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Sink or Swim: A Social Media Article eBook


Introducing the new series “Sink or Swim” from our blog, Asking Smarter Questions. We are dedicated to data-driven results and never working off hunches or hearsay. Social media is not unnavigable; in …

Introducing the new series “Sink or Swim” from our blog, Asking Smarter Questions. We are dedicated to data-driven results and never working off hunches or hearsay. Social media is not unnavigable; in fact, with the right tools and measurement, it can be easily measured to an exact return on investment. Learn more about social communication from Levelwing:

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  • 1. Asking Smarter Questions Social Media Article Series July - August 2012
  • 2. Table of Contents Sink or Swim Article SeriesPreface Sink or Swim: Let’s Talk SocialPart 1 Social Intelligence Research: Dive Head First into DataPart 2 Staying Afloat in a Sea of Options: Social Media PlatformsPart 3 Gold Medal Goals: Don’t Settle for SilverPart 4 Game Time: Put Your Social Strategy into PlayPart 5 Don’t Get Burned: Know What Your Customers Are SayingPart 6 Don’t Put Your Head in the Sand: Measurement is KeyPart 7 Bathing Suit or Swimsuit? Test Your Social MessagingPart 8 Stay Studious: Ongoing Social Optimization
  • 3. Social Media: the new darling of the Internet industry, of many industries. Some will have youbelieve it is a fad, others the proverbial silver bullet. The reality, which everyone seems to Prefacebe overcomplicating, is that it is simply about relationships. In this series we take you from Welcome to oursocial conversation listening, to platform selection, to sharing your message. We take you Social Media Series:from strategy to measurement of social and teach you how to determine an actual ROI from Sink or Swimyour effort. We also take you from testing messages to optimizing your communications on a By Steve Parker, Jr.continual and methodical basis based on data rather than faith.Now I’ll admit that doesn’t sound too “relational,” but the reality is that we all do these things inorder to have solid relationships. In fact, in really good relationships these listening, platforms,strategies, measurement, testing and optimization efforts are so commonplace that they arejust an everyday occurrence we do not notice. In bad relationships, these processes are absentor difficult.Social media is not unnavigable; in fact, with the right tools and measurement, it can be easilymeasured to an exact return on investment. You may say, “I don’t measure my relationships toan ROI.” But sure you do! Where you fail is honesty. The fact of the matter is we all measureour relationships; when we have a bad one it feels like a struggle, when we have a good oneit seems so simple. And I can tell you from where I sit, most brands are failing at measuringrelationships, hence they are failing at this big thing called Social Media.Establishing Meaningful RelationshipsSo, let’s talk about relationships since that’s what social is really about at its core. Man wasnot meant to be alone, and since the beginning of time, humankind has craved connections;connections at home, with family, friends and co-workers. However, with the advent of SocialMedia, connections have become more about quantity than quality. How many friends do youhave? Honestly, how many do you know well and spend time with? Not many. What we allstruggle with is how to make relationships more meaningful. If you recall the ending of themovie The Social Network, you may remember Mark Zuckerberg sending a friend requestto his old girlfriend and then hitting refresh on his computer screen over and over again justhoping to establish one relationship – not many – just one. Meanwhile he has 15 millionpeople subscribed to his Facebook feed. But it is deep relationships that matter; we all wantrelationships to be meaningful; for a brand that would mean a consumer who trusts you andbuys from you. Yet most in the industry are focused on quantity, not quality, and that is a majorfailure. 3
  • 4. Highlights from First ClassRelationships are about being honest. Clearly it is hard for a brand to be honest at all times Preface (cont.)and even if they were, consumers are oftentimes distrustful. That’s a tough one for most of Welcome to ourus; don’t pretend that you are honest in your relationships all the time every day. To prove that Social Media Series:you are not, go look at your Facebook timeline. How many of your posts are honest about your Sink or Swimday, your life, your experiences? Very few. In fact most of us just show highlights of our life By Steve Parker, Jr.(generally the pretty parts). Fishing with the kids, drinks with the wife, vacation with the family,the first class seat on the airplane. In other words, “here are the nice parts of my life, but notthe other ones.” So as human beings we have begun to compartmentalize our lives and limitthe vision others have of us - and brands are not immune to this.Last ThoughtsPerhaps the real value in life, in Social Media, and for the individual and the brand, would beto build mutual relationships that matter—that mean something. Perhaps we should all becreating smaller groups of relationships. Perhaps, much like with people, the purpose for thebrand in social should be connecting – and not just with people who buy their product - butthose that buy their product and share another interesting attribute or two (geography, hobbies,etc.). Then you will have begun to build something together that is strong, that creates change,that is actually meaningful.I hope you find this series meaningful, full of vision, strategy and tactics that will help youachieve what could be.Steve Parker, Jr. 4
