Livin' in a Social Media World…

Sharing the Love for Social Media, Online Marketing, and Beyond. Insight from Emer Lawn.

Social Media Measurement – Analytics is Key! February 4, 2010

So…people get that social media is important, even here in Ireland. They say, ok…let’s talk to someone and sort out how to do this. We tell them that strategy is key and that measurement and reporting will be essential throughout a social media project. We all agree that there’s great opportunityfor us both when we do things right from the start. But then, we’re regretfully informed that the social media ideas are not going to go ahead because the business is afraid that it won’t lead to sales and the marketing manager will look bad to the people that control his/her budgets. Ok…we understand, social media is powerful for engagement; and we can show you how that will happen; but the real challenge is to prove that it works to directly achieve business goals (and that means sales!).

Good news…it can be done! And luckily, Amber Naslund of Altitude Branding has told us exactly how. She stresses the importance of using your web analytics package to meaasure sales and conversions. This article was a great find, so I thought I’d share it quickly here, as a quick answer to a lot of questions clients are rightfully asking.

“Practical Social Media Measurement: Leads, Conversions, Sales”

She outlines a very practical strategy for Direct Response sales that can be attributed to social media; some of which I’ve snatched here:

Direct Response Sales

The key to this is very simple: you have to provide a unique mechanism for people to buy from you that is exclusive to either all of your social media channels, or specific ones if you’re targeting individual communities. This is what Dell did, with specific deals that were only available to Twitter.

That can be a promotional code you distribute only inside your online community, a specific and unique landing page you create only for your Twitter followers, or a coupon only available to your Facebook fans (and that they can share with their friends, perhaps). Then, you have to deliberately and carefully track the sales that are generated through those initiatives.

This is one place you can calculate true ROI, or the monetary return on your investment in something. You’d have to:

  • Account for the time and expenses you put into a specific social media effort, such as your Facebook fan page. That means people hours, costs for infrastructure, and a percentage of overhead that’s relative to the time and human capital investment.
  • Account for the direct sales that come from that effort, by tracking them as specifically as possible.
  • Take the sales, subtract the cost, divide the resulting number (the net profit) by the cost figure again, and get a decimal figure. Multiply it by 100 to get a percentage. A positive percentage means that you made more than you spent, or a positive ROI.

Keep something in mind though: information on the internet is rarely without bleed into other avenues. I can get a code on Facebook, email it to 10 of my friends, and they can use it too. I can share a specific Twitter link off Twitter, and instead to my friends on Yammer at work.  Or I can retweet it, and therefore it’s not just sales via your Twitter followers, but the Twitter community overall.

The point here is to evaluate the sales not as only initiating (or caused) from the specific social network, but as a result of your presence on that network (because people will see it there first, and if they share, you have extended reach). See the difference?

We’ve applied some of these tools to our campaigns; and have found it difficult to attribute sales directly to social media without the investment from the brand or business. But we have seen that social media works to achieve sales objectives. Consider the 19% increase in sales achieved from the Ireland Deserves Sun case study by Crown Paints.

In my opinion, direct response social media sales is where we are headed, but currently, social media in Ireland will best be measured by showing the increased value of a customer who is engaged in social media versus those that are not.


TV and Social Media Engagement Changing Media Consumption: Showcased by the BreffMeister and Simon Cowell. November 16, 2009

So, you’re huddled up on the couch and ready for your night’s television entertainment…remote control in one hand…and your mobile phone or laptop in the other. The way we consume media has changed drastically; and people are feeling more compelled to not only share their feelings about what they watch on TV with the person sitting beside them; but also with their entire online community of friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. The integration of our engagement with the television and social networks is highly overlooked; and there are many ways we are missing opportunities to create high impact with our customers.

I speak from experience as a die hard fan of the XFactor and (shamefully) the Irish Apprentice; and it is now just as important for me to have my community handy while watching these programs should I feel the need to complain about Danni Minogue’s hair style or Bill Cullen’s overuse of the word “liathroidi.” By the looks of things, Twitter is the network where most conversation is taking place; but several friends also express their thoughts on Facebook come the end of a program.

So how do I find other people talking about XFactor, the Apprentice, or other TV programs?

