Saturday, May 19, 2012

Are You Getting Through?

I have a client that makes the most delicious gourmet dessert. It is called a BOO-Yah!! and it is a unique Ice Cream Sandwich made with fresh warm soft cookies sandwiching ice cream made from a local vendor. It is not cheap and made from the most premium all natural ingredients available. The fans are pretty rabid. We have a nice social media community on Facebook and Twitter which we grew organically without any tricks or Facebook ads. 

I have explained to my client that based on the volume of fans and followers vs her sales while Social truly impacts her business, it is not driving her business. One reason is that the platforms are flawed. It is hard to get a Tweet or a Facebook Post seen.

There are simple tests to prove this. You can view stats showing how many click on a Tweet or Facebook Link. You can also do fun giveaways and see how many react.

And what I have found is that people are not seeing the Tweets and Facebook Posts in any sort of volume. I am seeing from 2-4%. Which tells me this is a platform issue. The biggest proof? What if I Tweet that I am giving away one of these to 5,000 people. 

And only 6 people respond.  Or if I do the same on Facebook and get 2 responses. This tells me that I have a platform problem vs a content problem. Because there is a reason 5,000 plus are following my client on Twitter and 3,000 on Facebook. It is because they love the product. They often wait in line for 10, 20, sometimes 45 minutes to get one. And they pay $4.75. But when we give one away on Twitter or Facebook? We get so few responses.

I see this on all Facebook Brand Pages. When Ford Mustang (Passion Brand) has 4 million fans yet can only get 10 people to post on their wall in 12 hours, and only 7,000 per day combined Likes and Comments on their posts. I have to assume it is because their posts are not being seen. 

This is going to get worse. As people grow their networks they will see less and less of the feed. Our time is valuable. If we have time to read 100 tweets per day and 50 Facebook posts per day, that will not change even as traffic in our feed grows 50% or doubles. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

GM vs Ford and the Facebook IPO debate

If you are in the marketing world the announcement that GM is canceling it's $10 million in Facebook ads just before the coming IPO was big news. And Ford it's main competitor seemed to have some tongue and cheek words on the Twitter followed by this Forbes article. They say they believe in Facebook.

Who is right? It depends on what you think Facebook is. In the Forbes article Ford clearly does not view Facebook as a paid advertising site. They look at it more for the social interactions on Brands Pages in conjunction with Paid ads and an integrated non-social media marketing effort. 

GM feels the value is in direct advertising and they aren't getting the response rates. Others also have experienced this.

I have three views on this. Because they both are right.

1] Facebook is not driving car sales. It will never drive car sales. But advertising there and having Brand pages to get feedback as mini-focus groups like Ford is using them is a worthwhile part of your marketing mix. I am ok with brands not being on Facebook,. Facebook surely doesn't give you the ability to listen off your page. So it is probably 100% likely that 95% of the chatter going on about your Brand on Facebook you will never see or hear. But that 5% that is on your page can be valuable for sure.

2] Facebook has an upcoming IPO. They are selling themselves to investors as a giant paid advertising network no different than Yahoo. Yet their ads perform worse than Yahoo's. And they aren't elegant banner ads but little Craig's List worthy Ads. And GM decided why spend money on these ads because they perform poorly. And thus place that money elsewhere with higher impact.

This is the problem with the IPO. Facebook is a Social Sharing Network it is not a Paid Advertising Network. But the revenue is in Paid. Ford finds value in the first and GM wants the second.

3] But should GM of pulled the ad spend? Depends. Facebook to their credit charges only if you get a click. If I pay for 200 clicks and it takes Facebook 1 million ad impressions to get me that who cares? That is their problem not mine. As long as I can get my 200 clicks is all I care about. So no GM should not of pulled them unless that was near and dear money they knew would have a higher return. BUT tell me GM isn't wasting half their ad spend just like Ford does? What is $10m to them?

Lastly as an investor I would be really worried that a major Brand like GM is pulling money from Facebook when they are selling themselves as a paid advertising network. The reason there is hype is because they keep booking more and more ads even while the performance in terms of click through rate being really poor. Right now everyone is testing how they work. But if they decide ads work better elsewhere their goes their revenue.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

You have to be all in or not in at all

I have written posts about how hard it is to reach people on Twitter and Facebook. And the lack of engagement (I hate the term btw I consider engagement an action taken online: Link Click, Comment, Like, Reply, ReTweet etc) due to the platforms inhibiting this. I have also blogged about how hard it is to have scale and reach on social media.

But I find immense value for the platforms as simple customer service, community building and listening tools. If you have customers who want to come and chat with you by all means why put barriers. And talking with 1% of your customers regularly is much more valuable than zero percent, and in fact can be quite profitable.

But you can't do this part time. You can't check in on Facebook once a day, add a post and leave for 24 hours. You can't respond or converse on Twitter once a day either. You will never have a community no matter how big or small. You will never keep people interested in you or looking for you if you are never there. This means content and persistence. It means having a thick skin and showing a human face for your brand.

It takes a lot of energy and effort to build an online community for your business. I created and manage one for a client and now are moving some of that burden in house. Took two years with no gimmicks but we did it. It was worth it. We have extended our reach and awareness dramatically to where now we can actual redirect some of my time to other areas of marketing to grow even bigger.

