Data Sourcing & Analysis

 

Creating AContent CalendarWe hope that after last week’s intro into this series, you had some time to do some serious thinking about what success looks like for your business.

In the previous post, we discussed what you should be measuring from a beginner stand point, your inputs, outputs and outcomes. But you will need to look at much more if you want the complete picture, what you’ll need to look at is your business metrics. Business metrics looks at things like Market Share, Revenue, Profit, Average Order Size, and ROI. It is these metrics that allow you to access the overall health of your business and evaluate the impact of your social media efforts. But in order to do so effectively you will need to analyze one action’s impact at a time.

In Part 1, we were just beginning to touch upon data sources, the various software suites and platforms that store all of the information regarding your business. Let’s break down what these common data sources are:

  • Corporate Finance Systems: for many these systems bridge the gap between Accounting and Management. For these systems its all about the numbers, they look at everything from profits and losses to employee productivity to provide you with valuable insights to improve your business. Very often these robust systems are able to provide you with industry benchmarks and forecasts. Developers of these types of systems include but are not limited to  Intuit, Sage, Adobe and Oracle.
  • Media & Marketing Plans: maybe you did one before you went into business, maybe you didn’t. But typically if you take the time to do these thoroughly they can be a treasure trove of data and a great jumping off point when it comes to developing and implementing any marketing or sales strategy.
  • Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM): these systems typically hold tons of data on your direct interactions with your existing customer base. Examples of commonly used CRM are Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, HelloWorld, Infusionsoft and Salesforce.
  • Market Research: which has never been easier in this digital age, are the surveys and polls you conduct with your existing customers. You’ll be surprised by what you will learn about your business if you only take the time to ask? Online services such as SurveyMonkey, make it fairly simple to get started.
  • Web Analytics: such as Google Analytics, provide you with insights on your website traffic, as well as your overall online presence.
  • Social Network Data: these are the insights provided to you by the social platforms you use.
  • Digital Ad Serving Platforms: online ads and banner management has never been more convenient and measurable then they are with Google Adwords. Your able to gain insights into the types of actions your ads invoke.
  • Online Videos: one can not deny that video is  becoming even more of an integral part of online marketing and social media. YouTube, by far the largest video platform, provides you with additional insights into the impact of your visual and media efforts

Once you’ve had an opportunity to compile data from all of your appropriate data sources, its time to analyze. Analysis is the ability to break down material into its component parts.  It is a process that serves to make improvements and streamline efforts. So it’s wise to regularly analyze your efforts. In Sexy Little Numbers, the process discussed is the A2A – Analysis to Action – framework.

Adopted from Sexy Little Numbers by Dimitri Maex

Adopted from Sexy Little Numbers by Dimitri Maex

It all begins with the data phase. This is going to require you to import all of your data into an Excel spreadsheet.  To simplify things you can utilize the Analysis ToolPak in Excel. During the analysis phase you want to figure out what worked and what didn’t work by asking the right questions. For Example:

  • Does one ad work better than another?
  • Does time of day and day of the week factor into a campaigns success?
  • Does length of campaign play a part?
  • Which products or services did well during a particle campaign?

From here you need to begin testing. What’s working, and what would the impact be on your business if you saw a small percentage increase or decrease? Knowing what doesn’t work allows you to re-work content, redistribute it, and analyze the new data. You have to be willing to do a little experimentation, going beyond A/B Testing and begin running A/B/C/D/E/F Testing.

Moving in the process from testing to share and execute, is the point at which action is required. In terms of the A2A framework the share step refers to sharing the insights of all the analysis you’ve done with your company’s team. Together you can begin to develop more engaging content and plan execution strategies based on the information your organization has.

Next week we’ll look at a hypothetical case in order to illustrate the process in action. As always we hope you have found this post to be informative. We want to hear from you so be sure to leave a comment below!

Instagram for business: 5 things to consider

Untitled design (1)With the various different social media platforms all over, it’s difficult to discern which are appropriate for your business. If you follow our blogs, you know that we always say to be conservative when it comes to which social media platforms you sign up for. We’ve discussed when to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest and how they would apply to your business. Let’s keep that train going with Instagram.

What is it, how is it applicable for businesses, should I get on it, and all that good stuff.

