Posts tagged ‘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.

November 21, 2012

The social side of Black Friday: Where will you be checking-in? [Infographic]

It’s almost upon us again. That’s right, Black Friday. When our American friends line up for some great holiday deals on the day following turkey and football day. And it’s a big deal. Some wait in line all night for the stores to open to get one-day-deals of around 60%-80% off, even on big ticket items.

If it’s a big deal in real life, it’s a big deal online. Just take a look at the #BlackFriday hashtag. It is filled with tweets of excitement and plenty of businesses trying to get the word out about their great deals. And the tweets keep mounting up. When I took the screenshot below from hashtags.org on November 21, 2012, it clearly showed the sheer amount of Black Friday related tweets going through the roof.

Twitter will be a great source of information this weekend, but the one social network I’m most interested in for Black Friday is Foursquare. Will a Black Friday badge be available? Who will be the most popular retailers? Who’s offering discounts and sales to people who check-in at their store? I couldn’t find many answers online, or through my own Foursquare app (perhaps because I’m in Canada). To be quite honest, the lack of Foursquare specials in my city has led me to stray away from that social network altogether.

But Foursquare has been very popular in the past. Check out the infographic below released by Foursquare that outlines last year’s activity on the network. It shows that Black Friday is the day that sees the greatest number of check-ins at retail outlets. It also suggests that people start arriving at their shopping destinations around midnight of the day before to either stake out their spot in line or to participate in Black Friday Midnight Madness events.

I would like to ask my American readers if they can add some first-person accounts from the Black Friday social media front. Will you be looking for deals using apps or social media sites? Is Foursquare part of your game plan? What hashtags do you find the most value in? If you are a business owner or retailer, will you be offering any incentives to your social media audience? Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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 23, 2012

Want to know some stats about YOUR Instagram account? There’s an app for that.

Since October 2010, Instagram has been one of the fastest-growing social networks in history. By the end of March 2012, it had about 30 million iPhone users, and, since the release of the app on Android, Instagram user numbers have balooned to 80 million.

Like all Android users, I’m new to Instagram but really enjoying the experience. After getting to know the tool a bit, I began to think that it was missing two things. First, a browser-based interface that would allow the user to manage photos, comments, likes, and account settings from a laptop. Instagram users know that almost everything usually has to be done with your smartphone, which isn’t always the easiest task.

The second thing about Instagram that left me wanting more was a lack of stats. Initially, I went searching for the “total views” a photo had received  Knowing this stat would give me an idea of the types of photos my followers are most interested in, and also how successful my sharing tactics are.

After a bit of Googling, I came across Statigr.am - a brower-based app that gives you dozens of stats about your Instagram usage, essentially filling in both of the gaps that were bothering me about Instagram. Statigram helps you keep track of:

  • Reading, posting, and responding to comments
  • Liking photos
  • Following and un-following other users
  • The number of photos, likes, comments, and followers you have
  • A month-by-month analysis
  • Your tag usage – i.e. the most popular tags associated with your account
  • The most popular filters you use
  • Your most liked and most commented on images
  • Best time to post
  • Photo lifespan
  • Follower growth
  • And so on…

They even have extra functionality that includes: the ability to create a Facebook Cover image out of your instagram photos, Instagram follow buttons for your website / blog,  an RSS feed,  a public URL, and a toolkit for brands to help them setup and monitor photo contests.

And it turns out that I’m not the only one looking for the functionality and statistics Statigr.am offers: just last week they announced that they have reached the 1 Million user mark and are still growing.

Let me know: Do you care to learn more about your Instagram stats?

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