5 Social Media ROI & Measurement Books to Grow Your Social Business

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Books Social Media MeasurementOne of the most compelling challenges for companies entering the world of social business is measurement. The ability to attribute cause and effect directly can be elusive when it comes to measuring business outcomes like increased sales, improved customer retention and lowered support costs. But that’s only because this is new territory.  Business participation with social media on the web at large and internally has absolutely made measurable progress for numerous companies and organizations. The trick is to learn how, create a model that works for you and to sell it internally for testing, implementation and adoption.

One way to facilitate learning about Social Media ROI, Measurement and Analytics is through books from subject matter experts. Here are 5 that I’ve found useful and hopefully, you will too.

Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization
by Olivier Blanchard

There are many other books on social media strategy, but in your pursuit of social ROI enlightenment, I’d start with this one (it’s also very new) because it covers social program development and management as well as measurement.  Olivier’s presentation on the Basics of Social Media ROI from a few years ago completely opened the eyes for many (including myself) on basic ways to approach the impact of social media on tangible business goals. It’s damn funny too.

Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment
by Jim Sterne

This may be one of the first books dedicated to socia media metrics and Analytics guru Jim Sterne does a great job of setting ground rules. This book isn’t about justifying social media at large or a collection of tactics. It takes you from goal setting to audience, influence, sentiment, action, conversation and business outcomes. Once you have all that, there’s advice on communicating your newfound social media measurement wisdom to the organization.

Measure What Matters: Online Tools For Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships
by Kattie Delahaye Paine

Katie Paine is the master of Public Relations and Social Media measurement and her new book is a great complement to our mix because it comes from a perspective of measuring and affecting influence, engagement and relationships – not just sales and revenue. Katie outlines how to get started with a measurement program, how to choose the right tools and she answers measurement “how” questions related to marketing and public relations, events, thought leadership, community, internal staff and crisis situations. This is a measurement bible for the social media and public relations savvy professionals of the world.
(Read our Public Relations Measurement interview with Katie)

Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity
by Avinash Kaushkik

If you’re even remotely familiar with web analytics, then you know the blog Occam’s Razor by Google’s Analytics Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik. In his enthusiastic and entertaining style, Avinash explains the next generation framework of web analytics including social media measurement and includes specific guidance on hiring analytics resources, practical advice on the practice of  gaining insight from clickstream data and analysis, plus how to help managers become more data-driven in their decision making.
(Watch our video interview with Avinash at SES Hong Kong)

Mining the Social Web: Analyzing Data from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Other Social Media Sites
By Matthew A. Russell

After you’ve read the books above and you’ve either tasked an internal analytics guru or hired someone for your social media measurement and analytics, then they really need to dig into this book. When business, marketing or PR managers ask question like, “How can we create our own tools to mine our prospects social web activity?” this is a great guidebook into the mechanics of making that happen. Matthew covers “data hacking” for Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Google Buzz and LinkedIn plus how to visualize that data in a meaningful way.

While this is no comprehensive list of social media ROI, measurement and analytics books, it is a great collection to start with.  What books social media measurement books would you recommend?

(For the first time in 7 years, I’ve added Amazon affiliate links to these book URLs. Since we don’t sell ads here, I’m hoping you can appreciate  that effort).

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5 Social Media ROI & Measurement Books to Grow Your Social Business | http://www.toprankblog.com

Tips on Video: B2B Facebook, Social ROI & Repurposing Social Content

November 30, 2010 by  
Filed under B2B, Online Marketing, Social Media, Social Media ROI

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While traveling recently in New Zealand and a short stay in Sydney, Australia I shot a few videos offering social media marketing tips. Check them out below and you can also view many other tips videos and interviews we’ve done with search and social media marketing experts on the  TopRank Online Marketing YouTube Channel.

Tips on Social Media ROI from Sydney Australia near the famous Opera House & Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sorry about the wind, it messed with the audio a bit. I need to get a Zi8 and a microphone!

Common B2B Facebook Myths from Rangitoto Island, off Auckland, New Zealand. (From an old Army bunker near the mouth of a 600 year old volcano actually)

Tips on Repurposing Social Content from Queenstown, New Zeland on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountain range.

Obviously I have a ways to go before making these kinds of videos really good.  Simply creating an outline script and adding a microphone and tripod would probably make a big difference vs. using a Lumix and making it up as I go.

