Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day -- and Summer!

I'm putting the DIY-Marketing blog on vacation for the summer. It's time for some rest and rejuvenation--and for me, lots of gardening.

I hope you get some R&R also and we can all return after Labor Day with zest and enthusiasm!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Add to Your Circle of Friends!

My friends at Overdrive Interactive have a new white paper that details ways of making connections in social media. They have 100 suggestions; I’ve picked out what I consider the Top Ten Ways to Make Friends—all free; all things even the smallest business can do. Here’s the list with some commentary and some combinations:

1.BE VAIN. Facebook now allows vanity URL’s. If you don’t have one yet, set one. It’s a lot easier to promote your page if you have a short, relevant URL that people can remember.
2.FACEBOOK TAB IT. Add an “Invite Friends” tab on your Facebook page that allows your friends to invite their own friends to become a friend of your Facebook page. Add the tab, then draw attention to it through status updates and tweets.
3.TXT 2 B FRIENDZ: Create a campaign that encourages people to join your Facebook page or Twitter profile by text messaging. If possible, respond back to messages with a coupon code or information about your company. Text “like overdriveinteractive” to 32665 to check it out. Give people an incentive to become your friend, then continue to reward them for loyalty.
4.USE CROSS-PROMOTIONS. Promote your Facebook profile on Twitter and promote your Twitter profile on your Facebook page. Tweet about your Facebook page and use status updates to talk about your Twitter page. Cross promote all your social networks, in fact! When you post something on YouTube or SlideShare, post a notice on your Facebook page and Tweet it. Be sure your company blog has chiclets or other call-outs to all your social channels!
5.SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION. Optimize your Facebook and Twitter pages for SEO. Make a list of high value key words to use opportunistically in your content. Yes the engines are indexing sourced content. Yes, Facebook and Twitter get indexed. It’s hard to overestimate the contribution of high value key words in all your social channels! Study your referrals data, use keyword tools, and see what words are drawing traffic to the sites of your competitors on
6.REACH OUT TO BLOGGERS. The blogosphere is great place to promote your Facebook and Twitter communities. Find key bloggers that talk about your brand, company, or product category and then reach out to them to become your friend. Tell them the value of your content and tell them to send things to you to tweet and post.
7.WRAP IT. If you sell packaged goods, make sure your packaging promotes your social channels. If people like you enough to buy your product, give them the chance to connect with you in the places where they want to connect. Shopping bags provide great display space. And be sure your main channels—blog, Facebook and Twitter, probably—are on your business card and your email template!
8.MORE THAN JUST DISCOUNTS. If you send [mail] out coupons, include your Facebook and Twitter addresses on them. For more encouragement, include a statement about how social connections will receive more exclusive discounts on the social channels. Do the same in your email newsletters.
9.FOR FRIENDS ONLY. Have friends-only content on your Facebook page. If users want to access the content, they need to become your friend. Give them incentives by including coupons, discounts or sweepstakes entries. List your job openings there; why should anyone apply for a job who isn’t your friend?
10.Above All: SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN. In social media, you never want to be quiet. Keep sharing information that your friends want to hear: tips, resources, contests, discounts, information, etc. The more you share content they care about, the more they will share your content and brand with their friends.

Among many other useful tips, the white paper points out that you should never waste friends. Don’t just close down a campaign-specific Facebook page. “Reskin” it. That one is likely to require professional programming assistance, but it’s worth it to recycle friends instead of having to reacquire them!

Notice that this is all about integrating your channels to get the maximum value out of your social media efforts. How are you doing on that score? There’s a new app, a Social Page Evaluator from Vitrue, discussed on Smart Blog and in more detail on Vitrue’s company blog that will put a value on your Facebook and Twitter pages.

So find out how well you’re doing in social media at the moment, think about where you need to go, and read the entire Overdrive white paper to get more valuable suggestions!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Do Your Community Members Deserve a Badge?

