Tag Archives: social media marketing

Think social business. Not social marketing.

Social business - not social marketingThink social business — not social marketing. Social marketing, the content, programs, campaigns and promotions that leverage social technologies, is part of social business, but it’s not the end all, be all. Social impacts business in its entirety. It’s easy to say social media or social marketing when talking about social business; because it’s how the press has pegged the activity of brands and users on these networks, but it’s wrong.

Social impacts nearly every aspect of the organization: human resources, legal, product, customer service, business development and of course, marketing and communications. A smart business looks at social holistically and integrates it into the business units in a way that connects the entire organization via social technology. Through this integration, social makes the business more accessible, more agile and more responsive to customer needs. These are all good things.

Businesses that truly “get it” don’t limit their thinking of social as some specialized area of marketing. In fact, social can’t (and shouldn’t) be confined to marketing or to the marketing function. To think of it as a marketing-only area is to miss the boat in its entirety.

So whenever I start saying “social marketing” too often, I remind myself that it’s an organizational discipline and a fundamental shift in how business is done by leveraging new ways of communicating with one another — both internally and with the outside world.

This isn’t a new idea, just a reminder I like to give myself to keep my eye on the prize.  I thought you might find it useful too.

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How Klout Perks Really Work

klout logoKlout bills itself as a network of influencers that brands can tap into to leverage peer recommendations across social networks. This is based on the idea that friend recommendations are more valuable than traditional advertising because friends trust each others’ recommendations more than ads. The way it works, as sold on the website, is that you tap influencers in topic areas that are relevant to your brand, you offer them a perk, they love it and you, and then the influencers go out and spread your message via word-of-mouth on the social networks they’re most active on. It sounds good, but does it work for brands? The answer is no and yes.

Quick Background

I ran social marketing for a company recently that used Klout to drive new membership. We ran two campaigns, described below. One which failed miserably and one which was a huge success. I’ve described them below and provided actual numbers from Klout. The goal of these campaigns was to spread awareness of a new service, drive membership sign-ups and purchases. Your mileage will of course vary based on your goals.

How Klout Doesn’t Work – Test Campaign #1

You could be forgiven if you think that the best way to leverage their service is to target the most influential influencers in the Klout network for the topic you care about and then let them spread your message far and wide. I hope I’m forgiven anyway. This is what I initially thought, and was proven wrong. If you’re going to run a Klout campaign as a brand, this is definitely not the way to do it. I know from experience, dude. Let’s take a look at the messy details.

Here’s what we did with our first Klout campaign:

  • Identified 155 social influencers who had high Klout scores in Los Angeles, CA, a target market for our member acquisition efforts.
  • Offered a Klout perk to them of $100 in free stuff on our site, plus the ability to invite anyone in their network to join the private beta and get $10 to try us out too.

The thinking was that by giving these social influencers a sufficient amount of money to try the service and a way to give their followers and friends early access and a discount, that they would be stoked on the perk and spread the word. Friends would sign up for the discount and early access.

The cost of the campaign was $5,000 plus the cost of the coupons, which was dependent on the redemption rate of the perk.

The results:

  • Out of 155 influencers invited, 79 claimed the perk.
  • In addition to the 79 influencers we received an additional 173 downstream, referred members.
  • Each influencer sent 2.7 tweets on average, and along with downstream contributing tweets resulted in 302 tweets.
  • True reach, which represents how many people were reached by tweets was 426,165.
  • Impressions were 1.47 million.
  • Cost to acquire a member was $19.84 and the cost per purchaser was scary high; because most redeemed and used the $100.
What we learned:
  • Influencers were generally grateful of the perk, and some couldn’t believe it was $100. We definitely got some short-term brand awareness there.
  • The influencers didn’t really influence all that much. On average they had enough Klout to drive two extra members to sign up for the service. Since most of them had 10’s of thousands of followers, this is a pretty low activation rate.
  • The member acquisition cost was way out of whack with our model. It was nearly 20x what we look to pay for a member acquisition campaign.

