Last night, GCA Technology Service’s marketing department and Web technology team attended “Tech Trends: Uncovering Trends and Technologies Shaping Online Marketing.” Panelists included Diane Chang, agency development at Google; Christopher Barger, director of global communications technology at General Motors; Shiven Ramji, vice president of the online group at Nielson; Tom Wagner, public relations manager at the Florida Aquarium and moderator, Kevin Hourigan, CEO of Bayshore Solutions.
Kevin Hourigan gave a great introduction to social media by sharing current statistics. After spending the past week or so researching social media statistics and relaying the importance of being part of the online conversation to our company, I felt that I had a “head’s up” going into the event. Although I was reassured by many of the stats Kevin shared, I was also introduced to other stats that I had not yet encountered. Last week, for example, I shared that Facebook had 200 million users worldwide, but Kevin shared that it was an outdated statistic. Last Monday, Facebook announced that they had reached 300 million users. Considering that 300 million is about the size of the United States, that was an overwhelming number illustrating how big Facebook really is.
These facts about LinkedIn were also new to me:
• 78% of users are over the age of 35
• 14 million people visit the page each month
• 50% of LinkedIn’s members are business decision makers
• 53% are male
Google’s Diane Chang explained how marketing needs to be nimble, cost-effective, measurable and essential. Although this may seem like a common goal, it isn’t always as easily attainable as it may sound. A major part of reaching this goal is to increase search goals. Diane shared the statistic that Google has over two billion searches a day. Search optimization is a multi-purposed funnel with numerous benefits. Diane shared that paid search spending will continue to be the largest and most popular online category over the next four years. As far as the latest and greatest in the Google world, Diane mentioned that they are continuing fast innovation and improving transparency in their search initiatives. You have to listen. See what others are searching to get to you.
Some other “tips and tricks” she shared:
• Be “always on” because you now have consumers online 24/7
• Integrate: No media is an island
• Experiment! But make sure to measure.
General Motor’s Christopher Barger started his presentation off by declaring that, “social media is not about technology.” Although this startled me briefly, it made me think… And it started to make sense. Christopher continued by reminding us that everyone in social media has more control of GM’s brand than he.
Think about that.
We’ve gone from a one-way, passive communication model to one that is extremely active and engaging. Christopher reiterated that people want a face, someone to connect with, to answer their questions and understand their needs and concerns. Authority has shifted from corporate to peer, meaning that most people – 50% - prefer word-of-mouth and customer ratings. They key here is to reach your key influencers – or sneezers – in the online world and connect with them. Hope – don’t force – that they talk about your business and speak highly of your brand. Christopher suggests that everyone in business should be engaged, that everyone has something to say. “There are many conversations, taking place online, about your business. You might as well be part of it, see what others are saying. Answer their questions. Be there. Don’t push,” he shares.
GM’s approach to social media:
• Empower all employees to become active in social media
• Brand vs. individual balanced approach
• Immerse and disperse
Florida Aquarium’s Tom Wagner shared his experiences tackling social media in a NonProfit organization with the limited resources and a limited - often nonexistent - budget. He shares how he started: Create an identity, a voice, determine your message and avoid clutter. One thing that really helped to get them started in growing their Twitter base was hosting a Tampa “Tweetup.” As Tampa’s largest Tweetup, The Florida Aquarium opened their doors to over 200 people. They treated them to some of their best events and gave away prized, such as “dive with the sharks” and “pet a penguin.” The audience used their own voice to tweet their opinions about the experience. Tom was also able to address any Tweets that didn’t reflect an enjoyable time and change their perception by offering something more, catering to their interests. Tom shares that his only drawback from the event was the lack of measurement. Although admissions went up considerably during the next few weeks, he was unable to track exactly how many came from his social media initiatives. He reminds all of us that, “Although we may have limited resources, we have unlimited potential. “
Nielson’s Shiven Ramji shared a few interesting graphs, depicting the trends online. Video, social media and utilities drive growth. A statistic that many people were surprised with was the realization that, “Teens don’t tweet.” Teens spend less time online than almost all other age groups. The largest age group on these networks is age 25-64. Shiven shared that new trends to watch are the simultaneaou (57%) use of the TV and the internet. We see it all the time on TV networks, driving us to the computer to “follow” them on Twitter or “Become a fan” on their Facebook page. Mobile video is another ternd that is continually increasing. As for advice, Shiven reminds us all to be, “Authentic, connected and real.”
Following the panel discussions, Kevin took questions from the audience. What I thought was neat was that they avoided traditional Q & A. In fact, not one question was shared by a raise of hands and calling on a member in the audience. All participants were encouraged to text 2-4453 with the subject, “Trends,” or go to Twitter and mark your tweet with the hash tag: #TechTrends.
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