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You’ve Got The Numbers…Now What? Working With Social Media Analytics

Almost every client I’ve worked with in social media wants data tracked and reported for practically every post, tweet, comment and sweepstakes that they participate in online, and rightfully so.  From a business perspective, Key Performance Indicators (K.P.I.s) are important to help guide decisions and craft strategy. The problem that so many companies have with this process is that they don’t see it through to the most important part: the analysis and interpretation.

Data, without insightful interpretation, is worthless.  It’s like staring at the instruments of an airplane, but not knowing how to use them to get you where you want to go.

So you have 200,000 Facebook fans…so what? How many of them engage on a regular basis? What countries are primarily represented, and is it important to your business? What time of day is best for you to post so that you get the most exposure?  These are questions that should be asked, but often are not.

I think that so many people and organizations are in the habit of asking for reports that they just do it automatically, and assume that the process is over.  The way I see it, the process is just beginning at that point, and data can be used to make important business decisions, particular as they related to social media, looking forward.

A few guidelines and suggestions for how to use the data you capture:

  • Flash reports are okay, but real strength from data comes by looking at a broad range.  The more time you have to collect data, the more solid your numbers will be and the variance of peaks and valleys shouldn’t affect the bottom line as much
  • Sentiment is quite subjective, and I have yet to find a tool that auto-scores and does it well.  For example, if somebody tweets “Good Lord, my [brand] car is giving me a headache”, it’s typically scored as positive or neutral because of the inclusion of “good”.  A human looking at that would usually score it as negative.  I would rather hand-score a small number of data points than let a computer auto-score a massive amount
  • Consistency with time and services are important.  If possible, try to pull data from the same source and at regular time intervals. For example, it’s much easier to analyze data from a single source that you pull every Monday, than to compare data from many sources that you pull when you “want to get a good look at things”.  Consistency is key
  • I’m sure you are tempted to look at numbers each week as wins and losses, but it’s more important to look at data over a longer period of time.  For example, when we presented numbers to clients after the 4th of July Holiday weekend, tweets, comments and likes were down almost across the board.  It has to be taken into consideration that people were off of their computers and outside enjoying life, otherwise it seems like something went terribly wrong during that period.

I spend a lot of time looking over data that has been scraped from all around the internet, and an equal amount of time interpreting what it means so that we can help our clients make important strategic and tactical decisions.  What I’ve learned from all of this is that, no matter where you are pulling it from, data that stands by itself without good interpretation is at best worthless, at worst dangerous.

Working With Influencers and Enthusiasts For Your Brand

As somebody that develops strategy for large corporate brands, I often work with different types of brand advocates in various social media channels.  A common tactic of many marketers and PR professionals is to try to go after “influencers” to get them to talk about their product.  Sometimes these influencers are individuals, sometimes they are communities, but a common denominator is that they have substantial audience sizes. The typical way of approaching these people or groups is to ship them a sample of your product and include a note that says something like, “Hope you enjoy this, please blog about it”.  I think this is a good shotgun approach to communities, it’s a good step up from a press release and it gets your product information out to a lot of people very quickly.  For individuals, I think we have to look at a more measured and personal approach.

Influencers and Enthusiasts in Social MediaTo truly be effective in social media with influencers, I think you need to build a relationship, not ship a press package. You also have to recognize and understand the different groups that exist in social media, so you know how to develop and target brand programs and exposure.  In case you fear that I’m starting to sound a little too professional and polished in this approach, I submit for your approval a hand drawn diagram in the picture to the left.  Fancy, isn’t it? I put this beauty up on our office white board this morning while talking through the concept with a client.

Before we discuss what to do with these various groups, let’s start by defining them.

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6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: Other Pros

This is part 5 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here, part 3 “Your Audiences” is here and part 4 “The Channels” is here.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know Other Professionals

It’s important that you don’t get yourself into something that is not a good use of your time.  Know your strengths and weaknesses, and if part of a package deal is to provide a service that you aren’t strong in…hire it out.  I’m not kidding.  Hire it out, no matter how big or small you are.  Believe me, in the corporate agency world this practice isn’t just commonplace, it’s expected.  Think about building a social media program like building a house, and you are the general contractor. It’s your job to make sure the work gets done, and you may even pick up a hammer and hop in to help.  Leave the plumbing to the pros and focus on the big picture.  I know the temptation is to try to do it all yourself so that you’ll get paid more, but in my experience 9 times out of 10 this doesn’t work out quite as expected, and unmet expectations abound on both sides.

