Posts Tagged ‘Metrics’

I originally published this post on ReadWriteWeb on August 2, 2011

on Brands have evolved from asking “Should we be on social media?” to “How can we improve our social media activities?” At the same, they want to understand “what is the value of social media?“  That simple question of value transcends company size, industry and focus.

Three months ago, Awareness set out to answer the question of uncovering the value in social marketing by conducting research and meeting with social media practitioners and experts alike. During the interview process, we asked the group to tell us what advice they would provide Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) as they set out to design, manage and measure their social marketing strategy.  Here are their insights:

    1. Have a plan!Jason Falls, principal of Social Media Explorer:
      “Go into social with a plan. Social channels are like other marketing channels – treat them with the same diligence. Don’t just test the waters – commit to social. It is the way of the future.  Test and iterate. Integrate social with your marketing and business initiatives – social marketing cannot exist in a vacuum.”
    2. Passion is contagious – David Berkowitz, senior director of Emerging Media and Innovation for 360i
      “Don’t think of social only as a way to drive leads and sales.  Social is about passion – Oreo has over 22 million fans because the brand has given voice to the passion of its consumers.”
    3. Focus, test and learnPaul Gillin, author ofSocial Marketing to the Business Customer
      “Focus on a limited number of tools initially and build your portfolio where you see tangible traction.  Develop a center of social marketing expertise to avoid repeating the same mistakes other brands have made.  Consider hiring social marketing experts to help you develop that expertise.”
    4. Think like a publisherDavid Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR
      “In the world of social, companies need to think like publishers. The first thing that companies need to do is understand where they rank in search engine results. Smart companies know what their prospective customers are searching on. They then create social content – blogposts, YouTube videos, webinars, etc. that leverages key words to improve search engine rankings.”
    5. Integrate social into your businessNathaniel Perez, head of social experience at SapientNitro
      “If your level of maturity with social marketing is low, rely on agencies and consultants to help you succeed. You will need carefully integrated content, processes, and governance in order to succeed. Social is not media-centric, it is customer-centric. Once you have gained experience, work towards integrating social deeper within your business. Plan your resources around the following key functional areas: research and insight, engagement and community building, media planning and integration, and data and analytics.”
    6. Understand your goals and tie into existing business processes – Andrew Patterson, manager of new media at MLB Advanced Media
      “Start with understanding your goals with social. Where and how you want to participate is a business decision. Look at your industry and beyond for best practices.  Choose a social media publishing and monitoring platform that serves your specific needs. Social requires full integration with your current analytics systems – make sure you partner with your vendors for success.”
    7. Budget and prioritizeJeremiah Owyang, industry analyst with Altimeter Group
      “Allocate your social marketing budget based on your level of social marketing maturity. In our February 2011: How Corporations Should Prioritize Social Business Budgets, Altimeter reported that the average social media annual budget in 2010 was $833,000, but that figure fluctuated based on annual revenue and social marketing program maturity. Use industry benchmarks to allocate your budget.”
    8. Commit to social long termJonas Nielsen, co-founder and managing partner of Mindjumpers
      “Go in for the long haul, and don’t put social in the hands of junior brand managers.  Social is one of the one important channels of the future – your own media that will position you to spend less resources over time – for marketing, customer service, and product development.”
    9. Start by focusing on existing customersErik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Businesså
      “The best companies understand social touches every aspect of their business. Start with answering why you want to run social programs and what success looks like.  Remember: only a portion of your social efforts can be tracked directly down to sales.  Most of social is relationship-based – it is a longer-term investment in your brand. Focus with your existing customers – they will spread the word for you. Welcome to the world of mouth.”

What do you think?  Do you agree with the experts?  What would you add to their list?

The complete results of the study are available in the recently released eBook: “The Social Marketing Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing” and attend the Social Marketing Funnel Webinar on August 18th @ 2PM ET

This morning Awareness announced a new module for the Social Marketing Hub called the Social Intelligence Dashboard.  The new module is a single solution for measuring all social and non-social marketing activities through one interface.

