Archives for October 2010

Track social media campaigns from inside Microsoft Excel

Social media monitoring company RowFeeder has launched an analytics solution that gives marketers and brands the ability to monitor and measure social media data from inside Microsoft Excel.

Outputs can be customised with familiar tools

The product is built on MS Excel so, instead of simply exporting data, RowFeeder generates native Excel files with pre-populated charts, visualizations and pivot tables all based around a company’s raw social media data.

The idea behind the service is to bring sophisticated social media data crunching to marketers in a format that they’re familiar with. RowFeeder tracks and aggregates data around any word, phrase, hashtag or username on Facebook and Twitter.

Automated report types include velocity analysis to chart keyword activity on social sites, location analysis to find out where conversations are happening, and influencer and people analysis.

The reports are designed to appeal to marketers managing and tracking multiple campaigns. From the looks of it, the charts and graphs are also boss-friendly tools employees can use to highlight ROI on social media activity.

RowFeeder is a freemium service with paid plans starting at $5 per month for professionals and $250 per month for enterprise businesses.

The service also integrates with Google Docs and Klout for influence analytics.

Measure and understand social media connections and sharing

Enter two new tools from ShareThis, which should help brands work out how their content is being shared and which consumers are doing the sharing.

First, Audience Index. This tool helps brands to compare the influence of bloggers or social profiles compared to the influence of other websites or content portals in the segment. This should help brands determine where they are connecting well, and where they are not.

Everyone has heard the old maxim “know your audience”. Until now, publishers may have known their demographic composition or “intent” profiles, but they didn’t know how their most valuable users – their influencers – compared to the rest of the Web. Audience Index changes all that by letting publishers:

  • Understand and compare their social audiences against 850,000 other sites across the web and soon, against your own category (your site against sport) and size of site (your site against other small blogs).
  • Find out what types of influencers – say fitness or music – your site attracts.
  • Find out how well you connect with influencers, listeners and engaged consumers.

Second, the Social Reach tool, which analyses how content or information about a brand’s product is being shared. Attaching analytics to the shared content gives brands the ability to measure the worth of the circulation of a piece of content.

ShareThis, home of Audience Index and Social Reach

ShareThis recently surveyed publishers (theirs and others) and found that over 60% wanted (and were missing) social referral analytics. Social Reach measures the true value of shared media across the Web by looking at outbound-sharing and inbound social traffic and, in the process, gives proper credit to the listener/responder of a share as much as the original influencer/sharer.

Publishers can now get a more accurate measurement of how a piece of content circulates around the Web after it’s been shared across any service, rather than just the simple number of shares counted by a single service like Facebook.

“It’s becoming absolutely essential that online publishers are able to accurately measure, optimise and value the sharing and social habits of their audience,” was written on the ShareThis blog.

According to the latest data from Experian/Hitwise, Facebook is still the leader in the social network wars with more than 59% of visits for the week ending August 21, 2010. YouTube (16% of visits) and MySpace (8% of visits) were Facebook’s closest competitors. Twitter still only captures about 1% of social visits.

Facebook seems, for now at least, to have a lock on the social space.  The social site surpassed Google as the most visited website a few weeks ago and for this reporting period remains in the number one position with just over 9.8% of all online visits.

‘Facebook’ and ‘facebook login’ are the two leading search terms for the same period, with more than 15% of searches divided between the two terms. Facebook is also pushing about 11.24% of upstream clicks; only Google (19.2% of upstream clicks) leads the social site.

Tools like Social Reach and Audience Index will help brands harness the power of the social world.

AIDA can clarify social media strategy

It’s useful, sometimes, to get back to the basics when social media marketing threatens to overwhelm us with an avalanche of innovation, platforms and analytical tools.

Remember that old chestnut in sales and communications, the acronym AIDA?  AIDA stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

This is the most rudimentary of sales and marketing funnels and, yet, is more relevant and useful today because theories and distractions can often cause us to forget the requirements of a successful sales engagement.

Each section of AIDA represents a stage in your sales and marketing process and can help you set your expectations, decide what to monitor and visualise the relationships between each part. Understanding the flow of the tools and tactics will also help you get your measurements and analytics in line with your goals.

Here’s a closer look at the breakdown of this marketing funnel, some tips on how to apply it to your social media strategy and a look at how the model is evolving in the digital age.

