#TurnDownForTurkey: What Thanksgiving Really Means in 2014

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#TurnDownForTurkey SmartPhone Challenge

My sister and me in a pre-smartphone Thanksgiving.

There are quite a few ways we like to think about how Thanksgiving began. Some versions are warm and fuzzy. Others are down right disappointing. Regardless of what you believe, or choose to believe, or choose to disregard, it’s what Thanksgiving is about now that’s most relevant.

For many of us the holiday is symbolic of our human need for community. Our need for human interaction and celebration, with a little sustenance thrown in for good measure.

I remember when Thanksgiving really was just that. A day full of cooking, laughter, hugs, watching the Macy’s parade, watching football, sleeping, eating, eating again – We’re sure you all know the drill. It all revolved around not just being together, but also being present.

But in today’s modern world Thanksgiving has become very, very different. Not necessarily for better or for worse. Just different.

We’re all there, but are we really all present?

Now that we have cell phones, well mini wifi-enabled computers, we’re hyper in touch with the digispace, but sort of out of touch with face-to-face. We know we rely on our phones to get us through the day. We pull it out to get a recipe. We may pull it out to tweet a #turkeyselfie, facebook, or google search to end an argument. We pull it out to constantly refresh our inboxes, check in on work projects, and worst of all, to shop (no more waiting for Black Friday, the deals start on Thanksgiving day people!).

It’s a lot. It’s so useful. So functional. And it has certainly made Thanksgiving dishes substantially better (TY Food & Wine app!). In fact, 44% of recipe searches came from mobile on Thanksgiving Day last year, and it’s already trending higher this year.

But, I still find myself thinking about the Thanksgivings we enjoyed pre-smartphone. Somehow I wasn’t bored, the food tasted just as good, and I felt relaxed. I have very vivid memories of live conversations, endless games of pass the pigs, and “accidentally” adding too much rum to the rum bread pudding.

So…what would it mean if we got rid of our smart devices for the day? If we turned off our phones <gasp>,  turning down our digital connection and turning up our in-person, in-the-moment connection?

I’m not sure how it’s going to go folks, but I’m doing it. And I’m challenging you to do it too.

Tell me how it goes (the day after obviously!) with #TurnDownForTurkey!

Be Careful What You Ask For: 4 Rules To Mitigate Risk With Social Engagement Strategies

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Recently I saw yet another case of a social media “campaign” campaigning for something completely the opposite of its original intention.

Dr. Oz’s social media team set out to solicit health questions from his 3.58M followers. An idea that seems harmless, well helpful really.

Dr. Oz asked Twitter for health questions

And it was helpful…for some.

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But for most…it was just humorous…

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Long story short, it got a little out of hand.

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And there are plenty, plenty more.

Now, I’m not here to re-hash the Dr.Oz story. But I am here to ask, was this preventable? And if not, what does that mean for social engagement strategies? And, how do you respond when your hashtag is taken over?

Those are some pretty lofty questions. But in my experience, I’ve found that honesty, trust, and transparency are the keys to getting through or preventing something like this from happening. It’s happened before (remember Bill Cosby Memes gone wrong?) and it will happen again.

And this is precisely what scares big and small brands alike from trying to actively engage with people on Twitter. The problem is, interaction is what Twitter is meant for. You can’t go around it. You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You have to go through it. It’s the only way to get to the other side of the Twitter success and karmic bliss.

There will always be risk. But there are steps you can take to mitigate that risk:

RULE #1: NEVER IGNORE & ALWAYS PARTICIPATE

Check out Dr.Oz’s Twitter feed. There is nothing, nada, zilch in response to this hashtag takeover. If you’re going to be on Twitter, you have to actively participate. You can’t ignore conversations, and you especially can’t ignore the 254 tweets (according to Topsy) that you solicited with your ostensible “Q&A.” Let’s face it, there’s no “A” happening here, except for the “A” that stands for “Avoidance.” So, responding is a must. And when you do…

RULE #2: BE HONEST & PROACTIVE

The collective vent session via #OzInbox is the result of quite a few publicly harmful tidbits provided by a licensed doctor. Something Dr. Oz has never spoken out to apologize for or even defend. We get it…Things happen. You will say things that wish you had never said or things that will come back to bite you (and probably somewhere you really, really don’t want to be bitten). If you don’t proactively nip this kind of stuff in the bud by giving your own HONEST and transparent response, then when your attempt at engaging via a Q&A will likely garner the same results as Dr.Oz’s. People will use it as a chance to converse with you finally. And this conversation will, most likely, not be good. Consider the Renee Zellwiger new face controversy a few weeks ago. Twitter was abuzz about her supposed plastic surgery and her response was perfect. What happened after? People gave her kudos and moved on.

RULE #3: FOSTER CONVERSATION AS A HABIT, NOT AS A ONE-OFF. 

It’s disingenuous to begin a conversation for the sake of engagement, with no intention of actually engaging. You can’t post a Q&A that sits among several other auto-scheduled tweets. If you are going to participate on Twitter, make sure you participate as often as possible. As often as regulations allow. And, as often as the industry demands. If not, when do you post a question, it will seem coerced – like something your social team developed, without fully thinking it through. And that’s frustrating to everyone, not just social media nerds like me.

RULE #4: BE READY.

No matter what the conversation is that you’re trying to start or be a part of, be ready for anything. Have responses ready. Know your brand personality and use that to drive how you participate in the conversation and how you might respond to any negativity. Check out Taco Bell for instance. Its brand personality is snarky. So it tweets that way and it responds to conversations and mentions whether they’re positive or not:

Taco Bell Twitter Responses
Now, not all brands can be Taco Bell. But they can be creative and true to their brand. If that means needing to create conversation guidelines and examples, do it. If that means having one creative and conscientious person man your feed, than do it. This is how you prevent negativity and come out on top.

The morale of the story is this: the only way to prevent negativity is to be there and be prepared, always. And to recognize that when you’re playing in the conversational, two-way, two-to-many world that social media has created, you have to have to have to interact and you have to expect the unexpected. Otherwise, the consequences could be dire.

How do you plan for Twitter crises or foster engagement on Twitter?

Twitter Ads: Convert & Converse

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Twitter AdvertisingThough paid social has been around for a while, right now we’re experiencing a real boom in its global acceptance across industries. It may be the shiny, new ad products or (and more likely), it’s because we’re finding that paid social ads work, especially Twitter ads.

There’s a whole army of social ad types including: LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, Promoted Facebook Posts, YouTube Video ads and Twitter Promoted Tweets (Instagram ads are in the pipeline as well as Promoted Pins on Pinterest & Promoted blogs on Tumblr). However, as is often the case, with more options comes greater confusion, which can ultimately paralyze a brand from using any paid social at all. Or worse, to use some paid social haphazardly without reaping the full benefits. Which is why we’ve been getting more and more inquiries from our clients about how best to leverage paid social.

Choosing a social ad type should depend on the answers to the following questions: Where’s your target audience? How do you want to engage with them? What are your goals?

Because of its ubiquity and conversational manner, we are actually pretty partial to Twitter’s ads products. And there’s one more important reason we include them in our recommendations: Promoted Tweets are actually proven to convert more prospects than organic tweets -  yep, Twitter ads were more than twice as likely as organic tweets to convert users (Convertro 2014).

Why is this? Twitter has a unique combination of targeting, timing, and ad unit options that are both engaging and effective.

In addition to the normal demographic, location and device-based advertising, when we target with Twitter, we’re also able to use strong relational and interest-based targeting. We’re able to target users based on hashtags, interest categories, the Twitter handles they follow, etc. We can even upload our own list of prospects to either include OR (and this is new) exclude. And, if you use Sysomos or SimplyMeasured, you’ll soon be able to target users by the specific keywords in their Twitter bios or based on things they’ve tweeted about in the past 30 days. So as long as you’re smart about what you advertise, to who and when, you can easily create something very relevant using Twitter.

This is especially so, because of the amount of ad units available. Twitter gets it. They know brands need to be able to justify media spends with clear metrics. Depending on your objective, you can usually find a Twitter ad unit that allows you to reach a goal AND to engage–convert & converse! And isn’t this nice – we’re here to help you navigate through them. Here are a few of Twitter’s ad types and best practices:

Promoted Tweets
If a brand is looking to engage with its target audience, increase its followers, and create a conversation, Promoted Tweets are the way to go. These tweets appear in a user’s timeline, in search results or in a user’s Hootsuite dashboard, and can contain images or links. The best way to use them is by including great stats, quotes, promoting new blogs or articles you’ve created, or simply by participating in a Twitter chat.

Twitter Promoted Tweet Example

Promoted Account
An offshoot of the Promoted Tweet, Promoted Account ads allow brands to get their Twitter handle in front of a specific target audience AND, in conjunction with a tweet, make a case for why a user should follow them. Users see these ads in the “Who to Follow” area and the tweet appears in their timelines. Promoted Account ads are very successful when done alongside traditional Promoted Tweet campaigns and really do result in high new follower counts. The catch? You have to engage with those new followers ASAP. Give them content they want to consume, or you’re very likely to drop off their radar.