Why is the Social Intelligence Dashboard both cool and valuable?

Marketers are exposed on a daily basis to an overwhelming amount of data – both from social channels and from traditional marketing tools like marketing automation platforms, email systems, web analytics tools, CRM systems and more. The challenge is how to sift through all this data and figure out what it all means.  This tsunami of data has left many marketers and wondering, ‘what is the value of social media?

This new module gives marketers the ability to create their own reports and dashboards by combining data from multiple sources like Salesforce.com, Omniture and Google Analytics – into one interface providing the details they need to go beyond the standard social media measures like number fans or followers to metrics that provide insights into their social marketing programs.

Deeper Social Intelligence

The Hub absolutely provided some of the insights available in the social intelligence dashboard before.  The big difference the Social Intelligence Dashboard provides is flexibility.  It provides a simple interface to create new reports and dashboards based on business needs and allows you to tie in non-social data to get a clearer picture of your overall social activity.

The new interface allows you to modify out of the box reports while providing the ability to create new one through a simple drag-and-drop interface.

Social Intelligence Dashboard

It also gives users the ability to access, export and manipulate the raw data which provides the ultimate flexibility for brands who want to use a separate 3rd party business intelligence tool to get to the core of their social media activities.

One other cool feature is the amount of export options.  Each report contained with the dashboard can be exported to Excel, Powerpoint, PDF or CSV giving marketers the flexibility to format the data any way they see fit.

Why I’m excited about it?

I’m not only one of the people that sell the Hub, but I am also a user.  I’m excited because in the time we have been utilizing the Social Intelligence Dashbaord – throughout the beta process and beyond – we have already been able to uncover insights that have changed some of our social media activities and how we market our products and brand.  This like really understanding our conversion from social channels to our sales pipeline, who are our influencers and understanding content performance across each channel over time have provided new insight on how we market.  I’m mostly excited to see the impact it will have on all our customers.

Want more details?

You can check out this video and also stop by our social intelligence dashboard demo webinar this Thursday at 3PM.

Today Awareness announced that the Social Marketing Hub, our latest software innovation, became generally available. During the development of the Hub, Mark Cattini (our CEO) and I traveled to over 50 of the largest brands in the world to get their feedback on the new product.  We spent time collecting feedback on every aspect of the solution from functionality to pricing to market positioning.  While we spent time discussing the product we also spent a significant about of time talking with each company about their approach to social media, their objectives, their successes and their challenges.

I have to admit that I was surprised by some of the findings and was even more surprised to learn that most of the organizations we spoke with face similar challenges despite being of different sizes and in different industries.  What are those challenges you ask?  Below is a summary of what we learned.

1. Inability to scale

The inability for organizations to scale – to quickly and easily manage, maintain, and measure multiple social channels – was a top theme coming out of our meetings. Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group recently published a post that discusses the pain of scaling social media programs in more detail and breaks down the Social Media Management Software market. A real life example of this pain came very early on in our tour. We sat down with the interactive marketing team at a large retailer who explained that they needed to drop MySpace as a channel because they didn’t have the resources to manage and report on it in a meaningful way. Because it had become too burdensome to maintain, they opted to stop spending time updating and managing MySpace and, in their words, “break-ties with our 30K+ MySpace friends”.

The issue for them boiled down to scale. They are not able to utilize and promote additional channels because managing their primary outposts – Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube – requires a huge commitment in terms of resources. They would like to be able to easily add and test new channels but don’t have the time or energy to expand on their current strategy.

2. Security & Control

Raise your hand if your organization shares passwords to your social sites via an excel spreadsheet? If you are guilty, trust me when I tell you that you are not alone. In fact, of the brands we met with only a handful were not using excel to share passwords.  In one of the more uncomfortable moments from the tour, we met with the marketing group and a representative from the IT team at a large consumer electronics company. We mentioned controlling passwords was a challenge for many organizations and they went on to explain how they share passwords through excel. When someone leaves the company they change the password, update the spreadsheet and resend to nearly 30 people who “may” need access to manage updates (this includes resending it to their multiple marketing agencies). Needless to say, the rep from IT was not happy and that resulted in a heated discussion about internal security protocols.

