Monday, November 30, 2009

conversion conundrum

As I've been continually learning about social media the big question looms out like a sunset, beautiful but also out of reach, how does small business drive conversion through social media. Social media is great for branding, for expanding communication, for reaching new possible consumers, so you would think that sales would come soon after.

It's been proven that search and social media is closely tied. I've mentioned on a previous post the GroupM study that shows:
  • Consumers who are exposed to a brand’s social media efforts and paid search programs are 2.8x more likely to search for that brand’s products (compared to users who only saw paid search).
  • 50% increase in clickthrough rates in paid search when consumers were exposed to influenced social media and paid search.
  • The clickthrough rate on paid search for searchers using a brand’s product name in the query increased from 4.5% to 11.8% for those that were exposed to social media. And for organic search, the clickthrough rate increased 2.4x.
There's tons of large scale success stories for large brands like Dairy Queen, Skittles, and even Delta. So, how does it work for small marketers? The answer is the same as it does for the big marketers.

As Sima Dahl says in her blog Expert Business Source it's about the three Cs: Conversation, community and conversions.

1. First, you find the right conversation. You have to find what consumers want to know, the entertainment principle. This is the first step. If you already have fans even better. I worked with Mellow Mushroom and they had single restaurants with over 2,000 fans in one month.
2. Community is what social media is all about. This is where you can strengthen your fan base and listen as well as talk. The more you know your customers the better.
3. Conversions come from the other two. Once you have a fan base and people who believe in you, you can find out why they like you and offer that to more people.

It's hard. It takes time. It takes some trial and error. It can happen.

Then it's all about

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Time to reflect. It's been a crazy year. If Thanksgiving truly isn't about sales, food and football, then it may be about actually giving thanks.

There is nothing like a turbulent year to make you appreciate what you do have. I am very lucky to have so much going for me. Sometimes I look around and can't believe my good fortune. My wife is way out of my league, my children are healthy, I have a comfortable home and good friends that actually seem to understand me.

I feel like we are living in one of the most exciting times in history where inventions and advances happen everyday. The amount of information available to us is enormous. It seems most of the people I know are working on some sort of entrepreneurial business, either on the side or as their main source of income.

I'm also thankful to whomever reads this. I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, Black Friday and rest of the year.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Video On Social Media ROI


Here's another well done video from Socialnomics. Most of the videos I've shown so far talks about the spread of social media. This one talks about the economics of social media. It's a given that most of the fortune 500 have social media departments. General Motors has a dozen people monitoring and using social media. Many customer service departments such as Comcast, AT&T, now use IM to communicate with their customer base.

video

Monday, November 16, 2009

LameBook


There's a site called lamebook.com that publishes Facebook flubs. Some are hilarious. It varies from just stupid mistakes to big drama blowouts.

The lesson I suppose is that every update is a part of your personal brand and man there are people lining up to laugh at us.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Army Strong Stories

Specialist Warren Andrews is building a school in Iraq one week and spotting anti-tank mines the next. Staff Sgt. Deshawn Browne is taking recruits through marksmanship training right now. Captain Jared Auchey is the commander of the Army Experience Center at a Pennsylvania mall.

How do I know? They are all blogging at Army Strong Stories, the Army's social media site. There are a ton of unofficial soldier blogs out there telling the military's story. The Army, however, has decided to present themselves in a very honest way (misspelling and all).

What's interesting is when you think of all the companies that are affraid of social marketing because of what might be said, I would think of the Army as the most controversial. Yet, they are willing to let their soldiers tell it how they see it and deal with any comments as they come in.

