Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Social Discourse: Google Plus and the VIP Delusion

The world of social media is still dominated by powerhouse platforms and many competitors are attempting to replicate those sites’ successes. Despite the apparent monopoly, hundreds have popped up over the years and many of them carry enough weight to be considered valid for the social media marketer. However, judging this multitude of sites is difficult, if for no other reason than determining variables that can easily apply to the full gamut of social platforms. Regardless, I have tackled the challenge and come up with general criteria that should define any social site from the marketer’s point of view.

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel that it is my responsibility to intro this blog with some relevant information. I love everything Google does. I am a Google Groupie, a junkie, a willing consumer of everything the Google giant sends down the pipeline. I purchase only Android phones, I do all of my personal browsing in Chrome, and stare in naked confusion when co-workers suggest that SEO on Bing is worth considering.

That being said, this blog will not be all that similar to most of those written on the subject. Many of the marketing-industry blogs I have read regarding G+ are very insistent that we have a simply fantastic product on our hands. These writers stress that – while they are not available yet – the soon-to-arrive business pages will be a Mecca of integrated social marketing and SEO. I’m not going to consider all of that. The simple fact is that technology (especially in the social media space) changes too rapidly and too drastically to make that kind of prediction this early. I have the utmost confidence that Google + will do everything Google says it will do, but I can’t help but think that people are perhaps building up their expectations a tiny bit.

Indulge me in resorting to a metaphor for a moment.

Mission Hill, a phenomenally underrated animated comedy, has an episode perfectly suited for this kind of discussion. In it, the three main characters find themselves frustrated and on the street after another weekend of being rejected from the lines of the city’s most popular nightclubs. As revenge, the group sets up some velvet ropes outside of their apartment building’s meter room, and stand outside of it with a clipboard. Soon, dozens of elitist hipsters stand outside in the cold, desperate to enter the hippest and most exclusive club in town. “No one has gotten in!” they pass along. After hours of temptation, the main characters get bored with their plan, and set off a smoke bomb, claiming a freak electrical accident has destroyed the club. The Meter Room passes into legend, forever remembered as the most heavenly experience in the city.

Mission Hill, "The Meter Room"

Mission Hill, "The Meter Room"

Until recently, Google Plus was an exclusive club. Beta invites were scarce and coveted, and those of us that received them were all too happy to lord it over our pitiable friends and followers. On the inside, however, we found an experience that was sleek, modern, and shockingly empty. During the beta period, it was somewhat difficult to track down people worth following. Few people had truly completed their profiles, so circles became a sea of gray anonymous faces. Those that were contributing content were usually no more than news aggregators, which are technically not allowed on the platform. was (and apparently still is) largely guilty of this. Based solely on those profiles, a lot of discussion was taking place, but people that were willing to comment on these posts rarely contributed anything of their own.

Content on Google Plus, from Sean Bonner

This all comes back to one of the largest flaws that I see in Google’s plan. As pointed out in this blog post, G+’s circles are not organic groups. On Facebook, I can go to a friend’s page, see all of their friends, all of their groups, and all of the people in those groups. It is an invasion of privacy, yes, but it is also an incredibly simple way to find other people to network with. G+ presents you with a general list of whom a given person is following, but it provides no information as to the relationship between those people. This seems like a silly point to harp on, but it makes a significant difference.

Let’s assume that I have created a circle for dubstep artists (I have. It is very small). No one viewing my G+ profile would have any way of knowing that this circle exists, or that any of the people linked to my profile are part of that circle. This means that any interested parties must sift through everyone I am following, to draw their own conclusions as to why I am following them. Facebook’s groups and fan pages solved this problem by making both instances a public entity. When I create a dubstep fan page on Facebook, hundreds of people instantly see that group, and are free to join it and share it amongst their friends as well. The groups grow organically, as more and more networks connect to them. Circles are completely private and personal. It makes it easy to talk behind someone’s back, but not particularly easy to grow a community.

There is an obvious counter-argument, brought up by Chris Brogan:

It’s funny how many people are lamenting the temporary shutdown of brands on Google+. Meanwhile, I’m seeing lots of smart business people connecting with people, making relationships, sharing a mix of personal and business materials, and building relationships that will transcend the vagueness of following an official stream.

