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Bits & Pieces?

Bits & Pieces

How many social interaction sites could we possibly need? Pause for effect. I realize the difference between needing and wanting is different, but honestly here, what’s going on? Now before I go pointing fingers, I’ll admit I just signed up for the new Google+ community. I think that’s the reason for this more-or-less rant. I don’t know, it just looked so dang cool. The colors, the plus symbol after Google’s perennial mark. So I guess my self-realization here was that I was taken advantage of or even victimized by… great design. Anyways, back to trying to make this blog post worth the space it takes up. My point (or maybe question) of this is when is enough…enough? When does the butter run out because we’ve spread it over too many pieces of toast? I understand the drive to perfect something. So in that sense, I guess I could justify there being this many social media sites. But if not in the name of progression, then what? Are we all really so insanely eager to share ev-r-ery-thing with ev-r-y-body on a multitude of platforms? Are we all that caring? How very kind of us. Now please, if you would tweet, share, post, blog, reblog, and like this post I’d appreciate it.

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Yesterday the Pew Internet & American Life Project published a new research on social networking sites (SNS) and our lives (link to PDF). There are some very interesting numbers and insights, but what I found very useful is all the data that allows us to profile the users of the major networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn  and MySpace (yes, apparently people still use it), and what makes them different from each other.

Facebook users

92% of all social networks users are on Facebook and more than half of them engage with the platform daily. Although the social media giant is becoming more and more popular among older generations, the young and women drive activity on the platform. Facebook users are more trusting than other people and, when controlled for demographic characteristics, they are more politically engaged. Facebook members have overall (not just online) networks smaller than the overall networks of LinkedIn and Twitter users, but they have a greater number of close relationships. Facebook users like to “like” each other’s content (liking is the most popular activity on the network, but note that this is liking pieces of content not liking branded pages) and they are more likely to comment on another user’s status than to update their own.

Twitter users

13% of all SNS users are on Twitter. 33% of them engage with the platform daily, but other 40% engage with the platform less than once per month. Twitterers are more racially diverse than the average social network’s users. Twitter is disproportionately popular among African Americans, according to previous research. Twitter users, together with LinkedIn users, tend to be more educated. They also have the largest networks (not just online networks, but overall networks) compared to the average American or to users of other SNS.

LinkedIn users

18% of social platforms users are on LinkedIn. 6% engage with the platform daily and 44% engage less than once per month. LinkedIn has nearly twice as many men (63%) as women (37%), while women dominate all other social networks. The average LinkedIn user is older than the average SNS user and has at least one university degree. These users have significantly larger overall networks compared to the average American or users of other social platforms. Their overall networks are not just larger, but also more diverse (this is a broad measure of diversity, not a measure of racial diversity).

MySpace users

29% of social networks users are on MySpace and 7% engage with the platform daily, while 62% engage less than once per month. MySpace users are younger than the average SNS user. They are also the most racially diverse SNS users. Even when controlled for demographic characteristics, they tend to have fewer years of formal education compared to users of other networks and are marginally less likely to belong to a voluntary group. MySpace members are more likely to be open to opposing points of view.

I wish Pew provided demographic and psychographic characteristics of Tumblr users, especially now when the platform has more users than WordPress.


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A new Yahoo! research report titled “Who says what to whom on Twitter” claims that only 0.05% of Twitter users attract attention. The study was picked up by Mashable and everyone and his/her grandma started to discuss the value of Twitter and its potential as a social media marketing tool. Some discussions even occurred offline. Imagine that!

Everyone who knows me, not even well, knows how much I love the Twitter. It’s a human Google Reader on steroids. It’s entertaining. Hello @CharlieSheen! And it’s the easiest way to learn from and meet really smart people, that’s how I met Sue Spaight. Ohh, and did I mention you can get free stuff? Ask Nick Pipitone about that.

You can read this Facebook vs. Twitter post that Sue and I wrote a few months ago. I can tell you about some organizations that have used Twitter in successful and interesting ways. I can introduce you to @NORDSTROMdave (read about how he uses Twitter here) and @BronxZoosCobra. But the issue isn’t about who is on Twitter. The issue is how we use it.

Twitter is participant medium and participant media are notorious for participation inequality, a term defined by Steve Whittaker, Loren Terveen, Will Hill, and Lynn Cherny in “The dynamics of mass interaction” (1998). The term describes the lack of active participation among most users. In 2006 Jacob Nielsen took the theory further and defined the 1:9:90 ratio (creators: editors: audience). However, a more elaborate model has existed for over 15 years, according to Thomas Hoegh, founder and CEO of Art Alliance (see image). The visual speaks for itself and I will not even attempt to explain it.

