Adobe: Facebook’s referred revenue-per-visit grew quarterly, but Twitter and Tumblr dipped

Written by: Kaylene Hong, Asia Reporter for The Next Web.

Facebook.jpg

may be getting harder for Facebook to stand out among other social sites for ad revenue, given the increasingly crowded space, but Adobe’s latest social media intelligence report for the first quarter of 2014 found that revenue referred from most social channels to retail sites dropped quarter-over-quarter, except for Facebook.

Facebook’s referred revenue-per-visit rose 2 percent quarter-over-quarter, while Twitter and Tumblr’s figure declined by 23 percent and 36 percent respectively. Year-over-year though, Tumblr’s referred revenue-per-visit was up 55 percent, followed by Facebook at 11 percent and Twitter at 5 percent.

Adobe RPV 730x671 Adobe: Facebooks referred revenue per visit grew quarterly, but Twitter and Tumblr dipped

Adobe noted in its report: “While Pinterest and Tumblr are doing better than last year, they’re still unable to provide consistent referred revenue outside of the holiday shopping season. Facebook, however, continues to provide value year round.”

It’s worth noting for comparison that Shareaholic’s Q1 2014 numbers reflect a more positive outlook for Pinterest, with data showing that Pinterest’s referral traffic share grew 48 percent quarter-over-quarter, up from 4.79 percent to 7.10 percent. Meanwhile, Shareaholic also found that Facebook’s referral traffic share grew from 15.44 percent to 21.25 percent, while Twitter remained essentially flat — moving from 1.12 percent to 1.14 percent.

Adobe’s report also found that Facebook’s ad click-through rate jumped 160 percent year-over-year and was up 20 percent quarter-over-quarter. However, its cost-per-click declined 2 percent year-over-year and 11 percent quarter-over-quarter, with Adobe attributing it to a strong performance during the holiday season in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, Facebook ads with embedded videos are gaining traction. Adobe’s report found that Facebook video plays increased by 758 percent year-over-year and 134 percent quarter-over-quarter after auto-play for videos was introduced last quarter, while engagement with video posts rose 25 percent year-over-year and 58 percent quarter-over-quarter.

Adobe Type 730x690 Adobe: Facebooks referred revenue per visit grew quarterly, but Twitter and Tumblr dipped

Senior analyst Joe Martin said: “Facebook is back at the top of the mountain… It was declining for some time, but now it’s at about 75 percent of retail referrer traffic, for example. All the other networks are still growing, but the majority of referring traffic is still attributed to Facebook. That means that Facebook’s adaptions for marketers are working.”

Adobe taps on aggregated data from Adobe Marketing Cloud to produce paid social data. Its overall estimates are based on 260 billion Facebook ad impressions, 226 billion Facebook post impressions, 17 billion referred visits from social networking sites, as well as seven billion brand post interactions including comments, likes and shares.

Charts via Adobe

 

Read Full Story: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2014/04/22/adobe-facebooks-referred-revenue-per-visit-grew-quarterly-but-twitter-and-tumblr-dipped/

Are Your Email Practices Abiding with CAN-SPAM?

Written by , Contributor for the ExactTarget Blog

While CAN-SPAM may be old-hat to many email marketers, this industry is one of rapid change and growth with new faces joining every day. Because of this, it’s always good to brush up on the requirements and keep current.

What is CAN-SPAM and what does it stand for?
The CAN-SPAM Act regulates commercial email messages sent in the United States. The acronym stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing.

What are the different kinds of messages sent via email?

  • Commercial – A message you send with the main purpose being advertisement or promotion of your company. This must follow CAN-SPAM requirements.
  • Transactional – A message your customer would be expecting because of a transaction they have just made with you, such as a receipt or confirmation email. These emails areexempt from most CAN-SPAM compliance.
  • Other – Direct one-to-one email communication. These emails are also exempt from CAN-SPAM.

How do I comply with CAN-SPAM?
Here are seven easy ways to make sure you aren’t spamming:

  1. Provide an unsubscribe option.
  2. Honor opt-outs within 10 business days.
  3. Use legitimate “from” email addresses.
  4. Don’t use deceitful subject lines or headers.
  5. Display your mailing address.
  6. The message should contain at least one sentence.
  7. Monitor your messaging (especially if you contract this out).

Keep out of SPAM folders
One good rule of thumb all email marketers should follow is do not, under any circumstances, buy email lists. Allow your recipients to opt-in to your messaging through a sign up on your website, social media, or another permission-based method. If recipients of your email didn’t ask for it, they will often flag it as SPAM. This affects your overall deliverability—which means your email never hits all the inboxes you want.

 

Read More: http://www.exacttarget.com/blog/are-your-email-practices-abiding-with-can-spam/

It’s Time to Reinvent the Digital Marketer

By  on April 18, 2014

On my way home from Adobe’s suc­cess­ful Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Sum­mit this year, I thought about the tremen­dous num­ber of take­aways from the 130+ ses­sions we hosted. We dis­cussed ways to con­cep­tu­al­ize, strate­gize, opti­mize, and ana­lyze. The over­ar­ch­ing prin­ci­ple shared was the con­cept of mar­ket­ing reinvention.

