The Internet Is Like a High School Cafeteria

I’ve been thinking a lot about content lately and how that relates to buyer personas. Mostly what I’ve been considering is this: How does a company with several buyer personas (some of whom would be interested in us for very different and completely unrelated reasons) access different people with content?

Lately I’ve been feeling like the internet isn’t just one echochamber – it’s a bunch of little echochambers. There are bloggers who blog about blogging and go to conferences about blogging with other bloggers. Craft bloggers talk to other craft bloggers. Recipe bloggers talk to other recipe bloggers. Personal finance bloggers talk to other personal finance bloggers. There’s so much content being created and shared and curated that there’s little choice other than to join an echochamber in order to handle it as a consumer. But what do you do if you’re a marketer who needs to appeal to multiple… well…echochambers?

Is there a way to cover every topic of the relevant echochambers that matter to your business, but do it in a way that maintains a consistent theme so you don’t seem unfocused and confuse your audience?

Discovery vs. Sharing

Every so often I don’t know if I should publish something on the Shareaholic blog or if I should publish it over here. On this one, it’s very much written from my personal opinion and point of view so I thought I’d throw it over here.

We’re starting to publish more data we get on how people share content and how that sharing leads to website traffic. Our two latest reports:

February Referral Traffic Report – Pinterest is killing it and actually outpaced Twitter for referral traffic in February.

Next, we published our top sharing platforms for February in Marketing Charts. The data shows that people actually share more to Facebook than they do other sites, including Pinterest.

So… wtf, right? How come Pinterest ranks so high for referral traffic but not for shares? The difference, as pointed out to me by my boss Jay, is discovery vs. sharing. Some social networks are more popular for sharing, while others are more popular for discovery.

Think about the number of people who upload video to YouTube vs the (much larger) number of people who watch YouTube videos. It’s unclear what the first number is (YouTube says 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute) but they say around 4 billion videos are viewed each day. I think Pinterest is along the same vein. It appears to me that while many people are pinning, they are discovering content and clicking through on it even more. It is also worth noting that re-pins can’t be included in our statistics as we count original shares from our plugin and browser extension.

Furthermore, what could this mean for marketers who use Pinterest? It seems like a smaller percentage of people are driving the original Pins (sharing) while many others are discovering, re-pinning, and clicking through on those images. Do I hear “Pinterest influencers” in our future? Roll your eyes (I did as I typed that) but yes. I think so.

Does the discovery vs. sharing thing make sense to you? Am I crazy? Let me know in the comments.

Social Rant’s New Spring Outfit

I don’t do it often, but this weekend I finally got around to giving the blog a slightly different look. I’m considering a background and a header image, but for right now I was happy to get a happier looking layout going on the blog. Each time I do this I discover a few favorite plugin to help me, so I wanted to share the new one.

The Google Fonts plugin easily allows you to add fonts from the Google Fonts Directory to your blog. So if you’re not the most technically inclined like myself and tend to forget to dot your i’s and cross your t’s in CSS stylesheets, this is a good match for you. It let’s you select the exact text (H1, H2) you want to customize and pick the font you want to change it too. They also give you a little CSS box for you to put any additional stuff in – like bolded or uppercase styling.

Google fonts plugin

I wish they showed an actual preview of the font in the WP admin panel so I would know what I was selecting without having to keep an additional tab open for the Google Fonts Directory. But still, it made the font selection process a whole lot easier than it has been before so I’m happy with it.

This was a very good, basic blogging reminder for me: if there is something you want to do with your blog with design or widgets or features, there’s probably a plugin that will take care of it for you! Don’t work hard, work smart. And get back to blogging. :)

Pin This, Not That: A Bizarre Nugget of Pinterest

Clearly Pinterest has gotten its due hype lately, and the data my company has discovered has added to such coverage. Pinterest is on a tear! While I’m happy for them, I do find it necessary to call out a strange little nugget of the site that causes me huge concern. There’s a trend of “Thinso” or “Thinspiration” boards that seem to glorify unrealistic body images and I think it’s a negative thing for the Pinterest users.