Twitter Promoted Account Ad - Example

Lead Gen Cards/Website Cards
Oh how we love Twitter Cards! Introduced a little over a year ago, Twitter’s Lead Gen Cards allow advertisers to showcase an offer, a piece of content, a registration, really anything in exchange for that user’s information. And it all happens with the click of a button. Lead Gen Cards appear as a link within a tweet and upon click, expand into a user’s timeline. Once a user clicks to claim your offer or read your white paper, Twitter automatically collects and provides their twitter handle, name and email address. You can even have this information automatically imported into your CRM so that you can follow up with an email. Post-click users are then directed to a custom landing page of your choice.

When to use these? Well if your goal is to generate leads it’s an obvious choice. But it’s also great if you have pieces of content you know your target audience would love to read OR if you have a great discount to promo.

Recently, Twitter also unveiled Website Cards, which are similar to Lead Gen Cards, except the offer is always your website or landing page. Good to use if you have a game or something experiential on your landing page to provide users.

Twitter Lead Gen Card Example

Promoted Video
Still in beta, Twitter’s Promoted Video ads will be available as a self serve option for all brands soon. These are done on a cost-per-view model (vs. cost-per-enagement for the other ad units) and streamlines video playback with a one-tap viewing experience. These ads create an even richer sense of engagement with your target audience. An average Promoted Tweet costs anywhere from $1.50-$3.00 (depending on audience size). So if Promoted Videos stick to the standard, brands could also use these as a way to test out various videos before launching with larger online video or even TV strategies.

Twitter Promoted Video - Example

Promoted Trend
Last, and most expensive, is the Promoted Trend. This was Twitter’s earliest ad unit, as it places your hashtag in user’s trending topics area. However, from our experience promoting a trend for just one day can cost you $15,000! And you would be remiss if you promoted a trend without using Promoted Tweets and Promoted Account ads in conjunction. So, you’re likely going to exceed $20,000 for just one day of exposure. And you have no control over the other trending topics your hashtag might be showcased alongside.

However, if you’re looking for mass exposure, Promoted Trends are the way to go. These are great when used to enhance other large PR announcements to exponentially increase impressions and awareness of this news.

Twitter Promoted Trend Example

 

For more information about Twitter’s ad units or other paid social media efforts, feel free to contact allie_rees@lpp.com.

Things Will Never Be The Same: The Growing Necessity of Paid Social

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The Growing Necessity of Paid Social As social lovers and marketers, we all knew there would come a time when our favorite social platforms would find themselves answering to their investors. That’s just the way it is.

And now, unfortunately, things will never be the same.

(At least where organic vs. paid social is concerned.)

Last week Twitter announced its intention to filter user’s Twitter Feeds. In effect, choosing the content that does and does not get seen by each user. There are two schools of thought around this:

  1. The average Twitter user feels quite overwhelmed by the amount of content that appears in his feed, which inevitably leads him to be less active. Lower active user counts, then, disheartens investors.
  2. The Twitter connoisseur enjoys her ability to follow who she wants and always see the most recent content in her feed. She loves that as long as she follows her local news station, for instance, she’ll see any/all breaking news stories in her area.

But if Twitter does decide to create its own algorithm (much like Facebook’s EdgeRank), no content is guaranteed to make your feed, especially if you haven’t interacted with a tweet from a particular user in a while.

Twitter is doing two things here. It’s addressing the information-overload complaint from average users while also forcing brands to amp up their efforts by using their paid options. Promoting your tweets will eventually be the only way to make 100% sure that your followers see your content, not to mention reaching your potential followers.

After a change similar to this on Facebook, AgoraPulse and Mark Schaefer found that more than 70% of all companies across 104 industries had a decline in organic reach of 30% or more. And while the question on whether the brands are to blame for their decline in reach is still valid, the hard truth is that Facebook’s algorithm change has led to a very steep decline in organic reach and engagement rates across the board. And this same trend will likely rear its ugly head on Twitter as well.

The answer: dollars.

Innovation and relevancy have always been the pathway to success on social. But the almighty algorithm is driving the need for brands to invest in not only great content, but also in sponsored and paid social advertising – especially, if they want to see their social programs succeed.

Conversion Rates for Paid vs. Organic Social Network Advertising by emarketerThe good news in all this is that paid social ads actually have proven to achieve higher conversion rates than organic content (via emarketer 2014 Q1 study). Especially on Twitter, where ads were more than twice as likely as organic tweets to convert users.

So now, the questions will not be, should I spend money on social ads? Rather how much, when, and why?

 

 

Instagram’s Hyperlapse & The App-Manic Frontier

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How many apps does it take to post one picture to Instagram?

Actually, with the recent launch of Hyperlapse, the question should probably be:

“How many apps does it take to post one video to Instagram?”

The answer: more than one.

Hyperlapse, the newest social media one-hit-wonder, is an app that helps shaky cam holders stabilize their videos and allows average users to create time lapse videos. Hold applause.

It’s an amazing app. Believe me, I’ve played around with it already:

But, do we really need another app?

Don’t forget that to post images on Instagram, people are already going to some “extreme” lengths. For example, want to combine multiple images? There’s an app for that (well lots of apps for that). Want to “re-gram” an image posted by another user? There’s an app for that. Want to create a time lapse video? There’s another app for that, too.

And now, instead of incorporating these already-existent technologies and this amazing new video technology into its native platform, Instagram has added to the app-mania with yet another step for users to take pre-post.

Maybe Instagram has taken a little advice from its parent, Facebook, which just launched a new messenger app, separate from the normal mobile Facebook experience. And we can’t forget about Paper, the Facebook stories app that launched and then…wait, what happened to it?

And then there’s Vine, which just made some major updates to its video capabilities – namely adding the ability to import multiple videos to one Vine. A capability Instagram doesn’t currently have.

So, with the mega-millions of apps, how do we, as advertising and PR pros, decide which ones will stick? And more, how do brands decide which new apps to leverage – considering that the quicker you are to the game, the greater your potential following usually becomes.

Experience and intuition.

We’ve experienced the hype associated with google plus (which still exists, but for very different reasons other than traditional user engagement) and we know not to trust everything that’s shiny and new in the digital space.

We trust our intuitions and consider the app-implications (excuse the play on words). Will the masses use it? Maybe not. Will professional bloggers, videographers, agencies, big brands, foodies, fashionistas, who care first and foremost about quality, use Hyperlapse? You bet.

As for brands, trust your gut. Think about whether you have the resources (internally or via an agency) to experiment and to add another step to your posting process. Or at base line, determine if you have enough storage available (GB) for yet another app! If the answer to all is yes, then go for it. Just make sure to download the correct app…you wouldn’t want to pay $0.99 to download the Hyperlapse app by Google.

Have/Will you download Hyperlapse? Tell us why…

Events & Social Media: 15 Tips to Engage Before, During & After an Event

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Incorporating social media into your nonprofit event, or any event for that matter, is a great way to build relationships with your audience in a comfortable format. It’s also a great way to ramp up an event and keep the conversations alive after everyone goes home.

But, being truly engaging with live events means more than slapping a hashtag on an invite. In order to really get the most out of your event, and to encourage conversations and excitement among attendees, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Check Your Internet Connection - First and foremost, before you plan any social engagement around your event, you MUST double check with your event site to make 100% sure that you’ll have access to wireless internet and that your guests will either have the same access, or will be able to utilize their cell data plans. If you wont, you’ll need to check for hotspots or create an engagement strategy that doesn’t rely on live tweeting or uploading as the event occurs. Also be sure to test the connection the day of the event.
  2. Social Feed Display - One of the best ways to encourage interaction among your attendees is with the promise of visuals. We’re all narcissists at heart, we’re much more likely to contribute to the conversation if we know our tweet or post will make it to a feed the entire conference can see. Not to mention, that dedicating screens to showcase social activity is also a subtle reminder to guests about your social networks and their opportunity to connect with your brand. We recommend using Tint, as it has the ability to pull in social data from several different networks and to create an appealing visual presence.
  3. Really Go for it - If you really want to leverage social during your event, try to think about ways to incorporate it into your program or make it central to what you’ve already planned. Along with a great team, I recently created a whole segment based on live Twitter questions, that not only inspired greater conversation, but gave the whole night a much more interactive feel. Check it out.
  4. Schedule in Advance - Even though your plan may be to generate content as the event goes on, you’ll get way behind if you haven’t considered the kinds of content you’ll want to share in advance. We like to generate sample tweets and posts (based on the event’s program) that are either scheduled in Hootesuite or saved as drafts in Twitter. This way you can make small changes, add live photos and then push live on your schedule, without feeling constantly behind everything that’s happening.
  5. Take Advantage of Pre-Planned Events - Events can be crazy! There are usually more than several compounding elements happening all at once and, unless you have a team of 50, it’s hard to cover everything from the perfect angle (photo-wise and quote-wise). So take advantage of any event dress rehearsals or pre-planned events in which you may be able to snap higher quality images or predict what content you’ll want to share. That way you’ll have a database of great content to pull from on the fly.
  6. FYI to Followers - If you do plan on live tweeting, be sure to let your current followers know that you’ll be tweeting or posting more regularly. Otherwise you can risk annoying or alienating followers who aren’t used to you posting as often.
  7. Scope out Influencers and Attendees - Either in your registration process or right before the event, do your best to figure out who is likely to be tweeting & generating content during the event. It’s not uncommon for attendees to forget to use your promoted hashtag, so making a Twitter list or stream in Hootesuite of these influencers will allow you to engage with them no matter what hashtag they use (or don’t use). Not only can you engage with them at the event, but you can encourage their participation by welcoming them to the event before they tweet.
  8. Hashtagging - Create a hashtag that works easily within sentences or is pretty short so that attendees are able to fit it their statement and the hashtag into the very strict, 140-character limitations. Try to chose something memorable and can be leveraged again and again.
  9. Follow the “WWYS” principle - When you’re deciding what to share throughout the night, think: What Would You Share? Unless your strategy is to tweet every word (which it shouldn’t be), you need to be sensitive about how much content you decide to post within your time frame. Because of this, you need to choose the quotes, images, and elements you share carefully. Be sure to share things that are memorable, give a human element to the event, and that others can relate to.
  10. Be present! It’s easy to get sucked into the small things while an event is happening, whether it’s responding to attendees tweets or making sure you get every word of a quote correct for a tweet. But all of that is irrelevant if you’re not able to accurately reflect the vibe and tone of the event. Instead of making sure to share the video that played at the event, make sure you watch along with the audience and pay attention to how they respond. You need to attend the event with everyone. This will ensure that all your content is on point and, at the end, you’ll know that you captured the event adequately.
  11. Be Relevant & Evoke Emotion- This is especially true in the nonprofit world. No matter what you share, be sure there’s some emotion tied to it. Tweeting straight facts and figures alone is boring unless you compare it to something that makes sense to the audience. For instance, if you’re talking about childhood hunger, give statistics around how many children are at-risk of hunger in the town in which the even is held.
  12. Calls to Conversation - Yes, you want to include calls to action (see #13), but you also want to encourage conversation. Give your audience ways to talk amongst each other and with you before, during & after the event with Twitter chats, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, etc. that allow people continue interacting post-event.
  13. Save calls-to-action & RT-type Posts for Meal Times or Breaks - A good way to encourage participation among people who aren’t usually socially savvy, is to create posts that are easily re-tweetable or that have calls to action within them. But many events will schedule or post this content at inconvenient times for their attendees. To increase engagement rates, consider when there will be the most down time for your guests and schedule that type of content then.
  14. Consider the Virtual Attendee - With every piece of content you share, make sure you add enough context that users who aren’t at the physical event can understand and participate. Believe me, people will be curious as to why you’re posting more often, so give them a reason to follow the conversation.
  15. Tweet Afterward - No matter how late event your ends, it’s a good idea to continue posting content and engaging with your audience afterward. Most people don’t go to bed right away, they need unwinding time, or “networking time” aka post-event drinks. So keep that night’s engagement going, or give them ways to keep the conversation going themselves.