Dur­ing the event, we shared with atten­dees the results of our Dig­i­tal Road­block report , an online sur­vey of more than 1,000 US mar­keters. In this post, we’ll dis­cuss those results, with an eye toward a deep dive into the ques­tions, responses, and take­aways from the report in future posts.

The report data is bro­ken out within two sub­groups: 1) com­pa­nies that reported below aver­age or aver­age busi­ness per­for­mance ver­sus com­pa­nies that reported supe­rior busi­ness per­for­mance and 2) com­pa­nies with high dig­i­tal spend. On aver­age, responses showed that enter­prises are strug­gling to rein­vent their mar­ket­ing prac­tices as mar­keter roles evolve.

We found 10 key find­ings within five con­cept tracks that illus­trate the strug­gles that mar­keters are going through.

Mar­keters know they must rein­vent them­selves but don’t know how to step through.

1. 64% of mar­keters expect their role to change over the next year; 81% in the next three years.

2. Two in five mar­keters (40%) stated that they wanted to rein­vent them­selves, while only 14% of those mar­keters actu­ally know how to step through a reinvention.

3. Respon­dents cited a lack of train­ing in new mar­ket­ing skills (30%) and orga­ni­za­tional inabil­ity to adapt (30%) as key obsta­cles to becom­ing the mar­keters they aspire to be.

Future mar­keters need to take more risks.

4. 54% of mar­keters believe the ideal mar­keter should take more risks, and 45% hope to take more risks

them­selves.

5. Nearly two out of three mar­keters (65%) said they are more com­fort­able adopt­ing new tech­nolo­gies once they become mainstream.

Com­pa­nies need to hire more dig­i­tal talent.

6. Respon­dents cited digital/social mar­keters (47%), data ana­lysts (38%), cre­ative devel­op­ment (38%), and mobile mar­keters (36%) as the key roles their com­pa­nies must invest in over the next year.

Mar­keters rec­og­nize the impor­tance of data but aren’t widely using it to make informed decisions.

7. 76% of mar­keters agree they need to be more data focused to succeed.

8. Almost half (49%) report “trust­ing my gut” to guide deci­sions on where to invest their mar­ket­ing budgets.

9. 72% agree that long-term suc­cess at their com­pany is tied to prov­ing mar­ket­ing ROI.

Mobile and per­son­al­iza­tion are becom­ing big­ger priorities.

10. Finally, 61% see social media as the most crit­i­cal mar­ket­ing vehi­cle to focus on a year from now, fol­lowed closely by mobile at 51%. When asked to pri­or­i­tize one capa­bil­ity over the other, as to which will influ­ence their company’s mar­ket­ing mov­ing for­ward, per­son­al­iza­tion ranked highest.

Mar­keters rec­og­nize the evolv­ing fac­tors that are con­tribut­ing to the new dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing envi­ron­ment. In fact, they are (mostly) in align­ment when it comes to the major dri­ving forces. When asked about the dri­ving forces behind this need for change, mar­keters responded as follows:

  • 73% cite expanded num­ber of chan­nels and plat­forms to reach audiences
  • 71% cite new ways of think­ing about audi­ence engagement
  • 71% cite new tech­nolo­gies for ana­lyz­ing mar­ket­ing effectiveness
  • 61% cite the chal­lenge of “break­ing through the noise” to reach tar­get audiences

The pace of change, new respon­si­bil­i­ties for the mar­ket­ing func­tion, and recog­ni­tion of marketing’s con­tri­bu­tion to busi­ness suc­cess were also indi­cated as rein­ven­tion justification.

Prior to Sum­mit, I posted a series on assess­ing your dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing score. We looked at the busi­ness pil­lars ofprod­uctprocess, and peo­ple. As we jour­ney toward the rein­ven­tion of mar­ket­ing, I’ll take the same approach. Join me as we head down from the Sum­mit and get to work rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing global mar­ket­ing, reimag­in­ing the tools we’ll use to deploy mar­ket­ing, and rein­vent­ing mar­keters to deliver success.

Matt Langie

Matt Langie is Senior Director of Strategic Marketing for the Digital Marketing Business Unit at Adobe. He gained extensive experience in technology marketing while at Omniture, WebTrends, Datastream, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard. Langie’s responsibilities span go-to-market strategy, messaging and positioning, product pricing and packaging, sales enablement, competitive intelligence, and product evangelism for the Adobe Marketing Cloud. He serves as Board Vice Chairman for the Internet Marketing Association and is an adjunct professor at UC Irvine, teaching digital marketing courses.

Facebook Launches “Nearby Friends” With Opt-In Real-Time Location Sharing To Help You Meet Up

Written by  (@joshconstine), Contributor for TechCrunch:

Today Facebook begins rolling out a new opt-in feature called Nearby Friends. It lets friends see approximately how far away you are from them, and you can share your exact, on-going location with them for a limited time. While it’s sure to stir privacy concerns, Nearby Friends could get people spending more time with friends in the real-world instead of online as it hits iOS and Android in the US in the coming weeks.

Below is a deep analysis of how Nearby Friends works, how it was built, its privacy implications, how it impacts the competitive landscape, and its long-term opportunities for Facebook. But here’s the tl;dr version:

Nearby Friends was built by the Glancee location sharing app team led by Andrea Vaccari that Facebook acquired in 2012. It adds a list of nearby friends to Facebook’s iOS and Android apps. It will also send notifications if you come within a short distance of a friend, and if someone shares their precise location with you you’ll see it on a map.

