As part of our first series of Facebook Lives on our free social media and digital marketing group, Social Souls – Sarah Kerrigan, social media evangelist and trainer at Jellyfish Agency, joined us for a LIVE. Sarah shared so many gems about how to optimise your Facebook Advertising campaigns. Talking, audience segmentation, how to optimise audience insights, getting your head round the practicalities of working with the Facebook Pixel and more… tune in here:
A few weeks ago, I decided to set up Social Souls. A private group specifically for people who have questions around social media or digital marketing.
Why set up a group? Well, pretty much, on a weekly basis, I get an email or a message asking me a question. Largely, the message goes something along the lines of…
‘Hi Michelle – in your capacity as social media ‘queen’, ‘guru’, ‘expert’ … (of which I am none by the way), … what do you suggest…, how do I do…, do you know how I…? Etc, etc.
You get the picture.
Don’t get me wrong, I love helping and supporting, I’m a natural educator – and where I can, I do. But the reality is, that … I don’t know everything. Yep, very comfortable putting that out there.
And really, honestly, who does?
I love the saying, ‘If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room’ – and I couldn’t agree more as in this ever-changing world of social and digital – we’re all continuously learning. It’s part of keeping up.
So, it got me thinking about the best way to facilitate a useful solution and voila – a group, titled, Social Souls was created.
I toyed with putting the group on LinkedIn – but then in reality, I asked myself the question, when did I last visit a LinkedIn Group? For some reason, Groups on LinkedIn seem to have significantly lost their momentum over recent years. Personally, I’m hoping there’s a resurgence because gathering a collective of like-minded individuals all with the purpose of sharing knowledge, asking questions and encouraging everyone to learn more and get smarter – can only be a good thing. Right?
For now, the group is on Facebook. After all – who isn’t part of Zuckerberg’s empire?
It’s early days – but so far so good. There’s a mix of industry professionals, educators, business owners, individuals, marketers, social media managers, PR and comms people. And the conversations and support are a plenty. In fact, this week, I received a telephone call, on my landline, (I know, unheard of), from one of the Social Souls – simply calling to say how much value they were gaining from the group and thanking me for pulling it together and curating content and questions. The main takeaway – people enjoy the group, are learning and finding it really useful.
As an avid reader, in fact, total bookaholic – when writing my latest book, ‘Get Social – Social Media Strategy and Tactics for Leaders’, (shameless plug pre-order if you wish ;), I was recommended to follow and connect with a few people. And a few of them had published books, so of course, as an author in the space, I’m always keen to learn from others. I was introduced to John Stepper, and his book, Working out Loud, which discusses real world examples of how working and workplaces are being transformed by ‘working out loud’. At the same time, (I often read in tandem), I started to read, Isabel De Clercq’s book, Social Technologies in Business. Isabel’s book, brings together 13 influencers in the social technologies space, each penning their own chapter and sharing their professional viewpoint. In fact, in many ways, her book is a perfect example of ‘working out loud’.
This also got me thinking about Social Souls – and the great things that were starting to happen just by simply bringing together a collection of people, with a shared purpose of supporting one another – with no other intention than to share knowledge and learn.
No selling, no pitching, no advertorials and certainly NO EGOs.
A safe place where people can feel free to ask ‘stupid questions’, in the knowledge, that no question is a stupid question – it’s purely an opportunity to learn, one to many.
Social Souls is also a great example of ‘working out loud’ – we’re all learning so much from one another. We share our views, our work, our experiences, our challenges – and the wisdom of the crowd provides practical real world, fast learning and support.
In fact, in a recent ‘live stream’ I did into the group, I called us a ‘smart organisation’. We are rworking smarter. Gleaning information from one another, cutting out unnecessary strife, hassle and time by learning methodologies and short cuts from others.
Someone else may have already tested and measured a specific tactic. And instead of one test going on at a time – perhaps 4 or 5 are being conducted – all individually doing their own work, yet bringing their work and findings back to the group – to glean insights collectively. Brilliant. We’re like a human algorithm.
If we were a true organisation we would be working really smart. No silos, no departments – just knowledge, learning, shortcuts and transparency. My kind of organisation.
