Looking Back at 300: Top 10 Posts on the Webbiquity Blog So Far

After 32 months (time flies when you’re having fun!) and 300 posts, here is a quick look back at the 10 most-read posts on the Webbiquity blog to date. This is an update of the looking back at 100 post in July 2010.

Again, thank you for reading the MarketingSherpa Readers Choice top b2b marketing blog for 2012. Without further ado, below are the 10 most-viewed posts on this blog to date. Some of the entries are surprising, but life and the web can be unpredictable. These are the posts that Webbiquity readers have “voted” as the best by their traffic so far.

Top 10 Posts So Far on the Webbiquity B2B Marketng Blog10. PR Monitoring and Management Tools: Which is Best? Vocus vs. Cision (November 8, 2011)

Vocus and Cision are both powerful and popular PR monitoring and management systems. Both provide PR and social media professionals with extensive capabilities for tracking and growing media coverage of their organizations or clients. So which is best?

9. How to Write an Effective Business Blog (January 8, 2010)

Helpful advice on choosing a blogging platform, authors, topics and frequency for an effective business blog. This post is starting to show its age, but the guidance is still useful to beginning bloggers.

8. 33 (of the) Best Marketing Strategy Guides and Insights of 2010 (February 14, 2011)

Sometimes it’s essential to step back from everyday marketing tactics to ask the bigger questions, like: What conceptual models are we basing our marketing assumptions and practices on, and what new models should we be thinking about? Which emerging trends do we need to keep an eye on? While you won’t find much in the way of “tips and tricks” in this post, you will find guidance on answers to these big-picture marketing questions and more here in some the best marketing strategy guides and insights of 2010. For a more up-to-date look at marketing strategy, check out the Best B2B Marketing and Sales Strategy Guides and Insights of 2011.

7. The One Effective Use of Facebook for B2B Marketing (March 9, 2010)

The intimate, informal nature of Facebook makes it the ideal venue to showcase the human side of your company, with content that may not be appropriate elsewhere. While I’d write this differently today, the post holds up pretty well considering there were “only” 350 million users on Facebook when this was published.

6. 78 (of the) Best Social Media Marketing Tips, Guides, Tools and Strategies of 2010 So Far (August 16, 2010)

More than six dozen of the best, most bookmark-able articles and blog posts about social media tactics, tools and strategies written in 2010, by leading writers like John Jantsch, Lori Dicker, Lee Odden, Lisa Barone, Jay Baer and many more. You can find a much fresher version of this type of content in the recently posted 33 (of the) Best Social Media Guides, Tips and Resources of 2012 So Far.

5. 50 (of the) Best Twitter Guides, Stats, Tips and Tools of 2010 So Far (October 5, 2010)

What are the best ways to use Twitter for business? How you can use it most effectively? Which tools are most helpful? You’ll find the answers to these questions and many more here—or check out more recent thought on the topic in Best Twitter Tips, Tools and Tactics of 2011.

4. The Nifty 50 Top Women of Twitter for 2011 (May 3, 2011)
50 of the most remarkable women on Twitter, from B2B marketers to social media experts, journalists, PR professionals, or just plain fascinating personalities. Though this list is almost timeless, The Top #Nifty50 Women in Technology on Twitter for 2012, published just last month, honors 50 remarkable women on Twitter who work for or with technology companies.

3. What’s the Best Social Media Monitoring Tool? It Depends (October 13, 2010)

The explosion of social media has led to a corresponding need for more sophisticated monitoring tools that can crawl the hundreds of social networking and bookmarking sites and millions of blogs across the globe. A rapidly proliferating collection of tools are being developed to meet the need. This post highlights nine tools at various price levels that may or may not be the best but are certainly among the most popular and capable social media monitoring tools currently available.

2. Best Email Marketing Tips, Tactics and Metrics of 2010 (February 21, 2011)

How can you use email marketing most effectively and avoid overloading your recipients with information? How can you grow the size of your email marketing list? Avoid mistakes that will cost you readers? Integrate your email and social media marketing efforts to improve results through both channels? Find the answers to those questions and others here in more than two dozen of the best email marketing guides of 2010. Or get more current email wisdom in 17 (of the) Best Email Marketing Guides of 2011.

