Archive for June, 2009

Recent Study Finds That 90% of Tweets are Done by 10% of Twitter Users…So What…?

June 25, 2009

zzaudienceYou may have heard about a recent study conducted by the Harvard Business School that found more than 90% of the content posted on Twitter is generated by only 10% of all users. To some, the study results may come across as negative, perhaps enticing social media skeptics to believe that Twitter is overrated, or worse, useless.

To these individuals, I ask: “Why is this necessarily a bad thing?” Just because 90% of Twitter members aren’t highly active in posting tweets does not necessarily mean that they aren’t active in some other way. And, it certainly does not mean that individuals and companies still can’t derive quantifiable value from marketing on Twitter.

The survey results are misleading. Who can speculate that the 90% of idle Twitter users aren’t enthusiastically reading Tweets posted by the active 10% of users? Who is to say that these “idle” users aren’t deriving value or enrichment from the active ones? Obviously there is some proof to this, or companies would not continue to utilize Twitter as a marketing tool, blogger’s would not continue to link to their posts and other trends, opinions and ideas if only 10% of users were reading.

Dell actually revealed in early June that in their 2 years of tweeting, the company has earned over $3 million as a direct result of activities and exclusive promotions via Twitter. Not bad. And, an Indianapolis-based marketing firm followed 17 Twitter corporate accounts over a 3 week period in late May, and found a 24.29% increase in their average follower count. None of these accounts were found to have decreased their amount of followers over the 3 week period. Moreover, the survey doesn’t even shed light on the monitoring tools available (Tweet Grid, Twellow, Radian6, etc.) that allow users to search for tweets from people they may not even be following at that time.

Active social media blogger and tweeter Doug Haslem agrees, mentioning on his blog that “the lurkers, the ‘Idle Class’ of social media, are important…who’s to say they don’t pass along the conversations offline?” Good point. New York Contributing Editor,Will Leitch, not a social media expert but someone who knows an emerging online platform when he sees one (he’s the former Editor of popular sports blog Deadspin), offers a different but equally supportive take in a recent post titled, “Why Twitter Is More Fun The Less You Use It.” Leitch finds enjoyment from reading tweets, not writing them, and he certainly has no problem writing about (read: promoting) the tweets that he reads in his blog posts and conversations.

Twitter is also still relatively new. There is a strong likelihood that the “10% of active Twitter users posting 90% of content” will shift to a more proportioned ratio in the near future. Many individuals and companies are still just starting to explore Twitter, and are hiring agencies to help them develop a more strategic approach.

Bottom line: if your company generates just one possible business lead, has a 1% increase in website traffic, notices important customer behavior taking place or finds out just enough background on a potential prospect, Twitter has benefited your company. If you are just an individual on Twitter for the heck of it, then it’s up to you to determine how to make it valuable.

The Green Revolution

June 22, 2009

As anyone with more than a few followers on Twitter will tell you, green is the color of the moment. More and more people are coloring their Twitter photos with a green tint in solidarity with the supporters of Iran’s defeated presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi.iran

The movement is being branded on-the-fly with the use of green in all kinds of protests, from soccer players wearing green arm bands to the striking images of hundreds of yards of green cloth snaking through the protesting crowds in Tehran. All of these protests reflect the color of Mr. Mousavi’s political party and these “green” images are being delivered to the world in real-time through tweets, blogs and texts (as well as through traditional media), enabling sympathizers across the globe to stage protests of their own in their home countries. Similarly, these protests incorporate the green brand, along with laser-printed “where is my vote?” signs, so that short of the racial differences, these protests look like they could have been born back in Iran.iran2

But why green, and where did it come from and why has it become such a powerful tool in branding this protest movement? A little research shows that the color green has been associated with Islam for centuries. In fact the decoration of mosques, the bindings of Qur’ans, the covers for the graves of Sufi saints and the flags of various Muslim countries all feature the color green. The Qur’an says that the inhabitants of paradise will wear green garments of fine silk and even during the Crusades, Christians would never use green on their armor so as not to be mistaken for Muslims in battle.

