Facebook and TV: can it compete with Twitter for live engagement?

One need only look at the trending topics on any given evening to know that Twitter is a popular tool for discussing television shows.

The network has become the go-to forum for reaction to TV programmes and is one of the few things that ensures people still watch live TV rather than relying on on-demand services.

However a new report suggests that Facebook may also be a popular talking shop for TV shows.

This is a topic we’ve previously discussed in articles looking at why Facebook can’t beat Twitter for social TV and a best practice post on driving live engagement.

But the new report suggests we may have been wrong to dismiss Facebook’s potential for TV chatter, with up to a quarter of the television audience posting content related to the show they are watching on Facebook.

And as we’ve come to expect from social media users, 80% of this chatter comes from a mobile device.

It’s worth pointing out that this report was published by Facebook in partnership with SecondSync, so there are clearly some vested interests to be aware of, however the analysis does seem to hold water.

A minute-by-minute breakdown of aggregated TV-related Facebook interactions shows that the majority of activity happens during the show and there are peaks of activity that map directly to key events in the telecast.

These graphs show how people reacted to an NFL playoff game and the X Factor UK final.

A separate report on Twitter usage, which was also published in partnership with SecondSync, reveals similar peaks in tweets during TV shows.

In 2012 The X Factor drove more than 14m tweets throughout the entire series, with 1.12m coming during the final show.

The eventual winner, James Arthur, was mentioned 387,000 times compared to 86,000 mentions for Jahmene Douglas.

Spikes in Twitter activity during X Factor 2012 final

Types of engagement

Looking at the types of interactions that take place on Facebook, ‘likes’ are easily the most common form of activity followed by comments. This is to be expected as ‘likes’ are the easiest and most non-committal form of interaction that it’s possible to do.

This chart shows how interactions were spread across The Sound of Music Live TV show:


Did You Catch That?: Answers You Should About Mobile SEO

To keep our guides the best they can be, we go to those working at the coalface of search marketing to get their contributions so they are relevant and up-to-date.

One of our contributors is Alex Moss, director at FireCask. Alex contributed to the mobile SEO section of the guide, so we asked him to share his knowledge following Joe Friedlein’s thoughts on on-page optimisation. His thoughts are below…

You’ve written about mobile SEO for our latest best practice guide. What do you see as the main trend which marketers should be paying attention to?

A lot of sites I see do use responsive design which is great. One thing that people don’t do on a technical level is consider content that should be loaded dependent on the device viewing that page.

There are plenty of redundant content blocks I see on mobile versions of a site that are great for the desktop experience but not so useful for mobile.

Understand what content needs to be served and only serve what is needed.

As mobile becomes more significant, do you think the quality of the user experience on mobile will factor into how pages are ranked or displayed in the SERPs? Can companies do anything to rank higher on mobile?

Just keep on optimising as you would for desktop, don’t obsess.

Obsession usually causes paranoia which leads to over optimisation.

Q: What do you think are the most serious issues your customers encounter when they interact with your brand via a mobile device? 

Source: Reducing Customer Struggle Report

Does Hummingbird and natural language search fundamentally change how SEOs should plan their campaigns for mobile?

Yes. Connect more with current events and local. People who use a mobile are higher quality visits but need to know the answer to their search even faster than they would if searching for the same term on a desktop.

Utilising rich snippets (which again is usually part of your general SEO strategy) with local and time-based structured data tells Google that you want to share more information beyond the standard title and META description.

As always, your site and landing pages within your site need to be informative enough to provide an answer to the query being asked. The basic principles are still there.

What do you think Google’s next move could be when it comes to mobile search?

More integration with Maps, Google+ and other related Google apps. I also think it will start to use more collected data from your history to form more contextual results based on your search habits.

What’s one piece of advice you would give for those looking to get the most out of mobile search?

Ranking is one thing, but the landing page is more important. Check in analytics how your mobile visitors behave in comparison to your desktop visitors. Check page loading times by using segmentation to separate the type of visitor.

Is there a higher bounce rate or lower engagement or conversion rate? If so then there’s something that needs to be optimised.

There’s always something to optimise 🙂

How marketers can drive engagement at every phase of the purchase cycle

It’s not just the moment of purchase that matters. To successfully build customer loyalty requires fresh marketing strategies at every phase of the purchase cycle: before, during, and after.

