How to Measure the ROI of Social Media

18 11 2008

One question that is constantly asked by organizations who are considering venturing into new media is concerning what the ROI for their efforts will be.  Typically they want to turn to this traditional measuring tool to judge whether or not it is worth their time and investment to get involved.  If you are someone who is the social media ninja for your company or consults for companies on social media, then I’m sure you’ve faced this question before.  As Jason Falls explains in a similar post on the ROI of social media:

“The problem with trying to determine the ROI for social media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable.”

Just like everyone else, I face this question constantly, especially from my efforts in social media with my Argentinean steakhouse and food blog.  I thought Jason’s quote above nailed everything that I had been thinking because I don’t try to measure the specific ROI on my efforts.  But, it is a lot different when you’re the owner versus when you need to explain it to a prospective client, investor, business associate or anyone else for that matter who is outside of the social media circle.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend Social Media Jungle (full video stream here) which was organized and hosted by Jeff Pulver.  During the conference, one of the speakers was Ben Grossman who spoke on just this very topic.  I really like how Ben addressed the question of ROI for social media by discussing using ROBI (Return on Brand Investment) and ROCI (Return on Customer Investment) as measurements instead of the traditional ROI.

If you have 20 minutes to spare, I highly recommend viewing this video of Ben’s presentation.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1478625&dest=-1]

So, what are your thoughts?  What do you tell your clients, friends, family or business associates when they ask you what the ROI for all of “playing around” on social media is?

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Don’t Forget About the Importance of Internal Marketing and Communication Strategies

10 11 2008

marketingplanSo you’re really psyched because you’ve been working hard on the marketing plan for your company’s hot new product.  You’ve worked on creating catchy packaging with eye-popping colors and a really cool, trendy logo.  You created a social media press release that you’re going to launch on PitchEngine.  You’re planning on setting up a Facebook fan page because thousands of people are going to flock around this product.  You’ve even started to figure out this whole social media and blogging thing that everyone keeps talking about.  This is definitely going to be the next coolest thing that everyone never realized that they needed but now won’t be able to live without.

A few weeks later your company launches the product and your inbound marketing plan is working perfectly.  People are subscribing to your opt-in newsletter, signing up for demos, tweeting, commenting and digging everything they can find about your company and this new product.  The phones are ringing constantly.  But, then you find out something pretty disturbing.  The sales team is having a hard time converting all of these leads to customers.  Immediately you begin to blame them.  I mean, they’re wasting the leads that you worked so hard to get for them!  Finally, one night you’re out for drinks with a friend of yours who is on the sales team.  You ask them why can’t the sales team convert any of these leads and they tell you it’s because they never received any training on the product, they didn’t know about the timing of any of the marketing campaigns, and that made them unprepared.  So, when they’re talking to leads, they’re fumbling through the call because they’re learning as they go.

This little story highlights something very important but often overlooked.  As marketers we sometimes get so wrapped up in planning and executing our marketing plan to the rest of the world that we forget that we also need a marketing and communications plan for our staff.  We can’t just assume that they know everything that’s going on just because we do.  It is important that we are constantly aware of this so that we avoid operating in a silo or out on an island.

As I was thinking about this stuff over the past couple days, I came across a post by Douglas Karr on this very same topic.  Thanks to him, I found this funny video on the topic of internal marketing and communication plans.

If you have problems viewing this video in your RSS reader, you can view the video here.

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Photo by: hulksjedi

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Solutions Stars Video Conference Brings the Conference Directly to You

27 10 2008

On October 29th from 1p EST to approximately 3:30p EST, you will have the opportunity to watch 32 leading business, marketing, and social media experts.  The best part is you don’t have to travel anywhere and it’s free!

Network Solutions is hosting the Solutions Stars Video Conference to explain to small business and entrepreneurs how the Internet can benefit their businesses.  This conference will focus on nine content areas:

  • Building Web Presence
  • The Social Opportunity
  • Start with Listening
  • Strategy Drives Outreach
  • You Need Social Networks
  • To Blog or Not to Blog
  • Visibility Through Search
  • Rising Above the Noise
  • Time Demands

While the fact that there is a free conference which you can watch from the comfort of your office chair or couch is cool enough, take a look at a short list of some of the presenters:

If you don’t know who any of these guys are then spend some time going through each of the above links.  Every single person on the list of 32 is someone who you should be familiar with!

What makes this so interesting for me is that the format reminds me of the Pixelated Conference Series that I participated in at the beginning of the month, thanks to Chris Brogan, Mitch Joel and Bryan Eisenberg.  I will definitely be tuning in on Wednesday, will you?  If not then you’ll be missing out a great opportunity to learn a lot about business, marketing and social media in just a couple of hours.  Did I forget to mention that it’s FREE?!?!

To attend all you have to do is return to the Solutions Stars Video Conference site at 1p EST on Wednesday.

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Did You Know Britney Spears is on Twitter?

