Okay, I have finished my resume site, so this blog is moving! I’ll still be posting every week, so please come and visit. The new home of my blog is at rsj8000.com/myblog
I thank anyone and everyone who has read or contributed to this blog, and I look forward to seeing you at the new site!
Hey Gang! I want to share an article with you by David Cohen titled “Report: Facebook Pages More Effective Than Websites“. Normally, I prefer to paraphrase articles and put in my own two cents, but Cohen’s article is so succinct that I have decided to reprint it in it’s entirety. Here it goes:
Who needs a website when you can have a Facebook page? A recent survey by market-research firm Lab42found that 50 percent of the 1,000 social media users who were polled believe Facebook pages are more useful than brands’ websites, and 82 percent feel that pages are good places to interact with brands.
However, brands must be judicious about their posts, as 48 percent of respondents have unliked pages that post too often.
Other findings from Lab42include:
- The top three ways people interact with pages on Facebook were: To print or redeem coupons or discounts; to like posts or comments; and to learn about new products.
- Besides posting too frequently, other reasons cited for unliking brands were: stopped liking the brand, and bad customer experiences.
- It’s no secret that people like saving money, but 77 percent have done so as a result of liking brands on Facebook; 66 percent have saved $20 or more in the past 12 months; and 17 percent have saved more than $100.
- 35 percent of respondents felt that brands were more responsive to them on Facebook than elsewhere.
Lab42 CEO Gauri Sharma said:
A common social media goal for companies is to increase their number of Facebook likes. Our study sheds lights on the ever-present question increasingly considered by brands: What is a Facebook like worth? Companies have devoted significant time, money, and marketing resources in an attempt to answer this very question. Rather than guessing, we decided to go straight to the source and ask consumers about their Facebook liking habits and opinions.
Readers: Did any of the findings by Lab42 surprise you?
Whether you like it or not, data is important. I have heard the arguments about Google Analytics and the rest don’t tell the whole story about your audience. The question is: if you are measuring nothing, how can you make any comparisons or determine success and failure.
Lack of measurement leads to the dark side: ego driven websites and social media. This is when the website content is based on the whims of someone – usually whoever is in charge – with no quantifiable reasons for the decisions made. It basically boils down to, “I don’t like Facebook, so it is not worthwhile,” or “My wife told me she didn’t like our landing page, so we should change it.”
Beware the Uneducated Boss
In his article “Social Media Measurement: The Numbers Suck Because the Models & Metrics are Wrong,” Sean Carton notes that “Currently only 16 percent of CEOs participate in social media themselves.”
This is huge problem, because people tend to think that things they don’t like aren’t important. Carton also notes, “Most companies (2/3rds) didn’t have any clear way of measuring what they were doing social media-wise and most weren’t bothering to measure the performance of their activities against their social media objectives. Most weren’t even measuring revenue generated by social media efforts.”
With the amount of people on Facebook alone, it seems crazy not to add social media to your marketing plan, but there have to be some ways to measure. However, with no types of measurement of success, all it takes in a non-believer boss to turn their back on social media, and you are missing the chance to reach millions of potential customers.
As I mentioned, there is no perfect metric in web and social media analytics, but you have to pick something – some way to show that your efforts are paying off. A few suggestions:
– Sell the idea of affinity. Try to show the social reach of your posts, noting what works and what doesn’t. This can give your boss the idea of the power of social media.
As Carton says, “The reason that nobody clicks on Facebook ads is because they get in the way of why people are on Facebook: to talk to each other, not to find products and services. “Marketing” in social media has to be about facilitating conversations, not interrupting them. Measuring the impact of social media has to move beyond the idea that it’s going to drive clicks and move toward measuring influence, participation, engagement, and, yes, delight.”
Rather than looking at how many products you sold in a limited amount of time, look at how many people are talking about your posts? The average person on Facebook has 190 friends, so anyone who has interacted with your content has broadcast (hopefully) good vibes about your company to 190 people.
– If you have made your website a destination, perhaps by posting news articles or blog posts on a regular basis, you can use Google Analytics to track where your visitors are coming from. Share with your boss the amount of traffic coming from Facebook and Twitter posts.
– Note the idea of free focus groups. As I mentioned in this post, large companies like Frito-Lay are eschewing focus groups and taking R&D right to the people. You have your audience right in front of you. Don’t be scared to interact. It’s called SOCIAL media. Be social.
As mentioned before, there are no silver bullets for social media measurement, but if you arm yourself with some type of facts and measurements, you will easily defeat the ego-driven, information-free powers that be.
We have talked about creating personas in a previous post.
Personas are a good way to prevent making the dreaded ego-driven website – a website that you love, but that does nothing for your customer. Personas are stand-ins for the main users of your product.
I was inspired by an article by Bryan Eisenberg, “Content Marketing Personas,” and I wanted to share some of his thoughts with you as we expand the discussion on putting yourself into the shoes of your average customers.
