Kelsey Group: 32% of SMBs Plan to Use Social Media in the Next 12 Months

[praized subtype=”small” pid=”66afa9c1b5e4cd2f613f200ec61d955d” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] just released some interesting data around small merchant social media usage coming from their Local Commerce Monitor study.

Highlights:

  • 9% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) currently use Twitter to market their businesses.
  • 32% of SMBs indicated they plan to include social media in their marketing mix in the next 12 months by using a page on a social site such as Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace.
  • 39% of SMBs plan to include customer ratings or reviews on their own Web sites
  • 31% plan to include links or ads placed on social sites or blogs.
  • The study revealed adoption of social media by SMBs is more prevalent among younger businesses. For example, 16% of SMBs that have been in business for less than 3 years use Twitter to promote themselves

What it means: still think real-time conversation and social media for small merchants is a fad or a dream? Think again. We’re only seeing the point of the iceberg. SMB adoption is now on the radar screen and will grow tremendously in the next 18 months.

Preliminary Agenda for Next Week's Facebook Garage Montreal

I’m part of the organizing committee for the next Facebook Garage Montreal. The bilingual event is happening next Monday at [praized subtype=”small” pid=”96423266cd5145552decb67454b13e4e” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] and is sponsored by Facebook and Intel.

We’ve just released a preliminary agenda.

  • 5pm to 6:30pm: buffet, socializing
  • 6:30pm to 6:45pm: opening remarks – Louise Clements, Head of Sales, Facebook Canada
  • 6:45pm to 7:15pm: first keynote – Hell’s Kitchen: Facebook comme plateforme de jeux vidéos, Emmanuel Delmoly, co-founder Social2U
  • 7:15pm to 7:45pm: Facebook Advertising 101 – speaker to be confirmed
  • 7:45pm to 8:15pm: break
  • 8:15pm to 9:15pm Social Marketing / Facebook Connect
  • 9:15pm to 10:00pm: second keynote – Matt Wyndowe, Facebook (Palo Alto, CA) – Topic to be confirmed

Should be an exciting evening. The event is free and you can register here.

Preliminary Agenda for Next Week's Facebook Garage Montreal

I’m part of the organizing committee for the next Facebook Garage Montreal. The bilingual event is happening next Monday at [praized subtype=”small” pid=”96423266cd5145552decb67454b13e4e” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] and is sponsored by Facebook and Intel.

We’ve just released a preliminary agenda.

  • 5pm to 6:30pm: buffet, socializing
  • 6:30pm to 6:45pm: opening remarks – Louise Clements, Head of Sales, Facebook Canada
  • 6:45pm to 7:15pm: first keynote – Hell’s Kitchen: Facebook comme plateforme de jeux vidéos, Emmanuel Delmoly, co-founder Social2U
  • 7:15pm to 7:45pm: Facebook Advertising 101 – speaker to be confirmed
  • 7:45pm to 8:15pm: break
  • 8:15pm to 9:15pm Social Marketing / Facebook Connect
  • 9:15pm to 10:00pm: second keynote – Matt Wyndowe, Facebook (Palo Alto, CA) – Topic to be confirmed

Should be an exciting evening. The event is free and you can register here.

Dave Swanson: "Facebook and Twitter are Both an Opportunity and a Threat to Directory Publishers"

This is a post about the Kelsey Group’s DMS ’09 conference which happened last week in Orlando.

Dave Swanson Photo

Day two of the DMS ’09 conference saw a brilliant keynote from Dave Swanson, Chairman and CEO of R.H. Donnelley (RHD). After hearing sobering thoughts from European Yellow Pages leaders at the EADP conference in May (see The Wake-Up Call: “Unless We Change, on the Long Run, We Are Doomed to Disappear” (EADP 2009)), I was really looking forward Swanson’s keynote given the situation RHD found itself in (they filed for Chapter 11 protection in May) after having an amazing stock market ride in the last few years. the Kelsey Group “wanted someone who has had his butt kicked” for this keynote, someone who could explain what happened and what’s ahead for the industry and he didn’t disappoint.

