Is the Hashtag a good thing for Facebook?

By Dr Gordon Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in Information Systems in the Centre for Digital Business at Salford Business School

Many social media commentators cried copycat in June when Facebook announced the ability to add clickable hashtags to posts. The assumption among these pundits was that hashtags are in some way an exclusively Twitter ‘tool’. Bloggers and business commentators were also quick to present Facebook’s version of hashtags as an attempt to capture back market share that had been lost to Twitter.

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Facebook hashtags – still a big deal?

By David Skerrett,  head of Social and Mobile Platforms here at R/GA London

Known to be coming since March, the Facebook Hashtag is now here. Well sort of. It’s not really ready yet. It’s not on mobile yet, it’s desktop only, so that’s half of Facebook use out for now. It’s not in most paid formats, it’s just in desktop newsfeed ads. So that means the majority of brand fans won’t see them. It’s not in insights and you can’t see if anything is trending, so the science of “learning by doing” will be interesting to start with. But inevitably this stuff will happen in full and brands will get to grips with using an additional tactic to generate more connected conversations between consumers and brands, and surface content in different ways – all powered by the consumer, and inevitably with the option to amplify with paid media.

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How much is a Facebook Fan Worth?

The value of a Facebook Fan to major consumer brands has increased an average of 28% to $174 since 2010, according to a new empirical study from Syncapse in partnership with Hotspex. The study, which examined 20 top global consumer brands in terms of their Facebook Fan performance, replicates and enhances the seminal research Syncapse conducted in late 2010 that first measured Facebook Fans value as drivers of shareholder value. Back then the average value of a Fan across all brands under the study was $136.

In addition to a 28% increase in value, Fan counts have doubled or even tripled since the first study so even a slight increase in the value of an average Fan is magnified. In 2010, these brand pages typically had a few million Fans each. Top brands in the 2013 study have well over 15 million Fans, with some like McDonalds and Coca-Cola with 25 million and 60 million, respectively.

“Recent years have been characterized by hype and a competitive race to acquire the most Facebook Fan connections, but brand marketers are sobering up and beginning to ask hard questions around the ROI of social marketing,” said Michael Scissons, founder and CEO, Syncapse. “Perhaps no question is asked more than ‘What is the value of a Facebook brand fan?’ With this study, we applied stringent research methods to benchmark and measure the differences between users who have ‘liked’ or “Fanned” a brand on Facebook and those who have not, to determine their business value.”

The study compared Facebook Fans and non-Fans based on their product spending, brand loyalty, propensity to recommend, media value, cost of acquisition and brand affinity. For example, 20% of a brand’s customers represent 80% of revenues, and that 20% segment often indexes highly within a brand’s Fan membership. Data were collected from over 2,000 panelists residing in the U.S. in late January and early February 2013.

Understanding the Importance of Facebook Graph Search’s Keyword Passing Update

By Erin Ablett, Punch Communications

Following Facebook’s Graph Search announcement in January, many webmasters will have discovered that keyword data has not been available within Graph Search referral strings. This has meant that site admins have been unable to see which keywords users have searched for most frequently to take them to brands’ sites.

However, referral strings have now been updated to include the keywords used in queries, which will allow webmasters to set up their analytics packages to capture the query data coming from Facebook. This information can then be used to create content tailored to the specific terms and search habits of a brand’s audience.

See below for a contextual overview of this significant development, from a brief background of Graph Search to its analytical implementations before and after the update. Continue reading

5 top tips for successful selling on Facebook

By Jim O’Hara, President of Ecwid

There’s a question hanging over the recently IPO’d Facebook that’s generating a lot of discussion; is social commerce — i.e., having an online store within Facebook or another social site — working? This comes after a few big brands, including Gap, GameStop and J.C. Penney, closed their failed Facebook stores earlier this year. General Motors pulling its advertising from Facebook also didn’t boost confidence that the social networking site is effective at generating income for businesses other than itself.


Aside from making a black-or-white judgment call, what can be learned from these events? First, let’s consider that we’re in the very early stages of social commerce. The rules to this game are still being written. Second, let’s realise that social networks aren’t constructed or consumed like a typical website. It’s a different game altogether.


