Measuring Up Social Media

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Social Media Measurement is all about proving something works, and then using the results to improve future performance. The goal is to understand social media’s ROI – and demonstrate that social media is achieving its objective, whether it’s raising awareness through a campaign, driving website traffic, generating business leads, or increasing sales.

Each of the following measurement tools provide useful data that can be broken down into metrics.

TweetReach: How far is your message being carried on Twitter? This is a valuable tool for measuring Twitter campaigns and their impact. What’s great about TweetReach is that it monitors and measures Twitter behaviour, putting results into terms that most people can relate to, such as reach, exposure and volume. TwitterReach is valuable for setting a benchmark, by letting you see how a competitor’s campaign stacked up, and the results of past campaigns. Knowing what has or hasn’t worked is a practical starting point for developing an effective campaign. TwitterReach is also a valuable research tool for seeing how the public reacted to an event, a new business or product. You’ll know if your message is resonating. This monitoring tool also has historical analytics, allowing you to go back to fully understand how a Twitter conversation started. This is really helpful in making the right decisions to manage a situation going forward.

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Google Analytics: Is a valuable tool for tracking the efficiency of online campaigns, measuring website traffic, and the effectiveness of a landing page in attracting visitors. Through Google Analytics you can find out the kind of visitors your website attracts, the time each spends viewing your site, and popular key words and links used by visitors while searching for specific products – all helpful in providing relevant and useful content to target a niche audience. This is a great tool for evaluating website traffic, and understanding a target audience so that a website can be revamped and adjusted to increase website traffic.

Social Mention: Is similar to Google Alerts, but allows you to monitor the entire web by focusing specifically on social media sites. By setting up alerts based on key words, content related to those keywords is displayed through the Mention application or sent to you via email or social media. This is a really practical tool for building relationships with key people, tracking mentions of your keywords on blogs, websites, social media sites and forums to manage an issue or proactively respond.

Viralheat: Is a paid monitoring tool that tracks social media conversations, mentions, blog posts and websites, across social media includingTwitter, Facebook, Google Buzz and YouTube to determihero-enterprisene who the key influencers are, and what your neighbours, friends, competitors and other community members are saying about your campaign or brand. A clear advantage is Viralheat’s location aggregation tool, allowing you to enter a location and pull data from a specific neighbourhood or region – practical for area specific campaigns or marketing. This monitoring tool also analyzes sentiment, valuable in distinguishing your supporters from detractors to help tailor a message or manage an issue. Another advantage of Viralheat is that it’s real time monitoring – crucial when a timely response is essential during a crisis.

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Another day, another crisis on the TTC

Toronto’s transit system long ago lost bragging rights as the “better way.” Desperately underfunded and with one service breakdown after another, the TTC has struggleScreen Shot 2013-07-29 at 10.50.24 PMd to deliver reliable service to the more than 500 million riders who rely on it annually. Earlier this month, there were signal problems on the Yonge subway line, forcing its shutdown for hours, and causing huge delays (several hours) during the morning rush. Riders, left in the lurch once again, were furious, complaining on Twitter about the TTC’s “poor online communication,” and they’re right. With so many service breakdowns, the TTC should by now have a better plan in place for communicating service breakdowns, particularly on July 3rd, when thousands of riders were affected for most of the morning.

What was the “better way” to handle the crisis? First, communicate with riders ASAP. Communication in this case should have been more timely. Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 10.55.16 PMWhile it’s difficult to determine just when the TTC was first made aware of its Yonge subway line signalling issues, what we do know is that the problem should have been communicated to riders via its Twitter customer service account sooner than 6.30 a.m. Given that the subway opens at 6 a.m. riders should have been informed about the nature of the service issue earlier, allowing them to make alternate arrangements. Instead they were left standing on the subway platform for hours, wonder what the ?#!

Communicate contingency plans sooner. While the TTC did apologize via Twitter for the service breakdown, it was slow to notify riders of other options, such as shuttle buses, where they were running and when. Directing riders to the TTC’s website, and a special section to explain the nature of the issue and offer details on contingency plans would have kept riders better informed, and helped prevent yet another service backlash. Instead the TTC’s Twitter stream offered “I apologize for the delay in service. We are working on the issue.” In this case an apology wasn’t enough. Riders needed information, and they needed it before they planned their morning commute.

Utilize all social media platforms. Transit riders would have been better served, and better informed, had the TTC utilized other social media platforms such as Facebook to amplify its message and reach as many riders as possible. Pinning a post, or using a promoted Tweet to apologize, explain contingency service, what was being done to address the issue, and when service was expected to be back to normal would have helped mitigate yet another “service crisis.”

Faced with aging equipment, underfunding, and a lack of political will to improve transit service, it’s no wonder the TTC  struggles to cope from one service crisis to the next.  While the TTC has proven time and time again, that it’s not the better way to travel, it should at least have plenty of experience in showing that there is a better way to communicate.

What’s your story?

If there’s anything that this social media class has confirmed is that its all about the story. What’s your story or core message? That’s where a content strategy begins.

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What I like about Budweiser’s image is that it tells the story right away. First, that it’s patriotic supporting a beer that’s made in America, and that drinking Bud is associated with great times. It’s a simple, visual message, posted on the company’s website, making it “owned media.” The weakness is that other beer companies use a similar storyline, leaving one to wonder which beer to drink for the best time.

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Another important part of a content strategy is how to tell the story.  What makes the second image effective is that marketer Maria Forbes is an “influencer” in this case, showing and telling her Facebook followers about Chef Chloe’s fabulous recipe that she tried the other night. Forbes “validates” Chloe’s culinary skills, “informs” us about a new recipe, and gets us thinking about buying Chef Chloe’s cook book for other scrumptious recipes. There is no downside here, unless you don’t like pasta.

