Tag Archives: Social Media

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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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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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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What No One is Saying About the New Twitter.

The new release of Twitter has, predictably, put the Web in an uproar. The Internet pundits have been focused on the new UI, with many rehashing two tired themes which amount to who moved my cheese, and utterly fail to grasp the bigger picture, which is a strategic shift in the product itself.

Twitter has shifted to a product posture that puts consumption ahead of production. With this release Twitter has made the leap from “micro-blogging” to discovery engine. You can see it happening with the reduced prominence and location of the composer box on the web version, and the increased prominence of the discovery UI. It’s an acknowledgement that many people who use Twitter don’t actually use it for expression, but rather information gathering. This is an important shift, and something that people who are the publishers will have to get used to.

When half of your daily users don’t Tweet, but just login to see what’s happening, you have to make that discovery easier. And I think this new release is a step in the right direction. As for the criticism? It’s myopic and self-centered and fundamentally misses the broader implications and use cases of the Twitter user base at large.

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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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Groupon is Not a Marketing Strategy

Groupon logo.

Image via Wikipedia

Groupon‘s UK Managing Director Chris Muhr opined today that the reason Google would want to purchase Groupon was because Groupon has “…something that Google does not have and no one else has and that we have really tapped a new market,” but is it really a new market or have the just tapped into the greed and laziness of businesses who long for days of old media? I think it’s the later, which is why the idea of Groupon is at once appealing and dangerous to small businesses and brands all over. But first a bit of background.

How Groupon Works - Groupon highlights one business in each city every day with a sale that’s too good to pass up. (They also have “side deals” and Groupon Stores, but we’ll focus on the main deal here.) Usually 50% or more off retail price of a service or item. They like to focus on a price range that makes the item easily bought on impulse and guide businesses to try to stay under $50 for the best results. So if you sell wine for $30 a bottle they’ll want you to offer it for $12-$15 on Groupon. Then Groupon takes 50% of every transaction successfully processed through the offer. So to continue the example, if you sell wine for $30 regularly, you’ll put in on Groupon at $12 and you’ll end up with $6 per bottle sold. They’ll also set a tipping point for the deal to be activated (the “group”” in Groupon) and will also let you cap your deal at a certain amount of sales. It’s pretty easy to see that if you don’t have much margin built into your product, you’ll be in the red on every sale, depending on how you structure your Groupon. And if you can give up 75% of revenue and still make a profit, it’s likely going to be a very small one, which means you need to sell a lot of units to make any money.

So, then why does a business use Groupon? Businesses use Groupon because they can drive a large number of visitors to a store location with a single event. They hope that the new customers reached by Groupon will buy additional items above what is advertised (if you’re losing money on your Groupon this is considered a “loss leader” strategy,) and/or you hope that they become loyal customers that come back. But I also think they use Groupon because they’re lazy. That’s right. Lazy. And here’s why.

Groupon works a lot like a newspaper ad used to. You find the biggest circulation possible, you make an appealing offer and you hope that you get customers that will come in and like your business. It’s the old “spray and pray” model of marketing that worked so well in the days of mass production and mass consumption. Get it in front of them and they will buy. It takes little thought, little effort. It doesn’t take cultivating relationships, building a brand or finding customers who really need your service. It’s the laziest form of marketing out there.

If you’re a business you have four critical attributes that help drive sales: your brand, your prices, your awareness level and your location. There are of course many more; but let’s look at these four for a moment.

Your Brand – If you have a strong, growing brand, you don’t need Groupon. Your brand drives customers, customer loyalty, word of mouth marketing and strong margins. You can charge more, spend less on advertising and focus on growing your brand through unique experiences and high quality products. It’s a virtuous cycle, but one which few companies get into and fewer still that can maintain it.

Your Prices - If you don’t have a strong brand but you have incredibly low prices then you’ve defined yourself as the low cost leader, you’re first in the race to the bottom and you know you’ll live a life of low margins and need to move a lot of units to make up for it. You also aren’t ideal for Groupon because you probably have a brand associated with being the low cost leader, and Groupon’s pricing structure doesn’t work well in a low margin world (as outlined above.) If you’re priced in the middle of the market you really don’t have a lever for sales on prices because customers can go to the low cost leader.

