Tag Archives: content marketing

Valuing Word-of-Mouth Publicity and Online Reviews

A very important function of public relations and publicity is to promote the corporate image and reputation of a business. The “image” is the total sum of impressions on the company. For instance, a casual act by an employee can appraise or damage the corporate image in the eyes of a single customer or caller on the phone. However, the major elements of corporate image include; the core business and financial performance of the company, the reputation and performance of its brands (i.e. brand equity); its reputation for innovation or technological process; policies toward employees; external relations with customers, shareholders, and the community, and; the perceived trends in the markets in which the business operates.

Public relations and publicity support other marketing tools, and could be seen as the backbone of the promotional mix. The success achieved by the other elements of the mix could easily be damaged or reduced by bad public relations or negative publicity, something which is undesirable to the businesses. Very often, the businesses cannot control the favourable or unfavourable messages about products or services that appear in online reviews. If for some reason, the business receives bad publicity, its role in this area moves to that of damage limitation. For example, many airlines and large hotel chains may have a section within their PR department to engage with online communities. This section will usually handle publicity issues, including negative reviews.

Recently, we are increasingly witnessing an surge in businesses’ engagement with online communities, including consumers. User-generated ratings and reviews provide relevant information on the business products and their levels of customer service. For instance, many prospective customers read reviews before choosing which places to visit, to stay or to eat. Very often the online ratings and reviews will have an effect on their consumer behaviours. It is likely that prospective customers will be mainly influenced by negative reviews, rather than by positive ones. Many studies indicate that individuals will read consumer reviews before shopping.

Presently, there are millions of online reviews that are related to travel and tourism. Digital platforms which provide travel-related content (are generated directly by users) concerning destinations, attractions and businesses. For instance, TripAdvisor provides travel related reviews and opinions on accommodation establishments, restaurants and attractions. In addition, many websites, which are traditionally known as booking engines, including; Booking.com, Airbnb.com, et cetera also provide reviews that are integrated in their presentation of properties, restaurants and other amenities. A distinction should be made between reviews and rating: Reviews will generally include qualitative comments and descriptions, whilst ratings usually feature quantitative rankings corresponding to degrees of user satisfaction. The ratings may be part of a review.

Sometimes internet users may noticce that there may be controversial reviews online.  Occasionally, the tourism service providers claim that they were subject to unfounded negative ratings. Moreover, many businesses may be blackmailed by consumers, as they threaten to write negative reviews unless their demands are not met. In a similar vein, consumers have also reported cases of unfounded positive ratings of services or unverified negative criticism. Online users are increasingly paying more attention to these contentious issues.

Recently, The World Committee on Tourism Ethics has elaborated its recommendations for the responsible use of ratings and reviews on digital platforms. Their recommendations are addressed to three main groups of stakeholders, namely: online platforms (operators like TripAdvisor or Yelp) service providers (businesses that are listed on these platforms); and users (consumers).

Digital platforms that incorporate reviews and ratings for their products and services need to ensure the accuracy, reliability and credibility of their content. Online platforms should undertake all reasonable measures to ensure that individual reviews reflect the real users’ opinions, findings and experiences. The provision of publicly available information though digital media involves a certain degree of trust, therefore the veracity of the reviews is essential for the integrity, reputation and good functioning of such platforms. Whilst it is not always easy to verify the authenticity of user generated content, the digital platform should have quality control mechanisms and processes to ensure that their reviews are clear, accurate and truthful, for the benefit of prospective consumers.

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Corporate Communication, Stakeholder Engagement and Corporate Social Responsibility

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Companies are increasingly dedicating their time and resources to promote their public relations initiatives. Corporate Communication Managers and executives have a wide array of media channels at their disposal. These may  be used to communicate their corporate social responsibility CSR credentials. As a matter of fact, businesses are continuously being scrutinised by media, customers, monitoring groups, consumer forums and blogs (Du et al., 2010).

Very often, businesses disclose their CSR activities through official documents, such as annual corporate responsibility or sustainability reports, media releases, dedicated sections of their corporate websites; as well as in social media pages or groups. CSR communication is produced, translated, and integrated according to the companies’ contexts and their specific reality constructions (Schultz and Wehmeier, 2010).

Companies could use broadcast advertising, including TV and radio commercials. Businesses could also utilise print media (e.g. newspapers, magazines) to disseminate their message to their target audience. Newspaper articles reflect corporate ideas of social responsibilities and assumptions about public expectations, and react herewith to what they perceive as the public’s expectations (Schultz and Wehmeier, 2010). Alternatively, they may use outdoor advertisements such as billboards and signage on brick-and-mortar premises. These traditional media are based on a hierarchical one‐to‐many communication; with a clear distinction between producer and consumer of information. Notwithstanding, there are other communication channels that are not entirely controlled by the company. For this reason, businesses are encouraged to become more proficient in the use of digital media in addition to traditional media to increase their impact of their corporate communication.

Evidently, the internet has reshaped communication at different levels. It has enabled the emergence of a new participatory public sphere that is based on a many‐to‐many communication where everybody can dialogically and publicly interact and collaborate in the creation of content and the definition of the agenda (Colleoni, 2013; Jenkins, 2006). In a relatively short period of time, the internet has become an essential tool for organisational communication (Capriotti & Moreno, 2007a; Stuart & Jones, 2004).

Moreover, in today’s digital era, the engagement between the public and the organisation is one of the main characteristics of the internet (Colleoni, 2013). Many corporate websites already possess a high degree of interactivity; including their ability to disseminate information and to generate relationships between the different publics and the organisation (Capriotti & Moreno, 2007). In the first approach, the level of interactivity is low, and the use of the Internet is unidirectional; as its essential objective is to diffuse information and to try to improve the corporate image of the business. However, in the second approach, the degree of interactivity is high, and the Internet is used to facilitate bidirectional communication and to nurture relationships by allowing dialogue and interaction between the organisation and its stakeholders.

