Hashtag Analytics: which college football team out-hashed the competition?

By Dr. Todd Bacile | December 10, 2013

Social Media Analytics

Twitter HashtagsA winner can be determined between the hash marks — and the hashtags.  This past weekend marked several high-profile NCAA football conference championship games. Your team may have won or lost on the field, but how did it fair in its social media fan engagement? Using the analytic tools at Topsy, I conducted a high-level analysis to assess hashtag frequency on game day: 12/7/2013. I wanted to answer one question: how much did the different fan bases Tweet about their teams?

A Hashtag is a form of demarcation and a method to link content on a specific topic within social media. An analysis of certain hashtags has some business value to brands and organizations. One example is share of voice on social media: how one brand stacks up against another brand’s social media chatter by consumers.

The below statistics and charts are a hashtag analysis with a few confounds, such as #OSU representing Ohio State University and / or Oklahoma State University. These confounds were accounted for to a degree by using alternative hashtags for some teams. It’s also possible for a rival team’s fan base to tweet about a competitor. Nonetheless, the depicted results below make for an interesting conversation, while illustrating hashtag analytics 101.

Auburn vs. Missouri

Auburn won the game and the battle of the hashtag. The #Auburn tweets tallied 55,555 compared to 3,937 for #Missouri.

#Auburn vs #Missouri

Florida State vs. Duke

The Seminoles trounced the Blue Devils on the field — and on the hashtag — en route to the opportunity to win a national championship. #FSU scored 21,990 tweets compared to 5,295 tweets for #Duke.

#FSU vs #Duke

Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State

This was a bitter rivalry to begin with! Oklahoma pulled the upset on the field, yet lost on Twitter: #Oklahoma came up short with 3,649 tweets compared to 8,368 for #OkState. It was an even worse beating if you count some of the 17,936 tweets for #OSU (although some must be attributed to Ohio State University tweets).

#Oklahoma vs #OkState

Stanford vs. Arizona State

Stanford won big on the field but came up short on Twitter: #ASU’s 6,471 tweets edged #Stanford’s 3,486.

#Stanford vs #ASU

Texas vs. Baylor

Baylor shellacked Texas on the field. However, the tweet-off is more unclear. On the one hand #Baylor’s 6,651 tweets easily beat #UT’s 1,034 tweets. On the other hand #Texas produced 8,009 tweets.

#Baylor vs #UT vs #Texas

Ohio State vs. Michigan State

This was arguably the best game on Saturday, with the underdog Michigan State knocking of Ohio State. It was also a very close hashtag contest. #MSU’s 24,593 tweets topped #OSU’s 17,936, but there is a possible confound: some of the #OSU tweets were probably meant for Oklahoma State. #OhioState’s 15,063 tweets topped #MichiganState’s 8,635. Who won? I’m calling this one for Michigan State: a tally of the two Spartan-related hashtags (33,228) barely tops the two Buckeye-related hashtags (32,999).

#MSU vs #OSU

Any surprises?

Dr. Todd Bacile (@toddbacile) is an Electronic Marketing Professor at Loyola University New Orleans by day and a college football fan by night/weekends. He holds a Ph.D. in Marketing from Florida State University. Social Media Marketing Magazine ranks him as one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter. Have a question or comment? Post it here and you will receive a response.

Infographic: 11 Amazing Text Message Marketing Stats

By Dr. Todd Bacile | November 29, 2013

SMS Marketing Statistics

Text Message Marketing Benefits

SMS Infographic Header Image

Consumers use text messaging in their everyday personal communications. Yet, promotional text message marketing (a.k.a. SMS marketing) does have a place in consumers’ lives!

Using mobile for marketing purposes is evolving. QR codes have their uses in the right situations. Mobile showrooming is creating new challenges and opportunities. Mobile apps are currently experiencing massive growth. Yet, a simple 160-character (or less) text message can be a powerful marketing tool. Checkout these 11 statistics in the infographic below:

Text Message Marketing Infographic

Are you ready to begin an SMS campaign?

Dr. Todd Bacile (@toddbacile) is a Marketing Professor at Loyola University New Orleans and holds a Ph.D. in Marketing from Florida State University. Social Media Marketing Magazine ranks him as one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter. Have a question or comment? Post it here and you will receive a response.

