Facebook, at last count, has 1.5 billion monthly active users.
YouTube has 1.2 billion users (watching 6 billion hours of videos!). Instagram has an estimated 400 million users.
Those are some big gigantic numbers!
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I believe that every human with time to spare, and a connection to the web, should be on social media. The benefits are numerous. Facebook allows you to stay close to people you choose to. YouTube has democratized entertainment and education. Instagram allows you to express your creativity, and soak up expressions from others. Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, others have a role to play as well.
But, what about businesses? Companies small and big? In India or Japan or the United States?
It comes down to two important questions: 1. Do the big gigantic numbers imply that your business should use these social media channels? 2. If yes, should your participation be the same as regular humans?
I believe that we have never answered the first question. Businesses were told: “The numbers are HUGE!” The second question was never answered either, but because all businesses know is how to pimp that became their default strategy.
The assumption is: Big Social Audiences + Big Pimping = Big Social Profits.
You know that of course because for your business, after five solid years of investment, this has not proven to be true. Even the people who powered your investment in Social Media, the Gurus, have, reluctantly, accepted this reality.
I believe that it was erroneous not to answer the two questions above, it was erroneous to be tempted by the Big Numbers and not understand how Social Media channels actually worked (streams, home pages, personalization, rankings and more).
So, let’s fix that error.
In this post let’s look at each Social Network, see what B2B and B2C brands are doing there today, from that draw lessons as to 1. if your business should be on that network and 2. if yes, what should your content (and marketing) strategy be.
The post is conveniently broken up into these sections:
2. Facebook for Businesses
3. YouTube for Businesses
4. Google+ for Businesses
5. Pinterest for Businesses
6. Twitter for Businesses
7. Instagram for Businesses
You are welcome to jump to the network you are BFFs with, but I highly recommend reading the strategic knowledge contained in the Higher Order Bits section immediately below. It provides four critical lenses through which we will look through. If you skip that section, you might not understand why I’m saying that you should immediately stop all your efforts on Twitter!
Ready to smell some ground truths? Here we go…
There is a lot that you are going to disagree with in this post, because when one is proven wrong it is always hard to accept. We are only human. But, if you read this section carefully, the higher order bits might create enough of an opening for you to read the rest of this post (which I’m convinced will result in major riches for you – after a change in business strategy of course!).
Human vs. Business.
You read this above, but I want to point out again that this post is not about if humans should use Social Networks. They should.
Many people were kind enough to reply. Most answers were what you should do on Pinterest or who is on Pinterest. Those are helpful. What I wanted to try and understand is why a business should be on Pinterest.
Just because you and I find value on a Social Network does not imply automatically that a business should be on it. There are plenty of Social Networks where humans find value from other humans and businesses should just butt out. (You’ll see examples below.)
It is a good idea to separate value for a user from the value to the business.
Any business venture should yield short and, hopefully, long-term value. In my Oct 2011 post, Best Social Media Metrics, I’d created four metrics to quantify this value.
Conversation Rate (CoR) is a ratio of comments per post (or video or tweet or pin etc.) to overall Followers (or Page Likes). Is what you are saying interesting enough to spark the most social of all things: a conversation?
Amplification Rate (AmR) is the ratio of shares (or retweets or repins etc.) per post to overall Followers (or Page Likes). Is what you are saying so incredible and of value that I’ll stamp my brand on it and forward it to everyone I know?
Applause Rate (ApR) is the ratio of favorites (or post likes or +1s or hearts etc.) per post to overall Followers (or Page Likes). Do I think the content you’ve posted is interesting, even if I won’t bless it with my stamp and forward it on?
Economic Value (EcV) is the value of short and long-term revenue and cost savings. Do we make any money from being on Social Networks?
Using a tool like True Social Metrics, you can quickly create a glorious centralized dashboard like this one for your Social Media efforts…
Please see the post for more details on how to calculate each metric. For the rest of this post, I’m going to use the first three to capture the essence of social engagement and brand impact, and one to measure impact on the business.
A simple way to have a thoughtful discussion with the Social Media Gurus, and your boss.
PS: There is a belief promoted by some that the value of being on Social Media is simply the impressions. “So what if no one interacted with your Twitter feed, at least they saw it!” How do you know? “It’s ok if no one engaged with the three seconds of auto-play, it still creates a memorable impression!” How do you know that? I believe the best way to measure success is to measure the above four metrics (actual interaction/action/outcome). But, if you believe the aforementioned assertions, you should prove them via controlled experiments. It is not that hard. See Lesson One and Two on proving Causality. The causal impact does not have to be on Revenue. It can be a brand metric, say Likelihood to Recommend. Unless you prove this, impressions is just like selling air.
The Business Framework.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that perhaps the single greatest thing ever created here, :), is a simple framework you can apply to your entire digital strategy. It covers, content, marketing and measurement. It’s called See-Think-Do-Care.
The framework is not a funnel (#funnelsaredeadlonglifefunnels). Its beauty is that it moves away from company selfishness and solves purely for audience intent. If we have an opportunity to engage with an audience, what’s the intent that that audience is expressing through their digital behavior. Due to this beautiful fact, it does not also worry about age, gender, income and other demographic or psychographic attributes. We have intent, why be the terrible Marketer that discriminates?
Every marketing channel we have access to, solves for some audience intent. For example, Paid Search solves for Think and Do intent. Social Media solves for See and Think intent primarily. If you have an effective Care content strategy, some Social Networks can solve for Care as well.