And the number one, most viewed post of all time so far on the Webbiquity blog (imagine mental drum-roll sound here) is…

1. Best Social Media Stats, Facts and Marketing Research of 2010 (January 17, 2011)

Learn how buyers use social media, which platforms are most effective, and more here in the best social media marketing stats, facts and research of 2010. If you crave social media stats and data (clearly a popular topic), check out the much newer collection of such in 79 Remarkable Social Media Marketing Facts and Statistics for 2012.

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When Behavioral Tracking Gets Creepy

Online behavioral tracking, in theory, is beneficial to both marketers and consumers. When marketers can track a web user’s behavior (anonymously) within a website or across certain ad network properties, they can serve up ads that are aligned with the user’s apparent interests.

Creepy Behavioral Tracking

Image credit 5 to 9 Branding

For example, if you search for “camping gear,’ visit a couple of websites that sell camping gear, and read a few articles about the latest new camping products, don’t be surprised if you start seeing ads for camping equipment brands and retailers on subsequent websites you visit.

Marketers want to put their ads in front of people who display an interest in what they have to sell, and consumers (presumably) prefer to see ads relevant to their interests. And as long as the tracking is done anonymously, no one’s privacy is actually violated.

There is a problem, however, when anonymity is lost and marketers are able to learn far more about you than they need, or you want them, to know.

I recently visited a marketing interaction software vendor’s website (doesn’t matter who–I’m not out to besmirch the company, but rather look at a disturbing practice that goes well beyond a single organization) and read in disconcerting detail about what’s possible when the vendor’s product is combined with analytics, post-click marketing software, online databases, marketing automation software and social media monitoring tools.

Anyone familiar with website analytics tools understands that when you visit a website, certain bits of knowledge about you are collected: your (approximate) geographic location, browser used, device used, network (corporate or ISP), and of course your behavior (pages viewed, time spent) while on the site. But it’s all collected anonymously; Google Analytics and other website tools can’t identify you specifically.

Even when this data is paired with website visitor intelligence packages, you remain individually anonymous. The site owner knows a bit more about you (e.g., the size of the company if you’re within a corporate network, your industry, your office location) but still nothing personally identifiable.

This technology crosses the line from helpful to creepy when these online behavior elements can be traced to you as an individual, and then supplemented with other online databases and information sources.

Here’s an analogy: you attend a local business networking event, and meet John Doe. He tells you that he knows a bit about you because he’s seen you mentioned on Twitter and read your blog a few times. You’re flattered—this social media stuff works! And you have a fan.

Now, slightly different scenario: again, you attend the networking event and meet John Doe. But this time, he doesn’t just know about your blog, he knows when and where you were born, where you went to high school and college, your home address, the age and approximate market value of your home, the type of car you drive (and the fact you had some major service work performed last week), how many kids you have, how old they are, that you have a dog (aging and with a bad hip), and your entire work history.

That’s not flattering, it’s creepy. You don’t have a fan, you have a stalker.

How is this possible in the behavioral tracking realm? It can happen when you lose your anonymity by providing the most rudimentary personal information on a vendor’s website, such as entering your name and email address in order to register for a webinar or download a white paper.

Visitor tracking and marketing automation systems can now use various technologies to tag you, and from that point on, everything you do on the vendor’s website is attributed to YOU, individually. Furthermore, the vendor can now tie this behavior to personal information purchased from online database owners and scraped from social media profiles and updates.

Using this information, the vendor can display different products, offers, even prices to you. Helpful? Possibly. Creepy? Most definitely.

What to do about this is a thornier question however. Industry self-regulation would be the ideal answer in theory, but it often fails or falls short in practice.It’s tempting to call for government regulation, but as we all saw with the SOPA and PIPA debacle, the heavy hand of government often hurts or threatens the innocent in its ham-handed efforts to punish the guilty. Stopping copyright and IP theft seems like an eminently laudable goal, but the government’s approach was horrendous.

The same risk certainly applies here, though it’s probably inevitable that legislation will end up being part of the public response. Along with that, individuals need to careful about what they post online, companies need to accurately disclose their information use policies, and creative developers need to continue creating tools that enhance web user privacy.

But ultimately, companies need to more respectful of their customers. Collect reasonable information, but not everything available. What counts as “reasonable?” Ask your customers and prospects. Happily, ethical companies can do the right thing today. Unhappily, unethical or overzealous marketers are likely to bring down upon the industry government regulation that, if history is any guide, do as much harm as good in the end.

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50 (of the) Best Social Media Guides, Tips and Insights of 2011 (So Far)

Social media marketing has gone well beyond the hype stage and is now mainstream business practice. Still, questions remain: how do I use social media most effectively across the enterprise? Which social media monitoring tools should I use? What should I monitor for? How do I use my time and resources most effectively? What social media developments and trends should I be watching?

