Paid Social Media Advertising vs Organic Social Media: Myth Busting

Social media marketing has become a very important part of every brand’s marketing strategy. Existing social networks constantly enhance their platforms while new ones emerge. With new trends, the social media landscape is changing and evolving. That leads to shrinking of organic reach as leading networks increase the use of their paid channels to monetize platform investment.

But let’s take a step back and first clarify what’s organic and what’s paid social media.

Organic social media is the use of social networks – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat – alongside with (free) publishing tools to build a social community, interact with it, share posts and respond to customer comments and messages.

Paid social media is using the paid option these social networks offer to boost the reach of posts, ads and videos, or sponsored messages based on a specific user profile e.g. demographic. These type of social media is charged on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis, and also allow for use of measurement that shows the path to conversions, transactions and sales.

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Content Marketing Tactics as an Influence Building Tool

Building influence in your industry can greatly emphasize and amplify your marketing efforts. Becoming a trusted, credible and meaningful source of information and knowledge is crucial for establishing your business influence, impacting the attitude of people about your brand, and has the potential to change people’s minds and their purchasing behavior. One of the most effective ways of building influence and differentiating your brand from the pack is through the use of content marketing. We believe it actually is one of the most powerful tools that every business should include in their marketing arsenal.

Content marketing can be the means for achieving many end. It can help you position your brand as an industry leader and provide sales leads, but it can also build trust and influence among your audience.

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Social Media ROI Presentation from SMASH at USC

On Thursday of last week, I had the opportunity to present at SMASH (Social Media Advanced Skills Huddle) at USC. What I was really excited most about was the fact that we had many of the Master in Human Behavior students in attendance at the conference and was great hearing their thoughts and insights around Social Media. I presented on Social Media ROI and while my presentation is below I thought I’d share a few highlights:

1. Create Goals and a Plan: I really do believe that before starting any campaigns and worrying about the tools to track ROI, you need to define what those goals are, what you’ll be measuring against, and have a plan to achieve those goals.

2. Value: When you set those goals, it’s also critical to understand what types of value Social Media Marketing is going to add to the overall campaign or your organization daily, monthly, or weekly. Some of those values can be increased engagement (e.g. mentions, blog comments, etc.), increased traffic, or increased brand recognition.

3. Platforms: While there are many Social Networks, Bookmarking, and news sites, it’s important to understand where your site should be represented on the Social Web. While the general Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are really important to have a presence in, if you participate in photography Flickr has a large community.

4. Use existing tools on Social Media Platforms: Facebook has their insights product for Facebook Page owners, StumbleUpon has domain stats (e.g. http://su.pr/domain/myspace.com), and Myspace has Artist Dashboards. These tools can take you a long way without having to pay for anything right off the bat, so, make sure to take full advantage of all the free tools you can.

5. Free and Paid Tools: Along that same note of taking advantage of all the free tools out there, bit.ly has good click tracking for URLs you tweet and I highly recommend to at least start there with tools. After that, it would be a good idea to start looking at tools like Alterian SM2, Radian6, Social Flow, CoTweet Enterprise, etc. that make the most sense for your organization.

Would love to get your thoughts around Social Media ROI and hear any tips you have for others out there that are learning and/or working on programs to track these metrics. Leave a comment and lets get the conversation rolling!

Facebook Like Button: Now with Meta Data and Thumbnails

Well, it turns out that Facebook has included all of the meta data and thumbnail info for the like button around the web. This is great news for publishers as it gives the content that we and/or our users “like” more visibility in the Facebook stream. Along with that, it will likely greatly reduce the clutter that we see from around the web with share implementations, many publishers still have the facebook share and like button on their site. Time to clean up your UI!

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Social Design & Optimization: The Power of Network Effects

One of the most interesting things I’ve been studying over the last year has been the power social design and network effects. Even though many of us have used Social Media for quite sometime, it has typically been what I would call a disconnected and fragmented system of communication. Now, of course, I have to make a statement like that to catch your attention, but, really, is it that far off?

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Setting goals and executing with social media marketing

While at SXSW, Chris Winfield and I had our presentation on “Social media marketing for your business.” My biggest focus for the presentation was to help people realize the power of creating a plan, setting goals, and executing them. Overall, creating a marketing plan or strategy should not just involve trying to get some traffic or a few links. There needs to be an end result that helps the business bottom line, like getting new users.

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foursquare: The arrival of the location based business "game"

I’ve been on this huge kick of creating visibility for products online lately. All I can think about is how to gain visibility for an online brand. Along with that, I’ve been really interested in two other things: Local and Location Aware applications. I’ve had my eye on Yelp for a bit, but even more so lately as the mobile market is growing. But, even more than Yelp, I’m a huge fan of foursquare since I jumped on the bandwagon back at SXSW. Something I really like is that, like any smart business, they are adapting the product to the market and use. They’ve created a product that included Social Game features and recently launched foursquare everywhere. Now, don’t get me wrong, Yelp adding checkins could totally change the face of the game and knock foursquare out of the Mayor spot, so-to-speak (I had to do it!).