Interactive communication is becoming one of the most important information channels for corporations as it is changing social dynamics (Fieseler & Fleck, 2013; O`Reilly, 2005; 2006). Web-based co‐operation and data exchanges have empowered the communication between businesses and their stakeholders (Buhalis & Law, 2008; O´Riley, 2006, Fieseler et al., 2010). It enables them to engage with online users and to take advantage of positive publicity arising from word-of-mouth marketing and digital platforms. Corporations can maintain legitimacy better as they engage with stakeholders via social media; and take on the gate keeping function of traditional media (Fieseler et al. 2010). At the same time, there are protest actors; who have become more powerful online as they disrupt the corporations’ legitimacy by using social media (Castelló, Morsing & Schultz, 2013; Bennett 2003).

Societies are currently undergoing a fundamental transformation toward globally networked societies (Castelló, Morsing, & Schultz, 2013). Unsurprisingly, the public relations and corporate communications of business have benefited of social networking software (Etter, Morsing, and Castello, 2011; Pressley (2006). Of course, these technological advances also have consequences for CSR communication; as companies can reach out to stakeholders in a more interactive way. In a similar vein, the use of social networks have offered the businesses new forms of interactivity and enable them to address the CSR information toward a variety of stakeholders (Isenmann, 2006). A powerful stakeholder group, the consumers serve as an informal yet highly credible CSR communication channel. In particular, the power of consumer word-of-mouth has been greatly magnified given the popularity and vast reach of interactive communication.

Companies such as Stonyfield Farm and Ben & Jerry’s have been benefiting from consumer ambassadors who raved, in the virtual world, about their social responsibility endeavours. For example, one consumer wrote enthusiastically about Ben & Jerry’s butter pecan ice cream and its support for an educational foundation, ‘besides the great flavour that the Ben & Jerry’s Butter Pecan Ice Cream offers you, a portion of the proceeds go to the Tom Joyner Foundation . . . [that] provides financial support to students attending historically black colleges and universities’ (Associated Content 2008). Companies can be proactive in using social media to engage consumers to be their CSR advocates.

Timberland, a company that is known for its environmental stewardship, launched the Earthkeeper campaign in 2008 to recruit one million people to become part of an online network designed to inspire real environmental behaviour change. As part of the Earthkeeper programme, Timberland launched an innovative global network of online social networking tools, including a strong Facebook presence, a YouTube Earthkeeper Brand Channel and a richly populated Earthkeeper blog, as well as an Earthkeeper product collection which serves as the pinnacle expression of the company’s environmental commitment (CSRWire 2008). Through this campaign, Timberland not only effectively communicating its sustainability initiative, but also engaging consumers to spread the word about this initiative and, importantly, the company’s involvement in this initiative.

Fieseler et al. (2010) suggested that communication through social media is dynamic in relation to traditional media. The global diffusion of social software like blogs, RSS feed, wikis, electronic forum, social networks have facilitated companies to attract prospects and consumer groups. Social media have the technological potential to speed up communication processes (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010) and to increase direct interaction, dialogue and participation across organisations and various audiences (Colleoni 2013; Schultz et al. 2011). Such interactive communications are referred to as “viral” because ideas and opinions spread like epidemic diseases through the network via word‐of‐mouth and are perceived as highly trustworthy sources (Colleoni et al., 2011; Schultz and Wehmeier, 2010).

Accordingly, social media has transformed the communicative dynamics within and between corporations and their environment.  Social media networks are effective monitoring tools as they could feature early warning signals of trending topics. These networks may help business communicators and marketers identify and follow the latest sustainability issues. Notwithstanding, CSR influencers are easily identified on particular subject matters or expertise. For example, businesses and customers alike have learned how to use the hashtag (#) to enhance the visibility of their shareable content16 (Some of the most popular hashtags comprise: #CSR #StrategicCSR, #sustainability, #susty, #CSRTalk, #Davos2016, #KyotoProtocol, #SharedValue et cetera). Hashtags could be used to raise awareness on charities, philanthropic institutions and green non-governmental organisations. They may also help during fund raising events. Hence, there are numerous opportunities for businesses to leverage themselves through social networks as they engage with influencers and media.

The ubiquity of Facebook and Google Plus over the past years has made them familiar channels for many individuals around the globe. These networks have become very popular communication outlets for brands, companies and activists alike. These social media empower their users to engage with business on a myriad of issues. They also enable individual professionals or groups to promote themselves and their CSR credentials in different markets and segments.

Moreover, LinkedIn is yet another effective tool, particularly for personal branding. However, this social network helps users identify and engage with influencers. Companies can use this site to create or join their favourite groups on LinkedIn (e.g. GRI, FSG, Shared Value Initiative among others). They may also use this channel for CSR communication as they promote key initiatives and share sustainability ideas. Therefore, LinkedIn connects individuals and groups as they engage in conversations with both academia and CSR practitioners.

In addition, Pinterest and Instagram enable their users to share images, ideas with their networks. These social media could also be relevant in the context of the sustainability agenda. Businesses could illustrate their CSR communication to stakeholders through visual and graphic content. Evidently, these innovative avenues provide sharable imagery, infographics or videos to groups who may be passionate on certain issues, including CSR.

Moreover, digital marketers are increasingly uploading short, fun videos which often turn viral on internet. YouTube, Vimeo and Vine seem to have positioned themselves as important social media channels for many consumers, particularly among millennials. These sites offer an excellent way to humanise or animate CSR communication through video content. These digital media also allow their users to share their video content across multiple networks. For instance, videos featuring university resources may comprise lectures, documentaries, case studies and the like.

This contribution suggests that corporate communications managers and executives are in a position to amplify the effectiveness of their company’s CSR communication efforts. They are expected to create relevant content and to engage with stakeholders through different marketing communications channels.

