Archive for the ‘Monitoring’ Category

8 Mandates for Social Media Marketing Success—#7: Ensure Value

July 31st, 2013

By Kent Huffman, Author of 8 Mandates for Social Media Marketing Success

“What’s the ROI from all that social media stuff you’ve been doing?” your boss asks. One of his favorite questions, right? Or if you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably heard that same question from your partner or CPA.

Generating reliable performance metrics for your social media activities—gathered and reported in an efficient, easily interpreted manner—has become a major priority for practitioners of social media marketing to help them demonstrate the value from participating in social media and validate their investments in it.

Your boss, partner, or CPA wants to compare the investment of personnel, time, money, and other resources to the return. But without supplying verifiable ROI data and analysis, any long-term relationships that marketers hope to develop and maintain with their social media communities are most likely in jeopardy.

So how do you go about ensuring that you’re deriving value from your social media marketing efforts—and that you can accurately measure that value? Obviously, tracking online “chatter” can help expose the bad as well as the good. For example, your fans and followers may publicly laud your products or suggest improvements to them, giving you the opportunity to respond quickly and address their comments or concerns. Also, there are now a myriad of technology tools available that can help measure the financial impact of social media on your organization, including lead generation, e-commerce revenue, etc.

The social media monitoring and measuring process is still in its infancy. However, in today’s hyper-competitive environment and relatively weak economy, generating measurable, repeatable value from social media is no longer an option for most marketers.

(This is an excerpt from Kent’s new book, 8 Mandates for Social Media Marketing Success.)

Next: 8 Mandates for Social Media Marketing Success—#8: Continue Listening

8 Mandates for Social Media Marketing Success—#2: Plan Carefully

May 29th, 2013

By Kent Huffman, Author of 8 Mandates for Social Media Marketing Success

Too many marketers jump right in and start using various social media tools and technologies—such as Twitter, Google+, and blogs—before they’ve even developed a strategic plan or thought about how those activities might impact the rest of their marketing initiatives. Don’t make that mistake! Take a little time to determine how to best integrate social media into your existing marketing strategy and mix. It’ll pay off for you.

Step one in the planning process is to nail down specific social media objectives, based on the listening activities detailed in Mandate #1. Now that you know what your constituents care about and are discussing on social media, how does that impact the messages you need to communicate to them? Step two is to integrate your social media strategy into your overall marketing strategy to ensure your resources can be leveraged most efficiently and effectively and that common goals can be more easily reached.

If you work for a large enterprise, you have two significant advantages over a small business when it comes to planning and budgeting for a social media marketing program. First, your company’s DNA most likely has a built-in “think strategically” strand, and second, it also probably has a fairly large wallet. If, however, you work for or own a small business, you have an advantage as well. You most likely can make strategic decisions and launch new marketing programs fairly quickly. That can be a huge benefit in the fast-paced social media world.

Finally, be sure you’re prepared to monitor and measure your impact and progress. Establishing benchmarks and other metrics that can be tracked over time will help you better understand what’s working and what’s not, and thus be able to make whatever adjustments are necessary to ensure the success of your social media marketing activities.

(This is an excerpt from Kent’s new book, 8 Mandates for Social Media Marketing Success.)

Next: 8 Mandates for Social Media Marketing Success—#3: Develop Relationships

When Crisis Knocks: Being PR Savvy through Social Media

December 5th, 2012

By Amy Howell, CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies

Social media has been a game changer for PR folks across the board. No matter what type of business, industry, or organization you are in, social media means you can run for a minute, but you sure cannot hide.

I have been in PR and marketing for more than 20 years, working mostly in B2B organizations, and I have witnessed the drastic shift in how we communicate the corporate messages—good, bad, and ugly. I think that in order to appreciate and use what we’ve learned, it’s sometimes important to look back and think on what worked then, how things have changed, and what lessons we can carry forward to improve our role as PR professionals.

In the “good ole days” when agencies had fat budgets and big offices, often the PR strategy was crafted to “spin” a story a certain way to try and control the outcomes. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it would not. Either way, that control is largely gone with the use of social media, smartphones, and mobile communications.

