Say Is Great – But Only Do Matters

Marketing and PR are invaluable to any company. They help you tell the story, get the word out and draw attention to your company, product, service and brand.

What they don’t do, what they can’t do – and what they shouldn’t attempt to do is deliver on it.

Marketing and PR all all about say. They define expectations – and you’d better be prepared to deliver on them. Operations (product management, product development, customer service and support, finance, etc) are all about do. And what they do defines your company, product, service and brand in powerful ways – ways no amount of marketing and PR spend can overcome.

This is why I’m so convinced that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the value of Social Media for business. We’ve only talked about Marketing and PR. We’ve focused entirely on say – and ignored do.

What social media does is erode the wall between say and do. It allows your market’s voice to to be heard – and guess what… they only care about what you do. And the bigger the gap between say and do (expectations and delivery) the more strident the voices of the market become.

To put it simply – narrow say/do gap equals promoters; broad say/do gap equals detractors.

So before you make your 2010 budgets and slot your social media spend entirely in marketing and PR ask yourself one simple question – are you broadening or narrowing the say/do gap?

A Simple Prescription for Social Media ROI

The consensus seems to be that creating an ROI for Social Media is hard. I’d like to suggest that it isn’t.

Formulating an ROI is a very simple formula – and until someone can rationally explain why Social Media is different I’ll get out my cookbook.

  1. Define the desired outcome (e.g., increase conversion rate by 3%).
  2. Define the specific actions that will be taken (e.g., offer specials via blog, Twitter and Facebook with specific landing pages).
  3. Define the metrics and measures that will be used to determine if the actions taken were the proximate cause of the result.
  4. Perform the actions and analyze the metrics and measures.
  5. Determine cost of actions and the value of the resultant change in the outcome.

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The flaw in most approaches to Social Media ROI happens on the very first step. If you can’t assign real value to the desired outcome you can’t create an ROI. A perfect example is “We’d like to double our followers on Twitter and fans on Facebook”. Some people will call this a “soft ROI” – which is simply another way of saying that the desired outcome can not be assigned a real value, but affects another metric that can. The relationship between the desired outcome (more followers/fans) and the real value metric (sales) is usually highly theoretical – our just plain wishful thinking. If you believe more followers or fans equates to higher sales – say so. Design your ROI experiment and prove it.

The other flaw is in step 3. Failing to adequately define the input metrics (the metrics that are the proximate cause of the change in outcome) leads to an ROI that does not bear scrutiny. Examples of poorly defined input metrics are:

  • Increase our Social Media Presence
  • Get more engagement
  • Have better sentiment about our brand
  • Be influential in our space

Avoid those two traps and you’ll be well on your way. But there is one mistake I see more than any other:

Stop trying to create a “pure” or “standalone” Social Media ROI!!

Another way to put this – in terms of our recipe above – is:

If your desired outcome is a Social Media metric or measure – think again.

I’ll end the suspense for you right now, it doesn’t exist. The only way to ROI a Social Media effort is by showing that your Social Media effort is the proximate cause of a change in a fundamental business metric (e.g., sales, conversion rate, leads generated, churn, etc).

CRM is a great example of this – I was involved in dozens of large footprint CRM deployments. Well over half of those were done based on a solid ROI – but it had nothing to do with customers. The ROI was based purely on cost savings in IT. Do I believe those deployments had other benefits which were harder to measure and quantify? Sure. But the way to prove the investment had a return was to focus on what was proven, repeatable and tangible.

I think Social Media is much easier to ROI than CRM was. I don’t think we will end up creating ROI based on savings in IT. I am, however, certain that the ROI will have to point to real dollars saved or real dollars generated.

I’m convinced that when you focus on determining which Social Media metrics are the proximate cause of change in core business metrics you’ll find an ROI – and I’m betting it will be both larger and more diverse than you would have predicted.

TweetsForBoobs – How justSignal Helped Make it Happen

200910090957.jpgReposted from the justSignal Blog (http://justsignal.com)

Sometimes the best way to illustrate how justSignal can accelerate your strategy is by providing concrete examples of how others have accelerated theirs.

TweetsForBoobs is raising money for the Susan G. Komen foundation by encouraging folks to tweet the #tweetsforboobs hash tag on Twitter. It is the brain child of Chase Granberry and Josh Strebel – justSignal (and I for that matter) claim no credit for the idea or it’s successful execution.

In the interest of full disclosure, we did donate justSignal to TweetsForBoobs.

TweetsForBoobs needed four things in order to complete their vision.