Best of 2011 - Social Media GuidesAnd of course, there’s the ongoing social media ROI debate: how do I measure this? Can social media ROI really be measured? Influential voices like Olivier Blanchard and Jacquie McCarnan present formulas and methods for ROI calculation, while Steve Goldman contends that social media ROI can’t be measured in isolation, and Jackie Cohen reports that more than a third of CMOs still have no idea whether or not social media marketing is producing any ROI.

What to do? Read on for answers to these questions and more from some of the best minds in social media in some of their best blog posts and articles of 2011 so far.

Social Media Strategy and Best Practices

9 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Location Based Services by Social Media B2B

Adam Holden-BacheThe always-insightful Adam Holden-Bache contends that location-based services like Foursquare aren’t just for consumer marketers, and supplies ideas on how B2B marketers can capitalize such as through partnerships with non-competitive local businesses, incentives and rewards, and in event marketing (“Are you seeing a lot of your contacts attending certain business events? Whether it’s a local tweet-up or a major conference, this knowledge could be useful to help you plan what events you should sponsor or where you should set up your next booth”).

Is Social Media Really Living Up to Expectations? by B2B Lead Roundtable Blog

Brian CarrollBrian Carroll talks with MECLABS Director of Research Sergio Balegno about the disconnect between social media activity and results in the B2B environment, and concludes that “marketers are expecting way too much too soon.” Social media adoption on both the buyer and vendor side is happening with incredible speed; the tools that we’ve developed to track other web marketing activities haven’t kept pace. As social media monitoring and integration with CRM systems improves, marketers will have the metrics and analytical tools to more accurately assess the value of various social media efforts and continually improve them.

The B2B Social Media Landscape: a portrait by Beyond
***** 5 STARS

John BottomJohn Bottom has crafted an amazing, creative, interactive B2B social media landscape image with links to a large group of key B2B bloggers like Mark Schaefer, Joe Pulizzi, Beth Harte and Tony Karrer.

The social media approach that nobody wants to hear by Hugo Guzman

Hugo GuzmanHugo Guzman explains the importance of listening and planning before jumping into social media (failures also noted previously here in the dirty dozen top 12 social media mistakes to avoid). He lists nine steps its imperative for companies to take in order to “build enough social karma (yes, I said karma) to facilitate things like guest posting opportunities, retweets, likes, etc.”

19 Social Media Best Practices [VIDEO] by Social Media Explorer

Mark SmiciklasMark Smiciklas presents his “infographic inspired list of 19 social media best practices” in this entertaining and creative four-minute video.


30 Ways to Use Social Media for Business People by SEOptimise

Tad ChefCiting a recent study showing that “94% of businesses actually do not use social media even for the most obvious task it’s good for: Getting feedback”–and another demonstrating that those businesses are less competitive–Tad Chef supplies a list of 30 ways businesses can use social media, among them to get feedback, get attention, debunk myths, forge relationships and build links.

5 ways to use social media to build a crowd for your event by Socialbrite

Tamara MendelsohnTamara Mendelsohn of Eventbrite details five guiding principles for promoting events, including choose the right platform, publish your event to Facebook, and “define success metrics and don’t underestimate the effort required.”


Organizing Your Social Media Strategy by CompuKol Connection

CompuKolMichael Cohn offers a helpful checklist for organizing social media efforts, from setting goals and listening to engaging your audience and selecting the right tools.

Influence in social media: how to find the top bloggers by blur Group

blur GroupThis post outlines three key measures of social media influence and three key tools to help identify the most influential bloggers in any specific topic niche.


The most underestimated social media asset by iMediaConnection

Lori LuechtefeldNoting that “the proper framework of enablement and empowerment can turn a company’s workforce into the most effective means of advancing the goals of the business through social media,” Lori Luechtefeld details IBM’s experience with transforming its business be empowering employees to actively engage as part of the company’s social media strategy.

It’s Not Your CEO’s Fault He’s a Social Media Moron by Social Media Today

Social Media CanadaGotta love this post for the title alone. Jacquie McCarnan contends that many CEOs struggle with social media because it doesn’t fit old models for clear departmentalization and measurement.


