“We keep moving…

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

New year, new website, new blog. For the freshest blog content, please visit: http://makemesocial.net/blog/ 

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January 21, 2013 · 10:38 am

Strength in Humans – The Power of People in Social Media Marketing

When we tell brands to be “more human” it’s rare that they immediately understand how it translates on social media. Tim Howell set the stage for this blog when he asked businesses to ask themselves why it was important to “be human” on social media. In this blog, I’ll look at how businesses can effectively be “more human” while still meeting their social media goals.

I believe that part of the answer can be found by looking to Humans of New York (HONY).

HONY is social media.

More specifically, HONY is a website that gives people everywhere “daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City”.

These people aren’t famous. They are normal, everyday people walking the streets of New York. And their photos and stories have transformed into something almost magical – creating news, inspiring imitators, and serving as great platforms for calls to action.

It is visual. It is storytelling. It is measurable. And at its core, it is undeniably human.

So how can companies use the magic of HONY’s humanness to inspire their brand’s social media content?

Step 1. Highlight the Human Side.

Every business has a story to tell. There may be a single person who embodies the spirit of your brand, or an entire department that spends everyday living up to your brand promise. You are a company made up of people. Embrace it – your audience will.

Step 2. Write Well. Write Often.

You are as strong as your content. If you go to a party and tell the same story over and over, eventually people will stop paying attention to you. Social media is the same way. Part of the appeal of HONY is the stories behind the photos, told through short, platform appropriate captions. New content is posted daily to multiple platforms, which brings me to the next point…

Step 3. Know Your Platforms.

You wouldn’t use YouTube to post photos and you wouldn’t ask someone on Tumblr to “Like this post!” Great content will go nowhere if it was posted to the wrong platform. The visual nature of Tumblr and the ease of sharing across the network made it ideal for HONY. Adding in the virality and reach of Facebook enhanced the reach and awareness of the brand. Before you post, ask yourself: are the capabilities of the platform aligned with the needs of my brand?

Remember: the “Robot Revolution” hasn’t happened yet. If you want to successfully communicate with humans, you need to be human. 

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When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman drinks a lot of tea. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.

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Headlines Can Change the World

My wife says I don’t read enough and she’s right. I’m not sure anyone really does.  Even her; book, or Kindle in hand every evening as Storage Wars and Duck Dynasty provide the soundtrack for whatever world she’s been transported to.

[Before I continue, I would just like to take a moment to thank A&E for making my evenings just that much better.]

Then I start to count the number of headlines I consume in a day. It’s startling.

From Fierce feeds to Smart Briefs to the magic of Flipboard [again a pause to say thanks for reinventing my world news experience], the total headlines in a day can top 1,000 easy – discounting for the breaking story that hits me 8 – 10 times depending on the category.

So let’s consider the impact those headlines have on decision-making – not just mine, but anyone’s.

For example, a prospect we’ve been working with in the Financial Services industry is trying to empower their advisors with more education and control of information to best support their end clients.

Consider an advisor that needs to read and understand and interpret financial data, trends, risk tolerances, past, present and future performance of multiple markets and client portfolios, squaring off with a client that just got finished reading their 1,000 headlines, some several times, most likely leaving a stronger impression on them.

Put yourself in the advisor’s seat and think about the questions you could get. Ever hear the phrase “out of left field?”

And, by the way, we’re fighting our own brains when we’re trying to interpret what we’ve just read:

This scenario applies to anyone in an advisory position, whether you’re developing products, helping to bring them to market or closing the sale at the end of the chain.

You can even remove the business aspect of this overload and apply it to parenting, dieting, socializing. We are creating our own disadvantages by generating too much information and ways to consume it.

How do we solve for this?

1) Don’t write to confuse

I’ve had a number of conversations lately where people will listen to me speak and ask, “what does that mean?”

The question isn’t driven from a lack of clarity in words used to express my ideas. It’s because they are looking for  hidden meanings and motivations.

We’re all interpreting instead of being plain. Let’s be plain and let the complexity unfold in dialogue and exchange of ideas.

In other words, do what you say and say what you do.

2) Be more selective in what we write

I can’t fault anyone for trying to make a living. Your top 10 list might just be the next one to get chiseled out on stone and carried forward as commandments.

