Monthly Archives: January 2013

Real Numbers on Facebook Ads

My thanks to Forbes.com, for summarizing Facebook ad numbers. Forbes was reporting COO Sheryl Sandberg’s latest conference call with stock analysts. She quoted these numbers from a detailed study. 

Facebook ad numbers Sheryl Sandberg

  • media plans that included Facebook reached people who would not have seen the campaigns otherwise.  In fact, 45% of those reached were reached exclusively through Facebook.  
  • Facebook had a 68% lower cost per acquisition and drove 24% more new sales than other online channels. Facebook built a deep relationship with PepsiCo, working with its Lay’s brand to drive sales significantly ahead of plan and a 5x return on advertising spend for their ‘Do Us A Flavor’ campaign on Facebook. 
  • 65% of Facebook’s advertisers are now using ads in news feed, which run on both desktop and mobile, up from 50% at the end of the third quarter.  
  • Measurement work with Datalogix has shown that ads in news feed also drive more than 8x the incremental offline sales than ads on the right hand side.

Not surprising, but still … for people still wondering about business on Facebook. 

Cool New Navigation in Rebelmouse

Do you know Rebelmouse at Rebelmouse.com? If not, take a look. It’s an automatic social media page, collecting and consolidating streams and collections of streams, always updated with every new update in the steam. Earlier today I posted 7 reasons I’m loving Rebelmouse on my main blog. 

We’re already using it on this site for our front page and blog page. And our Rebelmouse pages are at www.rebelmouse.com/smplans/ and www.rebelmouse.com/ourblog/ 

I went to my Rebelmouse dashboard today and discovered really interesting new navigation possibilities for Rebelmouse pages. Here is what I saw, annotated: 

To me, this is exciting. I’ve been using WordPress and the Rebelmouse WordPress plugin to include a menu with my Rebelmouse content. I can’t wait to see what I can do with the built-in tab menu on the site. 

(Disclosure: Bias. I’m involved with Rebelmouse. Google either Paul Berry or Megan Berry and you’ll see why.) 

Developing Your Social Media Platform Focus

(Note: this is the third in a series on developing a social media business plan. The first was about the market-defining story and the second about a social media SWOT analysis.) 

So, as a business owner looks into the world of social media, there are five big social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. How do you sort and select? Do you deal with all five, choose one and focus, or what? I get this question a lot. 

social media strategy focus

My answer depends on several fundamental principles of all business strategy:

  1. Everything is rooted in context. There are no valid general best practices. It’s all case by case. 
  2. Everything you do rules out something else that you can’t do. You have limited resources. You can’t do everything, so you have to do the right things. 
  3. My favorite quote, from Bill Cosby: “The secret to failure is trying to please everybody.”

And then it depends, obviously, on the business specifics. And no generalizations work all that well. But there are some general indications that help. For example: 

  • Each of these main platforms is busily copying what’s good about the others. They are growing closer together. 
  • Facebook tends to be more about people, individual consumers, products, events, fashions (except where pictures are the key; Pinterest = pictures.) Facebook is not giving up on pictures. 
  • Twitter tends to be more about content, ideas, links, topics, and opinions. Experts do better on Twitter. Bloggers, consultants, and publishers tend to like Twitter. 
  • LinkedIn is about companies and careers. That’s changing especially fast with LinkedIn’s latest interface, which is adding the more popular features of Twiter. But if you want to reach businesses, and business owners (classic B-to-B) they might be in LinkedIn. 
  • Google+ is new and exciting. Techies love it. It’s built from ground up to do social media better than the other biggies. Detractors say it’s for Google employees. 
  • Pinterest is pictures. It’s more women than men. It’s full of great photos, plus posters, mottos, humor, and pictures of products. I saw an infographic saying Zappos gets more web visits from Pinterest than from Twitter. 