Before deciding to spend their hard-earned money with your brand, consumers receive countless messages that detail product announcements and ways to save money. To break through this noise, a streamlined and efficient engagement strategy is critical.

At the time of purchase, on the other hand, with consumers facing options from dozens of competitors, brands must change the shopping game to aid consumers in making an educated buying decision.

Finally, after a purchase is made, your brand has a choice of either allowing the customer to walk away in anonymity or continue the conversation by creating an identified and meaningful ongoing relationship.

Whether it’s before, during, or after, there are various tactics that marketers can utilize to effectively engage with consumers along the path to purchase. Read on for our tips at every transaction stage.


When it comes to a pre-purchase marketing strategy, getting consumers’ attention is key.

While a brand may feel their message is valuable and compelling, consumers have so many brands vying for their attention that it becomes hard for a brand to stand out.

Instead of the old school approach of pushing a marketing message out to consumers, brands need to create campaigns that are more about mutual value rather than the simply telling a one sided story.

Once a brand establishes mutual value, it can then inform consumers on specific products and features that help raise brand awareness and situate the brand top-of-mind with consumers before they make purchase decisions.

Madewell’s ‘Are You Madewell?’ campaign exemplifies the kind of pre-purchase strategy that grabs consumer attention.

Instead of a one-dimensional product recommender as a way to learn about consumers and recommend products, the brand designed a personality test that asked questions such as “your dream Saturday afternoon would include…” and “what’s your biggest pet peeve?”

In creating a personalized test experience with a curated product recommender, the brand provided interesting, valuable information to consumers about themselves, Madewell products, and how they relate to the Madewell brand.

Once a consumer is aware of a brand’s products, the next phase of the purchase funnel is ‘consideration’ where consumers decide between their most likely purchases.

In Pier 1’s recent ‘Pin It and Win It’ campaign, the home decor brand encouraged consumers to design Pinterest boards featuring the products with a chance to win their design.

‘Pin It and Win It’ is really a digital and social shopping experience. The experience of having consumers visually select their favorite products that they would like to win is the same consideration process of selecting the products you’d like to buy but without requiring the purchase hurdle.

While only a handful of consumers will win, all participants have gone through the process of identifying the products that they would like to own.

By educating your consumers in an interesting and engaging way before the purchase, they will be much more inclined to consider your brand when making the decision to buy.

During the purchase

Most consumers have busy, fast paced lives, and have developed shopping habits as a means of efficiently using their time.

The challenge for brands is how to change shopping habits to steal a consumer away from their competition or to drive incremental purchases from existing consumers.

Old Navy’s ‘SnapAppy’ mobile campaign demonstrates an excellent way to get consumers to change their shopping habits.

Consumers download the Snap Appy application and can unlock fun surprises by snapping pictures of specific icons that can be found in a variety of locations in-store and at oldnavy.com.

This multi-platform solution provides an experience and an incentive to change a consumer’s heads-down habit based shopping experience both online and in-store. Getting consumers to change their shopping habits is the first step to generate incremental sales.

For brands with a physical store presence, engagement at purchase time cannot be achieved without help from store-level employees.

With its ‘Corner of Healthy and Happy Sweepstakes’, drugstore giant Walgreens provided a digital experience that enabled store employees to learn more about the brand’s new positioning.

Employees played a multi-question online and mobile trivia game about the history of Walgreen’s and finished by submitting a statement about how they helped others stay happy and healthy.

The store employee is perhaps the most important representation of a brand’s marketing position and this unique effort from Walgreens successfully educated and engaged employees, created a more fulfilling shopping experience for its consumers.

Whether online, via mobile, or in-store, changing consumer shopping habits and involving employees provides the backbone of engagement efforts during purchase.


While it may seem like the work is over once the purchase is complete, driving engagement does not stop there.

To use a dating metaphor, do we simply say “goodbye” and hope they call us for another date or do we seize that moment and put a little thought and effort into creating an ongoing relationship.

Open forums for feedback are excellent channels to connect with consumers after purchase, gain insight and turn purchasers into advocates.

In Taco Bell’s ‘Tell Us What You Think’ campaign to support its new Cantina Bell brand, the brand asks consumers to reveal what they really think about menu items, and then displays the percentage of consumers that are ‘believers’ in the Cantina brand and the percentage of consumers who are ‘skeptics’.

