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Among publishers and brands the importance of social media is uncontested. "Pretty much the first thing all of us do, even if you don't admit it, is check Facebook in the morning," said Michael Lazerow, the CEO of Buddy Media, at the DLD Conference in Munich, Germany last week.
Facebook's dominance isn't just anecdotal. According to Dec. 21 press release from comScore, at industry leader in providing digital media intelligence, across the globe social media now consumes one out of every five minutes spent online. Seventy-five percent of this social media time is spent on Facebook.
For brands, taking advantage of social networks is a particular challenge. According to Linda Abraham, co-founder and CMO of comScore, who joined Lazerow in a Jan. 23 talk on "Social Media and Commerce" at the DLD Conference, there are three major considerations:
There is a significant difference between customers and a social media fan base, says Abraham. "The people who you have historically always thought about as your franchise that you're going out to build a business around are often very different from the ones who seek you out on social," she said. The online fan base for Starbucks, for example, is strikingly younger than its regular customer base.
Knowing the demographics of your fans is particularly important, Abraham said. "That has an impact on your messaging strategy, it has an impact on what you would want to say to these people, and how you want to say it," she said.
The other important, but often ignored, ingredient for organizations hoping to take advantage of social networks are the people a fan is connected to. "You've got this notion of fans, and then those fans have friends," said Abraham. "What a lot of brands don't realize going into this is that the dynamics of both of those are really very, very important. It's not just what your fans do, but really understanding what their friends do, is an opportunity that really can have a big impact on what social does for you as well."
Leveraging social connections like this was integral to Shopycat, Walmart's holiday season campaign on Facebook. WalMart paid advertising produced 275.4 million impressions. Shopycat, a Facebook app that employed user data to predict holiday gifts, earned an additional 117.3 million impressions -- a 43 percent boost -- through online sharing. The key to getting this online bounce, is offering a compelling message, said Abraham. "If people like what you're saying, if they interested in it, if they're compelled to pass it around, it can really make a big difference."
You can view Lazerow and Abraham's talk on "Social Media and Commerce" below: