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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Second Look: Nike and Adidas on Facebook

I couldn't help but follow up on my earlier post about Nike and Adidas's use of social media as I noticed Adidas was leapfrogging Nike on Facebook.  In my last post, Nike's page had a greater number of likes and a comparable, though slightly smaller about of engagement.  At present Nike's overall engagement rate has actually dropped from my last post to .55% while Adidas's rate has rocketed from .71% to 1.09% of users who have "liked" their page, actually engaging with it, be it comments, likes, or shares.  Additionally, Adidas's page has now surpassed Nike's in overall page likes by over 500,000 likes in less than a month while Nike's number has barely budged.

Again the trend I identified in my first post is unmistakable.  Adidas is posting regularly, with a post every two to four days while Nike is posting once every two weeks.  And looking at the recent posts Nike's relative advantage in getting huge responses to their Facebook posts has vanished.  Adidas's posts are now getting as large, and in some cases larger engagement than Nike's.

The lesson is the same.  Consistently creating interesting, shareable material pays off.  All this added engagement means Adidas is showing up on hundreds of thousands more screens than Nike is.  And these free advertisements are statistically more effective than billboards because they are recommended by friends. And from my last post we see this can be directly correlated with returns.

The fight for screen space and the number of shoes on feet is largely a zero sum game.  And In the Facebook aspect of the game, Adidas is winning and Nike doesn't even seem to notice.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Social Media and Return on Investment (ROI)

The common question and concern for many who consider the investment in social media and online marketing is how success is determined, and what the return on investment will be?  How does one know the investment was worthwhile?  ROI in social media is difficult to calculate, but there is a lot to support how effective online marketing, especially Search Engine Optimization can be in attracting more business.

A key to determining ROI is setting appropriate and realistic goals.  A single social media campaign or online contest will not necessarily be designed to cause a skyrocket of sales, but it should generate conversations, be shared, and generate brand awareness.  Some goals such as receiving 50 additional likes on the Facebook page, or have 30 more followers on Twitter can be more tangible results of a campaign.  The goals could also be to generate 15 external links which would not only boost awareness of the brand, but also improve results on SEO.  However, these non-monetary goals are not the only ROI that a brand should expect from their investment in online marketing.

These goals can also be business specific and designed to fit the campaign.  By providing incentives that require the consumer to use the brand if they win (or as a step to enter into the contest), a company can see direct results with the success of the campaign.  For instance, should a contest require a consumer to sign up for the company's newsletter, or create an account with the company, the new number of addresses or accounts gathered by the campaign can be seen as the ROI for that investment.  If an email address is gained from the campaign, this can be then evaluated as likely future sales using the ROI the business gets on its email campaigns.  So if one were to garner 1000 new email addresses, and the percentage of people who respond to email campaigns is 5%, who on average spend $25 when they respond.  The ROI for the original social media campaign was then $1250 plus the free advertising and engagement that was received as a result of the brand being posted on thousands more individuals' news and Twitter feeds.

Additionally, campaigns can be constructed to force individuals to use their services.  For instance, anyone who purchases something on the site will be eligible to win one of 10 Ipads, requiring the user to enter a code in at checkout.  This campaign will not only draw more people to make purchases then and there, but also draw more people to like the page and share the contest with their friends.  The ROI is again easily accessible by noting how many people used that specific code when checking out.  Though a portion of those sales would likely have been collected regardless of the promotion, the increase in sales during the time period of the promotion should be measurable.  This success can be compounded by announcing the winners weekly, generating continued interest and getting people to check back on the page to see who won.  The possibilities are endless, but require creativity and ingenuity to maximize returns.  

These ideas of course can be scaled up or down depending on the scale of the companies operations, their budget, and organic engagement with the page's social media.  This tells us that social media falls into the category of "winners win".  Those who are successfully using their social media already will see more results than those offering the same promotion who don't regularly update their page or provide creative content.  When a page develops useful and interesting content that the consumer engages with, it is far more likely to appear on their news feeds.  As the fight for space on that page is a zero sum game, that means an equally compelling campaign by a organization that doesn't keep up its social media will not have an equivalent ROI.  The bottom line?  Maintaining high quality material online is a prerequisite to any campaign, and as the quality of the page improves, so will ROI.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Identifying your Business's Online Community with Social Media

In Mackenzie Fogelson's blog post at SEOmoz, she explores how to identify an appropriate online community for a business. Many of my posts have emphasized how important it is to leverage local, or to understand those following a page on Facebook or Twitter, as doing so enables you to develop more relevant, and hence valuable content.

Most important in understanding one's community is understanding one's own business, or look into the mirror. Knowing the details of what you're trying to sell, why your business exists, what your values are, and what makes you unique will be crucial in who you reach out to and how you do so. Once you've identified how your business creates value, and crucially, who it creates value for you'll be able to proceed. Any community that one is reaching out to needs to be one that the business does not just talk at, but a community that talks back, engages, and responds to the businesses ideas and services. Though no one expects everyone in a community to constantly engage, there needs to be some level of excitement and participation from those involved with the brand.  Otherwise it would seem that either there is no value added, or there is a failure to reach the appropriate audience.  

