There’s been a lot of recent discussion about the costs of doing social media. Orginally sparked by the decision by P&G to lay off 1,600 employees and “moderate” their ad budgets because of the decreased costs of Facebook and social marketing, many folks in the industry are left to wonder if the rise of social media marketing really has created an opportunity to capture a previously unthinkable amount of “free” media via social channels. In addition to the blog discussions, we heard this issue debated a number of times last week at various panels at Social Media Week in New York as well.
While we can’t speak to the precise costs of doing social media for every marketer and organization, we do have a framework for how marketers and agencies can compare the costs of social media to other digital marketing channels. Our framework considers (a) Set-Up Costs, (b) Media Costs, and (c) the costs of Ongoing Management.
With Paid Search marketing, most of your costs are variable media costs. Creative is relatively cheap to develop (your set-up costs), and the ongoing management (either through an SEM vendor or your own hard work) is real, but is not overwhelming. Most of your search budget will go to the search engine (somewhere, Google is smiling).
In Display Media, you’ll spend a bit more on creative development, but again, most of your budget is consumed by the variable costs of media. Sure you’ll again pay a fee for the media buying and optimization, but it’s a small part of the overall budget. While you’ll spend more on creative in display than in search, the costs are still fairly limited and the costs of the media can be captured easily — making it fairly simple to pencil out a ROI or ROAS metric depending on your goals.
E-mail Marketing takes a fixed cost investment in technology (SAAS platform or E-mail Service Provider) as well as a coordinated effort to build/ buy your e-mail list. The fixed costs of building the list are high, but once you have that list built, you can monetize that list very effectively. With e-mail, you basically buy an annuity that keeps traffic coming to your site and sales flowing through. Most people try to ignore the costs of the initial list building when calculating ROI on e-mail since some is organic and some was a one time list purchase. With e-mail, once you have the e-mail list built, your varible costs of e-mail delivery is next to zero. Your costs are really your monthly ESP fee and the cost of your e-mail marketing people doing the creative development — pretty cheap and scaled.
Social Media Marketing has a similar characteristic to e-mail where you need to build up a community but the costs of that community development is unknown or is highly variable. The organic or owned posts on your own wall seem like “free impressions” but the cost of consistently developing new and relevant content is expensive (in terms of both people and creative burnout). And the media seems cheap on a variable basis on Facebook and Twitter since it’s performance priced, but the cost and effort to effectively manage and optimize it is very high. So to summarize, social has high fixed entry costs, relatively cheap media costs and high maintenence costs.
Of course, there’s one column missing from that chart: Impact. With social media marketing, the impact and engagement you build with your customers is Massive and includes Network Effects. The ability to create a network effect among a known group on opt-in hand-raisers — turning one loyal advocate into 20 or 30 is a massive return. When you consider that additional level of impact, the investment in social media looks even more cost-effective.
As we recommend with all our clients, you need to understand your real costs both variable and fixed in starting to invest in social media marketing. You also need to understand the outcomes you want to achieve. And I will promise you that the returns will come with your hard work and focus. This is what we recommend to our clients:
- Tools And People for Content/ Creative Production (can we suggest Rallyverse?)
- Jump Start Your Community via Paid Social Media. You need to get your community to a minimum level so it can feed your business. This can be 50,000 fans or 10 million — it depends on your size and type of business. Ask Rallyverse, we can help you figure it out.
- Media And Buying Agent for Paid Social Media. You want to amplfy your owned participation in social media to get new fans. You want to get your message about promotions and sales out to people. You want to acquire e-mails or drive traffic to your e-commerce site — social ads are great for this woth the right partner (can we suggest Rallyverse?).
Return (where does the value flow back to me)
- Daily or Weekly Transfers to where you make money (your website or merchandising opportunities in the social network)
- Daily/ Weekly Brand Engagement: views, clicks, shares, mentions of your brand
- Growth of Your Community (drives increased value to both of the above points)
- List or e-mail acquisition: better yet, match your e-mails acquired on social to your customers and watch that overlap grow
Social media isn’t free — far from it — but if you invest appropriately and understand the costs, the returns can be substantial.
