Archive for the ‘social media marketing’ tag
It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for This Week in Social Analytics and our favorite posts of the past week in the world of measurement, analytics, and social media. See a great piece we missed? Link to it in the comments, or tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook.
Looking to go in a new direction with your next campaign? Use these examples to inspire.
The Highest Converting Images to Use on Social Media Networks [from Social Media Today; written by Jesse Aaron]
The right image can make all the difference in catching your audience’s attention.
Why It Might Be Time to Completely Change Your Social Media Strategy [from Convince & Convert; written by Jay Baer]
“In the shotgun approach, you don’t worry as much about building a big audience in any particular network, but instead building a touchpoint corral around each of your customers and fans. The holy grail isn’t one million Facebook fans, but being connected to each of your fans in as many places as possible. The more places you are connected to your customers and fans, the more places you have permission to contact them, the greater the chances that you will actually be able to contact them somehow, somewhere.“
A Social Media Contest, Cole Haan, Pinterest, and the Rules [from Spin Sucks; written by Gini Dietrich]
While this happened a while ago, it’s a good reminder that brands need to know the rules before launching a campaign on a new platform. No one wants to be the one that gets made an example of by the FTC.
Want more on Pinterest? Here’s 7 Ways to Make Your Video Stand Out on Pinterest and The secret to Pinterest: no faces and new heights [Infographic].
“In the B2B realm, there are a few common areas that are always useful, and some information that is only useful in specific circumstances. Here’s the down-low on what you should consider when building your buyer persona.”
This piece covers 6 Twitter Community Structures Simplify Your Work; below is the Brand Cluster Twitter Structure:
“High visibility, popular brands and celebrities attract large Twitter followings who tweet, comment and share information about them. BUT followers have NO connection to each other.”
These communities tend to have large or very large followings but little connection between all of the accounts that make up the following. Also:
“It’s interesting to note that…Brand Cluster Twitter Communities do very little of their own tweeting.”
Click through for some actionable marketing tips around this Twitter community structure. Also great from Heidi this week: 7 Tactics For Content Curation Success.
“Snapchat, Tumblr and Pinterest ‘have the potential to change the way the industry thinks about real-time marketing,’ said Kevin Lange, Starcom MediaVest Group’s svp of social.”
“One of the most well-developed marketing plans in the industry, the marketing campaign for True Blood is a four-part ongoing project. The online campaign features strategic blogger outreach and behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. HBO most excels in maintaining the True Blood image throughout multiple platforms: the show recently created a blog for one of the ‘newly-turned’ vampires.”
It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for This Week in Social Analytics and our favorite posts of the past week in the world of measurement, analytics, and social media. See a great piece we missed? Link to it in the comments, or tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook.
6 Brands That Will Have You Rethinking Your Social Media Marketing Strategy [from Jeff Bullas dot com; written by Elli Bishop]
The big boys have bigger budgets and resources, but smaller brands can still take queues and get ideas from their strategies.
On Instagram, faces are 38% more likely to get ‘Likes’ [from Futurity; written by Jason Maderer]
“Researchers looked at 1.1 million photos on Instagram and found that pictures with human faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos with no faces.
They’re also 32 percent more likely to attract comments. The number of faces, gender, or age didn’t make a difference.”
Instagram Hits 200 Million Users: What Does This Mean For You? [from Social Media Today; written by Avtar Ram Singh]
“If your target audience is the younger demographic between the ages of 12-24, then you should definitely have a presence on Instagram – even if it’s one that involves you not talking about your product at all, but simply engaging and interacting with your fans to understand what they like.”
The Top 5 Brands on Instagram to Follow [from Jeff Bullas; written by Jason Parks]
Look to some of the best on the platform for inspiration in your own strategy.
“. . .Pinterest Inc. now has a new goal: to reinvent online advertising.”
Who’s Engaging in Social TV? [from Marketing Charts; written by staff]
“Broken down into demographic groups, the study finds that the most socially engaged were Hispanics, for whom 10.5% of viewing occasions could be deemed ‘socially connected viewing.’ The next-most engaged were 25-34-year-olds (9.6%) and 15-24-year-olds (9.2%), while Asians (4.2%) and 45-54-year-olds (4.4%) were by far the least likely to engage in this activity.”
