6.6 Marketing with Social Media

Most topics are treated as brief summaries, but, to give an example of the detail often required in ebusiness, here we look at running a marketing campaign with social media.

First, you may want to analyze your customers' requirements more closely with online surveys like SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, Survey Gizmo and/or Key Survey, perhaps rewarding participants with some gift or company token. Ideally, you want to identify:

1. Who and what is influencing your consumers' choice,
2. Whether these influencers are bloggers, forum leaders, or just conversationalists with lots of friends on the social networks, and
3. Influencers who can be turned into brand advocates by developing better relationships with them.

Setting Objectives

Before proceeding further, you'll need to know exactly what your marketing intends to achieve:

1. More direct revenue for your ecommerce effort?
2. Trying to reach new customers?
3. Communicate better with existing customers?
4. Improve your customer engagement or image metrics?
5. Establishing a base from which to market future products and services?
6. Connecting better with people in different demographic groups?
7. Finding sets of customers you can benchmark against other customer lists (email, newsletter subscribers, show/conference attendees)?
8. Increase referral business?
9. Reposition your business or brand?

In short, you'll have to ask yourself:

1. What you want to say.
2. How will you say it.
3. Whether to use your own content or point to other content on the Internet.
4. Who will post the content.
5. What creative input is needed (logos, icons, ongoing graphic design work, custom applications) to fulfill your objectives.

Choosing the Right Platform

Marketers rarely restrict themselves to the one social media platform — Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, etc. — because their customers will generally be active on several. It doesn't cost much more to target several platforms, moreover, but you do need to understand your customers properly, which entails more research than is usual in marketing campaigns. You'll need to know:

1. Time spent on each social platform, what they specifically do there, and how they use it to interact with each other. Quantcast and Compete will help.
2. Who takes the decisions, particularly in B2B companies: LinkedIn may help.
3. Social platform popularity trends: increasing in influence, and in what areas?
4. What platforms are appropriate to your brand or product. A rock group would be ideal for MySpace, but not LinkedIn, for example.

Preparing the Campaign

Whatever platform you choose, your initial goal will be research. You'll be looking in your market sector for companies using social media, to learn from their successes and failures, and pick up useful tips. You'll also be managing expectations in your company, laying out what could be expected in terms of sales, improved customer service, more targeted advertising and media interest. All of these will need to be quantified, for your boss's presentations and your own peace of mind.

Appraise your staff

You might want to start by sending a questionnaire to all involved, perhaps asking:

1. What's your impression of social media?
2. Do you use Facebook or Twitter yourself?
3. What were the best campaigns the company developed for dealing directly with customers?
4. What opportunities still exist to improve customer engagement?
5. What would constitute success in social media?

Also important, though you can't quiz them directly, will be questions like:

1. Does your chief secretly think social media is a waste of time? Can you win him/her over?
2. Is the increased workload manageable? Are staff prepared for this?
3. Does management really want the project to succeed?
4. What executive(s) is/are prepared to support you, or give a fair deciding vote?

Understand your customers

1. Set up focus groups.
2. Talk to people you already know in your target demographics.
3. Create a survey on SurveyMonkey or similar service.

Establish Work Roles

1. Who is going to do what?
2. Are the skills sets in place, or is further training needed?
3. Are these divisions supportive?
      a. branding: logos and brand assets.
      b. design: new or modified image assets,
      c. product management.
4. Can you coordinate with other online campaigns, email marketing promotions, etc.?
5. Will webmasters work with other websites and Facebook?

Research best practices and success stories

Keep up with events by browsing your business or industry magazines, trade shows, Facebook, Twitter, and the search engines. Exchange experiences with those in other companies grappling with the same problems. Visit some of these regularly:
1. Enterprise. Web analyst blog.
2. Mashable. News and views on social media.
3. AllFacebook. Facebook news, surveys and events.
4. InsideFacebook. Facebook and the Facebook platform for marketers and developers.
5. SocialmediaExaminer. Guide to the social media jungle.
6. Danah Boyd. Social media researcher blog, with recent articles.

Assess the social media activity of competitors

Keep track of what your competitors are doing on Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts, blogs, or other social media. Quantify this. What buzz are their efforts creating?

