Archive for ‘ROI’

September 29, 2014

The Science of Marketing – 6 Key Takeaways [Book Review]

science-of-marketing

August is the only month on my calendar where I get a bit of time to catch up on my personal reading list. This year, I spent much of that month reading book after book about social media, marketing, communications and leadership. One book that had immediate actionable content for social media community managers, was The Science of Marketing (2013) by Dan Zarrella. Working for HubSpot since 2009, Zarrella has access to the tens of thousands of data-sets he uses to identify trends and make process and content recommendations on how to improve your organization’s social media presence. Once you get past Zarrella’s description of himself as a “Social Media Scientist”, you’ll find some rather useful information that can help you benchmark and experiment with the social media communities you manage.

This is a tactical book, not a strategy book. If you are looking for ways to tweak your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, email marketing, blog, and lead generation efforts, this book is well worth the 200-page read. A few key takeaways:

  1. Content is still your biggest ally, and the most important piece of the social media puzzle. Zarrella’s response to the question “how much should I be blogging/posting” is “more than you are now”. He even suggests that, to increase engagement and shares, the optimal amount of blog posts is three per DAY.
  2. Blog posts published on Saturday and Sunday get more comments than posts published during the week. Zarrella considers two reasons for this. First, weekends allow users more time to actually read a blog post. Second, fewer companies publish content on the weekend, which means less competition for attention. In fact, Zarrella suggests that we should seek to publish our content when others are not. He calls this “contra-competitive timing”.
  3. Sentiment is important. Posts that are positive get the most comments, shares, and likes. The second most effective are negative posts, which leaves neutrality as the last place finisher. In other words, neutral is boring. If you are going to post something, make sure it contains your tone and think positive first.
  4. Calls to action work. The primary example used in this book is the correlation between retweets and asking for retweets. Zarrella found that simply asking people to retweet your content delivers four times more retweets than tweets that don’t make that request. I wouldn’t use this tactic for every piece of content I tweet, but it’s good information to know if you are responsible for managing an emergency/crisis situation where you need information to spread very quickly.
  5. If you want to catch your audience’s attention on Facebook, photos are by far the best option. Zarrella’s research indicates that photos are the most sharable form of content on Facebook, blowing text, video, right out of the water.
  6. He even gets down to a very granular level of detail by looking at where within a tweet is the best place to include a link in order to maximize clicks. The answer: right in the middle. He even provides lists of the most, and least, sharable/retweetable keywords.

All of these ideas, and about 100 more, are laid out in simple language and charts in this book. The author is quick to mention that his findings are in no way the set-in-stone way to do things that will guarantee success on social media. They are merely data-backed observations that can help marcom professionals tweak and tailor their social media program. In essence, what Zarrella has presented in this book is a look at trends in social media engagement. It’s now up to us as social media managers to use this information to benchmark and experiment and see what works in our communities.

You can find this title on Amazon for about $20, well worth the investment.

September 15, 2012

Talknowledgy Episode #98: iPhone 5, fake sex site profiles, caught with pot, & more

The top story in this episode is the  largest tech story of the week – The iPhone 5 announcement. We take a look at the new features, upgrades, and how it stacks up to the competition. On the legal side, Apple may not be able to sell their new device in the US for long due to alleged infringement on Samsung’s and HTC’s patents. The phone, by the way, is due out September 21.

We also chat about people being caught behaving badly online. Law enforcement officials are using photo sharing sites, like Instagram, to track down and persecute people who post images of themselves using drugs. And in the “Creepy or Awesome?!” segment we share our thoughts about an Ottawa restaurant owner plead guilty to creating a fake sex profile site to get back at one of her customers for writing a bad online review of her restaurant.

We discuss anonymous comments – are they better than using Facebook for your comment system?

Phil drops into the Social Media Breakfast Ottawa to chat with Collin Douma, Global Digital Planning Director at BBDO New York, about how the digital age is putting an end to demographics. (Phil may have incorrectly identified Collin’s title in the podcast, and he regrets the error).

Finally, our viral video this week is courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel Live as he claims to have the first iPhone 5:

If you liked the show, feel free to subscribe to this blog or our RSS feed to make sure you’re always up-to-date with Talknowledgy.

September 5, 2012

Social Media ROI for Higher Education [Stats]

This week marks the return to classes for many students here in Canada and around the world. It’s great to see the kids skipping off to class, the school buses making their rounds, and freshmen on college campuses moving into residence, eager for new experiences. It’s also a great time for colleges and universities to connect with their students and make them feel a part of the community and, at the same time, to lay the foundation to recruit the next round of students.

I’ve worked at a post secondary institution for nearly 7 years (6 of those in the Marketing and Communications department). As the leader of our social media planning and execution strategy, I often had conversations about the return on investment (ROI) of social media. We batted around questions like: “Isn’t social media just something else to add to my to do list?”, “Why spend thousands on outdoor bus advertising when digital marketing is easier to track and less expensive?”, “How can other departments of the school take advantage of social media”, and of course “What is the ROI of social media?”

The last question bugged me the most. Maybe because it’s hard to answer, maybe because it’s the go-to question for social media non-believers, and maybe because the same people who are asking us to put a dollar figure on social media couldn’t identify the ROI with any of the other communications tools in their office. I would think, “What’s the ROI on that pen set on your desk?”, or “Explain to me the ROI of giving every employee a laptop,” or “what’s the ROI on company-specific email addresses?”

