Sunday, December 8, 2013

Treat Social Media Like a Grown-Up Data Point

A colleague of mine recently published a whitepaper titled Tracking What Matters: Best Practices and Common Pitfalls in Social Media Measurement.  She raised a great point in the article, that a majority of companies don't treat social data like a "mature up data point".  Let's face it, we're still early on in the adoption phase of social media.  Most companies are starting to utilize social media for marketing and outreach purposes, but few are using social media data as they do other data.  They find it useful it getting a message out, but then don't want to really want to unleash the true power of social media: the data it can provide.  It's almost like how a parent treats a child, making the child sit at the kids table at dinner while the parent goes to socialize at the grown up table.  Think about it, if you find social media useful as a promotion tool, then what does that say about the medium?  It means that other people are using it.  More importantly, it means that your customers are using it.

Let's put it into context.  For those of you who own a brick and mortar shop, we know that you spend a significant amount of time and resources worrying about satisfying your customers needs.  So you don't run out, you make sure that your store is fully stocked with those items that are most popular.  You make sure those items are in the most convenient places.  You make sure that you advertise about the fact that you carry those items.  If your customers ask for something that you don't sell, you consider making that item part of your next order (if not, then you should).  These are the things that good business owners do.  This is why the lack of focus on social media data strikes me as ignorant.  There are things being said on social media about you, your competitors, and your industry, that could probably help your business.  They can help you learn more about your customer, and what your customer wants.  They can help you become a smarter business.  So do yourself a favor, even if you think it's still "too new" or that your customers aren't on social media, treat it like a grown up data point and integrate it into your knowledge funnel.  Chances are you just might learn something new.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Housing or Technology - Which is a Better Solution to Homelessness?

A story surface recently about Patrick McConlogue, a developer in New York who recently propositioned a homeless man to teach him how to code.  I find this to be a fascinating topic because I often wonder about the best strategy for eradicating our homelessness/joblessness situation in our society.
photo courtesy of
What's interesting is that McConlogue has received criticism for this proposition.  Critics argue that McConlogue (and people trying to help) should focus on food and shelter first.  Patrick contends that he is offering what he can, which is knowledge.  The same can be said about Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg's initiative to make the internet available to everyone on the planet.  Do people in 3rd world countries really need internet before things like roads, running water, and farming equipment?  This is obviously not an easy question to answer.  If it were, then the smart people that have been working on these problems for decades centuries probably would have made more progress by now.

That being said, initiatives like have much more potential given technology today.  The internet offers the one thing that I've always said is the most important thing to upward mobility - Knowledge.  The world wide web is full of free tutorials, user guides, tips, DIY videos, blogs, and manuals on just about every topic known to man.  Google and wikipedia have opened the door to self-discovery, which leads to empowerment.  If those less fortunate, who are interested in learning, have the same access to these sources of information that the rest of us have, then I believe this will eventually lead to less poverty, violence, and disparity among people on this planet.  Plus, as I've learned through volunteering for great organizations like Habitat for Humanity, housing is time, labor, and resource intensive.  The internet may be a more scalable and sustainable solution.

Now, let me be clear in saying that I understand that many other variables come into play.  Some people either don't want to be helped, or have other circumstances like addiction and mental instability that prevent them from helping themselves.  I've been told anecdotally from former homeless not to give money to the homeless because 99% of them are going to try and buy drugs and alcohol with it.  I have no idea if that figure is correct or not, but the point is that there isn't a silver bullet to solving this problem.  However, at least there are people out there trying.  I applaud Patrick for his efforts.  He is going out of his way to help someone.  I find it to be refreshing and invigorating to read about.  I encourage you to read up on this experiment via his blog to see what the outcome is.  I am really hopeful that the experiment leads to success for, at least, one man.  Furthermore, I hope it serves as a blueprint for helping many more in the future.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Does my Brand Need a Social Media Presence?

