Archives for posts with tag: twitter
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

With newly clarified rules from the SEC allowing companies to disclose financial information via social media, more and more companies are starting to take advantage of the opportunity to circulate materials through social.  However, some companies are more hesitant.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/04/25/businesses-take-a-wary-approach-to-disclosures-using-social-media/

Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

SHOULD SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY COST YOU YOUR JOB?  Tickr enables you to monitor external comments as well as activity on company-owned social accounts. The question then becomes: what crosses the line in terms of employee behavior? This excellent New York times discussion covers the bases:

http://http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/04/02/should-social-media-activity-cost-you-your-job/

A lot goes into building tools like Tickr’s Command Center. There’s a lot of tinkering going on, a lot of tweaking, a lot of getting under the hood and adding new and better stuff. In a way, we’re kind of like the wrench monkeys of the digital world: we spend all day tinkering in our digital garage, building badder, hotter, faster stuff. (By the way, you probably don’t want to wear white around our offices. Fair warning.)

Anyway, we spent all weekend supercharging the hot rod, and we’re pretty happy with the results. Here’s what’s new this week:

Twitter controls:  Until now, you could browse tweets in our timeline but not respond to them without first clicking on the source and accessing the actual tweet (in Twitter). We didn’t like the extra step, so we got rid of it. You can now reply, retweet or favorite a tweet directly from Tickr. Status: All users
Tickr new1
Flickr: You can now also add a Flickr source when creating a new Tickr page. Status: All users
Tickrnew2
Yelp! We can also add Yelp business locations, though for now, this feature is only configurable on the back end. We will let you know when this feature will be made available to everyone (hopefully soon). Status: Enterprise
Tickrnew3
Pinterest: We can follow Pinterest boards. Like Yelp!, this is only configurable on the back end for now, but we hope to change that soon. (One step at a time.) Note:  Tickr being mostly focused on monitoring and analytics, the beta currently only allows a user to follow a board, not to repin or like. We will let you know when we add additional functionality and when we make this feature available to all users. Status: Enterprise
We have a lot more exciting new releases scheduled for the next few weeks, so stay tuned and Tickr on.

*       *       *

While we have your attention, be sure to enter our Command Center beta/contest while you still can:

The categories are non-profit, journalism, and for-profit.

The way it works is simple: 1) Sign up. 2) Enjoy free access to Command Center. 3) Submit a brief case study or summary of how you used Command Center before mid-March.

Make it as simple as you want. It doesn’t have to be fancy. The most creative and/or interesting case studies/summaries will win. That’s it. We even have prizes and everything! So sign up here and have fun playing with Command Center.

Cheers,

The Tickr Team

Here’s a quick tour of where things stand with key social media platforms today. Hat tip to HuffPo and iStrategyLabs for putting this together:

 What jumped out at us:

23% of Facebook users check their accounts 5x or more per day. That isn’t far from how often the average person accesses an email account every day, and most likely a lot more time than anyone spends on your company website. Give that some thought.

Also, 80% of users prefer to interact with brands on Facebook (than on other social channels). The value they get out of that interaction is 100% up to you though, so make it worth their while. (Most brands don’t make it worth anyone’s while. Work harder at this.) 77% of B2C companies and 43% of B2B companies report having acquired customers from Facebook. [source]

By the way, 488 million users regularly use Facebook mobile. (See our previous posts that touch on mobile statistics.)

34% of companies have generated leads from Twitter. Or should we say “only” 34%? It should be 100%. (See our previous two posts. They touch on that and explain how to turn that around.) The magic word: monitor.

Bear in mind that about 0.05% of the total Twitter user population attracts almost 50% of attention on the channel. Without getting into discussions about the validity of “influencer scoring,” (Klout, Kred, etc.) understand that not all Twitter users are created equal. Some will amplify your reach while others will not. Seek to understand this process better. Test and map it if you can.

This also means that if you fail to understand how Twitter works, your content will go nowhere. 71% of the millions of tweets each day attract no reaction whatsoever. They may be seen, you may be able to estimate total “impressions,” but your audience’s reaction will be zero. Keep that in mind when designing content and evaluating its impact on your audience. (Content relevance/value matters.) Impressions are not behavior. There’s a missing link there that you need to provide.

Conversely, 56% of tweets from customers are still being ignored by companies. (Also see our two previous posts.) If every company had a mature social business program, that number would be zero. In the business, the technical term for this kind of insight is called an “opportunity.” Better get on that. (It’s so easy to fix that too. All you need is a decent monitoring tool. Ahem.)

635,000 people join Google+ every day. (Wow! That’s a lot. Really?) Look, even if Google+ is still a little odd and you don’t understand its value or purpose, start using it anyway. If anything, it’s a great platform for seamless collaboration between project teams inside your own organization. As Google+ continues to grow and evolve, you will grow and evolve with it.

Active users spend upwards of 60 minutes per day across Google products. (That’s email, Google search, G+, etc.) Compare that to the average 15-20 minutes per day spent on Facebook. We expect that the value of Google+ becomes clearer, usage will increase.

