Archive for the ‘Matt Rhodes’ Category.

The science of social media ROI

Tweet

Last week I presented at a webinar as part of a series looking at the science of social, focusing on social media ROI and demystifying the confusion that surround it. The problem with social media ROI is that it is so easy to measure so many things that we become overwhelmed by measures. We think that everything is important and that everything is a measure of ROI. It isn’t. And it isn’t. Followers and Likes do not make ROI; moreover they stop us from thinking about the bigger business benefit of social.

We need to measure different things for different reasons, not just for ROI. There are three broad areas of measurement that we should be looking at in social:

  1. What’s the business benefit? How does any activity contribute towards our business objectives and how do we measure this? Often overlooked in the plethora of social media specific measures, the single most important ROI piece is to think about the business, how social contributes to it and then how we might measure this link.
  2. How successful are my channels and campaigns? More of a quality measure but an important one for anybody who is in charge of social media. With a clear business objective that we have to deliver against, what do I need to measure to make sure that we have the quality of engagement and interactions to get there.
  3. How suitable is my engagement and content? Finally we get to the range of social media measures that are out there - Likes, Followers, views and the like - these are incredibly useful for the people working in social media and managing your channels and engagements. If they write a blog post that gets 10 times as many views as a previous one, these are the people who should be questioning and querying what has caused this change.

The first, and most important, measure is the business one. Why are we doing this? What business objective is social contributing towards? We should ignore, for the moment, the different things we can measure and focus on what social should be contributing to our organisation. Only when we are clear on that will we be able to establish clear ROI measures. And only when we have these should we think of any of the other measures that we can look at and report on.

The presentation I gave at the webinar included this and some case studies of work we have done at FreshNetworks showing business benefit.

The Science of Social
View more presentations from Our Social Times

The next Science of Social webinar is on Wednesday 20 June and looks at How to Identify and Reward Advocates. You can sign-up here.

Three simple ways B2B marketers can get value from LinkedIn

Tweet

When thinking about social media and how to use it for your brand, our initial reaction is often to think about the channels we can use and the conversations we can have. But using social media does not necessarily mean having a channel or joining a conversation. There can often be as much value (and sometimes even more) from listening to what others are saying. For B2B brands LinkedIn is a great example of where social media can be used as much to listen and learn as to talk and engage.

From ambassadors, to market information and even competitor research, here are three ways that LinkedIn can be a useful source for any B2B marketer.

1. Finding ambassadors for your brand

Within LinkedIn Groups and in the Questions and Answers section of the site you will find, if you look carefully, brand champions, ambassadors. People talking about your brand and recommending your product. The Questions section in particular is full of people asking for advice and information - about products and solutions. A quick search for some of your product names will uncover people who recommend you to others. A quick search for names of competitor products will uncover those who don’t recommend you but could.

Identifying these people is a first and useful step. Think next about what you can do with them and how you can build them into real Ambassadors for your brand.

2. Understanding how people talk about market issues

One useful insight for any marketer is to understand how people talk about the issues they face. Whilst they can be mixed in quality, some LinkedIn groups provide vibrant communities of people sharing links and talking about issues. Joining groups about your market and for your customers lets you see the kind of conversations they start, the language they use and how they talk to each other in a professional environment.

3. Learning about what you competitors are doing

Social media is a great way of sharing what you are doing but it is always important to think carefully about who you are sharing with. LinkedIn allows you to control who sees your connections and who you are connecting with but many people leave this as public information. This can be useful - learning who your competitors have been meeting and connecting with on LinkedIn may provide you with insight into who they are talking to and potentially even into who in the market is looking to buy similar products to the ones you have.

Of course, it’s important to think about your own privacy settings on LinkedIn as well!

To really understand social media, you must also understand online communities

Tweet

Audience at a Dan Deacon concert

It is very easy to get excited by social media. By “Likes” and “Follows”. To think about the tools you can use. To worry about creating content. To feel you must rush to be on the latest platform or site. But in all this excitement it can be easy to forget something that is more important than the tools, platforms and sites that you can make use of - the skills and expertise you need to identify, manage and grow a true online community.

When we talk about social media we are really only talking about tools that we can use to help us and the people we engage to achieve a task. To make a success in social media we need to understand online communities. For those of us who have been working in this space for many years this has long been the basis of all our work.

What is an online community?

There is a temptation to assume that all use of social media is the same - that we are ‘doing social media’. But this is just not true. There is a fundamental difference in how people behave when they are primarily in a group of actual friends (such as on Facebook) and how you interact with people not because you know them and are friends with them, but because you share a common interest (such as in a forum for fans of Arsenal football club, a site for mum chatting about nutrition in early years or a group of runners helping each other with training advice and tips as they prepare to run a marathon).

An online community is a group of people who exhibit this second behaviour. They do not necessarily know each other, and may not have any desire to become friends in that broader sense of the word. They do have a common passion, interest, concern or question. And they can find and engage with others online because of this.

Working with online communities

For most organisations looking at social media, it is only by identifying, building and engaging with online communities that they will start to get real benefit. Online communities are truly scalable because they do not rely on becoming ‘friends’ with people but mean that you (the organisation) and the rest of the community engage on topics that you all share in common. This is real engagement in a way that just amassing Likes or Follows is not.