I recieved a message from a friend the other day about whether or not his brand should have a social presence.  Although this question seems obvious to, I'm realizing that there are many out there who don't see the value in social media.  They are actually looking for excuses to not use social media.  I this to be fascinating, relevant and interesting, which has inspired me to post on the topic.  Here's the basic email that was sent to me:


I’ve been asked to prep a deck explaining why BrandX should avoid social media, and wondering if you might have any data we could use.
  1. What does it take to have a current social media presence. (which brands, what it takes, how much does it take to do those? – what is the bar for success.)
  2. A ‘Ghost town’ is more harmful than not having a presence
  3. We are B2B – Vast majority are not on social media – few outliers 
  4. We’d need a bunch of resources - $$ - to do this.  Hence Bar is very high – This point in time doesn’t seem like a worth while investment
There are good questions, let's address them one by one:
1. How to Get Started with Social - Getting started can seem daunting, but don't let it scare you.  Just start with the the big 4 - Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.  Although there are other niche sites out there that may have decent traffic for specific market, you'll get the biggest bang for your buck with the big 4.  I would plan for about 4 - 8 hours or so to simply stand up the accounts with unified images and info, and then any number of hours kicking off the accounts by adding connections to your networks.  This estimate can grow with any number of factors.  First, do you work for a company with social media guidelines?  If so, you'll want to add in some time to review all the rules and guidelines, if not actually discuss the presence with the marketing/communications groups at your company.
    1. Once the accounts are setup, you'll want to start by dedicating 20 minutes a day to review accounts, respond to messages, and make sure all your information is current.  Tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, SocialBro, and even Buffer can reduce the time you spend reviewing these accounts by consolidating for you.  When you first start, your influence will likely be small, so managing these accounts will likely require less time than once you've established your presence and really get people wanting to engage with you.
    2. The bar for success - This totally depends.  I would start by looking at your direct competitors' social accounts.  The competitive person that I am would say to not stop until you've dwarfed their social presence.  However, different companies have different strategies and tactics for acquiring customers and managing relationships.  As we are just starting out in social media, I say just get your accounts up, and develop a sustainable process for you to be able to manage.
      • Just for fun, let's say you represent a new Digital Asset Management product.  You've identified the following companies as competitors, and you'd ideally like to be competitive in that mix:
        1. North Plains - 754 Twitter followers, 508 Linkedin followers, and 56 facebook likes
        2. Alfresco - 8,941 Twitter followers, 3190
          Linkedin followers, and 5845 facebook likes
        3. Screendragon - 146 Twitter followers, 21 Linkedin followers, and no facebook account
      • Keep in mind that it's not all about followers and likes.  I'd focus on building meaningful relationships, and thoughtfully engaging with prospects on social media, rather than trying to attract any and everyone on the web to follow you.
2. A 'Ghost Town' is more harmful than not having a social presence - I understand the hesitation here, but I disagree.  As you can see with the Screendragon example, as a consumer I'm more concerned with the company that makes no effort to build a presence on one of the big social networks because I interpret that as a company that is not paying attention to the new market.  Facebook is one of the most popular website in the world.  Why on Earth would you not try to be there?  Which leads me to my next answer...
3. We are B2B and our customers aren't on social media - This is a very popular excuse, but this is untrue.  Think about it, every company is made up of individuals.  If you were to survey the individuals in that company I would all but guarantee that the vast majority of them have a social media account on, at least, one of the big four social networks.  Those individuals are the ones who will be doing research for a new vendor.  You want to make sure they find you.  Establishing your brand on social networks increases your chances of being found in that research - and that's purely by having an account.  Growing your social footprint will only increase your odds.
4. It's expensive to manage social media accounts - I alluded to this earlier.  No, it's not.  When compared with traditional forms of advertising it's dirt cheap.  Setting up accounts on the big four is free.  Purchasing a social media management tool will cost you anywhere from $6 on up to about $40 per month on the higher end of the professional accounts designed for small teams.  After that, I'd recommend you find someone, perhaps one of the junior associates at your company, to take ownership of the program.  They'll likely be excited to get to work with social media, and would be more than willing to dedicate their time to establishing the program.  As I said earlier, this really shouldn't require more than the time it takes for your coffee to cool down in the morning to manage initially.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chromecast - Google's OTT Breakthrough

Those of you who follow this blog know that I am all about "Over the Top Television" (OTT).  Roku, AppleTV, Google TV and BD Players all helped push the market to a point where a product could truly allow OTT to be accessible for every household.  Surprisingly, it's Google who has released this innovation into the market.