Well, everyone’s talking about them…so that’s easy enough; but when it comes to Twitter, the use of Hashtags is extremely important if we want our “tweets” to appear to a wider audience of people, who may or may not already follow you.

Simply visit and search for #apprentice or #xfactor. (Or search these Hashtags in your mobile phone application). Searching for a Television program using one of the hashtag allows you to find every other person that has added this tag to their Post and easily view a live stream of comments and a world of commentary that enhances your television viewing experience.

Create your own Hashtag for topics that you feel strongly about. Consider the amount of people who love “the Breffmeister” on the Apprentice. His silly comments that have made him famous now have a number of Twitter users also using Hashtags such as #breffmania and #breffnywatch to encourage other users to share their thoughts on him. Similarly, you’ll find plenty of people tweeting about #Jedward or even #JedwardtoGo during the Xfactor.

Follow those users that have interesting or funny things to say. You’ll also find that you meet the same people tweeting during the programs as you did the week before; and your ongoing interaction is likely to lead you to become followers of one another. Here’s where I feel there is a place for brands in this engagement. Consider how ( were tweeting live during last week’s Apprentice, where there was any reference to their brand. Any program sponsors or those with ads during the breaks should find an opportunity to make a relevant comment about the program that their target audience values.

So what does this mean for marketers going forward?

Well we must not ignore how our offline media plans must be closely integrated with our online activity. A lot of us are doing this already; but perhaps there is room for further integration when you consider how your social media Content should align with the content of a particular television program or ad appearing during a program.

Additionally, I think we need to encourage our client’s brands to start engaging with content that may not be directly relevant to our product; but rather is extremely relevant to our target audience. Hey, I really like the XFactor so if I meet a brand in Facebook or Twitter that also takes the time to discuss this program; this will only strengthen my relationship with the brand.

Overall, we need to think outside the box…and that means thinking outside our TV boxes; and considering the engagement our audience is having with a television program online or on their mobile phone. I hope to see more brands having the “liathroidi” to tell me what they think of Mr. Bill; or at least engaging with the things that are relevant to their target audience.


The Importance of Relevance in Social Media: Ireland Deserves Sun Success September 30, 2009

Reflecting on how I spent my summer months, I discovered that I became even more Irish than I already was; because of my obsession with the weather for the Ireland Deserves Sun campaign for Sandtex exterior paint. As part of the marketing team for the campaign, it was extremely insightful to learn the value of providing not only creative (and sometimes funny) content within social media; but also content that is already relevant…and for the Irish, that means talking about the weather.

While this seems obvious, you’d be surprised to learn just how much faith we have in our ideas; where we almost believe that they are so good that we can make them relevant. This is true in those rare moments where we fall in love with social media once again; but when working on Social media for brands, we must minimise the risk involved and shape our activity around content and ideas that are already buzzworthy, already relevant, and that people will most certainly be talking about.

Hopped over to the company blog and grabbed the snapshot of the Irish social media campaign we were a part of this summer, so you might have a read of it over there, or read a snippet here below:

“…perhaps you’re one of the 10,400 fans on Facebook, one of 290 followers on Twitter or one of close to 700 registered users on the campaign microsite. Most recently, the Irish Independent covered the case study, outlining the reverse of a 40% plunge in sales.

As the campaign was driven primarily by online activity, Radical was responsible for the day to day management of the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube profiles and pages. Additional online elements that helped launch the campaign included Image Ads running in Google’s content network, the distribution of an online press release and an email campaign to further develop the relationship building in social media. The campaign was reactive; with a social media strategy that was dynamically changing to reflect the response of the community.”

child-of-prague-199x300The campaign was a great example of how important developing a social media strategy for your Brand or business is, rather than jumping into communities that we no longer hold control of. Keeping in mind that we will never again have complete control over our brand’s reputation because of online channels, the best thing we can do is steer people in the right direction. And often times means giving people a place to talk about something other than your brand…and once you’ve made them feel comfortable in the community, you can push a commercial brand message. It worked for Sandtex (they saw an 19% increase in sales)!

Ahh, well another summer gone. I guess I’ll be dreaming of days when I’m capable of getting a tan in Ireland; but until then, I probably won’t resist a trip to Spain…!


