Twitter Accomplished What Facebook Couldn’t

Posted on March 22, 2009. Filed under: Market Research, Online Interactive Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , |

My previous post explained the early competitive edge that Facebook enjoyed against MySpace. The examples that where explored began to establish just a few principles of the foundation required of successful online social network:

-A homepage focused on encouraging greater social interaction

-Facilitating ways to meet new people that still respect privacy

-Providing ways for real-world social ties (Geography, Organizations, Work) to manifest in group activity

SOCIAL NETWORK SUCCESS is An Empowered Online Community. But Is It Also A Double-Edged Sword?

All of this has translated into the successful fomentation of an empowered online community that takes ownership of the network because their lives are portrayed on it. Mark Zuckerberg has publicly acknowledged the that “one of the things that makes Facebook really special is [that] it’s a service that people are using to put up information that they want to share with people that often is very personal, private, intimate.” The latest retraction of the Facebook Terms of Service (TOS) agreement is part of their continuing realization that any attempt to use the profile information that wets the appetite of every online marketer needs to be done with full transparency and a respect for privacy. At the crux of the TOS agreement misstep is the growing contention between the expectations from online marketers for Facebook to monetize its network and Facebook’s better judgment. I’ll explain what I mean by Facebook’s better judgment a little later, first let’s explore the argument for monetization. The combination of demographic and psychographic information to which Facebook is privileged makes that network an ideal application for behavioral targeting (BT) methods.

In fact, recent research findings revealed a slightly increased acceptance of this more invasive online advertising practice if the marketer/brand/website is “more open, honest and transparent about where, when and how behavioral targeting is used.” When this is considered in the context of the upsetting click through rate (CTR) average for online display advertising on social networks, one can understand that the future of greater social network advertising depends on bridging the disconnect between advertisers and social networks. Most agree that bridge is behavioral targeting.

One of the companies that understand this better and before than most is San Francisco based Peanut Labs, a market research firm that has developed an online social network sampling methodology to target specific demographics. They believe Facebook Connect has the potential become a social network advertising game-changer if a marketer implements specific behavioral targeting marketing practices. An example provided by them sites the affect of BT upon the average advertising click-through rate of 0.01 – 0.1% would multiply CTR by between 3-10 times if just one social network contact clicked on the product advertisement presented to them after someone in their network was identified as a recent purchaser of that product. All of this sounds great for the prospects of Facebook advertising, but let’s look at other edge of the sword.

I believe it’s becoming more apparent to Facebook that its network is too personal real-world relationship-based for it to be used as a marketing platform for big name brands to successfully mass consumer market themselves on the Facebook channel. Nike’s Facebook page has over 1.3 million fans, but what does that mean now, two months after their campaign got their fans’ attention? They haven’t posted anything since January 8th, so it’s hard to tell. Simply put, the kind of online corporate or commercial brand relationship with which consumers comfortably identify typically does not fit within the current Facebook social interaction/utility  model.

The main reason behind this is due to the a growing realization that online activity and personal identity as portrayed through Facebook, is not as amenable to a brand identity/affiliation that could be better facilitated on other platforms. Research from Facebook on their user communication statistics places the average number of reciprocal relationships maintained on the network to be at most 16 people; the high end average amongst the one-way communication is only 26 people. In the brick and mortar world this concept is referred to as the Dunbar number, a concept which suggests that the size of the human brain has a limited cognitive capacity for sustaining a real-world social network of 148 people. Both of these behavioral statistics suggests that average Facebook user’s attention may not have the bandwidth on Facebook to interact with a brand’s advertisements or Facebook profile even if BT is effectively implemented.

