Posts

Social Media Adoption Brings New Customers To Small Businesses

The third wave of the Small Business Success Index, by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, reports social media adoption by small businesses has doubled from 12% to 24% in the last year. Small businesses are increasingly investing in applications including blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

Small Business Social Media Sources and Usage

Social Media Exposure | % of Small Businesses Using

Company page on social networking site 75%

Post status updates and/or articles of interest on social networking sites 69%

Build network through sites like LinkedIn 57%

Monitor positive/negative feedback about own organization on social networks 54%

Have blog on areas of expertise 39%

Tweet about area of expertise 26%

Use Twitter as customer service channel 16%

Other 8%

Source: SBSI/NetSolutions, February 2010

Key social media usage highlights (% of respondents)

  • 75% surveyed have a company page on a social networking site
  • 61% use social media for identifying and attracting new customers
  • 57% have built a network through a site like LinkedIn
  • 45% expect social media to be profitable in the next twelve months

Dr. Alan Glazier, CEO and Founder of an eye and vision care center, said “… I was forced to consider alternative options to keep my business visible… with a very small investment in social media marketing, I was able to generate new business opportunities… (and) most importantly, my marketing budget has been reduced by more than 80%… ”

61% of the respondents use social media to identify new customers. The biggest expectation small business owners have from social media is expanding external marketing and engagement including identifying and attracting new customers, building brand awareness and staying engaged with customers.

50% of small business social media users say it takes more time than expected. While social media adoption has doubled in the last year, there are still some roadblocks to small businesses fully exploiting its potential. Another 17% feel that social media gives people a chance to criticize their business on the Internet. Related to this, only 6% feel that social media use has hurt the image of the business more than helped it.

Janet Wagner, director of the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland, says that “Social media levels the playing field for small businesses… ”

Other key findings from the December 2009 Small Business Success Index:

Small businesses experience positive effects from the economic downturn:

  • 72% have found ways to operate more efficiently (up significantly from 66% in June)
  • 47%have been led to find new products and services that benefit customers
  • 43% have become better teams as hard times force people to work together

Building online presence continues to be key focus for small businesses:

  • Company Web sites seem to be the top technology investment in the next two years, with small businesses either adding new features/functionality to their existing Web sites or building one from scratch
  • The ability to showcase their products and services online to attract new customers is second in the hierarchy of technology investments
  • Social media investments rank third in small business investments to be made in the next two years

Customer service the biggest strength of small business owners:

  • Small businesses are highly successful at answering customer questions, ensuring customer satisfaction, showing empathy, providing consistent service, resolving problems and winning repeat business
  • Four of the six customer service dimensions have gotten stronger compared to a year ago, and one of these, ensuring customer satisfaction, is significantly higher

Connie Steele, Director at Network Solutions, concludes that “… social media can be the best friend for small business owners who constantly seek new ways to maximize productivity while keeping costs low… ”

Source: Jack Loechner

Blogging loses appeal for US teenagers

A U.S. study has indicated that US teenagers are losing interest in blogging and switching to shorter and more mobile forms of communication.

Blogging loses appeal for US teenagers - But teens are not using Twitter in large numbers. While teens were bigger users of almost all other online applications, Twitter was an exception, the study found.

Blogging loses appeal for US teenagers – Facebook and Twitter fall to the bottom of the list. Only 19% believe that posts from friends influence them to make a purchase, and 11% cite posts from brands.

The number of 12 to 17-year-olds in the US who blog has halved to 14% since 2006, according to a survey for the Pew Internet and American Life Project. It suggests they prefer making short postings on social networking sites, and going online on mobile phones.

But the study also found a modest rise in blogging by those aged 30 and older. The increase from 7% in 2007 to 11% in 2009 is believed to be responsible for the prevalence of blogging within the overall adult internet population remaining steady at roughly 10%.

Micro-blogging

The study released on Wednesday found that blogging had steadily declined in popularity among both teens and young adults to 14%.

As the tools and technology embedded in social networking sites changed, and use of the sites continued to grow, young people appeared to be exchanging “macro-blogging” for “micro-blogging” with status updates, it concluded.

