Google’s Account Activity Latest Attempt to Get You to Sign In

Google is in between the proverbial rock and a hard place these days. On one hand, you have newer competitors who have been able to build their empires with social media as the central rallying point. Facebook is the obvious choice here. When Facebook adds another service there is an initial wave of whining followed by resignation to the fact that Facebook has all of your stuff.

Google, on the other hand, is trying to do the online equivalent of herding cats by getting different disparate pieces of a very wide product and service offering to be drawn together for the first time. In the process, they become an easy target for people to point at regarding privacy and Google’s obvious attempts to have data across platforms play together so they can serve ads correctly. They have a difficult task ahead and it’s not getting easier.

Their latest attempt at Google unity is the Account Activity feature it has rolled out. The Google blog notes

Every day we aim to make technology so simple and intuitive that you stop thinking about it—we want Google to work so well, it just blends into your life. But sometimes it’s helpful to step back and take stock of what you’re doing online.

Today we’re introducing Account Activity, a new feature in your Google Account. If you sign up, each month we’ll send you a link to a password-protected report with insights into your signed-in use of Google services.

Google calls it giving you more insight into your accounts with Google. Let’s call it what it really is. Since you need to be signed into these various accounts so the activity can be measured it is really just as much the chance for Google to have greater insight into their users’ activities as vice versa.

Here is a look (albeit a small one, sorry) at an Activity page.

By now we all get what Google needs to do with regard to learning more about their customers across their disparate platforms. It’s just getting old watching them make it sound like the true beneficiary is the Google user. In some ways that is true. But the crux of this is that Google needs all of their data in one reservoir rather than smaller ponds spread out all over the place. The only way to do that is to get users to unify their services in any way possible. This is just the latest attempt.

Good luck Google. This is not going to get any easier.

Email Is More Popular Than Social Media [STUDY]

Social media may be getting all the buzz, but email is still a more popular mode of Internet communication, according to a new survey.

Private research firm Ipsos polled 19,216 adults in 24 countries last month and found 85% of them used the Internet for email while 62% used it for social networking. Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos, says she expected email use to trump that of social media.

“If you think about it, the Internet was first used for sending letters online. It shouldn’t be surprising that we’re using a digital version of sending a letter,” she says. “But the fact that a majority of people are using [the Internet] for social networking is a paradigm shift; there’s no equivalent in the offline world.”

How people use the Internet varies from country to country. In Hungary, 94% go online to use email while only 46% do so in Saudi Arabia. In Indonesia, 83% of people use the Internet for social networking (defined in the study as visiting social networking sites, forums or blogs.) Social media use is also high in Argentina (76%), Russia (75%) and South Africa (73%). It’s low in Japan (35%) and Saudi Arabia (42%). The U.S. figure for social media use was right around the average: 61%.

Aside from email and social networking, another primary use of the Internet is for Voice-Over-IP. Overall, VOIP is used by 14% of people across the globe and trends high in Russia (36%), Turkey (32%) and India (25%). VOIP use is lowest in Brazil (4%), France (5%) and the U.S. (6%).

The primacy of email over social networking comes as Facebook and Google have both attempted to remake email for a new generation. Google’s bid was Google Wave, which the company billed as the next evolution of email in 2009. By August 2011, Google had announced it was pulling the plug on the project after adoption didn’t materialize.

Facebook, meanwhile, launched a “modern messaging system” in November 2010 that was designed to replace email for younger consumers who preferred SMS and Facebook to traditional email.

The Pillars of Influence and How to Activate Cause and Effect

Digital Influence is one of the hottest trends in social media and it is also one of the least understood. Klout, PeerIndex, Kred among many others are investing millions of dollars to understand how our social media activity translates into influence. The market for influence is only heating up with more entrants expected to debut and acquisitions or mergers likely on the horizon. Within the last 90 days alone, Klout took in a Series C of $30 million from Kleiner Perkins at a whopping valuation of $200 million. PeerIndex also recently announced an investment of $3 million.

