End of Financial Year Performance – Digital Style

There has definitely been staggering growth in the Australian digital space during the 1st 6 months of the year. With a new financial year upon us I have no doubt that companies in Australia will continue to shift funding from offline to online. Thus I felt it timely to release a compilation of general digital statistics from the first half of 2010 to assist marketers and agencies alike to build their business case for online marketing initiatives. Enjoy!

eCommerce & General Internet Usage

1. Online Internet Usage in Oz – According to Nielsen, Australians spend an average of 17.6 hours a week online, making up 33 per cent of their total media time.
2. Online retail spend in Australia – eBay-owned payment company PayPal predicts online retail spending to reach $33.8 billion in Australia by 2012 – a significant increase on the $24 billion generated during 2009.
3. Loss of online sales to international providers – 40% of Australians online spend is going to overseas stores. Compare this to the US who are losing 10% to overseas counterparts and this crystalises the impact of delayed online investment by Australian retailers.
4. Average consumer online spend Australia – According to Frerk-Malte Feller, Managing Director, PayPal – in the last six months alone the average consumer spent $1,223 online, an increase of $130 from the second half of 2009.”
5. Retailer online investment in 2010 – According to a Forrester report released in July “online retailing in Australia 2010: Marketing, merchandising and customer service”, 69% of retailers are planning to invest in improved site content and 66 per cent will spend more time on online marketing to drive sales & growth.
6. Online purchasing frequency – According to the ACRS’ latest report: “Value and Optimisation in Multi-Channel Retailing”, approx 36% of Australians are making purchases online at least once a month and 6% are buying online once every week.
7. Online / Offline Channel Effect – According to the ACRS by 2012, nearly half of all retail transactions are expected to be executed by consumers crossing channels – making multi-channel retailing essential.

Social Media

8. Social Network & Forum Usage – According to Hitwise Australia social networking and forum usage increased 36.1% in the past year and overtook search engines as the most visited industry by Australian Internet users in March 2010.
9. The power of online WOM – According to a survey conducted by RightNow 16% of Australian consumers said they had stopped doing business with a company because of a social media discussion they had seen about how the company treats customers. Another 16% stated they had also seen a positive consumer discussion about a company and had gone on to make a purchase.
10. Influence of Online Reviews – A study by RightNow found more than half of respondents (58 per cent) deemed customer reviews and feedback online to be the most important source to influence decision making, of least importance was advertising in any shape or form.
11. Online Community Usage – Australians look to communities of interest such as parenting or sports sites as a key channel for social media discussion – 62 percent of Australian Internet users visited a message board or forum in 2009.
12. Online Video Usage – Australians have a huge interest in online videos and this continues to grow. In January 2010 alone, Australians consumed 33 million videos online daily.
13. LinkedIn Members – LinkedIn has seen one of the fastest growth trends amongst social media sites in Australia, with unique audience numbers increasing by 99 percent from July 2009 to May 2010.
14. Twitter Users – According to Tribalytic Twitter subscribers in Australia are estimated to stand at 2.5 million.
15. FourSquare Members – According to socialmedianews.com.au Sydney FourSquare users have reached the 60,000 mark.

Mobile Statistics

Mobile Internet Usage16. Australian Mobile Internet Usage – Australians’ ownership of internet enabled phones now sits at 43 per cent, with 29 per cent regularly using it to search, email, find maps and share their lives on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
17. Mobile Internet Behaviour – Internet searches are the most popular online activity on the phones. Some 73 per cent of mobile internet users users conduct online searches by mobile now, compared with 30 per cent a year ago.
18. Mobile Device Share – Nokia has 35% share of handsets in Australia vs Apple’s at 28%. Apples share is expected to reach 61 per cent this year, according to MediaSmart.

Search

19. Search Engine Market Share – According to Hitwise for the week ending the 10th of July 2010, Google’s market share in Australia equated to 92.52%, Bing was 3.44% and Yahoo was 2.39%.
20. Political Term Search Growth – Given the upcoming election this last one is a timely. Political related search terms are on the rise – Yahoo recorded a 6829.44% rise on the search term ‘Julia Gillard,’ a huge 8164.49% increase on the term ‘Julia Gillard biography’ and a 2600% increase on ‘Julia Gillard pics,’ from Wednesday 23 June until Friday 25 June. Additional search terms on the rise at Yahoo! included, ‘Australian Labor Party’ (2597.72%), ‘Tony Abbott’ (3107.65%), ‘Kevin Rudd’ (3106.67%), ‘Kevin Rudd biography’ (2042.72%) and ‘Julia Gillard MP’ (1334.60%).

Watch: The growth of eCommerce and eBusiness in Australia in 2010?