Participation inequality according to Thomas Hoegh

Participation inequality according to Thomas Hoegh

Still surprised by the statistics from the study? Why did we even expect anything different?

Let’s quit panicking that Twitter might not be the best tool for social media marketing and redefine what “active user” means because even the consuming audience can be very active in consuming. Remember Forrester’s Social Technographics?

Forrester's Social Technographics

Plus, the fewer the creators and conversationalists, the greater the opportunity for brands to receive more attention online. They/we just need to provide value (e.i. content, utility and entertainment) and build relationships. Shouldn’t be that hard.

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From Sue and Addy.

We believe that our shiny new site isn’t just a place for Jigsaw to share our work, opinions, thoughts and experiences as an idea agency. It is another tool to help our clients and interested others navigate through a hyperconnected and fast-paced world where we have 140 characters/10 seconds to get someone’s attention. When one of our clients sent us Eunju Lie’s “When it Comes To Marketing, Twitter Destroys Facebook” in Business Insider and asked for our opinion, we thought to share our answer with everyone since it’s likely that many people might have the same question.

So what is the answer? Is Twitter better than Facebook for social marketing? Some would say yes, others would say no, and we say “It depends.”

How do you decide which platform is a better fit for your organization? We’re going to provide some general guidelines here; however, this is not to say that there are not exceptions. There are many variables and not “one right answer” that applies to all marketing scenarios.

First, define the goal. What are you trying to achieve with your participation in these social media tools? Increase awareness? Traffic? Donations? Sales? Loyalty? Build a community? Provide customer support? Position individuals within the organization as thought leaders?

Twitter is generally a stronger platform for:

  • Driving awareness, because of the way people stumble upon interesting content and decide to follow the originator of the content.
  • Providing customer support, because of its “now” nature. However, some brands, like Samsung, are exploring the opportunities to provide customer service on Facebook too.
  • General online reputation management/thought leadership strategies, including media relations.

Facebook is generally more powerful when used to:

  • Engage and involve loyal customers.
  • Empower ambassadors.

Both platforms are quite effective for:

  • Building relationships and loyalty among existing customers/users: especially for passion brands. People like Facebook Fan Pages because they already like the brand IRL; this is really the sweet spot of Facebook as a tool. However, a positive, fast response to a customer on Twitter can convert a dissatisfied customer to an advocate.
  • Event promotion: Both tools can be effective here, depending on who the audience for the event is. Twitter is the better option if the audience is tech savvy individuals or to capture the attention of people who are making last minute plans. Facebook is much better for general audiences. Facebook also has a live stream box in partnership with Ustream, which can be used to broadcast events.
  • Fundraising: Twitter can also be an outstanding fundraising tool, because of its inherent nature as a grass roots conversation. However, Facebook, too, can be used very effectively for fundraising purposes. You can empower people to tell your story on Twitter or use Facebook Causes to increase donations.
  • Traffic: One the one hand, Google ranks tweets in real-time search, which is how Twitter can help you increase traffic to your website, as long as you don’t spam your followers with self-promotional tweets only. Remember to write for the user, not just the search engines. On the other hand, Facebook drives more social traffic to websites. Although Facebook drives more social media traffic to websites, it is important to understand that the traffic doesn’t come from a link on a corporate Facebook Fan Page, but from the links people share with their friends. You can take advantage of this by creating amazing content and making it easy for the visitor to share the content.

What about driving sales? Tougher question.

Both platforms provide many opportunities: JetBlue shares discounts on Twitter while Delta sells tickets on its Facebook page.

Dell Computers has sold >$2MM in computers through it’s Twitter profile; however, it is important to note that they spent several years building social credibility online before that occurred. It didn’t happen overnight.

The book #TwitterWorks details how restaurant AJBombers and pizza truck Streetza Pizza grew passionate, loyal followings and sales in large part through participation on Twitter.

This year we also saw the rise of f-commerse. Brands like Levi’s use Facebook’s social plugins to increase reviews of products, which also increases sales. Disney Store has a store locator on its Facebook page. Munich allows fans to customize sneakers on Facebook and buy them from the site. Pampers’ fans can buy products straight from the Facebook page. The social giant can increase not only online sales, but also offline. Many fashion brands show their newest collections online and drive foot traffic to stores.

You can engage and involve (potential) customers and develop relationships with them on Twitter to increase sales. Or you can provide utility by moving the shopping experience to Facebook.

Where does your audience want to engage?

