Earn Clout with Social Influencers

Do you current acquisition campaigns include social influencers? They should.

Social media is lauded for its high engagement value, yet many marketers are struggling with how to measure it, never mind how to use it to move the needle on sales. Hell, many marketers and companies have yet to commit the time or the resources to leverage SoMe effectively for engagement — despite the benefits.

That’s why I love the great examples out there like this article on how the Sacramento Kings used Klout to tap into the power of social influencers. There are tons of articles out there that discuss all the reasons you have to use social — this blog alone offers up a bunch. Yet this article touches on the true viral power of brands tapping into social influencers who are capable of shaping behavior across their whole social networks.

Nothing like other people doing your job for you.

Think this approach has merits? Take a good, long look at it’s application on the micro-local level, where community-based doctors, restaurants and other local business could reach out to prominent local influencers — perhaps members of social programs, sports leagues or PTA boards. Give them a good experience or an offer, and the word spreads fast and drives local business as soon as those influencers tell their social networks about it via Facebook, Twitter or other means.

Think of it’s application to healthcare, where innovative academic centers and community practices could reach out to prominent patient advocates and community leaders. Work with those influencers to create events in the facilities and practices or host Twitter chats, and the social impact spreads to core consumers of healthcare services in those networks. Recent studies show a “graying” of social networks due to the huge number of older Americans flocking to them, and one of their most popular online activities is searching for and sharing healthcare information. One of my blog posts for Oncology Times discuss this phenomenon. So the opportunity is definitely there to make an impact among healthcare consumers with the right outreach to social influencers.

How do you identify and reach social influencers? Well, you can work with experts like Klout, or you can set up an effective social listening station of your own and begin to closely monitor and filter the conversation in your markets or areas of interest. Many tools out there set up those powerful filters that can be as granular as you need, and you can build your own dashboard to analyze and rank influencers. Radian6 and Alterian are two of the better products available, and the cost is not significant.

Need another example? During an online demo of Radian6, I tweeted about it. Less than 10 minutes later, I had a tweet back from Alterian acknowledging my interest in social listening software, with an offer to access information about their product. Now here I sit, virally spreading that experience and education. It’s a whole different and more meaningful way to influence customer behavior.

We’ll discuss more about social listening in an upcoming post, yet in the meantime I recommend you charge ahead and become more familiar with it starting right now.

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Is This the Browser of the Future?

Sometimes it’s the little things.

In this case, the little thing may turn out to be a big thing. It’s been fun to take a good, long look at and play around with Rockmelt, the new browser that integrates a variety of social elements to make browsing a true social experience. At first playfully called the “Facebook browser,” it’s built on Chromium, has Facebook integration, and certainly has an interesting feature set.

Now, instead of having a variety of windows, tabs and programs open, you can have full access to major social media sites as part of your one browser window. At various points around the window there are toolbars and icons that provide rollover and/or one-click access to your information streams from Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other places. You can also perform the standard set of functions like share, retweet, like, etc. There’s also a search bar for access to dynamic type-to-search results and a navbar listing your most important friends on the left, with mini-window access to detailed info, wall commenting, etc.

It is definitely a highly social experience, yet I expect a slow adoption rate. There are still a ton of folks who just want to search for things, do research and read online — without the omnipresent stream of information from the socialsphere. I think that eventually the overall ease of monitoring your socialsphere at the same time you’re doing whatever you do online will be something that’s inevitably hard to refuse for most. It’s certainly gotten mixed reviews, but I think Rockmelt has something here, even if it takes time to grow in adoption.

For marketers, it means not necessarily having access to fans and followers in the confines of your fan page or a Twitter client. Your fans or followers may now see your updates and offers in a small window in a nanosecond.

All the more reason to make your social strategy built upon solid content, so you have engagement and your customers find value that lets you stand out from the crowd.

What do you think about Rockmelt — fab or flop?

Interesting Effort: ESPN Audibles

Sometimes it’s just lose-lose, and that’s all it is. You try new stuff to try to improve and be different, and people find something to ding you on anyway.

Marketers always search for that Holy Grail of integration, where the message sings the same across all channels and the customer experience is stellar no matter where the customer finds you.

In pursuit of those lovely things, brands certainly look for ways to facilitate interaction and dialogue to make the experience customer compelling. Enter an appreciable effort in that regard that deserves a good, long look: ESPN Audibles.