G.M. Uses Social Media to Manage Customers and Its Reputation [from The New York Times; written by Vindu Goel]
“G.M.’s dual approach — going about its normal business while trying to help specific customers — reflects the tightrope the company must walk on social media like Facebook and Twitter, where a customer’s perceptions of a brand are shaped by both what the company does and what other people say about it.”
Who, What, and Where Can You Personalize? Real-Time Personalization is Simpler Than You’d Think [from the Marketo Blog; written by Mike Telem]
“If you’re worried about creating enough personalized content for your real-time campaigns, stop worrying — you can personalize the content you already have. Real-time personalization can leverage existing content, personalizing your calls-to-action, user experience, images, and product offers.”
5 Must Read Perspectives on Social Media Marketing Strategy [from TopRank Online Marketing Blog; written by Lee Odden]
Stepping out of your own perspective sometimes can help inform your plans better than anything else.
If you’re going to get into video, do it right. The audience is there:
“77% of global Internet users watch video, according to Global Web Index. In total, 1.15 billion people view video on a connected device. Of these, 626 million view video on a smartphone and 297 million view video on a tablet.”
Brands Respond To Customer Support Enquiries 8 Times Faster On Twitter Than On Email | STUDY [from All Twitter; written by Shea Bennett]
“Brands who offer consumer support on Twitter respond to tweets on average eight times faster than the typical brand email response, but only two in five successfully resolved the customer’s enquiry on the social network, reveals a new study.”
Over the last few years we’ve watched the handwringing over social media and its usefulness evolve into campaigns with large social tie-ins, and stand-alone social campaigns. One of the industries that embraced this early- with both success and failure- was the automotive industry. Cars are seen as a necessary purchase for many households, particularly in cities where no reliable public transportation exists.
While Millennials are buying fewer cars right now, that doesn’t mean they won’t be doing so in a future of improved economic prospects. Smart automotive companies are targeting the next generation of car buyers on the social networks where they hang out.
Who has done it right?
One of the earliest and most comprehensive social campaigns came from Ford- an overall early social media embracer- and was centered around the launch of their new Ford Fiesta in 2009. It was successful enough that they’ve “remixed” the campaign for the 2014 Fiesta. The key to Ford’s success in this campaign was reaching out to their target customers where they were already hanging out- in this case, courting successful YouTubers- and giving them content for compelling storytelling: a car to use and take on adventures, and give honest reviews about. This strategy was designed to benefit both Ford and the vloggers, and it did, as per this Businessweek article discussing the campaign’s results:
“Fiesta got 6.5 million YouTube views and 50,000 requests for information about the car—virtually none from people who already had a Ford in the garage. Ford sold 10,000 units in the first six days of sales. The results came at a relatively small cost. The Fiesta Movement is reputed to have cost a small fraction of the typical national TV campaign.”
YouTubers don’t just spend time on YouTube either; they use platforms like Twitter to increase their exposure, find new viewers and subscribers, and connect with fans new and old– along with other YouTubers and brands.
Reason enough to remix it.
Other notable campaigns include an effort from AutoTrader, who put the fate of a car hanging over the Thames in Twitter’s hands, and more recently Toyota, who partnered with The Muppets around their latest movie Muppets Most Wanted to let the public know their Toyota Highlander has #NoRoomForBoring. Launched around this year’s Super Bowl, the ad campaign featured massive social tie-ins, with related tweets and posts to Instagram from both companies.
— Toyota USA (@Toyota) February 1, 2014
— The Muppets (@TheMuppets) February 1, 2014
From Toyota’s Instagram.
From The Muppet’s Instagram.
We took a look at their Super Bowl results after the game (along with other brands), and partnering with lovable, family friendly Muppets was definitely a wise choice for Toyota. They’ve continued the brand partnership and campaign through the premiere of Muppets Most Wanted.
— Toyota USA (@Toyota) March 12, 2014
How do I plan this?
Before you start planning a social campaign, there are important questions to ask yourself. These will help you figure out what you’re going to measure as well (which we’ll get to in a minute):
Who is my target audience? Specific demographics tend to spend more time on specific platforms. Do the research and go where your people are.
