Measurement Matters: Analytics for Social Media

In this day and age of digital marketing, every business from big to small is coming to know the importance of social media. However, knowing the importance and knowing impact are two very different things, the latter of which can be far more difficult to come to understand. It is now that we are coming to redefine the need for digital analytics – ways to measure the strength and effectiveness of social media campaigns.

“What gets monitored and measured, matters.”

– Mark Farmer, digital strategist, York University

Type ‘social media analytics’ into Google and you’ll get a million results, including Google’s own News Alerts. The purpose of this post is to look at four platforms (three free and one paid) currently on the market, and give a quick view as to what they can offer for your own measurement needs.

Measuring your social media activities gives you objective metrics that can tell you if your approach is working or not. More so, it gives you a chance to listen to your audience, which is the key to successful social media presence.

Listening to your target audience, to what they are saying, and to how they view your organization will help you build your reputation through effective branding – because in this world, your brand is what your customers say it is.

Social Mention

The first of these tools is Social Mention, an online social media dashboard that tracks and measures data from over 100 social media venues, presenting it as a simple single stream.

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The Three Pros:

Social Mention measures your organization’s influence with four separate categories: strength, sentiment, passion and reach. This gives you a quick overview of who is seeing your posts, and how they feeling about them.

Four categories of analysis

Four categories of analysis

A series of filters allow you to analyse your top search by top keywords, top users, top hashtags, sources, sentiment, source, date and time. With more in-depth knowledge of the elements of your topic, you are able to target the best users and create the most appropriate posts for the audience at hand.

Instant notifications of conversations allow you to stay on top of current trends, topics and engagements so you never fall behind in the game.

Twazzup

Next up is Twazzup, which I’m assuming is deliberately channeling the 90s vibe for all the Gen X and early Millennial techies out there. This platform is a good introduction to Twitter monitoring tools, pulling the data together into a clean dashboard site.

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The Three Pros:

Sort users by Top Influencers, Most Active or Latest to decide who should be targeted by current campaigns or outreach programs. Each profile includes the number of followers and the number of tweets on the searched topic.

The sidebar shows top RT links and photos, and wells as a stream of Google News Alerts so suitable content for posts and retweets is always at hand.

Top options for sharing

Top options for sharing

Real-time updates mean the dashboard is continuously refreshing data. However, the handy pause button means you can keep important updates on the screen until you’ve caught up.

IceRocket

The last of free platforms is IceRocket; originally created as a blog monitoring tool, this dashboard has since expanded to include data from Twitter, Facebook and mainstream news sources.

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The Three Pros:

IceRocket can analyse sites in 20 languages, including Persian, Norwegian and Vietnamese. It is one of the few platforms that has multi-lingual capabilities.

The advanced search page allows you to filter by exact words or phrases, omitted words, domain name, author or date.

Trend charts show quick overviews of data for a period of up to three months. Up to five search terms can be compared on one table.

Trend chart

Trend chart

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Many of the free platforms lack the heavy data analysis that most companies would require, but then, you get what you pay for. So while they may be good for beginners just learning the gig, or even start-up ventures, once you really have truly emerged yourself in the world of social media, you’ll be looking for an upgrade – and probably one that will cost.

Lithium

Sysomos Heartbeat and Salesforce Radian6 are two of the better paid dashboards, with starting costs around $500/ or $600/month respectively. This is the step up, with it higher value (including unlimited users) reflected in its $1500/month price tag, Lithium monitors Twitter, blogs, mainstream news, photo- and video-sharing sites, forums and comments.

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The Three Pros:

Real-time feed keep you constantly up to date: Quotes lets you see real-time comments from customers so you can react quickly to anything that comes your way, while Buzz Tracking allows you to analyse real-time metrics of chatter in the industry, comparing your brand and the competition.

Saved Items is a database of bookmarks, notes and social media mentions that you can share with all the members of your team, or individuals. This makes a quick way to spread information that can then be posted to followers, or simply maintained for review in hindsight.

An abundance of snazzy charts and graphs gives you dozens of ways to view and present your data. It’s not just pretty, but a quick way to scan quantities of mentions, associated search terms, and even top posts.