References

http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=C9356544-1A64-67EA-E489E8D76F64ADA4
http://www.smh.com.au/business/media-and-marketing/aussie-advertisers-yet-to-take-bite-of-apple-20100708-102ej.html
http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/australians-take-to-mobile-internet-20100429-tszn.html
http://www.socialmedianews.com.au/foursquare-has-60000-users-in-sydney-business-urvey/

Consumer-Electronics


http://www.insideretailing.com.au/Latest/tabid/53/ID/8517/Australia-reaches-customer-experience-impasse.aspx
http://www.dynamicbusiness.com.au/articles/articles-news/online-retail-grow-40-percent-by-2012-1785.html
http://blog.tribalytic.com/2010/05/13/how-many-australian-twitter-users-are-there-and-where-are-they-from/
http://www.hitwise.com/au/datacentre/main/dashboard-1706.html
http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/351204/search_engines_running_hot_gillard_krudd/
http://www.buzznumbershq.com/2010/australian-social-networks-and-forums-usage-increased-36-1-in-the-past-year/
http://www.marketingmag.com.au/news/view/consumers-go-multi-channel-for-retail-2238

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The Next Big Thing – Social Search?

Facebook and Twitter Search

There is no doubt that over the past few years search marketers have turned their attention to social media as a key channel to support the viral creation of links and to dominate SERPs onsite and offsite. However whilst most of our attention has been focussed around ranking in Google – many of us have failed to see the search opportunity that has grown within social networks and now many social networks such as Twitter search channels in their own right.

The sheer volume of users on social networks has even Google shaking in their boots and for good reason. Over the past few years Google’s direct search competitors have attempted to take on Google in the search race without denting their share. However in the meantime an unlikely competitor has risen to the top. Facebook has captured the attention of users on the internet and is now dominating the users internet experience attracting more visitors than Google in the month of May. And whilst the primary function of Facebook and other platforms like Twitter is not to search – social search is becoming significant. In fact according to a recent Nielsen study, social media sites such as Wikipedia, blogs, and social networks account for 18% of where searches begin. If this is the case social search is much bigger than Bing and Yahoo search combined in Australia.

Why is this so? In a recent article on Search Engine Watch – Mark Drummond put it nicely – “Facebook brings an entirely new opportunity for flavored search: ranking search results using the social connections between people, as captured in the open graph. What Google lacks is intimate knowledge of our interests and plans to proactively deliver information to us and this is precisely the advantage that Facebook has over Google.

Social Search Facts For Facebook & Twitter

Facebook

Facebook SearchFacebook racked up over 600 million searches in May 2010. Compare this to January 2009 where search volumes were a mere 161 million and it is obvious to see that Facebook search is becoming a sizeable opportunity. A significant portion of searches are obviously related to people search as the average query length on Facebook is 2 words – however search is starting to evolve to cover topics related to fashion, electronics and travel. What is however most interesting is that Facebook are actively focussing on improving search within its eco-system with the launch of Open Graph. By leveraging content from its “LIKE” feature combined with sites actively integrating with Facebook ie like TripAdvisor, Facebook has started to collate content to serve up to users when they search for a particular theme or topic. Whilst still in a very premature stage – get it right and this could significantly move the goal posts in the search landscape as content is served up on the basis of user popularity. For more on Facebook search – refer here.

Twitter

Twitter SearchIt is hard to pin point accurate statistics for Twitter search with reports ranging from 350 million to 18 billion searches per month. Regardless of this, the numbers are sizeable. Combine this with content that finds users – rather than users searching for content and there is no doubt that Twitter presents a significant opportunity for businesses. But this doesnt come without a high level of competition. Twitter reporting more than four billion tweets are sent using the service in a given month – that is a lot of content that could appear within the SERPs thus optimisation is key.

What To Do About Social Search? 

Some of the normal rules still apply such as effectively tagging content, using descriptive keywords and the rest but what else do you need to consider?

Optimisation for Facebook

Facebook has released documentation to effectively embed tags onsite for open graph. By doing so you turn your web pages into graph objects, which will enable these pages to become part of the eco-system. For more information on the important tags that should be utilised refer to the below link;

http://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph

Optimisation for Twitter

In the 2nd half of 2010, Twitter is planning to launch Twitter annotations. The full benefits of this feature is not clear however it is believed to provide the ability to augment our 140 characters with other useful information to assist Twitter to more effectively understand the content its users are sharing. With this I expect a series of key optimisation techniques to emerge to improve your visibility within Twitter search. I also assume this will be combined with an improved search engine on Twitter so users can filter and sort information to find what they are looking for.

Have you begun to optimise your site for social search? If so share some of your experiences below.

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realestateVIEW.com.au Goes Social With Hottest Property Search Campaign

Twitter Campaign

Whilst I rarely blog about some of my own campaigns and initiatives for realestateVIEW.com.au I felt that this one warrants a blog article.

On Friday the 18th of June realestateVIEW.com.au launched its first major social media campaign on Twitter. The campaign which has been created in conjunction with Citrus, aims to find the hottest properties on the market as voted by the public. On the basis of the voting public realestateVIEW.com.au will announce the hottest properties on Friday afternoons and each week someone will win a weekly prize of a $1,000 Freedom Furniture voucher for voting.

Over the course of the coming weeks I will reveal the insights and learning’s from the campaign.

However if you want to learn more about the campaign or get involved visit – realestateVIEW.com.au/hottestpropertysearch

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Location Based Social Media – Coming To A Town Near You

Location-based Social Media

2010 is definitely the year of location based social media – well overseas that is. Whilst the many sites popping up are of course a few digital years off the Facebook and Twitter status – this new breed of social sites are set to follow in their big brothers footsteps.

