Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

What Could Kill Google and Facebook

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Imagine that you walk into a restaurant and there’s no one there to take your order. You can’t even find anyone working in the place. Or you are waited on and place your order, but have to repeat it to three different people, because the servers won’t talk to each other. Or you’re told shortly after placing your order that you’ll need to choose a different item, because the menu has changed in the last five minutes. Twice.

Lousy Service Could Kill FacebookYou’d probably rip the place on every review site you can think of and then never return to that establishment. Yet we tolerate exactly that type of behavior from leading search and social media sites every day, and even reward them with growing traffic and more of our precious time. Why?

A potential Google killer, Facebook killer or even Twitter killer may not do it with superior technology, but simply with a better user experience.

Facebook

One of the biggest complaints about Facebook is of course its constantly changing interface, and its convoluted privacy settings have also repeatedly come under fire (as have changes to its privacy settings). The constant changes are a problem for brands not only due to the expense of keeping up to date, but also because the newest (Timeline) layout has reduced tab engagement.But the most appalling shortcoming of the world’s most popular social network may be how un-social it is.

Granted, even with its never-ending UI changes, Facebook is easy enough to use even for technophobic grandmas. But imagine that you did have a question, or something wasn’t working quite right, and you wanted to contact Facebook for assistance. Try this: go to Facebook and see how long it takes you to find any way to contact the company: phone number, email address, even a fax number. I’ll wait. Let us know in the comments below how long it took.

Given these issues, it’s little wonder that Facebook has the lowest user satisfaction rating of all the major social media sites. And Facebook’s size may be no defense against ultimate demise; it wasn’t all that long ago the MySpace was the largest social network, and the experience of social news site Digg—once valued at $100 million but sold recently for just 5% of that—is a cautionary tale.

Google

Google not only accounts for 85% of all web searches but controls an astounding 44% of the global online advertising market. It’s the 800-pound gorilla of the web, and acts like it with increasing frequency.

The search giant has annoyed everyday users with moves like dropping popular tools (Picnik, Knol, Gears) and presenting search challenges when it sees an “excessive” volume of searches from a single IP address (yes, this was designed to thwart automated rank-checking tools—though it isn’t clear why those are a problem—but can be triggered by a much lower volume of searches; my daughter has had these thrown up while doing research for high school English papers).

Google has thumbed its nose at businesses, advertisers and SEO professionals as well through a series of recent moves like hiding a significant share of keyword data in the “not provided” category within Google Analytics, eliminating the Website Optimizer tool in AdWords, and the recent Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, which were designed to eliminate webspam but caught a lot of innocent sites in their wake.

Twitter

The leading micro-blogging tool isn’t as friendly to other web services as its cute little bluebird icon would make it appear. Last year it stopped sharing tweet data with Google (bad for the SEO results of Twitter users) and more recently the company eliminated the ability to automatically share tweets on LinkedIn. And after six years, the platform still doesn’t offer simple and obvious functions like the ability to download one’s followers and tweet history.

These web giants are assuming we’re so addicted to their services that we won’t quit or go elsewhere, no matter what they do, change, or eliminate. But the next Google killer or Facebook killer may very well not be a better search engine or social network, but simply one that treats its users with respect. And listens.

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Eloqua, TopRank, Demandbase and More – OMS Minneapolis Wrapup

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Last week’s Online Marketing Summit in Minneapolis drew an intense crowd of local agency and corporate attendees focused on learning the latest strategies for SEO and search, conversion rate optimization (CRO), QR codes, PPC, social video marketing, integrated analytics, social media measurement and more. It was three days of drinking from a firehose of expertise from an impressive lineup of speakers, but did the conference deliver the goods? Here’s a recap of a few of the key sessions and conversations from the summit.

Steve Woods, EloquaSteve Woods, Eloqua

Steve is one of the most brilliant marketing strategists I know, and co-author of a new book, Revenue Engine. Among Steve’s observations and insights from the summit:

  • • The buying process is now 1) online, 2) all about the buyer, and 3) complex (multiple stakeholders).
  • • The sales “discovery” call, where a sales rep spent an hour learning about a prospect’s issues and pains, is extinct. 78% of executives report that they are spending less time with sales reps than ever before. Research, through social media, has to fill in much of this gap.
  • • Social media killed newspapers; anyone can now publish to the world. The most important users of social media are Google and Bing, who are attempting to create “social filters” to identify the most relevant content.
  • • QR codes marry social media with traditional direct marketing.
  • • With marketing moving online, everything is measurable now. The days of not knowing which 50% of your marketing dollars you’re wasting are over.
  • • “Sales and marketing” has to be one budget, with dollars flowing back and forth based on measurable value. But few companies have sufficiently sophisticated analytics in place today to do this properly.
  • • The trick in using social media monitoring tools is not to automate “fast, shi**y answers” as Steve put it, but rather to find the right person to respond. Even in fairly large organizations, the actual number of social media mentions that really require any kind of detailed response tends to be fairly small.
  • • The best social media managers will work themselves out of their jobs by making their organizations social media proficient. Social media will ultimately be another tool, like email, but it will take some time to reach that stage.
  • • Online buyers discover information in three ways, which require three different approaches to capitalize on: active search (use SEM), passive search (use content marketing and SEO), and influence (social media).
  • • A common issue for B2B vendors: how do you sell “boring stuff” online? Don’t be boring! Find a tie between your “boring” product and something interesting and capitalize on it. For example, gaskets are boring. But they may be used in race cars, and race cars are not boring.
  • • Tap your internal subject matter experts and help them create personal brands. Answer questions and establish expertise. Don’t explicitly sell products, rather solve problems. The revenue team is no longer just sales and marketing.
  • • Facebook is better for B2B than many businesses realize (the one point of Steve’s on which I remain skeptical).
  • • Don’t try to talk to everyone; this drives people away. Buyers are open to sales conversations when 1) they are the right buyer and 2) their “digital body language” indicates they are actively engaged in looking for a solution right now. Use data–intuition often leads down the wrong path.
  • • Buy his new book!

Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing

Lee presented a session on search and social media. Highlights:

  • • SEO is dead, social media is sexy? No, SEO is still not dead yet. As technology and buying processes change, SEO evolves. The top priority in SEO this year should be search and social integration, as the search engines seek to incorporate more social signals into search results.
  • • 92% of b2b buying cycles start with search. It’s not enough just to produce great content, it has to be made “findable.”
  • • Every two days, we now (collectively) create as much information as was created from the dawn of time through 2003 (according to Eric Schmidt)–5 exabytes of data.
  • • Make your customer service content searchable, and extend the customer relationship to build loyalty and recommendations. Google does a good job of this with the help information for their various tools.
  • • To scale content creation, use of a mix of original content and content curation–select the good stuff and add value to it.
  • • To optimize time spend on social networking, allocate about 15 minutes per day per network, with perhaps a bit more time spent on the 2-3 most important sites.
  • • Use Knowem.com to claim your (and your company’s) profile across social networks; you don’t have to be active on all of them (only the ones where your customers and prospects are).
  • • Use keyword research to coordinate content creation, SEO and social media efforts.
  • • SEMrush is a valuable tool for analyzing your competition in SEO and SEM, search traffic, and keywords that work today.
  • • Use knowledge gleaned from analytics to scale up what works and kill what doesn’t.

Angie SchottmullerAngie Schottmuller

Angie did a phenomenal job of communicating a highly visual topic largely without the use of visuals, thanks to technical glitches with the hotel’s equipment.

  • • When evaluating 2D barcode readers (mobile apps), look for support for multiple barcode types as well as autoscan capability. BeeTag is her favorite.
  • • There are numerous free 2D barcode generators available online. Some also serve as management platforms, which is helpful. Delivr is a good option, particularly for local retail businesses, due to its mapping functionality.
  • • Minimize the data stored in the barcode by using a shortened URL.
  • • Brainstorm ways to add value to the user when using QR codes. Don’t just send them to your mobile site home page. Try to deliver exclusive content.
  • • When it comes to QR codes, size matters. Bigger images are better (easier to scan with a wider range of phones). 1″ x 1″ is considered a reasonable minimum, but go a bit larger than that if possible. Also, always include a URL just in case someone’s phone can’t read your barcode.
  • • Tell users what will happen when they scan! It’s okay to “tease” a little, but don’t try to be too mysterious; that will reduce scan rates. Make it a strong call to action.
  • • Link to a smartphone-friendly destination (e.g. NOT just to a standard web page or to a high-definition video). Ideally, apps should take advantage of smartphone features.
  • • B2C use of QR codes is about selling, B2B use is about branding: provide the visitor with some kind of value (e.g. tracking a shipment) or send to a (low resolution) video, for example.

Jennifer KaneJennifer Kane, Kane Consulting

Jennifer braved a displaced neck disc (ouch!) and tag-teamed with Kary Delaria to deliver an excellent presentation on tools for measuring online media effectiveness. I have to say, I expected Jennifer to be smart (which she certainly is) but wasn’t expecting her to be funny, especially given the neck issue. But her presentation was the best of the day at combing humor with valuable information.

  • • Start with what you think social media success looks like. Measurements must have meaning, or else they are just data.
  • • To define the “return” on your social media efforts, ask people to do specific things (e.g. visit a link, download a report)–then measure how many people do it.
  • • The “big three” KPIs for social media success are 1) increase brand awareness, 2) drive sales, and 3) build brand loyalty.
  • • Basic metrics include reach (who reads your content and where), sentiment and conversion. When looking at sentiment in social media monitoring tools, always double check the results. To use Jennifer’s example, if someone writes that your product “kicks ass,” that is likely a positive, though many social media monitoring tools will tag this as a negative sentiment because “getting your ass kicked is generally a bad thing.”
  • • It takes 10,000 brand mentions at a minimum to get statistically relevant sentiment tracking from a social media monitoring tool.
  • • Social media ROI can’t be measured directly. But you can measure “tons of stuff” and find correlations. And correlations are good data.
  • • The best social monitoring tools are “Excel and your own eyes.” Don’t overlook the value of native searches on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Technorati.
  • • Tools like Klout and PeerIndex are good for measuring your “cool factor” but not really business results or the quality of your content or interactions. They can be gamed. However, when paired with other data, results from these tools can be interesting.
  • • Tools such as TwentyFeet, Trackur and Unilyzer don’t provide competitor data but are useful for showing all of your data in one place on a single dashboard.
  • • HootSuite rocks.
  • • Even the best paid tools only find, on average, about 65% of your global brand mentions.

Greg Ott of DemandbaseGreg Ott, Demandbase

Greg presented on conversion rate optimization. Much of his presentation reflected, indirectly, the capabilities of the Demandbase tool. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it’s a pretty cool product, though it is in my view grossly overpriced at $2,500 per month. I think there could be a huge marketing opportunity for the product in the $500-1,000 per month price range.

  • • All marketing is now online marketing. Online sources provide 50% of all B2B leads now (sounds low to me) and that figure is projected to rise to 70% within two years.
  • • Most b2b websites are still static and one-dimensional. Companies spend 9X as much on attracting visitors to their websites as they do on converting those visitors once they arrive.
  • • Most websites are “leaky buckets.” They lose half of all visitors at each additional click.
  • • Key is to determine who the visitor is as quickly as possible, then serve up relevant content and offers.
  • • Think about visitors in terms of company size and industry, then optimize forms and offers for each.
  • • To optimize conversions, keep forms as short as possible and test everything: content, offers, specific calls to action, etc.

Kim Albee of Genoo - Marketing Automation SoftwareKim Albee, Genoo

Kim Albee is the fascinating, high energy leader of Genoo, a marketing automation system for small to midsize companies. Though both Genoo and Eloqua provide marketing automation software, they fit at opposite ends of the market in terms of company size, so they rarely compete. Genoo is more similar to something like ePROneur; both offer hosting, robust CMS capabilities and forms builders. Genoo is stronger in marketing email automation and suitable for smaller companies with reasonably sophisticated internal marketing capabilities. ePROneur on the other hand includes an integrated CRM application is ideal for sales-focused companies who outsource more of their marketing functions.

A few notes from our between-sessions conversation as well as the end-of-day panel session in which Kim participated (along with Greg Ott, Maria Lettman – Director of Social Media at Cargill, and others).

  • • Employees need to understand the “rules of the game” for business social media participation; everything from etiquette and strategy to simple things like not including “#in” when posting something in LinkedIn.
  • • Lots of agencies offer social media marketing services, but companies are having a hard time right now finding agencies with the bandwidth to do the work.
  • • Data is important–but it won’t help you to be creative or “think outside the box.”
  • • In social media, be a voice not an echo. Add value when you pass along information from others.
  • • LinkedIn profiles should reflect personality; they should like they are written by individuals, not by the marketing department (though they should all contain some important keywords for consistency).
  • • Infuse personality into social media efforts; don’t be afraid to “pi** people off.” Hmm, be careful with that one.
  • • Balance value added vs. selling: help buyers solve problems or think about how to solve them. Share relevant content, even (or particularly) content that isn’t your own. Be interesting!

Got anything to add?