Ok – it was in interesting couple days. And very entertaining! I have read most of all the great and entertaining articles about how Carol Bartz got fired by Roy Bostock and then all the articles on how Carol fired back. Kudos to her for being authentic. I hope she finds another gig in the digital media landscape – we all need straight talking people like here that execute extremely well.
Anyway – I am not going to pile on to the arm chair quarterbacks about what Carol did or what she or the Yahoo board didn’t do. I am going to recommend what they should do. And they aren’t these options.
Lots of smart people, thought leaders analysts and pundits have all stated quite loudly about the pickle that they are in. And beleive you me, they are in a bad way. It is a wonderful brand and a great franchise but they need to get out of their own way to shape a strategy for the future and the future of display advertising. The industry needs them and needs them healthy – People there is still some $300+B that need to migrate from traditional media to digital. It can’t be done by small companies but with the help of big media assets on the upswing.
Here is my recommendation. Take it for free. If you are an investment banker pitching Yahoo, feel free to take the idea and pitch it to the Yahoo board. If you are a journalist, feel free to paraphrase and take the idea or build on it. If you are just a internet vet like me, share it if you believe it.
First – Sell the Asian Assets. They are great assets. They are very valuable. And most important they are STRATEGIC. That is why you need to sell them so you can 1) unlock options for growth in the US where the ad dollars are; 2) create a war chest; 3) unlock value for your shareholders. Experts have put the Asian Assets at a value of $10B to $16B. You should be happy w/ anything in that range. But when you sell – hold the cash!
Second – Acquire AOL. According to Y! Finance AOL Market Cap of $1.6b w/ $450M in Cash and $150M in Levered FCF. Looking at Y! Finance for Yahoo this would add 40% increase in revenue, 40% increase in cash and ~100% increase in Levered FCF. This looks mighty tempting to me. You have cash on the balance sheet to acquire AOL now.
Third – Put Tim Armstrong in charge of the whole thing. If you give him free reign, give him a war chest to grow, secure the leadership on both sides (AOL & Yahoo) to make it work. I think it would be interesting. And depending on how you structure the deal, you maybe able to get a sweetheart deal on AOL given the dividend payout in part 4. And I think Tim wants to get away from Arianna and Michael right now.
Forth – Pay out a one time dividend to your shareholders post AOL close that is 50% of the cash from selling the Asian Assets.
Fifth – Get out of the way. And I mean way out of the way. Roy Bostock and the rest of the outside directors should step down. Get the board to 5 seats – Jerry, Dave, Tim, One Independent and the largest outside shareholder (Daniel Loeb). Let the executives get the right strategy and execute on it. There are great employees, engineers and executives at both companies. Let them do their job.
Want more details on how to do the integration or strategy for the combined companies? Just call me!
Susan Etlinger from the Altimeter Group has just posted a link to a new research report on the state of social media analytics, “A Framework For Social Media Analytics.” We’ve read it and would recommend it to anyone who’s interested in a deeper look at the current state of social media analytics tools.
While we expect to be discussing aspects of the report over the next few days, there was a passage in Susan’s introductory blog post that really stood out for me:
Listening and analytics tools have begun to converge, while engagement and content management tools (social media management systems, about which Jeremiah Owyang has written) remain largely separate. It’s a symptom of the immaturity of this market that the tools we need to listen and measure are separate from the tools we need to publish and engage, but there you are. Social analytics is still largely aspirational.
As we think about the current state of social media marketing, we see tons of great tools in both of the areas that Susan identifies above. There are highly sophisticated listening tools that use structured queries and natural language processing to extract a scaled view of user sentiment from the social web. There are enterprise-class social CRM and engagement platforms that help social media practitioners to manage multiple accounts and environments at scale. But which tools help marketers, agencies and brands to connect the dots between the two sets of tools?
That is, the challenge that we see for marketers is connecting the signal they gather from social media to the right actions — and doing it at the speed and scale of the real-time web. How do you consume social data and know what it means for your outbound social marketing efforts? For your on-site optimization? For your editorial strategy?
These are just a few of the challenges we’re trying to address at Tout. Stay tuned.
There’s a temptation for anyone working in social media to believe that, given the right circumstances, the right campaign, and a moment of special generosity from the Gods Of Marketing, we’re all capable of producing a piece of content that will go viral. And not just a little bit viral. Massively viral. Viral like Susan Boyle or Numa Numa or the eHarmony Cat Girl.
