Brands Flock To Google+ But Facebook, Twitter Still More Active

Number of people following brands on Google+ (Source: BrightEdge)

From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

More and more brands are staking their claims on Google’s social network, signaling that Google+ is becoming a social marketing staple along with Facebook and Twitter. But they still have far fewer fans and followers than on the two leading networks.

The latest reading on Google’s biggest bet in years comes from BrightEdge, a search engine optimization firm for large brands. According to the company’s new SocialShare Report, three-quarters of the top 100 brands now have Google+ pages, including new arrivals Visa, Hermes, and Wells Fargo. That’s approaching the brand participation on Facebook, at 90%, and Twitter, at 80%.

The number of people following the top 100 brands grew 54% in the last two months, the report said, reaching 12.2 million. That’s far lower than the 150% growth from February through May, but probably not too surprising given the absolute size.

The problem with slower growth, though, is that there are still way fewer followers of most of the top brands on Google+ vs. Facebook and Twitter. …

Read the complete post at The New Persuaders.

About these ads

Viewers Give Apple’s ‘Genius’ Olympic Ads A ‘D’ For Dumb

From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

Apple is well-known for its iconic advertising from the 1984 ad to the “Get a Mac” (“I’m a Mac, I’m a PC”) campaign. And for good reason: They got people’s attention and, each in their time, crystallized Apple’s essential appeal.

The current campaign? Not so much.

The ads, which debuted during the Olympics’ opening ceremony, have come in for scathing reviews. They depict an Apple “genius” from its Genius Bars helping clueless new Mac owners do, well, pretty simple stuff with their Macs.

And that description is the root of the problem in the minds of critics. One especially qualified critic, former Apple adman Ken Segall, offered a litany of reasons why the ads miss the mark, responding to his Apple fanboy alter ego. A couple of them in particular struck me as on the mark based on my own initial reaction:

“Be honest now. That Genius guy is perfectly cast.”

You’re kidding, right? He does an excellent job of fitting the stereotype of an Apple Store Genius, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. These spots are actually cast as if they’re sitcoms — with exaggerated characters like the father-to-be in Labor Day, or the passenger in Mayday, or the sleazy PC store owner in Basically. The spots try to make their points through comedy alone, with little sense of authenticity in characters or situations.

And …

“I did wonder if it was a good idea to make customers seem so clueless.”

Therein lies another problem with this campaign. In the effort to show that the Genius is the most helpful guy in the world, Apple has created customers who, shall we say, are on the dim side. In past ads, Apple has shown “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” simply because Apple products are so easy to use. Now we have thick people who want to be better, but need a Genius to help. Not exactly flattering. 

Read the complete post at The New Persuaders.

Why Would Apple Want To Invest In Twitter–Or Anything Social?

From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

Apparently, Apple has talked with Twitter about investing several hundred million dollars into the company. Depending on whether you accept the New York Times’ version or the later Wall Street Journal’s version, Apple discussed the investment in recent months or last year, though there are no talks currently. (A little bird must have told them.)

Either way, I don’t quite get it. Yes, I see that Apple CEO Tim Cook said recently, “Does Apple need to be social? Yes.” But I don’t understand why. Why does a company that seems to do no wrong–or, when it does, nobody cares–need to be social in any way, shape, or form?

Apple makes great products, of course, but it’s also known for its masterful marketing. And the essence of that marketing is not about trying to spur people to talk about their products, at least not directly. No, it’s about trying to maintain absolute secrecy to promote a mystique about the next model of the iPhone, the iPad, the Mac.

Then people feel empowered, if sometimes to Apple’s annoyance, to talk their fool heads off. That builds so much buzz that, as we know so well by now, almost any new product has people camping overnight in front of Apple stores to be among the first to buy it. Anything that companies do on Facebook or Twitter to promote buzz looks positively lame next to this.

Oh, I know about the failure of its one attempt at a social product, Ping, the social network around music. And that failure made precisely zero difference in how well Apple’s business is doing. Zero.

As far as I can tell, Apple–or, what matters more, its customer base–is already plenty social by any definition that’s useful to Apple. It’s not just “let’s poke” and “let’s tweet.” Apple customers love their company, and they find every last opportunity they can to tell the world about their undying love. They also pile on and beat to a virtual pulp anyone who dares to suggest that any of Apple’s products are not utterly perfect. If companies on Facebook have fans, Apple has the originals: fanatics. …

Read the complete post and tell me why I’m wrong at The New Persuaders.

