Here’s this week’s round-up of news stories that we think offer insights or lessons that can help multi-channel distributed marketing organizations.
- The “half-life” of links depends on where they are posted. Bit.ly, the link-shortening service, reported this week on the results of a study by Hilary Mason that shows how a link’s half-life is, depending on where it’s posted. Borrowing a concept from nuclear physics, Mason and her team looked at the patterns for 1,000 popular Bit.ly links across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube links. Half-life, in this case, is “the amount of time at which [a] link will receive half of the clicks it will ever receive after it reached its peak.” Mason says that the half-life of links posted on Facebook is on average 24 minutes longer than links to the same content posted on Twitter. And links in emails and instant messages remain active slightly longer than links on Facebook. YouTube, on the other hand, has an entirely different kind of clicking pattern. Whereas the average half-life for the 1,000 links on Twitter, Facebook and email/IM was three hours, the average half-life on YouTube for the same links was 7.4 hours. The lesson for marketers: Don’t be afraid to repost links, and don’t bet the success of your campaign on the half-life of a link shared via social media.
- Watchdog group petitions FTC for new restrictions on Google, Facebook. The Center for Regulatory Effectiveness, a consumer watchdog group, has filed a petition with the FTC to impose trade regulations on Google, Facebook and Twitter, creating specific rules for their operating in “two-sided markets.” In a two-sided market, where a company serves two audiences (advertisers and consumers, for example), the FTC is required to formally address the issues and concerns of each side of the market before any FTC investigation proceeds. Google and Twitter are currently under investigation by the FTC, and Facebook is the subject of a petition to the FTC to be investigated, according to Time Magazine’s Techland columnist Graeme McMillan. The new petition would require the FTC to create a formal process on how it will handle the “two-sided” social media market. The lesson for marketers: More rules and regulations on using data gathered via social media sites are coming. There are two issues here: complying with current rules, and keeping up with new ones as they are issued. The best advice is to
- U.S. Government Launches Crowdsourcing Site – Sort Of. The White House has launched a new site called We the People. “It allows you to exercise your first Amendment right to petition the government directly. You share your petition on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, your blog, etc., and get other people to sign it. When 5,000 signatures are acquired (has to be within 30 days), White House staff will review it, ensure it is sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response,” the White House Press Office says. Is this a direct line to the White House? Will citizens be able to affect public policy? Maybe, maybe not. How the government plans to use the data collected this way remains unclear. The lesson for marketers: Monitoring social media for issues that could affect your business just got a lot more important. Suppose there is a petition on Facebook today that suggests banning the use of a substance that’s critical to your industry – and just suppose that 5,000 people sign it and it gets submitted to the EPA. How soon will you find out about it? Before – or after – the agency begins formulating new rules? Obviously that’s an extreme case, but the fact that the usually stodgy U.S. government is embracing a rudimentary crowd-sourcing strategy for social media points out important social media has become in shaping public opinion and public policy.
- FINRA Social Media Guidance Preserves Social Media Revolution. The latest guidance on social media for broker dealers, issued in August, underscores the significance of the regulatory burden, but makes it clear that the financial service and insurance industries can use social media. The lesson for marketers: If you work in a regulated industry, keeping up with the nuances and details of agency guidelines is critical. Your trade association may be the best source for information. Here are links to several recent webinars that deal with compliance issues for insurance and financial services. Drawing the Line Online: Professional vs. Personal Use, Marketing & Compliance in a Regulated Environment, FINRA Conference Recap on Social Media.
- Email Open Rates Increase during Q2 2011. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and Epsilon released their Q2 2011 North America Email Trends and Benchmarks Results, which show an increase in email open rates of 0.4 percent from Q2 2010, and click rates were directly in line with the same time last year. The results are based on an analysis of 7.7 billlion emails sent by Epsilon on behalf of its clients in April, May, and June 2011 (approximately 130 participating clients across industries). The lesson for marketers: Email remains a powerful marketing tool, even as social media increases its reach and relevance. The medium has evolved, however. A white paper published last week by one of Epsilon’s strategic marketing partners, Distribion, focuses on some of the trends and offers tips for achieving better results through careful timing and message design.