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TakeFive with TweetReach – Sarah Reynolds

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Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing series where we discuss social media analytics and measurement with notable members of the community, pulling together insight and commentary on all things measurement. As always, we welcome your suggestions for interviewees and questions.

This week, we’re excited to talk with Sarah Reynolds, Senior Social Media Manager at ICED Media, an online strategy and marketing company in New York City. She’s also the voice behind @KmartFashion.

TweetReach: Welcome Sarah! Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe you first “ah-ha” moment?

Sarah Reynolds: My first work experience in social media was very brand heavy with limited off topic conversation. My current position at ICED Media was my first foray in representing large, established brands. Now that I am part of an organization that has led non-traditional advertising for over ten years, I’ve learned how to apply my traditional background with my company’s expertise to establish a strong voice for a national brand that is both conversational and informative.

My first “ah ha” moment was when I realized I had humanized a brand. I had broken down the barrier between advertising and the consumer by infusing my content with my honest personality. Despite the size and reputation of the client I work with, I’ve made their online presence very personal and accessible. I’ve even been invited to meet some of my fans and followers in person! Social media often gets a doomsday type stigma — something along the lines of people will stop actually interacting in person, and instead, will only relay on handles, profiles, texting and chat boxes to keep in touch. I think my experience is a small example of the power of social media on human interaction and how it actually brings us closer. Since when did people want to become friends with a brand, or sit down and have coffee with a brand, or be interested in how they are feeling or what they are wearing? Social media can accomplish that if you insert some human touch and genuine traits that others can feel comfortable relating to.

TweetReach: Is ROI for Twitter campaigns achievable? There are many different ways to measure activity, but how do you gauge your success, or help your clients do the same? What’s missing from the equation?

Sarah Reynolds: Although ROI is possible via Twitter campaigns, all brands should be familiar with the quantitative and qualitative aspects of social media. Tracking a campaign’s reach and ROI are just as important as building a loyal follower base and engaging in impactful conversations. The job of an agency like ICED Media is to combine best in class tools and technologies with our ultimate objective of delivering the best results for our clients. Whether driving revenue is your ultimate goal, you should be always be monitoring reach and ROI. These measures are good proxies for determining the efficacy of your messages and how they relate to the number of responses, overall traffic, and conversions/sales. It’s important to keep an eye on all these moving parts to help analyze how your tweets are performing against certain metrics. I find that the timing, content and specificity of my tweets have a direct correlation to certain reach/ROI related metrics.

TweetReach: What’s your favorite example of a successful social media campaign? How important was measurement of the metrics around the campaign to its success?

Sarah Reynolds: We recently transformed one of our client’s Twitter handles into a personal concierge service during a heavily attended two week-long event in NYC. We provided a free delivery service for a select group of social media influencers in the fashion industry. When these users reached out to our client’s Twitter profile to request a delivery, our profile was exposed to all of their followers, reaching our targeted demographic. We tracked the reach and impressions based on our interactions with our concierge users, plus any organic requests that we received based on our initial engagement. This was a successful campaign because it provided a group of valuable influencers with a free service, leading to positive sentiments toward our client, and it reached a large group of qualified followers.

TweetReach: Where do you go for measurement and analytics-related news and insight — any particular website, blogs, forums, etc. that are of particular value?

Sarah Reynolds: Due to the flux of social media, it is important to stay up to date with as many blogs as possible, but personally I like to read www.adage.com for a general overview of advertising news and www.mashable.com for social media tools and best practices. The Twitter timeline has also become an excellent source for real-time information.

TweetReach: Do you have any secret techniques, tools, or other Jedi strategies that you can share with our readers? Any best practices for getting greater reach for your content?