22 10 2008

Over the past couple days there has been some chatter in the social media space about Britney Spears joining Twitter (@therealbritney) as part of her new website which just launched.  Well, Britney didn’t just join Twitter but also has accounts on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.  However, I am more impressed with her and her team’s decision to venture onto Twitter.  Why? Because for the past few years every new artist has a MySpace page.  Unfortunately, it is usually just a PR machine for the artist though there are some artists that actually write their own content, respond to fans, post videos, etc.  We have also seen an influx of musicians sign up for YouTube accounts and start video blogging.  An example of an artist who has embraced video would definitely be Diddy who has approximately 280 videos posted on YouTube.

Ok, back to my thoughts on Brtiney being on Twitter.  The first handful of tweets appeared to be yet another example of a celebrity’s team who sets up an account on a social media site only to use it to post updates about CD launches, appearances, etc.  This led to Gary Vaynerchuk posting his thoughts about it:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

But, then, in my opinion, something interesting and unexpected happened: Britney’s social media director, Lauren Kozag, responded in the comments.  Lauren responded by thanking Gary for his advice and letting everyone know that she was showing the video to the rest of Britney’s team.  Lauren also mentioned that they are actively discussing how transparent Britney should be.  I was extremely impressed to see this because, like many others, I was skeptical at how “real” this would all be.

By Lauren responding she showed that her and the rest of Brtiney’s team are monitoring online discussions about Britney and are willing to reach out and respond.  This could be great for Britney’s brand as well as being among the first few celebrities to join sites like Twitter and actively use them to interact and not just push out information.  I hope this continues not only with Britney and her team but also encourages other celebrities to get actively involved because they already have the fan bases to drive more people onto sites like Twitter thus taking it more mainstream.  I’d be interested to know how many new people are discovering Twitter for the first time solely because they saw the logo on Britney’s website.

Now I want to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.  Do you think it’s good that celebrities like Britney Spears actively use social media sites such as Twitter?  What advice would you have for them or their teams if they were to read this?

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Content is Nothing if it’s Not Authoritative: Creating an Effective Content Strategy

20 10 2008

Here is a guest post by Kari Rippetoe who blogs over at The Caffeinated Blog

Ok, I’m a fan of Dancing With The Stars (we all have out guilty pleasures, right?). So, the other day I was watching retired NFL player Warren Sapp dance the samba, which basically consisted of him standing around shaking his big, defensive tackle hips while his professional ballroom partner Kym Johnson danced around him. Because of this, the consensus among the judges was that their dance “lacked content”.

So, what does this have to do with your business website or blog? Well, think of it this way: is your content standing in the middle of the dance floor, not really doing anything, or is it dazzling the audience with all the right moves and making you and your business look professional – like you’re an expert?

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “content is king”; but your web content is nothing if it’s not authoritative. I’ve seen more websites and blogs than I care to admit that just slap up any old content without regard to what will actually interest their audience. This sort of rubbish falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • Horribly written articles and blog posts rendered completely useless and nonsensical by keyword stuffing.
  • Regurgitations of press releases and news articles without reaction from the blogger or relation back to the reader.
  • Sales pages disguised as articles designed to push readers towards a conversion rather than pull them in with valuable, relevant content.

If your content falls into any of these categories, than I hope you can take something away from this post – because you’ll do wonders for your brand, online reputation, marketing and communication efforts, and business in general by forming and implementing a strategy around engaging, authoritative content.

Now, I’m not here to tell you that this sort of content strategy will be easy. It will take some hard work and dedication on your part, because it’s certainly not a “set it and forget it” option. You will, however, reap the rewards once you start offering your buyers content that targets them and their needs with consistently valuable information.

So, how do you form an effective content strategy? Here are some points to think about:

  • Determine your goals. Why do you want to add content to your site, and what would you want that content to do for your business? Would you use blog posts or articles to talk about your products or services and increase press coverage? Give your take on industry-related news or relate it back to your readers? Offer advice for relevant problems your readers commonly face? This will give you a better idea of what kind of content will be written, as well as how the content can eventually be promoted.
  • Scope out the competition. What are your competitors doing? Do they have blogs, a resources section with articles, or maybe videos and podcasts? Take the time to read/watch/listen to their content in order to determine if a) there’s a possible gap you can fill, and b) if you can implement similar ideas for your business.
  • Research your target audience. In order for your content to be of value, you need to create it around topics that interest your target audience. Check out forums related to your niche to find out about relevant issues they may have, as you could develop content that addresses those issues. You can also gather some excellent (and free) research from social bookmarking sites to find out the kind of content your audience likes (check out my post on how to use social media for market research).
  • Recruit content creators. Who knows more about your business, industry, or niche than you? You’re an excellent candidate for creating content – but you don’t have to be the only one. Your research should uncover some topics for which some pretty valuable content can be developed, so now you can recruit others to contribute. These can include:
    • Employees at your company with knowledge in niche areas of your business
    • Friends or outside colleagues who know the industry and can offer a unique, expert take
    • Industry experts who would be willing to contribute in exchange for a little good PR and/or a backlink
    • Freelance writers who have knowledge of your industry and can provide regular, authoritative content based on your needs
  • Decide how often to update content. This is up to you and completely based on the needs of your business; however, it’s recommended that you update your content at least 2-3 times a week to keep it fresh and your readers coming back for more.
  • Decide how your content will be promoted. Content does have to be promoted, whether it’s to your existing customer base or to prospective customers. There are so many ways to promote your content, it would take up a whole new post; but a few to consider are email, social bookmarking and networking sites (look for ones related to your audience or niche market), and blog directories.
  • Keep the conversation going. Customer engagement doesn’t end after the content is posted – that’s where it starts. They’ll comment on it, ask questions, and try to start a conversation with you. Why? Because they perceive you as an expert, and they want to know that there is a person behind the company logo. It’s up to you to respond in a timely manner and keep them engaged. Part of your strategy should definitely address who will be your community manager or chief conversation officer, responding to comments and questions from your audience and engaging readers on external sites where your content is being promoted.

