This week it’s my pleasure to be joined by Stephen Monaco who is the author of a new book on social media marketing strategy called Insightful Knowledge (you can download a free chapter here). Stephen has been kind enough to give us his thoughts on social media marketing and social analytics.
Stephen is a pioneer in digital marketing. He is recognized as one of the first to engage online communities back in the days of the BBS; six years before the web browser was invented. In 1987 he was using the strategies and tactics that are now considered best practices for social media marketing – and built a global brand in the process. Stephen has contributed to MarketingProfs, B2B Marketing, Business 2 Community, and Soshable. Stephen writes at his blog but, if you prefer your books under 140 characters, follow him on twitter @Stephen Monaco. You can also find him on Google+.
Welcome to Web Analytics World Stephen, For the TL:DR* audience – if someone reads your book, what is the one thing that you want them to have taken away from it? (*too long, didn’t read)
If nothing else, the one take away should be tactics follow strategy – strategy must be tied to specific, overarching business objectives defined by senior management.
You write that “the fact that so many things can be measured doesn’t mean all those things should be measured.” What do you think is the most overrated social metric?
The number of fans and followers a company has is the most overrated social metric. It’s merely a snapshot from a moment in time and on a standalone basis doesn’t indicate very much at all.
What would you say is the most underrated social metric?
Determining conversions on each social platform from each social marketing campaign that led to new customers and how much money each of those new customers spent.
What does the future hold for social analytics? In which areas are we likely to see big advances? Do you foresee a move towards standardised analytics for social?
There will be tremendous growth in the area of social analytics. Please allow me to provide some perspective. Every two years the amount of new data generated doubles. Seventy-five percent of that data is generated by consumers. Yet 99.5% of new data is never analyzed. The data generated by companies’ customers contains gold mines full of valuable information that can be mined and analyzed to provide keen insights – business intelligence from actionable information that enables companies to make smarter, data-driven decisions.
Big advances will come as companies finally begin to tap into the abundance of data they already have sitting idle in their databases, and continually use social media monitoring tools to “scrape” data from the world’s largest unstructured data set – the social web. Data is the new gold.
There will also be advances in the use of data scientists, a term that didn’t even exist five years ago. Currently there is a dearth of talent in this area, and demand already exceeds supply. I foresee more educational institutions offering curriculum in the field of data science.
I don’t envision a move towards standardization with social analytics anytime soon. The business intelligence and actionable information buried deep within data sets varies dramatically from one company to the next. Each company has their own business goals and objectives. The insights discarded by one company as irrelevant could easily be treasured by another company.
You mention Sprial16 as an option for sentiment monitoring tools. Are there any others that you would recommend for SMEs and what features would you recommend SMEs look for in sentiment monitoring tools?
Spiral16 is the social media monitoring / listening platform I use and recommend for collecting relevant data for brand monitoring, lead generation, Share of Conversation, competitive intelligence, just to name a few things besides determining consumer sentiment. Spiral16 was very early to market in what is now a very crowded space, and they have great expertise in the niche and are regarded as “Best of Class” by industry analysts who specialize in this business sector.
A few other popular companies that have social media monitoring offerings include Crimson Hexigon, Sysomos, Alterian SDL SM2, Lithium, and Radian6. There are literally dozens of “me too” companies in this sector.
You write that “ROI is elusive [but not impossible] for social marketing” and that “”intangible assets like brand value are extremely advantageous.” You don’t think this difficulty should be used as an excuse for inaction telling us that
“By all means, measure everything you can by establishing applicable metrics and KPIs, but when all the information you’d love to have isn’t available when it’s time to make decisions, those decisions must be made with the information that’s presently available.”
Are there any important effects of a social media campaign that are entirely intangible and impossible to measure? If so, how should we account for such things in our strategic plans?
Many aspects of social marketing campaigns are entirely intangible for the vast number of companies that don’t take the time, invest in the software tool sets, or allocate the financial and human resources for measurement.
Even without the valuable feedback provided by measuring social marketing initiatives, strategic plans for social marketing should always be directly tied to well-defined, well-prioritized, overarching company business objectives.
Is Facebook here to stay? Are the shares overvalued? What do you think could be the next Facebook?
With over a billion users around the world Facebook is obviously the biggest social media platform – for now. Some Internet research analysts predict Facebook will no longer be a dominant player by the end of this decade. It’s feasible that Facebook could be usurped by a number of separate vertical social media networks dedicated to specific topics.
Even after Facebook’s stock price plummeted following their IPO, their shares are still overvalued. Facebook is still trading at a very elevated price-to-earnings ratio of more than 40 times 2013 profit estimates, which makes it more expensive than Google, Yahoo and AOL.
Investors are quite skeptical about how Facebook will generate revenue from their 1+ billion users – the relatively low revenue per user figure is a problem for Facebook.
How might you advise an SME who is struggling to allocate resources to social but wants an active presence on a particular channel?
Start small. Chose the particular social network where you believe you can most effectively reach your audience and start providing relevant content your customers and prospective customers will find useful. Social marketing isn’t about volume, it’s about relevance. When people find content relevant, they appreciate the information and are likely to become a fan or follower. At which point companies can begin to engage them, and encourage them to participate in meaningful dialogues about what’s important to them – not what’s important to the company. It’s essential to establish trust and listen to learn during these dialogues so one to one relationships can be developed over time.
As social channels become more sophisticated in delivering advertising messages, do you see there being a “second revolution” as consumers rebel against having to pay to avoid adverts or become more active in seeking a way to choose what advertising to receive?
We now live in an attention-based economy where people’s attention span is an increasingly scarce and valuable commodity. With that fact in mind, I do not see consumers having to pay to avoid advertisements, and envision the opposite taking place. Consumers have taken the proverbial high ground and are in complete control of the way they consume media, while not that many years ago media companies and brands were in control of what media was available to consumers. With this juxtaposition in mind, consumers now have the leverage to command payment from companies that want their brand messages to be viewed.
Consumers are inundated with approximately 2,000 brand impressions daily, and only pay attention to messaging that’s germane to them; they’re keen on information they find timely and relevant. The overwhelming majority of the other brand impressions are completely ignored; disregarded as annoying drivel and mere noise in the background.
If brands want consumers to view their adverts they’re going to have to make it worthwhile to the consumer. The tempo of life has become so frenetic, people already have plenty on their minds and don’t want to be interrupted with information that doesn’t pertain to them. I envision brands using a micropayment service like PayPal to persuade consumers to watch their adverts.
My rationale for why consumers won’t have to pay to avoid adverts is there’s no reason to shell out a few quid here and there to avoid them when people already ignore them. While some people pay a small fee to obtain an advert-free version of an app for their smart phone, most people simply ignore the ads on their mobile phones. If the advertisements are too much of a nuisance, people are likely to use a different app since there’s no shortage of competitive free apps to choose from.
Even adverts on Facebook that are targeted based on a person’s interests and location are ignored. Research indicates that people glance at these adverts but don’t click on them. Rather than clicking on the advert and learning more about the specific product or service being offered, these adverts serve as reminders to people who have already made a buying decision, but have yet to make the actual purchase. That is, rather than influencing consumers’ buying decision and interacting with the advertised brand, these advertisements spark people’s memories so they act on buying what they’ve been meaning to buy anyway, from the source they’ve been meaning to buy it from all along.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Stephen.
Do you have a question for Stephen? Why not ask him in the comments section?