The average Instagram user spends more time there than on Twitter. And you may not know this, but Instagram is searchable. (Check out how Tickr incorporates Instagram images into its monitoring dashboard.) Here’s a screenshot if the link doesn’t work:

If there is one thing you should know about Pinterest, let it be this: Pinterest is social sharing on steroids. 80% of the content posted to Pinterest boards is repinned (like a share on Facebook or a retweet on Twitter). What this means: Pinterest is a strong vehicle for a) social discovery (from recommendations) and b) product bookmarking. Take a step back and consider opportunities for your business. If you’re a retailer of any kind, Pinterest should be on your radar. (You can post your products there, with back-links to an e-commerce site, for instance.) Same thing if you’re a hotel or a restaurant operator. Car manufacturers? Same deal. From summer camps to gyms and from cruise lines to media outlets, Pinterest might not be a bad investment. Create visual content that you can seed Pinterest with.

Remember: Social Discovery and (aspirational) product bookmarking. Bonus: 50% of Pinterest users have children,and 80% of these users are women. If you know your key target demos already, that’s pretty relevant information.

 So the moral of this post is that there’s still a ton of room for improvement in your social business program. No matter if you are a small little startup or a giant global brand, not only could you be doing better with social, but with a few small (and smart) changes, you might be able to see BIG results fairly quickly.

Our piece of that pie obviously deals with monitoring and listening. Just by combining the right focus and the right tools, you can increase lead generation virtually overnight. You can improve customer service (and consequently improve customer retention, loyalty and recommendations) in a very short timeframe as well, and perhaps even turn your social customer service practice into an overall cost savings project (it won’t be the first time). By being aware of where people spend their time, what they do there and how long they spend on these platforms each day, you can also improve brand awareness, product discovery, product recall, and even positively influence purchase intent (that whole product bookmarking thing is pretty effective).

So don’t get stuck on that whole “content is king” thing. It has value, but it turns out to be a small piece of a much bigger social business puzzle. Start focusing on the other pieces. The ones that actually create value, drive business, and boost loyalty. (Ironically, they may be cheaper than content creation.) Properly monitoring channels for threats, opportunities, reactions and consumer queries would be a great place to start.

Cheers,

The Tickr team.

As always, feel free to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (we promise never to spam you with junk), and of course try the free version of Tickr. You can always upgrade to Pro or Enterprise later, but only if you want to.)

Today, we want to point you to one of this year’s top resources about the state of media (and one you should bookmark) – Nielsen’s State of Media: The Social Media Report 2012. There’s no need for us to peel back the layers and outline every piece of it, but we do want to point out a few key findings before you guys spend some quality time with the report itself.

1. Compare the amount of time spent on social media by device category: PC vs. mobile/tablet. On average, mobile web & apps win out over PC. That is pretty significant when you consider where web development, advertising dollars and marketing campaigns will go in 2013 and beyond. We have passed the tipping point: the PC is now the “old” interface. Mobile devices have overtaken the PC when it comes to digital social usage.

 2. Year over year, unique users of the mobile web has almost doubled in the US. (82% increase.) Mobile app users have also increased by 85%. PC web users, however, have gone down a bit (4%). Something about these numbers remind us of other media tipping points we’ve seen in the last few years.

To make this data relevant to you, let’s focus on a few quick questions: where are your customers? How are they accessing the web? How much time are they spending there? (How much time are they spending there compared to “traditional” media, and how will this impact where you focus your resources and budgets?) What kinds of experiences are they expecting? What are they talking about? What does this all mean to your business?

 

3. Year over year, US web users spent 120% more time accessing digital content through apps than a year ago vs. +4% via the good old PC. But wait… when you look at net numbers, the lion’s share of minutes spent accessing web content the PC still dominates: 363 billion minutes (PC) vs. 158 billion minutes on mobile web and mobile apps combined.

So here, think trends vs. volume. Be aware of the shift, but be also be aware that the good old PC-based web is far from dead. Plan for mobile, plan for apps, invest your money there, but don’t abandon the non-mobile web just yet. Think “and” rather than “or.” Think combination rather than replacement.

 4. Social TV: look into it. How this ties into advertising, reach, WOM, net promoter score and customer acquisition isn’t super complicated.

Also, from January to June 2012, active Twitter users discussing or sharing updates about TV content grew from 26% to 33%. Whether you are a media buyer or a social media director looking to justify your budget, this trend is worth keeping an eye on. If it inspires you to use social media to drive the reach of your television content (including advertising), you’re on the right track.

How can social channels and social sharing increase reach and amplify the reach of your content? How can these same mechanisms help customers discover your products or move them up into their hierarchy of planned purchases? How might you leverage monitoring platforms to better understand these mechanisms and tie them into customer acquisition, development and retention strategies?

(If you weren’t yet asking these questions, you should be.)

