March 2011 Archives

Who Needs a Pay Wall?

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LA Times_2.jpg
With so much talk about the new pay wall the New York Times introduced last week I'd like to turn your attention to a publication that has no pay wall, the paper of record for my own city, one I read regularly, the Los Angeles Times.

The image above is a screen capture of the Times (yes, New York, we call ours that too) home page, over the weekend. It had an impressive ad buy on display Sunday from cable channel Showtime. The ads nearly blanket the page -- from the innovative vertical banners running up each side of the main content window, to the aqua blue margins, to no fewer than three banner placements above the scroll -- this is an ad that's hard to miss. The creative seemed to give equal billing to shows Nurse Jackie and the United States of Tara (which I've always thought was a funny name, considering that its star is an Aussie, but anyway ...).

Because I'm a lazy blogger, I haven't done the legwork to know whether the L.A. Times has a pay wall slated for the future, but an ad like this one for Showtime sure appears to be a sign of life for ad revenue. Let's hope there's enough coming in to keep any plans for a subscription model at bay indefinitely.

The only thing I find a bit puzzling about this buy is the timing of it. It ran on Sunday, which strikes me as a particularly old-media time to run an ad. You buy an ad in the Sunday paper because it's the biggest circulation day. You want to be in the Sunday paper without a doubt. But why do an online buy that day? I've spent years running websites and have looked at a lot of analytics. For the great majority of sites, peak traffic hours mimic work habits. People browse when they are at work, and traffic is highest during work hours. For most of the sites I've run, Wednesday at 3pm has been traffics golden hour. Sunday is usually one of the worst days in terms of traffic.

Either way, good on you, L.A. Times, for giving your advertisers a reasonable amount of exposure without cutting into the content. And since you're basically the only game in town in this country's second largest city, let's hope this is enough to keep you afloat.

 

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Twitter turns five today, spurring a whole lot of analysts, writers and users to take a look back. But I'd like to use the opportunity to look at the service in the here and now, and maybe even into the future.

Despite the emergence of the term "social media" to describe a whole array of sites that somehow connect us -- from FourSquare to LinkedIn to Tagged and so on -- for most people social media means Facebook and Twitter. They are the two 300-pound gorillas in the space, and all the other players are just hopefuls.

But for as often as these two services are lumped together, the pace at which they are diverging can only be described as break-neck. These days Twitter behaves much more like a broadcast medium than an interactive platform, with a small minority responsible for the lion's share of the content. More specifically, 22.5 percent of members generate 90 percent of the tweets, according to a report last month from eMarketer. And if you drill down into the statistics even further, it becomes clear that a tiny minority of power users produce a tidal wave of output. It's wall-to-wall coverage just like a 24-hour TV news channel. And just like a news channel the source is a mere handful of hosts, Twitter's power users.

Today, to celebrate turning the big five, Twitter is touting a nice little celebrity-laden video. Notables from Snoop Dogg, who raps elequently about Martha Stewart, to Martha Stewart, who raps not at all about Snoop Dogg, talk about how they use the micro-blogging service. But the most telling quote comes from someone who is more Web celeb than household name. Wine guru Gary Vaynerchuk's kicker quote says it best: "I use Twitter to listen."

I got the idea for this post from a conversation I had with an old friend, Steve, who said he really preferred Twitter to Facebook. He said he liked the way people were more prone to share information on Twitter, where on Facebook it was all pictures of his friends' kids and a line about what they ate for breakfast. His comment took me aback a bit, because being more of a Facebook user myself, the pictures of kids are what I like about the service. I get the news from news outlets like the L.A. Times website, and I turn to social media for news about my friends. Clearly, Steve, like millions of Twitter's members, relies on Twitter as a source of news and information. I began to wonder if maybe my love of Facebook was just a girl thing.

But in reality, it's not fair to say Twitter is a just a guy thing. In fact both services are dominated by women, though Twitter slightly less so than men. That said, I mentioned we might look into the future with this post, and so we do. If the two social networks continue on the divergent courses they've been on in the past year, then perhaps my headline will prove prophetic, and whether it's Facebook or Twitter that dominates your life will depend on the status of your Y chromosome -- or lack thereof.

Or maybe another service will emerge that appeals to both genders.

The recipe for creating a Facebook "like" is complex. It's a sprinkling of "I already like your brand and want my friends to know it," and a dash of "I hope I get a free coupon." There is a little bit of "keep in touch," and another half cup of "just curious." Whatever the reasons why consumers click that "like" button, there is value in building a connection between your brand and as many potential customers as possible.

But the quest for likes has its pitfalls. For one, it's a mistake to measure the success of a branded page by its number of likes alone. Engagement, though more difficult to measure, is a much better indicator of success. What good is it to have a high number of likes if your likers are skipping your messages? Are ignoring you? Maybe even hiding you?

You probably have noticed that Facebook allows you to be friends with someone but also hide their messages from your feed. And on the flipside, page administrators can also find out which likers of a branded page are hiding that page. Here's how to do it:

  1. Go to your Insights page (You must be listed as an admin to do so)
  2. At the very top of the page, click on "Old Insights Dashboard"
  3. Scroll to bottom graph "All People Who Like [page name]"
  4. Tick the box for both "Total Likes" and "Hidden from News Feed" 

hidenseek.jpgThe difference between that blue line on the graph and the orange one should give you a grasp of the percentage of your purported fans who are hiding you.

One rule of thumb is that the number of likers who hide your page should remain below 10 percent. Higher than that and you should ask yourself whether you might be holding your likers as prisoners. There might be a compelling reason why they stay liking you, such as a regularly distributed coupon or voucher, but object to receiving your messages.

If you find that the number of your likers who hide you is creeping northward, it might be time to consider your messaging strategy. Are you posting messages to your wall that others might consider boring - or worse - annoying? Is every one of your messages a sales pitch, or do you attempt to incorporate useful information or humor into your stream? Are you creating a two-way conversation, or merely broadcasting your message? Missing the mark on any of these questions could make you more of a pest than a pleasure and could force your highly-valued community of likers ... into hiding.

 

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2010 is the previous archive.

April 2011 is the next archive.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2010 is the previous archive.

April 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.