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New Foursquare Features Turn Novelty into Utility

March 10, 2011

Foursquare presents a new toolkit to marketers

This week, Foursquare made another move toward bridging users’ social lives with their digital presences with the release of Foursquare 3.0, a new version that includes a more usable interface, a recommendation engine, and even a partnership with American Express to provide discounts to cardholders. Foursquare, celebrating just its second year of existence this month, has grown to 7.5 million users, including 7 million that have joined since last year’s South by Southwest Event. Prior to this update, however, Foursquare’s value proposition was more novel than useful, both for consumers and for businesses. While a location-based social “check-in” game has been able to hold users’ attention thus far, while simultaneously providing some benefits for participating marketers, Foursquare 3.0 presents an entirely new set of tools for organizations to build and interact with their user bases.


Foursquare has always claimed to make cities easier to navigate; however, socially-grounded recommendations might finally achieve the original goal of the platform. A robust recommendations feature allows users to filter locations and brands by food, coffee, nightlife, shops, and entertainment, making the interface more usable for consumers. Organizations and brands looking to take advantage of Foursquare’s algorithm should work to actively present a value proposition to consumers and be sure to have an optimized profile within their specific verticals. Increasingly, users will begin to see certain places and brands move to the top of lists, burying those that have failed to implement a concrete strategy.

Partnership with American Express

This functionality is currently only available as a pilot program in Austin, TX; however, the goal of the initiative is to build a partnership between organizations and consumers who both use American Express and Foursquare. Consumers in Austin who use their American Express card at one of 60 participating merchants. Users who link their credit card and Foursquare account will qualify for a “spend $5, save $5″ credit that its automatically applied to their account. Details for expansion are still vague and the pilot is set to run only from March 11 to March 15; however, success with this program could have tremendous effects on the future of geo-location purchasing.

These changes in Foursquare’s platform and functionality are significant and provide an opportunity for marketers to develop enhanced geo-location strategies and optimize their brands or locations for engagement with consumers. The tremendous growth opportunity in mobile marketing should work in conjunction with these changes to change the way national organizations look at local and direct consumer marketing, giving innovative organizations an entirely new toolkit to engage their consumer base through digital channels.…

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Monetizing Social Media: Proof of Financial Benefits

February 10, 2011

This leaves only one question: How does it help my business?

The explosive development of social media platforms over the last few years has been remarkable but, despite growth that has transcended national borders and demographic lines, it has been underscored by the perception that its advantages were not quantifiable from a business standpoint. The elephant in the room has not stopped companies from signing up and maintaining platforms; however, these initiatives have been met with skepticism by C-level executives who’s attention is focused on furthering business. A new report published by McKinsey Quarterly, based on 4 years of data collected regarding enterprise social media usage, goes a long way toward justifying social media as a tool for businesses to compete and win within their industries.

Not surprising was the insight that Web 2.0 technology is being increasingly used among companies surveyed. At the close of 2010, for instance, 75 percent of companies claimed that they were seeing quantifiable benefits with regards to increasing speed of knowledge and a majority were using platforms to reduce communication costs, increase marketing effectiveness and build customer satisfaction. These same companies; however, were having more trouble measuring social media impact on revenue and operations. When broken down further, it became clear that companies who had fully developed internal and external networks were seeing substantially more benefits than those who were in an experimental stage. The discrepancy in benefits reported alludes to a certain intangible benefit from full commitment to social media and a definite synergy between internally and externally networked processes.

Most importantly, this report was able to take the analysis of social media in business a step further by tying gains in market share and operating margins, two fundamental financial metrics, to integration with social media. The most profound finding from this model is that highly networked enterprises are 50 percent more likely to experience simultaneous guides in market share and operating margins while companies that silo social media, internally or externally, or have not used it at all, were less likely to show gains in these core metrics. While this study brings up as many questions as answers with regards to how social media can provide business value to organizations; the implication of the results is that agile, innovative market leaders are seeing a measurable boost to their respective bottom lines from their commitment to social media.

The assertion, that social media is moving beyond “new” and “cool” to essential and quantifiable, is something that the Emerging Media Research Council is helping our clients discover to leverage new ideas and digital innovation in building their business.…

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A Shifting Approach to Social Media Metrics

February 9, 2011

CMOs and VPs of Corporate Communications are making increasing investments in social media this year, with US spend projected to reach over $3 billion on social networking sites in 2011. But despite the increasing amount of time and money being allocated to digital marketing, there is still much concern among C-level executives about how to measure the results.

