Brandwatch—the global social media monitoring firm—has just published a comprehensive study that delves deeper into the current state of Twitter

by Ulara Nakagawa

Brandwatch Twitter Report 2012

Brandwatch—the global social media monitoring firm—has just published a comprehensive study that delves deeper into the current state of Twitter.

The report details how 258 of the world’s leading brands are using Twitter in 2012, from the type of activity they are undertaking to the particular tool they are using for publication.

What does it reveal?

  • HootSuite is soaring high in the Twitterverse. After Twitter’s own interface, HootSuite is the most popular tool for businesses managing their social media. The study reveals that while many brands are leaving platforms like TweetDeck and CoTweet, HootSuite has emerged as the leading social media management tool. In fact, according to this study, HootSuite has grown 53% in usership over the past year alone. (TweetDeck is -42%, CoTweet -60%)                                                                              Brandwatch 2012 Report on Twitter - Graph
  • If your business isn’t on Twitter, it should be. Of the 258 businesses surveyed, only 9% DON’T use Twitter. And that number is progressively shrinking. Even for executives who were initially non-believers, social media has become serious business. More than 80 percent of executives now believe their brands can get more sales and bigger market share by using social media, according to a 2012 report from the Economist Intelligence Unit.
  • Twitter lets companies take customer service to a whole new level. 75% of companies use their Twitter accounts both to broadcast and to engage with their audiences. And more and more businesses are using multiple Twitter accounts to interact with their followers. Take Britain’s National Rail, for example, which now has a whopping 27 Twitter accounts. The reason: Companies are realizing the advantages of using unique channels to engage different demographics.

Listen more effectively, and learn to respond to your customers so your brand isn’t lost in the noise of the social web. Read this Info Sheet for tips on how.

  • More isn’t necessarily better? Brand accounts are tweeting notably less frequently than they did in 2011. In 2011, half of the 258 monitored brands tweeted fewer than 19 times per week. In 2012, half tweeted fewer than 7 times a week. Rather than inundating followers with dozens of daily tweets, companies are sending out fewer, more fine-tuned messages to specific demographics.  In other words, applying Twitter is increasingly a science, involving precision analytics and targeting.

What can we learn from these findings?

To maintain a successful brand presence, you should definitely be on Twitter. Engage with your audience using multiple accounts targeted at distinct demographics, instead of using a shotgun approach and blasting everyone with the same content.  And take advantage of analytics to decide who to tweet, when to tweet and what content resonates with your followers.

Most importantly, if you haven’t tried HootSuite yet, it might be time to do so. The data speaks for itself. With one tool, you can manage all your social accounts from one dashboard, schedule Tweets and updates in advance, get instant analytical feedback and more.

Game Over For Gamification? |

Game Over For Gamification?

Date: October 24, 2012
Author: Esther Shein , Contributing Writer ,

It’s no secret that people love the thrill of a contest. Whether it’s scoring double rewards points for purchasing NFL-licensed apparel at Sports Authority, or being entered into a trip sweepstakes for liking the neighborhood grocery store on Facebook, game-based offers are seemingly everywhere consumers click.

Yes, gamification–using incentives to change behaviors–is still alive and well, even though the hype has died down, industry observers say. Applying gaming mechanics, like leader boards or badges, is even used in the workforce to incent salespeople or get employees to meet deadlines, said Charlene Li, partner and founder of the Altimeter Group.

“Where gamification comes in is it takes something that isn’t inherently a game and throws mechanics on top of that,’’ Li told “Because we make it fun and engaging, you actually learn something, and because of that you’re changing behavior.” The idea of using game mechanics has been around for a long time, but when it’s used to interact with people on Web sites, gamification takes on a very different look and feel, she said, because you can drive engagement in these areas.

“Gamification is really just the tip of iceberg; it’s the first widespread application of game mechanics, but by no means the last or most powerful,” said Michael Hugos, a former CIO and author of Using Game Mechanics to Build a Better Business (O’Reilly Media, October 2012). “We live in a world where everything changes all the time, and game-like models allow employees to play the game instead of waiting around and being told what to do.”

In a business context, Hugos believes gamification can be used to improve output and productivity with three characteristics: visibility, so that everyone can see what’s going on; the authority to take action, like in a game; and having a substantive stake in the outcome.

