helping brands make perfect sense of social media, from IAB UK’s social media council

Is it possible that your social media activity could be influencing your SEO results?

You're likely familiar with the fundamental principles of search engine optimization - keyword placement, site architecture, and backlinks.

Yet, there's a growing theory that your Facebook posts, Instagram images, and Twitter tweets might be quietly playing a part in your site's visibility on search engines.

While social media may not directly affect rankings, its impact is felt in other subtle, yet significant ways.

Curious about how this works? Stay tuned as we unravel the intriguing connection between social media content and SEO.

History of Social Media and SEO

Let's delve into the intriguing history of social media and SEO, and how their relationship has evolved over the years.

Back in 2010, it was reported that social signals, such as likes, shares, and comments, were used by Google to rank organic results. A couple of years later, Google's former webspam team leader confirmed that social media pages were indeed being used as ranking signals.

However, by 2014, the narrative changed. Google clarified that social media profiles are treated as their own organic search results, not as ranking signals. This was later confirmed by a Google Webmaster Trends analyst. So while there's a relationship between social signals and organic rankings, they don't directly influence them.

In spite of this, social media holds indirect benefits for SEO. Sharing content on social platforms increases its visibility, potentially boosting engagement and earning valuable backlinks. This widens your audience reach, influencing potential customers, and indirectly enhancing your search rankings.

Indirect SEO Benefits of Social Media

While the direct impact of social media on SEO may not be clear-cut, you can't ignore the numerous indirect benefits it offers. Social media platforms allow you to increase the visibility of your content. By sharing articles, blogs, or website links on these sites, you can reach a wider audience which in turn can generate organic traffic to your site.

Moreover, social media can significantly improve your site's engagement. The more people interact with your content, the more attention it gets from search engines. Likes, shares, comments, and even click-throughs can influence your rankings indirectly.

Social media also provides opportunities for backlinks, a crucial element in SEO. If your content is compelling and valuable, others will link back to it, boosting your credibility in the eyes of search engines.

Furthermore, social media profiles often appear in branded searches, providing additional visibility. An active and engaging social media presence can influence potential customers during their research process, building trust and boosting online reputation.

Enhancing Content Performance via Social Media

Your social media platforms can be a powerful tool to enhance your content's performance and boost its visibility. By sharing your content on social media, you're exposing it to a wider audience, which could lead to increased engagement and improved search rankings.

To optimize your content performance via social media, ensure it's valuable, engaging, and shareable. You can use tools like Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics to gauge what types of content resonate most with your audience. Once you've determined what works, produce more of that content.

You can also use social media to gain backlinks. When you share high-quality content, others may find it valuable enough to link back to it on their websites. These backlinks can positively affect your search rankings.

Moreover, social media lets you humanize your brand. By actively engaging with your audience, you're building trust and loyalty, which can indirectly boost your SEO.

Backlink Opportunities Through Social Media

Harnessing the power of social media can open up a treasure trove of backlink opportunities for your website. By sharing engaging, high-quality content on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you can increase the likelihood of others linking to your site, providing a valuable boost to your SEO efforts.

Consider the following points to optimize your backlink potential through social media:

Content is king 

  • Make sure your posts are valuable, informative, and interesting. This not only increases shares but also the chances of someone linking back to your content.
  • Create in-depth guides or how-to articles related to your industry.
  • Post breaking news or updates about your services or products.
  • Share compelling stories about your business or customers.

Engage with your audience

Social media is a two-way street. Responding to comments, asking for feedback, and participating in discussions can foster a sense of community and encourage backlinks.

  • Reach out to influencers or bloggers in your field.
  • Participate in relevant forums or groups.
  • Run contests or promotions that involve user-generated content.

Optimize your posts

  • Use hashtags, trending topics, and SEO-friendly descriptions to help your content get discovered.
  • Research popular keywords in your industry and incorporate them into your posts.
  • Include relevant links in your social media bios.
  • Use eye-catching images or videos to increase engagement.

Trust Building With Social Profiles

Did you know that a well-curated social media profile can be a powerful tool in building trust with your audience? It's true. Having an active, engaging social media presence isn't just an expectation, but a necessity in today's digital age.

A poor or nonexistent social media presence can raise red flags for your potential customers. They're likely to question your legitimacy and reliability. On the other hand, a well-managed profile shows that you're responsive, involved, and committed to your audience.

Social media gives you the opportunity to humanize your brand. By sharing behind-the-scenes content, employee stories, or customer testimonials, you're showing that there are real, passionate people behind your business. This builds a personal connection and fosters trust with your audience.

Moreover, consistent engagement on your social profiles demonstrates your dedication to customer service. Prompt responses to comments, questions, or complaints show that you're attentive and care about your customers' experiences.

