After many experiments to increase engagement with brands on Twitter, I have collected enough evidence that Twitter is not worth much. From now on, the main focus of my social media marketing efforts will be other channels like Reddit, Hacker News, LinkedIn and other well targeted forums. My Twitter efforts are now down to the bottom of pile, down with Facebook (which doesn’t drive anything for the brands I’ve managed).
When I managed the launch of DreamHost DreamCompute, Twitter was a crucial part of the social media mix. We ran a small ad campaign on it with the objective to drive early signups to the cloud. Another ‘organic’ campaign revolved around DreamCompute’s nomination as finalist in OpenStack Superuser Awards, with hashtag #makecloudgreatagain and a micro-site cloning what looked like a joke towards a political campaign (in hindsight, not funny). The results of the Twitter campaign were impressive by Twitter standards: lots of retweets and comments, DreamHost account gained new followers. But from the business indicators, we got almost nothing: the high Twitter engagement drove little spurs of traffic to web properties and no conversions. I blamed the website for being poorly optimized for conversion and concluded that Twitter can be useful to drive traffic and that call to actions need to be optimized for mobile in order to get business results.
In my next experiment at DreamHost I played with Hacker News. After a couple of attempts, I lucked out and got a blog post on HN front page for a few hours: that drove traffic! Lots of traffic and a much better conversion rate than other sources. I learned that the results/effort ratio is so much higher for Hacker News but hitting the front page is obviously a hit-and-miss.
Fast-forward a couple of years, I started a new social media experiment mix for Zenko . The results are in and LinkedIn, Reddit and Hacker News are a much bigger generator of traffic to our website than Twitter. For example, posts on LinkedIn either from the official Scality account or personal profilestend to have a long shelf life, opposed to the very very short live of tweets. New posts on Hacker News and Reddit are usually short lived, few hours but they tend to drive an insane amount of traffic, even if they’re not voted up at all. Also visitors from Reddit and HN tend to bounce less and read more than one page. The few visitors from Twitter instead have a high bounce rate and rarely go beyond one page visit.
My experience with Zenko and DreamCompute tells me that Twitter shouldn’t be the first social media channel but rather LinkedIn, Reddit and Hacker News are more worth the time. Twitter is something you have to play with and may only be worth it for real-time interactions, like during events to drive traffic to a booth or a speaking session.
Google+ will be launching ads soon. Given Google’s experience with Adwords & statistics, expect them to be better targeted.
Wow! Do people out there use social networks to watch ads? Seriously, folks. It’s one thing when you’re searching for something, having a relevant ad served in your face can be a good thing. That’s what makes Google rich. But when I’m reading an article on the NYTimes or chatting with my friends, advertising is just background noise that I learned to filter, both unconsciously and consciously with AdBlock. That’s why I never believed that Facebook can make lots of money selling ads inside Facebook (it has a shot selling targeted ads outside of its wall, through OpenGraph and the like) and that’s why Twitter is having such hard time finding a revenue stream (because serving ads that are relevant to people that are looking for what’s new and relevant for them is very hard).
Yesterday I went to listen to the conference where MIP, Politecnico Business School, published the results of the research about Mobile Marketing and Services. The research was based on 200 case studies, involving all the major actors of the supply chain (advertising investors, media buyers, creative agencies, telecom operators’ and service providers) and also a survey focused on marketing directors of medium and big enterprises.
The good things are that mobile is being more pervasive and it’s starting to extend beyond the cell phone to netbooks and gaming consoles. And that over 70% of the Italian mobile users are of age between 25 and 55, so in their full spending power.’ The youngest group, 18 to 25, is just 11%; this seems to contradict the myth that mobile ads are only good to target youngers.’ I’ve also learned that location-based advertising is being held back because of privacy issues. In Italy the fact that Mario Rossi is *now* in Via Carlo Farini, Milano cannot be passed from the mobile operator to the advertiser.’ It seems that this is a grey legal area that lawyers are trying to sort out.
Strangely, Google was not present.’ I didn’t hear the word Google or Adwords connected to the mobile world. But according to the slides presented by Niumidia, 30% of the users that access TIM/Virgilio WAP portals do it to use the search.’ It seemed as if mobile web is a different thing from the desktop web. Are we so far away from having full web experience on mobile handsets that it’s too early to say goodbye to those depressing WAP portals?
I was surprised that for Dada (Vodafone) and Niumidia (TIM), mobile advertising is SMS, MMS/VMS and banners on WAP portals. They still have made no plans for mobile email. I found it strange because ‘smart phones’ are being sold in huge numbers (40M last quarter,’ 27% increase since Q2) and when users get a new powerful phone they want to get their email on it.’ Am I missing something?