  • 5. Data can tell you everything you need to know – you just have to know how to mine it andproperly analyze it in order to use it strategically. Take social conversations, for example. Part 1Whether you’re just now jumping on board the social train or you’re just in need of a fresh, Social Intelligencemore strategic and effective approach, you can’t hope to have any kind of success without first Research: Dive Headtaking a look at the existing data across the social sphere. First into Data By Steve Parker, Jr.The social phenomenon has taken the world by storm. Although social communication hasexisted since cavemen were grunting and drawing symbols on cave walls, this online shift inthe past 15 years has completely changed the way we communicate and share information.Now, through online social networking sites and forums, people from all four corners of theworld can quickly and easily connect and share information with each other. Sometimes this “communication takes the form of sharing photos and recipes on Pinterest, staying in touchwith friends and family through Facebook, or creating a network of professional contacts viaLinkedIn. Oftentimes, however, the conversation relates to something much nearer and dearerto a marketer’s heart: your brand.The Power of Social Conversations “IgnoringYes, people are talking about your business. They’re sharing information and experiences withfriends and strangers alike, providing open and honest reviews on your brand, product, service consumeror competitor. People, by their very nature, are opinionated – and many of them want their conversationsopinions to be heard. The result? The social universe has become somewhat of a free, limitlessand unsolicited consumer response survey. Your customers are happily telling you what theylike, what they don’t like, what they want and don’t want. Ignoring consumer conversationsor only listening to them in part is like being handed a free winning lottery ticket and swattingit away. It’s powerful, incredibly insightful information that could not only help you form yoursocial strategy, but also help you make business-changing decisions across every facet of yourcompany. So don’t let it go to waste – use social communication as a listening post, helping is like being handed a free winning lottery ticket and swatting “guide your social strategy. it away”Social Intelligence ResearchSo what exactly is social intelligence research? Social intelligence research entails using onlinetools to aggregate and analyze conversations taking place across the social web. You not onlymonitor conversations in real time, but also analyze consumer perceptions to uncover yourcompany’s strengths and weaknesses – whether they are related to your brand, competitors,products, services, sponsorships, events and so on. These insights act as a guiding light,affecting the way you approach each phase of your brand’s social strategy developmentprocess. 5
  • 6. There are five phases of the social strategy framework, the first of which is initial socialintelligence research. Performing this step first is crucial, as it sets the tone for each of the Part 1 (cont.)next phases. Gathering social intelligence allows you to develop and implement a customer- Social Intelligencecentric strategy by listening to what is already being said. It draws attention to holes in your Research: Dive Headcurrent marketing strategy and reveals opportunities for your brand to take advantage of First into Datadifferent audiences and trends within those audiences. The mining of social data also allows By Steve Parker, to set baselines for brand conversation volume and sentiment, aiding in measurementdown the road (but more on that later in this series).Getting StartedTo begin, use an advanced social monitoring tool to dive into the archives of the social net, “scouring the Internet and going beyond Facebook and Twitter to the thousands of one-offforums and blogs across the web where a significant portion of social conversations actuallytake place. Through conversational aggregation and analysis, find out what consumers havebeen saying about your brand historically. By digging deeper into these conversations, you canuncover unknown trends and themes regarding topics of interest to your brand. You can alsodiscover what your audience is asking to know more about. And you’re able to actually listen to “The trends thatconsumers as they honestly and willingly tell you what interests them, as well as their opinionsregarding what your brand is currently doing.Mining these kinds of insights will help lay a path for your social strategy. The trends thatare uncovered can lay the foundation for the kind of content you should provide through thevarious social platforms. To help decide which platforms you should consider joining, look atthe sources of social conversations about your brand and your industry. If your target audience are uncovered can lay the foundation for the kinds of content you “has a much bigger presence on Pinterest but hardly any on Twitter, maybe you should focus should provide”more of your time and energy on Pinterest.From what platforms to join and content to provide to the best times to post updates, socialintelligence research can provide you with countless insights that are crucial to building asuccessful social strategy. 6
