How do you sell social media to your superiors?

Lack of measurement leads to the dark side: ego driven websites and social media.

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.

No measurement is perfect, but you must pick something! At least then you can set a benchmark.

Pick something

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.

You can measure Facebook Insights right from your page, or you can use a tool like HootSuite some cost) or ThinkUp (free!) to measure it for you and put it into nice, pretty reports.

– 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.

Facebook = Free Focus Group

– 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.


Enlightened personas: Fight for the User!

Be like Tron! Fight for the users!

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:

  1. How is this ad/landing page/blog post/tweet relevant to this persona? What does this term mean specifically for them?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

The Myth of SEO

The myth of search engine optimization

Slay the mythical beast known as SEO.

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 your content fresh! Stale page = stale search results.

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

Are you listening to your customers?

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…

Making your social media tracking a snap!

Where do more visitors come to my site from? Facebook or Twitter?
Create a dashboard in Google Analytics for quick and easy reference and simple comparisons of things like social media traffic.

Hi – I wanted to share this helpful article that I just read from Eugene Oprea called “4 Shortcuts for Analyzing Social Media Traffic in Record Time.

Google Analytics can suck up a lot of time. You need to look up all the data, export it, create reports.  However, the information gleaned from Analytics is killer.

Here, Oprea offers you quick links and super simple step-by-step instructions for setting up simple report dashboards in your Analytics that will make it a snap to develop a quick snapshot of what is going on with your web traffic.

In the photo you can see the handy little dashboard that I created using step-by-step instructions that I found in the article and the links contained within.

Pretty good stuff!  Plus, you can print out a nice little graph that even your stupid boss can understand!

I would recommend reading the article and creating a few dashboards and playing around with them when you have a chance.

Until next time.

WTF Google?

Google sucks

Oh no big deal, I am only missing EIGHTY PERCENT of my keywords!

If you use Google Analytics to monitor traffic to your website (and I really hope that you do), you know that search keywords are among of the best tools available to understand your audience.

After someone comes to your site from a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.), this statistic tells you what search words they entered to find your website. This stat gives you hard evidence of what people are looking for when they come to your site.

On the DePaul University Newsroom, one of the top keywords every month is “DePaul Rankings.” That tells them that any news about university rankings is important to readers and should be featured.  It also give you a good idea of who your readers are.  After all, who would be interested in a university’s rankings? Most likely prospective students and their parents.

The problem

Lately, I have noticed that Google Analytics turns up “not provided” as the top keyword.  I searched for an answer and found that those who are signed into Google and using Google to search have their searches encrypted.  That means they don’t show up on analytics.

That’s right! Google, who provides the analytics, is now keeping information from flowing to those same analytics.  So, if you see “not provided” in your keywords and you are wondering why, the answer is because Google is stupid.

Agree to Disagree

Today I was reading an article, “Social Media to Marketers: Get Over Yourself!” by Heidi Cohen.

Cohen’s argument starts out strong, noting, “On social media, consumers tend to be interested in themselves, their family, and friends. For marketers, this means you need to get over yourself! People are on social media to socialize, not get bombarded with your marketing messages.”

I couldn’t agree with that sentiment more.  the social media explosion allows people to ignore the loud, dumb advertising of our past and to seek out “advertising” (if that’s still the right word) that inspires sharing and conversation.

However, Cohen goes too far to one side, essentially arguing that your time spent using social media as a marketing tool may be totally useless.  She notes an eMarketer study which found that:

“Just 1% of fans of the biggest brands on Facebook engage with the brands on the site. The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute study looked at Facebook metrics for the top 200 brands, and through an examination of activities such as “likes,” comments, posts and shares, the research group found nothing substantial to link a brand’s Facebook presence with loyalty.

Limited consumer engagement with brands on Facebook suggests there may be a disconnect between the reasons why consumers actually “like” a brand and the reasons brands think consumers are “liking” their page. When the CMO Council asked Facebook users in Q4 2011 about their expectations after “liking” a brand on Facebook, the top expectation (67%) was to be “eligible for exclusive offers.”

I hold issue is with the assertion that those who “like” your page are not so likely to buy your product because they are only looking for exclusive offers.  Rather, I would posit that the page is not being used in a proper manner to turn those “likes” into acolytes.

Nowhere does this study factor in engagement with the page.  That is where the real bread and butter of social media can be found: getting people to talk about your brand, share it with friends and socialize your content. In short, building word-of-mouth.

By building a trusted rapport with your fans and giving away valuable advice, you are establishing your bonafides as an expert to turn to. I have been recommended several services via Facebook friends that I have taken advantage of.  Similarly, I have also shared useful information that has come from companies I trust and follow. I would also counter her studies with one from Sociable Labs, which confirms that consumers are highly influenced by their friends.

While Cohen is right that yelling “BUY THIS!!!” is not effective, I think she is missing the boat on what social media marketing is truly all about.

Bob Vila and Better Online Video Results

Bob Vila made a successful leap to the world of online videos. Use these lessons to build your own online video presence.

Greetings gang!

Online video is difficult to strategize and implement for many businesses.  While at SXSW Interactive, I attended a session and got some tips that you may find useful.

The session focused on how Bob Villa made the transition from a regular home improvement television show to a successful online video presence.

1) Use a broad list of keywords. Try to think of any conceivable way that users may look for content that relates to your video.  Any search term that is remotely applicable should be applied.

If your video is about how to ice a cake, start thinking about any term that may apply.  So besides “cake” and “icing”, you may generate a list of 50 more.  Terms like “wedding”, “birthday”, “frosting”, “chocolate”, “devil’s food”, “cream cheese,” “coconut”, ‘how to”, etc. You may want to look at your site’s Google Analytics and YouTube Analytics to see what keywords bring people to your site or videos.

People may use different search terms to find what they want – think broadly and make it easy for them to find you.

2) Monetize by saving money. For online video, don’t sweat about trying to create a Hollywood production. Consumers are concerned about CONTENT – not about multiple camera angles.

The lower cost of online video can also help calculate an ROI, based on what would be spent on a traditional advertising route, like a TV ad.  In fact, the panelists noted that they can create 40 online Bob Villa videos for less that the cost of one television episode.

3) Go where the customers are. Don’t limit yourself to YouTube. Also put video content on your website and on Vimeo, Facebook and HULU — make sure that wherever people search for helpful videos, they find your content.

4) Content is king. Create relatively concise videos that serve a purpose, whether that is to inform or to entertain. You are competing with the video of the cat fighting a toaster, so you need to create content that is worthy of their time.

Also, I would highly advise against trying to create something meant to be funny or to go “viral”.  You can’t make something viral, it has to happen on its own. Create useful content, allow people to engage with that content (DO NOT disable contents and ratings on your videos), and then socialize that engagement with sharing functions.

Now get out there and make some videos! Until next time!