Sarah Reynolds: The industry is too new for Jedi strategies — Yoda does not exist in the space yet; social media is the Wild West right now. So no Jedi tricks per se, but certainly some suggestions of things I’ve discovered. First, start by exploring your direct competitors’ profiles to gain insight on what type of content works vs. content that seems forced/too branded. Then, outline your goals for each platform, regardless of whether you aim to drive ROI, create a brand personality, or to simply provide customer service. Once you have an idea of what works for your target audience and you have your goals outlined, experiment with a mix of unbranded and branded messaging, this will help you understand what type of content your audience is more receptive to engaging with.

TweetReach: Thanks so much for your time and insight, Sarah!

Sarah Reynolds is the Senior Social Media Manager at ICED Media, an online strategy and marketing company in New York City. She oversees the overall online strategy for two Kmart apparel platforms, Kmart Fashion and Stylesip. This includes copy editing, customer service, creative design, and paid media campaigns. She’s also the voice behind @KmartFashion. She graduated from NYU in three years with a degree from Gallatin School of Individualized Study where she focused on the current and historical effects of advertising, marketing, and art on society. She enjoys being tweeted.

Written by Dean Cruse

July 13th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

TakeFive with TweetReach – Erin Boudreau

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Welcome to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series where we chat with notable members of the social media analytics and measurement community, pulling together insight and commentary on all things measurement. As always, we welcome your suggestions for interviewees and questions.

This week, we’re excited to talk with Erin Boudreau, the founder of TweeParties, Inc., a social media marketing company aimed at helping businesses plan, promote, host and analyze Twitter parties and chats.

TweetReach: Welcome Erin! Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe you first “ah-ha” moment?

Erin Boudreau: I had been using social media for both personal use and at another job. I was logged on at the end of the day, and I saw a tweet fly by announcing a Twitter party. I wanted to learn more about such events, but found that there wasn’t really one source to go to for up-to-date information. I realized that having live events on both Twitter and Facebook could be really useful for a business, and if more businesses knew about them, they might catch on better. My ‘ah-ha’ moment came when I realized there was no one out there trying to be that Twitter party source.

TweetReach: How important was measurement in your initial strategy and how has that evolved?

Erin Boudreau: I thought it would be important to offer measurement to our clients, but I quickly realized that providing this information was not only vital to analyzing a campaign, but also important in securing future work. If I am approached by a firm I’ve never worked for before, one of the first things they want to know is our past performance. All of them have an idea about the numbers they are trying to reach, and if I can show them what we have done for others in the form of detailed reports and charts, they realize that we do have what it takes to help run a successful event.

TweetReach: So, with TweeParties, you have built a unique way to use Twitter to pull together people around an event, or even to help promote a brand. How have you seen your approach engage users around a particular topic? And, how important is measurement of the results important to your customers’ success with their Twitter parties and chats?

Erin Boudreau: People use social media to learn more about topics, people, and organizations that are of interest to them and that can influence their lives positively in some way. If we organize an event that is not only free to attend, but that also includes an interesting or informative topic, guest experts to answer questions, and special offers and even giveaways — we usually get a positive response from those who felt the time spent taking part in such an event was time very well spent. To be able to measure the performance of a hashtag during such an event not only gives our clients an indication about how successful the event was, it also gives us a starting point and allows us to see how any future changes impact subsequent events. If we change the format next time — add more prizes, make it an open forum, include an expert — and the numbers are much greater than the first time around, then we know we’re on to something. Measuring hashtag performance helps us get closer to giving people the types of events they are eager and excited to attend, and in return, helps build more buzz for a brand.

TweetReach: Olivier Blanchard has written about the need to look at social media measurement in the context of a broader business measurement strategy. What do you think? Is measuring social media success useful by itself?

Erin Boudreau: I think it’s a good start. We not only track the number of impressions, reach and frequency of a hashtag, we also take a look at how our users responded to our calls to action: how many new followers or ‘likes’ a client receives; how many participants signed up for a newsletter or took part in a special offer (such as free shipping or a coupon/discount). We also look at web site traffic to judge how many people followed a link that was tweeted during an event. So there are many pieces to the puzzle, and analytics is an important, vital piece.