  • 7. It seems like there is a new social media platform every day that marketers deem “the next bigthing.” Start-ups in Silicon Valley are banking on the fact that social media marketing will not Part 2always belong to Facebook and Twitter. Though these two platforms have the largest volume of Staying Afloat indaily active users, with 526 million and 140 million respectively (Q1 2012 figures), there are a Sea of Options:ample branding opportunities on other social networking platforms. In this post, we’re going Social Mediato break down the big fish, the smaller fish and how to decide which platforms your business Platformsshould be on. By Jeff Adelson-YanThe first myth we need to dispel is that your business should be on every single availablesocial platform. In fact, Levelwing often recommends choosing only a few because it isimportant to have the time to manage and create fresh content instead of just being on them “for the sake of mere presence. It is important that you do a little research and figure out thefunctionalities and audience demographics before launching into full-fledge campaigns.FacebookMost notably, and first in the social media game, is Facebook. Facebook is great becauseit reaches a large audience; practically everyone in the United States in on Facebook. In “ It seems likefact, unless you’re marketing to China (the country uses other social media networks), it’s there is a newthe largest social networking audience you can reach. With Facebook, you have two large-scale marketing options: paid and non-paid. Paid ads generate Facebook’s revenue and areconstantly changing and being tested (and arguably) improved. Though they do not offeras much flexibility as Google ads visually, they do have decent targeting options like age,gender, sexual orientation, location, family status, broad or precise interests and more. Theeffectiveness of Facebook advertising has been questioned, but with the right optimization, wehave found pretty good results if the proper measurement is put into place. social media platform “ every day that marketers deem the Next BigNon-paid Facebook is essentially brand page management, or cultivating an online community. Thing”Brand pages are gaining more and more flexibility and optimization on Facebook. Timeline,which has been available to brands for just under a year now, has created more opportunitiesfor pages to be branded micro-sites. With the multitude of Facebook applications that can becreated, additionally, it is becoming more of an interactive tool for fans now more than ever.TwitterTwitter has also tried to leverage paid and non-paid with varying degrees of success. Non-paid consists of brand page management. Options include branding opportunities with thebackground and hashtags, tweeting content with photo and video attachments and more.Twitter has a slightly smaller audience, but the life of a tweet is significantly shorter than a 7
  • 8. Facebook post. Therefore, it is more “socially acceptable” to tweet multiple times a day. OnFacebook, it’s best to keep to one update a day or perhaps even every other day. Since Twitter Part 2 (cont.)feeds move faster, it is recommended that tweets go out every few hours to stay up to date in Staying Afloat inthe conversation and to stay in front of your audience. a Sea of Options: Social MediaHashtags are another great piece of Twitter marketing that many often forget about. Hashtags Platformsare essentially an easy way to search Twitter for others discussing the same subject. For By Jeff Adelson-Yaninstance, if your brand is in the automotive industry, using hashtags like #cars, #automotive,#tires, #tuneup or #engine could help people find your tweet and information quicker (withoutfollowing you). Additionally, Public tweets can also be indexed in search engines, so it’simportant to maintain a professional but engaging voice; you never know who is reading your “brand’s tweet. As social integration into search becomes more of a reality, it is important tokeep your Twitter content fresh. So who is on Twitter? The highest-represented demographic,according to Pew Research Center, is 18-29 year olds. 15% of Internet users are active onTwitter, with 8% logging on every day. Minorities also have a high Twitter usage percentage—over 28% of Black, Non-Hispanic Internet users utilize Twitter.Twitter offers a few options for brands that want to engage in paid advertisements. A promotedtweet (which appears at the top of a News Feed) is the easiest placement to purchase(and usually the more inexpensive). Promoted trends are considerably more expensive (theminimum is somewhere between $100-150k) and are only promoted for a 24 hour period.More Twitter advertisement opportunities are said to be rolling out soon, so this might be “72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every “something to keep your eye on—especially if you’re targeted demographic is young. single minute”YouTubeYouTube is often forgotten as a social platform, but it is astounding the amount of sharingthat happens on this channel. For instance, 72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube everysingle minute. Beyond the branding opportunities with channels (customizable skins, tabsand landing pages, etc.), YouTube offers several paid options, including Promoted Videos andadvertisements (before video, during video, banner ads, etc.). Targeting is especially great forYouTube ads because the user is already committed to watching a video involving the industry,brand or product. In other words, you know that your ad is showing to a captivated audience—not just appearing in the right hand column to be potentially ignored. YouTube is careful to notbombard the user with cumbersome ads, however, as the company does not want to interferewith the user experience too much.LinkedInLinkedIn is a Facebook for business professionals and with about 48 million active users(though we’re not positive on the daily amount), it definitely has great brand awareness 8