The battle between quality and quantity is another key component of the community. Just because a page or someone on twitter has a lot of followers, doesn't mean they are producing value for those individuals. I'm sure many can relate to this if they are to look through the pages, bands, and idiotic groups they "liked" on Facebook when they were in high school. You are no longer in those pages communities, despite your being a number on that pages statistics. Building relevant contributors is always the goal and is time and time again shown to correlate with long term growth. "Your goal in identifying community is to come out of this with a list of people, companies, and knowledge sources that will serve as your road map for growing your online community".

Key to this conversation is that those who are desirable in one's online community are similar to those who one wants as friends in the real world. Those who listen, communicate, and are honest in their feedback, both positive and negative.  Developing an online community is all about rallying people who want to spend their time on your pages.

A good place to start is by answering the following questions:

1. Who is your target demographic?
2. What specific industries or individuals do you cater to?
3. Who are your partners and colleagues?
4. Who are your competitors and allies?
5. Who do you respect in the industry (people and companies)?
6. What organizations are you a part of?
7. What industry blogs do you currently read?
8. Who do you follow on social media (people, companies)?
9. What events do you attend?

Answering these questions gives you a great starting place for people and places to promote your online presence to.  Sharing your content, products, and opinion on these locations will create reciprocal engagement and awareness on your pages.  Key here is to not come off as spam.  Whatever you post on other sites must bring value or others will quickly see through unwarranted promotion and dismiss or block your content from appearing on that site again.  

The post then goes on to suggest the following tools to boost your community and earn awareness from others, tracking where relevant material comes from and who that material is produced for. 

1. Create a spreadsheet to track other leaders in your community, the size of their influence and target audience.  Input all relevant information from the following ideas into that spreadsheet.
2. For Twitter use the following site to search for and track leaders in relevant areas:
3. Find community blogs and the blogs they follow that contribute to the conversation in your industry.
4. Follow a similar process on Facebook and Google+, following the pages that the industry leaders follow and determining ways that you can be relevant to those sites.  
5. Repeat continually as your content becomes relevant to a broader audience, or as your community's demographics change and expand.

In turn this WILL return more links for your site, generate more page views, likes, comments, shares, and returns in SEO.  It takes time and determination, but the results will follow.

This article can be found here.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Organizing a Social Marketing Team

Social Media WhiteboardIn the white paper, The 7 Whiteboard Sessions Every Social Strategist Needs to Have, the ideas of what it actually takes to run a social media campaign and the areas of largest opportunity are explored.  The article outlines, in detail, seven areas that require key attention and ways to execute effectively in those areas.  This will be the first of a series of posts from the white paper.

The first area of concern is to learn more about the consumers of your social media.  Following organic conversations about your content or brand, and supporting those who support you is obviously important.  But then having ways to asses these conversations, either through use of text analysis (discussed here) or just by keeping tabs on quantity and quality of conversations.  Further, keeping tabs on hot topics around your brand and tracking users who advocate on your behalf is crucial.  Having ways to support these individuals and understand more about them could be crucial to a social media campaign.

Understanding the consumer's mindNoting what content is inspiring conversation or activity is a must.  Understanding what incentives your consumers will respond to should encourage more similar posts to create more creativity and inspire more activity and awareness the media and brand.  This should include content and activity not limited to your own content.  If your followers share other characteristics, supporting those can build a better relationship with these consumers.  For instance a brand like Nike can gain by posting material about kids doing incredible things outdoors, or from athletic feats, regardless of their relationship to Nike.  Additionally, keeping records and notes of conversations between the brand and specific individuals can help provide context for future interactions and set a standard for response that can be used when dealing with future consumers.

From the process of gathering information on the consumers of a brand, one will also find a handful of individuals who advocate on the part of the brand.  Sharing its content, responding to antagonistic comments, and retweeting tweets.  For larger scale operations this could individuals making videos about the brand and its products, or even dedicating entire blogs to the brand.  When considering who to support for their loyalty to the brand keeping in mind those individual's characteristics is also important.  Seeing how many people their videos or blog posts are reaching, or how many friends they have and how much activity their posts see, ect. all are valid concerns in exposing those individuals over others.  Promoting these individuals and others like them will help promote positive social activity and enhance the effects of the media posted.

Once these questions are understood and objectives made to solidify a base relationship with the followers, other objectives can be achieved.  However, failure to gain information about those who follow a brand will undermine any other projects that will be pursued.  Localized posts will reach the wrong people, company wide policy will be structured around the wrong mentalities, and exceptional content, designed for one audience, will be lost on the other.  But done right, other tactics successes will compound upon a well established relationship with the consumer based on respect, professionalism, and understanding.   

The article is accessible here.