Mobile Showrooming in the Age of Information Transparency (Part 2 of 2)

By Dr. Todd Bacile | July 29, 2013

mobile showroomingSynopsis: showrooming is a new challenge that brick-and-mortar retailers are sizing up as a threat. However, this phenomenon must become an accepted part of retail business models in the era of empowered consumers and ubiquitous information. In this two-part post showrooming is juxtaposed to the power of firms versus consumers in the traditional business model and the modern day’s changing information economy. Click here to read Part one.

The Information Economy

Showrooming is one of many phenomenon to cause a seismic shift in the current information economy. Many people think of an economy as goods and services exchanged between firms and consumers. However, an economy also exists for the exchange of information. An information economy is transparent when all information is easily available on-demand.

Web 1.0 was a colossal shift in media, where additional information was available to the masses of consumers. However, in the Web 1.0 environment firms still had much control over the type of information made available online. Easy-to-use publishing tools and social networks had not yet evolved to allow consumers to easily share information. True information transparency was absent.

The shift to Web 2.0 (and Web 3.0) was a major move toward a transparent information economy. Suddenly, all information – any type of information – about even the most remote goods or services could be shared, tweeted, blogged, yelped, pinned, and published by consumers. The all-inclusive power firms had over available information was now supplanted by the power of connected consumers. In effect, consumers are now driving an information economy based on transparency.

The Political Economy of Information

The political economy of information is an early theory researchers discussed concerning the power of information. In this context, “political” is not related to governmental elections. Greek philosophers used the terms political and politics to mean the practice of influencing other people at the individual level. Stemming from this context is the use of the term “political” in social sciences, which represents the ability to influence the behavior of people in a social structure, such as consumers in a target market.

Traditional business models: The power of firms

These early definitions concerning the ability of one party to influence another party carried over well to a marketing and advertising context via mass media. In the early days of television and radio only the largest firms with available resources could afford broad marketing campaigns in these new media of the time. Like the old adage said,  “if it is on T.V. then it must be true,” was believed by many consumers to be a fact. That was power.

In a political economy of information, the group with more information has more power over a group with access to less information. In mass media, firms possessed and controlled more information over a less informed market of consumers. The balance of marketing power was heavily tilted toward companies.

Firms could control a message. Individual consumers could not add information to that message, except verbally in extremely small groups through word-of-mouth. Marketers were in control of information. That was the power possessed over a passive consumer audience. In an information economy, information is the power currency.

Modern day business models: The power of consumers

Showrooming, like connected consumers participating in social networks, is a major power shift from the boardrooms of firms to the mobile devices of consumers. A political economy of information still exists, only now it is consumers who often possess the power currency of more information (or are at least on par with firms). Any business models in use by firms in an attempt to stifle or control the power of connected consumers will be met with strong opposition.

In other words, firms clinging to a traditional business model mentality are failing to adapt to a new electronic business landscape. Such a failure to adapt new strategies will negatively affect the corporate bottom line.

Showrooming, online reviews, social media complaints, status updates, citizen influencers though PeerIndex and Klout, are a few examples of connected consumers creating and accessing more information about goods and services. Decades of firms using a power position to hold and control select information has come to an end in this new age of information transparency.

The Future of Marketing

To date, many firms are still struggling with their loss of power in a marketing and advertising context. Some of the strategies to respond to showroomers, such as price matching, support the philosophy of information transparency. However, a price war may not be the answer. Other strategies, such as information blackout, support a power-play attempt by firms to regain information control. Both types of strategies are not optimal.

One outlook from a noted expert reveals what firms must seek in new marketing strategies moving forward. Lin Humphrey is a mobile marketing researcher, marketing doctoral candidate at Texas Tech University, and was recently awarded the Mobile Marketing Academic of the Year by the Mobile Marketing Association. Speaking specifically about showrooming Lin stated via e-mail, “It’s shifted the power back to the consumer, which forces brands to be more competitive. Price guarantees, easy return policies, added values such as additional warranties at no cost are all things that retailers should be playing up (because the internet retailers are playing on price).”

