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Monitoring & Analyzing Social Media

With over 1.5 billion conversations stored, can you afford not to listen?

Category: The Business of Social Media

Dec 1, 2008 0 Comments

O’Reilly on Twitter (he really, really likes it and so do I)

Like Tim O’Reilly I was an early joiner on Twitter who initially found it useless but now find it indispensable. He pretty much covers the territory in this post.

I’d add that Twitter may become the primary B-B marketing platform in social media. As he notes, its simplicity actually makes it more powerful that feature-laden sources like LinkedIn (which I also use more and more frequently as my social network of choice).

You can follow me on Twitter @martinedic

And connect on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/martinedic

Nov 26, 2008 0 Comments

Bob Pearson, VP of Conversations and Communities at DELL

If you had any doubt about the mainstream value of social media you should watch this…

From Jeremiah Owyang:

Nov 20, 2008 0 Comments

Sizing the Social Media Marketing Market: How Many Brands are There?

One of the things we get asked frequently, from a business POV, is how big is the social media market? Before I tackle that elephant, let me define what the questioner is asking. We sell a tool used by social media marketers and researchers. That’s the market we’re sizing: How many potential customers are there for social media marketing vendors like Techrigy?

We know social media itself is huge and expanding like a nuclear reaction, literally. The early adopters of technology like ours tend to be agencies, particularly PR, communications and digital agencies (the ad people are still pretty far behind). So if we say there are 100,000 agencies (a made-up number) then our market seems to get capped at some fraction of that number (we won’t get all of them obviously). This is not the case because agencies don’t represent a single client or a single niche market. They represent brands, lots of brands. So the operative question is ‘How many brands are there?’ and the answer is millions.

So how big is the market for social media monitoring? Big. There millions of iterations of brands, localized versions, international variations by language and culture, sub brands like Swanson’s Chicken Broth, Swanson’s Canned Chicken, Swanson’s Chicken Pot Pies, etc., and things associated with brands like celebrities, executives, issues and influencers. It is a virtually unlimited market when you consider that all of these brands will be migrating some or all of their marketing to social media.

And this does not take into account the rapidly emerging concept of personal brands…more on that in another post!

Nov 10, 2008 0 Comments

B-B Lead Generation in Social Media

Leads are the lifeblood of any business and generating them is the ultimate goal of any marketing. I’ve been in companies where we rented leads in bulk (total waste of money) and others where we acquired them by networking at events (good but labor-intensive). You can fish for them with SEO and PPC (better because you’ve defined intent on the part of the prospect) but you’re dependent on the search engines and the quality of your site. Finally, you can generate leads through freemium versions of your service or product. This works well if you’re marketing a professional service and you’re providing enough value for a user to trade you contact info in exchange for their freebie. This freemium model is a piece of our lead generation strategy for SM2. However you still have to get to your site to sign up. That’s where social media fits into lead generation

Adding in Return On Investment (ROI) for Social Media Lead Generation

With a tool like SM2 you could find everyone talking about the keywords associated with your product, extract their addresses and/or URLs and try blasting them with some kind of offer. This may sound good if you’re used to the old media broadcast model- but it is a really terrible idea in social media because there can easily be a backlash from participants who don’t like being spammed (which is what you’d be doing- they never asked for your offer). So how do you generate leads in social media?

Try a variation on this process:

  • Use SM2 to monitor conversations that contain your keywords, then refine those keyword to more closely target sources. This helps qualify your leads.
  • Look at the Author Tags cloud in SM2 to find ways social media results authors are organizing their conversations. You can find clues to additional keywords.
  • Build an offering that focuses on those keywords. We offer a free version of our service, others offer discounts, white papers, webinars, etc.
  • Create a landing page that focuses on your keywords and the specific interests of your prospects. This is not your home page, it is a page dedicated to gathering information in exchange for your offering. Keep it simple, don’t ask for too much, etc. We only require an email address but we ask for Name, Company, Title and Where They Heard of Us. About 50% offer this info which is high but we don’t make them do a demo or talk to a salesperson, the free version is fully functional and we have an additional goal of building an active user-community.
  • Start delving into the conversations you find with SM2 and become a participant. Don’t pitch, participate: respond to relevant Tweets, comment on blogs, join networks. Be transparent about who you are (I often define my user-name as Martin Edic (Techrigy), making it clear that I’m from a company). You’re not selling here, you’re building a reputation.
  • Have the link you provide in your Profile or Comments be a direct link to the landing page you built. Many will click to find out who you represent if they find you’ve added value to the conversation.
  • Offer up your offer if it adds value to the conversation with a URL in your response.
  • Don’t use canned responses.

I realize this sounds kind of labor intensive because it is. Many companies are hiring Community Managers to do this.

So where does the ROI come in? First, social media is exponential. Your comments and tweets may be found and read by hundreds or even thousands of readers, readers who are qualified leads, otherwise they would not be there. Second, people in social media like to spread the word so your efforts go even further. And your conversations usually don’t go away- they have a shelf life and keep on giving.

