Shiv Singh: January 2009 Archives

New Razorfish Data ties Consumer Social Media Activity to Purchase Behaviour

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Here at Razorfish, we're seeing Social Influence Marketing touch many parts of our business. Needless to say advertising campaigns is one of them too. With our strong quantitative roots, we're spending a lot of time figuring out the ROI impact of social. Marc Sanford and a few others have been spending time on the viral engagement piece of it specifically. The details have been released in a report titled, "Social Media Measurement: Widgets and Applications" and the findings are interesting.

The data shows that the more deeply engaged someone is with social media, the more likely he is to make a purchase. More specifically, there's a noticeable difference between those who engage with widgets through media versus those who are referred by friends. Those who were referred to the widgets by friends were four times as likely to download the application. They were also more likely to spend much more money on the client site and more time there too on average.

The other major findings include how dramatically "engagement" effects page views and revenue. The following charts demonstrate that consumers who spend 5+ minutes with a widget spend significantly more time and view more page views on a given publisher's web site. We found a similar impact on revenue, where engagement with a widget for 5+ minutes had large revenue upsides.

We know measurement of social media is important but those numbers tell us a few important things. Firstly, we listen to our friends more than we pay attention to advertisements. It also demonstrates the importance of widgets and distributing content. And as we've highlighted in our Feed reports, it furthers the point that there can be very strong connections between off domain activity and on domain purchasing behavior. Widgets are the trojan horses for a brand. 

Discuss this with more on Twitter and also check out Garrick's post for more insights.

Ready for Influencer Fatigue? Coming soon!

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Over at OMMA Social Charlene Li gave a great presentation on The Future of Social Networks. It was a variation of the presentation that she gave at South by Southwest. Its worth scanning but don't expect to find too much new in it. I'm sure the commentary around it must have really brought it alive.

We all know that influencers matter, that targeting them on social networks is going to be happening more and more and that the portability of the social graphs presents new opportunities for marketers, web product managers and advertisers.

What I wonder about is whether something that I call influencer fatigue will develop. Imagine what it will be like if you're being targeted by several companies because you're perceived as having a lot of influence among a certain group of people. At first it'll probably be flattering but sooner or later you're going to realize that you don't want to be targeted so aggressively. Your influences comes from your reserve as much as it does from what you do and what you say. You're going to want to control the visibility of your influence. You're going to want to hide the fact that you are an influencer. What will you do? That's when things will get even more interesting.

Social Influence unique in 2008, topical in 2009

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Last year when I first started talking about peer and anonymous influence and social influence marketing, it was new to most people. My research at the London School of Economics & Political Science had given me a fairly unique perspective on how social influence works and why it matters. It amazing how much changes in a year as the subject has become extremely topical and recognized across the board as being important to marketing. In fact, personal influence is one of Harvard Business Review's Breakthrough Top Ideas for 2009!

Take a look at this presentation from someone I met while I was down speaking at the Social Networking Conference in Miami late last week. He's exploring the different types of peer influence focusing on the details around the user experience. Good stuff.

Reflecting on the Third Dimension of Marketing

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As the recession hits us the pundits are busy prophesying what the downturn means for marketing and digital in particular. Marketers themselves are focused increasingly on direct response activities, as Christmas sales look dismal. But it is at this very time, that marketers need to retool their departments and organize for the future. Just as the downturn has turned innovation into a necessity from being the luxury it once was so too must the innovative thinking be applied to how marketing departments are organized. 

Today a typical marketer’s existing cost structure is probably already untenable, his core customers are aren’t as loyal as they once were and his products aren’t flying off the shelves as they did six months ago. How can the marketer respond to these worrying circumstances? What does it mean to restructure a marketing department? We believe the answer is by organizing the marketing department to truly take advantage of social influence marketing. 

This article was written with Andrea Harrison and was first published in Slant.

Looking for the Pulse. Turn to Social again?

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Grant Owens who's a friend of mine at Razorfish and a planner wrote a piece titled, "Looking for a Pulse Online in 2009." He's a planner who believes that there's a lot we can learn from radio. In his language, radio holds the pulse because unlike the iPods it keeps us alive, and connects us to our communities and the world around us. It's not a lonely device.