Whether we agree with them in principle or not, the topic of digital influence is only becoming more influential. Almost anyone with a social media profile is already indexed in at least one of the many vendors on the scene today. Consumers are trying to figure out what it means. Brands are realizing the promise of connecting to connected consumers. Advertising and PR agencies are spending budget against it. So what is influence and what does it really mean?

Right now, there are more questions and theories than answers. Like some relationships in Facebook, it’s complicated. But, I can tell you what it is not. Influence is not popularity and popularity is not influence. It’s so much more than that.

Since 2009, I’ve studied the influence landscape. After a few years and a few dozen articles on the subject, I concentrated my focus on developing a comprehensive report to take a deep dive into all things influence. One year later, I’m proud to publish my first report as part of the Altimeter Group, “The Rise of Digital Influence.

Early on in the development of the report, I learned that the definition of influence was elusive or in some cases, down right incorrect. At the same time, vendors claim to track influence when in fact, they track elements of online social capital based on proprietary algorithms of how people engage and connect in various social networks. While this isn’t influence per se, brands and those familiar with “influence” services now associate the idea of direct influence with scores, which is part of the problem. So, I set out to explore the landscape to help make sense of it. It’s not a scorecard of vendors. It’s not a rally against vendor positioning. It’s a call for clarity.

It’s important to note that the report is actually a constructive “how to” guide for businesses to learn how to use tools such as Klout and PeerIndex to build productive relationships with connected individuals.

The Rise of Digital Influence examines why “what” services track is useful and how to make it useful to your business as it relates to specific business objectives. The report shows how to use each tool to build an effective “influence” strategy…step by step.

The Score is not an Indicator of Influence

I think few would disagree that influence as a score is imprecise. But it is in this assertion that the responsibility of translating numbers into insights falls on those who expect to glean value from these services. Everything starts with the realization that none of the vendors out there actually measure influence. Instead, they measure a slice social capital, which is defined here as the online networks of relationships among people in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.

After spending a significant amount of time with brand managers, advertising and communications professionals, and also connected consumers, it was clear that the “score” became the emphasis. Brands sought out people with higher scores. Users pursued ways to increase their scores. Services built programs that rewarded those with higher scores. But very little went into gaining better understanding of what the number actually meant for brands and consumers alike.

Though very public experimentation however, brands are learning in real-time that scores do not matter as much as the context of relationships. Consumers are learning that gaming scores or being part of branded marketing activity without purpose may actually affect their status within their online communities.

I believe that many look at the idea of influence backwards, unknowingly relying on scores rather than understanding how influence is actually created and used.

Without context or defining purpose or value upfront, experimentation is already leading businesses down the wrong path of wasted time, resources, and squandered opportunities to build important relationships. And for users, they’re left without a strong grasp of how these scores affect them online and offline.

An important question for businesses to consider is what does a score actually represent? What does a “74” mean to your business goals and objectives? And, how do you apply it toward effective strategies and supporting metrics? It turns out that a “74” means very little when viewed simply as a score. But that’s just common sense. However, each service provides a deeper view of individuals, why they’re scored in a particular way and most importantly the elements that contribute to contextualized social capital (focus, authority, the nature of relevant relationships, etc.) and how their online activity potentially reaches and affects others. Services such as Traackr and mBlast excel here.

Here, value is in the eye of the beholder. The value is a result of research and how data is interpreted and applied against business objectives. So, in that sense, tools that measure online activity can provide value if you know what you’re trying to accomplish first and how you will measure success and then apply that filter to your examination.

Defining Influence – Measuring Outcomes

Once businesses take the time to learn about digital influence, its benefits, and how to connect with influential consumers, brands can harness social networks to proactively drive positive sentiment, engagement, and results. It’s important to take this time to gain a better grasp of digital influence to develop a meaningful strategy and defining desired outcomes. See, digital influence is defined as the ability to cause effect, change behavior, and drive measurable outcomes online. So a score of “74” doesn’t correlate directly to outcomes. But, through design, brands can identify the right people, develop meaningful engagement strategies, design online experiences that can lead to desirable results.

When defining a strategy, a good place to start is by going back to basics. Some of the most often asked questions that deserve your consideration upfront are:

· What is influence, and what makes someone influential?
· Who is influential in social networks and why?
· How can I recognize influence or the capacity to influence?
· What effect does digital word of mouth have on my business?
· How can I measure successful engagement with influential consumers?

