The ROI of Social Media

October 16, 2015

There are two ways to measure social media ROI: (1) direct profit that results when people act on an offer you publicize on a social channel (a promo code, a coupon, or the like); and (2) the contribution to profit and value that results from people engaging on social channels to chat, research, converse, and generally form a positive impression that inclines them to buy, recommend, follow, and stay loyal and satisfied.

Social BI cover

Click to view on SlideShare

We help clients focus on that second, far more lucrative metric, also known as Customer Lifetime Value, or CLV. Ever heard of that? It’s a measure of the profit you can expect to generate from a customer as long as they remain a customer. It includes initial sales, renewals, upgrades, referrals, and other sometimes non-monetary indicators of buyer satisfaction.

How do you measure contribution to CLV? The slide deck linked here offers a glimpse into some of our client work that answers the question.  If focuses less on the technology that underpins the effort, although we do provide a resource list, but more on the types of things you can measure and the ways you can capture the upstream inputs to do that measurement so you can determine what works and pivot to do more of that.  We hope you find it helpful.

How do you measure social media ROI? Love to hear your stories.  Comment below, or really open up the chat by sharing on your favorite social channel!

Cheers,

~Ed


Connected Customers are Transforming Your Business – again

December 1, 2014

Recent seasonal business and commerce reports announce that the smartphone-toting Connected Customer, known affectionately as “Generation C”, now outnumbers the in-person buyer – and not just in retail stores.  Generation C has higher expectations elsewhere, too; they expect their relationship with your business to evolve beyond a series of first dates – – a long-held expectation in the B2B space.

Fan Foundry Service Options

What’s your challenge?

To our delight, some industries are transforming to get in front of the trend (think: media, music, entertainment, phones), partly to compete but also to survive against disruptors, born in the digital age, who find new ways to free up inventory (Uber, AirBnB, Netflix, Spotify, Khan Academy).  Meanwhile, many long-established industries risk extinction or deep disruption (encyclopedias, libraries, record stores, taxis, newspapers, education).

Turn your Digital Channel up to 11 (a free playboook)

Nobody said transforming your business to serve the Connected Customer would be easy.  Indeed, it is often underestimated and under-resourced.  Analyst reports repeatedly cite CXOs admitting that their modernization and transformation projects are failing to deliver expected ROI, with some projects even failing outright. But if you wish to survive, transforming to take advantage of speeds and feeds is essential.

Our clients, by contrast, almost uniformly report success in making the digital transformation, often with results that vastly exceed their expectations. What do they have in common?  They consider the interconnected influences, impacts and perspectives I have outlined in this free e-book, whose insights are gleaned from dozens of client projects over the past 10+years.

Turn Digital Channel up to 11 free offer banner

Getting Started

If your future vision for your business involves the competitive advantages of empowered people, deeper insights, greater customer loyalty, and improved efficiency, that transformation is indeed possible.  It just requires careful planning.  Having that transformation initiative fail is not an option in the eyes of your Connected Customer.  The hardest part, getting started, involves assessing your people, process and technology challenges in light of the opportunity.

I hope you find this e-book useful in planning a successful transformation.  As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

Cheers,

Ed


Dear Graduate: Social Media is Part of Your Job

June 3, 2013

Social...how?In a recent visit with a class of college seniors, I was asked rather pointedly: are there any jobs in Social Media?  Pondering this question, I had to answer it from two perspectives: the marketing agency, and the business organization.

Agency Perspective

This is the far easier perspective.  There are indeed roles that focus largely on social media.  Marketing Agency clients are either resource-strained or lack the native expertise, so they often outsource some aspects of social media communications to agencies whose mastery of branding, marketing communications, audience analytics, CRM, user experience design and social listening across various social channels and technical platforms can help the client achieve their audience goals.

Corporate Perspective

This one is by far more nuanced, but the answer is still a qualified yes.  While there not be corporate social media “jobs” per se, social media can help you perform just about any role better.  Consider the following work roles and the importance of social media savvy for each role – no matter what profession or set of duties you are considering.

The Producer’s Role

Just about every job requires you to produce a  measurable output.  That could be a product, a process step, a calculation, a recommendation, a report, etc.  As a producer, you need to master certain skills such as content development to effectively communicate your process and results.  It is useful to develop a “voice” within your team, company, or industry.  Having an authentic, trusted, competent voice builds credibility for your ideas and for communicating results.