This is very important to remember as it helps us identify what we are solving for with Social Media. An example of the implication: Don’t expect short term sales/revenue from any social participation. There is no Do intent!
It is pronounced the more test. It is an acronym for a test I often use in my consulting engagements. It stands for: Money off Roof test.
It is a simple test: Would we create more Social Media activity if we took all the money we are currently investing in Social Media and threw it all off the roof of our office building?
The way it works is that you compute the total cost of your Social Media program: SM employee salaries and benefits, agency fees, content acquisition/production costs, analyst salaries, executive time invested etc. Then, you withdraw that amount of money in $5 bills. Now you take the elevator, or stairs to be healthier, to the roof of your office building. During prime time, say noon, you throw the cash, off the roof. Surely, when cash is floating down from the say, people will grab it and tweet it, write posts on Facebook, post pictures on Instagram, and of course videos on YouTube. Measure all this Social Media activity.
If the Social Media activity is more than what you are currently getting on your current social platforms, why are you on Social Media? If you simply want buzz, you are better off just throwing cash off your office building once a month. No?
You’ll see examples of this below. Google SMB channel on Facebook fails (massively) the MoR test. Innocent does not. Toyota and Febreze fail as well. Galco does not.
The serious point is that when we choose to invest in Social Media, it comes at a cost. Not just what we are investing on Social Networks, but also what else we are not doing. The opportunity cost . Many of the companies below don’t have mobile friendly websites. Their mobile apps, if they exist, are atrocious. When you search for them, if you find them, you end up on sub-optimal landing pages. Most don’t have decent display advertising strategies with Yahoo!. Their email marketing programs are, literally, leaving money and customer love on the table. Some have the worst lead gen page known to womankind. But. They have a regular presence on Social Networks.
If they fail the MoR test, why not take that money and invest in the aforementioned six ideas? The brand and performance ROI to the company is clear and direct.
We’ll apply the MoR test as we go along.
With these higher order bit taken care of, let’s look at each Social Network to identify if we, as a B2B or B2C business, should be on that network, and, if yes, what should our participation strategy be.
Facebook, deservedly, is the king of Social Media. The employees at One Hacker Way have managed incredible growth, tried to out-innovate themselves out of jams that killed earlier networks, and have made tons of money. Their strategy on mobile is rightly lauded by everyone.
Every human should be on Facebook. But, should every business be on Facebook?
As with all other Social Networks below, let’s take a look at some B2B examples (good and un-good), some B2C examples (good and un-good) and arrive at the optimal answer.
The Google Small Business page on Facebook is an example of a B2B strategy. With 1.6 billion monthly active users on Facebook, the theory is that it is a good way to get to the 28 million small businesses in America (more impressive SB facts).
We all know that Page Likes is a profoundly sub-optimal metric. It’s only purpose now is to get a hypothetical sense for definitely unreachable audience size, and to trick gullible Sr. Business Leaders.
The Google SB page has 34k Likes.
On average, the AmR (Amplification Rate, my most holy social metric) is Zero.
As in, no one believes anything contributed by Google on this page passes this test: Is what you are saying so incredible and of value that I’ll stamp my brand on it and forward it to everyone I know?
Check it out…
The ApR (Applause Rate) is usually under ten.
I want you to think about that. T. E. N. Not ten as in ten thousand or ten million. Think of Google’s size. Think of how many people engage with Google’s various marketing bits and pieces every day. On Facebook Google manages ten (on a good day).
You’ll also notice that CoR (Conversation Rate) is usually two or three. Recently, this is how bizarre it is, the exact same two entities make the same non-value added comment on every single post, and one of them replies to the other!
And, no one from the Google SB Facebook management team seems to care enough to check-in with these two folks and figure out what the heck’s going on.
For now Google SB Facebook page, without replies, without any care for ApR or AmR or CoR, continues to post couple times a day. Likely because someone somewhere, employee/agency, has a contract to post something every day.
Examples of this lack of accomplishing anything are in every post…
So, why does Google stink so much?
Yes, a part of this is the changes to the Facebook algorithm that has minimized the number of your Likers who will see your content organically. And, the more you stink, rightly, Facebook will show it to even fewer.
But, most of it is the strategy executed by Google, and many companies, on Facebook. I call it the “checklist strategy.” Be on Facebook, because the Marketing team has a checklist of things to do.
The checklist strategy does not give a gosh darn about what is actually happening. You’ll notice the Google SMB Marketing team has never replied to any comment by anyone, nor has it ever engaged with anyone on anything on it’s Facebook page. How is that being social?
They consistently and only pimps random Google things on Facebook, five years after it was established how sub-optimal this strategy is. How quickly would you get tired of someone telling you everyday how pretty they are?
Finally, remember the number above. There are 28 mil small businesses in America. Why not focus on a cluster, or in each post focus on a type or location or something that shows you care, and then talk about them? The current generic slather approach currently, wrapped in Google pimping, is mis-directed.
Here’s how heartbreaking things are. The video kicking off #socialmediamonth has 4 video Likes, 61 views!
You see this strategy on almost all of Google’s Facebook pages, here’s the one for my beloved AdWords…
Yes. Two people on planet earth thought this was of value.
Actually only the first post. Zero for the second one. And, Zero most of the time when the AdWords marketing team posts content.
They have 420,152 Page Likes. AdWords made $35+ billion last year.
They post everyday. Often multiple times a day. What problem is the AdWords marketing team solving by engaging two people on Facebook?
All of Google’s numerous Facebook pages fail the MoR test on a colossal scale. That is painful, but Google does have money to expend in value-deficient activities.