  • 9. potential. LinkedIn offers the same non-paid options as Facebook, but with a little lessflexibility. It is possible to create multiple tabs to use as landing pages, but the possibilities Part 2 (cont.)for customization and branding are fewer. LinkedIn is comprised of professionals looking for Staying Afloat inbusiness opportunities, job postings and information about companies. It is a great place to a Sea of Options:explore if your company is a B2B. Paid advertisements are very similar to Facebooks with Social Mediatargeting that includes job title—especially helpful when marketing B2B. Platforms By Jeff Adelson-YanGoogle+Google+ is Google’s venture into social media—after the death of Google Buzz andWave. After gaining some heavy momentum during its launch, Google+ has leveled off inengagement. In fact, a study concluded recently that only 30% of Google+ accounts that have “made a public post will ever make another public post again. This is measured against thesocial network “norm” of 70%. While 170 million users sounds promising, we wonder if peopleare actually interested in cultivating communities on the platform.So why are we including it in the list, then? Well, Google+ is still on the radar for a numberof reasons—most of them being its parent company. Google has plans to firmly entrench “Google hasGoogle+ posts and stories into search engine results pages. We have seen this most recentlywith the integration of Google Local and Google+. Whether or not your brand wants to be onthis platform could be irrelevant. To be shown in the results, you might have to adopt. To whatextent Google will integrate Google+ remains to be seen, but we advise doing your homeworkabout the platform anyway. Demographics skew male and popular stories often includetechnology and media. entrench Google+ posts “ plans to firmly and stories into search enginePinterest results pages”Pinterest has become the favorite of most women in America at this point and has taken onsome serious growth spurts in the last year. Though its audience is mostly women, Pinteresthas a lot of functionalities that make it perfect for marketing. Firstly, it has a lot of engagement.Secondly, it sends a lot of referring traffic (more than Facebook). Thirdly, it’s all visual, whichis great for brands with the power to create enticing creative. Though Pinterest is trying tofight the inevitable marketer takeover, it also has a reputation for coolness that is not to bedisturbed. When creating a Pinterest account, brands must understand that it is not aboutselling, selling, selling. Instead, it is about sharing ideas with the audience and cultivating acommunity. Even moreso than other platforms, it’s important to stay away from self-servingcontent. Incorporating a product every now and then is fine as long as the user is gleaninguseful information (Do-It-Yourself is a big subject here) and does not feel bombarded by salestactics and images. Currently, Pinterest does not have any paid options for advertising. A fewsmart brands got in on the ground level—like Dwell Magazine, West Elm and Real Simple—but there is still plenty of opportunity to go around. A quick tip: before signing up for Pinterest, 9
  • 10. make sure your website has “pinnable” content. It’s easy—just try to pin an image from yourwebsite. If your website’s images are not pinnable, then it might not be the best Part 2 (cont.)platform for your brand. Staying Afloat in a Sea of Options:Instagram Social MediaInstagram is a newcomer to social media. This start-up is currently not even drawing a profit Platformsit’s so new. Instagram is very interesting, however, because it is a feed for photos. These By Jeff Adelson-Yanphotos can be uploaded and manipulated with various filters to make them more visuallyappealing. You can follow someone or a brand on Pinterest much like on Twitter. You receiveall updates. Instagram is currently broadening functionality with hashtags as well. It is alsovery easy to share Instagram photos on Twitter or Facebook, which makes the platformscompatible. Brands that belong on Instagram could be anything from art galleries (post photosof new exhibits) to tourist destination visitors’ bureaus (post photos fun activities) to fashiondesigners (new collections, inspiration, models, raw materials, etc.). Inherently visual brandscan take advantage of this platform better than others.It’s important to stay abreast of the latest and greatest social networking platforms and theaudiences they target. For instance, currently, there is a lot of discussion surrounding video-based social networks like Viddy and Social Cam. Brands have already begun leveraging thesetools to expand their social media presence. While it is important to stay informed, it is evenmore important to decide what is best for your brand. As mentioned before, being everywhereisn’t necessarily the best answer. Devoting time and money to one or two platforms andassessing the benefits is always the best way to begin.“ “ Being everywhere isn’t “ necessarily the best answer” 10
  • 11. With the Summer Olympics fast approaching, we were in the spirit of going for gold(USA! USA! USA!). In respect to social media strategy, it’s important that you set your Part 3goals high. Many companies decide to setup Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts Gold Medal Goals:because they’ve been told by someone that it’s the thing to do. They end up feeling Don’t Settle for Silver By Steve Parker, Jr.disappointed that their social handles aren’t generating likes, clicks or leads. But firstsetting goals and implementing a specific strategy for each platform is paramount.Therefore, I’m going to discuss how to go about setting the right goals for the varioussocial platforms and the steps necessary to achieve those goals. First, you need to askyourself these questions.1. What platforms should my brand be on? “We recently assessed the most popular social platforms in our article entitled “StayingAfloat in a Sea of Options.” Review that article and come right back.2. What is my strategy for each platform?Because of the differences in the social platforms (demographics, types of messaging,acceptable amount of engagement), it is important to implement separate strategies “There arefor all the platforms on which your brand is seen, but also ensure that they all have asingular voice and work together to paint a broader picture of your brand.3. What actions will I consider a key performance indicator (KPI)?If your goal is to get your Facebook page more likes and your Twitter handle morefollowers, why? What does a like and a follow mean to you? How is it furthering yourbusiness? If the number of likes or follows isn’t that important to your brand, what measure efforts on social media “ plenty of ways to including direct attribution ofkinds of actions do you want users to take and how can you develop a social strategy leads and sales”that will get them to do those actions?4. How will I measure my brand’s social initiatives?This is a gray area for many companies, as they have been told that social mediasimply cannot be measured. However, there are plenty of ways to measure efforts onsocial media–including direct attribution of leads and sales. If you are not planningon measuring beyond number of likes and follows, you will probably be disappointedin your social media efforts. Understanding how social media works and how it canpositively influence your business is fundamental to your success… and the only wayto understand it is to measure and optimize.5. What is my brand’s voice and who do I want to manage that voice?You can choose to be your brand’s voice. You can hire an intern. You can hire anagency. You can outsource. There are plenty of options for social communication. 11
  • 12. However, which one strikes a balance between cost and time efficient and alsoaccurate? Representation of your brand can make or break social media initiatives. Part 3 (cont.)Do you plan to offer customer service? Introduce new products? Manage your online Gold Medal Goals:reputation? These all require different strategies and people to implement those Don’t Settle for Silver By Steve Parker, Jr.strategies. Choose wisely and implement clear rules of engagement with customers/clients to be sure the brand is accurately and professionally represented.Now that you’ve answered those questions, you need to set your goals. Goals shouldbe slightly more easily achievable than dreams. For instance, your goal should not beto simply “increase engagement on Facebook.” That’s too easy. It should have hardnumbers attached to it so that your social strategist(s) are held accountable. Perhaps “you want to generate leads from Facebook and Twitter. A goal could be to get your costper lead down to an ideal amount. Not sure what that amount is? Look to your paidsearch information and research average costs per click/action on the different socialmedia platforms. This will give you a better idea of how to manage your expectationswhile still remaining hungry. “ImplementGoals for YouTube could include not just video views, but a specific number of click-throughs to a branded website. Track what your customers are doing once they get clear rules ofthere. Find out if your YouTube videos intrigue people enough to find out more and if engagementthey purchase a product, fill out a lead form or sign up for a newsletter once they do.Goals for Twitter do not have to be relegated to followers. Measure clicks and optimizemessaging every month to target the audience that will be most lucrative.Not settling for silver means thinking beyond the pale and coming up with ways tomeasure your social media efforts in a way that will help you to fully comprehend whatit means for your business. Even if your business is not inherently social, there is a way with customers to be sure the brand is accurately and professionally “to make it work for you. It’s where your customers live online and where they want to represented”interact with brands. Creating a unique experience for them while maintaining a goodbottom line for your brand is the ultimate gold medal goal. 12
  • 13. The Olympic Games are like your social strategy: a lot of time, energy and dedicationgo into planning to ensure your top performance on game day. But in the end, the true Part 4test of how well you’ve prepared comes down to putting your strategy into play. Game Time: Put Your SocialBy this time, you’ve done your initial social intelligence research to listen to what Strategy into Playis already being said about your brand across the social sphere. You’ve done your By Jeff Adelson-Yanhomework by looking into the available social platforms and have determined whichmake the most sense for your brand. And you’ve developed your goals, asking yourselfall of the relevant questions about what you truly hope to gain fromyour social presence. “In other words, you have your battle plan – it’s time to deploy the troops! Get active inthe social space and begin engaging with your audience by launching the executionsyou originally outlined.PlatformsNow that you know which platforms you want to be on, you need to create accountswithin each before you can get the social communication ball rolling. This soundssimple enough, but you have to think about creative branding on each of the platforms.And while the branding may be slightly different from platform to platform due todesign restraints, they should be cohesive. This means a similar company descriptionand profile, logo and branded skin (where possible on sites that allow for customizedprofile designs, like Twitter skins, YouTube designs and Facebook Timeline photos and “Within each profiles you “ of your social should include a link back to yourtabs). Within each of your social profiles, you should include a link back to your website website”and possibly even link to your other social profiles.Social Content CalendarBy this point, you should have your social activity or content calendar developed andready to go. This is basically an editorial calendar that allows you to lay out whatcontent you plan to publish and when. Using a social content calendar makes your lifeeasier. It provides the “big picture” view of your content from the various platforms andaccounts, making content management more efficient and allowing you to balance thetype of content you share. While you can use any format you want, simply using anExcel spreadsheet or Google Document often makes the most sense. 13
