May 23, 2011

Leverage TV-Facebook Synergy When I was in seventh grade, all the kids in my class watched the same TV shows. Every night we’d call each other after our shows ended to discuss the characters, the plot twists and the overall direction of the show. Social media has expedited and accelerated this group experience to empower a new generation of critics and commentators. Facebook and Twitter have transformed TV from a solitary or small group experience into a collective nationwide experience. TV shows use social media to solicit immediate input, reaction and votes. Some shows like 2 ½ Men, The Big Bang Theory and Glee actively use social media to mobilize their fans by offering added or behind-the-scenes video clips, post actor/character interviews, sell t-shirts or DVDs and cue audiences to upcoming episodes or involve fans in related games, polls or chat boards. Consumers use social media to review and critique every aspect of a show. For appointment TV events like big sports games or the Oscars, Tonys, Grammies, The Kennedy Center Awards or the CMA Awards, social media creates a simultaneous parallel experience, We can watch the show and be part of a running commentary at the same time. Often, especially when red carpet fashions are concerned or hosts make noticeable gaffes, this plays out over the next day and extends the viewing experience into the next news cycle. So it should come as no surprise that 275 million Facebook users have “liked” TV shows 1.65 billion times. The average user has “liked” 6 shows. This cross-media engagement has placed 17 TV shows among the top 100 Liked Pages on Facebook. The three leading “liked” shows track with TV viewing among younger, more socially active audiences; Family Guy, South Park and The Simpsons. Marketers have the opportunity to use this confluence of media to expand brand franchises, merchandise program sponsorships or TV ad flights and/or guerilla market big mass audience broadcast events. Brands also should participate in the social commentary track when the brand promise aligns with the broadcast subject matter. There’s cost efficient marketing efficiency to be had by riding the media synergy wave.
Benchmarking Facebook Fan Engagement Congratulations! You’ve attracted 1 million Facebook fans. Now what? That’s the question clients are asking. They want to know how many of these fans are buying their products, talking up their brands and referring or recruiting friends and family into the franchise. For the most part, we cannot get this data both because Facebook holds a lot of what we consider “our” data close to the vest and because we have no way to export and crosstab Facebook fans with our own databases of opted-in customers or purchase histories. When budgets get scrutinized, my clients want to know why they should ante into Facebook versus other media choices. Clients want to know if they should continue in the foot race to collect fans or if they should interact more or better with the fans they have. They are uncertain about the value of gathering more fans than the competition primarily because they can’t determine a business value for the fans they already have. Similarly because they don’t really know who are their fans or why they became fans, other than to get freebies, they are reluctant to invest because they can’t forecast a credible ROI. Once you get to an elite one million fan level, there is a point of diminishing returns. Very few brands need to outpace BMW, Starbucks, Red Bull Lady Gaga or Barack Obama unless there is a genuine business reason to justify the expense. (BTW, we have not calculated a cost to acquire fans.) My best argument is to love the ones you’re with and spend against engagement to activate fans potentially turning them into repeat customers and brand advocates or ambassadors. Here too, it’s tough to make a persuasive recommendation since there is no common definition of or metrics for engagement; a widely used term whose meaning depends entirely on the user and the context. Generally it means finding ways to get a fan to act or interact with a branded Facebook page in ways that can be measured. The operative assumption is that the more fan activity; the better the relationship. Some marketers have put forward a hierarchy of engagement actions. They argue a “like” is nothing more than a momentary sentiment since it takes just a moment to click the ubiquitous “like” button and it requires little or no time or emotional investment. The next level of intensity is to comment. This elevates the investment of time and hints that a fan might be truly interested in a topic or have something to say. Highest is an original post by as fan to a brand’s wall. This requires some level of brand affection and a greater commitment of time, thought and energy to compose and post a sentiment. This thinking is being baked into the emerging set of social CRM tools that aim to measure and incent social interactions. Aiming at engagement requires a benchmark to understand how well you are doing relative to other social marketers. Fortunately some comparative studies have appeared that give us data to work against. Simplify 360, an Indian social media firm, looked at 50 Facebook pages with one million or more fans and measured “likes” and comments for their last 5 postings. According to their calculations, a branded fan page with 1 million fans should provoke 826 “likes” per post and “309” comments per post. This is simply long division. There is no qualitative assessment of content, design, art elements, voice, timing or context. So it’s a rump figure to compare yourself with. Visibli, a social CRM vendor, looked at branded Facebook pages with 100,000 fans and calculated that the average post should prompt 54 “likes” and 9 comments. They found that as the number of fans increase; the number of interactions decreases. The implication is that there might be an optimal size branded community for maximum engagement. They also discovered differences in fan interactions between brand, media and artist sites with the latter having the highest order of engagement. Artist pages draw twice as many “likes” as brand pages. Media organizations spark five times more comments than brand pages. Given the ebb and flow of news and events, this makes sense. Half of all “likes” take place with 90 minutes of a posting and within 11 hours, eighty percent of the interactions are completed. Engagement is the topic of the moment and the direction social media marketers are headed in. Savvy players are beginning to press Facebook for greater access to fan activity and wall click...

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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