Piggybacking on my last post, especially the point on simultaneous device usage, Twitter may be leading the way to dominating TV’s “second screen”. Check out MediaPost’s article here.
I think the second screen is determined largely by the nature of the TV show being watched. For live shows (e.g. a presidential debate), or a popular show being watched by the masses on mainstream channels (e.g. the X Factor), Twitter serves exceptionally well as a complementary platform for real-time social sharing. It’s an excellent way to connect with the larger community and get a sense of public opinion every single second. However for the majority of TV shows where there’s hardly any chatter in the Twitterverse, the micro-blogging site may not even make it to the second screen.
Wall Street Journal has reported that the number of Google+ users is climbing impressively everyday, but what’s not growing is the engagement on the site. Both time spent and activity on the social network is lacking in comparison to Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest.
Where I think the opportunity might lie is a focus on brands and publishers. The clean, clutter-free interface provides a good content consumption experience- personally I find myself more likely to read posts and articles on Google+ than say, on Facebook. In addition, I find Google+ pages to load much more quickly than Facebook pages, which are loaded with ads, sponsored stories, applications and what not. And Google+ can easily differentiate itself from Twitter in that it allows for longer posts, richer formats, etc.
So instead of battling head on with Facebook, Google+ has a great opportunity to develop a niche and focus on the content consumption and content sharing aspect of a social network rather than social interaction. Fine lines, but the distinction may be the answer.
Google’s integration of personal results into search listings has several implications for brands. Here are some things brands should do to keep ahead of this major development:
Build a strong Google+ page: This goes without saying- if your brand doesn’t have a Google+ page, the only social results that show up in a listing are those where people in a user’s network have made a mention about your brand. These mentions could be positive, negative or neutral. Having your own page would enable you to influence people to have positive conversations around your brand and address negative comments before they reach the SERP. Here’s a great step-by-step guide on Slideshare.
Integrate social and SEO: Social media marketing and SEO teams have generally been working in silos, employing different practices and metrics for success. With social updates popping up in SERPs, it’s more important now than ever to treat these functions as one. At the core, both functions need to push for great content, interaction and distribution. Tightly integrating the process of curating and promoting content would ensure your brand is reaching your target market with information relevant to them.
Use keyword research to curate content: The keyword research performed by your SEO team would tell you a lot about what content to create. Focus on building content around keywords that people convert off but don’t necessarily associate your brand with. This would increase your brand’s relevance to those queries and positively impact your page ranking.
Don’t ignore your web presence elsewhere: Although Facebook and Twitter results don’t show up in Google+, it’s important to keep in mind that the user engagement in these networks is still higher than on the Google SERP page. Continue building meaningful content and encouraging positive user interactions on these places for a holistic marketing strategy.
This past weekend, McDonald’s launched a Twitter campaign asking its quarter of a million followers to share their favorite stories at the fast food joint. Under the hashtag #McDStories and tagline “When u make something w/pride, people can taste it”, McDonald’s intended to start a viral chain of postive reviews and experiences from its follower community.
The result? The campaign backfired, grossly. An onslaught of bad reviews, negative sentiments and accusations were expressed through its Twitter stream.
This is an example of a brand failing to recognize that social media in the absence of strategy can be disastrous. Any strategy needs to be substantiated with data. In McDonald’s case, any data it had on its consumers and their sentiments was not being used to inform its strategy. Instead, asking about positive experiences from a bunch of people who feel negatively about the giant made it look ignorant.
So, what should McDonald’s have done? First, it’s important to realize that “follower” does not equal “advocate”. It’s easy to assume that if a person shows interest in your brand, he or she supports it and has a positive impression of it. Often, this may not be the case.
Second, McDonald’s should’ve let the data rule. Social listening and audience analysis should not just be treated as a nice-to-have, but as a critical part of strategy development.
Third, with the key issues / problem areas identified, McDonald’s should have focused on educating people rather than openly soliciting for their testimonials. Creating content around where raw ingredients come from, or how the chain is investing in better conditions for animals, for example, could have contributed significantly to reputation management.
When there’s a reputation problem, consumer education is key in managing it.