Back in the days of Xanga and Live Journal, “Pro-Ana” or Pro-Anorexia sites sprung up around the internet. On these kinds of sites, people with eating disorders wouldn’t gather for support or treatment, but rather, to encourage each other to pursue a lifestyle of starvation by posting pictures of skeletal models and odd motivational statements to discourage eating. It wasn’t good.

Being that fitness is one of the categories of boards and people I searched for to get started on Pinterest, I definitely found some weird stuff and it has me concerned. I love the visual posts showing instructions of exercise moves and pictures of healthy recipes. Those are actions you can take toward a heathy lifestyle or even a goal of losing a few pounds. But just staring at a skeletal, photoshopped picture of a model is anything but inspiring – it’s defeating and most of all is unhealthy and unrealistic.

Luckily I’ve seen the community policing itself. I’ve seen people posting on those hashtags asking people to stop with those kinds of images. I hope people continue to police it and continue to realize that this is a negative thing. Pinterest seems to be so popular among young women and that also is the demographic that can be more prone to eating disorders. We need to watch out for each other.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 26-March 3. There’s no time like the present to be self-aware of how the images we surround ourselves with online influence how we feel about ourselves. I love nutrition and health, and I think we need more of that and less of these bizarre, fake pictures. I encourage us all to surround ourselves and our fellow pinners with positivity – visuals of actions we can take towards healthy lifestyles (recipes, workouts) rather than self-defeating unrealistic photos of models.

Social Rant’s Top Blog Posts of 2011

So excited to launch this new blogger tool from Shareaholic today! Here are my top blog posts from 2011, brought to you from a new tool I’ve been working on at Shareaholic. What do you think?

How to: Decide When to Pay for Social Media Monitoring

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

Often times, people are hesistant to invest in a social media monitoring tool of any kind. This is understandable: When you are unsure of the value of social media, it’s hard to justify throwing money at it. This is why measurement is important. But therein lies a catch 22: paid monitoring tools offer better metrics.

In his recent blog post, Jeremiah Owyang recommends that organizations invest in social business tools and talent based on market research and scale investment by their experience with social media. On page seven of his report he offers a quiz that’ll help you bench mark your social business maturity and then see where you should be investing.

There are plenty of free and cheap ways to monitor mentions of your brand in social media.  You can set up search terms in Tweetdeck, Seesmic or Hootsuite for your brand, competitors and industry keywords and track Twitter conversations that are relevant to your company. You can use this monitoring for lead generation by responding to those conversations. Try Twilerts for an email digest of these search terms, or Tweet Alarm to get notifications so you don’t have to constantly be watching Twitter for these mentions. To track news of these search terms, set up Google Alerts and subscribe to an RSS or email digest of your searches through Social Mention. For local searches, use Twitter’s Advanced search. Want to hack together a free monitoring dashboard of your own? Add an RSS feed of your Twitter searches to iGoogle.

Ultimately, though, these really are only temporary solutions. Eventually you are going to want to crank up the volume on your monitoring and get a solution that offers deeper analytics, more integrations and more versatility.  Here are some indicators that you have reached that point:

1. You aren’t just doing Twitter anymore.

Maybe you aren’t just managing a Twitter account, but you are also managing a Facebook page for your business. Or, you also have a blog or are tracking keywords for SEO. Upgrading to a tool like Raven Tools can consolidate your efforts all in one place. This can save you time and help you close the loop between all of your online marketing efforts. Integrate the keywords you are trying to rank for into your Tweets and blog post headlines, compare your mentions on Facebook to your mentions on Twitter. Raven Tools offers three pricing plans, $19/month, $99/month and $249/month.