5. “Second-screen” is actually a little more complex than what has been presented to your team, but that’s a good thing. Here is a quick breakdown of what people actually do on the web while they are watching television content (and how they do it):

- Shopping (45% on tablets)

- Looking up product or special promotion information (TV ad related; 50% on tablets)

- Visiting social networks (44% on tablets)

- Doing research on the show they are watching (35% on tablets).

Takeway 1: Immediate calls to action work. If you are buying ads on TV (or working with product placement strategies), make sure that your digital storefront and/or digital springboard towards an offline purchase is a) easy to find, b) easy to share, and c) built to drive the user behaviors you expect it to drive.

Takeway 2: Tablets trump phones when it comes to second screen experiences. Design your digital marketing platforms accordingly:

1. Build deliberate second screen experiences.

2. Design one-click tie-ins to product pages, social channels and other relevant content.

Takeaway 3: If you plan on paying for TV content in 2013 (advertising or actual programming), you’re going to need to include a second-screen plan to go along with it. Not doing this is basically the equivalent of posting a phone number in an ad but not having someone to answer the phone if someone tries to call. Relying on people to Google your product, your TV program or your company worked great in 2010. You can’t really just rely on that anymore.

Note: Your second screen experience should include a) social components (sharing, #hashtags, links to Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and b) transaction driver components (links to product feature pages, customer reviews, online stores, and brick & mortar store websites).

Okay, that’s it for us. Big thanks to Nielsen and NM Insights for putting this together. Reports like this one tend to help companies make better digital spend decisions, so that’s a huge + in our book. For that, it goes at the top of our 2012 studies bookmarks. Great stuff. We hope it will help you with 2013 planning.

To check out the full report, go here.

To return to Tickr.com, click here.

Cheers,

The Tickr team.

In our last post, we talked a bit about leveraging social media to drive demand and lead generation. Today, let’s start talking about the basic mechanisms behind that. It’s a pretty big topic and we want to try and get down to actionable how-to stuff for you, so we’ll have to do this in three or four parts. Today is Part 1.

1. Start with a great product.

Sure, this seems so simple that it goes without saying, but… well, it is overlooked more often than you think. Corners get cut, things get rushed, budgets fall short, companies miss their window of opportunity and the result is too little, too late, and the burden falls on marketing, PR, sales and the social media team to make it all work anyway. It happens every day and no company is immune, so we don’t want to pretend that it doesn’t happen.

Here’s the cold hard truth: if your product isn’t really valuable to your market, it’s just going to sit there on that shelf. It doesn’t matter much how much “social media” you put behind it. All that money you are spending in marketing and advertising to “build awareness” for your brand and product is being wasted on trying to put lipstick on a pig. What are the odds that you’ll actually be able to pull it off? How much money are you willing to throw at a problem that no amount of marketing or social media can fix?

More to the point, what happens when your newly acquired customers finally move from awareness to desire to purchase and… your product isn’t as great as they expected it to be? Do you think that more Facebook activity will help? (It won’t.) More digital monitoring? (Nope.) The best marketing and social media program in the world won’t save you if your product isn’t a winner. So before you put too much work into your social media program’s lead and demand generation strategy, make sure that you have something worthwhile to drive people to. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and ultimately working to turn people off.

What makes a product a winner? It depends. It could be design. It could be price. It could be reliability. It could be the aura of quality that your brand provides, even if the product itself is only slightly better than your competition. It could have more to do with great customer service and shopping experiences than the product itself. It could solve a problem more effectively than anything else out there. It might just look nice, weigh less, work better, boot up faster, have better ergonomics… We could literally go on and on and on about what might give a product a definitive market advantage. The point is that it needs to have at least one, and the more of them, the better. Before you launch into a social media campaign, figure out what you want to talk about.

2. Make sure you aren’t focusing on the wrong outcomes.

We learned yesterday that 83% of B2B organizations using social media use it primarily to raise awareness, but that less than 35% use social media for demand generation. That’s shocking, so let’s change that right now.

You should know by now that beating a “like us” and “follow us” drum isn’t getting anyone very far. If you like giving away iPads and 20% off coupons, great. Do it. But be aware that a like drive on Facebook or a “follow us” campaign on Twitter don’t exactly focus on generating leads or demand. They focus on generating likes and followers. So before you spend a lot of time on convincing volumes of people to “like” your Facebook page even though many may never become your customers, spend some time thinking about the outcomes that these likes and follows are meant to drive. Remember that you aren’t on Facebook to attract likes. The value of a like to your business is precisely zero. A million likes on Facebook don’t alone drive the slightest bit of demand, so don’t kid yourself for one second about that.

If, however, you focus on attracting customers to Facebook so you can interact with them in a way that is valuable to them, then you will be able to convert some of those likes into actual dollars. Your business needs you to drive leads and demand, not likes and followers. It isn’t to say that your business shouldn’t try to grow its communities on social channels (it absolutely should), but remember to stay focused on the key business outcomes that your social activity will be driving.