Decide Metrics

How are your marketing efforts going to be detected and measured? What does management see as most important? You/they will want a handle on Facebook updates per day, ad spend per day, number of customer interactions, cost per interaction, cost per extra fan, return on investment.

Establish the Reporting Procedure

What has to be presented, and by whom? Who should attend the meetings? You should in phase one have assessed the political makeup of your company, and you'll need to strike the right balance between pleasing everyone and getting on with the job. Monthly management meetings are often a good compromise.

Trial Runs

If your marketing campaign involves considerable company resources, you may want to start by running a trial so that 1. mistakes don't jeopardize the whole campaign, and 2. you can apply the experience gained.

Social Media Personality

Authenticity is important in social media. Visitors want to engage with real people who have distinct voices and opinions, not with the 'brand voice', and certainly not the 'corporation speak' of the chairman's annual statement. In larger companies that generally means several people who represent distinct areas of work: customer support, product information, industry insights, or whatever. Each of these people needs to be familiar with the rules, social norms, and the best practices of participating in the social web, and to keep in mind your own company guidelines for blogging and PR statements. You'll have to choose your representatives carefully, and perhaps give some training.

Using Facebook

Facebook largely walks you through the setup process. First, you're asked for basic information: account/profile: first name, last name, email address, password, gender, and full date of birth (you may subsequently wish to edit this, and you can also set up a fake account). Next, you're asked to login, so that Facebook can search for any Facebook friends you may already have. Then comes the Profile, where you're asked for a good deal more information, particularly on schools and workplace. After that, you have two areas to concentrate on: Friends and Newsfeed, both important if your Facebook site is to look busy. Friends have the right to see information on you, and the more friends the better, obviously. The Newsfeed is a running list of the latest updates across the user's unique social graph — not only from friends but fan pages and information collected by third-party applications you have installed: status updates, photos, events, and links to other sites or articles on the Internet

Your Facebook Presence

It's probably best to start with your customers in planning your Facebook campaign:

1. Why do they interact with your company?
2. What added value do you provide them?
3. What do they get from you they can't find elsewhere?
4. Is it a product or lifestyle you promote?
5. What personas do you visualize for your customers?

In more detail, you will want to ask yourself:

1. What is most recognizable about your brand?
2. Does your brand have a spokesperson or character who 'is' what you are trying to sell? If not, can you create someone?
3. What is the goal of your project: improved sales, image, customer service?
4. What specific metrics will you use to measure success?
5. Do your executives view social media as an opportunity, a risk, or an unknown?
6. Do you have official policies for blogging, employee activity on social media, and outreach to customers?
7. What types of content do you possess that would be interesting to share with social media users?
8. Are you willing to share interesting content from third-party sources on the Web with your customers?
9. Do you have staff keen to cope with the time and skills needed for the campaign?
10. What is your backup plan, and is there an objective third-party who can help with problems?

With answers in mind you'll go on to:

1. Define your customers.
2. Determine your goals and objectives.
3. Decide your Facebook configuration options.
4. Create a compelling page.

After that, it's the usual marketing cycle of:

1. Create or find content,
2. Publish content
3. Monitor the daily metrics,
4. Analyze, revise, and
5. Plan the next campaign, but note that the cycle in social influence marketing is much less structured, with the conversations often being left to run on as participants wish.

Creating a Facebook Presence

In Facebook you can use:

1. Traditional banner ads, purchased through the Microsoft adCenter.
2. Social ads, targeted by demographics and user interests.
3. Sponsored stories, that appear in the user's newsfeed, and may link to a Facebook page or external site.
4. Gift sponsorships, a Facebook application that lets users buy gifts for friends and family.
5. Facebook pages, where you add blog posts, photos.
6. Twitter feeds, event information, coupons, Flash widgets, etc.
7. Facebook events, inviting guests and reporting on afterwards.
8. Facebook applications, e.g. games, quizzes, tools etc.
9. Facebook groups: though more for user to user, you can contribute.
10. Facebook connect, where you can directly link your company site pages to Facebook.