Just take care that what you’re writing is unique, delivers a different perspective, or adds value to an existing conversation. Parroting doesn’t add real value [leave it alone, search marketers]. Your audience will thank you for it.

3) Write everything like it’s The Pelican Brief

No, I didn’t read the book. Remember, I don’t read enough. But the movie has recently come to mind for me as a great approach to making sure what we get in our newsfeeds is the penultimate of thoughts and words.

Imagine if every headline you read was from an author being chased through New Orleans by trained assassins because their thoughts and words could shift the balance of power as we know it. How cool would that be? Seriously. Let’s say you do have that phenomenal top 10 list that we all need to read. Great. Own it. Shout it from the roof tops. Make sure your audience knows what you’ve uncovered and don’t let them leave until you’re sure they’ve understood it. And be prepared. That could take years. It doesn’t need to be new to be right.

Write like that and we’ll all be better for it.

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JOSH JORDAN is the Founder and President of Make Me Social. Josh has spent the majority of his career blending his passion for people, technology and community development to create real relationships for brands and their message. Josh and his wife Jennifer live in St. Augustine, FL where they volunteer their time and energy to support the local arts and children’s charities and spend endless hours keeping their 19 month old son, George, entertained.

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Romney in a Landslide: Using Facebook Data for Predictive Analysis

Election coverage is filled with plenty of subjectivity, so here’s a little more:

Based on Facebook data, Mitt Romney is set to win in a landslide over Barack Obama, claiming 391 of the 538 votes from the Electoral College. That’s not exactly matching what the media or polls are saying … so how did I get there?

The Inspiration

Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm says that a Like is worth less than a Comment because a Like is a more passive form of engagement, while taking the time to type something out is seen as more active engagement.

I believe that the same can be said for people who Like a Facebook Page versus those who actively join groups or type something out in the interests section of their personal Page.

Following this logic, if we use Facebook Advertising to determine the relative size of an audience in the network based not solely on likes but on interests and groups as well, we should be able to identify the number of people actively engaged on behalf of a candidate.

It stands to reason that those who care enough to actively engage on Facebook are more likely to actively engage by voting.

Additional Details

Total “Popular Votes” counted through Facebook: 25,527,910

“Popular Votes” For Obama: 12,250,120

“Popular Votes” For Romney: 13,277,790

My Electoral College Results

“Votes” For Romney: 391

“Votes” For Obama: 147

Here is a comparison of my data when examined alongside three Electoral College Maps, CNN, Rasmussen and Karl Rove.

So how do these results stand up to “traditional” thinking?

  • In 2008, young voters went against election trends by showing up and voting (see: Young voters feel less engaged this year). The Facebook numbers I’ve pulled this time around seem to indicate a return to the traditional model with older voters driving the outcome of the election. While my projections show Obama carrying the popular vote in the 18-20, 21-24 and 25-34 age categories, they do not outnumber voters aged 35 and up who favor Romney.
  • The South votes Republican and the Northeast votes Democrat.
  • California is weird. Nothing new here, but perhaps the biggest anomaly in the numbers shows Romney carrying California because of a large number of 45-64 year olds “voting” for him. In addition to California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington project for Romney.

The Process

I used the Facebook Ad Manager to gather data on the number of people on the Facebook network that have either Obama, or Romney listed in their Timeline using the Precise Targeting tool.

I segmented the search information by Keyword and broke results out by State and Age Range. To be as accurate as possible, I also used the Exact Age Match feature.

Precise Targeting looks at a person’s interests, activities, education, job titles, pages they like and groups they belong to, and Exact Age Match eliminates overlap between age groups. For example if you search 25-34 year olds without Exact Age Match, the targeting engine may include 24 and 35 year olds in the audience. I used these features with the goal of creating a comparison to how we would typically look at any other brand’s audience when taking a high level pass at their potential audience for a Facebook Ad buy.

I also used the hashtag feature in front of the candidate name to collect all possible interest categories, and get the broadest base of support.

The age ranges used were based on Voter Data as measured by the US Census, 18-20, 21-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45- 64 and over 65.

I then used an Electoral College calculator to allocate votes in the Electoral College based on the number of “active voters” for each candidate.

