Tag Archives: social media marketing

Tools for Tracking Buzz on Twitter

Twitter is one of the most popular expressions of the social media boom. Though a very limited “micro-blogging” format — where speakers are limited to messages that are no more than 140 characters in length — it has become extremely popular, particularly with early adopters and people who spend a great deal of time online. As someone interested in marketing, I find Twitter to be a way to tap into the buzz from social-minded, technologically-friendly Internet users. Gauging that buzz can be a challenge.

In the course of preparing this year’s Open Source CMS Market Share Report, I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching Twitter as a means of judging buzz and popularity. As a result of that I have bookmarked quite a few tools that I found useful. In this post I share what I’ve found — perhaps it will save you some time.

There are 23 tools here, organized topically as follows:



The message data contained at Twitter.com can be analyzed directly through either search of the Tweets or by looking at the use of hashtags, that is, tags users have associated with particular Tweets.

Twitter Search


You should be aware of the default Twitter search functionality, as it does show basic trending information, but more importantly, you can tailor your searches to extract trend data by using either the advanced search interface or the Twitter Search Operators in your queries. While this may not produce the prettiest charts and graphs, the tools allows you to search by date, user, location, sentiment and other variables, thereby giving you the best control over the raw data set — direct from the source, as it were. The results display allows you to filter by language. Use the RSS feed to save your query and keep up with the Tweets as they occur. One disappointing aspect of this tool: it lacks result counts, export, and charting of the result set.



This site accumulates a directory of hashtags and lets you search for particular tags and track their activity for the previous 30 days. The default homepage allows you to view the most popular hashtags for the past day, week or month. One handy option allows you to get an RSS feed for a hashtag.


Want to find out what’s buzzing in a particular place? Geo-tracking of Twitter users is one way to do it.

Nearby Tweets


Geo-location filtering for Tweets. Want to find out every Tweet coming from within 100 miles of New York City or Paris or Hong Kong? You can do it here.



This application is more distraction than serious research but it is most certainly good fun. It takes Tweets and maps them on the world map as they happen.


When you have to know what’s happening across the Twitter-verse as it happens.



Monitor up to three terms or hashtags in real time. Great for tracking breaking stories and top Twitter trends



A real time Twitter monitoring tool. Twendz shows you the most recent Tweets on a topic, along with the most popular subtopics. It does very little, but the ability to isolate the incoming Tweets by sentiment is somewhat useful (thought not terribly accurate!)


When one user retweets a message from another user, the message is assumed to have some special value — at least to the user that retweeted it. When a message is retweeted many times by many users, you have a trend worthy of further examination.



Find out who and/or what is being re-tweeted now.

Retweet Radar


This is a limited tool that shows you a tag cloud related to the most popular topics on Twitter, judged by what is being retweeted. An archive lets you view the most recent days’ activity.


There is a wide selection of tools for tracking what’s hot — both in terms of topics and URLs.



A tool for tracking backlinks — in this case, links posted on Twitter. The system is able to identify both raw and compressed URLs. An advanced search option lets you filter by user and date. Useful options allow you to receive the information remotely, either by setting up e-mail alerts or by dragging the search bookmarklet to your browser toolbar. Perfect for tracking reputation or getting clues to the reach of the URLs you have tweeted. For a variation on this service, see this group’s other website service: backtype.)

Breaking Tweets


This site aggregates news, photos and other current events type data from Tweets. Stories are categorized by region and topic. It is searchable and you can extract the data into an RSS feed.



Set up email alerts for Tweets – sort of a Google Alerts-type service for Twitter. The free version sends either daily or hourly updates for up to 10 alert topics; the premium version costs $20 a month, gives you up to 200 alert topics and a 15 minute alert window. The tool includes a useful set of filters, allowing you to narrow searches by place, attitude, or speaker. Limited Boolean searches are also supported. Alerts can also be retrieved via RSS. (Note: At the time this was written the system was suffering from failures.)



A finger on the pulse of the Twitter masses. TweetingTrends tracks top Twitter trends and then uses Twitter to deliver the results. Follow their Twitter account to receive notifications via Twitter each time a new topic trending on Twitter enters the top 10.