Creating your Advert

Click the Facebook advertising section to view the text input box. Here you'll type in a. the destination URL, b. advert title (no more than 35 characters), and c. body text (no more than 135 characters). Click the 'Browse' button to source your logo or graphic, and then the 'Continue' button to view the stats from any earlier advert, Click the 'Create' button, and you'll be taken to the ' Targeting' page. Here you can set location, age, birthday, sex, keywords, education, workplace, relationship, interested in and languages to select the target audience: the page will show the estimated target size. If happy with the input, click 'Continue' to see the 'Campaigns and Pricing' page. Here you'll decide whether to pay for impressions or click-throughs, set your daily budget and schedule your ad campaign. Impressions guarantees you a certain number of impressions, or placements on the screen ( $2 CPM will give you 1,000 impressions for two dollars). In click-throughs you pay only when someone clicks on your advert. You'll need to experiment to find what's best for the advert in question.

That's it, though do remember to prepare the advert in advance, or you may be cut off with just 135 characters entered. Facebook will review your ad, either pass or reject it, usually without much explanation. If the ad is rejected, consult the Facebook guidelines, rewrite the ad and submit again.

Using Metrics

Fanbook gives you a wealth of metrics, of which these may be the most important:

Feature

Core Metrics

Derivative Metrics

Profile

No. of Friends


No. of Wall posts

Total No. of Fans/Friends

added/lost per day

No. of Likes per day

Ratio of Likes/Wall posts

Ratio of Comments/Wall posts

Fan Page


No. of Fans

No. of Likes

No. of Comments

No. of Walls posts

Group

No. of Group members

Applications

No. of Daily active users

No. of Fans

The 'Facebook Insights' metric (available for the fan page only) will give you:
1. Summary of the activity on the fan page over the last week as measured by interactions, 'likes', comments, and wall posts
Post Quality: relevance of your posts over time.
2. Graph of interactions over time along with data on the demographics of fans who have interacted on the Fan page.
3. Chart of the total number of fans you've had over time, along with demographic details on your fans as a group.

The Facebook 'Interactions Over Time' metric will give you:
1. Interactions Per Post, a measure of how engaging is your content.
2. Post Quality: relevance of your posts over time.
3. Posts: number of times you and your users have put things on your Wall.
4. Discussion Posts: number of posts on your Discussion tab.
5. Reviews number of times Facebook users have reviewed something on your fan page.
6. Number of times Facebook users have mentioned your fan page in a status update.

The Facebook 'All Fans over Time' metric will give you:
1. Total Fans / Unsubscribed Fans: total number of fans over time, overlaid with the total number of fans who have chosen to hide your posts in their news Feed (unsubscribers).
2. New / Removed Fans Charts: shows you how you're pleasing or annoying your fans.
3. Top Countries: helpful if you're running international campaigns.
4. Demographics: gender and age over time.
5. Page Views: trend of page views and unique visitors to your fan page over time.
6. Unsubscribes/Resubscribes: popularity trend.
7. Media Consumption: number specific content views you upload to Facebook: audio, video, and photo.

Keep a daily record, and save the figures in a some spreadsheet program like Excel for later analysis.

Analyzing the Data

Typically, you or your management will be interested in:

1. Marketing reach: how many more fans/page views/interactions/new customers are created for each dollar spent.
2. Investment: each new fan costs you $P and generates $Q in lifetime revenue, for a lifetime return on investment of $R.
3. Comparisons: how figures compare to advertising on Google, Yahoo! and more traditional means.
4. Geography: how the figures vary with States or country.
5. Competition: how your figures probably compare with those of competitors.

Using MySpace

Marketing facilities on MySpace are like those of Facebook, but more limited.

You'll want first to set up your MySpace profile, encouraging people to become friends of your brand and join a conversation. The profile can be jazzed up with video clips, photos, RSS feeds, tweets, event information, and product announcements.

You may want to use the banner ads, which come in 728 x 90, 350 x 250, and 160 x 600 pixel sizes. All are cost per click (CPC) advertisements, and can be targeted by demographics and user interests. As with Facebook, you're told how your audience narrows with each additional user interest filter. An ad builder lets you upload the advert, modify it online, and then track the campaign progress through a dashboard. More information is given on the MySpace advertising page.

If your brand has an entertaining application, you can promote it through the MySpace apps program. MySpace has strong links to the music industry, and special provision for musician sponsorship. It also enables you to use vocal adverts, either as streaming or downloads. Custom packages are available, and you can buy ringtones to sponsor.

OpenID resembles Facebook's connect service, but it is open-source. Users can log into third-party sites and, using MySpace username and password, be connected directly to your MySpace profile — i.e. you can add social media features to your company website(s).

