Here’s an rock solid presentation on social media return on investment (ROI) to your CEO (or your boss) by Olivier Blanchard on slideshare. He made these available 2 years ago; that’s a long time in Internet years, maybe even longer in Internet marketing years. But his message is still quite relevant today and will be still relevant tomorrow. For business leaders who (still) have challenges in understanding this social media thing, this should help make things clearer.
- Social media is not free. It takes 1) people, 2) technology, and 3) time.
- Social media, like everything else in a business, must help reduce cost and increase revenue.
- Analytics only reports on non-financial impacts of social media.
- Social media performance needs to be tied to financial impact.
- To measure financial impacts of social media efforts, try the following:
- Establish a baseline (pre-social media measurements,)
- Create and report on social media activities timelines (social media activities over time,)
- Compare sales figures, number of transactions, net new customers before and since social media started; and be sure to include plenty of specific details on transactions.
- Measure transaction precursors such as new mentions, store traffic, website visitors, click through rates, blog comments, etc.
- Overlay all timelines to view transactions cause and effect together at the same time.
- Look for trends and related patterns.
- Then make business decisions to enhance what ‘s working and rectify what’s not.
Lee Odden posted a spot-on article on the Top Rank Online Marketing Blog called 5 Deadly Sins of Corporate Social Media Marketing. As the title indicates, Mr. Odden observed 5 sins that a company needs to be aware of when trying to implement a social media marketing strategy; what not to do in corporate social media marketing, so to speak. While I completely agree with everything Mr. Odden described, and we all should heed his recommendations, I want to take it another step and get down to the real source of the problem.
The real problem is not about knowing what to do or not to do. That can be learned. The real problem is corporate social media marketing management are creatures of habits.
Social media personnel (in-house) and consultants (outside help) run into this problem all the time. In fact I think it’s one of the most common problems after a company decides to pursue social media marketing. To understand this, first let’s look at Lee Odden’s 5 deadly sins.
- Fear - It’s the “What if someone says something bad about us?” syndrome. We’ll get criticized and will look bad.
- Arrogance - It’s the “I’m too big to care about anyone” syndrome. Not my customers, and certainly not my competitors.
- Frugalism - It’s the “Let’s get our toes a little wet and see what happens” syndrome. Let’s just test a little bit here and there and don’t commit yet.
- Egocentric – It’s the “What’s in it for me and my company” syndrome. Let’s push our messages out there first.
- Pigeonholing – It’s the “Let’s just do this and this, and let’s not worry about those” syndrome. Management knows what’s good for our company so we’ll just do these things for now.
Can you see a common thread running through these sins? We can compartmentalize and categorize sins all we want, but I think it really doesn’t matter that we have a list of 5 or 10 sins, there will always be a common thread across them. What is it? Well it’s what I call the doing-business-as-usual, comfort zone syndrome. It’s the psyche in the vast majority of us as humans to keep gravitate back to our comfort zones, back to our protective shells.
Sure there will be the initial excitement of the new, the buzz and the cool, but short-term ROI will always win out when the dust settles. Companies start social media marketing either with in-house talents or by hiring an outside consultant to get going. The problem is that management’s expectation of the payback period is too short. After a short time has passed without clear tangible results (yet,) there is a “need” for management to step in to intervene and help guide and fix the process. That’s when the old process, what old school marketers know best, kicks in. This results in the many sins described above.
So what to do?
I wouldn’t say social media marketing is a mature branch of marketing as yet. On the other hand, considering the speed of how fast things progress on the Internet (technology, products and processes) business understanding of social media and its adoption is still sorely lacking. This is the reason why social media marketing professionals must continue to stress education as part of their initial marketing and sales presentations, then continue to carry the education portion right through the service phase and wrap up phases.
What do you think? Do you agree that much of social media marketing ills can be cured by readjusting our own habits? Share your opinion with us by leaving your comment below.
Contemplating a business-to-business (B2B) social media marketing program at your organization? According to Dave Evans, Author of Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day, consider these three areas as the starting point:
- Go where your customers are online. Find out where they are and participate in a transparent manner. No soft-sell, no hard-sell, in fact no selling at all. Just get involved, share and contribute.
- Don’t try to control the conversation. Instead, understand, participate and share. You can share your viewpoints, but you have to respect others’ as well. The social mass is a smart group, so just bring and share your knowledge. The mass will appreciate it.
- Leave the institutional voice behind. No marketing spiels, no business promotion, no company speak. Just get involved with the facts, good viewpoints, and be yourself.
JD Lasica recounted the Your Brand, Their World event at Razorfish on August 18 in San Francisco. The goal was to draw social media thought leaders and experts together to “discuss the ways in which social media is changing the relationship between customers and brands, and what it means to marketers, merchandisers, product developers, customer service organizations, R&D and senior management.”
Participants included Garrick Schmitt, GVP Experience Planning for Razorfish and an expert panel consisting of Megan O’Connor, Levi’s; Michael Brito, Intel; Marisa Gallagher, Razorfish; Sam Faillace, Shutterfly, and Jon Swartz, USA Today (moderator.) In addition, an engaging audience of social media and marketing specialists was present to share their views.
Here are some of ideas and highlights coming out of the panel and audience interaction.
- An interesting tweeting strategy for business: the 80-20 rule. Michael Brito tweets 80 percent personal and 20 percent business, which is a great reference for both beginner and experienced tweeple. If you are not sure about what mix your messages should have, this is a good starting point.
