Real Time Web Analytics

Monday, March 25, 2013

Marketing with Facebook: Nike vs. Adidas

Marketing Adidas and NikeJust Do It vs. Impossible is Nothing.  Nike and Adidas, both world renowned athletic brands, incredibly successful and mindful of their use of social media.  Their Facebook presence is incredible, together gathering well over 70 million likes on their pages.  These titans use a variety of methods, similar in some ways and differentiated in others which have led them both to successful marketing campaigns on Facebook.

One of the most important things to note about both of these companies strategies is the ability to localize, or target, specific audiences through different pages.  Both Nike and Adidas have pages dedicated to specific shoes, such as the Air Force 1 or the Adidas F50, and have pages dedicated to specific sports ranging from soccer to baseball to cricket.  One distinction that is highly noticeable is that there are Nike pages designed specifically for certain countries, including Nike India and Nike Spain.  While these pages are well followed and updated, it is a redundancy that could be avoided by using Facebook's Post Targeting feature which could control the individuals who can see a post based on their region, language, or other discriminating factors.  This is not to say that this is a failure on Nike's part, just a difference from Adidas's use of Facebook.  From these different pages we can learn different things about these companies use of Facebook, what works, and whats less successful.

Online Marketing NikeStarting with the brands' main pages, there are slight differences in rates of engagement.  Nike, despite having slightly more total likes than Adidas, has an engagement rate of .58% as compared to .71% for Adidas.  While this may appear to be a small difference, these numbers represent thousands of people liking, commenting, and sharing content on a page which then gets re-posted into those friends' news feeds.  Each additional view of content represents a free advertisement, and not just to any consumer, but instead to consumers who are statistically more likely to enjoy the content shared or commented upon by the viewers friend.

So whats different?  The two pages descriptions vary dramatically, far more than would be anticipated. Where Nike's is simply a short list of contact numbers and hours of availability, Adidas's is a basic overview of what the company is all about followed by a large legal disclaimer about the rights of those posting on their page, and further no external link to a main web page or support numbers.

Next would be the cover photos.  Nike seems to dominate in this category.  It updates its cover photos more often, and with images that on average generate more likes and shares, despite being atop the page for shorter amounts of time.  Additionally, where Adidas might use its cover photos to represent its entire brand, Nike contrasts this with inspiring pictures that promote a new product or marketing campaign.  With this kind of promotion it generates new interest in its page, its product.  Adidas, though it may have as many star athletes on its cover, does not generate as much interest in this domain.

The profile picture is another interesting comparison.  Though neither company updates is profile picture in any kind of regular fashion, Adidas is guilty of not updating it at all, having the same picture for almost a year.  Nike on the other hand changes its picture to various swooshes and featured products.  Surprisingly, neither page out performs the other in quantity of likes or shares of profile pictures.  These different strategies can be seen as equally effective in promoting the page.

Comparative Statistics Nike and Adidas
Comparing total likes for Nike and Adidas over last 20 posts
So then page content must explain the differences in the amount of engagement between the two pages.  Looking at the last 20 posts by each page it instantly becomes clear what has happened, but perhaps not how it might be expected.  In the last 20 posts by Nike, the posts have gathered over 129000 likes and 18200 shares.  This is vastly greater than the slightly more than 59600 likes and 4300 shares gathered by Adidas's last 20 posts.  Yet, Adidas is the one with greater social engagement.  Whats going on is the date range of these posts.  The timeline for these 20 posts for Nike ranges from January 17th through March 27th, a period of over three months, while Adidas's last 20 posts have all been posted since March 4th.  Only 7 of Nike's last 20 posts have been done since March 4th.  This perfectly explains the anomaly about the amount of engagement recorded on the pages sites.  Adidas receives constant doses of attention from its followers, which in turn actually supplies larger engagement than Nike's posts which generate larger interest.  This goes to support the idea that information online has an expiration date.  If it is not updated enough it goes bad, and people stop checking it.  So despite having fewer followers, by abiding by this rule, Adidas outdoes Nike for its overall performance with the followers it has.  Why it has less followers is a harder question to answer and one that won't be addressed here.

Online Marketing Adidas
All in all it is an interesting comparison.  Nike produces more exciting content, that drives more followers to engage and share it, while Adidas constantly provides decent content, that keeps its followers coming back for more.  In the end, more updates trumps better ones and Adidas's marketing strategy is leading it to connect with more potential consumers through their Facebook page.   Any company could apply this same lesson, that more is simply better.  Sacrificing a little quality to produce more material to excite your followers is what will drive up those important statistics and provide you with valuable feedback.

An important note is that there is a lot of overlap between who is liking and sharing these posts, be it on one page, or even between them.  So the statistics provided cannot be seen as entirely independent.

