Google+ Ripples = Analytics Gold

Google+ View Ripple

Earlier today, I called Google+ “my weird friend that I don’t know why I hang out with so much, but for some reason I do.” Then, they do something like come out with Ripples that brings the spark back like a weekend away from the kids, with a bottle of wine and corresponding bottle of Cialis for the middle aged couple. I’ve made no secret of how much I think G+ changes the game, but ripples could be social media marketing and analytics gold for the troubled Marketing Manager still trying to explain the value of social connection and exponential value. ROI anyone?

Well, now you have it – ROI that is. First, Google wows you with a cool visual to show you how many times your post was shared. The arrows show who shared with whom.

Ripples Bubble Diagram

Then, you can check out the actual sharer and the content they posted along with the share. This is interesting, because you can see if people felt the same way about the content as you.

Now we’re having some fun! So, I mentioned that this was analytics gold. Well, here it comes compadres. If you see the top of the preceding picture, you’ll notice that there is a sharing timeline that shows when the bulk of the activity happened. For most of the posts I have reviewed, it was right after the post and a few hours after. However, if you have a particularly viral post that string will flow out much longer. Also, there are pie charts of influencers. I didn’t make the “influencer” category on this post, but I’ll keep sharing and posting and one day we’ll crack the code here in the Hand Raiser offices.

How do you take advantage of ripples? Well, you just click the dropdown box beside the post you want to check and click “View Ripples.” You will only see the View Ripples link on public posts and shares, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see it right away.

The benefit to the typical business is the ability see just how much action and potential views posts are garnering, for free. You can also click in to the names of the sharers to see what your influencers/customers/enjoyers of your content are like, building a profile of your social media connections.  Lastly, if your content isn’t being shared, search for ripples that are exploding so you can learn what content goes viral. It can help you decide when and what to share.

Ripples can be fun, but also very useful to a marketer. How do you use ripples? Do you think this is something that you’ll make use of when you get famous and go viral?

 

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Mobile: the Bacon of Tech

It’s no secret, I love mobile, smart, cell technology. It’s intriguing and it’s been so for years, even though the year of mobile has never truly arrived. What does that mean, anyway? What will the year of mobile look like? Has anyone ever defined it and if they have why haven’t they shared it with the rest of us? I say the smartphone has hit the grown up mark, since (as the Boy Genius Report tells us) smartphone penetration has grown from 18% in 2009 to 44% at the end of 2011.  Now that’s a big deal. Why? Because media is powered by advertising. Media loves advertising dollars to flow through for their ability to give content to the consumer, cheaply or for free. This is what keeps the masses coming back. Given that and the fact that the power and usability of mobile technology has advanced to the point where they can handle all media consumption and technical uses, mobile has become the bacon of tech.

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Controlling the Message

A New Media Manifesto

Alright, it’s not so much a manifesto as it is best practices. Manifesto just sounds so much better. The point that businesses need to control their message has been misconstrued as of late, though. On one end, some businesses haven’t resigned to the fact that their messaging is less powerful than the recommendations of others. On the other end is businesses that can answer every message and engage heavily in every forum, but forget that the internet isn’t the only place they interact with consumers. [Read more...]

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Social Media is Amway

multi-level marketing social media

multi-level marketing social mediaYes, I’m convinced of it; social media (SM) is Amway. After reading a blog post by Jay Baer (@jaybaer) last week, entitled ‘Blinded by the White,’ I’ve been mentally engrossed in a thought that – not unlike other industries – social media leaders have emerged and surprise, surprise they look alike! While I slightly disagree that social media is a good ol’ boys’ club akin to the NRA in it’s pastiness, I do feel as though there is an elitism and social strata that I’ve yet to figure out.

A good friend, and social media mafia under boss of sorts, David Murray, had a different take on Jay’s post, though. He noted that there is diversity but posed the question of whether or not SM is the new country club. I tend to be more in line with this type of thinking about SM. I don’t see the industry as closed off to minorities and women so much as I see there being an elite group of practitioners receiving the bulk of the benefit of SM – trickle down social-nomics, if you will.