In 2010 Erin Korogodsky of Lithium/ScoutLabs also ran an updated view of Old Spice for Brian Solis' Twitter Review.  Image from http://www.briansolis.com/2010/10/twitter-promoted-to-ad-network/

In 2010 Erin Korogodsky of Lithium/ScoutLabs also ran an updated view of Old Spice for Brian Solis’ Twitter Review. Image from http://www.briansolis.com/2010/10/twitter-promoted-to-ad-network/

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Whether free or paid, each social media analytical platform offers a plethora of pros and probably more cons. It is important to evaluate not only your personal dedication to your monitoring, but also the needs of your industry before you can choose which one – or more – of these sites will suffice.

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HMV: Not Going Platinum in Crisis Management

On January 13, 2013, HMV announced the 190 job cuts, in efforts to reduce company costs and eliminate redundancies. Concurrently, 21 year old Poppy Rose Cleere took to the official @HMVtweets Twitter account to live tweet what she was calling the “mass execution” of “loyal employees who love the brand.”

The Tweets

Cleere, now the former HMV community manager, had been working for the company for just over two years (officially a year and a half, as she points out in later tweets) as of January 2013. On that fateful morning, 60 employees at various locations were collected, en masse, and fired, and Cleere took to the official account to share her then-anonymous account of the morning’s events with the world:

The first tweet, sent at 9:45am, reached 1,300 retweets within the first 30 minutes. And while senior staff were notified of the debacle, it took at least that long to have the offending tweets removed from the account. In fact, 15 minutes in, Cleere points out that the marketing director is asking “how do I shut down Twitter.” These are the capable hands, she alludes, in which the company’s social media accounts will be left.

She even pegged the pity hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring, which was very social media savvy of her.

Poppy’s Apology

It was after the fact that Poppy Rose Cleere came clean that it was her on the other end of the Twitter line. In a tweet-speech on her personal account, Cleere explained that she had be solely responsible for the official Twitter and Facebook accounts since starting them as an intern two years previously. Therefore, she had not actually been “hacking” the account when she sent the tweets.

Furthermore, she insisted sole responsibility for the tweets themselves, as she had no “family to support/ no mortgage” – though she did have a burning desire to prove that social media deserved the respect of the “senior members of staff” who refused to be educated.

I think it’s safe to say that she proved her point.

The Take-Away

Poppy Rose Cleere made it very clear that this act was as much a result of the poor treatment of staff during the company’s economic failure, as it was a stand on the way social media was viewed and treated within the company. As Business Week stated,

“maintaining Facebook and Twitter pages should be taken seriously as a part of corporate communications, not relegated to the realm of entry-level busywork…”

This is not to say an intern cannot be extremely useful in the social media department, but merely that they should not be pushed to some back corner and forgotten about until the cheques need to be passed out.

HMV risked a major reputation crisis with this situation. Their first and biggest fault was that they fired their social media staff before securing the account information. From Cleere’s personal tweets, we can see that it was not until much later in the afternoon that they collected that information, and even then the new coordinator had not removed her from an administrative position on the accounts. The first step for any organization is to lock down complete control of your social media accounts, separate from the staff that may post from them.

Secondly, while HMV rushed to remove the tweets, there was never any public response from the company. This was a major oversight, especially since the problem had already reached global audiences. Their first reaction to the event should have been a new tweet, apologizing for the incident and promising investigation into the matter. It would not have helped to lash out against Cleere or other staff members, but by keeping completely silent, senior management allowed the public to create their own assumptions over the situation – most of which were extremely negative towards the company.

Finally, HMV should have immediately created a follow up action. Whether it was storewide discounts, a flash sale, or even a fresh ad campaign, they should not have allowed any period of dead space after a debacle like this. The longer you let the situation sit, the greater the risk of brand abandonment.

Ultimately, the entire fiasco could have been avoided by not firing the staff members who had the passwords. After all, the internet hath no fury like a social media expert scorned.

