Analytics: Social Media Marketing Grows Up

Social media is changing — and analytics are leading this transformation.  Yet, surprisingly, when I pitch my business to prospective clients, I’m shocked to find competitors never mentioned metrics or analytics when discussing their services.  Or, they assess metrics that don’t lead to success of your social media marketing strategies — like #Fans/ Followers, Page Rank, or # Visitors to your website.  Bleh!

Social Media Analytics Must Mesh With ROI

Return on Investment (ROI) is the name of the game.  You don’t run social media for the warm fuzzies you get from interacting with your target audience.  You run social media to MAKE MONEY!

Unfortunately, social media marketing, like many other marketing tactics, doesn’t translate into increased sales directly.  And, with social media, the more directly you focus on making money, the worse your results are likely to be.

social media roiOften, you’ll see the ROI of social media marketing through a hierarchy of effects.  And, you can read more about how this hierarchy of effects increases the ROI for your business using the above link.

So, you see, greater returns come from creating engagement, which amplifies your message through your social graph, with the goal of building a community of consumption.  A community not only spreads your message, but defends your brand and encourages others to consumer your brand.  You can read more about creating engagement in social media in other pages of this website or by reading the presentation I made at last year’s DC Tech Week.

When you create evangelists in social media, you reap even greater rewards as these individuals not only promote your marketing efforts, they act like partial employees to answer questions, give demonstrations, and offer advice to other consumers and prospective consumers.

Certainly, these efforts translate into increased sales, although they don’t measure increased sales directly.  But, we do know word of mouth advertising, such as reflected when friends share commercial messages in social networks, do a better job of motivating sales than advertising — and for less money.

Hence, social media analytics should measure how successful your efforts are in driving users in social networks down this hierarchy.  Some metrics to assess your success in driving consumers down your social media hierarchy of effects are:

  1. Number of comments
  2. Facebook analytics such as “Talking about this
  3. Website metrics such as number of pageviews per visitor
  4. Number of shares
  5. Number of ReTweets, Repins, etc.
  6. Level of consumer to consumer interaction on your posts
  7. Growth in your email list or RSS feed

Social Media Analytics Must Mesh with Goals

Certainly, one of your goals should be to drive consumers down the hierarchy of effects, but likely you have other goals and objectives for your social media, as well.

Improve Sentiment

One goal might involve increasing the level of positive sentiment.  Sentiment is a metric that reflects online satisfaction with your brand.  Most listening software, such as Radian6, include assessments of sentiment based on curation of brand mentions across social networks.

Increased Inquiries

Many of my clients work in B2B markets where their social media marketing goal is to generate leads for the sales force.  This is assessed using the metric of inquiries.

Press Mentions

Some firms’ goal involves using social media marketing to generate traditional press mention.  Unfortunately for many, the press often highlights mistakes brands make in using social media, rather than success.  Press mentions are assessed using a traditional clipping service.

Other Social Media Metrics

In addition to metrics reflecting how well you’re doing in driving ROI, you need metrics to help you make better decisions about your social media going forward.

I’m often asked by clients to provide the magic bullet that will make their social media marketing ZING.  But, there are not magic bullets.  Sure, with my experience and expertise I’m able to reduce the number of social media marketing mistakes a brand makes, but no one is infallible.

For instance, I can tell you that, in general, images do better in Facebook than posts without images.  But, that’s pretty general.  I need metrics to determine how YOUR market responds to messages in each social network where you participate.  I’ll watch what happens to each post and status update. I’ll encourage you to create MORE social media marketing content that resonate with your market and fewer of the ones that don’t.

Social Media Marketing Grows Up

Regardless of your goals, metrics, and analytics, the reality is that social media marketing has grown up.  If your social media team isn’t providing reports accessing your social media marketing campaign at least weekly, you’re not getting what you need to be successful in social media marketing.

Gone are the days of running a social media marketing campaign by the seat of your pants.  Now, A/B testing, sophisticated causal models, and trend analysis are the name of the social media marketing game.  Eye tracking tests how consumers “READ” websites and pages to optimize placement of critical elements such as email subscription forms and sales elements.  Understanding how consumers search for products, how they prefer sharing your content, and who influences their purchase decisions relies on traditional marketing research tactics, such as focus groups and ethnographies.  And, don’t forget the importance of SEO in guiding searchers to your online content.

Just putting up stuff that “LOOKS GOOD” may mean you’re wasting your time.  Hiring a “kid” (or using your intern) who must “know” social media since he/ she has 500 Facebook friends and will work cheap ensures your social media marketing fails to achieve its potential.