So who is who in the location based zoo and what are some of the key usage statistics;

Foursquare

What is it? Foursquare allows you to share your location with friends. Users on Foursquare earn points and “badges” for checking-in frequently, or at a certain time. If you raise enough points you become “mayor” of a certain area.

Key Statistics:
Foursquare MarketingFoursquare recently hit the 1 million user mark and is currently gaining momentum. According to CEO Dennis Crowley Foursquare is adding 15,000 users per day which is 450,000 per month. Furthermore according to Crowley, Foursquare is achieving approximately 700,0000 checkins per day and by the end of June should be achieving the 1 million mark.
In March 2010, Foursquare said it had 1.4 million venues logged in its system, with 1,200 businesses offering special deals to people who check-in via Foursquare.

Foursquare Partnerships:
To gain traction in the market, Foursquare has partnered with some major brands to provide organisations a unique way to connect with their audience and to get consumers talking about the Foursquare platform. Foursquare’s partnerships include the likes of Starbucks, MTV, PepsiCo and Bravo. The press and discussion associated with these partnerships have gained considerable coverage in the market and as such other brands such as Domino’s and Jimmy Choo have begun to leverage Foursquare as part of their marketing strategy.

Gowalla

What is it? Gowalla is a location-based social networking game created by Alamofire. Gowalla allows iPhone and Andorid phone users to check-in when they arrive at a business or location. By checking in, Gowalla stamps the user’s passport and provides them with rewards.
Hmm sounds a bit like Foursquare I know.

Key Statistics:
Statistics about Gowalla are hard to come by however despite all of the hype, Gowalla’s user base is dwarfed by Foursquare and currently stands at between 200,000 – 250,000 users. Even so Gowalla only had just over 100,000 earlier in the year so whilst its numbers are small it has been increasing share rapidly.

Gowalla Partnerships
Like Foursquare Gowalla is teaming up with several brands to drive interest and growth in the platform– however it seems these partnerships are more content / travel driven then possibly Foursquare. Gowalla sees its relevance for users on the move – particularly those that are travelling. Gowalla has partnered with National Geographic & The Washington Post to deliver walking tours and traveller advice. More recently Gowalla has also teamed up with the Austin Stateman newspaper to deliver 8 trips for users. Each trip offers a detailed description, map, editorial insight and user photographs.
It is difficult to determine if Gowalla is attempting to carve a unique position in the market in the travel arena – as it has also partnered with brands such as Chevrolet. However one thing is certain with a lack of differentiation between the services, both of them will need to consider where they will focus their energy – as only 1 geo-location social network will prevail, just look at what Facebook did to MySpace.

myTown

What is it?
Whilst all of the hype and talk has largely centred around Foursquare & Gowalla, another player has emerged – myTown. myTown, is a location based game that is sort of part geolocater, and part real life Monopoly and SimCity. When you go somewhere in your real life city, you check in at that location and get points, you can purchase the virtual equivalent of that location, and when other people in your town playing the game check in there you earn rent. Unlike Foursquare and Gowalla, myTown seems to take elements of virtual worlds and combine it with geo-location social media and so it may not be seen as a direct competitor to the above players.

MyTown GeoLocator GameKey Statistics
MyTown recently passed the two million users milestone, and is adding more than 100,000 new users a week. The location based game has notched up more than 60 million check-ins, with user spending a startling 70 minutes a day playing on average. However myTown has only formally launched in the US and is still only available as an iPhone app – thus myTown is obviously showing immense growth potential. In fact by the end of 2010 myTown aims to have over 6 million users on its platform and their latest $20 million in funding may just get them there.

myTown Partnerships
myTown has recently partnered with Google to boost its location based data set. Through the Google API myTown will gain access to Google’s massive data set of over 50 million locations around the world. This will enable myTown to rapidly expand to other countries (without having to form custom partnerships with local directories).
MyTown have also partnered with several brands including H&M earlier this year to provide users with points and virtual goods for checking in at store locations.

Google Latitude

What is it?
Trying to make their name in the social space, Google too has launched its own location based service – Google Latitude. Google Latitude is however no Foursquare, Gowalla or myTown. The service tracks you constantly, so there is no “checking in” or earning prizes.

Key Statistics
Whilst Google has failed to gain traction in the desktop social media market, they feel they have a competitive advantage in this market. Google Latitude already has over 3 million people signed up and by stealing a page from Foursquare’s book, an enhanced Latitude would have a check-in feature and a bolstered location history scheme. And since nobody can match Google’s grip on map data, Latitude would automatically add locations, whereas Foursquare requires user input. However it is important to note that a quarter of Latitude users have zero friends, meaning 750,000 users are largely dormant.

Google Partnerships
In true Google style, Google has partnered with the community to ensure its location based services benefit from the best development minds in the world.
Google announced that it will be launching an API (Application Programing Interface) that will allow people to build all sorts of different applications and layers on top of the system. But Latitude’s biggest hurdle toward mass-popularity is the iPhone. Google built a Latitude app, but Apple — who essentially hates Google — rejected it from the App store.

