Social Media: Measurement and Time

time.jpg

Oh, time is on my side, yes it is
Time is on my side, yes it is

You’re searching for good times
But just wait and see
.

–Rolling Stones


Some people are under the impression that by simply using social media tools like blogging for their business, it’ll be like magic, with the press of a publish key- voilà, instant measurable results.

I think it is important to step back and ask yourself a couple of important questions; what are your goals, and are they realistic? Keep in mind, any initiative you take whether it is with more traditional marketing efforts or if you go the social media route, it takes time before you can quantify and more importantly, qualify the results.

Mike Manuel makes some great points in his column, “The Three O’s of Social Media Measurement: How do you measure social media programs” Mike writes there are three things you should think about when it comes to measurement: outputs, outgrowth, and outcomes.

Outputs- Is content being created? Try not to be too hung up on the “how much” part of the output. Focus instead on the quality and relevancy of what is being produced and the utility of the medium for you and your customers.

Outgrowths- What stems or grows from the content that was created? It could be comments, links, tags, diggs, votes, etc. How people choose to participate with the content will vary so try to think about the value and weight you place on certain actions – and how you might better enable them.

Outcomes- Net result of the outputs and outgrowths. It could be attention (influencers, media), amplification (memes), engagement (quality/quantity of comments), sentiment (positive/negative), this is where you have to simply interpret and weigh the shake out. Then compare your analysis to whatever your goals were to begin with. Oh, and then pray they line up.

It’s a always a good idea to assess the effectiveness of your blog, you can easily use tools such as Google Analytics or blog statistics to obtain information about the number of page views and click-throughs. You should also take a look at the number of RSS feed subscribers, read the comments posted, and reply to the sender.

Before handing social media measurement off to a solely results-driven mind-set, assess the outputs, outgrowths. quality and quantity of the outcomes. Tweak what needs to be changed. Exercise patience, practice stick-with-it-ness, and persist.

Then just wait and see!

Notes from the field: Service Matters

Waiting In LineWe just got back from a week of vacation in Washington DC. I spent a lot of time thinking about (and experiencing) different levels of customer service, from the public transportation, hotel, the museums and restaurants, there was a wide competency range. Can you imagine what it is like to be a service professional who works in a tourist attraction or hotel? Imagine answering the same questions over and over and doing it enthusiastically.

These experiences are all about perspective. When we check into a new hotel, it is happening for the first time and a new experience to us. For the people who work there, our questions can be repetitive and tiresome.

Unfortunately, the first person we talked to at check in had lost her enthusiasm.

Q: Does our hotel room face the street where the construction is going on?

A: Yes, but this is the city, and the garbage truck comes to the back, so you don’t have a choice but to deal with noise.

Q: Thank you for the hot cookies. Do they have nuts in them?

A: (impatiently) I don’t know, but if you are allergic, don’t eat them.

There were plenty of good experiences as well. The Natural History Museum and the National Zoo had excellent volunteers who walked up to us and started to share what they knew about what we were looking at and answering our questions.

I just read Seth Godin’s post Pretending that you care about the service he experienced in New York City and how he imagined it could have been better.

How do you handle common questions from your customers, employees, and vendors? Are you impatient?

The other option is to do what the security guard at the National Archives did: add humor and understanding. He spent his day entertaining the masses while he herded us through an hour of waiting in line. We learned where to stand, how best to see what we wanted to see, and laughed through it all.

Through our professional interactions, remember that we are just as human on weekdays as we are on the weekend, and we can all use a laugh just about any time.

del.icio.us: Almost as Good as Dessert

chocolate-cake.jpgIf you aren’t already using del.icio.us, you really should. Don’t be afraid of the spelling or how to pronounce it; del.icio.us sounds the way you might hope, as in the chocolate cake is delicious. And more importantly, you don’t have to worry about including those dots. That’s right, typing delicious as one word works.

