Friday, April 9, 2010

Keeping Tabs

We've talked a lot about the tools you need to make your public relations and social media efforts successful.  Finding the right platforms, using video, targeting the correct audience, having a conversation strategy and staying interactive are just a handful of the things you need to do to make social media and public relations work for you.

But let's assume you've been doing all of these things and you still haven't seen a measurable jump in sales or traffic to your site.  Is it time to throw your hands up and say, "To heck with it!" and walk away?  We say emphatically, no!

There are a number of reasons why your efforts haven't garnered the kind of attention you hoped it would.  Kind of like when a car breaks down, it could be anything.  Sometimes it's as obvious as having a bad battery.  But sometimes it's just a hose leaking, or a fuel pump needs replacing or maybe your cellinoid is acting up (can you tell I've had car troubles recently?). 

The point is, every campaign, every effort can be tweaked to capitalize on your outreach efforts.  Rarely do you have to do a complete overhaul.  Often it's just a matter of tweaking your content or targeting a new demographic.  Sometimes, you also just have to have a little patience.

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day:

One of the biggest issues I run across with clients is time.  Many put up social media sites and then, 1) never really maintain them, or, 2) believe that just having an online presence will turn their fortunes around overnight.  This isn't the case.  It takes a little time.  You can be online every day for a month and you won't see a major spike in sales or traffic to your website.  But, just like laying a foundation for a building or a business, it takes time and nurturing to grow into the behemoth you want it to be.

Here's a simple tip that small businesses and non-profits should remind themselves every time they take time to update and manage their social media and public relations efforts:

•  The average social media and public relations campaign can take three to six months to truly show a return on your time and efforts.

Now, does this mean that you should just sit back and "let it ride" for three to six months before you make any changes to your campaigns?  Absolutely not.  Analytics are very useful for finding out who is going to your websites, where they're coming from, what they're doing while they're there and where they go after they leave.  Analytics programs are a very valuable aspect to your social media outreach, and should be used liberally.

Unlike public relations, which often has more tangible, immediate results, social media is like trying to herd cats.  One moment you think you're headed in the right direction and then things might suddenly change.  This is why you have to stay on top of it so much.

One problem with Analytics is that they generally only give you information on a few specific online sties such as your web page or your blog.  They don't really give you info. on your Twitter or your Facebook or your other efforts.

This article from The Daily Bloggr discusses the gap between traditional analytics and how you can really figure out the return on your investment or ROI for social media.  As always, click on the link for the entire article and to see the 10 tools.

10 Social Media Monitoring / Analytics tools for Measuring Social Media

Social Media ROI ? That’s a weird term to many of us, right ? Many think that there is no ROI to Social Media, and while this topic is up for debate, I’m saying – yes and no.
No because, we know that we don’t get social for the game sake. And yes because, there are brands and products who needs numbers and obviously results, for getting social.
Many brands are jumping into the social media bandwagon these days and are experimenting with things, that’s a fact. Many a times, knowingly or unknowingly we have engaged with them as well. So it makes sense for them to monitor it and see what the results are like.
Having said that, monitoring social media is not the regular analytics stuff, that’s where many go wrong.

I completely agree with the article when it comes to ROI for social media.  It's not like a traditional marketing or public relations campaign.  When dealing with PR, you can take real numbers and plug them right into your ROI statistics.  For instance, if you spent $1,000 on a public relations push and wound up with an article in your local paper and a spot on the local 10pm news, then you can look at the advertising numbers for those outlets and get a definitive ROI number.  Let's say it costs $1,200 to advertise for .30 seconds on the 10pm show, and $500 for a half page black and white ad in your local paper.  Then you essentially received $1,700 in print and broadcast advertising for you $1,000 investment.  This is easy stuff.

But with social media, it's not so cut and dry.  Certainly platforms like Facebook have started offering some weekly traffic statistics.  And Twitter has "Twitter Counter" which keeps tabs on visitors, followers and tweets.  But those don't delve nearly deep enough to give you a complete picture of the success of your campaign.

So often, it comes down to a gut feeling.  Do you feel as if your campaign is reaching the people it's supposed to?  Can you see a rise, even if slightly, in web traffic and sales?  If so, perhaps your efforts are paying off.

I have always advised clients to find out where their customers are coming from.  This is simple marketing 101, but so often I discover not enough small businesses and non-profits are doing it.  Getting direct feedback from the people who walk through your door will give you an immediate sense of who is responding to your social media campaign. 

I'm a big fan of "Social Mention," "Scout Labs" and "MAP" that are noted in the article above.  All three are very effective and easy to use.  Yes, some of these programs cost.  Not a lot, but there is a money investment nonetheless. 

