Archive for the ‘TakeFive’ Category
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Jon Morris, Founder and CEO of Rise Interactive. Jon brings his experience with Rise, his previous agency experience, and what he’s gained from guest speaking- plus anticipation of his next adventure, teaching- to the conversation about digital marketing, social media and analytics.
TweetReach: We like to start everyone out with one question, because there are so many different paths into social media: how did you get started using social media? Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Jon Morris: Rise is in the business of driving traffic, and we’ve been driving traffic to websites far before social media existed. And I couldn’t tell you the exact day, but [the sentiment around social] clearly moved from “college kids using this”, to “this is an amazing vehicle”, to reaching consumers. And it became- rather than an emerging tool that maybe we’d meddle with a little bit- “this is a core service that we have to offer our customers and that we have to do ourselves”.
TweetReach: Your public speaking engagements are obviously tailored to each specific audience, but are there certain things you try to hit on when you talk? Measurement strategies that you think are important to improving your social media impact, for example?
Jon Morris: The one thing- and I believe this is very core to social media- that I give in almost every presentation is: you need to know what makes you great. If you can’t answer that question, then you’re going to have a challenging social media campaign. When you know what makes you great, it drives your content strategy. I think of social media as more of a content syndication vehicle; before you can start developing great, compelling content you need to know what makes you great because that content has to reflect what makes you great.
“You need to know what makes you great.”
TweetReach: In your eMetrics presentation you spoke about using personalized content to reach social “Awesomizers” and the boost those people can have on a business’ social exposure. How do you develop personalized content for these brand advocates while maintaining a line that doesn’t leave them feeling like you know too much about them?
Jon Morris: It’s a challenging line, but the whole industry is moving toward relevancy and personalization. You’re already seeing it; the feed that you get is different from the feed that I get, even if we have the same group of friends, based on just what we respond to, what our levels of interest are. And at the end of the day you just need to know your audience; you just need to understand where that creepy line is. When it comes to Internet marketing I hear the same comments at the same time: “Did you know you can do this now?” and half the group is like “That is really scary” and the other half is like “That is really cool!”. And it’s generally scary and cool.
TweetReach: Do you have any tips for doing that? Any monitoring that you do in particular?
Jon Morris: There isn’t any tool you can use; the tool you use is that you gather the data. It is the decision of the social media manager or the community manager to determine “What’s the line of what data can I use?” vs “What data I won’t use”. The movie Boomerang with Eddie Murphy [is] a good example: [he] plays a creative director and there’s an artist on his team who always goes way too far. It’s his ability to understand what he needs to edit [that] makes [him] the great creative. You need to have the right editor.
TweetReach: In your Inc.com column Rise Above It, you spoke recently about how to make the office a fun place to work, an important part of company culture. How do you see that playing out in social media use among employees? How can that communication feed back into a business as a whole?
Jon Morris: I think social media now is ingrained in every single person’s lives and in terms of every corporation– or it should be if it’s not. We actually encourage sharing our content for employees, via contest. We’re trying to leverage our employees’ social media accounts.
In terms of usage, several years ago we had an employee who completely abused the privilege. This person was on Facebook 24/7 and everyone was very concerned that I was going to create a policy that you can’t log into Facebook anymore, and it was more [that] I had to focus on that individual and getting them to understand what is acceptable usage, as opposed to changing the entire culture. It comes down to trust and good employees. If you think about it, if an employee walked in every day with a newspaper, you wouldn’t expect that person to spend the entire day reading that newspaper from cover to cover and social media shouldn’t be any different.
TweetReach: What have you learned from your students as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business that you bring back to Rise Interactive and your social media strategies? What’s the most surprising thing that they’ve brought to your attention, or made you realize?
Jon Morris: I [teach] my first class this fall, but I have a hundred students in my office that I teach Internet marketing to; I put classes on once a week. We’ve definitely innovated just by doing different things with our clients, with our employees– so even though it’s not the students at University of Chicago, we are constantly working on developing a system to gather information, to understand what we’re doing. And if we’re successful in one area, applying it to the whole company.
TweetReach: Anything else you’d like to add?
Jon Morris: This might go back to “know what makes you great”– when you ask “What is the one thing you want to teach?” my recommendation is people should be “channel agnostic”. We have an expression here about Interactive Investment Management and the idea is very similar to portfolio managers going to invest in stocks or bonds: you don’t care which stock or which bond. IIM or Interactive Investment Management is the same concept: you don’t care if you’re in social media, or paid search or banner advertising. You simply care about the return you get and you want to make sure that your budget is being allocated to the most affective area.
Social is part of a bigger portfolio as opposed to an individual silo.
Jon Morris is the Founder and CEO of Rise Interactive. Morris started Rise as a self-funded company with $10,000, transforming the agency into a multi-million dollar business in eight years. Under Morris’ leadership, Rise has experienced tremendous growth, receiving recognition from the City of Chicago, Inc. Magazine, Five Elms Capital, Built in Chicago, Fortune Magazine and The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City.
As an emerging leader in the digital marketing industry, Morris regularly shares his expertise as a guest speaker. He has presented on main stages and at workshops and webinars for organizations such as Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, American Marketing Association, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Online Marketing Summit, iStrategy, and Vistage.
Morris is also a regular columnist for Inc.com. In his column Rise Above It, he displays his thought leadership with articles covering business and digital marketing topics. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Morris earned an MBA with high honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College.
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Jim Sterne, an early Internet Marketing adopter and a fantastic resource for breaking down big ideas in ways that make them easier to understand, which made us thrilled to get his point of view on social media marketing and more.
TweetReach: We like to start everyone out with one question, because there are so many different paths into social media: how did you get started using social media? Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Jim Sterne: The first “ah-ha” moment was in 1992 when a friend showed me a chat room for the first time. It was on CompuServe and it was what you’d expect– the equivalent of a private Twitter session. Maybe 20 or 30 people doing one-line entry, hitting return and their message pops up. There can be three or four conversations going on at the same time, usually very inane chatter, but broken up – not threaded into subject matter. My first thought was, “Why would anybody want to do this?” My friend said, “Well, you know, you can find out. We’re going to meet down by the beach tomorrow”.
I had no intention of going, but my wife and I happened to drive by and there was a huge banner that said CompuServe and about 200 people on the beach. The big “ah-ha” moment was that even in 1992, even when this technology was so awkward, even with the conversation so banal, it had such a huge following. There is value here that clearly I wasn’t seeing, but it was there. So that was the wakeup call.
There are still people today who say, “Oh, I don’t understand Twitter. Why would I care what you had for breakfast?” and you have to explain to them all the different ways it can be used. It was the same problem for me – I looked at it and didn’t get it- and then finally, I did.
What got me into being very social was the High Tech Marketers Discussion Lists, an email discussion list on a listserve. Kim Bayne was the hostess and we just talked about the marketing of technology. But then, in early 1993, the conversation suddenly turned to, “How do you build a website?”. Kim said, “Look, we’re here to talk about marketing technology products, not building websites. So if you want to take that conversation somewhere else, go ahead.” Glenn Fleishman said “Okay” and started the Internet Marketing Discussion List, which ran for three or four years, and I’m sure the archives are out there somewhere.
That’s where I truly understood the real value of asking a whole bunch of people- random people that you’ve never met- a question, and getting really good answers back. That, and being careful how you present yourself: personal branding.
That’s how I got started. Everything else: blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., carried on from there.