Takeaways

The data set is limited and only shows what it shows based on the Facebook definition of Precise Targeting and Exact Age matching. There are a lot of outside factors that influence the data. For instance, younger audiences may be engaging more actively on other platforms, like Tumblr or Twitter.

User activity by age range is a big takeaway. People in the older demographic groups are actively using Facebook when they encounter something that fits their needs, or interests. While a younger person may update their Status or Like a Page, an older person seems more likely to join a Group or update their Profile information to reflect their voting behaviors.

The 45 and up categories generate more targetable activity than the younger demos and are ripe for smart marketing.

For a closer look at the data pulled, I’ve made it available here as a spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B6O00up2QT8RQ2NGSlhJZVJEMTA

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JOSH JORDAN is the Founder and President of Make Me Social. Josh has spent the majority of his career blending his passion for people, technology and community development to create real relationships for brands and their message. Josh and his wife Jennifer live in St. Augustine, FL where they volunteer their time and energy to support the local arts and children’s charities and spend endless hours keeping their 19 month old son, George, entertained.

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You Don’t Pick the Platform, the Platform Picks You

You’ve launched every social media channel you’ve read about and added all the accoutrements to your website. So why aren’t they all performing the same? You’ve committed time, budget and energy. What’s missing?

The answer might just be nothing.

Does your business need to be on Pinterest? Is your business missing out on huge opportunities by not using Instagram? Are you missing out on revenue because you’re not using Facebook, or Twitter single-sign on for your e-commerce site?

What’s the right answer? What’s overkill? Which social media platform(s) should you pick?

There are three simple questions that can get you on the path to understanding which (if any) social media platforms make sense for your business:

  • What are your goals?
  • Where are your customers?
  • What resources can you commit to support the effort?

Let’s address these one by one.

Where are your customers?

This is not something that you can assume and it’s probably not something that you will immediately know the answer to. It requires a bit of listening and a fair amount of analysis to figure out. At Make Me Social we typically start engagements with upfront Benchmark Analyses that allow us to dive into the world of your customers, to understand them and then to identify them in the social world.

We start by creating a customer profile. From there, we move into the identification process. Using keywords and interests, we filter through the millions of mentions across the social web to pinpoint living, breathing representations of the customer profile. We then start to match back what social networks they use and most importantly, how they use them.

We analyze their behavior on the networks, from how often they post to the language used and the emotions expressed in their posts. Finally, we take a look at where and how they engage with businesses. We try to understand their expectations and desires from businesses using social media.

There are plenty of listening platforms out there, and some that are working toward automating more of this work. The software is not 100% capable of overcoming challenges posed by semantics, which is why we employee analysts to review the automated results. Just as financial analysts read data to determine what the automated reports really mean, we blend brain work with technology to reveal the most precise social data and analytics available.

What are your goals?

What is your business trying to accomplish? What revenue goals have you set? Are you looking to recruit new talent? Build more partnerships?

We are firm believers that any and all efforts undertaken by a business should support the overarching goals and objectives of said business. That’s how businesses grow.

By identifying those goals up front, they can be examined alongside potential social media platforms and strategies.

Using this information in conjunction with the analysis gives us the ability to provide direction and inform recommendations around budgets and staffing.

What resources can you commit to support the effort?

Planning for execution is the best strategy. All of the strategy in the world means nothing if the plan isn’t executed well. Because social media is always on, the management can get overwhelming. It can be a full time job just reading the data when your audiences start to really explode and engage, and it’s one that requires a high degree of specialization and a broad scope of experiences and skills – from psychology to technology.

There are agencies that provide support throughout the execution part of the plan. This is something that Make Me Social focuses on. We’ve found that when our clients are free to focus on the intricacies of their business, we’re in an excellent position to guide the integration of social into the overall communications plan.

Managing your social media efforts is not something that you should try and automate or fit in. A post every week when you have the time or remember is not enough to sustain success.  For brands working with agencies, managing conversations requires an agency that thinks (and works) differently. We’ve found that social works best when it’s a truly integrated team effort between the client and the agency. If your agency is too focused on interpreting your voice to speak with it, you should consider looking at additional resources to support any social media efforts.