But ROI is important, and we should try to establish some benchmarks to measure our successes and failures. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research agrees, and has been watching social media usage trends at US colleges and universities since 2007. In their latest study (2011-12), their research shows that social media cuts costs for the Recruitment/Admissions Office.  Consequently, many schools are planning to increase investments in social media initiatives as a way to better reach their target audience.  Their news release highlights the following key findings:

  • Traditional media is becoming less important/used. Schools report spending 33% less on printing, 24% less on newspaper ads and 17% less on radio and TV ads. One third of schools say social media is more efficient than traditional media in reaching their target audience.
  • 92% of undergraduate admissions officers agree that social media is worth the investment they make in it and 86% plan to increase their investment in social media in the next year.
  • The most useful tools for recruiting undergraduates include Facebook (94%), YouTube (81%), Twitter (69%) and Downloadable Mobile Apps (51%).
  • Less than half of those surveyed have a written social media policy for their school.  In the 2009-10 academic year, 32% had a policy. That number increased to 44% in 2010-11, and stands at 49% in 2011-12.
  • 29% of the schools surveyed report having NO social media plan in place for their Admission Office, and an additional 15% report not knowing if there is a social media plan in place.
  • 78% of schools say that social media tools have changed the way they recruit.
  • Umass has created a rudimentary infographic with more details if you’re interested in learning more about this study.

Although these findings provide a good look at where colleges and universities stand on the marketing side of social media, there’s still work to be done to get a better picture of the post-secondary industry’s use of social media. I’d like to see further studies that focus on social media use and how it affects: student retention, customer service, campus life, and learning inside (and outside) the classroom.

August 29, 2012

A look at the new Klout score and features [Screenshots]

New Klout scores and features have rolled out through the month of August, and I think its a step in the right direction. From the beginning of Klout, there have been people who have rightly questioned the importance, relevance, and accuracy of measuring social influence with an algorithm. Instead of getting defensive of their product, Klout focused on improvement. A few updates have been released over the years, but the one from August 2012 seems to be the most promising. Essentially, there are three elements to the latest update:

Discover – A rudimentary beginning to a Klout/social media dashboard. You get an idea of what per cent each social network contributes to your Klout score. For me, I’m about 80% Twitter dominant, and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. Beyond that, there’s not a whole lot of new stuff here. They continue to display your 7-day, 30-day, and 90-day Klout score movement, number of mentions, likes, followers, friends, +1’s, connections, etc. All this is interesting, but not overly helpful.

Moments – This is a list of all the interactions your accounts have had over the last 90 days. It includes likes, mentions, followers gained, RT, +1 in Klout, and so on. You can scroll back for three months to see what pieces of content were most engaging to your audience. On each “moment” there’s a curious little meter that consists of five green balls. The more engaging your content is, the more balls will be turned green. It’s a decent, chronological overview, but I’d like the ability to sort by highest and lowest ranked pieces of content, rather than having to scroll through and look at them all.

New Klout score – This is probably the most important part of the August 2012 update. Now, Klout uses significantly broader data sets and signals, from less than 100 to more than 400, to analyze  and calculate your online influence. They have also increased the number of data points analyzed on a daily basis from 1 billion to 12 billion in an attempt to deliver a more accurate and up-to-date score for Klout users. They now include many more actions from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more, and for the first time they incorporate Wikipedia. Klout even published the key things they measure for each network. Here are the highlights (pulled verbatim from this post).

  • Facebook:
    • Mentions: A mention of your name in a post indicates an effort to engage with you directly.
    • Likes: The simplest action that shows engagement with the content you create.
    • Comments: As a reaction to content you share, comments also reflect direct engagement by your network.
    • Subscribers: Subscriber count is a more persistent measure of influence that grows over time.
    • Wall Posts: Posts to your wall indicate both influence and engagement.
    • Friends: Friend count measures the reach of your network, but it is less important than how your network engages with your content.
  • Twitter
    • Retweets: Retweets increase your influence by exposing your content to extended follower networks.
    • Mentions: People seeking your attention by mentioning you is a strong signal of influence. We also take into account the differences in types of mentions, including “via” and “cc”.
    • List Memberships: Being included on lists curated by other users demonstrates your areas of influence.
    • Followers: Follower count is one factor in your Score, but we heavily favor engagement over size of audience.
    • Replies: Replies show that you are consistently engaging your network with quality content.
  • Google+
    • Comments: As a reaction to content you share, comments also reflect direct engagement by your network.
    • +1’s: The simplest action that shows engagement with the content you create.
    • Reshares: Reshares increase your influence by exposing your content to extended networks on Google+.
  • LinkedIn
    • Title: Your reported title on LinkedIn is a signal of your real-world influence and is persistent.
    • Connections: Your connection graph helps validate your real-world influence.
    • Recommenders: The recommenders in your network add additional signals to the contribution LinkedIn makes to your Score.
    • Comments: As a reaction to content you share, comments also reflect direct engagement by your network.
  • foursquare
    • Tips Done: The number of suggestions you’ve left that have been completed indicate your ability to influence others on foursquare.
  • Klout
    • +K received: Receiving +K increases your Klout Score by an amount that is capped in every 90-day measurement cycle to protect the integrity of the Score.
  • Wikipedia
    • Page Importance: Measured by applying a PageRank algorithm against the Wikipedia page graph.
    • Inlinks to Outlinks Ratio: Compares the number of inbound links to a page to the number of outbound links.
    • Number of Inlinks: Measures the total number of inbound links to a page.

For more reading about this update, and other Klout projects, check out their blog :

What do you think of the new Klout score and feature roll-out? If your account hasn’t been upgraded, login to preview.klout.com and take a look around.

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