Facebook realises this and has published some guidelines and examples via its Facebook Studio blog on how to generate engagement. While not specifically related to social storefronts, this information offers insight on social commerce. The core takeaway: Speaking about subjects related to your brand is the best way to generate engagement, not directly promoting your own products or services.


So can we conclude that, perhaps, the big brands whose Facebook stores failed weren’t social enough? That they tried too hard to sell and not hard enough to engage? It may be too soon to tell, but those questions are valid points to consider for any business planning a social commerce offering. Also important to consider is who is succeeding at social commerce.


Our own data shows a clear indication that small to mid-sized businesses are much better at social commerce than their larger rivals. For those with a regular e-commerce site in addition to a Facebook store, 22 percent of their total online revenues came through their Facebook store. This may suggest that smaller businesses are better at “socialising” and therefore have an inherent advantage at social commerce. Learning from this experience, here are five top tips and best practices that can help small to mid-sized businesses to succeed when selling on their own Facebook stores:

1. Recognise that social commerce isn’t new.


Historically, “social” has always been a part of the “commerce” experience, even before Facebook existed. People have always listened to their friends’ recommendations when researching and buying products, and we tend to appreciate (and buy more from) retailers that speak to us on a personal, one-to-one basis than those that talk in overt marketing terms. Social media sites like Facebook didn’t invent social commerce. They just amplified it greatly, introducing a convenient, easy and fast way to communicate with friends and others.


2. Talk honestly and without marketing slang.


Most brands understand that they need to communicate with their customers, but many aren’t clear on what the conversation should be. A Facebook page is always a two-way communication; if you’re not ready to engage your audience honestly and candidly, you won’t be successful.


3. Don’t disrupt the conversation flow.


If you’re going to make the leap from e-commerce to f-commerce, remember not to disrupt the original purpose of social networks — to connect people. You’ll want to make the process as seamless as possible, integrating your store into the conversation and allowing people to shop without having to leave Facebook.


4. Avoid overt attempts at selling and focus on community building.


Don’t just transform your Facebook page into a list of product links. This will turn away consumers faster than you can imagine. Social networks are communication platforms first and foremost, so maintaining a flow of communication with — and between — your customers is key. Try to build a community around your products, engage your customers, encourage fan-to-fan communication and product discussions, then simply offer a convenient way to buy.


5. Harness the power of your biggest fans.


The enthusiast base of your audience loves to be recognised, so consider leveraging engaging, community-building initiatives such as “Fan of the Week.” This will help you to harness the power of your most avid customers. Ultimately they’re your biggest supporters, so it pays to offer them something special. You’ll be rewarded as they spread their enthusiasm to friends.


Forrester Research Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said it best when she stated, “There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop. But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”


If you’re looking for clues to f-commerce success, think social and think small. For right now at least, this is where the results are.

Top tips for small businesses on using Facebook

Social networks; you either love them or you hate them, but no one can argue that they are a great way to communicate with customers, as current figures show over 60% of UK companies have a Facebook page and 44% a Twitter account*.

With over half the UK population on Facebook**, for most online retailers in the UK, it’s a very effective way to raise awareness and provide key information to customers.  Olivier Chameyrat, Managing Director of Pixmania-PRO, has put together some top tips and hints for getting the most out of Facebook.


1.       Start conversations
By tapping into one of the most influential social networks on the internet, retailers have a fantastic opportunity to start conversations with the consumers they are trying to reach.  Engaging directly with your customers on Facebook will not only increase your customers’ loyalty to your brand, it will give your company a personality and someone customers can interact with.
2.       Post engaging content
Draw on experience from your own Facebook page – look at what friends of yours have engaged with the most – it will be something where you have given them a conversational springboard.  Review other companies’ activity on Facebook, such as Pixmania-PRO; look at their posts and how they manage their profiles.

3.       Develop relationships with your customers
Once the conversations are started with your customers, ensure that you keep them going.  Constant interaction with Facebook fans who are customers can help you grow your business; by gauging their opinions and interact directly with them you have an invaluable and instant market research tool at your fingertips.

4.       Use it in conjunction with existing marketing activity
While your presence on social networks like Facebook or Twitter should be an integral part of developing strong relationships with your customers, Facebook shouldn’t replace your existing marketing activity.  It should be part of your overall marketing strategy.  If you have an advert going out, make sure you reference your Facebook page, or include a line which says ‘like for exclusive discounts and offers’.

