Social media marketing has come a long way from the days of warm and fuzzy “gurus” urging you to “join the conversation.” If you run a business, you need to see results—not just social media hugs. Succeeding in the era of social media measurement means using social to 1) drive towards particular goals, and 2) track your progress.
Enter organizations such as the Web Analytics Association, which recently turned its eyes to social measurement for a panel discussion in Chicago. The line-up featured a great mix of client and agency side marketers, as well as an analytics vendor:
Blagica Bottigliero (@Blagica), Global Director of Social Media at Motorola
Dan Hindin (@DanielHindin), Digital Analytics Supervisor at Weber Shandwick
Marianne Llewellyn (@chicagoml), Director of Social Media and Mobile Consulting for Adobe’s Omniture Business
Michelina Mantas (@mickeymantas) Global Director of Social Media Strategy at OMD
Scot Wheeler (@scotwheeler), Marketing Science Director at Critical Mass
If you’ve ever attended a panel discussion, you know that the quality of such events varies greatly. I was more than pleased not only with this group but also with the audience; thought-provoking questions were immediately abundant.
First things first
Bottigliero kicked the group off with a basic yet often-ignored insight: In social media marketing, the first thing you must figure out is what you want to achieve. Only then can you pick which metrics to measure, and which tool(s) you'll need to execute the plan. Too often, marketers jump in not knowing some or all of those aspects. When they're asked if their social endeavors are working, they really have no idea—and then social doesn’t get the upper-level support it otherwise could have.
On a need-to-know basis
Bottigliero then advised client-side marketers to determine who within the organization needs to see what. Reports to your CEO shouldn't be swamped with the day-to-day data your social media team gathers. Instead, create a dashboard that leads with the most actionable, high-level insights.
Even if you are agency-side this is a good practice, and it's how we typically provide analysis: at-a-glance insights supported by in-depth data and recommendations. Since you never know who will ultimately read your reports once they're sent to the client, write them with multiple audiences in mind.
Small is the new big
Wheeler encouraged marketers to start with only two or three key performance indicators (KPI) and branch out from there. Along with the other panelists, he stressed the need to look beyond “likes” and “follows” when identifying these indicators. "Engagement" means something different for each brand, depending on the goals you set out and starting small allows you to best define your metrics.
For example, suppose your brand is aiming to increase awareness and actively drive users to your website. The primary metrics you may want to start with could be total page views and the time users spend on the site (TOS). If these increase over time you are likely driving more qualified leads to your site.
About that ROI question...
“What’s the ROI of social?” is a question often asked of marketers and community managers—and with good reason. Businesses need to know that the money they are spending is worthwhile.
Wheeler noted that trying to determine the ROI of social media before you’ve even started listening is a wasted effort. By definition, ROI depends on first making an investment and then gauging its financial return. If you haven't invested anything in social yet, you can’t be expected to determine what the return will be. Perhaps a better question to ask first is “What should I expect to get out of social media?”—because the answer may not be directly attributable to a dollar amount.
To that end, some controlled experimentation is definitely needed at the onset of a social campaign in order to determine more than just ROI. Questions you'll want to answer during this initial phase include:
Is your content resonating?
Is your audience more active in particular channels?
Do they respond more frequently at particular times of the day?
To find these and other relevant answers, we recommend creating a pilot program with a monitoring goal set to obtain benchmarks specific to your situation. You should expect to pilot for at least six months before accumulating enough reach to provide consistent and accurate data before making an attempt to determine exact ROI.
This topic is important and complex enough that this blog post can't do it justice, so I encourage you to peruse Wheeler's presentation, “The ROI of Social Media ROI.”
Giving credit where credit is due
Another topic from the evening that Marianne Llewellyn spoke quite passionately about was link attribution (this too really deserves its own post). When it comes to analytics, most tools operate under a “last touch” attribution model where only the last online activity a user performed gets the credit for bringing them to your site (if that’s what you're measuring).
The problem with this model is that I could search for an item that I’m looking for today and find your brand within organic search results, follow you via Twitter tomorrow, and two weeks from now see a display ad when I finally decide to click through to your site and make a purchase. With most tools (like Google analytics), only that last display ad will get the credit (those display ads—always brown-nosing!).
Instead, a “multi-touch” model would spread the attribution evenly across all of the marketing efforts in our example. You get more accurate data, and your SEO and social efforts get the credit they deserve.
The takeaway from the evening
The event covered a wide range of topics, many of which this post alone cannot accommodate. But while social media is far from its more mature online brethren, it has become increasingly clear that social is not only here to stay, it is in fact measureable. Beyond that, it is an increasingly important tool in the savvy marketer's arsenal. Social marketing needs to be planned for, integrated with, and measured in conjunction with the rest of your online efforts.