What is makes me weep is that people use Google as an example of how to do things right. Even if ten more small businesses open Facebook pages because Google has one, and emulate Google, that is ten people sent in the wrong direction by Google. This hurts.
Google of course is not alone in being a B2B company that executes this checklist, non-social, non-audience-centric, MoR test failing strategy on Facebook.
Here’s another big company… General Electric… I’ve computed the ApR, AmR and CoR for you…
Zero point zero one five percent. Zero percent. Zero point zero zero one percent. Let that sink in.
What business value, brand or performance, was delivered?
GE, another company with tons of money to expend in no-value activities, has not seen a fad it won’t jump on. I’m convinced that there is an army of 20 people at GE, and 25 at their agencies, simply waiting for the next flavor of the month to show up so that they can be there first to engage with the 14 people there. It matters little if those 14 people are relevant.
If you don’t believe me… launch a Social Network called Slapchat tomorrow, I promise your the first business account will be opened by GE ready to slap whomever shows up.
There is value in being first, but I’m not sure that is a smart social strategy.
You are welcome to look at the Social KPIs and decide for yourself…
With 1.5 million Likes, is it possible that only two people amplify the content because of the millions snapping chats there is no one who cares about GE? Checkout both the comments above.
Think of how many people love college football in the US. Millions upon millions. 40 people Liked GE’s invitation to tailgate on Snapchat with GE. It had AmR of one!
GE is at the other spectrum of Google. It’s trying too hard to be relevant/cool. What it shares with Google, and other B2B companies on Facebook, is that it has not figured out what content actually adds value to people who might choose to like GE on Facebook, and it does not seem it has figured out how to talk about anything else other than itself.
Clearly GE, or it’s agency/ies, is spending lots of money producing videos, graphics, words. When you sum up the cost, there is no way it passes the MoR test.
Are you at a B2B company? Say, TEKsystems on Facebook. Take these filters, now go look at your AmR, ApR, CoR. What do you see? While Facebook’s algorithm will not share your content with all your Likers, are you seeing anything decent?
Does your company pass the MoR test?
Maybe the problem is B2B. Who want’s to be reminded of work when they are on Facebook? Let’s look at B2C companies.
FritoLay has products that touch every single American, every single day (some, multiple times!). It’s Facebook page has 2.3 million Likes. It AmR hovers around zero or two. On rare occasions it breaks double digits. It’s ApR is in the low to mid-double digits. The CoR is in the very low double digits.
This even though it is clear from the page that FritoLay/agency is pouring tons of money into creating content. The problem of course is that for FritoLay the Earth revolves around the Sun. Sorry. The world revolves around FritoLay, as illustrated by it’s content.
You can also checkout any random FritoLay brand on Facebook and if could possibly pass the MoR test.
Consider Tostitos. Big company, big billboards, big tv commercials, big in-store posters and banners. They have over three-quarter of a million Likes on Facebook. AmR of their last few posts (as of Oct 30): 0, 2, 19, 2, 28. CoR? Between two and 20 on average. Out of three-quarter of a million Likes!
All they do all day long is pimp. Or, think Facebook is a place to run contest. On a See-Care channel, they are executing a Do strategy.
Want to see an example of that strategy in all it’s massively unproductive glory? Switch from food. Try H2O Plus on Facebook. It is unclear from their content, and performance that they are aware of the golden formula for Social Media success: Entertain me. Inform me. Provide Utility.
Let’s pivot even more, try the most B2C of entities, a car company. Let’s take a look at Toyota on Facebook…
2.5 million Likers. But, small AmR, ApR and CoR.
And, the above post is one of the more popular ones. As is this one…
Certainly better than GE numbers, on any given day. But, reflecting to the world what it sees in the mirror every day is adding negligible value to Toyota. You don’t even need the metrics to see that.
In the absence of actual value (Inform, Entertain, Provide Utility), many Facebook visitors use the opportunity to ask for help or complain about problems they are having…
All in all, a profoundly sub-optimal performance no matter how you look at it.
Here’s the ironic thing: If you search on Facebook, tons of people love their Toyotas. They share meaningful human stories. Even on Toyota’s Facebook and comments. Yet. Toyota’s SM team / agency / PR entity continues to use Facebook to primarily pimp.
MoR test outcome? Sad.
Let’s look at a B2C and B2B example of companies that do pass the MoR test on Facebook.
One of my favourite examples of a consumer brand, that beautifully truly gets social, is Innocent Drinks. They have 500k Likers, and they routinely whip brands much, much bigger. In fact, pound for pound, they do much, much better, with every post, than the company with 94 million Likers, that owns them: Coca-Cola.
Checkout the AmR, ApR and CoR. To me, that last one is impressive. I’m hundreds of people engage. They are just as funny/snarky/insightful as the brand itself.
Every once in a while there pimping by Innocent, most of the content is topical, relevant for the audience, and geared towards making them smile…
Not every post gets ten thousand shares (#omg), but you’ll see a persistently positive outcomes for the three social metrics.
Innocent does well because it executes entertain me and provide utility so well.
It is nearly impossible to find a single example of B2B that passes the MoR test. But, there is always one exception to the rule. For me, that’s the impressive accomplishment of Fluke on Facebook.
Their strategy is to focus on inform me and provide utility. Here’s one example of their content…
Fluke has 143k Likers. As you can see above they do really well for their size when it comes to our three social media metrics.