Social Media Marketing – Learn By Doing! July 30, 2009

You’ve gone online, found a blog, read some articles, and you’ve even joined Facebook…yet, you’re still lost as to how this matters for your business. Well, what has worked for others in Social Media, will most likely not work for you, unless you take the time to research and develop a strategy that is suited for your business needs.

First off, if you’re hesitant about social media, you may not be ready to experiment yet. You need to do your research. If you are in a particular vertical or industry, you must research what has already worked for others, as well as what went wrong. Doing the research will allow you to become comfortable with what you feel your business can realistically achieve in the social community online.

With a better understanding of what each network and social medium is, as well as how people are using them…you will be better able to determine what you’d like to achieve if you were engaged in the community. So, after doing your research…your next step is to set your objectives. If you are launching a new campaign with key objectives of branding and awareness, you may set social media objectives such as developing deeper brand engagement and higher brand recognition among a targeted audience. If you are building an overall marketing strategy of which the objective is direct response or sales, your social media objectives might include driving more traffic to an e-commerce website. The objectives should be specific both to your audience and your goals. But remember, that they should be realistically achievable.

So, you’ve done the research and have specific objectives, what’s next? Well, this is where most people get stuck. Several people even skip the next step, which I believe is the most critical: Develop a detailed strategy that determines how you will achieve your objectives.  The strategy must outline which networks you will engage in, timelines for setting up and engaging in the network, the type of people you will target, the overall tone of social media communications, and outline how you will get your target audience to take a desired action. These are just some of the things that would need to be considered before trying to engage online in a social media campaign.

What several people starting off in social media do is skip the first three steps and get right into it. While an enthusiastic attitude for social media is always a plus, you have to consider what you want to achieve before beginning. So, after research, objectives and strategy…you must experiment. Be prepared to test activity on one social network, and have a plan to test on another if things don’t work out. Taking risks are sometimes necessary in the social community online, but if a strategy is in place, the risk is minimised. Having alternative options means you don’t give up on social media after a failed attempt.

Now, you’ve experimented in the networks…maybe it was Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn; and you’ve decided that two out of three are working better for you. What next? Now’s the time to really get socialising in social media. You have to participate in the conversations. Your strategy should address the fact that you are planning on engaging with your consumers, and it is at this stage that you put words into action. Comment on other people’s blogs, write on people’s Facebook walls, or join a group of a related interest. Keep your conversation casual so that you appear like a member of the group, rather than someone who’s just trying to market within it.

So now you’re a social media pro, or so you think. How do you determine if anything’s working? Well, this is where you have to measure the outcome of your engagement from start to finish. There a number of debated ways in which to measure a social media campaign, and it’s worth mentioning again, that what works for some people may not work for others. Return to your objectives. Use tools that monitor social media like Blog searches, Microblog searches, or Google Alerts to monitor what people are saying about you. Use web analytics (such as Google Analytics) to determine increase in traffic, changes in behaviour, or referring sites which may include your social media profiles. While the measurement of the campaign is ongoing, it should be incorporated into the strategy you develop early on.

Research, set your objectives, develop a strategy, experiment, participate, and measure the results all the way through.

Now this social media “how-to” outlines general steps and processes that are crucial to a successful campaign. But always consider what will work for you, specifically. Give yourself enough time to understand a network before participating in it, as well as allowing enough time to become a pro at interacting within it. Most importantly, remember that when it comes to social media, you learn by doing…not reading…so what are you waiting for?

This article was written for Search Marketing World, April 2009.


Livin’ in a Social Media World… July 26, 2009

Hope you’re looking forward to the ramblings of a social media enthusiast; because well…that’s what I am. Enthusiasm for the online environment is shared across industries and locations; but social media holds the key to what it all means for our future.

No longer referred to as “new media,” social media is here and thriving. Having the advantage of living in Ireland to see it all unfold in a smaller market allows us to see the magic it holds, that has yet to be realised by so many of those holding on to forms of media which are rapidly changing because of the internet and our mobile phones.

The conversations already happeneing within  social media can result in such meaningful insights, that we’d even ask what people did before these channels were alive and kicking. The Irish social media industry is growing rapidly and as it becomes more sophistocated, that means that there’s more for marketers like myself to take advantage of.

We are livin’ in a social media world…and what a beautiful world it would be if everyone else knew.