In Rome, Do as the Yelpers Do

Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello, a must-see in Charlottesville

During my winter holiday in Charlottesville, every meal we enjoyed at a restaurant was at a well recommended Yelp venue. Similarly my colleague Chris Pilbeam remarked that every venue he visited on a recent trip was suggested by travelers on TripAdvisor.

I guess the old adage should be revised: When in Rome do as the Yelpers do. After all, 100 million other people are using Yelp, too, and it ranks as a top 40 U.S. website according to Comscore.

All jokes aside, local search marketing now extends well beyond traditional SEO mainstays Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

If you have local business getting reviewed on Foursquare, Yelp!, TripAdvisor, Google+ Local, and perhaps Facebook’s new Nearby service is critical to your success.
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Google Puts Feet on the Street

Google’s DC Office Featured Love Bugs on Valentine’s Day

The Wall Street Journal slammed Google last week for launching another social network when one wasn’t needed (um, yeah, that’s why Pinterest is doing so poorly, right?). Meanwhile, Google has quietly been deploying its local offices to meet with businesses and internet aficionados. The company wants to humanize the Google brand, and personally help people use Google+ and other products.

This is a smart move, one that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have yet to match. Google is literally investing in relationships one by one, and putting faces to what has often seemed a distant and monolithic company.

So many of today’s untrained marketers believe that social media is the primary form of grassroots communications. In reality, they form just one component of a strong word of mouth strategy. Great word of mouth includes personal interactions through meetings like these, small events, local outreach, strong email management, and core stakeholder loyalty development programs.
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The More We Stay, the Less We Say

Forrester recently updated its Technographics profiles (made famous in the book Groundswell) for global social media consumption, surveying 95,000 consumers across 18 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. One primary finding was the lack of commenting occurring in mature western markets, including the United States.

Adoption is pretty much complete in the U.S. (86%) and globally. Almost everyone who is online also is using or has used social media. Comscore recently corroborated this data, saying 83% of the world’s online population participates in social media.

But, most of us in the United States are not social and care not to converse. The Forrester report finds that 2/3 of the US adult social media population doesn’t comment. This is notable.

Commenting seems to have decreased over the past six years. Perhaps it’s because of the widespread proliferation of mobile media with smaller screens and touch input. It’s certainly harder to type in a blog comment or critique a product on a smartphone.

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What ComScore Data Tells Us About Google+

Googleplus top countries uvs

comScore released a report on Friday examining the demographics of the first 20 million people to join Google+. Some of the statistics were not surprising. American users tend to be from technology centric cities, and the overall user base is 2/3 male with a particularly strong age group of 25-34 years old. What was surprising was the international flavor of Google+.

Only 5 million of the 20 million are U.S. based. If you add the 800,000 thousand Canadiens, only approximately 30% of Google+ users are in North America. With strong showings in Europe, India, Brazil and Taiwan, Google+ is clearly an international phenomena.

The international flavor demonstrates the discussion about social media uberinfluencers dominating Google+ is a myth. Almost all of these influencers have less than 50,000 followers, and a great majority have less than 10,000. While perceived to be dominant in this corner of the blogosphere, they represent just one small part of the Google+ community. Even in the North American part of the network, their followings are well under one percent of the community.

Additionally, most people on Google+ believe that Facebook is the big loser in the network’s success. But if you look at the numbers, with 5 million Americans, Google+ has a long way to go to beat out the 50% penetration Facebook has in the U.S. population (more than 150 million). Even at its current growth rate, which is likely not sustainable, it would take Google+ the better part of a year to seriously rival Facebook’s reach.

comScore’s analysis shows a very strong networked effect occurring on Google+, which is indicative that it will succeed in achieving major social network status. However, as the report suggests, the network has to break out of the early adopter
community and into the general population. The next big test will occur as Google+ opens the network to the general public at the end of the month.

Update on Google+ for Business

Reports indicate that Google+ will launch its formal business offering towards the end of the third quarter (mid to late September). The company plans to continue policing businesses that set up branded profiles via personal accounts until then. Per the advisory, published here and on Danny Brown’s blog, businesses should experiment informally.

Eight Useful Market Research Studies

Here are eight market research studies released in the last six months on social media, cause marketing and causes that I have found useful. Studies include pieces from eMarketer, Pew, ComScore, Forrester, and Target Analytics. I hope you find them as useful as I have.