I have not spoken to Fluke’s Sr. Management in a little while, but I think what they have done that is great is get a really solid understanding of who their audience is. And, through experimentation, what is it that they want on Facebook…
Content perfectly targeted at their audience, in the above case to try and provide value to help them do their jobs better. Yes, hopefully, with Fluke products. But the emphasis is not on selling (overtly or covertly).
Here’s another example of content that engages, and add value… beyond the “enter our contest” or “take our quiz about pants we are wearing today” that are far too common on Facebook pages…
On a See and Care audience intent channel, Fluke’s content is created for their Largest Addressable Qualified Audience and Extra-Loyal Customers. They have, rightly, skipped obsessing about Think (Weak Commercial Intent) and Do (Strong Commercial Intent). Because, that strategy simply does not work on Social Networks!
It is very difficult to do what Fluke, for B2B, and Innocent Drinks, for B2C, have demonstrated above. It is not a money thing. It is not we have x agency or y employee thing. It is a DNA thing.
Let’s answer our two questions we started with, for Facebook:
Should your business be on Facebook?
User interactions as a percentage of Likers is now 0.216%. This is provocative, but your business should not have a page on Facebook. Claim the URL. Leave it blank. No one will miss you in this world.
As a business you should take advantage of Facebook’s immense audience by having a paid advertising strategy on Facebook. Purchase display ads, purchase video ads, purchase any other ads available.
Ads targeting See intent and Care intent will work the best. Measure them just as you would any other display or video ads on any other property.
Think and Do intent is not expressed on Facebook (if you insist on Think and Do ads, use Assisted Conversions and Conversion Rate to identify how very wrong they are for Facebook).
What content should you publish on Facebook?
No. Just buy ads. Target See and Care intent clusters.
If you insist on publishing content on your Facebook page… 1. Solve for See and Care intent (entertain, provide utility). 2. MAKE SURE you buy advertising from Facebook to “boost your posts“. Organically you’ll reach a couple percent usually, to reach rest of your Likers pay to boost your posts.
YouTube is incredible. Any stat you look at is impressive. Here’s one: The number of people watching YouTube per day is up 40% YoY since March 2014! You would think that everyone who is supposed to be watching YouTube every day was already doing it! Apparently not.
Two things I’m personally most impressed about are: 1. The raw number of individual superstars YouTube has created. There is no other social network where that would have happened. Food. Comedy. Music. Education. Therapy. Pick your favourite. 2. From Egypt to Ferguson, the ability of video to foster change. Some for good. Some not. Change nonetheless.
So. An amazing platform.
Let’s look at B2C, B2B examples of what businesses are doing on YouTube and answer our two questions.
The tendency of most businesses is best expressed by this example of Febreze. The thinking goes: “YouTube has a billion people watching videos. We currently target people watching video type entertainment on TV. We have TV ads. Let’s continue our spray and pray strategy!“
In case the content left you in doubt (and it does not), the title of the video makes the purpose quite clear.
The problem for Febreze, and everyone looking to simply replicate spray and pray, is that YouTube is not TV. For example, unlike TV, people pull content proactively. There is a lean-in nature to content consumption, rather than lean-back. And, unlike TV, here there is a feedback loop. People hate you on TV, you have no way of knowing. All you measure are GRPs. If you truly, gloriously suck on TV, perhaps there’s a report on some paper out there. On YouTube, your feedback is attached to your content…
If you have as many thumbs down as thumbs up, I assure you, you are doing something massively wrong. There will always be thumbs down (dislikes). For even decent content, the thumbs up will dwarf the dislike.
And, why are people doing thumbs down?
I thought you would never ask. Just look down a bit more at the comments. The person cursing the brand has six thumbs up, and zero thumbs down! And, replies!!
The problem in the case of Febreze was not just the spray and pray, it was also the content in the ad. When I first saw it, and the other ads, I wondered if any ads could be any more clichéd. The traditional gender roles. All people of the same skin tone. Women good. Men bad. Women laundry. Men lazy. And more.
Turns out, I was not alone…
So. Febreze has 326,091 views for this ad. What’s the business outcome? Yes, it is likely the Brand Manager considers this to be a success as they were only solving for reach. But. The brand is being hated. Was trying to reach that billion users with a strategy not built for the channel worth it? Here’s the important part, every Febreze employee, and Febreze agency employee, has access to all of this data. Still…
Another Febreze video is above. Checkout the up/down numbers. You can also look at the entire collection. Nothing in that collection reflects Febreze’s basic grasp of what YouTube’s true strengths are, or that with just a little effort Febreze can build an incredible owned audience on YouTube that will rival anything it does on any other channel – online or off.
Febreze has a Do intent cluster strategy on YouTube. What YouTube is really fantastic at is See, Think and Care.
Massive missed opportunity. Collecting anti-brand-love along the way.
Febreze of course is hardly the only brand is possibly failing the MoR test.
Much of the content on Colgate Oral Care’s channel is an example of the above.
You can also checkout Colgate’s channels in Brazil, Mexico, India, Philippines, Australia, UK or others you’ll see on the right above. Same mis-match.
And, there are other examples as well across the entire business spectrum. You can use the same filters to measure their impact.
Here’s the Tide Pods: Waitress commercial on YT. 41 up. 17 down. It’s a great clue, even without reading comments, even if the views were 4.6 million. Ignore the comments. If people can’t even be bothered to thumbs up/down your content, what’s the point of all that shouting? 58 people love/hated it out of 4.6 mil! Four point six million! At least get more hatred!! Or better, do something worth talking/sharing in a medium that’s magnificent at it.