Vaccari tells me “the idea is to make it really easy to discover when someone is around you, and meet up and spend time together.” It wants to facilitate those serendipitous meetups where you run into a friend and end up having a meal or hanging out together. It’s a meatspace manifestation of Facebook’s mission to connect people, and a rebuttal to criticism that Facebook isolates us.

nearby-friends-press-1

The feature could spell trouble for other location sharing apps like Foursquare and Google Latitude that haven’t reached ubiquity, as Facebook has built it into its core iOS and Android apps that have enormous userbases. It could also challenge the friend-gathering features of Highlight, Banjo, Sonar, and more startups. [Disclosure: I advise an unlaunched location sharing startup] Leaving Nearby Friends on will cause some battery drain, but not as bad as some other location apps, according to Facebook.

As for privacy, Nearby Friends is opt-in so you can ignore it and never have to use it if you don’t want to. It’s only available to people over 18. It uses a reciprocal privacy model so you can only see your proximity to friends if you both have it turned on, and you can only see someone’s exact location if they purposefully share it with you. While you can select the specific list or group of friends you want to share your proximity with, many people may simply keep this visible to all their friends — a very wide net. This and how easy it is to forget to turn off Nearby Friends could lead to inadvertent “oversharing”. But used properly, Nearby Friends could help people gather with more friends for Tuesday dinners, Friday night parties, or Saturdays in the park.

How Nearby Friends Works

Once you get the rollout of Nearby Friends, you’ll see it in their app list in the Facebook navigation menu under “More” on iOS or Android. From there you can opt in to turning Nearby Friends on, and select if you want to share your proximity with all your friends, or a specific friend list or group.

You’ll then be able to see a Nearby Friends list that shows the distance away in increments of a mile (<0.5 miles, 0.7 miles, 1.8 miles) from anyone you’re sharing your proximity with who has also opted in and turned on Nearby Friends. The list also shows timestamps of when someone’s location was last queried,and if you’re in a big city it will also show their neighborhood.

Next to these friends’ names is a location icon you can tap to send that person your real-time location. You’ll get a chance to choose how long to share your location (an hour, a few hours, until tomorrow, until I manually stop) and include a 40-character message about what you’re doing or want to do, and perhaps a request that they send you their exact location. Otherwise you could send someone a Facebook message asking for them to send you their location. Anyone who shares their exact coordinates with you will show up on a map view.

Here’s a short video from Facebook showing how Nearby Friends works:

To get your location, Facebook will frequently pull your GPS coordinates. To minimize battery drain, it will read your accelerometer and not pull location as often if you’re staying still. Facebook’s testing says Nearby Friends 0.3% to 0.4% per hour. This is less than the 0.7% per hour Foursquare previously said it drains, and Facebook claims it’s more efficient than Google Latitude. Vaccari tells me “Battery saving was one of the core principles as we were developing the product.”

If you don’t have Nearby Friends turned on, Facebook may try to coax you into opting in by showing teaser News Feed stories that read something like “3 of your friends are nearby right now, turn on Nearby Friends to see who and how close they are”. If you do have it turned on, you’ll see Feed stories that are basically excerpts of your Nearby Friends list.

nearby_friends[1]

If you have Nearby Friends turned on, Facebook will also occasionally send you notifications that a friend who has opted in is close. It intelligently looks at where that person goes frequently so as not to ping you everytime they get to work if you live a block away, and it reads their location and accelerometer to make sure they are just driving by but are actually stopped and potentially available to hang out.

Some frequent use cases for Nearby Friends include: “Which friends are in the park too?” “Is anyone else at this concert?” “Who’s nearby I could get coffee with?” “I’m in a new city, which of my friends are in this neighborhood?” But there’s also more niche possibilities. You could turn on persistent exact location sharing with your family for security when you travel. When you fly into an airport, you could see if friends are there too that you could split a ride with.

Facebook has recently been highlighting its new focus on standalone apps with its newCreative Labs initiative and the launch of Paper. But Nearby Friends is built into Facebook’s core apps because Vaccari says it only works “if you have a lot of people in the system. A standalone app would have given us the opportunity to make bigger decisions…but doing it in the main app, we guarantee you find most of your friends there.” However, Vaccari said it still could become its own app in the future. For now, Nearby Friends’ success may depend on just how much Facebook is willing to promote the product in the feed. It’s currently buried in the navigation menu next to Nearby Places, the Yelp-competitor Facebook launched last year that everyone forgot about.

Vacarri admitted he was a bit nervous in our interview as he’d been working on Nearby Friends for two years. Glancee had tried to make a social discovery app for making new friends, but realized “before meeting new people it was important to connect with people you already know, including people who aren’t your closest friends.” When Facebook came knocking, he saw the opportunity to use the existing social graph to build a product that let people actually connect in person and create real memories. He hopes people will use Nearby Friends to spend time with their best buddies, but also people they like but aren’t close enough to text message.

Is It Privacy Safe?

For being a feature that constantly shares your proximity to friends or your exact location, Facebook tried to make it respect our privacy. It’s opt-in, so no one will find it themselves sharing their coordinates without purposefully turning it on. You can turn it off any time with a few taps. You can set who sees your proximity, they have to be sharing their proximity with you to see yours, you have to explicitly share exact location, and unless you set it to share indefinitely, your exact location will disappear within a day.