  • 14. Update & MonitorThere are countless tools available for monitoring and managing your social Part 4 (cont.)presence. By now, you should have decided which tools you plan to use. Hootsuite Game Time:and TweetDeck, for example, are dashboards that allow you to schedule and monitor Put Your Socialyour social content for multiple accounts within multiple platforms, such as Twitter, Strategy into PlayFacebook, Foursquare and more. In addition, Hootsuite allows you to set up streams to By Jeff Adelson-Yaneasily monitor conversations while organizing them by account, content or platform.Track, Measure, Analyze & RefineDuring the deployment phase, you should also begin measuring, evaluating andrefining. In fact, you will want to start measuring the moment you start engaging. “Measurement of your pre-defined KPIs will allow you to assign value to executions,platforms and audiences. This is the time to find out what is working and adjust yoursocial activity schedule to capitalize on these trends. Adjust strategy and activityschedule as needed since social is a dynamic space and brands need to be preparedto evolve along with the consumer’s ever-changing mindset.ToolsNot to sound like a broken record, but if you can’t track something, it’s probably notworth doing. That said, there are numerous ways to track, measure and analyze the “If you can’t “ track something, it’s probably noteffectiveness of your social presence, allowing you to optimize, adjust your strategy worth doing”and better allocate resources. And as with most other tools in the digital world, thereare both basic and advanced options available.The basic tools are great for what we call “convenience metrics.” These are themetrics that are typically easy to track, but probably don’t provide a whole lot of insightinto how your campaigns are performing in terms of your most important, bottom-linegoals, but that isn’t to say you should totally disregard them. For example, tools likeHootsuite and various URL shorteners, such as and bitly, allow you to see whichupdates received the most clicks. This can be helpful in determining the best time ofday to post updates, the best days of the week, the type of messaging that results inhigher engagement, etc. 14
  • 15. However, you want to get to the heart of it all. Maybe people are clicking on yourcontent, but is it driving them to your website? And once they land on your website, Part 4 (cont.)what are they doing? How does your brand’s Twitter account stack up to its Facebook Game Time:account in terms of lead generation and other KPIs (key performance indicators)? Put Your SocialThis is the kind of deeper level insight you can gain through more advanced tools, Strategy into Playsuch as Google Analytics or – even more advanced – Omniture, Adobe’s Digital By Jeff Adelson-YanMarketing Suite.If you’ve successfully followed all of the steps above and in the previous parts ofthe “Sink or Swim” series, it’s now game time. You’re finally ready to put your socialstrategy into play. But never forget the crucial, ongoing elements to any successfulsocial strategy: continuously measure, analyze and refine. After all, just like anOlympian, the hard work doesn’t stop on day one of the games.“ “successful social strategy: continuously measure, analyze “ and refine” 15
  • 16. We’ve all seen it happen in social media. A brand makes a statement or change to a policyand suddenly–a viral onslaught of disapproval. It can begin anywhere online with just one Part 5disgruntled customer. It’s important to monitor conversation about your brand so that if there is Don’t Get Burned:ever a problem, you can tackle it head-on. Now you may be thinking, “how do I know what my Know What Yourcustomers are saying online?” And that’s a valid question. After all, you might not be getting Customers Areeverything you need just from a quick Twitter search (you’re doing that, right?). But social plays Sayinga big part in finding out how customers feel about your services/products, customer service, By Steve Parker, Jr.policies and more. First, we’ll discuss tools that can help you and secondly, we’ll discusstactics for online reputation management.Tools: “1. Set up a Google alert. Any time someone mentions your brand (and it’s crawled by thesearch engine), it will show up in your alert. You can choose to get these alerts in real time orjust once a day/week.2. Look into social media management tools. These tools (like Hootsuite or Sprout Social) canhelp you monitor and better understand what people are saying about you via thesocial platforms.3. Paid options (which will be discussed in more detail later in the series) like Radian 6 canalso bring new depth to your understanding of customer conversation… as long as you can “Every complaint is an “aggregate it properly. opportunity”Tactics:You’ve found what your customers are saying; now what?1. Every complaint is an opportunity. What is this person really upset about? Is it somethingyou can fix? How might you be able to turn a