Tracks the top URLs being discussed on Twitter. This is perhaps the most complete of the various URL tracking services. It goes so far as to organize popular topics into channels and presents the information in a variety of ways — including for those who want to grab a hold of the information firehose — a live Tweet stream. The system supports searching as well. Tweetmeme maintains a large number of different Twitter accounts, enabling you to follow particular channels for the most popular stories.



This cool one page website enables you to type in a word, phrase, URL or hashtag and get a snapshot of the reach of that term or phrase. It does this by finding all mentions, then reporting back to you the sources and the reach achieved by that user when they post a message. The system calculates total viewers and views. The tool is useful and interesting, but to get the most from it you will need to use the Twitter Search Operators in your query. Unfortunately there are significant limitations to the tool. The free version is limited to only 50 tweets. You can, for a fee of US$ 20, order a more complete report listing up to 1500 tweets across the last 7 days.



Twist lets you track trends in Twitter mentions on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Output is provided in graphical form, as shown below, along with a list of the most recent items. Charts can be embedded in your local website.


> above: Twist stats showing activity for search terms\ across 30 days.



This site requires you to log in with your Twitter I.D. Once you have logged in you can monitor trends by tag cloud, or by searching for trends. The options allow you to graph activity on one or more topics by last 6 hours, 1 day or 3 day increments, as shown below.


> above: Part of the Twitscoop display.

Twitter Power Search


This basic tool displays the Top Twitter Trends by day, week, or in near real time. You also have the option to enter the term of your choice to see Tweets in real time.



Another URL popularity tool, this time showing the most popular URLs of the moment. What distinguishes this tool is that it also displays thumbnails of the most popular pictures and videos.



Tracks most popular URLs on Twitter. Shows by default a list of the top URLs, but you can also search for the terms or URLs you wish to track. They maintain a Twitter site that automatically displays the current top 3 most popular URLs.


Several tools allow you to assess the reach and influence of particular users. You can also gain insight into their interests and various activity levels.



A great way to run numbers of Twitter user influence. Use the tool to graph Twitter activity by user name. Enter the Twitter username and the system will graph a wide variety about the user’s Twitter posting activity. Stats include, frequency, time, retweets, tool used, and aggregate daily and weekly totals. Graph output quality, as seen below, is also a step above many of the other tools on this list. Note if the user has protected their updates, the tool will not work — the user’s Tweets must be publicly accessible.


> above: Some of the many graphs produced by TweetStats.



By default this search tool shows you what’s hot right now, but the best feature here is the ability to run a search and get results displayed both by the authority of the poster and by most recent. Great way to find out who is talking about a topic. They also maintain a Twitter account that automatically Tweets the most popular trends.

Twitter Analyzer


Twitter Analyzer claims to be “the most advanced Twitter analytic system in the world.” While it is certainly powerful and slick (see below), it is focused purely on users, rather than on topics, trends, etc. Great if you are looking to assess a user’s influence, or want to find out more about a particular user’s Twitter usage patterns.

Twitter Analyzer

> above: Part of the Twitter Analyzer’s user profile dashboard.



Xefer is a Twitter activity monitor. Enter a user’s Twitter ID and the system produces a nice little heat map (see below, of the user’s historical activity. The output will also list the user’s replies, with a list of to whom they were directed and the frequency. Note if the user has protected their updates, the tool will not work — the user’s Tweets must be publicly accessible.


> above: xefer profile of a Twitter user.

This article originally appeared on RicShreves.net. Used by permission.

New FTC Guidelines Affecting Social Media Marketing

U.S. federal guidelines concerning the disclosure of endorsements or incentives will set a new standard for online advertisers. The revised guidelines are intended to address hidden endorsements and incentives in a variety of new media, including blogs and word of mouth media. The rules are broad enough to affect activity on forums, Twitter and social networks.

(The various statements of fact made in this article concerning the guidelines come from the text of the FTC Guidelines: see, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” 16 C.F.R. Part 255. A hyperlink to a download of the full text of the rules can be found at the end of this article.)

The guidelines, promulgated by the United States’ Federal Trade Commission, go into effect on December 1, 2009 and and are intended to regulate endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as requiring the disclosure of “material connections” between advertisers and endorsers.

The term “endorsement” is defined as:

…any advertising message … that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser.

The definition is clearly broad enough to cover social media, blogging and posts made on review sites or forums.