Do you think this is a definitive conclusion on who is doing a better job on marketing with Facebook?  Share your thoughts, comment on the post!

Also, feel free to check out their Facebook pages and websites below:
Nike Facebook
Adidas Facebook

Online Marketing and GoPro, a Case Study

Online Marketing with GoPro

The GoPro. Most people have heard of it - the "World's Most Versatile Camera", the all sport, all conditions camera. practically indestructible, waterproof, and creates epic videos and some extraordinary photos. And most people have heard of it through the company's exceptional online marketing. Understanding what makes GoPro's campaign successful, and the lessons it has for other companies are bountiful.

Search Engine Optimization, SEO, and GoPro

GoPro has five main web pages, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram, YouTube page, and an official website. The company, which has been around since 2002, has only really launched into the public eye in the past three or four years. And that doesn't happen by chance. Their Facebook page was created in early 2009, and since then they've gathered almost 5 million likes on their page, gaining a million every four to six months since mid 2011. Their twitter page, which has been around since at least June 2012 (though it is hard to determine their actual account creation date), has over 500,000 followers. On Instagram they have a few more followers than twitter, but still in the 500,000 range, was created in March of 2012. And lastly on YouTube, they have over 700,000 followers, and over 220,000,000 video views.

Additionally Google or Bing searches for "HD Camera", "Sport Camera" let alone HD or Sport Video Camera all have GoPro in the number one spot. And that doesn't happen by chance either. The market for HD cameras and for sport cameras is massive, with many large competitors varying from Nikon to the Contour+. And clearly the company reaps direct profits from being the number one hit on these sites.

GoPro Ski PicIn GoPro's "about us" video they twice refer to the online experience. The CEO mentions how the companies vision is to enable consumers to "document their lives and share it online" and goes on to mention that the "most personally satisfying thing is going on the Facebook page" and seeing just how many people share their stories online. Beyond the brand of GoPro, the company has established a social network of people connecting and communicating their stories. This cannot be undervalued.

But how did they do it? Why did GoPro become so successful. Well, a few reasons. Firstly they embraced the number one rule of online marketing. They created not just good, but awesome content. They created content worth sharing. Simply having a product that enables users to have an awesome experience is not enough, nor is even having a product that records having an awesome experience. There are loads of other cameras on the market, and not a ton of features that make the GoPro so much superior of a product than others in its category, especially at its price point. However, GoPro created avenues for its customers and their friends to share their experiences.

On Facebook and Twitter they have a minimum of three daily posts. A daily video, photo, and their promotional "Everything we make" daily giveaway. On top of that, they have GoPro users sharing their videos on their Facebook page and tweeting about their awesome videos including "#GoPro". Even further, they often post content about celebrities and athletes using their products, generating even more interest. Online content gets old fast. By constantly updating their page with awesome content, and having such a high standard, users are compelled to constantly check their sites and watch their material. Seemingly everything that GoPro posts online gets hundreds, if not thousands of likes, and dozens if not hundreds of shares, not to mention countless comments. And that goes on daily.
Notably that takes a large investment. The daily giveaway costs them upwards of $700 (retail), annually that's over $250,000. Even if they could produce the products for half of that, its still a huge investment on something that is only accessible online. Additionally they have to have staff go through submitted material for daily photos and videos, and constantly update these pages.

GoPro CameraThis large investment is only sustainable if its paying off. Which, undoubtedly it is. The daily giveaway used to be weekly, but with increase demand for the product and increased sales, giving away a GoPro might actually be the best way to encourage someone else to buy it. And this is a key lesson for other companies as well. A giveaway attracts attention to a product not only online, but when the user gets it as well. When a friend sees someone watching a GoPro video, or using the camera to record some activity they will be much more likely to trust the brand, as opposed to doing the additional research on GoPro's competitors, despite price or any slight differences in features. The constant barrage of content only intensifies the likelihood that someone sees GoPro content instead of a competitors.

But the return on investment does not stop there. By securing the number one sport for not only major searches, but also for more specific ones such as "Helmet Sport Camera" and "Surfing HD Camera" consumers are more likely to not only trust their brand on that alone, but also click on their website.

Inevitably one would say, that they can only do all of this because they have an incredible product, a product that can go viral, or that they captured the market first. And while these are important considerations, they do not explain why other camera companies fail to do the same thing. While there is an increase in attempts to do so Nikon's page is filled with cool photos from its various cameras, but drastically less user engagement. Contour, one of GoPro's main competitors, has one daily post on Facebook, no giveaway, far fewer tweets on Twitter, no Instagram, and a shadow of GoPro's YouTube page. As a result, far less engagement, less opportunities for potential customers to hear about the product, and an impression that content made with the Contour isn't really worth sharing.