In a nutshell, a robust social media presence supports your SEO efforts by building trust and boosting your online reputation. So, don't underestimate the power of your social profiles - they're more influential than you might think.

Interplay Between Social Media and SEO

While a strong social media presence can effectively build trust with your audience, it's also crucial to understand how it intertwines with SEO to maximize your online visibility. Social media and SEO are more interconnected than you might initially think.

Here's how they interact:

  • Driving Traffic: Your social media platforms can drive traffic to your site. When you share content from your website on social media, you're inviting your followers to visit your site. This increase in traffic signals to search engines that your site is valuable, potentially improving your rankings.
  • Content Promotion: Sharing your content on social media increases its visibility. This could result in other sites linking back to your content, which boosts your SEO. Social media engagement can indirectly influence your SEO as search engines take note of user interaction.
  • Brand Visibility: Active social media presence helps in enhancing your brand's visibility. More visibility means more potential for backlinks, and more backlinks can lead to higher rankings.

Therefore, a robust social media strategy can indeed complement and bolster your SEO efforts.

Driving Traffic Through Social Media

When effectively leveraged, social media serves as a powerful tool in driving traffic to your website. It's not just about posting content; it's about creating engaging and shareable content that resonates with your audience. You've got to understand what your followers want to see and deliver it consistently.

Each social media platform has its unique demographic and functionality. Tailor your content to suit each platform. Use eye-catching visuals, compelling captions, and relevant hashtags to expand your reach.

Remember, it's also about reciprocity. Engage with your audience, respond to their comments, and participate in discussions. This builds a sense of community and encourages more interaction with your content. Moreover, don't forget to include a clear call-to-action, directing them to your website.

Another effective way to drive traffic is through paid social advertising. These ads can target your desired audience, boosting visibility and website visits.

Lastly, cross-promote your social media profiles on your website and vice versa. This can create a seamless connection between your social media efforts and website, driving more traffic and improving your SEO. Keep in mind, though, that consistency, quality, and engagement are key to your success.

We recommend you visit for more information about SEO. 


So, you see, social media isn't just about likes and shares. It's a powerful tool to boost your SEO strategy, drive targeted traffic, and build trust among your audience.

By understanding the intricate relationship between SEO and social media, you can leverage it to create a robust online presence.

So, don't underestimate the power of your tweets or posts - they could be the key to soaring up the search engine rankings!


by Andrew Walker, Thin Martian

We all know that Twitter is a great social discovery tool, and Google’s recent (and a little controversial) integration of social results from G+ into their search results is a good indicator of how important the social discovery space has become to help people filter the best content through the people they like, trust and follow.

This means content producers and marketers have to focus even harder on winning traffic through social channels.  Most people know you get pretty lacklustre results by spamming your official Twitter ID or Facebook page with links to your own stuff, but what types of content increase the likelihood of getting your content promoted by influencers on their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds?

Video is without doubt the best way to get your content shared.  Read my IAB Strategy Hub colleague David Waterhouse’s great post on video and sharing here for more about the genres of content that trigger branded video sharing.  But for content portals and publishers, how do you get more social sharing traction for your journalism and blog content?

I’ve been looking at some of Tweetminster’s data and they’ve identified a key trend in news coverage  which points the way to how to make your content more sharable.

They took a sample of approx. 8,000 big names from the following news influencer categories (MPs, Gov Depts, local councillors, party activists, govt. appointees and NGOs) and ranked a total of 11,997 shared news links tweeted by them in November 2011. The results show a definite trend for interactive content driving more sharing activity than traditional journalism.

Of the top 150 news articles that got the most sharing activity  32% of them are from The Guardian - which suggests their journalism (or their social media strategy) has the edge on other news channels for driving the biggest volume of shares.  However traditional written articles didn’t get close to the top slots for the most shared type of content.  The most shared news link was the BBC’s interactive graphic explaining the eurozone debt, which shows the value of infographics and widgets as vehicles for great content – this got 379 shares opposed to 182 shares for the Guardian’s top story.

We see the same again with the Telegraph – it only had 4.6% of the most shared articles, but their debt crisis live blog got more shares than the Guardian’s top story by huge 43%.

Al Jazeera doesn’t have anything like the presence of its major UK brand competitors but it managed to get 6.6% of the top shared stories because of great strategic deployment of streaming video coverage and live blogs.

What really seals the deal for interactive content overtaking traditional written web publishing is the growth of DirectGov’s e-petitions website, which came in just behind the Telegraph for sharing figures amongst the biggest Twitter IDs in UK politics.  Okay, maybe petitions have a particular resonance with MPs and political types, but audiences are time poor and many it seems would rather ‘do’ something than just ‘read’ something.

These trends show a tendency for users to favour interactive content, infographics and live content – video or blogs – over reading off a screen.  For marketers and strategists, it makes sense to try and build more live technology into campaigns to capture that all important social sharing traction.  Quality content is important, but packaging it as more than static words and pictures is a great technique get people posting the URL in social networks.