Whilst most of the above services are yet to truly cement sizable user bases in the local Australian market, it is only a matter of time and therefore it is likely that in the next 12 months location based marketing promotions will start to pop up across the Australian digital landscape.

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9 Ways Australian Brands Are Leveraging Twitter In Different Ways

Twitter Campaign

Twitter SearchTwitter, within a few short years, has grown to be one of the leading social sites in Australia and the world. In Australia alone, Twitter receives more than 1.2 million unique visitors a month, providing a solid avenue for organisations to connect, engage and build relationships with new and existing consumers. However having a presence on Twitter is harder than just creating a profile and tweeting about how great your product is. Inspired by Brian Solis, 21 Twitter Tips , this article reviews how Australian organisations are adopting some of the different strategies he covers in his article.

If your brand is yet to have a Twitter profile hopefully this article provides you with some useful food for thought. Or if you have a profile but need to refine the strategy this article may provide clarity on the techniques that you could adopt to create a very useful and engaging Twitter experience in 140 characters.

Special Offers

Globally @DellOutlet has generated over $3 million in revenue through Twitter and Facebook via offers. Locally it seems that special offer strategies are one of the most popular tactics to use for a Twitter profile. @VirginBlue, @JetstarAirways and @tigerairwaysaus have established significant followings through their Twitter accounts. And it seems that it is paying off for at least some of them. In 2009 @JetstarAirways offered 1,000 seats for two cents – and sold out in hours (no wonder why). And in August, Jetstar announced a new route launch using Twitter with a “free seats” offer for its new Sydney-Melbourne services. As a result of its success Jetstar has announced a significant shift of its marketing budget towards social media in 2010.
However it is not just airlines that are leveraging the Twitter opportunity. EB Games currently has also adopted a similar approach by releasing special codes and discounts via their Twitter profile.

Word of Mouth Marketing

@Crust Pizza has been leveraging Twitter to spread the word about its pizza through its tweet promotion. Still running, this competition provides the opportunity for consumers to win free pizza on Friday by Tweeting – #CrustFreePizzaFriday. The competition is only open to Crust followers which I am sure has had a big impact on the growth of their number of followers which now stands at 2,530. Whilst quantifying the direct impact is difficult, the CEO of Crust is confident that the promotion has impacted their bottom line.

Customer Service

The Telco’s seem to be all over this one proactively seeking out unhappy customers and fielding direct client customer service issues. @VirginMobileAus is a great example of a brand monitoring the Twittersphere for unhappy customers and trying to right wrongs – see below.
eg @undisclosed Hiya, saw ur tweet RE: VM =( Is there anything I can do to sway ur impression? Pls DM, Thanks! =)

Crowdsourcing & FeedbackCrowdsourcing & Feedback

When Australia’s biggest realestate site re-launched their new platform they dedicated time to reviewing the feedback and actioning issues. And it seems they are not the only ones. Many Australian brands are reaching out to consumers to gauge feedback on websites including @WorldVisionAus @STATravel. However this is one strategy that I believe Australian brands could be using more of. Reaching out to a Twitter network for feedback on new offerings or crowdsourcing new ideas is a significant untapped resource and is a big opportunity for those in the online media / classifieds space as well as those in the fashion / retail space.

Information Networks

Information networks provide helpful alerts, notices and information to help followers avert problems or get up to the minute information. The obvious applications for such profiles include airlines and transport companies however few have taken advantage of this opportunity, however the AFL has. @AFL provides users with quarter by quarter updates on matches and tribunal results. In addition the AFL aggregates other club related information to keep footy fanatics completely up to date.

Employee Recruitment

Marketing to potential new staff through social media provides recruiters with a new way to seek referrals and applications for open positions at a lower cost and can enable brands to really reach out to brand advocates. Amongst other tweets, one of the core strategies for @WorldVisionAus is to do just that. Access their Twitter page and you will see recruitment is one of the core Twitter focuses.

Dedicated & Brand Channels

For some brands with multiple offerings, it is difficult to develop one dedicated profile and it also makes sense to establish exclusive channels or subchannels to share specific information and tap into a niche. @bigpondmovies & @bigpondmusic are examples of sub-brands adopting this kind of strategy. Although both are yet to build a significantly large following the profiles are tapping into niches to provide relevance and interact with users based on interest categories, which is a sensible strategy.

Aggregated Content & Topic Experts

Whilst this is a bit of a combination of Brian’s categories, it is one that has merit. Most organisations leverage Twitter to promote branded content and despite it being targeted and relevant there is a lot of value in aggregating and repackaging content on a particular topic / category of interest. @ABCnews is a good example of doing just this – it has adopted the branded channels strategy and combined it with aggregating content feeds from Twitter profiles to bring together a culmination of different views on the one topic. One good example of this is their @ABCnews/federal-parliament profile which aggregates content from Kevin Rudd, Joe Hockey, Malcolm Turnbull and a host of other MPs.