So what do you do with all this? Do all five? Here’s what we say about that:

  1. Focus on two or even one of the main platforms. Put the effort there. Post, read, engage, curate content, represent your business. For most businesses, that’s either Facebook and Twitter, or one of those two. 
  2. Yes, a real business has a presence on all five. It’s business, and people will search for you where they like to search, not where you want them to search. Don’t be absent. We’d recommend differently if you couldn’t post a profile on each of the big five without having to develop new business graphics, or new messaging. Just accommodate what you already have. It’s a matter of hours. 
  3. For the non-priority platforms, don’t just set up a profile and let it go. Take a minimum effort to maintain a presence. That could be as easy as five or ten posts per week on each, requiring a total of 20 minutes per platform, a half a morning per week. 

And which work for you? That’s a strategic decision. It depends on goals, business type, resources, people, and your specific identity, strengths, and weaknesses. 

Developing Your Social Media SWOT

(Note: this is the second in a series of posts developing the components of a useful social media business plan: the social media SWOT. The first was about the market-defining story.)

SWOT — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats — is my favorite framework for getting into strategy. I’ve used it for years. In groups, it generates good discussion, brings people into the process. And it brings out all three of the main elements of strategy: identity, market, and focus. 

To do it yourself, remember the basic rules of SWOT: 

  1. Divide a piece of paper, whiteboard, or tablet computer drawing space into four parts as shown in the illustration here. SWOT analysis drawing
  2. Collect your thoughts in each of the four categories. Use bullet points. Jump around the categories because some thoughts will generate other thoughts. For example, our virtual locations in Oregon and the Silicon Valley are both strength, in our case, and weakness. 
  3. Remember the classic rules of brainstorming: collect a lot of points. Don’t criticize and argue and refine and select only the best. First, get them all down. Filter and digest later. 
  4. Consider the division down the horizontal middle: above the middle, strengths and weaknesses are internal. They are attributes of your business. They’re like your own personal strengths and weaknesses; they can be changed, but not easily. It takes time. And effort. Opportunities and threats, on the other hand, are external. They are out in the market. You can predict them, analyze them, work towards opportunities and away from threats; but they aren’t something you control. 

Remember that in this case we’re talking about your business’ online presence. It’s not the business itself, or the entrepreneur; it’s just the online presence. Think of it as your website and your position in the social media big five (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+). 

Examples of strengths: good site, good profiles, good content, lots of likes, followers, tweets, pictures, links retweets, friends, etc. 

Examples of weaknesses: no presence in some of the big five, no content, poor  content, inconsistent content, no focus, no strategy. 

Examples of opportunities: something you can give away in exchange for likes and follows, easy freebies, readily available content, curation of content (my favorite is Rebelmouse), events, promotions. 

Examples of threats: competitors’ pages, content, engagement, branding, presence, success. 

The SWOT is a great entry into strategy. And a social media SWOT is a great first step to a social media business plan. 

3 Silly Reasons To Quit Social Media

This is just so silly it’s fun: the 3 Reasons You Should Quit Social Media In 2013 are, according to a Forbes.com post over the weekend: 

3 silly reasons to quite social media

  1. It harms your self esteem.
  2. Your blood pressure will thank you.
  3. Online is no substitute for offline.

Two of these are just fun — bad research, obviously — and one just silly. 

Harms your self esteem, supposedly, because of research the post author cites…

… a UK study from the fall found that over 50% of social media users evaluated their participation in social networking as having an overall negative effect on their lives. Specifically, they singled out the blow to their self-esteem that comes from comparing themselves to peers on Facebook and Twitter as the biggest downfall. 

Now that’s obviously bad research. Poorly phrased questions, a non-random list, or some other flaw. And, by the way, proof that these days you can find research to prove any crazy assertion you want to make. 

And as for social media being bad for blood pressure, that’s because … 

Social media a hotbed of bad behavior – flame wars, bragging, bashing and crimes against grammar, among other misdeeds.

So if that’s a worry, then don’t drive a car, don’t talk to people, and, well, don’t get out of bed. Don’t read news. Don’t turn on the television. Sleep a lot.

As for the third reason, online being no substitute for offline, the post makes a good point.

Almost a quarter of Americans say that they’ve missed out on important life moments in their quest to capture and memorialize them for social media. Think about that the next time you’re Instagraming your anniversary dinner at P.F. Chang’s.