One of the tasks the IAB social media measurement group undertook in 2011 was to keep an eye out for the different ways in which organisations endeavoured to measure the return on investment from their social media activity – the idea being that we might identify, and spread the word regarding, useful methodologies.

As an overall trend in 2011, numerous brands continued to report back myriad pieces of social media data in attempt to justify their efforts and budgets – but without this data necessarily proving beyond reasonable doubt that the social media activity in question had helped meet a specific business objective – be that increasing awareness via online advocacy, driving loyalty through social engagement, improving internal collaboration via more effective information exchange or innovating new products via crowd-sourcing initiatives.

Other brands spent their time trying to prove the ‘value of a fan’ – an interesting though often somewhat intellectual pursuit. And one that somewhat assumes that all valuable online, social behaviour happens on Facebook.

In November, Forrester announced the winners of its 2011 Groundswell Awards, providing a great body of best practice case studies. Using the data from both winners and finalists, we’ve been able to identify some key trends in the measurement methodologies brands have been using over the past year. Have a look at the table below for an executive summary:


It’s great to see social media being used to drive business value and growth in so many ways, clearly showing how an organisation-wide approach to social media is not only required, but now being implemented, by many organisations. Both analytics and  surveys are being used to show the impact that social media is having upon an organisation, its employees, partners and customers. We’ve picked out a few more observations from our research:

1. Many measurement methodologies were unclear from the articles on each entry. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a methodology didn’t exist. But where hard metrics were reported, the submissions seemed to provide much greater detail on how these were derived. For real detail and clarity on metrics and methodologies, the likes of Dell, Ally Bank and Alcoa led the way. It would be great to see if Dell has figures that relate the impressive shift in customer satisfaction in social media with a change in customer lifetime value.

2. Methodologies around proving social media activity had increased awareness and interest were the most variable in their detail and quality. Some brands were still quoting fan numbers as simple proof that the needle had shifted due to social, without a compelling argument that the shift could be attributed to social. If social budgets are to increase in 2012, more effort must be put into attribution and more budget into measurement methods that provide more robust attribution data .

3. Methodologies around improvements in internal organisational productivity and efficiency as a result of social seemed to be the clearest and most compelling. Perhaps this is unsurprising as surveying employee time saved or measuring cost savings is arguably easier and less contentious than measuring the effect social media has in driving consideration and interest. Check out the great case studies from Deloitte Australia, IBM and HCL.

In summary, we can increasingly see trends and patterns in how organisations are measuring the ROI from their social media activities – great news for all of us trying to build clear cases for investment. However, what’s also clear is that we must manage organisations’ expectations in regards to how much they’ll learn and how quickly. Most of these case studies provide excellent indicators of ROI, but not necessarily outright proof. That will only come as we measure the long-term change on the organisation, and invest sensibly in the technology and internal resources that will enable us to do so.

Iain MacMillan, RMM


Nescafe’s recent 3-in-1 advert depicts the aftermath of a twenty-something hipster party, most notably in the form of awkward glances between men and women who obviously had a romantic interlude the night before. What did it mean? Does she like me? Will he call? One cup of Nescafe later gets the morning “back on track”, and soon we find our couple, giggling and flirting once again, albeit a bit more soberly.

What is with the propensity for coffee brands to market themselves as elixirs of passion and lust?

A few months ago we were contacted by a company that wanted to market a new brand of coffee. They asked us to look at the conversation around drinking coffee – what were the main themes and contexts of conversation?

What we found was in startling contrast to how most coffee brands market their goods.

Romance? Passion? No. What people care about when it comes to coffee are the real life circumstances that surround coffee: taking a break from work, the need for caffeine, and socialising with friends:

  • “Some days I love working at home. Currently drinking coffee, blasting electro music and catching up on work.”
  • “Drinking coffee to stay awake.. I dont even like coffee.”
  • “A cup of coffee and conversation with a good friend. The perfect pair to enjoy with a sunrise. The world is so quiet today.”

We identified, measured and visualised these contexts and created a “brand map” of conversations around “drinking coffee”. We also did the same thing for Starbucks to see how a major coffee brand compared. The brand maps show the size and average distance of these contexts from the central topic. The size and position reflect the size and relevance of the conversation; in other words, a big circle close to the centre indicates a relatively large context that is highly relevant to the central topic.


The brand maps show that the largest conversational contexts around “drinking coffee” are Work, Energy and Socialising. The most relevant contexts are Coffee making, Flavour and Coffee shop. In contrast, the largest contexts for Starbucks are Work, Socialising and Price, whilst the most relevant contexts are Snack, Price and Socialising.