TweetReach: Since 1994 you’ve been concentrating on how analytics can inform marketing decisions. How have you seen the role of analytics professionals evolve from a pure web analytics focus to starting to envelope and include social media metrics?
Jim Sterne: Web analytics was the first data set we could get our hands on: Log File Analysis. As analysts became more respected, they were asked to do more things. “Oh, while you’re measuring the website, we also want to know whether email is driving traffic to the website and how well search is going. And, oh, by the way– when we run an ad in the newspaper and we put a URL in there, does that drive traffic to the website?”
So the idea of being a web analyst was like being the webmaster who did everything, and then– no, one person can’t do all that. Web analytics is simply a deep, but narrow, datastream of “where did they come from/what did they look at/how long did they stay/did they convert/did they come back?” But when email, search, banner advertising, etc., came along, web analysts were responsible for measuring all of it.
When social media showed up, everybody turned to the web analysts and said, “You are measuring this, aren’t you?” And suddenly we needed a whole bunch of new tools. It was just yet another data stream. That’s never going to stop. Now we have to measure all the social media out there: Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. Tomorrow we’re going to be measuring the Internet of Things. “How many of our 3D print designs have been downloaded and printed and in what colors?” We’re going to measure what your shoes say about your workout and whether that has an impact on whether you’re going to buy our product.
We’re the analysts and yes, go ahead, keep throwing new data at us– we can take it.
TweetReach: You recently wrote about Rod Bryan’s analogy of data mining and diamond mining, which made the point of finding the highest quality raw materials (data) and planning for the right setting (marketing/presentation/pitch). Getting this right will be a little different for each company, but do you have any recommendations on where to start looking, or what to definitely avoid?
Jim Sterne: The diamond analogy is really wonderful because it’s hard to get the diamonds and then you have to cut and polish them, and then you have to put them in a nice setting. Data just sits there by itself until you turn it into information. I’m six feet tall; that’s a data point. But in a room full of basketball players I’m short. Now it’s not just a measure; it’s a metric.
How do we make that useful? That depends on your goals. If my goal is to grow taller, and I’m still only six feet tall, then that tells me that I’m not succeeding at my goal. So that’s gone from a metric to a usable benchmark. It’s now knowledge. The real magic of doing analytics is when you evolve beyond knowledge to insight.
If everybody who comes to my website using this search term clicks all over the place and has trouble finding what they’re looking for, the insight is: maybe we should change our content on our website so we rank differently. Or maybe we should advertise to change what people are searching on. Or bid on different keywords.
That’s where the magic happens. It’s not “Hey let’s collect petabytes worth of data because we can”. It’s not “Let’s dig up this big data nugget; this giant diamond is going to make a huge ring!” That’s where the analogy falls apart. If the purpose is to find the giant, 25 carat diamond, then you’re going to dig differently and in a different place. If the goal is to find millions of diamond chips that you can then use in industrial purposes, you’re going to dig a different way in a different place.
The most important thing is not just to collect all the data in the world that you can, but to understand why you’re doing it and collect the data that is revealing.
TweetReach: You’ve also written about the power of predictive analytics. How do social media metrics play into the prediction of consumer behavior, and what might be some other insights we could glean from that data that you might not expect?
Jim Sterne: If you come to my website and all I know is that you searched for a specific keyword, well, that’s a lot more than I knew if you just typed in my URL directly. But if you stick around and then come back and sign up for my email newsletter- suddenly I have some personally identifiable information that I can connect to your Twitter feed and your Facebook timeline. I can start looking at a whole bunch of auxiliary data about you.
Now I can detect a pattern that suggests people who search on this term, who like that type of music, and enjoy bowling on the weekends typically have a higher propensity to click through on this offer than the other offer. Now this is not a 100% prediction, but the value of predictive analytics is when my guess is better than 50/50 — then I win. I can beat the odds. I’ll have made more sales. I’ll have made my customers happier. I’ll have turned more customers into advocates. Social media offers a new datastream that gives us a different type of information.
Essentially I’ve got these three different types of data that I’m looking at:
1. What do people do? What do they search for, what do they click on, how long do they stick around, how often do they come back?
2. What do they tell me, if I give them a survey? This is a customer satisfaction score. Are they happy, and what are they complaining about?
3. What do they say to each other? Which is pure branding. “I’m thinking about buying a bicycle, what do you feel about this model?” and then the community has a conversation.
That’s enormously valuable by itself as market research, but when I match it up with what you do on my website and what you tell me in the customer satisfaction survey, I’ve got these different types of data that I can use in aggregate to compare and contrast you to everybody else in my database to say, “Oh, well, you’re going to have a higher propensity to- for example – you’re more likely to click on two-for-the-price-of-one than you are for buy-one-get-one-free.” It’s the same offer, but it’s described differently and different people respond to them differently. If I can predict which type of person you are, then I have a better chance of making a sale. I do not need to try and to paint a picture of you– I really don’t want crawl into your head (it’s actually not valuable to come close to be creepy).
TweetReach: Your public speaking engagements are obviously tailored to each specific audience, but are there certain things you try to hit on when you talk? Measurement strategies that you think are important to analytics, for example?
Jim Sterne: Number one, know what you’re measuring for. If I collect all the data in the world about you and it doesn’t benefit you, I’ve wasted my time. If it benefits you by providing a service or making it easier for you to find what you want to buy, or discover that you don’t want my product– that’s a service. So have a goal in mind; that’s a critical piece.
The value is not in cranking out reports and dashboards; the value is looking at the data and saying “Hey, this is something interesting. I wonder…” And then start doing little tests: “I wonder if people who show up on my website on Tuesday respond differently than people who show up Wednesday morning. I wonder if people who came to me through this banner ad campaign are more likely to return product they purchased from me, and therefore I don’t want to advertise in that manner.”
It’s the insight, the creative part of the data that’s the most important.
Jim Sterne is an international consultant focused on measuring the value of the online marketing for creating and strengthening customer relationships since 1993. Sterne has written seven books on using the Internet for marketing, produces the eMetrics Summit and is co-founder and current Chairman of the Digital Analytics Association.
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Steve Farnsworth of Jolt Digital Marketing about the evolution of marketing and the accountability of metrics with the recent introduction of social media, and so much more!
(What follows is an edited transcript of the Google Hangout interview with Steve. To see the video recording in its entirety, visit my Union Metrics YouTube Channel.)
TweetReach: We like to start everyone out with one question, because there are so many different paths into social media: how did you get started using social media? Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Steve Farnsworth: You know, I’ve been in marketing for a a lot of years- I started off in MarComm and Lead Gen- back during the old, ugly days of direct mail, but it was really interesting to do because you could see what worked and what didn’t; you actually had real data. Marketing is still very much this kind of “We think we’re doing the right thing but we don’t really have any data to know”.
I got into communications because I loved the ability to have a conversation directly with an audience. Even when you’re working with the media- at that time, PR really was your main communications engine- it was earned media. So I love the ability to set the agenda for how your product was viewed and the space it was viewed [in], and by definition, your competitors. Intellectually, that was very challenging. With the contraction of media, a lot of the communication stuff really kind of became press releases and stuff like that.
And that wasn’t really interesting to me, I was actually really kind of bored with marketing in general, about five years ago. I’d been using social just for my personal interests because I love that social bookmarking; I love the discovery. I put out a lot of content that I realized, as a marketer, [reflected] my belief behind creating content that actually had a direct conversation with the audience. So here was a format where you’re actually communicating; when you wrote a [press] release, I always believe in writing it so human beings can understand it, as opposed to just the people who wrote them.