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List of Brand-Side Corporate Social Strategists: Twitter Edition

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Jeremiah Owyang recently published a fantastic List of Corporate Social Strategists for 2011 (Buyer/Brand Side), an impressive compilation of  individuals either holding the title or performing the role of corporate social strategist, defined by Jeremiah as “the business decision maker for social media programs – who provides leadership, roadmap definition, and governance; and directly influences the spending on technology vendors and service agencies.”

It’s an outstanding list, categorized by industry including Automotive, Chemicals, Electronics, Telecommunications, and a dozen other sectors, but all of the names were linked to the individuals’ LinkedIn profiles—no Twitter links! You can follow Marshall Kirkpatrick’s entire Social Strategists list, based on Jeremiah’s list, here, but what if you want to get a bit more granular and be a bit more selective in your following?

Here you go. This list is a tad shorter than Jeremiah’s original as some of these strategists appeared not to have Twitter accounts (an odd omission for a “Corporate Social Strategist,” or possibly just inadequate searching on my part) and includes only the Twitter accounts I could fairly confidently match up with these names, that tweeted in English, and that did not use “protected tweets.” (If your title includes “social media,” why on earth would you have a Twitter account but protect your tweets? Serious disconnect there.)

Followers range from less than 10 (no, that’s not a typo) to more than 10,000. It is somewhat surprising how many have only a few hundred followers, despite being social media managers, practitioners and strategists at large corporations. Not that number of followers means everything, of course, and those few hundred followers may be really highly engaged. It’s also possible there may be errors in my list; please let me know in the comments or through my Twitter if you find any, and I will correct them. Anyway, on to the list!

List of Corporate Social Strategists for 2011

Airline

• Morgan Johnston – Manager Corporate Communication at JetBlue Airways

• Bowen Payson – Manager of Online and Digital Marketing at Virgin America

Automotive

• Kim Snedaker – Social Media Manager at AAA Mid-Atlantic

• Christopher Barger – Director, Global Social Media at General Motors

• Scott Monty – Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager at Ford Motor Company

Business Services

• Matt Anchin – Senior Vice President, Digital Communications at The Nielsen Company

• Collin Douma – Vice President Social Media at Proximity Worldwide (CAN)

• Debbie Curtis-Magley – Public Relations Manager at UPS

• Aneta Hall – Social Media Marketer at Pitney Bowes

• Jaimee Clements – Senior Online Product Manager, eBusiness at AAA NCNU

• Kenny Lauer – Vice President, Digital Experience at George P Johnson

• Rick Mans – Social Media Strategist, Capgemini

• Jodi Gersh – Manager, Social Media, Gannett

• Stephanie Gaspary – Director, Social Strategy and Creative Services, CareerBuilder.com

• Niall Cook – Worldwide Director of Marketing Technology at Hill & Knowlton

• Yianni Garcia – Digital Marketing & Community Manager, The McGraw-Hill Companies

Chemicals

• Kristina Bobrowski – Social Media Manager, Dow Corning

• Alison Buckley – Social Media Manager, Dow Corning

Consumer Product Goods

• Matt Ceniceros – Director, Global Media Relations at Applied Materials

• Philippe Borremans – Chief Social Media Officer at Van Marcke Group

• Jordan Williams – Manager of Digital Engagement at REI

• Bonin Bough – Global Director of Digital and Social Media at PepsiCo

• Michael Donnelly – Group Director, Worldwide Interactive Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company

• Jennifer Cisney – Chief Blogger and Social Media Manager at Eastman Kodak

• Jim Deitzel Sr. eMarketing Manager at Newell Rubbermaid

• Bert DuMars – Vice President E-Business & Interactive Marketing at Newell Rubbermaid

• Marisa Thalberg – VP, Global Digital Marketing at The Estee Lauder

• Gareth Hornberger, Digital Marketing Manager at Levi Strauss & Co.

• Brian Snyder – Senior Manager, Interactive Communications and Knowledge Management at Whirlpool Corporation

• Andrew D. Nystrom – Digital Marketing Manager – Social Media, Red Bull

• Debbie Weinstein – Senior Director, Global Media, Unilever

Educational Services

• Mike Rivera -New Media Strategist, University of Denver

Electronics, Devices, Mobile

• Jussi-Pekka Erkkola – Digital Marketing Manager at Nokia

• Marcy Cohen – Sr. Manager at Sony Electronics

• Ray Haddow – Senior Manager at Nokia

• Ian Kennedy – Head of Service Innovation at Nokia

• Esteban Contreras – Social Media Manager at Samsung

• Dan Anderson – Emerging Media Manager at T-Mobile

• Christopher Baccus – Executive Director of Digital and Social Media at AT&T

• Michelle Kostya – Social Media Support Program Manager, Research in Motion

• Baldev Solanki – Manager, Self Service, Research in Motion

• Angela Losasso – Director, Social Media, Research in Motion

• Felix Leander – Senior Social Media Marketing Manager, Research In Motion

• John Pope – Senior Communications Manager, Nokia

Energy

• Maria Amezaga, Global Social Media Advisor, Shell

• Lanie James – Social Media Specialist, Chesapeake Energy

Financial Services

• Ken Hittel – Vice President, Corporate Internet Dept. at New York Life Insurance Co.

• Allan Schoenberg – Director, Corporate Communications at CME Group

• Ed Terpening – VP Social Network Marketing at Wells Fargo

• Betsy Flanagan, Social Media Strategist, Wells Fargo Bank

• Christine Morrison Roszak – Social Media Marketing Manager at Intuit

• Annalie Killian – Director Innovation, Communication, & Collaboration at AMP Ltd

• Shawn Morton – Director of Mobile, Social and Emerging Media at Nationwide Insurance

• Zena Weist – Director of Social Media at H&R Block

• Stacy Gratz – Social Media Marketing Manager at American Express

• Steve Furman – Director, Design, Customer Experience and Social Media at Discover Financial Services

• David Meiselman, Director of Digital/Web Strategy, The Hanover Insurance Group

• Jennefer Meyer – VP Social Media Strategies at BBVA Compass

• Suzanne Stull – Social Media & Brand Manager, E-Business at Discover Financial Services

• Michael Rubin – Social Media Strategist at Fifth Third Bank

• Kimberly Mahan – Director of Emerging Technologies, Genworth Financial

• Ryon Harms – Director of Social Media, Farmers Insurance

• Jim Rosenberg- Head of Social Media, The World Bank

• April Hammons – Social Media Manager at Bank of Oklahoma

• Jason Diperstein – Online Channel Coordinator at Aetna

Health and Life Sciences

• Jessica Soulliere – Social Media Communications Coordinator at University of Michigan Health System

• Ryan Squire – Social Media Program Director at The Ohio State University Medical Center