It’s not that you don’t find conversations about romance and flirtation – you can see it there for “drinking coffee”, hovering diminutively between “Relaxation” and “Price”; it’s just that it’s not what most people talk about. The opportunity for a brand here is bring its branding closer to the real conversational contexts of a topic, so that it associates itself more intimately with the brand attributes which give a product social media currency.

We have performed these studies on a number of different consumer contexts and have found a pattern which suggests that brands are in danger of ignoring the real reasons why consumers give products currency. Those have a lot to do with the intersection between a product and real life: the school run, working late in the office, making time during the day to meet friends, even the big events like bereavement, marriage. A lot of brand messaging ignores reality – and why shouldn’t it? Brands often speak to dreams, hopes, aspirations. But our work on coffee suggests that many products are missing an opportunity to be useful, relevant and TALKED ABOUT.

So who’s going to step up first?

Mark Rogers, Market Sentinel

One challenge often faced by many members of the IAB’ Social Media Council is proving the ROI of a client’s campaign that is centred around activity on Facebook. Depending on the brief of course, this could take many forms, but as brands start to build their communities with thousands, or in some cases in excess of a million ‘likes’, the question begins to arise as to whether you can actually get those consumers to part with their cash directly via social media.

Possibly one of the most creative examples that proves that objective can be achieved was developed by one of our council member agencies, ‘We are Social’, with their recent campaign for Heinz which allowed UK Facebook fans to personalise a can of Heinz Tomato Soup and send to a friend who happens to be ill.  This struck a personal chord with me as someone who always turns to that exact product when suffering with a touch of man flu!

The Heinz campaign cost the consumer just £1.99, cheaper than a Get Well card, as many people commented on the Heinz Facebook page, and despite the fact that it would take 3-4 days to arrive, by which time the recipient could well be feeling much better, a few crushed or non-appearing cans aside, the feedback looked to be fantastic.

The Heinz promotion only ran for a month and so I can only assume the issue for keeping it running longer is how to make it financially viable, something that appears to be a wider concern for those brands whose business is actually set up for online retailing.  For example, despite incredible success over recent years, as written up by Digital Douks in his blog, during his Keynote Presentation at this year’s Online Retailer Conference in Sydney, ASOS’s International Director, Jon Kamaluddin, explained that their own , that enabled their customers to purchase without leaving Facebook, was not delivering as well as expected.

So if a brand as successful as ASOS is struggling to get people to spend through Facebook, what are the chances for the rest of us!  NMA’s senior reporter, recently highlighted in her weekly column that a study by Havas Media Social and Lightspeed Research found that 89% of people had not bought anything via Facebook and 44% didn’t have any interest in doing so.

So what’s the answer?  Well, my own company has also been given this same challenge by our clients but with a background in broadcast, our approach has been to combine the popularity of social media with the growth in online video consumption.

At the start of October, the IAB & PwC released their latest UK online ad spend report showing growth of 13.5% year on year with video advertising in particular growing by 100% as FMCG advertisers, as they put it, ‘ramp up their online spend’.

However, despite that excellent growth in video advertising, the amount invested by brands in that area is still extremely small (£45m and only 9% share of online display) compared to TV advertising.

According to the IAB’s chief executive, Guy Phillipson, it is the spectacular growth of video and social media that is powering online advertising’s growth and that with direct response advertising also thriving in the current climate, online offers a potent combination for all marketers in the UK.  Anna Bartz, strategy manager at PwC, added that advertisers are benefiting from sophisticated new online advertising tools.

Key drivers for growth were stated as an increase in online audience, up to 39.5m in June 2011 from 38.4m the previous year, together with that population watching more video, 26m people watched 2.3bn videos for a total of 6.4bn minutes in June 2011 which per person equates to an average of 87 videos viewed for an average of 4.1hrs/ month according to UKOM/Nielsen Video Census.  Other reasons for the growth were cited as faster broadband and the fact that Social networks now account for 25% of the time spent online in the UK.

So taking all the above into account, the work I am currently doing with P&G for their page should prove to be an exciting development in this area.

We have been working closely with P&G’s Innovation team to maximise the high engagement levels that we have already seen on their videos that we have made interactive using our LinkTo overlay technology for brands Pantene and Nice’n’Easy.  However, the issue we have faced in the past is that whilst viewers of interactive videos regularly engage by clicking on highlighted hotspots to get more information on particular products, if the product itself is a low value ticket items, the consumer is less likely to add it into a shopping basket for a one off purchase.  This obviously works for a one off exclusive promotion like Heinz, but for a product that is part of your regular shopping list, there’s not necessarily a need to buy it there and then.

Therefore, together with both and Proximity, we have successfully integrated our LinkTo technology with a couponing system so that when someone clicks on a hotspot in a video, or when the video finishes, the video player automatically goes to an interactive page where the viewer can fill in a form and print off an unique coupon to redeem in store rather than online.