What Twitter Reinforces About Facebook

After a failed Twitter acquisition three months ago, the latest Facebook redesign of company pages alludes to some of the important lessons it probably already acknowledged before Nielsen Online reported upon Twitter’s incredible February user growth of 1,382%. The newly adopted Facebook Stream is a twitter-style real-time status update + news + conversation feed that will put another notch into Facebook’s social media marketing tool belt. It takes Facebook a step toward providing a more marketing-friend platform since now companies will have direct visibility on their fans’ homepages. This new development had already hit personal pages earlier this month, but within Facebook evolution, this added feature is only an upgraded version of the “mini-feed.” The only difference between the two is that previously the mini-feed wouldn’t allow comment/like/share options or provide you with real-time updates. Companies have not had enough time to plan and execute any Facebook Stream friendly social media campaigns that specifically harness the niches that exist on Facebook, but when compared alongside Twitter the differences are very interesting.pleitez-example

Facebook Stream will not change user behavior to emulate the kind of activity on Twitter because it is a “closed ecosystem [where one user is…] not exposed to as many different users and shared items as they are on Twitter or Friendfeed.” But it will make truly resonating media or messages much more visible within individual Facebook cohorts and communities than before. Obama has been credited with giving Twitter a de facto blessing for strategically using it to communicate with his grass roots movement throughout his campaign. Now a new politician within the same ideological current, Emmanuel Pleitez has begun to benefit from community niches that compose Facebook, because Facebook Stream gives these communities much more visibility to one another. Thus Facebook Stream has the relative potential to strengthen a brand’s existing following. Now that the marketing weaknesses and strengths of Facebook have been discussed, a review of Twitter’s unique success will reveal how this network differentiates itself within the social media universe.

Analytically Dissecting Twitter’s Impressive Surge

Twitter has a much better capacity for expanding that brand’s following; this is almost soley attributable to the search applications that allow for the real-time mining of the thought stream that comprises Twitter. If I had to define the real-world marketing equivalents of the concepts embodied by Twitter and Facebook, they would be company press releases and industry associations, respectively. Much more investment of marketing resources and definition is required of the latter than the former. Like industry associations, Facebook is  a arena dedicated to a specific niche where individuals, organizations and businesses can share ideas, news and other relevant information. Twitter however is a public electronic “soapbox” platform from which to individuals can send personal press releases about the most trivial aspects of their lives.  Although Google CEO berates Twitter as “poor-man’s email,” he has recognized that “Twitter’s success is wonderful, and I think it shows you that there are many, many new ways to reach and communicate, especially if you are willing to do so publicly.” At this point however, it is remains to be seen how the surge of new users will use Twitter. Let’s look at some important marketing case studies to see what interactive marketing lessons we can extract from them.

A “Micro” Analytical Example

Michael Arrington from TechCrunch has shared some valuable insight into their specific example of how the recent Twitter user surge has translated onto increased traffic for Techcrunch’s website. Below are a table and graph that present their number of followers and website traffic derived from tweeters at three critical growth stages:

A) “Organic” growth up until January,

B) When they were added to the “recommended” Twitter list presented to all new users

C) During the surge of new Tweeps subscribing to Twitter


It seems that at its current network size, an endorsement from Twitter did not result in much of gain for their website when tweeters have already vetted and supported it. Recently Jason Calacanis proposed Twitter to give him one of the recommend slots for an annual subscription of $125,000 on the belief that it would translate into gathering millions of followers and ultimately in one million or more a year in incremental revenue. The math upon which Calacanis is predicating his judgment hasn’t been completely explained, but the example presented by only represents web traffic trends. It doesn’t take into account revenues that may result from lucrative consulting engagements. This does caution already popular web sites with revenues based upon their traffic to not expect a huge increase in web metrics derived from twitter if they already have a large following on that network.


The Twitter Macro-Picture

Who are these tweeters? twitter-demographic-information-chart

Currently our larger demographic understanding of the Twitter-sphere’s population is relatively basic. The most recent “post-surge” age demographics reported by Nielsen Online was the source for charts that detail the percentages and populations that compose the tweeters. The report explains that “the majority of people visit while at work, with 62 percent of the combo unique audience accessing the site from work only versus 35 percent that accessed it from home only. [… and in last year’s final quarter] there was an average of nearly 240 tweets per person.”

Most interestingly about the results of this that the demographic that lead the way for Facebook’s current dominance didn’t represent itself enough within Nielsen Online’s sample for it to be reported upon. The next post will delve deeper into this as part of the concluding lessons learned about social networks.twitter-age-demographic-pie-chart

To which internet sites does Twitter send its users? The dust from the exponentially growth on Twitter hasn’t revealed any single dominate trend, any particular internet sector or brick-and-mortar economic sector around which Twitter’s activity coalesces. The most discernable patterns to recently emerge have been reported Hitwise. Their latest report describes that the web traffic that Twitter generates tends to send its users to the following types of websites:

Search: Google (ranked as the top visited), Yahoo!, MSN & Twitter Search.