TweetReach: Do you have any secret techniques, tools, or other Jedi strategies that you can share with our readers? Any best practices for getting greater reach for your content?

Erin Boudreau: Make sure your content is well-written, useful for your target audience, entertaining and interesting. Also, special offers (coupons, discounts, freebies, etc.) really do seem to go a long way.

TweetReach: Does size matter? David Armano has written about the importance of topical influence. What do you think?

Erin Boudreau: I think that it’s more important to find your niche. If we throw a Twitter party for a new company that sells products for pets, it’s better to have 100 pet owners/bloggers/enthusiasts attend than 500 people who might attend just to win a gift card but who don’t have a pet and aren’t really interested in the company’s products or the topic at hand. I would rather have a small group of followers who are really enthused about our content than a million who follow with the hope that we’ll follow back and who aren’t really interested in hearing our message or exchanging ideas and building a relationship.

TweetReach: Any examples of how analytics have helped you tweak a campaign or program for the better?

Erin Boudreau: I think most importantly, we can see exactly who is tweeting or retweeting our links — what social circles they’re circulating in — and to reach out to other influencers who might not be aware of our events, if needed. For example, if a tweet is being sent frequently we might be glad to see a large number of impressions, but if only a couple different users are the ones doing the tweeting, we might need to modify the campaign and seek the involvement of other users to broaden our reach.

TweetReach: Thanks for your time, Erin!

Erin Boudreau is the founder of TweeParties, Inc., a social media marketing company aimed at helping businesses plan, promote, host and analyze Twitter parties and chats. She has more than 10 years of experience in marketing, print and web design. Erin lives and works in the Chicago suburbs.

Written by Dean Cruse

June 29th, 2011 at 11:24 am

TakeFive with TweetReach – Lauren Breuning

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Welcome to Round 2 of TakeFive with TweetReach, our new series where we talk with notable members of the social media analytics and measurement community, pulling together insight, commentary and conversation around all things measurement. Let us know what you think!

This week, we’re excited to chat with Lauren Breuning, the first Social Media employee for Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts where she tweets almost 24/7 for the fabulous Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, at @BeverlyWilshire. Welcome Lauren!

TweetReach: Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?

Lauren Breuning: Before getting into social media PR, I was a concierge for 5 years having non-stop face-to-face guest interaction. What really got me hooked in social media was getting this same kind of experience, in the place I had least expected it to. I was a skeptic of Twitter. But seeing inquiries, praise and fans actually interacting with us at the hotel in social media, seeing it work, made be a never turning back believer.

TweetReach: How important was measurement in your initial strategy and how has that evolved?

Lauren Breuning: Everything I do in social media I create from scratch. For the most part there are no assignments, check lists, tasks to be completed; I’m making it up as I go. So it was incredibly necessary to see exactly what I was doing so I can edit my strategy as I go. What I didn’t realize would happen is the incredible boost of confidence I got from our reach! There is so much more going on than just your followers and you need to capture that power.

TweetReach: You’re active in the hotel, travel and hospitality industry. Are others in your industry embracing social media and measurement? What about consumers – how are they interacting with you?

Lauren Breuning: Not much has changed in the hotel industry in 200 years. It’s a pretty tried and true industry. Guests check in, guests check out. Adding a new platform is not easy and there is a lot of resistance and skepticism. Four Seasons has done a great job of embracing social media both on the outward guest connection and inward value and measurement. Social Media is a now or never kind of game that we acknowledge and treat with earnest passion. Other hotels are in the game, but I see them using it as an after thought instead of fore thought; not completely dedicated.

TweetReach: Do you have any secret techniques, tools, or other Jedi strategies that you can share with our readers? Any best practices for getting greater reach for your content?