To help you find the answers and more importantly, to get the greatest value out of influence vendors, I include a detailed Influence Action Plan to develop thoughtful, results-oriented strategies and programs. The Action Plan is designed to walk you through the steps necessary to assess where you are, where you need to be, who can help you get there, why, and what’s in it for them and those who follow them.

Your next steps are then to turn your Influence Action Plan into a working strategy. Here’s what to do next:

1. Define the parameters of the program and what success looks like
2. Assesss vendors based on your goals and identify influencers that will help you achieve desired results
3. Design a program that provides value to not only influencers, but also those connected to them
4. Measure performance and optimize strategies and experiences from program to program
5. Repeat

By studying the people who matter to your business, and the people who matter to your customers, your business strategies will benefit from a new level of customer awareness and sensitivity that speaks volumes in new media. Suddenly the score isn’t as important as the elements that earns someone stature within their community. Understanding this will contribute to a more informed, effective and valued engagement program. And at the end of the day, while “influence” vendors help identify ideal connected consumers, it is up to those who run influence marketing programs to define the “R” or return in ROI to track the true measure of influence, outcomes.

Download the report…

The Rise of Digital Influence

9 Social Media Marketing Tips From the Pros

social media toolsAre you looking for some new ideas to simplify your social media marketing?

Do you wonder how others use social media to attract customers?

We asked the pros for their hottest social media tips. Here’s their advice to help you power up your social media marketing.

#1: Draw Attention to Your Custom Tabs in the New Facebook Timelines

Andrea Vahl

Andrea Vahl @AndreaVahl

If you have a special offer on your website, why not use Facebook to showcase your freebie?

With the new Facebook Timelines fan pages, you can no longer have a custom tab as a default landing tab, so now you will have to draw attention to your freebie with the custom tab photo and the custom tab name.

HubSpot has done a great job of that with their custom tab photo advertising their free ebook and the Customer Case Studies title on one of their other apps.

hubspot apps

Notice the images on the four icons under the header image.

A Facebook custom tab is not hard to create with a Facebook application. You can find out about some of the best applications to create custom tabs here.

Applications like Lujure and ShortStack have templates to help you easily create your Facebook custom tab with your email capture form embedded into it. You can add a video, a picture of your freebie and some text. You can also link your email opt-in code within the custom tab to get people connected to your email list, as well as connected to you on Facebook.

Then once your custom tab is created, edit the custom photo and tab name by clicking on the pencil icon in the upper-left corner of the Application box and select Edit Settings.

You can also advertise your special freebie using Facebook Ads, drive the ad traffic to your Facebook custom tab specifically and hopefully capture the Facebook Like as well as the email address!

Andrea Vahl, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies.

#2: Add the LinkedIn Company Follow Button to Your Site

Michael Stelzner @mike_stelzner

If you’re trying to connect with business folk, LinkedIn is clearly the social network of choice. They recently released a simple widget called the Company Follow button.

This nifty little button looks a lot like a Retweet button, but instead makes it very easy for people to follow your LinkedIn company page without leaving your site.

linkedin company follow button

See the LinkedIn Company Follow button in our sidebar.

Michael Stelzner, CEO and founder of Social Media Examiner.

#3: Use Bufferapp to Manage Your Social Media Marketing

dave kerpen

Dave Kerpen @DaveKerpen

One of my favorite social media tools right now is Bufferapp, a content management system. Bufferapp allows you to add content to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts prior to their being published.

Unlike HootSuite or TweetDeck, Bufferapp automatically spaces your content out for you. That way, if you post something spontaneously, your scheduled content moves around so you don’t end up spamming your followers’ feeds.

Another advantage Bufferapp offers is the optional toolbar add-on that allows you to post directly from another website, similar to the Pinterest Pin button.

Bufferapp is brilliant in its simplicity and is an excellent content management tool, especially for those of us who might not have time to sit down and tweet for a couple of hours each day.

buffer

Check out Buffer to manage your social media marketing.