Where do they hang out? Obviously whichever platform that is, is where you’ll want to be. If you’re a luxury vehicle brand, you might want to use Instagram to show off stunning visuals of your vehicles, tapping into the aspirational among Instagram users.
How do they talk in that space? Pay attention to how your target audience speaks to their friends, to brands, and just about brands. The golden rule of social media marketing is always listen first.
How do you, as a customer, like to be approached? Everyone has had good and bad customer experiences. Reflecting on your own can help in building a good experience for others.
Once you’ve answered those questions, plan to:
Talk to your audience and with them, not at them. This is why listening is so important.
Present your content in a beautiful and compelling way. Looking and listening can also inform the storytelling you’ll be doing on any platform. It should be high-quality, compelling, useful, and beautiful in form and function. When you’re approaching someone on a space they use for social interaction with their friends and family, be respectful of their time and attention so they won’t resent your presence and think of it as an unwanted invasion.
Involve your audience. The successful campaigns we referenced earlier have been interactive and smartly researched. The campaigns involving user-generated content that have backfired didn’t take the time to understand the audience they would be involving– and the audience shot back.
What should I measure?
There is no one right answer to this, because every company’s goals are different, as are the goals of every campaign. A lot of this is going to depend on how you answered the questions in the previous section; certain tactics will be more successful with different demographic groups and on different platforms.
Twitter is “especially appealing to 18-29-year-olds”, but there are “no significant differences by gender, household income or education” according to Pew Research via Marketing Charts. The same survey found Instagram to be especially appealing to women of the same age group. Do your research and use demographic information like this to tailor your campaign message for each platform, speaking to your target audience in the platform’s native language and to whomever you’re trying to reach there.
Further, look at what kinds of storytelling do best on each platform and let that inform your measurement goals: Will visuals on Instagram help raise brand awareness, while you tailor your message for Twitter to bring in sales? The most important question to answer is: What does success look like to you and your brand? That will tell you what you need to be measuring. For example:
- If brand awareness is your goal, share of voice measurement will be important to monitor before, during and after your campaign
- If you’re looking to drive sales, bring your sales team onboard to decide what success will look like and how you’ll measure the traffic driving it
- If you want to gain new fans and followers, share of voice will be important alongside paying attention to the reach of your campaign; don’t just concentrate on vanity metrics like the number of followers you have (though these are good baseline indicators).
- If you want to see how a new Twitter campaign has improved over past campaigns, you’ll need historical Twitter data.
Need more references and help? Check out The 5 Easy Steps To Measure Your Social Media Campaigns, or shoot us an email to see how we can help. We’re always here.
It’s Friday, so that means it’s time for This Week in Social Analytics and our favorite posts of the past week in the world of measurement, analytics, and social media. See a great piece we missed? Link to it in the comments, or tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook.
More Than 70% Of Under 35s Research, Post And Talk About Brands On Social Media | Study [from All Twitter; written by Shea Bennett]
“More than seven out of ten millennials (internet users aged between 15 and 34, aka Generation Y) consult, react to or post about products and brands on social media, with almost two-thirds saying that positive – and negative – experiences shared by others impact their purchase decisions.”
Click through for full infographic.
Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success [from Occam's Razor; written by Avinash Kaushik]
“The world’s greatest social media strategy: 1. Entertain Me 2. Inform Me. 3. Provide Utility. Nothing else works.”
12 Tips for Holiday Instagram Marketing: Last-Minute Instagram Tips [from Social Media Today; written by Krista Bunskoek]
Tip 5: Cross-promote Contests with Videos. Pair with B2B Marketers Use Stories for Successful Digital Video, from eMarketer:
“B2B marketers are investing in video marketing because, like most internet users, B2B clients and prospects are devoting more time to watching digital video. Businesspeople are drawn to B2B video for pretty much the same reason consumers watch video—it’s entertaining.”
Ben & Jerry’s: so good, they made the list twice.
5 Content Marketing Lessons from 2013′s Most Popular Tumblr Blogs [from Carrot & Stick; written by Kyle Psaty]
“If the content you share doesn’t challenge the expectations of your market, then you’re not differentiating yourself; you’re simply marketing your industry.”
You might be tempted to say the answer is “GIFs” but the deeper answer is understanding the platform.
Top 10 Influential Social Media Marketing Campaigns Of 2013 [from Business 2 Community; written by Eunice David]
‘Tis the season for roundups– what were your picks for 2013?