Here’s what happened according to Dave Swanson:

  • The economy
    • “It changed everything for everybody. If you look at the timing of ad sale declines, it compares exactly with the economic contraction. If you index Google’s financial results with RHD’s, you realize they have suffered as well. We’ve seen broad-based sales compression. We had enjoyed the longest growth period in history, but it created unsustainable bubbles: housing bubble, advertising bubble, credit bubble (with mergers & acquisitions and leverage buyouts). It was an unsustainable situation because we needed to refinance regularly. There was no money left after the financial bubble burst. When I’m asked “Dave, do you regret this strategy?”  I answer, “no, absolutely not. RHD might not exist today.” “
  • Secular changes
    • “Print competition is intense. We keep pointing out the shortcomings of each other’s products. Other local media companies (i.e. newspapers) pitch “against” Yellow Pages also. Media Fragmentation didn’t help as well. Finally, the media trumpeted “no one uses the Yellow Pages anymore” and we became an “environmental hazard” for a segment of the population. We have been very good at shooting ourselves in the foot.”
  • Execution
    • New products did not deliver and had a high rate of churn.

Where are we?

  • “I hope the freefall from the economy has stopped but I think that we’re a long way to go before “main street” joins the current Wall street rally”
  • ” We need multi-platform solutions, more creative pricing, more transparency”
  • “Competitive environment is intense. We could see a shake-out. For RHD, the worst is behind us. Financial house must be in order.”
  • “We need to challenge the premise of our business”. He gave as example: “do we need separate Internet Yellow Pages platforms and ventured to answer “I don’t think so”.
  • “We will never dominate consumer usage as we did in the past.”
  • “We need to become have a service-centric model vs. product-centric model.” RHD’s objective is to be the number one provider of directional services in the eyes of the SMBs in the market they serve. Yellow Pages publishers are provisioning more keywords on search engines with small businesses than anyone else. Because of the channel, this has been a natural extension of their existing product.
  • “Execution hasn’t been very good, but we’re getting better and we’ll dominate”
  • “Publishers have to look at micro-strategy, geo-vertical opportunities. It’s not one large homogeneous search business.”

Swanson observed it would be very easy to be pessimistic but his philosophy is that when things are going very good, something very bad is about to happen and vice-versa. The next several years will be all about climbing out of the hole but “it’s going to be a hell of lot more fun than the last two years”.

Following his keynote, I sat down with Dave Swanson for an exclusive interview.

On print innovation

I asked Swanson if he thought there was innovation left in the print product, what he thought a print product would look like in 5 years. He said he thought the print book really works in smaller markets and that he didn’t see much change needed there. But he confirmed he thought the format wasn’t right for urban centers. He suggested limiting geography (smaller scopes), having more relevant information in the books (possibly a subset of headings instead of all of them) and more specialty products. But he also added Yellow Pages were not supposed to be glamorous. They have to be efficient.

On online innovation: verticalization & micro-strategy

I then asked RHD’s CEO where he thought DexKnows.com, their main online property, was going. He said he was extremely happy to have Sean Greene heading their RHD Interactive division (I interviewed Sean a few months ago), bridging print and online culture. He mentioned DexKnows’ future lies in two directions: verticalization and Micro (which I would call hyperlocal)

Verticalization is the improvement of high-potential verticals within Dexknows.com. It means depth of content, aggregate categories/headings and a combination of expert and user content. He gave the example of “wedding” as a meta-category, an interesting vertical.

Micro is recreating a community, a subdivision, a neighborhood within Dexknows.com (or maybe more “local” brands. He wasnt’ allergic to trying other online brands for this initiative). User recommendations would play a big role there. When asked about aggregating hyperlocal information that’s not directly merchant-related (classifieds, neighborhood information, municipal government info, etc.), he remarked that a lot of community information already appears in the print Yellow Pages and said there’s no reason why it shouldn’t appear online.

On social media

Swanson acknowledged that social media has the potential to be a big disruptor in local search (which made me very happy as I’ve been saying that for a couple of years). He called social media “word of mouth on steroid”. He confirmed that Facebook and Twitter are both an opportunity and a threat to directory publishers.