Del.icio.us makes it possible for you to store your bookmarks online and share them with other people. Here’s a link to some of the sites we’ve bookmarked most recently, http://del.icio.us/cwcg that have to do with the subject matter we enjoy and write about–blog content, social media, marketing, web 2.0. You’ll notice that we’ve made some notes to describe the bookmarks and tagged them. You can also see how many other people have bookmarked those pages. (* We’ve intentionally kept the list of bookmarks on the shorter side, to make it easier for you to browse through them quickly, rather then being bogged down by a long list.)

On our list is an excellent resource we happened upon this past week created by Liz Davis, an Instructional Technology Specialist and TV/Video teacher from Wellesley, MA.

Liz’s blog post provides screencasts she’s created to demonstrate a variety of social media tools:

  • Getting Started With Delicious
  • Networking with Delicious
  • Figuring out Flock
  • Getting to know Diigo
  • Getting Started with Flickr
  • Getting Started with Twitter
  • Setting Up Your Google Reader Account
  • Adding Feeds in Google Reader
  • Managing your subscriptions in Google Reader

Embedded below is Liz’s “Getting Started with Delicious” screencast. I think you’ll find this as a helpful way to get started. I also encourage you to take some time to visit Liz’s blog, you’ll learn a lot! And be sure too, to visit http://del.icio.us/cwcg for some of the posts and articles we think are particularly good and informative.

Last but not least, do you have some bookmarks about blogs/web2.0/marketing/social media that you’d like to suggest for our list? We’d love to hear from you.

The social media press release

SMPRI recently came across an interesting blog post by Paul Dunay on Marketing Prof’s Daily Fix that I want to share.  Paul’s post entitled “The Power of Social Media Meets the Press Release” made reference to a social media press release (SMPR).    This new, Web 2.0 friendly template was introduced by Todd Defren and the PR folks at SHIFT Communications

According to SHIFT principal Todd Defren, “the SMPR is simply a way to both Web-ify the content that you put in a news release, and also, ideally to socialize it.  So it’s about adding multimedia, making sure these things are more findable than they’ve ever been before in the age of Google, but also giving some community and context aspects to it as well.  Letting people potentially comment on the news, or take and remix aspects of the news and put it on their own blog…and discuss it and find it among their own friends.”

The template is 100% open to the PR community.  It remains to be seen whether the SMPR can be effectively used to generate conversation, but it’s worth a shot.   At a minimum, the SMPR can serve to spark new thinking in how social media impacts the press release and other PR tools.    Has anyone tried using a SMPR?  If so, I’d love to hear more!

Five Strategies for Getting Started with Viral Marketing

viral_marketing1.jpgHave you been feeling itchy about getting started with viral marketing? Here are a few tips:

  1. Scratch: Do something viral, get started with new and exciting ways of marketing to your customers e.g. create an e-book, shoot a short video, record a podcast, write messages on Twitter.
  1. Contagious: Write contagious content, tap into what people care about so they’ll spread the word.
  1. First Aid: Demonstrate thought leadership in your blog posts. Share the videos, podcasts, and sites you’ve bookmarked. Offer tips. Recommend and review new industry-related books or publications.
  1. Feed Your Head: Subscribe to RSS feeds, make your RSS reader your home page so you’ll be sure to read new posts. Or if offered, subscribe to receive via email. Whatever works best for you.
  1. Network: Keep up-to-date on what’s being talked about. Spend a minimum of 15-30 minutes a day reading and commenting on blog posts where you have something to add.  Network with friends, make new connections.  Determine which social network(s) are the best places for you to connect with customers, prospects, former and existing colleagues. e.g. Linkedin, facebook, myspace.com, and others.  Jump into the conversation on social networking sites.

FYI, Here’s a great resource I came across this week that I’d like to share about interactive marketing, the BTOB 2008 Interactive Marketing Guide. The guide provides great sections on e-mail, search, Web sites, online advertising, online events, b-to-b media sites, social media, interactive agencies, analytics and multimedia. Hope you find it useful, too.

Have something to recommend that you came across this week? Tell us about it.