The standard applied to social media is stated in this passage:

The Commission does not believe that all uses of new consumer-generated media to discuss product attributes or consumer experiences should be deemed “endorsements” within the meaning of the Guides. Rather, in analyzing statements made via these new media, the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered “sponsored” by the advertiser and therefore an “advertising message.” In other words, in disseminating positive statements about a product or service, is the speaker: (1) acting solely independently, in which case there is no endorsement, or (2) acting on behalf of the advertiser or its agent, such that the speaker’s statement is an “endorsement” that is part of an overall marketing campaign? The facts and circumstances that will determine the answer to this question are extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated here, but would include: whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent; whether the product or service in question was provided for free by the advertiser; the terms of any agreement; the length of the relationship; the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and the value of the items or services received.


Under the new guidelines, advertisers and publishers must disclose in clear and unequivocal language the existence of any sponsorship of an advertising message. In the context of social media, here are some of the situations where we believe the guidelines would be applied:

(1) A posting to the Facebook forum recommending a particular hotel. If the speaker was compensated in some fashion for posting the recommendation, the guidelines require disclosure.

(2) A tweet on Twitter recommending a product. If the speaker was compensated in some fashion for posting the recommendation, the guidelines require disclosure.

(3) A blogger reviews a product. If the blogger received compensation or complimentary products or services, the guidelines require disclosure.

(4) An employee of a company recommends one of the company’s products on a forum. The existence of an employee/employer relationship would need to be disclosed.

Note that the guidelines themselves contain within the body an entire series of examples. We strongly encourage you to read these carefully as there are some subtle nuances at play that you need to recognize.


In past versions of the rules, there was no specific provision stating that endorsers as well as advertisers could be liable for statements made in an endorsement. The revised guidelines clearly state that both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement – or for the failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers. The revised guidelines also make it clear that celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.

The rules also close an old loophole that was frequently exploited. It is no longer sufficient  to simply add small print at the end of an ad indicating that “results may vary.”

In terms of enforcement, it appears the FTC will continue to rely on public complaints, the Better Business Bureau, and even issues reported by competitors. The rules are at this time merely guidelines and do not carry penalties or fines, though clearly they are intended to provide a grounds for enforcement actions via Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. Sec. 45). The FTC is charged with protecting consumers in the United States. Therefore, if your message is published in the U.S. and a complaint is raised, it is conceivable the FTC would get involved where enforcement action is merited.


The newly revised guidelines have already proven to be a magnet for controversy. While the U.S. Government can clearly regulate commercial speech, the present guidelines seem to muddy the waters. Under the new guidelines it is unclear when a speaker has ceased to be voicing an opinion protected by the First Amendment and when their statement rise to the level where there is a legitimate governmental or public policy interest that requires protection.

The Internet Advertising Bureau has even called for a rollback of the provisions. Read their argument in the open letter drafted by the IAB’s CEO:http://www.iab.net/insights_research/public_policy/openletter-ftc


Only time will tell whether these new rules withstand test in the courts, but until then we encourage all to comply and to formulate clear rules of engagement for your brand.
We recommend that you create an internal best practices document that defines for your staff the permissible limits of both their interactions with bloggers and their own statements in forums or on their personal blogs. You should also raise this issue clearly with your PR department or agency, emphasizing the need for compliance.

If you are a blogger, the best path is “disclose and dispose” — that is, disclose if you have been given a freebie and dispose of it once you’ve reviewed it. Moreover, given that the rules require a clear and conspicuous disclosure, place your notice of disclosure above the fold in the article where it is not likely to be missed.

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) is formulating best practice statements for advertisers and publishers. You would do well to follow the discussions on their site. See,http://womma.org/ftc/


Facebook 101: Profiles, Groups & Pages

One of the most common — indeed perhaps the most common question we’re asked during client consultations is: “What’s the difference between Facebook Profiles, Groups and Fan Pages? Why would I want one and not the other?” The questions go right to the heart of one of the most confusing aspects of Facebook.

The issue is made all the more confusing by the visual similarity of these items and by the fact that Profiles, Groups and Fan Pages have common aspects and features. The good news is that there are unique attributes and advantages to each and it is easy to understand once you grasp the purpose behind their creation.

Let’s start by looking at their commonalities: All three types of Facebook pages provide the same basic functions, that is, the ability to post messages and various media that are viewable to others who chose to join or follow that particular page. Beyond those basics, however, these items diverge.