With dreams of creating the next grassroots megahit in our heads, we social media marketers eagerly seek out online influencers — the superuser Mavens capable of activating networks at scale, and launching our efforts into the social stratosphere. Thus do we carefully review our followers’ Klout and Peerindex scores and seek out opportunities to get media in front of proven influencer audiences.
Unfortunately, the attention given to a few runaway viral successes tends to bias our estimates of how frequently they occur (like the way we overestimate the chances of winning the lottery or dying in a plane crash). I was reminded of this when reading Duncan Watts’ recent book, Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know The Answer.
In it, Watts describes the results of a massive investigation into Twitter data to determine just how often individual messages were retweeted, and what the chances were of a message going massively viral. Does it happen? Sure — just not all that often:
Of 74 million events in our data, only a few dozen generated even a thousand retweets, and one or two got to ten thousand. In a network of tens of millions of users, ten thousand retweets doesn’t seem like that big a number, but what our data showed is that even that is almost impossible to achieve. For practical purposes, therefore, it may be better to forget about the large cascades altogether and instead try to generate lots of small ones. And for that purpose, ordinary influencers work just fine. They don’t accomplish anything dramatic, so you may need a lot of them, but in harnessing many such individuals, you can also average out much of the randomness, generating a consistently positive effect.
The lesson for marketers? As Watts points out, gearing up for one big massively viral moment via a small set of superinfluencers is akin to buying a lottery ticket — life-altering if it hits, just not very likely to happen. Instead, marketers should take a nine-to-five approach to sharing content: consistently offer engaging content and messages to your extended networks, and be rewarded with the steady paycheck of retweets and engagement. Don’t fall victim to the Tax On People Who Are Bad At Math (social media edition).
When we talk to web publishers about how social media fits into their overall site and revenue goals, most tend to focus on the role of social media in distributing content and driving traffic to their site.
We certainly believe that social media is well on its way to becoming as valuable a source of traffic for publishers as search was ten years ago — with all the opportunities and challenges that implies — social tools can also drive more dollars from a site’s existing visitors.
If you haven’t yet seen it, the Columbia Journalism Review study on web publisher economics from few months ago is a must read. The study touches on a number of different topics, but the bits that most resonated for me were around the value of heavy users for a web publisher. The data in the study suggests that there’s actually a lot of economic value in heavy site users; the site in question drove 56% of revenue from just 4% of users. The implication for publishers is clear — they need to convert more regulars and occasionals into heavy users.
How does social fit in? While there are plenty of tools and widgets that will help to keep your users engaged with related or popular content, the signal from the social web about the topics and articles that are trending right now is an invaluable input into any sort of content or widget optimization. That is, while there is value in presenting a list of most commented or most emailed articles, those tend to be lagging indicators, while the social signal — and the pace of conversation in the social web — is a leading indicator that lets you ride the wave of a popular topic from the beginning. Using tools like our content optimization widgets can help publishers to drive additional pageviews with hot, relevant content — yielding greater user engagement, more heavy users, and, as a result, more dollars for the publisher.
There was a great post yesterday on Social Media Explorer by Andrew Hanelly in which he detailed the results of a month-long experiment with a fully automated Twitter account. Andrew notes the church-and-state fervor that sometimes accompanies a discussion of automated Twitter accounts, and offers a very fair assessment of what he learned:
“Automation can be useful, but it’s got to be carefully set up, monitored, and curated (In other words, not truly automated)
Automation will never replace conversation
Automation, when mixed with curation and conversation, can be very powerful”
(Definitely take the time to read the whole post, it’s absolutely worth it.)
Here at Tout, we think a lot about the role of automation in effective social engagement, specifically related to sharing content. And, frankly, we hear from a fair amount of social media professionals who are distinctly uncomfortable with automated social media tools — essentially, that all automation looks like spam. Still, we agree with Andrew’s assessment that automation needs to be mixed with curation and conversation, and would like to offer some additional thoughts on the role of automation, and technology more generally, in social media. That is, where can automation help brands and marketers the most?