Your Turn

What do you think about using analytics as an integral part of your social media marketing? Interested?

Hausman and Associates would love the opportunity to show what we can do with out superior analysis techniques geared toward optimizing the impact of your social media marketing.  Please visit our Hire Us page to learn more about how we can help you and request a proposal to address your social media marketing needs.

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Google Adwords: Creating a Successful PPC Strategy

An earlier post discussed some basics of Google Adwords,

so you should read that post, if you haven’t already.  Today, I’d like to more forward in our discussion of using Google Adwords to drive more traffic to your website.

Selecting Appropriate Keywords

Obviously, from our last discussion, keyword selection is critical for success — they bring targeted traffic to your site and have a huge impact on how much you pay per click.  In fact, the 5 most EXPENSIVE keywords are:

  • insurance
  • loans
  • mortgage
  • attorney
  • credit

That’s because so many people search for these keywords and so many advertisers want the same keywords (competition) .  If you operate in these industries, you need a lot of creativity to avoid high CPC.   By the same token, you don’t want to choose keywords just because they’re cheap — because there are few users searching for the terms.

What you want are keywords with relatively high search volume and low competition.

It’s a balancing act.  But, where do you get information on the number of searches and competition? Google provides a free Keyword Tool to guide AdWords users.  This tool is powered by Google search to give very accurate numbers of global and local searches for particular keywords.  The tool also gives suggests alternate keywords and you can sort results to determine which are the most searched keywords.

If you want more information, try Nobel Samurai’s tool,  Market Samurai*.  Market Samurai gives you a lot more information on keywords to help make good decisions about which terms to use in your Google Adwords to maximize your traffic and minimize your cost.  You can sign up for a free trial to see if Market Samurai is right for you.

Elements of a Successful Adwords Ad

In addition to using the right keywords, other elements create successful Adwords ads.

  1. Offer – at it’s core, an Adwords ad is a short sales message so you want to make a clear offer that motivates consumers to click on your ad.  And, make your offer explicit — tell folks what you expect them to do.  You might offer a discount if consumers click on your ad or give them something free.
  2. Link your Adwords ad to a landing page, not your home page.  The landing page should reinforce the offer made in the Adwords ad and make an argument for why the consumer needs this product.  If you’ve advertised a particular product in your Adwords ad, the landing page should include images and information about that SPECIFIC product.  Don’t make visitors hunt for the item they came looking for.
  3. Create a compelling story – paint a verbal picture of how your product solves their problems.
  4. Use action words.
  5. Use vivid, emotional language.  Your copy should elicit an emotional response by using clear, easy-to-understand language with a minimum of jargon and abbreviations.
  6. Test alternate copy – sure, with a little experience, you’ll get better at creating Adwords ads, but you still need to test alternate versions of the ad because no one can tell, with absolute confidence, what language will best motivate consumers.  Luckily, Google Adwords is set up to easily create and test copy, providing metrics to show which ad does better.

OK, enough for today.  Tomorrow we’ll explore more about Google Adwords — specifically looking at the Google Adwords format (which is very stylized) and creating ads.

Comments and questions are always appreciated, so use the form below to engage us.  Also, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to keep informed about winning strategies for your marketing — online and off.

 

*This is an affiliate link, so I make a little money if you buy this product. However, I would never recommend any product that I didn’t use and believe in. If you’d rather, you can search on Google and buy the product without my affiliate link.

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Analytics: Social Media ROI

Calculating Social Media ROI (Return on Investment) is a little tricky.  So many folks don’t bother trying to link analytics like ROI to evaluate your social media marketing efforts.  Others default to simple metrics, such as Likes and Followers.  But without some notion of your Social Media ROI, firms are uncomfortable investing or increasing their investment in social media.

Social Media ROI

I’ve created several posts to guide marketers on assessments of social media ROI, but here’s another take from UberVU.  I thought I’d take an in-depth look at the strategy underpining this infographic.

Measuring Social

Media ROI

Businesses are getting much more sophisticated in the way they measure social media ROI.  Businesses go well beyond meaningless metrics like number of Fans or Followers, to assess metrics that have a REAL impact on social media ROI.

Here are some examples:

Attitude Toward the Brand

A vast number of studies show the strong link between attitude toward the brand and behaviors that create Social Media ROI — specifically, buying the brand.  Attitude toward the brand also motivates folks to recommend the brand.

social media ROI

So, it’s good to see more businesses measure sentiment, with almost no one measuring sentiment in 2010 and lots of businesses (nearly 50%) measuring sentiment in 2011.