So, that all said, it’s important to note, that I wanted to take a look at foursquare from a perspective outside what everyone else is talking about with how cool the app is, but rather, talk about how it is great for marketing/monetization opportunities going forward.

1. Building Social Capital with Mayorship & Badges

As I mentioned opening this up, they added social gaming to the local mix and understand that social capital is an asset that is ever so important in todays online world. With the creation of Mayors and Badges, it creates an opportunity for individuals obtain a larger amount of social capital within their local cities/neighborhoods.

As a local business owner, wouldn’t you want to know who the people are that frequent your business and have an online presence. I know I would if I was a local business owner, I’d want to know who the people are that have the ability to talk up my business.

We’ve all heard Tara Hunt talk about The Whuffie Factor, and, it’s all very true, social capital is very important now and will continue to be moving forward. I think as local businesses understand that, they will start figuring out ways to market via channels like foursquare. Furthermore, smart local marketers will start figuring out ways to leverage foursquare when working with clients. Also, think about all the chain restaurants that have the ability to build this as a nationwide local targeted marketing initiative as more and more users adopt this.

2. Local Advertising with a real revenue model

I’m a marketer and I look for revenue models as a sign of a product taking that next step into the major leagues. I see foursquare having a major opportunity to create sponsored events, sponsored or featured locations, etc.

Now, before you say, “Why would they do that! Businesses paying to be listed is not authentic!” Think about it, when banners on the web came out, people threw up their arms, when Google Adwords came out, people yelled from rooftops, and when ad.ly (one of my fav. startups, btw) came out, people were outraged via Twitter…do you see a pattern??

It is inevitable for sponsored and premium/featured listings to be highlighted within the content that we see on a daily basis. Saying that it is evil and not right, is thinking without logic. Businesses can not live on without REAL revenue models. Here is how I could see something like this playout:

3. The ego is more important than you think

I’ll bring up Mayors and Badges for the second time in this post because it is worth the mention again. I think something we have failed to see in most Social Media products is the ability to touch the human Id and ego boosting. While we choose to ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist, it is the base for all human activity. When we feel better about ourselves through any sort of ego-stroking, we tend to do that activity more: championships and trophies in sports, awards in entertainment, etc. Gaming companies do a great job of this, and you have to give credit to Zynga for recognizing this and on their platform with Mafia Wars and Farmville:

But, look at other Social Media platforms, Digg removed it’s top diggers list years ago because they didn’t want the users having more power than the product. Twitter has yet to introduce any sort of ego-boosting platform, (outside of the retweeting functionality), and Facebook really doesn’t have any way of producing this either at this moment. But, introduce foursquare in the mix and you’ve got a real tool for ever so important ego-stroking that we all choose to ignore. Becoming a mayor makes people feel self important, it provides a feeling of self worth. We shouldn’t think of it as a bad thing, it’s human nature for christ’s sake.

Whenever I tell people about foursquare, the first I find friends get excited about: becoming a mayor or getting badges.

4. Capturing local search results:

Being that I’m someone that understands SEO and the search game, I’m always going to look at opportunities to drive traffic. Now, while Yelp does have this market pretty cornered, as they have tons of authority in the local/review market, within a short period, I’ve seen foursquare locations show up top 10 and even top 5 in many situations for local results:

5. Customer Service has never been more important!

Consumers are now subconsciously advocating companies or they are talking about their complete dissatisfaction for another company. Remember, more than 50% of people will make a purchase or purchasing decision based on the reviews of that brand. If I see someone checkin via foursquare is talking about how horrible a location is, I’m probably not going to want to check it out. At the same time, if people really enjoyed their experience, it will make me add it as a to-do item in Foursquare.

This basically is the flip-side to what I talked about when it came to local/in-stream advertising. Customer Service is ever so important, because, even if you are paying for prime placement and top dollar for sponsorships, you can’t fake the overall customer experience.

The truth is, without even knowing it, consumers are becoming what I’ve dubbed: “Subconscious Advocates.” Consumers are revolutionizing the way they tout the brands, restaurants and shops that they love via the tips they leave or the shouts they make when they check-in to a location. Because of this, businesses need to create
opportunities to “wow” these customers and influencers daily, otherwise, I believe they will start to feel it as the market starts to adopt these services more and more.

What do you of the location aware model and/or foursquare? Where do you think it will end up or how will it play out?

Keep the conversation going on twitter, follow me: @tonyadam!

Checking StumbleUpon Referrals and Reviews to specific URLs

I was listening in on Office Hours on WebmasterRadio.fm today and the question came up of how to find the referrer URL from StumbleUpon to your site. When you look at Google Analytics the referrer shows up as refer.php or toolbar. This won’t take you to the page that refers to your URL, similar to how digg would do something like /movies/some-movie-specific-url. It is a little bit of a process to figuring this out and also keeping in mind that a large percentage of StumbleUpon users view new pages via the Stumble button. This will show you how to track the referrals from the StumbleUpon page linked to your URL.

Google Analytics shows you the base analytics data, but again, refer.php and toolbar

As mentioned, you can’t click through from the refer.php to view the actual reviewed page. That just takes you to a generic page that tells you your site is on StumbleUpon. Not much help is it?