Supply Chain Relationships

Not only is Twitter providing ways to develop direct relationships with consumers, however it is also providing brands with the opportunity to connect with their distribution channel to ensure they are kept up to date with product updates as well as to motivate distributors and empower them to spread messages through their individual networks. Amway @amwayausnz is one such company doing just that. Mr Coldwell, Head of Operations stated in an article just yesterday that – the use of social media fitted well with the overall philosophy of the Amway group, which saw itself as a community builder as much as a retailer. Their Twitter strategy aims to reach out and recruit new distributors and communicate with existing ones – and with nearly 150 followers and plenty of interaction it seems that it is already making an impact.

If you are about to embark on a Twitter strategy I would highly recommend Brian Solis article – as it definitely provides a lot of avenues to consider before developing a Twitter strategy

Got any other examples you would like to share that fit into the categories above or Brian’s categories? If so please share them below (no doubt I have missed some great Australian organisations using Twitter in unique ways)

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9 Ways Australian Brands Are Leveraging Twitter In Different Ways

Twitter, within a few short years, has grown to be one of the leading social sites in Australia and the world. In Australia alone, Twitter receives more than 1.2 million unique visitors a month, providing a solid avenue for organisations to connect, engage and build relationships with new and existing consumers. However having a presence on Twitter is harder than just creating a profile and tweeting about how great your product is. Inspired by Brian Solis, 21 Twitter Tips , this article reviews how Australian organisations are adopting some of the different strategies he covers in his article.

If your brand is yet to have a Twitter profile hopefully this article provides you with some useful food for thought. Or if you have a profile but need to refine the strategy this article may provide clarity on the techniques that you could adopt to create a very useful and engaging Twitter experience in 140 characters.

Special Offers

Globally @DellOutlet has generated over $3 million in revenue through Twitter and Facebook via offers. Locally it seems that special offer strategies are one of the most popular tactics to use for a Twitter profile. @VirginBlue, @JetstarAirways and @tigerairwaysaus have established significant followings through their Twitter accounts. And it seems that it is paying off for at least some of them. In 2009 @JetstarAirways offered 1,000 seats for two cents – and sold out in hours (no wonder why). And in August, Jetstar announced a new route launch using Twitter with a “free seats” offer for its new Sydney-Melbourne services. As a result of its success Jetstar has announced a significant shift of its marketing budget towards social media in 2010.
However it is not just airlines that are leveraging the Twitter opportunity. EB Games currently has also adopted a similar approach by releasing special codes and discounts via their Twitter profile.

Word of Mouth MarketingWord of Mouth Marketing

@Crust Pizza has been leveraging Twitter to spread the word about its pizza through its tweet promotion. Still running, this competition provides the opportunity for consumers to win free pizza on Friday by Tweeting – #CrustFreePizzaFriday. The competition is only open to Crust followers which I am sure has had a big impact on the growth of their number of followers which now stands at 2,530. Whilst quantifying the direct impact is difficult, the CEO of Crust is confident that the promotion has impacted their bottom line.

Customer Service

The Telco’s seem to be all over this one proactively seeking out unhappy customers and fielding direct client customer service issues. @VirginMobileAus is a great example of a brand monitoring the Twittersphere for unhappy customers and trying to right wrongs – see below.
eg @undisclosed Hiya, saw ur tweet RE: VM =( Is there anything I can do to sway ur impression? Pls DM, Thanks! =)

Crowdsourcing & Feedback

When Australia’s biggest realestate site re-launched their new platform they dedicated time to reviewing the feedback and actioning issues. And it seems they are not the only ones. Many Australian brands are reaching out to consumers to gauge feedback on websites including @WorldVisionAus @STATravel. However this is one strategy that I believe Australian brands could be using more of. Reaching out to a Twitter network for feedback on new offerings or crowdsourcing new ideas is a significant untapped resource and is a big opportunity for those in the online media / classifieds space as well as those in the fashion / retail space.

Information Networks

Information networks provide helpful alerts, notices and information to help followers avert problems or get up to the minute information. The obvious applications for such profiles include airlines and transport companies however few have taken advantage of this opportunity, however the AFL has. @AFL provides users with quarter by quarter updates on matches and tribunal results. In addition the AFL aggregates other club related information to keep footy fanatics completely up to date.

Employee Recruitment

Marketing to potential new staff through social media provides recruiters with a new way to seek referrals and applications for open positions at a lower cost and can enable brands to really reach out to brand advocates. Amongst other tweets, one of the core strategies for @WorldVisionAus is to do just that. Access their Twitter page and you will see recruitment is one of the core Twitter focuses.

Dedicated & Brand Channels

For some brands with multiple offerings, it is difficult to develop one dedicated profile and it also makes sense to establish exclusive channels or subchannels to share specific information and tap into a niche. @bigpondmovies & @bigpondmusic are examples of sub-brands adopting this kind of strategy. Although both are yet to build a significantly large following the profiles are tapping into niches to provide relevance and interact with users based on interest categories, which is a sensible strategy.

Curated ContentAggregated Content & Topic Experts

Whilst this is a bit of a combination of Brian’s categories, it is one that has merit. Most organisations leverage Twitter to promote branded content and despite it being targeted and relevant there is a lot of value in aggregating and repackaging content on a particular topic / category of interest. @ABCnews is a good example of doing just this – it has adopted the branded channels strategy and combined it with aggregating content feeds from Twitter profiles to bring together a culmination of different views on the one topic. One good example of this is their @ABCnews/federal-parliament profile which aggregates content from Kevin Rudd, Joe Hockey, Malcolm Turnbull and a host of other MPs.