Expand Your Social Media Mix: Twitter Alone is Not Enough by Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang
***** 5 STARS

Jeremiah OwyangDeftly weaving in a dinner analogy to social media, Jeremiah Owyang compares Twitter to shish-kabob (bite-sized morsels of information) that are tasty but need to be supplemented by “steak”–infographics, Slideshare presentations, blog posts–and topped off with online video for dessert.

26 Ways to Use Social Media for Lead Generation by Social Media Examiner
***** 5 STARS

Debbie HemleyDebbie Hemley compiles another brilliant A to Z post, this one focused on using social media for lead generation. Her list of tactics begins with Assets, Branding and Compelling messages and continues all the way through Word of mouth, eXcellence, adopting a Yes attitude, and demonstrating Zeal in your social media activities and relationship building.

Social Media Tools

10 Steps to Finding the Influencers in Your Market by Junta42
***** 5 STARS

Joe PulizziThe brilliant Joe Pulizzi details 10 steps for finding and cultivating relationships with the key influencers in your market space. For each step, he identifies the overall strategy, useful tools, and helpful tips for execution.

9 Social Networks Your Business Should Be Using by Likeable Media

Cara FriedmanBeyond the obvious (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube), Cara Friedman makes the case for adding social networks like Flickr, Tumblr and Meetup to your social media marketing mix.


The Social Media Strategists Power Tools [Consumption] by NewCommBiz

Tac AndersonTac Anderson reviews seven of his favorite tools for saving time in social media consumption and management, among them TweetDeck, Twendz and Quora.

Social Media and Online Video

9 new rules for YouTube marketing by iMedia Connection

Greg JarboeGreg Jarboe lists nine helpful rules for video marketing, such as “Rule 1: YouTube marketing is the new video marketing…YouTube gets more than 86 percent of visits to 77 video sites in this country.” (Hulu, at #2, gets less than 4% of visits.) And “Rule 2: You can’t make it on YouTube alone…even with close to 2.0 billion out of the nearly 5.2 billion viewing sessions in the U.S., only 38 percent of all viewing sessions occurred at YouTube.com…45.13 percent of viewers discovered videos by going to a video site (i.e., going to YouTube and running a search or clicking around the featured or related videos). But 44.24 percent of viewers discovered videos embedded on blogs or other websites.”

Social media: Adding video to your digital marketing plan by SignOn San Diego

Erik BrattErik Bratt expounds on the popularity of video marketing (“video capability was the fastest-growing website feature for small-business advertisers in 2009, with one in five hosting website video by the end of the year”) and the different types of videos businesses can consider using, including screencasts, customer testimonials and video email.

7 Little Known Tricks That Will Get You More YouTube Views by SocialTimes

Megan O'NeillMegan O’Neill offers helpful tips for increasing exposure of your online videos, including using annotations across videos, creating playlists, and actively participating in the YouTube community.

Social Media Case Studies

The Fantabulous Lists of Social Media Case Studies by Social Media Today

Giedrius IvanauskasLooking for examples of social media success to emulate? Giedrius Ivanauskas supplies 17 lists of social media case studies such as WOMMA’s Case Study Library and 35+ Examples of Corporate Social Media in Action from Mashable.


B2B Social Media Example: GE MarkNet by Social Media B2B

Jeffrey L. CohenJeffrey L. Cohen describes how GE found success with a private social media community. In just one example of collaboration across divisions and geographic boundaries, the company saved $250,000.

Social Media Trends and Predictions

2011 Trends: Make Your Corporate Site A Social Media Hub by Business 2 Community

Sally FalkowSally Falkow predicts that social media integration with corporate websites will be a major trend in 2011 and shares Jeremiah Owyang’s model for achieving that integration.


2011 Predictions: Top 12 Reasons Businesses Will Fail at Social Media by FruitZoom

Pam MoorePam Moore outlines a dozen ways companies can fail at social media marketing, from not understanding the social media “ecosystem” for their industry or hiring the wrong consultant/agency for help to assuming social media will fix a broken business (it’s won’t–it will expose it) and having unrealistic expectations in general.

Social media: What lies ahead? by iMedia Connection

Shelley PalmerShelly Palmer predicts that Facebook will face increased competition from better tools, that smart phones will continue to advance and account for a higher share of online traffic, and more in this 11-minute video.

Are These Social Media Trends of 2011 Part of Your Strategy? by Social Media Today

Marina ArnoutMarina Arnaout outlines five key trends for social media marketers to watch and utilize, including online video, mobile and location-based services.