Marketers Send Facebook Message In Q2: Show Us

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Getty Images North America via @daylife)

From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

Facebook may have disappointed investors with its first earnings report as a public company, but the results also reflect disappointment among an even more important group of constituents: marketers and agencies.

It’s not that Facebook did badly on the sales front. It exceeded admittedly dampened expectations, not to mention hitting the Street’s profit target. Nor do the folks who write the checks to run ads on Facebook spend much time watching FB on the stock ticker. “Whether the stock is up or down is not a big concern,” says David Berkowitz, VP of emerging media at Japanese ad giant Dentsu’s digital agency 360i.

What is? Results. While Facebook today trotted out plenty of stats and examples of success stories for the Sponsored Stories that it clearly views as the most effective ad it offers, the company hasn’t yet managed to close the deal for many marketers and agencies. “Facebook has to do a better job of articulating the value of its advertising to the brands,” says Heather Pidgeon, VP of services for iProspect, a digital agency owned by Aegis Group. “They have yet to say, ‘This type of advertisement works for this type of advertiser.'” …

Read the full post at The New Persuaders.

LIVE: Facebook Shares Plunge On Disappointing Q2 Earnings

English: Mark Zuckerberg, Founder & CEO of Fac...

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

Facebook managed to hit the second-quarter earnings numbers investors had expected, but that wasn’t nearly good enough as shares plunged in after-hours trading.

The social network earned a non-GAAP 12-cent profit, on target with expectations, on revenues of $1.18 billion, the latter up 32% and a tad above estimates.

Ad revenue was up 28%, to $992 million, well above analysts’ forecasts, though still below the first quarter’s growth rate. Facebook suffered a net loss of $157 million, or 8 cents a share, largely because of accounting for employee stock plans post-IPO.

Shares rose as much as 6% in extended trading initially, but then quickly fell back almost 11%. That’s probably at least partly because Facebook didn’t offer a forecast, at least ahead of the conference call. They fell more than 8% at the market close today. They now sit at an all-time low of just under $25. That’s 37% below the $38 IPO price.

A quick take from Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry: “Overhyped and underdelivered.”

Here’s what CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives had to say about the quarter in the company’s first earnings conference call: …

Read the complete post at The New Persuaders.

Don’t Pay Any Attention To Facebook’s Q2 Earnings Report

From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

To hear almost everyone tell it, Facebook’s earnings results Thursday will be a huge test of whether it will become the blockbuster business success so many investors have bet on. “Facebook Efforts on Advertising Face a Day of Judgment,” intones the New York Times. “Big financial test for Facebook,” blares the dead-tree version of the hometown Mercury News. “There is a lot on the line,” writes the Wall Street Journal.

It’s all a crock. Manufactured journalistic drama. Not that any quarter for such a fast-growing, newly public, highly influential, and closely watched company is unimportant. Of course it’s important. Especially given the underwhelming IPO, investors have a right to information that might tell them if their shares will be heading up or down.

But this won’t be a bellwether for Facebook’s long-term future. Fact is, no one should look to this quarter, or even the next, to determine whether Facebook can fulfill expectations that it will become the next Google.

Why? Because it’s too early. Way too early. Nobody, probably including Facebook, yet knows for sure what kind of advertising and marketing works at large scale in social networking. Facebook is clearly experimenting with a variety of ad formats, such as its socially infused Sponsored Stories. Just as clearly, it’s not apparent that it has found its equivalent of Google’s search ad or television’s 30-second spot. …

Read the complete post at The New Persuaders.

Zynga Shares Tank, Down 40% On Q2 Earnings Miss, Lower 2012 Outlook

Image representing Zynga as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

From my Forbes.com blog The New Persuaders:

Unforgiving investors are hammering social games company Zynga in after-hours trading following a disappointing second-quarter earnings report.

Shares were down 38% from Wednesday’s closing price of $5.08 a share–already half their IPO price last December. The swoon appeared to take down Facebook too. Shares in the social network, which reports its second-quarter results Thursday, were down 8% in late trading.

The problem: Zynga, creator of popular games such as FarmVille, Mafia Wars, CityVille, and other Facebook games, provided an outlook that can’t be construed as anything but alarming to investors. In particular, Zynga’s acquisition of mobile games startup OMGPOP, maker of the Draw Something game, now looks unwise. …

Read the complete post at The New Persuaders.

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