Amanda Lenhart, a senior researcher for Pew and the lead author of the study, told the Associated Press that the ability to do status updates had “kind of sucked the life out of long-form blogging”.

More young people – 55% of 18-29 year-olds and 27% of 12-17 year-olds – were also accessing the internet from their mobile phones, increasing the need for brevity. One student said teenagers had lost interest in blogging because they needed to type quickly and “people don’t find reading that fun”.

But teens are not using Twitter in large numbers. While teens were bigger users of almost all other online applications, Twitter was an exception, the study found.

Ms Lenhart doubts that blogging will disappear. She believes those who blog for personal reasons will instead focus more often on important events such as a wedding, a trip or the birth of baby.

Source: BBC

Social sites eclipse e-mail use

Social network sites such as Facebook and MySpace are now more popular than personal e-mail, finds a report.

The Nielsen survey of users’ habits found that 67% of all those going online were spending time at social network and blogging sites.

Social sites eclipse e-mail use - Facebook is grabbing more and more of web users' time.

Social sites eclipse e-mail use – Facebook is grabbing more and more of web users’ time.

Interest in the category is growing four times faster than the other top four sectors, said the report. In the UK one in every six minutes of the average web user is spent at a social site, it found.

“Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience,” said John Burbank, chief executive of Nielsen Online in a statement.

“Social networking will continue to alter not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large,” he said.

Nielsen measures interest in categories by the percentage of the web audience that regularly visit such sites. The latest statistics suggest that 65.1% of web users use web e-mail but 66.8% are turning up at social network sites.

This means, said Nielsen, that about one in every 11 minutes a web user is online is spent at one of the sites Nielsen counts in its “Member Communities” category which includes both blogs and social network sites.

Of these sites, Facebook has highest average time per user, found Nielsen.

The researchers also found that social networking sites are managing to reach a very broad swathe of web users. The fastest growing segment of users turning up and using social sites over the last year was among 35-49 year olds.

In particular, the report noted, almost a quarter of Facebook’s users were known to be over 50 years old.

More and more people want to get at their favourite social site and update via mobile, found Nielsen. In the UK the numbers of Britons looking at a social site via their phone was up 249%.

Source: BBC

More Than 851,000 Members Join the Aflac Cancer Center Facebook Cause

<h2Aflac ‘Causes Campaign on Facebook’ Raises $1.16 Million for Fight Against Pediatric Cancer

Aflac (NYSE: AFL) announced that it has raised more than $1.16 million for the Aflac Cancer Center through a matching grant campaign with Causes on Facebook, making it the largest sponsored campaign in the history of Causes. The effort also resulted in 851,215 new members joining the Aflac Cancer Center Cause, helping to generate awareness and financial support during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

The Causes application on Facebook has more than 85 million users who have created over 300,000 charitable causes that have benefited 60,000 nonprofits in the United States and Canada. Donors have used the Causes application on Facebook to give more than $14 million to these organizations. Prior to the launch of Aflac’s pediatric cancer Cause, the largest matching grant on a Facebook Cause was $100,000.

“Thanks to Aflac’s campaign to raise money for childhood cancer and blood disorders on Causes on Facebook, children at the Aflac Cancer Center will be assured cutting edge treatment and clinical research to get them back to being kids,” said Dr. William G. Woods, Director of the Aflac Cancer Center. “With every dollar raised we offer new hope for our kids and their families.”

“Our goal is to find a cure,” said Aflac chairman and CEO Dan Amos. “We want to thank the more than 851,000 people who rose to the challenge and joined Aflac’s fight against pediatric cancer. With their help we can continue the progress that has seen survival rates soar from 20 percent in the 1980’s to 80 percent today.”

Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos personally contributed $100,000 to the cause, and his donation, like all the others, was matched dollar-for-dollar by Aflac. NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, who is sponsored by Aflac, responded to Amos’s gesture by contributing his portion of his team’s earnings from the September 6th race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Aflac’s $1 million initiative is the largest sponsored cause that we have ever seen on Facebook and it demonstrates the growing philanthropic power of Causes,” said Joe Green, founder of Causes. “This matching grant is a success not only because of the money raised, but also because 851,215 individuals were empowered to make a difference through peer to peer activism. We’re delighted that Aflac chose our application to generate awareness and that together, we were so successful in producing potentially life-saving results for children with cancer.”