As we see it, when brands and marketers are trying to engage users with content to start conversations, technology and automation can be hugely useful. Why? A few important reasons:
- Algorithms can automate the process of listening to the social stream and matching the real-time conversation to a marketer’s content — at a speed and scale that a human would struggle to match.
- Automation can monitor real-time conversations and add relevant content or links even when a human isn’t manning the controls (we all need to put our smartphones down at some point, right?). But just because we’re not in front of our screen shouldn’t mean that we miss a great opportunity to engage with users. a lunch break shouldn’t preclude us from a happy serendipity on social media.
- Automation can also help with the pragmatic aspects of sharing links and content — finding the right times of day to maximize engagement, and helping practitioners to schedule content around those times.
Helping to surface and share content on topics that are immediately relevant isn’t all there is to social media — hardly. To answer questions from followers and engage in conversations, you absolutely need a human at the controls. And even if you’re using automation to select and distribute relevant content, you might want a human to edit the headlines and messages attached to that content — to share a point of view or connect the content to the language of the current conversation.
Still, automation and technology can absolutely help address the challenge of finding and sharing content on topics that are relevant right now, and can certainly augment the efforts of practitioners. We just all need to get comfortable with the fact that technology and automation will absolutely play a role in effective social engagement — even if that technology can’t pass the Turing Test (at least not yet).
(Image via xkcd.)
As a consumer, I’ll admit to having used social media as a public shaming tool for a brand’s customer service department. Continental Airlines, DirecTV — I sent you those public tweets because I hoped that a public complaint would earn me a speedier reply than a form email or battle of the wills with your automated phone robots. Guilty as charged.
But just because consumers are approaching brands on social media with complaints doesn’t mean the brand’s social media presence has to be dominated by complaint management.
If you look at your stream and it is dominated by negative comments or complaints or comments and responses, then you need to get control of your social stream. And no, it is not about deleting the angry customers, or deleting their negative comments — tempting as it may be. You need to embrace that feedback and take it to heart — just don’t clutter your main stream with the minutiae of customer-service replies.
What you need to do is to have a stream or process for how you engage and service your customers. You need to create a environment where you can interact with your customers and answer your customers and solve their problems in a manner that gives them the public recognition they want and also allows for transparency. Some tactics include:
- Maintaining a separate customer service handle;
- Using DMs or direct messages to handle the details of troubleshooting and complaint management;
- Use public replies to acknowledge the initial problem as well as to ask customers if they were satisfied after the issue has been resolved.
The danger is doing all of your complaint management publicly and on your main account. If you are a brand that is doing nothing but @ responses or comments to other people, you aren’t carrying on a conversation — you are the loud cellphone talker at the restaurant that is ignoring everyone at your table while shouting on the phone ruining dinner for your table and all the tables around you.
If you are not sharing meaningful information that doesn’t add to the conversation for all of your followers, don’t do a public reply — do a DM or private message.
Now a lot of agencies will tell you to keep everything in the public — I am big on public information sharing and transparency, but saying “Thx” fifty times is not sharing information, and it sure isn’t much of a conversation.
Remember: social is about sharing and connecting, not just a complaint box.
On Friday, John Battelle published a thoughtful post on Twitter and the challenges that it faces at this point in its evolution:
Can Twitter solve its signal to noise problem? Many observers have commented on how noisy Twitter is: That once you follow more than about fifty or so folks, your feed becomes unmanageable. If you follow hundreds, like I do, it’s simply impossible to extract value from your stream in any structured or consistent fashion (see image from my stream at left). Twitter’s answers to this issue has been anemic….On average, my feed gets a few hundred new tweets every ten minutes. No way can I make sense of that unassisted. But I know there’s great stuff in there, if only the service could surface it in a way that made sense to me. You know – in a way that feels magic, the way Google was the first time I used it.
Twitter’s curation problem — and the fact that they’ve created an ad product to address it — is something we’ve covered here before. Still, Battelle’s post brings up some interesting questions about the sort of challenges that Twitter must address for both consumers and marketers. For consumers, the challenge is simple: Twitter must help us all to easily find what’s most interesting in the stream — without all of us having to manually curate lists. For marketers, the challenge is a bit more subtle, but potentially very lucrative: how to help marketers surround the right moments in conversations with relevant and valuable ad opportunities.