This way of working is starting to happen. Yet it’s very much fertile territory. Social technologies in organisations are starting to break down silos allowing information to flow more freely. But what about bringing other organisations into the conversation? In Social Souls there are other ‘consultants’ in the social media space, a few of us, do exactly the same work. And that’s the real wonder. The fact that – it doesn’t even matter. We’re all learning from each other. Instead of keeping everything close to our chest for FEAR of someone stealing our ideas – we’re sharing our ideas and helping to generate more creativity, insight and know-how. We’re all learning smarter… faster.
So, here’s my big thanks to Social Souls, and everyone participating so openly and transparently. And teaching me a thing or two about the benefits of ‘working out loud’.
Meantime, would love to hear your views about the future of work, collaborative working, and not only breaking down silos within organisation, but breaking down silos within industries and sectors.
Over to you…
Michelle Carvill – Helping leaders and organisations to ‘Get Social’. Making a difference one leader at a time. Founder of digital marketing and social media agency Carvill Creative, Curator of Social Souls. Author of Get Social.
You or your business may already be fully engaged with social media. All may be going brilliantly. Your social activity is a huge success. Your audiences are engaged. Your campaign and channel strategies thriving. Your ROI clear and positive. If this is the case, then STOP reading this article, as it’s not for you.
This article is for those that are frustrated with social media activity. That frustration may manifest from personally feeling that you’re not doing enough, not knowing where or how to start or that you’re just not getting the results you desire. Or it may be the case that you’re frustrated that social isn’t being given any headspace in your organisation. There isn’t any buy in from the CEO or senior management.
If you’re still reading – then right now – I want you to think differently. I want you to forget the words ‘social’ and ‘media’ – and instead, I want you to contemplate the following words:
Customer Engagement strategy
Customer communications strategy
Customer outreach / feedback strategy
Perhaps these words / concepts aren’t as ‘current’ as the two words we’re forgetting right now – but if you think about the bigger picture – they give a far deeper meaning to the tweets, posts and pics shared as part of ‘social’ ‘media’ activity.
Every strategy should start with the question – why? Why are we/you doing this?
This approach helps you to uncover your purpose. You can then work backwards from your purpose. Figuring out the various steps required to get there. Helping you to be specific and bring some clarity to what you’re looking to achieve via social channels.
So your question right now is Why? Why are you doing/wanting to do social media?
The answer you get then steers all that you do. If you’re doing social because it’s 2017 and that’s what all businesses now do – then I suggest you stop doing it and go back to asking the ‘why’ question. Doing social just because everyone else is – is not a strategy.
For CEOs or senior leaders that consider ‘social media’ as nothing more than a time wasting, non-direct revenue generating distraction – (whether that’s your thinking or you’re hopeful to change someone else’s thinking) – opening your eyes to the deeper meaning and talking of client / customer engagement, communication strategies, outreach / feedback strategies, can help to overcome the short-sightedness.
Social media channels are enablers. Enablers to assist you to achieve necessary client / customer / new business engagement. Used as part of an integrated campaign or channel plan, they can steer or enhance activity. You may lead some activities via social channels – or you may plug-in social to support other channel activities.
Let’s face it – without getting caught up on B2B or B2C – let’s just contemplate P2P – people to people. There are more than a billion ‘people’ logging into Facebook daily. (And that’s just Facebook – remember there are many other channels where people spend serious amounts of time). Some of them will be your customers or your potential customers. If social media is where your customers are – then shouldn’t you be building the channels into your communication / engagement plans?
If you’ve got stuck in your thinking of what social is and why you do or don’t do social media – I ask you to step back and really answer the ‘why’ question from a strategic perspective. And then do a bit of a business reality check to address any potential gaps:
What’s your customer engagement plan / program?
How do you actively listen to what customers are saying about you / your business?
Where do you source ideas for relevant and engaging content?
How do you engage those customers/prospective customers who are active on social channels?
Is there an integrated communications strategy in place?
To those that still think of ‘social media’ as activities which are not business critical, then calling these important endeavours ‘social media’ – isn’t really doing anyone any favours.
So stop calling it social media – and step into the bigger picture.
The challenge we have as marketers and data analysts is that there’s now just so much stuff we can measure.