Engagement

Engagement is a much better measure because it actually impacts social media ROI.  The more engaged your Fans and Followers, the stronger your brand and the greater your ROI.  ROI increases happen in 2 ways:

  1. Consumers who share about your brand are more likely to buy the brand (this is cognitive consistency theory – again lots of experimental support)
  2. When consumers engage with your brand, your message travels to wider audiences — amplifying your message.
  3. When folks engage your brand, it acts as an endorsement to their friends and we KNOW consumer recommendations are MUCH more powerful in getting folks to purchase than paid commercials.

Businesses measuring engagement in social media is increasing — with over 50% of businesses measuring engagement in 2011 versus none in 2010.

Customer Service

Handling complaints and problems quickly and efficiently is the hallmark of a successful company.  That’s because complaints travel 5 times as far as compliments.

More companies integrate customer service into the social media marketing strategy today than ever before.  But, firms need to do a better job tracking this metric, because we know customer satisfaction is a major driver of repeat purchase and recommendation — both of which increase you social media ROI.

Final Thoughts

OK, so social media marketing doesn’t translate directly into social media ROI, but it may have the GREATEST impact on ROI of anything the business does. Sure, turning out a great product or service is important, but buying a product is basically a social process heavily influenced by what your friends do.  And, social media increases the visibility of what you buy to your social network.

As you can see in the infographic, metrics support this.  Nearly 75% of people who buy entertainment products discuss them online and 66% of users agree that Tweets influence the brands they choose.

Increase your Social Media ROI

To increase your social media ROI, you need a detailed understanding of your market, a social media strategy based on a clear understanding of how social media marketing is different from traditional marketing, and the right metrics to no only assess your social media ROI, but provide guidance for optimizing your social media ROI.

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Can Your Market HEAR You? Getting Your Message Heard!

getting your message heard
Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Did you ever play “telephone” when you were a kid? Remember how funny it was to have someone start a message, then hear something totally garbled at the end after each friend whispered the message in the next person’s ear.  Well, it’s not so funny when this happens to your branding message.

You want your ENTIRE market to hear your message loud and clear!

But, just like your child’s game of telephone, your message is likely to get garbled or never reach some members of your market.

Getting your message heard means you have to:

  1. Make your message consistent across media, including social media
  2. Repeat your message frequently
  3. Control your message

That’s easier said than done.  Here’s why (and how to fix it):

 

Problem #1.

Often different people are in charge of different media. If these people don’t coordinate, your message won’t be coordinated either.  Everyone’s out there with a different message creating an image of your brand that isn’t clear or consistent.  Think about Chevy, for instance.  What does that brand mean to you?  Contrast that with Apple.  What does the Apple brand mean to you?   And we know which brand commands a huge price premium — Apple.  So, there’s measurable value in having a clear, consistent brand image.

Fix #1.

Messaging should be at the corporate level.  Various units must implement the corporate message strategy and each implementation tested using an independent panel to assure the message is on point.

Problem #2.

Cutting through the clutter.  Everyone is talking, so how do you make sure people HEAR your message.  Not only do you have a vast amount of advertising that consumers are exposed to every day, but consumers are busy people who don’t really care about hearing your message.

Fix #2.

Amplify your message.  Make sure folks share your message through digital word of mouth — social media.  We KNOW these messages reach more of your market and, because recommendations from friends are more powerful, they resonate more with your market.

Problem #3.

Speak their language.  Each group of consumers has their own culture — their own way of speaking to each other, their own values, their own symbols … We call this “field of experience”.  Unless you speak their language, they won’t understand your message accurately.

Fix #3.

Get to know your market intimately.  Get to know them, their micro-culture, and what’s meaningful to them.  Be like the anthropologist studying the natives.

Problem # 4.

Fragmented media. There are too many options in terms of media.  It was easy in the old days because you knew your market had only 3 network options. Now, there are hundreds of cable stations, plus asynchronous viewing options such as online, TIVO, and recorded (on DVDs or Bluray).  And, that’s just for TV.  A similar situation exists with radio and all forms of print advertising — despite the consolidation of newspapers, there are more magazines and online new options.  Social media is also terribly fragmented.

Fix #4.

Give your market tools to share your message wherever they are.  Remember, your market is probably a lot like existing customers, so invite them to share with their friends.

Problem #5.