Many, if not all, of you are vaguely familiar with Instagram whether or not you use it personally. Instagram is similar to Pinterest in that it is a primarily visual platform, but it does have very unique differences. For one, Instagram is mobile. Although you can access Instagram through a computer, you get all of the intended functionalities when you use its mobile feature, specifically the feature for cell phones. There is an app for tablets, but Instagram’s sweet spot is really on the cell phone.  That feature alone makes Instagram an awesome platform for marketing if it makes sense for your business.  Which brings us to the next question: Does it make sense for your business?

Does it make sense for your business?

A common misconception is that your business needs to be glamorous in order to be on any of these visually driving platforms i.e, Instagram, Pinterest, … This is 100% false and here’s why:

Social media allows you the opportunity to connect with and socialize with your target market at their level. An outlet such as Instagram humanizes your brand and acts as an opportunity to genuinely connect. Consider the intimate real estate that is instagram; the pictures that appear in a newsfeed are individually shown. You have the spotlight and the platform to genuinely tell your brand’s story without being salesy.

Consider this scenario: you’re a tire manufacturer. Nothing glamorous about that, but it could certainly be beneficial to be on Instagram. In this scenario, you could paint a picture of the history of the company. Maybe you’d include a photograph of the original founder from 1913 for throwback Thursday, or a picture of the whole family and the family pets just to show that there are humans behind the brand. It’d even be a wonderful idea to show behind the scenes how the tires are made from original design all the way down the production line to the shelves in the store. Instagram has recently adjusted its algorithm on the Explore tab to include a wider variety of pages you don’t currently follow. The Explore tab is now more personalized and tailored to included pages that users may actually be interested when previously it seemed that the pages were chosen at random. It includes content that people you follow have liked and content that is trending in the Instagram community. This expands your possible reach from just the people who follow you to those who they follow, as well. Previously, those featured on the Explore pages appeared to be top posters only. Now, everyone has a fair chance.

Now that I know that, how do I get started?

Well, it’s simple. Just sign up… Just kidding. Here are some actual steps to help get you started:

  1. Check out Instagram’s blog. It details how other businesses are using the platform and offers some tips that may prove helpful to your business.
  2. Do some hashtag research. A cool function of Instagram is that it allows you to search by hashtag and see all of the things posted relevant to that hashtag. With this functionality, you can be sure that you are using targeted hashtags that are reaching the groups you intend to reach.
  3. Sign up for an Iconosquare account. Iconosquare, previously known as Statigram, is a site that provides you with analytics and metrics for your Instagram account. With this, you can track your followers, find new people to follow, and create a marketing strategy. It even tells you whether or not the hashtags you’re using a popular and offers suggestions of hashtags that may be relevant.
  4.  Follow other accounts that are of interest and relevance. As with any social media account, it only works if you have a following and follow others. Follow all types of people, NETWORK! In the tire company example, you may want to follow other tire companies, or car related accounts, if you’re in a small community, it may be beneficial to follow other users within the community. This helps you establish a presence, and also may help you to show up on the Explore tabs of other people within your target market.
  5. ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE.  We always say this! It’s very important to always be engaging, because, well, it’s the whole point of social media. Engagement enables you to connect and network, not to mention it shows that you’re actually human and not a robot broadcaster.

As always, let us know your thoughts. Do you use Instagram for business? What do you think about using it for non-glamorous industries? Tell us about it in a tweet or email! We love chatting!

Content Calendar Part 4: Strategy

Creating AContent Calendar

Our Content Calendar series is finally drawing to an end, and we appreciate how you all have responded to the insights we have provided here…

In Part 1, we discussed the importance of creating a framework for your content.

In Part 2, we highlighted the significance of measuring your efforts on social platforms.

And last week in Part 3, we walked you through the development of your content calendar and what it should look like.

Today we’re going to discuss with you creating strategies for implementation that get results.

Let’s begin with a fresh take on things. Social Media Marketing is still immature in the world of business and many small business owners still just don’t get it or know how to effectively use social media for their business. Don’t be stubborn with your marketing and lack the flexibility that social media marketing calls for. Classic marketing attempts to segment “consumers” into demographics. We all are familiar with the concept and most likely do the exact same thing with our own customers. However, defining a customer or followers by a demographic is a little out dated. Demographics are generally used in polls of public opinion and marketing to group individuals based on a variety of socioeconomic points. Until recently, we could all easily be grouped into our appropriate demographic and marketers enjoyed creating messages tailored to appeal to these different demographics.

Thanks to industrialization and globalization it’s becoming harder and harder to define these demographics. The best example of this shift is in luxury brands that have seen their customer pools widen as consumers with lower incomes began to desire and buy luxury goods.

