Social Media observations – August 1, 2009

It’s no secret that social media has been blasting off like a rocket ship. Today, social media encompasses social networks, like Twitter and Facebook, mobile platforms, information sharing, online video, and far more. There are now thousands of professionals and companies that are deeply involved in the social media sphere.

Social Media marketing is estimated to grow at an annual rate of 34 percent for the next five years, according to Forrester Research’s Interactive Marketing Forecast – faster than any other form of online marketing and double the average growth rate of 17 percent for all online mediums.

Forrester estimates that $716 million will be spent on the medium this year, growing to $3.1 billion in 2014. At that point, social media will be a bigger marketing channel than both email and mobile, but still just a fraction of the size of search or display advertising ($31.6B and $16.9B, respectively). (

More than 82 million people in the U.S. created content online during 2008, a number expected to grow to nearly 115 million by 2013 according to numbers released by eMarketer. The bulk of content creators are social networking users that post photos or links, but there’s also a quickly-growing number of people participating in more involved activities like blogging or uploading their own videos.

71 million people created content on social networks last year, while 21 million posted blogs, 15 million uploaded videos, and more than 11 million participated in virtual worlds.

According to a new study released by Aberdeen Group (published today by eMarketer), 63 percent of companies plan to increase their social media marketing budgets in 2009, despite the current weakness in the economy.

The world’s largest blog, Mashable, founded in 2005, focuses exclusively on Web 2.0 and Social Media news.

With more than 6 million monthly page views, Mashable is the most prolific blog reviewing new Web sites and services, publishing breaking news on what’s new on the web and offering social media resources and guides.

News monitoring service VMS estimates that Twitter’s mentions in the media were worth $48 million over the past 30 days. That’s about 80 times more than Bing got in the last 30 days ($573,834); in fact, that’s more than Google gets, and Google is a verb, used everywhere on a daily basis.

The numbers are even more impressive if you look at impressions (when a person sees a mention of Twitter on Oprah, for example, that’s one impression) – Twitter received 2.73 billion impressions in the past month,

With an estimated $48 million worth of exposure in the media each month, Twitter’s homepage is undoubtedly being hit by the likes of Larry King, Oprah, and Ellen viewers.

A study was released last week by the Altimeter Group, run by former Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li, that analyzed the 100 most valuable brands (according to BusinessWeek/Interbrand) and how they engage across 11 different online social-media venues, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The study was billed as creating an “engagement database” and ranked Starbucks No. 1, followed by Dell and eBay, based on their breadth and depth of social engagement. Google, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, Nike, Amazon, SAP and Yahoo/Intel (a tie) round out the top 10.

What was eye-popping was the correlation they made between social engagement and financial performance. There are a lot of factors that influence a company’s financial performance, which makes such a correlation questionable. But good use of social media could be seen as a proxy for an innovative culture, eagerness to engage with consumers and take risks, a net positive for any business.

The bigger takeaway from the research is in examining how these companies were able to build their social networks. They all innovated early, often and, sometimes, incrementally. Consider that:

■Dell and Starbucks were some of the earliest adopters of corporate crowd-sourcing. They launched ambitious sites on’s platform in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

■Many embraced Twitter early and in innovative ways. EBay, for example, was the first to live-tweet earnings calls in 2008. Amazon started offering deals on Twitter back in 2007.

■Several were quick to build out robust communities that connect customers and employees. Microsoft, for example, launched its inventive Channel 9 platform for developers back in 2004. It followed up with similar sites for other key stakeholders.

■A few of these companies were among the first to let employees openly blog. “Microsofties” began blogging in the late 1990s. Yahoo and Google debuted corporate and product blogs in 2004.

Social capital goes to those who innovate early, often and with excellence—and repeat this process over and over. That is what the research spells out. (

According to Forbes, US companies love Twitter, and many of them have frequently updated Twitter accounts.

Translated, this means the following: US companies have PR and media experts who told their CEOs “You thought that blogging was stupid, and look where it’s at now. You don’t want to miss the Twitter train, because Twitter is the next blog.”

Brand sponsored social media campaigns are everywhere. From SeaWorld, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts, to Cadbury, A&E, and even Universal, it’s officially the hot trend to replace or supplement traditional marketing campaigns with social media.

Huggies, the maker of diapers, training pants, and other products for babies and young kids, has decided to jump on the social media bandwagon too, but by going straight to their target audience — moms — by way of the popular mommy social site, Circle of Moms. The mom-centric site is leveraging its partnerships with MindShare and AppsSavvy to fully integrate a Huggie’s branded experience within their site and Facebook app.


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