Controlling your message.  This is a huge problem, especially if you’re using social media to spread your message because so many people are involved in the process.  But, your only option is to shut down social media conversations, which isn’t optimal and may not even be legal.

So you need to find a way to share through social media without losing control of your message.

Fix #5.

Prepare sharable social media using links, visual elements, and pdfs.  These tools invite people to share the whole without transforming it much.

Also, monitor what people are saying about your brand in social media.  If what they’re saying isn’t accurate or doesn’t share the right message, you can tactfully correct the perception.  In fact, this kind of dialogue creates a community that increases sharing your message.

 

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Happy New Year: Social Media Style

This time of year is packed with activities — between Christmas and New Years (and for me I have a birthday in between the 2 holidays).

How has social media affected the holidays?

Here are some of the changes social media brought to my holidays this year.  Feel free to add some of your own.

  1. I didn’t get a single holiday card this year — well, I did get a few ecards, but nothing delivered to my mailbox.  In fact, if it weren’t for catalogs, bills, and junk mail (sorry, direct mail) I’d have NOTHING in my mailbox but cobwebs.  My holiday greetings this year came from Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter — mainly generic greetings to all friends, followers, etc.
  2. Everyone still had their hand out for a holiday donation for their favorite charity, but most of these came through my Facebook profile page.  I got lots of invitation to LIKE a charity and make a donation on their fan page. Some of these came from the charities themselves, but lots of them came from page requests from my Facebook friends.
  3. I got a number of shopping suggestions from my Facebook friends.
  4. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday wrought the most changes.  I got advance notice of some of the best sales (and even pre-Black Friday sales) through Facebook. Its kinda nice, but it spoiled the excitement of pouring over the sales brochures on Thanksgiving day — a ritual in my family.  It also gave us time to consider whether that “doorbuster” was really necessary.  As a result, we didn’t even go out on Black Friday until after noon, rather than at the crack of dawn.
  5. Tonight, we’ll bring in the new year with family and friends, but I’m sure others will be watching the ball drop online and exchanging greetings with their social networks.

Robert Putnam talked about this in his book, Bowling Alone, when he lamented the decline of true engagement wrought by technology.  Although he wrote in a time that proceeds social networks, his words ring true today.  Even though we might be communicating more and talking to more diverse people than ever before, our conversations tend to be relatively shallow; failing to provide deep connections that enrich our lives and promote civic engagement.

According to a review of Bowling Alone,

Putnam warns that our stock of social capital – the very fabric of our connections with each other, has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities.

Putnam draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often. We’re even bowling alone. More Americans are bowling than ever before, but they are not bowling in leagues. Putnam shows how changes in work, family structure, age, suburban life, television, computers, women’s roles and other factors have contributed to this decline.

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/global/led-by-facebook-twitter-global-time-spent-on-social-media-sites-up-82-year-over-year/

If anything, social media has sped this decline, rather than reversing it.  According to Nielsen, the average person spent nearly 6 hours on social media sites last year, and that number has increased by 84% this year.

For some social media users, this has increased their engagement in family, friends, and the community.  However, for the vast majority of social network users, social media has further distanced them and reduced the amount of time they spend communicating and engaging in real relationships.

As marketers, I think we’re responsible for some of the shallowness of relationships in social networks.  Too many companies operate their social media marketing efforts the same way they did in traditional media — as one way conversations that pushed the company’s agenda.  In the short run, this represents an opportunity costs of what the company might have gained had they used social media more strategically to build engagement with their target market. In the long run, this misunderstanding of the power of social media will likely drive consumers away from social networks — fragmenting them across too many networks with too little engagement.

You already see this to an extent with increasing offers of “robots” to automate your social network.  Many misguided companies are using these tools to build large numbers of fans and followers, not understanding that these disenfranchised fans/followers are useless.

So, let’s make a New Year’s resolution to STOP misusing social media  —  to make it a two way conversation where consumers are valued and rewarded for their engagement with our brands.  Lets build relationships with our consumers that are rewarding for both of us.

I wish you a Happy and Fruitful New Year — and lets keep our resolution.

I invite you to engage with me on any level.  Comment to this blog — join us every Friday for “Ask a Marketing Expert” on Facebook where I match academic and practitioner experts with entrepreneurs, students, marketing managers, and others to create a fruitful dialogue to share best marketing practices — sign up for my Tweets where I share links to cutting edge social media news — or follow me on quora where I answer questions on marketing, social media, and education.  But, don’t just observe; participate.  Comment, ask questions, suggest topics, argue — participate in any format you want.  I just want to have you join.

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