Lauren Breuning: Get a TweetReach Tracker, look at it every single day and measure what corresponding tweets have the greatest response. Study the trend and learn what time of day and what voice gets the best response. For me, a consistent, fun voice is everything.

TweetReach: Is ROI for Twitter campaigns really achievable? There are many different ways to measure activity, but how do your gauge your success? Anything missing from the equation?

Lauren Breuning: I have had a lot of ROI success stories….people who tweet ‘where should I stay in LA’ and I respond suggesting us and it actually turns into a hotel reservation. But I think ROI for social media in general should be attributed to brand strengthening. It’s slowly building a relationship that will most likely be forever. Knowing your reach, as opposed to followers, really shows you the expansive numbers of people seeing your brand’s name. Coupled with the right voice and good communication practices, these followers will be like your childhood friends – you don’t always see each other, but you know they are there when you need them.

TweetReach: Do you have any social media pet peeves? What practices irritate you the most when you look at the state of the industry?

Lauren Breuning: When people don’t take the time to use our handle right!

TweetReach: Thanks for your time and thoughts, Lauren!

By pure accident, social media found Lauren Breuning a year ago in what has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Marrying her natural networking and guest interaction with love of the hotel industry it has morphed into a full time passion. Lauren will forever chat, tweet, Facebook or join any social media opportunity to talk more about her primary hobbies of traveling and all things related to food.

In 2005, just weeks after graduating college, Lauren began her career in hospitality at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. The iconic hotel gave Lauren opportunities to work in a multitude of front of the line positions including Front Desk, Guest Relations and Concierge. Interested in strengthening her hospitality experience, Lauren joined the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco in 2006 in the Guest Relations department. Her love for helping guests and talking about the cities best restaurants made her a natural for the Concierge Desk where she spent most of her time. In 2008, she had an amazing opportunity to join the legendary Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel. Lauren moved to the sunnier side of California to be a part of the 13-person Concierge team. In 2010 in the wake of the economic change, Lauren evolved into the Sales and Marketing Department and quickly found her legs in Social Media. Just six months after the move, a title change made it official and she became the first designated Social Media employee in all of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts where she remains now tweeting almost 24/7 for @BeverlyWilshire.

Written by Dean Cruse

June 22nd, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Posted in TakeFive

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TakeFive with TweetReach – Tim Wilson

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We’re excited to launch a new interview series on the TweetReach blog – “TakeFive” – to provide insight and commentary from notable members of the social media analytics and measurement community, with the goal of facilitating an ongoing conversation around all things measurement. We welcome your suggestions for interviewees and questions. Look for a new post every Wednesday!

We’re proud to have Tim Wilson, a veteran measurement and analytics practitioner and blogger at gilliganondata.com, kick off the new series.

TweetReach: Welcome Tim and thanks for kicking off our new series! Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe you first “ah-ha” moment?

Tim Wilson: Me, personally? I was on LinkedIn pretty early on, and I started a personal/family blog in early 2006 (to replace a static web site started in 1999), but I really started to get into social media in 2007. I was working at a small B2B marketing agency, and my boss, the CMO, pretty much decreed that everyone needed to get on Twitter and start fiddling around. His rationale was that he didn’t know exactly how marketers would wind up using it, but he was sure that, without joining and playing with it, we wouldn’t have a chance of figuring that out. Of course, I didn’t just join Twitter. I also joined Facebook…and Second Life and MySpace and Plurk and del.icio.us and Ning and Digg and Reddit and StumbleUpon and Friendster and Friendfeed and…(you get the idea). On a whim, I also created a professional blog. It was overwhelming, but it was also intriguing. Our HR Manager actually drove the “ah-ha” for me, as she was a natural when it came to integrating social media into her daily activity, and I watched her rapidly grow a meaningful network of contacts to whom she could reach out for content, references, or support. It was pretty obvious that the ability to rapidly make and maintain personal connections was going to shake up the way people behaved, and it was a no-brainer that this, in turn, was going to impact how marketers needed to work.