  1. A way to capture Tweets about the site and with the hashtag
  2. The ability to put those Tweets on the site in real time.
  3. A way to count how many times a Twitter User used the hashtag.
  4. A way to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

justSignal, because we focus on the complete Social Media Lifecycle, was uniquely suited to get them there – fast.

TweetsForBoobs was able to create a Signal that pulled in the content they were interested in. They were also able to – using our Exclusion Engine – remove spam and re-tweet bots from their Signal.

In order to create an engaging user experience on the site TweetsForBoobs dropped in and customized our real-time Twitter widget.   

Using our API service, TweetsForBoobs was able to pull in all mentions of the hashtag and the site in near real-time. This enabled them to count how many times each user tweeted the hash tag and update the site with current pledge totals.

Finally, TweetsForBoobs wanted to have some information (analysis) that gave them some indication of how the campaign was going. Since every Signal comes with our SignalReports (SignalMeter, SignalDensity and User Activity) they had basic who, when, and how much information.

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That is execution of the complete Social Media Lifecycle enabled by justSignal.

  1. Signal – Getting the #tweetsforboobs content.
  2. Engagement – Using our Widgets to put the content on the site, and using the API to create site specific information.
  3. Analytics – Using our SignalReports to gauge the effectiveness of the effort.

What makes TweetsForBoobs even more interesting is that they clearly show the benefit of our approach to data and analytics. When Chase wanted to understand the “Reach” of the hashtag he wasn’t confined by the data we provide “out of the box”.

The data is yours, when you have a question we don’t answer – because it is the really, really important kind, those specific to your business, company, product or service – you have access to the entire data set and the unfettered ability to mine out what is important to you.

You can read Chase’s excellent summary of the data and his thoughts on justSignal at the Authority Labs Blog.

What about action?

That is where you come in… head over to TweetsForBoobs or just grab your favorite Twitter client and send a tweet with #tweetsforboobs in it. Every time you do you pledge $1.00 to the Susan G. Komen foundation.

The Business of Social Media – Better Decisions (NOT Better Reactions)

js_icon_favicon.png The prevailing wisdom is clear. Social Media is for “Listening” (which is code for brand monitoring) and Marketing. I won’t make any attempt to talk about Marketing – since today everything seems to be a tool/platform for marketing. I will however talk about this notion of “Listening”.

There are two (and only two ways) to sell something, opportunity and fear. Objectively fear is easy – all you have to do is figure out what your target market is afraid of and make your product a way to alleviate that fear. Sadly, this is the state of the “Listening” segment of the Social Media consulting/tools market today.

CEO’s are terrified of Social Media. The feel they can’t predict when their “Motrin Moment” will occur or why – and the Social Media “experts” are no help:

Maybe you’re not even ready for full-time social media monitoring. That’s your call. But not tuning in while you launch a new tactic borders on gross negligence, in this day and age.

From Pistacio Consulting

Negligence – that is a powerful and scary word. One thing no CEO wants to hear when facing the board is the word Negligence.

The problem for the Social Media Experts and “Listening” vendors is this, if the fear isn’t real, if it doesn’t turn into an actual negative business outcome those same CEO’s will quickly learn to ignore it as noise. The problem is, none of the high visibility Social Media brand events have had any tangible negative business impact.

Here is Johnson and Johnson’s Stock Chart for the last year:

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The Motrin Moment occurred on November 16th 2008. I can’t discern an appreciable change in stock price following the event. While I couldn’t find any public data which specifically detailed Motin’s month by month sales numbers – I’d feel pretty safe saying that there was no appreciable change.

Another great example is the “United Broke My Guitar” incident. On July 6th a United customer posted a video on YouTube featuring a song about how United broke his guitar and failed to resolve the issue to his satisfaction. That video has 5.5 million views so far, has been cross posted on MSNBC, Huffington Post, and played on air on CNN and others.

Here is United Airlines Stock Chart for the last 6 months:

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Shockingly, UAL’s stock price has more than doubled since the Social Media event. United hasn’t released a new quarterly report since July 23rd – so ticket sales numbers are not publicly available, but based on the stock’s performance and current guidance from UAL management – I’d (again) feel pretty safe saying there was no appreciable negative change.

What is clear from these two high profile Social Media events is that they have little or no impact on a brand – by the only meaningful measure – revenue, and return of value to share holders.

What can damage a brand isn’t the isolated incident that creates Social Media Buzz. What damages a brand is consistently making bad decisions which make your product or service less useful, less valuable to your target market. For brands there is no “Waterloo” moment (thank @jaybaer of Convince and Convert for the quotable moment). There is only the slow agonizing descent into irrelevance that occurs when you make bad decisions over and over again.

The real value of Social Media for businesses is in the ability to make better decisions – not reacting to bad decisions already made.

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Every business needs better information upon which to make those decisions – every business can benefit from better understanding the needs, aggravations, and problems of their target customer. Every business can improve their decision making processes by driving the information found in Social Media into every decision making process in the company.

The challenge with this approach is that it is far more Six Sigma than sexy. It will force vendors, consultants and companies to work harder, be open to information that contradicts the prevailing wisdom and invest significant time and resources into extracting the information that is meaningful to their business and their decision making processes.

This isn’t terribly different than the original aim of CRM. And it isn’t terribly controversial. What it is is the opportunity selling position in the Social Media Tools market. It is time for Social Media consultants and vendors to ditch the hype and scare tactics and get down to business… the business of creating value for companies by helping them avoid Motrin Moments by making better decisions consistently.

It is ALIVE – Twitter Search is Back To Full Speed

Not sure what was going on, and there was no mention of it on the Twitter status blog, but it now appears that Twitter Search (and the search API) is back to full speed. There is no question that all day yesterday and and today up until 12:00 Pacific Twitter search was not indexing all Tweets.

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Unless of course all the Twitter users just took an 30 hour nap…

We will keep an eye on it and keep you updated here.

Posted via email from justSignal Status & Updates Blog

Something is DEFINITELY Not Right with Twitter Search

I get hourly emails that show me (graphically) how much justSignal “collects” total from each of the services (Twitter, Blog Search, Backtype, etc). The thing about these graphs is they are amazingly consistent over time – that is why we use them… you can quickly see a change in the normal trend.

Yesterday I noticed that Twitter’s graph looked funny and that the volume was way down from a typical day (on a typical day we collect ~150 thousand tweets). This morning that trend has continued:

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A normal day is a nice smooth curve up from about 2 or 3 am through mid day… like this:

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Also worth noting, our total volume of Tweets collected yesterday was the lowest it has been in 60 days. Normally I would chalk this up to normal variation, but the percentage change from Monday to Tuesday was 50% – and that is unprecedented day over day change. You should also note that http://search.twitter.com provides an exact tweet for tweet match (in our limited sampling) to what we are collecting via the API – so this appears to be a global Twitter Search issue.

This seems to be affecting Trackers with high volume traffic on Twitter – so many of you will not notice any change. If however, your tracker regularly pulls in 10,000 tweets per day it appears that your volume will be cut (roughly) in half.

Obviously all of this is anecdotal and I’ve received no confirmation from Twitter that there is any issue. We will stay on top of it and keep you updated.

NOTE: No, we are not being rate limited – we are, in fact, using less than 10% of our whitelisted request limit per hour. All requests to Twitter Search API are returning normal response codes and, in most cases, tweets – just not nearly as many as just 2 days ago.

Posted via email from justSignal Status & Updates Blog

The Growth of @DbacksBooth on Twitter

I’ve been watching the Dbacks broadcast team begin to use Twitter to interact with their audience, and I’ve been using justSignal (shameless plug for my product) to track their efforts. Over the last 60 days I’ve watched the effort from the Booth and (I presume) Fox Sports AZ intensify. They’ve been requesting Keys to the Game and answers to the AFLAC trivia question via Twitter.

The early efforts were marked by significant inconsistency and mixed messages both on air, and on Twitter. Just look at the gaps in the graph below.

That being said, it appears that on August 7th or 8th they began to consistently engage. What impresses me is how quickly the efforts bear fruit. 

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Look at the growth and the consistency of the growth between August 7th/8th and the 29th. There are consistent jumps of 10 – 20 responses per game. 

Two takeaways from this data:

1) Consistency of interaction on Twitter seems to outweigh the on air requests. 
2) A very small investment of time from the broadcast team (4 or 5 tweets) generates a relatively large and consistently growing response.

I know in terms of Fox Sports AZ viewership the numbers are pretty small, but at this point the real goal should be to move the trend line in the right direction. If you look at the trend line for the responses to @dbacksbooth on Twitter it tells you everything you need to know – steeply up and to the right.

They are on to something… and the small investments they are making in Social Media will pay large dividends if they keep this up. The real question is, what will they do with this engagement? I have a few suggestions if they’d like to give me a call.