It is the structure of social networks that shapes influence… and the structure is changing by Trends in the Living Networks

Ross Dawson (logo)Ross Dawson delves into the concept of influence networks to explain why some tweets go viral and others don’t, noting that this is a rapidly evolving area and that research shows “professional blogs are the most influential news media in sports and the second most influential media in politics and national news, while personal blogs are the most influential in entertainment and the second most influential in technology. In general the influence of blogs tends to decay more slowly than other media.”

Social Media Policies and Regulation

10 Steps to Managing Employees on Social Media by Write Speak Sell
**** 5 STARS

Kyle-Beth HilferNoting that “Well-written (social media) policies prevent public relations disasters and potential legal liability. In addition, when done properly, they also create environments that foster productivity and loyalty among employees,” Kyle-Beth Hilfer provides an outstanding 10-step list to use as a guide in writing a social media policy.

Social Media Policy Unites Social Media Initiatives by Social Media Today

Going down the same path as Who Should Write Your Social Media Policy?, Tim McCord emphasizes the need to create a team when crafting a social media policy and selecting monitoring tools.

NLRB Says Companies Can Not Discipline Workers For Posts in Social Media by iMedia Connection

Chris BoudreauxIn news that every company needs to hear thought most likely don’t want to, Chris Boudreaux reports on a recent case wherein the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that “companies can not discipline workers who post criticisms on social-networking sites.” Chris concludes with: “This clarification by the NLRB is a big deal for a lot of companies in the United States.” Indeed it is.

Social Media and SEO

Why social media optimization is the new SEO by iMedia Connection

Noting that many people now “receive the majority of their news on Twitter or via posts on Facebook and LinkedIn before resorting to a Google search on any given topic…How many times have you seen an article posted on Facebook or Twitter that has either made you click on it, or urged you to suddenly search about the topic? It’s a fascinating process,” Dennis Franczak explains why social media optimization (SMO) is now taking center stage in online marketing and how to go about it successfully.

The Social Media Marketer’s SEO Checklist by SEOmoz

Jennifer Sable LopezJennifer Sable Lopez offers a nine-step checklist to making social media activities SEO-friendly, such as incorporating keyword research and making sure your content is easily sharable across the most popular social networks. She uses the word campaign unfortunately, but otherwise it’s a helpful post.

Why Not Be The CMO Of Everyone? by MediaPost Search Insider
***** 5 STARS

Derek GordonWriting that “every person in an enterprise is potentially an authentic, invested content producer, networker or influencer. Very often, employees in large enterprises are actively evangelizing their brands or products and no one in the home office even realizes it,” Derek Gordon advises CMOs to solicit content from the broadest possible array of contributors within an organization in order to develop more valuable, search-optimized copy.

Social Media Monitoring

20 free, awesome social media monitoring tools by Socialbrite

J.D. LasicaJ.D. Lasica reviews 20 free social media tools, categorized by function, including Wildfire, HootSuite, Plancast and Addict-o-matic.

Top 20 social media monitoring vendors for business by Socialmedia.biz

J.D. Lasica and Kim Bale review 20 powerful fee-based tools for professional social media monitoring, among them Radian6, Lithium, Alterian SM2 and Attentio. For guidance on how to evaluate these tools, check out 9 Criteria for Selecting a Social Media Monitoring Tool.

Top 10 analytics tools for social media by iMedia Connection

Adam BoydenAdam Boyden details key features and capabilities of several fee-based and free (or low cost) social media monitoring tools including Sysomos, Beevolve and ReSearch.ly.


20 Free Social Media and Brand Monitoring Tools Worth Exploring by oneforty

Pam SahotaPam Sahota provides helpful mini-reviews of 20 free social media monitoring tools worth checking out, from Twilerts and Backtype through Proxlet (which, among other features, helpfully filters out those annoying Foursquare checkin tweets) and Trendrr.

Social Media Dashboards by CompuKol Connection

Marco GiuntaRather than writing just another post about monitoring tools, Marco Giunta delves into which social media metrics are the most critical to track, and how to act on the results of this measurement.


Why You Aren’t Getting What You Need Out Of Social Media Monitoring… Yet by SocialTimes

Neil GlassmanNeil Glassman raises a number of questions to help focus social media monitoring activities (e.g.,”Does your query language mesh with your consumers’ language? Or is it industry language?”) then makes three key recommendations to help organizations really get value out of social media monitoring.