The key is to offer value-added services. Price matching is a nice move by retailers, but a pure price war between brick and mortar retailers and internet retailers is a war to be won by online firms. As the digital information economy evolves, firms will need to implement strategies other than simple price matching tactics or an attempt to control information access. Create value-added services, value that consumers recognize, and market these added services. That is how to respond to showrooming.

This was part two of a two-part of a showrooming post. You can read part one here.  Comments are welcome!

Todd Bacile (@toddbacile) is a showroomer in his free time and a Marketing Professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He holds a PhD in Marketing from Florida State University. Social Media Marketing Magazine ranks him as one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter. Questions and comments are welcome.

Mobile Showrooming in the Age of Information Transparency (Part 1 of 2)

By Dr. Todd Bacile | July 25, 2013 | Showrooming Part 1 | Part 2

mobile showroomingSynopsis: showrooming is a new challenge that brick-and-mortar retailers are sizing up as a threat. However, this phenomenon must become an accepted part of retail business models in the era of empowered consumers and ubiquitous information. In this two-part post showrooming is juxtaposed to the power of firms versus consumers in the traditional business model and the modern day’s changing information economy.

Showrooming

Statistics show that close to 70% of consumers showroom in a retail store. Out of the consumers who do showroom, close to 25% will purchase the product from a different source if they save 5%-10%. Due to these facts showrooming is being met with combative strategies by firms.

To be clear, showrooming is the act of consumers visiting brick-and-mortar stores and scanning bar codes with a mobile device in an effort to find more information – and perhaps purchase – the product from a competing online retailer. I believe some anti-showroom strategies are shortsighted and I will support this position using a real-world example.

A Showrooming Example

Pre-purchase consumer activity

A friend of mine invited me along in his quest to buy a BBQ smoker at a brick-and-mortar retailer (he knew I was a BBQ guy). Based on the store’s inventory he focused on one smoker in particular. I am a showroomer, so we scanned the bar code. Surprisingly, there was not a product match found by Google. I then typed in the brand and model number, yet found no matches.

This wasn’t my first rodeo. I knew what was happening. Google is never stumped. Despite an inability to access to more online information sources, he made the purchase.

Post-purchase consumer activity

A few days later he was upset. It seems he did some in-depth research after the fact and found a virtually identical product under a different brand name and model number. The highly similar smoker was less expensive.

He told me he felt cheated. He felt duped. He felt as if the brand restricting his access to information cost him his hard earned money. “I’m never going back to that store,” he told me.

Anti-Showroom Strategies

Information blackout: control

Smartphone information blackoutFirms using the strategy above, referred to as information blackout, need to consider the ramifications. Preventing access to information by the retailer in my example is an attempt to control what is usually seen as freely accessible information. Brands accomplish this by blocking cell signals in a retail store or by using custom bar codes that will not link to other products; and therefore, will not produce price comparison results.

Clever, but somewhat of a ruse.

This strategy is akin to the brand saying, “We control our product inventory. And we want to control any comparable information online that is available to you. This is our product in our store – you have no right to find more information in real-time.”

This is clearly a misguided strategy, one that may be beneficial at the single transaction-level, yet harmful for a brand at the cumulative-level sought in long-term relationships.

Information transparency: price matching

smartphone world iconAnother anti-showroom strategy is to price match competitors. This strategy illustrates information transparency – such as a price for a product – is becoming an accepted norm in the modern business landscape.

This strategy is akin to the brand saying, “We don’t care if you view product information and prices from competitors. Go ahead. You won’t find a better deal.” Transparency at its finest.

Older business models devised around a firm controlling available information to a less-powerful consumer audience are being supplanted by new models featuring information transparency. Relying on an older, controlling business model in the age of consumer empowerment and always-on connectivity is a fast method to losing customers.

Click here to read Part Two of this post.

Todd Bacile (@toddbacile) is a showroomer in his free time and a Marketing Professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He holds a PhD in Marketing from Florida State University. Social Media Marketing Magazine ranks him as one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter. Questions and comments are welcome.