 

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Filed under Business, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, CSR, digital media, Marketing, Stakeholder Engagement

Crunching Big Data and Analytics from Web2.0

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The use of data and its analyses are becoming ubiquitous practices. As a result, there has been a dramatic surge in the use of business intelligence and analytics. These developments have inevitably led to endless opportunities for marketers to leverage themselves and gain a competitive advantage by untangling big data. Relevant data could help businesses to better serve customers as they would better know what they need, want and desire. This knowledge will lead to customer satisfaction and long lasting relationships.

Businesses are increasingly collecting and analysing data from many sources for many purposes. Much of the value of data is derived from secondary uses that were not intended in the first place. Very often datasets can possess intrinsic, hidden, not-yet-unearthed value. According to a research from IBM and the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford; nearly nine in 10 companies were using transactional data, and three-quarters were collecting log data in 2012. This study suggested that business practitioners also gathered data from events, emails and social data (eMarketer, 2012).

This data is being collected and stored in massive amounts by search engines including Google, Bing and Yahoo as well as by e-commerce conglomerates such as eBay and Amazon. For instance, Security First boosted its productivity and customer satisfaction by using content analytics to bridge social media and the claims process. Similarly, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria has improved its online reputation with analytics that quickly responded to online feedback (IBM, 2015).

In addition, users can easily access multiple sources of digital data that is readily available through websites, social networks, blogs, as well as from mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets. Big data is being gathered from social media content and video data from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus among others. These modern digital marketing tools are helping business to engage in social conversations with consumers. Social networks have surely amplified the marketers’ messages as they support promotional efforts. Here are some of the unique pieces of data each social network is collecting:

  • “Facebook’s interest/social graph: The world’s largest online community collects more data via its API than any other social network. Facebook’s “like” button is pressed 2.7 billion times every day across the web, revealing what people care about.
  • Google+’s relevance graph: The number of “+1s” and other Google+ data are now a top factor in determining how a Web page ranks in Google search results.
  • LinkedIn’s talent graph: At least 22% of LinkedIn users have between 500-999 first-degree connections on the social network, and 19% have between 301-499.The rich professional data is helping LinkedIn build a “talent graph.”
  • Twitter’s news graph: At its peak late last year the social network was processing 143,199 tweets per second globally. This firehose of tweets provide a real-time window into the news and information that people care about. Fifty-two percent of Twitter users in the U.S. consume news on the site (more than the percent who do so on Facebook), according to Pew.
  • Pinterest’s commerce graph: More than 17% of all pinboards are categorized under “Home,” while roughly 12% fall under style or fashion, these are windows into people’s tastes and fashion trends.
  • YouTube’s entertainment graph: What music, shows, and celebrities do we like? YouTube reaches more U.S. adults aged 18 to 34 than any single cable network, according to Nielsen. YouTube knows what they like to watch.
  • Yelp’s and Foursquare’s location graphs: These apps know where we’ve been and where we’ll go. Foursquare has over 45 million users and 5 billion location check-ins” (Business Insider, 2014).

Big data is fundamentally shifting how marketers collect, analyse and utilise data to reach out to customers. Business intelligence and analytics are helping companies to get new insights into how consumers behave. It is envisaged that the IT architecture will shortly develop into an information eco-system: a network of internal and external services where information is shared among users. Big data can support business in their decision making. It could be used to communicate meaningful results and to generate insights for an effective organisational performance. New marketing decision-making ought to harness big data for increased targeting and re-targeting of individuals and online communities. On-demand, direct marketing through digital platforms has already become more personalised than ever. The challenge for marketers is to recognise the value of big data as a tool that drives consumer in-sights.

Every customer contact with a brand is a moment of truth, in real-time. Businesses who are not responding with seamless externally-facing solutions will inevitably lose their customers to rivals. This contribution posits that a strategic approach to data management could drive consumer preferences. An evolving analytics ecosystem that is also integrated with web2.0 instruments could lead to better customer service and consumer engagement.

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Using Content Marketing Metrics for Academic Impact

Academic contributions start from concepts and ideas. When their content is relevant and of a high quality they can be published in renowned, peer-reviewed journals. Researchers are increasingly using online full text databases from institutional repositories or online open access journals to disseminate their findings. The web has surely helped to enhance fruitful collaborative relationships among academia. The internet has brought increased engagement among peers, over email or video. In addition, they may share their knowledge with colleagues as they present their papers in seminars and conferences. After publication, their contributions may be cited by other scholars.

The researchers’ visibility does not only rely on the number of publications. Both academic researchers and their institutions are continuously being rated and classified. Their citations may result from highly reputable journals or well-linked homepages providing scientific content. Publications are usually ranked through metrics that will assess individual researchers and their organisational performance. Bibliometrics and citations may be considered as part of the academic reward system. Highly cited authors are usually endorsed by their peers for their significant contribution to knowledge by society. As a matter of fact, citations are at the core of scientometric methods as they have been used to measure the visibility and impact of scholarly work (Moed, 2006; Borgman, 2000). This contribution explores extant literature that explain how the visibility of individual researchers’content may be related to their academic clout. Therefore, it examines the communication structures and processes of scholarly communications (Kousha and Thelwall, 2007; Borgmann and Furner 2002). It presents relevant theoretical underpinnings on bibliometric studies and considers different methods that can analyse the individual researchers’ or their academic publications’ impact (Wilson, 1999; Tague-Sutcliffe, 1992).