Social media badges are not a brand-new phenomenon. I have an impressively interactive badge on the right sidebar from the Pickens Plan community. I downloaded it because I like the community and I like the message of the badge, not because it does me any particular good. I was interested to see a new application by the Huffington Post over the weekend.

In doing research, however, I came across careless use of the term. There are quite a few writers and sites that use “badge” to identify the “this site is a member of Facebook” app like this one that you can get from many social networks. The purpose of these apps is to link you through to your page on the social network. That makes them a chiclet (note proper spelling!), not a badge as HuffPost, the Pickens Plan and others are using the term.

According to my friends at Overdrive Interactive, who have an excellent white paper on the use of chiclets, “Chiclets enable a user to quickly share web content by automatically posting articles, photos, video, and other content to their blog (WordPress, Blogger, TypePad), public bookmark page (Digg, Delicious), or social profile (Facebook, Twitter).” You can download the white paper from the Overdrive home page.

Badges have a different, and perhaps a more personal, use. CNET likens them to the efforts many of us made in Boy or Girl Scouts to collect merit badges for various accomplishments.

According to CNET, the current craze for badges started with Foresquare and the competition of its users to earn status in the community. The HuffPost application rewards its most engaged users by making their comments more visible. There are various levels of activity, which they outline on a FAQs page. For example, a member can become “Moderator” by flagging objectionable commentary on the site. As Bryan Person pointed out last week, sites are either overlooking or falling behind in the important activity of moderation. Encouraging help from their members is an excellent approach. Rewarding them in a visible way for their help seems equally desirable.
Not incidentally, the application for a badge results in the applicant linking their Facebook or Twitter account to HuffPost. The publication is cagey about how they will or won’t use that info, but the FAQs do point out that “the shift in privacy is very minimal.” Not sure exactly what that means, but it worries me about as much as people who complain that their privacy has been violated on other social networks. Social networks aren’t a place for those who zealously guard their privacy!

HuffPost is clear that its current effort is intended to increase member engagement with the site. Why can’t the concept be extended in a way that rewards members for desired behavior. That makes it like a CRM loyalty program. Why is that not a good idea? The Tesco Clubcard is the classic example of a vibrant online loyalty program, but I don’t know any firm that’s using a “proud member of” type badge as a tie-in with its loyalty program.

Maybe we’re thinking too much about social media as an acquisition tool and not enough about its potential value as a CRM tool. What are your thoughts?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Support Your Social Strategy With a Metrics Framework

In late April Altimeter and Web Analytics Demystified released a thought-provoking white paper on social media metrics. Authored by Jeremiah Owyang and John Lovett, it presents a process for developing a metrics framework in the chaotic world of social media metrics. The authors don’t expect the chaos to subside soon; too many platforms and vendors creating constant change. They’re most likely correct. Consider, for example, that Apple has a new iAd platform for its mobile devices, and you can always safely put Facebook in the “constant change” category. And the examples go on, endlessly.

The whole white paper has a lot of value, but I’d like to review just their steps for building a framework and a couple of concepts that go with them. The generic framework is straightforward; strategy guided by social media marketing and business objectives, management guided by Key Performance Indicators, and execution which, of course, provides the metrics.

To achieve that sort of integrated framework, they recommend 5 steps. They are:

Step 1: Revisit Tradition for Solid Innovation. “Many [businesses] don’t think through the traditional business rules that they know prior to deploying social initiatives or when measuring their effectiveness.” This is part of your integrated marketing strategy, not a vast new wasteland!

Step 2: Make Learning Your Primary Goal. “Every measurable business objective provides an opportunity to learn about consumers and the ways in which they interact with you, your brand and each other.” Note, that as I suggested in the post on strategy hubs, social media will not provide the conversion venue for most marketers in the near future. The authors include a chart that maps metrics to generic objectives. The original includes selected vendors in each area (p. 10). Sergio Balegno of Marketing Sherpa gave us another example last week that includes B2B segmentation, with objectives and metrics for each segment. That’s a useful way to think about understanding your customers!