It’s clear that Twitter has some work to do for both consumers and marketers; the bigger question then becomes, as Twitter, which do you tackle first? And, by implication, which are you more willing to cede to partners and the larger ecosystem to solve?
From my perspective, the priority for Twitter has to be the consumer scenario. Yes, as of March, Twitter was seeing 140 million Tweets run through its service each day. But at the same time, a much smaller percentage of users (7%) interact with Twitter every day, especially when compared to Facebook (just under half of all US internet users). The folks who like Twitter like it a lot; the challenge is making Twitter a more easily consumed mainstream product. And while Twitter does need to focus on building revenue-generating advertising products, the bigger priority needs to be making sure there’s a scaled audience available for advertisers to buy.
That is, Twitter should focus on building the best product possible for consumers right now — without that product, the concerns about ad products and revenue models just aren’t as meaningful.
In the meantime, they can be sure that more and more ecosystem partners will take the opportunity to drive innovation for marketers against the Twitter platform. This will take a number of forms — from ads that surround the stream to better tools to help marketers drive additional clicks from their participation in Twitter to using real-time data to inform better ad placement decisions outside the social stream.
For marketers and other partners, this will mean a ton of opportunity and a lot of experimentation — and it should make for a lot of excitement in and around the industry. We’re certainly looking forward to it.
Tout is hiring and we’re looking for people with the passion and talent to help us build innovative products for social media marketing. We’re marketers and technologists who are excited about solving big problems with big data sets — all at the speed of the social web.
See below for some interesting opportunities with our company. Send us a note at info @ livetout dot com if you are interested. When contacting us, please e-mail your resume, blog, portfolio, Linkedin profile, Twitter, links to your work, etc. — any digital resume is a big plus in our book.
Senior Web Developer @ Social Media Start Up – Ruby, Python, Mongo, C#, .NET
Technology forward Social media start up looking for a very early web development technologist. Be one of the very early team members building a revolutionary technology in a technology-led company. Set the future of our core user experience. We are looking for a Senior Web Developer who will be a central member of a kick-ass technology team. The senior web developer should be comfortable managing several ongoing projects across a wide set of disciplines.
- At least 3 years experience in web development (proven experience for building n-tier website applications in .NET)
- Proficiency in ASP.NET and C#, XML, XSL, SQL, mySQL (Mongo DB – a plus)
- Proficiency in Open source web development tools and technology stack a plus
- 1 year experience in building reporting services on top of SQL/MySQL/Mongo
- Experience building web services on top of real-time APIs a plus
- Widget & iPhone/iPad app development or experience – a plus
- Development & Programming experience in flash, silverlight or AJAX – a plus
Lead Social Data Scientist @ Social Media Startup
Technology-forward social media startup looking for a very early technology staff. Be the first to apply & develop technologies that create actionable insight out of real-time data that drives business impact. Chance to work with massive amounts of data and be a industry leader in its management and applicability.
We are looking for a Lead Scientist who will be the primary researcher working on real-time social web data and the foundations of proprietary algorithms. This is an ideal position for experienced researchers interested in working on real-time web data or recent CS/Advanced Mathematics graduate students.
- Proven experience with text mining, semantic and sentiment analysis, and machine learning (supervised and un-supervised) of large data sets
- Proven experience with Information Retrieval algorithms (text classification, SVM)
- Operational experience dealing with large scale unstructured / structured data sets
- Experienced with building statistical models
- Programming experience in any of the common languages – C, C++, C#, Java, Python (language is not as important as the experience).
- CS or Mathematics graduate educational background
Senior Software Developer @ Social Media Startup
Technology-forward Social media start up looking for a very skilled senior software developer. Be one of the very early team members building a revolutionary technology in a technology-led company. Be a lead contributor in creating actionable insight out of real-time data. We are looking for a Senior Software Developer who will be the lead engineer building a next-generation web service that creates actionable insights out of the real-time social web. This position will be a key contributor to our broad IP base. This is an ideal position for an entrepreneurial & experienced engineers that wants to work with big data, solve real-world customer problems and work in a technology centric-organization. Experience in working in or around algorithmic search, advertising systems, social media ecosystem, real-time data services is all a plus but not required.
