Are marketers becoming more like drivers and less like spectators?

This morning I had coffee with Tejas Dixit of Market Dialogues who showed me Junction, his new SaaS social media management solution.

Junction is designed to help small and medium sized businesses plan, execute, and manage their social media initiatives effectively. Unlike many social media management solutions which offer publishing to social media accounts, monitoring conversations, and analytics as independent solutions, or as siloed components, Junction tightly integrates and dashboards all three.

I’ve noticed that a major stumbling block of many social media management solutions is that the feedback they offer about the success (or lack thereof) of social media efforts can be difficult to act on. Even when publishing, monitoring, and analytics are available under the same login, the gap between action and feedback can be wide enough to leave a major hurdle in the path of social media marketers. Meanwhile, the level of complexity conveyed by analytics tools can leave marketers, and the people they are accountable to, bewildered.

Continue reading “Are marketers becoming more like drivers and less like spectators?”

Machiavellian boyscouts get more influence in social business

It’s not just courteous and kind to help little old ladies cross the street: it pays.

Last month I attended an excellent presentation concerning social media analytics and ROI by the esteemed Chuck Hemann, Director of Analytics for WCG, sponsored by the Social Media Club of Seattle. Chuck made an important point about social media influence that I want to share with you.

Both quantity and quality are important for social influence

On one particular slide Chuck showed us an image of Edelman Digital VP Michael Brito accompanied by a few bullet points scoping out his social media influence. At the sight of this slide the standing-room-only crowd murmured approvingly. More than 30,000 folks, myself included, follow @britopian on Twitter. He’s a well known thought leader and published author in the social business realm.

Chuck’s next slide showed a sweet looking woman wearing a straw hat with a flower on it—Chuck’s mom. She has around 1300 Twitter followers: very respectable…but she’s no @britopian, at least at first glance.

Flower power: social influence means talk gardening to gardeners Question: Given the choice, would you rather have @britopian or @susanhemann tweeting about your brand? Answer: It depends what your message is.

In Chuck’s hypothetical, your message is about gardening. You’re trying to influence people who are into gardening and have personal networks of like-minded people. Low and behold, Chuck’s mom is a well-established gardening Twitter personality and blogger. Many of her 1300+ Twitter followers are, presumably, rabid, over-the-top gardeners and gardening influencers. So naturally the person you want tweeting about you is Chuck’s mom.

Not that there’s anything shabby about Michael Brito or his followers, thank you very much. But they’re not focused on gardening. Yours is not a high Continue reading “Machiavellian boyscouts get more influence in social business”

Confusion over the meaning of ROI in social media

You say tomato, I say tomahto….

Here’s a quick vocabulary lesson I’ve learned about social media ROI (“return on investment”), a topic I’ve been writing a lot about lately. In a nutshell: ROI means different things to different people, so it pays to be specific when you are talking about it.

3 ways we fool ourselves with social media metrics

This is part three of a series of posts about using social media metrics.

This is not the porn industry here, kids, and this is not about buying a house… SIZE DOESN’T MATTER!

– Steve Olenski, Too Many Social Media Marketers Still Believe Size Matters

An optical illusion: our brains add information that isn't there.
Would you believe the squares labeled “A” and “B” are identical shades of gray? Click the image for proof. (Developed by Edward H. Adelson of MIT.)

Don’t worry, it’s normal (statistically speaking) for people to fool themselves with statistics. So normal, in fact, that the fields of psychology and statistics can tell you exactly where things go wrong. Read on to find out how you and your organization can avoid being fooled by the Fundamental Attribution Error, Sampling Biases, and Information Cascade when you are evaluating social media metrics.

But first, what are we being fooled to believe? People would like to believe that more social media followers are better, more comments are better, more shares are better, etc. This might be, but isn’t necessarily, true. In fact the opposite may be true. Sometimes less is more. Consider the following hypotheticals, based loosely on real world examples:

Ignore social media metrics: what to focus on instead

This is the second in a series of posts about why I advise certain clients to adopt a “dynamic brochure” social media strategy, focusing on publishing, active listening, and measuring “pulse” without attempting to meet numerical goals for metrics such as “likes”, comments, shares, page views, Klout score, etc.

You can read part one here. In this part I discuss the benefits of a dynamic brochure strategy. In part three I’ll discuss false assumptions about the relationship between social media activity volume and ROI. And in a future post I’ll circle back to how social media ROI can be measured effectively, and some of the frameworks that can be used to measure it.

If you can’t connect social media investment to revenue generation, aka calculate ROI for social media, how does a social media  program help you? Let me count the ways. But first, a new metaphor. In part one of this series you were a rock star. This time you are a rock star’s stalker. You want to get to know a rock star online — really, really get to know a rock star online — what are you going to do? You’ll take a spin through all of that rock star’s (brand’s) web properties, gathering information, and saving or sharing the tasty bits with like-minded friends.

In real life (which for most of us means not being rock stars or having stalkers), who’s going to take this information gathering approach?

  • Prospective customers evaluating your offerings, either before or after hearing about you from other sources.
  • Current customers, and other brand fans, who want to share information about you (referrals).
  • Customers and brand fans just checking in to keep up with the brand.
  • Journalists and bloggers considering the brand for a story.
  • Conference organizers considering your people for speaking positions.
  • Potential employees, either before or after contact with your recruiters.
  • Current employees staying connected to the company, or sharing information with potential customers or Continue reading “Ignore social media metrics: what to focus on instead”

Ignore social media metrics before abusing them

This is the first in a group of posts in which I explain why I have advised some clients to adopt a “dynamic brochure” social media strategy, focusing on publishing, active listening and “pulse” metrics while ignoring “performance”-related metrics.

