Brain Vibe

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Metrics and ROI: Bonfire of the Vanities

“Is social media effective?”

“How do you measure ROI in social marketing?”

“What KPIs do you use for social media?”

Sounds familiar, right?

Inevitably, when you see someone talk about how to measure social marketing effectiveness you have someone focusing on hits, page rank, sharing, links, and the like.  Then, another voice comes in saying that is is about the business outcome, metrics should tie to business objectives.  A third pipes in that you can’t reabigstockphoto_adjusting_the_data_1234568lly measure marketing to revenue, it’s too fuzzy.

This was evident in a post from Chris BroganMoving Needles.  He mentions several things to look at and what they indicate.  Then, someone commented that social media is a tool and that KPIs that exist today are still valid for social media.  What the needle measures never changes.

Well, everyone is right, and everyone is wrong.  It depends on what your role is in monitoring social marketing effectiveness.  Are you the direct marketer, PR person, the web manager, a program director, or a marketing executive?  The difficulty in all this is that everyone has a different way that they measure their own effectiveness.  Each is silo-ed.  In fact, many times it is the function that defines what the metric is for success rather than CMOs driving the scorecard and dashboard.

Successful measurement of social media, as with any marketing tool, is the ability to take tactical metrics, see how they link to KPIs, show how KPIs drive business outcomes, and then be able to predict how changes in strategy and tactics fuel the cycle again.  Simply showing the end result of marketing effort contribution to business outcome is great for marketing executives.  But, marketing managers, web teams, and specialists need more detail to manage the tactics that drive business outcomes.

As it pertains to social marketing, I think it is opening up things that should be measured as part of web marketing that hasn’t been looked at before.  Web marketing has always been internally focused on website hits, traffic patterns, and how visitors enter the lead funnel.  Social marketing is opening up an understanding of how word-of-mouth influences website visits and brand interaction.  So, it goes without saying that things like trackbacks, linking, conversation, and bookmarking are important to watch.  What we need to figure out is how do these new metrics fit into our dashboard framework to measure impact on desired business outcomes.  What is also important is that some of these metrics may be better to use when looking at our traditional web mediums.

So, while I agree and continually evangelize the need to have marketing executive dashboards that ensure marketing is aligned to business objectives, de-emphasizing web stats that contribute to outcomes won’t help manage effort and resources.

Related articles:

Social Media Metrics: ROI or Just Numbers

Conversational Preference in B2B Social Media

Web Metrics Don’t Cut it for Social Media

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It’s Social Marketing and You Don’t Even Know It

If you are trying to figure out how to integrate social media into your marketing mix, there are some great media properties to turn to for inspiration.

pbs1Traditional media has owned social marketing before we even coined the term social media.  If you think about it, PBS started it all.  They have shows like This Old House which engaged and educated you in home renovations and showcased products and services you could buy.

hgtv2Take this to current day and you have entire television networks dedicated to this like HGTV that have interactive sites, reality TV shows, and shows dedicated to blatant advertising in walking you through home shows or enticing you with items you must have.

oprah1Oprah through HARPO is another media outlet that has such a following through the TV program, website, and magazine that it can shape political opinion.  Audiences are active participants in the show through Skype, contributions through website outreach, and book clubs.  As Oprah brings information for women to better their lives, books are promoted, favorite things are showcased, movies are recommended, and personalities and experts are brought to rockstar status.

espn1The best example by far is the sports industry and ESPN.  Leveraging fantasy sports they have increased viewership and expanded their audience profile by engaging women through an interactive relationship that drives ad sales.

What I think other industries can learn from television networks is the primary rule of social media, relevance and engagement.  In each instance, PBS, ESPN, HGTV, and HARPO provides value to the audience then aligns advertising to the interest.  While traditional disruptive advertising still exists through commercials, the 40 or so minutes of programming per hour is still advertising and customers are engaged.  The advertising is so tightly woven with the experience, the audience is ignoring it at a conscious level but internalizing it so that what they’ve learned about products and services has shaped their purchasing patterns.

Even if specific brands aren’t provided, certain products get a huge lift in sales like commercial appliances and granite countertops did for kitchens. Secondary outlets like websites and magazines support the brand further, encouraging more participation and engagement, and provide additional avenues for advertising.  The networks are sustained through word of mouth of favorite programs and personalities.  In addition, they create word of mouth for products.  Audiences gain entertainment, advertisers gain exposure and sales.

The key for other industries that tend to leverage media outlets as opposed to owning them, is to create a similar experience for the customer.  Today, this is owned by bloggers and personal networks.  But, there is no reason why an industry like consumer packaged goods couldn’t provide micro networks.  I think the issue at times with many forays into social media of these brands is that they still approach them as ad placement tactics.  In addition, the goal of social media is not always a business objective but is, “get people to come to my fan page or follow me on Twitter”.  Also, non-related gimmics are used like points or sweepstakes to get promotional items.  Let’s take an example of a sports drink.  Instead of working on driving people to a fan page on facebook which either provides you with drink bottles, baseball caps, poor quality games, or worse, just a wall of promotion and fan one-liners, the page could help visitors to explore and discuss sports nutrition and fitness methods.  Sports groups could be available.  One for runners could have tools provided to share routes and events.