What are some of your must-do’s for live events?

B2B Video Marketing: Why B2B companies should use YouTube

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Considering the videos you watch on YouTube, you might not think that it’s the right place for B2B companies to communicate. Isn’t it for videos of cute kittens and babies? But as online video consumption increases, YouTube is becoming a top online destination for everyone, including the B2B industry. Increasingly, video is proving it can engage users much more than any other medium, no matter who they are.

Why should B2B marketers use YouTube?

YouTube has evolved over the years from a novelty into a mainstream method for executives to receive business information. In fact 75% of executives watch work-related videos each week (Forbes Insights). Studies show that decision-makers increasingly want to watch, not read.

You can probably draw from your own experience. How many times have you reverted to YouTube to learn more about a company ? Or to learn more about some business-related subject matter?

B2B companies often have involved concepts and processes that are hard to explain with text. A dynamic video can explain these much more efficiently and in a more captivating way than a long text-filled web page.

Not only will executives appreciate the brevity and ease of a video that can spark their interest, but they’re also apt to share it with their colleagues. Younger execs, in particular, are more inclined not only to view video but to also create and share it over the business-oriented social web. The more your videos are shared, the greater the likelihood that other people will watch it.

If we haven’t given you reason enough to consider YouTube as part of your B2B marketing strategy consider this:

Studies show that people who have seen a video are more likely to convert to a lead.

So, YouTube is not only helping B2B marketers build incremental reach among decision makers, but it’s also helping to engage and convert them. All in all, YouTube is helping B2B organizations sustain long-term customer relationships and carve out potential leads.

Using YouTube has a few other added bonuses:

  •  YouTube improves a brand’s SEO and natural search rankings. Because Google knows that people prefer videos, a keyword-titled video shows up in search results much more often than a written post. In fact, videos attract 300% more traffic than a plain-text article, according to Marketing Sherpa.
  • On YouTube people are able to leave comments, creating an even stronger bond between them and your brand.
  •  YouTube provides comprehensive reporting and analytics to track your efforts, so that you can be absolutely sure you’re creating the right content for your target.

How to properly take advantage of YouTube & video marketing for your organization?

B2B marketers who use YouTube can increase awareness and preference, demonstrate products, share knowledge, and put a likeable, human face on their company, but it takes a sound strategy in order to do this. This strategy is built by learning what information and content your current and prospective clients are looking for and what they want to know about you. American Express has done a wonderful job leveraging YouTube for their B2B communication needs: Amex Open Forum.

Craving more information? Leave a comment below with your questions or email amwassum@gmail.com for more specific strategic approaches to YouTube as well as information about YouTube advertising!

The Rise of 2nd Screen Viewer Engagement: Implications for Advertisers

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The first time I heard the term “second-screen viewing” or “second-screen viewer,” I rolled my eyes. Hello…we have been watching TV and eating, reading, doing homework, “studying,” emailing with clients, etc. for as long as the TV tray has existed.

But what we haven’t experienced for decades is the ability to track what viewers are doing while they’re watching. Are they playing Candy Crush and sort-of watching CSI or are they watching The Voice and following the singers virtually as they sing on screen? In other words, are they tuned out or hyper tuned in?

Thanks to social media (and our inherent need to share), we’re now able to pinpoint just how engaging our shows are. And, more importantly, we’re able to capitalize on this engagement with ads.

But just how much second screen viewing is actually happening and what’s the potential for second screen engagement?

In 2012, Nielsen reported that 40% of smartphone and tablet owners used their devices while watching TV. In just 2 years, that number has increased to 80 percent! So as advertisers and “official engagement engineers,” how do we capitalize on this?

Thankfully, technology has given us the ability to track the real-time interactions happening across multiple networks, platforms & devices and associate those with what’s happening on TV. And they’re not mapping back to to the TV guide to determine when something’s airing. It’s way more sophisticated than that –  companies like Bluefin Labs (now a part of Twitter) have technologies to determine what’s on TV in conjunction with real-time conversations on Twitter and Facebook.

All of that aside, engaging with TV viewers is now not just an opportunity, it’s a necessity. But what does this mean for advertisers?

  1. In-depth knowledge of your target audience. Gone are the days of shot-in-the-dark intuitions around where your target audience is and what they’re talking about. To engage in the second screen, you have to KNOW what shows your audience is watching, when they’re watching it (live or DVR?), and what networks, hashtags, etc. they’re using while viewing.
  2. Live Interaction. Okay well that’s sort of a given. With social, you need someone manning your account basically 24/7. But if you want to engage with TV viewers, you must also watch along with them – otherwise how would you know what they’re even referencing in their #scandal tweets?
  3. On-the-fly Content Creation. Brands always struggle to find the perfect balance between getting content approved before it goes live and creating content that leverages real-time conversations. But with the second screen, this balance is even more important. You can’t wait until the second commercial break to promote a tweet about something that happened in the first two minutes of a TV program. So you either need to be able to predict a few content areas and have the ability to adjust based on the show OR you need the ability to create images and associated text with an “ask for forgiveness, rather than seeking approval” mentality, forgoing the approvals process.

How do you engage with brands and/or TV shows while watching the tube?

Early Adopter Effect & It’s Implications for Non Mega-Brands

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A few weeks ago I read an interesting study by Business Insider about brands that “get there first” (so to speak) when it comes to new social networks.

They found that there’s a positive relationship between being an early adopter and a brand’s audience size. Basically, the brands who created their profiles on a new social network the fastest also tend to have the most followers.

It makes sense – the longer you’re on a social network, the more time you have to accrue more followers. But, there’s much more to the story for bigger brands.

  1. Longer Lead Time - The big brands who are first the game likely already knew the network was about to launch. Their agency partners or higher ups probably have met the owners, or have been told about the network by a rep in anticipation of future ad dollars. Because of these relationships, bigger brands have more lead time to think about the network and a strategy that aligns with their goals and other efforts. This way when a mega-brand creates one of the first branded profiles, it looks good and it makes sense, which translates into better engagement with users and…..more followers!
  2. Press – Once a company creates one of the first brand profiles on a new network, the digital presses go crazy. Is it good? How are they using it? Is it used correctly? The commotion is endless. I like to call this the “early adopter” early adopter effect. All of us social, techy, digital, UX people flock to see it. We gaggle over it. Then we write articles about it, sharing our opinions about whether it’s the right fit for the brand or the network or both. The more articles we create, the more traffic is  driven to look at that brand’s profile. And, thus, the more attention and followers the brand builds.

So how can you compete with these massive brands?