Dave Kerpen, author of Likeable Social Media and CEO and co-founder of Likeable.

#4: Get YouTube Subscribers Just by Asking

Paul Colligan

Paul Colligan @colligan

Many marketers feel the most powerful feature of YouTube is that it will provide free video hosting. This is as strategic as reading Social Media Examiner for the cute cartoons.

YouTube’s value is that it is a very social network that wants you to interact with your audience (called subscribers).

If you use YouTube for nothing other than free video hosting, you’ll never have that audience or experience the community it can bring you.

How do you get subscribers? Ask anyone who views your videos to consider subscribing to your channel. They already like you, or they wouldn’t be watching your videos.

Do it right in the video if it makes sense and/or do it with a YouTube annotation. Don’t know how? Click on the “Edit Annotations” button to make an annotation on any YouTube video in your account. You can link any annotation to a Subscribe link. You must be logged into your YouTube account to do this.

Need more help? Below is a YouTube video that walks you through the process step by step.

Paul Colligan, CEO of Colligan.com, education czar for Traffic Geyser Inc. and executive producer for eMarketingVids.com.

#5: Create a Facebook Plan You Can Stick With

Amy Porterfield

Amy Porterfield @amyporterfield

My clients often ask me, “How many times a day should I post on Facebook?” Unfortunately, there’s not a magic number; however, research does suggest that 2-5 times per day is key.

Anyone can handle this posting schedule for a week or two, but the real winners on Facebook are the companies that keep it up—every single day (or at the very least, Monday through Friday). Consistency always wins on Facebook.

Because your fans visit Facebook at different times of the day, one post a day simply isn’t enough—most fans won’t even see it. Instead, post several different types of content throughout the day. These can include short videos, quick tips, links and questions, to name a few.

Stagger your posts at different times to reach more fans. And never forget to include a call to action—words like click, comment, share and like will increase engagement.

Plus, the more you post, the more feedback you’ll get on what kinds of posts work best, and use this information to post more of what your audience really wants.

One extra tip: For maximum engagement, keep your posts around 80 characters or fewer. A study by Buddy Media showed that posts with 80 characters or fewer received 27% higher engagement rates. That’s big!

short facebook update

Aim to post short updates regularly on your Facebook business page.

Amy Porterfield, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies.

#6: Be Consistent

Rich Brooks

Rich Brooks @therichbrooks

I know that sounds completely boring, but it’s true!

Too many people think that social media success comes when you set up a Facebook business page. Or they expect their YouTube video to go viral or believe that one blog post will generate hundreds of leads. It doesn’t work like that.

Because of the low barrier of cost to social media, everyone will have at least a Facebook page, one blog post and one video under their belts.

Success comes from being consistent—consistent with your messaging, consistent across your social media outposts, and most important, consistent in delivering quality content to your audience day in and day out.

Don’t flame out like a shooting star; be as reliable as the rising sun.

Rich Brooks, founder and president of Flyte New Media.

#7: Prepare Now for Tough ROI Questions

nichole kelly

Nichole Kelly @Nichole_Kelly

Measuring social media has a two-fold return. First, it will allow you to do more of what is working and less of what isn’t. Second, it will allow you to address the question management teams are asking: “What is our ROI?”

Successfully measuring your efforts will require some upfront work to make sure you can collect the data and that you have a framework for presenting the data in a way that executives care about.

Take a look at your daily executive report to find the metrics that matter most and then figure out how you can collect similar data for social media.

business financial metrics

Plan to calculate your ROI. Image from iStockphoto

Nichole Kelly, CEO of Full Frontal ROI Consulting.

#8: Focus on Dollars

 kipp bodnar

Kipp Bopdnar @kippbodnar

Followers, Klout and Sentiment are not the end-all, be-all metrics of social media marketing success. A staggering 73% of CEOsthink that marketers lack credibility and don’t drive revenue or business demand.

The best step a marketer can take in social media is not to chase the newest shiny object like Pinterest. Instead, build a strategy and measurement plan to generate cold, hard cash from your marketing efforts.

For B2B marketers specifically, this means having lead generation calls to action on your blog and being more conversion-focused. Use a like-to-lead gate on your Facebook page in an effort to increase your social media reach and generate leads directly from Facebook (see screen shots for example).