Instagram the 10th-Largest US Smartphone App by Reach [from Marketing Charts; written by staff]
“Granted, the figures are for adult iOS and Android users only – but those 2 platforms combined represent more than 90% of the smartphone market. And when it comes to Instagram’s position, including the younger audience would probably boost its reach figure, given its young user base.”
Are Efforts to Recruit Women in Technology Sexist? [from Dame Magazine; written by Lisa Wirthman]
“Ultimately, Verou and Horvath share a similar sentiment. Says the latter, ‘I don’t just want to hire more badass women—I’m focused on keeping them.’”
Dame Steve Shirley, the World’s First Freelance Programmer [from Brain Pickings; written by Maria Popova]
“Steve Shirley went on to become the world’s first freelance programmer and founded the software company F.I. Group in 1962, one of the UK’s earliest startups. It was a revolutionary company, writing software only — an outrageous proposition at the time. It was managed and operated by highly skilled female engineers (‘We hired men. If they were good enough.’), who worked from home — also unthinkable amidst the era’s gender biases and social norms. And yet they forged forward, forever changing the course of entrepreneurship and women in technology. When F.I. was eventually floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1996, it earned hundred of millions of pounds.”
CODE2040′S Latest Mission: Make Tech Internships More Accessible to All [from Fast Company; written by Liam Matthews]
“The nonprofit places promising black and Latino STEM students at summer internships with companies including Facebook, Etsy, and Jawbone, among others. While the program has had success with the interns it’s placed–90% of last summer’s fellows received full-time job offers–one challenge has been that the interview skills of potential fellows didn’t match their technical abilities.”
The (oh-so-important) Difference Between an Issue and a #Crisis [from Deirdre Breakenridge; written by Melissa Agnes]
“Issues don’t present any immediate risk to the organization’s reputation and/or bottom line, for the long-term. However, they can quickly escalate into crises, when not responded to or handled properly.”
“Regardless of where your audience is physically, what type of device they use or when they choose to seek your content, they expect your brand to be present and contextually relevant.”
Friend, Follow, Like, Buy – How Social Media Impacts Shopping | INFOGRAPHIC [from AllTwitter; written by Shea Bennett]
“A Vision Critical survey of social media purchasing trends discovered that Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest each play a different role in how consumers find and share purchase information, with the impact of these platforms varying both by sector and the stage of the buying process.”
“NASA’s social media is a great example of how to expand your thinking in terms of content. I’m not asking you to stop using checklists, but I am asking you to bend the wireframe.”
“. . .what kind of content are agencies posting? Here are a few of the our top picks for PR and creative agencies creating compelling stories about themselves and their clients on Instagram.”
Study Reports 40% of Top Instagram Videos Were Brand-Created [from Search Engine Journal; written by Kelsey Jones]
“A new study announced by Unruly reports that 40% of the top 1,000 Instagram videos were created and published by brands like MTV. Many of the top videos on Instagram that were created by over 80 different brands included Disney, Red Bull, Nike, and Samsung. Based of these statistics, it appears that entertainment and apparel brands get the most engagement (Unruly tracked social shares).”
Twitter Overtakes Facebook as Teens’ Most Important Social Network [from Marketing Charts; written by staff]
“The Piper Jaffray study results also indicate that teens believe that Twitter impacts their purchases more than Facebook and Instagram.”
A Scientific Guide to Writing Popular- and Shareable- Headlines for Twitter, Facebook & Your Blog [from FastCompany; written by Leo Widrich]
“While there is a ton of data out there on which words to use and how to write headlines, the best way to do anything truly scientifically is to test and learn yourself.”
Social media can be a double-edged sword for a small business: it’s technically free (unless you choose to pay to advertise on it) and can be a huge boost to your business, but it also requires time that can be hard to come by on a small staff– particularly when you happen to be an army of one.
Etsy sellers in particular face a unique set of challenges, since at its heart Etsy is a marketplace for handmade crafts which can be incredibly time-consuming to produce and have to compete with sellers producing on a mass scale. These kinds of sellers are also more likely to have bigger sales and marketing resources at their disposal. How do you compete when you might not have any online marketing expertise yourself? Having a Twitter account and a Facebook page doesn’t mean you know how to market in those places, and it can be overwhelming to think about the number of social platforms available.