Here’s Liberty Mutual Insurance. 605k views. 213 up. 248 down! And, the comments. Oh, the feedback in comments.
There is no dearth of sub-optimal strategies. It is not just about shoving your TV ads (when you could just as well create wonderful alternatives easily!). It is about this whole self-first and self-only strategy that is widely prevalent in B2C companies. Here are some examples: Bank of the West. Kroger. HP. Sprint. Oh, and Finish. #heartbreaking
Let’s switch gears and look at examples of B2B companies.
Over the last month 146 videos have been uploaded to the Cisco YouTube channel. The highest view count for a video is 3,794! In fact there are on only three videos of 146 that cracked three digits. The average number of views seems to be around 150.
Consider this… Cisco has more than 150 buildings here in the valley. Each of those buildings full of hundreds of people. Yet. 150 views. Some of this content seems like polished, expensive content produced by Cisco’s agencies. All of whom, of course, have way more than 150 employees. That implies that even people producing Cisco’s content are not watching it!
So. What’s the point of being on YouTube?
Is Cisco simply executing the “checklist strategy” on YouTube? We are a business. We have to upload videos on to YouTube. No. No, it does not matter if anyone is watching them, or that those who do find them to be of value.
Cisco is by far the most unique in under-leveraging a platform with more than one billion engaged monthly users. Go, pick a random B2B company, there will be a YouTube link on their home page, give the channel a quick review.
The problem? B2B companies treat YouTube (and Facebook above, and three other Social Networks below) as their PR channel. This would encompass TV ads, newsroom things, obligatory CEO keynotes/interviews, dense product stuff, and much much more.
If you step away from the mirror and give my business framework a thought, it is all about our customer and not us. B2B companies usually don’t consider customer intent. They only care about themselves. YouTube is best at delivering against the intent of your largest addressable qualified audience, an audience with some weak commercial intent and your extra-loyal customers. The intent can be best met with content that informs, entertains, and provides utility.
Since we are on B2B, let’s look at an example of a couple of B2B companies that do get the above paragraph.
I love Galco Industrial Electronics’ G-TV channel, it uses YouTube’s strengths perfectly.
Galco is a distributor of industrial electrical and electronic components. Sexy! (Ok, I’m a Mechanical Engineer.)
(In the five days between taking the above screenshot and today, their YouTube subscribers have gone up by 400. That is how you know you are doing YouTube right.)
It’s YouTube videos are primarily focused on Think and Care audience intent clusters. Though videos like the one below could just as well be solving for audiences with See intent.
You can see in the videos that Katie Nyberg is not just an expert, she is also passionate. While she might just be doing here job, it makes learning about he SLM 700 Modular Electronic Sounder so much more fun.
This screenshot gives you a sense for Galco’s content strategy on YouTube…
While they have just under 10k subscribers, and Cisco has 117k, you’ll notice that almost all Galco TV videos have more Views than those of Cisco.
Another comparison. TechwiseTV is a Cisco thing on YouTube. The last episode, very slick, very polished, very well produced, has 125 views, zero comments, zero thumbs up or thumbs down. People can’t even be bothered to hate on it!
How incredible is that? You solve for audience intent, and they show up and engage!
And, just to show you that B2B companies, even esoteric ones, can do more than PR, here’s FANUC America Corporation.
Most of their content is solving for Care audience intent. A little bit of it is solving for Think. Most of their robots are for cool things you might not care for. But, here’s one that is way cool: A robot that cuts cakes and packs them!
That’s B2B. If you want to consider B2C businesses, there are tons of great examples. Let me share two from my experience.
I love the consistent and wonderful effort from Carphone Warehouse on YouTube.
They’ve sharply defined their focus as See and Think audience intent, and they have a wonderful emphasis on Inform and Provide Utility. Here’s a great example, comparing the Nexus 5x and Nexus 5. I’m not sure I get their See (Entertain ) content, Keith Lemon videos. But, perhaps it’s a British thing.
Air New Zealand’s YouTube channel is an example from a different industry.
The customized YouTube page is a nice touch. You can see the latest video, you can see the header on the top that brings up more customized pages, and at the bottom is always the route map of where Air New Zealand flies. You can search directly from YouTube!
What is remarkable about Air New Zealand is that it not only has the obvious things like safety videos, they have custom series they’ve produced just for YouTube, they have location delights, they have extensions they’ve made for their TV ads (unique for YouTube, for example for Hobbit), and so much more.
They are solving for See and Think audience intent clusters – both YouTube strengths.
It is really hard to beat Air New Zealand. I think, WestJet is even better. It is perhaps easiest to share that with this exercise that I encourage you to undertake on your YouTube channel…
WestJet warms my heart. For their content strategy above, but for one other reason that they are uniquely amazing at.
WestJet does these “big bang” videos. Their last one was the WestJet Christmas Miracle. Amazing. 42 million views. Many companies do this. Big bangs. Then. They go away to make the next big bang. Or, the Brand Manager’s already promoted and so they are on to their next thing and there is nothing sustainable left behind.
WestJet is unique. They have a big bang strategy, and it works. Additionally, they are consistently on YouTube creating See, Think and Care content for all the days that are not Christmas or big bang days. This is rare. Companies are rarely this committed, rarely understand what it takes to build an owned audience this much. And, their creativity is not limited to that one trick (give free trips on Christmas). Most brands get stuck on their big bang.
Here’s one more B2C example,Absolut is doing an amazing job.
