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Starbucks and Jiepang team up again for Valentine’s Day
Starbucks and Chinese location-based service Jiepang will play matchmaker this coming Valentine’s Day with Starbucks’ new social marketing campaign. All check-ins on Jiepang in some parts of China will earn users a blue or pink Valentine’s badge, which will entitle them to two free cups of Starbucks coffee with every purchase of a Starbucks reward card. 520 lucky users stand to win Nokia N9 phones, while those who fill out the matchmaking in-store postcards might win themselves a special Starbucks mug – or a date for Valentine’s Day.
Air China’s Facebook check-in campaign
Although Facebook is banned in China, that did not prevent Air China from promoting its services in Sweden using Facebook. It partnered up with a number of popular Asian restaurants in Sweden and encouraged guests to check-in on Facebook as they sat down to eat. Those with the highest number of check-ins (and calories, we assume) at the end of the week won a pair of free tickets to Asia. Although it may seem simple, this was a highly successful campaign, reaching over a million people.
Can the caged bird still tweet? Not in Thailand
Twitter has announced that it is now able to censoring tweets in certain countries, in order to comply with local laws. The announcement was met with some scepticism from commentators, not least because of the role Twitter played in many of the uprisings that took place last Spring, although Twitter have deflected some of the criticism by opting for full transparency when censoring tweets. In order to qualify for censorship, an ‘authorised entity’ would have to report the tweet or account, which would then be censored in that country, and in its place would be left a notice informing users that the tweet or account in question had been censored for legal reasons. The Thai government have been one of the first to welcome the decision.
The Indian Army bans use of social networks
The Indian Army is reported to be introducing a ban on social networking amongst its servicemen and women due to fears of crucial information being leaked. All 36,000 officers and 1.3 million other personnel of the Indian Army will have to immediately cease using and even delete their profiles from their various social networks. The alleged reason for this strict ban is due to the increasing number of photos of officers in uniform, with weapons or amongst their units that are posted to the Web, which has led to concerns that important information may risk being leaked on sites like Facebook, Orkut, Twitter and others, or that individuals may put themselves at risk, having disclosed their professional identities.
Emergency alerts on Google Maps
Google Maps will now add emergency alerts for natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and blizzards to locations. Google’s Public Alerts will integrate warnings from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service, and the US Geological Survey (USGS) into Maps. Users can search for a type of alert near a location, which will bring up any warnings from the source, as well as a chart illustrating the likelihood, severity, and how soon the emergency might occur. Although limited to the US at the moment, the implications should Public Alerts roll out worldwide would be momentous. Considering that Google Maps has been integrated into Google+, users will be able to share emergency alerts from Maps with their social network, and the spread of information and updates about potential disasters through individual networks could reach a great number of people quicker.
In other Google Maps news, Google and online train ticketing website thetrainline.com have collaborated to make planning for train travel across Britain much easier. Information and timetables for train services in Britain have been launched on Google Maps at maps.google.co.uk, and more than 2,500 stations, 170,000 trips nationwide, 8,000 bus stops and over 250 tube stations have been added onto Maps. Users are also provided walking directions and some bus timetables for connections, and can directly click through to thetrainline.com to search for and book tickets for their journey. This will no doubt greatly benefit the throng of visitors flocking to London for the Olympics later this year, as tourists will be able to combine walking and transit directions on Google Maps for mobile to help them navigate about.
Only 1% of Facebook fans engage with brands
According to a study from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, only a little more than 1% of fans of the biggest brands on Facebook are engaging with brands on their Facebook pages. Researchers for the institute looked at the ‘People Talking About This’ metric, which is a running count of likes, posts, comments, tags, shares and other activity, as a proportion of overall fan growth of the top 200 brands on Facebook. Across a six-week period, they discovered that the percentage of People Talking About This to overall fans was 1.3%. If page and post ‘Likes’ are taken out of the equation to narrow the scope of engagement, since it requires only a click and does not involve as much motivation to interact as compared to a comment, the percentage shrinks to 0.45%. What this illustrates is less than half a percent of people who publicly show that they ‘Like’ the brand are interested in interacting with or creating any kind of content around it. This shows again that the absolute number of Facebook fans is not the best metric brands should strive towards, but rather, engagement with their fans is what will most likely convert into loyal and paying customers.
