5 Things I Learned at the 2012 Digital Summit

Pinterest facebook twitter linkedin posted by David Arnold on May 21, 4:34,
Atlanta Digital Summit Panel 2012

An Up-to-the-minute Report From Liv McKinsey

Last week I attended the 2012 Digital Summit held here in Atlanta. The conference was a gathering of marketers, publishers, vendors, agency folks, and anyone else who wanted to get up to speed on emerging trends in digital advertising. I went to sessions addressing everything from new SEO tactics based on the latest Google algorithm release to designing for multiple screens to social analytics.

As I absorbed the information in each session, distinct themes began to emerge. Essentially, I learned that the internet has once again evolved and is beginning to head in a new direction.

Here are my key take-aways:

1. Social isn’t going anywhere.
Social media is not a fad, as first thought by many industry leaders. The latest statistics back that up with some dramatic numbers reflecting how and when social media is used:

• 66 percent of online adults are connected to one or more social media platforms

• 50 percent of social media users say they check in to their favorite networks first thing in the morning

• Facebook reached 55% of the world’s global audience accounting for roughly 75% of time spent on social networking sites and one in every seven minutes spent online globally

2. Images work better than links in a social environment.
Everyone knows the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words—well it’s also worth five times the response rate. The quick adoption of new social networking sites like Pinterest, which is a visual interface that relies on images rather than words to share/distribute information, clearly demonstrates the power of visuals in this new era of the social internet. But, Pinterest is not alone. Facebook says that photos are five times more likely than a status update to have a “like” or interaction.

3. Consumers are using devices differently and in new ways.
The founder of Gilt.com provided the keynote for the conference and described how her users leverage their computers, cell phones, and tablets/pads for different purposes. Her most striking story was about the area rugs section of her site—a section that had not been profitable until the iPad. Through data mining and surveys, Gilt discovered that consumers were zooming in on the images of area rugs on their iPads, presumably to see the detail. The consumer would then place the pad on the floor and walk back a few paces to evaluate the look of the rug within the living room space. No other device has provided this type of shopping experience before.

Here are some device rules of thumb:

• Mobile is for immediacy & hyper local

• The pad/tablet is for browsing and perusing

• The desktop/laptop is for research

4. Time & Frequency Matter.
The lifespan of posts and the time at which content is posted is a bigger deal than most people believe. For instance, the average lifespan of a Facebook post is in the three hour range, a tweet lives for less than an hour, but Pinterest seems to go on forever with a whopping one-week shelf life.

If you want the greatest response that you can get on Facebook, the best times to broadcast your messages are midnight on Sunday, midnight on Monday, 10pm on Friday and 11pm on Tuesday. Why? Because the number of postings is lower at those times, and the probability of your message appearing during the early morning news feed ingestion is higher.

5. If you aren’t tuned in to mobile and social shopping, you should be.
Social consumers are not only your customer, but also your ambassador. Their influence will become progressively more important over the next three years. Your social media loyalty will translate directly into sales. According to an annual study released by BlogHer, 81% of women said that they trust blogs & Pinterest and 47% said that they had acted on a purchase because they saw it on Pinterest.

Industry averages for social commerce range from 2.4% to almost 5% of total online sales as of 2Q 2012, but that number is expected to dramatically rise over the next two years. We’ve also read reports that indicate mobile shopping accounts for more than 13% of online retail sales.

Example: being a Facebook fan of Best Buy increases the odds that a customer will purchase by 5.3 times; the next closest influence factor is conducting pre-purchase research, which only increases the odds of purchase by 1.4 times.  Similarly, having a Walmart nearby doubles the odds that you’ll consider buying there, being a Facebook fan of Walmart increases those odds by more than a factor of four.

Olivia “Liv” McKinsey is VP Digital Director at The Partnership and has over 10 years of experience working in the interactive industry.