Additionally, Taco Bell displays Tweets from both ‘believers’ and ‘skeptics’. By providing a fully transparent way to engage with the brand, Taco Bell generates compelling and authentic product validation.

If Taco Bell had elected to cleanse the feedback and only provide positive responses, the platform becomes a packaged marketing message instead of a credible forum.

Loyalty programs are valuable platforms to help your brand connect with its audience post-purchase by getting to know the consumer based on past interactions and creating ongoing, personalized communication.

In cosmetics company Bare Escentuals’ ‘Friends and Benefits’ customer loyalty program, the brand tried something new. Instead of asking consumers to accrue points or keep track of discounts, Bare Escentuals uses personalized gifts and invitations to special events to develop emotional bonds with customers and keep them coming back.

Even better, the loyalty program provides insight into consumer preferences and allows Bare Escentuals to make business decisions based on the information they receive.

Tapping into mobile is an extremely effective way to drive customer loyalty post-purchase.

For example, Toys ‘R’ Us mobile CRM strategy asks consumers to join the brand’s mobile program by texting a short code, for special offers and deals, keeping the conversation going with the consumer after the initial sale is made.

Like Bare Escentuals’ loyalty program, Toys ‘R’ Us mobile program provides extra information on consumer interest, allowing the brand to adjust its business strategy accordingly.

Taco Bell, Bare Escentuals, and Toys ‘R’ Us demonstrate how effective post-purchase engagement strategies can be. Take advantage of customer advocacy, loyalty, and mobile CRM to continue developing relationships with your consumers even after purchases are made.

Increase engagement before, during, and after purchase

Developing a pre-, during, and post-purchase strategy is essential to fostering meaningful relationships with consumers.

Going beyond traditional campaigns, especially by incorporating data, mobile, and in-store tactics, can help your brand guarantee valuable engagement with consumers and drive customer loyalty.

Laughing to the Bank: ROI in Social Media for Dummies

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Above image: social media reports in Google Analytics.

As a digital marketing strategist it confounds me that even as 2014 is in full swing, marketers, publishers and startups are sadly (still) debating the issue of return on investment (ROI) from social media.

Yet none of this is new and for the sophisticated marketer social measurement is a mature part of their programs.

There have been a flurry of articles written on the topic recently driven in large part by an E-commerce Holiday Trends and Benchmarks study from Custora declaring search and email marketing as clear winners over social media when it comes to driving Ecommerce purchases. What is particularly surprising is the marketers in this case ignore the very basics of the sales process and the role social media plays in guiding customers through the funnel.

The only way to reach this flawed conclusion – there is no ROI in social media – is to completely ignore how customers enter and flow through the sales funnel, and focus solely on the point of sale.

The Sales Funnel

This image from the Bizo marketing blog shows how the consumer exists in multiple stages of the funnel concurrently. It also shows how different marketing channels are used at each stage of the funnel and how these channels sometimes overlap multiple stages of the funnel.


The sales process is incomplete however, because it ignores your relationship with the customer after the sale is made – where customer service and retention comes into play, leading to repeat sales and contributing to the lifetime value of a customer. Generally speaking, the cost to acquire a first-time customer tends to be high and may not be a break-even proposition for a business, therefore customer service and retention are important and allow you to spread the cost per acquisition over the lifetime value of a repeat customer. We’ll discuss this further, below.

Metrics for Each Stage of the Funnel

Every marketer should understand the purpose of each stage of the funnel and how to guide the consumer from one stage to the next. Let’s start with a more detailed look at consumer behavior and intent at various stages of the sales funnel, how that informs our objectives, and the role social media plays at each stage.

Stage 1: Top of the funnel – At the top of the funnel, the consumer is just discovering your brand or product. This is the consumer’s first exposure to you, assuming no prior awareness of the brand product. You can expect the consumer to be somewhat skeptical and perhaps cynical and nothing will prove a bigger turn off than a purely marketing-oriented approach at this stage.