  1. Read, Read, Read. Keep up to date on new startups & tech news, so you can try to predict the next new thing.
  2. Dive in, personally. Get the app, make your own profile, and be a part of the community as an individual. This experience will really give you the insights you need to figure out how this network may be used to connect your brand and its consumers.
  3. Create Cross-Medium Social Strategies. When you create social strategies, don’t think about how it lives on one social network, think about how it lives as words, images only, videos, etc. This way when a new medium is created, you’ve already got some way to imagine how to use it.
  4. Be agile With Existing Content. No one ever said you must reinvent the wheel when a new network launches. Instead of thinking about sourcing new content, think about how this technology serves to make your existing story or strategy come to life? Then think about what content you already have that can be altered in some way to work for this network. #makeitwork
  5. Get Buy-In Early On. If you want to take advantage of this “Early Adopter Effect” you need buy in on this type of approach from your higher ups (or from yourself, as the case may be). This will give you the excuse you need to prioritize reading about the network, being a part of the network individually and figuring out how it fits within your strategy. You need to be able to drop everything in order to play catch up with the bigger brands who have a leg up. And in order to drop everything, you need a quick approval process…or none at all.
  6. Agency Partner. No matter how big your brand is, it’s always good to have a relationship with, or an ally at, an ad agency. The good ones make it a part of their job to know everything there is to know about new & emerging social networks. When you combine that knowledge with creativity and an intimacy with your brand and your brand’s social strategy, the turn around on an amazing new social presence can happen with just one call.


Are you an early adopter when it comes to social media?

It’s a Jungle Out There: How to chose the perfect Facebook ad format for your goals

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Facebook advertising is more sophisticated than it was a year ago, or even 6 months ago. When advertising was first introduced to the platform, Right-hand Side Ads were the only option, but now the options are almost endless (at least with the various types they seem endless!).

Navigating these different ad options can be tough for a marketer to do without a ton of experience under his belt. There are so many things to consider:

  1. What are your goals?
  2. How are you measuring success?
  3. What kind of content do you have at your disposal?
  4. What kind of content does your target audience engage with the most often?
  5. How do you want users to change with your content?

To help you more easily choose the right ad type for your specific needs, here’s a rundown of the different ad types and the best ways to use them:

Right-hand Side Ads

Right-hand Side Ads

Right-hand Side Ads

These are the traditional ads provided by Facebook that allow advertisers to get in front of users who are on their desktop devices. The important word here being…DESKTOP. They aren’t served on mobile devices, so if you’re trying to reach people when they’re on the go, this is not the best option for you. Also consider that at the end of January 2014, Facebook mobile users surpassed desktop users.

Right-hand Side Ads work well as a means of awareness and continuity for the rest of your campaigns – they’re a great way to keep your brand and message top of mind throughout your campaign.

With a platform like AdRoll, you can use Right-hand Side Ads to retarget users and get them back to your website or landing page to achieve higher CTRs and engagement rates.

Facebook Promoted Post Ads – Link & Image

Recently, Facebook changed its algorithm (EdgeRank), making it nearly impossible for brands to appear in a user’s News Feed without serving an ad. So, if you want to make sure your post gets seen, you’re going to need to put some money toward it. The good news is that promoted posts (when done correctly) are very engaging and see low CPCs.

There are two different types of Promoted Posts to use for different purposes.

Image Promoted Posts

Image Promoted Posts

Image Promoted Posts used to be the only option for Promoted Posts. This was based on the knowledge that users interacted with image posts more often than link or text posts. In fact, photos on Facebook generate 53% more Likes than the average post. So if you’re looking for user engagement in the form of page Likes, post Likes, comments, or shares, Image Promoted Posts are a great way to go.

The one downside to Image Promoted Posts is that you cannot ensure a click to your landing page or Facebook tab with one of these posts. When a user clicks on the image, he or she is taken to a larger version of the picture, not to your website, so there is no way to guarantee that a user actually gets to your site. When bidding on a CPC basis with these posts, you aren’t paying for a click to your landing page, you’re paying for a bigger image view.

The best way use Image Promoted Posts is to increase your Page Likes or interactions with your brand in general, as they garner more shares and Likes (in my experience) than any other format.

Link Promoted Posts

Facebook Link Promoted Post

Facebook Link Promoted Post

A month or so after Facebook introduced the new link post format with much larger images, they also introduced Link Promoted Posts. Like Image Promoted Posts, Link Promoted Posts can be served to users on both mobile and desktop devices and are best used for directing users to another landing page or Facebook Tab, because no matter where a user clicks on your post, he will be directed to your landing page. In that vein, if you’re measuring success by the amount of leads your campaign as generated, or entries your contest received then Link Promoted Posts are the most efficient use of your budget.

Facebook has also introduced Cost Per Action bidding, which allows an advertiser to pay only when a user has visited your website or when a user completes some pre-determined action (like filling out a form). In my experience, though, the average cost per action is much higher than your average cost per click AND Facebook will generally serve fewer impressions of your ad because they’re not guaranteed to make as much money off of it.

Page Like Ads & App Install Ads

There are a few other ad types I haven’t mentioned, like Page Like Ads & App Install Ads. As their names suggest, Page Like Ads are used to help you generate more Likes to your page and App Install Ads (allowed only on mobile devices) are used to advertise a new app to user.

The best campaigns use a mixture of all of these ad formats (except for the App Install Ads, which don’t apply to all situations). As they all serve a different purpose, they’re complementary in that manner – Increase awareness with Right-hand Side Ads, increase user engagement with Image Promoted Posts and, further down the funnel, capture a user’s information with link promoted posts.

What other questions do you have about the different Facebook ad types?

I’m more than happy to answer them – just tweet @social_allie.

A Decade of Facebook

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In just a few weeks, Facebook will turn 10 years old.

To put it differently, I’ve been using Facebook for a decade.

Somehow it’s not even a teenager and it’s one of my best buds.

But it’s not just a reliable pal, it’s also revolutionized the way the world communicates.

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook didn’t go it alone, but it did give social media the mass appeal it now enjoys, paving the way for some of our favorite networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram…Jelly?!) to thrive.

I remember when I built my original profile on thefacebook.com. I’d known about “the Facebook” for a little while, but I had to wait for my .edu email address to sign up. Yeah..remember that? When only college students could sign up??

Back then, I used it for the basics: posting pictures and finding out if my fellow classmates were single (I sort of don’t want to admit that). It became the first stage of profiling, even before the exchange of numbers for old-school texting.

Soon it was event central. If you were having a party at your dorm, you were definitely making a Facebook event and inviting all of your friends (well…maybe not all of them).

My first Facebook profile picture

My first Facebook profile picture

It wasn’t until my sophomore year that Facebook finally launched their Newsfeed. Yes, I’m serious…there was a Facebook without the feed…which I, at the time, checked probably 17 million times a day.

Fast-forward four years, and Facebook (& Twitter & YouTube & LinkedIn) had become a mainstay of my job, even though there were no classes about it in my undergrad advertising program. The marketing world was changing while I was in school, and by the time I had my first “real” job, social was the topic of conversation for CMOs across the country. Four years…that’s it.

By the time Timeline was introduced in 2011, small businesses and huge marketing companies alike knew that social media (not just Facebook), could not be ignored. And it’s not because it was another outlet to shout at consumers, it’s because consumers were now growing up, as I had, with social media. It was not only a part of our everyday, but Facebook was now a part of our story.

Sure, there are still significant negative associations with social networks (privacy risks and big data are a few), but I challenge you to consider the significant strides we’ve made since Facebook gave social media its popularity.

Family, friends and brands are able to connect and converse (like actually converse) with each other, while also communicating with an entire circle of people, so that it’s not just one conversation, but it’s one and many simultaneously. We’re able to remember the important things happening in each other’s lives and feel connected, even if we haven’t seen or heard from someone in years.

So I’m sappy. But Facebook is one of my oldest friends and I interact it every single day, multiple times a day. So, to me 10 years is a big deal. And I’m anxious to see what will happen in the next 10.

What’s your first memory of Facebook?

If you’re interested in a little more Facebook history, check out this infographic by Inside Facebook.

The Short-Form Video Revolution: Vine, Instagram Video, or Both?

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It’s no surprise that video, in general, is on the rise. It’s been talked about by marketers since YouTube became a major player. But video consumption has increased substantially in the past year. Video plays on smartphones tripled from 2011 to 2012 (Adobe). The viral reach of video is also now outpacing any other type of content, with the viral share-of-reach for video growing from 55% in 2011 to 77% in 2012 (versus non-video content) (Adobe).

Being a part of the video game is now an option marketers are being forced to consider. But, the creation of videos can often seem daunting for marketing managers. How high quality should the videos be? How long should they be? What should be included?  All of these questions have become barriers preventing brands from diving into video content creation.

Fortunately with the introduction of both Vine and Instagram Video, most of these difficult decisions can be avoided. Not only do these apps make videos easy to create and upload, but consumers also seem to prefer this type of short-form video over static images. In fact, before Instagram Video was available, Vine videos were shared 4 times more than any other video on the internet (Unruly Media), and the number of Vine video links posted on Twitter surpassed the number of Instagram photos posted (Nick Bilton, NY Times Columnist).

Because of its unique video platform, Vine quickly became one of the most popular apps available, but as soon as Instagram introduced “Instavideo,” its popularity started to wain. Using Topsy analytics, we put together a chart of the past 2 weeks, showing the amount of Vine and Instagram links shared on Twitter. From the graph you can tell that more Instagram links (including both photos and videos) are being shared on Twitter. This is due to one thing: short-form video.