So I’ve seen this change and social was self-adapting [and] self-organizing communities around like-minded issues. As a marketer, I always thought we did a poor job supporting each other and being a [community], working with each other. . .that didn’t exist. Four or five years ago I’m starting to [see] a lot of the things I’d always wanted as a marketer come to fruition: accountability, organizing groups. Social is just- and for me, I saw how social played in with communications, with blogging and other kinds of communication- I was like, “This is what I’ve been wanting for so long”. And even more important things have happened in the last couple of years, as marketing automation has come down and now we can really track things.
The “ah-ha” moment was when all those things were coming together: all that communication, people were responding to it, I’m connecting with like-minded marketers, and it’s like, “Oh, wow, I can actually go back to all the things I’ve done all these years and all that stuff is applicable now and it really is integrated, and it’s exciting where it’s going”. And I got really reenergized as a marketer because of that. I think this is a golden time of marketing. We actually have data, we’re writing content that’s useful to people– nobody reads marketing-speak and people produced that for years. Now. . .if you don’t write stuff of value nobody’s going to read it. I love that because most people still don’t get that; marketers still don’t get that, or at least management. So for people like me, who are consultants, that pays my rent.
TweetReach: Exactly. If you don’t want to read it, who else is going to want to read it?
Steve Farnsworth: Absolutely. And I think that’s the thing: so many of the things we’ve created as marketers historically- and I was trained traditionally- [was] stuff that nobody would read other than the people who wrote it. Now that doesn’t fly; you can do it, but it just doesn’t get you eyeballs, doesn’t get people involved. You need to think, now, of yourself as being a producer, a managing editor. You need to think about content that’s going to be something someone wants to read on the airplane when they’re traveling. The accountability is awesome.
What I find most often when companies are “doing content” is that there’s a real misalignment of editorial focus with who their potential buyers may be. They don’t really think about the buying ecosystem; you need to think about who’s at sign-off? who’s going to do the demo? who’s going to be the influencer? who’s going to be using it every day? You need to understand that dynamic and then write content that’s usable to those people, that solves their problems from your expertise.
TweetReach: So this is related: Your blog focuses more on digital marketing strategies, yet many marketers are still treating social media as a bolt-on to their marketing mix. How can companies best integrate social media and measurement into their ongoing marketing efforts?
Steve Farnsworth: It all goes back to: social is a set of tools. So you have to [ask], what is it you’re trying to do? Any marketing goals need to dovetail into the larger business goal and on some level that’s going to be about moving product. There are different things that don’t necessarily move product directly that you want to influence, and those are relevant issues. [Overall] you think about what your goal is: you want to move that product and you want to use social. The measurement piece comes into, how does that translate into sales? You can track, “we find that when people download these digital assets, that tends to translate into x number of demos, and x number of demos translates into x number of closed sales. Now you actually have pieces that you can’t necessarily tie all together, but you can at least look at the data points and see if you’re driving traffic [where it translates into the most sales down the line].
TweetReach: Let’s dive in a little on some specific metrics and talk about the measurement of campaign reach. How do you weigh the importance of the quantity of a campaign’s reach (the overall size of the potential audience) vs. the quality of that reach? How does that play into upper-level planning and strategy?
Steve Farnsworth: I think that things like “Likes” and “shares”, fans and followers fall into. . .again, how does it track back? They can be interesting, and you should track that kind of data just to kind of see what’s happening so you can correlate it, but what you really want to do is focus specifically on metrics that have a behavior that connects to your final goal. When people share things is important, but you can get misled by things that are highly shareable but don’t translate into a behavior. So you need to find that mix and not get dedicated just to “Oh we got 250 shares on that!” Well, does that translate into a behavior that ended in a business result that you can measure?
TweetReach: That’s definitely part of the higher-level business strategy: tying everything back into business goals.
Steve Farnsworth: I think that campaigns are outdated in that sense; I know we still use that [term] in the conversations we have and the things that we do. I think the reality is that we’re beyond that. . .think agile marketing: responsive, iterative marketing that is constantly evolving, taking advantage of things. You have to have a combination of looking forward and planning, but you also have to have that responsiveness.
TweetReach: Let’s switch gears a little bit: What is something you’ve written that got the most surprising feedback?
Steve Farnsworth: What surprised me is [that] I wrote a blog post on using news releases as brand journalism. . .most companies do a news release and it goes [makes a vanishing sound]. Nobody reads it. Except customers, or their direct audience, or stakeholders or other people who are specifically interested in that company. But by and large it’s not a broadcast item.
So based on that, I said if it’s not going to get picked up or it’s not going to be a big news story, why not write it as a story? Why not write the story AP-style. Truly write an interesting story, maybe something with a narrative– write [it so people will] read it as a piece. A nice clean story [with] storytelling techniques; make it interesting, factual. It stills serves the purpose of communicating all of the relevant pieces to an audience, and a news person can still pick it up and read it. Unless it’s going to be big news, write to the people who are going to read it.
I got so much crap for that. I had even journalists who I respect. . .take me to task for that. And there’s all these old, traditional PR people going, “That is just OUTRAGEOUS!” and they were offended that I was suggesting something like that, because somehow it would break a tradition. And it’s like, so what you’re really arguing is this old, broken way of doing news releases that nobody reads, in a format that is absolutely barf-a-rific, somehow is better? And it’s not. I understand the need for certain organizations who are public and have disclosure obligations to write traditional news releases; I’m not saying you don’t do that. I’m just saying that most news can probably be done better as a story.
So that kind of stuff. . .gets a surprising level of passionate, kind of angry response. I’m all for that. I’m willing to have that discussion because I really believe what I’m suggesting is a legitimate alternative. Especially if companies really embrace Tom Foremski’s [saying] “Every company is a media company”. And I really believe that; most companies just fail to grasp that. So if they’re really media companies, why not become producers and managing editors of content that people want to really consume?
TweetReach: Okay, one last question: Any social media marketing pet peeves? What practices irritate you the most when you look at the state of the industry?
Steve Farnsworth: When people approach marketing with this “we can buy our way into it”– you can if you’ve got boatloads of cash, rock on, but no one ever does. What they do have [is] a limited budget, and they still want to try to buy their way in. You know: “Can we get this for $100?”. “No. We’re going to spend about $5k on this project and you’re going to be happy because it’s going to generate $100k for you”, or whatever the thing is.
People that think they can buy their way into social– if you’re not providing value on social, you can’t buy followers. You can buy bots. So that lack of understanding that this is a process and you have to earn people’s attention, and all of the bad decisions that blossom from that- [it's a] real fundamental misunderstanding and a lack of respect, I think, for consumers and for marketing- blows my mind. And it’s allowed to happen because unlike a product- when you show marketing- you don’t have a product that doesn’t work, you just have marketing that’s not effective.
I would love to see more people realize this is a long game; demand more from their marketing advisors. Ask about “How soon should we start it? [Let's establish] clarity on our goals: how are we going to measure those goals, what to do to achieve those goals, and how are we going to iterate, review and go to the next thing?” I would love to see that be the model. That’s not an ongoing cultural thing in most companies, unfortunately. And that makes me sad.
TweetReach: That’s a good pet peeve. That’s not just “I hate people who have a bicycle in their profile picture”. [Laughter] Well, thank you so much, again, for talking to us today! Anything else you want to add?