So what does this mean for you as a business owner looking to use social media to grow your bottom line? Well, for one it means your segmenting your customers based on the wrong factors. Grouping people together based on their zip code, annual income or level of education simply doesn’t work…. Why? Probably because people are INDIVIDUALS, who deserve and desire to be treated with a level of respect. Grouping individuals based on “social market” factors turns a person into a number. Today’s consumer is not a number, they’re individuals who make informed purchases that they believe align with who they are on a fundamental level. What you should be looking at instead is your audience’s online intended actions. What will someone do with the information, services and products you provide?

It never ceases to amaze us just how many businesses overlook the treasure trove of information they could simply obtain by surveying their customers. Stop trying to figure out what works and start asking your customers what they like, want and need. A simple survey can help you determine what new products and services to offer, identify trends and highlight customer intentions! There are tons of online survey tools out there such as SurveyMonkey, KwikSurveys and SoGoSurvey, etc. Take the time to learn about your customers and how they feel about your brand. You want to develop a mindset for your organization that is focused on the wants and needs of the customer, to avoid doing damage control as a result of customer dissatisfaction.  Another great tool that can help you determine the intentions of your online audience is the Intent Index. The truth of the matter is that much of the information you seek is actually available within your organization in sales and service reports as well as in client records and inquires. Your online analytics can help as well, telling you what key words people are using to find you and where they are coming from.

Social

Image via iStockphoto

The goal behind focusing on your audiences’ intention is about obtaining more insights with less advertising, it’s about stepping into the customer’s shoes and out of your business bubble. Create a culture in your organization that encourages your team to create content based on the insights and information they have available to them. When creating campaigns for our clients we like to work backwards, in the sense that we like to always have a clear understanding of what their end goal for that particle campaign will be. Ask yourself what actions do you want your customer and followers to take after seeing your campaign, is it clicking a link, opting in, sharing, commenting or maybe you want to inspire them to create their own content around your brand. Whatever it is, you have to have a clear understanding and create a campaign that drives your desired actions.

Your social media strategy is simply a road map or guide lines for your desired intention. Take the time to analyze the appropriate social platforms for your business, as previously mentioned don’t be afraid to grow one platform at a time as you navigate your social media marketing. Determine how you  want to engage and with whom, develop your social voice and create a culture in your organization that empowers your team to be your loudest advocates. Creating a strategy that works should not scare you, in fact this entire content calendar series was roots in helping you to develop a successful strategy.

Take the time to write out your social media strategy, begin by determining what your main objective for using social media will be. Maybe your looking to easily facilitate a conversation between you and your customers, or you wish to support your vendors who have a smaller online presence. You can choose to educate or learn from others, whatever your objective is clearly state it for all in your team to know. Next, define how you intend to utilize each platform and how each platform with support the other’s. You may choose to use each platform to support a different area of your business. We’re firm believes that content and messaging should be tweaked to be unique to any particular platform. Give your audience a reason to follow you on multiple outlets to get a complete story or only on a few to get the information they desire. Either way but measurements in place to assess your efforts and be prepared to make changes when necessary. Most of all have fun!

We appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read this article. Be sure to leave an comments or questions you have below!

Content Calendar Part 3: Drafting a Calendar

Finally, let’s discuss the process of drafting a content calendar!Creating AContent Calendar Part3

If you have not had an opportunity to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this Content Calendar Series, we strongly advice you do.

So, as we previously mentioned,  a Content Calendar is a great way to organize your thoughts and efforts. To successfully leverage social media for your business, your efforts MUST be calculated! And by calculated we mean that everything you do from a marketing standpoint has to be measurable. In part 1 we discussed creating  a framework of content topics as well as the importance of  developing Master Copy Lists to pull from when posting to your preferred social platforms.  We cannot stress to you enough that you DO NOT have to be on every platform all the time, you should get comfortable with one to two platforms at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Social Media is a 24/7 medium and it can be exhausting trying to be present on multiple platforms simultaneously.

Grab all of the information you’ve compiled and pull out a dry erase board, calendar, or notebook; however you best organize your thoughts, go with it! First you’ll want to jot down all of the dates of important events related to your business. These should include your Google+ Hangouts, Networking Events, Blog Releases, Sales, Holidays, Charity Events, and anything that you do of interest related to you business. Word of wise, if you have a less than glamorous product or service you sell, i.e. insurance, gardening tools, computers, rather than littering people’s feeds with sales ads, attempt to share with them your company culture. Show people what makes you and your product unique!