Color theorists suggest that green represents life, renewal, abundance in nature and the environment. Green is also considered a restful color with a calming affect that comes from feelings of balance, harmony, and stability. Of course green has recently come to the forefront of the world’s pallet because of it’s association with the environmental movement and it has in fact become a noun as we all “go green”. 

So, there’s some background as to what has likely spawned the adoption of green as the color of protest from Mousavi’s supporters. But what does green mean to you?

Republicans Taking to Twitter to Take Back the House?

June 19, 2009

In the early 1990s, Republican politicians dominated talk radio. Persuasive speakers used the medium to advance their political agendas (through their own shows, interviews, and ads) and uproot scores of Democratic congressmen, governors, and state lelegislatorsRepublican-vs-Democrat in the 1994 election.

Today, we have an interesting parallel. Republicans are now proactively using Twitter to build up support among the Nation’s younger generation (18 to 24 year olds –-who are typically skeptical of the virtues of limited government, more supportive of gay marriage, and overwhelmingly identify themselves as democrats). On an April 23, 2009 episode of The View, John McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain said that “81% of people under the age of 30 consider themselves democrats.”

In fact, a February 17, 2009 Washington Times article reports that Republican politicians have surpassed Democratic politicians on Twitter. Right now, 93 Republicans in Congress use Twitter, compared to 52 Democrats (according to http://tweetcongress.org). With 806,691 followers, Republican Senator John McCain is the most followed congressman on Twitter. Senator Claire McCaskill, the most followed Democrat, lags behind with 26,765 followers.

So… conservatives are ALL OVER the micro-blogging site?! Say what?! Wasn’t President Barack Obama the one who received loads of press for being a social media guru? Well, although he still boasts 1,463,854 Twitter followers, since assuming the presidency, his tweets have become few and far between, and Republican Congressmen have seized the opportunity to use this technology (and others) to vocalize their concerns over his current policies.

Is there are a reason that they are currently dominating this medium? It may be because they are tweeting to bypass mainstream media and communicate what they’re doing, their ideas, concerns, and agendas directly to the public. They’re also using the forum to solicit ideas for legislation. And, they’re getting a handle on how to use other tools besides just Twitter. A quick glance at their feeds and you will recognize that they are tweeting links to their blogs and to YouTube clips that support their political objectives, and using all channels to respond to the President’s comments in real time. It still might be too early to tell, but it seems like they understand that they have a chance to transform their tired image and leverage these viral tools to reach the millions of younger, voting-age citizens who they have had difficulty connecting with in the past.

So while republicans are still looking at how Obama used Internet technologies to aid his bid for office, they are certainly trying to improve upon his strategies for future runs. What do you think? Is Twitter the new talk radio for Republicans? Do you think the Republican Party will shine online when the next election rolls around?

Selling the C-Suite on Social Media

June 15, 2009

One of the popular questions I get asked is “How do I build support for a social media campaign at the C-level?” To get decision makers like your CEO and CFO behind a social media campaign, you must have a well defined objective. Ask yourself, “Whabosst do I want to get out of my campaign?” Do you want to enhance customer service, corporate reputation, brand personality? Or, do you want to generate new leads for your business?

Your social media strategy will vary depending upon your objective. But once you have a concrete objective and strategy, you will need to be able to articulate to the higher-ups how your company will be able to demonstrate the campaign’s effectiveness.

The question about how to measure the return on investment (ROI) for social media participation comes up in every workshop I deliver. The fact is, you can measure ROI in a number of ways:

Participation: The extent to which users engage with your content. For example, blog comments, Facebook wall posts, or YouTube ratings.

Traffic: The number of unique visitors versus repeat visitors to your Web site.

Influence: The number of users who subscribe to your content. For blogs: RSS feed or email subscribers; Twitter followers; or fans of your Facebook page.