When I asked Vaccari bluntly if the feature has strong enough privacy, he said “Yes, we think so. The way the product is built is safe by default. Location is not precise by default. We want you you to know there’s an opportunity to meet, not where [your friends] are.”

nearby-friends-press-2

But just because Facebook built it with safety options doesn’t mean people will use them.

People should create a list of their close friends they’re comfortable sharing their proximity with and select that as the privacy setting. Most people won’t, though, and will just share with all their friends. That will includes bosses, co-workers, family memebers, and random people they met once but accepted a friend request from.

People will forget to turn it off. They’ll share their exact location indefinitely with plans to turn it off after a vacation together, but won’t remember to.

Overall, Nearby Friends will be a test of our own ability to protect ourselves. Wielded skillfully, though, it could unlock real-world interactions in the way Foursquare and all the other check-in products were supposed to.

Facebook’s News Feed: What Changed and Why

Written Kurt Wagner, Social media reporter for Mashable. Feel free to email  kurt@mashable.com or follow on Twitter @kurtwagner8.

Facebook-timeline-evolution

As Winston Churchill once said, “to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” It’s a maxim Facebook seems to have adopted wholeheartedly when it comes to the News Feed.

Posts appearing in your news feed today likely look different from the posts you saw six months ago, both in appearance and content. The simple reason for this is Facebook is learning more about you, and that means the company’s news feed algorithm is better at determining what you like and what you dislike.

The average Facebook user has roughly 1,500 stories per day that could appear in their news feed. Facebook surfaces about 20% of those stories. That’s where the algorithm comes in, and that’s why Facebook is constantly tweaking it.

The social network has been particularly busy with the News Feed the past six months, releasing a number of algorithm updates and a significant redesign. It’s all part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ultimate goal for the product: to provide every user with a perfectly personalized digital newspaper.

What exactly has changed in the News Feed algorithm in recent months, and why? Here’s everything you need to know.

What You’re Seeing More Of:

  • Auto-play Videos (Including Ads)
    Facebook first tested auto-play videos in the mobile News Feed in September. Facebook’s web version got auto-play videos in December. The company began testingauto-play video ads a week later, but postponed full implementation. In March, Facebook announced auto-play video ads would begin to roll out to all users over the “next few months.”

    That means some of you know the ads all too well. But if you’re thinking “auto-play ads? Never seen one”, then rest assured, you will.

    These videos play automatically as you scroll through your News Feed. They won’t have any sound unless a user clicks on them. This does not include shared videos from third party sites, like YouTube, but only videos uploaded directly to Facebook.

     

  • Larger Photos
    Facebook began to include larger images in the News Feed as part of the platform’s redesign announced in March. Photos now span the entire width of the News Feed.

    This larger photo feature was about the only one of a set of News Feed changespromised back in March 2013 that actually arrived. We were promised tabs and multiple feeds that users could subscribe to; none have surfaced so far. The only other change from this round worth noting: the default font changed slightly.

    news feed old v new

    Facebook rolled out a news feed redesign last month that means pictures appear bigger in news feed. The bottom image is from the old design.

    IMAGE: FACEBOOK

  • High Quality News Stories
    Facebook altered its news feed algorithm in December in order to surface more “high quality content” on the platform. That means more news and current events, according to the company’s blog.

    This change affected the News Feed in both its desktop and mobile versions, although Facebook says mobile users should notice the greater difference. The company hopes to be a competitor to Twitter when it comes to breaking news and the social conversations that result from it. This is also the reason you may notice more …

  • Resurfaced Content
    As part of the algorithm change that surfaces more “high quality” content, Facebook really wants to make sure you saw those stories — to the point where they will pop up even if you’ve read them. That may be annoying for some users, but the social network really wants to make sure you’re not missing a conversation your friends might be having around those hot-button articles.

    Here’s Facebook’s explanation for the change, courtesy of the company blog: “After people read a story, they are unlikely to go back and find that story again to see what their friends were saying about it, and it wouldn’t bump up in News Feed. With this update, stories will occasionally resurface that have new comments from friends.”

    Still, users complain about seeing the same content over and over. Our recommendation: Like the stuff you want to see more of, and either don’t engage with or hide the posts you don’t enjoy (via a drop-down menu next to the name of whomever posted it). Be aware that if you hide a post, you’re less likely to see any posts from that person.

  • More Content from Brands
    Facebook made another small algorithm tweak in February to help brands expand their audience: if a brand tags another brand in a post, their content can now reach fans of both brand pages.

    For example, if McDonald’s mentions its partnership with NBA star LeBron James, and tags him in the post (as they did below), that post may now appear in news feed for fans of either McDonalds or LeBron. It’s a simple way for brands to expand reach, and may mean more brand content in your feed.

    McD's and LeBron
    McDonald’s tagged LeBron in this post, meaning it could appear in the news feed of fans of either McDonald’s or LeBron.

    IMAGE: FACEBOOK

What You’re Seeing Less Of:

  • ‘Meme photos’
    When Facebook decided to highlight more “high quality” content within news feed, there was a necessary corollary: less low quality stuff. What counts as low quality? Facebook has been frustratingly imprecise in its definition, except to say that it’s not singling out any particular website for demotion.