Your Awareness Level – Among your customer base your awareness level is what drives repeat visits, word of mouth and new customer acquisition. If you have great awareness, if everyone knows that you’re the only 24 hour locksmith or the only tux rental place in town then you’ve got great awareness. If you’re one of 12 women’s clothing stores, like a Chico’s in a strip mall somewhere, you’re awareness level isn’t great. Groupon starts to sound like a good idea here.

Your Location - Unless you’re a virtual retailer with a strong ecommerce presence, you’re really limited to the surrounding area for your customers. How far they’re willing to travel to get to you is a function of all three above. Groupon makes sense here too.

So if you’re a middling business with little or no brand, little or no price differentiation, and a fixed customer base that is more or less only growing with the population in your area, then you have only a few levers to pull to make your business go. You can go about the hard work of building a brand in your community. Connecting with core customers, building word of mouth by creating an amazing experience, or demonstrating expertise above and beyond the competition. Or you can cut your prices, be the unbeatable low cost leader and price match anyone else. People know that they’ll get the lowest price from you and that goes a long way. Or you can increase your awareness by advertising, sponsoring events, etc. Or you can open more locations, a capital intensive process that may or may not work for your business.

Or, you can Groupon. Because with Groupon you don’t need to do any of that. You just spray and pray. Cut the prices on an item and let Groupon do the rest. But is that really it? Do the customers come back? Do the customers care that you exist? Do the customers remember who you are and where to go the next time they need something you provide? There are plenty of Groupon disaster examples on the Web that say “No.” Because without thoughtful marketing in place, Groupon is just a flash in the pan.

In the PR trade they say “Getting on TechCrunch is not a PR strategy.” I say “Getting on Groupon is not a marketing strategy.” And it’s where I think Chris Muhr is wrong. Google provides the savvy, thoughtful marketer a lot more than Groupon ever could. It provides the people willing to invest in their brand, their customer experience and their awareness with an avenue to showcase their business to people actually looking for them, not just people looking for a rock-bottom deal.

This goes for big brands as well as small businesses. If your brand is flagging, and you’re undifferentiated among your competitors Groupon is not going to solve your woes. It doesn’t matter how many gift cards you sell if you can’t convert those customers into repeat customers and advocates of your brand. And if you don’t fundamentally change your brand and the customer experience then Groupon will be nothing more than crack for your marketing department. Because each time you run a Groupon you’re high will be a little less than the last time and your hangover will be a little worse. For every Groupon you run, you dilute your brand a little bit. Do it once and it’s a marketing stunt. Do it over and over and you begin to redefine the value of your product or service. You hurt your brand and any differentiation you had. You’ve chosen the low cost leader, commodity approach. Prepare to accept the consequences.

So can Groupon work? Absolutely. Is it the right answer? Maybe once. Is it a strategy? Absolutely not. Is it easy? Too easy. Small businesses and big brands should focus on reengineering their customer experience from the web site to the warranty service. And when that is done then, maybe, it’ll be time to shout it to the world with Groupon. But more likely, the people that have been blown away by the change in your service will have already told the people you want to reach. Don’t be lazy. Do your job. Your brand and your bottom line will thank you.

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Brands Beware: My Klout Score is a Farce

A lot has been made of Klout scores lately.  (update: good read from on how to fix Klout by Mark Krynsky, a funny Klout rant by Michael Sean Wright) Brands wanting to get positive word of mouth on Twitter are using the score to ID influencers that can help build buzz by sharing their experiences with their audience. Disney, Virgin America and Fox Television are just some of the brands that have tapped Klout as part of getting buzz online. The Palms Casino announced the formation of the “Klout Klub” which will use Klout to determine the type of treatment and upgrades you receive based on the amount of influence measured by the service. But brands need to be careful using Klout, because, most Klout scores are a farce.