Despite the non-existent production value, I am curious if readers of Online Marketing Blog are interested in this kind of thing.  I don’t plan on posting them all here, but will likely draw attention to one per trip and post the rest to our YouTube channel.  Is this format of any interest to you?  What do you think of video previews for a longer blog post?

Thanks for watching and reading.

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Tips on Video: B2B Facebook, Social ROI & Repurposing Social Content | http://www.toprankblog.com

Which Flavor of Social Commerce Is Right For You?

November 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Online Marketing, Social Media, Social Media ROI

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Social Commerce Flavors

Photo credit: timtak via Flickr

Social Commerce is a very hot topic right now with numerous blog posts, articles and even a few events focused on ecommerce and social media.

Adding ecommerce functionality to social sites is something that I’ve wondered about for quite a while:

“What I’d like to see more of is the availability of basic ecommerce functions as plug ‘n play options with major blog software packages. Blogs are good for business, big and small and I think there’s a lot of opportunity for business and value for consumers with ecommerce blogs.” Dec 28, 2005.

Too bad I wasn’t more of an advocate for social commerce since, but then again, consumers haven’t really responded well to shopping implementations with social media sites until recently, if at all.

Overt marketing messages have not traditionally been very welcome within social channels but as more brands become involved, consumers are expecting more than being able to comment, rate and share.

When considering the question of ecommerce and social media, I think there are two fundamental approaches to consider:

Adding social media features to existing ecommerce websites.

Levis Facebook Like

Examples of this are abundant now, especially with the addition of Facebook Like buttons on shopping sites and the ubiquitous social news, bookmarking and Tweet this buttons. See a great pair of jeans on Levis.com? There’s a Facebook Like button there to share it with friends, to get opinions or just let them know what you found. The Digital IQ Index Specialty Retail report (download pdf) from earlier this year found: “Retailers who currently host the “like“ button on their site demonstrated 80 percent higher average three-month traffic growth.”

Effect of Social Features on Traffic for Retail WebsitesOther social features that have long been in place with ecommerce and shopping sites include ratings and reviews which are well entrenched in certain industries like travel & hospitality. Adding links to social sites a company is active on is a pretty common feature for services like Google Places.

Plus servies like Groupon adds an entirely different angle to social and commerce.

Adding social features to existing commerce platforms and situations is the low hanging fruit of social commerce at the moment and studies like this one from Eventbrite show a clear revenue benefit. I suspect its something consumers are starting to expect.

When I was in a somewhat remote place last week on the South island of New Zealand, I noticed the standard “Visit us online at companysite.com” was often replaced with: “Visit us online at (followed by Facebook and Twitter icons). I’m sure you’ve seen such signage in storefront windows in your town as well. Social connections are becoming part of expected exchanges between consumers and the brands they buy from. The opportunity for brands is, how relevant and useful (and easy) can they make these exchanges as part of the customer relationship?

Adding sharing, interaction, rating/review or even something like group buying to a web property that is already perceived as a destination for ecommerce transactions is an easier thing to do than adding ecommerce to a social media site and it’s likely perceived as more appropriate. It’s a way of showing that the brand isn’t just about selling product/services, but that its open to connecting and useful engagement too. Companies are increasingly rewiring more than their web sites for such social commerce.

Incorporating ecommerce functionality within social media websites.

Target Facebook Club Wedd Fan PageEarly adopters for adding ecommerce and transaction capabilities within social media sites include Brooks Brothers and 1800Flowers with storefronts and Walmart with a deals app on Facebook. Another major retailer, Target, put searchable product inventory on Facebook as part of their Club Wedd registery offering, but the actual transactions take place on the Target.com website.

It’s still early days for finding the right way to add ecommerce functionality within a communication environment that is intended to be social, not transactional. Of the early adopters that added online stores to Facebook or their blogs, I do wonder how profitable those initiatives are at this point.

My cautious optimism about social ecommerce doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s an area that will take hold. I do, as long as merchants can make the buying experience part of the social experience. I suspect that’s going to be different by industry and community.

What do you think?

Are social networks and media sites ready and appropriate for transactional ecommerce functionality? How seriously should brands take the opportunity for order capture within social media sites?

From a consumer perspective, have you ever ordered something within Facebook or another social media site? If you’ve checked in out and didn’t why not? If you did, what made you comfortable and would you do it again?