5.       Use it for customer service
71% of UK businesses, like Pixmania, use their social media channels as a way of dealing with questions or customer complaints.  Customers are turning to this more and more as it means they don’t have to spend time on the phone and can easily get an answer.  Queries resolved by social media channels are more likely to result in positive feedback posted to profiles and fan sites – not something you get with a phone call.

6.       Push discounts exclusively through Facebook
One of the easiest ways to gain more fans is to offer exclusive discounts and offers.  For example, when you hit a certain number of fans reveal a code for a 20% discount on your website.  Or offer the first 10 people to ‘like’ a status a free product.  This will encourage your fans to talk about your company on their profile – especially if they win.
7.       Link back to your site
Make sure you embed links to your website within the content you post – customers won’t buy anything from you if they are not on your site.  Check out Pixmania-PRO’s Facebook page, they showcase a new product with a picture and a link back to their site – remember, traffic not on your website is traffic not making any purchases.

*Souce – Ofcom

*Source – Facebook figures

***Source – InSites Consulting

Measuring SME success on Facebook

By Erica Ayotte, social media manager at Constant Contact

Thousands of UK small businesses are now using Facebook to market themselves online but as adoption increases we see SMEs asking the same question again and again:‘How on earth do I measure the value of my business’s Facebook presence?’

To be honest, it’s not an easy question to answer and there is no magical measurement tool which will give you a giant thumbs up or thumbs down on your Facebook Page – social media is more subtle and nuanced than that. And if you are in that camp, don’t fret – you aren’t alone.

We recently conducted research, which found that two thirds (66 per cent) of British small business decision makers using Facebook admit to not using any form of analytics. The main reasons cited by respondents are that they don’t have time or that it’s too complicated and hard to understand. Even among the 26 per cent of respondents that are measuringresults and success, 40 per cent are looking for better ways to do so.

However,there are some guidelines and ideas that will give you better idea of how to ensure you’re looking for the right things when evaluating your Facebook marketing strategy and ensuring that you’re making that channel work for your business.  For this post, I wanted to share the first five steps we recommend taking to not only track your progress on Facebook, but to ensure you’re tracking the right metrics in the first place.

Step one: relativity

The first thing to remember is scale – you don’t have to have thousands of fans and hundreds of Likes on every single post to consider your Facebook presence asuccess. At Constant Contact, we like to remind small businesses that the 90/8/2 Rule is a reliable gauge of success.

This rule says that, on average only two per cent of fans will engage with your Page regularly, whilst eight per cent will chime in occasionally. The other ninety per cent will watch but stay silent. These numbers stay pretty consistent regardless of your community size. If you have 100 fans on Facebook and you’re regularly getting one or two likes per post – then chances are you’re doing a pretty good job.

The other point to remember is that the fans that do engage with your Page may be among some of your most valuable customers. Not only do those customers do some of your marketing for you by making your brand visible to their network, engaged customers are much more likely to become repeat customers.

Step two: why are we here?

To measure how well you’re doing on Facebook you need to be clear about what your business goals are and how you want Facebook to impact those goals. This varies depending on your company and what sort of business you run – for some it’s direct sales leads, for others it’s increasing awareness of their business or it could be all about ‘wowing’ their customer base. All of these are valid goals, but defining yours at the outset will help you set your Facebook marketing strategy and measure its success later.

Step three: non-moving goal posts  

The next thing to do is think about what success looks like – I suggest setting three key targets and focus on achieving those. It could be a number of different goals, for example website referrals (leads), brand impressions (awareness), or referrals generated (customer marketing).  Notice I didn’t list total fan count. This stat is one that people tend to focus on, and while a large fan count can look impressive, a large number of fans does not help your business if you can’t mobilise that fan base to do what you need them to do.

Your goals could also be more general things like ‘in the first three months have two customers recommend my business on Facebook’ or ‘encourage five of my Facebook fans to visit my store.’  Knowing specifically the critical few success indicators for your business will give your Facebook strategy focus and save you from wasting your time on activities that don’t matter.