Business is about humans connecting with humans. This new platform is the top shelf of potential for doing a great job of doing that. Keep doing what you’re doing as a brand of one, and just be sure your ABOUT page represents your organization well.

Go forth. Be the brand. Just be you as the brand.

Google Plus is a beautiful piece of technology, and it presents a list of features that will make any social platform jealous. At the end of the day, however, a social network is only as good as the discussions taking place on it, and for that, for now, G+ is little more than an empty white room. There are a handful of “celebrity” accounts belonging to high-profile bloggers or industry news aggregators, and almost all of the platform’s content is coming from those people. Unless something changes, G+ will not likely see many Facebook converts.


Tim Howell Andoidified

Tim Howell created 14 circles, and is a content manager 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 blogger, bartender, and social activist with a passion for cooking.


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Social Media ROI Calculator Q & A

By now, you’ve probably heard all about our ground breaking Social Media ROI formula that allows businesses to accurately calculate the Return on Investment of their social media efforts. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you’re in luck – we’re hosting another webinar on the topic (and at the time of this posting, there are still a handful of open registration spots left). So go sign up and then come back to finish reading this 100% all-natural, hand-crafted blog!

Over the course of our first few webinars on this topic, we have been getting some great questions from the audience. Some of the questions dealt with the application of the formula to specific industries, while others were a bit more broad in scope. Below you will find a compilation of some of the more general questions. Hopefully this will help you gain a deeper understanding of how the #MMSROI formula allows us to benchmark campaigns and create stronger, focused, and measured social media strategies.

How well do these formulas scale down for companies that are just getting started and have few followers and little posting activity?

There’s always a page out there starting with a fan base of zero, and sometimes pages at 50,000 plus fans are really starting from the same place. Either way, it’s important to look at industry averages when you choose the level of response and activity that you want to achieve over time, and set clear goals.

If you think of the social media campaign like any other startup or initial investment, you’re going to spend more than you make upfront. Over time, as you build it up, you will start to achieve your ROI. At Make Me Social, we take snapshots on a monthly basis in order to track activity, but look for quarterly and long term trends to determine the true ROI. Anyone can have an up or down month and the key is to learn from that month and identify why the impressions and engagement numbers were low or high, and then make the necessary adjustments based on the results of that analysis to keep the social funnel healthy.

You can look at your spend over time and say that based on industry averages, here is what you should expect given your efforts over that time period, and then start feeding that against the results from your channels.

Where do these numbers come from and how difficult are they to track?

This comes back to utilizing the standard industry platforms and measurement management tools that exist. We, as an agency, have a battery of them that we pick-and-choose from, based on the goals of the client. The tools range in scope from the simplicity of Hootsuite all the way up to the level of depth that you get from the page through Buddy Media. The technology and the leaps being made inside of the platforms help you gather the data needed to calculate some of these numbers. With Facebook, the Insights Analytic tool continues to improve and provide some very specific data points. So today, I can log into Facebook, and Insights will give a fairly deep view of the existing fan base, the number of post impressions, and some of the basic counts and information necessary to help me calculate my returns. The magic happens when you make the commitment to put the energy and effort into pulling the data and running it through the formula.

Our formula corresponds a click, share, retweet, or any other clickable engagement to a social post, similar to the engagement or interaction that takes place when someone clicks on a Pay Per Click (PPC) ad. As such, we place a value on the social interaction equal to the cost of a Pay Per Click ad. Make Me Social has done a significant amount of research online and in meetings with media buyers to determine the value several different industries are paying for PPC ads. The average online PPC rate depends on the size of a business as well as what industry the business is in, so you can see a range from $2.85 all the way up to $10. If you’re a smaller business, chances are that you’re not spending the $10, you’re spending the $2.85. A larger business is more likely to spend the $10. For simplicity across the board, a business may just want to use the average industry rate. It’s important to understand what you would be paying for each click given your business’s size and industry.

To learn more about the PPC rate that you should be using, call 904-824-8830 or email to schedule a free consultation.

Do employees who “like” a company’s page make it harder to calculate the ROI?

We don’t think so. Employees engaging on the platform factor into the formula, many of them may be some of the most engaged people on the page, especially early on. We relate this back to traditional media: if an employee of GM sees a television ad for GM, they still have the same opportunity to have an experience, engage with the brand, and more importantly, share the experience with others. So while the employee network may be interjected into overall return, it is still important because they represent the low hanging fruit, your referral base network, and an opportunity to engage with an audience that’s interested in seeing the brand expand. An engagement has value regardless of the “clicker.” There are different qualifications, factors, and weights that can be added in to the calculation to make adjustments to the overall value, but there is still value in every click.