The most apparent trend is that 40% of its generated traffic benefits other social Networks (20% and media or entertainment sites (20%): Facebook, Twitpic, MySpace, Youtube & Flickr.

Hitwise also determined that in February 7.28% of the traffic it generated directed users to personal websites and blogs. In fact, so much Twitter traffic has been diverted to blogs that it has spurred some observers to ponder whether Twitter Search traffic is poised to eclipse Google Blog Search over the long term. Steve Rubel points out that “as of February, Twitter Search attracted 1.35 million users while Google Blog Search, which has been plagued by relevance issues, sits at 1.38 million users.” This is no small accomplishment. Considering that Twitter is no where near maturity as a network, this insight does have time to gain more traction. Most interestingly the type of internet sites that receive the least traffic, less than retail sales, are dating, business and finance websites.

Twitter’s Definitive Accomplishment

The combination of the information from Hitwise and Nielsen begins to construct an understanding that the people, the usage and personas developed on Twitter. There a disconnect between the corporate/business person at work that composes the majoirty population and the trends that represent the where twitter diverts traffic. What this alludes to is the emergence of what is considered the Brandividual, the dual persona that incorporates a business’s brand and their own personal brand in order to more completely engage on a web that’s become increasingly social and personal. The development of the public presentation of the combination of two different aspects has not been without its contention. However what is most significant is that this important marketing development between the world of business and personal online interaction has been propelled by Twitter and not Facebook, blogging or other social networks. Twitter does not have to become a heavily used mass consumer social network for it to maintain it’s relevance with the social media universe as the personalized business-orientated “press release” medium/channel. The innovators from the marketing and technology sectors that invested into developing the Twitter community from the very beginning will not stop tweeting any time soon. Facebook got the consumers to sign up in droves, but marketing potential inherit within Twitter will translate into the kind social network usage that directly connects businesses with their respective markets.
Condensed Coverage of Multiple Markets


– The Evolution/Future of Social Media

-Social Media Marketing Lessons Learned

-Transition to The Next Topic

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The Market’s Reaction to the Socially Inclined E-Latino

Posted on February 28, 2009. Filed under: Hispanic Marketing, Market Research, Online Interactive Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , |

The last blog post ended by concluding that insightful marketers have already begun addressing the growing online opportunities to market to Hispanics. And in fact, reports from TNS on Hispanic online display advertising spending in the first ten months of 2008 measured a $47 million increase from all of 2007. Yet despite the $212 million spent during only the first 10 months of 2008, research findings from The Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies and the Advertising Research Foundation highlight a different understanding of those figures. A December ARF study press release contends that overall Hispanic advertising spending fell short of the “8 percent investment in the Latino market AHAA recommends marketers should be spending based on population and buying power of U.S. Hispanics alone.” However, before marketers are blamed for not directing enough of their budgets toward low hanging Hispanic opportunities, a concise review of the available actionable online Hispanic market information and online Hispanic media marketing channels could help explain why these opportunities to market to Hispanics were not pursued.

Until recently the allocation of that limited Hispanic marketing budget was not assisted by the knowledge of trends describing what Hispanics were doing online. According to a study performed by Adage, Hispanic internet usage exceeds the general population in the realms of instant messaging, audio/video media consumption, and social networking. Most recently, Dr. Felipe Korzenny bestowed upon the blogosphere the analysis that supports previous assertions about minorities leading the internet trends into social media. Throughout the incredibly enlightening data, the numbers show that English-preferring Hispanics’ usage of social networking sites lead if not shared the lead with Asians. Marketers should take special note that the difference in trends between the two Hispanic groups exhibits & alludes to much more than nuances in social media usage levels. Yet, before speaking to the differences amongst online Latinos, overarching marketing guidelines to address commonalities should first be articulated about Hispanics online. Few could define this better than Dr. Korzenny:

“Culturally, ethnic minorities tend to be drawn to collectivistic values and often look to one another to help guide decisions and opinions. In addition, ethnic minorities are more likely to leverage social networks to communicate with groups of family and friends who are geographically dispersed. Social media facilitates such collective sharing of information and communication.”