Steve Farnsworth is the Chief Digital Strategist at Jolt Digital Marketing where he consults mid-to-large organizations on communication strategies to create product preference and build customer communities that foster brand loyalty. With over 13 years as a senior executive, Steve writes, blogs, and speaks about how smart companies can effectively integrate social media, PR 2.0, and content marketing into their marketing mix.
As a director with the Silicon Valley Brand Forum and an adviser to other professional organizations, Steve has moderated panels, spoken at or facilitated industry events at Intel, Yahoo!, HP, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, Adobe, Electronic Arts, Hewlett-Packard, and Stanford. In 2012, he was appointed the Communications and Social Media Advisor to TEDxSanJoseCA.
Steve has been noted by Forbes magazine as one of the Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, and by the magazines as being the #1 influential PR Tweeter with the highest percentage of “Good” (actual humans) Twitter followers.
As @Steveology on Twitter, he has over 80,000 followers and has been included in The Top 35 “Connectors” on Twitter, awarded as one of The 2011 Nifty 50 Top Twitter Men, and cited as one of the most influential people online by Fast Company‘s The Influence Project.
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Chris Penn of SHIFT, an integrated communications agency with offices around the country in Boston, NYC, and San Francisco. Chris is responsible for most of the content on SHIFT’s blog and social media outlets (find them on Twitter and Facebook). We sat down to get his take on social media marketing, and he had a whole lot of great things to say on everything from the evolution of the medium to the most important thing: company culture and how it tells in your social presence.
(What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the Google Hangout interview with Chris. To see the video recording in its entirety, visit Chris’s YouTube Channel.)
TweetReach: We like to start everyone out with one question, because there are so many different paths into social media: let’s start with talking about how you got started using social. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Chris Penn: I started out with social media when I was working at a financial aid company, doing Internet marketing for them. This was back in 2004, 2005, and that’s when I started doing a podcast because we were struggling to get noticed for anything- you know, we were a small, $300k/year company in an industry dominated by companies like Sallie Mae, Nellie Mae, and Nelnet- and we used to joke that our annual revenues were like their cream cheese budget for the year for meetings. So, social media was the next logical extension of all the internet marketing stuff because we need to try pretty much anything to stay competitive.
Probably the biggest “ah-ha” moment in terms of the power of this stuff was actually in 2007. I was working a lot on MySpace at the time because it was still relevant and a friend in our local podcasting group said, “My niece has gone missing; [she] disappeared from her home in Connecticut”. And the police said, “We’re pretty sure she’s left the state with some guy she met online and there’s not a whole lot we can do. . .if she’s not back in a week she’s not coming back; she’s a statistic”. So he reached out to [us] and said, “Hey, anything you guys can think of for getting the word out. . .anything would be a great help”.
Back then there was this piece of software- MySpace Friend Adder- that would spam people on MySpace. So we spammed all of her friends on her MySpace page, saying “find this person!”. Three or four hundred messages an hour shipping out to all these people, connecting them. And [we] got a tip that she had headed down to Florida with a 38-year-old boyfriend that she met on MySpace, so [we] blanketed the region of Florida where she was [and] within 48 hours of this, we found her. Within two weeks she was back home with her family– and the anecdotal report was that the police showed up with a SWAT team and the 38-year-old boyfriend was quite surprised when the front door came crashing down with a battering ram. So that was the “ah-ha” moment where it was like, this stuff can be used for more than marketing; you can do tremendous actual good in the world with it.
TweetReach: SHIFT has been at the forefront of social media marketing and is now helping clients combine their paid, earned and owned media to best effect. How have you seen this grow and change in your time at SHIFT? How have you seen social media marketing evolve over your career?
Chris Penn: Well you know it’s funny: people have gotten the basics for the most part, there’s obviously new people joining up every day, but in the time I’ve seen in my career- I helped start a conference called PodCamp back in 2006 with a friend of mine Chris Brogan- and it was funny because back then we needed the basics, like “How does this work?” “What does this button do?” kind of thing. And for the most part we’ve evolved past that to the point that we’ve stopped doing PodCamp in the Boston area because we used to call it The Welcome Wagon to Social Media. Well, with 87% market share in the United States for Facebook, they really don’t need much explanation about why Facebook should be important to you.
So certainly that’s been the evolution of my career- we’re past the basics and now, where we are, where I am personally, and where SHIFT is as an organization- is going past the basics. You combine all of these things: you know how to use Facebook, you know how to use Instagram. What do you use it for? How do you measure it? How do you make this more powerful? How do you amplify its effects? How do you take a great Facebook post and add advertising to it? Or add owned media to it? All of these things- putting them together- so that you end up with something that is greater than the parts. That’s what’s going on right now.
The other thing we’re looking at is evolving a model from marketing- where we have this very traditional view of a funnel: step one, step two, step three, step four, step five- and it doesn’t work like that. If you think about it in your own experiences, when you go to buy a house, or a car, or whatever you don’t just go out, see something, follow a linear path, and buy it. You ask friends, you read reviews online, you think about it a whole lot, and then eventually you buy it– it’s a very non-linear path. So we’re starting to evolve our thinking around the person rather than the thing. And you see this in online marketing too, right? You have Google Adwords are sort of, version one of advertising; the “what are you searching for”. Now we’re doing social advertising where it’s about the who. Who are you trying to reach? And where are they in their career?, where are they in their business needs?, and things like that. So that’s kind of the evolution of things and where we are now.
TweetReach: Your company handles crisis communications for clients. Obviously social media is notorious for being able to “ruin” a company quickly– but how can it also help a company recover?
Chris Penn: It’s the exact same process in reverse, if you think about it. Ruining trust is easy; ruining trust you just do something stupid. Building trust is taking those things and applying them in reverse. So, there are four dynamics that you use to build trust: there’s consolidation, clustering, correlation, and conservation. This comes out of research in social actions, in 1981. And what happens is, over time- for example, consolidation- [in] a group of people, their opinions begin to coalesce. They start having this groupthink, almost. Opinions cluster: some people like cheese, and some people like chicken. Over time they move together in correlation on things that are unrelated to the group. So you get a bunch of sales folks together, and the likes of their favorite sports teams can start to merge, or the likes of certain foods can start to merge. And these factors- when you start looking at how social media operates- if you provide enough interaction with your community. . .you can use it to change opinions.
For example, let’s say you’re a fast food chain and you have an employee that does something really stupid (take your pick, there’s no shortage of examples) there’s still diversity of opinion which is conservation, the fourth principle. There’s some percentage of those people who are going to be loyalists to the brand; they could lick the tacos in front of them and they’d be like “You know, I’ll still eat here”. So you identify those pockets where you still have strong influence and you work on growing them, getting more people into those pockets and using that positive opinion- that correlation and clustering- to grow back positive sentiments. You identify the people who are still in favor of you and you work on building that group out until you’ve either recovered your opinion, if it was really damaged, or in some cases– honestly social media doesn’t make as much of an impact as we like to think it does. There are some things that are just tempests in teapots.
At the end of the day, XYZ fast food restaurant has somebody doing something horrible with their food, but you know what? When you go out on a drive and there’s a restaurant on the side of the road, you’re like, all right. It’s the cheapest option, I’ll shop here anyway.
TweetReach: Do you have any secret techniques, tools, or other Jedi strategies that you can share with our readers?
Chris Penn: They’re all under NDA! I have tons of secrets, but I can’t share any of them.