    One example of demoted content the social network gave in this AllThingsD interview late last year: “meme photos.”

    “it’s not like you’re never going to see a funny cat photo from Imgur,” said News Feed manager Lars Backstrom. “It’s that maybe you’ll see 10 percent less of that, and 10 percent more articles.”

  • ‘Spammy’ Links
    Have you ever clicked on a link that takes you to a page full of ads? There are a lot of four-letter words you may use to refer to these links, especially if you get duped into clicking on one, but Facebook is choosing to call them “spammy” — and wants to eliminate them from news feed.

    The company announced an algorithm tweak last week that will identify posts with “spammy links” and keep them from surfacing to other users. Facebook says that when users visit a link and fail to Like or share the original post, it tends to be spammy. Its not a perfect system, of course, but we appreciate the attempt.

  • Like-baiting
    If a post asks you to Like, share or comment, it’s gaming the Facebook system. That type of engagement is what helps identify the good posts from the bad posts. The company is trying to put a stop to the posts that actively asks users to Like it.

    like baiting

    An example of Like-baiting.

    IMAGE: FACEBOOK

    This was part of the algorithm change announced last week, so you may not notice much of a difference yet. You can also do your part to keep Like-baiting stories away from your friends: hide them.

Ultimately, you have more control over what you see in the News Feed than you may think. The best way to ensure you see what you care about is to engage with the posts you like best (Like, comment, or share them) and hide the ones you don’t.

The Social Media Network War #Infographic

Written by , Contributor for ExactTarget Blog:

As social media networks compete for marketers’ attention and for more advertising dollars, it has become increasingly important for marketers to evaluate social network use and ROI.

Mediabistro recently published an article on where social media users are spending their time online from data collected by Statista.

The infographic below shows that Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest dominate time spent on social media while Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn dominate unique visitors per month. These statistics are important to keep in minda as you ask yourself the questions “What social networks are most valuable to my brand?” and “What social networks will I use to promote my content?”.

Key takeaways from this infographic and data:

  • Visuals in social media are key
  • Social networks are unique and deserve unique engagement strategies
  • Discover the best social network for your different customer segments
  • Google+ adoption still lingers (even behind the resurected Myspace), but plays a significant role in SEO for brands

(Source: Statista.)

7 businesses Amazon wants to shake up

BY James O’Toole  @JTOTOOLE: Tech reporter @cnnmoney:
amazon businesses jeff bezos

Amazon may be the world’s most ambitious company. Not content to dominate the book industry, the so-called “Everything Store” has branched out into an astonishing variety of businesses, many of which you may not be aware of. Here are a few unlikely industries in which Jeff Bezos and Amazon (AMZNFortune 500) are flexing their muscles.

 

Grocery stores

amazon businesses dash
 Amazon shoppers in Seattle, San Francisco and Southern California can already order groceries for same-day delivery through the company’s AmazonFresh service. Amazon is now taking that service a step further with Dash, a small remote unveiled last week that allows you to scan a household item or simply say it into a microphone to have it ordered and delivered automatically.

Taking over the tube

amazon businesses fire
Amazon already offers a vast array of movies and television shows for streaming on its Kindle Fire tablets. Now, the company wants to take over the TV itself, unveiling its Fire TV set-top box last week that enables television sets to access Internet programming, video games and streaming content from its Amazon Instant Video service. The device puts Amazon in competition not just with Google (GOOGFortune 500) and Apple(AAPLFortune 500), which also offer streaming media gadgets, but with offerings from cable and satellite companies and Netflix (NFLX), which currently sit in most living rooms.

Comic books

amazon businesses comixology
Amazon has set its sights on yet another corner of the media world with its purchase of digital comics platform comiXology, which was announced on ThursdayThe New York Times has called comiXology “the iTunes of comics.” The firm offers a digital platform for buying and reading comics, and claims to have been the highest-grossing non-gaming app for iPad last year.

The cloud

amazon businesses cia
Amazon says it wants to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” But that goal doesn’t just apply to consumers at home with their laptops. The company also provides a robust suite of cloud-related services to business customers, allowing them to offload time-consuming tasks like setting up servers and managing databases as well as providing data storage and computational power.

Amazon originally set up its server infrastructure to ensure that its own site would remain online during busy periods like the Christmas season, before realizing it could also rent it out to others when the servers were idle. Customers of Amazon Web Services includeNetflix (NFLX), Pintrest and even the CIA.

 

Industrial supplies

amazon businesses supply

Amazon has a dedicated site for scientific, industrial and business equipment known asAmazonSupply, which allows businesses to make bulk purchases of things like pipe fittings, wiring, power tools and microscopes. In addition to free two-day shipping, it even offers businesses lines of credit.

 

Digital auditing

amazon businesses alexa

Through its Alexa subsidiary, Amazon offers a monthly subscription service that allows websites to keep track of things like traffic trends, demographics, social media engagement and comparisons with competitors. Alexa also provides website “audits” that provide customers with recommendations on security, usability and search-engine relevance.

 

Teaching tech

amazon businesses tenmark education

“Built for and by teachers” — that’s how Amazon describes TenMarks, its e-learning software. The program — already used in more than 25,000 schools — offers video and interactive math lessons, adjusting instruction on the fly depending on the strengths or weaknesses of individual students. TenMarks also provides automated grading, and gives teachers analysis of where students are struggling.