 

Citation Analysis
The symbolic role of citation in representing the content of a document is an extensive dimension of information retrieval. Citation analysis expands the scope of information seeking by retrieving publications that have been cited in previous works. This methodology offers enormous possibilities for tracing trends and developments in different research areas. Citation analysis has become the de-facto standard in the evaluation of research. In fact, previous publications can be simply evaluated on the number of citations and the relatively good availability of citation data for such purposes (Knoth and Herrmannova, 2014). However, citations are merely one of the attributes of publications. By themselves, they do not provide adequate and sufficient evidence of impact, quality and research contribution. This may be due to a wide range of characteristics they exhibit; including the semantics of the citation (Knoth and Herrmannova, 2014), the motives for citing (Nicolaisen, 2007), the variations in sentiment (Athar, 2014), the context of the citation (He, Pei, Kifer, Mitra and Giles, 2010), the popularity of topics, the size of research communities (Brumback, 2009; Seglen, 1997), the time delay for citations to show up (Priem and Hemminger, 2010), the skewness of their distribution (Seglen, 1992), the difference in the types of research papers (Seglen, 1997) and finally the ability to game / manipulate citations (Arnold and Fowler, 2010).

Impact Factors (IFs)
Scholarly impact is measure of frequency in which an “average article” has been cited over a defined time period in a journal (Glanzel and Moed, 2002). Journal citations reports are published in June, every year by Thomson-Reuters’ Institute of Scientific Information (ISI). These reports also feature data for ranking the Immediacy Index of articles, which measure the number of times an article appeared in academic citations (Harter, 1996). Publishers of core scientific journals consider IF indicators in their evaluations of prospective contributions. In Despite there are severe limitations in the IF’s methodology, it is still the most common instrument that ranks international journals in any given field of study. Yet, impact factors have often been subject to ongoing criticism by researchers for their methodological and procedural imperfections. Commentators often debate about how IFs should be used. Whilst a higher impact factor may indicate journals that are considered to be more prestigious, it does not necessarily reflect the quality or impact of an individual article or researcher. This may be attributable to the large number of journals, the volume of research contributions, and also the rapidly changing nature of certain research fields and the increasing representation of researchers. Hence, other metrics have been developed to provide alternative measures to impact factors.

h-index
The h-index attempts to calculate the citation impact of the academic publications of researchers. Therefore, this index measures the scholars productivity by taking into account their most cited papers and the number of citations that they received in other publications. This index can also be applied to measure the impact and productivity of a scholarly journal, as well as a group of scientists, such as a department or university or country (Jones, Huggett and Kamalski, 2011). The (Hirsch) h-index was originally developed in 2005 to estimate the importance, significance and the broad impact of an academic’s researcher’s cumulative research contributions. Initially, the h-index was designed to overcome the limitations of other measures of quality and productivity of researchers. It consists of a single number that reports on an author’s academic contributions that have at least the equivalent number of citations. For instance, an h-index of 3 would indicate that the author has published at least three papers that have been cited three times or more. Therefore, the most productive researcher may possibly obtaining a high h-index. Moreover, the best papers in terms of quality will be mostly cited. Interestingly, this issue is driving more researchers to publish in open access journals.

 

Webometrics
The science of webometrics (also cybermetrics) is still in an experimental phase. Björneborn and Ingwersen (2004) indicated that webometrics involves an assessment of different types of hyperlinks. They argued that relevant links may help to improve the impact of academic publications. Therefore, webometrics refer to the quantitative analysis of activity on the world wide web, such as downloads (Davidson, Newton, Ferguson, Daly, Elliott, Homer, Duffield and Jackson, 2014). Webometrics recognise that the internet is a repository for a massive number of documents. It disseminates knowledge to wide audiences. The webometric ranking involves the measurement of volume, visibility, and the impact of web pages. Webometrics emphasise on scientific output including peer-reviewed papers, conference presentations, preprints, monographs, theses, and reports. However, these kind of electronic metrics also analyse other academic material (including courseware, seminar documentation, digital libraries, databases, multimedia, personal pages and blogs among others). Moreover, webometrics consider online information on the educational institution, its departments, research groups, supporting services, and the level of students attending courses.

Web 2.0 and Social Media
Internet users are increasingly creating and publishing their content online. Never before has it been so easy for academics to engage with their peers on both current affairs and scientific findings. The influence of social media has changed the academic publishing scenario. As a matter of fact, recently there has been an increased recognition for measures of scholarly impact to be drawn from Web 2.0 data (Priem and Hemminger, 2010).

The web has not only revolutionised how data is gathered, stored and shared but also provided a mechanism of measuring access to information. Moreover, academics are also using personal web sites and blogs to enhance the visibility of their publications. This medium improves their content marketing in addition to traditional bibliometrics. Social media networks are providing blogging platforms that allows users to communicate to anyone with online access. For instance, Twitter is rapidly becoming used for work related purposes, particularly scholarly communication, as a method of sharing and disseminating information which is central to the work of an academic (Java, Song, Finin and Tseng B, 2007). Recently, there has been rapid growth in the uptake of Twitter by academics to network, share ideas and common interests, and promote their scientific findings (Davidson et al., 2014).

Conclusions and Implications

There are various sources of bibliometric data, each possess their own strengths and limitations. Evidently, there is no single bibliometric measure that is perfect. Multiple approaches to evaluation are highly recommended. Moreover, bibliometric approaches should not be the only measures upon which academic and scholarly performance ought to be evaluated. Sometimes, it may appear that bibliometrics can reduce the publications’ impact to a quantitative, numerical score. Many commentators have argued that when viewed in isolation these metrics may not necessarily be representative of a researcher’s performance or capacity. In taking this view, one would consider bibliometric measures as only one aspect of performance upon which research can be judged. Nonetheless, this chapter indicated that bibliometrics still have their high utility in academia. It is very likely that metrics will to continue to be in use because they represent a relatively simple and accurate data source. For the time being, bibliometrics are an essential aspect of measuring academic clout and organisational performance. A number of systematic ways of assessment have been identified in this regard; including citation analysis, impact factor, h-index and webometrics among others. Notwithstanding, the changes in academic behaviours and their use of content marketing on internet have challenged traditional metrics. Evidently, the measurement of impact beyond citation metrics is an increasing focus among researchers, with social media networks representing the most contemporary way of establishing performance and impact. In conclusion, this contribution suggests that these bibliometrics as well as recognition by peers can help to boost the researchers’, research groups’ and universities’ productivity and their quality of research.