I’ve had this idea for a while, but Jay’s post and Dave’s comments really helped crystallize the thought for me. There are some excellent social media practitioners from every demographic in this space. However, there are only a select few that get the benefit of what I like to call the echo chamber of SM. Given that this medium is naturally set up so that anyone can inexpensively gain scale, why is it so difficult to break through? There are likely two reasons this is true.

  1. Like Amway, the first and biggest suck up all the value and leave their followers fighting over scraps. Unless those followers can create their own sphere of influence, they’ll forever be a victim of being too low in the “down line” to effectively monetize the medium.
  2. The elite have built a network to make sure their revenue streams are interconnected and thusly less susceptible to the publics’ cyclical undulations of relevance and popularity. By them promoting each other we continue to buy all of their books, go to their conferences, pay their speaking fees and read their blogs.

Don’t misunderstand my bluntness here, either. I’m not knocking the hustle, merely pointing it out as a matter of human nature and fact. No matter how great of a post I write, why would a Chris Brogan or Amber Naslund read it, promote it or even have the time to do so?! They’re busy and I don’t offer enough value for them to take that time. I make time/benefit decisions every day in my work, and am sympathetic to the plights of busy people.

The rub, however, is in the rhetoric. It is difficult for me to see posts about engagement, sharing and community, by the leaders of the movement, but little reciprocation. Instead, I feel like I’m 10 years old again, and I can hear my Dad saying, “do as I say, not as I do” while peering authoritatively over the top rim of his glasses. The elite benefit by massive followers sharing their material, therefore building up their social influence and allowing them to capitalize – handsomely – on that influence. However, there are very few times that I have seen or felt the tug up the ladder.

Hey if I was the Steve Van Andel or Doug De Vos of SM, I wouldn’t have time for you peons either. Luckily this is not a goal of mine but I would like to see growth by some of the other smart people in SM I know. So, it would make sense to put down our sycophantic ways and begin to create new networks that support quality individuals that have simply not gotten the traction from the faction.

Who’s with me!? If so, please Tweet this and tell people how awesome I am; I hear it’s great for my social street cred. Not to mention, if you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours. No, seriously, I’m not big enough to ignore you yet.

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Direct-Response Digital: Online Video

In my last post, I started on a bit of a rant, which has led me to do some research on digital direct response ad effectiveness. That research has gotten me all fired up to do the second post in the Direct-Response Digital series – online video.  In the product life cycle of technology, one could hardly say that online video is in the growth stage. With the statistics that I’ve reviewed, I would have to say that it lies somewhere in between growth and maturity. Sites like Hulu, DailyMotion, Netflix and even YouTube continue to gain users and grow, but the heaviest users are fairly mature – sort of like a 24 year old with their head on straight.

So, what does this have to do with Direct-Response Digital you may ask?  Everything. Video represents an opportune growth area for businesses attempting to go small to be big. As Comscore put it, “getting small (and relevant) is the new big.” While economies of scale and that’s a lot of zeros ad buys dominated television, online finds relevance in hypertargeting to be more beneficial for advertisers. You might be able to target 18 year and older business travelers who watch video and use multiple screens to consume media. As comScore put it, 52% of the 39 million users in this category watched online video in the last 7 days. Do you think that it would be nice to hit this nearly 21 million person population with a call to action?

Okay, you might be saying, people online don’t want to be hit with direct response messages. This is why you started this whole quest, right? My answer: no. I started this whole quest to prove the opposite, and data shows that a certain segment of the population do want to be messaged in this way. Supposedly, there are two types of online video viewers. Population A is looking for transportation and escape. Population B is looking for information and education. Population B is the sweet spot for direct response messages. Their profile states that they want to elevate, in general. More specifically they’re (amongst other things) in action mode and more likely to take action on a relevant message, immediately. This is the part where you tap your index finger against your pursed lips as if you’re about to come up with something profound.

The statistics back this up, also. When compared to other forms of direct response ads, online video performs quite well. Direct response metrics such as click-through rate (CTR) are 0.1% for online images/display ads, while online video realizes a 0.74% CTR. These metrics were taken from reelseo.com in 2007, too! I’m guessing the growth in online video is probably followed by a correlating increase in acceptance of direct response video – especially by the information and education seekers.