With more marketing channels than ever before – the role of the marketer is far from simple.
When deciding which channels to focus on and optimise – none of us can escape the necessary relationship with, and in some cases, dependence upon, data.
We’ve got mass reports, analytics coming out of our analytics, the opportunity to explore different aspects of analysis. All this data is giving us fundamental insights. Right? But this is where our ‘let’s get real’ heads need to kick in.
For me, my simple and pragmatic thinking brings me back to reality and helps me to focus on what really matters. And that’s the challenge I have with big or mass data – just because we can measure everything – is it actually useful and beneficial to do so?
Here we are, spending so much time trying to keep up with the data, running round in circles measuring everything and spending a significant amount of time monitoring and keeping on top of dashboards and stats – that potentially we’re taking our attention away from key fundamentals that really matter?
If we’re honest – there’s definitely a big ‘SO WHAT’ factor with many of the insights and stats that we as marketers rigidly spend time measuring and monitoring. Analytics – mass data – big data – programmatic data – call it what you will – the real question is – does what we are measuring actually matter.
Yes, it may be telling us stuff – but is the stuff it’s telling us actually important and does it fundamentally impact achieving key objectives?
Little Data – my hero of the day
Just as there are potentially different descriptions about mass data – I’m sure there are too about what I refer to as ‘little data’. From a very basic perspective – for me, ‘little data’ is about getting down to the nitty gritty of measuring what really matters. The key word here is ‘relevance’. Objectively driven metrics. I have a very simple ‘let’s clarify objectives’ model:
What does success look like? What objectives / outcomes are we looking to achieve?
What metrics / evidence do we need so that we can measure success or progress?
What simple discipline are we going to apply to ensure we are continuously capturing, monitoring and learning from these absolutely fundamental necessary metrics?
For me, what’s key is the development of a simple set of key metrics that help you to identify that the activities you are undertaking are actually delivering on your objectives. There’s real progress.
Of course, in order to deliver on your objectives – you’ve got to have very clear objectives in place. And in my humble opinion, this is where many businesses and campaigns fall down.
Having absolute clarity in what needs to be achieved and drilling down to the necessary metrics to monitor effective progress is often missing.
Measuring everything we can no doubt uncovers some interesting insights – but those insights are not necessarily going to keep our eye on the ball and keep us focused on delivering key objectives that ultimately make all the difference.
Little data, or objectively driven data, for me is all about ‘relevance’– they may be ‘little’ and few but it’s this ‘little data’ that focuses attention for BIG impact.
Whilst we can all get bogged down in ‘doing the doing’ – I find it so rewarding and energising when I take the time to get out and about to talk to people.
The last couple of months have seen me doing a number of talks – all about a similar and popular topic.
February saw me talking at The Chelsea Design Club about the practicalities of making social work for design businesses. Early March I joined Robert Harding at The Photographer’s Gallery to speak to a room of photographers about ‘getting social’. And just last week I joined the team at LinkedIn in the UK HQ to talk about social and ROI – and last week I joined Richmond Event’s Digital Marketing Forum – again, focusing on ROI.
There’s no doubt about it – social media ROI is indeed a hot topic.
So, what’s the magic ROI formula? What should people be measuring and what should they expect to see?
Of course, in all realms of digital marketing we’ve got data coming out of our data. Big data truly exists – and there are dashboards a plenty that will enable us to track our customer’s every move.
As a marketer, I do love data – BUT I only ‘truly’ love and respect data that is really useful.
Measuring what matters
And so that brings me to what I consider is really key for measuring ROI when it comes to social media.
I love the saying by Zig Ziglar – ‘Those that aim for nothing hit it with remarkable accuracy’. And I find this is particularly true when it comes to measuring what matters with social.
With social channels, you get a lot of data – much of which is highly visible. Followers, retweets, shares, engagement etc – and of course we can be measuring these aspects. But to really understand social media ROI – I believe you really have to be very clear on what it is you are looking to achieve at the outset.
It’s common knowledge that it’s unusual for social channels to behave as direct marketing channels – so sales directly achieved via Facebook and Twitter are unlikely to be anywhere near as direct as from other sources. So stating that you want 50 direct sales is potentially unrealistic (however, this does depend on activities and sector).