Instagram Shares vs. Vine Shares

Now that there are two players in the short-form video world, marketers who wish to engage with users in this way must decide which app to use. From the chart, one might be quick to assert that Instagram Video is the best avenue as Instagram Video has had a major effect on the amount of Vine videos created and shared. On June 26, less than 900,000 Vine links were shared on Twitter, compared with nearly 3 million shared on June 15 (as reported by Marketing Land). So does this mean that brands should opt for Instagram Video over Vine?

We’re not so sure. There are too many differentiators keeping the two video content creation apps from usurping the other. AND, don’t forget that each will continue to develop their platforms to keep their loyal users around.

If you have the time, why not create a presence on both apps? If you really must choose one, consider your audience and the types of videos you want to share. Where do they fit the best? No matter which app you choose, though, you’re doing something right by engaging with your audience using short-form videos.

As for us, we got hooked on Vine from the get-go and haven’t been able to stop. But we also love Instagram Video because we already have an Instagram account, the videos are unintrusive, and the footage is undeniably beautiful.

Interested in some of my Vines? Look up social_allie when you’re on the Vine app.

Which video app do you prefer?

Data-Based Advertising: Targeting with Facebook Partner Categories

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When isn’t Facebook in the news? It seems that, no matter what, there’s always a story. Facebook stock has gone down! Facebook stock as gone up! Facebook changes its layout…again. Facebook allows video ads! The list is endless.

So, sometimes the really HUGE information can get lost. In this case it’s Facebook’s partnership with Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon. Techcrunch and some of the other tech-savvy pubs covered this news. But somehow its importance to advertisers just didn’t break through. Instead, consumers were more worried about the impending transfer of personal data from these services to Facebook (understandably so).

But from an advertisers standpoint, this news is groundbreaking. These data services will match up a user’s online browsing activity (outside of Facebook) with their Facebook user IDs, thereby allowing Facebook to provide advertisers over 500 new unique targeting groups (with more to come).

These third-party data services provide additional data to make your target audience come to life in an even more relevant manner. Here is an overview of the targeting capabilities provided by these data services and a little more about each company:

Facebook Targeting Partner Categories

Acxiom is a data company with 32 billion data records. It’s one of the industry leaders when it comes to compiling, managing, and applying consumer & business data for marketing. Facebook’s current partnership with Acxiom allows you to target based on the household information of a user (their dwelling type, the market value of their house, whether they rent or own, etc.). You can also target users based on what sort of bank cards/credit cards they use, whether they invest some of their money, and what their job role is (administration/managerial, clerical, educator, farmer, financial, etc.).

Acxiom - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

Datalogix has a database containing more than $1 trillion in offline purchase-based data. They convert this data into an online universe of custom-made targeting profiles. Facebook’s partnership with Datalogix seems the most beneficial as it includes general buyer personas (e.g. fashionista, healthy & fit, green consumers, sportsman, etc.), retail categories (flower buyers, childrens products, pet supply, etc.), and subscription service categories (enrolled in online higher ed, has a mortgage, signed up for online auto insurance, etc.) to make it a bit easier for advertisers to put together their targets.

Datalogix - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

Datalogix - Facebook Advertising Partner Targeting

When I first learned the word Epsilon, it was as a letter in the Greek alphabet (I have my 10th grade teacher to thank for having memorized the entire thing!). But Epsilon, the data company, provides transactional data and consumer-reported survey data. Its partnership with Facebook now allows advertisers to create target audiences based on the type of business a person works for, their occupation, whether they have auto loans, if they donate to charitable causes, buy magazines, and more.

Epsilon - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

All of these data options make it easier for advertisers to reach audiences that they might not have been able to in the past. Gone are the days of having to resort to LinkedIn to reach someone in a certain profession. Gone are the days of guessing the items people purchase based on their “Likes.” Now there’s actual data to back these suspicions up.

Because of these partnerships, Facebook ads will not only be more targeted, but they will also be more relevant to they users they’ve targeted. B2B companies, retail companies, and all other companies now have the capability to know that they’ve targeted the right person with a message that’s relevant to them.

http://sixstoriesup.com/watch-out-vine-instagram-video-cinema-announced-today/

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Today Facebook & Instagram confirmed our suspicions. Instagram has incorporated video into their platform!

It’s seamless, beautiful and available today. Here’s the down & dirty on what makes it different from Vine:

  1. Instagram videos can be up to 15 seconds long, as opposed to Vine’s video lengths which are capped at 6 seconds. According to Instagram’s co-founder it’s the “perfect medium” between longer format videos and ultra-short videos.Instagram Video Record Button
  2. With Instagram’s video interface, users will be able to edit bits of their video and re-record. Whereas on Vine if you need to edit a clip users are forced to re-record the entire video (though it seems this may be changing soon).Instagram Video Editing Clips
  3. Instagram is known for beautiful photography and according to today’s announcement videography will be no different. Instagram has developed 13 unique filters into its interface, made specifically for videos. These filters are similar to the filters for photographs, but are all their own. With Vine there is currently no filter option – what you see is what you get.Instagram Video Filter Capabilities
  4. With Instagram Video, users can now select their own cover photo. This cover frame is the image that will be published to their friends feeds. With Vine, there is no option to select your own cover photo, it just automatically assigns one.Instagram Video Cover Photo
  5. Instagram Cinema is here and pretty groundbreaking. Instagram teamed up with video scientists all over the world to create a stabilization feature within their camera interface so that no Instagram Videos are wobbly. This is a pretty remarkable feature that will allow users to seem like professional videographers (much like how Instagram pictures allow users to seem like professional photographers).
  6. There is no loop. On Vine, videos automatically play when you scroll through your feed and they also loop over and over again. With Instagram Videos, the cover photo is what appears in a users’ feed, with an overlay of a video icon. As soon as users lift their finger while scrolling through their feed the video plays. Seamless and unobtrusive.Instagram Video In Feed
  7. All Instagram videos will be on the web as well as on the app, so that users can link to their Instagram profile or specific video. With Vine, users must point their friends to the app if they want to share their profile or video or ask people to follow them.

Instagram Video seems to be “everything we know and love,” about Instagram already, “but it moves.” Oh…and did I mention it’s available right now on both Android and iOS?

Will you ditch Vine for Instagram Video?

Twitter TV Ad Targeting: Qualifications for Advertisers

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This morning at its #Twitter4brands conference, Twitter unveiled two new services: TV Ad Targeting & Twitter Amplify. We’re most excited about the new TV Ad Targeting project, but have discovered that it may be a VERY long time before advertisers and brands will actually be able to use it, especially because of its budget restrictions and exclusivity.

Here’s what we learned about the new products:

Twitter Amplify:

We knew when they announced the Vine app that Twitter was trending toward making video a more prominent part of the Twitter user experience. But we had no clue what was on the horizon. This morning we learned that media brands and their ad partners can promote short television clips on Twitter. It’s been in Beta for a while, with 5-10 second replays from NBA basketball games. But brands will now be able to include their message at the end of the clip. For instance, a clip from “The Weather Channel followed by an ad for a restaurant chain,” (Mashable). How this smaller advertisers will be able to take advantage of this, we’re not exactly sure yet. But what we do know is that promoted videos are an amazing way to really engage an audience.

TV Ad Targeting:

I’ve always been a fan of the technology behind Social TV analytic company Bluefin Labs. Since being acquired by Twitter, though, we had yet to see any major changes in the platform. Until now. This morning Twitter announced a new product that will allow you to promote tweets to users who have just watched your ad on tv, thereby securing post-commercial viewing engagement.

Twitter is now enabling brands to consider the entire Social TV experience and giving them a chance to break through. Want users to watch your commercial and then visit your amazing website or start playing your social game? With TV ad targeting on Twitter, this is now a reality. The Social TV movement has finally come full circle.

But you’ll have to hold your horses, because the project is currently in Beta and only being offered to current Twitter ad partners. I was also sad to find that the reality is that this is a product only brands with large marketing budgets can afford.

Here are the qualifications needed before Twitter will allow you to use Twitter TV Targeting (as confirmed by an account executive at Twitter):

  • Run national TV advertisements in the US that span multiple days (ideally across multiple shows and/or networks)
  • Run TV ad targeted campaigns for a minimum of one week, in line with TV schedule
  • Promote tweets that reinforce the same message as TV ads
  • Allocate a minimum of $100K incremental (per handle) to “Promoted Tweet” campaigns coordinated with TV ads.
    • $50K of this must be allocated to TV ad targeting, with remaining funds to be allocated at the client’s discretion.
  • Have spent at least $25K with Twitter in 2013

With these new opportunities, will you rethink your Twitter advertising budget?

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Facebook Advertising: Targeting Niche Audiences

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While I strongly recommend well-thought-out social media strategies that predominantly include organic social media tactics, I also understand the necessity for paid social media advertising (though I wouldn’t advocate for Twitter promoted trends unless you have a luxurious marketing budget).

Paid social ads, particularly Facebook ads, are relatively cost efficient, have the ability to kickstart a campaign and, most of all, they provide one of the most highly targeted mediums available.

Gone are the days of the “cast a wide net” theory. Now it’s the online networks and publications with the ability to provide hyper-targeted niche audiences that are of most interest to advertisers. Facebook is one of the best when it comes to reaching these tightly woven target audiences.

For some reason, though, whether it be the hype associated with the Facebook IPO or the general misuse of Facebook ad campaigns by the average user, the amazing targeting options and high click-through rates of Facebook ad campaigns are often lost on marketers.