Pencil or type all of these events into a calendar that you can refer to as you build your content calendar. Aim to map out at least a month to a quarter in advance. We advise constructing your content calendar in an automated site such as HootSuite, SproutSocial, Buffer etc. Using the times suggested by your analytics (you should be updating this at least monthly), create posts centered around your events calendar. Make sure that your content is a nice mix of images, videos, quotes, and compelling copy… Sprinkle in some appropriate humor, be genuine and occasionally speak from the heart!

We want to automate the content that is imperative to the marketing of your business, because then that frees you up to truly be social, engaging with your followers and others. If you want to get noticed on social media start noticing and acknowledging others. If the time is taken and  the measures are in place, you will save energy as you begin to understand what’s working and what’s not. The largest hurdle you will have to over come is the limits of your creativity and willingness to create original content. The digital currency of your brand is it’s content. So be prepared to do it yourself or hire some help.

When you review the content in your calendar you should ask yourself a few questions… Is this visually appealing? Is this entertaining or informative in any way? Will this look good on a mobile device? It is projected that by 2020, 80% of all media will be digital with a global media consumption average of 90 hours a week. Don’t get swept away in the sea of content. Invest the time in great content or your just wasting your time!

global-media-consumption-per-week-by-medium (1)

Image via The Brand Builder Blog

 

Your content calendar should be designed to be flexible. If after a month things aren’t working, then begin to tweak your content and try it again. You will have to be patient and play around with things before you figure out what works best for you. But once you do you will just fall into a rhythm. Social Media is not cookie cutter so what works for other businesses might not work for yours.  Be prepared to experiment and have fun!

Set goals to achieve, such as growing your followers, engaging with others, increasing blog views or hangout attendance. Creating a plan to get noticed, reduce your stress, and work smart!

We would love to hear your insights or questions… So please be sure to leave a comment below.

Content Calendar Part 2: Looking at the Metrics

Creating AContent Calendar (1)So last week we introduced you guys to the idea of a content calendar. Mapping out your social media campaigns allows you to be calculated. Developing a strategy with the metrics in place to measure your efforts, sets you up for success. But just mentioning the word metrics can send most running in the opposite direction. With the right metrics in place and some online tracking support you really can solve the mystery to Social Media Marketing success. The information that you’ll obtain will let you know just where to spend your time and money while simultaneously providing you with a steady feedback from  your customers. Many debate on whether or not you can actually see a ROI on your Social Media Marketing efforts, but you can if you put the right measurements in place. All it takes is a spreadsheet, some data and a little analysis. Today we want to discuss with you putting those measurements into place.

All a metric does is quantify and evaluate something! Simple, right? Well when it comes to your Social Media campaigns your metrics will help you understand what is and isn’t working for you or your customer. And with this knowledge, you can target your products, messaging and efforts on what does work. You see, every piece of content that you create and share is designed to enlist a response from your audience. Therefore, you need to have metrics in place to measure what is happening to the content and conversations you create. The issue arises in measuring that response, so we need to break it down into portions that we can measure:

  • Actions: How are people interacting with your website, content and presences on various social platforms?
  • Attention: How are people accessing your content and how long are people engaging with your content?
  • Community: Who are your Evangelists, the individuals who are invested in you? They often grow with you as you strengthen your presence.
  • Influencers: Who are the individuals that are sharing and engaging with your content the most? Chances are they are causing others to do the same.
  • Interest: What catches the attention of your audience and drives action? This is where content and context meet to create the best content for your audience.
  • Listening: What are people saying about your business and where are they saying it? Invest time in learning as much as you can about your audience by listening to them.
  • Reach: How far is your content traveling and for how long ? Quality content not only gets noticed but it also gets shared.
  • Views: How many times is someone visiting your sites or seeing a piece of content? Is this a first-time or a repeat visit?