- Proven experience with text mining and machine learning algorithms (lexical analysis with training data)
- Proven experience with Information Retrieval algorithms (text classification, SVM)
- Operational experience dealing with large scale unstructured / structured data sets
- Experienced with building statistical models
- Programming experience in any of the common languages – C, C++, C#, Java, Python. Language is not as important as the experience.
- Experience with cloud computing technologies and infrastructures a plus
- Proficiency in Open source web development tools and technology stack a plus
- CS or Mathematics educational background
Client Service Manager @ Social Media Startup
Technology forward & market leading social marketing start up is looking for its first client service manager. Be one of the early team of seasoned entrepreneurs in the advertising and social media space building out a revolutionary social marketing technology platform. Lead the development of our client service team and our offering. Lead the engagement with our community of clients and stakeholders. This position will be a key contributor in our entrepreneurial team. This is an ideal position for an entrepreneurial & experienced client service or community managers that want to grow into a bigger role. If you like to work in a fast paced environment focused on solving real-world customer problems in a technology-centric organization that focuses on customers and performance, we are for you. Experience working in a marketing services and/ or adverting workflow system and/ or social media ecosystem is all a huge plus.
- Proven experience as a client service position in a marketing services or advertising technology company
- Proven experience as a community manager for active brand or company with experience in managing broad content production, management and promotional systems especially social media & networks — includes working knowledge of tools and analytics systems.
- Great customer-facing communication and interpersonal skills
- Great problem-solving skills
When it comes to social media, is your brand eating nutritiously, or are you addicted to junk food?
By social media junk food, we mean social media marketing that tastes good and maybe gives you a quick sugar high, but ultimately isn’t very filling or nutritious. In social media, this means Facebook posts or Tweets that you know will earn you quick responses, but don’t necessarily line up with your brand or campaign goals. Think polls. Think contests. Think broadly posed questions.
Yes, you know that if you ask a question or pull together a poll, you’ll likely get a response from your followers and fans — maybe even a lot of responses. And if you’re measuring the performance of your social media marketing solely based on social engagement metrics (mentions, comments, replies), well, the lure of the questions and polls might be overwhelming.
When you’re looking for mentions or comments, polls and broad questions will probably perform — but what’s really the value of that performance? Does the poll or question or contest build your brand’s message? Does it introduce your audience to a new or important aspect of your product? Does it lead them to engage with your brand’s content? Does it move purchase intent?
If you’ve been gorging on junk food for too long, it might be time for a healthier choice — but one that doesn’t skimp on flavor. You need social media marketing that tastes delicious (is engaging for users) but is also nutritious (amplifies your brand’s message and brings customers closer to you and your product).
Nothing is healthier for your brand in social than your own content. Your blog posts, your videos, your white papers, your infographics — they’re all ideal for engaging your customers in social media, driving emotive responses, and helping you to meet your brand and business goals. Show your customers that you have something meaningful for them to consume, something that addresses their needs at the same time that it moves you closer to your business goals. Measure your performance not just in terms of engagement metrics, but also clicks, video views, downloads, and, ultimately, conversions.
As we all know, a little junk food is fine — in moderation. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to something sweet and delicious every so often; you don’t need to eliminate the polls and questions completely, especially if you can tie them to your brand and business goals. But if that’s all you’re eating, well, you might end up with a bellyache.
Today’s post is short, sweet and to the point: if you market your content through Social channels, here are our top-five must-do recommendations for success.
#1 Create a Strategy & Objectives: Strategy equals what you are doing, why you are doing it and for whom you’re doing it. Objectives equal how you are going to measure success. Both your strategy and objectives should be centered around the sort of content (how-to videos, highly emotive content, lighthearted content — whichever) your customers want to hear.
#2 Create an Editorial Calendar: you need to understand how your customers experience your brand, and what matters to them at different points on the calendar — at the yearly level, the weekly level, even the daily level. November content may be different than May content. Monday morning content may be different than Thursday afternoon content. 10 am content may be different than 9 pm content. You need to be in touch with those differences and factor them into your planning.
#3 Create all types of content: when it comes to content formats, anything goes. Blog post, product sheets, webinars, customer testimonials, white papers, industry chats, et al — they’re all in play. Create similarly themed content in all formats (text, image, audio and video) and make sure your message can find its way into all the styles and media that matter to your customers.
