Social Media ROI is Always a Number

Numbers

Numbers (Photo credit: RichardBowen)

Wishy-washy marketers may try to tell you that Social Media ROI doesn’t matter, or that it’s about the conversation, or some quirky statement asking how you measure a phone call.  But ROI of any marketing does matter, especially to decision makers (whether your boss or your client).  People want and need to know how well any particular marketing tactic is working, so they can make decisions about what to improve and on what to spend money. Nichole Kelly has a great article over on Social Media Explorer about how to apply ROI to social media:

So how do we fix it?  We’re going to have to accept our reality that we need to be able to tie social media to an impact on customer acquisition. Sure you can tout customer service savings and other types of cost based results, but you’re going to have to bring a huge volume of conversations for that savings to really mean something to the leadership team. But the minute you start generating leads and adding new customers with a reasonable volume at at a reasonable cost, ears start to perk up.  Social Media ROI is Nothing But A Numbers Game by Nichole Kelly

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Does the Facebook News Feed Algorithm Leave Out Lurkers?

FACEBOOK LIKE

FACEBOOK LIKE (Photo credit: owenwbrown)

There’s been much news about the Facebook News Feed Algorithm which seems to remove posts from most of our friends and the pages we’ve liked — some might claim for reasons of wanting people to buy promoted posts.  While Facebook claims that the changes are to boost engagement — claiming that people are more likely to make updates when they see updates from others (but not from pages) — I think this leaves out a huge chunk of the Internet/Facebook audience — The Lurkers.

If you manage a Facebook Page for you ecommerce business, you may have noticed your organic reach and engagement has tanked lately. Analysis of the Internet Retailer 500 Facebook Pages shows engagement sunk 27% in 2013 vs 2012, and rumors abound that Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is increasingly hiding Page posts to force marketers to pay for exposure in the News Feed. Hacking the Facebook News Feed Algorithm by Linda Bustos

Lurkers are people who read and consume content — probably even regularly, but never share, like or comment on it.  They find the content valuable enough to consume, but not enough to take an action.  Many people just aren’t the type of person that feels comfortable with commenting or sharing online.  But they do find content valuable, and sites that can provide valuable content regularly are useful to this type of content consumption.

If Facebook discounts people who just read content (maybe not even clicking on the links), and removes that content from feed — is that providing a service to that type of person?  My argument is that is not.  Even the least Internet saavy has noticed that Facebook is “tampering” with their feeds.  Will this make Facebook less useful in general?  Time will say, but I certainly have seen the impact in my own content consumption — preferring to get content from my feed reader, Feedly, or maybe even Google+ which doesn’t filter my feed.

What do you think?

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Want to use Social Media? Listen, Reply & Be Human

Amtrak California locomotive train.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re wondering how to use social media for your business, it’s really not difficult — you should do the same things that you would do if a potential customer was in your store.  Listen to see whether or not they have questions, reply to any questions or concerns in a timely manner, and above all, be human.  MarketingProfs has this great article on how an old business – Amtrak – has been successful with social media:

The lessons are simple, and they should be applied by any business using social media to connect with customers.

1. Listen relentlessly. I was shocked that this “old-school” business was so attentive to the pulse of social media.

2. Reply immediately. Not only will you impress the daylights out of customers, you’ll also defuse tension and often turn it into a positive.

3. Have a human voice. I love the fact that whoever was monitoring the Amtrak Twitter account was not at all above shilling for a raise! Three Timely Social Media Lessons From an Old Business by Steve Woodruff

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The Diverse Paths for Google+ and Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook is a social networking site that is trying to diversify into other applications (Poke, Messenger, Camera, etc), while Google+ is trying to integrate into the already existing array of Google Apps. CIO has a great article on the differences in the two company’s future direction:

Yet these two sites are embracing opposite strategies for the future. Specifically, Facebook is an integrated social network that is trying to become many different products, and Google offers many different products that it’s trying to integrate into a single social network.

The reason for such opposing strategies is that the problems, constraints and opportunities for each company are completely different. Why Facebook and Google+ Are Headed in Opposite Directions by Mike Elgan

While the article goes into some great reasons that Facebook and Google+ have different paths, I think that one missed point is why Facebook has been losing active users — not only because teens have been leaving and new teens have not been signing up, but also because Facebook has started more aggressively controlling what you see in your newsfeed — much of which feels like ads.

As my colleague Earl Lear pointed out:

I think what irritates me the most about Facebook is the fact that I personally clicked the ‘Like’ button on her page so that I could keep up with her, and read the content that she posts on a regular basis.  However, Facebook has determined that I really didn’t mean to ‘Like’ her content and has chosen to silence her in my newsfeed.  The motivation here is clearly to raise the revenue at Facebook by forcing people into paying for ads but aren’t they taking away from my experience to achieve their goals and thus lowering the level of satisfaction with their product?

I guess the question is, if you liked a page, do you expect to see updates from that page?  Maybe Facebook should have distinguished between Like and Subscribe earlier so they wouldn’t have to guess what content people want to see.

While people often aren’t keen on the amount of data Google collects about them, they’ve typically been pretty open and truthful about what they’re doing — they even provide good measurement tools for both AdWords and Analytics so you can see what’s going on with your websites.

Will this openness serve Google+ in the future?  Will Facebook’s past gaffs cause problems?  What do you think?