3. Make the customer journey an integral part of your social demand generation program.

Understand where your fans, followers and subscribers are in their customer journey. The easiest way to do that is to divide them into three basic categories: a) not a customer yet, b) new customer (not loyal yet), and c) loyal customer. The types of behaviors you want to drive from members of each of these three groups are different, which means that the focus of your content, conversations and interactions will be different depending on which of these groups you happen to be targeting at any given time. (And yes, you will always be targeting all three simultaneously.)

Put simply, the core of your activities in social media (and elsewhere) will be split into three areas: a) customer acquisition, b) customer development and c) customer retention. Do you see how just by doing this, you change the focus of your social media efforts from likes and shares and clicks to actual business-focused outcomes?

Do a quick test: right now, are you able to select ten random likes (fans) on Facebook or ten random followers on Twitter and tell me where they belong on that a/b/c scale? Which ones are prospects?  Which ones are new customers? Which ones are long-term, loyal customers? If you have no way of determining that right now (no way to connect your CRM database to your social accounts or no account teams who can connect the dots for you), you need to fix that as quickly as possible. If you don’t, you won’t be able to legitimately generate demand and leads from your interactions across social channels.

One last tip: Don’t focus all of you efforts on like/follower and customer acquisition. Focus at least as much on customer development and customer retention. THAT is where social media channels truly shine anyway (mass media and traditional marketing often do a better job of creating quick mass awareness than social channels), and driving business from existing customers is a lot more cost-effective than driving business from new customers. How much more effective? Here is your answer (courtesy of Bain & Co):

On average, it is about 6x cheaper to drive a sale from existing customers than it costs to drive new business through customer acquisition. The question you have to answer now is “where are my money and attention better spent: on acquisition, or on development and retention?”

Think beyond the acquisition piece. It’s only one third of what you should be focusing on. Build value. Build relationships. Build loyalty. Build word-of-mouth channels. Work smarter in the social space.

We will revisit the topic of acquisition, development and loyalty again (and in more detail) in Part 2.

4. Make sure that you aren’t trying to drive the wrong conversations.

“Check out our latest blog post” is going to pull some traffic. And if you tweet about it every 78 minutes from 8:30am until 2:30pm, you will probably double the traffic you would have gotten had you not tweeted about it. Multiply that by 3-5 posts per week for over 50 weeks every year, and your blog’s “content strategy” (even if it efficiently rolls through the social media expert, journalist, PR maven, oversharer, affiliate community member, agency guy, blogger, SxSW speaker wheel of interest) is going to get old fast. What can you possibly write about almost every business day that will actually be of interest to your community? Your products don’t have that many features. Your office’s cupcake parties aren’t that interesting. There might not be a blizzard outside your HQ for another three months. So… how are you hitting all the right notes?

Here’s a tip: Listen. Listen to your community. Listen to online conversations. Browse comments in blog posts that relate to some problem your products help solve. The more you listen and read relevant content that isn’t your own, and the better you become at it, the easier it will be to figure out what you should be talking about, asking about, publishing and chatting about. Here is a short list of some of the things you should be listening for:

  • Complaints about your products and/or company.
  • Complaints about your competitors’ products and/or companies.
  • Wishes. (“I wish that my [insert product category here] would do [insert new value-add feature here].)
  • “How do I” questions relating to keywords relevant to your world. (If you are an airline, “what’s the best way to book a flight from my iPhone?” is the kind of question you want to look for. It prompts conversations that can help you introduce a prospective customer to your awesome smart-phone app.) Hint: help people solve problems. If you can’t solve them yet, work towards a way that you will be able to in 3 months. Or 6 months. Or a year. Listening to their problems and questions will help you build new centers of value that will in turn help make you more attractive to new and existing customers.
  • Comparison questions. (“iPhone or Droid?” tells you that someone is looking to buy something. If you’re a Samsung reseller and you look for those kinds of product mentions across a variety of social channels, you can reach out and perhaps influence a decision.)

Also look for discussion groups, user community groups, relevant hashtags, etc. It might take a little trial and error, but you will figure it out quickly enough. And if we can help with that piece of the puzzle, even better.

We might have to revisit this specific topic in more detail at a greater date, but you get the idea: Set up a listening practice whose purpose (at least partial purpose) is to look for demand and lead opportunities. If a question or topic comes up often enough, write a blog post or two about it. Produce a few videos and post them to YouTube. Create an infographic or a presentations that you can post to Pinterest or Slideshare. That way, every time it comes up from that point on, you can just link to it. Aside from the time-management piece and the SEO benefit of doing this, you will be sure that your content addresses actual questions and issues that consumers are dealing with in the real world. That’s valuable, and if you do it right, your social channels can become valuable all day long, every day of the week. So from now on, don’t just push marketing content on social channels. It isn’t enough.

Stay tuned for Part 2. We’ll get a little more tactical.

In the meantime, come by and say hello on Facebook, check out our no-spam zone on Twitter, and of course, check out our Tickr monitoring dashboard. (There’s a free version, a pro version and an enterprise version, so we have you covered.)