No longer is content just words on a page – it has to inform, interest, and engage. By creating a strong content strategy based on your goals and centered on the needs of your audience, you’ll achieve sustainable results that will reap rewards for your business for a long time to come. More than that – your customers will be dazzled by your moves!

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Photo by: pshutterbug

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Pixelated Conference Series – Inbound Marketing/Social Media

9 10 2008

For Day 3 of our Pixelated Conference Series (you can read more about what this is from Chris Brogan, Mitch Joel and Bryan Eisenberg), we are going to explore two popular topics which complement one another, inbound marketing and social media.  If you missed the previous two days of this conference, make sure you check out the sessions on productivity and personal branding.

Since inbound marketing and social media are such hot topics nowadays, I’m going to only present a few clips but then provide you with a bunch of resources for you to view at your leisure.

Sessions

We start out the sessions with a fun video which helps to explain social media in plain English.

Next, is an interview with PR 2.0 expert and principal of Future Works, Brian Solis.

Let’s watch two short clips highlighting why we should be focused on inbound, permission-based marketing as opposed to interruption marketing.

Our next presenter is social media thought leader Chris Brogan.

Finally, Seth Godin brings us a talk about marketing. [Note: If you’ve never read any of Seth’s books, head over to Amazon and start reading!]

Also, for a ton of great videos on inbound marketing, social media, viral videos, and a whole lot more, take some time to watch the videos that HubSpot has posted from the Inbound Marketing Summit that they hosted a couple months ago.

Great Marketing and Social Media Blogs

Here are some great marketing and social media minds, besides the presenters who you should already be reading religiously.  Again, this is just a short list.  I subscribe to hundreds of other blogs and to list all of the ones that I really like would make this post waaaay too long 🙂

eBooks

Tomorrow is the 4th and final day of this Pixelated Conference Series project.  Until then I’d like to hear about how you’re using new marketing and social media in your professional lives.

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Creating a Web Presence for Your Company

8 10 2008

We will continue with Day 3 of our Pixelated Conference Series tomorrow.  In the meantime, you can check out our two previous conferences on productivity and personal branding.  But, today we have a guest post from Susan Payton.  Susan Payton is the Managing Partner of Egg Marketing & Public Relations, as well as the blogger behind The Marketing Eggspert. She enjoys helping businesses develop an effective marketing strategy, using Marketing 2.0, email campaigns, and social media.

If you’ve turned on your computer at all in the last five years, you know the Internet is the future for marketing your business. While you may not be a techspert, you can still use the Internet to establish your business’ place in your industry.The key is being in as many places online as you are comfortable being. Some examples:

· Company website
· Blog
· Press releases
· Mention on other websites
· Comments on blogs/forums

Having a website for your company is non-negotiable. Many people only do business with companies who have a website. It shows you understand the value of being online and that you have invested the time and money it takes to develop a professional site.

A blog is a valuable tool that can help you establish yourself or your company as an expert in your field. Many top companies have blogs today, including Southwest Air, Dell, and of course, That’s Great PR!

Press releases are great for building web presence and SEO. While you may or may not end up on Oprah as a result, you will diversify the places your press release (and also your URL) end up on the web. Your release will be distributed on major news channels, like Google News, as well as industry sites, and bloggers in your niche will pick it up as well.

This will lead to mention on other sites. The very nature of PR today is that it is viral. What starts in one place will quickly spread faster than you can blink. And that’s a good thing.

By leaving comments on blogs and forums, you’re leaving a breadcrumb trail. Just be sure to include the URL to your site in your signature. And only post relevant conversations, because the purpose is to communicate, not blatantly push your company’s agenda.

So how are you getting exposure online for your business?

Ways to Establish You or Your Business as THE Expert in Your Field

1.    Put out regular press releases. Keeping a steady momentum will increase your placement on search engines.
2.    Participate in conversations online. In forums, on blogs, in social media platforms.
3.    Start a blog about what you know best.
4.    Attend conferences.
5.    Get speaking engagements.
6.    Write a book or ebook.
7.    Get interviews.

Make Search Engines Love Your Brand

Search engines love press releases. When you write regular press releases and have them distributed online, more reporters, bloggers and future customers can find you. Before you know it, you’ll be sifting through a pile of interview opportunities and orders for your product!

[Disclosure: That’s Great PR! utilizes Egg Marketing & Public Relations for some of our email marketing services.]

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