Author Archives: Tim Berry

You Don’t Control Your Brand. Your Customers Do.

Face it: You don’t control your brand; your customers do.

I like this simple 3-minute Jim Blasingame video explaining what he’s calling “The Age of the Customer™.” If you’re trying to run a business, you choose not to join in at your peril.

If you don’t see the video here, then use this link to the original on youtube.

Is Your Business Social Media Worth the Time and Effort?

Are you using social media for your business? Is it working for you? Last week Jim Blasingame, the small business advocate, asked his newsletter subscribers — not a random group, but one that does represent a lot of small businesses — this question:

Are the results of your social media strategy justifying the time and investment?

Jim Blasingame Small Business Advocate social media small business

Here’s what they said: 

16%
Yes, we’re using social media very effectively.
48%
Not yet, but we believe it will eventually be justified.
21%
No, and we’ve discontinued our social media efforts.
15%
We never started because we couldn’t see how it would produce sales.

I’m not surprised. Actually this matches what I’d guess from just talking to people. 

I believe two underlying truths explain this data:

  1. Most of the 15% who don’t see how it would produce sales don’t realize what they’re missing. 
  2. Most of the 21% who have discontinued their efforts were caught be the myth that social media just happens, in your spare time, without regard to business objectives, tactics, and actual execution. 

Do a Social Media Business Plan

What’s a social media business plan? It’s not a business plan document. It’s not about text. It defines specific strategy, tactics, and actions to be taken to develop social media power to achieve business goals.

This is my seven-step suggestion for making your own social media business plan. And, for the record, this is what we can do for you as a social media plan we develop, customized, for your business. Yes, we can do it for you. But first, we can tell you how to do it for yourself. My apologies for a longer-than-usual post, but it’s the key elements of the social media business plan.

  1. Business Objectives: Make it concrete and measurable. Look towards ROI. What’s the business objective?
  2. Market-defining story: Who are you trying to reach? What type of people? Do they live in a certain place? Are they a gender, economic level, education level, or some kind of affinity group like fans of a sports team or a certain make of car? Are they homeowners? Renters? Students? People who eat at one kind of restaurant or another? Tennis players, bikers, cat lovers? This is not numbers. It’s a description of people.
  3. Content to promote: Describe the key content you are curating to help your target market with useful and interesting information.
  4. Content to avoid: This is ideas you disagree with, that are not useful to your target audience, misconceptions and misunderstandings, content that a casual observer might think fits in your area but doesn’t match your preferences, your opinions, your expert advice.
  5. Friends: list the friends and allies you work with, companies that you co-market with, manufacturers whose products you sell, bloggers whose content you like and trust, etc.
  6. Platforms: What content do you put onto what social media sites and platforms, and why. You should be strategic. Some types of content, some target markets, some businesses are better suited for one platform than another. In most cases businesses should have a minimum presence on all five platforms, but focus most effort on one or two.
  7. Metrics for tracking: Go back to your business objectives and find the performance metrics you can track. That might be sales, leads, web traffic, sign-ups, store traffic, support incidents, likes, followers, Klout score, or whatever. Make sure it’s concrete and measurable. The test is whether you can use it to determine social media ROI later.

Social Proof: The Glue That Holds Social Media Marketing Together

This strikes me as an excellent explanation of a phenomenon that I’ve seen but haven’t yet been able to label:social proof blog post  Social Proof: The Glue That Holds Social Media Marketing Together:

“When a new prospect encounters your business or marketing for the very first time, there is one factor that will always give you unparalleled influence: social proof. This can come in a variety of different ways like product reviews, client testimonials, video testimonials, videos of you speaking in front of large crowds or on stage, showing how many Facebook fans and Twitter followers you have, etc.”

This is why businesses want to establish social media personas and keep them updated and relevant. A few tweets a day, a few posts a week, and good content of interest to your target market — that, over time, becomes social proof. 

Post author Melanie Dodaro offers more explanation, and some details, on that source post at topdogsocialmedia.com.

6 Short Videos on Social Media Business Plan

These are quick and simple, and I hope they’re helpful. They illustrate each of the main six areas you want to cover with your social media business plan.

In case you don’t see the videos here, you can click this link to go to the playlist on YouTube.

They don’t cover the complete social media business plan, because they don’t include the detailed metrics needed to generate performance tracking and ROI analysis. Those additional steps are coming. 

Here’s Why You Want to Blog

I read 6 reasons startups should consider selling to small businesses, not big enterprises on VentureBeat. I agree with all six reasons, and then some (but that’s a different post; more on that tomorrow). What struck me about this post today is the obvious great example of the value of good blogging. In this case, the eyeballs, and the links. 