Some suspect that their target audience simply isn’t on Facebook or that Facebook users don’t click on ads. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In Q1 of 2013, Facebook reported that it had 1.11 BILLION users. A wide variety of reports confirm that these users also check Facebook daily, if not multiple times per day (especially on their mobile devices)…even while they’re working out. And if you’re using the correct combination of creative elements and have the correct strategy in place (e.g. lead generation), Facebook users WILL click on your ads.

Now that we’ve tackled that elephant in the room, let’s dive into what exactly the Facebook targeting options are:

  1. Demographics: You can target users by location (by zip code, city, state, country, within x miles of specific cities), age (any range up to age 65), sex, and relationship status (married, engaged, single with interests in males or females).
  2. Birthday: You can create ads that are targeted at people who have a birthday in the next week (or other specific timeframe).
  3. Precise Interests: Facebook considers information such as the Facebook pages the users “Like,” the apps they use, and any other information they have added to their Facebook timeline, to determine their precise interests. These can be drawn from their listed interests, activities, education, job titles, groups they belong to, and more.
  4. Facebook Broad Categories: If you need a little help developing your target audience and can’t quite come up with precise interests, Facebook also has broader categories. These are also based on users’ status updates or any actions they have taken on Facebook.
  5. Education: Target users by the year they graduated, whether they’ve graduated or are still in college, which university they attended, and even which subject area they majored in.
  6. Connections: In addition to this demographic data, you can also target people who have “Liked” your page, joined your group, RSVP’d to your event, or users who have used your app. You can even reach the friends of people who have taken any of these actions, which is a powerful way to gain new users/”Likes,” as friends tend to have similar interests.
  7. Partner Categories: Here’s where it gets even more robust. Facebook has partnered with Acxiom, Datalogix & Epsilon to provide over 500 unique groups (with more to come) of people to target via Facebook. These services allow Facebook to combine information from their partners (which is based on a user’s online browsing activity on websites other than Facebook) with the information gathered from the user’s activity on Facebook. Click here for more about targeting with Facebook’s Data Partners.
  8. Custom Audiences: Custom audiences allow advertisers to target their ads to a specific set of users based on a previously owned list of phone numbers or email addresses. Basically, Facebook matches these email addresses and/or phone numbers with Facebook user IDs and encrypted data to build an audience that’s completely your own.
  9. Lookalike Audiences: When you create a custom audience list, you can also create a “lookalike audience” that includes people who are similar to your custom audience list. This way you’re reaching people who have the same interests and demographic information as your custom audience, but that you have not established a connection with just yet.

So What? 3 Reasons Why You Need a Social Media Strategy

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Social Media bandwagon - Image courtesy of Prepare1.comBecause of the ease and low-cost associated with space on social networks, most businesses opt for a “shot-in-the-dark” strategy rather than approaching their social media presence, strategically.

In fact, a significant amount of marketers (80%) incorrectly begin with tactics instead of goals when it comes to social media strategy. They consider the creation of a Facebook page or twitter handle to be “free” and place them in the “as time permits” category.

This passive approach has led to one of the largest challenges in social media marketing as of late: How to measure and determine the ROI of your social media marketing efforts. The creation of a social media strategy is the only way to adequately answer this question, as it provides a critical context for evaluation of these efforts.

Your brand is too important to be treated so casually!
If you jump on the social media bandwagon by thinking about tactics first (e.g. creating a Facebook page or Twitter handle), you risk spending time on something that might not actually make strategic sense for your brand. Here’s why:

1. Time is Money - First of all, all of these “free” social media networks should take real time to manage properly, especially if you want to be successful. The time you or your co-workers spend updating each of your social media profiles, creating content, and (hopefully) optimizing it, all equals money.

2. Opportunity Cost - Think back to intro level economics. When you spend time updating your status, tweeting, pinning, creating videos etc. you’re not spending time doing another activity. Our time is not infinite, so we must make choices on how we spend it. As such, it makes sense that we should spend our time on activities that are proven to drive revenue or generate leads. But how can we determine if our time is well-spent with no measurement tools in place? That brings me to my next point…

3. Measurement & ROI -  The key to determining the worth of your efforts is creating metrics to follow and measure throughout the course of the campaign. Here’s the problem: without actual goals in mind, you are unable to delineate key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure your activity. Sure, you can do daily maintenance and discover, for instance, that funny quotes get more retweets and that shorter YouTube videos get the most shares. You might even track how many hits to your website you get from each of these channels. But…so what? All of this means nothing if you have no plan in place or goals to work against. Without measurement tools, you’ll have no idea whether it is actually worth your time to maintain these social media profiles. You’ll have an even smaller idea about whether your target audience or customers are even receptive to these efforts – or if they even know about them?

Essentially, without goals and a strategy your efforts are seemingly purposeless. You’re posting updates, tweeting, blogging, and creating content all in hopes that something is going to move the needle. The problem is that you have no clue how you’d know if it did move or how.

The bottom line is, in order to determine the ROI of your efforts or to justify the budgets and time allocated to social media marketing, you must create a strategy that starts with clear business goals.

Why else might a social strategy be useful?

This is the second in our series of “So What?” blog posts, introducing social media to brands. As we move throughout this series, we will cover topics such as ROI, the social consumer, analytics, and more. Click here to read the first in the series: Why Embrace Social Media & The Groundswell.

So What? Why Embrace Social Media & The Groundswell

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This is the first in a series of “So What?” blog posts, introducing social media to brands. As we move throughout this series, I’ll cover more sophisticated topics such as ROI, the social consumer, analytics, social strategy and more.

so what? social media

So what?

In an age of limitless social networks, of Mustafa the Old Spice Guy, of Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project, there are still a sea of executives wondering:

“So what? – what’s the point of all this ‘social media’?”

The pervasiveness of social media is undeniable. As of August 2012, 69% of online adults use social networking sites. But why should brands and marketers alike spend their time and money developing a social media strategy? The simple answer is that they cannot afford NOT to. Here’s why:

Why should brands embrace the social media “trend?”

Since the first real social network in 1996, consumers have been privy to more information and more connections to brands and each other than ever before. We have more knowledge at our fingertips and we have the ability to share that knowledge using just 140 characters (if we like).

Along with the incipience of social networking sites, came a fundamental change in our online behavior. Forrester calls it the “groundswell” – by their definition it’s “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions…” It started with networks like Craigslist and Napster – allowing people to share music or apartment vacancies. And now, people turn to one another for advice about almost every aspect of their lives – including which products to buy and brands to give their loyalty.

Customers have always formed opinions about what a brand signifies and shared that with their friends over a few drinks. Now, as a part of the groundswell, they’re spreading that opinion online, in seconds, to an exponential number of people. They’re posting reviews on Yelp, tweeting about your brand, etc.,  and by doing so, they’re redefining your brand one post, tweet, review at a time. In fact, a recent study by Massrelevance found that 75% of consumers use social to find & share info about brands.

The balance of power has changed and is now in the hands of your consumer.

As a consequence of these connections, this knowledge, and the ease of sharing amongst our network, brands are now forced to be more open, more transparent, more consumer-centric, and more connected themselves. It’s no longer okay to sit back and watch others participate, now brands must listen to and engage with the groundswell in order to get its attention and help influence the conversation.

Connected consumers simply will not accept brands that aren’t participating, aren’t listening, or aren’t responding to them in real time. Convinced yet?

Stay tuned for more in our “So What?” series about social media, ROI, strategy and more. And – feel free to leave suggestions for “So What?” posts in the comments below.

To learn more about the groundswell, check out Groundswell (the revised edition) by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff.

Get Pinterested: 5 Reasons to Use Pinterest Business Accounts

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Image courtesy of http://www.marriedtothesea.com/

If you’re as into social media as I am, you too may have been excited about the latest news from Pinterest – verified business accounts have arrived! Pinterest has also announced that new tools will soon be available to businesses to set their accounts apart from personal pages. We still aren’t sure what these tools might be, but they’re likely to include some back-end analytics, and maybe even a means to conduct a Pinterest contest without relying on a third party.

If you’ve been skeptical about using Pinterest for your business, now is the time to take it into consideration – especially if your target audience is women who enjoy curating information. As with any new platform, it’s important to make sure that Pinterest fits into your social strategy before diving in head first. However, if you need an incentive to start your decision-making process, here are 5 reasons we think you should ‘get Pinterested’:

5 Reasons to use Pinterest for business

  1. Drive traffic to your website or blog – In multiple studies, Pinterest has been shown to direct more traffic than Yahoo organic search, Bing, Twitter, and Google+ combined. And, according to Real Simple, Pinterest refers more visitors to its site than Facebook!
  2. Another avenue to engage with your audience - One of the best ways to measure engagement with your content (no matter the channel) is to look at the amount of time users spend with it. According to ComScore, Pinterest users spend an average of 15.8 minutes on the site per visit, which is more than the average time spent on Facebook and Twitter combined.
  3. Expand your reach – With each new pin to one of your boards, you gain another opportunity to reach someone new. Especially so if a user “repins” your post. It’s very similar to the Twitter model, because the potential reach of each piece of content is exponential.
  4. Drive purchases – Are you a retailer? Pinterest is a great way to drive actual sales. A study by Shopify shows that Pinterest users not only buy the products they pin, but they also spend more on average than Facebook users. In fact, shoppers referred by Pinterest are 10% more likely to make a purchase than visitors who arrive from other social networks!
  5. Use it for market research - Search a topic of interest to your brand or consumers of your brand. What are people pinning related to that topic? Use the Popular Pinterest Board to find out what new and unique things are trending each day.
How do you use Pinterest for business?
Allie db&r social media specialist

I’m Six Stories Up at db&r

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Allie db&r social media specialistIt has been such a long time since I’ve posted on socialallie.com. Shame on me! Here’s the deal – Most of my blogging efforts are now through db&r. As their Social Media Specialist, I curate and write for our blog (sixstoriesup.com). I’m still writing!