bad situation into a beneficial one? Chobani’sFacebook page is full of love from fans, but also occasionally gets peppered with complaintsabout a bad yogurt. What does Chobani do? Send the customer in question a shout-out and acoupon. It instantly turns the customer from unhappy to happy, maybe even brand advocate.2. Every accolade is a chance to promote. Some brands will ignore a fan that celebrates them.But why not promote that compliment by using it in a Facebook ad campaign or [at least]re-tweeting? Word of mouth works both ways and can often lead to positive brand awareness.3. Listen and refine. Listening to social conversation can often give your brand insight on howto improve customer satisfaction. It could be something small like offering free coffee in awaiting room. It could also be something big like product refinement or development. No longerdo we have to wait for test groups. People are volunteering their opinions and informationabout your brand right now in online public forums. Shouldn’t you be listening? 16
  • 17. For our sixth installment of the “Sink or Swim” series, we will discuss the importance ofmeasurement. It is often thought (and spoken aloud) that social media marketers can’t Part 6always assign ROI or a dollar amount to social media efforts. It is likened to billboards Don’t Put Youror TV advertisements, wherein the value is implicit. Head in the Sand: Measurement is KeyThat is simply not the case. By Jeff Adelson-YanThere are many ways in which your social media efforts can be measured. To begin,let’s start with the goals associated with your social strategy. These will help youmeasure what is important. If your goal is “brand awareness,” for instance, it is wiseto look at metrics like “People Talking About This,” or the number of people generatingstories about your brand (likes, follows, comments, shares, etc.). If your goal is sales- “driven, it is wise to look at metrics on your website and referring traffic fromsocial platforms.Most brands obviously monitor their increase in likes on Facebook, follows on Twitterand all the other minutia that these platforms throw at you to make you feel good. InHootsuite, you can check your clicks in their “Quick Analytics” tab using your ow.lylinks. But have you thought about appending code to each individual tweet andtracking with Google Analytics or a paid platform like Marin or Omniture? The optionsfor tracking are nearly endless and can go as granular as you like. In fact, there areways to follow someone around on your site to see their paths. What pages did theuser scope out? How long were they there? Think about how valuable this informationcan be to your social strategy and your new business team. “ The options “ for tracking are nearly endless and can go as granular as you like”Here are some examples of conclusions you can draw from taking thetime (& money) to measure your social media efforts:1) How do people engage with your brand on different platforms? Perhaps people aremore likely to click on a philanthropic message on Facebook, whereas they’re lookingfor deals on Twitter.2) What is user behavior like once they reach the brand website? How are your call-to-actions in social messaging affecting (or not affecting) this?3) How much money is it making your business to be social? And yes, this can be anestimate or concrete dollar amount, depending on the amount of technology you want.Too many agencies send brands in the direction of social media because it is fun andeasy; perhaps even because they think they will be held less accountable for hard ROInumbers. But if you’re not measuring your social efforts, why do them at all? 17
  • 18. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times. Test, test, test! Message testing is Part 7often associated with paid search, but it belongs in your social media strategy as well. Bathing Suit orWhile we recommend trying differing copy at various times and days of the week to Swimsuit? Test youranalyze trends in engagement, it is equally as important to test what types of copy Social Messagingresonate best with your audience. By Steve Parker, Jr.First, find the best words.You can use the Google Keyword Tool to search for competitive keywords and searchvolumes for each. Below is an example of keyword variations you might use in socialmessaging in order to garner better engagement:With the integration of social and search becoming more prevalent with each passingday, it is important to note that it is entirely possible for your social messaging to endup on a SERP. This means that you want your messaging to correlate with the highestvolume of relevant search queries–or, perhaps for a more targeted post, a long-tailversion of these keywords.You can also do a quick search on to see if the hashtags in your social “ “Engagement is means the last” “ the first step in analyzing social data but by nomessages are being used frequently. As an example, “#swimsuit” was used four timesin the last hour, whereas “#bathingsuit” was used once in the last five hours. This is aquick way to get a top-line feel for what language social users are typing in most.Second, find the best times.Obviously bathing suit and swimsuit season is nearly over with the coming of fall, butfor less seasonally-dependent messages, it is important to test various timing. Thereare a plethora of studies that indicate different times of best engagement (even brokendown by industry), but it is smartest to test it for yourself. You might find that youraudience engages most in the mornings and not at 6pm. 18