After a couple of months development and Q&A, the first ever campaign of this kind went live at the end of October in the Febreze Fabric Refresher brand’s UK Facebook, using an embedded YouTube player.

With only just over 15,000 ‘likes’ on the page, it was exciting to see an instant response from consumers registering to print off a coupon immediately after the first post to the wall that the campaign was live.

You can see, and interact, with the campaign at 

Whilst this is still in a pilot phase, initial responses are very positive and this could yet provide one way of proving the ROI of building your brand’s community in Facebook.

The Force VW_18By David Waterhouse, Unruly

Online video sharing has exploded. Fuelled by the rise of Twitter and Facebook, video shares across the social web have grown exponentially.

Back in September 2008, when Unruly launched the Viral Video Chart, the number of shares across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere stood at 27,183. However, by September 2011, that figure had risen sharply to 3,502,849,134.

Certainly, Facebook and Twitter have fundamentally changed the way we use video to build and redefine relationships with friends and family, brands and causes.

But it’s not just that people are watching three billion videos a day on YouTube; it’s the fact that they’re sharing over a billion pieces of content a day on Facebook alone, actively searching for content to post and discuss with their peers.

So how can brands ride this tidal wave? How can advertisers use this torrent of social video sharing to build better brand engagement?

After all, guessing which video ads will enjoy the same social media success as Old Spice’s The Man Your Man Should Smell Like or Volkswagen’s The Force is tricky. Not everyone looks great in just a white towel and a smile.

Having a great social media strategy can only take you so far. The content of the video itself has to be right if a brand wants to maximise social spread.

But what kind of content triggers are more likely to make people want to share it with their social network? Well, at Unruly, we have created the ‘Social Optimiser’, a tool designed to help our clients identify and hone the content triggers that are most likely to lead people to share their videos across the social web.

For a video to be huge hit, it should score 10 out of 10 for at least one of these triggers. That means it should elicit a physical response, from gawps to goosebumps.

Here are the 12 triggers on the ‘Social Optimiser’ checklist, accompanied by a classic example for each.

Read more…

Mark Zuckerberg introduces the latest Facebook features (Photo: Facebook)

It’s been a few days since the much anticipated Facebook F8 annual conference took place and the announcements have fuelled many conversations on- and offline ever since. As expected, there were a host of major updates which have changed, yet again, the way we will be using Facebook for work and play. 

Developments such as tickers, timelines and the new gestures feature maybe confusing brands who are trying to establish a Facebook presence and also protect their investment to date.  However, the new-look Facebook also provides marketers with a host of new opportunities both in terms of targeting and consumer engagement so we view these developments as a mission critical to the enduring success of Facebook and also a great opportunity to get smarter with social media.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the new Facebook developments …

(Photo: Facebook)

1. 800 million users worldwide —
At F8, Facebook announced that the site had officially registered over 800 million users, which was measured as the number of users who had logged in during the past 30 days. This is an astounding increase of around 50 million users since July. (statistics source: This confirms that as far as reach is concerned Facebook is getting even harder to beat for brand marketers.

Facebook F8 Conference: Media Partners (Photo: Facebook)

2. Open graph – great news for developers and brands —

Open Graph, which enables developers to create apps that allow user content and activity to be shared straight to the real-time Ticker. This is great for brand engagement, as a user will be able to see what their friends are up to on Facebook in real-time - it therefore has huge potential to increase buzz around a brand’s Facebook activity.  Another improvement is the streamlining of the ‘allow permission’ process which means that Apps now only need to request permission once, rather than every time the app posts.

3. Gestures – there’s more to ‘Like’ now — Facebook’s launch of Gestures means that brands are now able to turn a ‘verb’ into a button and create their own buttons within Facebook that allow users to express themselves with far more clarity. Users will be able to express their actions in real-time, for example they will be able to let others know that they are ‘drinking’ a brand of soft drink.  This looks set to impact mainstream advertising sensibilities as brands will want to be associated with and have ownership of a particular verb. Expect to see a ‘gold rush’ as brands scramble to bag the words they want.

4. Ticker – consumer news just like the BBC — Facebook’s Ticker keeps a user updated in real-time with what everyone else is up to on Facebook. This means brands will have a very short time to make an impact on consumers. The Ticker is a live feed of all the actions and activity of your friends but more condensed than the main news feed, and visible all the time. Posts from branded pages will appear in the Ticker as soon as they are published, so it is important to space your brand updates to avoid spamming users.


5. Subscriptions – consumers don’t have to ‘like everything — Just before the F8 conference this year Facebook rolled out Subscriptions which enable the non-reciprocal following of people and pages on Facebook. You are now able to receive updates from a public figure, for example, without having to directly Like them, and without them needing to accept your friend request. With Subscriptions you can filter how much content you receive from someone and also the type of content you receive from someone.  We’re currently working out the implications for measurement as this will change ours, and other industry standard methodologies, we expect to see changes Facebook insights shortly.