If you’re still not sure, it’s good to engage Human Resources for their thoughts. HR knows that an engaged employee is more likely to stay employed and/or be more engaged in their job as well.

Is it more important to increase awareness first or to focus on growing engagement on social channels?

From an ROI standpoint, the more you can engage people the better you’ll be.  But it needs to start with awareness. We use the Cost Per Thousand (CPM) to calculate awareness in the #MMSROI formula, and CPM is a pretty standard number across the board. What it comes down to is that because the PPC rate is valued at more than an impression, you can see that increasing engagement will give you more bang for your buck.

Platforms reward you for engagement, which can help you increase your return over time. If you make a post to Facebook and no one engages with it, over time Facebook will start to show your posts less and less in the Newsfeed. This will make impressions go down, and impressions are a vital component to a successful campaign. It is important to get really clear, strong messaging out the door to build engagement so that, over time, you can build a case for the platform to show your messaging, share your information, and let the network work for you. So engagement becomes a key component of the ROI calculation.

Four questions and answers are not going to be enough to give you a total understanding of the #MMSROI formula, so be sure to join us for a full explanation this Tuesday, July 26th at 2 PM EDT. If you have any specific questions, post them in the comments below.

See you tomorrow!  


When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman gets her adrenaline pumping by watching turtle races. 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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Social Media Etiquette: Here’s A Definite No-No

There are so many social behaviors that can easily be associated with the phrase ‘good etiquette’: arriving on time, writing thank you notes, and men opening doors for women. (ok, that last one might be a lost art, but you get the idea).

What you probably haven’t thought about (as much) is the idea of Social Media Etiquette.  As online conversation and interaction become more & more a part of everyday life, it is important to think about the impact our words can have. Let’s start off easy by identifying a “Definite No-No”.

In March 2011, someone with access to the @ChryslerAutos Twitter account dropped the f-bomb when they tweeted: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive”.

Chrysler quickly took down the tweet and posted an apology saying that their account had been compromised. At the time, the account had 7,500 followers. Today (less than 2 months later), it has 10,000 followers. From the numbers, it looks like this could have been a publicity stunt (although unlikely). Let’s hope for social media etiquette’s sake, it wasn’t.

photo courtesy of

What’s the takeaway? If you have access to someone else’s account information, whether that be a friend, the charity you volunteer for, or a Fortune 500 company, double check before you make a tweet! (and especially before you tweet about #gettingslizzard)


Gerrilyn Koontz became a full time content manager for Make Me Social after graduating from Penn State in 2009. Originally from Birmingham, AL, she is happy to be back in the South living in Anderson, SC with her husband Erick and their cat Reid. 

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The Social Media Conundrum: What is a “Twittership”?

No, not “Tweetership”, I said “Twittership”. Now, I know most of you are probably thinking this is some cool new dating service, or possibly one of our best on the Atlantis, well sorry to crush your dreams all you hopeful lovers! Actually, this word really doesn’t exist in a formal sense.

This message is intended for all you soon to be college students (and parents, too). It’s not time to go back to school quite yet, but as some of you are sitting at home this summer or working endless hours at the mall (or working endless hours on your social networking) looking for ways to pay for your college education, I have come across several “Twitterships”, (a real scholarship and all you have to do is use Twitter).

Can you come up with 140-character tweets? If so, you may be able to help cover some or all of your college tuition. For example:

  • The University of Iowa is offering a full $37,000 scholarship to the MBA program as part of the application process for the person with the best 140-charcter tweet by July 28th.
  • is running a “Short & Tweet” campaign worth $1,000 to the winner by July 31st.
  • gave out an award for $1,400 for the best tweet highlighting how to use Twitter to improve the world.
  • In November 2010, KFC and the Colonel gave out a $20,000 scholarship for tweeting why you deserve a scholarship.

