Friends + Fans + Followers = Success

Whilst we all know statistics can be deceiving the continuing avalanche of statistical “proof” that Social Media does build business must be taken seriously!

A new study by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies shows clearly that fans or followers of a brand on Facebook or Twitter, respectively, are very, very likely to buy products and services or recommend the brand to a friend.Specifically.

The study (as per the above InfoGraphic) found that consumers are 67% more likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter, and 51% more likely to buy from a brand they follow on Facebook.

But when it comes to engaging others Twitter leads the way – those surveyed were 79% more likely to recommend brands they follow on Twitter to a friend, while 60% more likely to do the same on Facebook.

Whilst it can be clearly argued that most people actively seek out the brands they already support and follow them on Twitter and/or join their Fan Page Facebook they certainly become more engaged with the brand.

These “forums” are taking supporters and clearly developing them as advocates by the willingness demonstrated to Listen, Engage and Converse and maintaining an active and ongoing relationship.

Plus, the study also found that many consumers across a wide variety of demographics have negative perceptions of brands that aren’t using social media.

Overall, here is yet another sign that for whatever reason your brand must be in the Social Media game even if only to embrace those that are there … (eg 400 million on Facebook).

We talk to our clients and prospects about being seen as a Thought Leader and as a very minimum using social media to develop a competitive advantage by participating. As it is clearly an increasingly major weakness for those that aren’t.

BBC is on the right track

A recent story in the UK Sun Newspaper criticising the BBC for spending money on training its staff to use Social Media effectively caught my eye recently.

“We’re meant to be belt-tightening. It’s an astonishing waste of money,” raged a sound engineer.

“Teenagers who can barely read or write have managed to teach themselves.”

But like most people when it comes to Social Media they are missing the point. This is not a new fad this is about a fundamental shift in the way we communicate…. the biggest Communications Revolution since the Guttenburg Press.

So should a major player in communications – the BBC – leave it to their staff to “teach themselves” or provide training how to utilise the medium as effectively as possible.

BBC bosses are defending the training, which goes by the  title “Making the Web Work for You”, insisting to The Sun that it helps journalists and other staff “develop effective and comprehensive internet research and social media skills”.

Anyone can pick up a Golf Club and “play” Golf or grab a fishing rod and go “fishing” but those that want to enjoy Golf and be as good as they can be at it join a club and get some lessons from a pro … rather than waste time trying to work it out for themselves.

I am not into fishing but I am sure consulting with an experienced fisherman would help me find the best places to fish and make sure that I know what is the best bait for the fish I am after.

Well Social Media is no different – there are a myriad of tools and tactics out there – but you need to find those that will best serve you cost effectively.  As such some training on the why, what and how is a great place to start and then back that up with some specifics in the tools that best suit the goals.

To make Social Media work effectively it is necessary to review your business model and almost certainly adjust it to suit.

Sure if you want to get into Social Networking/Media for personal reasons its makes sense to learn as you go … but for business the most cost effective approach is to find the right experienced people and have them help build your Policy, Plan and Roadmap and then work with all staff to make sure that Social Media use is in sync with business goals.

The latest Nielsen research shows that 9 million Australians are using Social media on a regular basis .  But more so that 23% (more than 2 million people) in 2009 interacted with a business via a Social Network.

As such business must embrace Social media but to avoid wasting time and money and maybe not getting any useful results they MUST get some basic training and guidance before they start.

Just because “Teenagers who can barely read or write have managed to teach themselves.” doesn’t mean businesses should leave it to chance when wanting to engage the 2 million plus people in Australia .

What do you think?

Compliance and Self Regulation in a Web 2.0 World

Companies, Charities, Professional Associations, Governments, Sporting Groups etc all face challenges if they are to benefit from Web 2.0 and beyond.  It is clear that Social Media is the biggest change in the way we communicate since the invention of the Guttenburg Press over 400 years ago.  But without a revised business model it is very difficult to reap the full rewards of open dialogue with clients, prospects, stakeholders etc ..

The Finance Industry is one group that clearly is having great issues in this area.