Interestingly, he explores that concept to put forth the notion that in 2009 it is technologies that have a pulse that will succeed. Those are technologies that are social but instantly reactive too. For him the technologies that have a pulse include activity feeds, micro-blogging, distributed sampling, live streaming media, data centric media devices and real time analytics. He asks companies to focus on pulse taking products this year.

I like the concept but what I find most interesting is that the first two technologies that he mentions are social applications - activity feeds and micro-blogging. Arguably, some of the others like distributed sampling also leverage crowd-sourcing an inherent social concept too. I feel that the most pulse taking technologies are the ones that are social - we're interested in each other pulses (to use that language). That's what drove the social media explosion. Something else for us to consider. Philosophies around social will take many different forms in 2009 and may not be instantly recognizable as being tied to social. That's a good thing too. What do you think?

For the other Slant articles that cover microblogging, cookies, online video advertising and email marketing click here.

Social for 60 million users. The Atom Launch

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terra_1.jpgSometimes the larger and more dramatic of website launches get missed if they're not US centric. Terra relaunched a few days ago and is probably one of them with 60 million unique visitors every month. Or rather 1/12th of it launched. The launch strategy dubbed the Atom Launch calls for the introduction of new features on the seventh day of each month. The new Terra boasts third generation social networking features and a strong interplay between editorial content and user generated content driven by user behavior.

Components include tools for multimedia collaboration and interaction, all designed to strength the exchange of contented generated by users and Terra (Terra TV 8 million unique users with 66 million streams per month). The resulting platform will allow for the integration and contextualization of high-impact rich media on the portal’s homepage and its many channels, videos on Terra Shopping and even ad-server tools for cell phones, including the iPhone and smartphone. Be sure to check out features like the Audience Pulse and the Community areas. Razorfish worked this and its incredibly exciting because in a similar fashion to some of the work we've done in other emerging markets the sheer volume of traffic to the site is breathtaking. Play around with it and tell us what you think.

Facebook Connect Boosts New User Sign-Ups. Implications

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fbconnect_facebook.jpgAs you know, I'm a big fan of Facebook Connect. It was way back in March we started having conversations on our internal mailing lists about it and its been a hot topic on our social media mailing list ever since. With its official launch in December we're starting to see some adoption numbers enter the public domain. First the numbers and then some analysis.

According to Silicon Alley Insider by December 29th 100,000 people had signed up on Facebook Connect on various sites. This was before Hulu, Digg and Twitter had finished their implementations. apparently had the most registrations with 13,000 sign ups. Who'd have thought that a video sharing site would lead the way. YouTube will probably implement FriendConnect soon. Gawker Media with six sites in the top 25 and some 9,000 Facebook Connect members has seen user registrations up 45% and comments up by 16% since their implementation. Techcrunch has seen roughly 4,000 signups since adding Facebook Connect. We have no numbers for some of the larger websites like CNN's Forums and 

What does this all mean? A couple of things.

  1. Facebook Connect is being steadily adopted. There's no question that it takes time to add the capability but its very real and does produce results. I believe its going to explode in 2009. As the mainstream web and the social web finally come together FB Connect is going to be one of those vital glues.
  2. Implementations are still simplistic. I'm waiting for implementations that really surface different content and opinions based on my profile and my friends list. Similarly, I want to see targeted advertising driven by my profile too. Think of it as hyper targeting but for the rest of the web.
  3. Adoption will accelerate quickly. Facebook Connect has proven itself and as the FB Connect logo gets more universal, it'll get even more adopted. At the moment, most people don't know the benefit or don't realize that their social experiences don't need to be distinct from their mainstream web ones. As that changes, FB Connect will increase in popularity.
  4. Google FriendConnect has a lot of work to do. FB Connect has certainly come out swinging. With the partnerships and implementation simplicity of Google FriendConnect it can catch up quickly if it moves fast. That hasn't happened as yet. Depending upon how successful FB Connect is, Microsoft will probably tie itself more closely to Facebook. We're already starting to see that happen.
  5. Marketers must leverage Facebook Connect. I believe marketers are missing an opportunity by not looking at Facebook Connect seriously. Its not just about making a website more social, its about allowing for social influence marketing by having people talk about your brands and products with their friends and influence each other. Whether its a microsite, a web product or a corporate site the opportunities are endless.
Mashable has a list of Top 10 Facebook Connect Implementations and a master list of implementations is available at Inside Facebook

Razorfish & Going Social Now shout outs

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We got a few nice shout outs over the last few week or so. The first of course was AdAge and AgencySpy picking up on the news that we won the Mercedes Benz Agency of Record pitch today. This is obviously very big news and we're very excited about it. Its going to be fun having Mercedes as a client here in New York.