Are you implementing a social media program? If so, we’d like to hear how you are measuring your results. Not sure where to start? Well, we’re here (and here and here) if you need us.
Although it's become one of the core elements of online marketing, many businesses still consider search engine optimization overly-complicated, unproductive, or merely a fad. But overcoming these concerns is just a matter of using SEO to your advantage. In our experience guiding clients through their online marketing decisions, we've encountered a few common misconceptions about SEO.
1. Believing it is too hard or too time-consuming
No matter how little time you may have, you can always perform bite-sized SEO activities which advance your overall strategy. For example, ask ten customers which keywords they most closely associate with your company or products. Or look up the top five most visited pages on your website and try to identify how the on-page elements (copy, titles, meta data, etc.) help or hurt that popularity. Apply what you learn to the rest of your pages. For those times when there really is no time, Vodori is here to help.
2. Treating it as a one-time deal
It's tempting to treat SEO activities like spring cleaning—carve out a block of time to optimize those on-page elements, and once that's done, forget about it for the rest of the year. However, as marketplaces change (i.e., constantly), so do the keywords that consumers use to describe them. If keyword search patterns evolve and you don't evolve right along with them, you're likely to lose traffic and sales.
We recommend conducting keyword or user research multiple times per year, to stay on top of changes in each industry. Furthermore, organic search engines like Google and Bing are constantly tweaking their search algorithms (almost daily, actually). Make sure you keep up with these changes, and understand how they can affect your SEO tactics. Most search engines outline significant updates on their blogs.
One step of SEO feeds into the next in an ongoing process.
3. Neglecting to measure and course-correct
Again, SEO is not a one-and-done tactic. Before implementing a campaign, consider how the knowledge you expect to gain will impel constructive changes for your business. As with any online marketing strategy, some actions will pay off and some won't.
In my opinion, the real key to success lies in developing a reporting-recommendation-change action plan once your campaign is in place. Track your results closely, identify what isn't working, adjust or eliminate those misfires, and then track the changes. Rinse and repeat. Using this framework, with analytics driving adaptation, has worked quite well for Vodori and several of our clients.
4. Failing to integrate within an overall marketing strategy
SEO is probably not the only tool you wield (and if it is, that's a mistake worthy of a whole different blog post). There's no hard and fast boundary separating it from tactics like location-based targeting, pay-per-click, social media, and PR. Determine how SEO fits in with your larger online promotions plan—where it complements other tools, and where it might conflict.
5. Looking for one "key" to getting it exactly right
A truly successful SEO campaign relies on several components, including well-executed customer and keyword research, on-page optimization, community involvement, and a link-building strategy (plus plenty more). Optimizing one of these may yield quick success in some markets, but for most, a winning long-term plan will touch on several different techniques.
In fact, if there is one "key" to achieving outstanding SEO, it lies in your human resources: the sharp, adaptable employee or employees who grasp all these techniques, and who can develop and execute a comprehensive plan.
Successful search engine optimization demands you keep close tabs on your site's organic search traffic—what keywords are people entering into search boxes before plopping down in your little corner of the Internet? By learning which topics and ideas your users find most relevant, you can make sure your site is winding up in front of the right eyeballs.
Google Analytics offers a handy way to access this data. Simply follow the menus from Traffic Sources -> Sources -> Search -> Organic, and presto: A report of the most popular keywords leading to your site.
Of course, you're always going to get some outliers.
Vodori Presents: The Bradley Cooper's Hair Memorial Google Fail Awards
A little over a year ago, Vodori served up a sampling of the oddest keyword searches that somehow led Internet dwellers to our homepage. We decided to take another look and see what fresh enigmas have cropped up in recent months. All of these are phrases which led some intrepid Googler to Vodori.com, quite possibly to their (and our) utter confusion.
DISCLAIMER: As our first experiment revealed, a lot of people find us thanks to this post, a prime example of why just peppering your pages with popular keywords does not an effective SEO strategy make. Therefore, this list excludes any combination of words relating to Bradley Cooper's hair...of which there were so, so many.
Damn you, you well-coiffed devil. We just can't stay mad at you.
Without further ado, Vodori presents the Top 10 Google fails of the month.
1. Sitemesh vs Tiles: This was a surprisingly rousing mixed martial arts match, despite the fighters' lackluster nicknames.
As we start new social media campaigns with our clients we want to make sure that everyone has a baseline set of knowledge to start from. For Twitter in particular, anyone who is looking to understand some of the jargon bandied about should familiarize themselves with a few basic conventions. Below is a quick explanation of what all those @, #, and strange looking URLs mean.
Sample tweet from the Hootsuite Twitter feed:
Watch, Learn & Chat: Exclusive video about new #Facebook features for business from @HootSuite_U ft @MariSmith owl.li/6Mq1Q #hsuchat
“#Facebook” and “#hsuchat” are hashtags. These are used to keep track of tweets on particular topics.
