“Do 39% of Internet users REALLY subscribe to RSS feeds?” and other social media marketing myths dispelled

Today is the last official date for voting in the “World’s Best Presentation Contest” on SlideShare. (Speaking of which… if you haven’t yet voted for “What the F**K is Social Media?!”, DO IT NOW!!!)

Shameless self-promotion aside (but only for a minute), I thought this was a good time to address some of the questions and understandable skepticism that emerged in response to the not-so-subtle messages in said presentation.

So—let’s separate fact from fiction (or at least fact from hyperbole), shall we?

The first batch of “that can’t be right” criticism (and downright bitch-i-tude—you know who you are) was doled out in response to the following statements (from slides 11-16):

  • 73% of active online users have read a blog
  • 45% have started their own blog
  • 39% subscribe to an RSS feeds
  • 57% have joined a social network
  • 55% have uploaded photos
  • 83% have watched video clips

And now, for the shocking truth:
The Genius herself was more than a bit surprised by these numbers. You might even say they were the inspiration for the big ole “F**K!” that became the content of slide 46.

But the fact is, I didn’t pull them out of my cute little ass… they actually came from Universal McCann’s Comparative Study on Social Media Trends, April 2008, and they’re based on a series of surveys they conducted with over 17,000 respondents across 29 countries.

In Universal McCann’s own words:

“All surveys are self completion and the data collected is entirely quantitative. Every market is representative of the 16-54 Active Internet Universe. In this Wave 17,000 internet users in 29 countries were interviewed. To be included you need to be using the internet everyday or every other day.”

So, there!

The next pile of skeptical poo was flung at these juicy tidbits:

  • Only 18% of TV ad campaigns generate positive ROI
  • 90% of people who can skip TV ads, do.
  • Only 14% of people trust advertisements

And did these little beauties come from betwixt my perfectly peach-shaped buns?


They came from a useful little book called Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth Revolution by Justin Kirby and Paul Marsden (buy a copy here).

Just for giggles, take a look at some of the other painfully compelling data you’ll find within its pages:

  • Average return in sales for every $1 spent on advertising: 54 cents!!!
  • The increase in TV advertising costs (CPM) in the past decade: 256%
  • Proportion of B2B marketing campaigns resulting in falling sales: 84%
  • The increase needed in advertising spend to add 1-2% in sales: 100%

Say it with me now: YIKES!!!!!!!!!!

Last but not least, a few people got their panties all in a bunch about the use of http://www.mystarbucksidea.com and the apparent lack of “real” case studies or ROI data.

[Here’s me rolling my eyes]

So, fine, I’ll satisfy your incessant and moderately annoying need for numbers by providing you with a few details on NikePlus.com (others to follow in future posts—maybe). If you want to learn more NOW, you’ll just have to hire me or invite me to speak at your next event.

Here goes:

The Genius Behind NikePlus.com!

Nike’s social media play did two things that most brands fall shamefully short on:

    1) They created a playground for anyone passionate about the activity enabled by the product (whether they owned Nike products or not)
    2) They enabled relationship-building with consumers who do own their product(s) that goes way beyond the initial purchase.

And here’s how they did it….

First, the smart folks at Nike recognized 3 simple things about their target audience:

    1. People who love to run, love to listen to music while running
    2. People who love to listen to music while running typically use an iPod to do so
    3. People who love to run like to measure and track their distance/time

Next, the smart folks at Nike created an online experience that caters directly to these three user objectives. They partnered with Apple to bring iTunes into the mix, offering celebrity running mixes (and a whole lot more), and developed products and online tools (like the ability to track runs, challenge other runners in the community, and engage in competitive events locally) that supported and enhanced the offline experience.

Since its launch in May 2006, the NikePlus.com community has not only grown but THRIVED, earning the brand a much-deserved Cannes Lions 2007 award and lots of positive press.

“But what about numbers? Where’s the ROI? WHERE’S THE BEEF?!”

Feast your eyes on this, my friends! As of February, 2008, Nike+ members have:

• Run over 50,000,000 miles
• Logged over 14,000,000 runs
• Issued over 450,000 challenges
• Created “the world’s largest running club” with >75,000,000 members!!!!!!

And here’s the crown jewel:

  • 40% of community members who didn’t own Nike+ ended up BUYING!
  • 94% of consumers agreed to recommend NikePlus.com to a friend

When was the last time your marketing campaign yielded a 40% conversion-to-sales ratio?

I rest my case.

Now, if you STILL haven’t done so, it’s time to go ahead and vote for the Genius’ presentation here.

9 Responses

  1. I agree with you, mostly, but since you pulled the numbers out, I feel compelled to ask if you don’t find this a little odd:

    Nike+ member have
    • Run over 50,000,000 miles
    • Logged over 14,000,000 runs
    • Created “the world’s largest running club” with >75,000,000 members

    So these members have run 2/3 of a mile each? Is one of these numbers wrong? Or are most of the members (let’s say 74 million) not really doing much with the site? It sounds like only 1 million are actually logging runs.

  2. Good point, Joe. I would imagine some chunk of that membership is not active, though I doubt its extreme as 1M. Maybe we can prod Nike execs into sharing some more data?

    Know any (Nike execs)?

  3. and on the rss numbers, etc., numbers from mccann – they clearly state who they interviewed, but they didn’t say how big a proportion of internet users meet that definition. i’m guessing less than one third – what do you think?

  4. Marta,

    Thought you might like to flip through this, nothing new… http://www.slideshare.net/stevelatham/business-case-for-social-media-steve-latham-20080725nc

  5. @tina_b,
    I spoke with Tom Smith who lead the Universal McCann research effort regarding your question. Tom says that globally, 48% of 16-54 Internet Users are active–however this varies significantly by market, where home and work access varies considerably (and has a large impact on how often you can access the Internet). Not surprisingly, the US has the largest proportion of active users (73%) and Pakistan has the lowest (30%).

    Tom added that the data in this report was collected from local market surveys such as TGI and Simmons and also benchmarked against Comscore Active user figures (which are monthly), providing an excellent benchmark for country differences.

    Great question! Thanks for contributing 🙂

  6. […] “Do 39% of Internet users REALLY subscribe to RSS feeds?” and other social media marketing myths…. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)(Assignment 1) RSS,Why might this be an inportant technologyHappy RSS Awareness Day!Windows RSS PlatformDC Area Gets High Marks for Internet Speeds […]

  7. Every little bit helps IMO

    I think its best to focus on all social media. That way to kind out what works best for you.

  8. […] Obama administration to continue utilizing social networks.  First, over 57% of people online have joined a social network – and that number jumps to over 90% for digital natives.  People tend to be more trusting of other […]

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