I hear and read often that companies can’t control their stories. That’s only true if they let it get out of control in the first place. Sometimes it gets out without anyone doing anything. An explosion or fire would be this type of crisis. The media is relentless when it comes to a crisis, and a company has to be ready to be totally “bombarded” and handle all inquiries. A very tough skin is needed for this, as dealing with a heady crisis and doing good PR is not for the weak or inexperienced.

I have only had two really bad crisis client PR projects and—though we got through them as well as we could have under the terrible circumstances—it’s highly stressful and downright scary work. I’ve had CNN, AP reporters, international calls, and the local media all on my back at once, and there is no class or training that can prepare you for the actual day that happens. But I learned a ton, didn’t sleep much, and added great depth to my experience in PR under pressure.

Now, onto the three main points I would like to make. Corporations with big news to tell (good and bad) need to understand a few key points:

  • The art of being proactive and always anticipating what can happen: When crisis comes—often by surprise—you must immediately be ready to anticipate what will happen next. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a crisis PR/communications plan ALREADY WRITTEN before something happens. The most common thing to anticipate is that people love to talk about a crisis, which means you will have two major projects: one is dealing with and getting accurate information to the media (you want them on your team, and they can make or break you) and dealing with comments that are posted on the Internet. Immediately, you need a team that’s social savvy to monitor what’s being said, and you will need this 24/7. How you handle these steps is critical. In dealing with the media, you must be fair and straightforward, and you must set the pace. When we had crisis #1, I set up a system to communicate with all the media and used different tools to post information. The first was the posting of updates and statements as they became available to the top of the client website. This helped us do two things: control information in written statements and mass distribution (we didn’t have time to do press releases). The second tool was the use of the wire; we monitored the Internet. It took a team of four to six people dedicated to this, and I worked remotely in the client’s conference room for days.
  • The discipline and intelligence to use confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements: I hate to say “duh,” but I said it. Companies and organizations that can’t keep information from leaking out deserve what they get. And I would fire any communications staffer immediately if I found out he or she talked about highly confidential information. Rumors cannot exist if you want good PR results. For example, last year, one of my clients (and large employer) announced the decision to relocate its corporate headquarters to downtown Memphis. The CEO, COO, CFO, and legal team made everybody—including me—sign a non-disclosure. I had the pleasure of coordinating the press for the announcement and the event we held onsite. That was a difficult “secret” to keep quiet, but we did it, and that’s proof that companies can indeed control when big news gets announced, how it’s announced, and to whom it’s announced.
  • Telling a story well through both traditional and social: I think social media has given us the transparency we need to find real, truthful information and has forced companies and organizations to be more diligent about being truthful. My dad always told me that if you tell the truth all the time, you never have to worry about telling a story—a powerful lesson. Social media gives us great channels to be truthful and to be transparent. Social media has changed PR in many positive ways, and I think that the positives far outweigh the negatives. All of this is why companies need to already be “in” the game of social. Establish your footprint and tell your story, so that when you have to defend yourself in a crisis, you can. As my good friend and social media consultant @GlenGilmore says, “Build your tribe before you need it.” And believe me, one day you will need it.

Thanks for reading this, and I’d love to hear how social media has helped or hurt you in a crisis.

SXSW: 8 Essential Takeaways for CMOs

April 11th, 2012

By Margaret Molloy, Chief Marketing Officer at Velocidi

Since attending the SXSW Interactive Festival in March, a number of CMOs have asked me for my key takeaways from the event. Articulating these succinctly has not been easy. After all, SXSW provided such valuable insights into new technologies, inspirational speeches, and fantastic networking opportunities. Upon reflection, I can summarize my key learning in a few words: get back to basics.

The pace of the technological evolution is dizzying—racing to keep up with it can cause us CMOs to lose site of the big picture. Digital platforms are not an end in themselves, they are tools that help us more efficiently do what we’ve been striving to do for years: engage customers, know them, guide strategy, and achieve growth and influence in our markets.