It is hard sometimes to look beyond what you think is the best way to design a website or to run a Facebook page. That is why so many projects fall prey to the personal preferences of the boss or are “committeed” to death.
Ask yourself the hard questions
Once you have created your personas, you need to evaluate your websites and social media outlets and ask some questions. I will quote Eisenberg directly here:
“Ask yourself and be honest:
- How is this ad/landing page/blog post/tweet relevant to this persona? What does this term mean specifically for them?
- How have you framed why they should buy from you and what value do you bring to this persona to solve their specific needs and problems?
- How have you helped this persona decide what action they need to take and how have you given them the confidence to take that action?”
This is the time when you have to fight for the users. What the customer likes is what matters – not what you like or what your boss likes. It is up to you to find out what that is. Careful research into keywords and web analytics will give you insight into who is coming to your site and what they are looking for.
What about your Facebook page? Is it engaging customers? Are you paying attention to what they do and don’t like? Have you looked at Facebook Insights to see the demographics of your fans?
It takes a little homework, more than saying “I like this website, so it is good.” However, personas can make a little work go a long way.
I was reading a Social Media Dudes post called “5 Types of Social Media Strategies” and they have really hit the nail on the head about the varied types of approaches that are taken to Facebook marketing.
1) The bigmouth. The bigmouth never shuts up about themselves. This is the company where every post is a one-way broadcast of marketing messages. This means non-engaging posts about new products and content that includes links to watch your new commercial.
2) Like Weasel. This is the company where every post is a “like if.” This is the most shallow way to share your message. Sure you may get people to fall for it, but the result will not build lasting engagement. I can see using a like-grab every so often, but you need to dedicate your page to creating value, not to generating hollow likes. If your content is good, you shouldn’t have to prompt people to share it.
3) Promotion. Hotels.com can’t shut up about the deals they are offering. How about building a little engagement so people don’t stop following your page, like I did?
4) One Hit Wonder. This is the prompt that says “help us get to 1,000 fans” or “help our video take off.” The problem here is that you are getting clicks based on getting your fan count up. What then? Are these people going to buy from you? Probably not. You haven’t created any bond between customer and company. You’ve become a social media hoe!
5) The ones who do it right. Please read this great post from Valeria Maltoni. A quote: “Getting started in this way of thinking is simple: put a big post-it next to your workspace that says, “how does this help the user kick ass?” and then ask the question about everything. Every feature consideration, every paragraph, every slide. Never quit asking. You will begin to know when you have deviated into something that makes YOU look like YOU kick-ass, because your justification will sound weak even to you :)”
There are a lot of ways you can create value for your user, which I have gabbed about endlessly in previous posts. You don’t need to tell them how great you are if you’re providing value, they’ll figure it out. Now shut up about yourself!
I’ve been to many meetings and job interviews where I am asked “What do you know about SEO? We want to make our page more search-optimized.”
This is the first sign you are dealing with someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. There is a common misconception that SEO is some mystic practice where the right combination of keywords will put you on the front page of a Google search, and many web marketing groups would be more than happy to perpetuate this myth.
The truth is that Google’s ranking formulas are always changing. The way to boost your pages searches is to create content that people like. That means you may need to actually transform your website from a corporate-mission-statement billboard into a place where people come to for valuable information and come back on a regular basis.
Keep it fresh
Give me a reason to come back to your site. Find some way to update content frequently, at least in some part of the site. That could be through a blog, a newsroom, photo galleries, videos or something great that I haven’t even thought of! Stale site = stale search results.
Give it away now
This requires you to give something away. I don’t mean promotional t-shirts. I mean information.
If you run a tax service, offer a weekly tip on financial fitness or deductions people might not know about. If you make carburetors, host a car-talk blog on your site.
Turn your site into a place where people know they will find new and engaging content on every visit. Also, don’t be afraid of giving away your valuable information for free. When you see restaurants giving out free samples, there’s a reason. They know you’ll like it and you’ll come back when you’re hungry. If I read your baking tips every week, guess where I will come when I need a wedding cake? That’s called building affinity.
Listen to your customers
Instead of brainstorming terms you think are most important to your business, use Google Analytics look at the monthly keywords that are bringing people to your site. These are the keywords that are important to your customers, and they may not be what you think they are. Your customers are telling you what they want – are you listening?
Make it sociable and sharable
Okay, now that you have started creating great content on a regular basis, make sure people can share it. Add social sharing options to all of your content and maybe even allowing comments on your blog posts or videos.
Consider creating interactive forums where customers can share tips and even troubleshoot product problems (saving you some customer service headaches). Your experts can participate in the forums too – a great way to monitor what people are saying about your company/products and to see any possible PR crises before they hit.
Also, use a strong social media presence, email marketing and a solid website to support each other. You can read more about this concept here.