What to do? Plan, plan, plan. The initial setup takes the most time, but once you get the hang of things, the return will be well worth it if you’ve done your homework. And we’re here to help.
1. Decide where you need to be.
This should be determined by where your customers are; if they’re all on Pinterest and Instagram and you devote most of your time to Facebook, well, you can see how that’s not optimal. If you’re limited on time, pick one or two platforms to be really active on and set up alerts for any others so you won’t miss anything (try out free tools like Mention). It’s a good idea to at least have a presence on platforms you use less often, just in case potential customers try to reach you there.
You might also consider something like Tumblr: you can set up a queue of content to automatically post when you’re busy working during the day and sleeping during the night, and hop in to join conversations whenever you have the time (it’s recommended to make time at least once a day). A traditional blog also allows you to draft and schedule posts ahead of time, but Tumblr has the added bonus of established communities that are easy to tap into with tags and reblogs. There’s also the social aspect that comes with the concept of reblogging; you can always find new people to follow and new communities to immerse yourself in this way. Design and fashion are closely linked, for example, and reblogs are great ways to find new people to talk to about in both of these areas and their overlap.
2. Plan your content out.
If you use social media to only promote what it is that you’re selling, you’re missing the social aspect of it entirely. Decide how much time you can devote to sharing original content vs curating and sharing the content of others in your community of choice (with credit of course). A good ratio of sharing your own products and design alongside other content is about 70/30, and it holds fast across platforms.
Photos are popular and perform well across platforms too; Etsy advises sellers to have large, clear images of their products available, and one advantage of this is having high-quality images to pin and share on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr with a description. That’s your 30% promotion right there.
What about the other 70%? Here are some specific ideas:
Share what inspires you in real life: Photos of a walk you went on, an inspiring quilt pattern you saw at a resale shop or festival, you hanging out with other creative people at a conference or just a happy hour.
Related to that last point, share some little things from your personal life that you’re comfortable with, like pictures of your pets or your bookshelf. A lot of customers like to connect with the seller behind the items they’re making; it’s part of the homemade, handcrafted appeal. They’re not just buying a sweater, they’re buying a sweater from you.
Share photos of items you’ve made and loved so much, you kept them for yourself, or are planning to give them as gifts to a friend, partner or family member. That shows the deep pride you take in your work.
Share items from fellow Etsy crafters’ stores that you love: They’ll appreciate the promotion, and might return the favor.
Share funny little mistakes: Miss a stitch? Drop a bucket of paint? Cat and toddler get into your stock of feathers and glue? These moments can be hilarious, and are humanizing.
To that end, any kind of behind-the-scenes photos and descriptions of the process you go through can help customers understand the value of what you’re making by seeing the time and effort that go into it.
Mood photos: There are entire Tumblrs and Pinterest boards devoted to fall, or to a specific color scheme. You can start and curate one of your own, pinning your own items that fit in appropriately alongside images of crispy autumn leaves on roads and pumpkins, all-white schemes, or beach-themed boards.
Pick an approach that’s an appropriate fit for you and what you’re selling in your store.
3. Measure and adjust.
Measurement doesn’t have to mean expensive tools and confusing spreadsheets. There are a lot of free tools that can give you an idea of what’s working and what’s not. Run a free TweetReach snapshot report on your Twitter account, for example, to see which tweets have performed the best and which other accounts talk to and retweet you the most. These are people you want to make sure you’re following and engaging with in return as much as possible.
Additionally if you have a blog or a Tumblr, see which posts have performed the best and why. Was it because of the time of day you posted? The content itself? Did someone popular in the community give you a signal boost by repinning it or tweeting about it? Was it a combination of those things? Keeping track of these factors will help you make the best content plan possible moving forward: you’ll know what to do about the ones you can control, like timing and content.
Want more? Check out the Etsy community on Tumblr, as an example; they also have specific advice for Etsy sellers using Tumblr to promote themselves on their blog, along with some handy Twitter advice. Even if you’re not on Etsy specifically, it should give you a good idea of where to start.
Got a question for us about this? Drop us a line.
