Forward thinking marketers leverage the power of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and more to connect to consumers in a more personal and meaningful way. That’s why Experian Simmons is focusing on social networking in this issue of Consumer Insights, featuring the freshest insights available from the latest Simmons New Media Study.
The 2010 Social Networking Report provides the hard data behind this consumer revolution, including the fact that fully 66% of online Americans use social networking sites today, up from just 20% in 2007. Social networking is an increasingly addictive activity, with nearly half of those who access such sites (43%) reporting that they visit them multiple times per day. While users of social networking sites may have initially signed up to better keep in touch with friends, a growing number say they now use sites like Facebook to connect with family members. An astounding 70% of social networkers keep in touch with family via their various online networks, up from 61% a year ago.
Fully two-thirds of all online adults today have visited a social networking site in the last 30 days, up from 53% in 2008 and 20% in 2007. Social networks have most thoroughly penetrated the young adult market, as nearly 9-in-10 online 18-to 34-year-olds visit such sites today. But even older Americans are tapping into social networks, with 41% of online adults age 50 and older making monthly visits to sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
The rise of social networking tracks closely with that of Facebook. As of April 26, 2010, 46% of the U.S. online adult population reported having visited Facebook in the past 30 days.
While keeping in touch with others is an important part of social networking, the popularity of games like Farmville and Mafia Wars illustrate that fun is a big part of the appeal of social networking.
Whether it’s keeping in touch with others, playing games, debating politics or any of the other reasons people use social networking sites, it cannot be denied that there’s a sense of addictiveness to it all. Visiting social networking sites multiple times a day is up 28% over last year, while less frequent visits are down across the board.
As social networking sites extend their reach across generations, Americans are increasingly using such sites to connect with more than just their friends. Today, 17% of social networkers communicate with their parents via those sites and 22% connect with their kids, up from 9% and 15%, respectively, a year ago.
An astounding two-thirds of social networking site visitors (68%) say they have shown their support of a product, service, company or musical group by becoming a “fan” or a “friend” on a social networking site. One year earlier, only 57% of social networkers had publicly declared their “like” for a product, service, company or musical group.
Knowing that social networkers are comfortable connecting with products and brands they support, it’s important to understand which brands have the best opportunity to connect with this group. Top retail brands among Facebook users, for instance, include H&M, Hot Topc and Forever 21. Specifically, Facebook users are full twice as likely as the average American adult to shop at H&M. Twitter visitors are 3.7 times more likely to shop at Nordstrom.
Heavy users of social networking sites are primarily concentrated in the Northwest and markets that are heavily influenced by major colleges or universities.
Silos beget compliance. Silos are getting in our way and so is compliance. Things are changing but it’s changing slower than many of us would like. In the meantime we’re left with porous organizations with the semblance of vertical structures (and the illusion of control).
Consciously or subconsciously we do not like to give up power. As the fabric of business gets reworked, leaders are having to give up control to retain the ability to lead. This is causing friction from the top and the bottom. Both those at the top and the all important in-the-trenches-leader need to develop two skills that once were seen as weaknesses.
The ability to take criticism
The ability to admit you’re wrong
Think about our current leaders; political, corporate or any leader in a traditional command and control structure. How well does upper management take criticism from lower levels of the business or from the outside? Not well at all. In fact most leaders block out anything but immediate feedback from peers, those even higher and maybe if they’re a good manager those directly beneath them.
This is a fatal flaw. The best feedback often comes from those furthest away from you. Not to discredit the feedback from those around you but they’re often blind to the same things you are.
Even the trolls and the haters have a kernel of truth to their criticism. It doesn’t mean you should change your leadership style or your strategy just because someone #FAIL’s you on Twitter but it’s a data point to be considered. If enough #FAIL’s start racking up then you may want to do some navel gazing.
In this agile world we live in now, knowing when you’re wrong is incredibly important. It can mean the difference from professional life or death. Often we make a decision, and it’s the right decision at the right time, but times change and the ability to abandon sunk costs and move on is tough and shouldn’t be taken lightly but shouldn’t be the reason not change course. It’s a tough balance and I highly recommend Seth Godin’s The Dip: When to Quit (and When to Stick)
for a quick read on how to assess the right way and time to move on.
Part of admitting to being wrong is the all challenging apology. If social media has taught me anything it’s that “I’m sorry” is incredibly powerful and we should be using it much more. Over the last five years I’ve been bordering on abusing it but not using it sucks. Two simple (heartfelt) words can often rebuild bridges once burned in the heat of the moment.