Transitioning from Mobile Websites to Mobile Apps

By Todd Bacile | January 28, 2013

Mobile Apps

Mobile ubiquitous connectivity is changing how consumers connect with brands. The proliferation of consumers using mobile websites is ushering in widespread mobile app usage. Whereas mobile apps were once considered quirky, fun, time-saving applications, the truth of the matter is that some website offerings by firms are better through a company’s mobile app. It’s possible mobile apps may ultimately become the preferred method for consumers to connect with a firm via smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Usage of Mobile Apps Increasing

The increasing availability of apps and consumer usage time of apps signals a seismic shift is about occur: mobile website browsing will eventually be supplanted by mobile apps. The infographic below illustrates the percentage of brands using the following different forms of mobile interfaces to reach consumers: brand websites, iPhone apps, Android apps, Windows Phone apps, and BlackBerry apps. As shown below, 95% of firms have a mobile compatible website while less than half offer a mobile app.

Mobile Website vs Mobile Apps Infographic - Copyright 2013 Todd Bacile

Despite the availability of firms’ mobile websites dwarfing firms’ apps, two factors suggest app growth is exploding. The first factor is the growth in availability. Mobile compatible websites increased by 157% from 2010-to-2011. During this same period of time the growth rate for each respective app was iPhone 100%, Android 230%, Windows Phone 233%, and BlackBerry 200%.

Mobile websites are close to a saturation point, while mobile apps are experiencing phenomenal growth. Ultimately, it would not be surprising to see 90-plus percent of firms each offer a branded mobile app to consumers.

The second factor supporting massive app usage is time. Even though the number of firms which have a mobile compatible website strongly outnumbers firms’ mobile apps, consumers are spending a greater amount of time with apps. The infographic below illustrates this fact: during 2011-12 the time spent using mobile websites remained relatively flat, while time spent with apps increased dramatically. This surge in usage time suggests the way consumers use smartphones and tablets to connect with brands is transitioning to mobile apps.

Time spent using mobile apps vs mobile websites - Copyright 2013 Todd Bacile

How Mobile Apps Differ From Mobile Websites

The spike in app usage is not surprising when one acknowledges that apps play to the strength of mobile devices by seamlessly adapting to a device’s native features, such as the camera, GPS, calendar, text messaging, and processing power. This is an important aspect when considering how firms are trying to reach consumers via rich multimedia social network campaigns and location-based marketing.

However, apps differ from websites in ways that must be addressed, such as installation on a device by downloading from a provider. Plus, different versions of the app must be developed for different devices (i.e. an iPhone app cannot be used for Android). In addition, each app must go through each app store’s approval process – something that can take several weeks or months.

How To Create Mobile Apps

Firms can develop their own mobile apps “from scratch” with in-house programmers, choose off-the-shelf boilerplate software, or hire a mobile marketing development firm which specializes in customizable, feature-rich apps. While the last option may sound expensive, it actually may be the most cost efficient option.

One such firm app development company is App Innovators based in Tallahassee, Florida which has a large library of pre-approved features from Apple and Android, The pre-approved status means the lengthy approval process can be cut from months to less than a week. In addition, apps are developed from dozens of feature-rich templates or customized by their programmers. Costs range based on custom requests, but most apps cost very little – similar to the expense of setting up a website – along with a small monthly hosting fee.

Firms must assess if their mobile consumers’ experience will be enhanced with a company’s own mobile app. While not everyone believes apps will prevail over sites, many signs are pointing to this possibility. But this much is certain: consumers love using mobile apps and firms typically cater to the preferences of large masses of consumers.

Todd Bacile is a marketing doctoral candidate and instructor for Electronic Marketing and Services Marketing in the College of Business at Florida State University. Social Media Marketing Magazine ranks him as one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter. You can contact him on Twitter @toddbacile

Marketing communication becomes risky in newer media

By Todd Bacile | July 9, 2012

Social Media Risk

Think about watching a television commercial, listening to a commercial on the radio, driving by a billboard, or having a banner ad appear in your web browser. Do any of these encounters with marketing messages sound risky? Most consumers would say no. For the most part marketing communication and advertising is annoying, yet consumers largely view this as a risk-less act. Traditional forms of advertising and promotion occur in the background and out of focus.