Google Acquires Titan Aerospace, The Drone Company Pursued By Facebook

Written by  by  (@drizzled): Contributor for TechCrunch

Google has acquired Titan Aerospace, the drone startup that makes high-flying robots which was previously scoped by Facebook as a potential acquisition target (as first reported by TechCrunch), the WSJ reports. The details of the purchase weren’t disclosed, but the deal comes after Facebook disclosed its own purchase of a Titan Aerospace competitor in U.K.-based Ascenta for its globe-spanning Internet plans.

Both Ascenta and Titan Aerospace are in the business of high altitude drones, which cruise nearer the edge of the earth’s atmosphere and provide tech that could be integral to blanketing the globe in cheap, omnipresent Internet connectivity to help bring remote areas online. According to the WSJ, Google will be using Titan Aerospace’s expertise and tech to contribute to Project Loon, the balloon-based remote Internet delivery project it’s currently working on along these lines.

That’s not all the Titan drones can help Google with, however. The company’s robots also take high-quality images in real-time that could help with Maps initiatives, as well as contribute to things like “disaster relief” and addressing “deforestation,” a Google spokesperson tells WSJ. The main goal, however, is likely spreading the potential reach of Google and its network, which is Facebook’s aim, too. When you saturate your market and you’re among the world’s most wealthy companies, you don’t go into maintenance mode; you build new ones.

As for why an exit to Google looked appealing to a company like Titan, Sarah Perez outlines how Titan had sparked early interest from VCs thanks to its massive drones, which were capable of flying at a reported altitude of 65,000 feet for up to three years, but how there was also a lot of risk involved that would’ve made it difficult to find sustained investment while remaining independent.

Google had just recently demonstrated how its Loon prototype balloons could traverse the globe in a remarkably short period of time, but the use of drones could conceivably make a network of Internet-providing automotons even better at globe-trotting, with a higher degree of control and ability to react to changing conditions. Some kind of hybrid system might also be in the pipeline that marries both technologies.

Titan Aerospace also represents just the latest in a string of robotics acquisitions Google has been making lately, which include Boston Dynamics and seven other companies purchased to help fuel its experimental robotics program under Andy Rubin. There’s no question Google has bots on the brain, but thanks to Loon ambitions, the reasoning behind the Titan buy might be the most transparent yet.

The Social Media Frequency Guide: How Often to Post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn And More

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Subway has this sandwich with Fritos on it. I know this because their commercials play constantly on my TV and computer such that I nearly have the ads memorized.

Every time their commercial airs, Subway is flirting with the fine art of frequency. How often is too often to share with your audience?

Social media marketers face the same dilemma. We want to connect with followers without driving them away. We aim for the perfect balance of sharing and listening. I end up guessing a lot, trying and testing new variations on how often I should post.

If guessing is required for finding the optimal frequency, then at least we can be making educated guesses. I was happy to find some research on the ideal amount to post each day. Let the testing begin.

 

Strike the balance between informative and annoying

Good content can be found in a multitude of places, and once you find it all, the next question you may ask yourself is how often you can share.

Our post on curating content sparked this exact question, asked in the comments by Ryan Battles. I quite like the way Ryan phrases it, and my bet is that he speaks for many of us curators:

I’ve started tweeting content from Buffer, ranging from 3x per day to 7x per day. How often do you all share content? I am looking to balance being informative and being annoying :)

Informative versus annoying. That right there is the heart of why any of us care about posting frequency at all. We want to provide value, but we don’t want to go overboard. Where’s the fine line? And exactly how fine is it?

How frequently Buffer shares to social media

Before hunting down the right answer to the frequency question (if such a thing even exists), I thought it might be helpful to share the one answer I can give with 100 percent certainty: how frequently we share to social networks at Buffer.

(Our social media automation plan includes engagement outside the confines of this schedule, but in general terms, this is how often we post.)

  • Twitter – 14 times per day, from midnight to 10:00 p.m. Central Time, never more than once per hour; seven times per day on weekends, from 3:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., roughly every three hours

Buffer Twitter post schedule

  • Facebook – 2 times per day, seven days a week, 10:08 a.m. and 3:04 p.m.
  • LinkedIn – 1 time per day, 8:14 a.m., no weekends
  • Google+ – 2 times per day, 9:03 a.m. and 7:04 p.m., no weekends

You’ll see some of the science behind our sharing frequency below, but also know that we have set our schedule—like almost everything at Buffer—as an experiment and are constantly iterating based on our analytics.

As far as an explanation for why we tweet at 3:00 a.m., we want to connect with our global audience. Three in the morning, Central Time, is 9:00 a.m. in London. If you don’t have a global audience, you might not get the same value out of tweeting in the middle of your night.

(Or maybe 3:00 a.m. is a good time to send, if you believe the Informercial Theory. Keep reading …)

The optimal frequency for posting on social media

To ‘know’ the BEST is an impossibility. You can only predict and measure.

I hesitate to start off this discussion with such a tepid answer to the question of posting frequency. But Dan Wilkerson of LunaMetrics is right.

Predict.

Measure.

Repeat.

