Tag Archives: Internet marketing

Don’t Do This: Social Share Abuse

Look. I get it. We all want distribution, and readership. And we want to make it easy for people to share our content on the networks they use. But don’t do this. Putting every. single. social widget you can find on your site isn’t smart — it’s desperate.

Social widget abuse

I love what Nick Denton, Gawker CEO, says about social widgets. I think it’s dead on in this, and many other, instances.

“These sites festooned with social media buttons–they look like primitive tribesmen clutching pathetically onto shiny baubles they believe to the symbols of modernity,” quoth Denton.

Here’s why it sucks:

  • It mucks up your user experience – what are people supposed to do here?
  • It takes away from the core content – what am I supposed to be looking at?
  • It ruins your design.
  • It shows a lack of focus – you should know what your users want to use and don’t want to use. Pick the ones that really drive your business and ditch the rest.
  • It hurts social proof – having 100 likes on something is one thing. Having 3 Diggs and 14 Stumbles and 9 LinkedIn shares, shows your audience that this content really isn’t going anywhere, on any network. So why should they share it. Social proof works both ways.

So please, don’t do this. Instead, look at your traffic and user behavior and understand the networks that really drive traffic for your site, and focus on those. Let random one-offs copy and paste the URL to where they want to share it. You’ll create a better user experience, keep your design clean, keep your site looking professional, and amplify the channels that actually matter for your site.

 

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That’s G: Gatorade Gets Social Media

Gatorade Mission ControlGatorade has planted a stake firmly in the social media realm, putting its social media monitoring and engagement at the heart of its marketing department, launching Mission Control. Mission Control is Gatorade’s listening and engagement center where it monitors brand mentions and conversations in social media space. It also lets the brand see which websites, landing pages and online marketing efforts are performing better than others-letting Gatorade extend or shut down campaigns depending on how sentiment and other KPI’s are doing for given opportunities.

An impressive effort to be sure, and one that more brands will follow as social media becomes core to their understanding of how their brand is performing with their target audience. Whether it’s a physical space or not, expect more brands to make social media monitoring a core part of the daily dashboard showing the health of the brand, market or business. So the question becomes, what are you doing to monitor the health of your business online?

From Mashable’s article on Mission Control and its ROI to Gatorade:

On a day-to-day basis, Gatorade’s tools are also being used for more conventional marketing tactics –- like optimizing landing pages and making sure followers are being sent to the top performing pages. As an example, the company says it’s been able to increase engagement with its product education (mostly video) by 250% and reduce its exit rate from 25% to 9%.

Below is Gatorade’s video about the new Mission Control:

Read more:

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Social Media Stats for 2010

Socialnomics book

Socialnomics book

Socialnomics author Erik Qualman has updated his popular Social Media Revolution video that shows how big the social media opportunity has become for companies and individuals alike.  He packs a ton of social media stats into this video and it does a nice job summarizing the shifts that social media have created in our marketing landscape.

I’m always a bit leery of over-selling social media because I believe it is sometimes heralded as a panacea when really it is part of a bigger brand/marketing whole. Social media “experts” tend to miss that part of the conversation or address it with a bunch of hand waving.  But in general I think this video does a nice job of showing how big the opportunity in social media really is.

Enjoy:

Image from socialnomics.net.

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Making Sense of It All

The hardest thing in marketing is to make sense of it all. The data, the conversation, the customer complaints, the customer kudos, product features, service definitions, all of it is an overwhelming cacophony to the audience trying to synthesize and make sense of it. The best marketers are the ones who can take those inputs and create an easy to understand story that gives context to the information. A story or framework that allows customers, business owners and the community at large to make informed decisions and sense out of the noise. If you do that in marketing, you win.

In this post I want to talk about applying this idea to the measurement of marketing campaigns.  Because while it’s easy to throw in some Google Analytics code and say you “measure” the truth is it’s much more complex and nuanced than that.  And those marketers that can get past those one-sized fits all measurements and to the true measurement of success will be the ones standing in the long run.  So let’s look at how this applies to measuring online campaigns.

Data is Messy

In most instances the inputs are messy, nonsensical and contradictory.  The data is tough to grok and make sense of.  If you leave your audience to figure it out you’ll miss a key opportunity to help inform their thinking by providing a fact-based context, a lens in which to look at the data.  This can lead to poor decision-making and lead to choices that are misinformed.