Newer emerging media is changing this view. Technology is evolving to become more personal and more important to consumers – think mobile devices and social media here. Consumers are sensitive to intrusive and annoying marketing communication in these important, personal channels. Mostly because these communication channels were originally designed to communicate with friends and family. When marketers enter “my” (i.e. the consumer’s) personal network of friends and family, this may cause problems. Potential concerns include unwanted messages, irrelevant messages, or too many messages in what consumers have become conditioned to as their own personal networks. A cause for concern or worry, an uncomfortable feeling about an unknown consequence, or the general belief that an undesirable outcome will occur all fit within the classic definition of perceived risk. A marketer who potentially can intrude upon a person’s social media news feed or send repeated text messages is a genuine concern for some, who would prefer to avoid such an undesirable situation. Sure, the ability to opt-in or opt-out exists, but this is a very low-level safeguard.

I decided to run an experiment at Florida State University to assess the possibility of marketing communication becoming risky in newer media. Over 800 respondents completed an online survey, of which half were randomly exposed to a scenario where they would be given a traditional paper coupon for a local restaurant; and the other half were exposed to a scenario where they would receive a mobile text message coupon. All the details were the same except the medium: print versus text message. The results were as expected: consumers experienced a significantly higher level of perceived risk when exposed to a text message promotion compared to a traditional print media promotion.

What does this mean? Companies must assess which risk-reducing mechanisms are applicable to use with emerging media marketing communication. Some point to the option to opt-in: “If I choose to receive messages then I am in control.” Not quite. Think about opt-in: after a consumer decides to become a member of a marketing audience, all decision making and control ceases. Firms must offer more options for consumers’ risk to be alleviated. Risk reducing strategies exist in many business encounters, yet have never been associated with marketing communication. In service encounters, one mechanism is to make the intangible become tangible. Another goods and services technique is grant the consumer more control. Yet another: present information about expected outcomes upfront to minimize ambiguity. These strategies and many others may soon need to be retrofitted to marketing communication via mobile and social media. The juice is definitely worth the squeeze: at stake is a billion dollar market several times over.

Todd Bacile is a marketing doctoral candidate and instructor for Electronic Marketing and Services Marketing in the College of Business at Florida State University. His research on mobile marketing topics has been presented and at numerous national marketing conferences and published in the Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing. Please visit his website for more information regarding his research within e-Marketing and services marketing topics. You can contact him on Twitter @toddbacile

SMS / Text Message Marketing: a 2-minute tutorial

By Todd Bacile | June 29, 2012

Are you a retail business owner who wants to use text message marketing (also known as SMS marketing), but have no idea how it works or how you would use it? Please view the video displayed below for a real-world, simple example of how to incorporate text message marketing into your retail business (click here if the video does not load).

Statistics on mobile phone usage reveals text messaging as the most used form of communication by consumers. People now communicate more with text messages than voice calls when measured by volume. In addition to the sheer volume of text messages sent, there are three other benefits firms should be aware of when considering the merits of text message marketing:

  1. First, consumers attend to text messages they receive more often than e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter messages. This means your business communication sent to consumers has a greater chance of being received, opened, and read.
  2. Second, the cost for text message marketing campaigns is extremely low compared to other traditional forms of marketing. In most cases a retail business can pay a mobile marketing firm a flat monthly fee of $100-to-$200 to use an existing technology infrastructure, plus a fee of 5-to-8 cents per text message sent. In addition to low-cost, these mobile marketing firms also possess knowledge of the legalities associated with text message marketing, meaning that you do not need to become an expert in mobile marketing laws.
  3. Third, redemption rates are much stronger (i.e. the response rate from consumers that generate a purchase) for text message promotions compared to other traditional promotions. For example, traditional paper coupons disseminated via print media and mail historically produce about a 1%-to-2% redemption rate in the U.S. In comparison, text message promotions (also referred to as mobile coupons or m-coupons) often generate redemption rates that approach or exceed 10% in the U.S.

Todd Bacile is a marketing doctoral candidate and instructor for Electronic Marketing and Services Marketing in the College of Business at Florida State University. His research on mobile marketing topics has been presented and at numerous national marketing conferences and published in the Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing. Please visit his website for more information regarding his research within e-Marketing and services marketing topics. You can contact him on Twitter @toddbacile