There are of course many more skills that you’ll need to acquire along the journey of leadership but without these two I don’t think you’ll ever get there.
What are your tips for not just developing these skills for yourself but helping upper management develop these skills?
As a marketing tool Twitter gets much more interesting and useful when you can filter out 99% of the junk that doesn’t apply to your objectives and focus on the stuff that matters.
The basic search.twitter.com functionality is fine for searching things that are being said about your search terms. The advanced search function offers more ways to slice and dice the stream, but still leaves some room for improvement as it only searches what’s being said and where. From a marketing standpoint who is saying it might be more useful.
Now that the search engines are all pretty geeked up over real time search you can create some very powerful searches and alerts combining Google and Twitter.
1) Target by occupation
Let’s say you have a business that sells an awesome service to attorneys. A simple search on Twitter will turn up thousands of mentions of the word attorney, but many of them will be from people talking about this or that attorney or the need to hire or not hire one. That’s probably not very helpful for your purposes.
However, if you cruise over to Google and use a handful of operators from the Google shortcut library (more on that here) you can create a search that plows through Twitter and gives you a list of all the users that have the word “attorney” in their title (username and/or real name) – Click on this search phrase and see what happens – intitle:”attorney * on twitter” site:twitter.com – what you’ll find is a handy list of attorneys of one sort or another on Twitter.
Without getting too technical, this search basically asks Google to look in the title attribute of profile pages on Twitter – obviously you can use any word to replicate this. The * tells Google to find the words “attorney on Twitter” without regard to order or other words – “on Twitter” appears in the title of every profile page so we need that term to make sure we search profile pages only.
2) Target by bio
In some cases searching through the optional biographical information can be more helpful than the username or real name fields. Maybe you’re looking for a very specific term or some of the folks you are targeting only reference their profession in their bio.
Google search to the rescue here again. This time add the intext attribute, the word bio and our key phrase to search bios – So a search for web designers would look like this – intext:”bio * web designer” site:twitter.com. When you look at this list you might notice that none of the people on the list would have been found by searching in their title, as in the first tip, for web designer. Try it both ways to test for best results.
3) Target by location
Location search by itself is simple using the Twitter advanced search tool – if you want a list of people in Austin you would use this in Twitter – near:”Austin, TX” within:25mi and Twitter would use the location field to show you Austin Tweeters.
But . . . let’s say you wanted to target salons in Austin or maybe the whole of Texas – it’s back to Google to mix and match – (intitle:”salon * on twitter” OR intext:”bio * salon”) intext:”location * TX” site:twitter.com – we search the title, bio and location to get a very targeted list of Salons in Texas on Twitter. Note the OR function for multiple queries.
4) New sign ups
Another handy thing about using any of the searches above is that you can also use the exact operators to create Google Alerts. By going to Google and putting in your search string as described above you’ll get everything they have now, but by setting up an alert you’ll get an email or RSS alert when a new attorney (or whatever you’re targeting) joins Twitter – I can think of some powerful ways to reach out to that new person just trying to find some new friends!
5) Keep up on your industry
Some of the best information shared on Twitter comes in the form of shared links. In other words people tweet out good stuff they find and point people to it using a link. I love to use a filtered Twitter search to further wade through research on entire industries, but reduce the noise by only following tweets that have links in them and eliminating retweets that are essentially duplicates – “small business” OR entrepreneur OR “start up” filter:links – this gets that job done and produces an RSS feed if I want to send it to Google Reader. Don’t forget the “quotation marks” around two or more word phrases or you will get every mention of small and business.
6) Competitive eavesdropping
Lots of people set up basic searches to listen to what their competitors are saying and what others are saying about the competition. I would suggest you take it one step further and create and follow a search that also includes what the conversation they are having with the folks they communicate with – not just what people are saying about them, but to them and vice versa – from:comcastcares OR to:comcastcares.
7) Trending photos
Photos have become very big on Twitter and the real time nature of the tool means photos show up there before they show up most anywhere. If you want to find an image related to a hot trend, or anything for that matter, simply put the search phase you have in mind follow by one of the more well known Twitter image uploading services such as TwitPic and you’ll get nothing but images. So, your search on Twitter might be – olympics twitpic OR ow.ly (You can add more photosharing sites to expand the search).
There, Twitter just go way more interesting didn’t it?