If you want to check the page that links to you from StumbleUpon you are going to need to make sure that you have the StumbleUpon toolbar. If you don’t, download it and install it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll notice there is a little “comment” bubble, which takes you to a page to review a URL.

The Review Button is highlighted in red in the top of the image:

That will take you to the page with the StumbleUpon reviews to the URL that you want to track. Once you get there, you will notice your URL stringle after in the address bar:

StumbleUpon URL String:

You’ll also notice the title of the page, who submitted the page, stumbles, and reviews for the page you are tracking.

StumbleUpon Page with Reviews:

Again, thats where you are going to find anything that is tied to the page/URL you are attempting to track, but, you have to keep in mind that there are still users that view your site with the Stumble Button in the toolbar. That is basically how StumbleUpon works, you click the button, a new site comes up, and so on.

Stumble Toolbar button highlighted in red:

Remember: If you are trying to view the reviews/stumbles and page your URL is linked to from StumbleUpon, then click the review button, but, its important to note the toolbar clicks. Typically the way pages are browsed to via StumbleUpon is through the toolbar.

I hope this answers the question for the person that asked the question on Office Hours with Vanessa Fox. If not definitely leave a comment and we’ll figure it out from there! Also, If anyone has more detail or would like to add on to this, please leave a comment and I can even update the post, etc.

Some Notes from Twitter:
Matt Inman recommended Mint Website Analytics which tracks Viral / Linkbait
– Joost De Valk also has some Mint Peppers (Mint Plugins)

Measuring success in SEO and Social Media by determining ROI, Analytics, Metrics up front

When you are working at an organization that doesn’t have the right analytics, its painful. This also goes for working with clients that don’t have the money to buy an analytics package like Omniture or WebTrends. I’ve been through this on both sides of the organizational and the client side as well. (A couple times it was even my fault! Ooops, my bad! ? ). It is important to understand that not providing metrics and/or reporting or being able to measure certain aspects of your job and/or client work is going to have a negative effect on your overall performance.

Before starting any project you’re going to be working, whether it’s on the In-House or Client side of things, you need to know goals. The most important thing that you can do for yourself and for your “client” is going to be figuring out the goals of any project you are working on. Is it ranking for a certain number of keywords? working on Brand or Reputation Management type things, or increasing traffic by a certain percentage?

Once you have determined those goals, start by figuring out what types of analytics and metrics you will need to measure to be successful in your campaigns. Here is a list of the items necessary.

Analytics:
There is absolutely no excuse now at days for not having any sort of analytics packages to use. There are free solutions like Google Analytics that has everything all the way through Advanced Segmentation, etc. to Omniture with tons of click funnel reporting and more.

Important Metrics:
Now that you have analytics setup, you need to define the common metrics that you will be reporting on. If you’re goal is to drive traffic to a specific part of the site, then you should have a saved query or report that you can click on and get to quickly to perform that task.

Also, define other important metrics or metrics that you find valuable to the current role/climit
– Time spent on site (per LP)
– Click thru Rate
– Bounce Rate
– Keyword by Landing PAge
– etc.

Dashboards:
If possible, you should setup dashboards that give you an overview of the quick and dirty statistics that you need for the week/month/year. If these are also a click away or triggered by email, then you are golden. This is really not a “crucial” element, but a nice to have.

Subscriptions:
RSS and Email subscription can be important numbers that you are looking at, especially if one of your many goals is to increase engagement. Feedburner does a good job of tracking RSS subscriptions and you can use other web services or email providers to track email subscription.

Social, Brand, and Reputation Monitoring:
If you are doing any Social Media or Brand Marketing and/or Reputation Management type work, you are going to want to setup the right type of alerts to monitor the brand and or key terms around your brand. Three tools that I use consistently are Google Alerts, TweetBeep, and Trackur.

Trending Metrics:
When doing any news related work you are going to want to monitor and measure the trends in the industry. You can do this by monitoring and reporting on Google Insights data for high trafficked terms around a particular event, date, etc. Also, if you are doing something that is going to “create buzz” or a “trending topic” then you are going to want to monitor that carefuly and report on this by showing the ability to create something that went “hot.”

Reporting:
You and your client or group have definied success metrics as I mentioned above at this point. Also, you should have great metrics and dashboards that measure that data. Now that you have all of that, use it to your advantage by creating reports using charts and graphs that show off the progress and/or lack of progress.

Create a reporting template and provide analysis:
You should start by creating a template for tracking this data and provide some sort of analysis. Sometimes having the data/charts in Excel and only rolling the charts into a powerpoint are a great way to provide analysis and value to just a chart, graph, or list of numbers in a table.

I’ve learned had tons of experience of looking like an idiot or losing income by not having the appropriate metrics and reporting in place for clients and internally at a company. But, I can tell you that there are also organizations out there that flat out don’t have this in place or won’t be able to put this into place, and, well, you’ll just have to deal with it. But, when that situation arises, make sure that you are upfront and straight forward about that and the situation it will cause. If you have done that, it will usually ready the client for the type of things that you will use to measure success.