Winning the social media game
Racking up “likes” in the addictive game of social media isn’t the same as delivering ROI

As a client once pointedly asked me, “how much social media do we need?”

The answer lies in measurements of both the pulse and performance of social media activity.

Yes, I know measuring social media performance is almost universally considered a best practice. No, I’m not intimidated or uneducated when it comes to metrics (quite the opposite: I have an undergraduate degree in social psychology from a department with a hard-core approach to statistical methods). I am opposed to the abuse of metrics, however, and I accept the fact that not every organization is prepared to use them correctly.

For many businesses, the measurements that are accessible aren’t actionable. And often enough accessible metrics are abused just because they are the only ones available. I advise those organizations not to focus on metrics, and the strategy described in this post is for those organizations.

What do I mean by pulse and performance? Let’s say you are Continue reading “Ignore social media metrics before abusing them”

Social media highlights from the Seattle Interactive Conference 2011

As a followup to my post from a couple of weeks ago, 9 timely social media and brand communication insights from SIC 2011, I put together a quick video blog post featuring just the social media highlights from last month’s Seattle Interactive Conference. I apologize in advance for the primitive tech quality, but try to think of it like pie crust, it’s better when it’s home made and looks it, right?

Here’s the video with my explanatory post on the Audienz blog, 5 social media insights from the 2011 Seattle Interactive Conference, and here’s just the video itself on YouTube:

[Updated on February 2, 2012]

9 timely social media and brand communication insights from SIC 2011

SIC LogoI recently attended the 2011 Seattle Interactive Conference (#SIC2011) at the downtown Seattle convention center. Besides enjoying the opportunity to catch up with friends in the local marketing and social media communities, I was impressed by the overall caliber of presenters and the hard-won insights they shared. Looking back, they gave us a snapshot of the state of the industry as of Q4, 2011.

The following are some of the presentation takeaways I jotted down at the event (click on any of the items in this list to jump down to the details):

1: Identify and engage with your brand’s social media advocates
2: Brands must plan in advance to be authentic in social media conversations
3: Preempt negative comments about your brand to rob them of their power
4: How to make a “good” social media video
5: Comcast “sucks” if it still hasn’t addressed the underlying problem
6: Social media ROI requires a multiple touch attribution model
7: Brand advocates disproportionally influence content consumption, conversions
8: Content is the carrier, the click is the action
9: Seek to increase social media engagement with actual customers
More insights from SIC 2011

#1: Identify and engage with your brand’s social media advocates

Kim Johnston, VP of Marketing, Desktop Virtualization, at Parallels, spoke Continue reading “9 timely social media and brand communication insights from SIC 2011”

When are businesses wasting time on social media?

Bruce WilsonInc.com recently published an article entitled “Social media is a waste of time” in which a social media expert offers advice to business owners about how to make the most of their social media investment.

But when is social media a waste of time? This is a tricky question, really. No business can ignore social media entirely, if only because they can’t risk having their reputation trashed behind their backs. Restaurants need to keep an eye on Yelp, for instance. At the very least, and if you’ve read this far this probably applies to you, you need to have a simple monitoring strategy like setting up an automatic search for references to your business, product, and/or person name(s) every day using Google Alerts.

And let’s not forget the community-building effect of social media on employees and potential recruiting benefits, which are strong but often overlooked reasons to invest in social media.

Businesses can’t afford to sink too much time into Continue reading “When are businesses wasting time on social media?”

Like learning to love Klingon cuisine, social media has an ROI

Bruce Wilson

Here’s a long-ish comment I posted this afternoon in response to a interesting blog post by John Moore, CTO and SVP of Boston’s Swimfish, entitled More crazy talk, Social media, no measurable value but you have to have it?

John,

Thanks, this post is a solid contribution to the ongoing discussion about social media ROI. I flat out agree with much of what you and other commenters say, particularly the insight that people who don’t know how to derive ROI (or don’t want to try) declare it irrelevant. Here are four more thoughts for your consideration:

First, by way of analogy, what’s the ROI for public relations (PR)? So you get some good press. And oh, sales go up. To what extent are those sales causally connected to that PR event? Even when some click-track data can be obtained it’s impossible to know for certain how much revenue to attribute to certain real world occurrences, much of social media included. But there’s no denying that PR can generate revenue, and thus companies above a certain size generally invest in it without having a deterministic ROI requirement. How are one-off social media experiments any different?

Second, what’s the opportunity cost? Sure, social media channels can generate massive revenue (your Dell example). But what if the same resources were put into different channels? While this doesn’t moot the issue of ROI, the added complexity of comparative ROI seems to confound many people trying to make simplistic balancing-the-scales decisions.

Third, I have the strong impression that for many (most?) decision makers in many (most?) roles and companies, ROI literacy and business intelligence (data + computational resources) are too weak to cope with the question. (Perhaps someone working for a vendor in the BI field already knows if this is the case.)

Finally, I think the social media ROI question is a bit of a smokescreen. The biggest reason the question is so hot right now is because so many business people (C-level, marketing, operations, engineers – across the board) find social media at least partly alien and fear it’s inedible. I imagine it’s like being invited to a Klingon banquet. People who don’t have a clear understanding of social media mechanics and don’t want to take the time to figure it out are looking for an excuse to stay home.

As a social media consultant when entering into a client relationship I almost always begin by working though some strong negative emotions surrounding social media (particularly Twitter) which kick up “business” excuses for foot dragging. As more and more people develop a taste for it, social media campaigns should be treated like any other marketing campaigns: first they are experiments, then they become known quantities.

– Bruce