- Social media should not be the ultimate marketing tool but must be an important element in the marketing mix. Not all companies need a Faccebook or Twitter account. Ultimately, the key is to know what you want to achieve with social media and select the appropriate tools to meet your goals.
- While return on investment (ROI) is not an easy thing to quantify from social media marketing activities, Marisa Gallagher mentioned one of the best metrics: sales. This is right on because regardless of your goals for a specific campaign (brand awareness, survey participation, opinion gathering, etc.) what really matters to all company is sales.
- On Twitter followers, following and the value of realistic interaction, a great bottom line message seems to emerge. It’s this: “You can effectively interact with maybe a small finite number of people, but do not discount the benefit of having many more followers/friends. They may be lurkers and never interact with you, but they have their own networks, can like/don’t like what you say/offer, and will share their opinions about you with the world.”
- Someone from the audience offered a clear, simple and easy to understand roundup of inbound vs. outbound marketing. “Outbound is the traditional form of interruption advertising (commercials on TV, a billboard interrupting your thought process), while inbound marketing is about people opting in or getting recommendations from friends.”
- Here’s a little “Ah-ha!” moment on why a company decided to deploy (or not) social media: “The auto companies don’t have as much fear jumping into social media as some of the other incumbents because it’s do or die for them,” as commented by Gallagher. Sure, we all know the phrase: “Live everyday like it’s your last.” That’s how you make a difference.
There are a bunch more great takeaways from that meeting. Read more of JD Lasica’s post “Social media, brands and the way forward” over at socialmedia.biz.
Pear Analytics recently did a study on how people are using and consuming Twitter. The study took 2,000 random tweets from the public timeline in English and in the U.S. over a period of 2 weeks, from 11:00a to 5:00p (CST) and was posted by Ryan Kelly. While I applaud the effort and think they are on the right track on providing a super-value added study to the public and marketers, I wouldn’t call this a conclusive study. Ryan mentioned that they will update it regularly so that’s a good thing.
Here are the results of the study with the categories defined by Pear Analytics:
- Pointless babble 40.55%
- Conversational 37.55%
- Pass along value 8.70%
- Self promotion 5.85%
- Spam 3.75%
- News 3.60%
You can read about the details of the study yourself (link at end of this post.) Some of the most surprising results are the following:
- Self promotion and spam are not as prominent as many have complained about.
- News represents a very small amount of activities, despite recent media buzz.
So it looks like issues that affect many people (like the Iran election and spams) that receive huge news coverage also tend to pump up public impressions about Twitter and exaggerate their real impacts. The real numbers seem to show that these are not much of a problem; you just think they’re big problems because they’re constantly in your face or they annoy you a lot. With more refinement (such as extended time of day included in the study) we may see an increase in these numbers.
I look at this study as work in progress with better updates to be expected. Here are a few issues I see that should be resolved to improve the study value in the future:
- Pointless babble is not necessarily a negative thing as its name may suggest. This category needs more refinements as this big group represents many important pieces of information, both to consumers and marketers. For the consumers and individuals, it is exactly the social aspect of social networking, and people will continue to socialize the way they want to. All you can do accept it and understand it, not control or eliminate it. And this social spaces and activities are exactly where marketers need to be to understand consumer behaviors.
- The time periods of 11:00 am to 5:00 pm CST is too limited to really understand Twitter users in the U.S. It’s only 6 hours of each of the time zones. At a minimum I think the study should begin at 6:00 am to midnight for each time zone. As it is, it merely tracks only the lunch to early evening hours of east coast time (noon to 6:00 pm, entirely missing 12 hours of east coast tweets,) and includes only the mid morning to mid-afternoon hours of west coast time (9:00 am to 3:00 pm, again entirely missing 12 hours of west coast tweets in the morning, late afternoon and evenings.)
See the original Pear Analytics post on “Twitter Study Reveals Interesting Results About Usage.”
So I had a problem with Bing claiming to help you make decisions (see Bing – Helps You Make Decisions or Just Another Search Engine.) But a recent post by Benj Arriola from BusinessOnLine really put the nail in the coffin.
Through a tip from an SEO friend, Benj demonstrated in a simple search test that Bing search results are way biased, or inadequate for a major search engine, or both. The test consisted of searching for the search terms “Google,” “Yahoo,” and “Microsoft” in each of the Google, Yahoo and Bing search engine. A very reasonable task, I should add.
Guess what the results were? In a nutshell:
- Google search engine: Each of the search terms “Google,” “Yahoo,” and “Microsoft” came back with plenty of relevant results. No surprise because that’s what you’d expect for well-known sites.
- Yahoo search engine: Same expected results. Each of the search terms “Google,” “Yahoo,” and “Microsoft” came back with plenty of relevant results.
- Bing search engine. The search on “Google” gives a single result on google.com. The search on “Yahoo” gives a single result on yahoo.com. But the search on “Microsoft” yields plenty of results on both the company and its various products and services!
You can test all of this by conducting the searches yourselves. It’s totally duplicable, at least for now. Below are my own tests.
These are real funny results. Heck, the term “yak” (or substitute your own term) returns more results than “Google” and “Yahoo” combined, according to Bing.
Oh and another thing. If you look at Bing’s search results for “Google” and “Yahoo” you’ll see to the right of the single result in each case is a list of similar search engines. And Bing is at the top of this list. But when you search for “Bing” on Bing, there is no list for alternative search engines to be seen anywhere. It’s like google and Yahoo don’t exist. Pretty odd.
The bottom line: I don’t think users of Bing is getting unbiased search results. You can make your own conclusion.
Read Benj’s post “Should I Trust Bing’s Search Engine Results?“