Consumers respond better to shared content than paid advertising
General Electric teamed up with Buzzfeed to prove once and for all that shared content results in a better response from consumers than paid advertising placement. Digital advertising measurement firm, Vizu, exposed subjects to the ‘The GE Show’ video through both paid display ads and sharing from friends and found that, overall, those who watched the video via sharing “had a significantly bigger lift in positive attitudes toward GE – associating the brand with such things as creativity and innovation – than people exposed via paid placements.” Paul Marcum, director of global marketing and programming at GE, said that the study was a lesson on “the value of advocacy, and that absolutely will inform marketing decisions”.
Teens opting for Twitter as older generations ruin Facebook
Since the days of yore parents have been warning their kids about privacy and not sharing too much information online. And kids, characteristically, have not listened and have shared whatever they please with their friends and the friends of their friends. But now a funny thing has begun to happen. As parents begin to disregard their own advice and tentatively setup Facebook profiles of their own, the kids start to fear for their privacy, not from ‘pirates’ or fraudsters, but from their parents. As a result, a lot of teens are now migrating to Twitter in an effort to escape the prying eyes of the older generations. Of course, what is happening here is nothing new, as Alice Marwick, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research points out, “They just want someplace they can express themselves and talk with their friends without everyone watching”.
When it comes to Facebook brand pages: Local is better than Global
Socialbakers have done a bit of social media sleuthing and determined, once and for all, that local pages consistently result in higher levels of engagement than global pages. Citing both Xbox and BMW as examples, they show that the top local pages result in far higher (10 times higher in Xbox’s case!) levels of engagement than a centralised global page. The benefits of ‘going local’ include content and conversation being more relevant, fans sharing a common language and fans having more in common.
Timeline and Open Graph are coming to brand pages
Social marketers are readying themselves for the changes that are to come to Facebook brand pages in 2012, most notably, the introduction of Timeline and Open Graph. Carolyn Everson, VP of global marketing solutions at Facebook:
There’s a lot of speculation [about Timeline]. The goal has always been to have your personal experience on Facebook not be so different than the brand or page experience. And right now, it is different. You have Timeline and you have a page-brand profile. So we are absolutely moving in the direction to sync those up. We believe that brands want to be able to curate how they’re represented in a more visually pleasing way, and we’re in the midst of trying to figure out how best to do that.
and on Open Graph:
We don’t want a mad rush to have every brand suddenly think that the next thing we have to do is an Open Graph implementation. Because then you put stuff out there that people don’t care about, and that they don’t really share, and they turn it off. We’re working brand by brand, and frankly, industry by industry.
Timeline supported by just one in ten Facebook users
When it comes to users rather than brands, a survey of 4,000 of them has found that just 8% of users endorse Facebook’s Timeline feature. The survey also found that 51% of those asked were worried by the changes and just 8% said they would get used to them. Of course time will tell whether the changes are accepted in the long run. It tends to be the case that redesigns of this sort are met with uproar at first, then quiet consternation and finally accepted as the status quo and the whole cycle repeats itself ad infinitum. Unless, of course, you happen to be Digg.
Facebook’s ‘Subscribe’ feature proves a hit with journalists and page owners
Since November 2011, journalists have seen a 320% increase in Facebook subscribers. Twitter proved an early hit with journalists and they seem to be using Facebook’s ‘Subscribe’ feature in more or less the same way; keeping their readers informed and up to speed by sharing articles, photos, videos and asking questions of their subscribers. Facebook has also introduced the option for Facebook users to subscribe to page owners, opening up new communication channels between consumers, brand pages and the people that manage them.