Take note of this fact: At present, Groups cannot be converted into Fan Pages, so your initial decision may have consequences down the road. Choose wisely!


What is it for? Profiles provide personal data and informal information sharing.

Who should have one? Individuals

Suitable for commercial purposes? No (See,http://www.facebook.com/terms.php)

example - Facebook Profile


  • Limited to 5,000 friends.
  • Can only send direct messages to people, 20 at a time.


  • Indexed by external search engines.
  • Can restrict access to your information.
  • Can obtain personalized URL.
  • Can add applications.

>> Learn more about Profiles on Facebook.



What is it for? Groups provide a focal point for people with a common interest.

Who should have one? Any cause, event or matter that appeals to a particular group of individuals.

Suitable for commercial purposes? No (See,http://www.facebook.com/terms.php)

example - Facebook Group


  • Updates to the Group are often missed by members. People have to visit the Group to see what is happening.
  • Group administrators are only able to send direct messages if the Group has less than 5,000 members.
  • Not indexed by external search engines.
  • Does not support Facebook applications or customization.
  • Content is not visible to non-Group members.
  • Cannot obtain branded URL.


  • Unlimited membership.
  • Can have multiple administrators.
  • Administrator names are visible.
  • Choose your Group’s visibility: either Open to anyone, Closed (must get administrator approval to join) or Secret (by invitation only).
  • Can appoint “Officers” (really only useful as a means of granting recognition to someone; being an Officer does not give anyone special privileges)
  • Able to create Events and send the Members invitations.

>> Learn more about Groups on Facebook.



What is it for? The promotion of an organization, a public figure, a product or a brand.

Who should have one? (1) Any entity that desires a branded presence on Facebook. (2) Anyone who needs the ability to accommodate more than 5,000 followers.

Suitable for commercial purposes? YES.

example - Facebook Fan Page


  • Generally open to anyone. Admins can only restrict access by age and location.
  • No direct messaging function (though you can send updates that appear in the Fan’s timelines, see below).


  • Unlimited membership (aka “Fans”).
  • Can have multiple administrators.
  • The page creator and administrators are anonymous to visitors.
  • Includes a Wall — similar that in Facebook Profiles. You can control what is shown there.
  • Fan Pages are visible to everyone.
  • Indexed by external search engines.
  • Supports Facebook applications and customization (using Facebook Markup Language).
  • Provides use and membership statistics (aka “Page Insights,” see image below).
  • Can specify the landing page (the tab) for arriving visitors.
  • Can add, edit (limited), and delete tabs.
  • Have dedicated space for company contact information.
  • Each tab has a unique URL.
  • You can get branded URLs (See, http://www.facebook.com/username/).
  • Sending an Update to Fans causes the message to automatically appear in all the Fan’s timeline.
  • Able to create Events and send the Fans invitations.
  • Can obtain Facebook Fan Page widget to help promote the Page (this is free and available from Facebook).
  • Fans can subscribe to updates by SMS.

Note: Facebook calls these simply “Pages” but that generic name is one source of the confusion many people experience, hence in this article we’ve used the more distinctive label “Fan Pages.”

>> Learn more about Fan Pages on Facebook.

example - Facebook Insights

In sum, if you are an individual, all you need is a Facebook Profile. If you have a special interest group or network, then consider Groups. If you are a business looking to build brand and promote a product or service, then Fan Pages are your best bet for engaging your customers and stakeholders. From a commercial marketing perspective, Fan Pages provide five key benefits that Groups cannot match:

  1. The ability add applications and thereby create a richer experience.
  2. The SEO benefits that come from having your content (and your links) spidered.
  3. The ability to obtain a branded URL for your Fan Page (and thereby control your brand on this important channel).
  4. The ability to publish the to Fans’ timelines.
  5. Access to insight metrics on activity.

Report Finds High Facebook Abandonment Rates in Asia

Over 40% of the Facebook Fan Pages created by the Asian travel industry show signs of abandonment, according to the 2010 Asian Travel Engagement Report from water&stone.

The report, based on an industry survey and an examination of well over 100 travel company Facebook pages, found 41% of Facebook Fan Pages shows signs of abandonment. 9% of the Pages had not been updated by their owners in the last 30 days. 5% had not been updated in 60 days and 27% had not been updated by their owners in the last 90 days.

facebook fan page abandonment ratesLead analyst Ric Shreves states “we were surprised by the high number of partially or completely abandoned Pages and Profiles. While perhaps some of these are simply temporarily inactive, that distinction rather begs the point, as part of the appeal of social media is the immediacy and responsiveness.”

