Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hey! You Listening to Me? A Framework for Social Listening (with No Budget)

I've been tracking social media for a while now, and have decided that those of us who monitor social media are more akin to anthropologist than marketers. Certainly, you have to decide who and what topics to follow - and why. But like an anthropologist, you have to sit with human beings and understand their behavior, their norms, their culture, and follow that tribe as it changes.

There are numerous blogs out there that can give you tools on how to track social media for free, and paid. In most cases, the free version of listening to your social media audience can involve multiple tools including Twilerts, Google Alerts, Technorati, Backtype, and others. These are tough times, and you may need to make the business case before you spend a dime on a listening platform.

Soo...just as important (if not more so) than the tools themselves is a framework to make sense of the all the noise. Here's four steps to getting some insight from listening to social media. (Feel free to click on images for better readability).

Drink from the fire hose (sort of). Using a free listening platform tool like SM2, Filterbox, Yahoo Pipes and/or Social Mention - identify where there is a good deal of conversation around your target audience. This will probably take a few weeks, and many track back historical data - which may get you there sooner. What you are looking for is this: common social media sites (networks, blogs, micro-blogs, taggers) and individuals that come up - again, and again. (Keep in mind, in social media - these sites and influencers can change often). You might already know a few movers and shakers in your space - now might be the time to check out their digital footprint.

2. Take a deep breath - and jump in. Who are the influencers? Who gets linked often, mentioned often, re-tweeted often? What are common topics that are viral? What are the concerns of these communities? You can use my handy guide (images from Mr. Men and Little Miss) as a benchmark on identifying influencers.

3. Compare yourself -and your competitors in these exchanges. Are you given relevant content, insight, and spaces to encourage dialogue? How strong a presence does your company vs. your competition? Who's involved in social media at your competitors? How big a 'social footprint' do they have?

4. How can you be better? Now comes the tricky parts. I like brainstorming using the POST method from Forrester- along with sweat equity 'free' research to create a relevant preliminary strategy for social media. Be prepared to answer the question: Now What? When? Why? Be sure to set realistic expectations, and to debunk a few social media myths.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Four Easy Ways to Integrate Social Media and Email Marketing

In several social media white papers and presentations, there is this concept that email marketing is purely a 'push' mechanism to share information from a company to a consumer. Working for an email marketing ESP, I find that this thinking is long antiquated. Our best clients already use and integrate social media content in their email marketing campaigns. There's a few examples I came across which provide some easy ways to get started in integrating social media content in email campaigns. Numerous studies have shown that consumers trust information from other consumers - much more than from companies that send them email. Integrating more user generated content will bring your brand and it's advocates closer together.

1. Leverage 'creator' content in how to best use your product or service. If for example, you manufacture shoes, you can leverage 'best pairing' blogs on how to create new looks for spring. The example to the left is from Kraft's member newsletter.

2. Add Links for User Ratings,and common Q&A to your newsletters. Knowing what's a five star product from Sephora for example versus a 3 1/2 star product is tremendously valuable. In this example, member questions are included in an email newsletter.

3. Provide ways for your subscribers to connect with you - and each other. Do you have a Facebook page? Are you building a 'follow' audience on Twitter? In your email footers, you can provide links to where to find you company in Social Networks. Peet's Coffee and Tea for example, provides links for social networks, and blogs allowing recipients to find more about them, and become fans or followers.

4. Provide tools for sharing, bookmarking, and publishing your email content. This viral tactic moves your content beyond the inbox for others, including potential new subscribers, to find it. The example above is from Read Write Web. Better to have someone follow you in their RSS feed than not at all!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Power of Twitter - Leads

Recently, John Harrison, (@johncharrison) the SVP of Product Strategy and Client Services began drinking from the fire hose that is twitter - and he got... leads.

Keep in mind, we have a suite of products from small business to enterprise, but the majority of our buyers have one thing in common - they want to market their products and services online using email.

Using Twitter Search
John typed in "Email Marketing Companies" in the search terms for Twitter. Here's the
exchange (minus, of course, the lead's phone number).

It was very quick, conversational, and effective, and points to great opportunity for Twitter and business. Even if Twitter doesn't end up charging subscriptions for corporations to post. Matching potential buyers at the moment they are looking with the companies that have the services has tremendous opportunity.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Social Media - 4 Tools to Start Making Sense of the Clutter

As part of product management at Yesmail, I'm looking at emerging technologies and how they can complement email marketing technologies -including Social Media. As such I've had to explain how social media works in relation to other marketing channels. I hope you'll find these tools useful in presentations to many who are new to social media. Below are four visual representations of social media seen through the lens of traditional marketing: audience sizing, demographic reach, and analytics.

1. Top Traffic sites in Social Media. This quick & easy graphic provides a layout of social media types (Platforms, Blogs, Networks, Micro-blogging, etc) and their unique traffic numbers based on Comscore/TechCrunch for November. You can play around with the graphic here. This is useful when answering the question "Just how big is this channel? How many users are using these technologies?" Keep in mind, there's overlap in users on social networks, blogs, etc.

2. Demographic Differences for a Few Social Networks. using demographic data from Rapleaf's July numbers - this illustrates differences between Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and LinkedIn in terms of key demographics (gender and age). Of course, you can further select targeted demographics and keywords within these social networks for advertising, but you can see self-reported data using pie charts. You can download Rapleaf's full report and pull demographic profiles from a host of social networks.

3. Social Media Analytics - SM2 by Techrigy. SM2 provides a good user interface for monitoring general buzz in social media. You can easily drill down to get a sense of what made buzz, and where it came from. SM2 allows you to select custom searches on competitors. Plus, it's free for the first 1000 keywords. Here's a profile of them from the Groundswell blog. Includes graphs, sentiment, demographics and custom search.

4. As a quick illustration, this tool is very effective at getting a sense what's being said on twitter about your brand, and how often in c0mparison with the competition. If there are doubts that no-one talks about your company - try this!