blogging as the platform of choice.

65% of Fortune Global 100 companies have active accounts on Twitter, while only 54% have Facebook accounts, 50% have YouTube channels, and 33% have a corporate blog. There is still plenty of room for improvement here.

Why Is Twitter the Preferred Platform?

Nobody knows for sure why Twitter is so popular, but there’s a good chance that it’s because it’s the easiest platform to launch. Companies can have a Twitter account up and running in a couple of hours (or less). There is a lot more work to do to launch a YouTube channel, corporate blog, or Facebook presence. It also takes considerably less resources to manage content production and audience interaction on Twitter than these other platforms. It’s a relatively low-cost and low-maintenance option for getting in the social media game.

Are Fortune 500 companies getting any value out of Twitter though? According to the Burson-Marstellar study, the answer is “yes”. Twitter accounts to the Fortune Global 100 average 1,489 followers. This doesn’t seem like much when you consider the average Facebook fan page for these companies has more than 40,000 fans, but it's progress.

A full copy of the new research report can be downloaded here: http://www.umassd.edu/cmr/studiesresearch.

 

 



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