• Bob Stanke – Community Manager, Interactive Community Manager | Social Marketing Strategist at Life Time Fitness

• Shwen Gwee, Lead New Media Communications, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

• Charlie Schick, Sr Media Producer, Children’s Hospital Boston

• Lee Aase – Syndication and Social Media Manager at Mayo Clinic

• Holly Potter – VP Public Relations at Kaiser Permanente

• Vince Golla – Director, Digital Media and Syndication at Kaiser Permanente

• Erin Macartney – Public Affairs Specialist/Social Media at Palo Alto Medical Foundation

• Nick Dawson – Director of Communications & Community Engagement at Bon Secours Health System

• Jamey Shiels – Director Social Media and Digital Communications at Aurora Health Care

Hospitality, Food Service

• Vanessa Sain-Dieguez – Social Media Strategists at Hilton

• Virginia Suliman -Vice President – Websites at Hilton

• Kara Imai – Senior Director, Online Marketing at Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau

• Shannon McDowell – Director, Website Management & Communication at Hilton Worldwide

• Diana Plazas – Director, Doubletree Online Marketing at Hilton Hotels Corporation

• Scott Gulbransen, Director of Social Media & Digital Marketing at Applebee’s

• Nick Ayres – Social Marketing Manager at IHG

• Rick Wion – Director of Social Media, McDonald’s Corporation

• Eric Schechter – Social Media Manager, Carnival Cruise Lines

• Joe Curry, Social Media Manager, Global Web Communications at McDonald’s Corporation

Government, Armed Services, Education

• Christina Whitlock – Social Media Management, Supervisor at Marine Corps Recruiting

• Kevin Jones – Social Media Manager at NASA / SAIC

• Scott McIlnay – Director, Emerging Media Integration, Dept. of the Navy, Office of Information at U.S. Navy

• Paul Bove – Social Media Strategist/Web Developer at Air Force Public Affairs Agency

• Mike Boehmer – Senior Public Relations Specialist at Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services

• Sonny Gill – Online Marketing and Social Media Strategist at DeVry University

Media and Entertainment

• Brett Rudy – Director, Strategic Consulting at Epsilon

• Charles Miller Director – Digital Care/Social Media Strategy at DIRECTV, Inc.

• Michael Hall – Director of NESN.com at New England Sports Network

• Amy Worley – Vice President of Marketing at Andrews McMeel Publishing

• Robert Michael Murray – Vice President, Social Media at National Geographic Society

• Kelly Owen – Social Media Manager and Strategist at SPEED Channel, Inc., Fox Entertainment Group

• Tom Fishman – Manager, Social Media & Community at MTV Networks

• Kate Farber Gold – Social Media Director at Scripps Networks

• Ryan Osborn – Director of Social Media at NBC News

• Matthew Milner – VP, Social Media, Hearst Magazines Digital Media

• Gayle Weiswasser -Vice President, Social Media Communications, Discovery

Retail

• Winnie Hsia – Social Media Specialist at Whole Foods Market

• Tracy Benson – Digital / Interactive & Emerging Technologies at Best Buy

• Gary Koelling – Director Emerging Media Technology at Best Buy

• Vanina Delobelle – Manager, eCommerce Product Management at Sears Holdings Corporation

• Alexandra Wheeler – Digital Strategy at Starbucks Coffee Company

• Sarah Molinari – Senior Manager, Social Media, The Home Depot

• Dan Beranek – Social Business Strategy Leader, Target

• Daniel B. Honigman – Social Media Manager at Sears Holdings Corporation

Technology: Hardware, Networking, Component, Computer, Devices

• Bill Johnston, Head of Global Community at Dell

• Todd Shimizu – Director of Communities at Juniper Networks

• Len Devanna – Director Web Strategy & Operations at EMC

• Gunjan Rawal – Developer Marketing Manager, Intel AppUp dev program at Intel Corporation

• John Earnhardt – Senior Manager, Global Media Operations at Cisco Systems

• LaSandra Brill – Senior Manager, Global Social Media Marketing

• Richard Binhammer – Senior Manager at Dell

• Bill Pearson – Manager, Intel Software Network at Intel Corp

• Aaron Tersteeg – Communities Team Manager at Intel Corporation

• Bryan Rhoads – Sr. Digital Marketing Strategist at Intel Corporation

• Amy Barton – New Media Communications Manager at Intel Corporation

• Bob Duffy – Social Media Strategist at Intel Corporation

• Ken Kaplan – Broadcast and New Media Manager, Global Communications at Intel Corporation

• Adam Christensen – Social Media – IBM Corporate Headquarters at IBM

• Jeanette Gibson – Director, New Media at Cisco Systems

• Deirdre Walsh – Community and Social Media Manager at National Instruments

• Annie Rodkins, Program Manager at Intel Corporation

• Kelly Ripley Feller – Social Media Strategist, Sales & Marketing Group at Intel Corporation

• Adam Gartenberg – Program Director, Information Management Marketing and Strategy at IBM

• Todd Watson – Social Media and Search Marketing Manager, IBM Software Group at IBM

• Jamie Pappas – Manager, Social Media Strategy at EMC Corporation

• Colleen Swanger – Director, Graphics and Digital Marketing at NCR

• Tony “Frosty” Welch – Lead Social Media Strategist and Community Manager : Personal Systems Group at HP

• Amy Paquette – Sr. Manager, New Media Communications at Cisco

• Zoya Fallah – Social Media Expert, Consumer Marketing at Cisco

• Frank Days – Director, New and Social Media at Novell

• Stephanie Marx – Social Media Marketing at Cisco Systems

• Steven Lazarus, Lead Strategist, Social Media & Interactive Marketing for SOA and WebSphere Software at IBM

• Carolina Velis – Social Media Strategist at Intel

• Ekaterina Walter, Social Media Strategist at Intel

• Petra Neiger – Senior Manager, Global Social Media at Cisco

• Becky Brown – Director, Social Media Strategy at Intel Corporation

• Deanna Govoni – Social Media Marketing Manager, Cisco

• Allison Johnson, Social Media Manager, Cisco Systems

• Sharon Crost – Global Online Marketing/ Social Media Manager, Hitachi Data Systems

• Shanee Ben-Zur, Social Media Manager, NVIDIA

• Kerry Bridge Social Media Communications Manager, EMEA

• Chris Byrd – Social Media Strategist – Dell Corporate Reputation & Relations, Dell

• Cory Edwards – Director, Social Media & Corporate Reputation at Dell

Technology: Software, Internet

• Diane Davidson – Sr. Manager of Customer Success and Community Program at Cisco WebEx Technology group