It’s a new football talk show on ESPN where — much like a quarterback calling an audible play at the line of scrimmage — fans can change the topic of conversation by posting a question via Twitter or Facebook. Talk about interaction. Who wouldn’t be interested to see their question change conversation among experts on national TV?

I think this is one of the most tangible examples to date of integrating a traditional channel with social media. We all know sports fans are fanatics — hell, they drop billions each year on fantasy sports. So it’s not a stretch to expect a large throng of social-savvy fans to show up on Twitter and Facebook to tweets questions during the show. And for the broadcast lovers, what better way to draw them into social than empowering them to influence their preferred medium?

While Audibles has its share of critics — even for the panel’s choice of socks — it’s not just another contest or discount offer that marries social into the picture. It’s a solid effort to integrate social and traditional channels using content as the backbone. And it provides the audience with real-time control over the content to some degree. That’s a pretty enhanced experience.

And for those football fans out there, it’s an interesting mix of some of ESPN’s most opinionated analysts, including Trent Dilfer, Keyshawn Johnson, Steve Young, and Herm Edwards. Check it out.

What’s Your Approach to Social Already?

You’ve had ample time to learn all about social media.

Surely by now, you’ve read articles from experts, tested the waters, followed conversations, found customers, began dialogue, produced content, set up outposts on Facebook and the other places where your customers congregate, integrated social with your other channels, and set up a social listening station for your brand/company. You’re a social authority now.

Right?

Unfortunately — and unbelievably — the answer is still “Wrong!” for many marketers. More importantly, many who have make the foray into social media aren’t doing it right. I go back to the great point made in one of my earlier posts about the ways to approach social media:

Social media is like a cocktail party. Do u shout “BUY MY PRODUCT”? Ask for business cards? Or just meet people and talk?”

If I could only count how many times I get cheesy emails through LinkedIn offering nothing but a pitch, or shallow @ replies on Twitter with a salesy comment and a link. Even when used as a “sales tool” social media is no less consultative than face-to-face selling — does the ease of typing and sending email diminish my own interest as a customer in finding the right solution?!?!

Even in this salesy slide deck on using LinkedIn as a sales tool, the salient point is that you have to invest time in building a meaningful network based on knowledge and trust, not used-car-salesman-quality emails and tweets.

Please, marketers — if you haven’t yet gotten up to speed with social and how to leverage it, take the time to read a few articles, talk to some experts, and integrate it into your strategy and with your other channels.

My next post will explain exactly how.

New Acronym, New Urgency to Measure Your Social Media Metrics

It used to be so simple.

At first, social media was easy because the standards of traditional marketing didn’t fit. It was new and different. It was personal and customer-driven and you were just feeling it out. It was Facebook and Twitter and what was to measure? If you knew how many Duggs you got on Digg you were ahead of the game.

But now that you invest time and resources in those customer conversations, it’s time to take a good, long look at what you get out of it in the traditional sense of marketing ROI. Even if you can’t or don’t need to measure down to an actual sales or revenue-driven metric, you should look at some the standard metrics of involvement and engagement in social media — followers, friends, comments, retweets, etc.

That’s where this helpful blog post from MediaPost (courtesy of @B2BOnlineMarketing) comes in. It suggests adding a new choice to the marketer’s toolkit of measurement metric acronyms: CPSA, or Cost Per Social Action.

The main benefit of CPSA is that marketers know they’re paying for something social and relationship-oriented. More importantly, marketers know they’re not specifically paying for exposure, traffic, conversions, or interactions (though those can all provide additional value). It’s an acknowledgement that social media is something else, so it’s deserving of a new model, one that stresses relationships above all else.

I like this logic alot. In social media, engagement and interaction is the holy grail, no matter what your goal. Whether you need to plant a flag as an industry thought-leader, or build followers for a Facebook page so you can reach them for a much lower CPA than other channels, the need to measure CPSA at some level is now an expectation. And it’s different that traditional measurement, because relationships are less tangible yet potentially more valuable in the long term.

The article does post a great question that only you can answer:

What’s a social action worth anyway? The further anyone veers from reach and sales, the harder it’s going to be to tie this into marketers’ traditional metrics.

Depending on your ultimate goals for your social media involvement, the true worth is for you to determine. For some, bigger Authority on Technorati may be the most valuable thing for your blog, while for others it may be Facebook followers, Twitter retweets, overall size of your social network, or something else. Or maybe you have a different way of measuring worth already that’s more complex and gives you a sales-driven ROI.

No matter what the answer to the question is, it’s definitely important to charge ahead and embrace CPSA as a new and valid metric that we look at often.