Facebook Cuts ‘Become a Fan’ Language to Increase Brand-User Relations

According to Facebook research, Facebook users click the platform’s ‘Like’ designation almost twice as much as they click they “Become a Fan” of brand pages.  So, with the goal of higher user-brand  engagement the Palo-Alto based company is making changes – changes they hope users really ‘Like’.

 Within the next few weeks, the “Become a Fan” button will disappear entirely.  In its place, users will find the ‘Like’ feature. 

 Facebook announced these changes via a confidential email to ad agencies this week, in which the company openly mapped out their strategy:

 “’Like’ offers a simple, consistent way for people to connect with things they are interested in. These lighter-weight actions mean people will make more connections across the site, including with your branded Facebook pages. We believe this will result in brands gaining moiré connections to pages since our research has shown that some users would be more comfortable with the term ‘Like’.  The goal is to get the most user connections so that you can have ongoing conversations in the news feed of as many users as possible.”

 Facebook is hoping that users will feel more comfortable sharing their loose affinity for certain products, as opposed to declaring their brand fanship. While at first blush, this change may appear purely linguistical, it has the potential to change the entire dynamic of Facebook brand relationships.  

 Brand pages will likely no longer be a hub for die-hard fans. Instead, brand pages can strive to reach the more casual, if fickle, Facebook admirer – meaning more eye balls on brand messaging. Brands will also be able to get a solid qualitative read on general brand affinity and how aware the Facebook social media community is of their existence – which  should prove quite useful for new product launches.

Time will tell how users will respond to the changes, but if Facebook research holds true, these seemingly minute changes should lead to significant and positive effect.

 We’re a fan.  We Like!

 For more information, please read ClickZ.
 

Posted via email from Speaking of Social Media

Attention Target Shoppers: Mobile Couponing has become Mainstream

Target announced their foray into mobile couponing this week, leading with the hook that they’re the first national retailer to offer such scanable coupons.  This may be true (aside from JC Penny offering a trial program in Houston), but they’re joining an increasingly number of retailers who believe that mobile couponing is the key to attracting tech savvy budgeters.

Unlike many mobile couponing systems, Targets discounts won’t be derived from a fancy iphone app. Instead, they’ remain text based and available through Target’s mobile website.  Coupons can then be redeemed by scanning the barcode at the register.

With 37% of Americans accessing internet through their phone, Target’s decision to jump on the mobile bandwagon doesn’t validate mobile couponing as a successful business tactic — tons of grocery stores have already proved this.  Rather, Target’s couponing launch officially makes the strategy mainstream.  It will likely only be a matter of time before all brick and mortar stores join in, especially as current estimates expect mobile ad sales to reach $1 billion this year and up to $3.3 billion in 2013.

Increased mobile couponing will also pave the way for new marketing partnerships – many of which are already occurring on geo-locator social networking platforms like FourSquare. Additionally, after seeing which coupons are redeemed, brands will be able gain a more sophisticated understanding of what drives customers to purchase and, perhaps, craft customer-specific loyalty programs to be redeemed in-store.

Finally, a new mobile coupon might be just the ticket to remind customers about another item or two that deserves to be in their basket and drive impulse purchases.

Posted via email from The Green Detail

Business is Booming for Online Retailers

Americans spent $155.2 billion dollars online in 2010 – an 11% jump in gross revenue from 2009. 

According to new Forrester research, U.S. online retails sales will only continue to grow.  Experts predict future increases to top out at 10% a year, compounded annually, reaching $249 billion in 2014.  Online retailers in Western Europe are poised to see growth at a rate of 11% annually.

Top categories bought online may surprise you.  Clothing is the most popular item, followed by consumer electronics and computers –accounting for nearly 40% of all online retail sales within the U.S.  The online clothing market ballooned hit $27 billion dollars in 2009 alone, increasing by 17% from 2008.

Research suggests that the online clothing retail market will expand to even greater levels in year to come.

What’s driving consumers online? Likely, a combination of retail motivators. Shopping online is much quicker than driving to the mall and it’s far easier to price shop.  In-store retailers are already dropping additional products due to a lack of inventory space, so shopping online also tends to lead to the best selection.

Social shopping tools are also at play.  Of course, it’s possible to drag a friend or family member to a store to ask their opinion about a digital camera or a new laptop – but it’s far easier to copy and paste a link or use one of innumerable digital bookmarking tools.  When friends aren’t available or haven’t ‘experienced’ a product, virtual friends in the form of bloggers and online reviewers gain importance.  If virtual friends like certain products, the number of online sales will rise. If online opinion influencers advise users to steer clear of certain products, the online community will follow their advice.

 Marketers should make sure that they’re aware of their online reputation – $249 billion dollars in revenue will soon depend upon it.

Posted via email from Speaking of Social Media

Yelp Accused of Alleged Extortion Scheme

Yelp has built its brand around consumer trust and site transparency. Since its founding in 2004, the popular consumer-generated business review site has generated over 9 million consumer reviews that rate local businesses, providing some of the most genuine consumer-driven insights on the web.

However, news broke last week that threatens all the good will that Yelp has ever amassed.

Local businesses have filed a Class Action Suit against Yelp over allegations that Yelp has removed or pushed down business reviews in exchange for money – an implication that not only threatens Yelp’s reputation, but the company’s entire business model as both are so intrinsically linked.

Yelp Chief Executive Jeremy Stoppelman denies the claim that Yelp sales reps are offering to take down negative reviews for money, but as the complaints have persisted for over a year, doubts have begun to gather.  Media coverage of the issue has reached the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Mashable and beyond – which has created a PR nightmare for Yelp.

Whether Yelp has actually been tainting their reviews or whether this entire crisis is, as Stoppellman suggests, the unfortunate miscommunication to businesses on the behalf of the Yelp sales team, it will remain a thorn in Yelp’s side until it resolves itself. It will certainly influence the way the 26 million Yelp site visitors read their reviews.

Brands should take note at both the media firestorm created by Yelp’s non-authentic adventures and the negative consumer reaction to Yelp’s questionable ethics. While bad reviews may be frightening at times, it certainly beats consumers’ mass mistrust of a brand’s platform or product. While Yelp will likely remain an intact source of customer reviews after the Class Action Suit has been resolved, consumers’ seeds of doubt regarding the site’s authenticity have been planted and will take a far longer time to settle — out of court.

For more details about the Class Action Suit against Yelp, please view Mashable.

Posted via web from Speaking of Social Media

Customer Loyalty Programs: Worthy Investments?

Marketers spend upwards of $2 billion per year on customer loyalty programs. But even with significant investments, many brands are still unsure how to activate their loyalists to drive real business results.

According to a new survey from the Chief Marketing Officer Council, only one in ten marketers (13%) believe that they have been highly successful in garnering loyalty and brand preference among members of their loyalty clubs. Nearly 20% of companies say they haven’t developed tactics to fully leverage their top customers — evident by the 50% of club members who say they only occasionally talk about the brand or product.

Brand loyalty initiatives can make important consumers feel appreciated, but they should also foster closer connections between brands and fans that spark word of mouth.

Consumers may be ready to do more, so long as companies they do business with are willing to sweeten the deal. Nearly 60% of consumers say they want more compelling personal benefits and services, as well as more relevant offers or individualized deals.

Until then, marketers may continue to see lackluster returns from programs with the promise to deliver so much more.

To read more, please visit Marketing Charts.

Posted via web from Speaking of Social Media