A recent survey conducted by On Wall Street and LederMark Communications into usage of Social Media/Networking by Finance Industry Proferssionals in the US clearly highlighted this. Of thise surveyed the adoption by the under 50s is very high – 85% using LinkedIn and/or Facebook and/or Twitter to build business.

And more than 40% of them claiming that it has led to doing business.With  LinkedIn preferred for business connections and Facebook for personal matters.

But within the Finance sector compliance issues are a real barrier to doing business in this new world – especially at large financial institutions.

With a number of clients and prospects in this sector I see much debate and focus on how to work around the compliance issues. And as Gerri Leder, President of Leder Communications says – Younger professionals “are adopting social media at a feverish pace suggesting that we haven’t heard the last of this.”

The survey found that younger financial professionals are doing business at a rate of two to one when compared with their older counterparts, she said.

With the rapid growth of social media in Australia accoring to a very recent Niilsen survey comparing 2008 to 2009

  • 9 million regularly use the Internet
  • Reading messages on Twitter up 16% to 24%
  • Interacting with a Company via a Social network up 15% to 38%

Many Australian firms are now working  out how to best use the technology while not running the risk of regulatory reprisals.

The US survey found that the number one reason respondents didn’t use social media at or for work was because company policy prohibited it. The second reason was compliance concerns and the third, especially for the over-50 crowd, (not surprisingly) was lack of understanding of the sites.

Those who are able  to use social media at work, are very limited in which they are allowed to do. Most are able to do little more  than create a profile according to the survey.

Its seems that they are prohibited from doing the things most likely to generate business. They cannot post recommendations from clients or friends, they cannot blog or engage in discussions, or in some cases even link to their business website.

So we have an industry that can very clearly benefit more than most from building dialogue and developing trust that is hamstrung by regulations that pre date the Web 2.0 world!

This is a clear situation which highlights the need for new business models to harness a new form of communication.  The old model clearly doesnt work and results in banning activities which would be beneficial to the industry and its clients.

The challenge is now for individual firms to find a way to legal;ly become thought leadres and drag the Industry with them…   Those that take the risks and find the way will be clear winners in the Web 2.0 world.

The survey, conducted last month, included 175 financial services executives from national financial services firms, independent financial advisors, regional firms, asset management firms and others. The largest groups of respondents were financial advisors/brokers at 47% and registered investment advisors at 12.4%.

Meanwhile in January, FINRA released a regulatory notice on social media websites. In the notice, the self-regulatory agency stated that firms that intend to communicate or permit its “associated persons” to communicate through social media sites must first make sure that it can retain records of those communications. FINRA also stated that if a firm or its employees recommends securities through such a social media website, such an action may trigger the suitability rule and create “possible substantive liability for the firm or a registered representative.” In addition, FINRA said that firms, in certain circumstances, must supervise the communications by the firms and their reps on blogs and sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

A clear case of we dont get it so we better kill it ???  Rather than here is a clear set of Plans, Policies and Guidelines for you to apply in your business so that you can fully capitalise on this new communications phenominon.

Interestingly the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Aust has a apopointed a manger of Digital Communications to provide advice to its members on how best to apply Social media etc to their business!!

Facebook and Twitter – Just Do It!!!

Another recent study, which surveyed over 1,5oo people on the attitudes towards Social Media as a Marketing tool, is further proof that Business – Large and Small must do it … soon… or risk being regarded as irrelevant by its consumers!

The report concludes that consumers are more likely to do business with a brand that engages them on social network sites like Facebook or Twitter.

The study which was done by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies asked if people would be more likely to buy something after becoming a “fan” of the brand, 67 percent of Twitter users answered “yes,” while 51 percent of Facebook users agreed.

As with other recent research this report also shows the value of online word of mouth in driving direct sales activity.

When asked if they would be more likely to recommend the brand, 79 percent of Twitter users said they would, and 60 percent of Facebook users had similar opinions.

The research also covered attitudes to brands’ and companies’ attitudes to Social Media . In general the respondents felt that brands not using Facebook and Twitter were out of date, old-fashioned and not prepared to listen to their consumers opinions.

One of the people surveyed went so far as to say that without “a strong electronic presence” a brand’s  customers will “doubt [its] relevance in today’s marketplace.”

What more can I say that Just Do It Now!!