Facebook beta new social plugin, ‘The Recommendation Bar’
Facebook have debuted a new social plugin that incorporates some of Facebook’s Open Graph features. Essentially, it boils down to a ‘Recommendation Bar’ that gives readers ‘Social Recommendations’ on similar content they are likely to enjoy or that their friends enjoyed, an ‘Omnipresent Like’ button to ensure that user’s ability to Like a page isn’t hampered by poor site design and the ability to switch on ‘Frictionless Sharing’.
Over 5 billion songs have been shared on Facebook since the f8 conference
Since September, over 5 billion songs have been shared as a result of Facebook’s ‘frictionless sharing’ feature, although the jury’s still out on whether or not frictionless sharing is a hit with users. Some critics say that it has reduced the sharing of content to a passive activity, others say it is intrusive. Even so, it is hard to argue with the numbers.
Twitter to roll out more of their fan-dangled brand pages to big spenders
The roll out of Twitter brand pages will continue from February 1st onwards, although only to brands that have already committed to spending at least $25,000 on its ad products. Twitter declined to comment on the ongoing roll out of the new brand pages or the advertising spend required to qualify for one, although they did say they are partnering with some individuals and charities for the roll out of its brand pages, one of which will be the American Red Cross.
Twitter analytics to be introduced in the coming months
Erica Anderson, Twitter’s manager for news and journalism, also announced that one of the new features that will be released in the coming months is an analytics service to help content creators track how their content is spreading across the Twitterverse.
Twitter to add right-to-left languages
Twitter have announced that hashtags and Tweets now work properly for users that write in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu, and it should be only a matter of months before the Twitter interface is available in those languages.
Facebook, Twitter and Myspace engineers fix Google’s social search results
“Don’t be Evil” was Google’s first unofficial motto. It referred to, among other things, objectivity and parity in the results it returned to users. But since the launch of Google’s social search features, a number of their competitors claim Google has been hoisted on its own petard, with Google’s new results seemingly favouring Google+ results over other networks, such as Twitter. As a result, a group of engineers fromFacebook, Twitter and Myspace have launched the “Don’t be Evil” bookmarklet, which let’s users view the new social search results without this bias. The results are quite impressive.
The G+ name saga continues
It seems like people have been whining about Google+’s policy on nicknames and pseudonyms since before the platform was even launched, and last week they offered a tiny, if impractical concession. You can now add a nickname to appear between your existing names ie. George “The Destroyer” Terry, or to have your name appear in another script, ie., to use their examnple, “सौरभ शर्मा (Saurabh Sharma)”. They also let you set up profiles under other ‘established’ identities, but the process to have these alternate identities verified seems a little impractical. Something tells me they haven’t quite hit the nail on the head with this one.
Just when O2 thought it couldn’t get any worse…
O2 got in a bit of hot water last week after it came to light that they had been sending copies of their customer’s numbers to every website that the user visited on their handset. As you’d expect, the Twitterverse flew totally off the handle and set upon the mobile service provider with all the rage it could muster. O2 fought valiantly, and seemed to be weathering the storm as best as could be expected – until they hit their daily tweet limit, which, if you didn’t know, is 250 direct messages and 1000 tweets/retweets/@messages. As more and more brands attempt to salvage their reputation from the jaws of ignominy in the midst of epic #fails through social media, this could become a serious issue, and one that Twitter might want to address.
Time Out to launch social TV guide
Time Out will launch an interactive TV guide that will feature listings, links to more information about the shows, relevant Twitter and Facebook activity, ‘Watch now’ links to services such as 4OD, ITV Player and BBC iPlayer and the option to record listed programmes on their Sky+ or TiVo box.