Marketing Competition with AMD and IntelThese notes can be applied to almost any market. Looking at the computer chips market, Intel has a much more complete and professional online presence than its top competitor AMD (which there is likely little coincidence that you probably haven't heard of). Even Intel offers online giveaways and models what you can do with their products online, gathering an impressive 18,000,000 likes, compared to AMD's pitiful 1,200,000.

Any market can access and create awesome content worth sharing, which is at the heart of online and social media marketing. Giving people reason to produce links to your web pages and providing an awesome online environment means higher search rankings, increased trust, and more customers. Failing to do this just means missing out on some slice of the market's metaphorical pie, and boy does that pie taste good.

GoPro Pages:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Online Marketing with the UCSD Sailing Team

Picture of the UCSD Sailing Team's Facebook PageIn the last post (from mid-February) about the sailing team I mentioned that social media and other online marketing media is used to promote the sailing team.  The sites strive to make people aware of the existence of the team and to connect people to it.  Since then there has been a continuation of pursuing those goals, with a few interesting results, and a decline in both views and engagement of the content.

Overall there has been a decrease in the number of people the Facebook page reaches, however there is only a very slight loss in the number of people who are engaging in the content.  Both of the twitter accounts have gained a slightly larger audience, but not a substantial one.  This has all occurred over the busiest part of the sailing season, correlated with an increase in the number of posts on the pages by myself and other admin.

Graph of declining engagement on Facebook
Since the last post there has been only 4 additional page likes, a drop on the total reach from over 2,000 people to hovering between 500 and 700, and a decline from the peak of over 120 people talking about the team page and content, to just 20 - 40 people engaging with the page.  On Twitter there has yet to be any sort of activity by external users, be it re-tweeting or making a post a favorite.

So what happened?  Mostly, there has been a failure to create content worth sharing.  While the quantity of engagement with the page is comparable to the type of engagement that was going on when the page was reaching well over 1,000 people, the types of engagement has been of lower quality.  Since the last post there have been no shares of content and only a handful of comments.  Instead, the content is only being liked by more people.  However, as my other research has confirmed, a "like" isn't as valuable!

UCSD Sailing Team Sails Fast
I believe there are a couple of reasons the explain why the page's content has become less worthy of shares and comments.  The first is that in the time period that the last post covered the sailing team had hosted a regatta involving lots of alumni, and that included an awesome fundraiser to help fight cancer.  Further we had also entered into a design competition that attracted a fair amount of attention (and which we got runner-up in!).  These events were more meaningful to the UCSD Sailing Community and hence generated more valuable engagement.  Since then the posts have covered the team's results and pictures of the team sailing and socializing.  While interesting and "likable", this content is not worthy of much other engagement.  The second reason I believe that the page has gotten less valuable attention is due to a loss of the viral factor.  In the social media world, winners win.  Once content gets a chunk of attention it shows up in multiple people's news feeds and elsewhere online.  This creates an upward spiral of attention which the team experienced in early February.  Since then the only significant virility the team has seen was due to a cool picture which got nearly 20 likes (see above).

What does this mean going forward? I believe that the current decline will be part of a natural cycle of activity, hopefully building an upward trend in activity.  The page will not constantly have shareable content, as a club sports team we are not designed to invest that sort of energy or resources into the online content.  However, with other exciting events, such as our Pacific Coast Championships coming up, I expect similar results to what was seen in late January and early February.  I also hope to have a contest later on in the year to generate additional interest and awareness of the team that will require sharing of content and add followers on twitter.

Then again, when our page has more activity than the number 1 ranked team in the country (Georgetown Sailing), I guess that's something to be proud of.

Please take the time to comment, I would love some feedback!

And check us out online!
UCSD Sailing Facebook Page
UCSD Sailing Twitter Page
Zombie Sailing Twitter Page

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Further Marketing with Search Engine Optimization

In the last post we looked at the basic mechanics of how search engines work, why its important and how content can be made readable to crawlers and enhance search rankings.  In this post we'll look at creating friendly web page design for crawlers, how to maximize on keyword search.  This content comes from the same article.

While plain text remains the best way for crawlers to index content, there are alternatives while using more complicated mediums such as flash or interactive images to insure that crawlers can follow your content.  Using "alt" text on images, or descriptive text below the image ensure that content is read by the search engine.  Providing transcripts is another way to make audio or video content readable to crawlers.  Further, using the "Cache" feature in google searches you can see exactly what the crawlers see!

Another way to ensure crawlers find all the content on a page is to have all of your pages properly linked through the homepage.  Pages that are important to a sites content, but that remain hidden behind other pages and content may be left abandoned by the crawlers.  Additionally, including anchor text when coding link creation means that the link can be read as content by the crawlers as well.  Pages are also blocked from crawlers due to a variety of circumstances.  This includes content blocked by any type of form submissions, including search forms or boxes, links in javascript, java, flash, plugins, frames, or I-frames, and lastly, pages with hundreds of other links on them.  Keeping these concerns in mind when doing page design will help index your page and boost your rankings.