Finally, if you want to do even better (is it even possible!!), checkout Unilever’s excellent All Things Hair UK. Their strategy is to own the conversation around Hair on YouTube. Here’s my write-up on six things they did different, really different.
It is an example of perhaps the best strategy I’ve seen executed by a big company on YouTube. Just one of the many small clever things they are doing: The gadget on the right detects my local time, temperature and weather. Knows it’s raining here. Links to a “Let your style brighter up a rainy day” video. #omg
On YouTube uploading videos is not enough. You have to have an owned, earned and paid acquisition strategy.
REI, as an example, has amazing YouTube content. Yet. Nobody is watching it.
You can’t just post content on YouTube and wait for your audience to arrive. You have to have a strategy to bring your largest addressable qualified audience to your channel (TrueView, Display Ads, See-Care Search ads/SEO), you have to invest in inviting your existing customers (Care). You have to have a specific strategy to convert them into Subscribers, rather than solve for the empty calories of Views. You have to build an owned and engaged audience. At a certain point your Subscribers will start to drive the first hundred thousand plus views, you only have to worry about the subsequent hundreds of thousands.
Another, smaller example, is Colgate’s attempt at Tooth Tube . The videos could be of value, but they were uploaded and forgotten. They have 10k views, or less.
Let’s answer our two questions we started with, for YouTube:
Should your business be on YouTube?
YouTube presents a very distinct opportunity for B2B and B2C companies to build an owned audience, rather than just renting them from TV or magazines or newspapers.
The caution is that a strategy of simply uploading and waiting for the world to discover your glory is a terrible one. You have to have an owned, earned and paid acquisition strategy. If you can’t invest in these three, you just might be better off skipping YouTube.
For the paid acquisition strategy, try to avoid years of sub-optimal habits from TV. Skip demographics and psychographics. You have intent on YouTube. Use intent to target your paid efforts.
If you want to put your TV ads on fast rotation on YT, it might not be the wisest strategy in the world. See above.
What content should you publish on YouTube?
See, Think and Care intent clusters.
Measure them using metrics in the bonus link below.
There are many good reasons for humans to be on Google+, but there is no current reason for any business to be on Google+.
You should wait and watch and see the evolution that happens in the product over the next 12 months.
This was the meme that inspired me to post my why should any business be on Pinterest question.
There is absolutely no question that Pinterest is a phenomenon. In categories like Food & Drink, Home Decor, Fashion, Pinterest’s 100 m monthly active users find immense inspiration. It’s users are 81% female, though Males are growing quite nicely.
More recently Pinterest has shared that 70% of its users engage by saving or clicking on something. I know of a number of people who practically live on Pinterest! They contribute tons of content, and consume voraciously.
Our questions are the same for businesses. Should we be on Pinterest, and, if yes, what should we publish.
Let’s look at B2C and B2B examples.
Starting with someone who might be a perfect fit, L’Oreal Paris. I love the brand.
Here’s their presence on Pinterest…
They have several boards, solving for See and Care intent primarily, though there are elements of Do intent content or calls to action sprinkled throughout.
As with other social channels, we can measure three of our four metrics, Amplification Rate (repins), Applause Rate (likes) and Economic Value.
L’Oreal has 7.7k followers. A small number for such a big company. It’s boards have inspiring information, this one closer to matching Care audience intent…
As you can see it has 6.9k followers. Most of the pins are repinned around fifty times, or less, with ten or less likes.
Is that level of engagement of value to L’Oreal, given all else that it is engaged with in digital marketing. Can it find 8k people to engage with in fifty or smaller chunks anywhere else?
Checkout BCBGMAXAZRIA on Pinterest. Many more followers, 125k. If you look at their Front Row Seat at NYFW board, you’ll see similar low engagement rates. Less than 40 repins, less than 10 likes per pin.
Even Target with it’s currently 338k followers, on its Epic Halloween board with 89 pins, averages to 23 repins and 10 likes.
If you switch over B2B, here’s the Pinterest presence of Cigna Insurance…
What is great is that it is extremely focused on helping people be healthy. This is wonderful. We would consider it solving for See audience intent cluster. This would be a fit for Pinterest.
Their overall Follower number is 673, after 1,600 pins on 20 boards.
If we look at one of the boards for Salad Bowl Monday, it is clear that Cigna is investing money to produce good professional content. But, the engagement rates are quite low. Few to none like numbers and very small repin numbers (if any).
This is not uncommon for B2B companies that are attracted by 100 million MAUs for Pinterest.
To look at another example, here’s IBM…
It is unclear why IBM is on Pinterest. They have very few followers, and low engagement.
For example, the Cognitive Cookbook has 46 pins with most having zero repins and zero likes (or just a couple). IBM Design board, you might consider it to be a closer fit with Pinterest audiences, has at most one repin and/or one like on each of it’s pins. Perhaps less than might be required to pass the MoR test.
Let’s answer our two questions we started with, for Pinterest:
Should your business be on Pinterest?
For B2B companies, the answer is a pretty straight-forward no. Take the money. Do many of the six things mentioned at the start of this post.
For B2C companies, for some categories there might be value in having an organic presence. Check for how your peers are doing. For example, David’s Bridal or Lowe’s both have quite low engagement as measured by repins and likes (I don’t really have sales numbers, but each repin would have to result in massive average order value to justify).
For B2C companies in Pinterest’s top boards categories (like the ones mentioned above), leveraging Promoted Pins or Buyable Pins might be an excellent way to monetize Think and Do intent expressed on Pinterest. (You can measure it using Assisted Conversions and Conversion Rates.)
