Top Retailers and Social Media – Designing our next study

RetailThe top internet retailers are savvy companies who are mastering the art of user experience, search marketing, email marketing and many other tools to maintain a steadily growing industry.  Have they mastered, or even embraced, social media yet?  Geoff Livingston, in his book Now Is Gone, suggests companies need to "engage or die."  Which online retailers have started to engage, and how? 

I am sponsoring another Brulant survey of 100 of the top retailers – similar to Brulant’s Alternate Payment Methods study conducted in February – to see which companies are using social media tools to enhance their online presence and engage their communities. 

Here’s where I could use your help – What to measure

To keep it simple, we are going to go do our own research on a series of "yes" or "no" questions.  What questions do you think would help the casual observer determine "adoption" of social media?  Here is what we have so far.

Take 100 of the top internet retailers and measure the following – Does the company have:

  • an official Facebook Fan Page or Sponsored Group
  • an official Myspace page (after looking around this may be hard to figure out, but I’m clearly no myspace expert)
  • 1 or more official corporate blogs on their websites (interesting list at: http://www.socialtext.net/bizblogs/index.cgi)
  • RSS feeds off their websites
  • user reviews of products available on their websites
  • any YouTube “official” videos
  • any YouTube “Unofficial” videos
  • any Flickr results for brand

Realizing some of these may be both hard to quantify and that there are more likely to be individuals doing these activities on behalf of the companies, we’d want the measurements to be easy to capture and refresh at a later date to see trends.  What do you think?

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  • Will be interesting to see these results.
    Your list is pretty comprehensive… Couple of other things came to mind but you may have these covered in your existing topics.
    Recommend /email to a friend? I guess social networking 101 but still a toe in the pond.
    General discussions – I think the review piece you call out is huge – but Amazon takes it to a whole different level – http://tinyurl.com/2nscyd
    How about the ‘Others like you purchased…’? Perhaps less SM and more system algorithm – not sure.
    Lastly – Wish lists may be an interesting thing to look for. Again, Amazon does a nice job of letting me tell my pals what they should be buying me.
    Nice topic, AC. Will post again if I come up with other thoughts.

  • Will be interesting to see these results.

    Your list is pretty comprehensive… Couple of other things came to mind but you may have these covered in your existing topics.

    Recommend /email to a friend? I guess social networking 101 but still a toe in the pond.

    General discussions – I think the review piece you call out is huge – but Amazon takes it to a whole different level – http://tinyurl.com/2nscyd

    How about the ‘Others like you purchased…’? Perhaps less SM and more system algorithm – not sure.

    Lastly – Wish lists may be an interesting thing to look for. Again, Amazon does a nice job of letting me tell my pals what they should be buying me.

    Nice topic, AC. Will post again if I come up with other thoughts.

  • It’d be interesting to see if they have a comment program for outside of the company… So what happens when people slam the Gap? Does the Gap respond?
    Thanks for including me.

  • It’d be interesting to see if they have a comment program for outside of the company… So what happens when people slam the Gap? Does the Gap respond?

    Thanks for including me.

  • Len, Geoff – thanks very much for the comments.
    Len – The “others like you purchased” is a cross-selling tool that is algorithm based, usually tied to sales rank of a product. Not so sure it’s SM but it’s definitely a compelling capability. Amazon was a pioneer in the recommendation engine department but lots of other sites are using tools to do this. The wish list idea is also a good one – not so much the concept of the wish list, but the ability to share it with friends. Amazon recently launched a facebook application that does exactly that.
    Geoff – Good thought for looking outside the company. I’ll look into it but it may be hard to determine unless it’s very visible. I’m sure companies will have a way to contact them with feedback, but I’m not so sure they publicly share the feedback – whether or not they share that feedback somewhere is what we could measure.
    Great stuff and thanks again for taking the time to respond.
    Adam

  • Len, Geoff – thanks very much for the comments.

    Len – The “others like you purchased” is a cross-selling tool that is algorithm based, usually tied to sales rank of a product. Not so sure it’s SM but it’s definitely a compelling capability. Amazon was a pioneer in the recommendation engine department but lots of other sites are using tools to do this. The wish list idea is also a good one – not so much the concept of the wish list, but the ability to share it with friends. Amazon recently launched a facebook application that does exactly that.

    Geoff – Good thought for looking outside the company. I’ll look into it but it may be hard to determine unless it’s very visible. I’m sure companies will have a way to contact them with feedback, but I’m not so sure they publicly share the feedback – whether or not they share that feedback somewhere is what we could measure.

    Great stuff and thanks again for taking the time to respond.
    Adam

  • For posterity, some comments from a discussion over twitter today – thanks all who participated:
    @SocialTNT:
    @adamcohen I would look for engagement. How many comments? Number of UG Posts on FB pages? Interaction and response from the brand?
    @adamcohen:
    @SocialTNT measuring not just whether companies are using SM tools but how much are they engaging – great feedback, thanks!
    @SocialTNT:
    @adamcohen Exactly! Can’t wait to see the study.
    @mjkeliher:
    @SocialTNT About your note to @adamcohen: Measuring engagement is about success. Adam seems interested in measuring the *effort* first.
    @adamcohen:
    @mjkeliher i’m looking to see which retailers are using SM, but a follow-on could be measuring engagement. likely to refresh the study again
    @SocialTNT:
    @mjkeliher @adamcohen True,but just having a page isn’t effort;14 yo’s can design page. Effort is listening and engaging yr audience.IMHO 🙂

  • For posterity, some comments from a discussion over twitter today – thanks all who participated:

    @SocialTNT:
    @adamcohen I would look for engagement. How many comments? Number of UG Posts on FB pages? Interaction and response from the brand?

    @adamcohen:
    @SocialTNT measuring not just whether companies are using SM tools but how much are they engaging – great feedback, thanks!

    @SocialTNT:
    @adamcohen Exactly! Can’t wait to see the study.

    @mjkeliher:
    @SocialTNT About your note to @adamcohen: Measuring engagement is about success. Adam seems interested in measuring the *effort* first.

    @adamcohen:
    @mjkeliher i’m looking to see which retailers are using SM, but a follow-on could be measuring engagement. likely to refresh the study again

    @SocialTNT:
    @mjkeliher @adamcohen True,but just having a page isn’t effort;14 yo’s can design page. Effort is listening and engaging yr audience.IMHO 🙂

  • One more great suggestion from Twitter, an obvious miss in our initial list, which we’ll add:
    @jblock:
    @adamcohen Another yes or no question; do they use podcasts to communicate with their customers.

  • One more great suggestion from Twitter, an obvious miss in our initial list, which we’ll add:
    @jblock:
    @adamcohen Another yes or no question; do they use podcasts to communicate with their customers.