Step four: on your marks

After you determine what your two or three key metrics are, the first thing you need to do is benchmark where you are now. That way you have your starting point and will be able to track your progress in the coming months. In some cases, you may be starting from zero, but that’s okay – you’ll have nowhere to go but up!

You’ll be able to find a lot of this information by clicking through the tabs on the Insights section that sits on the top of your Page.  This will include metrics such as reach, location, people talking about your Page or engaged users.

Step five: tracking

Next, track your Facebook marketing activities against your metrics. In other words, make sure that you know what’s driving the ups and downs. Consider this your testing period and try out different variables to see what works best for you. There are plenty of variables to play with – some examples are: the time of day you post, the length of your post, what key words you include or how often you post.

After two or three months take a look at your progress and determine the activities that brought you the most success. For example, you may find that image-based posts got the most awareness for your business because they were shared more often. Or you may find that asking for referrals on Facebook works best a day or two after a customer appreciation post.

You also may find that you need to re-assess what your goals are. For example, you may find that for your business, Facebook isn’t a great place to source new leads, but that it works great for customer marketing. Decide whether or not your goals were relevant and useful for your business and adjust your business focus if you need to.

Getting your Facebook marketing just right is a matter of testing, measuring, and iterating on what works. And it’s important to remember that what works now might not work always and forever. That’s why it’s so important to track activity against results, and to be able to pivot quickly when necessary.

I’d love to hear your feedback so drop me a line at @inthekisser / @CTCTuk or at our Facebook Page here.

Quantifying The Power Of A Like On Facebook

As brand managers across the world seek to quantify the elusive “value of a like” on Facebook, Rakuten’s today reveals the value to the company of its Facebook fans. Thanks to support from social marketing platform EngageSciences, Rakuten’s has analysed the shopping behaviour of its Facebook fans.  Results from 2011 show that, on average, customers who had engaged with one or more Facebook campaigns from Rakuten’s spent 24% more on the website than customers who had not engaged with any of the company’s Facebook campaigns.  Furthermore, shoppers that made their first purchase on Rakuten’s referred through Facebook spent 30% more than an average customer in their first year of using the website.

  • Fan Growth: Over the last 12 months Rakuten’s has more than quadrupled its social following. Without any paid for media promotion it has attracted 370% organic growth, taking its community from 75,000 to more than 350,000
  • Fan Reach: Through friends of fans, the 350,000 plus fan base (calculated on the number of friends of fans) has potential reach of over 38 million – that’s more than the active number of internet users in the UK
  • Sales Growth: Volume of sales directed through Facebook to Rakuten’s is growing rapidly with year-on-year sales through the platform up 80%. Sales that can be directly attributed to Facebook now account for over two million pounds of gross merchandise sales (GMS) for Rakuten’s
  • Tweet Reach: Rakuten’s is not only focused on Facebook as its social channel, but also has an active community on Twitter with over 40,000 followers. Top tweets can receive over 1 million impressions

Adam Stewart, Director of Marketing at Rakuten’s (@adster1), commented on the power of a like: “We know that there is a lot of discussion at the moment about how to quantify the value of social fans. Our results show that through intelligent engagement, social fans, particularly on Facebook, are massively valuable to online retailers. In fact, Facebook fans can be more valuable to online retailers than those gained through paid-for channels. Our approach has helped Rakuten’s attract over two million pounds of sales in 2011 that can be directly attributed to Facebook.

It’s not just about increasing sales through our Facebook fans; we see social channels as being a huge part of engaging and rewarding our fans.  Through the EngageSciences platform we can create holistic profiles of our fans – looking at how they engage with and share our content, we can create online campaigns that are more compelling and better reward our biggest social promoters and advocates.

EngageSciences CEO Richard Jones commented on the importance of engagement: “Engagement is critical for all brands using social channels. When we started working with Rakuten’s they had an actively engaged daily audience of around 2,000, but by getting to know its social community better the team has increased average engagement six fold, with daily levels now averaging over 12,000 and peak engagement topping 40,000. It’s great to work with Rakuten’s to finally prove what we’ve been saying for a long time: intelligent use of Facebook does directly support revenue generation. We look forward to a long and rewarding partnership with Rakuten’s to continue to lead the way in driving sales through social channels”.