#4 Big Distribution Footprint: get your content off your servers on out on the web. Put content on your blog, Youtube, Flickr, Facebook, other bloggers websites — anywhere that will take your content. It is ok for your content to be promiscuous. The greater your distribution footprint the higher likelihood it will be found.
#5 Promotion: this is most important. Actively promote your content. Everyday if not twice or three times a day. Get it out on twitter, Facebook, Google+, on your website. Your content is great — be proud of it. Promote it…Someone out there is looking for it. If you promote it they will more likely find it. And just because you wrote something great two months ago doesn’t mean that you can’t promote it again today (especially if it’s relevant to your customers today).
Bonus Round: Get others to create and promote content for you. Get your fans and followers to produce content for you. Have them share success stories, positive reviews, how they use your service, etc. Then promote their content and them. People love recognition and rewards…don’t be stingy with them!
I meet with a lot of brands and talk about social media marketing. While almost all of them agree that the key to success is starting social conversations, the reality is that very little of what marketers are doing on Facebook and Twitter counts as starting conversations. Facebook is full of surveys, polls, like-me posts and bad contests, while Twitter streams are littered with three-word @ replies. There is more to marketing than trying to fill your social-media stat sheet with as many engagement metrics as possible.
I don’t know about you, but if you come to a cocktail party at my house and you don’t have anything interesting to contribute to the party, you’re probably going to end up in the corner. Worse yet, if this is your cocktail party and you don’t have anything to say, I will drink your booze and eat your snacks and not come back again.
Remember that social media marketing is still marketing. And marketing has a purpose. With social, you have a fantastic opportunity to sell the benefits of your solution or brand — or, better yet, to empower others to sell the benefits of your brand for and with you.
But the brand needs to be the conversation starter. And the best conversations are the ones that start around your brand. You most likely already have your opening lines — they are on your blog, on your youTube channel, on your website. It’s your content that helps your customers unlock the benefit of your solution or brand. It is your how-to content and videos, it is your emotive/ value-based videos, it is your customer reviews, it is your customer testimonials.
You have the content, get it out there and start the conversation.
In social media marketing, one common mistake I see is active and strategic management of your brand’s network. What is a brand’s network? In my opinion, it is the network of personas (twitter accounts, FB pages, fans, followers) that is owned or operated by a brand.
The big CPG companies — General Mills, Krafts, P&G, Coke, Pepsi — have a large portfolio of brands numbering in the hundreds. And the marketers who manage those brands have worked hard to build out their social media presence over the past few years. The problem comes when the brands owned and operated by the same entity can’t leverage their relationships within the parent organization.
In the world of CPG marketing, there is a well known halo effect across related brands when positive news hits. I saw this at General Mills first hand — if Yellow Box Cheerios was doing heavy marketing or promotion, we saw lift in the flanker brands of Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios, Multigrain Cheerios. It was great! More bang for the marketing buck.
The same is true for your brand’s identity in social media. Your brand naturally has a posse or a group of friends. Every service I see out there completely ignores that fact. The social brand identity is staffed by key people that are not the brand but speak on behalf of the brand. The social brand my have a bunch of flankers staffed by different people – look at a brand like BestBuy with BestBuyMovies, BestBuyNews, BestBuy Lounge, etc. And how do these accounts support one another? How does the network make the whole stronger? How do they get that halo effect?
The important thing for brands to do is to recognize you have a posse of friends around the brand. People in the company, specialists, experts, other brands — they can all help you get your message out, reinforce your brand objectives and vice versa.
Don’t neglect your brand’s flankers — they’ll be your Digital Wingman any time.
Earlier today, Twitter announced a new ad offering, Promoted Tweets To Followers, which enables marketers to guarantee that their tweets appear at the top of their followers’ streams when their followers visit Twitter.com.
Why is Promoted Tweets To Followers potentially valuable to marketers? As anyone who follows more than a few dozen folks on Twitter knows, it doesn’t take long for an individual user’s stream to get unwieldy. And once you follow a few hundred people, well, it’s next to impossible to keep pace with the conversation unless you’re actively curating your stream (with lists or saved queries; me, I’m a list guy).