Social media channels can help you build and amplify your voice, whether you choose to publish your ideas in a tweetstream or a  Facebook post series linking to your report.  A blog, wiki or website, a SlideShare-hosted PowerPoint presentation, or a Prezi-based rendering, or perhaps even a short video illustrating your message – all are useful tools and avenues for publishing non-proprietary reports. Learning how to tag your content so it is searchable and visible online is often an afterthought and, just as likely, not even considered.  In truth, it is now a baseline skill. Having grown up online, you know the importance of tagging and you consider it a natural part of projecting your content and your voice.  Good for you; this separates the “Navs” from the “Nav nots”.

The Analyst’s Role 

Often your job requires you to analyze information, interpret it in light of your organization’s needs and priorities, and present your interpretation in a way that is sensitive to your audience’s culture and its impact on their behavior.  Learning to monitor social media channels within your industry, profession and business community can help you develop your “antenna” – a sensitivity to audience needs, requirements and trends – that can then help you better communicate your analyses and interpretations, raise awareness, enlist support and stimulate action.

Time spent on social media channels can also help you make sense of information, intelligently filter it,  separating signal from noise and drawing more solid conclusions about the relative value of other voices and sources.

The Designer’s Role

Designers need to balance multiple roles, such as upward accountability for results as well as lateral, cross-organizational collaboration.  Use of social media technologies helps you perform these functions better.  Even simple schedule, project, chat, survey and other collaboration tools help you improve the quality and timeliness of your contribution to results.  Enterprise software tools may often include intra-organizational social features, such as chat and wiki.

Crowdsourcing your ideas invites a broad array of new ideas and inputs, and helps validate a concrete course of action.  Since it is widely accepted that at any given point in time the smartest people on any subject probably do not work with you or for you, consider crowdsourcing!  Invite others’ input, learn to mediate and moderate among various idea directions, and you can achieve far better results, and possibly even avoid costly mistakes.

The Dispatcher’s Role

Sending information is a standard function in most jobs.  Social media tools give you practice at building an audience, understanding communications and cultural dynamics, and packaging your communications in ways that are socially acceptable and more clearly understood.

The Leader’s Role

The effective leader shepherds activity toward productive outcomes.  Building omni-directional communication skills within channels, and cultivating a multi-channel audience, helps the organization leader communicate more effectively, support collaboration and achieve communication goals.

So, dear Graduate, think not just about a social media job; think about how social media helps you do just about any job better.  Can you think of a way it has worked, or could work, for you?   What tools are you finding effective?  I deliberately didn’t name many here.  Love to hear your comments!


Content and Event Marketing that Fills the Room

January 18, 2013

It’s all about the Value Exchange

In 2012 I co-developed and produced the North by North Shore (#NXNS) digital media event series, and proved a few content marketing concepts along the way.  Starting from zero in April, the program attracted a capacity, on-target audience in June – just 90 days – and attained an over 90% program satisfaction index, based on survey responses.   We repeated the event in September, with a few audience driven improvements, and again achieved that result.  Another success indicator: two-thirds of all event attendees paid less than full price to attend, driven by an assortment of social promotional programs that let each attendee run their own “friends and family” plan.  Anyone who says you can’t prove the ROI of social media…well, have them call.

How did I target various micro-audiences to get these results?  We could talk about the usual suspects like speakers, topics and location, but, speaking more broadly, I attribute the success of NXNS to the use of Choice Architecture and a Value Exchange framework  in guiding program and content development.  Now with two successful events in tow, we continue to engage our audiences to tune the program further to better address their challenges and learning needs:

  • SBO – small business owner
  • PRO – career professional, practitioner, specialist or solo-preneur
  • MSO – marketing services organization or consulting firm
  • CXO – senior executive

Understanding Motivation

We Content Marketers talk a lot about the buyer’s decision journey, the buyer persona, landing page optimization, and the like.  All of this seems to assume we are adept at understanding motivation and that we use this knowledge when we develop content. Frankly, considering the repeated high demand for relevant content, I thought it would be nice just to ask the question:  how good are you at building motivation into content?  Often a simple “buy” button just doesn’t cut it.   We’ve all felt a bit pushed at times by out-of-synch content.  Here’s how to fix it.

The Value Exchange Continuum

Value Exchange Continuum

The Value Exchange Continuum

I created this graphic to help decide what type of voice to use to appeal to different target audiences.  Executives, for example, act, think and decide differently than other audiences.  If you’ve developed a buyer persona or two to help you think about the frame of reference your micro-audiences are using when they encounter your content, then you are probably somewhat familiar with these concepts.

 Keeping it Real

It’s helpful from time to time to ask: What do you want?  What do you seek? What does any of us want out of life?  If you think those questions are unnecessarily broad or existential, consider this:  Neuromarketing experts suggest that up to 90% of decisions are made unconsciously, guided by our value frameworks.