Shreves added “while Twitter abandonment ran at 20% — not an insubstantial figure —  the number pales in comparison with the very high rate of abandonment of Facebook Fan Pages. While we can only speculate as to the causes of the abandonment, it is hard to put a positive spin on the creation and subsequent abandonment of branded properties associated with your company.”

The report also notes that inactive or improperly maintained Fan Pages can also be a risk factor. Unwatched pages are ripe for exploitation by spammers, who use the pages to broadcast their messages to the Fans that follow the page.

Shreves states “if you have decided that you no longer wish to maintain a Fan Page, and do not wish to delete it completely, then at the very least take steps to advise your existing (and potential) Fans and also put limits on what can be posted to the Page.”

The 2010 Asian Travel Engagement Report is from digital agency water&stone. The report’s findings are based both on direct data collection from the major social media channels and on a survey of the industry as a whole.

A complimentary copy of the report can be downloaded fromhttp://www.waterandstone.com/online-marketing-resources

Avoiding Brand Confusion on Social Media

If you go to Facebook and you run a search for “Thai Airways,” you get a search results page like you see in the screenshot immediately below. Which one of the multiple Fan Pages listed there is the official Thai Airways Fan Page? Is there one? Is there more than one?

This situation highlights one of the most common problems facing brands in social media today: Avoiding brand confusion and keeping control of your brand. Though this problem is in no way unique to Facebook, let’s look at the situation facing Thai Airways as an example.

In the early days of Facebook it was possible for anyone to create a Fan Page using a brand name. Last year, Facebook (finally) recognized that allowing people to create unauthorized pages using other peoples’ brands was not an acceptable practice and they took steps to reduce the problem. (Very small steps, but steps nonetheless!) The first, and arguably least effective, approach was to add a disclaimer and have users certify that they had the authority / right / permission to create the page using the brand name. Facebook did not, however, go back to the people who had already created Fan Pages and push them for such assurances, thereby leaving a number of misleading profiles in place.

A second and more meaningful step was to set up a grievance procedure whereby brand and trademark owners could petition Facebook for the exclusive use of their brand or mark. While the redress procedure has been criticized for being mostly show — and being very slow to act — it is a step in the right direction. Companies like Thai Airways would do well to begin to shut down unauthorized profiles, and to reduce redundancy where they have created more than one Fan Page. Your brand is valuable. Take steps to protect it!

Hong Kong Disneyland recently experienced another problem of a similar nature — this time on Flickr. The park maintains a personal profile on Flickr, but does not run their own Flickr Group. They did, however, join a Group created by a third party, and that’s where the difficulties arose.

The third party had created a Group named “Hong Kong Disneyland.” The Group name is a big part of the problem; it is likely to cause confusion among users and create a false impression. Moreover, the Group profile page does nothing to clear up the situation and leaves visitors with the impression that this is an official, or at least officially sanctioned, Flickr Group for the park. The Group has a significant number of members and on the whole is what it should be, that is, a collection of photos taken at the park. However, as membership is open to anyone, there is a potential for abuse — particularly in the absence of proper oversight.

The screenshot at right shows what is occurring in that Group. At least one member is using the Group to promote pornographic imagery. If an unwary visitor clicks on the circled users profile, they are taken to a page filled with pornography. Disney, though neither the owner nor the manager of the Group, suffers from the lack of oversight by the Group owner and has no real recourse. The situation seems foreseeable to us: The brand has failed to control its presence on the channel and has left itself open to abuse.

The lesson here is simple: No one will look after your brand like you will. Don’t delegate reputation management to strangers.

Fragmentation is another branding issue of concern. In the rush to get online it seems that many firms created profiles that were subsequently allowed to lay fallow. Still other brands are now struggling to get things back under control after a fast (and perhaps somewhat uncontrolled) start to their social media efforts.

Wotif is a case in point. In the past, the firm maintained a large number of Twitter profiles, each targeting a different country market. They have recently shifted away from that “pure” markets strategy, choosing instead to consolidate all their non-Australian promotional activity on Twitter into a single profile.