Supply Chain Relationships

Not only is Twitter providing ways to develop direct relationships with consumers, however it is also providing brands with the opportunity to connect with their distribution channel to ensure they are kept up to date with product updates as well as to motivate distributors and empower them to spread messages through their individual networks. Amway @amwayausnz is one such company doing just that. Mr Coldwell, Head of Operations stated in an article just yesterday that – the use of social media fitted well with the overall philosophy of the Amway group, which saw itself as a community builder as much as a retailer. Their Twitter strategy aims to reach out and recruit new distributors and communicate with existing ones – and with nearly 150 followers and plenty of interaction it seems that it is already making an impact.

If you are about to embark on a Twitter strategy I would highly recommend Brian Solis article – as it definitely provides a lot of avenues to consider before developing a Twitter strategy

Got any other examples you would like to share that fit into the categories above or Brian’s categories? If so please share them below (no doubt I have missed some great Australian organisations using Twitter in unique ways)

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How Offline Activity Presents Online Opportunity

Masterchef Australia

It is often said that retailers are yet to quantify the link between online browsing and offline purchases and it is these trends that are hindering investment in digital. However a similar relationship exists between offline activities and their ability to drive online visitors and conversions and I am not talking about in traditional offline campaigns.

Popular TV series like Masterchef are capturing audiences offline and their love and excitement of this show is being translate into online activity. However is your brand taking advantage of the hype?

How MasterChef Is Driving Online Activity

The latest series of Masterchef has taken Australia by storm with 1.69 million people tuning into the premier of the series. But it isn’t just this 1½ hour slot that people are tuning into daily. Search trends show that at present the terms “MasterChef” & “Master Chef” are attracting 400,000 searches per month online alone.

What is however interesting is when overlaying monthly trends with generic terms like recipes it is clear that increases in food related searches mirror that of searches for the Masterchef show. Combine this with a simple Twitter search for the term Masterchef and it is easy to see just how hooked Australians really are. However whilst this seems like an obvious trend, it seems few are translating this into their online strategy.

Translating Trends Into Traffic

Not every show on TV presents a MasterChef opportunity however following the trends could prove very lucrative online for many organisations who operate in a field related to the latest hit TV show.

At present I believe there is probably 2 or 3 opportunities going by the wayside – MasterChef being one of them. And whilst Coles seems to own the branding rights on MasterChef, there are still many online opportunities to take advantage of – particularly if you were one of Coles biggest rivals. One of the other notable opportunities would be Underbelly which had 2.2 million people tune in to its series premier. Such programs could drive searches and interest in Australian crimes movies and books which could prove particularly beneficial for brands such as Borders.

Online Tactics Not For The Faint Hearted

Online TVWhilst planning tactics and initiatives around popular shows is not a completely new, this is not only relevant to offline TV activity. The rise of social media has meant that real time search is becoming increasingly more important as consumers react to their surroundings and move online for instant information gratification related to shows or events or world news.

Earlier this year I covered this very topic in an article about real time search and highlighted how Amazon re-acted to Michael Jacksons demise – with a full micro-site and digital strategy up within hours of his death. As a result of their swift action Amazon had cashed in on the opportunity before their competitors had even considered how to leverage the opportunity.

To build strategies around “pop search & social media culture” is of course not an easy task and requires flexibility in systems, processes and also a change in mindset for planning and reacting to news and fads. However those that do will gain a distinct advantage over their competitors in the coming years and are more likely to gain an advantage over their competitors online.

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All a flutter about Twitter Promoted Tweets?

We have all heard the news, Twitter has launched a long awaited revenue/advertising model – Promoted Tweets. The first phase of trials have begun with a handful of brands that have embraced Twitter including Virgin America, Best Buys, Sony & Starbucks to name a few.

But is it the next Google Paid Search, or is everyone getting a flutter about nothing?

How do Promoted Tweets Work?

Without re-gurgitation all of the press circulating about the product, I will highlight some of the interesting innovations they claim to have made with their product (obviously as I have not tested it as an advertiser thus I cannot comment on this from first hand experience).

Promoted Tweets* Ads that form part of the conversation; Twitter’s ethos of building a great user experience has been at the centre of their strategy to date and they have used this to help guide their ad strategy. Rather than disrupt the user experience promoted tweets aim to naturally form part of the conversation. Twitter’s first step is to deliver promoted tweets at the top of search results however overtime Twitter plans to display “relevant Promoted Tweets in your timelines in a way that is useful to you.” – according to Biz Stone

* User Behaviour; Twitter’s promoted tweet system analyses user interaction to help determine whether or not to show these ads to the user moving forward. To quote Biz Stone;
We strongly believe that Promoted Tweets should be useful to you. We’ll attempt to measure whether the Tweets resonate with users and stop showing Promoted Tweets that don’t resonate. For it to resonate with a user they must reply to it, favorite it, or re-tweet it, if not the Promoted Tweet will disappear.

When is it occurring?