Based on this premise, here are eight imperatives to guide us through our rapidly evolving digital landscape, garner internal support, and achieve growth:

  1. Align all digital marketing activities with your company’s business goals. Focusing on the bottom line will help you choose the right platforms to engage your customers and build the digital initiatives to help you achieve the right results. (Remember that innovation and learning can also be excellent desired outcomes.)
  2. Manage your brand’s digital presence (web, social) with the same vigilance as your CFO manages cash flow. A well-executed digital presence—and the appropriate investment in it—will yield the customer data and engagement required to drive business strategy and impact your company’s valuation.
  3. Know your customers in a better, deeper, more textured way than your competitors do. Leveraging social media platforms to understand your customers’ personal interests, preferences, and motivations can provide you with data required to drive powerful new marketing campaigns.
  4. Embrace customer segmentation and pricing with discipline, or risk margin erosion. Given the degree of price transparency and ease of information sharing online, your margins need constant vigilance—not all customer segments require discounts to establish loyalty, referrals, advocacy, and repeat purchases.
  5. Channel your inner educator, specifically your economics 101 professor, when addressing digital marketing tactics with management. Train your executives on the strategic metrics for your business, or risk them defaulting to the popular definition of ROI (number of followers, website impressions, etc.). If management doesn’t know how to assess and measure the effectiveness of digital marketing initiatives, it’s not realistic for them to fund the programs.
  6. Strive to balance long-term customer relationship building with lead generation, activation, and sales objectives. Avoid the temptation to jump in and close a prospect on the first signs of potential interest, or risk losing them.
  7. Consider your brand a publisher and be clear on your content goals—education, entertainment, community building, etc. Draw on the entire spectrum of content (brand-generated, partner-created, user-generated, curated, etc.) to select the right mix to cost-effectively engage your customers.
  8. Be authentic in your customer engagements through all communications channels. Customers are smart, well connected, and can easily identify insincere behavior and expose questionable tactics—honesty remains the best policy.

Focusing on these imperatives will ultimately provide you with a compass to guide you through the evolving digital landscape and toward the digital programs that will help you achieve your business goals.

Influence Measurers: Will Klout Kill Community?

February 29th, 2012

By Gary Schirr, Professor at Radford University

Like many of you, I sign up for the free influence-measuring sites. I am skeptical of all of them but check out my scores and those of online friends. I am well aware that I am no Justin Bieber (Klout score 100) or Barack Obama (Klout score 87) in online influence. But I take comfort if I am near the scores of tweeters I admire, such as @CKBurgess, @KentHuffman, @ChuckMartin1, @DavidAaker, and @WareMalcombCMO.

I find early efforts to measure influence interesting, but I am concerned that parties are taking these fledging measures seriously and making decisions based on them. Some tweeters choose who to follow by their influence score. A recent Wall Street Journal article discussed the importance that businesses are assigning to Klout scores: marketing freebies and even job offers may be tied to Klout scores.

Although I am not concerned that my tenure committee will pass me over for Justin Bieber or Britney Spears, I worry whether the influence of the influence measurers may impact SM communities. If tweeters believe that their online status, likelihood of being followed, and even employability may be affected by these measures, they will adjust how they act. A well-known management dictum notes that nothing can be managed until it is measured. The relevant corollary is that what is measured will affect behavior: bad metrics can lead to bad behavior!

Will the clout of Klout cause loutish behavior in social media? @Econsultancy summarized the flaws of Klout’s measures in a recent blog post. And in one study by @Adriaan_Pelzer, a bot achieved a 51 Klout score in 80 days simply by 1) tweeting gibberish once a minute and 2) not following back new followers. Senior officers at Klout responded to that study (and similar ones) by noting that they were working on algorithms to spot bots. Klout proposes to attack the symptom head on (who wants to be fooled by a bot?) but downplay issues of the metrics themselves.

What kind of “community” will Twitter be if everyone follows these “winning” behaviors? Do you judge tweeters by quantity of tweets? Is it optimal to have 10 times as many followers as people followed? Phillip Hotchkiss, Chief Product Officer at Klout and a serial start-up entrepreneur, commented on an earlier post I wrote on this issue. His most interesting observations are that Klout’s metrics are always being modified to measure influence, and that Klout is trying to differentiate between “bad bots” and “good bots.” It is good to know that Klout is constantly evolving in pursuit of good influence measurement. Phillip’s “good bots” are a little scary. Maybe there is a good science fiction story there!

