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Considering all the businesses that are flocking over to the social media, one could say that businesses these days feel pressured to get on social media. Brant Cooper at Entrepreneur Corner mentions that

Social communication by “word of mouth” is a fundamental human characteristic and taking advantage of that is fundamental to all marketing because (let’s face it) consumer to consumer (C2C) communication is free.

Viral marketing is what we all strive for. It is the best type of marketing because of its two main characteristics: free and highly contagious. With social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, companies have to figure out ways to engage with users using these new “word of mouth” tools.

The article continues to mention something I believe it is paramount to successful advertising overall and also more specific regarding social media. Your social media activities should not be constricted to advertising only, it should bring some clear value to the community. As a business participant, you are there to educate and share your expertise to the benefit of the consumer. If one manages to achieve this, it will be perceived less as an add and more as useful information and then the consumer will subconsciously click on the add as a thank you.

With an online presence on social media channels, the company has to follow specific rules of engagement established by those channels. At the same time the company has to make sure they open channels of communication to the community to receive the valuable feedback that the consumers are willing to share with you.

Is social media worth your marketing dollars?[Entrepreneur Corner]

Sports is a topic that generates huge amounts of passion in people. Everyone has a favorite team or player. Sports fans love to discuss their teams or favorite players, brag about their performance, and make predictions about as to which team will beat which and by what score.

Social Media makes it easier to do this. With social media, fans can react to stories or videos, share them, as well as submit additional stories or commentary. Additionally, sports-related social media allows fans who don’t live in a team’s city to keep up with news related to their team and to connect with like-minded fans. In short, social media provides a means for sports fans to become more engaged with their teams, their players, and other fans.

In the United States, 74% of those aged from 18-34 have either a Facebook or a MySpace account. In America alone, Facebook counts 5.5 million people as having sports listed as an interest in their profile.  These fans have joined thousands of fan pages created by the teams or players themselves, third-party organizations, or simply by other loyal fans. Such fan pages include news, videos, and pictures, of the team or player, as well as commentary and general expressions of fandom. Several pages have over 1 million fans and many more number in the 100,000s.

The growth of sports in social media has been explosive. Just this past week, fan pages on facebook grew anywhere from 0.5% to 5.3% on the week. Cricket pages had grown even faster, with growth ranging from 6.4% to 31.1% in the same time period. To put that in more understandable terms, a 0.5% weekly increase sustained over the years is equal to a 29.6% annual increase. Likewise, a 1% weekly increase becomes a 67.7% yearly increase and a 1% weekly increase results in a 67.7% yearly increase.

On Facebook, gaming and sports account for the second and third most added type of application respectively. Games make up six of the top ten and four of the top five most addictive Facebook applications.  In early 2009, the average age of a gamer was 29, with over a third of gamers being female.

IBT Games has been a leader in sports-related gaming applications for social media. According to a recent study, average users spend an average of 2 minutes, 35 seconds interacting with applications in total. On IBT Games’ Applications, users spend 15 minutes DAILY interacting with each application; 6.5x greater than the total average application time. 85% of users who installed IBT Games applications returned for multiple interactions. Currently, dedicated users of IBT Games Applications produce over 1 million page views a day on average. 56% percent of users returned 9 or more times during the first month.

IBT Game’s Twenty Cricket application has nearly 99,000 monthly active users. IBT Game’s Street Football application has over 121,000 monthly active users. 50% of IBT Game’s titles have received accolades and recognition from prominent organizations in social media including the fBfund and Bebo. While an average of 14.7 pages a day are viewed on Facebook per unique user. Users of IBT Games’ Casino Empire application spent a whopping 40.4 pages per day on the application alone.

Marketers are taking notice of these exponential levels of growth. In a recent survey by Adology, 25% of small businesses surveyed indicated that they would increase spending on advertising in social media in 2009 versus in 2008. A 2009 survey of 880 marketers found the 88% of marketers use some form of social media in their advertising strategy. Today, sports-related companies like Adidas, Nike, Spalding, and Gatorade, all have fan pages or advertise on Facebook or other forms of social networking sites.

Social media allows companies like these to connect with the sports fans that use their products. More importantly, social media has given fans a chance to connect with their favorite teams and players, and share their passion with other fans. In doing so, a fan’s ability to express a love of sports is no longer relegated to just a ballpark.

Everyone is scratching their heads about connecting to social media. It is a new year, corporations, brands, and individuals all want to connect to social media. They just do not know where to start. Well my recommendation is to first sit and figure out your overall objectives. What are you really looking to do and why do you want to do that? 

This is really important because there are so many options now. Brands can engage with target audiences through meaningful social applications, or just twitter about upcoming new products that consumers could possibly follow. Podcasting, blogging, and making a social network are other options as well. There are just too many to choose from! You can even make a game with your product that will not only increase your brand awareness but also provide ways to monetize and acquire new customers.

We have found that connecting with social media is not just a short-term process; it is a long-term vision and solution. Whatever you choose to do, you need to make sure it is not dead in a month or a week. Updates and continuous improvement are necessary to have engaged users. 

We specialize in making it engaging and meaningful social media application. We have found success of deep user engagement with all our applications on social media platforms. By deploying various social media analytics such as Sometrics, Google Analytics, etc we are able to tweak our applications in such a way to keep users engaged. On average, users on our application spend over 15 minutes each day. This is a sign of deep user engagement. 
Feel free to contact me!

Everyone wants to get the inside scoop of the future. What exactly is the future of social media applications? We started seeing simple applications where you can do quizzes, rate friends, have top friends, poke people, super poke people but now we are starting to see more complex applications, which constitutes of sports games with complicated game engines, flash based casual games, or a mix of both.

The most important thing you need to know is that, this is a young industry that is going to grow very rapidly. More and more developers are making applications, social networks are opening up their platforms to outside developers, and everyone is talking about social media and Web 2.0. Competition will increase in time. Therefore, you need to continuously stay at the forefront and stay updated with how the platforms are evolving, if it is you want to compete in this industry.

One thing people do forget is that, users are going to get savvy as well and their expectations are going to grow faster in time. That means they will get irritated with errors, slow applications, applications that are spammy and applications that do not protect user privacy. They will expect much more than what is available now.

So what are we doing at ibtgames.com? We follow three guiding principles

1) Focus on what users want

2) Focus on making engaging applications

3) Redefine the user experience

Now what does all this mean?

Focus on things that users want, not what you think they want. It is important to make sure they are getting a value or satisfaction. Otherwise, they will probably not stay long thus not make your application engaging. So this brings to the next point, making engaging applications. You do not want to make an application where they will come and leave in 2 mins or just use it once or twice. Engage them with more options and features that will interest the users. Provide some depth by going to the next level. Think of it as providing long-term value rather than short term so this means you constantly need to redefine the user experience on your application. This involves continuously improving your application, trying to make it as error free as possible, making it faster and using current technology to improve their experience while they are on your application. Also it involves listening to the users and providing new features in a timely manner that will satisfy the user.

Check out our sports application on facebook.

Twenty20 Cricket http://apps.facebook.com/twentycricket/