I have taken a quick poke around to catch a glimpse of when and how the ads are being triggered. I conducted several searches related to Starbucks and also Virgin America (that users might search on within Twitter) to gain an understanding of when they are featured. In particular however I want to highlight 2 of the outcomes of this experiment;

1. Coffee & Guns – Starbucks Promoted Tweets
One of the most topical issues for Starbucks at the moment is that related to people being allowed to carry guns within their stores. Their Facebook page features a lot of discussion around the topic as does Google news. This is obviously a very topical discussion as a search on Twitter will quickly reveal a lot of Twitter activity – however I note that the ad that is served by the new Promoted Tweets feature is irrelevant.

Twitter Ads

Another topical issue is that of Fairtrade coffee which when searched provides the same irrelevant ads.
This example whilst showing there is more work to do, does present a potential opportunity of the promoted tweet. Topical issues spread through social networks like wildfire. For brand who need to regain their voice in such circumstances like the “guns issue in starbucks” it could provide the platform to connect with their audience and the influencers.

The Verdict

It is obvious that the Twitter ad network is still in its infancy, although given that it has taken this long to develop a revenue model, I am sure the advertising industry was expecting something more exceptional. From the initial searching I conducted across not just Starbucks but other brands, it seems that at best these ads are relevant on a brand basis but not contextually targeted at all.

Unlike search advertising, Twitter’s new ad network has the potential to provide a very unique offering. Its underlying approach makes sense in a social environment ie factoring in user engagement and also attempting to integrate ads in the conversation rather than disrupt the user experience, however more work still needs to be done. In particular as real time search is increasing in size, a real time search strategy will become increasingly important for organisations.

At present 600 million Twitter searches are conducted every month and Twitter needs to provide brands with an opportunity to actively leverage this search volume in a useful way which does not currently exist (from what I have seen). They must do this however whilst building promoted tweets into the natural Twitter stream.

What are your thoughts on Twitters new advertising platform – would love to hear from others on this topic

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2010 Australian Social Media Compendium

Social Media Strategy

Social media exploded in Australia in 2009, and steep upward growth trends have continued ever since. In 2009, I compiled my first social media statistics compendium to assist marketers and agencies convince key stakeholders that social media is not a fad and needs to be considered as part of the wider online strategy.

Over the past year a lot has changed in the social space, and thus I have again compiled an updated social media statistics file for some of the major networks and social media sites in Australia, as well as provided some insight on what we should expect from some of the major platforms in 2010.

Overall Australian Statistics & Usage Trends

Australia’s Social Media Audience; A recent Nielsen study found Australia’s social media audience is estimated at 9.9 million.

Social Media vs Search; According to Hitwise social media and search traffic is now neck and neck. In the week ending the 16th of January, social media was just .4% behind search as an online category in Australia.

Brand Interaction; According to Nielsen nearly 40% of online Australians are now interacting with companies via social networking sites, reinforcing notions that Australians are open to engaging with brands and companies online.

Mobile Social Media Nielsen’s social media 2010 report found that 26% of social networkers participated in mobile social networking in the past year. Younger consumers are the most likely to participate in social networking via mobile as 66% of mobile social networkers are under 35 years of age.

What Australian’s Are Doing In The Social Media Space

Photo SharingPhoto Sharing; 78% of Australian internet users sent or shared a photo in the past year and 74% sent or shared a link.

Wiki Use; Close to three quarters of Australian internet users (73%) read a wiki in the past year compared to 61 percent in 2008 and just 37 percent in 2007.

Online Video Consumers; 41% of Australian internet users have streamed or downloaded videos and 21% are doing so on a regular basis.

Online Reviews & Opinions; 86% of Australian’s online are looking to fellow internet users for opinions and information about products, services and brands.

Individual Network Statistics

LinkedIn
Audience
LinkedIn’s unique audience was approximately 970,000 in January, giving it an audience reach of 6.55%.

Time Spent Onsite
LinkedIn’s members spend about eight minutes onsite each month.

2010 Verdict
In 2009 LinkedIn had approximately 670,000 members and thus this network audience has grown by approximately 45% in Australia. I anticipate this audience to continue to grow as more and more professionals begin to network online to;
– Prospect for business
– Improve their career prospects and
– Seek professional advice and share knowledge.

Facebook

Facebook LiveAudience
75% of Australian Internet users (75%) have visited Facebook, whilst 59% have a Facebook profile.
In January 2010, Facebook achieved 8.6 million unique visitors

Time Spent Onsite
The average time spent on Facebook in a given month is 8:19 hours – seven and a half hours more than its closest rival site, YouTube.

Other Important Statistics 20% of Australians aged 55 or older had reported using Facebook. This trend is being driven by grandparents wishing to keep in touch with their grand children.

2010 Outlook
Over the past year Facebook has experienced phenomenal growth in Australia. In May 2009 Facebook had approximately 5 million users in Australia and a reach of 38% of online Australians. Growth and duration is difficult to forecast for the year ahead as it is difficult to determine how far we are away from reaching the social network ceiling in Australia. Over the coming year I anticipate monthly time on site may continue to increase as more and more people access Facebook via their smartphones (statistics show 36% of mobile users access Facebook daily via their phone). However one factor which may stunt monthly time on site growth is what I term “social fatigue”. I feel social fatigue is starting to emerge with longer term Facebook users. A good portion of the Australian Facebook audience who have had profiles for 3 – 4 years seem to be logging on very sporadically and keeping these users engaged is going to be one of the main factors which will impact further growth in both users and monthly site duration.