Awareness

Awareness is social media’s bread and butter.

You can’t easily display your inventory via Twitter, set up a shopping cart on LinkedIn or fill orders through YouTube: these networks are not going to be your selling environment. Instead, they are your communication and outreach tools — the spokes that lead back to your hub (catalogue, blog, site landing page).

Awareness  is getting people to know you exist and that you can solve a problem they might have. At this level, conversations, interaction and content are king. A few metrics you might want to measure around your brand are buzz — mentions and conversation frequency — and sentiment.

Interest

Now that you have their attention, you need to get customers interested in your product or service. You can bolster interest with content that shows how you can solve customers’ problems and reflect your unique approach. Features and benefits weigh heavily at this level and social media can help you convert interest into desire.

 

AIDA sales funnel diagram

The simple AIDA model has added a ‘C’ and ‘R’

 

Desire

Social media can help bolster desire through communication and engagement but, to fully satisfy someone’s desire to buy, you need to have a site that is streamlined and optimised. Recently, I tried using a popular car rental site to make a reservation but it was so difficult to find out what was available — and its cost — that I gave up, despite having a generous discount code. The user interface killed my desire and I went to a competitor’s site, which made getting a quotation and reserving a car really easy.

Some of the metrics that matter at this level are bounce rate, time on site, pages viewed and incoming links.

Action

Now that your prospects are likely to take action, you need to make it easy and obvious for your customer to complete your desired action (purchase, sign-up, lead form, event ticket, subscription).

If you have created some targeted landing pages set up for your products or services, those are what you want to link to — not your homepage. Even if you’re not running PPC campaigns, the same strategy of linking to targeted pages through social media is applicable. A few of the metrics you will want to look at here are CTR (click-through rate), retweets (of deals and links) and conversations about specific products.

The action stage is also where you can finally calculate some of your sales metrics, like conversion rate and ROI. This is where you can see how everything is performing and the final impact your work is having. Often, these are the metrics that your boss and directors are looking for.

New additions to the marketing funnel

Over the years, the traditional AIDA has evolved and added two extra levels. These levels represent not only a shift in the technology and methods that are used to market, but the people behind it.

Commitment

How are you getting your customers to buy from you again? One very simple way to reinforce their pleasure in buying is to follow up via the same social media you used in the first place. If you know they purchased via a link on Facebook, send them a Facebook message saying “thanks” and provide them with your customer service contact information.

Use Twitter for customer service. Monitor the online conversations around people who are already using your product and see if they have any questions or problems that you can resolve quickly. You can build social loyalty programs and use the communities you create to keep customers coming back. This is where CRM (customer relationship management) can play a leading role and  social CRM solutions are emerging to fill that need.

A few things you might want to monitor here are repeat buyers, the use of loyalty codes, post-purchase and product use sentiment.

Referral

Advocacy is the dream of any marketer, where your customers do your marketing for you. It’s when customers love your products, brand, services and people so much that they can’t help but talk about you. This is why you want to make it easy for people to share your brand. Any hindrance to this — be it a bad website interface or an anti-social company ethic — will really discourage this extremely valuable source of traffic and interest.

If it’s an option, I’m far more inclined to click on a “Tweet This” or “Like” button than I am to take the link, shorten it in bit.ly, and post it to my various social networks. Remove any barriers to referrals and then both encourage and reward it.

Some metrics to look at here are mentions, conversations and referrals.

How to get your blog posts working harder

Use a catchy subject line

The subject line is arguably the most important element of any post: titles that pique curiosity are more likely to be opened. When this is combined with strategic keywords that match the topic of the post, you have a blog that’s going to perform well.

The idea is simply to generate curiosity such as Why isn’t your team performing: perhaps they’re not in ‘flow’? You’re now wondering what ‘flow’ is all about, aren’t you?

Many of us don’t have large subscriber bases, so we need to develop a catchy title that also includes keywords that will get indexed by Google. Brian Clark at Copyblogger does an excellent job of this. One of his generally-accepted SEO copywriting tips is to place these keywords near the front of the title.

You should occasionally test your titles to determine what resonates most with your audience. Titles that offer immediate practical help, like How to get your blog posts working harder will result in higher traffic from a community than those that are too clever and thought-provoking.