If you really want to focus on inspiring but selling stuff as well, I would recommend Houzz type strategy, rather than Pinterest. There are many others like Houzz as well for different categories.
What content should you publish on Pinterest?
If you choose to have an organic presence, focus on the See and Think intent clusters.
If AmR and ApR metrics justify it (i.e. they indicate a passing grade on the MoR test), you should continue that presence.
Twitter, my first Social Media love.
It is unclear what Twitter is for at the moment, it is undergoing a key reflection at the moment. The next 12 months will be interesting.
Twitter has 270 million active users global, with a penetration of 16% among the US population. It is really fabulous as the news breaker of the web. If you follow a manageable number of accounts, and are good at weeding out, then it is also a really wonderful way to know what your friends, people you find interesting, are reading/recommending.
Let’s flip the order and look at B2B businesses first on Twitter.
Can you get more B2B than Deloitte? I think not! Deloitte’s account has 267k followers on Twitter, quite healthy. Here’s what they tweet about…
As you can see, Deloitte’s tweets struggle to crack double digits when it comes to AmR (retweets) and ApR (favourite). If you click on any of the above tweets (or click on the time stamp), you can see the amount of conversation they are fostering. For almost all of Deloitte’s tweets, that number is zero.
The audience on Twitter best expresses See and, possibly, a little bit, Care intent. It is primarily about your largest addressable qualified audience, and delivering value to them.
Deloitte, global account or US, mostly simply looks at itself and what it cares for. Hence, the audience does not care for almost all of what they say. For the US account, it is not unusual to see tweets with zero.
It does not seem like Deloitte is investing a lot in Twitter, even with that low engagement it likely fails the MoR test. There are literally 50 other things Deloitte can do to have 10x the impact it is having on Twitter.
As always, another example you can check for effectiveness, or lack there of, is General Electric. They are on every single social channel on the planet. You’ll see in GE’s Twitter presence, AmR and ApR rarely crosses 15. One five. Their current follower count is 382,000. Divide fifteen by that number. There’s your effectiveness – value. No argument about what the MoR result is.
One more example from a different industry is LogMeIn ….
A very different profile, very different audience focus, yet the same results. Mostly zeros across the board, or once in a while the number one. Fails the MoR test.
If you look across B2B accounts on Twitter, you’ll this same pattern of very quickly failing the MoR test.
Let’s switch to B2C and analyze performance.
Expedia’s Twitter account might be a great place to start. If Twitter is a perfect fit for See audience intent, Expedia should be the perfect entity to deliver that.
Expedia stays focused on vacations and travel (as one might expect). Most of their content (above, below) is solving for Think audience intent (largest addressable qualified audience with weak commercial intent) and a little bit for Do audience intent (largest addressable qualified audience with strong commercial intent ).
As a result, you can see AmR metric is either zero or a tiny handful and ApR is a little better but rarely crosses double-digits.
There is a tiny handful engagement on Do intent, but the numbers simply can’t justify a pass for the MoR test given the size of Expedia and the sheer number of people it touches every day with Think and Do intent. What is sad is that often there are no replies from the account, even when people ask for inspiration…
There are exceptions, of course. Here’s an example of one such exception for Expedia. If that is what works, most of the time why does Expedia do everything else that does not?
Sticking with the travel theme, we can checkout my fav Hilton Hotels (this year I’ll sadly miss being Diamond VIP by a little bit, for the first time in five years!).
Here’s their presence on Twitter… Lots of asking people to look at how very cool Hilton is (PR angle rather than solving for See audience intent)…
As you can see the numbers, publicly visible to anyone who wants to see them, including the Hilton Social Media team, are in low double digits, or single digits. You can’t quite see the Conversation Rate (CoR) above, but do click on any random tweet. It’s usually Zero.
So, why is Hilton on Twitter?
Actually they are not only there, they are also on Periscope (they are the GE of the B2C world! :)). I watched the most recent one, as I was doing research for this post…
I was on Wi-Fi but the video I got was 33.5 kbps circa 1999 quality. And, the wonderful Hiltonite just walked around the hotel pointing things out. It was unclear what problem Periscope was solving for Hilton.
Is it not possible to see pictures of the pool and exercise area of the Beverly Hilton at their website? Or a decent quality video on the site or YouTube? Or, were the handful of people who watched the stream live, in the process of considering a vacation in Southern California and hence this tour was held for them? What is the value of this to Hilton (even from a branding perspective)?
Switching gears to a B2C company with 1.72 million (!) followers, Target ….
On a See channel, Target is executing a Do strategy.
The result of that mis-match is clear in the AmR and ApR metrics you can compute above. Almost always, zero point zero zero something percent. Except for the Calum Hood tweet. More Calum please!
These are of course not the only examples of B2C companies with MoR test failures.
Try Urban Outfitters on Twitter. Or Old Navy. Or Skechers USA (The average amplification? 2! Applause? 5!) Or winners of possibly the most sub-optimal understanding of why social media exists: Wrangler Jeans (Close to zero on either metric). Yet, they are Vine’ing away!
Not convinced? Try any Kellogg’s brand. Pop-Tarts is a brand would seem like a brand that should have social in it’s DNA. They tweet everyday, sadly they prove that they don’t. Also, try Kellogg’s Krave. [Don’t click on any of the three links in their Twitter bio, all 404.]
