June 9th, 2011

Great Study on Youth Engagement

This new McCann study, The Truth About Youth, has some tasty psychographic nuggets about the youngins, including:

Given a list of things (including cosmetics, their car, their passport, their phone and their sense of smell) and told they could only save two, 53% of those aged 16-22 and 48% of those aged 23-30 would give up their own sense of smell if it meant they could keep an item of technology (most often their phone or laptop).

April 27th, 2011
If you go with the theory that you should market where the people are, then you should be running off to market during church services. Facebook has the same analogy. Buying things from retailers is maybe 10th on the list of things they want to do on Facebook.
Fiona Dias, executive vice president of strategy and marketing for GSI Commerce
April 27th, 2011

Color is the Velvet Underground of Proximity

Richard McManus argues that “Color may be the next Twitter" in a post today on Read Write Web. Reading the article I’m not sure if the analogy is intended to represent Color’s potential as a disruptor technology, the scale of its adoption or both. 

Whatever the intent, Richard’s case for Color was a bit of head-scratcher for me because if events is where it really shines, isn’t its potential limited to maybe 20 times a year? How do you sustain interest and grow Twitter-size ubiquity when the ceiling on the depth and width of use is so low?

I believe time will prove proximity to be a disruptive technology.  And some future app will find a way to a blow out the potential in a way that makes us all soon forget how we lived with out it. I just don’t see the current version of Color as that killer app.

Maybe the truer analogy for Color’s impact lines up with the classic quip about the Velvet Underground: “they only sold a few thousand records, but everyone who bought one started a band.” 

April 26th, 2011

Why Hasn’t Web Design Kept Up With Social?

Katya brings us a study from Outbrain that suggests social media site referrals are “less engaged than those from search or other content sites, with fewer page views per session and a higher bounce rate.” The obvious inference here is that visitors from social media sites are inherently a different type of visitor than visitors who arrive from a search engine—Katya calls them “dablbers.”

Search visitors have a lower bounce rate because they are more likely to be looking for something specific and therefore more likely to choose a site they believe will satisfy their request. But, I think the failure to convert social visitors has less to do with the inherent quality of their interest and more to do with our current approach to web design and engagement.

Web design has remained pretty constant for the past 10 years. There have been refinements to SEO, conversion and content best practices, but the underlying design philosophy has evolved with search, not social. Web design still believes it’s the mothership of online strategy in a world now largely ruled by social media. Sure, there now are plug-ins and share buttons on websites, but those are mostly focused on allowing converts to push content out rather than engage social media referrals or creating a truly integrated social brand experience. If web sites are to remain relevant in the coming years there needs to be a radical transformation in our approach to web design and engagement. This is even truer as search becomes social and the lines between platforms melt away.  

April 25th, 2011

Empire Avenue is Silly. And That’s Okay

Empire Avenue is the latest social media tool/network/platform to get the hype treatment. I’ve spent a couple hours playing around the site (I’m currently trading as JOGO) and, to be honest, it seems pretty frivolous. But, I think that’s okay.

Whether it’s Quora, Color or Empire Avenue expectations typically fall into two categories: it will transform the way we do “X” or it’s the next Facebook, Twitter or Groupon. How could anything live up to the hype when measured in those terms?

With Empire Avenue I’m going suggest a couple of radical ideas. Let’s sit back and let it reveal itself before we pile on the negativity and let’s be okay with something that is just silly and fun.

April 21st, 2011

You’re Doing Social Media Wrong

Mashable points to a new study from Effie Worldwide that says 70% of marketers plan to increase social media spending by 10% this year. Hurray, right? Social media is finally getting a seat at the budget table. One paragraph later the wind dies and we learn that their primary social media goal will be “Likes.”


April 21st, 2011

Gamification of Hamburgers

Engagement-based marketing gets a big nod in today’s New York Times Bits blog with a piece on McDonald’s new McWorld website for children. Putting aside the ethics of the site—it should not come as a shock that a company that brought us Playlands, Happy Meals and Sunday morning commercials where hamburgers grow on trees is trying to hook a new generation of future bypass patients “where they are”—what really struck me was the audacity of this marketing bankshot.

I get the theory of engagement-based marketing—that “a site’s visitor will naturally associate the brand with a pleasurable activity”—but can a company succeed when it tries to compete in a space so far removed from it’s competency? McWorld won’t be competing  with Club BK  and Wendy’s Deeqs for the hamburger chain children’s gaming niche, they will be competing with Club Penguin and Webkinz. While engagement-based marketing is all the rage with marketers looking to blow their budgets on big, out-of-the-box plays, this just seems off to me.

Would there be a little more head-scratching if the tables were turned and Zynga announced they were going to open a series of lightly branded hamburger joints?

April 19th, 2011

Fresh Facebook Research

Three studies making the rounds today. Some great nuggets to absorb and inform your work.

Strategies For Effective Facebook Wall Posts: A Statistical Review  

Key takeaways:

  • Posts between one and 80 characters had, on average, a 27% higher engagement rate than posts with over 80 characters, yet accounted for only 19% of all posts
  • Brands that posted outside of normal business hours had 20% higher engagement rates on their posts
  • Posts on Thursdays see the most engagement across industries
  • Posts including a full-length URL bring in three times as much engagement as posts using URL shorteners such as bit.ly

Facebook & The Social News Opportunity  

1. Optimize “Like” placement:

  • Place Like near visually engaging content 
  • Allow for adequate white space (not too cluttered)
  • Like button with faces has a 2-3x higher CTR than CTR of button without faces

2. Stories that get more engagement on status updates:

  • Touching, emotional stories EX: “Fireman adopts girl orphaned in house fire…” increases engagement 2-3x
  • Provocative, passionate debates EX: “A proposed new law denies citizenship to children of illegal immigrants…” increases engagement 2-3x
  • Simple, easy questions to the user EX: Yes/No questions, “Will you watch the World Cup?” increases engagement: 1.5x

Facebook + Twitter’s Influence on Google’s Search Rankings

Key takeaways:

  • Social metrics are well correlated with higher Google rankings
  • Shares might be more valuable than likes
  • Twitter may be less powerful than previously thought
Loading tweets...


John Gordon, VP of Digital at Fenton. I hustles memes for social good. I'm interested in how people create, share and organize online and off.

*An explanation