Plus, you have to think of all of the other benefits of online video with a direct response call to action.

  1. More local search engine content (Great for any small business)
  2. Content for your own website/blog
  3. Useful for Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  4. Brand building (even though this is the anti-brand building series, I couldn’t resist)
  5. Post to your social media pages

Finally, cost is not nearly as prohibitive as television video production. Some businesses have gotten away with professional online video cost of $300. For $300 and a local ad buy, I would be more than willing to take the risk. In fact, be on the lookout for the Hand Raiser Marketing online video call to action. What’s that? Probably not the best idea for selling professional services? Well, I guess there go my dreams of creating a jingle and imploring you to come on down to the car lot off of exit 12 just past the Sonic! Home of the guitar playing consultant!

There you have it, the nays are drowned out by the cacophony of yeah’s for direct response online video. What’s next? I haven’t decided yet. Let me enjoy this win for the next 24 hours before I get back to work. Have any case studies of online video successes? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Direct-Response Digital

Every now and then, we hear at the Hand-Raiser Marketing offices get our dander up about something. Right now, I’m feeling like direct response has gotten a bad rap online. I’m going on a mission to either dispel or prove the theory that brand building isn’t the only type of advertising that is accepted in digital – by the average consumer. I believe this is a bunch of hippie crap but I will dive deep into the archives to see if my postulation is truth or misguided marketry.

Why do we think mobile has taken off so much? Well, because there have been spikes in purchases when direct-response ads are sent to mobile phones. When the proper display ad pops up on the webpage of the browser, clicks, learning and purchases magically appear like marketing rainbows of moments after the storm goodness. Yes, in my humble opinion, direct-response works. I’m not willing to see it mischaracterized by marketing miscreants looking to further the cause of their fluffy rhetoric or offline dinosaur-ness.

Furthermore, I have a beef with the fact that rarely do we (myself included) give the growth of digital (period) to the success of direct-response. Direct-response finds its ultimate mate in digital. The interactivity and engagement that can be coupled with a call to action can be wildly beneficial for brands. In fact, even Media Post released a blog touting that direct-response moves the needle for brands. And in a world where we’re searching for the next innovation to help digital make the huge ad spend leap that should have already happened, why wouldn’t we look to the one thing that businesses love to see…sales increases. Direct-response offers this and in a measurable way in the digital space.

Before I go to do some research, I must mention that the whole point of permission marketing is to get call to action and immediate purchase driving messages to the people that have indicated a willingness to hear that from you. Sure, building communities is great and necessary for long-term value but short term relevancy is derived from the idea that effects are to causes what “oh no she didn’t” statements are to unflattering clothing.

I like to cause things to happen. I’m like a toddler in that way – hit the pot and hear a sound. That is all. I shall return. In the meantime, if you have any research on the subject at hand, feel free to turn it over to the Hand-Raiser team for analysis.

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Facebook Fans

Facebook ValueIf you regularly check the tech blogosphere, then you’ll notice that there has been an increased focus on the value of Facebook Fans to businesses. The catalyst to much of this discussion is a report from Syncapse, entitled “Value of a Facebook Fan.” I’m intrigued by the dollar value study of a tool that should be used mainly for PR purposes, so I delved into the 18 page report and scrutinized it for you.

The fundamental question is, whether any of this information can help change behavior to increase profits or brand affinity scores through Facebook efforts. Here are my thoughts:

Product Spending
Syncapse noted that, on average, Facebook Fans spend $71.84 more than Non-Fans, annually. It is also true that the value difference is highly variant – depending on the brand – from a few thousand dollars to zero. Having a knowledge of this stat for your brand can be important in understanding purchase behavior of hand raisers in general, more than Facebook Fans in particular.

Brand Loyalty
Facebook Fans average a 28% higher likelihood to continue using brands they Fan. This is not surprising, and can probably be tied more to brand/product health than the value of a Fan. While the act of Liking, Friending, and Fanning are low impact, the effect on your News Feed (Facebook’s Real-Time updates) can be great – annoying even. Therefore, people that Fan a brand must be doing so for one of two reasons. First, they want to receive discounts and specials. Second, they want to stay informed on the happenings of your brand. Neither of those delineate much about the dollar value of that fan.