Welcome Google into the Living Room

Cord cutters must be excited about the unveiling of Google's Chromecast this week.  It's a tiny, $35 dollar dongle that plugs into your television via an HDMI port and turns your television into a smart tv.  Now, it's easy to be skeptical of Google when it comes to over the top television.  It is well documented that they have already had a few failed attempts at penetrating the home entertainment space.  This time, it feels different.  Chromecast is simple and affordable -- two things that should help it catch on (although it appears as though it's already catching on).  They are already out of stock at Amazon, and further investigation indicates that there is a potential waiting time of up to one month to get your hands (and eyes) on one.  This is a good sign for Google.

Starting Small

Google's strategy with Chromecast is intriguing.  Lately, we've seen products unveiled with a big list of agreements in place.  After all, that was one of the main factors considered years ago when Marketeneur reviewed early generation OTT products.  Chromecast, however, only comes with agreements in place for Netflix and Youtube.  It has yet to bring Hulu, HBOGo or Pandora into the lineup.  Starting small like this would usually be a deal breaker for this reviewer.  However, at $35, the risk is low for purchasing the product, and one has to be optimistic that the others aren't far behind.

Big Potential

Chromecast will really work if the likes of Hulu and HBOGo join the platform.  However, even without those agreements, there are already workarounds in place.  Chromecast allows you to watch these other networks by using your mobile device as a mirror.  Quality isn't as great using this method, but at least it will work.  Plus, Google has made Chromecast compatible with IOS and Android devices alike (which gives an advantage over Apple's AirPlay).  Google has also opened up its API for developers, hoping to spur app development for the platform.  Overall, Chromecast seems to be a good buy.  Yes, it's not perfect, but at such a reasonable price, this product has a ton of potential.  Don't hesitate to get in line and put an order in for this product.

Not Sold on Chromecast yet?

Check out reviews from some reliable sources:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Self Host your Blogger or Wordpress Site

Those of you who follow me through this blog, my consulting professional circles, or in social media know that I am big on content marketing.  In today's world wide interweb, where consumers (especially the millennial generation) are very in tune to spammy marketing techniques and over-promotion, you must develop interesting content to prevail.  Doing this is part art, and part science.  I will discuss this topic more in my post The Art of Content Marketing, but I wanted to help my readers build the foundation requirements for setting up a content marketing platform.

The foundation of content marketing is the blog.  Every business, large and small, should have one.  The blog is the modern vehicle for delivering messages to widespread audiences.  One [of the many] great things about the blog is that it is so easy, and inexpensive to setup.  Below are my recommendations for content management services to deliver your content, hosting providers for hosting your blog on your own domain, and some great how-to articles full of simple tips and tricks for getting setup quickly.

Most Popular Blog Platforms 

Good Web Hosting Providers

How To Guide for Setting up Your Blog(s)

Those are the steps that I've come up with so far.  Hopefully you'll come away with something of value.  Feel free to let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Power of Social Media in Broadcasting

Social Media is having a profound effect on the broadcasting industry. I've written a whitepaper outlining how broadcasters can unlock value from social media using advanced tools for analysis techniques.  Take a look, and please let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Should You Care about Likes?

I've had a lot of conversations over the past weeks about social media metrics and kpi's.  One of the most intriguing questions asks whether or not the "Like" (or followers, connections, etc) is an important metric to gauge marketing effectiveness.  After waffling back and forth over the answer to this question, I've settled in on a definitive "maybe".