Painting a Picture for Content Strategy

In a world of 140 character tweets, scrapbook-style pinboards, and quick scroll pages like Facebook, Reddit and Tumblr, how can an organization ever hope to make its mark in the ten seconds you eyes scans its post? Not surprisingly, companies have quickly adapted to the alluring call of visual information, focusing on brightly coloured and well designed infographics to smoothly transmit their ideas to the internet public.

And if clients choose to spread their information in that manner, it only makes sense that public relations practitioners use the same tool to learn their own trade. In this post, I will be looking at three images designed to summarize the elements of content strategy, and analysing whether I feel they are effective as standalone images in my understanding thereof.

First, I should quickly explain what Content Strategy actually is. Content is the critical information on any platform (website, application, intranet, etc.) that a user has come to read, learn, see or experience. Content strategy is the manner in which the correct selection of information is shared with the appropriate audience. The key element to remember is that this information should never be focused on an immediate or direct sell; instead it should be thought of as storytelling – building the world that the audience will eventually want to be a part of.

image

The first of these images is The Path to Content Marketing [Infographic] from B2B Marketing Infographics, which outlines the lifecycle of basic content strategy from the planning stages onward. Not only does it cover the main points in bold headlines, it then gives a brief description of each stage to better flesh out the topic. And while it has enough text to educate somebody new to the practice of content marketing, it is not text heavy or dense. The layout if easy to follow with dotted lines connecting consecutive thoughts, and the colours are easy on the eyes, but enticing (mint is definitely the comeback colour of the 2010s). All in all, I have to say that this is a great infographic for a crash course in content strategy, but is also a great refresher for anybody who could do with it.

image

The next Mark Smiciklas’ Content Marketing Strategy Iceberg, found through Intersection Consulting Ltd. Related to the first example, this image outlines the five basic components of content strategy, as seen on the underwater portion of the iceberg. The artistic value to that design choice is that these five elements occur outside the target audience’s awareness, leaving them only the frolicking form of wee penguin content on the surface. More so, it exemplifies the idea that that the bulk of the work occurs without public notice or recognition,  in the same way that 90% of an iceberg’s mass in underwater. But aside from being distracted by the penguins, this is a great infographic for somebody who has at least a basic understanding of the field. Though the descriptive text is limited, it portrays the key components easily and cleanly. Plus, that blue-green and red colour combination seems to be a winner.

On the topic of Smiciklas, while I decided not to feature it in this post, I understand why his image 5 Ingredients for a Tasty Content Strategy is so popular on the CDPR 108 blogs this week. It is one of the best depictions of how the elements of audience, content theme, voice and tone, content format and platform fit together to create effective content marketing.

image

My final image is, by far, the most detailed. Some might even say ‘too busy,’ and at first glance I wouldn’t totally disagree. The Periodic Table of Content Strategy by Chris Lake was designed to give an all encompassing view of content marketing strategy, with the pleasently nerdy design of the Table of Elements. It doesn’t so much offer a timeline for strategizing, but instead beaks down the multitude of, well, elements conducive to the positive employment of content strategy. Though an eye full at first glance, this chart would actually be exceptionally useful to have lying around the office – from possible content topics, to helpful trigger hints, ans even measuring tactics, this table could help you build a strategy from beginning to end. Whether a fresh faced newbie or a seasoned professional, sometimes a helpful hint is in order and this chart could definitely supply it.

So just like any other topic on the internet, infographics on content strategy come in all shapes and sizes. Some give you wordless hints designed simply to push that lost thought off the tip of your tongue, while others seemingly aspire to teach complete amateurs how to take their social media sites by storm. In either case, if you’re in the market for an image to help your learning (or your teaching), there are plenty out there that could save the day.

A Little Bird Told Me, Twitter Promotion’s the Way

TWITTER

Source: Mashable

When first launched in 2006, Twitter was just another newfangled social networking site, separated only from the rest by its frustrating format of only allowing 140 characters per post. But what was once its most debilitating feature has since become one of its greatest strengths, forcing its users to unparalleled levels of creativity in order to press their message with as few words as possible. Since its inception, Twitter has grown to be the ninth most popular website according to the Alexa traffic ranking, with over 225 million users across the globe. In 2013, Twitter declared a revenue of US$664 million; and at least in part, that is due to their ever-growing network of promoted material.   Promoted Tweets Promoted tweets are purchased by advertisers in order drive a particular action, or generally promote awareness for your business. Approximately 500 million tweets are sent every day, and promoted tweets could be all but lost in them, were it not for the bright yellow badge they wear to indicate they have been purchased. They can be treated exactly like regular tweets – replied to, favourited or retweeted – but are specifically placed at the top of any news feeds that are deemed most relevant.