Propensity to Recommend
This I believe to be the most important online statistic when discussing brand performance and Fan valuation. Syncapse found that Fans were 41% more likely to recommend brands they “Liked” to their network than non-fans. Matched with a study from Econsultancy last July, that stated “90% of people online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users,” indicates a higher dollar value of a Fan.

When I think of my own behavior online, I realize that whenever I’m unsure of product or brand differences, I bring it to my network and almost blindly take the most popular advice from subject matter experts. Therefore, it is obvious that it is very important to build a well informed fan base, if you’re hoping to use Facebook for market penetration.

Brand Affinity
Syncapse found that 89% of Fans felt positive feelings toward the brand, compared with 49% of non-fans. This stat may explain the higher likelihood of repeat purchases and propensity to recommend. Obviously, depending on your business, this qualitative measurement can vary quite a bit but also may only indicate a predisposition to the brand due to the fact that they’ve already stated their “Like” of your brand through the simple act of becoming a fan.

I feel as though this report served to put some substantive numbers behind assumptive estimations rather than any actionable dollar value analysis. I did learn that I have an opportunity to greatly increase my evangelists, which can lead to greater sales and increased revenue. So, the most important thing to do with a Fan Page could be to increase your Fans’ knowledge about your brand so that they can become your best salespeople. Plus, they can help you become more transparent and liked (in the general sense) which means only positive in the important world of online recommendations.

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IMC: Put Together

Like any good outfit (as John Witherspoon saying, “Cooo-rdinate” in ‘Boomerang’ leaps in my head) an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Campaign should be a coordinated effort to use the variant business communication tools to further one big message. Regardless of whether or not your brown belt is your favorite, you likely don’t want to wear it with your red shirt and black shoes. That is NOT put together.  There are some actions you can take to make sure that your IMC campaign is cohesive.

First, you have to establish a big idea. The big idea encapsulates your total message in a few simple words or phrases. You should be able to use this to start your elevator pitch, but it is not necessary to have it in your communications (it is not your slogan). For instance if I run a basketball team on the verge of greatness, my big idea could be “We will work harder than ever to win a championship.” A good logo to back that up might be, “Champions work harder.” The preceding works as a big idea because it is distinctive, relevant, unifying, memorable, and can be easily translated into sales – all of the necessary elements of an effective big idea.

In-game promos could include hard hats with the team logo & slogan with the word, “win” scribed on the back. This supports the big idea with the word win, and the slogan by applying the hard hat prop. The team website could be marked with construction tape, reading “Caution: Construction Area” in the team colors. Instead of having a stats page, it could be changed to a “Performance Evaluations” page. The ideas are nearly endless on the website.

Local television promos could show the guys in overalls carrying pick axes punching time clocks under the basket with the star of the team saying, “it’s time to go to work.” Then, a cut to a montage of the team running drills and dunking could ensue. Or, maybe a bunch of hustle plays with guys hitting the deck and scrapping for the ball might also work as an ending montage.

The sales people that year would sell “office badges” instead of tickets. Corporate ticket packages could be called “offsite meeting tickets.” Finally the pitch for all this might sound something like, “This year the (Basketball Team Here) plans to show you the benefit of hard work, and the product they’ll deliver this season will be our best effort yet. Don’t miss out on a great season that will be the result of aggressive work toward our championship goal. Which ticket package can I get you?”

The direct mail campaign might visually resemble an internal company memo that looks like a prospectus that shows the stock of the company (team) based off of the increased production of effort and the call to action would ask for a “stock purchase” through the advent of buying tickets. The direct email will match this message exactly, for increased cohesiveness.

The social campaign would be a great place to get engagement and connect the team to the fans by asking for submissions of people wearing their team gear at work. Maybe the coolest pic or video gets four free tickets. The blog might work as a daily journal of how much effort and sweat equity goes into training camp. The twitter stream would have to directly engage fans by conversing with them about team updates and the fans’ jobs/careers.

Finally the stadium (or service-scape) could have the road construction barrels in the team colors in the hallways, signs that reads “Team at work,” and the large concessions stand cups could look like coffee mugs.

