Smoke Signals and Messaging.

Most recently I sat in the vast ocean of audience that was listening to a keynote from @JesseHirsh CBC’s national correspondant in technology, thinking to myself what Social Media consists of for the audience.

Jesse mentioned that “Social Media” really began with smoke signals, this dates back to ancient china when soldiers would send smoke signals to alert their countrymen over 750 kilometers away. This was really significant to me. Every time I face clients who are apprehensive about “social media” I’m of the view that this fear is really fear of the unknown. However, this media is already “known” to them, it’s merely an extension of their current communication strategy. The tools have changed but the game is the same.

If you believe in Marshal Mcluhan’s “the medium is the message” then the message may be different, however the goal is the same. The real change is in the tools, much as the evolution from radio, to television to internet, all of these mediums have relied on similar content. The most important thing we can teach is the tools.

Our mission should be to build the confidence in clients that they already have message, and that we can transform that message to fit the new mediums.

Social Media isn’t about followers, or fans, or click-through rates, it’s about building relationships with your network. Once that network is built on trust and value, then you can start looking at the numbers.

Those numbers are the measure of success but can only exist if you understand the reason behind the smoke signals.

Measuring your Twitter Klout

Recently, when asked by a client how they could properly measure their success versus competitors on Twitter, I defaulted to my typical answer, but then thought it out a little more.

Initially I thought of or After my cursory view of both the client and their competitor I noticed that, although the client had a much more thought out content strategy, the competitor scored higher on Klout and Kred.

After my first look, this made me think of the obvious issues that already exist in measuring Twitter success (I have reluctantly relied on these sites). Of course, they provide at least some input on the matter; they have ever improving analytics of  true reach and amplification. However I have yet to see a site be able to provide a strong measurement reflecting content effectiveness.

It is my hope that Klout, while integrated with Facebook, may be able to integrate with link shortening applications to measure engagement and click throughs on content. The actual consumption of the content can be easy to measure if you own the short links however it is quite difficult to know whether or not your RTs are being read or not. Most will contend that these will receive more RTs, however that’s likely an assumption of consumption.

No matter how you slice it, we are currently missing a big piece of the analytical pie on Twitter. The question is, which service will fill the gap first?

4 Wishes for Online Marketing in 2012

5 Wishes I hold as a consumer for 2012

  • Increased personalization :  we delete or do not open the majority of newsletters we are included on simply because they aren’t relevant to us. I’m not saying writing my name in the Subject line or first line of an email gets marketers any gold stars, but when I receive a message from an organization which carefully tagged my interests – I care.
  • Less is more : moving away from the theory of sending X number of messages per week and instead having a content strategy that gives flexibility for timely messages and doesn’t look to “fill dead air”. 
  • Ground-level use of presumed relevancy : while Google and Facebook use this as the core of any user experience, I would love to see major online brands start to use this to form their user experiences. I think of websites that produce high levels of content, have many users and diverse interests. For example, the NFL has 32 teams and threads of fans that dislike seeing positive news about each other. While many of them will let you identify a favorite team, few of them center your user experience around it.
  • Elimination of  ”Find us on Facebook” : every consumer knows you’re on Facebook – give them a reason to visit, not a challenge in finding you.

Thoughts of the week

I’ve had a lot of sporadic Facebook ideas throughout this week and I decided simply to write them down!
Facebook Ads: Target fans of your page on their birthday, with no specific call to action. Likely, they wouldn’t click on your ad, however, the positive brand interaction will still be fostered and at little cost (if any at all).
Increased Status Targeting: Recently, Facebook Marketing Solutions put out a post increasing the awareness of highly targeted Facebook ads specifically. This functionality is something I have been looking for to bleed into status updates for a while now. The ability to target specific areas of interest within a page update would be hugely efficient for Facebook pages. To me, this could be an area to become monetized. This would combat FB’s un-monetized server stress and would allow for interesting local contests.
Foursquare’s Event-based venues: This one I have been anticipating for some time. Soon, Foursquare venues will be able to have specific events in a venue. For anyone who manages a concert venue, or multi-sport facility they will be able to customize mayorships and check-ins. Annually, one of my projects, creates a venue at a large convention centre, I am curious to see where ownership of these time-sensitive venues would land.
Facebook as Google+: If you find the idea of circles attractive within Google+, you should know that Facebook has had the same ability for some time. Granted, in a stealthy presentation, FB has allowed you to write general status updates for specific friends to see only. Using the customization on your post, you can drill down through 4 layers of settings and ensure that only your BFF sees your link about the new Keanu Reaves movie.

Social Capital – Your Reputation

“Respect is not given, it is earned.”

The same is true for social capital. For brands, it is becoming increasingly difficult to convert visitors to followers. Gone are the days of associating with a Facebook page simply because of a given affinity. The value has to be identified quickly and delivered upon constantly.

Facebook page’s, Twitter accounts and Websites, they all garner attention based on content. This much I made as clear as possible in my last presentation at PSEWeb. The real important thing here is that each page, after converting a follower, has a finite amount of what some call Social Capital. In a nutshell, how long you are willing to tolerate items you don’t care about until you Unlike, or Unfollow.

Each post you create factors into your social capital, everytime someone sees your name, you either increase or decrease in their mind. A brand, a politician or a friend, your brain becomes conditioned to either ignore or pay further attention to that brand.

Your social capital should be guarded fiercely, every post should be strategic and vetted. It’s hard to believe that many big brands aren’t customizing their posts, their websites or tweets. Even on a personal level, thinking of who will actually want to read your content will drive you to be relevant, interesting and timely. When you hit these three components you’re in the #baconzone.

Viva la baconzone.

King Content : A social media audit

I presented this topic to the #pseweb conference in Toronto recently. It did spark some debate among colleagues and it was great to see people really start to consider what they want to post on their own social media pages.

We took 10 Canadian University and College pages from accross Canada and analyzed their levels of interactions per post on Facebook. The results were very interesting and correlated nicely to the overall impact of the Facebook page. Have a look.