I’ve heard it said that the day you get a client is the day you start losing them…this idea is reinforced quickly if you try to do work that is outside of your scope of expertise.

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6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: The Channels

This is part 4 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here, part 3 “Your Audiences” is here.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know The Channels

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Ustream, blogs, forums and all of the other communities in social media each have a different feel, and as such have different rules and therefore different results should be expected.  I’m going to go on record as saying that, in my opinion, trying to target all areas is a big mistake unless you have an incredibly well resourced team.  For most of the Fortune 500 companies that I work with we target a handful of channels based upon the brand needs and expectations…I don’t think there is such a thing as a cookie cutter social media program.  Why?  Because the need of every client is different (remember that part I wrote about knowing your customer?)  That said, there are a few basics that should be covered, but once you have established those you’ll want to match specific needs with specific communities.  If you try to be all things to all people you’re going to get spread too thin.

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6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: The Product

222-facebookThis is part 2 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do. This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those. Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know The Product

I think this is the single biggest mistake that I see over and over and over again…lack of product knowledge when you are doing work for somebody else.You may be running a campaign for a durable good or a service. Sometimes it’s just brand awareness so there is not one thing you are pointing to, just the brand. No matter what it is, if you don’t know the ins and outs of what you will be marketing you are doing your client, their customers and yourself a huge disservice. I’ve been invited in to too many conversations that go something like this:

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My New Role In Social Media Marketing and Strategy

logo-v1Those of you that have been following my adventures for a while know that I put my heart, soul and mind into social media.  Since writing my own blogging platform a decade ago (the billion dollar idea that I never capitalized on…) to my almost-obsessive fascination with brand interaction on channels like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, I am constantly observing and strategizing ways to make the interaction and engagement between companies and customers better through social media. I have spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of years consulting businesses of all types and sizes regarding their engagement (or lack thereof) within these online communities.  From Fortune 100 companies that distribute hardware all around the world to non-profit agencies that are doing their best to make a difference in the world, I have worked with groups to lend insight, support, ideas and action to social media programs. Given all of that, I’m quite pleased to announce that I have taken a new role within the industry.

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The Internet Is Dead

The-Internet-Is-DeadOkay, the title of this post may be a bit dramatic and sensational…it’s not that The Internet is dead, it’s just that it doesn’t exist the way it used to.  Instead of being a destination, it is now a container.  No longer do you “get on the internet”, although technically speaking of course you are connecting to the network of computers that does comprise what we call The Internet, but that event is no longer an event itself.  Instead, most people are going to a smaller internet inside the larger container called “The Internet”, and these smaller internets are now destinations of their own.

I recall sitting in a meeting just over a decade ago where I was discussing (okay, arguing) the merits of Th Internet and having a presence there.  The topic du jour was whether or not this company should spend “ridiculous” amounts of money to build a website.  “After all,” said one particular stodgy gentleman, “we could take all of that money and instead spend it on a larger yellow pages ad.  THAT would be a good use of advertising, and bring us more people”.  You know what?  He meant that, sincerely.  He truly thought that a big, full page ad in the Yellow Pages would bring more business in than some silly, new fangled, johnny-come-lately web site.  The Internet, in his mind (and many others around the table) was a silly place for kids to play, not a place for serious business.  “The Internet” was still a destination, but not one to be taken seriously.

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Zune HD Goes Social

Zune HD deviceZune, the mobile music device from Microsoft, is starting to heat up in the world of social media with the Zune HD giveway sweepstakes.  Considering the very social nature of the Zune track sharing, it’s good to see this happening.

If you’re been around these parts for long, at some point or another you’ve heard me talk about my love of the Zune.  I’m usually met with responses like, “oh, so you’re the guy that bought one!” and other cheeky remarks.

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Why You Must Deal With Negative PR

One unhappy customer has created a PR disaster for United Airlines

One unhappy customer has created a PR disaster for United Airlines

Have you seen the uber-popular YouTube video “United Breaks Guitars”?  I’ve embedded it at the bottom of this post so you can, it’s well worth 4:36 of your time to see this creative and funny look at poor customer service.  Seems Dave Carroll from the band Sons of Maxwell had his guitar broken while flying on United Airlines, and just a handful of days ago released a music video detailing his complaint. If we take what he says as truth, he spent a year trying to get some resolve and was repeatedly told “no”.  Personally I believe him because I’ve dealt with similar issues while traveling, and the corporate “no” is just too common.