But in all seriousness, probably the biggest meta-secret there is- and it’s one of those “all right, we’ve heard this enough”- which is: get good at the basics. Get good at interacting with other human beings. Read stuff outside of social media; I’m doing a lot of reading these days in psychology and sociology, behavioral psychology, things like that. Because at the end of the day it’s you, as human being, behind the keyboard or phone or tablet or whatever, and you have not changed as an organism in 50,000 years. You still have the same primordial functions, your brain has not rewired significantly even in the last 10,000 years. So you’re still the same human being. If I understand the human being then I understand how I need to present information to you- the end point- and then all these tools and all these techniques are just modifications.
Really there’s not much difference between MySpace and Facebook in terms of functionality. There’s still a human being consuming information at the other end. Yes, there’s differences in design, yes there’s different functions available to you, but you’re still a human being. The same person you were in 2007 on MySpace, in 2013 you’re on Facebook. Who knows? In two years you’ll be on Instagram only, or you’ll be using Google Glass and having your eyeballs replaced with cameras. You’ll still functionally be mostly a human being at that point, so you get good at the basics and you practice the basics and you master the basics: it’s your game.
TweetReach: Company culture is a priority at SHIFT, which you make clear on your website. How does this translate into your social media efforts? How do you think other companies should approach this?
Chris Penn: You start with your culture. Before you even touch social media. Because if you don’t have good culture, you can’t fake it. Eventually– I mean, all you need to do is go on Glassdoor.com and listen to the number of people going “Oh my god I really hate this place!”. And your company can be like “Oh we have casual Fridays!”, but your employees hate you the other 35 hours of the week. You have to fundamentally be bought in at all levels of the organization and to whatever the culture is, and it has to be tangible stuff. One of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen was- and he tells this story publicly- our two founders said a little more than a year ago, “Look,” one of the guys is like, “My next stop is Rum Island. I want to get out of here.” They were looking at selling and they said it just didn’t feel right. And so our CEO Todd said, “Let’s come up with an alternative.”
And what they came up with was selling the company to the employees in the form of a stock ownership program. It’s different than an option program because an option program allows employees to buy out stock. An ownership program is: “Here’s the company”. That’s a multimillion dollar investment in the people. That is beyond “Hey you can wear jeans to work on Friday”. That is “We are putting our money where our mouth is”, proving that this culture actually matters. And that comes from leadership. There isn’t a motivational poster out of the HR department that’s going to do that for you. When you take that and translate it to social media, it’s really easy. If your employees actually like working at your office they will post of their own volition. Sometimes they’ll even post things that you don’t ask them to. When you let people know internally that there’s a new blog post, you don’t have to coerce them to share it. They’re happy to share it, especially if they get something out of it.
Our philosophy when it comes to creating content online is- it’s the same one I’ve operated with for years- the Three L Rule: if you don’t laugh when you’re creating content, if you don’t love it (meaning you’re talking about it to your spouse or significant other or friends outside of work when there’s no apparent gain for you), or you didn’t learn something when you were putting it together, you have bad content.
Every time I try to write something or publish something for the company- because I do a majority of the social media and content creation here on behalf of the agency- I try and teach myself something. I try and learn something; I write something that I actually care about. So when we share it with the employees, they learn something or they have a laugh or they love it and they share it with their networks. And it’s very human. It’s not a business mandating to its employees “Manufacture this piece of content and distribute it and out the door!”. And I know there’s services and things that do that, but if your content’s actually good you don’t need it as much. Still helps.
TweetReach: Thank you so much for talking to us today and for sharing your wisdom with our TakeFive series!
Christopher S. Penn has been featured as a recognized authority in many books, publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, BusinessWeek and US News & World Report, and television networks such as PBS, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, and ABC News for his leadership in new media and marketing. In 2012 and again in 2013, Forbes Magazine recognized him as one of the top 50 most influential people in social media and digital marketing.
Mr. Penn is the Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, a public relations firm, as well as co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp New Media Community Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. He is an adjunct professor of Internet marketing and the lead subject matter expert and professor of Advanced Social Media at the University of San Francisco. He’s also the author of Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer.
Learn more about him at ChristopherSPenn.com.
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Danielle Wiley of Sway. Danielle’s extensive experience working with national brands- and with creating her own blog- led her to realize the need for someone to fill the space between online publishers and brands. Thus, Sway was born. She sat down to talk with us about social media strategy, the rewards, and the surprising experiences along the way.
TweetReach: We’ve got one question we like to start everyone off with, to see all the different pathways people take into social media: How you got started with social media as a whole. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Danielle Wiley: I had been involved with interactive media since the start of my career (copywriting for websites, information architecture, etc.). In 2005, my husband convinced me to start my own blog (foodmomiac - now very sadly neglected). Creating that space and seeing the potential made me quickly realize that there was a ton of potential for my clients at work. I began educating them on “Web 2.0″ and soon transitioned almost completely from web development to social media.
TweetReach: You’re active in an industry that didn’t even exist until the last decade: connecting brands with influential bloggers. How have you seen that develop alongside social media? How do they feed into each other?
Danielle: Well– in reality it is all social media. The reason that bloggers are compelling to brands is bloggers are storytellers. That is what makes their content resonate with users. It’s only natural that this would be appealing to brands. What makes our publishers powerful is their ability to weave a brand’s story organically into their own.
TweetReach: What role does measurement play when looking at the success of your efforts? Can you give us some examples?
Danielle: Oh gosh, it’s everything. We provide reports for all of our clients, though the KPIs for each one can vary dramatically. Our PR agency clients are highly focused on message and impressions, while our eCommerce brand clients want to see a direct translation from campaign to purchase.
TweetReach: You work with a lot of influential bloggers– do you see that influence carrying over to social, or do they have to earn it again in that sphere? Have you had a case of someone less popular as a blogger who became popular in the social realm and was able to bring the success back to their blog to invigorate it?
Danielle: We see blogging as just one element of social media, not something separate. We definitely look at the full social media footprint of all of our publishers; a blog is just one piece of what each of our publishers has to offer, which is why we have moved away from calling them bloggers, quite honestly. Some of our publishers are very active on YouTube while others have a significant presence on Pinterest or on Instagram. We have even seen that these social networks have taken the place of the comments section. One of our publishers finds that folks read her blog and then pop over to Twitter to comment, as it provides a more social interaction/dialogue.
TweetReach: What’s your favorite or standout story with a client and social, either having a campaign completely surprise you, win over someone who was skeptical, or something else entirely?
Danielle: We are surprised almost every day! I think one of our best days was back in October. We were hosting influencer parties at 50 different BabiesRUs stores on behalf of our client Graco. The chatter from those parties combined with the chatter of their readership online resulted in us trending in the top five in the U.S. on Twitter for almost the entire day (and this was on a day with a lot of college football games!). We’ve since trended on Twitter multiple times, but that was our first, and will always be a great memory!
TweetReach: Thanks, Danielle!
Danielle Wiley has been successfully driving brands forward since 1995. Her intimate knowledge of social media strategy, trend watching, and influencer outreach stems from years of working with some of the nation’s top corporations and brands. Her recognition of the need for a middleman to broker the connection of brands and online publishers led to the founding of Sway Group in 2011.