These eight sub-divisions of response can all be individually measured, combine them and you will begin to see a treasure trove of information to help your tweak and make adjustments to your efforts. We know that this concept can be pretty intimidating for most. Luckily there are tools out there designed to help you. Let’s begin by breaking down the type of services out there:

  • Single-metrics service providers: These are third party metrics measurement systems that only measure one thing. These services include Klout or Kred, which measures your influence across your social platforms. Tweriod is a service that tells you the best times to post to twitter.
  • One-site metrics: These are the measurements that you receive directly from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Typcially they can provide you with useful information, but you still have to put it all together. If you happen to use an automation service to schedule your posts such as, HootSuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, CustomScoop etc., you can begin to obtain measurements across your multiple platforms. You will still be limited in the information you will generate from them without taking things a step further.
  • Advanced metrics: This is where things can get really exciting! Accessing the true power of metrics takes advanced techniques, that you are fully capable of learning with Google Analytics. It is one  of the best tools you can access as a business with a website and social presence. Extract reports that allow you to view your metrics at a microscopic level.

With all of these metrics tools you now have some good information you can put to use. The data you collect is your guide to creating the best content for your audience at the right times in the most visible place. This is key information that you will want to have handy as you begin to lay out your content calendar.Taking the time to map out your content ensures that your messaging will be on brand and takes the guess work out of your daily social media engagement. Keep in mind that you want to leave room for the unexpected.

Let us know your questions about metrics. We’d love to hear it! You can either @ us on Twitter, or leave a comment below. We love to engage!

Content Calendar Part 1

Content Calendar Part 1: Building a Framework

Creating AContent Calendar

This series is based on the wonderful teaching found in The Social Media MBA by Christer Holloman

If you’ve been following us here or on twitter (@PurelySocialTip), then you would know that we strive to provide you with the most relevant and practical information regarding your business’ presence on social media. And if you just stumbled upon us for the first time then let us welcome you!

Here at Purely Social™ our focus is on supporting small businesses with the information they need to successfully create a presence on social media that gets noticed. We have never claimed to be experts or gurus on the subject, rather we’re entrepreneurs who see the power of social media and strive to learn as much as we can on the subject daily. We love social media, because we’re naturally social people. Social Media is changing everything we know about communicating and engaging with people. It’s exciting, challenging and scary all at the same time!

Gone are the day’s of the elusive corporate voice. No longer is it acceptable to tell customers what they need or want. In our global, 24/7 digital age, customers have taken their power back, telling brands and businesses what they want and need. Today’s customer does their homework! Taking the time to research products for the best price and quality prior to making a purchase. Meaning, now more than ever it’s important for businesses to start listening to their consumer. For those who resist and have dragged their feet to get in the game will find a loss in market share to competitors who have jumped right in! Today’s consumer wants honesty, transparency and authenticity from the companies they do business with.

Brands and businesses that understand this new found opportunity to foster relationships with their customers get the formula:

Formula for Success

It is this balance between marketing the brand and the human element that you as a business owner have to strike. See despite all of our advance technologies, the fundamentals of the human socialization has very much remained the same. People inherently have a deep desire to share, collaborate and create with one another. Social Media is no different, the top 3 things people enjoy doing online are:

  • Share ideas
  • Share product knowledge
  • Help their peers solve problems

Does your business provide any other these services, and if not how can you begin to? Well now that you know what people are doing online we would advise you to take the time to listen to what your customers are saying. Stop guessing what they want or need and start listening to them, because there is a good chance they are telling you everything you really want to know.

Armed with some customer knowledge, now the real work begins. If you want to successfully leverage social media for your business then you’re going to have to be calculated! And by calculated we mean that everything you do from a marketing standpoint has to be accountable. Set objectives and timelines to measure what works. A Content Calendar is a great way to organize your thoughts and efforts.

Begin by developing guidelines for your engagement, especially if your not the only individual who handles your business’ social media. Take the time to think about how you want people to interact with your brand and how your brand will interact with people. Consider the good, the bad and the ugly! It’s work, but trust me it’s better than damage control.

Now you’re ready to start organizing your content. Keep in mind that you want to give special consideration to the fact that above all your plan needs to be flexible to accommodate the unexpected. However, feeling as though you need to regularly get the creative juices flowing and create new content can be daunting. Select four to six topics that you want to cover on your social media every week.

We advise creating a Copy Master List for each platform, modify the drafts as you deem suitable. Having a list of solid posts to pull from will help save time when it comes to automating posts. Lastly, pull out your calendar!

The aim is to plan out the next quarter. Look at upcoming events, sales your planning or major holidays that are significant to your business and fill them into your calendar. Next set objectives that are measurable, consider the necessary lead times for effective promotion and the effort it will take to meet the objective. These posts should be considered additions to your posts that cover your previously determined topics.

To be continued…