Using Twitter

Creating an account is straightforward. You may want to input your own name, then the company name, a password and an email address. In fact you can have several accounts: company, personal and a special account for conferences, etc. You'll be asked to select who to follow, and then search for friends with Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail and/or LinkedIn. That done, you'll want to write your profile and add a photo. Though you can now write your first tweet, you'll probably want to develop and follow a proper marketing plan, adopting the procedures described above under Facebook.
Google Analytics, Statcounter, Clicky, Yahoo! Web Analytics and/or Twittercounter will help you make sense of your Twitter traffic.

A hashtag lets you to tag your tweets by designating them with the pound sign (#). With that done, you can monitor what's happening on your hashtag subjects with #hashtags, Happn.in, HashTweeps, Twitterfall, Monitter and/or What the Trend (all with slightly different features).

At present, you can't buy advertising space on Twitter, and must concentrate on building relationships, as have Zappos and the Ford Motor Company. You'll want to take ownership of your twitter handle by signing up with your company or brand name, and then use this account to subtly feature company news, special promotions, offers, respond to questions, and/or resolve customer service issues. The key word is subtly: continual and outright promotions will be seen as spam, and your Twitter account may be terminated. The better approach is stimulate conversations, develop those conversations in a friendly, natural way, and follow everyone who follows you — at least till you sort out the more important. You can search within Twitter itself with Twitter search engine, Twollow, or use real-time engines like Tweetmeme, Twazzup and Tweetbeep. To find customers in your local area (or competitors) consider Twellow, Twitterment, Nearby Tweets and/or TwitterLocal.

Other search engines you may want to use include CrowdEye, Social Mention and TweepSearch. The HootSuite provides a host of features in the one application. Remember not just to listen in, but respond — helpfully, sympathetically, supplying detailed information as required. You're building goodwill, but also looking for the influential tweeters with large followings. Twinfluence will help you to measure that influence, and you may also want to search the Twitter directory with WeFollow.

Using YouTube

You need first to set up a channel, which allows you to create a profile of your company and link to it through your website. Setup is straightforward, indeed automatic: a channel is created as soon as you sign up for an account and upload your video. Make sure that you customize the channel to match your company's identity. To get your marketing video actually viewed against a competition of 150,000 or more uploads every day is of course more difficult. Some suggestions:

1. Make the content match the style and format of YouTube.
2. Keep the running time to five minutes or less, and stay within the 100MB limit on file sizes.
3. Organize the video clips by themes.
4. Learn from how your clips have been tagged to use those or similar tags again.
5. Send a YouTube email and Bulletin when viewers request one.
6. Leave complimentary responses on clips of other users.
7. Notify those who watch your videos (subscribers) of forthcoming releases.
8. Use the paid advertising services, either self-service ads or campaign-based advertising. YouTube provides the usual metrics.

Local Social Networks

You may also wish to consider the location-based social networks like Loopt, Brightkite, Whrrl and Foursquare that use web-connected smartphones to detect a user's location and make that information available to friends and/or nearby merchants.

Influencers

As much as possible, you'll want to enlist the help of 'influencers', particularly:

1. Those in positions of authority.
2. Individuals or institutions recognized as experts.
3. Media elites (journalists, commentators, and talk-show hosts).
4. Cultural elites (celebrities, artists, and musicians).
5. The socially connected (leaders of communities and business networks).

Your PR department probably maintains a list, but you will also want to actively seek them out, replying to their blog, story or tweet post. Some suggestions:

1. Ask your customers whom they seek for advice.
2. Watch the media, especially television.
3. Find whom your competitors, suppliers, and business partners generally use.
4. Attend conferences, seminars and exhibitions.
5. Evaluate the online authority of candidates with Technorati, etc.
6. Become an influencer yourself.

To reach 'referent influencers' you may want to use tools that 1. map users and how they relate to each other on social platforms, and 2. capture personality attributes, number of friends, their activity on social platforms, and what response their actions cause. Tools include Unbound Technologies, Rapleaf and Google's Social Graph API. Other companies analyze cookie data to infer relationships: e.g. 33Across and Media6Degrees. Another approach is to set up discussion groups and bulletin boards on your own site(s), and identify the more influential voices contributing.