PROMOTED TWEET

A conveniently placed promoted tweet on my news feed this afternoon.

On that note, there are many ways to filter your potential audience, such as through keywords in a user’s tweets or searches, location, or the type of device you are using. And despite their growing popularity, Twitter still maintains a better track record than Facebook has been in keeping their promoted posts to a minimum on your feed. Promoted tweets are an effective manner in which to push your organization’s message. They cost between $0.75 and $2.50, paid for not by the individuals they reach, but by the number of engagements they induce – including retweets, favourites, replies, follows, or even clicks.   Promoted Accounts Promoted accounts are used to promote brand awareness and web traffic, or drive purchases, downloads and signups. They may appear on your timeline, but are usually seen under the Who to Follow heading, or in search results.

My Who to Follow knows me well.

My Who to Follow knows me well.

Generally quite unoffensive, promoted accounts are equally tailored to the users likes, habits, and other followers. It is payment by bid, generally ranging $2.50 to $4.00 per follower received. The higher the bid, the more the promotion, but if you refresh your page in quick succession, you’ll see enough different companies to make it worth their while.   Promoted Trends Finally are the promoted trends, which have branched off from early genrations of the promoted tweet. They focus on time, context and event sensitive trends, and appear on the top of the trending topics list for whichever region you chose to follow.

#Election was trending during the 2010 american election.

The Washington Post promoted the trend #election during the 2010 American election. Source: SecondShares

 

When you click the trend link, you’ll be taken to a page of tweets containing the phrase or #hashtag, usually topped with an associated promoted tweet from the account that paid for the trend in the first place. A promoted trend can cost upwards of $2000/day, and therefore it is not surprising that, from my experience, they are most elusive of the promoted materials.   The Outcome Whether looking at 41 Ways to Promote Your Twitter Account or 5 Tips for Promoting your Business on Twitter, it is obvious that a good relationship with your twitter followers (and potential followers) is a must for modern organizations and businesses. With clever enough business tactics, good conversational skills and pithy tweets, small businesses are constantly making a name for themselves in the Twittersphere. Some may claim that it is not worth paying for a service they can potentially maximaximize for free. All the same, as can be seen below, there has been a consistent growth in the ROI (return on investment) for companies that have turned to paid twitter promotions, and one can only assume that the increasing numbers to be found on our news feeds must be indicative of some success.

An increasing ROI on paid Twitter promotions indicates positive results.

An increasing ROI on paid Twitter promotions indicates positive results. Source: e-Strategy Trends

 

 

 

Creatively Titled First Post

Let me begin by saying I’m new at blogging. Not the world of blogs – I’ve read many in my days as a member of the internet generation – but as a writer. A media savvy friend of mine has been goading me to begin for years, bribing me with the opportunity to guest write film reviews for any B-grade horror or kitschy 90s flick he would never personally feature on his own blog. But my major set back was that I never felt like I knew what to say, what to write about.

Well, now my direction has been set for me. In the pursuit of my certificate of Public Relations at Ryerson University, I am currently taking two seperate courses that require each student to start their own blog.

The first is a course in social media, which I am particularly interested in with the burgeoning reliance on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the likes in every facet of our public lives. Promotion, marketing, event planning and even networking take place almost soley online for a huge percentage of peers.

The second course is focused on reputation management, which is in and of itself an interesting topic. But in tandem to my other studies this term, you think about how quickly a comment or remark can be spread or criticised in this world of instant information. Warren Buffett once said,  “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Today,  we can safely say it takes much less than that, in a world where a single tweet can crumble an empire.

And so this blog has been born to chronicle my upcoming adventures in the exciting, if not sometimes intimidating, world of public relations here in Toronto, Canada. May I wish myself good luck.