VentureBeat on Startups

Consider the picture here, with my highlight on the link. Andrew Gazdecki wrote an excellent post and got VentureBeat to publish it.  VentureBeat is huge, prestigious, and gets a lot of traffic. So for his blog post Andrew got: 

  • The SEO benefits of a link from VentureBeat to his site. 
  • The traffic benefits of that link and people following it. 
  • The eyeballs, including mine. 
  • And this blog post. 

I’d never heard of Biziness Apps. I clicked, I looked, and I filed it away. I’m in the target market. I might follow up.

So that’s a good argument for business blogging. Right? 

Social Media in 2013

The YouTube intro:

What will be the social media trends of the year ahead? Jeff Jarvis, author of “Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live”, and musician and social media artist Amanda Palmer explore the impact of social on business, government, and individuals with The Economist’s Robert Lane Greene at The Economist’s World in 2013 Festival on December 8th 2012.

Near the end, Amanda says:

I’ve never seen a more positive change than hanging around on Twitter for the last couple of years.

In case you don’t see this here, you can click here for the original on YouTube.

10 Points on How to Calculate Facebook Business ROI

My last post here was about research showing most companies track social reach but only one in five tracks ROI (return on investment) by channel. So I’ve been thinking about how to do that. And this is the result, a study on tracking ROI on Facebook. 

Sherpa Marketing Blog Infographic Tracking Social Media

Return on investment takes two numbers: the investment is what you spend. The return is what you get back. And both have to go from vague and intangible to specific and in dollar value. 

What you spend is tricky, but manageable. It starts with the time that you spend either yourself, or people you pay. Then add in Facebook ads if you use them, time to prepare whatever ads you use, and the time and money in advertising for Facebook likes outside of Facebook. It’s a finite number. You can get a reasonable estimate. If you like jargon, we’re aiming here for the cost per social action (CPSA).

  1. Estimate time cost per hour spent by dividing annual gross salary by 1,000. So the person grossing $50K per year costs the employer $50 per hour. Click here for details. Include yourself. 
  2. Add the cost of related marketing programs. What you spent on Facebook ads is obvious. Also what you spent on coupons, or downloads, or freebies to generate likes. And if you market elsewhere for Facebook likes (like posters, or trade shows) add that in. Make a realistic estimate for what percent of a marketing program cost is owed to Facebook. 

What you get back, the return, is harder. It takes some judgment, estimations, and hypotheticals. 

  1. The most valuable Facebook likes are those that start a relationship. For example, I like your page to get an ebook I want to download, I do, I like the book, and I become a customer. Other examples would include a Facebook like that generates a visit to a restaurant, or one that starts a trial subscription to a  publication that ends up with renewal. 
  2. The least valuable Facebook likes are  fake likes, when programmers create false Facebook accounts and then program them to go like pages that pay them money for the service. A recent NPR piece said fake likes were selling for about $75 per thousand. They’re toxic, worse than worthless. Your business looks good at first glance but bad on closer inspection, when somebody decides to dig deeper. A fake like costs $0.075 but is worth a negative number when it exposes a business using sleazy tactics. 
  3. Somewhere in between most and least valuable are the less defines Facebook likes that come from a real person clicking a link and liking a page. Maybe they are customers, maybe not. It depends on the type of business, the page, the call to action, and a lot of factors we don’t get to know for sure. 
  4. Knowing the customer lifetime value (CLV) helps. This Wikipedia entry or this Google search will show you how to calculate CLV. I’ve dealt with two real-world examples lately: a gym has CLV around $450 and a subscription website has CLV of about $300. That’s not industry rules of thumb, those are two specific businesses. 
  5. In theory you could calculate the value of a Facebook like by taking the percent of likes that end up as customers and applying the CLV. If CLV is $450 and 10 of 100 Facebook likes become customers, the value of a like is $45. 
  6. Facebook likes can generate web visits that generate conversions to sales. It’s relatively easy to know overall conversation rate based on calculations that divide total traffic by units of sales. It’s also relatively easy to know how many web visits came straight from Facebook. 
  7. But we don’t get to measure everything. The data gets fuzzy fast. What if my wife found the restaurant on Facebook, liked it on Facebook, but when we eat there we use my name and credit card? Remember the old days when the restaurants had cards with the bill asking where you heard about them? That doesn’t work. Even web analytics fall down when people bounce around the web a while before following up on something they saw on Facebook. There are lots of measurement gaps. 
  8. Things that can’t measured can still have value. John Jantsch defines marketing as “getting people to know, like, and trust you.” A Facebook like might be an indication of that happening; but we don’t get to know. We have to guess. What’s the value of a negative comment on a Facebook site that alerts a business to a problem it might not have seen as quickly? We have to guess. 

Granted, some of these metrics are less than exact. But at least this gets you thinking about inputs and outputs, costs and benefits, and real business ROI. 

(Image: courtesy of marketingsherpa.com)