Step 3: Define Requirements First, Then Select Vendors. “Organizations must determine a measurement strategy for their social marketing activity that aligns with internal goals, objectives and cultural capabilities.” Your needs, not off-the-shelf vendor products. Good advice! Do you have free solutions working now? If not, it’s likely you’re not ready for a paid solution.

Step 4: Develop Your Social Media Measurement Playbook. The authors advise marketers to “Start by creating a social media measurement playbook that aligns your organization on the goals, objectives, expectations and actions of your social marketing efforts.” In other words, a document that will keep the entire organization (all of whom are hopefully social media participants in one way or another!) moving in the same direction in social media. Think guidelines, and go from there.

Step 5: Make Our Measurement Framework Your Own. The authors “encourage readers of this report to adopt sections of our Social Marketing Analytics Framework and modify them to fit your specific business needs.” In other words, there are no cookie-cutter solutions to any of these issues. Each organization has to think them through for itself.

The while paper goes on to take each of the four generic objectives—dialog, advocacy, support and innovation—and identify KPIs, operationalization of each, and potential vendors. I hope by now I’ve convinced you to read the entire white paper for yourself!

The process is useful, but there are no new strategic insights here. It’s the same mantra; organizations must integrate social media marketing into their overall marketing strategy, then measure its accomplishments with care. Sounds so simple, but in practice, it’s so hard to do!

Monday, May 3, 2010

What Is Your Social Media Hub?

Sergio Balegno, Research Director for Marketing Sherpa, is a recognized thought leader in Internet marketing best practices. He gave a superb guest lecture in my social media marketing class last week. There was one thing in particular that he articulated much better than I’ve been able to do. It has to do with organizing your ‘traditional’ Internet and social media marketing around well-defined hubs.

It’s clear that any Internet marketing effort needs to have an activity hub. In the early days—before social media—it was equally clear that the hub was the website. All marketing efforts, PPC and display advertising—pointed there and Internet marketing objectives were achieved there. Objectives might have been driving traffic to retail stores, providing content for customer acquisition and retention, conducting ecommerce, or others as appropriate for the enterprise marketing strategy. Whatever the Internet marketing objective, the website was needed to achieve it.

Enter social media and our efforts to understand how to integrate these networks effectively into our marketing strategy. What is the correct centerpiece of for this marketing element? Social media efforts can point back to the website, and sometimes that may make sense. But often the efforts on public networks are best pointed back to the corporate blog. Sergio used as an example the Cisco Collaboration program that I wrote about last week.

Why should social media point to the blog and not to the website? The main reason is that blog content can—and should be—updated frequently with content that supports the social media efforts with precision. By its very nature, website content is updated less frequently and often is less precisely targeted to particular user segments and/or interests.

That led me to a second ‘ah-ha’ moment--the importance of recency in achieving prominence in search engine results. I hadn’t updated my thinking from the era (a couple of years ago) when things like keywords, number of incoming links, and number of clicks were only determinants of rankings in organic search. Here’s a summary of rank determinants; click through for a mind-numbing list from seo experts. With the addition of things like news, images, and videos search results pages provide the most current as well as the most relevant content. Search any current event and see for yourself!

The take-away is this: Your website is the hub of your ‘traditional’ Internet marketing. To be direct, it’s where you can sell things or acquire sales leads. An increasing number of the people who become leads or customers are going to find you, learn more about you, and develop trust in you through social media. The blog provides timely content and connects to activities like your YouTube channel and other social networks. It points readers to your website for conversion when their time is right. Their time, not yours! That makes your blog the hub of your social media marketing.

There’s still a lot of work to do in integrating all this activity. But a clear understanding of this key principle is necessary to an efficient strategy with marketing effectiveness!