Prior to forming Sway, Danielle was SVP, Director of Strategy at Edelman Digital in Chicago. There she worked on the campaigns and day-to-day social strategy of a variety of large brands. Danielle is a graduate of Vassar College and currently lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Brett Hartstein of LeadDog Marketing. Brett has been working as a member of LeadDog’s Brand Promotion department for the past five years, having previously gained experience across industries, from marketing for radio stations across the US to working as a promotions manager at the WWE. We took a look at what all of this varied experience has meant to his current approach to social media strategy, analytics and more!
TweetReach: We’ve got one question we like to start everyone off with, to see all the different pathways people take into social media: how you got started with social media as a whole. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Brett Hartstein: I got started in social media at my previous job as the promotions manager at WWE. We were doing a lot of actions on Facebook with the Superstars. It was amazing to see how quickly the fans were to adopt the new platform as a way to communicate with their favorite Superstars.
TweetReach: You’ve used our tools to track various sweepstakes and other hashtags and keywords for a variety of clients– what’s the most surprising outcome that you had (either from the results surprising you, or maybe a complete win-over of a skeptical client)?
Brett Hartstein: The biggest surprise to me using your tool is the wide demographic of users on Twitter. It is amazing to see an older demographic using this platform to enter sweepstakes or contests to win items from their favorite brands.
TweetReach: How do you work social into the rest of the strategy you plan out with your clients? Is it something that you build off of, or use to supplement other avenues?
Brett Hartstein: We use social media as a tool to spread the messaging of the promotions we run or as the platform to enter the promotion itself (e.g. tweet a photo of your favorite sneakers). The way we use it is dictated by the promotional concept.
TweetReach: How do you look at and think about the mix of different social media networks when designing your social media strategy? Are you trying different approaches with different networks? How important is measurement with each?
Brett Hartstein: The social platform that we use is determined by the nature of the promotion. Some platforms have certain limitations from a legal standpoint or a fulfillment standpoint. However, regardless of the platform we use measurement is crucial to us and our clients.
TweetReach: Let’s talk about consistency in measurement: agencies and marketers have had to use a variety of tools and metrics to analyze the performance of their social media efforts, resulting in inconsistent results. How important is the ability to measure and report on social media results in a consistent way to your agency and your clients?
Brett Hartstein: This is crucial as measurement in the social world is still relatively new, and you need to make sure that the programs you run are effective. Without a standard for measurement brands cannot accurately tell if a program was a success and if they should continue to use that particular social platform.
TweetReach: Thanks, Brett!
Brett’s 13 year career ranges from local sales/promotions at a radio station in NYC, to creating and executing various marketing plans for radio stations across the United States. He also has experience on the brand side working as the promotions manager at WWE. For the last 5 years he’s been a member of the Brand Promotions department at LeadDog Marketing Group, helping to administer promotions for various clientele. Brett has experience in everything from event planning/management experience, to marketing/promotions experience, along with traditional/digital sales/marketing experience, and sweepstakes/contest administration experience.
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Diane Lang of BlogHer. Their Social Media Manager and a self-taught social media professional, Diane brings a fantastic narrative to the use of social media for a complex and dedicated network like BlogHer.
TweetReach: Let’s begin with talking about how you got started using social media, since there are so many different paths people take to it. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Diane Lang: I began blogging in 2007, just as the medium was gaining momentum. At the time, I was looking for a creative outlet and a way to connect with other moms of special-needs children, what I didn’t realize is that those connections would lead me to a huge community of smart and interesting women. My “ah-ha” moment came when I attended BlogHer ’09 and realized that I had something to offer, beyond blogging. I saw that, collectively, we were a powerful tool for activism, marketing, and a great source of support for one another.
TweetReach: BlogHer is a community that promotes and nurtures women bloggers. How has social media helped you grow, foster, and publicize that community? What can you do with social media that you can’t with any other approach?
Diane Lang: What’s wonderful about social media is that if you need advice, support, or just to know someone is listening at any given moment, you have an entire network at your fingertips. In addition to having an editorial team who does a great job of curating, syndicating, and creating original content from among our community- and having conferences which connect us physically- we have social media at our disposal for sharing or talking about what is important to us in real-time. When bloggers were trapped in their homes during the Boston Marathon manhunt, or during natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy or the Oklahoma tornadoes, our social media channels provide a place where you know you’re being heard. I think we have grown our community through sharing information, but also, sometimes, just listening.
TweetReach: Have you looked at social media success or failure in other online communities for pointers on how to engage with your audience? Any good examples?
Diane Lang: BlogHer has developed its policies around how to engage online over years of interacting within the community from which we all come, and by sticking to certain principles that have guided us since the company was founded in 2005. Principles like “ask, don’t tell”, and “listen, before you speak.” When companies seem like they’re interrupting the conversation, not joining it, there will be ramifications. One of our co-founders explained our process in some detail after the Boston Marathon bombings, and I think it shows our principles in action. As a social media manager who is in the thick of it every day, there are a couple of practical pieces of advice I can give too: First, I think it’s important to keep your business tools separate from your personal ones. For instance, I use one platform to tweet for BlogHer and something entirely different to tweet personally, so that I don’t mix up the two. Second, keep calm and err on the side of *not* immediately responding. Understand that everyone is entitled to an opinion and that there are varying degrees of tones and levels of escalation. Ironically, though something like Twitter is as public as can be, it can feel *creepy* if a brand chimes in every single time someone mentions them. Let people have their feelings. Chime in when you can help or contribute. You don’t have to always weigh in. Social media management is just as much about what not to say (and when not to step in), as it is about what to say.
TweetReach: How do you look at and think about the mix of different social media networks when designing your social media strategy? Are you trying different approaches with different networks? How important is measurement with each?
Diane Lang: With such a large network and an abundance of unique bloggers we do use different techniques to reach our target audience. It comes down to the content being shared. If it is visually appealing, we will share a post to Pinterest and send a tweet. If it is a conversation-starter and people will need more than 140 characters to chat, we will share to Facebook. If it’s content for a younger audience, Tumblr; a professional, or career-driven post, LinkedIn. Analytics and measurement are important to everyone from the blogger who wrote a post, the speaker on a conference panel, our event sales team, digital sales, and client services. Everyone wants to know how their campaign performed. It helps us see where we need to make improvements, which influencers we should reach out to, and it shows us what we’re doing really well.
TweetReach: What has your approach been like on Twitter specifically, and how has measurement helped you to achieve your goals there?
Diane Lang: For us, in addition to sharing editorial content and using it as a tool for customer service, Twitter is also about organic conversations with our community. Communities are made of humans, so we just want to be there: sharing, listening, laughing, commiserating, congratulating. Whatever is going on in our community, we want our finger on the pulse of that. Twitter is also fantastic for connecting our attendees and sponsors before, during, and after events, so they understand who’s part of the event and what they bring to the table. Measurement lets us see which hashtags get the most engagement and how to best keep our community informed.
TweetReach: Okay we’ve got a bonus question: We know BlogHer holds conferences; does Twitter help the most during those kinds of events, or does each platform help in a different way? What insights do you get from monitoring social media around a conference, and how does your approach change before, during and after one?
Diane Lang: Twitter is definitely our go-to tool during events. We share programming, sponsor information, logistics and have our tweets feed directly into the conference app. We have even used Twitter to feed live questions to keynote speakers Katie Couric and Martha Stewart during BlogHer ‘12. We have a very socially-savvy attendee base and can make adjustments to everything we do based on what they’re tweeting, and that goes back to social media being a powerful tool and the importance of knowing what’s being said in real-time.