Take Web analytics for an example.  The detail available on Web analytics can make them cumbersome and difficult to properly assess.  Traffic sources, visits, referring URLs, keywords, ad variations, organic versus paid traffic, goal conversions, bounce rates, CPA and CPC by source, (and the list goes on) creates a very complex picture of what is really going on with any one ad buy or campaign.  In an integrated online campaign with email, search, display, social media, PR and more the data set gets more complex and to the untrained eye muddier and less satisfying in terms of pointing to clear wins and losses.

This complexity makes it difficult for executives without a background in online marketing and analytics to digest the data and make strong recommendations.  The lack of clarity in the data picture presented makes much of the data inactionable.  It’s almost like it was never measured in the first place.

Providing Clarity

A good marketer provides clarity and context to results to give executives a frame of reference and an easy way to review, digest and act upon.  This means distilling complex data down to meaningful, high-level overviews backed by detail that can be reviewed a section at a time.  Providing clarity does not mean whittling down the data to nothing. That has the same negative impact as too much data, you’ve stripped relevance and meaning out, leaving you without the richness and granularity needed to make smart business decisions.

Creating a hierarchical story is an approach that I like to use to provide the clarity of a campaign while still providing robust and rich data to glean insights necessary to make good business decisions.  Here’s how I do it:

  • Give the big picture first. How are we doing? At plan, behind plan, ahead of plan.  Which way is the wind blowing and how are we doing.  Get that out of the way first and don’t sugar coat it.
  • Address key wins and losses.  Identify the big “needle moving” items. An email that went flat, a keyword that is going bananas, ad creative that has 2x click through of everything else, Scoble retweeted something.  Pick a couple.
  • Provide campaign element metrics. Summarize campaign elements in a top level reporting.  I like to show by element:
    • Budget
    • Clicks/impressions
    • CTR
    • Conversions to Goal
    • CPA
  • Optimization opportunities.  Identify areas to optimize, recommended adjustments in spend, scope, etc. These should be tactical adjustments to address the key loses as well as tweaks to the winners to turn them into homeruns.
  • Support data. This is where you have access to the backup that tells a more detailed story to the campaign element metrics.  Want to drill down in to a CPC campaign on Bing?  You need to have keyword and ad performance, both CPC and CPA.

Prep Work is the Key

Just as football coaches say that playoff games are won and lost during the two-a-day practices in August, the ability to tell a clear story that provides the data business owners need to make important decisions relies on prep work up front in setting up your measurement and analytics.  And the key is go beyond the out-of-the-box analytics measurements that come from Google or another provider.  You have to be able to tie the whole picture together.  Cost per click isn’t enough. You need cost per acquisition.

What is the desired outcome of the campaign? A new customer, an email sign up, a new fan? Whatever the end acquisition is, that is what needs to be measured against.  Without a clear tie to CPA the data is incomplete and it leaves a gap in analysis which makes the exercise less useful and relevant.  That blind spot can render data useless or worse, just plain wrong.

Don’t let the challenge of tying analytics down to the CPA level keep you from doing that work.  By eliminating that last mile blind spot (from cost per click or impression to cost per acquisition) you’ll be able to provide a much clearer story about what is working and not working.

Marketers Need to Tell Stories

This doesn’t just apply to their customers. It applies to everything they do.  It is crucial in creating a lens through which other business owners can analyze and view the data that you’re generating from your campaigns.  Without good data, and without a framework that makes the data manageable you’re unable to tell a good story, and ultimately succeed as a marketer.

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Speed as a Social Media Strategy

I just finished reading a great business book called “Rules of Thumb” by Alan Webber.  Webber founded Fast Company magazine and was also managing editor at Havard Business Review, among other things.  In “Rules of Thumb” he compiles 52 bite-sized pieces of wisdom he has collected over the past 40+ years in his distinguished career.  They’re all excellent.  I want to dive into some of them here – in part to share with you, in part to cement them into my mental firmament.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and I encourage you to pick up Rules of Thumb when you get a chance.

Speed as a Strategy

This is one of my favorite rules of thumb in the book.  Speed as a strategy.  Whether you’re talking about the first-mover advantage or simply being able to react and evolve in an ever-changing business environment, speed is a strategy all on its own. Too often you hear “we’re moving too fast” or “we need to make sure we’re not moving too fast,” from the planners and the folks in accounting and those who are uncomfortable with speed.  They want to slow things down, plod through detailed analyses and make the “perfect” decision.  Webber refutes this line of thinking as an evolutionary outmoded approach that is sure to leave your business in the dust and your team far from the leading edge of your industry.

The solution of course, is to become comfortable with speed and to use it as a competitive advantage and strategy.