Future Changes highlighted Going Social Now as a blog to watch in 2009. It was one of 15 blogs highlighted. Also included in the list was The App Gap, a group blog on social in the enterprise that I also contribute to.

The Buzz Bin ran a post on the 25 Signs that You've Got a Strong SM Consultant or Agency. The third item listed was that the agency looks at social in the context of broader marketing objectives. We were sited as an example of an agency doing that. It is nice to see that our philosophy about social media is being noticed). 

Brands must do!

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Brands need to stand for something but also do something says Garrick over at our Digital Design Blog. I like that notion and it jives with how I have been thinking about the evolution of brands in a social world. (Side note, Garrick and I have a lot of conversations so we often feed on each other's thinking). 

It really is time for brands to do more. Call it a desire for a better value exchange or building meaning for consumers or appvertising or think about in terms of brands doing more than forming emotional connections like supporting causes but the truth is that brands need to do more to become a part of our lives. We're tired of being a part of their worlds. That matters but our own worlds matter too and brands need to fit in more. 

The listening part is something that's very important to me. I still believe that brands don't listen enough. The Motrin episode is just the most recent example of what can happen if you don't listen. Some brand managers believe they own their brands and the consultants and brand gurus think that they know more about the brands than anyone else. They're in love with their brands. That used to be fine but not anymore.

A brand by virtue of its place in a consumer's social world is constantly evolved and in some cases even redefined because of consumer participation. The communities create and break the brand too. Its not just the property of the company behind the brand. This might sound strange but its true. Companies can and must do more to let go of their brands - to let consumers shape and influence it in the social web. When they do they will learn from their consumers how to become more actionable.

I believe the brands that let consumers co-create and co-evolve them are going to be the ones that win in the next decade. Now I wonder what Seth Godin, Jaffe Juice or Steve Rubel would think of this social media influenced perspective.

Ning trudges along unnoticed

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finance30.jpg(Pictured above is Finance 3.0 a social network on the Ning platform. It has 18,000 members and is growing everyday)

We spend a lot of our time thinking about Facebook and MySpace and how they're changing how people communicate and socialize online. Often the Ning communities get left out of these conversations even though collectively they have nearly 7 million visits a month. That's why I was psyched to see a guest piece in the NY Times by Gina Bianchini  the CEO of Ning recently. 

Some interesting factoids - Ning works because the two founders (Marc Andressen of Netscape fame and Bianchini) bring very different skills to the table. She's focused on advertising and finance and he on technology. The platform has approximately 600,000 networks on it on subjects ranging from Britney Spears to raw food enthusiasts. Ning expects to be hosting some 4 million social networks by 2010. Ning uses Google for its ad serving though in the future it sees itself creating its own ad network. 

For more on Ning read this excellent article in Fast Company from May 2008.

Facebook has a great Christmas

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Not surprisingly, Facebook had a great Christmas. The social networking site accounted for one in every 22 online visits on Christmas day according to Hitwise and as reported by the BBC. That's a 69% increase from the same time in 2007 giving it an overall market share of 4.65%. It made Facebook the second most popular site after Google on Christmas Day.

I suspect we're going to see a lot more milestones like this in 2009 especially with Facebook Connect's launch. After its integration, Gawker saw a 45% increase in user registrations and a 16% increase in commenting.

Facebook certainly has the momentum behind it and while MySpace has made some smart moves of late (its foray into music for example) those efforts may not be enough. Another potential winner in 2009 will be LinkedIn thanks to the economic crisis. More of us will be using LinkedIn to network and find jobs.

Newsweek features Razorfish Ideas

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Newsweek asked us how we'd help the Republican Party revitalize its brand with Gen Y audiences using social media.  I worked with the office social media leads and the ad creative team to send some ideas their way. In support of print media, I'm no going to give the idea away here (hint its the iPhone app). Buy a copy of the magazine and see for yourself! <i>Follow up to the post - Newsweek has published the ideas only now. You can find them here.


I'm back from vacation now so expect regular blog updates once more. I hope you had a wonderful holidays.