2. You want to keep track of the interactions you have with Twitter followers.

If you are doing all of this work to monitor keywords on Twitter and engage with prospects, all of that lead generation is going to waste if you aren’t keeping record of the conversations you are having. A CRM tool has contact management features to help you take notes and add tasks to your Twitter contacts. BlueCamroo has a Social Network Scout feature included at all pricing levels that searches for leads on Twitter according to the search terms that you set up. It them loads them into a prospect form for you to follow up with. BlueCamroo also has some pretty sophisticated email marketing features ingrained to help keep your web leads engaged in your pipeline. That’s a lot more than a little old Twitter client to offer for just $24/month to $149/month. Other options to look at? Social CRM tool Nimble, which is in private beta. Also consider how your company’s Twitter account can help with your support tickets and sales pipeline – look for tools with Zendesk and Salesforce integration like CoTweet (Enterprise level), Hootsuite Pro and Radian 6.

3. There is more than one person running your company’s Twitter account.

You may get a lot of Twitter followers or start to get a lot of mentions. Running your company’s Twitter account could become a time-consuming thing, and it may not just be a task for one person any more. Tools like Hootsuite Pro or CoTweet‘s Enterprise version offer Tweet assigning features that ensure your community is attended to and that all questions are answered by the right person. Plus, the right monitoring dashboard will keep track of your conversations with each customers so you have a record of that relationship.

4. There is more than one Twitter account for your company.

Perhaps your CEO now has a Twitter account, or you have a Twitter account wholly-dedicated to PR.  Maybe you have a Twitter account for support questions. There comes a time when you need to select a social media dashboard that everyone can work off of. Create unity in your organization so that everyone is on the same page with what your social media policy is. Your technology should enable someone from the marketing team to assign a Tweet to the support team if it is a question that pertains to them, and vice versa. This is what the challenge of being a social media strategist and evangelizing social media in an organization to establish a social business means. Investing in the right tool and getting internal buy-in is a huge process.

5. You want to measure more than just clicks.

For free, you can get Facebook Insights. You can also sync your links with most clients and track how many people are clicking on your links. You can get some analytics for free. Tweetreach is free for up to 50 Tweets. As you know, that’s not a ton of Tweets. To get really good measurement of your efforts, you’re going to have to pay a little bit. Tweetreach is a great tool for measuring your Twitter account, and it offers several pricing plans from $84.00/month to $899.00/month. First, decide what you want to measure, and that will help you choose a tool that best delivers those metrics. Ubervu is one lower-cost ($49/month, $179/month, $399/month) social media monitoring tool that offers competitive and sentiment analysis. Argyle Social tracks conversions from your Twitter and Facebook campaigns so you can track real ROI from your social media efforts. Argyle Social offers three plans: $149/month, $199/month or $499/month.

What other things should a company consider when it is taking the leap into a paid social media monitoring tool? What were the first tools that your company invested in? I would love your thoughts in the comments.

What Social Media Metrics Matter?

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

I really enjoyed this recent post from @Forrester Research in which Nate Elliot previews his latest report on social media metrics. Specifically, the focus is on assigning social media marketing measurement within an organization. In the post, Elliot smartly points out that if you are defining success by “fans and followers” you’re doing it wrong. Social media measurement is most successful when it is tied to actual business goals.

Elliot’s breakdown of the metrics are very simliar to Jeremiah Owyang’s ROI Pyramid that we’ve previously explored. Community managers and social media strategists focus on “digital metrics” like clicks, fans, followers. Marketing and business executives focus on awareness and share of voice. Finally c-level executives focus on “business metrics” like revenue – aka dolla dolla bills ya’ll.

Here are the two charts:

Jeremiah Owyang’s breakdown of metrics

Forrester’s breakdown of metrics

I like comparing and contrasting both of the breakdowns. I think the recommendations for frequency on Forrester’s analysis aren’t what I’d do. Daily check-ups on number of followers doesn’t seem like the right use of time to me – I think personally think weekly is more scalable. (Perhaps he means daily or hourly check-ups on comments though.) On the contrary, to me it doesn’t seem like an annual analysis of conversions is frequent enough for the c-suite. Quarterly tracking of this at the least makes sense to me. After all, social media really is still new. Not all of us who live in this social media echo chamber and chug the Koolaid remember that sometimes, but it’s true! We’re still testing what campaigns work, and you manage what you measure.