'Positional influencers' are more difficult to reach, but you can go a long way with promotions, family incentives and letting users share your website information with ShareThis. You can carry also your online response into offline marketing by putting customer response into brochures, stores, seminars and PR events.

Metrics

Though social influence marketing was once regarded as unmeasurable, that attitude has changed. All marketing campaigns need targets, and the metrics needed to measure progress towards those targets are widely available.

The social media platform will generally provide you with the raw data needed, though you'll probably need to enter that data into a spreadsheet program like Excel to bring it all together, and integrate it with influences on parallel marketing campaigns to arrive at costed results your management can use. Platform metrics (see the Facebook examples above) include:

1. Traffic: impressions, unique visits and basic engagement, including page views per visit.
2. Demographics: age, gender, income, education, and location.
3. Sociographics: customers' friends, relative importance and position in customers' social graphs.
4. Social activity: customer's specific activity on your social platform.

Overall measures are still a matter of debate, with continuing discussion on the Interactive Advertising Bureau site. Nonetheless, an overall 'score' will include:

1. Reach: the total share of consumer conversations that your brand enjoys online.
2. Sentiment: degree to which consumers like, dislike, or have no opinion of your brand.
3. Competitor comparisons: how your reach and sentiment scores measure against your competitors.
4. Market sector comparisons: how your reach and sentiment scores measure against the average market sector scores.

Third-party software and services are widely available. A small selection:

Monitoring companies: Visible Technologies,Vocus, TNS Cymfony, Nielsen BuzzMetrics and Scout Labs count the total number of conversations relating to your brand and then add a sentiment rating (positive, neutral, and negative).

Unbound Technologies and Rapleaf help identify your referent influencers.

Clearspring and Gigya assess positional influence by tracking how visitors download widgets and use them on their own pages.

Analyzing the Competition

You can home in on your market sector and competitor activities with these tools:

1. Technorati: blog search engine.
2. Google Blog Search: popular blog search engine.
3. BlogPulse: a powerful alternative to Technorati.
4. Quantcast: provides and analyzes website statistics.
5. Compete: provides and analyzes website statistics.
6. LinkedIn: professional and business profiles.
7. Nielsen BuzzMetrics: a buzz-monitoring service for the social web.
8. Twitter Search: official Twitter search engine.
9. Tweet Scan: searches Twitter and its competitor Identi.ca.
10. comScore: a high-end service for analyzing website statistics.
11. Lexicon: tool to estimate buzz within Facebook.
12. BoardReader: tool to view and analyze activity on discussion boards.

You'll also find it helpful to set up a Google Alert and Twitter Alert for each of your competitors or their specific activities. HowSociable offers a similar service.

Resources

1. The Social Media Marketing Blog. Scott Mony's blog with extensive list of further websites/blogs.
2. Social Media Marketing. SearchEngineWatch articles on various aspects of social media marketing.
3. Social Media Marketing. Business Exchange articles.
4. Top 5 Facebook Case Studies from 2010. Free 48 pp. pdf booklet.
5. 6 Key Metrics for a Social Media Measurement Dashboard. SearchEngineWatch article: December 2010.
6. Hootsuite. Social media management service.
7. Sprout Social. Platform to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
8. Vitrue. Personalizes your social media networks.
9. Involver. Sophisticate suite of tools.
10. Ping.fm. Automatically updates multiple social media accounts: free
11. Unilyzer. Social media analytics and presentation software.
12. Social Oomph. Schedule messages on Twitter and Facebook Fan pages.
13. Nutshell Mail. Brings all your social network into your mail box for free.
14. Gist. Brings all your contacts into one place: free to start.
15. Marketo. Monitors B2B social media conversations.
16. KickApps. Social networking applications.
17. Awareness.Inc. Social marketing toolkits.
18. XGenSEO. Builds links to social media sites.
19. Buzzstream. SEO and link building software.
20. SeoIntelligence. SEO tools for the marketer.
21. 99 Tools to Help You Generate Leads with Social Media. Hubspot.

Questions

1. How would you convince your management to use social media marketing?
2. What social media platform would you use and why?
3. How would you locate important 'influencers' and enlist their help?
4. What metrics would you use? Illustrate with three different market sectors.
5. How would you appraise the competition in selling
a. investment advice,
b. US holidays and
c. baby products?

Sources and Further Reading

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