Twitter
Twitter StrategyAudience
In September 2009, Twitter users in Australia peaked at 1.6 million unique users and in January 2010 this dropped back to 1.2 million users

Time Spent Onsite;
Twitter users spent an average of 19 minutes each month using the micro blogging site

Growth
Twitter’s audience levels grew by more than 400% in 2009

Other Important Information
23% of Australians online read ‘tweets’ in the past year whilst 14% ‘followed’ companies or organisations via Twitter (up from 5% in 2008)

2010 Outlook
Many experts believe Twitter has hit its peak and will plateau. It seems this could very much be the case in Australia with it stagnating user base in the past 4 – 5 months. Integration of Twitter results into SERPs may breathe some life / traffic into it, as may new innovation however new location based services such as Foursquare and Gowalla may drive users to these new social environments and result in abandonment of the micro-blogging site – particularly for those who access it for personal use.

MySpace
Audience
2.1 million unique users in Australia in January 2010

Time Onsite
In October 2009, MySpace users spent a total of 39 minutes online

2010 Outlook
Over the past year MySpace user base has flattened in the Australian market and across the world. In March 2010 MySpace has announced that it plans to invest in a major redevelopment of its platform to rekindle user interest. With 120 million users worldwide – MySpace aims to grow its user base to 200 – 300 million users. Despite this after losing ground on Facebook globally MySpace has cut out a new niche for itself in the music space and it is this that will probably ensure it maintains a strong following however is not likely to gain marketshare over Facebook in Australia any time soon.

Here’s a video discussing why Australia leads in social media usage:

References

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/when-connection-becomes-an-obsession-20100301-pdn5.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatnews/7359341/Australia-is-social-networking-capital-of-the-world.html
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/australian-it/linkedin-pushes-local-growth-social-networking/story-e6frgakx-1225835816746
http://www.nielsen-online.com/pr/i&t_video-feb10.pdf
http://www.nielsen-online.com/pr/social_media_report-mar10.pdf

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Agencies Offering Social Media – Who Do I Turn To?

We all know that social media is increasingly becoming an important part of the marketing mix and harnessing the power of this channel to show a return is on top of many marketing managers agenda.

As a digital marketer however I have begun to ask myself, if I am to build myself a successful strategy which type of agency do I turn to? With search agencies, digital agencies, PR agencies and even media agencies all vying for a piece of the action just who should marketers choose to help formulate and execute a strategy?

We know that social media cuts across an organisation so does this mean you need all types of agencies to bring together a successful strategy? This article explores the value and shortfalls of choosing one type of agency over another.

The search agency

Social Media StrategySearch experts threw their hat into the ring early in the piece as it is a great way to build inbound links through viral distribution of content. What concerns me however about putting your social strategy in the hands of a search agency is that social media is more than building links to your site. As engagement, interaction and dialogue is essential, you need to ask yourself, is my search agency able to effectively engage and interact with the audience. Past behaviour of many SEOs have shown a disregard for the user experience in favour of rankings and this is where the core problem lies. In addition as content is becoming a core part of any digital strategy are SEOs the best people to be producing this? Of course SEO is a crucial consideration BUT I have never allowed my internal SEO team to solely manage social media because of their narrow focus on rankings.

PR agency

The PR industry has been slower out of the blocks but now many will claim that social media naturally fits within the PR remit. Are they equipped? Traditional PR has always been in a more controlled environment which web 2.0 is clearly not. Many practitioners are of course adapting their approach to suit the new flow of communication however is it enough? PR professionals have the skills to bring that great newsworthy story to the table, but what is newsworthy for the media is not necessarily what is popular amongst the masses. The other key ingredient PR agencies bring is the ability to effectively manage PR disasters which we know have been common in Australia with Toyota being one of the more recent examples. But is this enough? I believe there are some inherent problems with the ownership of social media by PR agencies, and this became apparent with the iSpy Levi campaign. A particular agency didn’t understand digital, and measurement enough to effectively execute the campaign effectively and demonstrate ROI for the investment. For years PR has struggled with demonstrating the link between actions and sales and under the bright digital lights there is nowhere to hide.

Digital Agencies

And then there is the digital/traditional marketing agency. Agencies know that their repertoire of offerings need to include social media thus it is an add on service but the question remains what success have they had in the space. In general Australia has seen many traditional agencies move into the digital space and offer social media campaigns in an effort to use the client campaign as a testing ground, and some have failed dismally. What these agencies lack is crisis management skills which are usually bought to the table by PR professionals.

So what does this mean for your planning and execution of a social campaign? Well that depends on your objectives and the expertise your current agency brings to the table. Maybe it is a matter of using a social media consultant or maybe a combination of experts across different agencies. I believe the next 12 months will enable us to see just which style / mix of agencies is having most success in the space and it will demonstrate just where we as client side marketers should turn to for expertise.

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