Looking at the resources that you have available will ensure that your social media plan is structured in a way that is manageable for you. What’s wonderful about social is that it’s scalable and always evolving, so as your resources change, you can always build upon the existing strategy.

So…should your business be on Pinterest?

Only after looking at your customers, your goals and your resources, will you be in a position to begin to answer that question.

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When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys painting and pinteresting. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.

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All Truly Great Thoughts Are Achieved on Twitter

When was the last time you stopped and really thought about social media? I’m not talking about strategy, or metrics, or the most efficient methods of raising the virality of your posts. Stop thinking like a marketer, or a business owner, and start thinking like a philosopher. In short, stop asking ‘how?’ and start asking ‘why.’ Why do consumers visit Facebook? Why do teenagers, industry influencers, and celebrities devote hours a day to watching text scroll by on Twitter? In most cases, we can safely say that they aren’t there to visit you.

Social media is supposed to be fun, funny, entertaining. America’s businessmen aren’t wasting their workday on Facebook reading about B2B sales opportunities. They’re tending virtual farms. They’re chuckling at the latest Memebase post, or making plans with buddies for after-work drinks.

I know, I know, these are things you’ve heard a thousand times before. “You need to be more conversational,” or “we should be altering our tone to match the audience.” Stop it. Stop thinking strategy. You don’t need to enter every social conversation with an agenda. When you enter every conversation as a brand, and not a person, you come off sounding like a machine. Sometimes, it may be OK to engage with your audience without worrying about how “it fits into the broader picture of your brand identity.”

Sometimes, isn’t it OK to talk like people? Isn’t it OK to drop the brand-speak and interact on a basic, human level? Obviously, I’m not suggesting you drop everything and abandon your brand. However, once in a great while, let some humanity slip in. This Media Minion blog says it perfectly:

“Humor in a big brand’s social media marketing has pretty much the same effect as seeing a teacher outside of school; “Woah, they’re real people?”

Ambrose Bierce once said “Wit- the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.” Humor is the essential seasoning for an engagement casserole, so feel free to sprinkle a little bit onto your next post.”

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Tim Howell

Tim Howell is a community manager and data analyst for Make Me Social. He studied fine art, psychology, and international pop culture at Bowling Green State University. In his spare time, he is a novelist and social activist.

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3 Signs Your Social Media Plan Needs Work

We all remember those great Ronco commercials. Ron Popeil would show you an amazing product that seemed to get better with every feature and then excitedly announce that you could also “set it and forget it!”

The ability to “set it and forget it” is just as appealing to companies as it is to homemakers. Like most industries, social media has its fair share of “ninjas” and “gurus” selling buzzwords because they can’t sell results. One of the big buzzwords has been “automation.”

While some components of the marketing process can be automated, social media needs to evolve along with the goals and objectives of your company. When it doesn’t, companies end up working from outdated, inefficient or non-existent social media plans, making their social media efforts outdated, inefficient, and their results non-existent.

So, how do you know if your company’s social media plan was a “set it and forget it” project?

1. Your social media goals are not connected to larger business objectives

Why do you create commercials, run ads in magazines and send direct mail to prospects? The reasons will vary based on the objectives but they will always be tied to the goals of the business. Social media is no different.

Before beginning any social media effort, you need to research, analyze and align objectives. Every effort should further the goals of your business. Your social media plan should be designed from the ground up with that in mind.

2. You never developed a Content Calendar

Posting strong, consistent content is important. If you’re only posting content when your company issues a press release, you’re ignoring a crucial component of doing social well: it’s not about you it’s about your audience. At Make Me Social we use robust Content Calendars that target posts by audience, theme, post style and platform. We leave room for real-time posting and one to one Community Management, but every Community Manager starts the week with a set of optimized content that can be used on the days and times that historically have the highest engagement. If you’re not posting consistently, you can’t expect consistent results.

3. You’re violating the Facebook Terms of Service

Whether you have a personal Facebook Page set up “as the brand” so that you can friend people or you’re telling people to share a post in order to win a prize, you’re violating the Facebook Terms of Service and your Page can be deleted by Facebook without any warning. The Terms of Service continue to evolve with the network, so it’s important to stay on top of any changes.

If you don’t know if you’re violating the Terms of Service, you can read through them here: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php

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When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys watching old wrestling interviews like this one. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.

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