However, there's an even easier way to check to see if your efforts are paying off.  Perhaps the best way, for me, to tell if a campaign is working is to simply look at the sites and see who is participating.  You will often get a number of fans and followers who will never post a comment, but who might check your site regularly.  However, take a look at who clicks on the "like" buttons, see who is actively involved in responding and participating in conversations.  Check regularly to see how many new fans or followers or friends have signed up in the past week. 

These numbers don't have to skyrocket, there simply has to be a rise in the bar.  If last week you had 100 friends or followers, and this week you have 108, that's okay.  That's 8 new people who took enough interest to join you.  Those eight people might have a number of other friends who will also take interest. 

Here's another item:  The more active you are in your social media efforts, the more likely it will be that you'll gather followers and friends at a faster rate.  There IS a cause and effect dynamic here. As the old saying goes, you have to be seen to be noticed.  And by being active, you'll be seen.

There are a few other issues that might be hampering your social media efforts. 

These are some of the biggest mistakes most small businesses and non-profits make when diving into the social media scene:

1.  You have no call to action - Every outreach effort has to have a call to action.  It might be as simple as, "Go to our website" or it could be something along the lines of "Do something to protect your posessions, we can help".  Either way, you have to motivate your viewers.  You have to give them a reason to actually do something like click on a link or buy a product or service or donate.  Too often organizations just put up information and leave it at that. 

2.  The content isn't appropriate -  When I was working on the Senior Olympics campaign, the client wanted to put content up that dealt with elderly medical issues in the attempt to push a healthy lifestyle as a way to avoid such medical issues.  This was off base.  People interested in participating in the Senior Olympics are already aware of the medical issues of growing older.  They wanted to see and hear stories of how participating in the S.O. could enhance their already active lifestyles.  We changed the content and suddenly interest rose significantly.  You have to make sure that the message and content you put on your platforms is appropriate for the audience you're trying to reach.  You wouldn't put Pat Boone up on a site designed to attract the under 30 crowd, would you?

3.  The content isn't interesting or useful -  Again, simply putting up information for the sake of posting is a bad idea.  Video is almost always interesting.  Articles that relate directly to the issues your followers are dealing with can be helpful.  You are now providing a service and becoming a resource for your friends and followers.  This builds brand recognition and loyalty, and those are things that can't be measure in any ROI sheet.

4.  Your efforts are too "salesy" - We don't go online to be unundated with sales pitches.  We go online to keep tabs on friends.  We go online to have fun.  We go online for information.  The magic of social media is that, if done right, you don't actually have to do any "selling" at all.  You generate a word of mouth campaign and your friends and followers do the selling for you.  People will always put more stock into something their friends tell them than something a salesman tells them.  You want people to see you as a resource, again, not as a salesperson. 

5.  You're targeting the wrong audience - If you're product or service is better suited to middle aged women who are college educated and married, but your on sites or in groups that are dominated by 22 year old students, then you're in the wrong place.  Sure, the site or group with the 22 year old students may have 7,000 members, while the one with middle aged college educated married women only has 900 members, chances are, you're going to get a lot more bang for your efforts in the room with a smaller membership than the larger one.  This is because the smaller membership sites or groups will be much more interested in your product or service.  As I mentioned in a previous entry, sometimes it's not about quantity, it's about quality.

6.  You're preaching to the choir -  This happens a lot with social media efforts.  You find a group or site that is ideal for your product or service.  You sign up and initially your traffic and sales might spike up.  But after a while, you see your numbers start to fall.  An example of this is a client I'm working with now. 

This client deals with spay/neutering issues.  So far their efforts have been targeting people who need their pets spayed or neutered.  But that demographic is pretty limited.  And, after a bit, you find that you're talking to the same people over and over.  But there are millions and millions of pet owners and animal lovers in the U.S. alone.  This is a fertile audience that just keeps growing.  Why not tap into this larger audience and spread the message among them?  While not all pet owners need to spay or neuter their pets, they probably know someone who does.  By targeting this larger audience, you stop preaching to the choir and you get your message and your call to action out among people who can, and will, help you spread that message and call to action.

Take a moment to look at your efforts.  Now take a look at the list above.  Are you doing any of these things?  If so, don't get discouraged.  These are all common mistakes and they are all easily fixed.  Start tweaking, start making some changes that will bring in new followers, new friends, a new audience. 

If you do this, you won't need a fancy analytics program to tell you what you'll already know; that your social media efforts are paying off big time.

No comments:

Post a Comment