Even the amazing and impressive Nike should rethink what they are trying to do on Twitter with their organic participation. With almost four million followers (!), the very best they can do is AmR of around 150 and ApR of 450. Think about that. You have a, on paper, chance to engage and excite 4,000,000 people. You do that for 150/450. Success?
Should Nike continue tweeting because these 150/450 happen to the most influential customers? The highest purchasers? Superstar humans?
I know, it sounds crazy. But. Give me 60 seconds. Clear your mind. Think about it.
If Nike is hard to think about, try Coke. What are they accomplishing with 3.12 million followers that they can’t using maybe 5% of the investment they are currently making in their Twitter strategy?
And, if the mighty Coke and Nike are at this low level of value… What does it say about the rest of us and our far, far, far smaller brands?
Let’s answer our two questions we started with, for Twitter:
Should your business be on Twitter?
And, unless you are targeting Journalists or Social Media Gurus, the ROI on buying Twitter’s advertising offerings will yield sub-optimal results.
What content should you publish on Twitter?
If you are the exception to the rule for a B2B or B2C business that passes the MoR test… focus on See intent of your largest addressable qualified audience. [Though the difficulty in finding that is exactly the reason you should not be on Twitter.]
The social network I currently love the most.
Just a few months ago Instagram had 300 million MAUs, it has 400 mil as of this month! The daily actives are around 75 mil, an impressive number. 70% of the users are outside the US (in contrast to Pinterest). Perhaps most impressively, Instagram boasts the highest user interactions with brands as a percentage of a brands’ fans of 2.26%. This has fallen from 2014, it was 4.21%. But, consider that the number for Facebook is 0.21% and Pinterest, as is obvious from above examples, is 0.04%.
A quick note on our standard metrics. ApR and CoR do exist on Instagram. But, Amplification Rate as a concept does not really exist on Instagram, though the facility is there. As no URLs or clicks are possible (except if you hunt the bio and even then it is unclick able), Economic Value as a concept does not exist.
Let’s look at some B2B and B2C examples.
Dolby Labs markets its brand to us normal humans, to entice us to ask for equipment with Dolby, but most of it’s sales are to other businesses.
Here’s their Instagram profile…
From the 2,296 followers Dolby has, the engagement is around 50 likes (ApR) and mostly zero comments (CoR).
Every once in a while you’ll see a comment, but it is not clear if it is the audience that Dolby wants…
You can contrast their performance with my Instagram account – business vs. normal human…
That helps you understand who Instagram might be for.
Another B2B plus B2C combo company we can look at is Dell…
Dell has 52k followers on Instagram, from 569 posts. The ApR is right round 500. CoR is between 5 and 40, though closer to 10.
Consider Dell’s size, it’s marketing activities, even the number of emails you can possibly guess Dell sends every day. If all of those big numbers are a way to tell people about Dell, what might be a good reason to be on Instagram to tell people about Dell as well.
There are too many B2C examples out there, let’s look at one where you might expect massive engagement, drinks all around!!!
Sadly that is not really the case.
It is the pimping problem again. Is the above being truly social? And, this is a social product!
Instagram as a channel is best at See audience intent. Just See. Though, in this case what’s unique is that if you are really good, really, really good, you might collect around yourself your largest addressable audience and not just your largest addressable qualified audience. And, in this case, it is a good thing.
You have to, of course, play to it’s strengths.
This company does, guess who…
Beautiful brand, with a built in advantage to shine on Instagram. With almost 7 million followers, and gloriously magnificent ApR and, even better, CoR, it does really well for itself.
A great example of B2B business is Mailchimp. It might seem like no creativity can flow from someone selling email marketing solutions. But, you would be wrong to think that…
Mailchimp executes a near perfect See (and a bit of Care) intent strategy. It’s ApR and CoR numbers reflect that.
One of the more clever things that you’ll see on their account is introductions to the employees. Many people do that. Mailchimp’s is unique. They tell you a little bit about the person, but, as you might expect on Instagram, it is the picture that takes the cake…
Very clever, very creative, perfectly suited for this channel.
Let’s answer our two questions we started with, for Instagram:
Should your business be on Instagram?
Yes, and no.
For B2B companies, the medium might not offer a fit. You’ll fail the MoR test.
For B2C companies, if you have a built in advantage like GoPro, Bonobos, Adidas, Virgin America, Instagram is a great medium for your See audience intent strategy.
If you don’t have that advantage, you are likely going to fail the MoR test quite easily.
Instagram has a limited advertising strategy (image, video, carousel ads). If you buy them, you can tie value to increase in followers to your Instagram account or with a, likely big, controlled experiment the impact on your brand metrics.
What content should you publish on Instagram?
If you are Instagram, See audience intent content with a special emphasis on creativity.
We are done with our quest!!
Social Networks are still in their infancy. It should be clear by now that chasing them purely because of large audience numbers on these networks is a failing strategy. I hope the specific recommendations in this post will ensure that your valuable marketing dollars are being spent in the most valuable manner possible.
Infancy also means that things will grow and change and crash and evolve and everything in-between. As long as you remember the higher order bits at the start of this post, regardless of my specific recommendations above, you’ll be able to make the best decision for your company.
All the best!
As always, it is your turn now.
Do you have a higher order bit you bring to Social Media thinking that I’ve missed? As you reflect on your company’s Social Media existence, would it pass the MoR test? Is there a Social Network where your recommendation would be different than the one I suggest? Why? Is there a specific strategy, on any of the above Social Networks, that you’ve found to create sustainable business value? Do you love a SM metric that I’ve not mentioned above?
Please share your feedback, critique, stories, pain and success via the comment form below.