So what’s the conundrum? Show me the money? Not really. The question I really wanted to address is get to the point! Electronic and social media communication is about being timely and relevant, so get to the point … quickly. We need to feed our readers with straight-to-the-point information before it is lost. The end-users feed will only display your message for so long before new and more relevant info gets pulled in. You only have so long for someone to react or interact before they forget, lose interest or do not see your message anymore. Even universities are not ignoring the fact that writing styles and communication patterns are evolving and the typical 1,000-word essay may be a day of the past.

Leave me your best 140-character tweet in the comments section below or on our Twitter page with @srcommando on why you think Twitter can improve the world.

Until next time, keep it short.


Stephen Command is an Account Manager for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses.

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Formula for Success: Social Media ROI Calculation

Talking about social media ROI is a bit like discussing the meaning of life. You spend time debating points and theories, and while you walk away from the conversation feeling like you’ve learned something, you have no idea what to do with the knowledge.

Regardless of whether or not you are currently calculating the ROI of your social media efforts, most social media experts agree that your plan should align with the overall goals of your company. Across the industry, people are calculating ROI in many different ways. Some do it by examining the general sentiment expressed about their brand; others do it by looking at how many Twitter and Facebook coupons are being used by customers. Neither of these completely reflect the total social ROI. That is why we worked to develop a philosophy and formula that is so simple – yet so complete – that it can fit any business goals or desires.

In How To Calculate the ROI of Social Media, I mentioned that we have created a Social Media ROI formula that could be customized to match a company’s size and industry for a more accurate result. It starts with following the track of traditional ROI which is calculated using a standard formula that has been accepted and used across the business world for years. The Return on Investment is calculated by subtracting the cost of the investment from the gain of the investment, dividing it by the cost of investment and multiplying that by 100 for a percentage. The Social Return on Investment is calculated by subtracting the social spend from the value of the social media, dividing it by the social spend and multiplying that by 100 for a percentage.

But the BIG NEWS is in how you calculate the value of your social media efforts. Interested?  Watch and learn.

When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys teasing audiences with bits and pieces of formulas. 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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How to Calculate the ROI of Social Media

When someone asks me how they should calculate the “return on investment” (ROI) of their social media program, I tend to answer their question with a question (it is an awful habit that I’m working on breaking, but when you read my answer, you might forgive me).

I respond by asking them, “How do you calculate the ROI of your traditional communications programs?”

When the Make Me Social team sat down to create a formula that would allow us to calculate the true ROI of social media, we had a goal: “KISS”, as in, Keep It Simple Superstars. (We have a Positivity Policy and Keep It Simple Stupid was nixed by HR).

Social media has evolved into the next step in communications because it is marketing, public relations and advertising rolled into one. Therefore, if we can calculate the return of the parts that make up the whole of social media, we can calculate the return of social media itself.

The answer lies in properly valuing the different components of social media platforms as they correlate to the more traditional mediums. To do that, you need to have a strong background in traditional media, as well as a deep understanding of social media and emerging platforms. It also helps to have a team that includes some of the sharpest and creative minds in the industry, with decades of experience in one or more forms of traditional communications that they have adapted into strategies and best practices in social media. Sadly, we do not have any “social media ninjas” or “social media wizards” on our team. They were all lost in the great Ninja-Wizard Duels of 2011*.

Ninjas and wizards aside, our collective experience and education helped us roundhouse kick through mountains of data and conjure up a formula that allows us to value the impact of social media in the same way that you would value the impact of traditional media. We have taken the costs, values, and returns used across the communications world and converted them into costs, values, and returns that can be found in social media. These experiences have helped to shape our philosophy as it relates to social media.

To sum it up succinctly: we believe that all efforts should be guided by business objectives and should have measurable returns.

Our philosophy gave birth to a formula that can be customized to match a company’s size and industry, improving the accuracy of the conversions. It all boils down to Social VPM and Social VPC**

We’ll be diving deeper into how we developed the ROI formula for social media during Social ROI – Solved! a free webinar being held Tuesday, July 12th at 2 PM EST, 11 AM PST. During the webinar, we will define this new metric, dive deeper into how we developed the ROI formula for social media and give away a handful of free ROI reports to participants.

On July 12th, no more answering questions with questions. We will have the answer for you. To register, click here.

*Yes, I made this up. Good social media is action inspired by analysis, not the result of magic.
**Want to know more? You’ll need to register for our webinar!

When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys throwing glitter in the air to support the internal (it exists in her mind) Positivity Policy. 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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