Something I’d love to see discussed more in these reports and in blogs (maybe it doesn’t exist yet) is measurement of the money you save with social media. That to me demonstrates positive return on investment. Can businesses measure x amount of dollars they saved on support phone calls by taking care of customer service via Twitter? Can businesses save on recruiting costs by having their employees share job postings with their networks on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? Can companies measure the time they save and increased productivity by using Yammer and having their employees communicate through instant message? (Hence, enabling the social employee with a tool like that versus them walking to the other end of the office to ask that question and getting distracted by the coffee room, the water cooler, their friend is the sales department along the way…)

It’s a can of worms to dive into, but I like to ponder it because that relates to measuring social media’s value beyond fans and followers and beyond the marketing department. That’s what a social business is: social media delivering value throughout an entire organization.

Another thing I’d like to see researched is how organizations are coordinating measurement between their agencies. Your PR agency is delivering you metrics like media value each month, then maybe you have a separate social media agency delivering another set of metrics like impressions and share of voice. How are these things being considered together to give a complete view of competitive analysis across not only social media but also with media placements?

Another thing worth exploring: There is a whole set of companies sometimes called Listening Service Providers that are a “tool + consulting” combination. The thing is, some tools and the analytics they provide have a steep learning curve. You have this new interface to work with, then you need to understand what all these graphs mean and then you need to get actionable insight from those metrics. Companies like Synthesio, Cymphony and NM Incite are a few examples where they offer not only the social media monitoring tool but also the team of consultants that analyze the data and offer recommendations to your team. Which organizations are using these and which team members are they reporting to? Also, how are the insights that these companies provide used in combination with agencies?

I’d love to open up the comments to you folks to let me know how you assign measurement on your team. Do you measure your social media marketing at all, and if so, what metrics matter to you?

5 Common Blogging Mistakes and How to Fix Them

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

Whether your company is just getting going in social media or you’ve been at it for a while, there are some common mistakes people do every day with blogging that makes for a missed opportunity. Luckily, there’s typically a simple tool or tactic you can use to do more with your blog and fix whatever you are doing.

1. Blogging All About You

When all you blog about is you – your product, your service, your achievements etc – you don’t teach your community anything about your industry. You don’t have any sort of thought leadership or real takeaways. When people Google for information about your industry or when they’re asking questions like “how to ___” related to your industry, you won’t have any articles that explain that.  It’s only when the Google specifically you, that you’ll come up. That’s a missed opportunity.

HOW TO FIX: Monitor your industry. Read blogs and set up Google Alerts for relevant search terms and your competitors. Use Twilerts and set up search terms in a Twitter client like Tweetdeck for Twitter searches related to your product or service. See what people are talking about. What are their pain points? What are their questions? Blog about that.

2. Blogging About… Wait, What Exactly ARE You Blogging About?

When you blog about random or off-topic things, you draw in the wrong audience and therefore the wrong leads for your business. It’s inconsistent branding and you rank for the wrong keywords on Google. Subject matter counts, and by not focusing your content you are missing an opportunity to show your thought leadership in a specific space.


Find relevant people in your industry to follow with tools like Listorious. Use Cadmus to find the most popular articles that they are sharing and use that as an indicator of the types of subject matter you should blog about. Also try Twoolr and see what words are already used in conjunction with your brand on Twitter.

3. Ignoring Your Blog Comments

When people swing by your blog to engage in conversation with you, make sure you are being responsive! They came by to comment, and responding to what they have to say is a good way to build a community around your content. If you respond, they are more likely to remember you and subscribe to your blog and come back again.

HOW TO FIX: Use a commenting platform like Disqus or LiveFyre that makes it easy for people to comment on your blog and makes it easy for you to moderate and respond to comments.