TweetReach: Thanks Diane!
Diane Lang is the Social Media Manager for BlogHer, the premium cross-platform media network and publisher for women. A former lunch lady, and self-taught social media professional, she is proof that you can change your life at the age of 40. Diane has been featured in Ladies Home Journal, Columbus Monthly Magazine, and Babble’s List of the Top 100 Mom Blogs in 2011 and 2012. She was a BlogHer Voices of the Year Finalist in 2010, the BlogHer Voices of the Year Niche People’s Choice Honoree in 2011, was recently named a Favorite Central Ohio Mom Blogger by the James Thurber House. BlogHer was the 2013 Winner of the Best Use of Social Media by a Publisher Award from Digiday. When she isn’t speaking, tweeting, posting to LinkedIn, or pinning for the BlogHer Community of 55 million, Diane can be found blogging at Momo Fali, where she writes about her sports-fanatic husband, teen daughter and her special-needs son.
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Richard Janes, Co-Founder and CEO of Fanology Social, a social media studio that utilizes storytelling to engage fans of celebrities and brands, such as Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell.
TweetReach: We’ve got one question we like to start everyone off with, to see all the different pathways people take into social media: How you got started with social media as a whole? Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Richard Janes: My background is in producing, directing and writing movies and TV. I had the opportunity to write for big studios such as Disney, saw my directorial debut distributed theatrically around the world and won an Emmy by the age of 25. My career was growing quickly– until the dreaded writer’s strike of 2007. Being a new kid on the block, fresh off the boat from England, my trajectory came to a quick stop.
We started holding Sunday brunches for our friends who had been laid off or directly affected by the strike. It was inevitable that our conversations would come back to the internet, the need for new distribution, power distribution amongst the “creatives” and, of course, the power of social media. My brain began to churn on the technology that was being born around us.
That year, looking to stay active, I produced a web series called Dorm Life. Initially, we exclusively distributed through Hulu. Since the show was based on a college dorm floor, it made complete sense to jump on social media. There, we had the freedom to creatively market and distribute the show. The feed and two-way conversation that developed between the show’s characters and fans was incredible– that’s when I had my “ah-ha” moment.
It become overly clear to me that social media just might be the answer to all the discussions our group of friends was having. During a backyard dinner party, Fanology Social was born. It took a few years to raise our seed money, but in 2010 we opened the doors to Fanology HQ providing social media services to celebrities and brands.
We are completely enjoying the ride: telling stories, creating conversations and engaging audiences. Our clients’ fans now total over 60 million on Facebook and 28 million on Twitter.
TweetReach: You’re active in the entertainment industry. How are others in your industry embracing social media and measurement? How is your approach different from everyone else?
Richard Janes: Our traditional entertainment industry accounts are responsible for 50% of our business, however, I would argue that all our clients are embracing the idea of being entertainment providers to communicate their message through social media. As far as the traditional entertainment industry goes we are still at an embryonic stage of social media use. There appear to be three main buckets that our competitors fall into:
1. The agency that is focused on looking after celebrities and either driving all their social media traffic to a celebrities website where they monazite via low CPM adverts, or
2. The social media factory with hundreds of celebrity clients where they have a set formula that doesn’t deviate with each client, but at least it gets the celebrity building their audience.
3. Traditional ad agencies that approach social media as they do traditional advertising with the focus on the sell rather than the building of meaningful relationships.
What makes us different is that we are 100% focused on social media; we develop client-specific strategy and content (copy, graphics, videos and experiences) for each platform. First and foremost we are entertainment providers who have spent decades building content that evokes an emotional response providing continual value to the end user.
TweetReach: You engage clients like Shay Mitchell from Pretty Little Liars—both she and her show have a huge fan base that’s active on Twitter. How do you measure fan engagement around her and her character? What measurement benchmarks are important to you, and how do you use TweetReach to get them?
Richard Janes: Shay Mitchell is a great example of an actress who really ‘gets’ social media. She understands that she is where she is- and will achieve her lofty goals- ONLY as a result of her fans continued support.
Shay is really a dream client for us.
As part of our strategy, we support her in weekly Twitter parties around the show, which drives huge interaction from her fan base. For the season finale, our hashtag #PLLayWithShay received over 96,000 tweets, 177,000,000 impressions and trended worldwide for nearly two hours.
The average Twitter party runs an hour and after we are able to track the success through TweetReach Analytics. We love the immediacy of TweetReach!
As far as the benchmarks we use to measure success, it really varies from client to client and partner to partner. With our celebrity clients they have so many brand partners (from the TV shows and studios through to magazines, talk shows, and product lines they endorse) we have to have access to a wide variety of trustworthy data so that we can meet any of their insight requests at a give time.
From a brand perspective like Live Nation, it’s all about the click through to buy tickets. But with Toyota, there isn’t the expectation that a click on a link is going to directly result in the purchase of a new Pruis C. Not yet anyway!
TweetReach: How do you look at and think about the mix of different social media networks when designing your social strategy—are you looking at incorporating more than just Twitter? What kind of different approaches might you take with different platforms, and what lessons do you think you can take with you from Twitter?
Richard Janes: We work across social media from Google+ Hangout’s with Jillian Michaels and Ashley Tisdale to Twitter parties with Shay Mitchell and Jesse McCartney, all the way through to a Redit AMA with Morgan Spurlock.
The key for us is developing a strong narrative on each platform that caters to each platform’s strengths and takes the fan on a journey, rather than through random updates where social media fatigue can set it. As far as immediate interaction, Twitter is the king and multiple updates work great in creating a two-way conversation, be it with a celebrity’s Twitter party, or working as a customer service tool for some of the IOS gaming companies we work with. When it comes to Facebook we have to be a lot more focused on our client’s updates; with Google+ SEO is making a big difference.
TweetReach: Have you looked at social media success or failure in other industries for pointers on how to apply best practices in your work? Any good examples?
Richard Janes: 100%, we are all pioneers and there is no point in having tunnel vision with the way we do business. We are constantly on the lookout for innovative work and you never know where that may come from: a massive agency with a huge budget, or a local musician who has come up with a great way to get all his friends turning up to a gig.
TweetReach: Good examples of social media work?
Richard Janes: Hummm …a good place to start is our website ;-)
TweetReach: Haha fantastic, Richard! Thanks for talking to us. And we’ll keep watching to see where Fanology Social takes its clients next!
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Brian Conway, Account Supervisor for Weber Shandwick, about his experiences with social media and how his initial personal use of the medium lead to a deeper understanding for the impact and potential use it had for brands. He takes this insight with him into projects with current clients, such as American Airlines.
TweetReach: Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Brian Conway: My initial experience with social media was in the mid-2000s for personal use when platforms like Facebook and Twitter had really only made a name for themselves as being unique to the individual experience. It wasn’t until 2008 or 2009 that I started paying much closer attention to how those same individual messages aggregate over time to form a larger brand picture that can be pretty — or pretty ugly. The fact that individuals suddenly had so much influence over a company’s brand reputation and strategic direction was a huge eye-opener for me— that was my “ah-ha” moment. This understanding has since influenced how I’ve approached some of the community management and crisis roles I’ve held for a variety of clients.
TweetReach:How have you seen your clients approach Twitter as part of their digital strategy?