So, it’s about being realistic about what can be achieved via social and where social makes an impact. The wonderful Gary Vaynerchuk aligns social media ROI with the brilliant question, ‘What’s the ROI of your mother?’ – however, whilst I agree with much of what Gary V states – I do believe that there are some practical ways to measure social media ROI.
To review some of the more practical aspects of social activity:
Increase Brand Awareness
Here you may very well be asking:
Are we growing relevant followers? Note that relevant is a key word here.
Establish Credibility and Trust
Are we getting endorsements/shares from influential people?
How is our audience responding to these influencers?
Are those influencers extending the reach of our audience?
Connect with your Audience
Is your audience responding well to your content?
Is the content you share encouraging engagement?
What levels of shares, reach and discussion is our content achieving?
Find New Leads/Drive Sales
Is social activity bringing people back to your website?
Have we achieved a certain amount of sign ups / downloads etc.
How is social helping us to convert to sales / customers?
The above areas are by no means the only aspects you need to be considering – each campaign activity you undertake will have it’s own objectives. For example: you may set a target of partnering with 10 key influencers in your space – or connecting with influential bloggers. Once you have identified metrics that really matter – and have set off with the end in mind. Then, and only then, can you have any idea whether or not your endeavours are truly hitting the targets. (Remember, what Zig said – right!).
Having objectives at the outset can really steer your activity:
I have a very simple ‘let’s clarify objectives’ model:
What does success look like? What objectives / outcomes are we looking to achieve?
What metrics / evidence do we need so that we can measure progress?
What discipline will we apply to ensure we are continuously monitoring and learning?
Of course, these aspects don’t just apply to social – and once you know what it is that you want to achieve – and what those metrics / indicators look like – you can even start to apply a monetary value to them so that you can you work out exactly what ROI looks like.
Let’s create a rudimentary example to clarify the £ point:
Let’s say landing a guest blog on a pre identified influential blog has a monetary value to you of say, £500. If you therefore set a target of 5 such guest blogs over the quarter – then if you achieve the target – the monetary value (return) is £2500. Make sense?
In the world of social media – finding return on investment is possible – particularly if you have set out with very clear objectives. Therefore, don’t just dive in an engage – before you do – remember to do your planning and set out those objectives – start with the end in mind.
That way – measuring the ROI of social is a whole lot simpler.
It was back in 2009 (blimey almost 7 years ago now) when I blogged about right person, right message and right time.
The post largely focused on direct mail – and the fact that many of our clients were challenged by the fact that they were getting low response rates to their one hit wonder marketing attempts.
Of course, in the past 7 years – everything has changed and yet nothing has changed. The sentiment in the blog post I wrote almost 7 years ago remains the same – it’s just that tools, channels and technologies enable us even more with our endeavours to get the right message to the right person at the right time.
However, whilst the tactics haven’t changed, the playing field has. There’s now more content delivered to consumers daily than ever before.
With an abundance of content around – and technology at our 24/7 fingertips making whatever we need accessible to us – then there’s real skill required to get into the hearts and minds of your audience.
However, the practical tactics I talked about in 2009 remain:
1) A clear understanding of the purpose of the mailing (what need is it fulfilling).
2) Accurate and relevant targeting (the benefits may be great but if they’re not relevant to your audience – you’ve missed the point).
3) A way to compel and involve the reader to take action and respond.
So let’s take a look at the winning combination: Right message, right person and the right time.
Targeting is the first step in any campaign. Question your logic: who are you trying to attract? Who do you want to reach? Targeting is easier these days, but you still have to have systems in place to learn as much as possible. You need to have some knowledge of your audience, in order to be able to target effectively.
A great start to targeting is utilising existing customer information, their user behaviours, the journey they’ve taken to reach you and where possible, ask questions during your purchase processes where relevant to find out more about them. Such information should enable you to identify with them – understand what motivates them. The more you have the more you are able to profile them into segments that focus on them as real people rather than ‘batches of behaviour’. The more your know, the closer you can get, the more personalised you can be – the more authentic the relationship you can build.