References
Arnold, D. N., & Fowler, K. K. (2011). Nefarious numbers. Notices of the AMS, 58(3), 434-437.

Athar, A. (2014). Sentiment analysis of scientific citations. University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory, Technical Report, (UCAM-CL-TR-856).

Borgman, C. L. (2000). Digital libraries and the continuum of scholarly communication. Journal of documentation, 56(4), 412-430.

Borgman, C. L., & Furner, J. (2002). Scholarly communication and bibliometrics.

Bornmann, L., & Daniel, H. D. (2005). Does the h-index for ranking of scientists really work?. Scientometrics, 65(3), 391-392.

Bornmann, L., & Daniel, H. D. (2007). What do we know about the h index?. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and technology, 58(9), 1381-1385.

Björneborn, L., & Ingwersen, P. (2004). Toward a basic framework for webometrics. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 55(14), 1216-1227.

Glänzel, W., & Moed, H. F. (2002). Journal impact measures in bibliometric research. Scientometrics, 53(2), 171-193.

Harter, S. (1996). Historical roots of contemporary issues involving self-concept.

He, Q., Pei, J., Kifer, D., Mitra, P., & Giles, L. (2010, April). Context-aware citation recommendation. In Proceedings of the 19th international conference on World wide web (pp. 421-430). ACM.

Java, A., Song, X., Finin, T., & Tseng, B. (2007, August). Why we twitter: understanding microblogging usage and communities. In Proceedings of the 9th WebKDD and 1st SNA-KDD 2007 workshop on Web mining and social network analysis (pp. 56-65). ACM. http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1348549.1348556

Knoth, P., & Herrmannova, D. (2014). Towards Semantometrics: A New Semantic Similarity Based Measure for Assessing a Research Publication’s Contribution. D-Lib Magazine, 20(11), 8.

Kousha, K., & Thelwall, M. (2007). Google Scholar citations and Google Web/URL citations: A multi‐discipline exploratory analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(7), 1055-1065.

Moed, H. F. (2006). Citation analysis in research evaluation (Vol. 9). Springer Science & Business Media.

Nicolaisen, J. (2007). Citation analysis. Annual review of information science and technology, 41(1), 609-641.

Priem, J., & Hemminger, B. H. (2010). Scientometrics 2.0: New metrics of scholarly impact on the social Web. First Monday, 15(7).

Seglen, P. O. (1992). The skewness of science. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 43(9), 628-638.

Seglen, P. O. (1997). Why the impact factor of journals should not be used for evaluating research. Bmj, 314(7079), 497.

Tague-Sutcliffe, J. (1992). An introduction to informetrics. Information processing & management, 28(1), 1-3.

Wilson, C. S. (1999). Informetrics. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST), 34, 107-247.

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Anticipating a surge in social media usage during 2015

smm2
Firms are increasingly facing internal and external pressures to enhance their digital presence in social media platforms. This year, many businesses ought to focus on relationship-based interactions and employ inbound marketing techniques for the following reasons:
1. Consumers are Digitally-Empowered
The rapid proliferation of social media has significantly modified the nature of human activities, habitats, and interactions. Real-world social relationships have also migrated to the virtual world, resulting in online communities that bring people together from many contexts. This movement into the digital dimension allows individuals to share knowledge, entertain one another, and promote dialogues among different cultures. The question is no longer if people are signing in; the question is what they are signing in to and why they use certain applications to do so. From a consumer’s perspective, the use of information communication technologies may offer a number of benefits, including efficiency, convenience, richer and participative information, a broader selection of products, competitive pricing, cost reduction, and product diversity. Social media tend to enhance those benefits as consumers are able to communicate more proactively. For example, through social networking and online reviews, consumers can seek out others’ opinions about specific products. In doing so, they are valuing peer judgments in addition to the firms’ promotions; this trend may indicate a shift in the locus on the persuasive power of word-of-mouth marketing.
2. Social Media and Consumer Engagement
If many customers are on social media, then firms should also engage with customers on social media. Firms should seek to develop digital relationships by using promotional strategies that emphasise the co-creation of content and meaning. To this end, consumer reviews can be particularly helpful. Of course, firms have always communicated with their customers, whether online or through personal selling. However, today’s customers are able to respond to firms through digital communication tools. This recent development may create pressures on firms to adopt a more digital presence.
Therefore, the evolution of Web 2.0 represents a social revolution whereby firms are increasingly engaging with their customers online. It may appear that this is a ubiquitous phenomenon that is related to significant global advances in information communication technologies as well as to lower costs for internet access and usage. These developments have set the stage for major shifts in digital marketing strategies and tactics, particularly with respect to the integrated marketing communications dimensions.
3) Building Brand Equity through Content Marketing
The web is an extremely powerful tool for marketers who are interested in creating stronger brands. Many businesses are already using social media as a channel of communication with their customers. Lately, savvy marketers are focusing their attention on content and inbound marketing as they strive to enhance their visibility online. The right content on corporate websites, blogs and social media can build the brands’ image and reputation. Carefully designed landing pages often use persuasive content which can ultimately bring good prospects through the buying funnel. Therefore, marketers are encouraged to try different formats of content as they engage with their potential customers.
Digital marketers should feature content which should be a good fit for their target customers as well as for their corporate objectives. Their marketing content may be displayed on: web pages; online articles and guest posts; blog posts social media posts, eBooks, presentations; customer review content, product FAQs; videos and micro-videos; pictures, infographics, and animated GIFs among other media. Businesses are increasingly creating a broad range of online content for many reasons. Quality content has the ability to educate, inform, generate leads and entice customers. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the notion of content marketing is gaining ground, particularly in the C-Suite.
4) Viral Marketing and Word-of-Mouth Campaigns
It is widely believed that the word-of-mouth “buzz” about products may lead to conversions, product adoptions and sales. Therefore, firms are increasingly relying on social networks and “viral” marketing strategies. The term viral marketing describes the phenomenon by which consumers mutually share and spread marketing-relevant information online. Of course, it is in the businesses’ interest to leverage themselves through word-of-mouth (WOM) publicity on social networks. Such digital marketing stimuli may result in social contagion by means of e-mails, posts, likes, tweets et cetera. Therefore the dispersion of all marketing messages will then rely on the consumers themselves.
It goes without saying, publicity is more cost efficient than traditional mass-media advertising. Very often, successful marketing campaigns may trigger a strong emotional response in recipients. The effects of viral messages may possibly contain primary emotions (including surprise, joy, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust among others) on the recipients’ emotional responses to the creative ads and may even result in subsequent forwarding behaviours.
In conclusion, this article suggests that social media and digital marketing have already transformed the way how businesses engage with customers. Perhaps there’s an opportunity out there for businesses to differentiate themselves through interactive marketing. For instance, social media may provide simpler, faster and effective platforms that can reach different consumer segments. Notwithstanding, viral marketing tactics seem to offer a means of marketing communications at relatively low-cost, with a significantly reduced-response time and an increased potential for market impact.