Becoming comfortable with speed

If the answer is to become comfortable with speed, then how do you do it?  I believe you become comfortable with speed by developing a framework for evaluating situations and options and then a process of constant iteration and refinement of decisions through rapid and ongoing evaluation of the choices made.   Something like this:

  1. Evaluate current situation
  2. Determine course of action
  3. Implement change quickly
  4. Measure inputs/outputs of change
  5. Evaluate results
  6. Refine and adjust strategy on the fly
  7. Repeat

If you are able to implement this cycle then you have the tools and processes in place to manage rapid change then making quick decisions is not a short-sighted exercise that leaves you open to threats and missed opportunities; but rather is an ongoing, renewable business process that always ensures that you’re attuned to the environment and challenges your organization faces. All while staying out ahead of the pack through nimble, smart decisions.

Once you’ve developed this process to provide opportunities for constantly refining your strategy then you are able to embrace speed.  No longer is a decision all-or-nothing, but rather a series of incremental adjustments based on the results of the previous choice.  It makes everything much easier to manage in my opinion.

So, if that’s the high-level look at how speed can help an organization, what about in marketing?  Where this best comes into play is in online marketing.  Because print is built around big bets – long lead times, big RFPs, big campaigns, etc., it isn’t able to leverage the benefits of speed. Print and other old media need the plodding decision-making because for the most part, once you’re in, you’re in.  So you need to make that big bet count.  Online media, for the most part, behaves in a way that makes speed and incremental changes an essential part of success.

Speed as a strategy in social media marketing

More than any other online marketing effort, social media marketing demands speed.  In fact, it is organizations that can’t or won’t embrace speed who are the ones most damaged by the conversations in social media.  Those that wait to put together a pain-staking strategy, require lengthy legal involvement and rely on the old world media paradigm of creating perfect before shipping are all hurt by real-time conversations that wait for no one.  There are plenty of case studies about this phenomenon, and we don’t need to dive into them all here, but suffice to say that speed is the only strategy that works in social media.

Why is speed so important in social media?

Because people aren’t hierarchical organizations with command and control reporting. They speak their mind, share their opinions freely, and don’t need legal sign-off to present an argument or make a statement. That makes them infinitely faster than any organization.  But people also expect to deal with people, not brands, not organizations, not entities when engaging in a conversation online.  If a company wants to participate they need to let their people act like, well, people, and not corporate mouthpieces or brand ambassadors or any other non-human corporate cog.  This requires giving those people on the front lines of your organization engaging in social media the gift of speed. And your organization needs to be aligned to respond quickly to inputs that come through this new conversation channel.

Without speed your social media marketing strategy is dead on arrival.  It has a higher likelihood of doing harm rather than good, as the attention-spans, and patience online is reduced to near-zero by the customers and people you’re trying to engage. If your team is unable to answer a simple question in a timely fashion you’re hurting your brand.  If you can’t get a customer service request routed and addressed quickly, you’re hurting your brand.   The list goes on.  Without speed you’re brand will not thrive in the social space.

A few guidelines for speed in social media

Here are just a few (not comprehensive, please add more in the comments) thoughts on how to make sure you’re organization has the speed it needs to be successful in social media:

  • Have a corporate social media policy that encourages employees to embrace social media and clearly outlines the company’s guidelines and beliefs for using social media
  • Ensure that business division owners are ready to handle requests that come in through the social channel.  Is your customer service team ready to handle a complaint via Twitter?
  • For companies of any size over 30, implement some form of tracking of open issues and resolutions.  Can you track outstanding issues that have been posted to message boards about your product?  Can you communicate with those people and get back to them when things are resolved?
  • Give your front-line folks answers to questions ahead of time.  Do they have an extensive corporate knowledge? Do they have access to policies, warranties, press materials and other company facts that they can go straight to without needing to track down someone in product or PR to address?
  • Give your front-line folks freedom to talk like people.  Can you set guidelines about what will and won’t be answered immediately? If you have an intense legal component to your business what can you do to provide as much leeway to front-line folks while ensuring proper guidance and discretion on sensitive items?
  • Give your front-line folks the proper training in investor relations, media relations, customer service, public relations, etc. so that they understand the different types of inquiries they’ll receive and a framework with which to deal with them.
  • Make sure your front-line people are friendly, personable and genuinely interested in helping people. That spirit will shine as they interact with your customers and potential customers in the social sphere.

Speed wins – how fast are you?

To me it is clear that speed wins.  Especially in social media.  So how fast are you? How fast is your organization? And what can you do to make it or your department faster?  What am I missing?  I’d love your feedback in the comments.

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