2008 Webby Awards: Vote by May 1st for Your Favorite Websites

If you’re anywebby awardsthing like me, you probably visit hundreds more websites in a given month, then you get out to a movie theater to see first-run movies. There’s a good chance you look forward to hearing about whose been nominated for an Oscar, and listen intently when the winners names are read from the proverbial envelope on the night of the gala ceremonies.

You may be interested in knowing that the 12th Annual Webby Awards Nominees were announced on April 8, 2008. The Webby Awards, referred to as the “Oscars of the Internet” by the New York Times, is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. The Webbys are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 550-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities.

Five nominees have been selected for each category (100+). Between now and May 1st, you can vote for your favorite nominee. Congratulations to the five nominees in all categories!

Winners will be announced on May 6th, 2008 and honored in New York City on June 9th.

Of particular interest to blog readers and writers may be the three categories dedicated to blogs–business, cultural/personal, and political. There are so many impressive sites from the nominees in all categories.

Unlike the Oscar Awards, everyone of us has the opportunity to vote for our favorites. Make your voice heard! We’ll be posting the Webby Award winners on May 6th.

What are some of your favorite sites and why?

Blog Six-Words, Social Media, Cool!

If someone told me this week I had to write a blog post about social media using only six words–I would have thought it might be hard but not impossible. That’s because I’ve had this six-word concept floating around my head the past few days.It started this week when I was google-alerted about a blog post by Heather Dunphy, how the online magazine SMITH teamed with Twitter in 2006, for a six-word memoir contest. Apparently, the response was huge, and led to the book Not Quite What I Was Planning now available from Harper Perennial.

The same day I received the May issue of Writer’s Magazine in the mail, and took note when I found their article “A catchy little form for the concise” about the book Not Quite What I Was Planning. “…six-word memoirs from “famous and obscure” contributors…Recognizable names include Aimee Mann, Joyce Carol Oates…some take a humorous approach, while others are more reflective.”

And of course, wouldn’t you know it, there’s a very cool video, Six-Word Memoirs, the book on YouTube. [embedded below]

In my opinion, Smith has demonstrated an example of what an excellent, well executed, viral marketing mix looks like– company website, blog post, YouTube video, magazine articles, press releases, and coverage on NPR’s Blog of the Nation. Not to mention the creativity of the six-word memoir initiative itself. Kudos!

I went to their website and discovered SMITH and TreeHugger have a new challenge asking visitors to define their “green life” in just six words. This was mine, “I didn’t know. Paper or plastic?” That’s exactly what I thought way back when when supermarkets and stores first started to ask customers the question!

The book’s editors are already soliciting submissions for their next book of six-word memoirs. You can share yours on their website. And please, if you would, tell us what you wrote– we’re really interested!

Is Your Blog in Need of a Tune-up?

mechanic working on carLast week I addressed the topic of measuring the impact of social media programs and talked about the significant value that is placed on the metric of “participation and engagement.”   I wholeheartedly agree that this attribute is a critical objective in implementing social media tools such as a blog, but what do you do if your blog is not engaging visitors?  What can you do to encourage your audience -  a.k.a., customers and potential customers - to participate in your conversation?

In a MarketingProfs article entitled, ”Eight Ideas for Revitalizing Your Blog” social media consultant, Mack Collier, provided some excellent tips for jumpstarting your blog.

  1. Examine your blog’s content – tailor the content so the visitor benefits
  2. Interact with readers – reply to comments and read the blogs of people who comment
  3. Post regularly – set up a posting schedule that considers your reader’s habits
  4. Add visuals to your post that capture reader attention
  5. Add links to your posts to help your reader find helpful and relevant information
  6. Examine why you are blogging – a primary motivation should be to better understand your customers
  7. Shift your mindset – the blog should be a communication tool not a promotional device
  8. Position your blog from your customers’ point of view – not yours

As marketers, we’ve grown accustomed to reminding ourselves to “think like the customer” when strategizing and executing marketing campaigns.   And, a social media tool like the blog should be treated in the same light…be sure to think like the reader!  This means shaping the tone, content and timing of your blog posts to appeal to the reader.