FIFA Street to feature in-game social ‘Street Network’
EA have announced their plans to bring social to the FIFA Street series with new features that will allow users to create profiles, capture videos of their best tricks and goals. “The Street Network brings that real-world swagger into the game by enabling players to capture video of those moments and share them with everyone in their street network to see,” said producer, Sid Misra, “and providing friends with a way to compare each other throughout the game.”
Lego launch social media platform for fan
Called ReBrick, the Lego platform is essentially a content platform that allows fans to bookmark content elsewhere on the web and aggregate it on the site, creating a hub for all Lego-related user generated content on the web. A bookmark widget can be installed for easy bookmarking and links can be shared through social platforms. The cool thing about ReBrick is that rather than clearing out all of the existing fan-sites dedicated to Lego creations the world over, ReBrick works in tandem with them. The creators consulted fans throughout the development process and the site also provides links to other sites and forums online where fans can further indulge their love of Lego.
Kermit the Frog takes to Twitter to promote upcoming film
Disney made their way into the trending topics on Thursday when Kermit took over the @DisneyMoviesUK account and fielded questions from his fans as part of Disney’s marketing efforts around the premiere of the new Muppet movie. This isn’t the first time that a fictional character has cropped up on Twitter in order to promote the release of a new film or series, but come on, this is Kermit the Frog. Loads of people got in line to #AskKermit their question, including one Mr @StephenFry.
Orange launch film site based on the wisdom of crowds
Orange have launched an aggregator called Orange Film Pulse which collates opinions from different online sources – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, online review sites, etc – in one place. You can also tweet directly from the site. It will be worth watching whether the site achieves any pick-up, considering Orange’s wider involvement in film.
House of Fraser targets students
This time, some of We Are Social’s own work – House of Fraser is embarking on a major marketing push to target students – people who might not have considered the brand before. It has partnered with the National Union of Students’ (NUS) Extra Card, to launch a vouchering app on the House of Fraser Facebook page (concepted and built by us) . The app enables students who “like” the brand on Facebook to receive a 10% discount when shopping on its site. It is also offering “flash discounts” via the social network to students.
Manchester City launch City Fan Cam
During last Sunday’s match with Spurs, Man City captured a 360 degree ultra HD picture inside the Etihad Stadium, which after the match fans could access online – and then tag themselves before posting to Facebook or Twitter. This was impressive, if unoriginal. But what made it clever, was that they hid players like Balotelli and Nasri around the stadium with the fans, and challenged fans to find them. This meant the picture was interesting for more people than just those who were at the match. It also explains why Nasri went missing on the pitch.
Bayern Munich’s spectacular own goal
Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich promised fans a new signing on Thursday – with the announcement via their Facebook Page. When Bayern revealed the signing ‘the new FCB star’ was actually just a marketing stunt designed to show how important fans are to the club. 5,000 angry comments later, Bayern were forced to apologise. Oh dear.
LA Fitness shamed by Twitter
LA Fitness faced their own crisis last week – after a Guardian story about them trying to extract £360 from a pregnant woman who’s husband had lost his job went viral. In the end LA Fitness agreed to waive the fees, but it’s fair to say this marketing blunder will cost them far more than £360. Oh dear.
Snickers investigated by the ASA
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched an investigation into Snickers’ Twitter campaign where they recruited celebrities to post some very out-of-character tweets. The campaign is being investigated against two possible breaches of the Advertising Code: whether it should have been stated in the ‘teaser’ tweets that they were marketing communications; and whether the hashtag “#spon” in the final ‘reveal’ tweet made it clear enough that that tweets were sponsored.
Twitter users deported for joking about ‘destroying’ America
In a shocking but amusing story, two British tourists were deported from America before even getting out of the airport, after one tweeted that he planned to ‘destroy’ America. The police refused to believe that it was slang, and he didn’t actually plan to destroy either the nation, its people or its government. A story that seems funny now, but one that could become a common occurrence if the FBI’s plans to monitor social media come to fruition.