Many people in marketing are not used to valuing leads. This is incredibly important to determining ROI. A qualified lead is one for which you a minimum required amount of information. Another qualification is the source of the lead. The rented lead has a suspect source, the lead that followed a process to get to you is very well qualified. One might cost $.15, the other $150.00. You determine how much a lead is worth by working backwards. First you know how profitable an average sale is, then you determine how much of that profit you’ll expend to get that sale. You need to know how many leads turn into a sale. It might be one out of ten, in which case you need to generate ten leads to make one sale. Do the math and you can determine how much a lead is worth. Run that against the required investment to generate that lead and you’re much closer to an ROI calculation.

Sep 26, 2008 0 Comments

Buzzword creation day: Reputation Equity

There’s been a lot of discussion about reputation and reputation management in social media. It’s one of our most effective keywords in SEO/SEM and it’s a fairly recent phenomenon. However I think there is a far more important metric related to reputation, something I’m dubbing ‘Reputation Equity’. Reputation equity is the value of your reputation in the marketplace.

For those struggling to define the ROI for social media monitoring and marketing, the concept of reputation equity might be useful in showing more closely how managing your reputation can directly produce measurable affects on your company’s value. If we look at market caps, for example, that measurement of the total current value of all company stock at today’s price, we see some anomalies. Dell’s market cap today is about $33 billion while Apple’s is $110 billion. Dell has a lot more market share but the market sees Apple as nearly four times as large! A lot of this is profitability but a good share is reputation.

So aren’t we talking about brands here? Yes and no. A brand may be highly recognized but it can also become generic as it gains widespread acceptance. I’d argue that Dell, while just recognizable as Apple, is much more generic. Apple has a powerful reputation driven by an amazingly loyal group of owners and users, a group that is very active whether they are criticizing or praising the company. Dell, on the other hand, has loyal buyers but they’re otherwise not emotionally engaged with the company and it’s products. How many Dell- specific blogs are out there vs. the hundreds or thousands of Apple-focused sites?

Dell is pursuing an aggressive social media strategy but they’re hampered by this reputational issue: Boring and corporate. Apple does little or no engagement because they don’t have to: Their reputation for innovative design and usability has built an eco-system that does it for them. Most companies don’t have that option, however Seth Godin would tell you that cultivating a fanatical following might be the most powerful marketing tool available. Reputation Management is a big piece of that.

If the goal of management in most companies is increasing value to shareholders, then enhancing reputation should be an easily justifiable investment. A great reputation can help a company get through issues like those reported with recent iPhones. A boring or negative reputation can make even a minor glitch be magnified and drive value down. Social media, in both cases, is becoming a driving force in reputation management and for building reputation equity.

Sep 23, 2008 1 Comment

Why Social Media is a Different Marketing Paradigm

The Internet and traditional media are about information and solutions. Web sites enable both of these activities: Finding answers and associating buying decisions with those answers. Conventional push advertising, once relevance is established, can be an important aspect of the search for information and solutions. When advertising started moving to the web it had to change, to become less brand-focused and more intent-focused. However it still fit the broadcast or network model once intent and relevance were added as criteria for acceptance by users.

Social media is a completely different layer that has been added to the web, hence the web 2.0 moniker. Social media is about communication. It is an ongoing, fluid public conversation in which users exchange all kinds of information and experience, often as it takes place. This fluid nature means that attempting to take a traditional broadcast approach to advertising, even with relevance and intent, not only won’t work but can actually have a negative impact as users spread the word about what they don’t like about an ad or brand. If an ad interrupts a conversation it will make people mad.

Conventional media buying relies on reach or authority to determine where to buy ads because higher trafficked and/or respected sites will reach more users. Authority in social media is just one piece because any social media site can break a story, impugn a reputation or slam a brand experience and if the story is compelling it will get picked up and spread out, often in minutes. The challenge in social media is not to search out information, it is to monitor and listen to these conversations, identify opportunities to participate and then carefully engage. This can’t be done with an ad network or ‘push’ model.

Engagement is a new way to build a brand or reputation, a different marketing paradigm. It requires new roles for marketers (Community Managers), new means of listening and reaching out (Social media monitoring tools) and a shift in our understanding of marketing. When you engage in conversations in social media it may seem overly labor-intensive compared to launching an ad campaign. An individual effort is required to be taken seriously. The good news ids that there is an exponential effect: When you comment on a blog, connect with a Tweet or respond to a review, your response has the potential to be seen by thousands or even millions of others. As you build a reputation in social media your authority rises and your brand becomes highly valued. This is the new model emerging in marketing communications. Those who embrace it and refine it will be the market leaders of the future.

Sep 17, 2008 0 Comments

Social media measurement business models: Human Resources and Recruiting

First in a series on building business around social media monitoring and analysis:

As I talk to people all day about social media and monitoring I’m spending a lot of time thinking about business models, ways companies can use these tools to build their business. One application I have thought is the concept of a vetting service for checking out potential new hires. If you’re in HR or recruiting this could be a valuable service to add to things like background checks and drug testing. Using a service like SM2 you’d enter the candidate’s name and location(s), former employers, etc., into Sm2’s keyword set-up and then parse the results for any troubling (or exemplary) behavior. Kind of like Googling them only seeking responses from social media.

Hiring the wrong person can be very costly in terms of training time, exposure to risk, time to rehire for the position, etc. This service could save employers a lot of time and money.

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