Klout only measures the “influence” of the individual on Twitter and Facebook, and doesn’t, by definition, take into consideration the individuals true influence. Not only that, but the algorithms used by Klout to measure influence on those networks seem questionable at best. Klout scores are primarily a vanity metric, and their relevance, is at best, directional. But they definitely don’t tell the whole story, and brands that use them to deal with online influencers can find themselves blowing off people with extreme influence that just don’t calculate on the high end Klout influence score.

The problem is not that Klout is inaccurate. It’s not even that their tagline is misleading, “The Standard of Influence.” They’re a new web service after all, trying to tackle a near-impossible task of ranking every user on the social web as it relates to influence. The problem is the lack of sophistication that brands have when it comes to understanding the complex nature of influence online and connections across these networks. Klout being inaccurate is just like any other stat being inaccurate. It’s fine, until you start making business decisions based on flawed data. A brand who stakes building their reputation on Twitter using Klout as their guide is making a grave error. They’re paying attention to bad data, which can be more dangerous than no data at all.

As brands wade into the social web and look to influence conversations to the positive benefit of their business they must realize that there isn’t a tool or service that can actually do the heavy lifting for them. They need to participate, observe and (wait for it) listen to the conversations that are impacting their business. Only then can they be confident that they are reaching the true influencers that are relevant to their business.

To demonstrate the point, here are 11 people that have loads of online influence, and even tons of influence on Twitter, should they choose to use it, that have lower Klout scores than me. I’ve got a 63 as of the time of this writing. These folks all use Twitter frequently regularly, so the idea that use=influence, while flawed to the core, is even inaccurate in these cases.

On this list we have CEOs, well-known and respected authors and reporters, the founder of the largest social media organization on the planet, and the guy that started this whole social Web thing with The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Doc Searls – Klout 56 | Doc Searls’ blog

Co-Author of “The Cluetrain Manifesto”, founder of VRM, Fellow at Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, much, much more.

Doc Searls Klout score

Tim Street – Klout 56 | Tim Street’s Site

Tim’s founded one of the most influential online TV series with French Maid TV, and is the leading voice in online video and content creation.

Sarah Lacy – Klout 58 | Sarah Lacy’s blog

The author of two books, with writing and video credits including BusinessWeek, TechCrunch, Yahoo! and more.

Brett Bullington – Klout 46 | Brett Bullington’s LinkedIn profile

Respected investor, including board seats on Digg, Oodle, Next New Networks and more. Investor in Flickr.

Kristie Wells – Klout 56 | Social Media Club

Founder of Social Media Club, the world’s largest organization of social media professionals with more than 200,000 members.

Stephanie Agresta – Klout 49 | Stephanie Agresta’s Blog

EVP of Social Media at Weber Shandwick, and founder of TechSet, the popular event organizer at premiere social media events.

Ryan Holmes – Klout 49 | HootSuite.com

CEO of HootSuite, one of the leading social media dashboards.

Cathy Brooks – Klout 55 | Cathy Brooks’ Twitter Stream

Well-respected thought leader about the impact of the social web on business.

Bryan Elliott – Klout 50 | LinkedOC

Founder of Action Sports Network and LinkedOC networking groups with nearly 10,000 members. Hosts influential thought leaders in the OC with his popular events.

Mark “Rizzn”Hopkins - Klout 56| SiliconANGLE

Editor in Chief at SiliconAngle. Former writer for Mashable.

Laurie Percival - Klout 48 | Lalawag

Founder of Lalawag, influential Los Angeles tech scene blog.

Me

If the Palms or any other brand decided to ignore these people while paying attention to me (or treating them differently than me,) they’d be doing a huge disservice to their business.  It’s up to the strategists that are working with these companies to inform the business owners of the inaccuracy of the data, the value that they can place in it and the work they need to do to ensure that they’re reaching the people that really matter to their business – regardless of the score assigned to them by Klout.