Authority: The quality of inbound links to your content

Unfortunately, regardless of your social media campaign’s objectives, your C-level bosses will still probably scratch their heads at these measurements because they will not be able to connect the spend with quantifiable results. The fact is, we can’t attach a dollar value to a conversation, visit, link, comment, or a friend request like we can do with advertising and ad equivalency ratings.

So, you have to convince the C-suite to look at it another way. One way I like to think of ROI is the Risk of Ignoring. Conversations about your company’s products or services are going to take place online whether you are aware of them or not. Many consumers increasingly expect that their online ruminations will be monitored and responded to in real-time. By joining social networking sites, you can listen to your clients, engage them in conversation, address their questions and concerns, and empower them to be ambassadors of your brand. Otherwise, you risk ignoring your clients and prospects and risk losing them to competitors.

But, as a social media marketing advocate AND as a small business owner who understands the importance of watching the bottom line, the way I like to measure the ROI for social media participation is by the number of quality new business leads generated. At 451 Marketing, we generate business leads for our clients by monitoring the Web for mentions that relate to their offerings, engaging current and prospective clients in conversation, and providing them with helpful information (i.e. white-papers, podcasts, webinars, wikis) that we develop to address their needs. When an individual expresses a need for one of our client’s products or services or downloads content, we turn their contact information over to our client as a qualified business lead. If our client’s sales team converts that lead into a win, that’s a measurable dollar figure that they can take to the bank.

Facebook Vanity URLs

June 10, 2009

Since its inception, Facebook has linked to user profiles through randomly assigned numbers in the URL (e.g., “http://facebook.com…id=592952074/”). While effective, the method has not allowed users to easily share links to their profiles with others. When copying and pasting a link was the main option, users often found themselves sifting through Facebook search results in order to find the right profile.

Finally, this Saturday, June 13th, at 12:01 A.M., this will all change. Facebook users will have the opportunity to choose usernames in order to create unique vanity URLs, making profile sharing easier than ever.

451_Marketing_Facebook_Vanity_URL

One minute after midnight, the site will invite its 200 million users to either choose from a list of suggestions (all of which are a combination of a first and last name), or to create an original name. Social media addicts and those with common names will need to be diligent as usernames will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once facebook.com/jsmith has been claimed, all other J. Smiths hoping for that URL will be out of luck.

451_Marketing_Facebook_Vanity_URL_2

Users will also need to think carefully and strategically about their vanity URL choice, because once applied, they will not be able to alter their selections. In other words, think twice before rushing to grab “xXRockerJamesXx” first.

Facebook not only blogs about the new vanity URLs, but also provides users with a link to a live countdown.

LinkedIn: Why you should be using it for “Expert Positioning”

June 5, 2009

The professional networking site LinkedIn has over 40 million users in more than 200 countries. If you join LinkedIn and create a profile, you can expand your network by connecting with friends, co-workers, and former colleagues. As a professional social networking site, LinkedIn enables individuals to build and extend their “professional brand,” by showcasing their job experience, references, education, and awards. Not surprisingly, the site has become a go-to resource for recruiters, HR personnel, and job seekers alike.

But, when LinkedIn comes up amidst a conversation about social media marketing tools, many are left with only a limited understanding of the site’s potential. From our experience, we have found that LinkedIn is most effective for positioning yourself (or your client) as an expert resource in your industry and network.

Here’s how it works:

To successfully position yourself as an expert, you need to discover and join groups related to your industry and ones that your prospective clients are in. Life sciences consultant? You should join the “Life Sciences Professional Network” group, and if you’re following the latest trends, should also be an active member of “Life Sciences 2.0” (to name just a few relevant groups). LinkedIn groups are places for likeminded professionals to connect, ask questions, post articles, solve problems, and share best practices. If you offer group members valuable information by initiating and participating in discussions, or answering questions, you’ll effectively brand yourself as a knowledgeable expert.

