Australians love social networking

The latest Nielsen stats show that Australians spend more time on social networks than any other country. We’re spending nearly seven hours a month on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, with the US and UK a distant second and third at just more than six hours. Nielsen reports that nearly 10 million Australians are now using social media.

Time Spent on Social Sites by Country, December 2009
Country Unique Audience (000) Time per Person (hh:mm:ss)
United States 142,052 6:09:13
Japan 46,558 2:50:21
Brazil 31,345 4:33:10
United Kingdom 29,129 6:07:54
Germany 28,057 4:11:45
France 26,786 4:04:39
Spain 19,456 5:30:55
Italy 18,256 6:00:07
Australia 9,895 6:52:28
Switzerland 2,451 3:54:34
Source: The Nielsen Company, 2009

My name is Ray, and I’m making this up as I go

(Reprinted from the Zazoo blog): I was listening to an interview recently with the head of Razorfish, one of the world’s largest digital agencies (If you want to keep up with what’s happening in the digital media, I can recommend Susan Bratton’s Dishymix program, it’s very informative).

It was both surprising and refreshing to hear this fellow, Clark Kokich, frequently use phrases such as “none of us know anything” about digital media, “we’re actually inventing this as we go along” and “there are no experts”.

If the head of an organisation that is billing hundreds of millions a dollars a year in digital media is prepared to admit this, it’s time for all of us working in this space to come clean. This is the guilty secret of digital media “experts” all over the world: no one really knows what consistently works. There are a few principles to be applied, but unlike traditional media – be it advertising, marketing or publishing – there is no established framework that ensures a certain level of response to a program or campaign.

If someone tells you they have a fool-proof way to engage your customer base and turn ordinary customers into raving fans, guaranteeing huge exposure and profits, they’re bullshitting you. We’re all still experimenting with clients’ money.

So why on earth should customers take their money out of traditional marketing and advertising budgets and give it to online? Well, one big reason is that traditional methods are becoming less and less effective as the world’s embrace of online irrevocably changes their life habits (you can hear more about this in a Zazoo-produced podcast interview with Ad Age colunnist Bob Garfield published on the HotHouse blog this week. Be warned, this interview is not for the faint-hearted.). You need to find alternative ways to reach your customers, or else your competitors will get there before you.

Ready or not, your world is changing. Finding your way in the dark with someone who has a torch, however dim, is more effective than sitting there cursing the dark. And those torches are getting brighter all the time.

Mixing up ROI for better results

From the Zazoo blog:

One of my passions has been to ’prove’ the effectiveness of digital media by understanding the ways businesses can measure the impact of their online presence and relate it to the rest of their business (see here, here and here for examples of my academic efforts and blog posts in this area). Lots of pundits have been saying that business needs to move away from trying to relate web activity to traditional performance measures such as return on investment (ROI) and instead look at measures associated with customer engagement.

Well, Kyle Flaherty wrote a post for ZDNet (and re-posted on Social Media Today) last week which I think nails it. He argues against using ROI to measure digital activities such as social media and talks about a new measure called Impact of Relationships (IOR). He writes: “ROI was created by someone who wanted to defend their activities in the scope of the bottom line of their company; they found direct linkage between what they were doing and revenue being brought in and if that number was larger than their salary plus additional costs they were in for a bonus (or at least steady employment). Determining your social media ROI is a means to an end. It allows us to prove a programs worth to our business, which enables you to continue your work with the community, which coincidentally lets you dismantle the importance of ROI internally and start to focus on IOR…Impact of Relationships.

“IOR allows me to detail how a relationship develops with our company, whether they are a customer or not, and how that relationship has impacted the totality of our business. Using many of the same techniques above I also measure the amount of interaction we have with our community. Not to measure against revenue, but to determine what product feature requests this person suggested that made our product better, how many comments they leave on our blog, the number of times they reference us on their Twitter feed and more. We’ve been able to formulate IOR for members of our community, many of them non-customers, based on what they have given back to our company.

“Are each of these elements a pure statistical entity or a dollar value? No. But it is a great additional barometer we have to show the gains made through our social media activities. This IOR data becomes just as valuable to the senior staff of your company, but only because they have already seen some level of ROI data. It is only when we prove the ROI that we can reach towards IOR.”

I’ll be interested to see how this concept works out in practice and how it is monetized.