So there’s a good lesson in that, and a good reminder. We’ve all seen that happening, most of us have done that. But wait — is it really all or nothing? Either quit social media altogether or get lost in your phone when you’re with people? That’s not great logic. How about take the real nugget out of that one, and draw some borders. 

Final thought: that’s a good title, though: 3 reasons to quite social media. It got my attention. Contrarian titles work. 

The Storytelling at the Heart of Future Marketing

My thanks to Social Media Today for embedding this video on their post titled 4 ways to prepare a Facebook content plan. That’s a good post, too. Especially this, prepared by Coca Cola, on what they call “passionate storytelling.” regarding future marketing. This is golden.

And what about a company of the size and scope of Coca Cola, one of the grand old brands that made traditional advertising great, a warlord of major media, sharing the intellectual highlights of its new-world thinking?

I’m impressed.

Are Tech Conferences Distorting the Business News?

Does friendship affect Journalism? Last month I noticed Dave Winer’s tweet about so-called access journalism:

newspapers

The emphasis there is mine. I care about journalism, was a journalist for years, have a grad degree in that subject, but I had to guess what access journalism is. And that note about  crossing lines and things forbidden by unwritten rules was irresistible. So I clicked the link. This is from Dave’s piece:

In an earlier life, as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, I was good at the access game. I traded ideas and news with reporters, and in return they wrote nice things about me and my product. I’m sure many of them actually liked our products, but the reason they looked at them, or even heard of them, was this exchange of favors.

That’s true. I was there back then, consulting, writing software, and making ends meet by writing for business and computer magazines, and, more than once, interviewing Dave Winer. He wrote some ground breaking software and was combination of entrepreneur and pundit, a great interview. 

But I’m not so sure about his next point:

When you don’t do this, they pretty much ignore you, or worse. I’ve had a fair number of very negative jobs done on me by the press after I gave up the favor-doing. … The people who control access to users through the press play a dirty nasty game. And many of them have business cards that say they’re journalists.

So that, I guessed, was what he’s calling access journalism. And that, for the record, is an issue that started about 100 years before the Internet or social media. Although we didn’t use the phrase access journalism, the friendship relationship between journalist and source was a big issue even back in 1971 when I was in grad school in Journalism and started working with a wire service. And furthermore, it was also a big deal in the late 60s when my generation of college students took on the world, we mistrusted major media as part of the so-called military industrial complex. Big business, major media, oh my. My generation assumed what Dave calls access journalism was the norm, not the exception. 

And honestly, the years that I was full-time journalist in the 1970s, covering business and economy of Mexico for Business Week, I depended on relationships with business and political leaders to keep me on top of the information flow. Access was vital. I couldn’t have done the job without it. 

And time marched on. so now there’s social media, and a new kind of amplified friendship. And the rise of celebrity as power. Are these different issues, or the same thing Is it a different set of issues? These changes certainly make access to sources easier. I had just the phone, and mainly the phone to the receptionist or secretary as gatekeeper. 

Dave’s picture of the dark side of this doesn’t match my memory of those days exactly. Still, I went on to read both of the pieces he links to: First, Margaret Sullivan’s New York Times column questioning the Times’ own Dealbook conference, which featured, she says:

Big Wall Street names, flashy graphics, edgy Global Chill music, weighty discussions of economic challenges, a few good laughs and even some news tidbits. 

But didn’t include: 

A great deal of distance between sources and those who cover them — something traditionally thought to be a bedrock journalistic idea.

Dave also included Felix Salmon’s answer to that, in his column for Reuters:

Sullivan thinks that the conference debases the NYT’s editorial independence: given that you can’t run a conference without boldface names, she says, “the Times’s indebtedness to these sources lurks in the shadows”. To which I would say: quite the opposite. When you’re running a conference and your sources are right out there, in the open, on stage with you, that’s the limelight, not the shadows. The shadows is what we’re given the other 364 days of the year, when innumerable stories are written on the basis of off-the-record conversations with these exact same sources.

I think it’s an interesting debate. I see two sides, and I’m glad Dave covered both sides, by linking to them. What do you think? Is this an issue we should worry about? 

(Image: istockphoto.com)