4. Focusing on the Wrong Blog Features

I’ve seen some businesses pour a ton of time into dressing up the look and feel of their blogs. They get their graphic designer to make a sexy blog header, they’ve got sparkly fonts and custom this and that. This is important. You want to look official, professional and have consistant branding with the rest of your website. But don’t ignore the social sharing and subscription features that will get your content in front of your audience.

HOW TO FIX: Pick a simple theme and make sure your blog has these features before you get too caught up in the look and feel of your site.

  • Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn share options
  • RSS and email subscription options

5. Blogging Infrequently

If you’re going to do social media, you need to jump in with both feet to reap the benefits. Your audience will be more consistent and your community will grow and share your content if your content is there for them on a predictable basis. That might not be daily for your company at the onset, but if it’s less than weekly you might not see the benefits of your blog. And why waste your time if you aren’t going to commit to this?

HOW TO FIX: Create an editorial calendar and assign which blog posts will be written by which member of your team. You can use something as simple as Google calendar for this. Schedule Tweets and Facebook posts promoting your content with a tool like Hootsuite or CoTweet.

These are just a few common blogging mishaps we see out there in social media. Any other ones you see? Let me know in the comments.

4 Twitter Tips for Engaging Your Community

It’s simple enough to get started on Twitter for your business or client. Using tools like Listorious and Mashable’s Twitter Lists you can find people to follow on Twitter according to topics they Tweet about. Using a client like Tweetdeck or Seesmic, you can set up search terms for your company and for keywords related to your industry.

But what about the less tangible, “human” elements of running a Twitter account? The words you say and how you interact with the people you talk to? Here are five tips to help:

1. Be Responsive

Be sure to set up a search term for your brand on Twitter as well as monitor your @mentions. If your company has just signed up, a perfect way to “stake your claim” on Twitter and define your presence is to start responding to those mentions. This means:

  • Answering questions and offering suggestions – You can also answer questions not just about your particular product, but about your industry. Think of Twitter as a cocktail party. Use a human voice and mingle.
  • Apologizing – This is the not-so-fun part. But, did you guys mess up? Respond to unhappy customers. You only have 140 characters, so there isn’t space for any of that “We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you” garbage. A genuine, first person, “I’m sorry” is a better way to go. Plus, I’ve personally found that the people who take the time to complain are the people who take the time to advocate for your when you handle the situation well.

2. Be Gracious

Are you creating content to draw people to your blog? Do you see people sharing your ebooks, blog post or webinars? Engage them and say thank you. I think one company that does a fantastic job with this is social media monitoring company Radian6. If you share their blog post or ebook, you can expect a friendly Tweet back saying thank you with a little smile.

The nice thing is that the way Twitter is built, only your followers who follow the person you are thanking via @reply will see these Tweets. So you don’t have to worry about clogging people’s streams with tons of “Thank you!! :) ” Tweets. Figure out a way to work these aspect of engagement into your Tweeting in a way that scales for your team.

3. Be consistent

Once you start in social media, you have to keep it up and stay committed. If you build up an expectation of responsiveness and then you let it fall off the wayside, your community will look to you on Twitter with their questions and they will go ignored – which will only alienate them more than if you hadn’t engaged in the first place. How can you remain consistent?

  • Be on call – Is managing a community a 24/7 job? Well, it’s important to at least keep an eye on things. You’ll need a mobile app on your phone for when you’re away from your desk to at least monitor brand mentions. If anything major comes up, you should respond. On vacation? Make sure someone covers you.
  • Put “hours of operation” in your Twitter bio – This could be helpful, although I’m sure you still obviously get questions after 5pm. At least you are setting expectations properly at have a way to switch a conversation with a community member to email or phone if need be.
  • Scale your Tweeting – What is your goal? Are you promoting your blog posts and answering questions through your Twitter account? Maybe scheduling Tweets of your blog posts is a way to save you time. Being efficient will help you be consistent.