Although the data is focused on myspace and facebook, the extrapolation of these trends to other facets of social networks is supported by the existence of some “Hispanic internet-elite” social network groups. The most obvious of these exist on twitter and networks. Apart from very popular networks such as National Society of Hispanic Professionals, the existence of Hispanic social networks dedicated specifically to social networkers, namely sites like, exhibits the degree of ethnic community sought after amongst online Latinos. Currently, these small and rapidly growing online enclaves have developed on Twitter through profiles like TopTwittLatinos and Blogadera. These groups assert a commitment beyond the normal, or groups. They’re based upon being social-network savvy Hispanics who are proud of their heritage and want an online dialogue. The kind of affiliation Latinos desire incorporates an online recognition for the adoption of the latest technology trends. The larger and consequentially more attractive National Society of Hispanic Professionals subgroups require a moderated admission or invite. This is not to say that these are not welcoming, that is actually far from the case because these groups actively seek each other online. This is just one example, but it is a very important one in light of the most recent research on ethnic online social media usage.

Beyond the umbrella understanding of Hispanic online social media engagement, marketing to the coveted Spanish language preferring niche must incorporate another layer of much more increasingly culture-specific targeted marketing. Basic guidelines for this arena are still being developed and uncovered by marketers, but SEOSAPIEN has begun to compose what amounts to clearly defined Hispanic search engine marketing guidelines to less acculturated Hispanics . The main points from one of his latest posts recommends:

-Personalized Content must consider both geographic U.S. location and original nationality

-Latinos will Google and Yahoo search for products they hear about offline and tend to seek and trust user generated content on those products, this alludes to the effectiveness of integrated Hispanic marketing campaigning. (I would highly recommend reading this previous link, it is extremely insightful)

-Depending on your marketing goals, Mobile media could play a huge part in your marketing campaign.

-Using general language to avoid offending any particular nationality is a smart move.

The importance of social media marketing, and an effective search marketing campaign now begins to give a more concrete notion of how to approach the Hispanic market through interactive marketing. However, a cornerstone of an attractive online market are highly visited online properties. A growing frustration of marketers interested in the U.S. Hispanic online market has been its limited online media channels. There have not been many websites that have attracted and sustained a Hispanic audience reaching a critical mass within particular market niches. If you contextualized this issue within the recent acknowledgments that most bilingual online Hispanics have no problem jumping between English and Spanish media, you may begin to understand the importance of measuring that Hispanic internet critical mass. This leaves marketers in dark about websites that could be receiving more advertising revenues for the Hispanic eyeballs on their sites. Some anticipate a rise in online advertising costs to reach this market. Although online media channels options are still relatively limited, strategy is not. A new benefactor of Dr. Korzenny’s valuable insight, the Captura Group, an Online Hispanic marketing group is probably one of the best versed in this kind of consulting. They have recognized the spectrum of challenges and opportunities when reaching out to the Hispanic online market . These include online sponsorship, content syndication, IP targeting, behavioral targeting and search partnerships. Although this point should not be underestimated these various strategic options now benefit from the fact that the top ten most visited websites for Spanish dominant E-Latinos have been identified. Seven of the coveted online properties listed below belong to Spanish, Mexican and Colombian internet media companies.