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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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Becoming a Content Mill is Not a Viable Social Strategy

A revolution is coming, and it won’t be televised. This, according to Michael Malone’s piece in Forbes, which is based on his research for his latest book, “How Companies Win: Profiting from Demand-Driven Business Models No Matter What Business You’re In.” Malone refers to an upcoming industrial revolution that America misses out on:

The biggest structural economic shift, the one Venky has discovered and which is the launching point of the book, is that over the last decade, the global economy has experienced a fundamental and historic shift from centuries during which supply and demand were roughly balanced, to our current situation in which supply significantly outstrips the demand available to absorb it. This is largely the result of the relatively new science of Supply Chain Management, which systematized the process of marshalling resources to bring products and services to market. The implication is that most modern business strategies are now obsolete, as the new competitive battlefield has now shifted from supply to that of finding remaining pools of profitable demand. (emphasis mine)

That alone is enough to provoke a radical change in how businesses are organized and how they behave. It suggests that most companies, including the most successful, no longer have a lock on survival because the ground has suddenly shifted beneath their feet. That, of course, is the recipe for a business revolution.

The article is eye-opening and has me thinking about the day that my son might leave the US to go work in Brazil, because “that’s where the jobs are, Dad.” But it also got me thinking about the here and now and our own information revolution that continues to shake the ground beneath our feet. Take the above quote and apply it to social media marketing, broadly defined as trying to reach consumers across the new publishing tools responsible for this flood of information, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I think the analogy of the global supply chain in producing manufactured goods applies nicely to the information economy as well.

Blog platforms, low-cost hosting, Facebook and Twitter are the Supply Chain Management pieces of the information economy. Before them, brining content to the marketplace was hard and expensive. This barrier to entry made information scarce and valuable. But the technology improved to make the supply of information to the market more efficient, turning information into, in many cases, a commodity. This isn’t news to anyone reading this of course, but it does continue to have broad implications for businesses and brands trying to reach customers on an ever-crowded Web.

And the reason that brands are having trouble is because the market of information continues to evolve rapidly. Companies are still trying to figure out how to contribute content to the marketplace so that they’re found in Google, so that they can drive thought leadership, so that they can be heard. The problem is, the market timing for that is past. The technology has made the creation of content so efficient and cheap that we’re swimming in it. Business models like Demand Media’s and other the other commodity content producers are making the content market more and more crowded and less valuable. And a traditional company can’t keep up and can’t win in that type of battle.

In a over saturated market, putting more supply out there is like pushing on a string. You can do it, just don’t expect anything to happen because of it.

While it’ll always be important as a company to communicate with the market, just creating content is no longer enough. When your social strategy is based on content creation, you’re sure to fail; because consumers aren’t looking for content – they’re looking for content they want.

This is where Malone’s premise provides insight on how to succeed in our new information marketplace. It’s not about adding to supply, it’s about identifying areas of the conversation that still have profitable demand. And that’s why most traditional marketing advice about reaching customers on the social web is dead wrong. It’s not enough to create blog posts, videos and infographics if they don’t address some remaining or untapped demand in the marketplace. And this is where marketers need to do a better job. As a marketer in the social web you have to look at areas where demand still exists, and if you don’t find any you have to test and probe until you find it. Because your company will only win when it finds and leverages that untapped demand.

So how do you find that demand? That’s the tough part, as often the market doesn’t know what it wants until it sees it; and as a brand you have to continue to test and learn to find it. But there are a few constants that always are in demand, in one shape or another. Looking at how your brand can aid people in achieving the following is a way to suss out potential opportunity.

  • Making people’s lives easier
  • Making people happy
  • Making people feel good about themselves
  • Making people successful

Those are the areas of continual demand in our information economy. As a social marketer you should be looking at your programs and determining if what you’re contributing is advancing the above goals of the people you’re trying to reach. If you’re not doing any of the above, it’s likely that you won’t tap the demand that will drive your business success.

The information revolution has brought us the technology that has made delivering content to the marketplace efficient, 140 characters-efficient, but too many of us are still seeking for success in a market which doesn’t have much room for stand outs. Instead of focusing on the tools and technologies we should focus on finding the untapped demand, putting our time and effort into creating the messages and products that will make people’s lives better, easier, happier and more successful. Only then will we find the success in our social marketing programs – viva la revolucion!

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