How Klout Does Work – Test Campaign #2

You can probably guess that we were really disappointed by the costs and results of the first campaign. It was pretty clear that as an unknown brand you can’t buy word of mouth via Klout, regardless of the size of the perk. And even if you get a bit of word-of-mouth it doesn’t necessarily translate into action. We spoke with our friends at Klout about this and to their HUGE credit, they offered to run another campaign at no additional cost using a different model.

Here’s what we did with our second Klout campaign:

  • Target 10,000 Klout users in New York, regardless of Klout score.
  • Make the perk free early access to the site and a $25 off coupon for any purchase they make.
  • No referral credit for people they told. It was just $25 off for any perk recipient.
The Results:
  • 8,985 perk redeemers
  • 1.3 Tweets/Shares per influencer = 12,418 Tweets and shares (40x the first campaign)
  • True Reach of 1.93 million based on 8,985 participating influencers
  • 5.9 million impressions based on True Reach (3x the first campaign)
  • Cost to acquire a member was less than $1, even after adding in the $25 per purchaser credit
  • Cost to acquire a purchaser was just the $25. Both the cost per purchaser and cost per member were well in our target budgets.
  • Even if you factor in the $5,000 for the campaign the cost per member was just over a dollar (including coupon redemptions) and about $40 per purchaser – which were well within target acquisition costs.
What we learned:
  • The power of Klout is to reach a large number of people with an offer via Twitter.
  • Counting on the viral sharing is risky – reaching the masses is the better bet.
  • Klout score doesn’t matter. Everyone’s money is good, and the high scorers don’t move the needle in terms of a campaign of this size.
  • We saw a 3x lift in impressions and a 40x lift in social media mentions by going direct to a larger audience rather than relying on viral word of mouth.

How Klout Really Works

If you think about Klout, and you think about scores and whether they’re accurate or inaccurate, you’ll see from the above that that debate is really a silly argument. Klout doesn’t work because they have a database of influencers that get your word out; it works because they have a huge database of people, period. Score is irrelevant to campaigns like these. If you’re going for scale don’t try to tap influencer networks to get word of mouth referrals. The influencers carry less influence than you think and apathy is a hard thing to overcome on social networks.

Instead, reach for as many people as you can, and get them all to opt-in. You’ll get more scale, you get some great word-of-mouth because these lower Klout score folks are pumped to get a perk, and you’re reaching a well-connected, great customer.

One of the things we really learned was that a Klout user was a really great customer for the site. They bought more on average, they bought more often and they referred more friends (through our internal refer-a-friend program) than almost any other audience other than those users who were referred by existing site users.

These results obviously have big implications with regard to a user’s score and it’s importance or need for accuracy, and it has big implications for how you choose to run a Klout campaign vs. how you might initially think that it works. I hope it also reflects well on Klout – as a company they work really hard to make sure you’re successful. They went above and beyond to find a way to make our program work, and that’s all you can hope for from an advertising partner.

I hope it’s helpful in the Klout discussion – especially for marketers and brands thinking of using Klout to market their business.

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Marketing’s New Frontier: The Facebook Stream

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

I first heard the idea of Stream Marketing in this AdAge article, where the author explored how brands were marketing with Facebook status updates. The article looked at Oreo and other big brands who had figured out that the mundane updates were the ones that got the most engagement. And, by virtue of the Facebook social graph, also the most exposure and attention for the brand on the social network. Stream marketing is the practice of optimizing your outgoing status updates to get the most engagement (and therefore reach) with each one. It’s about being intentional in the stream, and cultivating your brand persona with well timed, and executed updates. As a social marketer, it’s imperative that you go beyond the network-presence level of social marketing, and get down into the front lines, update by update, to maximize the brand’s presence in the stream.

Stream marketing is the next frontier of online marketing. Many people and companies talk about using social marketing; but how many are actively thinking, planning and optimizing their stream marketing? It’s a huge, open field with few boundaries and rules for the road; and lots of debate about what is, and isn’t good marketing in the stream. But what does it really look like? Let’s look at that AdAge article:

As it turns out, many people in social networks don’t want to talk about your product, they just want to talk. We’ve long known that inserting brands into social-media channels requires a conversational touch, but many are surprised by just how conversational. There’s increasing evidence that the most-effective kinds of marketing communications on these websites are simple, random, even banal statements or questions driven by the calendar or the whim of a writer that may not have anything to do with the brand in question.