So, while I think about my next post exclusively for socialallie.com, I thought I’d share some of the most recent blogs I’ve posted for db&r.

It’s All Relative – Social Media Engagement To Stand The Test Of Time | Nov. 6, 2012
Today, I turn 26 years old. Maybe you think I’m pretty young… or just maybe you’re thinking that’s the perfect age (and I’m hoping this is the case!). As I prepared for a simultaneous election and birth-day, I began reflecting on what it means to be 26 in a “social” world: how has my social media use changed over time; how do I use use social media differently from my parents, my older sister, and my co-workers; and most importantly for us at db&r, what does all this mean for social media marketers? Continue Reading…

Must-Read Posts: Presidential Debate, Social TV, Social Style, Pinterest & More | Oct. 18, 2012
It’s been a busy week (well, couple of months really) here at db&r. Even still, we always make time to stay in touch with the latest online conversations. Here are some of our favorite blog posts, articles, or videos from the week so far: Continue Reading…

Five for Friday: 5 Mac Memories in Remembrance of Steve Jobs | Oct. 5, 2012
It’s exactly one year after one of the greatest innovators of our time passed away – Steve Jobs. When we realized it had already been a year since he passed, we had nothing but memories of our first interactions with Apple. So, for this week’s Five for Friday we pulled together our first Macintosh memories. Continue Reading…

Myspace Redesigns & Repositions: New Myspace Features [Slideshow] | Sept. 27, 2012
A few days ago Justin Timberlake tweeted a link to what I call “the little video that could,” which recaps the new Myspace design as well as some of its functionality. This video has the whole social media world tweeting up a storm. And why? Not just because of its “sexy” design. It’s how the brand seems to be repositioning itself as more of a partner to Facebook and Twitter than a replacement. This move could potentially allow the network to penetrate the mass market…quickly. Continue Reading…

Google Reader & Marketing Your Brand: Why & How to Use RSS Feeds & Google Reader | Sept. 10, 2012
Google Reader has been around since a beta was launched in Google Labs in 2005 – I first started using the service about three years ago. But I’ve discovered that not everyone understands or is even aware of what Google Reader is, let alone how to use it for marketing purposes. So here’s your guide to using Google Reader as a marketing tool. Continue Reading…

Demystifying Facebook Advertising: 9 steps to optimize your Facebook ad campaigns for success | Aug. 14, 2012
Ever since GM pulled its ad dollars from Facebook back in May, there’s been a ton of conversation around the worth and effectiveness of Facebook ads. When Facebook became an IPO, the controversy continued. Now the question is not only whether Facebook advertising justifies a major ad spend, but are also whether Facebook will even be around in a few years. Continue Reading…

Demystifying Facebook Advertising: 9 steps to optimize your Facebook ad campaigns for success

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Ever since GM pulled its ad dollars from Facebook back in May, there’s been a ton of conversation around the worth and effectiveness of Facebook ads. When Facebook became an IPO, the controversy continued. Now the question is not only whether Facebook advertising justifies a major ad spend, but are also whether Facebook will even be around in a few years.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, because it makes no sense that ads on Facebook wouldn’t show a significant return. Not only are there 900 million users, spending on average six hours on the network per day, but it’s also a data machine. The amount of personal data Facebook has access to can translate into hyper-targeted, very well-performing advertisements.

Here’s the problem: the majority of those engaging in Facebook advertising on their own are under-informed about how to use the platform correctly. 

As with most ad mediums, Facebook requires its own set of best practices to ensure good performance and ultimately ROI. After some experience with the platform and one of the best resources for Facebook Advertising, the Social Fresh Facebook Advertising Conference, I know that you really need help to make sure that your ads not only perform well, but to also spend less per click!

Here are the 9 steps to creating effective Facebook advertising campaigns:

    1. Your goal affects everything! If you’re working for a smaller business, you might not have a specific goal in mind. Maybe what you really want is just to gain Facebook fans. You need to think differently! Figure out if your campaign is to create awareness about something, whether it’s meant to create influence, generate leads, or generate actual sales. There’s only so much one advertisement can do, no matter where it lives, so pick out one goal and then go by a few rules we’ll post next week!
    2. Think about your targets (and you should have multiple) as people. Your ads will not be effective if you lump a bunch of interests into one target group. Create targets based on their personas – they probably have an age range, a geographic location, and more than one interest. For instance, if you’re selling scrapbooking supplies maybe your target is in their thirties, they like DIY, but do a little digging to find out that they might also like country music, or have a few kids. Think about them as holistically as possible.
    3. Create content for specific targets. While you might have a similar message to serve all of your targets, each has its own way of processing information. Put everything in context and use the language that your target uses to make highly relevant advertisements.
    4. Test, Test, Test! Test everything and every combination. Split test your headlines, your ad copy, your image and then test how they all work together with specific targets. You might be thinking, “there’s no way I can do all of that.” There probably wouldn’t be, if it weren’t for amazing services like Qwaya and Clickable that save target information, and automatically pair these variables for you. They also allow you to monitor and analyze all of your campaigns asa well.
    5. Prevent ad fatigue. If you didn’t know this – get ready, this is a BIG concept. The more people click on your ads, the lower your ad will cost you. Mind boggling. Usually with display advertising, once click thru rates improve, the site can start charging more. Not with Facebook (or LinkedIn for that matter). Facebook will always award a lower cost per click (CPC) to those ads that prove to truly engage users. After a few days, your ad is probably not receiving the same CTRs as it was when it first started to run. As soon as you see a dip, you should pause the campaign. Otherwise, the same ad will start costing you more and more. To prevent this, all you have to do is make a few changes. Swap out an image or change its color. Keep in mind, though, that lower CPCs are not necessarily indicative of a high-performing campaign. Higher engagement rates on your website or your Facebook tab might mean you need to pay a little more for the click.
    6. Think about the future. The higher CTRs your ads (as an ad manager) receive, the better your reputation. This means from the start of your campaigns, your suggested bids can be lower and lower as Facebook trusts your messaging. So, when creating campaigns today, be sure to monitor them tightly to make sure your average CTR doesn’t nosedive.  Or else, so will your reputation! Remember that Facebook’s benchmark for a great CTR is 0.02%.
    7. Audience sizing is muo importante. It’s not only important to craft very special and deliberate targets to serve your facebook ads to, but it’s also important to make sure that the size of your target makes the effort worthwhile. Any target audience that contains fewer than 5,000 people lends itself to a low-performing campaign AND will result in diminishing returns.
    8. Image, Image, Image. Employ the 3-foot-rule. If you can’t see what’s going on in the image from 3 feet away, then it’s not going to make for an effective ad. In fact, the single most important factor in a well-performing campaign is the image used.
    9. Think about users expectations when it comes to your landing page. If you’re not showing users what they expected to see when they clicked on your ad, then you’re going to have high bounce rates and not see return on your ad dollars. Be sure that  you follow through with any call to action included within your ad AND that you make it super easy for users to understand and take that action. AndNEVER make them scroll.
Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using Metrics

How to Measure Social Media ROI – by yourself

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ROI (Return on Investment) has been THE buzz word for the past six months or so (well before Facebook became an IPO and stole its thunder). Why? Because now that social networking sites are here to stay, marketers are being forced to carve out a place for it in their overall marketing budgets, instead of using discretionary funds for “emerging technologies.” But it’s no easy task to get the buy-in on a whole budget dedicated to social media marketing (SMM) – especially if you work for a small business.

First of all, many people perceive that social media marketing is virtually free.

Networking sites themselves are “free” to be a part of, but managing them correctly and devoting the time necessary to developing a strategy and creating unique content is in no way FREE. Large corporations have huge sectors and agencies and freelance writers devoted to keeping their blogs and social networks alive. That’s a lot of actual dollars and cents.

To boot, if you ever took an intro level economics class, you know about “opportunity costs.” These are the costs you incur by not doing something else. For instance, if you spend 2 hours writing a blog post, you’re losing 2 hours where you could have been creating an email. If your emails on average garner about $800 each, then to make spending your time creating a blog post worth it, you’ve got to at least generate $800 in revenue from it, right?

If only it were that simple. Social media marketing is a little different from traditional marketing- it takes time to build a base, a reputation, and to increase your site’s SEO. If your ultimate goal by participating in SMM is to increase revenue, then you’ve really got to think about three things:

  1. The resources you have involved in it – How much money do you have, how many people do you have to draw on for the effort, how much time is your team spending on social media?
  2. Your more immediate goals – be they awareness, engagement, purchase intent, etc.
  3. How much value you associate with each social networking touch point (a twitter follower, or a facebook fan etc.).