TweetReach: How do you think about the mix of different social media networks when designing your campaigns? Are you trying different approaches with the different networks? How important is measurement with each?

Tim Wilson: The mix is important, and it’s totally driven by three things: 1) where the consumers the campaign is intended to engage are, 2) what the campaign is intended to do, and 3) where the consumers the campaign is intended to engage are. Hmmm. Do two of these seem awfully similar? We do a lot of research when developing a social media strategy, including looking at where the relevant conversations are already happening, where the target consumers already are (and what they’re doing there), and what channel(s) support the type of message and interactions that the campaign is driving.

As for measurement, it’s critical regardless of the channel. We use our measurement planning process to ensure we have alignment across the stakeholders involved in the campaign. For each tactic or channel, we try to make sure we’re all in agreement on the answers to two questions (we actually call these “the two magic questions”): 1) what is the tactic supposed to do? (these are the objectives for the tactic) and 2) how will we know if it did that? (these are the key performance indicators). Obviously, we’re constrained by the physics of the channel, but making sure everyone is aligned on the logical framework that is driving the campaign is critical, even if the measures wind up being rough proxies. What we don’t want to have happen is roll out a campaign on Twitter designed to engage brand advocates…and then, after the fact, have its performance measured based on directly trackable revenue from the channel.

TweetReach: Olivier Blanchard has written about the need to look at social media measurement in the context of a broader business measurement strategy. What do you think? Is measuring social media success useful by itself?

Tim Wilson: Olivier’s on the right track (and, if you listen to podcasts, you can get a good dose of his perspective on the measuremob.com podcast). Marketers tend to operate with a hefty level of cognitive dissonance: on the one hand, touting the importance of multi-channel marketing that has congruent and complementary messaging…and then asking, “What’s the value of a fan of my Facebook page?” With the growth of digital and social media, the consumer’s experience has become increasingly fragmented. 50 years ago, consumers were exposed to TV, radio, and print advertising. They couldn’t time-shift their TV, and they couldn’t just punch a button to easily hop over to another radio station in order to “skip” radio commercials. They were a fairly captive audience for advertising. Today, the impact of traditional mass media is diminishing (but it still has a significant impact), but a consumer’s perception of a brand is the culmination of their own direct interactions with the brand, combined with a thousand micro-touches, some of which were “controlled” by the brand, and many more that were not (brand or competitor references made by members of their extended social graph).

All that is to say that companies absolutely need to think through where social media fits in their overall business strategy and, in turn, their business measurement strategy. This is more “art” than “science” though (attribution modeling champions notwithstanding), and will continue to be in the near term. Companies should think through to what extent social media will amplify, supplement, or support their other channels (and vice versa), and measure (as best they can) the extent to which it does that.

TweetReach: Is ROI for Twitter campaigns really achievable? There are many different ways to measure activity, but how do your gauge your success, or help your clients do the same? Anything missing from the equation?

Tim Wilson: “ROI” is a wildly overused term…and yet there are some really smart analysts who put it at the forefront of their approach to social media measurement. I’m not such an analyst. For one thing, most marketers who use the term do not really understand the true finance-based definition of ROI. One analyst I know points out that marketers very seldom actually have a grip on the “I” – the true costs, including human resource investment, that went into a campaign. And, the fact that social media investment has a cumulative effect with a component of the return being longer term than “one week after the campaign ended” is pretty key.

When I’m presented with a, “You must prove the ROI of our social media investment!” decree, I tend to redirect slightly and ask the requestor if what they really want to know is, “Did I efficiently and effectively invest in this effort and garner meaningful, quantifiable results from that investment?” If I can get agreement on that, then we’re ready to tackle the two magic questions I referenced earlier. In my experience, “ROI” gets used as shorthand for “measurable results.”