While likes are a good rough estimate of effectiveness, marketers don't get paid for rough estimates.  They get paid for logical, precise analysis on how a campaign benefits the brand.  Now, one can always argue that fans and followers indicate credibility.  That's all fine and dandy, but one could also find a lot of "credible" people/companies out there who aren't making a whole lot of money.  The key is to not solely focus on "likes", but to connect metrics such as "likes" to a business objective.  Jim Sterne, along with many other experts on the subject, argues in Conversionation that you must first set business objectives before getting into tactics.  These objectives usually fall into three main categories:
  • Raise Revenue
  • Lower Costs
  • Increase Customer Satisfaction  
These are very high level business objectives that are fairly universal.  Targeting a business objective will help you create a linkage between the objective and the metric(s) that you are tracking.  Sometimes, however, you have to go a few levels into it in order to fully create your link.  Take "raise revenue" for example.  I'm not yet able to draw a direct connection between the "like" and a business objective.  I ask myself "Does a "like" raise revenue?"  Not really, so we would need to find another metric.

Another method of categorizing KPIs is by business function.  In her article Social Analytics Formulas to Use for ROI Reports, Danielle Leitch organizes KPI's in the following:
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
Within each category, she develops traditional metrics that can be measured using social media.  See the example table below:

In this example, the number of "Likes" (along with shares and comments) divided by the number of published pieces of content would get to a measure of program effectiveness by reach, growth and engagement.  In this case, "Likes" are important, but only one component of the KPI.

Another way to slice it could be by type of social behavior.  Pritt Kallas, in his article 48 Social Media KPIs, categorized KPIs by the following:
  • Distribution - e.g., followers, fans
  • Interaction - e.g., retweets, sharing
  • Influence - share of conversation vs. competitors, sentiment, # of brand evangelists
  • Action and ROI - conversions (downloads, subscriptions), leads, cost of sale
  • Internal - costs associated (tweets, posts, development costs)
Importantly, Pritt recommends to benchmark kpi's against your competition, setting a baseline, and continuously tracking.  This is very important.  The fact that your  facebook page has 100 more "likes" this month than it did last month really doesn't mean anything with out a historical and market comparison.

The last method that we will discuss for grouping KPIs would be by channel. For example, Kent Lewis, of Anvil Media, cited the below matrix for kpi's in his article The Social Media Metrics that Truly Matter.

There are so many options in today's social media ecosystem.  It's not realistic to say that you are focusing on all of them.  Depending on the products that you sell, different channels will have different importance.  In today's market, Pinterest is an important channel for women's lifestyle brands given the heavy proportion of female users.  On the same token, SlideShare and Linkedin may have more of a business to business focus.  You should pick the channels that have the best chance of driving business and focus on them.

The above examples all highlight the fact that industry practitioners are not satisfied with a standalone metric such as a "like" alone.  Don't focus on "likes" for the sake of having "likes".  Find out what is creating opportunities for your business.  Don't be afraid to try new things, but be systematic.  Measure everything, and move on if something isn't performing.  If "Likes" are bringing you business, then don't waste your time on them.  There's bound to be something else out there that can prove to be more effective.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Second Screen Challenge

The rise of social media, and the rapid growth of mobile technologies have culminated into an interesting opportunity for creators of second screen applications.  Entertainment companies, in particular, are eager to capitalize on the second screen.  The second screen offers the potential for studios and broadcasters to extend content, further promote brands, engage audiences, and even monetize like never before.  In order to further explore the second screen market, and in an effort to educate myself more on second screen applications, today I've started a trial of eight different products.  This is my challenge, of sorts, to find the applications with the most promise.  Here's the list:

These applications appear to be the initial front-runners in the second screen market.  I'm going to try them out for a few weeks, starting with today's Superbowl.  I'll report back my opinions shortly.  Stay tuned!

Oh, and let me know your thoughts.  Am I leaving anyone off the list?