“owl.li/6Mq1Q” is a URL shortened by the application Hootsuite. Many other URL shorteners exist (e.g., bit.ly, TinyURL, etc.) but only those generated within Hootsuite can be tracked by the application.
“@HootSuite_U” is a reference to a Twitter handle/username for Hootsuite training
“ft” was simply their way of shortening the word “featuring”. Remember that you only have 140 characters so you need to choose your words carefully.
A word of caution: Inserting hashtags and known usernames is a great way to get your tweets seen; just remember that there comes a point where too many of these things makes your tweet difficult to read. The above example comes very close to crossing that fine line.
“RT” stands for retweet; this is the easiest and most common way to share someone else’s content on Twitter.
Another way is to manually add the originating handle at the end to give credit using: (via @invoker). In this manner the above tweet would look like… To clarify WSJ speculation (ow.ly/6T1uk), @facebook isn't buying @HootSuite anytime soon. (via @invoker)
To add commentary, it is most common to do so before the RT Squelching rumors— RT @invoker: To clarify WSJ speculation (ow.ly/6T1uk), @facebook isn't buying @HootSuite anytime soon.
Replying to a tweet:
Simply start your tweet with @twitter_username. If a tweet starts with “@” only the people following BOTH you and the other person will see the tweet. If this is not the desired outcome, re-write the tweet so that @username appears within the middle or end of the message. If this will change the meaning of your message too greatly and you want the tweet visible by all, add a period (.) before the @username. Note though, that in many Twitter clients this will break the conversation thread.
Last week Vodori held the fifth webinar in our yearlong series Pre_Scribed: 6 doses for a healthy global marketing launch. This time we came together to focus on program implementation, where we shed a little light on some of the behind-the-scenes activities and considerations to keep in mind as you move into the development phase of your program.
CMS Selection Checklist— How to choose a content management system
As marketers, we know that we need to create and maintain many aspects of our online presence: websites, microsites, social channels and more. Often times, however, the understanding gets a little fuzzy once we start talking about environment set-up, HTML, Java, UAT testing, eSignature, etc.
To complicate matters even more, you're also likely tasked with the selection of a conetent management system or even a full marketing platform. With so many options available it would be a wonder if your head wasn't already spinning.
That's why we dedicated an entire chapter in our series to explain the development process, content workflow process, and more. We even provide a handy checklist to reference to ensure that the marketing platform you choose meets or exceeds expectations. Shameless plug: We have just the thing and it's called Pepper. Of course, we'd love to tell you more about Pepper but you can get a quick overview towards the end of the presentation.
During a recent commute home via the Purple Line, I couldn’t help but notice that everyone seemed to be sitting in the exact same position: head down and hunched over some type of media, be it a video on a smartphone or the day’s paper. Intrigued by the varied ways I saw Chicagoans passing their time while in transit, I decided to conduct a mini-study and tally the types of content people engaged with over the course of a week. I made my observations when the train ran express between Belmont and Howard, giving me about fifteen minutes to monitor a set carload of passengers.
As smartphones continue to rise in popularity, I suspected that smartphone usage would come out on top as the number one activity for Chicago commuters (at least on my particular stretch of the line). It turned out that listening to music was the most frequent activity, proving that even as the number of portable media devices increase, people love to listen to tunes when they are on the go. Smartphone use did come in as the second most popular activity, beating out reading books and reading magazines or newspapers. So, while it may not be the predominate commuter activity yet, smartphone use has surpassed two of the more traditional time-passing mainstays and will likely find its way to the top of the heap sometime in the near future.
How I categorized the media consumption I witnessed
Books: enjoying good old printed copies of fiction and nonfiction masterpieces
eReader: reading a Nook or a Kindle
Music: headphones in the ears that are hooked up to any variety of MP3 player, discman (like a rare bird, these can occasionally be spotted by the careful observer), or smartphone
Smartphone: smartphone in hand, checking email, playing games, or surfing the Web
Magazine or Newspaper: opting for a printed version of any newspaper or magazine
Laptop: when the smartphone or tablet won’t cut it—laptop perched on the thighs, busily typing away at a project
iPad: this one is pretty self-explanatory
Talking on a Cell: using the phone simply to talk, the old fashioned way
During my week of observations, I was also witness to some disruptive mobile device users, so look for a follow up post with a compilation of etiquette tips soon.
Judging by the initial backlash seen in status updates around the globe, many folks aren't pleased with another round of changes. I even have to admit to initially feeling a little "put out" about having to familiarize myself with yet another round of Facebook upgrades as it feels like there has been one a week lately.