It’s easy to criticize “number of followers” and “number of replies/retweets” as measures of Twitter performance. But…I like to use both in many cases (although I usually look at the number of replies/retweets per thousand followers to normalize that metric). My case for that is that, while I can’t guarantee that there is a meaningful business impact of having 10,000 followers on Twitter, I can guarantee that the financial impact is near zero if you have no followers! Twitter, in particular, is an interesting platform for expanding a brand’s reach to a new audience (through the social graph of the brand’s existing audience) and for having meaningful engagements with current and potential customers. Measuring followers and retweets/replies are a couple of reasonable proxies for that. There are lots of different, viable metrics for measuring Twitter…but I think I’ve already over-answered this question!

TweetReach: What’s your favorite example of a successful social media campaign? How important was measurement of the metrics around the campaign to its success?

Tim WIlson: I’m going to pick two. To me, Old Spice’s Isaiah Mustafa campaign was a clear winner. And, I say it’s a clear winner knowing that it is perhaps the most debated campaign when it comes to social media measurement. It was successful, in my mind, because it planted a positive and whimsical perception of a fairly boring product in the minds of millions of people. Did it drive a near-term increase in sales? It seems like the data showed that it did, if not a massive step function. Did it buy 2-3 years of association of “playful and funny” in the minds of millions of potential customers? Logic alone (combined with the raw measures of video views and tweets) says that it did. Old Spice will continue to reap the benefits of the campaign for several years to come – it may not have the legs of the “Give the world a Coke” song, but it was impactful. And the incremental cost of extending the TV ads to a very successful social media experience, one would think, were miniscule.

The second one I would pick is not so much a campaign as a strategy (which is actually another key point – social media is forcing marketers to operate with more of an “always on” mentality than a “discrete campaign” mentality), and that’s Best Buy. Specifically their creation of @bestbuy and @twelpforce as two clear and separate Twitter presences. With @twelpforce, they provided a direct link from a large portion of their workforce directly to consumers. They gave up some control of their messaging to do that, but it was a signal to consumers of the openness and transparency of their brand.

In neither of these cases can I point to specific, hard, published measures. But, I count these initiatives as being successful. That’s a conundrum!

I was at a conference early last year when Andrew Keller of Crispin Porter (before he was named CEO) described a number of their more notable social media campaigns. When asked about measurement, he looked a bit sheepish and then said (I’m paraphrasing), “We were clear on what we were trying to do with these campaigns, but we didn’t really set hard metrics for success. Look, compared to what these brands are spending on TV and print, these campaigns were a drop in the bucket.”

TweetReach: Where do you go for measurement and analytics-related news and insight – any particular website, blogs, forums, etc. that are of particular value?

Tim WIlson: Why, to Twitter, of course! The #measure hashtag, by definition, has a bevy of analysts who are trying to figure out social media measurement. There are ~40 blogs that I try to stay on top of – combined into a single Google Reader feed. Jim Sterne’s Social Media Metrics book had some good high-level thoughts, but the book I’m most eagerly anticipating this summer is John Lovett’s Social Media Metrics Secrets followed by Marshall Sponder’s Social Media Analytics.

TweetReach: Thanks for your insight, Tim!

Tim Wilson is a Director of Measurement and Analytics at Resource Interactive. He has been working with myriad dimensions of marketing and customer data for over a decade, ranging from business intelligence, data warehousing, and customer data management to digital and social measurement and analytics. From running the BI department for a $500 million high tech B2B company to driving initiatives to clean up customer data at a major insurance and financial services company, to his current position with Resource Interactive, where he helps consumer brands ranging from Hewlett-Packard to Purina to Victoria’s Secret effectively decipher and act on their digital and social data, Tim is a marketer-friendly data geek. While his heart remains in Austin, Tim has been based in Columbus, Ohio, for the past five years, where he started and continues to run monthly Web Analytics Wednesday and where he blogs about measurement and analytics at gilliganondata.com.

Written by Dean Cruse

June 15th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Posted in TakeFive

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