In fact, let’s take a formal poll on which “flavor” of social commerce our readers are implementing most:

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

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What Does Real Social Media Success Look Like?

social media roiAs I’ve been able to travel and meet marketers all over the U.S. and in other countries, I am always interested in learning how companies are viewing the value of their social media efforts.

Marketing investments should be predicated by more than chasing the competition, satisfying someone’s ego or acting solely on a gut feeling. A good handle on goals, resources and target audience help determine strategy and tactics as well as how outcomes are measured. This is the case with even the most fundamental of marketing programs. With that kind of basic framework, implementing and measuring value from social media shouldn’t be that different.

Because so much actual marketing is tactical, many companies see social media simply as another of those tactics and evaluate one-off promotional efforts for ROI without considering the bigger picture. It’s very much a situation of not seeing the forest for the trees.

Imagine this scenario:

A competitor’s YouTube video is getting significant play amongst the Twitterati, on industry blogs and even a few mentions by traditional media. The CEO sees this, asks the VP of Marketing where things are at with social media and the VP tasks the Marketing Director with creating a “viral” video.  The Marketing Manager engages an outside “social media expert” at an advertising agency to create a video that will show how edgy, clever and innovative the company is.

A YouTube channel is created, the video is uploaded and ads are purchased to drive traffic.  A SEO consultant is hired to help the video “go hot” and submits, votes, rates, reviews etc with their network to boost social sharing of the video with the hopes that there are enough social signals for the video to hit the home page of Digg, Delicious along with getting ample play on StumbleUpon, Reddit and maybe even a few prominent blogs.

The video gets shared, Tweeted, voted on and submitted, much to the satisfaction of the Marketing chain of command. The stats are reported to the CEO:  Video creation cost: $15k. Video advertising cost: $5k. SEO promotion: $5k. A total of $25k is spent on creation and promotion of the video.

The return?  12,000 views on YouTube, 100 comments (mostly positive), 320 Tweets/ReTweets, 40 Likes on Facebook, 115 saves on Delicious, 35 comments on the blog post that embedded the video plus 6,750 unique visitors. Also, mentions on 4 industry blogs, 105 inbound links to the blog post from other websites/blogs and mentions by 3 industry publications.

Was it a success?

Many large companies wouldn’t blink at a 25k investment for an online video that returned the stats above. Plus the video will continue to see visibility since it can be discovered by search indefinitely (as long as its online).

Instead of the simple math of calculating cost per views, comments, Tweets, Likes, links, visits, mentions etc, I think there are some important questions to consider:

  • What was the business goal for the video?
  • Did the video reach influencers of customers?
  • Did the video reach customers?
  • Did the video influence behaviors that could result in business outcomes?
  • How does the video fit within other social media communications?
  • Will there be more than just one video?

On one level, the video will be reported and accepted as a success because of gross reach. In fact, it is definitely a success in that way. On another level, it’s debatable whether the video connected the brand with customers – either directly or indirectly. How much impact can one business video have?

Rather than thinking whether the video promotion was a success or not, one might first consider what goal the company is trying to achieve (besides having a video more popular than the competition).

This is the type of scenario that often typifies companies evaluating the value of their social media efforts.  Some go so far as trying to measure direct lead generation as a result of a video promotion like the one above. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it seems that social media marketing efforts would be far more effective when goals, customer needs and a plan for making a meaningful connection are intentional vs. leaving it to chance.  There seems to be a lot of causation statements being made by social media marketing folks when at best, they’re talking about correlation.

Social media marketing has a lot of measurement issues to solve and at the same time, there’s an opportunity for marketers to take a step back and put their social media tactics in perspective and try to see where they fit in the whole.

Sometimes it seems a little too inconvenient for marketers (and their agencies or consultants) to do more than spike social proof numbers to create warm fuzzies in the C-Suite vs. actually influencing measurable business goals.   Maybe its the real-time nature of the social web and the expectation of quick results that creates the rush.

There’s always a place for testing, but I’d be curious to know how often companies and consultants are executing social media tactics as pure tests without audience insight or specific goals. Some companies can probably make due with a “make it up as you go” perspective, but who has the time to see if that works vs following a methodology?

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What Does Real Social Media Success Look Like? | http://www.toprankblog.com