Social media just provides the set of tools you can use to do this. But the real skill is threefold:

  1. Firstly to be able to identify the community you want to engage and understand why they would engage with you. What is the passion, problem, concern, issue or question that you can connect with your community about? And why would they connect with you at all about it?
  2. Then how do you find these people and help them to find you? Likes on Facebook or Followers on Twitter do not necessarily make an online community.
  3. Finally how do you manage them. There is a valuable and often heated debate elsewhere about the differences between a social media manager and a community manager, but any community does need the ‘party host’ role. A community manager who facilitates conversations and activities, helps to moderate the community so that it is a productive and friendly place for all, and who acts as the link between the organisation and the online community.

With all the excitement of social media it often feels like we have forgotten what we have known for many years about online communities and the way they work and interact. For anybody looking at or working in social media a solid grounding in how online communities work and how we should work with them is essential.

Who are the most engaging world leaders on Twitter?

Tweet

With elections in Russia already happened, those in the UK, France and the US to come there is much debate about how social media is now being used in both the electoral process, and more broadly as part of engagement between our world leaders and others on social media. Barack Obama has traditionally been held up as an example of using social media for campaigning and for engaging with people through Twitter, Facebook and other channels. But he is not the only world leader to use social media.

Whilst rankings, numbers and leagues tables only tell part of the story, it is a useful way to begin exploring and understanding how these leaders are using Twitter and which are most engaging.

World Leaders on Twitter

This ranking looks at known (and where possible verified) accounts of world leaders on Twitter. It uses PeerIndex to measure their influence and to rank them. The result for top spot is not surprising (Barack Obama), second place goes to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and then comes the President of Colombia in third (Álvaro Uribe) and Queen Rania of Jordan on fourth. The list continues to include leaders from Venezuela, Russia, Turkey and others.

The more successful world leaders on Twitter are not necessarily those who are responding to most people, or answering most questions. In fact most of the top five are not doing this on a regular or ongoing basis (probably either because the volume the get is unrealistic, or because it is not appropriate for them to engage in most discussions). What they have got right, however, is knowing their audience and pitching their content right. There is nothing worse than following somebody on Twitter who is either boring (for example constantly pushing out press releases) or who talks about such a wide variety of things it is difficult to know if you are interested or not. These world leaders clearly have strategies for how they are using social media and a plan to engage people around content and discussions of interest to them.

This is something we can all learn from, either for our personal or business accounts. Know your audience, work out what they are interested in (and what they are not interested in) and then engage and share with them on this.

Facebook buys Instagram for $1bn. Images are becoming more important in social media

Tweet

Like by matt_london

Facebook has reportedly acquired Instagram for $1 billion in a mix of cash and shares. The photo-sharing service was launched in October 2010 and recently launched its Android app having been exclusively on iPhone before that. According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook will be “keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything”, but it is certain that we will now see a new level of integration between these two services.

That Facebook has made this acquisition will not come as too much of a surprise to many. Indeed their had been rumours that they would announce a tool similar to Instagram alongside the changes to Timeline and apps at the F8 conference late in 2011. Also there should be no surprise that it would be interested in a service with more than 30 million users sharing over a billion photos (and all this when it was restricted to just iPhones).

But perhaps more notably, the rise of Instagram, and its acquisition by Facebook, reflects the growing importance of images in the social media mix.

There is, of course, nothing new about us sharing messages through images. We know that we’ve been doing it for over 32,000 years. That’s a lot longer than we’ve been sharing things with the written word. But until relatively recently sharing images online was not as easy. It has been facilitated by the rise of mobile devices with cameras (to take the images) and mobile and wireless data connections (to allow us to share them online). Services like Instagram then help us to make these photos look beautiful.

With this increasing ability to take and share photos online we are seeing a shift from the written word being the main means of communication in social media. Facebook has slowly integrated photos into all actions (from events to status updates); with its most recent implementation of Timeline we have seen photos take primacy in the way that the “Matt is…” status updates used to. Twitter has also made it easier to share and view photos, buying photo-sharing services and then changing their web and other services so you can see images inline with written updates. Finally, we only have to look at the role of Pinterest and Tumblr to see how images can lead in social media.

For brands this requires a real shift in the way that many have been using social media. Many have focused on engaging people through words - status updates, questions, discussions, Q&A. For others social media has been closely aligned to their SEO strategies - creating written content in blogs and forums, and sharing links back to their site. The job of a search engine is to find good written content, and social media has provided brands with a way of creating such content. Win-win. Of course, with images search is less of a benefit, and less useful (as anybody trying to search for a particular image they have in their mind will know.

But the rise of images in social media should help brands to focus on using social media as a tool for truly engaging with your audience. The success of Instagram shows that people like creating and sharing images, they engage round images from friends but also round images in topics of interest. They are easy to reshare and provoke just as many discussions as the written word.

Brands that are truly engaging their audiences in social media will find that the rise of images supports and promotest their tactics. It will give them another way to engage their audiences in terms that they understand and care about. Those brands who are just promoting their content or using social media as just another channel for the same messages will find this changing landscape more challenging.