On combating the negative industry press

RHD’s CEO wasn’t too optimistic about industry-wide efforts to combat negative press. He suggested we change the way directory publishers market themselves and start talking to SMBs more to improve their image (instead of doing consumer advertising to garner usage).

What it means: perfect tone for the Swanson’s keynote. Things are not going as well as they used to in the Yellow Pages industry and it doesn’t serve any purpose to hide it. “We will never dominate consumer usage as we did in the past” is most realistic statement I’ve heard in industry recently. At the same time, the industry has tremendous assets it can leverage starting with the direct relationship publishers have with small advertisers. Very happy that RHD is looking at improving the print product in large urban areas. I believe there’s a lot of leg left in a print product that’s tailored to an urban consumer. Ecstatic that Swanson is talking seriously about social media. I sometimes felt like I was preaching in the desert in the last two years… We’ll have to follow RHD closely as they come out of Chapter 11 in the next few months.

Social Sites a Trusted Resource for Decision Making

Users put great trust in their social networks. One-half of Beresford respondents said they considered information shared on their networks when making a decision—and the proportion was higher among users ages 18 to 24, at 65%.

“This is a particularly important finding,” according to the report, “in that it suggests that these younger users have integrated social networks into their lives to such an extent that it has become a trusted resource for their decision making.”

via Social Site Users Depend on Their Networks – eMarketer.

What it means: as I mentioned a few days ago, social networks = friends = trusted source. Younger internet users will continue trusting their friends and using social tools for recommendations in the future.

Local Advertisers Planning a Big Increase in Social Media Usage

This is a post about the Kelsey Group’s DMS ’09 conference which happened last week in Orlando.

In a presentation titled “Understanding Users and Advertisers – A Deep Dive Into Exclusive TKG Data”, Steve Marshall from BIA/Kelsey provided attendees with some juicy nuggets of information from the 13th wave of their SME Local Commerce Monitor study (and the 6th wave of their user study). This study looks at SMB advertisers and users trends.

Advertiser highlights:

  • The latest wave tells us that SMBs have an on-going need for new customers, are using more digital/online media and plan a big increase in the use of ‘Web 2.0’ capabilities.
    • Penetration of online media exceeds traditional media for the first time
    • Major increases planned in usage of video, social sites and corporate blogs to promote their company

Advertisers Planning a Big Increase in Social Media Usage - Kelsey Group Local Commerce Monitor 2009

User highlights:

  • Search engines continue to have the greatest penetration of information sources for finding local goods and services
    • 90% of consumers surveyed use search engines for that purpose
    • newspapers are up but print Yellow Pages and Internet Yellow Pages are down
  • According to the study, only 16% of consumers trust “social networking sites” as information for local shopping. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m convinced that if we were to ask how many people “trust their friends” for information on local shopping, that number would go up drastically. Social networking sites = friends!
  • 68% of consumers surveyed said that had at least one profile in a social network site
  • 47% think that product/service ratings are important, an increase of 5 percentage point since the last wave

Calgary.com: Real-Time Local Search Powered By Praized

I’m very happy to announce the launch of a new real-time local search site with Yellow Pages Group: Calgary.com. This beta site indexes, aggregates, displays and makes searchable all types of local Calgary activities (merchant reviews, local news, advertiser activities, classified ads, municipal news, “tweets” from Calgary, etc.). Consumers landing on the home page can see at a glance what’s going on in Calgary right now. Users can also search in the activity stream to find last five activities around specific keywords/topics. At the same time, when searching, users see YellowPages.ca listing results (when the search is for local merchants) and have the ability to vote and comment on their favorite stores.

Calgary.com Realtime Home

For example:

Want to see what restaurants people are talking about?

Want to discover what people are saying at the airport today?

Want to buy a Chevrolet in Calgary? See classified ads and local merchants selling them.

Want to know the results of the recent local by-election? See a mix of tweets and news reports.

As I’ve stated before, I believe the future of local search will be in real-time, showing consumers everything that’s happening in their city, in their neighborhood, about their local merchants. Facebook’s (and Twitter’s) enormous growth in the last two years has seen the emergence of a new usage pattern around real-time activity streams and real-time search but the main issue with those popular social sites is that they’re not local enough. Directory publishers are local and can compete in this new real-time world.