If you run a business, big or small, you need to pay attention to what is happening in the world. The days of burying customer complaints are over, you need to develop a social media strategy to handle social media issues.

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Tweetdeck: Traffic Control for Twitter

TweetDeck with Notes TweetDeck with Notes (click to enlarge)

At least once a day, sometimes more, somebody tells me that they don’t use Twitter because they can’t keep up with it, that it’s too fast, too “now”.  I understand what the sentiment is, but really it just doesn’t make sense.  Twitter is too good for communicating with groups and individuals, for learning new things from like minded people, and for getting useful information.  So, if you are using Twitter but aren’t sure how to make the most of it, or if you are thinking about diving in, this article is for you.

Did you know that you don’t have to use the main web page for your Twitter communication?  There are some neat applications available to you for free that will help you sort things out.  My favorite desktop application by far is Tweetdeck.  You should go download it right now, install it, sign in and then come back and read this.

Are you finished installing?  Good. Let’s move on.

If you click the picture above you will get a much larger view of the Tweetdeck layout. I’ve made notes on the page in red text so you know what you are looking at. I’m going to bullet point a few of the features that make this product such a must-have for anybody that uses Twitter.

  • The ability to easily view replies and direct messages.  The replies (in the picture it is the 2nd column from the left) are from people that use your screen name in  tweets.  It doesn’t matter where in the tweet it is (beginning, middle or end), Tweetdeck does a great job of picking them up.  This is really handy so I don’t miss something that may be said to me or about me.  I like to try to respond to most comments.  Afterall, Twitter is interactive like a cocktail party, not one way like a lecture.
  • Creation of custom groups.  This is huge for me.  Although I follow a lot of people, I certainly don’t know them all personally.  I created a group called “Friends” (in this picture, 3rd from the left) that is exclusively for people that I know personally.  I like to keep an eye on this so I can see what is happening in the lives of the people that I know the best.  As far as I know, you can create as many groups as you want.  I also have groups called “Tech SFO” and “Tech LA” so I can keep track of goings-on by geography, and some other groups that are related by the type of person that I am interested in keeping track of.  While the public stream on the far left (All Tweets) is like the entire newspaper, the individual groups are like sections of the newspaper (sports, business, etc.) The newest release of Tweetdeck has a little button (+) that you can click in an individuals tweet that adds them to a group of your choosing.  I love this feature!
  • TwitScoop.  I keep this column open because it shows trends that people are discussing on Twitter.  This particular screenshot has an interesting mix of boobies, congress and earthquake.  Mashable is squarely responsible for putting boobies up there for the first time that I’m aware of, with their article about Victoria’s Secret coming to mobile phones. You can click on any word to be taken to a web page that will show you different people that are using the particular word.
  • URL Shortening.  Have you seen all those links people put up on Twitter that look odd like http://is.gd/3IZL ? That is a shortened URL.  Since Twitter only allows 140 characters at a time, you don’t want to take up all of your space with some crazy long link to a website.  Using Tweetdeck, simply copy/paste your link and press “shorten” and it will automatically be truncated and added to your message.  Pretty slick!
  • Create search groups.  The night of this writing, I am heading out to Mindshare LA.  I was curious who is going, so I easily made a group in Tweetdeck that searches the public timeline for anybody that says “Mindshare”.  Within a few seconds I got a list, and it continues to update as new people mention it. This is a great feature for anybody that wants to keep track of their brand or product, or to find new people to follow that may have common interests as you.
    A search group in Tweetdeck.

    A search group in Tweetdeck.

There are several other features that you will find when you play around with it (integration with 12seconds.tv, favoriting tweets, etc.) but this is a good start for now.  Of course you can find the creater of Tweetdeck, Iain Dodsworth, on Twitter here and you can also find official Tweetdeck support on Twitter here.
I have yet to hear of somebody that uses Tweetdeck for a few days and doesn’t love it.  I often see suggestions tweeted about how to improve upon the already great app, and they are responded to (and often implemented) quite quickly.  Go check it out and let me know what you think.

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