Counting followers isn’t enough. Start attributing social media marketing efforts directly to sales.

Kipp Bodnar, co-author of The B2B Social Media Book and inbound marketing strategist at HubSpot.

#9: Fix the Appearance of Your Links on Facebook

Kelly Lester

Kelly Lester @EasyLunchBoxes

Facebook posts will get a much better click-through rate if they include a picture. But what if the post link you are sharing fails to show a thumbnail, even if the post you’re trying to share is full of them?

Use the Facebook Debugger Tool!

Somehow, this handy tool clears the clutter and refreshes the page so that Facebook can grab the latest goodies. Here’s a much better technical explanation.

All I know is this thing works! Look:

before debugger tool

Here’s what my post was going to look like before debugging.

after debugger tool

Here’s a lovely thumbnail image I got after debugging.

Kelly Lester, creator and CEO of Easy Lunch Boxes and the host of the musical web series, Let’s Do Lunch!

Join These 9 Pros at Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit 2012

social media success summit 2012Social media has changed radically in the last 12 months,” acknowledges Michael Stelzner, (CEO and founder of Social Media Examiner). “Google+ entered the stage, Facebook introduced Timeline for pages, YouTube unveiled their new layout, Twitter got a complete revamp and then there’s Pinterest. It’s a completely different world and there’s a need to discover new strategies and new ways to market your business with these platforms.”

To equip you with the latest strategies for marketing with Google+, blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest, the people you trust from Social Media Examiner have recruited 27 of the world’s most respected social media experts to share their newest tips and advice at Social Media Success Summit 2012.

If you’re not familiar with these events, they’re large online conferences (so you don’t need to travel).

Typically, thousands gather at Social Media Examiner Success Summits to discover new social media tactics, network with peers and discover how other successful businesses are using social media.

What People Say About Social Media Success Summit

Last year, 3,000 people attended the online summit.

Some of the organizations represented were Coca Cola, Visa, Microsoft, 3M, Honda, Kraft Foods, SAP, Wells Fargo, Disney, AutoDesk, LexisNexis, Four Seasons Hotels, Fuddruckers, EMC and thousands of small businesses.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

“Thoroughly wowed by the format and content. I will most definitely attend future summits,” Kim Kiefer

“Guaranteed to improve the way you approach social media. I’ll be back next year!” Derrick Sweet

“Phenomenal topics and knowledgeable speakers. The ability to ‘catch up’ on sessions thanks to recordings was a selling point for me due to scheduling,” Erin Caples

“This is the most comprehensive training I have yet seen on social media. The lineup of presenters was most impressive and the whole summit exceeded my expectations,” Suzanne Kiraly

Meet Your Presenters

Among the 27 social media experts who will be presenting at this summit are:

  • Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter Group
  • Chris Brogan, author of Google+ for Business
  • Mari Smith, co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day
  • Brian Solis, author of Engage
  • Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor Company
  • Frank Eliason, author of @YourService
  • Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner and author of Launch
  • Jay Baer, co-author of The Now Revolution
  • Jason Falls, co-author No Bullshit Social Media
  • Mark Schaefer, author of The Tao of Twitter
  • C.C. Chapman, co-author of Content Rules
  • Dave Kerpen, author of Likeable Social Media
  • Jesse Stay, author of Google+ for Dummies
  • Amy Porterfield, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies
  • And experts from Dell, Ford, LinkedIn, Citigroup, Citrix and many others.

Why Attend Social Media Success Summit?

Here are a few reasons:

  • Learn the latest and best social media business-building tactics.
  • Learn about tracking and measuring social media return on investment.
  • Learn how to sell with Google+, blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Learn how content marketing fits in with social media.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to network via LinkedIn with thousands of people who are expected to attend.
  • You’ll interact live with experts from big B2B and B2C brands such as Ford, Dell, LinkedIn, Citigroup and Citrix.
  • Keep learning even after the summit is over—With the session recordings and the transcripts, you can keep studying the material for up to one year from the date of your ticket purchase.