Offer easy-to-skim content

When you organise your content so that it’s easily skimmed and assimilated, you tap into a secret of blogging. Time is precious and you have a few seconds to get two or three points across:

  • Blog as if you are talking directly  to one of your community members: my audience is business professionals and marketers. They expect you to get to the point quickly and avoid technical jargon.
  • Learn to write in a terse, accurate style: if you scan any news source, you’ll notice the paragraphs are short — only a few sentences. The Guardian’s Style Guide is useful and accessible.
  • Use subheadings: this helps both you and the reader. I tend to write my first draft quickly for flow and readability. Then I go back and organise with subheadings, while also reorganising and eliminating entire paragraphs so that my readers don’t have to.
  • Create lists: lists are the ultimate organising tool, which is why they’re frequently retweeted — thereby attracting valuable links back to your blog. Keep them to a few items otherwise you’ll make it confusing.
  • Use italics and bold text for emphasis: if someone reads your blog post word-for-word, it’s usually after skimming it first. Help readers do both by emphasising key points with italics and bold text. Use caps, ellipses (…) and exclamation marks only when they are really justified.

Mix content types and opinion and facts

Delivering great content requires a mix of qualities that keeps your readers coming back for more. The key isn’t always the quality of the message but how it’s delivered:

  • Offer your opinions: if you’re an expert in your field, then your opinion is relevant. Who do you respect more, the waiter who says everything on the menu is excellent or the one who looks you in the eye and recommends her favourites (or suggests avoiding some dishes)?
  • Use multimedia: make it a point to use images, screenshots and video to communicate your message with more punch.Link to your experience and case studies: advice has greater credibility when it comes from a practical, proven situation.
  • Leave out the rubbish: make the effort to edit out anything that doesn’t support your title or enhance your post. Include details to create a mental picture but leave out anything else that is not strictly relevant.

WordPress Excerpt feature

The ‘Excerpt’ feature in WordPress

 

Be aware of SEO factors

Learning the basics of search engine optimisation (SEO) is a necessary aspect of blogging if you expect to build a sustainable reader base. While SEO can get complicated, you can be very effective by simply tuning into your audience and writing for them:

  • Excerpts: the excerpt of your post is the brief description included with the return of search results and is an extra option in most blogging platforms. A well-chosen description encourages click-throughs. If you don’t build an excerpt, the first couple of sentences of your post will be used as a default. Get in the habit of summarising your post in the first couple of sentences.
  • Keywords: learn the common words and phrases being used by your audience. For example, do they use the term entreprise or business? These subtle distinctions need to be made so that you can be found when they’re searching for your expertise.Links: the SEO experts universally agree that inbound links to your blog are useful for achieving a high ranking. How do you get these links? The most reliable way is to write content that people want to link to.
  • Anchor text: link to the keywords (known as anchor text) in your post that are aligned with the words you expect to be used by someone searching for your expertise. The classic mistake is linking to click here instead of more relevant keywords such as digital marketing or whatever relates to your expertise.
  • Link to earlier posts: link back to your previous posts to encourage your readers to hang around longer. This increases the likelihood they’ll respond to a call-to-action, such as subscribing to your blog or newsletter.
  • Tags: tags are handled differently in every blogging platform. Just be sure to use tags that are relevant to the post you’re creating, as well as the audience you’re blogging for. Only use tags that directly refer to your post to avoid undermining their effectiveness through dilution.
  • Categories: categories obviously help your blog visitors go deeper into the subject matter or topic that interests them most. Search engines also index your categories for the same reason, so choose your categories carefully. Too many and it is confusing to readers: too few and they are pointless. Aim for six to ten categories.

WordPress tagcloud

Tag cloud generated from WordPress

 

Encourage interaction and action

While blogging is a platform for publishing, the ultimate objective is to encourage engagement and interaction. Just as an engaged audience gives a speaker feedback on his live presentation, the comments to your blog will do the same.

You can and should learn from every single visitor to your blog by responding and seeking to better understand her point of view. Every comment probably represents the perspective of many others. The more you learn, the easier it is to focus your efforts on what’s most relevant to your audience.

Why else do you want comments? Because comments are social proof that your blog is popular. And this, in turn, encourages more traffic and subscribers to your blog. To encourage more comments, you may not only have to remind your audience to do so but show them as well. Write a post on commenting and use your blog as an example.

Show your readers exactly how to comment, and even go a step further to describe how to share your post by retweeting or using the Facebook Like button.