Using keywords throughout a page is also important in achieving a higher ranking with search engines.  By displaying commonly searched words in titles and in multiple places throughout the page the better the chance of getting onto that first page.  Though at one point keyword abuse was a successful way to receive a high page rank, by stuffing key words into link tags, content, alt text, ect. modern spiders have become intelligent enough to avoid those traps, and now those tactics end up doing more harm than good.

Optimizing key words on a page further helps with its rankings.  By publishing keywords at the beginning of a title, near the top of the page, and 2-3 times on the page in various forms helps cover variations that might be searched later on; however, reposting the same keyword throughout a page does not correlate with higher rankings.  And though meta tags do not boost SEO rankings, their use is recommended to draw traffic to your site, code is easily accessible by searching online.  

Understanding which keywords are important to emphasize requires a lot of tracking and research on the traffic a page is getting.  By knowing what keywords are leading to people clicking on a page and then getting further engagement or profit can lead to further refinement of keyword structuring or importance.  This process requires much hypothesizing and repeating before optimization of keywords can be determined for a particular page.

This article can be accessed here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Introduction to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How SEO plays into online marketing strategiesA popular trend in today's online world is Search Engine Optimization or SEO. The basic goal of this growing field is "improving and promoting a web site in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines." So that when certain key words are input, the site appears closer to the top of the links provided. SEOmoz provides an introduction book of which I will review in a series of posts about the basics of SEO.  This post covers the first three chapters.

SEO is key to accessing consumers and followers.  Being findable means more views to your page which is key to accessing a broader audience, and potentially attracting revenue.  SEO can be reverse engineered to design a website to target consumers based on the words they type into a search engine, or it can be used to simply boost exposure and publicity which may turn into revenue.  Regardless of how it is done or how it works, we all know from personal experience that appearing first in a search means we're more likely to be clicked and our content viewed and used.

Search engines work by utilizing two core concepts, crawling and indexing.  These ideas are initially accessed through links which "crawlers" find by going through literally billion of pages and documents.   This information is then indexed in massive hard drives in databases around the world which is then mined when a user types in their search query into a site such as Google.  

Gaze traffic on Google and Bing search results pagesGoogle, Bing, and Yahoo are then designed to regurgitate two things, relevant information and important information.  In other words they reduce down search results to links that are relevant and then ranks them in order of deemed importance.  Relevance is seen as finding a correlation between the search query and the words on the pages.  Important is more determined by popularity.  Page views, shared links, ect. all contribute to a pages rank, but in the end these factors are plugged into complex algorithms composed of a collection of ranking factors.  

These sites provide some basic tips on how to achieve a higher rank, such as having static or perma-links, descriptive content as to what your page is about (including words that are specifically searched for), and not embedding information in images and other complex rich media as the crawlers are unable to mine.  Designing a page for the typical searcher is also important to improving rankings. By providing a positive experience for the user the site is more likely to get increasingly popular, shared, and hence important to the index.  

Users can be lumped into three categories, those searching to "do", "know", and "go".  Those who are looking to do are part of the group that wants to find a link that will provide them with an activity, access to tickets, find a song on youtube, shop, or otherwise use a service.  Knowing means doing rudimentary research on a topic, be it finding a restaurant, how to remove a stain, or who the 14th president was.  Those looking to go are searchers who want to go to a specific site, such as Facebook or this blog.  By ensuring your site provides direct and simple access to these types of searchers will ensure a better experience for your viewers and increase popularity, driving up search rankings.  This type of web page will also mean easier access for robots and crawlers to read your page and properly index the page creating more access as well.

Loads of research cited in the article support the argument that search engine use is increasing, drives economic activity and is replacing other sources such as the yellow pages, being listed in the first few hits is crucial to getting attention from users, and that being listed in the first few links is also associated with increased trust towards how that page stands in terms of relevance and importance.

However, search engine algorithms have their fair share of short comings.  Crawlers have problems reading images and other non-text content, login and form pages prevent them from accessing content behind them, and a lack of perma-links and poor link structure renders potential useful content as unimportant.  Matching content to search queries is another short coming to the algorithms; posting content on how to catch fish, instead of fishing may result in oversight in indexing, posts using word play or puns is also an effective way to mislead and confuse crawlers.  Further, if a site doesn't have any other pages linking to the content there-in, it may be listed as unimportant, despite any relevance it might have.  Thereby content that is shared becomes more important and higher ranked.

Though SEO has been around for some time now, it continues to be an important and growing field as sites compete more and more for space at the top of a results page.  Understanding this is crucial to promoting pages and drawing attention.

This article can be accessed here.