The concept received a lot of attention in 2010 and 2011, in particular, Li said, because that’s when marketers began to realize if they put points and leader boards on top of an ad or Web page, it would be easy to gamify their interactions with people. “The psychic rewards of gaining points or beating your best are where you can get intrinsic value, but it’s amplified if you can share that success with other people,” Li said. It’s no doubt a marketer’s dream to get people to spread the word and influence the advocacy side of things like ads and create loyalty, so they will come back and visit a site.

For example, a customer might buy a certain product from a retailer and receive points for writing a review. “You earn points based on your behavior with that company that can show you more and more layers of something inside the site you wouldn’t normally see,’’ Li said. “They might add up to a leader board that might show who has earned the most points in a day, and there’s that competition or personal benefit that I might get a discount at the end of day.”

Social media, not surprisingly, is a strong component of gamification, Hugo and Li both point out. “There’s a part of gamification that is not just game mechanics, but social mechanics, because of your ability to compete with someone,” Li said. “So, basically, you put leader boards on top of things that normally wouldn’t have a game component to it to encourage people and engage them to do something they wouldn’t normally do.

Employee Motivation
Gamification can be successful within any industry where educational awareness has to happen. For example, banking and gamification don’t sound synonymous, but a company called BankersLab has developed gamification software to deliver training for bankers. Typically bankers rely on historical data and economic trends to design lending strategies, such as mortgages, loans, or credit cards, said Gail Galuppo, chief operating officer at BankersLab, in an interview with The software, which costs $48,000 for an annual license for up to 90 people, uses scenarios to challenge players to develop strategies based on research and trends that may one day affect their businesses.

She said they use a complex calculation engine that allows players to test their knowledge of the credit lending market. The products contain four modules that require players to interact with data, interpret trends, understand changing market conditions, and build strategies that will be calculated and presented over a 24-month period, Galuppo said. Each player is given three test runs and one final strategy design per module. The winning team is the one that achieves the greatest improvement in financial and customer outcomes for their mock bank.

Hugos recalls that when he was CIO of a paper company, there was always stress around the holidays to deliver enough red cups with a holiday theme on them. “When we tried to run [the supply chain] through traditional methods when all these people had to be told what to do because they couldn’t see what was going on, it was a very sluggish, bureaucratic operation.”

One holiday season the company challenged by Starbucks, one of its largest customers, to cut excess holiday inventory by 50 percent. At the same time, the company was in the midst of renegotiating a three-year contract with the coffee chain. So Hugo set up an information system, pulled data out of his company’s inventory system, and posted it on an internal site so everyone in the external supply chain would have visibility ahead of time on what was needed. “When a large group of informed individuals had a stake in the outcome we could come to a consensus early,” Hugos said. By Starbucks’ admission, he said, they met the challenge and ultimately decided to continue the same approach year-round.

“A game can be described as something that has four traits: goal, rules, a feedback system, and. . .enthusiastic participation,’’ Hugos said. “If you have those four elements, you have a game. So I introduced those elements.” His company already had the goal of getting its contract renewed, and by introducing a feedback mechanism, it sparked people’s incentive to engage, and they interacted with other companies. Ultimately, he said, “Our interactions went from defensive to collaborative.”

The CMO’s Guide to Pinterest

The CMO’s Guide to Pinterest

February 16th, 2012     by ddeal    

Pinterest is a lot more than a shiny new tool to help you decorate your home – it’s a platform for marketers to build connected brands in visually compelling ways. In a  newly published point of view, The CMO’s Guide to Pinterest, my iCrossing colleague Sarah Kuntsal discusses how brands ranging from Real Simple to Nordstrom are thriving with Pinterest.

As Kuntsal asserts, any marketing executive who cares about creating close customer relationships and driving sales needs to take a close look at Pinterest. Although Pinterest is new, the social bookmarking tool has already attracted a loyal base of subscribers. The site is especially popular with female and arts/crafts enthusiasts between the ages of 25 and 44 – and this audience is highly engaged on Pinterest, which is a reason why major brands are taking notice.

According to Kuntsal, brands using Pinterest are realizing substantial increases in referral traffic. Real Simple reports that at times, Pinterest has even bested referrals from Facebook.

The CMO’s Guide to Pinterest provides brief case studies on how Real Simple, Nordstrom, and Lands’ End Canvas have generated brand love on Pinterest. The report offers six Pinterest best practices for your own brand, such as integrating Pinterest into your content calendar.

Pinterest continues to generate no shortage of attention. Other examples related to Kuntsal’s white paper include this Quora thread about brands on Pinterest, a recent TechCrunch article, and Brands, Businesses, and Blogs on Pinterest.