This is a job for the Choice Architect, the User Experience (UX) practitioner.  These are great people to have on your team when you are designing a website, a sign, an event, a white paper, a presentation, or just about any type of audience-focused content.

Next up (You In?)

If you like the NXNS concept and want to participate, by all means use the handy links at the NXNS site to get started as a speaker, sponsor, media partner, attendee or content contributor.  Let me know some specific event or other opportunity you might have in mind.  And if you are interested in Sustainability topics, consider attending the Sustainable Network Summit, another new event series I am co-producing.

Your Take

Do you have a content development framework that guides your content creation?  Do you have an experienced Editor on your team who is tasked with hewing to a particular point of view or tone of voice that personifies your brand?   Love to hear your stories.  If you’d like to have this case study presented to your audience, contact us.

Cheers,

Ed


Forget B2B and B2C; Hello, E2E

December 21, 2012

(Tune your Software Layer)

Forget B2B. Forget B2C. Embrace E2E: Everyone to Everyone.  Business and consumers alike are voting with their wallets and making mobile, tablet and personal 2-in-1 devices the “first screen” – relegating laptops, desktop PCs and wall-mounted flat screen TVs to “second screen” status.  They are messaging one another.  And they are talking about you. Are you listening?  Hello?

A few organizations have adopted the playbook to address this shift.   It seems, however, that most are not even thinking about the user-centric, user-generated, user-driven, mobile-first, E2E experience.  That makes it a huge opportunity, if you set your mind to it.

Aaron Shapiro, blogging for the Harvard Business Review, cited the “Software Layer” as an area of focus for optimizing this E2E User experience, no matter what business you are in.  I have incorporated some of his thoughts into the following 20-page storybook.  It’s a quick read (lots of pictures), and it outlines a framework for how Users interact with your Business through a Software Layer. Enjoy!

Who Uses You cover shot

Enjoy the brief SlideShare preso

I hope you find it useful in framing your thoughts on how to compete and excel.

Suffice to say, the race is on, and competing is not optional.

Make this the year you embrace the Software Layer of your business to drive User engagement, new opportunity, and new levels of success.

How is your organization adapting to the “Everyone to Everyone” world?   Love to hear your stories.

Cheers, Ed

@fanfoundry


8 Facebook #FAILS We Can Do Without

June 5, 2012

Is Facebook doomed?

Facebook #FAIL fanfoundry icon

The bloom is off.  Aside from FB’s business results, such as their abysmal financials and their ads’ anemic, low-end response rates, there are some basic usability issues I have found.  Neither I, nor my post-teen children, nor the new teeners, can figure out why these issues persist and, frankly, we can do without them. Maybe some of these things can be fixed within the platform, but many of the issues are user/behavior based.

1. Zero Privacy – Bill Joy said it over 20 years ago: you have zero privacy, get over it. What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube.  If you don’t want people to know something, don’t say it, don’t video it, don’t post it, don’t comment.

2.  Snooping Parents – at any age, there are just certain things you don’t even tell the fam.

3. Peer Pressure – How many times lately have you clicked the Like button based on guilt, pity, sarcasm, or some promise of reward?  What, then, is the value of a “like”, once we’ve polluted the Likestream with insincerity?

4.  Tasteless junk – sometimes I just don’t want to know about others’ nasty habits. And not everyone has the same sense of humor.  Xenophobia runs rampant.  Look it up.

5.  Career suicide – Hiring and prescreening include Facebook reviews. ‘Nuf said.

6.  Filter failure – This is arguably an umbrella issue in that it touches upon some of the other #fails listed here.  And, yet, it is separate: You can’t selectively filter your friends’ feeds.  Not everything in your friend feeds is relevant or even interesting, and it can’t be filtered to show only what’s interesting to you.

7.  Plummeting cool factor – All of the above factors feed a sense of disillusionment. Or is it just me?

8.  Alternatives – Tumbler, Instagram and Twitter are just as capable of perfoming the essentials.  Tomorrow: who knows?

I’ve only listed 8.  I’m sure there are a couple more.   Chime in!

Other Resources

“Are Teenagers Beginning to Prefer Twitter Over Facebook?”  (Mashable)

“Guess What’s Hot with Teens?  Tumblr, Not Facebook” (Huffington Post)


QR Codes: Best. Practice. Ever.

January 12, 2012

QR Codes work well, except when they don’t –  but they can!  Following my New Year’s Resolution to stop doing dumb things (wish me luck), and coming on the heels of multiple successes in which QR codes have helped my clients win new customers, I offer herewith my take on the value of QR codes.