Even better, develop and share informative content (e.g. whitepapers, wikis, webinars, blog posts) that directly addresses your prospective clients’ needs and pain points. Users who view your content will notice your name because they’ll want to learn who authored the resources. It’s likely that they’ll view your LinkedIn profile to see your job title and the company you work for to confirm you are a reliable source. By driving users to your LinkedIn profile, you brand yourself as a thought leader and increase awareness of your company, as well as your other active social media channels (i.e. your blog, Twitter feed, etc). LinkedIn users will make the connection that you and your company are experts in your field, and they’ll reach out to you directly to seek your advice.

The best way to share content on LinkedIn? Follow these steps:

1. To add the LinkedIn bookmark to your Firefox browser, click-and-drag the below “Share on LinkedIn” link to your tool bar.

http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=browser_bookmarklet

2. Once the link appears on your toolbar, pull up the content you would like to share (i.e. a blog post, news article, podcast), and click on it

3. Choose the connections or groups you want to share with on LinkedIn

4. Your content will be posted to the “news” section of the LinkedIn groups you selected and distributed in the groups’ weekly digest e-mails

There you have it. Remember, when used properly, you’ll brand yourself as an expert. As with all social media channels, the ultimate goal here is to engage your target audiences and help your firm or your client to identify and nurture qualified business leads.

So have you had success using LinkedIn or another social media platform to position yourself as an expert? Please, share your experience! What worked? What didn’t?

Our Interview with Boston-based Media Maven, C.C. Chapman

June 3, 2009

If you are an active member of the social media community, particularly here in Boston, then you undoubtedly know the name C.C. Chapman (@cc_chapman). A Co-Founder and Managing Partner of new media consultancy The Advance Guard, and an avid blogger and podcaster, C.C. specializes in helping brands to better understand the social web and how to leverage the conversational and social nature of new media to build more dynamic and lasting relationships with customers, fans and prospects.

ccRead on to learn why a brand’s customers can also be their best salespeople, how service-selling companies can get started with social media, and why Boston is primed to remain the hub of “inbound marketing” activity.

Q: You’ve formulated a great presentation about passion, specifically how “passion is contagious.” Could you give us a high-level summary of why brands should be leveraging the passion that their fans/customers have for their brand, and how the social web is the perfect place to capitalize on the contagious nature of it?

Think about the last time you bought anything. More then likely you went out online looking to see what people had to say about the products. This might be a quick Google search, or reading reviews on a site like Amazon. Either way, what people have to say about a product or service has a direct effect on purchasing.

We also know that each of us loves certain gadgets, tools and other things that we use on a daily basis. Why wouldn’t a brand want to encourage and empower someone who is passionate about their products to talk, share and expound on their passion in whatever way they want? I think this is something that most brands are completely forgetting about. They get hung up in messaging and the layout of a print ad and completely forget that people are people. They are going to talk about it in the way they want to, and not what someone has written up for a press release.

Q: Could you provide an example of a brand that is doing an excellent job here?

Zappos is really doing great in this lately. They’ve asked people to take pictures of themselves with their products. They did a whole series of videos around people opening up their Zappos box when it arrived to capture their excitement.

Don’t forget Zappos doesn’t actually make anything and yet people love the company and are passionate about purchasing from them. There is a lot to be learned from how they are approaching their customers and why it is working.

Q: How engaged should brands be with their customers online? Should they just create the platform (blog, contest, etc.), and let the users run with it, or should there be a system in place to respond to comments/suggestions?

This really depends on the culture of the company. Some companies just won’t be able to deal with interacting with their customers in the way they should online. That being said, if they can’t, then maybe they shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing because it probably won’t be successful.

To be successful, the brand needs to engage with their customers. Yes, setting up the contest, portal or platform is a big step, but the most passionate people will be excited by having someone from the brand talking with them. They want that contact and personalized approach. They crave it.

Q: Should brands be identifying “brand ambassadors” online and leveraging them to keep it up? For instance, what if a very active account on Twitter (with a host of followers), constantly raves about how they love Starbucks? Could there be a paid relationship?