Be wary of even well-intentioned measurers. For example, many researchers believe that U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings hinder educational innovation by focusing on reputation and resources that please faculty, rather than cost/benefit measures that apply to most services. Similarly, focusing on factors such as tweets that generate action (regardless of content) and on follower/followed ratios could impair Twitter’s evolution.

Be wary of these developing measures. Do not let the measures affect your behaviors or enjoyment of social media. Do not make hiring decisions based on Klout, unless you honestly believe that Justin Bieber is the perfect 100 and the most influential person online! And please, please don’t start tweeting every three minutes!

Embracing Social Media Measurement

February 23rd, 2011

By Deirdre Breakenridge, Co-Author of Cyberbranding: Brand Building in the Digital Economy

If there’s one area of marketing strategy that deserves significant attention, it’s measurement. Back in the days of traditional communications, marketers were always held accountable for the results of their campaigns. We had to know if the marketing efforts raised awareness, created consumer loyalty, and moved products off the shelves or if our initiatives helped the brand’s reputation. However, much of our measurement was based on eyeballs or impressions. How much did that advertisement cost and how many people actually saw it in their favorite magazines or heard it on the radio during their morning drive to work?

Then we morphed into digital communications and were able to target our campaigns to capture activity and sales from clicks to conversations. And we became no strangers to the terms PPC and CPM. Today, as a result of social media marketing, we are focused on conversations and participation in the social sphere. Consumers are becoming more active in their Web communities and trusting the advice and word of their peers over the brand’s messages. As a result, marketers know they need to create opportunities for brands to engage with their consumers through high levels of interaction. Of course, social media engagement can lead to any of the following: awareness, perception, reputation, education, conversations, authority, leads/sales, etc.

With so much listening, monitoring, and measuring that needs to be done, how do you select the right tools to capture the metrics that show value to the brand? How can you tell the difference between the high-level/high-value interactions versus the Facebook “like” or follower on Twitter that never leads to a product sale? I’ve found a couple of different measurement techniques that show good value for any brand that takes the time to invest in these types of measurement. They are “share of voice” and “social influence marketing (SIM) score.”

If you are unfamiliar with these two metrics, here’s a brief overview:

Share of Voice

A brand’s share of voice includes any type of brand mention, which could appear in social networks, blogs, microblogs, message boards and forums, video and photo sharing sites, wikis, etc. Share of voice lets you hear what people are saying and where they are saying it, how they perceive your brand, and what they think about it. You can compare your brand’s share of voice to that of your competitors. You can also capture those communities that have a greater share of voice, allowing you to capitalize on any brand champions speaking on your behalf by building better relationships with them as they continue to be your advocates. It’s also a good practice to evaluate any weak areas where you can create stronger ties with your stakeholders and engage in more meaningful interactions.

Social Influence Marketing (SIM) Score

The SIM developed by Razorfish supports a brand’s attempts to track, analyze, and improve net sentiment by setting benchmarks against itself and also by comparing the SIM scores to that of its competitors. The SIM score is calculated by looking at the brand’s positive, neutral, and negative mentions in relation to total conversations, both for the brand and the brand’s industry. For example, net sentiment for a brand (which is calculated by positive mentions plus neutral mentions minus negative mentions) is divided by total conversations (positive plus neutral plus negative) to get a brand sentiment score. The same calculation is used to obtain the net industry sentiment score, calculating the positive plus neutral minus negative mentions, and then dividing by total industry conversations. The SIM score is equal to the total net sentiment divided by total industry sentiment.

These are only a couple of the metrics that can be used to measure the results of social media marketing. With so many conversations to capture from our consumers and other stakeholders in Web communities, we must embrace social media measurement. Whether you are using free tools (such as Social Mention and Alterian) or automated services (including Radian6 and Sysomos), it’s critical to turn up the volume on our listening/monitoring and measurement practices and show our executives that no matter where we market, there are results, and we are accountable.