Social Media Metrics and ROI

6 Critically Undervalued Social Media Success Metrics by Convince & Convert

Jay BaerJay Baer details the half-dozen social media metrics and tools he views as the most meaningful yet undervalued, from the Klout scores of your Twitter followers (rather than just number of followers) to share of voice and inbound links.

Social media metrics: 5 things to learn in 2011 by Ragan.com

Don BartholomewWondering if “perhaps 2011 will be the year that social media measurement matures and comes of age,” Don Bartholomew details five objectives including measurement, ROI and attribution.

Social Media Strategists Look Hard at ROI this Year by eMarketer

According to research from The Altimeter Group, “when it came to social media programs, 82% of respondents reported they would be investing in brand monitoring in 2011, while 77% cited staff budgets and 78% training budgets…Creating ROI measurements tops the list of internal social strategy objectives for 2011, with 48.3% of respondents highlighting that goal.”

3 Ways social media market research can impact your business by ListenLogic

Chris KarnesNoting that “Market research is now beginning to leverage social media in a revolutionary way that provides insights and impact across the organization,” Chris Karnes explains how social media listening can be used to measure marketing campaign effectiveness, drive purchasing decisions and inspire product innovation.

6 Buckets of Social Media Measurement by Take a Peck

Jason PeckJason Peck details six “buckets” of metrics companies should use to evaluate the success of various social media initiatives, including business metrics, awareness (e.g. website traffic, searches for brand terms) and engagement (Facebook likes, blog comments, retweets, etc.).

Social Media ROI for Idiots by Social Media Today

Hmm, not to sure about the title of this post, as idiots are unlikely to get social media ROI. Or even to get social media for that matter. But regardless, Jacquie McCarnan helpfully provides several different formulas for calculating social media ROI, based on different factors such as qualified leads, employee retention, and customer engagement.

Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel by SocialSteve’s Blog
***** 5 STARS

Steve GoldnerContending that social media ROI can’t be measured in isolation, Steve Goldner recommends instead measuring its contribution to the business through key performance indicators (KPIs) including awareness, consideration, loyalty and advocacy. His brilliant “Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel” graphic makes the post worth a look in itself.

Social Media ROI business measurement by Slideshare
***** 5 STARS

Olivier BlanchardOlivier Blanchard, a.k.a. the BrandBuilder, delivers a comprehensive process for measuring social media ROI in this cleverly illustrated but very long (133 slides) online presentation.

Social Media Research, Facts and Statistics

Companies using social media are making more money, says McKinsey by The Wall

Gordon MacmillanGordon MacMillan reports on research from McKinsey showing that “companies that are starting to do it (social media marketing) well are being rewarded for their efforts (e.g., with higher operating margins and market share). More than that, it says those that fail to implement social media could be making a ‘critical mistake.'” He also shares four key steps McKinsey suggests executives should take to move their organizations forward.

85% of Inc 500 Say Social Media Will be “Very” or “Somewhat” Important to Their Marketing or Business Strategy by iMedia Connection

Chris Boudreaux cites a study concluding that nearly 9 in 10 large-company CEOs believe social media is important to their business strategies, and that “43% of CEOs say they will ‘significantly change’ their strategies in the next three years to respond to customers’ increased use of social media and mobile devices.”

STUDY: Return On Investment In Facebook Eludes CMOs by All Facebook

Jackie Cohen summarizes and comments on a recent Bazaarvoice / CMO Club showing that “Nine out of every ten Chief Marketing Officers participate in at least three forms of social media promotions, yet many don’t know whether these efforts yield a return on investment…(while) 15.4 percent have a significant return on investment and 20.6 percent have an average return…34.9 percent said they don’t know whether they have an ROI, and 8.6 percent have none.”

How much does Social Media cost companies in 2011? by MackCollier.com
***** 5 STARS

Mack CollierMack Collier very helpfully provides social media consultants, and companies looking to hire them, with pricing benchmarks for common types of projects. For example, ghostwritten blog posts cost anywhere from $50 to $500 per post, with most providers charging $100-$250.

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Social Media Success Starts with Listening

The grandmotherly maxim, “The good Lord gave you two ears but only one mouth for a reason” applies to social interactions in general, but is nowhere more critical than in social media marketing. A common mistake in social media is that companies will dive right in, setting up a Twitter account or Facebook page and blasting out tweets and status updates about their latest company news and new product announcements—and then wonder why their Twitter following isn’t growing and there’s no interaction on their Facebook page.