Your goal here should be to make sure your brand is discoverable by your target audience and to enable maximum exposure for the brand through frictionless syndication across platforms where your target audience participates and engages with each other. You should focus strictly on engaging with the users on their terms, on their preferred platforms, and participate in their conversations. Since the users are currently unaware of your brand, the best way to enable discovery is to create content that resonates with the users by providing entertainment value or utility that naturally lends itself to sharing and engagement. Tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends along with Facebook’s advertising platform are great for conducting market research to get a better idea of who your customers are, how best to approach them, and where to approach them. Ideally your approach will accomplish all of the above while providing context for your brand and creating lasting brand awareness and recall. Do not make the mistake of focusing on volume of exposure over relevancy of exposure.

Key metrics for your brand: exposure and awareness (views and recall), associations (likes, follows, bookmarks, subscriptions).

Stage 2: Middle of the funnel – At the middle of the funnel, the consumer is aware of your brand and the products you offer and is doing further research on his wants and needs and how your brand and product may be able to fulfill them. At this stage the consumer is looking for information and possibly comparing it with known competitors. Social proof and a compelling value proposition are vital here.

Building on brand awareness and association from the previous stage, now your goal is to add depth to your relationship with your prospects by directly answering the wants/needs question and providing solutions to his problems; showcasing how you are in the best position to do so (this is your differentiated value proposition). Educating the consumers through more in-depth content such as e-books, white papers, how-to and demonstration videos is essential here, with a specific focus on utility and problem solving over entertainment value. A deeper relationship here enables you to go from participating in customers’ conversations to leading conversations yourself (possibly centered around your brand or product). You can also begin incentivizing customers to go from engaging with you on a third-party platform to your hub where you can assert more control over their experience and guide them further down the funnel.

Ket metrics for your brand: authority and credibility (leadership), click-throughs (visits, page views, time spent on site), engagement (shares, retweets, comments, inbound links).

Stage 3: Bottom of the funnel – At the bottom of the funnel, the consumer has a good understanding of his needs, your differentiated value proposition, and has done the necessary research and come to a decision whether or not to purchase your product. This is the stage where a you generate a lead, convert a sale, or both.

At this point you are not only already meeting the customers on their terms and on platforms where they exist on a daily basis, but you are also driving them back to your hub through exclusive offers and more in-depth free educational resources. By handholding your customers through this process slowly and selflessly you’ve managed to go from a brand they were unaware of, to an authoritative brand that they have a somewhat personal relationship with and developed a degree of trust with due to authentic two-way engagement and value creation. You can now capitalize on your investment in your prospective customer base and use a call to actions that will result in lead generation and sales conversion. You are in a position to leverage your relationship to more directly demonstrate your ability to help them long-term and pitch your product or service without seeming intrusive or your advances seeming unwarranted.

Key metrics for your brand: leads generated (forms filled), sales converted.

Stage 4: Post conversion – At this stage the consumer has already purchased the product, is using it, and based on his experience will not only make the decision about becoming a loyal customer but will also whether or not to become a part of your sales loop, generating social proof through leaving comments and reviews and evangelizing for you through word of mouth.

Your goals are now focused on maintaining the relationship you built through the initial two stages of the funnel, making sure your customers are happy, engaged, and helping propagate your brand through reviews, sharing, and word of mouth activities. This takes us back to stage 1, now with an army of social-media enabled influencers and brand ambassadors.

Key metrics for your brand: evangelism (word of mouth marketing), acquisition (new customers), loyalty (repeat sales).

By understanding consumer intent and behavior at each stage of the funnel you can set the appropriate goals (beyond leading the customer further down the funnel), choose the right tools, and use the correct metrics for success. These three things will ultimately enable you to correctly calculate the true return on investment on a stage-by-stage basis. At this point it should be clear that the ROI for each stage is different, and specifically not based on the bottom of the funnel goal of lead generation and sales conversion.

I’ve read a lot of people make the spurious claim that ‘the sales funnel is dead’, but these are just inflammatory verbal gymnastics that are really getting to the point I made above – the sales funnel is better seen as a sales loop, with the post-conversion stage (4) feeding back into stage 1. This is where your current customers start helping newcomers discover your brand. This also gets to the heart of why it is important to consider the lifetime value of a customer, taking into account the customer’s value not just for the initial sale but also for repeat sales and as an engine for perpetuating brand discovery and affinity.