6. News Feed — The introduction of more control over your News Feed means that users now have the choice to opt out of certain updates from brands. This means that brands will have to make sure that their updates are distributed throughout the day, as not to flood users’ News Feeds, and also in sharing the right type of content for the target audience. The options as to how many updates you receive from a friend or brand are listed below:

  • All updates: Everything a friend or brand page posts
  • Most updates: The amount you would normally see in your news feed
  • Important updates only: Specific highlights categorised by Facebook, such as user’s new job or a brand’s product launch.

Introduction to Timeline, a life journey on Facebook (Photo: Facebook)

7. Timeline – the consumers’ life history on Facebook, but brands must wait — Timeline has been introduced as a way to gather all your past activity on Facebook and collate it into a scrapbook for you to easily digest. The app builds up a profile of your Facebook history by choosing the content that it identifies is most important. After your Timeline has been created you are able to edit the information and then publish it to your page. Timeline for brand pages has not been mentioned as of yet, but it’s a feature that could be applied in the same nature to monitor the activity of users who are subscribed to, or are a fan of your page.

8. New Movies and Music Features — Last Thursday Netflix, Spotify and Facebook announced they would be partnering to give users an integrated video and music streaming service. The move marks a significant step towards Facebook becoming a social entertainment platform as users will watch video content without having to leave the Facebook site, and share their activity and experiences with friends live. The service will be available in 44 countries but astonishingly not in the Unites States where its largest user base lies, as the 1998 Video Privacy Protection Act prohibits the disclosure of video sales or rentals across the internet. The Spotify app, which is only accessible through Facebook, will allow users to share the music in their lives with their friends on the social network. It’s a good insight into the potential for future apps to have their own site and also be entirely synced to Facebook.

9. Display Media — The changes announced by Facebook last week mean two things for paid-for display advertising.

Firstly Facebook is creating a second tier internet; with the new app integration there’s now more content available within Facebook’s walled garden than ever before. Apps from Spotify, Netflix, Soundcloud and the Guardian all enable users to engage with and share content without ever leaving the site. This impacts advertising where these properties are ad funded. For example, if you run campaigns with the Guardian and Spotify – moving these properties into Facebook means you now need to consider how your advertising against this content needs to be adjusted for the new environment. These apps bring standard traditional ad formats to Facebook, increasing the creative options beyond Facebook’s own text ads.

The second implication of these changes is that publishers are becoming increasingly integrated with Facebook. This gives publishers a greater understanding of their audience, their audience’s relationships and the broader interests of that audience. Expect publishers to start using this understand to create even more targeted and relevant advertising opportunities.

10. There’s massive online buzz about it — As with all social media spaces, consumer uptake drives the platform so it’s logical to expect consumers to be very vocal about the latest array of changes There’s also lots of buzz across other social networks, and of course the mainstream media, about the new music and movies functionality, the new timeline and ticker features.

We’ve done a straw ‘social’ poll of internet discussions so you might like to have these stats to hand.  Interestingly, Google+, which has taken traditional media by storm, is making very little impact compared to Facebook which has been mentioned over 8m times in social media since September 1, 2011.  During this time the overall sentiment level for ‘Facebook’ has been 87% favourable, while the search term ‘Facebook changes’ reveals a drop of 4% to 83% indicating that you can’t please all the people…

, Head of Social LBi

The data from social media are the panacea for all problems, apparently. A good dose of metrics was recently prescribed for healthy stock trading, according to BBC news report on Johan Bollen of Indiana University whose tracker fund to follow Twitter data outperforms the market indices.

I am an associate with Z/Yen Group, a risk and forecasting consultancy in the City. We have built specialist analytical tools for crunching very large unstructured business datasets, to help us find trends anomalies and patterns in data. We wanted to see whether social media metrics are highly patterned or not. So after a chat with the IAB Social Media Council, we paired up with Ronnie Brown at agency Outside Line to analyse some campaign data using our prediction software tool PropheZy. Its usual applications are in trading and compliance, where it detects the best indicators of success and predicts the outcomes of transactions. We wondered:  if our financial clients can know in advance what’s going to be troublesome and what’s most likely to succeed, could a social media campaign do the same ?

We looked at a year-long 2-million click blogger outreach campaign by Outside Line on behalf of its former client LG the consumer electronics manufacturer. In the campaign, Outside Line had engaged with 70 bloggers, aiming for positive coverage of gadgets.

Now blogger outreach is generally thought of as a hit and miss platform, with a high reliance on touchy-feely factors and virality. When Outside Line was running the campaign they blogged that the keys to success were tone and approach.

We all got a shock when the data crunching was done.