Social Media ListeningIt’s not just that most people aren’t waiting on eggshells in eager anticipation of XYZ Company’s latest PR announcement, it’s that the marketers and PR people at XYZ didn’t take the time to figure out what their prospective buyers and influencers do really care about and want to discuss. Without this information, the company’s social media pronouncements appear off-topic, unsolicited and out of touch.

So how exactly does a company “listen?” Whether you’re just getting a social media program started or are trying to revive a flagging effort, here’s a process that will tune your social media marketing efforts for greater success.

Find out who’s talking. Use social media monitoring tools to find the people who are talking about your company, your competitors, and key industry terms. Social Mention, Alterian’s SM2 Freemium and Google blog search are helpful free tools, and a growing number of commercial suites are available. These tools will reveal who’s talking about your topics of interest, where online they are talking, and what they’re saying.

Filter to find the influencers. Your initial searches will inevitably pick up a lot of “noise”–someone mentioning an important term, but only in an isolated, off-handed way. For example, your company may be mentioned in a tweet or status update that’s something like “Had lunch with my friend from XYZ corp yesterday.” Filter out the noise and highlight those who mention your company name, product name(s), competitors or key industry terms with some frequency. These individuals may not all be true influencers, but they are worthy of further investigation.

Follow the influencers. Just because you’ve identified influential social media users in your industry doesn’t necessarily mean you should immediately start talking. Follow them on Twitter. Subscribe to their RSS feeds in a reader. Join the same LinkedIn groups. Listen to what they are saying before jumping in.

Promote select influencers. Once you have an idea of who your true current or potential advocates may be, promote their content—whether it’s about you or just interesting industry news or commentary. Retweet them. Tag them on social bookmarking sites. Endorse them via Twitter’s follow Friday.

Contribute to the conversation. Thoughtfully and non-promotionally comment on your influencers’ blogs and/or LinkedIn discussions. Ask and answer questions. Don’t try to “sell,” but rather to establish a relationship built on the groundwork laid in the previous two steps. Share your own industry-related content. Focus on being social, and on being an industry resource.

With this foundation in place, the conversation can naturally turn a bit more commercial (though still not “hard sell”). The influencers will notice that you’ve been hanging around, saying some nice things, contributing to some interesting discussions. They may be willing to help you, as long it also enhances their image and helps their audiences. “I’m from XYZ Corp, and we sell blah blah” isn’t interesting, but “I’m from XYZ Corp, and we’ve got some ideas for simplifying network security and reducing costs” is.

Social media marketing is about earning your audience’s attention. By listening first, then contributing helpful information based on what your prospects and key influencers are discussing, you’ll be seen as an asset to the community and a valued contributor, rather than just another vendor schlepping its goods.

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20+ Cool Social Media and Web Tools

Looking for a way to monitor social media activities and results on a tight budget? Want to show the world how social you are with a cool widget on your website or blog? How about a real-time search tool to see what’s being said about your company or any topic of interest right now?  Interested in an easy way to stay current on key Google Analytics traffic stats from your desktop? Need a way to edit video and photos without the expense and overhead of a pricey editing application?

You’ll find all of this and more in this collection of tools and reviews of some of the coolest free or low-cost social media monitoring and web tools so far this year.

Cool Web Tools

SocialMention Screenshot - TomPickSocial Mention
***** 5 stars
A powerful real-time social search engine that not only displays results for a specified term or phrase, but lets you filter results by source (e.g., blogs, microblogging sites, social bookmarking, images, video), and shows associated metrics like sentiment, top keywords, top users (who’s talking about this topic most actively) and sources. You can narrow search results to a specific timeframe and sort by date or source. Social Mention also lets you set up alerts (simiar to Google Alerts) and offers a widget that can be installed on a website or blog to display the real-time buzz about your specified topic.


A social media monitoring tool that combines powerful features (e.g., historical and real-time data, sentiment analysis, platform filtering) and ease of use with a more attractive monthly price than many well-known competitors.

Social Website Analyzer

A quick and handy way to get a snapshot of the “social media rank” of any website. Metrics include traffic stats from Alexa, Compete and Quantcast; backlinks and results by search engine; backlinks and mentions on the major social news sites and more.


A cool, free blog widget that automatically displays links, along with thumbnail images, to related posts on your blog at the bottom of each blog post you publish. Visitors can rate posts and you also get click statistics. It takes a bit longer to install than they claim but isn’t terribly difficult.


