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…

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!

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.

Social Media Santa – put these books under the tree

I’d like to recommend two excellent and inspiring books that I read this year. If you haven’t read them, get them for yourself.  If you’ve got them, buy them for your social media team, or – even better – buy them for the higher-ups who need to see the light.

Note: I do not have any deals with the writers or publishers of these books (nor do I know them). These are strictly my recommendations for excellent social media reading.


The New Roles of Marketing & PRThe New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

Scott does an excellent job of diagnosing the problems that one can have when dealing with old school marketing think, or those who play by “the old rules”. He offers excellent cheap and often free ways to reshape your marketing for the modern age, learning to talk with people instead of at them.

In addition, his writing style is quite inspiring – this book got me excited enough to get up and start the blog you are reading right now. In addition, he champions an idea which I hold dear: that you don’t need to get your press release to a journalist or get your ad on TV.  In this era, everyone is a journalist and a broadcast center. Create your content, and they will come.

He also prepares you with the arguments and tactics you will need to launch a marketing plan based on “the new rules” of marketing:

  • Where credibility and creating value are king, rather than whop can produce the loudest and dumbest television ad.
  • Where customers choose you because they like your content, rather than being force fed.
  • Where you become a community member rather than a broadcaster.
  • Where you are creating and distributing your news, rather than waiting for journalists to pick it up.

Likable Social MediaLikable Social Media by Dave Kerpen

As good as Scott’s book is, this one is even better.  Every time I read a chapter from this book, I get inspired to start building social media currency.

While Scott’s book focused on many aspects of marketing and PR, Kerpen’s is almost solely focused on social media strategy.

He offers the kind of common sense thinking that is required to conquer the fear that social media brings to many boss types.  Fears like, “What is someone writes something negative on our Facebook page?” or “Why would we give information away online for free?”

Kerpen understands that consumers will no longer go to your website or click a like just because you tell them to.  You need to build trust and affinity, and the way that happens is by creating likable content and making yourself valuable, not saying “Click here to see our new items for sale.”

Kerpen does away with the idea that social media exists to drive people to a point of sale. Instead, it exists to build long term fans and evangelists of your brand. Social media is about finding a spouse, not a one night stand.

In addition, each chapter has a series of exercises that you can do with your team.  I bought this book for my entire social media team, and you’ll want to too.

Do you have any recommended social media books?  If so, please let me know in the comments below!

Reverse Mentoring – get in the driver’s seat

Time to send the boss back to school.

This is an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal. It discusses the trend in “reverse mentoring,” noting

“In an effort to school senior executives in technology, social media and the latest workplace trends, many businesses are pairing upper management with younger employees in a practice known as reverse mentoring. The trend is taking off at a range of companies, from tech to advertising.”

This is a great time to be well-versed in the ways of social media and best online practices. You have the opportunity to show you bosses just how valuable you really are.  What seems like everyday knowledge to you can look like magic to the uninformed.

On a separate note, this also reinforces the need to continually track your social media progress with real, quantifiable statistics. People fear that which they don’t understand, and a lot of senior execs do not understand social media and web marketing.

Having solid numbers is the sure way to influence the Luddite CEO’s thoughts about the value you and the internet can provide.  Otherwise, you are in danger of being judged based on their personal biases and knowledge (or lack thereof in this case).

If you see an opportunty to enlighten your higher ups, DO IT – before somebody else does.  Prove your worth and get in the driver’s seat!