As equally important as the “what” and “how” is where to tell the story.

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The third image, posted on Northwest Airlines Facebook page shows us the airline is all about people. An airline employee tells the story of how she started a company fundraising campaign to help “Jake” see his favourite hockey team. It’s a moving story told through an image and “layered narrative” across multiple social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and the employee’s blog posted on the company’s website. It’s a strong endorsement when employees tell and show their audience what a great company they work for. If there’s any weakness to this image as part of a content strategy, it’s that it doesn’t tell the story right away. However, it does make us want to read on to to find out what all the fuss is about it.

The sky is the limit for the little blue bird

Screen Shot 2013-07-04 at 10.09.42 PMThis little blue bird not only goes tweet, but Cha-ching. With over 500 million users, Twitter has become big business. The company is expected to exceed $600 million in ad revenue this year alone.

Promoted Tweets are a main source of revenue for Twitter, and now a powerful tool for companies promoting their brands, driving website traffic, and proactively reaching out to potential customers.

Twitter’s paid messages include three main options: Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends.

Promoted Tweets: These are tweets promoted by a company on Twitter. This allows advertisers to reach a wider audience by targeting users based on interests, location and gender. The ads appear in search results for related key words. When a user searches a specific term, the promoted tweet appears in their timeline as a promoted tweet. Promoted tweets use cost-per-click pricing, meaning an advertiser pays a bid price when a user clicks on, retweets, replies to or favorites a promoted tweet, at a cost of anywhere from 50 cents to $1.50 per engagement. The engagement rate is approximately 1 to 3 per cent, similar to online advertising campaigns.

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Promoted Accounts: This feature allows companies to increase their follower count. Twitter will display your account prominently in the “Who to Follow” section to users that would most likely be interested in their account. Like Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts can target users based on who they follow, geographic location, specific interests, key words in both their tweets and Twitter feed, as well as their user name.

Ad Agency CEO Lori Senecal put promoted accounts to the test, and says for $217 she added 217 followers and gained 45,000 impressions. According to Senecal, the best way of measuring ROI of Promoted Accounts depends on how the company follows up, and continues to engage that audience by giving back value.

The cost-per-follower or CPF rates for Promoted Accounts on Twitter is around $2.50 to $4. Most advertisers on Twitter pay around $15,000 to continue advertising for a span of 3 months.

Promoted Trends: Are considered one of the most effective, and lucrative forms of Twitter advertising.  Promoted Trends are visible to all Twitter users at the top of the Trending Topics list, and are marked as ‘Promoted.’ Promoted Trends provide exclusive placement for 24 hours and over 25 million impressions. It’s tremendous exposure, however at cost of $200,000 for one day, this is an option for companies with deep pockets.

Without question, more companies are investing in Twitter advertising. It allows them to target locally, which is ideal for mobile advertising. For larger companies, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets allow them to expand their campaigns nationally, reaching a far wider audience. For example, in 2010, Coke’s first Promoted Tweet resulted in over 85 million impressions and a 6 per cent engagement rate compared to the .02 per cent seen in web-based advertising. That translates into approximately 5 million people interacting with the ad in just one day.

And leave it to Coke to be the featured sponsor as Twitter now moves into video ads. In April, a highlight clip from the NCAA March Madness tournament was embedded in a tweet from Time Warner’s cable network.

Real-time highlight: ‪@UMichBBall continues its hot shooting from 3-point land. ‪#NCAAChamp

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snpy.tv/Y9h9nU

Twitter advertising offers companies a brand new world, literally. For those with the innovation, creativity, and budget, it’s worth incorporating the little blue bird into their next marketing strategy.

No monkeying around with social media

Managing client expectations is always a good rule of thumb in PR.

There’s nothing worse than having to explain to a client why dozens of reporters didn’t show up for the news conference you arranged on their behalf. Recently, I found myself explaining to a client that the “Ikea Monkey” turnScreen Shot 2013-07-02 at 6.01.49 PMed out to be a bigger story, resulting in more media cameras heading to the courthouse, than “our” news conference. It got me thinking that there has to be a better way of getting a message out. That’s what’s great about social media. It’s another channel.

A friend and colleague of mine has the right idea with a new platform called AdvocateDaily. Essentially it’s PR for lawyers. What I like about it, is that news releases, videos, comments, blogs etc., from lawyers are posted directly to this platform, rather than relying on media to write their story. It’s also an effective way of getting a message across without the filter and unpredictability of earned media. 

For those of us in PR, who have legal clients, social media and online platforms like AdvocateDaily, are one way of ensuring you won’t be upstaged by a monkey.

Engage. Connect. Participate. Plunge.

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Two immediate observations as I take the social media plunge.

The first, is how small the world is. Who would have thought that my boyfriend’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s Dad (hopefully you’re still with me) would guide me through the murky waters of social media. It’s reassuring to know that there’s some familiarity in such unfamiliar territory.

It’s also reassuring to know that in this boat, I’m not alone. There’s a whole classroom of smart, like-minded PR types who are as eager as I am to find other ways to connect and communicate. It’s time to navigate new channels.

The media world, where I got my career start, doesn’t exist anymore. Gone are the days of reel to reel tapes, cassette tape recorders, and cell phones about the size of most toasters. The media world has imploded, and morphed, and Canadians by all accounts are embracing it. Canadians are more “wired in”  than ever before, increasingly turning to online networks to get their news. For those of us in the business of feeding into that news cycle, getting fully immersed is a must. I was inspired by a recent posting by Ephraim Payne who offers good advice for those of us who are dipping in our toes – first and foremost not to fall back into the comfort zone of traditional print media PR strategies.

Move forward. Don’t fall back. Ready, set, dive. Now wait for the splash.