I tell clients it is worth it because you get a multitude of value back. Sales. Feedback. Engagement. Customer Loyalty. But it really needs to be done by someone who is part of your business. I would not out source the work to an agency unless there was complete buy-in and understanding of the product, brand and customers. The clients want an easy fix. Cut a check gain a community. It doesn't work that way. I also see many small businesses posting infrequently and see how little they gain. They might have a lot of fans or followers but they have no value if you don't give them anything to respond to.

You have to be all in or not at all. The good news is there is help. You can learn. It is fun. The resources often are mostly time. But if done right the return on that time can be immense.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Online Influence? Bah I Choose Real Life

Yesterday we had a discussion going about Klout on Shift Digital's Blog. I have written extensively about Klout here in the past. But I want to look at the bigger picture of influence. Some people like my friend Jason Konopinsky think Klout has a slick algorithm but that since it can be gamed it is flawed. I have views that the whole online influence idea is flawed. At least how it is being viewed.

I think finding actual experts to test products and services would be a great use for these tools. But what is being pitched it using it as a marketing force. That you can technically by pass paid media, PR/Publicity efforts and real marketing and advertising if you can find these influencers. Well this is not true. Since maybe 1% of your network will see a Tweet or a Facebook post right there you are hamstrung on those two networks. Bloggers have inherent readership numbers but not often in the millions or tens of millions a major brand needs. 

To prove my point recently Brian Solis presented a slideshare on using influence. All his case studies were for product launches.  And sorry but he might be a marketer but I am a finance/sales guy who happens to be in marketing and all his case studies he presented he had zero proof they worked. The one example of influence working was from 2008. So basically since 2008 he couldn't find one other example showing success? Just stamp FAILURE on his post and slideshare. Also please note he also lists David Armano, and two people from Microsoft who all are biased because they either need Social Influence to work and be a success (Mr. Armano) or worked on the Windows Phone release (and we all know how well that went). I exposed bias in this post.

I recently blogged that the average person now spends 12 mins a day on social media networks. If we spend so little time how much influence via social networks can anyone have. I am pretty sure 99% of those you ask will say they like to communicate with friends and family, which might include 'discovery' of things. Just think 23 hours and 48 mins a day your customers are NOT using Social Media.

I know I am always negative. I will be positive now. Though I doubt anyone needs Klout or Peer Index vs simple Google searches for this. Chobani, my good friends in the Yogurt world, are an excellent case study on using influence to grow their business. In fact they have been doing this for the 18 months I have known them. They support fitness, health, and food bloggers big and small. They aren't trying to launch a product with influence vs steadily grow their business. If you have some readership Chobani will give you a case of yogurt to give away in return for the exposure on the blog with your readers. This is part of a larger integrated marketing plan. This isn't THE MARKETING PLAN. But they know that if they just convert 5 blog readers to Chobani who buy in real life, that free case paid for itself.

See real life trumps online. Be afraid of email and texts and in person word of mouth. That is where your success will be made or destroyed. Find the people who influence others off line and you will succeed. Because we say lots of things online that we don't mean or follow through on. Audi needs eople who can afford their cars buying their cars. They don't win if they have 50mil people chatting them up online who can never afford to buy their car. Find the real life influencers.

Klout and Influence is a tool. No reason not to use them where they fit. They will never replace paid advertising or public relations or even your social media efforts. They should be used as part of your marketing efforts where they fit. And be skeptical. Do your research. Just because someone is considered an expert and has high klout maybe they aren't. Klout says I am an expert on Yogurt (true) and Glee (not true I hate Glee). So send me your yogurt to try I might comment on Twitter. Send me tickets to see Glee filmed you will be over dubbing my heckling from the audience. Good luck with that.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Don't be Snowed. Total Fans and Followers Mean Nothing

I recently blogged that people aren't engaging with Brands on Facebook. I used MTV's 100million total fans for their Facebook pages and got into their numbers. Then I saw this Forbes article linked on the Twitter.

Stop being conned by the Media, Marketers, Guru's. No one gives a flying crap about Fans or Followers. They mean nothing to your business.

The C-Suite knows this and that is why they don't care about Social. They didn't in 2010 and they do not today. Why is this? 

What is important is activity. You need to forget 800mil Facebook accounts and 450mil Twitter accounts. Next time someone says your customer is on Facebook or Twitter the fact is they are not. And if they are it is not for very long each day.

When I went to MTV's main page with 33mil fans I find over 300K in the Talking About Section. Talking about is the number each week adding up all the comments and likes to your brand page posts, plus all the times people add their own comment and those get liked on your page. This is not UNIQUE visitors! If I comment once per day then they count me as 7.

So take 300,000 and divide by 7 and you get just over 40,000 actions per day. Hey that is nice right? But MTV needs millions of unique viewers world wide since MTV is a GLOBAL BRAND. So it could be 300,000 unique people who each took one action, or it could be 10,000 hardcore people who take 4-5 actions per day on the brand page.

So that 33mil Fans? Means nothing. It is nice to have them. But you can't reach them all with your page. You can reach maybe 0.5-1% a day in terms of them seeing your posts and comments. Not bad. That is 150k to 300k impressions. But not driving viewership or profits. 

I once blogged about starting with your goal and working backwards. Imagine the CEO of MTV coming to you and saying 'I want to have 10,000 to 40,000 actions per day on our page. How many fans do we need for that?' and you respond '33 million'.

You need to stop including gross numbers and start looking at 'how many are you really reaching'. 

Stop saying total accounts and think how many are actually using this network right now when I want to reach an existing or potential customer. 

You need to stop thinking you reach all your fans and start thinking is having X number engaging with me a big enough pay off vs my effort which could be focused elsewhere.