This example is just the tip of the iceberg for security and control. Many organizations have Facebook Pages, YouTube Channels, Twitter Accounts, etc controlled by individuals within the company, outside of the team responsible for controlling messaging. This makes it very difficult to control messaging and posts and makes it almost impossible to retract assets that may be out of date or contain obsolete messaging.  It’s also impossible to report on who published what, where and when.

3. Lack of resources and buy-in

Many of the top brands – some of which have received kudos for their social performance and strategy – are operating with an extreme lack of resources and next to no buy-in from senior execs. A contributing factor to this is a lack of meaningful reporting (see point 4) but it is still shocking that social media has not been fully accepted in the highest levels of some of these enterprises.

Take for example a large, multi-billion dollar retailer who has two individuals managing multiple twitter accts, a few Facebook pages, multiple YouTube channels and a recently launched Flickr page. The management of these channels is only a small component of their everyday jobs which makes prioritizing them very difficult.  While meeting with the social media tandem they needed to continually excuse themselves to respond to support issues on Twitter. The challenge they face is resources are difficult to get. In their words “…  from the executives perspective, we are executing on social media and doing a great job. The question we get is ‘why do you need more resources, everything is going really well’. The problem is we are working 16 hour days to make this happen and are spending large portions of our day arguing with other departments about access, controls, messaging, etc.” This is a good segue to point #4 – reporting…

4. Reporting is Ad-Hoc

Reporting on social media is the single biggest hurdle faced by large organizations because it impacts every other point on the list.  Without reporting, it’s difficult to scale, get exec buy-in, maintain control and centralize your social media strategy.  What surprised us is that pulling general reports from the big channels – Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube – is a manual process that people are spending a great deal of time on. We have seen everything – interns hired specifically to pull stats and aggregate data, marketing agencies getting paid top dollar to pull data on a weekly basis, departments forwarding weekly reports to an individual who aggregates data on specific channels and pieces of content and a myriad of other ways to resolve the issue.  The point is there is a big hole to fill around reporting. Organizations want and need a central place to collect data from multiple channels and have simple way to manipulate data to see how assets are performing and which channels are providing the best bang for the buck.

5. Centralization

Organizations are looking to centralize social media efforts across the organization. What we found is that most organizations handle social media in silos. Different departments create pages and accounts for their division and this makes it difficult to deploy a centralized strategy.  Another large retailer we met with is experiencing this issue on a global scale.  They have over 200 physical retail locations in the United States and Canada and many of the local outlets have taken the initiative to develop and manage their own social outposts to target individuals within the local geography.  The problem comes when one of the local offices decides to promote a sale too early (or not at all), promotes a new product before it’s announced by corporate, uses incorrect messaging and generally doesn’t conform to corporate guidelines.  This is a huge problem faced by not only retail organizations but also inside large multinational corporations with departments that are dispersed across the globe.  Centralizing the social media strategy is something that is gaining a lot of momentum within large companies and most are moving to bring social media to one department who controls all engagement and interactions.

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We used these interviews and the information we collected as a guide to help us develop the Awareness Social Marketing Hub.  By listening to our customers we gained a deep understanding of their approach to social media and built the system from the ground up based on their needs.  With the market constantly evolving we wanted to make sure the system met the needs they have today as well as be capable of supporting needs that develop over time. We are continuing to gather more knowledge about enterprise social media needs and are always using our learnings to innovate our offerings.

What do you think?  Did we miss any challenges?  Are these the same ones that you face on a daily basis?  I’d love to hear your thoughts…

All photos used under a Creative Commons license.  Photo credits:

  1. Scale: Hanson Bros. Scale 04.06.09 [96] by timlewisnm
  2. Control: No Controle (in Control) by renatotarga
  3. Lack of Resources:  089/365 Money…What Money by stuartpilbrow
  4. Reporting: AAAARRRGGGHHH by evilerin
  5. Centralize: Collegiate Church, Salzburg by andreakirkby