Category Archives: Social media

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.

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

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


Cool New Navigation in Rebelmouse

Do you know Rebelmouse at 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 and 

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 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 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.