 Cheers,

The Tickr team.

 One of the perks of working in the social monitoring and social business worlds is that we run into all kinds of cool new apps and tools on a quasi-daily basis. Most of the time, we just file away that knowledge for future use, but today we figured we would share a few of the latest nuggets of social media tech you might have missed. In no particular order…

1. TweetBeat: Sentiment heat maps of the twitterverse. 

SGI has been working on a project they call the Global Twitter Heartbeat. Basically, think heat maps that convert sentiment on Twitter around the globe in real time. Applications for this range from seeing where natural disasters and political disruptions are taking place to being able to (eventually) see how Twitter users react to a campaign or particular message by geographic area. Easier said than done, but… SGI seems to have done it, and they do make it look easy.

Check them out here and sign up for their webinar/demo. There’s a video too.

2. Cloud.li: Quick contextual word cloud searches for twitter.

Want to figure out what types of conversations people are having about your company or product on Twitter? Cloud.li lets you quickly enter search terms and creates an interactive word cloud for you in real time. Click on any of the terms, and the next word cloud layer takes over. Think of it as a daisy chain of purposeful word association. Uses: campaign monitoring, digital reputation management, lead generation, community development. Simple, free, fast and super easy to use. Not a bad way to be quietly alerted to shifts in conversations (topic and volume) regarding your brand or product.

Check it out here.

 3. Trendsmap: See what is trending on Twitter… everywhere. Or anywhere.

How you approach the geo piece is up to you. You can look at trends by country, city… or even globally, if you feel particularly ambitious. Breaking trends are tagged with a little red tab that says… wait for it… “Breaking.” Trending topics with a little more history come with a handy 7-day history graph and an activity window that lets you see who is saying what and where. (You can engage users directly from that window by hitting “reply.”) Trendsmap now also supports Youtube videos and Instagram as well, so you won’t be limited to Twitter chats. We keep finding new ways of using this tool, so we’re pretty sure you’ll like it too. It’s worth dedicating a screen to, especially if you are a reactive organization that monitors news and trends. Not a bad way to monitor the effectiveness and virality of a campaign.

Check it out here.

 4. Social Collider: Discover quantum cross-connections between conversations.

Okay, this one is a little off the beaten path, but we really like it because it’s so… well… different. In its team’s own words:

The Social Collider reveals cross-connections between conversations on Twitter. With the Internet’s promise of instant and absolute connectedness, two things appear to be curiously underrepresented: both temporal and lateral perspective of our data-trails. Yet, the amount of data we are constantly producing provides a whole world of contexts, many of which can reveal astonishing relationships if only looked at through time.

 This is a pretty unique tool that helps you (if nothing else) expand your networks and locate otherwise invisible points of connection between you and either potential new communities to tap into, or more directly, net new lead generation where you least expected to find it. Probably not something you need to dedicate a full time screen to, but worth checking into if you are having a slow week or your community development trending is down.

Check it out here.

5. TweepsKey: Visualizing and understanding your network.

Here’s how it works -

The X axis: The more tweets a follower has tweeted the more the tweep will be displayed to the right on the x-axis. The scale of the x-axis is logarithmic. When two “dots” (eg. followers) have similar values the graph will reposition the dot second dot as close to the first one in a random angle, on the next space available.

The Y axis: The more “friends” the follower has (“following”) the higher the tweep will be displayed on the y-axis (vertical). As with the x-axis the scale is logarithmic.

The Z axis: The size of the dots indicate the amount of followers for each follower. The bigger the dot is the more followers. Again on a logarithmic scale.

The color of the dots: Colors of the dots range from light-blue to green. The color is defined by the ratio followers/friends.

You can scroll over any of the dots and an interactive user profile appears. Slick and simple. Handy little visualization and community engagement tool. We wouldn’t necessarily dedicate a screen to this one, but it’s worth a look on a regular basis, so give it a shot.

Check them out here.

6. Tori’s Eye: Not the most practical Twitter visualization tool, but pretty as all get-out.

Tweets about your topic or brand appear as origami birds flying across your screen. Scrolling over them stops them in mid-flight and unveils the tweet they carry. Definitely not a quantitative tool, but if your digital control center has an extra screen and you feel like bringing a little life into your setup for a few hours, this will liven-up the joint a little. Other uses: Good for triggering serendipitous engagement points with Twitter users. Kind of like spinning a wheel, but with a lot more style. Bonus: it’s kind of relaxing, having this run on a screen amid all those graphs, pie charts and boxes.

Check it out here.

Okay, that’s it for today. We hope at least one or two of those will be helpful, especially when used along side… ahem… you know… Tickr.

If you’re only now discovering us, take our free version out for a spin. (It’s super easy.) If you’ve already done that, make sure that you follow us on Twitter and Facebook. (If not for our awesomely curated feed, to be among the first to hear about the new product we are launching very very very soon. It’s going to blow you away.)