4. Use a Personal Tone

Some companies are not certain how to go about running a Twitter account and are afraid to allow their employees to Tweet on behalf of their brand – and with good reason! There have been a handful of well-documented “face/palm” moments in social media where an employee sent out a bad Tweet on a company Twitter account and didn’t represent the brand well. However, I think playing it safe with an overly corporate and cautious tone isn’t the always the right approach. Pick a tone that is consistent with your brand. Keep in mind: People like talking to people. Show human things with your words like personality and excitement and gratitude, just like you would on your own Twitter account – but be consistent and responsible and balance that with representing your brand.

Why the Twitter vs. Facebook Marketing Catfight is Dumb

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

There’s been a consistent thread in the blogs and news recently where people are calling into question the true value of Facebook pages for businesses.

  • Forrester Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru says Facebook will never become a powerful eCommerce platform. Mulpuru’s study found that the average Facebook metrics are a 1% click-through rate and a 2% conversion rate. Comparatively, e-mail marketing offers an 11% click-through rate and a 4% average conversion rate.
  • Gawker offered a sassier recount of the study, delivering this takeaway: “The main problem is that Facebook treats brands a lot like people. So when you “like” a brand’s Facebook page, your newsfeed fills up with corporate adspeak, drowning out important news of what childhood friends’ babies are up to and resulting in an uneasy sense of foreboding: It’s disconcerting to see “Ford Motor Company” congratulate random people on their marriage in your newsfeed; did Henry Ford rise from the grave and bless their union, or the board of directors, or what?
  • People say don’t waste time with Facebook for your startup.

But then again…

Some food for thought:

Researchers don’t know your business or your goals

You need to have some idea of what you want to do on these platforms, use them in a way that gets the most value and scale your time accordingly. (A social media strategist can help.) Before you write of an entire platform altogether, consider that.

Here’s an example: If I was a small, local, photography business, I’d want more people in my area to see my awesome photos and hire me to take photos of their engagements and weddings and babies. I’d most definitely be cranking away at a Facebook page and leveraging the connections of my customers who were in the photos I took. Spreading awareness for that business happens to lend itself to two really popular features of Facebook – photos and tagging. I wouldn’t ignore Twitter, but I might just use it slightly differently (maybe Tweet about what photo sessions I was going to that day (@mentioning my customers of course) and Tweet links to our photo blog.) I might join other LinkedIn groups for professional photographers to learn about best practices etc, but I honestly wouldn’t make one for my business.

On the contrary, oneforty for example is a different kind of business than that. We get a ton of engagement from our LinkedIn group, but we actually get more traffic from Facebook from people sharing our blog posts there. Twitter, however, spanks both traffic source-wise.

Know Your Audience. Tools Can Help.

This is why listening in social media is so important. Find where your current and potential customers are online and really invest your time in building a presence where you see the most value for the goals you have for your business. Monitoring with Facebook is admittedly trickier. Even paid social media monitoring tools like Sysomos that pull brand mentions from Facebook can only pull from public Facebook wall posts (many users have private Facebook walls.) Kurrently is a free tool monitors your public mentions.

Paying attention to your referring sites (under Traffic Sources in Google Analytics) is another good way for you to pay attention to how people are discovering your website and see where you are getting the most value – Twitter or Facebook. Traffic is traffic, though. What are people actually doing when they get to your site? Think a little deeper about what kinds of activities people who come from Twitter or Facebook are doing. What platform offers the most value for your time spent?

Using Argyle Social, you can track how many people perform a conversion (like registering for an event, making a profile or buying something) on your website from Twitter and Facebook campaigns using in-page analytics on your website.

In conclusion, keep up on the reports and social media news regarding the value of Facebook. Read the blogs, but don’t be afraid to be skeptical about said findings. Most importantly, when your boss asks – or when you question yourself – about your presence on Facebook or any other social media platform, I think your own metrics and business goals should be the major focus of the conversation as opposed to an article you saw ReTweeted a bunch.