  • 19. Try first using your best judgment. Think of when you are on social media most (whattimes of the day and what days). Do not schedule an important message to go out at Part 7 (cont.)4:45pm on a Friday because most people are shutting down both their computers and Bathing Suit ortheir brains. When is the best time for a message to reach you on the weekends? Test Swimsuit? Test yourvarious times and keep a record of engagement levels as they fluctuate. If there are Social Messagingnot specific times that perform wildly better than others; that’s OK. Perhaps you can at By Steve Parker, Jr.least rule out low engagement times.Quick tip: Try Hootsuite’s Auto Schedule for a few weeks to see if engagementincreases. If you have several Twitter handles or Facebook pages, try using autoschedule for just one of them. Schedule the others as you normally would.Third, analyze your data.All of this testing is designed to get you to an end goal – a greater ROI for socialmessaging. Once you have tested social messaging, you can use the data you havecollected to optimize for the greatest level of engagement.Here is an example of what I mean: After testing “bathing suit” versus “swimsuit,”Client X observed that social messaging with the word “swimsuit” got 64% more likesand 25% more comments. It’s safe to say Client X can take “bathing suit” out of itssocial media messaging mix. Next Client X saw that posts containing swimsuit did bestat 2pm in conjunction with a photo of a travel destination. Therefore, Client X now has “ “ All of this testing is designed to get you to an end “ goal – a greater ROI for social messaging”an optimal time to capture the community’s attention. How can Client X best capitalizeon this? Perhaps it’s with a series of photos, asking the community for user-generatedcontent or announcing a contest. The possibilities are endless.Engagement is the first step in analyzing social data but by no means the last. Nextcomes measuring your key performance indicators, whether it is click-throughs, sign-ups or lead generation. If you do not yet know what your social KPIs should be, readthis. If you have no idea how to measure a social KPI, read this.Remember: Testing is essential for any social media campaign–paid or unpaid. Theless influencing variables in your test, the better your insight into performance will be. 19
  • 20. We all know that familiar feeling; summer is ending and it’s time to put on your Kedsand go back to school. You’ve spent the summer doing awesome, social things and Part 8now you’re wondering where you’ll go from here. But believe us – there’s nothing Stay Studious:worse than forgetting about your social strategy once you’ve begun. That’s why we’ve Ongoing Socialwritten this final piece of the Sink or Swim series about ongoing social optimization. OptimizationTo be truly successful in social media marketing, you have to be the 3 Cs: creative, By Steve Parker, Jr.careful and… consistent. Consistency is a huge part of being successful because youhave to give your customers an idea of what to expect from your brand. Consistencymeans having: A clear, unified voice; “ Regular and reliable updatesTherefore, you can’t start your social strategy hot and heavy and then cool off. In fact,if you feel that time management is going to be an issue going in, then starting withtwo updates a week on Facebook and two tweets a day on Twitter might be enough.If you begin with an update on Facebook every day, five tweets a day every week and “To be trulypinning fresh content on Pinterest every day, it’s important that you keep this up. successful inLet’s say, for argument’s sake, that you are keeping up with your content andmaintaining a great consistency, but you’re still lacking in engagement. This is whenongoing social optimization comes in. We have already gone through virtually everystep of optimization, but let’s recap the most important information to keep it fresh inyour mind:1. Keep up with new social media platforms. In order to assess if they are right for social media marketing, you have to be the 3 Cs: creative, careful and “your brand, do some research about the demographics and different mediums used (is consistent”it predominantly aggregated content? video?).2. Keep your finger on the pulse of what your customers are saying. Use social mediamonitoring tools (free or otherwise) in order to find out what your online reputation is.You cannot change perception until you are made fully aware.3. Test messaging, photos and various kinds of content for both paid and non-paidsocial media content. Compile your data at the end of every week/month/campaignand analyze to see what performed well, what created the most KPI completions andwhat needs improvement (or scrapping). 20
  • 21. 4. Align your social strategy with your overall business goals. Put a plan into place that Part 8 (cont.)helps you achieve these goals and set yourself up for success. Tracking capabilities Stay Studious:exist on almost every facet of social media and can be assigned ROI. Do not settle for Ongoing Sociala social media expert/guru/ninja that tells you otherwise. Optimization By Steve Parker, Jr.5. Capture all the data available in order to make better decisions about your targeting,messaging and social media goals, as so much of social media is dependent onoutside factors.Most importantly, remember to stay flexible. Social media is ever-changing and so tooshould be your strategy. So jump on in–it’s time to sink or swim.“ “Social media is ever-changing and so too should be your “ strategy” 21
  • 22. Like what you read andwant to learn more?ASQ Contributors Steve Parker, Jr. and Jeff Adelson-Yan are also the ManagingPartners and Co-Founders of Levelwing. Levelwing creates data-driven businessintelligence and digital marketing solutions, mining and analyzing data to helpbusinesses operate with greater clarity and profitability. Find out how you can benefit from Levelwing’s services by visiting: 22