What’s Cool QR code fanfoundry icon

I love QR Codes and all 2-dimensional (“2D”) codes for two reasons.   First, they help to combine the best of the physical world with the best of the digital world.  Second, they make life easier by eliminating the need to memorize, type, or otherwise manually translate a URL in order to render content digitally.  The highest use of 2D codes is to bridge an excellent real world experience to an excellent online experience.

As of this writing, however, we are in a place where their use is not widespread, so be aware of situations in which your printed content and your online content probably should not substitute and, rather, might need to be a bit redundant.   Each version must still stand on its own, since the vast majority of people are not yet acclimated.

Marketers love QR codes because they make interaction with the physical world clickable and, therefore, measurable.  I get to do more of what I love, too: obsess about large CRM data sets, mining and combining it to detect the faint signals of user behavior that will help satisfy more people.  Everybody wins!

What’s Broken – Why QR Codes Disappoint

According to Forrester Research, however, those who do click on QR codes – primarily young, affluent males – generally hate them.  This is mainly due to the bumbling mis-steps of marketers.

Firstly, QR codes are ugly – – although plenty of people have found ways to fix that (read on).

Secondly, many people are confused about how to scan them.  This is exacerbated by the walled gardens created by competing companies.  Microsoft (just one example) has its own unique 2D code technology, which requires its own unique reader app.  How lovely.

Third: the various free downloadable apps required to read QR codes don’t all function the same way.

Last and worst: user disappointment.  Simply being redirected to the same byzantine website available via large screen device is uninspiring, to say the least.  People typically avoid browsing websites on a small phone screen, so why use a QR code to force them?  Effective QR codes don’t link to ordinary websites.  Instead, they link to an instantly satisfying, sharable experience – on a par with music, photos and email, or content that is uniquely useful wherever the QR code is displayed.

Try thinking of a QR code as new type of “share this” or “dig deeper” button, a way to augment enjoyment of the real world, and a delightful sharable experience.  That thinking alone should keep you out of the weeds, but to be thorough, here is a list of best practices.

How to Fix It – Turn QR Codes into a Viral Experience

Here are some basic items to consider when contemplating use of 2D and QR codes.

1. Audience awareness.  Again, most people are not acclimated.  Do the obvious: include instructions to help new users engage.  Even savvy users need to be informed on what rewards to expect.  Include a caption below the QR code explaining where it leads.  For some examples, see the last page of this QR Code usage guide I created for a print / QR code campaign promoting an iPhone app.

2. Usage patterns.  If you plan to use QR codes multiple times for multiple campaigns, treat each as its own campaign – complete with strategy, goals, success measures, etc. Then, for each instance, caption each code with the URL, app instructions, Call to Action and reward info. Set the stage for fulfillment by setting user expectations before they scan your code. See the example linked in section 1 above.

3. Size and placement.  Your 2D code must be of sufficient size, placement and proximity to be easily scanned. This excludes TV (too fleeting), subway (no wireless signal means no way to access the online content) and Billboard (too distant; depending on which reader software you use, your own pulse may cause your handheld phone/camera to shake too much to reliably scan the code).  Ideal: printed material or flat surface, within arm’s reach. Up close and personal.

4. Visual Appeal.   You can beautify a QR code, either through free experimentation, or for a price using a reputable designer.  It’s not just a nice touch, it’s also a branding opportunity, so we can expect this beautification trend to increase.  Whereas the lowly barcode has faded like a footnote into the borders of package labels, the comparatively prominent physical placement of a QR code could harm the beauty of your content or its location – a slippery slope, indeed.  Who wants a future where a physical, beautiful world is obscured by electromechanical codes?  Fine for robots, not for me.  Moral: beautifying your QR code makes it buzzworthy and increases sharing.

5. Mobile-optimized.  Create an experience that is based on portability, location, SMS, sharing, or instant fulfillment and feedback – anything but an ordinary website.  The destination content must be consumable on a mobile device and, preferably, advance the user toward fulfillment of the promise stated or implied in the printed context of the QR code.

6. Convenience.  Think: Is a 2D code the fastest, easiest and/or only way to access the content, share it, and/or fulfill some need?  If so, great; go for it.  If not, think about other ways to deliver content more effectively.  Again, an ordinary website, not mobile-optimized, is not a value-add experience and not a fulfilling one.  Please stop that.

7. Engagement.   Make it memorable.  Reward users, rather than disappoint them. Make your destination content instantly useful and satisfying.  Include share buttons so your audience can tweet, email, post and rave about the cool experience you provide.  Give users an experience that makes them feel connected, excited, curious, interested and productive.  Want viral?  Do that!

My take on QR codes: end of a fad!  They are here to stay.  QR codes and 2D codes can help you create a satisfying customer experience and, done well, convert sales.


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