There aren’t a whole lot of shortcuts here, but with the right data, we can at least gain a head start on the prediction process. Saying beyond a shadow of a doubt that X is the best number of times to post to Twitter and Y is the best number to post to Facebook would be misleading. There is well-researched data, for sure. But consider it as a jumping off point for customizing your own optimal schedule.

How often to post to Facebook

Social Bakers studied three months’ worth of Facebook content from major brands and found that top brands average one post per day.

Facebook brands posting frequency

As a general rule, Socialbakers found that posting once per week on Facebook was so low as to lose connection with your audience and posting more than twice per day was crossing the line into annoying.

Its 2011 study found that the sweet spot is five to 10 posts per week.

Additional research by Track Social in 2012 confirmed that there is indeed a drop in response per post beyond the one-post-per-day mark.

When a brand posts twice a day, those posts only receive 57% of the likes and 78% of the comments per post. The drop-off continues as more posts are made in the day.

However, Track Social went a step further to see the effect that multiple posts per day had on a page’s total responses in a given. In this instance, there was no significant change as post frequency increased. This suggests you won’t lose out on conversations if you increase how often you post.

The below graph represents a composite score of Track Social’s Facebook data. There is a consistent dropoff after the first post each day, but the drop is not as precipitous as you might think.

Facebook response frequency

One caveat: Most of this research comes from before Facebook’s recent algorithm change. These days, the feed values fresh content highly. (As a result, media companies can post four to 10 times more often than brands and still see engagement.) An Edgerank Checker study posted on the Moz blog determined that one way to counteract the algorithm change might be to publish more frequently – as often as you have fresh, compelling content to share.

How often to post to Twitter

Along with their analysis of Facebook post frequency, Social Bakers also studied Twitter, taking  a random sample of 11,000 tweets from top brands and concluding that three tweets per day is the point where brands start seeing big engagement.

Tweet frequency

In the chart above, total engagement rate measures the total number of replies, retweets, and favorites. Average engagement rate is total engagement divided by the number of tweets sent on a given day.

In both cases, three tweets was the magic number for optimal posting.

Three tweets isn’t that many, though. Could this really be the magic mark for optimal frequency? Are we all doing waaaay more work than we need to?

Depends.

Specifically, it depends on what you want to measure. The engagement per tweet measure can tell you at what point your individual tweets reach their maximum performance levels. Track Social found this to be a similar number to Social Bakers. Per Track Social, response per tweet peaks at five and then drops off.

So if you want to wring the most value out of every tweet you send, tweet about five times each day.

The other way to look at this is with response per day, a clearer measure of the total amount of interaction a brand has with its audience. When Track Social observed this stat, the recommendation changed.

If you want to wring the most value out of your Twitter presence as a whole, tweet up to 30 times per day.

Tweet engagement frequency

Basically, what this chart is saying is that the more you tweet, the more opportunities you have to engage with fans, and the more total response you will receive. It is a study in scale. Greater volume should correlate to greater total response, and the chart above shows this to be true.

The takeaway here would be in observing the spikes, when responses jumped at different volumes of tweets. Spike #1 occurred around 4-5 tweets per day, Spike #2 at 11-15 tweets, and Spike #3 at 21-30.

Alexandra Skey of Spokal has a helpful note here: Small business owners are better off adhering to the 5 tweets per day rule because it gets you the maximum bang for your stretched buck. You may not have time for 20+ tweets per day (14 at Buffer is a job unto its own some days). Make the most of the time you do have.

How often to post on LinkedIn and Google+

As you might expect, research is deeper for Facebook and Twitter than it is for any other social network. Frequency data for LinkedIn and Google+ is much harder to dig up.

The best guideline for LinkedIn sharing comes from the site itself, which published a marketing report claiming 20 posts per month allows you to reach 60 percent of your audience.

Twenty posts per month equals one post per weekday. 

Advice for Google+ is a little more of a stretch. Even heavy users of the service can differ on the “right” frequency.

Perhaps it’s best to think about which social network most closely resembles the format and audience of G+. Facebook could be considered the closest model, so you can start withFacebook’s five to 10 posts per week model.

Something to consider: The incredibly short life cycle of a tweet

It takes 18 minutes for a tweet to be over the hill.

Moz’s Peter Bray ran the numbers and found the 18-minute mark to be the time it takes for half of a tweet’s retweets to occur. In other words, once a tweet has been live for 18 minutes, it has reached the peak of its engagement. Leftover engagement might follow, but its glory days are done.

Median tweet life cycle

The life cycle of a tweet is shorter than most every other post on social media (Pinterest may enjoy the longest life, for what it’s worth). Expectations on Twitter reflect this aura of immediacy, too. Convince and Convert found that 42 percent of customers expect a support request to be answered on Twitter within 60 minutes.

If you’re looking for a fountain of youth for your tweets, you might find solace in this:

Presumably, the longer a tweet sits at the top of your page, the longer its life. The more you tweet, the shorter the lifespan of each individual tweet.

Facebook’s life cycle is much longer, relatively speaking

Facebook posts reach their half-life at the 90-minute mark, nearly four times longer than Twitter. 