The Role of Social Media in the Sales Funnel (Loop)

Marketers claiming there is no return on investment in social media make three rudimentary mistakes, rooted in their misunderstanding of the funnel or loop. These marketers:

  1. Do not understand the role social media plays in the sales funnel,
  2. Therefore they do not set the correct goals to be achieved through social media,
  3. which leads them to associate incorrect metrics for success for social media

Instead they only look at bottom of funnel objectives to measure return on investment, thereby concluding that social media, independently of any multi-channel marketing strategy, doesn’t directly lead to sales as effectively as other channels. Social media metrics that seem purely qualitative can be quantified if you have the right goals and metrics for success and view them in the context of how they lead a prospective customer from stage 1 to stage 4 and back to stage 1. Let’s take a look at some of these metrics.

Social media association – Opt-in association by users on social media (Facebook likes, Twitter follows, etc.) results in a highly qualified long-term audience that you can market to at will, as opposed to paid search or advertising campaigns which have no long-term exposure once you run through your budget.

Social media engagement – Engagement on social media sites results in highly targeted exposure and brand awareness, increase in brand recall, and when used effectively in paid campaigns can drive down cost per impression, cost per click, and cost per acquisition through the mechanisms such as social lift and earned media. Furthermore, engagement through social media sites results in click through referral traffic to your landing pages which itself can convert.

Social media evangelism – As discussed above, relationships built through social media are vital for word of mouth marketing and for perpetuating the sales loop and organically driving awareness to new customers in a consumer-to-consumer conversation that is much more effective than business-to-consumer.

Social media and social proof – Social proof is arguably the most important factor for the first two stages of the sales funnel. Metrics such as authority, credibility, and trust are vital vehicles for moving prospective customers from stages of discovery and awareness to commitment and conversion.

Social media and search signals – even after all of the above, if you’re unconvinced about the incredible value social media can provide to your business objectives, here are a few ways how social media augments a purely search based acquisition strategy (see a previous post for a visual cycle of this).

  1. Social media presence, brand mentions, and brand influence are all signals for search authority
  2. Content shared on social media platforms is indexed by search engines and leads to more opportunities for discovery
  3. Social media drives organic link acquisition which reinforces a search acquisition strategy

Whether you are a publisher, startup, or a Fortune 500 company, it is important to understand the value of social media by understanding the role it plays in each stage of your customer acquisition strategy. Furthermore, it is important to understand the goal of social media and the correct social media metrics for success to achieve a positive return on investment from social media. The next time your marketing department tells you there’s no ROI in social media, think long and hard about the kind of return you’re getting from your marketing department.

Say What?: Facebook Like Ads No Different From Buying Fake Likes [Video]

Ok, so this video has 1m views in 48 hours, and provides a pretty deep and interesting look at Facebook ‘Like’ Fraud. The worst part is, it’s almost impossible to dismiss if you’ve created and run your own Facebook page, and even myself, as I post this video, I’m thinking, damn, that’s exactly what I’ve seen happen to my Facebook page as soon as I started creating a few like ads about a year ago.

So, hands up who’s seen this? Who’s got this problem? Does it happen to your clients pages? How do you protect against it?

*Yawn*: How Long is Too Long For Your YouTube Ad?

How long should my YouTube ad be? It’s a question that every advertiser creating a video ad for YouTube has to consider.

Depending on your advertising goals you may have different opinions on the matter.

In this article we look at the results of a split test we recently carried out with one of our clients to find the optimal length for an ad when focusing on driving online conversions.

What do users think?

YouTube ad length isn’t something I see written about much, yet it’s inevitably one of the first questions clients have when we talk about advertising on the platform.

A 2012 poll of US voters reported by Mashable suggested that the majority of users were willing to watch an ad up to 15 seconds long before they got to watch their chosen content on YouTube.

Which is interesting, but ultimately how long a user thinks they’re willing to watch an ad for, and how long is actually optimal for ad length are probably quite different things.

More recently David Waterhouse of Unruly Media found that the average length of the top 10 most shared ads of all time is 4 minutes and 11 seconds, while at the end of last year Greg Jarboe provided a roundup of the top trending YouTube ads of 2013, which come in at an average length of 1 minute 44 seconds.

Which goes to show, if you can entertain people and tell them an engaging story, then they are willing to watch an ad for much longer than they think.