• Steven Tedjamulia – Head of Social Commerce Innovation at Dell

• Alison Bolen – Editor, blogs and social content at SAS Institute

• Marty Collins – Director of Emerging Media at Microsoft

• Mark Yolton – Senior Vice President – SAP Community Network at SAP

• Brian Ellefritz – Sr. Director, Social Media Marketing at SAP

• Maria Poveromo – Director, Social Media at Adobe Systems

• Shashi Bellamkonda – Director Social Media, Network Solution

• Natalie Hanson – Senior Director, Strategic Programs & User Experience Consulting at SAP

• Lorna Li – SEO & Social Media Marketing Manager at Salesforce.com

• David Kim – Group Manager, Consumer Content Strategy at Symantec Corporation

• Fred “Fritz” Alberti – Director of Social Media at Salem Web Network

• Vishal Ganeriwala – Sr. Manager Citrix Ready Program at Citrix Systems

• Peter Parkes – Social Media Communications Lead at Skype

• Betsy Aoki – Sr. Program/Product Manager, Social Media at Microsoft Bing

• Marcus Nelson – Director of Social Media, Corporate Communications Salesforce.com

• Michael Procopio – Social Media Strategist at HP Software

• Karen Wickre – Senior Manager, Global Communications & Public Affairs at Google

• Gurmeet Dhaliwal – VP, Internet Marketing at CA Technologies (formerly Computer Associates)

• Justin Kistner – Sr. Manager Social Media Marketing at Webtrends

• Winton “Sonny” Adcock – Program Manager, Social Media & Customer Channel for Technical Support at Intel Corp

• Jamie Grenney – Sr. Director of Social Media at Salesforce.com

• Brian Kling – Social Media Manager, eService at Autodesk

• Kirsten Watson – Director, Marketing at Kinaxis

• Gail Lyon – Global Internet & Social Media Manager at Siemens Enterprise Communications (UK)

• Venson Kuchipudi – Senior Director of Social Computing Strategy, Infor

• Benjamin Gauthey – Digital Marketing Manager/Marketing Technopologist at Microsoft

• Chip Rodgers, Vice President and COO, SAP Community Network

• Diane Beaudet – Vice President, Marketing Programs and Communications, Webroot Software

• Kris Kozamchak, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications, NEC Corporation of America

• Doug Kern – Director, Corporate Communications at GXS

• Rawn Shah – Social Software Practices and Business Transformation Consultant at IBM

• Laurie G Buczek – Social Media Strategist & Platform Vision Team Manager at Intel

• Kirsten Hamstra – Social Media Manager at SAS Institute

• Rob La Gesse – Director of Customer Development, Rackspace

• Mario Sundar, Social Media Manager, LinkedIn

• Alan Belniak – Director of Social Media Marketing at PTC

• Dora Smith – Director of Global Social Media, Industry Automation, Siemens

• Robert Dell’Immagine – Director of Community at Qualys

• Adam Kranitz – Social Strategy, Segment & Product Marketing, Avid, Inc.

• Atom McCree- Digital Marketing Manager, ASG Software Solutions

• Charl Pearce -Sr. Marketing Manager, Emerging Media, US Integrated Marketing Programs, Microsoft Corp.

• Jacob Mullins – Sr. Marketing Manager, @BizSpark & Windows Phone 7, Microsoft Corp

• Claire Flanagan -Director, Social Collaboration Strategy, CSC

• Justin Levy – Senior Social Communications Manager, Citrix Online

• Tony Dunn – Social Media, Community & Web Marketing Manager, VMWare

• Nicholas Polt, Manager of Online Marketing and Social Media, MicroStrategy

Telecommunications

• Sherri Maxson – Director Interactive at US Cellular

• Keith McArthur – Senior Director of Social Media and Digital Communications at Rogers

• Bill Strawderman – Digital Marketing Lead, AT&T Business Marketing

• Trish Nettleship – Social Media Lead, AT&T Business Marketing

• Heather Thoms – Senior Communications Specialist, Tellabs

• Ronan Keane – Social Media Marketing Manager, XO Communications

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55 (of the) Best Social Media Tips, Tactics and Tools of 2010

Monday, February 7th, 2011

If 2009 was the year many marketers puzzled over, poked at and pondered incorporating social media into their marketing mix, 2010 was the year of diving in. Adoption soared. According to a HubSpot study, 71% of marketers viewed Twitter as a useful marketing tool last year, up from just 39% in 2009. Facebook added more than 200 million users last year, and Twitter more than doubled in size, adding 115 million. 85% of Inc. 500 companies now call social media “very” or “somewhat” important to their marketing or business strategy.

With that rapid adoption came a great deal of learning. Mistakes were made. Myths emerged and (some) were busted. ROI remains a contentious issue, but in at least a few areas best practices began to emerge.

Best Social Media Guides and Tips of 2010Now that social media has advanced from the “should we do it?” to the “how do we do it better?” stage, many new questions arise. How does the traditional notion of a corporate website need to change to embrace social median norms and capabilities? How should you integrate social media with other marketing tactics like email? How can you “train” your CEO to use social media productively? What’s the difference between a “like” and a “share?” Should social media be under the overall purvue of marketing or PR? What will be the “next” big issues in social media marketing?

Discover the answers to these questions and more here in 55 of the best guides to social media strategies, tactics, tools and statistics of the past year.

Social Media Tips, Tactics and Techniques

How are marketers really using social media? by iMedia Connection

Dan Neely discusses which social networking sites get the most attention from marketers (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, no surprises there), how marketers can best use social media for branding and business development, and concerns about the use of social media in brand planning. Most valuable is his dissection of the best way to use the popular social sites, YouTube and blogging in an integrated manner that capitalizes on the strengths of each platform.

How to Use Your Blog to Drive Social Sales by Social Media Examiner

“The ultimate goal for many businesses is profit, not engagements, retweets or Facebook likes,” as Nathan Hangen points out, so he offers a four-step plan to making a blog into an effective, non-pushy sales tool.

The Social Media Marketing List: 45 things you should be doing but probably aren’t by Conversation Marketing

In the inimitable words of Ian Lurie, “When discussing social media marketing, lots of folks, including me, say things like ‘be authentic’ and wave our hands around. That makes you want to kick me in the coccyx, I’m sure. So, here’s a list of 45 specific things you should be doing,” including learning (at least a bit of) HTML, using bit.ly, retweeting someone else at least twice per day, and my favorite: “Don’t track ROI. You can’t track return on investment from social media. Not directly, anyway. Don’t set that expectation, and smash it anywhere it shows up. Social media marketing is about building a reputation that you can trade on to boost other marketing efforts.”