There are many tactics and ideas for making your communications ‘stand out’. And indeed some businesses spend enormous amounts of money on gimmicks, creative and incentives both online and offline.
It’s worth remembering that what customers (aka people) are really looking for is relevance – they are far more likely to respond to a mailing which has an offer they are interested in, than to one which has a great design or gimmick, but is of no relevance to them.
Indeed, it’s easy to get carried away with the ‘attention grabbing gimmicks’ – this is the fun stuff. And whilst the ‘whacky’ designs may catch attention – what all communication experts agree on is the importance of ‘relevance of message’. In a time strapped world, if you’re going to ‘show up’ and be useful, then you need to be as relevant as possible.
Experts agree that the creation of the ‘message’ needs research and planning.
The focus of the message is to win attention and encourage your readers to take action. Some key tips to consider when crafting your message:
Be yourself – personalise communications as much as you can and demonstrate a sound knowledge of your audience’s business dynamics (if relevant) and a clear understanding of the obstacles they face. If the reader believes you have empathy with their situation – they are far more likely to engage with your message.
Don’t talk too much about yourself – readers are interested in what you can do for them – not what you do. Focus on the opportunities your products and services present for them. A good mantra is to uncover the ‘benefits of the benefits’. If you’re too ‘feature’ focused – you’re missing the critical element of what’s in it for them.
Use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ as much as possible and minimise the ‘we’s’. This will warm up your messaging considerably.
If there is an offer in your message – then be direct about it – and get the value proposition or the offer in early on in the communication. If you can save them £500 immediately (and if that’s a relevant message to them) – then tell them this in the headline. And of course, repeat the offer again at other points – don’t let them miss the opportunity.
Make it easy for people to buy/engage/take action. So often I read communications where I’m thinking – ‘what do they want me to do’. Be sure you have clear instruction of how to take action.
Be sure to keep any response mechanisms (in order for people to engage and take action) as simple as possible and where relevant provide a few response options. Don’t stipulate that orders must be done ‘online’ – as that may present an obstruction to buy.
A key aspect to all effective communication is ‘timing’. It’s very difficult to know exactly when your target customer is ‘ready to buy / engage or take action’. Of course, there may be some seasonal opportunities which determine an opportune time – and so consider this when planning. But remind yourself, that it still doesn’t provide any guarantees.
Timing is exactly why ‘one hit wonders’ are extremely rare – if evident at all. More often than not – deciding when to communicate, email, target – is more of a case of what you can internally manage and resource.
And that’s fine – provided that you don’t plan on doing communications or campaigns in ‘isolation’. By this I mean – that you do not attempt to attain the elusive ‘one hit wonder’ – but instead plan an integrated marketing campaign of which direct messaging is one component.
Regular communication is the only solution to the ‘right time’ problem. Even with sophisticated consumer behaviourial profiling, knowing just ‘when’ a customer is ready to buy – requires skills beyond the realms of our 5 senses. Of course, marketing automation helps us to keep moving those interested in what we’ve shared forward – but again, be sure all communications are as ‘human’ and personable as possible. Often – automated communications are obvious. I know I’m being marched through a funnel – albeit a sophisticated one. So make the experience as personable and personalised as possible.
Having continuous conversations with your audience is key as even if your offer is amazingly compelling – for many of the people you target, it may simply be a case that now is just not the right time for them. However, 6 months down the line – it may be the perfect time for them. And so – regular communication, providing genuine value with each message, allows you to build ‘share of mind’, loyalty, and eventually ‘hit the mark’.
Let’s think about it this way. Research in ‘sales activity’ tells us that the optimum number of times you need to ask the customer to buy in order to gain a positive result is 7. This tells us that regular communication is necessary to achieve the end objective.
So – right time, right person, right message, six simple words – yet a whole load of complexity in getting it right.
In a sea of sameness and overload of marketing messages, consumer offers and choice – making your marketing activity authentically personable and meaningful has never been more important. So taken on the challenge of complexity, commit to getting close to your audience so you genuinely understand their needs – and you’ve got a whole lot more chance of getting the right message, to the right person at the right time.
My message to you is that if you’re not investing time in learning – then you’re just ‘churning’. And my guess is, that’s not proving to be very effective.