Our software engine worked only with the first month’s metrics across ten data fields, and built a predictive model of the rest of the campaign. It then used the model to forecast the readership of each blogger for the rest of the year. Its predictions – when compared to what actually happened – turned out five times better than random across all the 1300 blogs of the campaign.  It was especially precise in predicting the big-hitting blogs. When PropheZy was asked to identify which bloggers would go on to take the campaign to 70 % of its KPI of hits, its list of 14 hottest bloggers turned out to be 80% correct.

This means that the factors which create social media success were, in fact, rather easy to predict in this case. The LG blogger campaign – if it had run this prediction software on its first month’s data – would have known not to bother with half the bloggers from then on. It could have hit its KPIs with only half the campaign resources. This brings a new set of possibilities to the old adage that half the marketing budget is wasted – you just can’t know which half. Perhaps now you can.

The folks at Z/Yen Group and Outside Line are all looking closely at how to build on this discovery. Potentially, there’s a massive saving of time and money to be made in Social Media campaigning. I have put a short deck of slides up here.

This was a limited trial, and blogger outreach is one small corner of the social media landscape. But the message for marketers is unambiguous: the delivery of social media campaign goals is predicted by patterns in data that are detectable, and reliable. Now we have shown what a top-drawer mathematical package can do with social media metrics, it’s time to think about applying these methods to live campaigns. Prediction benchmarks mean that marketers’ undershoots and overshoots really stand out. In mature businesses with loads of data – think airlines and banks – the best players are the ones who exploit measurement to improve their business performance.  Social Media marketing now has the chance to do just that.

Stephen Haggard

Senior Associate

Z/Yen Group Ltd

James Filmer, Senior Strategist at AKQA, comments on some of the potential implications from the latest F8 conference


With social geeks up and down the country giddy with excitement regarding tomorrow’s Facebook F8 conference in San Francisco, it would appear that the Guardian has managed to obtain an impressive inside scoop, or a party-pooping spoiler, depending on which way you see things.

There have already been some impressive “game changing” and “paradigm shift”ing (whatever that means) headlines written in the week given the announcements of and , which with one fell swoop have effectively eroded the USPs of the social monolith’s nearest rivals in Google Plus and Twitter respectively.

Tomorrow’s focus is, according to the Guardian, set to be on Facebook’s latest attempts to become an even greater force within entertainment with the advent of the “Ticker stream” – some kind of real-time stream within your Newsfeed that broadcasts what you’re watching, reading and listening to.

There’ll also apparently be the announcement of more partnerships with entertainment brands to stream their content directly within Facebook, including the likes of Spotify and Vevo – just in case you had the audacity to want to go anywhere elsewhere on the internet.

But while the aforementioned should rightly get all the attention given their ability to provide genuinely engaging experiences on Facebook, the lion’s share of publicity within the marketing industry will no doubt come from the reported intention to change the Like button. Rumours are rife that developers will be allowed to change the sentiment of this much heralded button to one of Want, Desire, Need, or whatever else they can think of (though apparently not ‘dislike’ which is a shame…).

This development is going to really upset people who’ve devoted significant sums of money in setting out to collect the maximum number of Fans they possibly could. Not to mention the authors of numerous studies who have attempted to quantify a Fan’s worth.

Perhaps the key question is whether this makes Facebook Fans now worthless? To which the response is perhaps Yes and No…

Yes, because since last year Fans haven’t actually existed anyway as Facebook simply replaced them all with Likes, which is clearly a very different level of attachment.

Yes, because however many Fans, Likes, Desires or whatever-else-developers-come-up-with are clearly not key performance indicators anyway.

But No, because these indicators are invaluable indicators of performance efficiency. Just as other new measures are such as Klout scores (see Rob Salmon’s excellent post).

We shouldn’t forget that none of these efficiency measures really matter to the people that matter. How many times has your MD or FD asked you to report on these things? The only measures they care about are effectiveness measures which tend to involve selling more stuff; the reduced cost of selling that stuff; or having lots of people that like you and therefore give you a greater chance of selling lots more stuff (well, some of them will agree to this last one anyway).

Facebook is arguably the most powerful advocate community that brands have ever been able to tap into. Its ability to provide increasingly engaging experiences alongside every F8 announcement and to enable brands to do this at scale means it is, perhaps, the most powerful CRM platform that has ever existed.

But in doing so, we should not forgot the need to concentrate on measuring the outcomes of all this activity and not be overly obsessed with cultivating Likes, Desires or whatever else can be collected. These are by no means irrelevant, but are merely means to an end, and it’s that end that we should probably be devoting efforts towards.

That said, wouldn’t it be great to see a Marmite page full with 10k Dislikes?

of takes a look at how brands are increasingly using perks to reach influencers.