Want to save some money? If you reserve your spot now, you’ll save 50%. Click here for details.

What do you think? What has worked for your business? Please share your hottest social media tips and questions in the comments box below.

Image from iStockPhoto.


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Google Analytics Social Reports: This Week in Social Media

social media researchWelcome to our weekly edition of what’s hot in social media news. To help you stay up-to-date with social media, here are some of the news items that caught our attention.

What’s New This Week?

Google Analytics Releases Social Reports: These new Google Analytics reports “bridge the gap between social media and the business metrics you care about—allowing you to better measure the full value of the social channel for your business.”

google analytics social overview report

The Social Overview report shows your social performance at a glance and its impact on conversions.

Facebook Provides More Data on Referral Traffic From Mobile Apps: Facebook launches “a new Mobile Referrals dashboard to help you understand the traffic your app receives from Facebook mobile sources.”  To view the information, visit the main Insights dashboard or access Insights within your app settings. Click on Traffic and then Mobile.

facebook mobile referrals

You must be an admin, developer or Insights user of the app in order to view this Mobile Referrals dashboard.

Facebook Makes it Easier to Add Friends to Your Acquaintances List: Friends on your Acquaintances list do not show up in your Facebook feed and leave space to hear from the people you’re more interested in on your Close Friends list. Now Facebook suggests friends to add to your Acquaintance list and makes it easier to manage all of your friends.

facebook acquaintance list suggestions

The new Facebook Acquaintances list manager makes it easier to manage your feed.

Pinterest Rolls Out New Profiles: “The biggest change is next to your basic profile information: It’s a card called ‘Repins From.’ As the name indicates, this card shows you 3 people you frequently repin from. It’s a great way to discover new people to follow.”

new pinterest profile

The new Pinterest profile aims to make it easier for users to discover interesting things and people.

Groupon Offers Small Businesses Free Version of Groupon Scheduler:  Groupon Scheduler is Groupon’s new online appointment booking and staffing management tool. Groupon now offers a free beta version of Groupon Scheduler to all appointment-based small businesses in the U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec).

groupon scheduler

Groupon Scheduler makes it easier for small businesses to manage the appointment process.

Twitter Turns Six: Today there are more than 140 million active users and 340 million tweets a day.

twitter founder first tweet

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet six years ago.

Google’s Pending Algorithm Update to Penalize Over-optimized Content: For best search engine results on Google, business bloggers are asked to optimize content for their audience and not engage in excessive optimization for search engines.

Here are some social media tools worth noting:

Bliss Control:  A directory of links to manage your social media settings. The tool helps you easily access links to any settings page on the top social networks.

bliss control

Bliss Control makes it easier to manage your bio, profile photos and more across multiple social media platforms.

Facebook Ads Toolbox: A tool to help Facebook PPC advertisers create ads that are more effective.

HashTip: A tool to save, organize and search your friends’ tips to access them anytime and anywhere. You can either add a tip directly on HashTip or post it as your Facebook status or Twitter message and add the text “#tip” to it.

Likify: A tool to put a Like, Share, Attend, Friend, Tweet, Follow, Retweet and Reply button on your offline products.

likify

Check out this mobile service to bring the popular social media actions to your products.

OBCIDIO: ”A supercharged social enterprise platform that is changing the way both organizations and individuals communicate, connect and interact with their entire business network through real-time social collaboration tools.”

obcicio

Check out OBCIDIO to “communicate more efficiently, increase transparency, drive decision making, share content, shorten product development cycles and leverage customer-generated feedback.”

Fancy:  A new ecommerce site to discover and shop the coolest stuff on the web through a social filter. Fancy is the new evolution of Amazon, where people can shop for nearly anything on the web.

the fancy

Fancy, a fully functional marketplace, allows users to reserve hotels, buy clothes or score tickets to an event without ever leaving the site. And merchants can manage inventory, calculate shipping, print labels, etc., all right from the site.

And don’t miss this:

Social Media Examiner presents Social Media Success Summit 2012! (online conference).

Join 27 social media experts at Social Media Examiner’s big online conference! Go here to learn more.

What social media news caught your interest this week? Please share your comments below.


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