But the truth is that all things change. The world is a different place everyday; businesses of all kinds need to keep up. And thus…sites evolve. If they don't, they die [Friendster anyone?]. Beyond that, especially since FB revolves around human interaction, why would we NOT expect it's features and functionalities to change, grow, and adapt?
While most of us don’t like change, after a while we grow accustomed to the new ways of doing things and in some cases learn to appreciate the change and forget the way it was before.
Some of the most recent changes are yet to be widely released, especially the Timeline— which promises to ‘share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events…where you can tell your story from beginning, to middle, to now’. This feature looks particularly interesting and will have a profound effect on how we view social networks because instead of being an “of the moment” medium, Facebook will become a living history. Instead of simply being a way to communicate what you had for dinner last night, perhaps social networks can teach future generations how a revolution in Egypt unfolded by providing greater context around complex historical events.
What the Facebook Changes Mean for User Profiles
News Feed: “Top news” and “recent stories” are now combined into one news feed. If you see a blue triangle in the upper left corner of a feed item this means that Facebook has deemed this is a “top story” based many factors, “including your relationship to the person who posted the story, how many comments and likes it got, what type of story it is, etc. For example, a friend’s status update that might not normally be a top story may become a top story after many other friends comment on it.” You still have control over whose updates you see and have even more control than previously with the ability to specify which updates you get from your friends via the dropdown in the upper right corner of updates.
Facebook- Top Stories notification as seen on an iPhone
Facebook- Top Stories notification as seen via desktop browser
News ticker: The news ticker is meant to give you an up-to-the-moment look at what your friends are doing on Facebook in real time. The information shown here is much like the news you’ve been accustomed to seeing, but in a more immediate and consolidated space. Many people have been concerned that this feature update will share more than they would like. To change who can view what, anywhere on Facebook see: How Sharing Works Now and check your privacy settings.
Timeline: This functionality, as I mentioned is not yet released but you can learn more and sign up here.
What the Facebook Changes Mean for Pages and Businesses
We’re not really sure just yet as these changes pertain only to the Feed and User Profiles, but if history is any indication we’ll see updates to Pages in the near future.
We could go on and on about everything from yesterday’s F8 conference but so many others already have. Below is a round up of the articles we’ve been keeping an eye on:
On Wednesday September 14, 2011 for the next dose of the Pre_Scribed webinar series on channel coordination.
This webinar will discuss the need for sophisticated coordination and integration of your online program’s promotional strategy with other marketing channels such as social media, corporate intra- and internet sites, and offline sales and marketing materials.
This discussion will include:
How to select your channels
Determine promotion timing
Tailor messages by channel
Incorporate metrics to measure your success
Once you register a webinar link will be provided via email prior to the event. Presentation slides and webinar recording will available here after the event.
If you tweet something that starts with an “@” symbol, only those who are following you as well as the person you mentioned will actually see the tweet. To ensure your tweet is seen by all of your followers, add any character directly in front of the Twitter handle (i.e., period, dash, asterisk, etc.).
For example, if Nathan (@nathankurtyka) were to tweet something to me and wanted all of his followers to also see it he should type:
.@cmortensen Hey, nice haircut! NOT @cmortensen Hey, nice haircut!
If he did the latter, only those following Nathan AND myself would see his lovely compliment.*
One thing to note though, is that by using this tip you will break the reply chain and it could make a conversation harder to follow for others. So why use this tip? Sometimes there's information that you're sharing that's relevant to more than just the person it was originally intented for. Remember: sharing is caring.
For extra cash in college I served lattes in a trademark green apron. It was a great gig, with outgoing coworkers and friendly customers who drank plain black coffee. As generous as some of the regulars were as tippers, it was always a rare occasion that someone would buy a stranger a drink. People were there to study, get caffeinated for the day, or socialize with old friends. The coffee experience wasn't shared among strangers.
Just over a month ago a social experiment began to spread across the social media channels. Jonathan Stark, a mobile expert from the East Coast, published his Starbucks Card account number and asked people to apply the "take a penny, leave a penny" concept to it.
His one page site, invited you to save the image of his Starbucks card to your phone, head to any Starbucks, and use the barcode scanner to charge or deposit to that account. A twitter feed, @jonathanscard, tracked the balance. Thousands of people contributed to the social experiment, and thousands more heard about it through blog posts, Facebook and Twitter. After a hacker interrupted the experiment for one of his own, Starbucks cancelled the account.
If anything, it's a nice breather in the news these days. Strangers are buying other strangers coffee. But what does this mean on a social level? What potential does this bring to the digital world?
One thing we at Vodori love to see is the success of connecting the world through technology. In a simple way, that's what Jonathan's Starbucks card accomplished. This kind of social experiment is not only uplifting, but serves as inspiration. Part of our job as a digital agency is to seek out these innovative solutions and connect them to the masses.