This prototype, a first in the Yellow Pages industry, showcases three of our enterprise modules: local activity stream, real-time local search and social Yellow Pages. Partnering with Praized Media provides Yellow Pages Group access to key social media elements like Yellow Pages Answers, real-time local activity and local search, merchant reviews and user recommendations.  Congrats to the Praized development team for delivering this project and to Yellow Pages Group for trusting us with this project!

Update: Greg Sterling says “Praized appears to be hitting its stride with implementations like this.”

My Thoughts on the Friendfeed Acquisition by Facebook

Facebook, the leading global social network, dropped a bomb on the sociosphere on Monday by announcing they had bought the very innovative social streaming service called Friendfeed. I gave an interview to Marketing Magazine (Canada’s Advertising Age) explaining the rationale behind the acquisition. Here are the highlights:

  • First and foremost, Facebook bought a great engineering team and excellent technology assets. The 12 Friendfeed employees and co-founders were innovating at a breakneck speed. Two of the co-founders, Bret Taylor and Paul Buchheit, used to work at Google where they respectively created Google Maps and Gmail.
  • It’s all about the search war. Google vs. Facebook. Algorithmic search vs. real-time search. Machines vs. humans. Facebook had pretty much been beaten by Twitter on the real-time activity and real-time search front. Rumor has it that when Twitter turned down a rich offer from Facebook to buy them, Facebook decided to take a better look at Friendfeed.
  • The transaction has been estimated at close to $50 million by the Wall Street Journal. According to the newspaper, “The company paid roughly $15 million in cash, with the rest in Facebook stock that vests over several years and would be worth roughly $32.5 million based on the $6.5 billion common valuation an investor recently placed on the company.”
  • Such an exit for Friendfeed is very good given that their traffic had plateau-ed at 1 million users per month, they didn’t have any revenues and they never managed to become popular outside of the Silicon Valley digerati. They created amazing and innovative technology though.
  • The founders did not sell because they wanted to cash out. They already did that with their Google options (Buchheit was employee #23 at the Mountain View search engine). They must have felt integrating Facebook was the right move at the right time.
  • The Friendfeed team will pretty much become Facebook’s R&D department.

What it means: Smart move by Facebook. Very good move for Friendfeed. Working inside Facebook will give the Friendfeed team more resources to execute on their innovative ideas. It gives Facebook great technology, amazing people and faster execution.

I’ve seen similar moves happen in the Local Media industry in the last few months. For example,

  • Truvo, a directory publisher in 6 European countries, acquired yelloyello, a startup from the Netherlands, in December 2008. Truvo transformed yelloyello into Truvo Labs to leverage social media technologies within the Truvo network.
  • AOL, who recently restructured to put “local” as one of their corporate strategic pillars, bought Patch, a US citizen journalism startup, and Going.com, a US local event portal in June 2009.
  • Herold, the Austrian Yellow Pages owned by European Directories, made a strategic investment in Tupalo, a social Yellow Pages site from Austria, in June 2009.
  • Canpages, a Canadian directory publisher, acquired ZipLocal, a social Yellow Pages destination site in June 2009.

Morgan Stanley: "Teenagers Don't Use Business Directories". Nothing New Except…

Morgan Stanley, the US research firm, released a report this week titled “How Teenagers Consume Media“. Written by a 15 year-old summer intern, the document explains what is relevant and what is not in today’s media/technology world from a teenager’s point of view.

Highlights:  

On newspapers: “No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper, as most do not have the time and cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while they could watch the news summarised on the internet or on TV. ”  The intern adds that most of his friends do read the free newspapers like Metro.

On radio: “Most teenagers nowadays are not regular listeners to radio. ” They listen to online radio though.

On social networking: ” Most teenagers are heavily active on a combination of social networking sites. Facebook is the most common, with nearly everyone with an internet connection registered and visiting >4 times a week. Facebook is popular as one can interact with friends on a wide scale. On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter.”