A Tweet arrives…

‘Hello – you’ve been selected by Down Under Airways because of your online influence to receive a free trip to Australia’

Do you think:

A. This is some sort of scam. That stuff only happens to celebs off the telly…

B. Get in! That time and effort I’ve spent in becoming influential about travel on Twitter is paying off…

I get option A. Free stuff has been given to celebrities for years in the hope that they’ll wear it or talk about it. Until recently I don’t think B would have happened much. Social has changed all that. It is no longer just traditional media channels who have the power to wield reach and influence.

Each of us who are on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc are a kind of media channel. We’re broadcasting information to an audience. Some people have become quite BIG so they have. They have reach, they’re respected by their audience, they wield influence.

So I guess it’s natural that brands would give them some VIP treatment. Particularly as my guess is that when those who live in the real world get cool stuff, they are probably going to talk about it to their circles.

And brands are increasingly looking to give infleuncers VIP treatment. This is in part due to enterprising folk at companies who measure and reward influence. I’m thinking of Klout (self proclaimed ’standard for online influence’) and Peer Index (recently tied up with New Media Age to find the 100 most influential people in digital marketing) in particular who both have algorithms that decide how influential a person is. They give a score out of 100. They tell you what they are influential about.

These players in the influencer market need to drive revenue and brands want to target influencers. Put these factors together and you get the Perks programmes which both have been rolling out. Programmes that see Tweets like the made up one at the top of this blog post turning up…here are some examples to read up on:

Klout: i. Spotify invites for the US launch of Spotify ii. Red Bull tie up for tickets to the premiere of a snowboarding film iii. Travel perks (a great blog post from James Whatley at 1000heads)

PeerIndex: i. Pre-launch access to Hari Kunzru’s new novel ii. Private gig to hear Ed Sheeean’s new album

Now at a recent Social Media Council meeting, I mentioned Klout and Peer Index as something to debate. The debate was lively. It was heated. It could have gone the distance. But unfortunately the bell went and the bout was cut short…

My view is that if these companies can help brands get the right message to the right people (who might just pass it on to their mates) they have got a bright future – but I’d love to hear your thoughts…

What do you think of measuring influence in this way? Would you use these kind of services? Would you be happy to receive perks?

PS A very big hello to anyone from Klout who happens to stumble upon this. My score seems to move between 50-60 and I’m influential about media, marketing, Facebook & apps. However, I also feel I should be considered influential on curry and the . So if you could please tweak your algorithms accordingly and fix it for me to receive perks on these subjects I would very much appreciate it.note(3)

Hi, here, marketing director at word of mouth marketing agency, 1000heads.

Some thoughts for you around the IAB, the notion of celebrity and its subsequent endorsement in relation to advertising standards and regulations.

Enjoy and, of course,  your comments are welcome.


18th January 2011. That was the date of the this year’s first meeting of the IAB Social Media Council (SMC).

Back then all the talk was about the impending ASA remit extension that would soon cover companies’ own marketing claims on their own websites as well as  in other non-paid for space they control. As an industry trade body the IAB SMC assembled and collectively pondered on what would be considered best practice for adhering to these standards, on Twitter for example.

I don’t think it was at that meeting that any kind of course of action was agreed, however, I do believe a large amount of the assembled members agreed that, like our US counterparts, ‘‘ would probably work best.

Fast forward six months and with the remit fully in place, has anything changed? Not really. Has there been a seismic shift in the behaviour of online advertisers? Probably not.

Admittedly we haven’t seen any major cases reported to the ASA quite yet, but isn’t that thanks to a certain level of understanding and intelligence of your average internet user?

If we move away from the online world for a second and instead think about the combined worlds of brand, celebrity and sport personality – how do these kind of standards play out there?

Case in point: Tiger Woods and Nike.

When we see Mr Woods teeing up at the PGA Tour do we question that the Nike cap he chooses to wear is there for any other reason than advertising? No. Of course not. It’s an expectation. Something that we, as the viewing public, have grown to accept within this particular industry.

It’s a given that this happens. However, it’s also assumed that – given his high profile nature – that this sponsorship must have happened. Why else would he be wearing the logo?  And of course, there is no doubt that Nike put out a press release when this sponsorship was made – but how long ago was that?

Tapping the word ‘ad’ on the tail of everything [paid for] that we publish is kind of silly really. Yes of course I agree that we should ultimately make it explicit that a piece of content created in the name of advertising in fact an ad, but why not have something hidden away on our website/homepage/bio that this is the case?

Better yet, why are we even attempting to replicate this in what is fundamentally a different medium? Product placement in movies (and games)? Nike on Tiger Woods? Bloggers being paid to write about products? These are all 100% totally different examples. So HOW can we expect to retrofit one solution across them all?

They won’t fit – a new solution is required.

Everything that’s been written about social media has defined how different it is from the rest of the media types that have come before it.
Here we are at the turn of a new decade (yes we are) and now suddenly the free world of the internet is being regulated.

So now what?

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