In the end, if you want people to interact with your brand, you need to give them a reason why.  On top of that, the reason to interact should also align to the reason why they are or should be interested in the brand in the first place.  Provide value in the experience, allow collaboration and personalization, relevance in the interaction, and you have a mechanism that will tighten brand affinity and add to the bottom line.

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B2B Social Network: Your Website by Customer Design

Provided by: xiete

If all you B2B marketers thought I was crazy when I wrote about giving up control of social media to sales, this one will really take you into the Twilight Zone

Imagine if instead of designing your website your customers did.

You provide the template and content.  Your customers choose what content is in the space, like a Facebook page or Google dashboard. Think about it.  Your customer enters your website today and has to drill into the content that suits them best.  If you are a solutions company, they may click into specific solutions, industry, or even your support area.

For all intents and purposes, your website today is a controlled environment not too unlike a printed brochure.  How traditional!  How boring!

If you use cookies and can track at some level who is coming to your site, maybe after the first entry you customize content based on their previous traffic and interests.  It could be as simple as the type of news alerts scroll on the main page.  You could also customize forums and discussion groups to align them with similar profiles or interests.  For something more sophisticated, you could provide a custom start page that is specific to them: articles, solutions, news, forums and discussions.  But, that is old web thinking.

Ultimately, I would love to see us be able to allow customers to design their experience.  We could provide categories of content and allow customers to drag and drop them.  We could allow them to choose the feeds they want be it offers, events, or product updates.  We could allow them access to discussions with other similar customers for support or ideas on product use.

Personalization has been the holy grail of marketing.  Social networks have provided a straw man of sorts to consider ways we can interact with customers outside of our traditional ways.  We should not be afraid to loosen our grip on our message and the view we give to our customers.  In the end, customers are already making choices on what they are interested in, how they want to interact with us, and if we provide value.  Let’s make it easier for them.

Let the customer create their experience, we could learn a lot about them and they will learn about us.

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iPhone App Review: Facebook and LinkedIn

If I’m going to preach I should probably practice.  Right?  I’ve said before I have a love affair with my iPhone and iPhone Apps.  I’m constantly downloading them, trying them out, deleting what I don’t like.  It’s a bit of an obsession.  My MacBook is my second love affair.  Oh, and yes, my husband does feel the squeeze.

My latest downloads are Facebook and LinkedIn.  I thought I’d give a review from a marketer’s perspective.  I mean, if you are going to connect through these networks, you better be able to through all venues.  Think again.


I like this app.  It may not be as robust as the online version, but has everything to keep you connected to your friends.   From a marketer’s perspective there are pros and cons.


  • Links are linkable.  You touch the post and it opens in your Safari browser.
  • You can see all postings: status, group notices, fan notice, photos, etc.
  • Delicious is available so anything that people save there is reachable.
  • Fan page messages are available


  • You can’t become a fan of a page
  • You can’t see your fan pages
  • You can see postings that people became fans but can’t go to the page
  • You can’t see groups
  • You can’t see fan pages

Sum up:  For marketers the iPhone version is going to be similar to your traditional email campaigns.  Word of Mouth marketing is still there but limitted because of access issues to groups and fan pages.  It is overall a nice iPhone app allowing users a pretty wide array of functionality.  But, for the marketer, the browser version is more robust.

Rating: 3/5 stars.  Will keep this as I think it will become better.


I’m a heavy LinkedIn user.  I love the fact that they expanded functionality to include widget apps and blogging integration.  It is extremely robust for staying in touch with contacts, participating in discussions, and creating a profile that helps other find you and see your expertise.  If only the iPhone app was so good.


  • You have all your linked in contacts available
  • Messages can be sent to contacts
  • Websites on profiles are available
  • Notifications of Group joining go out


  • This is strictly a contact database
  • No access to Group areas and discussions
  • No access to Q&A
  • No access to company pages

Sum up:  If I think about what makes Linked in powerful from a user stand point I’m dissappointed.  As a marketer, there is really no avenue to make members aware or interact with my brand.  Website lists on profiles can be useful but it is too interconnected to a contact for significant value.

Rating: 1/5 stars  I’m actually going to keep this becasue I think LinkedIn is going to improve the app.  I’m going to assume that part of the lag in functionality is that the Blackberry has more power in corporate America and as the iPhone rises in popularity and usage we’ll see more.  Lastly, LinkedIn has seemed to lag in it’s release of functionality compared to other social networks.  Keep checking in.

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