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Attribution is the name of the name at the moment.

A hot topic at our recent Digital Cream London event, social and online spend is now more under the microscope than ever.

It's not enough just to have fans and followers; you have to know who they are, where they came from and what they want from you.

As such, the social media management/dashboard industry has blossomed of late and grown into something much more mature.

We spoke with the CEO of one player in this space - Vitrue's Reggie Bradford - to discuss Facbeook Timelines, changes to tabs, measurement and social advertising.

A recent study by Vitrue suggested that engagement levels could decrease if brands aren’t properly prepared for the Timeline switchover, why is this?

There are functionality issues – the new cover photo and other photo dimensions, removal of default Tab landing pages and pinning posts abilities to name only a few – that brands should be prepared for so that the new format looks its best. 

And you want to curate your Timeline with content that tells your story – even all the way back to your founding - regardless of that date. 

Of course, it still boils down to pushing content that is engaging to consumers - interactive, valuable, entertaining and/or informative - because that content will find its way into users’ newsfeeds, where consumers spend the vast majority of their time interacting on Facebook. 

Brands should also be aware and ready to utilise the “sponsored story” functionality that allows brands to turn their most engaging content into a paid ad.

Is it as straightforward as it seems, in terms of planning an engaging content strategy? Or do you need to pair this up with apps, technologies and management?  

A brand’s content strategy should first be in sync with the overall company goals and objectives. Once that is established then the content strategy can be determined and content calendar created. 

When you talk about “content” you are talking about photo, video, text, gaming, application posts, etc. We see higher engagement rates with visual content like photos and videos (so we’re not surprised by Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram; photos are the most shared content item on Facebook), as well as apps. 

Enhancing your content with apps or the latest technologies, where appropriate, is a great way to increase engagement and should be explored. Again, it’ll be different by brand as each personality and end-goals are different. 

We recently integrated Pinterest and Instagram capabilities for our clients, and we’ve seen really strong engagement rates from it. Also, many clients have used our charitable-gaming app with great results – both in terms of interaction and giving back to charities. 

It’s early days, but how are you seeing Timeline affecting engagement? 

We’ve seen an overall increase in engagement across the board – but it varies widely between brands. 

Of course there's still the novelty effect going on… but also brands are pushing more visual content to build out their Timeline and this type of content is more appealling by its nature…so it’s a win-win.

What’s your view on how tabs will affect how brands view their Facebook strategies?  

Well, the default landing page tab has gone, so the ‘fan-gating’ approach will need to shift. The Timeline will be consumers’ view of a page. But tabs aren’t going away, they are merely re-positioned under the cover photo. 

And brands can still (and should) drive fans to those tabs, but they’ll have to do so via the newsfeed and/or paid spots. 

As refernced above, links to Pinterest and Instagram can be placed in tabs. We’ve seen strong engagement there. So it's just a matter of rethinking your approach. 

What about the new functionality that allows people to turn off updates from apps in one go, have you seen any outcomes of this in relation to brands yet?

We haven’t seen any data to support that, but we don't expect that consumers would turn off all updates in one and shut off brands. 

Obviously, brands must be producing great content for consumers to maintain interest, and I'm certain there are those that aren't pushing quality content - but we don't expect that consumers would shut-off brands entirely.

Many brands are moving on from engaging with 'influencers' and now want to approach this from a P2P perspective. What are your thoughts? How do you measure that?

I believe brands still want to engage with ‘influencers’ simply because they do influence people… and can become a form of brand ambassador if the relationship is cultivated correctly. 

Tracking the overall engagement from person to person is critical because it lets brands see how their content lives and grows - and what people think about it. 

That data will give brands valuable feedback and help to develop the type of content consumers want to see on social sites.

In terms of measuring this, you can include:

  • Fan referral sources: Look at where fans are coming from across the web, including the entire digital footprint as it applies to Facebook.  This could include insight into where, outside of Facebook, your fans are coming from— be it search engine, website, blog, promotion, advertisements and such.
  • Most engaged users: Perhaps view the top 10 people that are interacting the most on a company’s page, complete with details on content of comments and frequency of interaction. Brands can leverage this insight to discover new fans that they might not have interacted with before and create new opportunities .
  • Post analytics & insights: By analysed a brand’s top posts, community managers can view metrics and get insights into which type of posts—image, app, video, link or text—have performed better, allowing marketers to highlight where they need improvement. 
  • Negative feedback insights: Identify and analyse negative fan feedback, including unlikes, spam and hidden posts from users – this will allow you to understand what is frustrating users and make necessary adjustments to win back their interest.

Are you getting more requests from B2C brands in relation to LinkedIn? 

We are seeing an increase in LinkedIn interest, but not nearly as much as the key consumer social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Do you think the success of Twitter’s promoted tools (accounts/trends/tweets) is the right way to make the platform commercially viable? 

I think the success of Twitter's partnership with AMEX shines a great light on its capability to generate high levels of engagement - not to mention being a seriously smart social strategy from AMEX. 

Of course brands need to balance paid and owned, while also remember that Twitter is a consumer platform so too much of a sales push without a reward or advantage for the consumer/follower will fall short and annoy. 

What is the secret to using social advertising well? Where does it fit into a social strategy and is it only good for short-term engagement?  

Again, you have to approach paid placement on social channels differently to traditional one-way mediums like TV, print, radio and some parts of digital. 

The AMEX example is a great one for Twitter – you are providing value via discounts and special offers for tweeting.

While Facebook’s sponsored story approach allows brands to take content that is already experiencing high engagement and make it a paid story.

This is about approaching ‘advertising’ in a truly different way on a truly different platform.

Vikki Chowney

Published 20 April, 2012 by Vikki Chowney

Vikki is head of community at TMW. You can follow her on Twitter or Google+

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