1. Weblogs SL Sites: Blog network with 30 sites based in Spain

2. Mundoanuncio: Classifieds site based in New York that serves Mexico, Argentina, and Guatemala

3. Gay men’s site

4. MercadoLibre: Auction site serving nearly every country in Latin America owned by eBay

5. Chat provider, based in California, that powers e-commerce sites and content sites like

6. A music site based in Spain

7. Grupo Prisa: Owner of El Pais, based in Spain, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the world

8. IT&IS Siglo XXI: Network of four travel sites based in Spain

9. Grupo Salinas: Owner of TV Azteca properties, based in Mexico City, with a presence in the U.S.

10. El Tiempo: Newspaper based in Colombia

The diversity represented by the content of these top sites is striking; it underscores the point that niche targeting is imperative. Confronted with these newly emerging online Hispanic niches and subgroups enhances the competitive positioning of online social web portals as attractive and efficient marketing partners for limited Hispanic marketing budgets; enter the recently revamped At the end of January 2009, announced $10 million dollars in investment that they have funneled into a complete renovation of their website and have dubbed it the: “Atom Project.” The Atom Project amounts to company-wide effort to redesigning their website with third generation social networking tools, fresh layouts and unprecedented content integration.” Terra has been around for about a decade, but these latest improvements put this website at the forefront of practicing and ultimately testing the combination of guidelines that should ensure success with online Hispanics. Will be the next Hispanic –centered Facebook/Craigslist/Expedia/Youtube/Google News/TMZ in-one? The market will definitely take note to see if E-Latinos will validate this revamped property with their valued clicks. Regardless of that website’s success, the tools that are now provided to online marketers gives them little or no justification for not allocating more of their budgets into one of the most attractive U.S. consumer markets.

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The Market’s Recognition of Hispanics Online

Posted on February 22, 2009. Filed under: Hispanic Marketing, Market Research, Online Interactive Marketing | Tags: , , , , |

Few topics could provide a better first posting for this blog than the emergence of the E-Latino. This is the first of two posts that will provide a comprehensive review of the online conversation about Hispanics online and marketing to them. The evolution of online marketing has already begun incorporating the growing numbers of the online Hispanic market. Although various visionary voices have been heralding the growing importance of this online market, the latest research findings from Ipsos now support their contentions. Apart from the fact that the market is now realizing that US Hispanics are online in overwhelming force, what is interesting about the numbers documenting Hispanic interactive marketing is that when compared to the general population, studies have shown that Hispanics:

-are more receptive to mobile marketing since 6% interact with text-messaging campaigns versus 3% of general population. (According to Adage Survey)
-spend on average more time online than the US population. (According to SEOSAPIEN)

This amounts to supporting what the Godfather of Hispanic Marketing, Felipe Korzenny, contested before this study was released: “The fact is that Hispanics, along with other emerging minorities, are leading the technology revolution in this country.”

However, an important factor that the study conducted by Adage on mobile marketing points out is that the average age (27.6) of Hispanics within their study was 9 years younger than the population in general (36.6). So it may be due to the fact that the average Latino is younger, that this growing population’s will show up disproportionately as technology friendly. This still however does not justify why a younger generation would be more receptive to interactive media. When you start scrutinizing the online metrics for Latinos, you might start to understand why more actionable marketing data requires further targeted research. The discrepancies are most apparent in the measurement of the activity and numbers of in Spanish or Spanish dominant online users. Targeting this elusive and WOM-heavy demographic is a marketer’s dream, however this population has been known for their avoidance of surveys. Additionally there is a lack of appropriate measurement methodologies for a population that unevenly changes with new waves immigrants growing within various communities across the nation.

Unfortunately, it may not be until after the Census in 2010 that the true size and composition of the Hispanic market will be known. Although marketers have been alerted to this increasingly important market, the lack of up to date or accurate data is not a new issue. In order to address this issue, Hispanic media giant Telemundo has been preparing to educate its viewers with a year long media campaign starting in April aimed at creating greater awareness and Hispanic community involvement in the national census. Issues of trust, authenticity and confidentially pervade Hispanic’s perceptions of the Census. The League of United Latin American Citizens is acutely aware of these issues and is also organizing toward helping alleviate them. After these issues, the true magnitude of the Hispanic market maybe better measured by the census.

Another related factor that deserves consideration even after the census is taken is that most Latinos have already acculturated to consuming English-language media. This may be one of the reasons that Spanish-language internet media consumption has not registered as substantially as their population growth would suggest. In fact, the media consumption trends reported by Ipsos’s study provide greater marketing insight into areas previously left blank. This step toward better recognizing this group is important. But there still a great lack of actionable information on this valuable and untapped market. Regardless, the stage is set to divert resources toward the Hispanic Market, and the best positioned players to provide your online connection to this demographic already have their stakes planted and are waiting for your attention. That will be the topic of my next blog post on Hispanic Marketing.

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