“Only 25% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for customer retention
89% of B2B Marketers cite customer testimonials as the most effective content marketing
5% of B2B Marketers have no metrics to determine content marketing success”
UK Consumers Turn to Social Media for Their Online Search Needs [from eMarketer; written by staff]
“Research from video search technology company blinkx finds that UK consumers, and particularly younger ones, are beginning to find a lot of their online content via social media. The May 2013 study showed that 43% of polled UK internet users between ages 18 and 24 chose social media to find content online over search.”
7 Steps to a Measurable Social Media Call-to-Action [from & written by Heidi Cohen]
“Social media supports every step of the purchase process. Incorporate a contextually relevant call-to-action and related tracking to get prospects into your lead generation program with useful data.”
The Big Brand Theory: The Ritz-Carlton Uses Social Media to Create Indelible Memories [from Social Media Today; written by Ric Dragon]
“If your brand is focused on being in the business of memory creation, social media is ideal. ‘Social media is as much a customer service tool as the ladies and gentlemen who would stand in the lobby ready to assist a guest,’ said Sitch.”
1 in 4 TV Viewers Uses Second Screen to Simultaneously Watch More Video [from Marketing Charts; written by staff]
“The most common [second screen activities] were: reading email while watching TV/video content (63%); using applications or browsing the internet to kill time (56%); using apps or browing the internet to find out more information (49%); and using social forums at the same time as watching TV/video content (40%). The study found fewer viewers competing with others watching the same show (14%) and interacting with the show through voting (13%).”
Social Networking Is the No. 1 Online Activity in the U.S. [from Statista; written by Felix Richter]
“On average, Americans spent 37 minutes per day with services such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn in the past year.”
“Social media and content marketing are not quick and easy solutions for business success. Take the time necessary to develop your online reputation and understand that it’s not a one, lane road. Social media engagement is a multi-way highway that requires precision, stamina and awareness.
Remember also, it helps to enjoy the ride.“
Brand Marketers Put More Emphasis on Social, Mobile, Video [from eMarkter; written by staff]
“When it comes to specific tactics that will see growth, US brand marketers, in particular, will double down on social media, mobile and video this year, with 70%, 69% and 64%, respectively, increasing their use of these tactics. Far fewer respondents planned to put more dollars to rich media and display, and in fact, display advertising will see the largest percentage of marketers decreasing their investment.”
Infographic: The Fiercest Women in Tech (and Why We Need More Like Them) [from New Relic; written by Thea Lamkin]
“In this infographic, we hear from some of the IT industry’s most influential players on how women can find their place in a traditionally male-dominated sphere, and how companies can bring more high-performing women on board.
Not only do companies benefit from having women in leadership roles, but greater diversity overall can make a team more intelligent, more profitable and more relevant.”
Six ideas to get more women involved in the tech sector [from The Guardian; written by Catherine de Lange]
“This lack of visibility of women in the workplace and the classroom – the lack of role models, champions and mentors – is perhaps one of the most cited barriers to getting more women in tech. According to research conducted in 2008 by Catalyst that surveyed women working in the hi-tech sector, women most often pointed to a lack of role models similar to themselves, not having a mentor or champion and being excluded from important networks of decision-makers as the biggest barriers to career advancement.”
How a Tumblr post kept a family from losing their home [from The Daily Dot; written by Fernando Alfonso III]
A little feel-good Tumblr story for your Friday.
Diesel Goes to Tumblr to Cast Ad Campaign [from Women's Wear Daily; written by Rachel Brown]
‘I wanted to find people who reflected the diversity of the creative community today and not just the typical model. I wanted the campaign to showcase a variety of characters, people who are beautiful in their own unique way,’ said Formichetti.”
A great introductory guide for those just getting started with Tumblr for their business.
Still not sure how to get started on Tumblr? Check out how these brands are approaching this amazingly creative platform.
Twitter roles out ‘related headlines’ section on embedded tweets [from Faves + Co; written by staff]
“According to Twitter developers, they believe this new feature will help more people discover the backstory of where a particular tweet originated and, perhaps, more important for publishers, drive clicks to articles and grow an outlet’s audience.”
“It begins with the basics: asking why you’re using a hashtag, with a reminder that good hashtags should be memorable, so that your customers will easily recall them.”
A step-by-step guide to choosing a campaign hashtag, from Twitter themselves.
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.