Brain Conway: Broadly speaking about Weber Shandwick, the number of clientele using Twitter and other social media platforms has exploded tremendously in the last three or four years. Nearly all use Twitter for some kind of public engagement, and that ranges from corporate news to marketing announcements to social customer service. Others still use it for listening only. Message reach and response is always important, but what we encourage companies to look for are individual conversations, sentiment, and reach of positive messages. Brand-building or brand regress happens over time, so any corporate Twitter strategy needs to take ongoing listening into big consideration. From my personal experience, I’ve been very closely tied to American Airlines’ social media program since 2009, and Twitter has become a hugely invaluable engagement resource, as well as a strong component of its award-winning social customer service program.
TweetReach: How important is measurement of engagement on Twitter to your strategy with clients? Do you have specific goals and campaign metrics that you use to measure performance and success?
Brian Conway: Measurement of social engagement, be it Twitter or any other platform, is as crucial as your digital strategy. After all, a company doesn’t devote budget and time to a platform simply for the sake of grins, right? I often advocate for a well-balanced approach to quantitative and qualitative measurement for clients, and it all starts with goals. If your campaign goals focus squarely on follower growth or message reach as a measure of success, it’s very easy to track those KPIs quantitatively. But, we believe our clients need to know not just how many conversations there were, but what was actually said and what it means for the company’s business objectives.
TweetReach: Along those lines, let’s talk about the measurement of reach. How do you weigh the importance of the quantity of a campaign’s reach (the overall size of the potential audience) vs. the quality of that reach?
Brian Conway: As I mentioned, it’s very important to have a well-balanced mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis for any social media campaign, proactive or reactive. Again, it all comes back to goals and what kind of success you want to achieve for your organization. Some social campaigns may lend themselves more toward KPIs like audience reach, impressions, sales growth, volume of submissions, awareness-generation, volume of tweets using your hashtag, and the like. Other campaigns may focus more on engagement. Some important qualitative questions to ask: What message points resonated best with our followers? Did our posts trigger any unexpected conversations? How does this Twitter campaign help us prepare for the next one?
TweetReach: Do you have any examples of how analytics have helped you adjust or improve your social media activities? Has this ever happened in the middle of a campaign?
Brian Conway: In one instance for a former client, we had pre-determined the entire course of proactive messaging for the client’s social media campaign. Almost halfway into the campaign, our tracking and reporting revealed significant conversations around a storyline we hadn’t even considered, and it gave us cause to revise our messaging strategy to make sure we spoke more about this other storyline people obviously wanted to discuss. When we reported our findings to the client, we were met with some understandable skepticism about changing our strategy, but in the end, we showed that adaptability and commitment to listening can contribute to campaign success— which is exactly what we saw.
Brian assists with the coordination and management of digital/social media programs at varying levels of strategic corporate engagement, including brand reputation management, outreach strategy, new business development, and crisis monitoring and program implementation. Currently, Brian supports a number of Weber Shandwick clients’ social media programs, including American Airlines and Essilor of America. Among Brian’s primary expertise are community management and message engagement, proactive social campaign strategy, social media crisis comnunications, and blogger relations strategy.
Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Beverly Robertson, National Director of the Pregnancy & Newborn Health Education Center at the March of Dimes (find them on Twitter here). We spoke with her about the incredible opportunity social media presents to disseminate health information, particularly as it pertains to the March of Dimes mission: healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Beverly hosts a Twitter chat with the hashtag #pregnancychat once a month, featuring revolving topics around health, pregnancy and babies. She also hosts ad hoc chats with the hashtag #preemiechats. More recently, The March of Dimes participated in a joint Twitter chat with the Center for Disease Control for Birth Defect Prevention Month (January) with the hashtag #1in33chat.
TweetReach: Welcome, Beverly! Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Beverly Robertson: Actually, I was in India back in ’07 and saw so many young women texting. Watching them, it struck me: what a tremendous opportunity for delivering health information. When I came back, I looked into creating a texting program for the March of Dimes and it was prohibitively expensive. BUT Twitter was free, and women could access it through their phones if they wanted to. March of Dimes joined Twitter in August of 2007. My vision back then was to offer a pregnancy tip of the day. Everything has changed since then.
TweetReach: When did you start doing the Twitter Chats with March of Dimes? How important was measurement when you started them, and how has that evolved?
Beverly Robertson: We started doing chats on Twitter in April of 2010. In the beginning, I tracked stats as a matter of course– but we now rely on TweetReach to not only see our reach, but understand which topics resonate with our followers and what times of day are best to chat, as well as the importance of having guests.
TweetReach: What has surprised you the most about the chats? What about the data you get from measuring them?
Beverly Robertson: The most surprising thing is the interactivity- no, not even that- it’s the openness with which our followers not only share their personal triumphs and trials, but their gratitude to us as an organization. Also, don’t host a chat at 3pm ET; people are at the bus stop picking up their kids! Simple really, but it was not on my radar. The most interesting thing (not really surprising) about the data is it how far a simple retweet will go with the right people with a large following. On a side note, beyond the chat reports, I love reading the Tracker reports. It is sometimes surprising to see who is talking about the Foundation and the reach the conversation has.
TweetReach: There are many different ways to measure activity, but how does March of Dimes gauge your success?
Beverly Robertson: We look at reach numbers, of course, but also the number of contributors and growth year over year. I absolutely go back to compare the numbers over time and analyze the strengths, weaknesses, and growth opportunities of the chats– and make changes based on them.
TweetReach: Do you feel the approach or reliance on social platforms is different for a nonprofit organization? What would you recommend to one that is just starting on their social strategy, or is uncertain of how to even begin?
Beverly Robertson: Social Media is critical not only for delivering mission messaging, but in introducing the organization to a new audience, as well as keeping track of what people are saying about you and your mission. It also is critical to take the opportunity to thank your donors and volunteers publicly for all of their hard work and support. I cannot tell you what a tremendous response we get for doing that. My recommendation is jump in, but listen before you speak.
TweetReach: The last chat you held in December was on hyperemesis gravidarum, which the Duchess of Cambridge was recently diagnosed with. How do you typically choose chat topics? Did you find more engagement with this one since it related to a recent news event involving a well-known figure?
Beverly Robertson: Some of our chat topics are planned in advance based on a specific monthly activity (November is Prematurity Awareness Month, for example) while other are more spontaneous, like the hyperemesis one (Editor’s note: The March of Dimes held a Twitter chat on December 5, 2012, on the topic of hypermesis gravidarum, or severe, chronic and debilitating morning sickness). With the flu being so bad this year, we are planning a chat on Flu During Pregnancy on Feb 1st. I also see what people are talking about in my streams, or ask outright what topics our followers would like to have covered. I did not find that the hyperemesis chat was better because it was in the news. I think a better lead time and more promotional opportunity is more critical to success than celebrity hype.
TweetReach: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us and share your thoughts and findings, Beverly!
Beverly Robertson is the National Director of the Pregnancy & Newborn Health Education Center at the March of Dimes. Under her leadership, The Center provides information in both English and Spanish via traditional, written and online inquiries as well as through social networking.
She is heavily vested in new media, leading the social media mission messaging team: tweeting on @marchofdimes, and @babytips as well as managing the blogging team for News Moms Need and Nacersano blog. She holds webinars, workshops and speaks at many conferences on the benefits of social media and the need to engage the public, as well as the importance of Hispanic Outreach. She keeps a watchful eye on non-profit uses for new technology.
Beverly has a MLS degree from Rutgers University, an MA in history, and an archival certificate from New York University. She has a BA in Spanish from Ohio State University.