Sure, there could be a paid relationship there, but that depends on the person, the company, and the deal that is made. But, at the same time in that example if the person already loved Starbucks just think what sending them a $100 gift card and a hand written thank you card would do for them as well. They’d love it!

The idea of finding your biggest fans and then somehow making the relationship with them more formal and beneficial to your company is a great idea. Yes, you have to tread carefully and smartly because this isn’t some actor you are hiring to be a spokesperson. It is different and many companies will approach it in that fashion and blow it. Talk TO the person and figure out what works best for them. They may have some strong ideas on how you can work together, but if you come in with an iron fist it could completely turn them off.

Q: What about a company that offers a service, say a law firm or an investment bank. The passion for these brands may be harder to find and difficult to quantify and broadcast. Do you have suggestions for these types of brands that want to utilize social media for their benefit?

Certainly a lot harder indeed. But, start out small and smart. Begin establishing an online footprint using the various and appropriate platforms so that people can find you. Don’t forget that this is not a quick hit solution, and rather it is something you are going to have to grow over time so it may take a while, but people will start coming to you.

There is no silver bullet solution, but consider setting up a Facebook Page for your service and then doing a few weeks of targeted ads to the towns around you to drive traffic to the page. It is a great cost effective strategy to see if your audience is there while not breaking the bank. The key is to think long term and build a strategy that helps you reach your goals. What works for one company is not going to work for the other.

Q: We like to use the phrase “inbound marketing” to classify the shift we are all noticing in marketing (and advertising and public relations). What’s your go-to terminology?

Honestly, I go back and forth on this because it is changing every day and while a few years ago everyone was saying “new marketing” or “conversational marketing,” I feel neither of those truly capture how things are today. Even “social media” is getting a bit old because the nature of how we do everything online is beginning to play along the social graph and becoming more conversational and social in nature. The last thing I want to do is add any new buzzwords to the world. I’ll let someone else decide what to call it!

Q: Boston, as reported in Scott Kirsner’s piece and has been well evidenced, has become sort of the hub for this industry. Why do you think that is? More importantly, did Stuff at Night miss the boat by not including any of the thought leaders like yourself in their “Players” issue?

There was a Players issue? Guess they must not have promoted that well online since I didn’t see anything about it. *laugh*

I’m a life long New Englander so I think it is very easy. People who live here love to talk to other people, help people out, and come from a variety of backgrounds. With all the colleges we have here, people come from all over the world and never leave. That mix match of people makes for not one set of ideas and I’d argue that it mimics the web in that nature.

People seem to forget that this are has always had a strong tech footprint. Rt-128 may be littered with the shells of a lot of companies, but they are being replaced by the new generation and that is exciting. While I love San Francisco and New York City, you’ll never find me leaving New England. We’ve got something really special going on here.

You can read more from this Boston-based “Media Maven” by visiting his blog at http://www.cc-chapman.com/

Want to win a free, 6-month online B2B lead generation campaign?

June 1, 2009

Tlogohis afternoon, 451 Marketing officially announced the launch of the B2B Social Contest. The contest, open to companies that sell a business-to-business product or service,  will award a free, 6-month online lead generation campaign (a $42,000 value) to the company that best articulates how and why social media will help its business grow.

The contest will run from June 1, 2009 through September 1, 2009. B2B companies that wish to enter the contest must, in an e-mail, describe their company, its mission, product or service, what differentiates their company from competitors, and why and how they think social media marketing will positively impact their B2B business. Upon receipt,  e-mail submissions will be posted on The B2B Social Contest Blog.

Companies are encouraged to ask their clients, friends, and colleagues to comment on their company’s post. On September 1, 2009, 451 Marketing will tally the total number of comments each post received over the course of the 3 month contest. The five posts with the most comments will be considered finalists, and 451 Marketing will select the winner from this pool.

If you have any questions about the submission, nomination or selection process, feel free to reach us at B2Bsocial@451marketing.com, or on Twitter (@451Heat). Thanks and good luck!