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.

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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…

Selling your ideas


Always Be Selling – Your Ideas! Talk them up whenever and wherever you can!

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.

Arm yourself with information before you try to sell your ideas!

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!

Creating personas – Identifying your customer


Example of a user persona.

Figure 1 – example of a user/customer persona. Click for larger image.
I found this image at http://asinthecity.com/2011/05/13/explaining-personas-used-in-ux-design-%E2%80%93-part-2/

To thine own customer be true! Building a successful website or social media platform begins with understanding who your customer is.

This requires deeper thinking than “Our customer is people ages 18-65.” It requires a detailed understanding of your customers’ demographics and – more importantly – their needs.

One place to start is by looking at the keyword searches in your Google Analytics – these are the words people are putting into search engines that lead them to your site.  This is a good opportunity to reflect – what kind of customers would these search terms apply to?

Also, take a good look, if you can, at who is buying.  Who is coming into the store?  Are there any similarities you are noticing about customers? Are they high-income? How old are they? Is it primarily men or women?

Personas

Think about your biggest target market groups, then set about creating  persona for each of these groups.

In this article, Tina Calabria notes that “Personas enable intranet and website teams to stand in their users’ shoes. They focus the design effort on supporting user goals, rather than being driven by the ideas of team members or senior executives.”

Personas identify the user motivations, expectations and goals responsible for driving online behavior, and bring users to life by giving them names, personalities and often a photo.

This process is spelled out further in this posting, from which I obtained the sample persona which you see in figure 1.

The payoff

Creating personas is a much less expensive and time-consuming way to define your ideal clients. As Beth Hayden notes in this article, 5 Ways Brands Use Pinterest To Authentically Connect.  She notes:

“Oreck (@oreck), maker of vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, and other small appliances, focuses on women as their ideal clients. Oreck marketers could potentially create a detailed ideal-client profile called “Suzy Homemaker,” and fill it in with details about where Suzy lives, whether she has kids or pets, and what her hobbies are. The U.S. Army (@usarmy) might have a few different profiles, including the young men and women they are looking to recruit, and members of the general public who are looking to support our troops.

“This exercise may seem silly to you, but don’t underestimate its importance. The more you know about the customers you’re trying to reach on Pinterest, the more successful you’ll be in connecting with them via your marketing efforts.”

What are your thoughts on using personas to get to know your target audience?

Make it easy to socialize your website


By now, we all know that social media is the place where most companies are now focusing their efforts.  That means that your website needs to be equipped for social sharing.  Attention is the currency of the internet, and you can’t get attention without word of mouth.

Image 1 – Puma’s social sharing

In image one, you can see how Puma all0ws you to socially share their products, encouraging you to post the image on Pinterest, to “Like” it and to Tweet about it.  This allows the customer to share things that they are passionate about.  Puma is not scared of you using their copyrighted images on Pinterest, they are encouraging it.  That’s because they will reach a much bigger audience through social sharing than they ever could through traditional advertising.  What’s more, the message is more trustworthy because it is coming from one of your Facebook or Pinterest friends.

While clothing is a great product for social sharing, this can be applied to many types of businesses. At your next brainstorming session, have a discussion about what items on your website would be good targets for social sharing.  I’d be interested to hear the results.

Another great item for social sharing is news.  If you put any type of news on your site – press releases, articles, blog posts, whatever – make sure it has social sharing functions attached.  Not only will this share your content, but it will also allow you to track the sharing via Google Analytics.  Keeping track of which items generate a lot of shares can give you a better idea of what appeals to your readers.  This is what you call Actionable Analytics.

Image 2 – This news article from Stanford University encourages social sharing.

In image two, you can see some social sharing links, which you should incorporate into any type of “news” that you put out.

(A side note: I’m of the opinion that you should put out news as much as possible.  Anything that happens at your company.  Cast a wide net, see what people like, and then start crafting your messages to meet the audience’s tastes.)

Showing the number of Tweets and Likes helps encourage sharing by showing the reader that others are doing it.  Adding your page to StumbleUpon will also help people find you (more on StumbleUpon in the future!).

What items on your website have you made sharable? What website items are you thinking about adding social sharing to?  Please let me know in the comments below!

Until next time…