The 90-minute mark was found by Wisemetrics in their study of Twitter and Facebook life cycles. They found that 24 minutes was the median engagement point for Twitter and 90 minutes for Facebook. For Facebook, a post reaches 75 percent of its potential in the first 5 hours (vs. three hours for Twitter).

twitter_lifetime_21

Of note:

Twitter starts off much faster than Facebook, but then their shelf-life crosses at 87%. The few last retweets come much later on Twitter than the last engagement for a Facebook post. This is probably due to virality which is much more prominent on Twitter than on Facebook.

Wisemetrics goes into a great level of detail on their analysis, even explaining why popular data on the topic has varied—notably Betaworks’ claim of five minutes and bitly’s claim of 2.8 hours. It’s worth a read if you’re interested.

Bottom line: The first couple hours are the most important time for your tweet.

Schedule your posts when your audience is online

Frequency and scheduling go hand-in-hand in so many ways in your social media marketing strategy that it’s hard to plan one without the other.

Followerwonk is a favorite tool of ours to see when your followers are online and to plan accordingly. There’s even integration with Buffer so that you can marry the two together. Here is a sample graph from Followerwonk, charting the most active hours for your followers:

Followerwonk example

If you would rather hack your social timing yourself, you can consider syncing your post schedule to time zones. Fifty percent of Americans live in the Eastern time zone. A full eighty percent live in Eastern and Central combined. Publishing in accordance with these time zones could be hugely helpful for a national business. West Coasters can schedule tweets really early in their morning (which would be not-so-early in Central and Eastern time) and avoid posting late at their West Coast night.

The late-night infomercial effect

There is, as you might imagine, a flip side to scheduling your posts when your audience is online. We’ll call it the late-night infomercial effect—another fun tidbit from Peter Bray. It goes a little something like this:

When there’s nothing else on, you’re more likely to watch an infomercial.

When there’s little else being tweeted, your tweets are more likely to stand out.

Certain email marketing statistics follow a similar line of thinking. You could see greater open rates and clickthroughs when your email is one of the only ones in the inbox. The data below suggests that 8:00 p.m. to midnight gets the highest opens and clicks.

Email marketing stats - send late at night

Being one of the lone voices in the inbox could prove beneficial. The same could be said for social media.

Maybe posting on off hours isn’t all that bad after all?

Takeaways

The temptation to write off social media frequency as “it depends” is huge, but I think that the numbers from a few studies do show some general starting points for where to begin.

Post to Twitter at least 5 times a day. If you can swing up to 20 posts, you might be even better off.

Post to Facebook five to 10 times per week.

Post to LinkedIn once per day. (20 times per month)

And always be testing, experimenting, iterating, and improving. The line between informative and annoying may be super slim, but it’s one that you can find with a little practice.

How frequently do you post to social media? Have you found that there’s a point of diminishing returns? I’d love to hear what you think, if you don’t mind giving away some secrets. :)

IBM’s Silverpop Buy Will Boost Marketing

IBM deal for SaaS-based Silverpop will boost marketing automation, challenging Oracle’s Responsys and Salesforce.com’s ExactTarget.

IBM has a deep portfolio of marketing technologies, thanks to its acquisitions of Unica, Coremetrics, Tealeaf, and Xtify, but the collection is about to get cloudier and more capable with the acquisition of Silverpop. A planned deal was announced on Thursday and is expected to close in the second quarter.

The terms of the deal for the privately held company were not disclosed. Atlanta-based Silverpop has 8,000 customers in more than 50 countries, including high-profile Mazda, Stonyfield Farm, and Advanced Micro Devices. The deal is clearly a response to Oracle’s recent $1.5 billion acquisition of Responsys and to Salesforce.com’s $2.5 billion purchase of ExactTarget in 2013. All three companies have strong suits in personalized digital messaging, primarily via email, but also including social and mobile campaign capabilities.

[Want more on digital marketing? Read How CIOs And CMOs Can Be Better Partners.]

Silverpop’s marketing automation technology is a bit of an overlap with Unica campaign automation capabilities, but according to Kevin Bishop, IBM’s VP of enterprise marketing management, Unica skews toward large customers doing business-to-consumer marketing.

“Silverpop extends our footprint into smaller organizations, departments, and more of a business-to-business focus, not just business-to-consumer, although Silverpop is strong in both areas,” Bishop told InformationWeek in a phone interview.

Silverpop gives IBM a considerable lift in email delivery marketshare, an area where it competes with Responsys, ExactTarget, and Marketo, among others, Bishop confirmed. IBM will differentiate Silverpop capabilities by “deeply integrating” with IBM Coremetrics web analytics capabilities, Xtify mobile messaging capabilities, and Tealeaf clickstream analytics.

 

 

 

 

IBM said in a statement that Silverpop’s “sophisticated, permission-based automation capabilities” can be used by financial services companies to send email offers for 529 college savings plans based on website behavior, such as the use of an online college savings calculator. In another example, online marketers of any stripe can send email offers based on website or webinar views or downloads of catalogs or white papers.

“Combined with the power of IBM’s portfolio and worldwide partner ecosystem, we can advance our mission to help organizations build customer relationships one at a time on an even grander scale,” said Bill Nussey, Silverpop’s CEO, in a statement.

Too many companies treat digital and mobile strategies as pet projects. Here are four ideas to shake up your company. Also in the Digital Disruption issue of InformationWeek: 6 Enduring Truths About Selecting Enterprise Software. (Free registration required.)

Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of … View Full Bio