Now, this team has a cohesive integrated marketing communications campaign that can be applied to any other form of communication they send out also. The difficulty is in matching the big idea to every message and medium. If you do you will have a consistent message that creates a feeling that is unmistakable in its affect regardless of medium, while naturally promoting engagement around that centerpiece – kind of like a cool shirt sets the tone for the rest of the outfit.

Now go be brilliant in the creation of your IMC campaigns!

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In the Ram Zone

The following is a blog that I wrote for R. L. Polk, an automotive and trucking industry market analysis and data company, that focuses on some of the things that I’ve been talking about recently. I plan to highlight good programs that deal with social media and permission marketing along high quality marketing communication. I enjoy being able to look at people doing it right and the people at Ram Trucks are definitely doing it right. I hope you enjoy…

Usually you hear of athletes being in the zone and they say phrases like, “the goal looked like an ocean,” and “the game seemed to slow down.” Well, ever since breaking away from Dodge and becoming their own brand, Ram Trucks has been in the zone – literally and figuratively. Their aptly named blog, “The Ram Zone” represents the engagement centerpiece of the Ram Trucks Integrated Marketing Communications strategy. This along with an excellent product will surely make for brand resonance with Ram owners, and a recognized personality that is unmistakably unique to Ram Trucks alone.  They are reaching people through a variety of digital channels, experiential events, in-store promotions and partnerships.  I’m pretty impressed with what the Ram people have accomplished in a few short months. The following is what I’ve noticed.

Social Media Marketing
The main piece, as I previously mentioned, is their blog The Ram Zone. Here you can keep up with all news Ram, while registering to join the community so you can comment about the stories and connect with other Ram owners. Additionally, there is a gallery with tons of immersive  pictorial content. Most important, the blog promotes a Ram Trucks lifestyle that is decidedly tough, hard-working and showing a love for the great outdoors.

There are also easy navigation buttons to the flickr page, and Facebook Fan page where there are nearly 21,000 fans of Ram Trucks. Many of these fans have uploaded pictures and descriptions of their Ram truck, which has created a strong community. They also have a twitter feed, but there doesn’t seem to be as much engagement here. It is just a barrage of event details and tweets containing pictures of those events. They also have their own YouTube channel, with videos of Rams doing some gnarly things.

Strategic Partnerships
When developing a new brand, it is often easier to introduce your position by attaching to a more established name and/or cause to create the desired emotive affect. That is what Ram Trucks has done with Letters for Lyrics and the Zac Brown Band. They’re attempting to get to 1,000,000 letters to soldiers in war zones, while offering some great concerts and music. Dealers benefit too, because the repositories for the letters are only at Ram Trucks locations.

As the website states, the promotion works like this:

  1. Write a letter to a soldier
  2. Take it to a Ram dealer
  3. Receive the free CD

Experiential Events
Finally, Ram Trucks is taking their Motor Trend Truck of the year all over the place to compete in sled pulls, do demonstrations for on-lookers or create viral videos of Rams doing outrageous stuff. Then, to bring it all home, they post the videos and pics up on their website, flickr, YouTube, Facebook, twitter feed, write blog posts and promote lively discussion in all those places.

No matter where they have shown up, Ram Trucks have promoted their slogan…which is either “Get Some Mud on Your Tires,” or “Nothing Works Harder than a Ram.” Either one works. What do you think of the new Ram Trucks brand? Have they captured your attention with their aggressive brand messaging

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Podcasting?

Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to speak about my views on “The Value Equation” for businesses in digital marketing. I had never done a podcast before, but found that I really enjoyed being a part of it. In the podcast, on Portage Digital Media, we discussed the changes on Facebook, matching messages to an emotional connection, and the pitfalls of the “freemium” model. Central to the conversation was, “why do people pay me money for what I’m doing”?

I don’t know if this will become a regular thing, but I hope people will check it out because there is some great value interspersed with fun and jokes. David Lingholm and Jeremiah Staes of Portage are some smart guys that get it, when it comes to making money and communicating value properly.

Please check it out and tell us what you think. I truly hope you enjoy. And as always, be brilliant.

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