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Digital Marketing trends to look out for during 2015

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(This contribution also appeared on Business2Community.com)

As 2014 is winding down, it’s time for businesses to start planning their marketing strategy in a business scenario that is continuously changing at the speed of technology. Firms should adapt themselves to the online marketing environment. Many marketers are already chasing their daily meanderings in terms of “likes”, “shares”, “tweets”, click-through rates and ever more immediate metrics. All these interesting developments on internet allow businesses to differentiate themselves to get ahead of their rivals. Smart marketers regularly collect social data to offer more personalised, relevant and wanted content toward customers. Interestingly, 78% of marketers believe that data-driven marketing via digital channels is the path to new growth (American Marketing Association, 2014). In a sense, web 2.0 has helped businesses to share relevant information about their branded products, service features and propositions that may have generated leads and conversions. Nowadays, some of the best businesses are focusing their attention on inbound marketing techniques as they diligently segment their audiences and target them with online advertising through different social platforms:

  1. Social Media Marketing: It is in the businesses’ interest to get to know about the demographic profile of customers. In addition they should be aware of the latest contemporary trends and conversations that are happening on social networks. Businesses ought to present themselves in a way that feels native and endemic to customers. One of the main ways that companies are establishing authority and trust among their consumers is by consistently creating high quality content that may provide useful and interesting insights to audiences. Through integrated marketing communications involving social media channels, companies are steadily building a strong rapport with customers, which will inevitably help them to develop brand equity.
  2. Ad Re-Targeting: Today, businesses use content marketing tactics by producing valuable, engaging content that is designed for specific customers. Content on social media is becoming more conversational in nature. Consumers value those brands that show their human face. They consider them as trustworthy and authentic. Therefore, businesses communicate with their targeted audiences to build fruitful relationships with loyal followers. Several marketers are increasingly becoming quite proficient in re-targeting customers. Retargeting works by utilising browser cookies that track websites that are visited by internet users. Once the users leave these sites, the products or services they viewed will be shown to them again in advertisements, across different websites. Therefore, ad retargeting works to increase the overall conversion rate by reminding consumers of the product or service they had viewed. This keeps the brand and the product at the top of the consumers’ minds. Many studies have indicated that simple exposure to brand names and logos may ultimately lead to purchase decisions. Even if there’s no instantaneous purchase, an increased brand awareness can really pay off in the long run.
  3. Search Engine Optimisation: The goal of Google, Bing and other search engines is to provide their users with the most relevant and highest quality content. It goes without saying that, these days social signals may play a key role in organic search rankings. As more people share content through social media channels, it is very likely that the most popular content will be featured in search engine results. It’s no coincidence that the top-ranking search results tend to have lots of social shares, while those ranked lower have fewer. Moreover, social shares may often serve as a stamp of approval or can be considered as a trust signal for visitors. That’s why so many businesses are installing social share plugins and encouraging consumers to share their content, as much as possible.
  4. Mobile Marketing: We are living in an era that is characterised by mobile readiness, responsive designs as well as the revival of ‘going local,’ Businesses are encouraged to produce content that “scales down” on mobiles. Such content may include marketing emails, eNewsletters, websites, social posts and the like. According to (Forbes, 2013), “87% of connected devices sales by 2017 will be tablets and smartphones”. Whether businesses opt to create an alternative mobile version of a website or decide to utilise responsive web design, it’s important for them to provide a positive experience for those internet users that are browsing via mobile devices.
  5. Video Marketing: When it comes to potential reach, video is peerless. YouTube is currently receiving more than one billion unique visitors every month – that’s more than any other channel, apart from Facebook. For the record, “one out of three Britons view at least one online video a week – that’s a weekly audience of more than 20 million people in the UK alone” (Guardian, 2014). Of course, it’s vital for businesses to offer content that is easy to digest; if not, consumers will simply move on. Apps such as Twitter’s Vine (with its six-second maximum clip length) have dramatically increased the opportunity for businesses to upload social videos having authentic content.

In a nutshell, this contribution suggests that next year many businesses will increasingly resort to digital marketing tactics to reach their individual consumers. eMarketer (2014) anticipates that in the next 12 months,  the marketing budget that is allocated to social media will rise to 13.2% (from 9.4%). It is imperative that marketers learn how to  engage with online visitors through effective, relevant content. Notwithstanding, it may appear that electronic marketing has changed consumers’ mindsets and behavioural attitudes toward businesses. Perhaps, there’s an opportunity for businesses to leverage themselves through faster adaptations, shorter lead times and always-on, real-time marketing.