Cheers,

The Tickr Team

Last week, Mashable’s Lauren Indvik published an articled based on a study by Forrester Research which states that only 1% of online purchases are driven by social media. (You can purchase the full report for $499 here.) The piece’s title, naturally, was “Social media Influences Less than 1% of Online Purchases. [STUDY]

If you find that statistic surprising, don’t worry. Your gut feeling isn’t leading you astray. We’ll come back to that. First though, let’s dive a little deeper into some of the claims made in the piece:

“Ecommerce businesses should concentrate more of their efforts on traditional online marketing tactics like search and e-mail than social media. That’s the conclusion of a Forrester study released Tuesday, which examined 77,000 online transactions made between April 1 and April 14. The study found that less than 1% of them could be traced back to social networks like Facebook or Pinterest.

Determining how web activity influences purchases is tricky; although many often credit the last touchpoint for a sale, Forrester found that half of repeat customers and a third of new customers touch multiple touchpoints prior to a purchase. As such, certain funnels, like display advertising and e-mail, may be undervalued.

Nevertheless, ecommerce websites still convert more highly than any other channel, accounting for 30% of transactions. Thus it’s smart for retailers to promote their domain names as much as possible.

Following direct visits, organic search and paid search are the two biggest drivers of purchases from new customers, accounting for 39% of new customer transactions. That’s because the web continues to be a useful tool for what Forrester calls “spear fishers” — consumers who know what they are looking for and find it through search.

For repeat shoppers, e-mail is the most effective sales influencer: Nearly a third of purchases from repeat customers initiated with an e-mail. As such, businesses should up their efforts to collect e-mail addresses, and tailor their e-mail marketing messages to each recipients’ device and prior purchase behavior.

Social media’s potential as a shopping portal has yet to be realized. Less than 1% of transactions from both new and repeat shoppers could be linked to social networks, Forrester found.

That said, the researcher believes social media can still be a powerful marketing tool, and that social media’s influence on purchase behavior likely can’t be measured in the 30-day attribution window the report examined. Forrester also asserts that social media is a bigger sales driver for small businesses, which were not included in the study.”

The study was also picked up by several other media outlets, including Business Insider, which quotes Sucharita Mulpuru – the author of the report. Her conclusion:

Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers. While the hype around social networks as a driver of influence in eCommerce continues to capture the attention of online executives, the truth is that social continues to struggle and registers as a barely negligible source of sales for either new or repeat buyers. In fact, fewer than 1% of transactions for both new and repeat shoppers could be traced back to trackable social links.” (Source)

“Trackable” social links.

Has you brain caught up to your gut yet? If not, let me throw a few thoughts your way:

1. The study is based on flawed assumptions: There’s a problem with the study’s understanding of social media’s role in the customer journey (paths to purchase). The study, for instance, states that direct visits to e-commerce sites drive the most sales. Really? All right. Here’s a question: How did people initially get to the e-commerce site? Before we can talk about paths to purchase, can we at least consider their path to discovery? Was the site recommended? Did it turn up on a search? How and where did retailers promote their domain names, exactly (which the article suggests they should do)? Beyond discovery, how were shoppers’ purchases influenced by peers and other shoppers, via social networks, digital or not?

The study doesn’t look into any of this. It obviously is just working backwards from a purchase by tracking clicks, and probably no more than 4-5 deep. Sorry, but except for impulse shoppers, that isn’t how things work. Shoppers don’t typically follow robotic, linear paths from discovery to transaction. So that’s one problem already, and the numbers reflect it pretty clearly. Perhaps the clearest way to explain the first problem with this study is that it doesn’t seem to measure the “Purchase Path of online Buyers” in 2012. Instead, it appears to just measure the final sprint.

2. The study is based on flawed methodology: The study’s attribution model is wrong. If you have been in the business of selling things to human beings for a few years, you probably know that it takes more than just one “touchpoint” to convince someone to become a new customer, especially online. The study, however, would have us believe that 67% of transactions from new customers were the result of just one touchpoint. (20% of those being a direct visit to the e-commerce site.)

Not likely. Even more puzzling, the percentage attributed to single-touchpoint sales remains precisely the same for returning customers: 20%. Think about that for a minute.

Again, the study appears to mistakenly assume that paths to purchase are linear and can be measured simply by backtracking clicks. That’s what the mention of “trackable social links” was all about. We have known for some time that “last click” attribution is a flawed model. For the same reasons, “last 4-5 clicks” is also a flawed model. I suspect that the methodology behind this study was as influenced as it was limited by the technology it relied on to collect its data.

From where I stand, the methodology used in this study is completely wrong for what it attempts to do. Take a look at the graphic below and give it some thought. What do you see?

3. The authors of the study misunderstand the relationship between social content and search: The impact of social media on search (and therefore discovery) is utterly ignored in this study. Given what we know of social content’s importance to search, this is a bizarre and inexplicable oversight. Social drives sales directly AND indirectly by greatly impacting search. This isn’t news. And yet…

4. The study’s scope is limited to the enterprise… but isn’t particularly forthcoming about that: As stated by Business Insider, “Mulpuru didn’t study small businesses, which she said do disproportionately well in social commerce.”