As a result, even though I’ve decided to follow a person or brand, without some level of personal curation, I’m not guaranteed to see their latest Tweet when I check Twitter. Based on the moment at which I hit the refresh key, I may or may not see (potentially relevant and important) content from the people and brands I follow; instead, it might just get buried in the flotsam of jetsam of the rest of my stream.
Promoted Tweets To Followers addresses this problem by enabling marketers to pay to secure a spot at the top of the page when their followers log in to Twitter (it won’t work in third-party tools or clients). That is, marketers are paying to make sure that their followers (who have already opted in to hear what the marketer has to say) actually see their latest Tweet.
The good thing for marketers here is that they’re getting an opportunity to make sure their followers receive a relevant and timely message; the post on AllThingsD notes that these Promoted Tweets will be shown based on “relevance and resonance.” If Twitter is serious about putting their users first and creating products that “enrich the Twitter experience for every Twitter user,” then focusing on relevance in their ad products is absolutely the right play for them — cheers to that.
At the same time, for those of us in the ecosystem surrounding Twitter, this new product introduction also raises/ highlights a few more questions:
- Twitter is apparently pricing this product on a performance basis — you only pay if your followers click. We think this is absolutely the right approach, and will help Twitter to demonstrate the ROI of their product to advertisers. At the same time, Twitter’s approach — focused on driving real clicks and traffic — is slightly at odds with the contest-and-poll/ mention-and-response paradigm that many social marketers have adopted. Are social marketers and agencies prepared to focus on clicks and traffic generation? Do they have the tools to do it?
- As brands think about their ongoing presence in Twitter, I suspect they’ll start to challenge themselves to think about how they can drive the sort of results they’d expect from Promoted Tweets To Followers with their own organic (and, ahem, free) participation in the stream. That is, how do I, as a brand, make sure I’m sharing engaging content and links that drive traffic to my site in a steady enough way to make sure that I don’t get buried in my followers’ streams?
- Finally, the existence of an ad product like this one is a clear signal of what we’ve all known for a while: Twitter has a curation problem. That is, Twitter is overwhelming in the absence of manual list and query management. Without their own version of EdgeRank, Twitter users are left to figure out what’s relevant on their own, or via third-party tools and applications. How long until Twitter offers a solution to this problem for their users? And also for their advertisers?
We look forward to seeing these solutions live and in the wild, as well as future ad solutions from Twitter. This adventure is just beginning.
At this point, most folks involved with social media are well aware of the concept of social media decay: given the pace and scale of the social stream, tweets, links and posts just aren’t around for long. What’s worse: unless your users are connected to their stream at the moment you share a message, they might never see it.
Research by Sysomos shows that 92 percent of retweets happen in the first hour following the tweet, which sounds like a high percentage until you read that 96 percent of all mentions occur in the first hour of the tweet’s life as well.
In a world where your tweets — and the valuable content to which they link — are here today, gone 12 minutes from now, how can a marketer be sure that they’re breaking through and reaching their customers?
There are a number of techniques for maximizing the impact of individual messages — looking at data around appropriate day parts where your audience is most likely to engage; using SEO-friendly headlines and titles. But the more important thing to consider is that your content doesn’t have to be one-and-done in social media channels. That is, if you listen carefully enough to your customers and their conversations, you’ll be able to share your content when it’s most relevant (multiple times), not just one time on the day it was posted.
For a blogger, or a small, niche site with a devout following, the thought of re-posting archived content feels fraudulent. My audience wants fresh content from me — not reruns! But, as Guy Kawasaki has demonstrated, tweeting the same link multiple times within a short timespan can earn you strong click-through results — not quite a rerun as much as the midnight replay of your favorite HBO show. And it works.
Still, for most marketers, I would argue that what your audience really wants is relevant content, delivered to them at the time when it’s most useful. So long as the content is relevant, it doesn’t matter that it’s a rerun or a replay. That is, marketers should be aware that their content archive has value beyond just the first day an article or video is published.
If you have valuable and evergreen content on a wide array of topics, that content could be relevant and engaging to your audience today, tomorrow, or even six months from now. The trick is listening to the conversation that your customers are having, and understanding when to share your content with them — which, unless you have an encyclopedic command of all of your brand’s content, is no easy chore. But that’s one of the problems we’re trying to solve here at Tout.
(Image via Sysomos.)