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A Search Engine Optimization Strategy for Content Marketing Success

This post also appeared on Social Media Today

Internet Marketing

Search engines are continuously collecting data from every web page so that they can better serve their online users. It may appear that they act like librarians who try to find the right book to satisfy their patrons. Evidently, the search engines’ systems are capable of taking a lot of information before they split up the best results for their users. Every search engine has a secret recipe which is called an algorithm. The algorithm turns all the information into useful search results. It goes without saying that the web pages which appear in the first page of search results are placed in a better position than other sites which feature in the latter pages of the same search query. Therefore, certain web sites are ranked higher in search results. Some sites are more popular than others as they are easier located on the web.

Search Engine Optimization (or simply SEO) is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines. All the major search engines including Google, Yahoo and Bing present search results along with links to web pages and other content including videos or local listings. Such content is displayed and ranked according to what the search engine considers the most relevant to its users. Of course, the sites’ content cannot lack proper visibility. Websites cannot afford to become buried in search results. A recent saying among millennials goes; “The best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google’s search results.” There are several key ingredients that site administrators ought to consider as they develop their quality content. Ideally, the content strategy of web sites should resonate with the individual internet users in the following ways:

 

  1. Keywords Based on Search Intent
    Search results will feature pages with information containing the few words which were inserted by internet browsers in their search query. Therefore, keywords maintain their vital role in optimization. They determine page rank as they drive relevant search traffic. Keywords are still the primary entry method to the search process, whether initiated by conversational or exact match searches. It is very advisable to integrate keywords in URLs, titles, body texts and internal links to align meta-information of content with the search intent.Recently, the release of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm has expanded rank requirements beyond keywords. Although greater emphasis is now placed on conversational search, Hummingbird did not eliminate the need for keyword targeting. Interestingly, this week Google announced its latest update, namely; Panda 4.0. Google maintained that it wants to prevent sites with poor quality content from working their way into its top search results. In other words, Google strives to remain relevant, as it is assuring its users that they will get the answers they are looking for.
  2. Quality Inbound Links for Authority and Discoverability
    Quality inbound links between websites matter. The webpages which link to other sites will often strengthen their URL link for search engines. Quality content will naturally gain quality links. Yet, link-building strategies should never be disregarded. Inbound links continue to influence search rank and visibility. Search engines will always evaluate the authority of inherent, linked content. Therefore, links are one of the best indicators of relevance and credibility. That’s why savvy site developers often keep focusing their attention on gaining quality links through organic, white-hat methods such as reciprocal linking.
  3. Responsive Design for the Mobile User Experience
    As the mobiles’ share of digital traffic continue to rise, content should be optimized for an enhanced mobile users’ experience. Mobile internet has already surpassed desktop traffic. According to a recent comScore survey, mobile devices accounted to no less than 55 percent of all digital site traffic in January 2014. In addition, comScore maintained that 89.4 percent of mobile media users had accessed Google sites via smartphones in January 2014. Consequently, marketers need to optimize their content for mobile search. Key mobile considerations that factor into responsive design may include page load time, content length, voice search behavior, image and video processing as well as formatting and structure. Mobile consumption habits and responsive elements can be at the forefront of web site administrators. It is in their best interest to ensure a fluid content consumption experience across all devices.
  4. Social Sharing Functionality to Enhance Social Signals
    When relevant content is widely shared across different social networks, search engines may respond by identifying and incorporating all social signals in their search results. Strong social engagement often signifies content quality and resonance. Therefore, site developers ought to place social sharing buttons to facilitate their content promotion for further dissemination – through other digital media. The frequency of user updates may also attribute rank value to dynamic data. It is very likely that in the foreseeable future, social actions will gain greater influence. Google’s algorithms are increasingly becoming more sophisticated as they continue to expand to include broader web and social connections.
  5. Authorship Mark-ups for Rank Influence
    Apparently, both Google’s and Bing-Klout’s Authorships have incorporated their users’ social influence and digital presence in their rankings so as to improve the quality of their search results. In a sense, there is an opportunity for web site administrators to pursue engagements with influencers. Previously, the credentials to display author information may have included web signals such as authorship mark-ups and email verifications. The new qualifications now include relevance and engagement levels of content. This latest development reaffirms the tie between high quality content and SEO.

In conclusion, this contribution suggests that the recipe for a good SEO is changing all the time. Content strategists and marketers who care about their e-reputation realize that they have to come up with fresh, engaging content with a growing number of quality links. They have to make sure that their websites offer great content for different search engines. A SEO strategy demands consistent high quality content which is meaningful and purposeful for target audiences.

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A Content Strategy for Lead Generation

socialmedia2This contribution also appeared on BUSINESS2COMMUNITY

Businesses are increasingly creating a broad range of online content for many reasons. Quality content has the ability to educate, inform, generate leads and entice customers. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the notion of content marketing is gaining ground, particularly in the C-Suite.

Lately, savvy marketers are focusing their attention on content and inbound marketing as they strive to enhance their visibility. The right content on corporate websites, blogs and social media can build the brands’ image and reputation. Carefully designed landing pages often use persuasive content which can ultimately bring good prospects through the buying funnel. Therefore, marketers are encouraged to try different formats of content as they engage with customers. Digital marketers should feature content which should be a good fit for their target customers as well as for their corporate objectives. Their marketing content may be displayed on: web pages; online articles and guest posts; blog posts social media posts, eBooks, presentations; customer review content, product FAQs; videos and micro-videos; pictures, infographics, and animated GIFs among others media.