How about that.

Two questions come to mind:

First, why wouldn’t the study also look at small businesses? Surely… if you know that they “do disproportionately well in social commerce,” there must be data that supports that statement. Where is it? Why wasn’t it included in this study? Why does doing well in social commerce disqualify small businesses from being part of this study? Was the intent of the study to… convince businesses that social channels aren’t effective? I don’t get it.

Second, why would the study not make it clear in its reporting that it only looked at enterprise sized businesses? Where in this language is the general public given the slightest indication that the study’s conclusions only apply to the enterprise? Here it is again:

Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers. While the hype around social networks as a driver of influence in eCommerce continues to capture the attention of online executives, the truth is that social continues to struggle and registers as a barely negligible source of sales for either new or repeat buyers. In fact, fewer than 1% of transactions for both new and repeat shoppers could be traced back to trackable social links.”

Hmm. “Hype” versus “truth.” Okay… No bias there, obviously.

However, to be fair to the public, should the statement not look more like this instead?…

Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers for enterprise e-commerce sites. While the hype around social networks as a driver of influence in eCommerce continues to capture the attention of online executives, the truth is that social continues to struggle and registers as a barely negligible source of sales for either new or repeat buyers, at least in the enterprise space. In fact, fewer than 1% of transactions for both new and repeat shoppers for enterprise-class businesses could be traced back to trackable social links.

That would be a more appropriate way to phrase all that.

Furthermore, why was this enterprise distinction not mentioned in the study’s title? “The Purchase Path of Online Buyers in 2012″ isn’t exactly indicative of the study’s focus on large businesses, is it.

If you think that is just a minor detail, see item 7, below. You will understand the full impact of this “oversight.” But first, this:

5. The study fails to understand the relationship between time, discoverability, and trust when it comes to the social customer: The study states that “Forrester partnered with GSI Commerce to examine 77,000 consumer orders made over a period of 14 days in April 2012.”

The study only lasted 14 days.

The nature of social media being what it is (relationship-based), leaving yourself only 14 days to track a social customer’s path from discovery to purchase is not an appropriate, realistic timeframe. This screams of automation and basic linear click attribution fallacies. So much for the development of online relationships, organic social integration, word of mouth, etc.

6. The study fails to take into account overlapping fields of influence in a shopper’s decision-making process: Paths to purchase are typically impacted by multiple, sometimes concurrent experiences. Some may be prompts (like an email promotion or a banner ad – which the study takes into account), but others may be recommendations from friends (online and offline), a preponderance of positive brand or product mentions on social channels, reading user reviews, social validation in the form of product or brand “likes” by trusted friends, and even direct interaction with a brand’s social channels, not to mention offline influences as well.

A study that attempts to understand and map “the purchase path of online buyers in 2012″ cannot ignore those factors. Not if it hopes to be taken seriously. By putting “trackable links” ahead of actual purchase paths, the study completely missed the mark on the role that social media plays in the customer journey – not only when it comes to mapping the path from discovery to first purchase, but also in regards to customer development as well (the path from first purchase to measurable loyalty). Poorly done.

7. Questionable reporting: Although the study is titled ” The Purchase Path of Online Buyers in 2012,” Forrester decided to market it by leading with this headline: “Less than 1% of online purchases come from social channels” (source). How did the most flagrant red flag in the study’s methodology become the study’s principal selling point? Your guess is as good as mine. The best i can come up with is that controversy sells.

The result:

Mashable covered the story using this title: “Social media Influences Less than 1% of Online Purchases. [STUDY]

Business Insider’s Title: “Forrester: Facebook and Twitter do almost nothing to drive sales.

BizReport: “Forrester: Facebook will never be a retail sales channel.

Internet Retailer: “Social media posts don’t lead to sales.

You get the picture. And so we come full circle to Mashable’s article, which gives business executives the following advice:

“Ecommerce businesses should concentrate more of their efforts on traditional online marketing tactics like search and e-mail than social media.”

This kind of nonsense gives me headaches. It really does.

Now don’t get me wrong: at the end of the day, it may very well be that social channels only contribute to 1% of online sales for many businesses. Most of us have seen strong evidence to the contrary in our own ecosystems (mostly double-digits from where I am sitting, except for category leaders in mature markets), and companies like Burberry might even disagree about that, but all right. For the sake of argument, let’s say that for the corners of the business world that we haven’t had any contact with, the number is indeed 1%. But even if that were the case, this study’s methodology would still be wrong in the way it arrived at that number. It’s just bad science, poor analysis and not particularly responsible reporting.

Most of us already know from experience that more often than not, the only thing standing between a company and its success is access to actionable market insights. Bad data or flawed analysis can lead to poor strategic decisions – from bad investments to completely missing the mark with a product or a campaign. Likewise, accurate data and insightful analysis can lead to terrific strategic decisions and score game-changing wins for a challenger or emerging brand. This stuff is important. It’s vital. There is just no room for bad science and poorly managed studies. Not when trust in your studies and market analysis comes with expectations of thorough expertise.