A formula for finding social media fans by iMedia Connection

Making the observation that “Every brand Facebook page or Twitter account begins with an audience of zero, unlike every medium that’s come before it where access to a given channel brought you a defined audience size and type. In the new world of owned media, you start at the beginning with nothing. The early agenda is to earn your way into a trusted relationship,” Bob Wheatley explains how to build social media marketing programs around what your audience cares about, not your corporate messaging.Make your content shareable through social media

6 Basic Questions For Social-Optimizing Your Company Website by BlueGlass

Gina Gotthilf proposes “6 questions to ask in determining if your website welcomes interaction,” such as whether or not your content is sharable, dynamic, and open to reader input.

How to Use Social Media for B2B Marketing by Inc. Magazine

J.J. McCorvey explains how to integrate targeting, monitoring, content sharing and analytics into a coordinated b2b social media marketing program.

10 Social Media Tips And Pointers For Start Ups by Simply Zesty

For those fed up with the hype and “shiny sparkly” type enthusiasm often exhibited in posts about social media, Niall Harbison provides a breath of fresh air: brutal honestly about both the benefits (you have incredible freedom, it complements other forms of marketing, helping other people really works) and the limitations (it’s not a quick win, your friends aren’t your customers, it’s easy to spend too much time there) to be mindful of in using social media for small business marketing.

Learn to leverage the social-search connection by iMedia Connection

Liza Hausman explains how feeds, traditional search and social network search can work together and steps through “four ‘musts’ of on-site social optimization” for organizations.

Which Profile Aspects Should Be Emphasized on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? by Served Fresh Media

Chris Tompkins suggests tailoring the style of your profiles in the big 3 social networks much as you’d dress differently for various types of business events.

How to: Use B2B Social Media for Lead Generation by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Adam Singer identifies situations where social media marketing doesn’t make sense (e.g. you have a tiny customer base and they are all in top-secret military installations) and what groundwork needs to be laid before embracing social media in your marketing practices, then delves into how to use content for lead generation and integrate social with other marketing activities like email.

Avoiding Social Media Disasters by the Higher-UpsSo, Your CEO Wants to Tweet! 7 Steps To Avoid Disaster by iMedia Connection

If your non-social-media-savvy CEO decides it’s time to get active, Rob Rose outlines seven steps to set up your new “engager-in-chief” so that he or she has the best chance at success, staring with understanding the “why” and easing into it and ending with making sure someone is listening and measuring activity around the CEO’s accounts.

11 Practical Business Uses for LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter by GigaOM

Aliza Sherman supplies an outstanding list of “basic ways you can use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for specific business activities. No bells, no whistles, just business.” Among them: asking questions, getting answers, building your brand, and driving targeted traffic to your website.

4 Ways to Find Legal Music for Your YouTube Videos by Mashable

In the wild days before Google acquired YouTube, users would routinely create and upload videos using any music tracks they had about. The squealing of the music industry and desire of Google to add some respectability to the video-sharing site put an end to that. In this post, Peter VanRysdam helpfully outlines four free-to-reasonably-priced sources for legal music soundtracks. You won’t get Black Eyed Peas or Nickelback, but you won’t run afoul of YouTube’s censors either.

6 social sharing best practices for driving traffic by iMedia Connection

Liza Hausman (again) explains the difference between a “like” and a “share” (and why both are important), why it’s important to enable users to easily share content beyond just the largest social networks, and how to use social sharing to build relationships.

4 experts on how to turn social media into sales by Social Media Today

J.D. Lasica share insights from Becky Brown of Intel, Michael Brito of Edelman and others on how to generate revenue through social media. The specifics are different in each case, but “listening” and “trust” are recurring themes.

Getting Started Social Media Advertising on Facebook, YouTube & LinkedIn by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Frequent “best of” contributor Lee Odden provides a great explanation of how ads work on three of the most popular social media venues, the pros and cons of each platform, and best practices for creating and targeting ads on each site.

Social Media Strategy Guides

The Difference Between Doing Social Vs. Being Social by Social Media Today

Vanessa DiMauro contends that “Most companies start doing social within their marketing and sales departments to drive traffic to their site and raise awareness about their products or services…However, being social means building competencies across the organization that encourage, support and institutionalize the use of social tools by a broad cross-section of employees and other stakeholders.” She shows how to identify and emulate organizations that are “truly social.”

For Companies: 10 Questions to ask yourself before entering social media by Mindjumpers

Jonas Klit Nielsen advises marketers and business executives to ask critical questions about objectives, targeting, internal resources, synergies with other efforts and more before embarking on a social media strategy.

Do You Want To Succeed At Soc Media Or Soc Media Marketing? by MediaPost Online Media Daily

Forrester senior analyst Augie Ray distinguishes social media marketing success (creating online buzz, having lots of Facebook fams) from true social media success (delivering on brand promises, fostering genuine, even fanatical advocates online and off).

9 Ways to Sell Social Media to the Boss by Social Media Examiner

It’s not just small businesses that question the value of social media. Ekaterina Walter quotes Doug Frisbie, Toyota National Marketing Manager, as saying, “The price of inactivity is greater than the risks of anything we’d be doing in social media.” She explores why some executives seek to avoid social media and presents nine tactics to demonstrating its value to the higher-ups.

Does social media belong in PR or marketing divisions? by iMedia Connection

Ben Cathers answers this question with an unequivocal…it depends. He demonstrates how staring with your company’s primary objectives for social media will determine how your efforts should be structured.

Top 10 Responses To Use When Dealing With Social Media Naysayers by PR at Sunrise

Andrew Worob provides an excellent, thoughtful list of responses to common social media objections such as “we don’t have the resources,” can’t justify the costs, or executives don’t believe their audience is using social media.Emily Post, Social Media Expert

5 strategies for a captivating social media conversation by iMedia Connection

Peter Platt quotes Emily Post—from 1922—to illustrate that market conversations are nothing new, it’s just that social media now amplifies and accelerates the spread of such communications. He offers five tips to help “get your brand into the social space without becoming a bore.”

The 6 Next Most Important Social Media Issues by BlogNotions

Now that social networks have global reach, account for a significant percentage of time spent online, and are increasingly being adopted as core marketing channels, Danny Flamberg says the next steps are about differentiation, quality, and accurately valuing brand advocates.

Is social media making you anti-social? by iMedia Connection

David Grossman offers six tips for building trust in social media communities, among them: be approachable and friendly, be respectful of others’ ideas and perspectives, and make sure your social media words align with your real-world company values and actions.

Why Banning Social Media Often Backfires by Mashable

Greg Ferenstein cites a range of examples and research to show that banning access to social media sites—whether in schools, companies or done by national governments—is ineffective and ofter counterproductive.