On directories: ” Directories Teenagers never use real directories (hard copy catalogues such as yellow pages). This is because real directories contain listings for builders and florists, which are services that teenagers do not require. They also do not use services such as 118 118 because it is quite expensive and they can get the information for free on the internet, simply by typing it into Google. “

On mobile phones: ” Mobile Phones 99% of teenagers have a mobile phone and most are quite capable phones. “

What it means: more anectodal than data-driven evidence, this report nonetheless confirms many things we take for granted now but it still holds a few surprises. The observation that teenagers don’t listen to radio regularly is, to a certain extent, a surprise to me. Radio used to play a very important social role when I was young but this might explain why we hear so much ’80s music on commercial radio these days. The industry don’t cater to youngsters. They’re trying to hold on to listeners from 20 years ago. A bit of a surprise on the cold reaction to Twitter as well but then again, they’re not prepared to build a second social graph after having spent so much time building one on Facebook.

On the other side, I’m not surprised at all by newspapers and business directories usage. I suspect very little teenagers (except for me!) used to read print newspapers in the past and Yellow Pages usage is usually driven by life events, most of them happening after you leave your parent’s house. So, no surprise there. I think what should concern directory publishers is two-fold. First, teenagers think that Google will provide them with the answers Yellow Pages used to provide to their parents on business searches. So, in effect, as Seth Godin said, “Google is the Yellow Pages”. Second, because they’re heavy users of Facebook, teenagers now bring their network of friends (their social graph) along with them wherever they go (including with their mobile device). That proximity enables easy word-of-mouth recommendations. So, what does that mean for publishers? It means they need to embed themselves wherever these kids will go for references as you might not be able to convince them to use your core web site.

Morgan Stanley: "Teenagers Don't Use Business Directories". Nothing New Except…

Morgan Stanley, the US research firm, released a report this week titled “How Teenagers Consume Media“. Written by a 15 year-old summer intern, the document explains what is relevant and what is not in today’s media/technology world from a teenager’s point of view.

Highlights:  

On newspapers: “No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper, as most do not have the time and cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while they could watch the news summarised on the internet or on TV. ”  The intern adds that most of his friends do read the free newspapers like Metro.

On radio: “Most teenagers nowadays are not regular listeners to radio. ” They listen to online radio though.

On social networking: ” Most teenagers are heavily active on a combination of social networking sites. Facebook is the most common, with nearly everyone with an internet connection registered and visiting >4 times a week. Facebook is popular as one can interact with friends on a wide scale. On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter.”

On directories: ” Directories Teenagers never use real directories (hard copy catalogues such as yellow pages). This is because real directories contain listings for builders and florists, which are services that teenagers do not require. They also do not use services such as 118 118 because it is quite expensive and they can get the information for free on the internet, simply by typing it into Google. “

On mobile phones: ” Mobile Phones 99% of teenagers have a mobile phone and most are quite capable phones. “

What it means: more anectodal than data-driven evidence, this report nonetheless confirms many things we take for granted now but it still holds a few surprises. The observation that teenagers don’t listen to radio regularly is, to a certain extent, a surprise to me. Radio used to play a very important social role when I was young but this might explain why we hear so much ’80s music on commercial radio these days. The industry don’t cater to youngsters. They’re trying to hold on to listeners from 20 years ago. A bit of a surprise on the cold reaction to Twitter as well but then again, they’re not prepared to build a second social graph after having spent so much time building one on Facebook.

On the other side, I’m not surprised at all by newspapers and business directories usage. I suspect very little teenagers (except for me!) used to read print newspapers in the past and Yellow Pages usage is usually driven by life events, most of them happening after you leave your parent’s house. So, no surprise there. I think what should concern directory publishers is two-fold. First, teenagers think that Google will provide them with the answers Yellow Pages used to provide to their parents on business searches. So, in effect, as Seth Godin said, “Google is the Yellow Pages”. Second, because they’re heavy users of Facebook, teenagers now bring their network of friends (their social graph) along with them wherever they go (including with their mobile device). That proximity enables easy word-of-mouth recommendations. So, what does that mean for publishers? It means they need to embed themselves wherever these kids will go for references as you might not be able to convince them to use your core web site.