So the lesson here is this: Do your homework. Don’t assume that a “study” is accurate and factual just because it was done by a reputable company. Do your homework. Look for flaws, for red flags, for insights that ring a little wrong. Better yet, go find your own answers. Write your own case studies. Join our growing community of companies for whom social media is responsible for a lot more than just 1% in net new sales revenue. You’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for sticking around until the end. If you want more no-BS information and insights…

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And as always, we would love to hear your comments. Well… read them.

Let’s say that you are a brand manager, an agency working with a brand, a journalist following a brand (or just an ardent fan of a brand,) and you need to know what is being said about that brand, where it is being said, by whom, and when. Obviously, Tickr takes care of that for you, but let’s look at how easy it is to use.

Let’s start by building a simple brand page in the basic trial version. For the purposes of this post, let’s pick Nike (iconic brand, lots of content, and Nike was in the news this week because of rumors of its new shoe’s pricing and the Lance Armstrong decision).

By now, you’ve created an account, logged in, and you’ve built your page by just typing “Nike” in the box. If you haven’t done that yet, start here.

After a few seconds, here is what your basic Tickr page for Nike should basically look like:

First, let’s get situated. Top left of your screen is your page tab. (See below.) If you are using the free trial version, you only get one page at a time. If you have signed up for the pro version, you can have several tabs per page. So what you could do there is do comparative analysis of say Nike vs. Adidas, or deeper analysis of the Nike brand by refining your use of keywords. For instance: Nike, Nike Football, Nike Soccer, Nike Shoes, Nike retail, etc.

Next, look to the top right of your screen. (See below.) Though when your page launches, it will default to automatic scrolling, you can switch to manual scrolling, either by clicking on the up and down arrows or the on/off button. Your choice.

You can also easily share your page with friends and colleagues, edit your page, and there is also a help page that will help you navigate all of the elements of the page in case you have forgotten how to do something.

Now let’s look at the content being displayed on the page.

As you can see, each source of data is clearly displayed and color-coded so your eyes can easily discern between blogs, news, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Here is how each source timeline further breaks down: the boxes of text and the images you see at the top of each timeline are called content windows. They are there to give you a sense for what kind of content is being shared and create context.

The gray blocks below the content windows make up the activity graph. You can interact with all of these elements at any time just by clicking on them. (See below.)

So for instance, if you click on the blogs feed’s content window featuring the “Just Do It – Four Steps to Filmmaking,” you can pre-select it. In the top right of that window is a little symbol with a box and an arrow. Click on it and you will access the page that the original content came from. (See below.)

In that particular instance, the link took me to Garrett Robinson’s blog (hi Garrett), where I can read the full post.  (See below.)

Now, if I were a community manager for Nike, I might decide to do nothing with that information… or I might reach out to Garrett and thank him for the mention, or make Nike resources available to him, or decide to share his content on a community blog, Facebook page or via Twitter. The options will vary depending on your role, your objectives, the opportunities and risks presenting themselves, but the point is that this feature allows you to go beyond simple content discovery. It allows you to drill down into stories, mentions and content, explore them fully, and interact with them at will.

What about the activity graph? Same thing. Click on any bar you want, and you will be able to drill down into a summary of the activity for that time frame. (See below.)

Once the window for that time frame is open, you can scroll up and down (or move to the previous time frame or the next without having to close the window, which is kind of handy).

Top right of each item in the summary window is a hyperlink, allowing you to go straight to the source if you want to. Same as with the content window. The feature also works with the Flickr feed:

See? Super easy.

On the macro level, a Tickr page works as a visual ticker that aggregates then organizes data from a breadth of relevant sources. Dedicate a screen to it in your office, lobby or digital mission control center, and you will immediately get a sense for the volume of conversations and mentions going on about your brand, what category of channels these conversations and mentions are taking place on, and what the nature of these conversations and mentions is. The page’s design and automated updates can therefore alert you to shifts in attention, to the impact of breaking stories, the possibility of looming PR crises, the effectiveness of a campaign, the stickiness of a message, etc. (We’ll get into those and more in upcoming posts.)

On a micro level, the ability to drill down into the content summaries then track mentions directly back to their source 1. allows you to understand then analyze mentions and conversations, 2. choose who you want to interact with and where, and 3. gives you complete control over the degree of engagement you want to have with your audience and/or community.

Combining Tickr’s macro and micro capabilities makes for a pretty powerful social media monitoring and management tool.

We’ll focus on more advanced features in future posts, so stay tuned. (There’s a lot more to talk about.)

In the meantime, feel free to try Tickr’s free trial version, and if you haven’t yet, unlock some new features by creating an account (recommended).

And as always, don’t be shy: share your thoughts and feedback with us, either in the comment section below or by contacting us.

We hope this post was helpful to you.

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