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Relationships are Key to B2B Online Marketing in 2014

over coffee

over coffee (Photo credit: lanuiop)

B2B marketing, whether online or off, is all about relationships. With longer sales cycles, and often, larger purchase amounts, it’s the relationship that a customer has with a business that really determines whether or not they’ll make the sale.  This also means that how the customer thinks and feels about the B2B company is vital to understand, throughout the relationship — especially in customer service after the purchase.  eMagine has a good article on B2B online marketing tactics for 2014: The B2B Online Marketing Quick Checklist for 2014, and while they mention Facebook and LinkedIn, I think that social media marketing has to be one of the top tactics for any B2B company in 2014 — and that means finding the social networks that make sense for your particular business (which may mean publication or association social networks or even creating your own).  Also vital to the success of any social media marketing efforts are being able to track customers throughout the sales cycle — which means a CRM that can be tied to social networks and campaigns and can find customers who are on social networks to know what they’re saying.

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Connecting Content to Your Audience

John Donne, one of the most famous Metaphysica...

John Donne, one of the most famous Metaphysical Poets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all want our target audience to consume the content we create — why else would we create it? People consume content that resonates with their needs and wants.  They like companies that provide solutions to their problems.  Creating content that’s more than boilerplate how-to’s can be difficult.  Duct Tape Marketing has some tips on how to create content that connects with your target audience…

Clients enjoy original content because they find it useful, informative, and entertaining. They should also feel that it is being written by people that understand them. Of course there are many facets to any individual, but, as English poet John Donne succinctly put it, “no man [or woman] is an island.” Look for the common bonds between a business and its clients that go beyond services rendered. Here the type of valuable relationships that benefit both parties are formed. 3 Tips for Creating a Strong Connection between Audience and Content by Steve Giangola

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Consumer Social Sharing

Two young girls sharing a plate of spaghetti. ...

Two young girls sharing a plate of spaghetti. Original caption: “I’m not sure Mina knew what she was in for when Viola wanted to share.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The hope and dream of all content creators is that their content will be shared so that it can be seen by more people.  How, when and why people share content is extremely important to marketers because it will help form not only where you post your content, but also when and what content you post.  Jason Falls over at Social Media Explorer has a nice analysis of ShareThis’ quarterly report on how content has been shared across the web….

Unfortunately, clear understanding of share metrics is hard to come by. Installing share buttons on your website provided by the social networks don’t often provide analytics to go along with them. Your website analytics only go so far. So we have to rely on sharing tool companies and their aggregated data to understand this critical component to our communications efforts. Understanding Consumer Sharing by Jason Falls

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Social Media Hype for 2014

Social Media Outposts

Social Media Outposts (Photo credit: the tartanpodcast)

Everyone and their grandma is writing a post about the trends for social media in 2014… which is good, but I think we may be on the brink of something different.  Social media is definitely mainstream — that happened a couple of years ago.  But we’re starting to see more people become annoyed enough with sites like Facebook that try to control information that they’re seeking alternatives.  Facebook isn’t going away in 2014, but I think we’ll start to see other ways that people try to communicate with their friends.  Snapchat and Instagram are all the rage right now — but that just proves the point.  People will go where their friends go and to places that let them communicate the way they want.  Be on the lookout for new sites and technologies that let people communicate — that’s where the trends will take us in 2014.

Eric Tung over at Social Media Explorer has a great round up of more macro trends to watch for:

While some folks are still figuring out SoLoMo, Social Graph or Owned-Paid-Earned, these are the larger trends at play. Businesses and marketers need to understand how these trends affect users to be prepared for these major shifts in Social Media. THE SIX BIGGEST TRENDS IN SOCIAL THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND by Eric Tung

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Using Hastags on Facebook May Kill Your Content

facebook engancha

facebook engancha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Twitter, hashtags help spread news and link conversations.  On Google+, hashtags help group together related content.  On Facebook, hashtags kill your content?  According to a study by EdgeRank, when hashtags are used by businesses on status messages, both engagement and virality drop significantly.  While this may be related to the posts that are being tagged, it seems to me that this is really a problem with Facebook’s hashtag system.  Unlike Google+ and Twitter, hashtags are not easy to use or browse on Facebook — they also seem disruptive in the news feed — like you’ve just posted a Twitter post without bothering to modify it for Facebook.

Social Times has more analysis:

EdgeRank analyzed 35,000 posts from 500 business pages over the month of July this year. They were shocked by the results. At best, the hashtags had no impact, and at worst, the presence of a hashtag reduced the reach of the posts. Contrast this with Twitter, one of the first sites to use hashtags effectively, 70 percent of brands saw retweets increase with the use of hashtags. Facebook Hashtags Aren’t Very Effective, Study Says by Kimberlee Morrison

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Why Your Content Always Need Images

Human eye

Human eye (Photo credit: dullhunk)

Posts with images are more attractive to the human eye.  They are more likely to be shared and liked. Every article, blog post, Facebook post, even Tweet is better with at least one image. Images also serve to help break up long bits of text and move the eye down the page.  Done well, images can even help your marketing by catching the eye and providing a favorable impression.

Images can even be their own content, as the success of sites like Instagram and Flickr can attest. Images can capture interesting events, share feelings, and bring us closer to each other.  The success of all the funny cat photos/videos on the internet shows just how much people like good/funny photos.

Besides using your own images, which is a great idea if you have quality photos, there are also paid sites like istockphoto and shutterstock.  Or sites that let you search for free photos — ones with creative commons licensing are best.  Remember that just because a photo is posted on the Internet does not mean that it is free to use.  Copyright holders have been known to go after people who use their photos (and content) illegally, which can cost thousands of dollars.

If you’re using WordPress, Zemanta offers a nice plugin that searches for relative free-use images and has an interface to let you add them to your posts.

How do you use images in your posts?

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