A dead-simple to use Twitter monitoring dashboard; keep tabs on tweets for three phrases, hash tags or Twitter handles. Monitoring can be filtered by location as well.

Collecta (no longer active)

A real-time search engine that displays results from blog posts, articles, blog comments, microblogging sites (e.g., Twitter) and social content sharing sites.


An online video editor than enables you to mix videos footage, images and soundtracks and add effects to create standard or high-definition online videos. Your first video is free. After that, their standard pricing model is designed for high-volume production but plans are available for less frequent use as well.

Polaris (no longer active)

***** 5 Stars
Want a quick snapshot of how your website—or any number of websites you track through Google Analytics—is performing? Now there’s no need to log in to GA just for a simple check. Polaris is a slick, free Adobe Air-based desktop tool that displays eight GA charts at a glance, including the dashboard, traffic sources, top content, keywords and goal values.


Do you really love a particular topic, company, website or public figure? Or really hate one? Care what others think? This is the site for you. Amplicate is a user-driven site that shows you at a glance how many people love or hate any of thousands of different entities across dozens of categories. For example, (at last check) in the social networks category, three times as many (67 to 22) people loved ecademy as hated it, while more than twice as many (18,163 to 8,632) hated Facebook as loved it (not that Zuckerberg is terribly worried). Joe Biden gets 86% love, but Barack Obama only 48%. Okay, so it may not be scientific, but it is fascinating.


Twitter saves “only” your last 3,200 tweets. For those who feel they really need to hang on to more than that, BackUpMyTweets offers a free service to save all their snippets of 140-character brilliance. The site also offers tools for backing up web mail accounts, blogs and online photos.

Reviews of More Cool Tools

5 PowerPoint Search Engines To Seek Out Publicly Available Presentations by Carpe Diem

According to some estimates, there may be as many as 50 million PowerPoint presentations publicly available on the web. But searching for them can be a pain. Sure you can use a general search engine with PPT as a filetype query, but you can save yourself work and typing by utilizing one of these PowerPoint-specific search engines to do the digging.

The 39 Social Media Tools I’ll Use Today by Social Media Today

Jay Baer provides concise reviews of his favorite social media tools for Twitter management, comments, search, photo sharing, analytics, video creation, social media monitoring and more.

Trackur Launches Free Version Of Its Social Media Monitoring Tool by TechCrunch

Robin Wauters reviews Trackur, an online reputation management and social media monitoring tool created by Andy Beal and team. Trackur is sort of Google Alerts on steroids and competes with products like Radian6 and Attentio. This is a slick tool, and my one experience with their support team was impressively brief and helpful.

10 Must-Have Web Apps Every Internet User Would Love To Know by Smashing Apps

Mini-reviews of 10 helpful tools such as WobZIP, an online utility for unzipping files on admin-proteced computers; Mitto, an online password manager; and Web Page to PDF, which is kind of self-explanatory.

10 Free Web-based Alternatives to Photoshop by LifeClever

Chanpory Rith reviews 10 free online tools that offer many of the features of PhotoShop with the high cost or complexity, including Picnik (possibly the best free online photo editor), PhotoShop Express, Snipshot and flauntR.

5 Free B2B Marketing Tools by Modern B2B Marketing

Maria Pergolino of Marketo reviews five popular tools including CoTweet, a Twitter tool that enable users to track keyword or brand mentions and even assign responses to particular individuals (for example, by product line). These are familiar but essential tools for the b2b marketer’s toolbox.

List of Search Engines – Top Search Engines in 2010 by Secret Search Engine Labs

Google may be the 800-pound gorilla of search engines but as this post reminds us, it’s not alone in the jungle. Here you’ll find a alphabetical list of 30+ alternative search engines from Ask and Rich Skrenta’s Blekko to social search engine Stumpedia and “computational knowledge engine” Wolfram Alpha.

Interesting websites to check out by iMedia Connection (video)

Shelly Palmer discusses four tools worth checking out including BugMeNot (for creating website logins that won’t get you spammed) and Phonezoo, a site where you can find and create custom cell phone ringtones.

10 Simple Google Search Tricks by The New York Times

Simon Mackie of GigaOM explains 10 cool little tricks for Google searches including site search, using Google as a calculator, performing currency conversions and finding specific types of documents online.

12 alternatives to Basecamp by Popwuping

Clark MacLeod reviews a dozen alternatives to popular online project management / group collaboration tool Basecamp, such as Huddle, Kindling and Mindquarry.

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