What are you doing this weekend? What is your ideal vacation? What’s your favorite movie or book? On Veteran’s Day, BlackBerry posted a simple holiday-related message that received nearly 8,000 likes and more than 500 comments, many of which consisted of veterans thanking the brand and posting their PINs, allowing others to contact them via BlackBerry messenger. Reaction to that update far outpaced other recent ones concerned with products or tips.

The key here is the conversational element. Being able to create a dialog around your brand or product is what drives the spread of your brand through Facebook’s social graph. Facebook’s algorithm, called EdgeRank, uses the number of comments, likes and shares of an item to determine what bubbles up to the user’s Top News feed – the default view of the News Feed for most of Facebook’s 500+ million members. Items with many comments and likes get seen by more people, driving the virtuous cycle of the viral spread of the message to your fans’ friends, and so on. Without any engagement those status updates just fly by, in a river of noise, unnoticed.

Facebook knows that brands and marketers are paying attention to their stream marketing efforts, and have started adding some rudimentary, yet valuable, stats underneath status updates visible only to the page administrators. Now with each status update you can see the number of impressions received by the status update as well as the percent feedback received for each of these posts. Now marketers can start to really see what is connecting with their fan base, and not just throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

The impressions number is important because it’s representative of the number of how effective that message was at propagating through the social graph of users. Getting content into that Top News feed is the best way to reach people on the network, and so the number of impressions can be used as a proxy for how effective that update was at achieving that goal. The feedback is a critical number for obvious reasons. The higher the feedback, the more engaged the users are with the brand around that update. You get all sorts of benefits from that. You have more awareness, you can drive action that’s tied to a KPI, you may get more affinity/loyalty, and you also get the Edge Rank boost as mentioned above, driving that status update into the Top News feeds of your fans’ friends and creating the opportunity to gain new fans, and build greater awareness with people not already connected to the brand on Facebook.

The status data from Facebook isn’t real time, but it is fast enough to let you make some smart decisions very quickly. For example, looking at a recent client’s feed, we realized that their fan base was very engaged around Mad Lib-type, fill-in-the-blank status updates. In fact, they were performing at 4-to-1 compared to other updates. So we made a recommendation to mix more of those types of updates into the stream. The result has been more engagement around more status items, which is exactly the goal. Of course, we also cautioned them not to overdo it, as you don’t want to exhaust a fun outlet for fans; but it was a way that they could shift their stream marketing ever so slightly to get better results.

Stream marketing requires a mix of planning and thought combined with the ability to rapidly respond and shift based on what’s working and what isn’t, all while keeping with the brand voice and persona. With such a fast-moving environment it’s easy to get off brand in a hurry, so it’s important that the people managing your stream understand the brand voice to the core and have a working playbook of ideas, themes and do’s/don’ts that keep them on brand in this fast-paced environment.

It is the evolution of marketing from editorial calendars to playbooks. Let me use a football analogy here. In most football games, a team has its first 15 or so plays scripted. That is, right out the gate, no matter what, they’re going to run 15 plays and see what happens. These are based on their best research and planning, and allow them to test their theories about the opponent, etc. This is very much like a standard editorial calendar. Here are the items we’re going to go to market with, because based on what we know we think they’ll get the best response. But after those 15 plays are done, it’s time to go to the playbook adn call plays based on the response of the opponent.

The same is true in stream marketing. You can start with a strategy and an approach, and you can even stick to it at the start; but then you need to start adjusting and responding to what is and isn’t working if you’re going to have success connecting with fans on Facebook. And much like a football team, marketers, copywriters and community managers can call a play, but whoever is driving the feed activity is the Quarterback, and they need to be able to audible into other plays and strategies based on how their fans respond. From the AdAge article:

“When you have ad agencies or copywriters writing your Facebook copy, it ends up being promotional in nature and if you’re not inspiring feedback no one’s going to care,” said Sarah Hofstetter, senior VP-emerging media and brand strategy at 360i. “You can only talk about your product so much. Balance that with you’re not trying to be their best friend, you’re trying to achieve some marketing objective.”