In all the articles above, and in the majority of other studies I’ve seen, the success of a YouTube ad is judged on the number of Likes and Shares it received, and whether or not it went ‘viral’.

It’s great to be popular, but for a lot of my clients the bottom line of whether an ad is successful is whether or not it generated sales with a good ROI.

The test

With this in mind we set up a test to see if ad length has an impact on conversion rate and ROI, and the results were pretty striking.

We created two ads that were almost identical for the first 15 seconds, but the first ad ended at the 15 second mark, while the second ad ran for a total of 30 seconds.

We then set up an A/B test of these ads against each other in our YouTube remarketing campaign for a month, before analysing the results.

Firstly, in terms of viewer engagement, it seems users are slightly more likely to watch more of a video if the overall length of the video is shorter.

34% of viewers made it to the end of the 15 second video, while only 32% of viewers made it to the half-way point of the 30 second video. I know personally I’m more likely to let an ad run if I can see the progress bar filling up nice and fast, so I’m not surprised to see this is the case.

More impressively, despite a fairly even distribution of impressions between the two ads, we saw three times as many Earned Views (where a user goes on to watch another video on your YouTube channel after seeing your ad) from the 15 second edit than from the 30 second edit of the ad.

It was when we looked at the conversion stats where the difference in performance became much more apparent. Overall the 15 second edit saw 51% of our impressions, but drove 83% of our total conversions.

Conversions by campaign

Even more impressively, the 15 second edit achieved this with a CPA almost four times lower than the 30 second edit, coming in at £45 compared to £169 for the 30 second edit:

CPA by ad length

It’s worth noting that YouTube conversions are reported against views, and not website clicks.

Arguably then, because the 15 second edit is more likely to be watched, simply because it ends sooner, you could argue that it’s not surprising that a higher number of people exposed to the video go on to convert.

However, the conversion rate was more than three times higher from the 15 second edit compared to the 30 second, meaning that not only did a higher number of people convert overall, but per view they were much more likely to convert if they watched the 15 second edit.

Finally one of the most striking stats for me was that the shorter ad actually had a higher clickthrough rate than the longer ad, with a 0.84% CTR for the 15 second edit, compared to 0.72% for the 30 second edit.

This surprised me mostly because I assumed that the longer ad might get more clicks simply due to having a longer duration onscreen for the viewer to interact with it, but ultimately it seems that users were more likely to want to interact with the shorter ad even though it was onscreen for half the time.

Ultimately ad length is going to be heavily influenced by your video content and advertising goals, and I’m sure an account manager at a creative agency would have a different opinion to me (he’d probably be talking you into hiring Jean Claude Van Damme and two big rigs right now…), but if you’re not testing different ad lengths on YouTube I personally suggest you start, and start with 15 seconds.

Stuck In the 1900’s: Why It’s Time To Upgrade Your Business’ Digital Presence

It’s no secret that platform proliferation is rampant across the digital landscape, introducing valuable new opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs to achieve, sustain, and even accelerate dramatic growth.

But learning to market to the multi-platform majority is critical to this venture. And it’s the focus of a new report from comScore.

The venerable name is digital measurement and analytics is out with a white paper that provides companies with context for understanding the new dynamics of today’s multi-platform digital marketplace.

According to a report, in April 2013, for the first time, more thanhalf of digital consumers in the U.S. accessed the Internet using both desktop and mobile devices.

Nowhere has the impact of this reality been more apparent than in the realm of online and mobile shopping.

mCommerce in the U.S. is growing at a rate of 30 percent year-over-year and is beginning to alter the retail landscape. Nearly $10 billion in m-commerce spending is expected in Q4 2013.

As a result, says comScore, catering to mobile visitors is a must. “Among the top 100 digital properties,” the report summary reads, “nearly one out of three monthly visitors (31 percent) only accesses that brand’s content via smartphone or tablet.”

Correspondingly, total digital media consumption is exploding. In the past three years, U.S. consumers’ total time spent on digital media has nearly doubled, led by huge gains in activity on smartphones and tablets (while desktop computer usage has seen only modest gains).

More time spent with digital media presents “a variety of new opportunities for media companies to monetize their content” and for marketers to reach their target audiences more efficiently and effectively, comScore concluded.

New Age Digital Marketing Gurus // Because digital marketing is too important to be left to a marketing department