It’s easy to track tactical metrics, like fan count and page views. And in fact, that’s what many leaders rely on given few other options. However, recent research released by eMarketer shows that executives are seeking to shift their approach to digital media metrics. In 2011, the same executives that placed a high value on tracking the number of fans, page views, and posts are seeking to focus more on conversion rates and revenue this year to understand the bottom line impact. If you’re reading this and thinking “Yes, I’d like to focus on conversion and revenue too, but it’s not that simple,” we know how you feel.

To assist management teams in this effort, the EMRC has designed a new consultative offering this year focused on reducing the noise that comes with the above laundry list of metrics, and focusing on minutes of engagement across a company’s digital media presence. Not just on Facebook, not just on your website – across your entire presence. We also layer in industry intelligence so you know where you stand relative to your peers and competition. Engagement moves beyond tactical metrics to understand how your company’s audience is connecting and interacting with your brand online – and engagement is proven to lead to action, whether your goal is revenue generation, brand building loyalty, nurturing advocates, or customer support.

We’re helping Fortune 500 and middle-market companies make the case for their digital activity internally and improve every day. If you’ve found yourself needing to answer to these questions, we’d love to help:…

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Google Social Search- Increasing Search Relevance

February 7, 2011

Earlier this week Google announced the full incorporation of social search into their algorithm, a service it’s identifying as “all the goodness of Google” with “opinions of people you care about.” While this maysound familiar as Google has used social functionality in search since 2009, this newest effort is unique and powerful. Google’s search algorithm has consistently led the way in making results more relevant and predictive of consumer behavior, having incorporated dynamic elements beginning with keyword density in the early days, to linking structure and unique inbound links more recently, and now to the opinions and volume of your friends’ interests.

Prior to this change, Google’s social functionality was isolated within a small area appearing at the bottom of your search results and was considered both insignificant and somewhat controversial, based on the predictive “friend-mining” techniques used to determine your network. The problem with this method was that private and unwanted information was taken from your accounts to push the idea of social search onto users rather than inciting users to come to social search.

Google learned its lesson quickly the first time (see graphic to the right) and has restructured the system to build your network through opting-in by connecting social accounts or updated internal Google account settings. The advantages offered by social search are readily evident through trial or by watching Google’s introductory video, meaning that getting users to opt-in shouldn’t be a problem.

The implications of Social Search is that results are increasingly less impacted by SEO tactics and more relevant to individual users. Social search is a powerful step forward in making quality content accessible to those looking for it and, perhaps more importantly, segmenting quality content by individual user. Organizations that want to take advantage of this functionality should do so by organically improving their engagement online and creating content that is relevant to specific sets of users. Inbound links and site structure are still of fundamental importance to ranking but augmenting your promotion efforts with cross-channel tactics is now more powerful than ever.

As more users connect their social accounts to Google and the online world becomes more like the real one, with friends’ and connections’ opinions carrying more weight than that of strangers, top marketers will have even more success in organically sharing their content and building their brand through the creation of quality, relevant content.…

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Mobile Advertising Spend to Increase in 2011

February 3, 2011

As consumers become increasingly mobile, marketers are finding new and more effective ways to capitalize on the growing mobile advertising market. Based on a new study from the Association of National Advertisers, the mobile marketing vertical is poised to experience tremendous growth in 2011. Last year, 62 percent of polled brand marketers used some form of mobile marketing; however, 2011 could bring exceptional growth to this already growing industry as 88 percent of the same group is intending to utilize mobile in the coming year, a full 26 percent increase year-over-year.


As is often the case with new frontiers of advertising, many of the marketers who plan to use of mobile in 2011 are uncertain of the effectiveness for their organizations. Big brand case studies from companies like Coca-Cola, Target, Starbucks, or McDonald’s are certainly compelling evidence that the medium can work, but only 25 percent who have used the platform claim that their initiatives have been “extremely successful” or “very successful.” Mobile advertising, because of its intricacies in targeting and dealing with constantly evolving technology, may have a steeper learning curve than other digital and social platforms.

Continual innovation in smart phone and mobile targeting technology will continue to drive spending increases in the mobile marketing vertical. Already, of the 75 percent of marketers planning to increase their spending in 2011, the budgeted increase is a substantial 59 percent. An arduous learning curve may deter some marketers from early implementation, but those who are willing to innovate in 2011 will look to increase spending and continue to prove the success of this burgeoning market.…

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