So how can you be effective at stream marketing? Here are a few tips:

  • Create a strategy and approach to stream marketing that fits with your brand and brand voice
  • Create a rules of engagement document that outlines what is an isn’t on brand for status updates
  • Set a soft editorial calendar for the first handful of status updates to learn what does and doesn’t resonate with your audience
  • Create engagement opportunities by asking questions and using fill in the blank statements
  • Use the stream insights provided by Facebook under each item to see what works and what doesn’t work, and refine accordingly
  • Create a playbook of ideas for conversation starters and status updates that your community manager can go to at any time to engage the fan base
  • As with any online marketing effort: test, learn, refine, test, learn, refine, repeat ad infinitum.

By effectively marketing in stream you can “inspire feedback” driving the virtuous cycle of extended reach across the network, leading to better results and greater return for your Facebook investment.

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Altimeter Research: Social Media Strategists Risk Being Glorified Help Desk Support Without Proper Approach

Jeremiah Owyang and Altimeter released a report on the Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist.  It’s embedded below.  As a director of social media I can tell you that it is imperative that you get out from under HootSuite and the responsive customer service role and get into the strategic planning and product roadmap.  You can’t be anything more than social media help desk support unless you are able to get out of the day-to-day and push integration between product, digital marketing and CRM.

Report: Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist: Be Proactive or Become Social Media Help Desk.

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How To: Model Social Media Sales Conversions

Getting people from engaging with you on Facebook to buying your product can be a tough gap to close.  This Search Engine Watch article provides a good overview on how gaining multiple commitments and conversions from potential customers on social networks can be used to predict and drive sales.

For larger sales that require more due diligence and thought from buyers these multi-step conversions are a great way to move engagement from social media to more traditional marketing conversion, such as landing page optimization, drip marketing and CRM.

In most cases, it’s unlikely that you’re going to drive a large volume of direct online sales from social media, so you need to understand the micro conversions that take place, which eventually may turn into a sale. These may include downloading a white paper, attending a webinar, or utilizing a free trial offer. Your model should be able to tell you how many of these micro conversions are needed in order to reach your online sales goals.

social media funnel

Image via Building a Social Media Predictive Model – Search Engine Watch (SEW).

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Boost Your SEO with Social Media

Leveraging social media for SEO purposes was a hot topic of conversation at last week’s Pubcon conference in Las Vegas.  And this latest eMarketer report confirms it.  71% of respondents are using social to improve search.

Nearly 71% of respondents said they use social media as part of their SEO strategy. Social media marketing can be an excellent driver of content visibility, by helping to keep content fresh and abundant, and also by increasing the number of inbound links a site receives.

Social isn’t just about connecting with existing customers.  Google and other search engines love blog content, and sharing on Twitter and other sites can build valuable inbound links that give your content the juice they need to get to the top of the search engine results pages.

When you’re using social media for business think about what you want to be ranked for in Google and sculpt your blog content and sharing around those goals.  Look at the top trafficked keywords in your industry by using the keyword suggestion tool, WordTracker and Google Suggest.

Then create things like infographics, videos and compelling blog content will create the natural links that Google loves, helping you reach new customers who are searching on Google.

Here’s what other SEOs are up to, trying to improve search.

SEO activities

via Search Marketers Tap Social to Boost SEO – eMarketer.

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Join Me at the OC Register’s Social Media Day

I have the pleasure of joining a ton of talented folks for a presentation for Social Media Day on June 30th, hosted by the Orange County Register.  Come out and join us, have some great food and learn a thing or two about how you can put social media to work for you.  I know I’m excited to learn a few things.

Check out the full post for the schedule.  I’ll be speaking on “Leveraging Online Video.”  From the OC Register’s site:

You may also want to take part in a new summertime tradition taking shape on Wednesday, June 30: Social Media Day. Mashable, which covers social media trends and innovation, is initiating nearly 450 group discussions or “meetups” in 74 different countries, including one right here in Santa Ana, to celebrate the many ways our world is becoming more social.