Are social media professionals unfairly constrained by organisations? by Governing People
***** 5 Stars
Craig Thomler astutely asks why many organizations that give their accountants, customer service reps, graphic designers and other employees specialized software to perform their jobs still block access to sites like Twitter and Facebook that marketers need to use to communicate with prospects, customers and industry influencers. Dilbert on Social Media Policy

The 8 Steps of B2B Social Media Marketing by EngageSciences

Richard Jones details an 8-step process of “web and social nurturing that complement and extend email centric concepts of lead nurturing to drive better lead generation.” The process starts with segmenting and targeting and ends with conversion—no suprises there—but interesting incorporates social proof, monitoring and harvesting “positive posts and tweets about your company and products and merg(ing) them with your marketing content, on multiple display units across your websites and Facebook. Use your community to help you promote your products…Customer advocacy drives sales.”

How to prepare for social media’s big shift by iMedia Connection

Philippe Guegan declares that social media is now officially “well beyond a passing marketing fad,” and therefore “marketers need to start thinking, behaving, and organizing themselves as content producers who treat engage consumers as audiences.” He outlines five key differences between the old world of advertising / paid media and the new earned media realm.Social Media Landscape - Danny Brown

How to Introduce Social Media to Your Business by Social Media Today

Writing that “too many businesses still need to wake up and realize that social media is not ‘one of these Internet fads’ that will disappear,” Danny Brown recommends clearly defining your audience, objectives and tools among the first tasks for developing a cohesive business social media strategy.

Social Media…Not as Free as it Seems? by Green Buzz Agency

Social media marketing can be very cost-effective, but Victoria Ipri reminds us that it’s not free, spelling out the multiple area of costs to consider, such as implementation (copyrighting, image rights, project management), engagement (testing time and tools), and analysis (reputation management tools and tasks).

7 Tips for Succeeding as a Social Media Strategist by Mashable

Erica Swallow reports on research from social media guru Jeremiah Owyang summarized into seven key tips for building a successful, strategic social media program including being proactive rather than reactive (“You cannot wait for the company to catch up to you. You have to go to the business units and tell them what is required to participate in your company’s social media program before they ask you for a Facebook Page.”), organizing for success, and deploying scalable social media programs (“when you take your best customers and you give them a platform and let them do the work for you, and you don’t pay them—those are scalable programs”).Social Experience Design Model by Adam Kleinberg

The 5 components of a complete social media program by iMedia Connection

Adam Kleinberg places strategic planning, customer insights and integrated programs among other components in the core of a comprehensive social media program.

The 3 Pillars of Social Media Readiness by Social Media Examiner
***** 5 Stars
Michael Brito believes that most brands “get it” when it comes to social media listening, engagement and transparency—but “there’s an underlying challenge that’s not being addressed as it should be,” the transition to becoming a social business, which is elegantly defined here.

Only Stupid Answers: What Is Social Media by MediaPost Online Media Daily

Andrew Ettinger searches for a common definition of “social media” and concludes that “Social Media lacks a singular definition—one on which we can all agree…Ultimately, each company will need to create their own Social Media taxonomy; one size does not fit all.”

Social Media Metrics and ROI

6 Key Metrics for a Social Media Measurement Dashboard [Best of SEW 2010 #4] by Search Engine Watch

Nathan Linnell says companies need a true social media measurement dashboard in order to really understand their progress toward achieving objectives in social media, and specifies six key metrics that dashboard should track.

Measuring the Impact of Social Media by Adotas

Jim Wehmann predicts that social media measurement will move from inconsistent, ad hoc measures to more sophisticated approaches as the tools and techniques mature, as happened in the early days of the web with email and website analytics.

The Maturation of Social Media ROI by Mashable

Brian Solis reports that most marketers still aren’t measuring the ROI of their social media marketing efforts even though such analysis is increasingly expected, and predicts that CMOs will increasingly attempt to tie social media marketing programs to revenue, conversions and average order value. Nevertheless, the social media ROI debate is not over.

Vital statistics for B2B marketers – The case study by Earnest
***** 5 Stars
In June 2010, Earnest produced an outstanding video about social media use in b2b marketing (highlighted in this post). A few months later, they wrote this case study about the experience, detailing their initial objectives, the production, how the video was promoted, the results, and lessons learned from the project.Social Media Conversion Rates

8 Social Media Metrics You Should Be Measuring by Social Media Examiner

Nichole Kelly details eight key social metrics that in her words, “you may not be measuring, but should be,” such as comparing conversion metrics for your social media connections vs. a control group of non-social media users, growth rate over time, retention rates and customer saves.

Get ready. Social scoring will change your life. by {grow}

Mark Schaefer cites several examples of how companies are offering perks to customers based on their social media influence, as measured in various ways such as Klout scores. He predicts, only half tongue-in-cheek, that “within a 12 to 18 months, you will be able to use new augmented reality technology to scan a room of people with your smartphone and get a numerical social rating for every person in sight.” This scenario is, as he notes, creepy—but also potentially very lucrative for businesses.

FOUND the ROI of Social Media for B2B Marketers! by Buzz Marketing for Technology

Paul Dunay believes “there is one place that delivers a strong ROI in Social Media and if you follow my advice not only will you conquer social media but you will delight your customers in the process!” And that place is…

10 ways to measure social media for business by Socialmedia.biz

Writing that “tracking a few well-chosen metrics…can contribute to the bottom line,” J.D. Lasica (again) details 10 key social media metrics that can be tied to business performance including customer engagement (e.g., number of retweets on Twitter, number of comments per blog post), brand sentiment and customer retention.

50 Ways to Measure Success in Social Media by B2C Marketing Insider

Garrett Ira recommends 50 potential metrics for measuring social media success (though, as he notes, you don’t need to use all of them), categorized into website/blog measures (e.g. average time spent per visit, bounce rate), email, Facebook, Twitter, other networks, and ROI metrics.

Social Media Tools

10 of the Best Social Media Tools for Entrepreneurs by Mashable

Barb Dybwad explains how small businesses can best capitalize on 10 free social media tools, from the obvious (Twitter, LinkedIn) to the fresh (Monitter, UserVoice).

50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence on by Focus
***** 5 Stars
Social media is about more than just the “Big 4″ sites as illustrated by this post listing a wider range of sites where a business social media presence is important, categorized into social bookmarking, professional networking, niche social media (e.g. Tweako for gadgets, Sphinn for online marketers), general social media, and job sites.

22 Social Media Marketing Management Tools by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Lee Odden serves up mini-reviews of 22 tools for multi-platform social media marketing measurement and management, including Objective Marketer, Spredfast and Sprout Social.