Each year the Aflac Cancer Center treats more than 350 new cancer patients. It also provides the largest sickle cell disease program in America, with 1,635 active cases and has cured more children of sickle cell disease than any treatment center in the nation. In addition to funding research and treatment, Aflac contributions serve other critical needs, including new facilities, a new state-of-the-art pediatric research building, and endowments for the Family Support Team and Fellowship Program. In August, the Aflac Cancer Center announced that Aflac had surpassed $50 million in donations to this cause.

About Aflac:

For more than 50 years, Aflac products have given policyholders the opportunity to direct cash where it is needed most when a life-interrupting medical event causes financial challenges. As the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States and the number one insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force in Japan, Aflac insurance products provide protection to more than 40 million people worldwide. In 2009, Aflac was recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the third consecutive year and was also named by the Reputation Institute as the Most Reputable Company in the Global Insurance Industry for the second consecutive year. In 2009 Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the eleventh consecutive year. Fortune magazine also ranked Aflac No. 1 on its global list of America’s Most Admired Companies in the Life and Health Insurance category. Aflac appears on Hispanic Enterprise magazine’s list of the 50 Best Companies for Supplier Diversity and on Black Enterprise magazine’s list of the 40 Best Companies for Diversity. Aflac was also named by Forbes magazine as America’s Best-Managed Company in the Insurance category. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com.

About Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta:

The Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is a national leader among childhood cancer, hematology, and blood and marrow transplant programs, serving infants to young adults. Recognized as one of the top childhood cancer centers in the country by U.S.News & World Report, the Aflac Cancer Center treats more than 350 new cancer patients each year and follows more than 2,500 patients with sickle cell disease, hemophilia and other blood disorders. Visit www.aflaccancercenter.org or call 404-785-1112 or 888-785-1112 for more information.

SOURCE Aflac

A brief introduction to Social Media

What is your Social Media goal?

Social media sites are becoming a major strategy for brands and business.

What tools should we use to get a return on our social media efforts?

Use them all. But use the tools for different purposes and audiences.

When you are on Twitter you are everybody’s friend. Simple as that. Facebook is your home. Who do you entertain in your home? Facebook is the place where you can truly connect with your audience. LinkedIn is your office. There are thousands of social media sites: YouTube, Digg, Reddit, Delicious, hubspot, winelifetoday, univision.

Log in to our site and watch the rest of the introduction to Social Media presentation to learn Twitter basics and tips to increase your follower base. Do not overextend yourself on social media and increase your connections!

 

Click on social media presentation to advance

Starbucks, Unilever Offer Free Ice Cream to Facebook Users

To introduce consumers to its new ice cream line, Starbucks and Unilever are offering free pints to Facebook users.

Through July 19, participants can visit http://apps.facebook.com/starbucksicecream. At the top of every hour, they will have a chance to give a pint of Starbucks ice cream to a friend or family member.

Each hour, 800 pints will be given away, with a total of 280,000 for the duration of the promotion. While the promotion encourages participants to send the treat to friends, less generous users also have the option of simply sending the coupon to themselves.

Starbucks ice-cream giveaway to Facebook users

Starbucks ice-cream giveaway to Facebook users

Users who don’t jump on the opportunity fast enough have to check back later whether the supply of 800 has already been given away.

The promotion touts the four flavors of Starbucks ice cream, which debuted in the spring. Based on Starbucks beverages, the flavors are Caramel Macciato (coffee and vanilla ice creams with swirls of caramel), Mocha Frappuccino (coffee and chocolate ice creams), Java Chip Frappuccino (chocolate ice cream with chunks of dark chocolate) and Coffee (coffee and espresso ice creams).

Unilever signed a licensing agreement with Starbucks in September 2008 for the exclusive manufacturing, marketing and distribution of Starbucks ice cream.
Source: Alex Palmer – Progressive Grocer