I hope more companies will be as brave as the Army.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

David Armano's 6 new social media trends

In 2009 we saw exponential growth of social media. According to Nielsen Online, Twitter alone grew 1,382% year-over-year in February, registering a total of just more than 7 million unique visitors in the US for the month. Meanwhile, Facebook continued to outpace MySpace. So what could social media look like in 2010? In 2010, social media will get even more popular, more mobile, and more exclusive — at least, that's my guess. What are the near-term trends we could see as soon as next year? In no particular order:

1. Social media begins to look less social
With groups, lists and niche networks becoming more popular, networks could begin to feel more "exclusive." Not everyone can fit on someone's newly created Twitter list and as networks begin to fill with noise, it's likely that user behavior such as "hiding" the hyperactive updaters that appear in your Facebook news feed may become more common. Perhaps it's not actually less social, but it might seem that way as we all come to terms with getting value out of our networks — while filtering out the clutter.

2. Corporations look to scale
There are relatively few big companies that have scaled social initiatives beyond one-off marketing or communications initiatives. Best Buy's Twelpforce leverages hundreds of employees who provide customer support on Twitter. The employees are managed through a custom built system that keeps track of who participates. This is a sign of things to come over the next year as more companies look to uncover cost savings or serve customers more effectively through leveraging social technology.

3. Social business becomes serious play

Relatively new networks such as Foursquare are touted for the focus on making networked activity local and mobile. However, it also has a game-like quality to it which brings out the competitor in the user. Participants are incentivized and rewarded through higher participation levels. And push technology is there to remind you that your friends are one step away from stealing your coveted "mayorship." As businesses look to incentivize activity within their internal or external networks, they may include carrots that encourage a bit of friendly competition.

4. Your company will have a social media policy (and it might actually be enforced)
If the company you work for doesn't already have a social media policy in place with specific rules of engagement across multiple networks, it just might in the next year. From how to conduct yourself as an employee to what's considered competition, it's likely that you'll see something formalized about how the company views social media and your participation in it.

5. Mobile becomes a social media lifeline
With approximately 70 percent of organizations banning social networks and, simultaneously, sales of smartphones on the rise, it's likely that employees will seek to feed their social media addictions on their mobile devices. What used to be cigarette breaks could turn into "social media breaks" as long as there is a clear signal and IT isn't looking. As a result, we may see more and/or better mobile versions of our favorite social drug of choice.

6. Sharing no longer means e-mail
The New York Times iPhone application recently added sharing functionality which allows a user to easily broadcast an article across networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Many websites already support this functionality, but it's likely that we will see an increase in user behavior as it becomes more mainstream for people to share with networks what they used to do with e-mail lists. And content providers will be all too happy to help them distribute any way they choose.

These are a few emerging trends that come to my mind — I'm interested to hear what you think as well, so please weigh in with your own thoughts. Where do you see social media going next?

David Armano is part of the founding team at Dachis Group, an Austin based consultancy delivering social business design services. He is both an active practitioner and thinker in the worlds of digital marketing, experience design, and the social web. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/armano

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Love My Government... Today

Say what you want about this government's opinions, but they are willing to speak to me, on the internet at least. The DMV office is another story.

I am currently working with an insurance company, helping them with their marketing and writing their communications. This is a very technical product in a very complex and regulated industry. So far, I've been on the CDC, OSHA, NIH, CMS and Health Department's websites. I have been amazed, a-maze-ed, at how much information there is on the web.

Another great feature is how much each department is speaking to the public through social media. This is true service. I expect the armed services to be on social media because they want recruits. The White House and congress are trying to get re-elected. Even an organization like the IRS has a self-interest in sending out tweets. But for most of the agencies I've been visiting, the only reason to be blogging and sending out rss feeds is to get information to people who want it. Their only goal is to educate us and not self-interest.

To me this is a huge change in philosophy. I've been yelled at by postal employees after standing in a long line. I've talked to people who have waited over three months for a birth certificate. The government has never been known for their customer service. But with Social Media, they are really posting information in a way that's easy for us to find it, reach for it and hopefully understand it.

Where the agencies that I'm talking about do fall down, is the writing. Even the CDC, which is a fairly public facing organization, the voice of these entities is dry, using coloquial terms and many times hard to understand. The NIH is the best. But there has to be a balance between sounding official and welcoming and rewarding readers.