Say ‘so long’ to SEO
Now I want you to put your hand over your heart and swear that you won’t ask anyone about how to improve SEO again. The truth is that SEO is a byproduct of having a site that provides information that is helpful – a site that people like, visit frequently, and share with their friends. You won’t get good search results just by being there – you have to be worth finding.
Until next time…
As you attempt to move your business forward, creating new social media avenues and improving your website, there are usually going to be several people you will need to convince that the project is worth doing. That may be the big boss, the people in marketing or whoever controls the money. This is when your online success depends more on politics than on creative vision.
It is almost inevitable that you will meet some resistance. There is at least one guy at your company who still thinks TV buys and press releases will get the job done. However, it is time for your company to move forward and to break the shackles of the old rules of marketing.
Here are some thoughts on what to do when it is time to start convincing others that your ideas are the right ones.
- Arm yourself with information. The naysayers will try to find reasons not to change things, so you have to convince them that things need changing. I have found that most company decisions are made based on the whims of the decision makers, and rarely on any sort of measurements. Web analytics will give you a ton of insight into your company. You will have hard data about what kinds of people are coming to your website, where they are coming from and what they like to see.
- Present the information in a dynamic way. Be ready with a PowerPoint, but not a typical PowerPoint presentation. This should include images that convey feeling – Who is the customer? What will your new approach do for them? How will this help the company? Don’t use a bunch of wordy slides, use sparse text and plenty of imagery. DO NOT READ OFF OF YOUR SLIDES!!!
- Know your customers. Have some personas created in advance. Show the crowd that you know who you’re company is selling to. I know it sounds crazy, but many people have not thought out their target market beyond “the general public.”
- Don’t hide your ideas. People often keep their good ideas under wraps. Make sure you talk about your ideas as often as you can and to many different parties. Start the movement from the ground up. Again, being prepared with facts and figures will help other buy in to your argument.
These are a few thoughts for today. There are still a lot more factors to consider – like dealing with the naysayers – but the road to changing your company’s culture starts with you. Don’t miss your opportunity!
I think you would find this article in The New York Times to be rather interesting. If you are too lazy to click the link, the article, “Social Media Are Giving a Voice to Taste Buds” notes how Frito-Lay is using Facebook to test new flavor ideas in lieu of costly focus groups. Frito-Lay has developed an “I’d Eat That” button that allows Frito-Lay to measure the popularity of various proposed flavors in different parts of the country.
This is an example of a company unlocking the true potential of social media. Think of how much it would cost to hold focus groups in California, New York, and Chicago to find out what flavors were popular in each region. And if a mega corporation like Frito-Lay (which can certainly afford focus groups) decides it is just as good to use Facebook, think about what good news this is for your business!
The article, written by Stephanie Clifford, notes, “While consumers may think of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare as places to post musings and interact with friends, companies like Wal-Mart and Samuel Adams are turning them into extensions of market research departments. And companies are just beginning to figure out how to use the enormous amount of information available.”
Another great piece from the article:
“When Wal-Mart wanted to know whether to stock lollipop-shaped cake makers in its stores, it studied Twitter chatter. Estée Lauder’s MAC Cosmetics brand asked social media users to vote on which discontinued shades to bring back. The stuffed-animal brand Squishable solicited Facebook feedback before settling on the final version of a new toy. And Samuel Adams asked users to vote on yeast, hops, color and other qualities to create a crowdsourced beer, an American red ale called B’Austin Ale that got rave reviews.”
While your competitors are still toiling away at the old rules of marketing, you can use social media to engage your fans and conduct market research at the same time. Use this opportunity to brainstorm ways you can combine research and fun for your fans.
Think about it this way – you spend money on focus groups to tell you what your fans like. Why not just go directly to fans? The will feel like they have a stake in your company – this builds affinity and allows you the opportunity to connect with fans on a more meaningful level.
When fans buy the new flavor of chip that they voted for, they can say, “I helped make this possible.” Something to think about this weekend!
Until next time…
Infographics are a great way to liven up magazines, newsletters and websites. I was reading an article by Johna Revesencio, “4 Online Infographics Generators,” and I think she offers some great resources for creating info graphics.
I tried out two of them and would suggest you give them a whirl. The one pictured on the right was created with Infogram and shows some stats for this blog. Unfortunately, right now Infogram makes it very difficult to export your deign – I had to do a screencapture and re-purpose it in PhotoShop. Also, the choices for teh chart are pretty limited.
Piktochart takes a little more effort to use, but is a much more robust tool for creating charts with a variety of colors, charts and foreground and background items. As a bonus, you can download the images to use in whatever format you require. The image on the left is one I made with Piktochart – a little garish, but I wanted to test out all of the options!
Take a look at Revesencio’s article and look at some of her other suggested sites, and start making your own infographics today.
Until next time.