The new profile, named WotifG2G (seen at right), covers all the activity outside of Australia and replaces several country-specific Twitter profiles, for example, the WotifUAE and the WotifAmericas Profiles seen below. Wotif has left up the old Twitter profiles — at least for the time being — and is using them to steer existing Followers and newcomers into the new G2G profile (see, collage at bottom).

Other firms who have spread themselves too thinly, or who now find that brand control is an issue, would do well to learn from Wotif’s exercise. It may be a bit painful, but the short-term pain is offset by the long-term advantages of improving control over your message and reduced overhead.

Note: This article is excerpted from the 2010 Asia Travel Engagement Report, a water&stone white paper. You can view the report in it’s entirety by visiting the online marketing resources page and clicking on the White Papers.

Managing Social Media Marketing

In April of 2010, we released the 2010 Asia Travel Engagement Report. The 65 page white paper looked at social media adoption rates and patterns in the Asia travel industry. As part of that anlysis, we examined the various strategies being employed by companies faced with the challenge of managing their brands and products in the social media space. The article below is taken from the Report. In this excerpt, we take a quick look at the various market approaches being used in social media channels.

Given the wide number of choices available, and the various corporate structures and business imperatives, it should come as no surprise that firms are adopting a variety of approaches to managing their social media marketing efforts. While some firms are happy to present a consolidated front across all channels, others are taking a multi-faceted approach, in some cases mirroring their product lines, in other cases reflecting their target markets; yet other firms seem to mix things up a bit — whether by plan or circumstance, it’s hard to say.


Managing a single set of profiles for a brand seemed to be the exception, rather than the rule, for the companies we surveyed. Despite what would seem to be the gains in efficiency and ease of maintenance, only a minority of the top brands used this approach. Jetstar, Bali Safari & Marine Park, and Bangkok Airways, are all examples of firms that maintain only one official profile on the various channels.

The approach has several clear advantages:

  • Ease of maintenance
  • Consistency of message
  • Better brand control
  • Less confusion for users

However, in Asia, where many firms’ target markets speak different languages and have different concerns and priorities, a consolidated approach does rob your firm of a degree of flexibility.


A number of the accommodations firms in our study employ an approach focused on products, or if you prefer, properties. Many, like Karma Resorts, maintain multiple Facebook Fan Pages, one for each of their properties — and sometimes even for outlets on individual properties (e.g., the Karma Steakhouse & Nammos Beach Club Fan Pages seen in the collage, below). This approach can also be seen with other accommodations brands, including Mandarin Oriental and Six Senses.

Karma Resorts Facebook Fan Pages

Alila Facebook Fan PagesAlila employs a similar but slightly different strategy. Rather than building Fan Pages and profiles for each of the properties in their portfolio, they have centered their social media approach on product lines. The Alila Hotels product receives separate treatment from the Alila Villas product line. All hotel properties are dealt with in the Alila Hotels profiles; all villa properties are dealt with under the Alila Villas profiles.

The approach combines the best of both worlds, allowing Alila to tailor the messages and the content to each product line, but decreasing maintenance costs. The approach also has the added advantage of leveraging the brand across properties and enhancing opportunities for cross selling — a client who enjoys Alila Villas Soori is also likely to enjoy another of Alila’s villa properties. By combining the products into one profile, a visitor to the page or profile will be exposed to related products with which they are likely to have an affinity.

The use of a products-centric approach has several advantages:

  • Easier to manage information & promotions that are specific to individual properties
  • More inbound links to website(s), thereby enhancing search ranking
  • Ability to manage reputation on a per property basis, without fear of spillover
  • Ability to manage crises on a per property basis, without fear of spillover
  • Ability to engage in local languages

The products centric approach is not, however, without disadvantages:

  • Increased management overhead
  • Danger of brand drift
  • Increased difficulty in controlling the message
  • Decreased opportunities for cross-selling

While some of the disadvantages can be minimized where the brand’s social media marketing efforts are managed from a central location by a coordinated team, our research shows that where individual properties are given the latitude to manage their own profiles, the dangers highlighted above seem quick to arise.


Several of the more global brands in our survey employed a markets approach to their social media profile creation and management. The markets approach looks to the brand’s target markets for inspiration and creates profiles that align with those markets. We see the approach used by many of the airlines, including Air New Zealand, who created profiles targeting the various countries they view as key to their marketing efforts.