On-Site Content
The underlying questions is: How can marketers be capable of repositioning their business for search engine optimisation (SEO)? Nowadays, marketers are becoming more measurable in their marketing tactics as they experiment with website design and content variations to determine which layouts, copy text, offers and images may improve their conversion rate. Fresh, quality content on websites and blogs with back-links onto homepages are the basis for successful content marketing strategies. That’s why decent content and flagship pieces should be constantly updated on corporate websites. Content marketing has the potential to raise the businesses’ profile.

Guest Blogging
Another common practice that seems that has picked up in the last two to three years is guest blogging. Many marketers are contributing in blogs and other online media on subjects which are usually related to their niche. These contributions often contain a back link to their site. Interestingly, this trend has become a very effective way to accomplish marketing goals. However, guest blogging is easily abused where there is poor quality content on low-end sites.
Branding and reputation management are some of the other good reasons why site-owners and entrepreneurs should use guest blogging sites. Guest blogging has a wider reach. It promotes content to new audiences. The most appealing content can drive traffic to websites. Content may generate leads and followers as there is more engagement with customers. Therefore, guest blogging may be considered a good tool to build brand equity. Businesses ought to choose relevant sites to associate themselves with.

Promoting the Content
Content is of limited value if no one knows about it. Although content can be found through organic search queries, marketers can add fuel to their content through strategic promotion and integrated marketing communications. Again, this will inevitably bring many benefits including lead generation and better conversation rates. In addition, social contagion and product virality can also affect diffusion across online media and networks. This way, businesses can reduce their dependence on search engine optimisation for their content marketing.

In a nutshell, this contribution suggests that there are different approaches for content strategy. Businesses can enhance their online presence in a number of ways:

Social Media Marketing: Content can be promoted through social channels and viral marketing. Businesses need to simplify social contagion by including follow and share buttons. These plugins can possibly encourage the readers to share the content they liked.
Engage in Trending Conversations: Businesses can connect their content to wider conversations through the use of hashtags in order to promote their content on certain social media including FacebookTwitter and Instagram among others.
e-Newsletters: Subscribers to blogs or corporate websites may have different expectations. From time to time, businesses may send out round-ups of quality content (their very own as well as other bloggers’ curated content).
Targeted Outreach to Influencers: Marketers have to keep themselves up-to-date with the latest developments in their field of expertise. It is in their interest to actively engage with key influencers on social networks.
Direct Engagement with Consumers: Online content should be relevant to audiences. The most attractive content is mostly shared through personal emails and across social media networks. This online activity has the ability to generate leads and it can truly enhance conversion rates for more customers.

 

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Google’s Advantage in Native Advertising

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There are many internet users who may be wary of their privacy settings and on the information they share online. One of the reasons is that it is very likely that ICT giants like Google and Facebook may know their users very well. Google, in particular might know where its users are, the places they go to, the location of their home address and where’s their place of work, who are its users’ closest friends, the things they like, the websites they browse and in many cases, even the content of their emails.

Provided that individuals don’t mind giving up a chunk of personal data, their life can be made a bit easier by the web’s services. The internet’s mantra is to make information more useful, accessible and readily available to everyone. Nowadays, we use our tablets or smart phones and visit dozens of websites to learn about products and services. Savvy consumers like to compare prices whether they are buying items online or in retail stores. The latest technological developments and additional sources of information are influencing consumer behaviour as it appears that they are becoming more frugal in their purchase decisions. Consumers are seeking better value and good deals in return for their money.

Google is increasingly exposing its search functionality to its users. Last year, it tested a ‘Knowledge Graph’ pop-up which featured a carousel of images along with certain search results on hotel accommodation. As with restaurants and bars, review scores and recommendations are usually generated by consumers themselves rather than through conventional search engine optimisation tricks. It seems that Google’s drive is to personalise the search experience through ‘meta-search’ tools which aim to recognise what exactly users are looking for. In this day and age, it is very important to understand the broader context of consumers’ search queries. For instance, internet users may start searching for flights. Afterwards they might browse for hotels, then restaurants as well as cultural activities. Evidently, Google is responding to such queries by bringing up pictures of neighbourhoods, reviews as and also Trip Advisor content.

Recently, Google has been looking for the meaning beyond its users’ search content. Before September 2013, Google’s searches were focused on site content which improved its results by penalising low-quality material. However, the search engine’s latest algorithm, Google Hummingbird is focusing more on the search query itself. Hummingbird has implemented something called “conversational search” in order to better understand what users want when they either type or speak a search query into Google’s search engine. For example; the query, “Where can I buy a smart phone, near me?” Pre-Hummingbird Google would have prioritised search results that match individual words – like “buy” and “smart phone.” With Hummingbird, Google can better understand what users want from their query. Most probably, Google may know your exact location and hopefully it can find smart phones near you. It may be in a better position to determine whether you want a brick-and-mortar store rather than an online retailer. In a nutshell, Hummingbird is focusing on the meaning of the entire search query rather than simply searching for key terms. Hummingbird allows Google to provide its users with more accurate results and better site rankings.

Notwithstanding, Google often utilises its users’ data to re-target advertising to them. Google collates its users’ profiles with their data. Personal information is being used by Google for business purposes. Google Adwordsdisplays the marketers’ messages in front of potential customers; right when they’re using its search engine, watching a video on YouTube or when they are receiving their email through Gmail. As a result, online marketing ads appear on google users’ screens. These ads capture the users’ attention by providing certain content which may possibly appeal to them as potential customers. Such online advertising is called ‘native advertising’. Professional marketers are capable of producing relevant content which can entice customers’ to purchase their products or services. The right content is personalised in both its form and function according to individual customers’ needs and wants. This way, paid advertising may feel less intrusive and there’s a better chance that internet users will click on these web ads. The most popular formats for native advertising usually feature promoted articles, images, videos, music as well as other media.

In the past few years tech giants, particularly Google strived in their endeavours to gather valuable information about their users’ interests, the things they look for, their friends, the places they like and what have you! Google maintains that it can better serve its users if they voluntarily disclose their data on the web.

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