The next important factor in selecting a social network for marketing purposes is, of course, identifying the audience and understanding how it uses these platforms. Does the audience prefer Facebook to Twitter? Does it use both platforms? If so, what are the differences in behavior? What kind of content does it prefer to consume? What kind of content does it prefer to share? Why does it share?

One in ten people on the planet has a Facebook account and some people use it more often than others. But Facebook is the network for our IRL relationships: people we already know, like and trust, not to make new relationships, which is what Twitter is great for. The micro-blogging platform is also used to nurture already existing relationships, but its users are much more likely to engage with strangers with similar interests and discuss products, services and brands. Twitter users also tend to be younger, urban and more technology savvy than Facebook users.

It is important to note the increasing numbers of people accessing both social networks via mobile devices which affects how much time they spend on these networks, how often they go online, what content they are more likely to view and share.

Forrester Research provides useful information on how different demographics use social media in its Technographics Profiling Tool. However, there isn’t yet a lot of concrete information on specifically how different audience segments use the two major social networks.

Twitter and Facebook as Advertising Platforms

Another opportunity both networks offer is advertising. Although Facebook approaches ads more traditionally than Twitter, it allows for very narrow targeting so you can reach those five people in Richland Center who are under 30 and interested in collaborative consumption. Twitter’s advertising platform is based on resonance and engagement. It provides more than one advertising option: promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends.

Facebook and Twitter are both great tools, what makes a difference is how you are going to use them and how many resources you have available because it is not enough to just have a Facebook Fan Page or a Twitter account. What is even more important is that Facebook and Twitter are not the only social platforms. Instead of asking “Should we use Facebook or Twitter?”, ask “Which platform(s) serves our needs best?” and “What is our strategy for how we will engage and involve?”

Enough from us. What is your answer?  Twitter or Facebook? Which one is better for social marketing?

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Social Influence

Last week Advertising Age published an article on the possibilities of using Klout score and other online influence measurement tools for marketing campaigns. The author, David Teicher, mentioned the Palms Hotel and Virgin America as examples of companies using online influencers to promote their products and services.

Although it was refreshing to see that more companies equate online influence to something more than the number of fans, likes and follows, there are still some issues to consider when planning a campaign around online influencers.

First and foremost, online influence should be measured across all platforms a person uses, not just Twitter and Facebook. Although PeerIndex includes blogs into its influence score and Klout is working to integrate LinkedIn, MySpace, Digg and YouTube, there are dozens of other networks to be included if a measurement tool strives to provide a single number as a significant indicator about someone’s online influence.

The other technical issue to consider is the difference between the total number of conversations and impressions an influencer creates across all platforms and the number of unique conversations and impressions across all platforms. Some people use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, just to name a few, for different purposes, thus they have different audiences. For others, all platforms serve the same purpose and such individuals engage with the same audience on several platforms.

But beyond technicalities.

Online influence is relative and highly contextual. Someone’s influence depends on the category/industry/topic he is trying to be an influencer in, so to speak a highly credible expert. How do we know if a user is influential unless we compare him to someone else? But we can’t compare apples to oranges. We need to compare people who are in the same field/topic. Online influence doesn’t simply depend on someone’s area of expertise, but also on what others in this industry are doing/talking about: how many people talk about the same topic, how many conversations each one of them initiates on average, what is the depth of these conversations, how much information each one shares, etc. If John is one of the few online active people in industry XYZ, even a few clicks, mentions, retweets and comments will make him influential.

As (buzzword alert) propagation planners say, it is not about reaching influencers; it is about reaching and engaging the right influencers. Engaging people influential in the HR field, even if they have a Klout score of 70, to promote fishing equipment is wasting money. Targeting people influential among fishermen, even with a Klout score of 20, is a much better idea.

In all fairness, Klout does allow you to search for influencers within certain topics, but there are two problems with it. First, it still provides a single number to rank all users, not a number within an industry. Second, users have to sign up for Klout for others to see their score. Although it might seem ridiculously irrational to some of us, there are people who tweet and blog for reasons other than influence and sales. PeerIndex, on the other hand, can compare a score within a topic, but it compares it only to users with whom you engage, not to all users within the selected topic.

The bottom line is that all online influence measurement tools are still in their infancy stage and if we want to create marketing campaigns around online influencers, we need to focus on something more than a single number ranking credibility across one or two platforms. We need to identify influencers within specific topics and industries with specific demographic and psychographic characteristics.

Just my $0.02.

What would you add to all these issues and considerations? How can we use influence measurement tools effectively?

Image : Stefano Maggi

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