Air New Zealand Facebook Fan Pages

Malaysia Airlines also employs a markets strategy, but rather than focusing on the geographic location of their target markets, they look to the characteristics of the group. To that end, they have created profiles that are aligned with definitive characteristics of key markets. In addition to a group Fan Page, they also maintain Fan Pages targeting expats (MHExpats), students (MHStudents) and cost-conscious travelers (MHDeals).

Malaysia Airlines Facebook Fan Pages

Malaysia Airlines approach is unique among the companies we surveyed and from our research relatively rare among the industry as a whole.

The markets approach has several key advantages:

  • Ability to align your message with your target markets
  • Ability to run market-specific promotions
  • Ability to engage in local languages
  • More inbound links to website(s), thereby enhancing search ranking

The primary disadvantages are similar to those we see in a products approach, specifically:

  • Increased management overhead
  • Danger of brand drift
  • Increased difficulty in controlling the message
  • (Slightly) decreased opportunities for cross-selling


If you would like to read the entire 2010 Asia Engagement Report, it can be download by visiting our social media resources page.

Page Jacking: Facebook Fan Pages Out of Control

In April of 2010, we released the 2010 Asia Travel Engagement Report. The 65 page white paper looked at social media adoption rates and patterns in the Asia travel industry. As part of that analysis, we examined the various pitfalls that await brands in social media. The article below is taken from the Report. In this excerpt, we take a look at page jacking and issues related to maintaining control of your Facebook Fan Page.

Page jacking was another major issue we found in our research. Page jacking occurs when third parties employ your Fan Page or profile as a means of promoting their message to your followers. This practice is the social networking equivalent of spam and an unfortunate reality of the virtual landscape. The bright spot here is that this is easy to detect and police against, at least in its most common form, that is, the page spammer.

The example at left shows a page spammer in action. Shamelessly, he repeatedly posts his message and (not one, but two!) email contacts.  To give him his due, what he lacks in creativity he clearly makes up for in persistence, posting again and again his promotional message on this neglected Fan Page. The page administrator here seems oblivious to what’s happening. From the date stamps, you can see that the messages have been on the site for multiple days and at one point the administrator was active on the Page after the first round of messages, but did nothing to remove them.

While the example at left shows page jacking via the Wall of a Facebook Fan Page, there are other ways spammers can use the features of a Facebook Fan Page to spread their message. One of the settings on your Fan Page allows you to enable Fans to upload photos to the Photos tab. Creative page spammers use the Fan Photos feature as a way to upload their messages, as you can see in the example taken from the Malaysia Airlines Facebook Fan Page (below).

In this example, the spammers have used the Fan Photos option to upload a variety of messages. The top row shows a (doubled) snapshot of an article from the Malaysia Airlines in-flight magazine. The poster is complaining that the facts in the article are incorrect and that the airline is culturally insensitive. While the use of the Fan Photos to raise an issue about something published by the airline is not necessarily something you would want to discourage, you probably don’t want to it to be addressed in this manner. Worse yet, the bottom row of photos shows an example of the sort of  things you would definitely want to block — in this case the spammer has uploaded an advertisement for their system for making money online with social media (see, detailed view).

Failing to police your page creates a nuisance for your followers and exposes them to possible abuse by third parties. The administrators of your profiles — particularly your Facebook Fan Pages — need to be wary of this sort of activity and take immediate steps to shut it down by deleting the posts before you lose Fans and your brand suffers.

Page jacking can also take a more aggressive form, providing a forum for people to air grievances against your brand or product and turning your Fan Page into a negative publicity weapon aimed directly at you and your Fans, as we see in the next example.

The screen shot at left shows the Facebook Fan Page of Bali Anantara Uluwatu. The property is currently in development. Its location on the cliffs of Uluwatu has been the subject of some contention by environmentalists and others concerned with development in Bali.

Those who seek to stop the development have turned the Anantara Uluwatu Fan Page into their own resource for rallying support to their cause. If you will note the screenshots, you will see that they have not only posted to the Wall, but they have also uploaded Fan Photos that support their cause and even used the Reviews tab (see, below) to further voice their objections.

Again, the administrator of this page needs to take remedial steps to get things under control and to respond to this. As it stands now, the only voices being heard on this Fan Page are those of the critics.