TechCrunch reported that the value of a Twitter follower is less than one cent. Others think Twitter followers are worth closer to $3/month. There’s really no conclusive evidence because it’s always a case-by-case basis.

Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using MetricsSo how do you figure out what the ROI of your social media marketing strategy is?

1. Instead of associating value directly to dollars, associate value to your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Ex. How many of our twitter followers shared our content or purchased our product? 

2. To delineate your KPIs you have to think long and hard about what your end goal is.

Is it awareness about your brand? Is it to influence purchase decisions? In what part of the marketing    funnel are you trying to reach your target?  

3. Determine how active your followers are on average. Some indicators of their engagement level on various social networking sites are how personalized their Facebook or blog comments are and by how much time they spend on your landing page or site.

Do they visit your page, whether it be your Facebook page, blog, etc., once and then never interact with it again? 

Some advocate for creating a social media scorecard. This method incorporates manually grading or balancing different interactions (a video view versus a tweet).  These “grades” are dependent upon your SMM goal(s). You basically create a weighted scale to help you determine your ROI.

After you figure out the value of each KPI, you can put them in order and then multiply the number of interactions with the grade. Add them all up for a total campaign score. More about this method to come.

What factors do you include when calculating your social media ROI?

The Karmic Way: Rules of the Twitterverse

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I recently finished reading The Tao of Twitter by Mark W. Schaefer. I was so happy that someone finally put words to what I’ve always felt people who haven’t truly immersed themselves in Twitter have trouble understanding – the reciprocal nature and “genuine authenticity,” as Schaefer calls it, of the twitterverse.

It’s true. Twitter is almost an anomaly. It’s both a platform and a publisher. It’s about both creation and consumption. But probably the biggest complexity I’ve found (and warmly embraced) about the Twitter world is the simultaneous one-to-one and one-to-many nature of conversations.

This is why it’s hard to get started. At the same time you’re conversing with someone you’ve just met in a twitter chat or on a #FF (Follow Friday) you’re also sharing this content with all of your followers and anyone who checks out your stream (unless it’s via DM). To some it’s a bit daunting – all of this, well, openness.

But if you can get past your initial privacy concerns and dive in, you’ll find Twitter to be one of the most rewarding outlets for not only your content, but also for networking and developing true relationships.

Some argue that these relationships are only skin deep because Twitter encourages competition – it seems as if everyone’s racing to get the most followers. But, as Mark mentions in the book and I’ve discovered over the years, it’s not actually very helpful to have a bunch of followers. What’s beneficial is having “targeted followers” – followers who you’re interested in reading content from and who are equally as interested in your content. If you can remember this, you really will be able to build relationships with your followers.

Once you become an avid tweeter, you’ll also understand the “rule of reciprocity” that is inherent in following someone. Usually if you follow someone with similar interests, they’ll follow you back. If someone shares one of your blog posts, or retweets you, somewhere down the line, you’ll return the favor for them.

Twitter is, then, a platform that’s run on sharing with and actually caring about your followers – who’d a thunk? It embraces quid pro quo (tweet for tweet) in the most authentic and friendly sense.

That’s why I’ve always felt as though Twitter was a micro-world based on karma. I thought: “It’ll just give you good karma to RT this post or follow that guy who just followed you. It’s the way of the world.” But I could never find a great way to describe this karmic sentiment until Mark referred to it as the Tao, or the way, of Twitter.

Mark mentions a few other facets that make Twitter a friendly, helpful, and ultimately golden resource for everyone in his book and so I highly recommend picking it up and giving it a read. It may not be 140 characters, but it’s short and sweet all the same. No matter what, though, I hope this has been the spoonful of sugar you needed to keep you on track with your twitter regiment.

How do you use Twitter for business?

Facebook Advertising – Premium Ads & the new Timeline

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Facebook Timeline is now mandatory for business pages, whether you like it or not! Prior to the switchover Facebook business pages you could produce a professional looking page with lots of options for fan engagement without a large budget.

With the new changes, though, Facebook business pages are definitely not as “small biz friendly.” The new format brought changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank, the look and functionality of business pages, as well as changes to their advertising options. There are now “premium” advertising options for the big guys – things like logout page ads, mobile ads, Facebook offer ads, even news feed ads!! The regular ads we’re used to will pale in comparison.

On top of this Facebook has also changed the amount of characters allowed in an ad to 90 characters so that they can fit more ads on the advertising panel. Meaning that not only will you have less space to get your message across but that you’ll also be competing with more ads. To compete, you’ll need to focus more on the image you post along with your ads – making it stand out from the rest.

So, what are the premium ad options?

1. News Feed Ads – Before this option, the only way an ad could make it to your News Feed was if one of your friends shared or liked the link. Now – businesses can pay for the News Feed placement of Featured or Sponsored Stories Ads regardless of the ad’s actual “Edgerank.” The ad will look like any other post in your feed, except for it will be tagged as “featured.” To the average user, this could be viewed as pretty intrusive, but it is a great opportunity for marketers to get some prime time impressions with their fans’ friends.

2. Logout Ads – I never log out of Facebook, but there are tons of people out there who do, actually around 37 million per day. Facebook is looking to capitalize on this by allowing big brands to purchase advertisements on the sign off page. But only one ad will show up on the sign off page at a time – one huge image for one huge impact. The thought is that these ads will convert more people because they are already ending their Facebook experience and are ready to jump to another site.

3. Mobile Ads – It’s happened. Facebook can’t help itself from serving ads to the 350 million active users who access Facebook via a mobile device. The mobile ads you purchase will appear in the News Feed, but no panel ads (the small screen prohibits side ads).

4. Offers – Premium accounts can now provide discounts and offers to their fans. Offers as easy to create as a status update and are super share-worthy. Combine an offer with a Sponsored Story ad and you’ve got a winning advertising campaign.

And the doozy….

5. Reach Generator - Brands can now pay to guarantee that at least 75% of their fans see a particular post (as opposed to the 16% an average post receives). This is good news for the big brands with deep pockets, but for smaller companies it’s out of the price range. Maybe in the coming months this option will be available at a more reasonable price, but for now it’s an advantage that the major players have over the little guys.

What’s the problem? All of these options sound awesome. The problem is multifaceted. First of all, consumers will be served more ads per day than they’re used to. Second, only certain businesses are allowed these features. The offers ads are great, but small businesses don’t have access to them. Nor do small business have access to News Feed ads.

Until there’s a different EdgeRank for underdogs – allowing their ads or posts to be revealed more often, big businesses are the ones who will be #winning with these new ad changes. One of the reasons so many smaller companies flocked to Facebook in the first place was the ease of use and low overhead it took to compete with their competitors – even the larger brands. Now – that is not so.

From a user’s perspective – yes, we will be receiving more ads then ever from companies. Fortunately, the ads that we’ll see will (or should) engage us more than ever.

What other implications do you see coming from the new ad changes?

Sources:

WOMMA Webinar with Cara Friedman at Likeable Media

Mikal Belicove. How Facebook’s ‘Offers’ and ‘reach Generator’ Can Deliver More for Less. Entreprenuer.com. March 7, 2012. http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/223062

Analytics & Social Strategy – Do they exist?

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I’ve been working on this post for a while. Why? Because to be completely honest, there’s a ton of debate around social media ROI and analysis. As I’ve researched, though, I’ve found a few tips that can help you in the right direction when it comes to measuring the success of your social media efforts.

I want to start by stating that it’s not all about the money. Let me qualify that – I mean, every marketing initiative doesn’t directly translate to actual dollars. A lot of marketing is about maintaining current relationships (CRM – Customer Relationship Management). Here’s a great quote I found in a recent STORES article:

“It may be hard to accept that the sweet spot for social is more about deeper engagement and brand building than a lift to the bottom line.”

Marketers are pointing to the ever expansiveness of social networking and claiming that even if you can’t evaluate the numbers properly, you still have to be involved with social media marketing. Nielsen’s Social Media Report noted that nearly 80% of Internet users visit social networks and 53% of active social networkers follow brand. No matter what, social networking is important for brands.

But, if you can’t measure the success of your latest social media campaign, then it’s almost impossible to determine areas for improvement and growth for your next social endeavor. So there’s no way that we can completely ignore the numbers!

Here are some low barrier to entry ways to start measuring the success of your social media efforts:

At the beginning of a campaign, be it a new facebook contest or an integrated social media and online event, the most important thing to do is to delineate what factors you’ll be looking at to indicate either an achievement or a failure. This could be increased engagement, awareness, preference change etc. There are many options in the marketing funnel.

Then, you must determine what Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), will help you figure out if you’ve achieved this goal. What do you want your new followers or community to do – how do you define conversion? This could be FB likes, email opt-ins, ad impressions, site traffic, twitter followers.

Once your campaign launches, you then have to monitor them – looking at social “analytics!” What are people saying, are they retweeting you, how much? Are they sharing the content via FB, or forwarding an email, how often? Are they recommending your product or brand via Yelp or other networks? Are theyblogging about you?

You can find most of this information on your own, using Facebook insights, Hootsuite analytics or bit.ly for twitter (and Twitter also has its own website analytics), YouTube analytics, google analytics for web traffic levels and sources and you can even use technorati.com to search the blogs that include your brand name or topic.

Still wondering what the value of these followers and shares is? Check out my next post about low-level social media ROI!

How are you currently analyzing your social media efforts?