The Orange County Register has invited some of OC’s foremost social media experts to speak at a meetup during the first-ever Social Media Day (June 30) at its headquarters, 625 N. Grand Avenue in Santa Ana,  from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. If you are utilizing social networking to connect yourself or your business with communities of interest, you won’t want to miss this event. The event is free and open to the public.

via The Register to host June 30 event celebrating Social Media Day.

Read More:

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Sandberg is Right: Email is Going Away

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg created quite the stir last week when she said that “email is probably going away,” and the results of this new study seem to suggest that she’s right.  What does this mean for marketers? I think it means that while it’s important to build and grow email databases and have a solid email marketing strategy that the time is now to begin to build other, permission-based marketing assets like Facebook fans, opted-in mobile subscribers, Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers.

The online audience and communication channel will continue to fragment – the saavy marketers recognize this and realize that one communication medium won’t be enough – especially when trying to reach the Millenials.

via Study: College students adopt texting, shun e-mail – chicagotribune.com:

A new Ball State University study says text messaging has far eclipsed e-mail and instant messaging as college students’ favored way of staying in touch.

The findings show that 97 percent of students now send and receive text messages, while only about a quarter of them use e-mail or instant messaging.

Here’s Sandberg explaining why email is probably going away:

Read More:

Image via VentureBeat.

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Putting Social Media to Work

Today I had the pleasure of presenting a talk of the same name as this post to the IFEC Institute.  IFEC is the International Foodservice Editorial Council and is a very influential and important organization of foodservice professionals.  It’s made up of many of the people that represent companies, products and brands in the foodservice space.  The Institute portion of the conference is part speeches and part hands-on workshops to educate its members on the important trends in media (and other aspects) to enable them to evaluate and implement those trends in their and their clients’ businesses.

The focus this year was on social media and how it integrates into an overall marketing and communications plan.  Steven Bava led off the day with a discussion about how digital advertising and media is changing the way consumers make decisions and in turn how brands and organizations need to change how and where they interact with consumers in order to win their business and loyalty.

It was a great prelude to the talk that I gave in concert with Jack Abbott, my former boss and now head of my marketing agency that I’ve retained to help me in my current role.  We really tried to drill down on how to put social media to work for marketing and public relations professionals in the space.  There are numerous amazing case studies in the foodservice space of wildly successful social media campaigns (Kogi BBQ, TGIF, Costa Vida, Naked Pizza, Joffery’s coffee, more) and we wanted to provide insight and takeaways from these case studies to give the audience actionable takeaways that they could take back and implement them for their clients and their businesses.

You can view the presentation here:

This presentation is derived from a bunch of different sources, including the infamous WTF is Social Media presentation on SlideShare, the Socialnomics video, and other sources.  While many of the sources are cited as Socialnomics, there are primary sources for each of those, it was just late when I was adding them to the deck.

My big takeaways for the group were:

  • Don’t start with the tools – start with finding the right conversations. Find the white-hot center of the conversation and become an integral part of it.
  • Don’t worry about the size of the audience online.  Find the right 10, 100 or 1,000 people. They will help you spread the word.
  • Social media marketing is commitment marketing, it’s not hit and run. (commitment marketing coined by Rick Liebling
  • Use the Forrester POST framework to develop your social media plan and sell it into your organization
  • Find and activate the “magic middle” that David Sifry identified and Brian Solis has built on

A few things that I didn’t get to cover that I wanted to are:

  • The importance of mobile in foodservice (I hit it a bit in the Dairy Queen case study, but it was a passing glance)
  • The importance of building assets instead of renting eyeballs
  • The concept of finding your Tribe on the Web
  • The rising importance of game theory in marketing and communications

I have a video of the talk that I’ll chop up and post shortly as well.  It was a great experience and I really enjoyed interacting with an audience that was super-engaged and asked very savvy questions.  If you’d like me to speak at your conference view my speaking page for more information.

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