12 Social Media Monitoring Tools Reviewed by Six Revisions

Jason Schubring first defines some of the key terms used in social media monitoring (e.g., influence, sentiment, volume) then reviews a dozen social media monitoring tools ranging from Google Alerts and Twitter Advanced Search to more powerful offerings like HootSuite and Scout Labs.

Online Database of Social Media Policies by Social Media Governance

Need to write a social media policy but not sure where to start? Need some inspiration? Check out these 164 examples from companies and organizations that have put guidelines in place to help their employees use social media wisely and productively in the workplace.

Social Media Facts, Stats and Figures

MIT Study Suggests Social Networks Influence Behavior by MediaPost Online Media Daily

Laurie Sullivan reports on research from MIT that quantifies how social networks accelerate the spread of information and affect the behavior of members.World Map of Social Networks

10 Outstanding Social Media Infographics by NowSourcing

Brian Wallace shares a series of infographics showing information like social media use by country, the age distribution on various social networks, a timeline of social media sites, and uses for social media at various levels in the corporate hierarchy.

Riding the rising tide of social media investment by iMedia Connection

Gordon Plutsky reports on recent research showing that, of companies embracing social media for inbound marketing, 90% are doing the job internally, with an increasing number making social media management a dedicated role rather than just another task for already harried marketing staff. Almost two-thirds of responding companies are blogging and half are on YouTube, but less than 60% are measuring results.

20 Cool Social Media Infographics to Show The Power Of Sharing by DesignBeep

Twitter is adding 300,000 new users per day, and 80% of Twitter use is on mobile devices. 22% of all online time is now spent on social networks. 210 billion email messages are sent each day, which is more than the annual volume of postal mail letters in the U.S. And lots more.

Social Media Trends

Creative Destruction: Why Facebook and Twitter May be Doomed by Spin Sucks

Citing AOL, MySpace and Friendster as cautionary tales, guest author Jay Pinkert warns that Facebook and Twitter, despite their tremendous current popularity, aren’t invincible. Privacy and usability issues, among others, could damage the leaders and allow upstarts to unseat them. Jay advises marketers to keep an eye on the landscape for new entrants and test new platforms as they emerge.

Six Social Media Trends for 2011 by Harvard Business Review

David Armano, who did pretty well at predicting some key trends (such as the explosion of mobile social media use) in 2010, reveals his predictions for the coming year on issues like social media integration within enterprises, further developments in tablet and mobile computing, Google’s new social media strategy and more.

Related Post

78 (of the) Best Social Media Marketing Tips, Guides, Tools and Strategies of 2010 (So Far)

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Four Ways to Measure Social Media Marketing Results

Monday, August 9th, 2010

While there are unquestionably many ways that social media marketing results can be measured, the debate rages on as to whether it’s truly possible to quantify the ROI from these activities. Some experts contend that because social media activity is rich in metrics, you can and should be measuring ROI constantly. Others argue that social media is a tool, not an event, so applying an ROI to social media is akin to calculating the ROI of your phone, or that at this point the business risks of ignoring social media are so great that ROI is immaterial.

Social Media ROI Clarity Can Be ElusiveMeasuring the ROI of social media is challenging for several reasons, the most significant of which is the problem of “last click attribution;” just because a sale or lead “came from” Twitter or Facebook as the last click doesn’t necessarily mean that site deserves all the credit. The prospect or buyer likely had several other exposure points to your brand prior to that click (visiting your booth at a trade show, hearing someone from your company speak, seeing an ad, reading about your firm on a blog or an industry trade press article or analyst report, etc.). Assigning proper credit to each of these sources is impossible; assigning all of the credit to any one of them is inaccurate.

Still, much of what happens in social media is highly measurable, and these metrics can lead to an least indirect evaluation of the value of different media, activities, topics and tactics. Here are four areas of social media metrics worth tracking, even if they don’t provide direct ROI calculations.

Influence: a.k.a. “reach,” these are high-level measures of your brand or company’s presence in social media, such as number of Twitter followers, Facebook fans, LinkedIn group members, mentions across social media (you’ll want to pick one social media monitoring tool for this and stick with it for a while, for the sake of consistency of month-to-month comparisons). This category can also include metrics like blog visitors and RSS / email subscribers. While larger numbers are generally better, keep in mind that it’s easy to inflate a Twitter following (note all of the spammy “Internet marketers” with ridiculously large follower counts) and that in terms of generating business value, quality is more important than quantity.

Engagement: A level deeper than influence, these metrics include the number of RT’s and #followfriday recommendations you get on Twitter, posts to your company’s Facebook wall, questions answered on LinkedIn or Yahoo! Answers, comments posted on your blog, etc. Anything that measures social interaction. Again, more is generally better (spammy blog comments aside), as engagement is the “social” in social media.

Sentiment: Are the comments, posts etc. being made about your company, brand, product or service generally positive, negative or neutral? This is a very important metric to track, but accuracy can be a challenge, particularly for mid-sized companies. Small companies may have so few social mentions to track that the process can be done manually, leading to theoretically perfect accuracy. Mid-sized to large firms may rely on fee-based social media monitoring tools like Radian 6, Alterian SM2, Cision or Vocus which provide automated sentiment tracking, while global brands can use tools like Neilsen BuzzMetrics or Cymfony.

No automated sentiment tracking tool is perfect (for example, “It sucks having a cold but NyQuil is helping” may be tagged as a negative brand reference for Vicks because of the way that sentence started). Accuracy is most problematic for mid-sized firms that have too many brand mentions to track manually but can’t justify the cost of the most sophisticated tools. For large brands, the number of social media mentions is so large that errors in automated tracking tend to cancel each other out, meaning that overall sentiment analysis can be highly accurate even though individual items may be mis-flagged.

Activity: Most web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, can be used to track the number of visits, traffic quality (e.g. average time spent on site, number of pages viewed, bounce rate) and even conversion (lead or sale) sources. Again, while this information is certainly helpful, it shouldn’t be relied upon as a precise ROI measurement for several reasons, including the last-click attribution issue noted above, and the fact that some analytics packages (Google included) don’t measure social media referrals accurately; Google Analytics dramatically undercounts Twitter visits, for example.

Particularly in this tough economic environment, where every expenditure is receiving even greater than normal scrutiny, numbers matter. The C-suite expects justification for every dollar spent, including investments in social media marketing. You can’t afford to ignore what customers and other influencers are saying about your brand, but need to quantify the benefits of social media monitoring and participation, in some manner, as well. Calculating ROI with any precision is problematic, but there are still many aspects of social media which can and should be measured. These provide a picture of the benefits of specific social media tools, tactics and activities which can justify expenses and help guide activities—even without perfect cost-benefit analyses.

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