Category Archives: Web Analytics

New year, new app: Wibiya social bookmarking

WibiyaIt’s getting easier and easier to add those nifty social features that make it easy for anyone to Tweet a post, grab your RSS feeds, visit your Facebook page, and all the other features that supplement a bulk-standard blog.

Wibiya is a service that allows you to add all this functionality to a toolbar at the foot of your blog within minutes. Literally minutes.

I run WordPress and the steps were this simple:

  1. Setup an account on Wibiya
  2. Choose your theme
  3. Choose which applications you want on your toolbar
  4. Download the WordPress plugin
  5. Upload the WordPress plugin to your blog
  6. Activate the plugin and enter the ID in the settings (under ‘Appearance’)
  7. View your blog to see the new features you’ve now added!

At this stage, you can go back to Wibiya and change the theme or add any new features as necessary. You can see it in action at the foot of this blog.

One big advantage of using a toolbar like this is that if you relegate these elements to this footer toolbar, you can save some real estate on your navigation: all those links to the RSS feed, Twitter, and other services can be dropped (I’ll keep mine for the time being).

One thing that would be nice to see is some kind of API so that the applications listed on the bar could come from popular services such as ShareThis or potentially Disqus.  It will be interesting to see how this service develops…

(BTW, I should point out that Wibiya is not a new service in 2010 – however it is a new feature on CagedEther 🙂

The Dirty Little Secret of Social Media: Longevity

In what seems like a lifetime ago (about 4 years past), I worked search marketing on the agency side. As an account manager, I spent many a meeting reassuring hyperactive marketing execs that great Google rankings (well, this also included Yahoo and Microsoft back then) were just around the proverbial corner. With search, the grunt work happened up-front and once the content was put in place and scooped up by the mighty indexing engines, the rankings and associated traffic would largely drizzle down like snow in pre-war Narnia. You just had to wait for the reward.

This didn’t always reflect the way the campaigns were sold, mainly for the following reasons:

  • The demand to offer short term results
  • The desire of the agency to garner a long term maintenance contract
  • The lack of a crystal ball to tell us exactly when the results would come in

The same can be true of marketing-led social media campaigns.

Like a merry-go-round that you continually tug with the same force while it slowly gathers momentum, social media campaigns can often need more than a year of development and careful nurturing before they come to fruition. You build a platform, seed content and promote the hell out of it, but meanwhile have to appease the executive whilst you act, measure, and patiently wait. Whether you’re setting up a blog, forum, social network, Twitter profile, YouTube channel or whatever, if you’re not one of the legendary few to achieve instant cult status, be prepared for the toil.

Then, after months or more, if you got your planning and strategy right upfront, the crowd gathers and the chatter grows. Now you have a successful social media campaign on your hands and you have graphs pointing in the right direction to show the powers-that-be.

socialMediaResults

How long does the glow hold?

Depending on the nature of the campaign, you may find yourself having to do little more to keep those page views coming. Not that I’d recommend it, but you can put a social network out to pasture and (almost in spite of yourselves) still see information grazers stumble by. In 2002 we froze an academic/business community we had spent two years building and it still continued to out-rank our corporate site on Google for our core target keywords for at least six years after.

So where’s the issue?

With all the attendant hype around social media at the moment, this activity is often bolted on to that lead generation machine within the marketing department that’s charged with building the sales pipeline. I’ve heard rightful skepticism within field marketing departments that claims over-hyped social media is heavily lubed in snake oil. I can definitely see where this point of view comes from. Marketing circles are abuzz with talk of how you’ll achieve greater results than ever before by using social media. The statement is expressed in the present, rather than future tense. I’ve seen networks shut down because of this.

Greatest treasures lie in the murkiest depths

On those grounds, should social media be foresaken? You can probably guess my response, but I think not. Social media marketing campaigns are at their most effective when they are stripped of the constraints of short-term lead generation. Most efforts work on creating Awareness and Thought Leadership:

Social Media Lead Generation

(Note there are social media activities that go beyond the point of sale, but these are often driven by other departments, such as support.)

As you can see above, there is little crossover between social media and lead generation across the sales cycle. So measuring success based on lead generation metrics will show few results. Just like the PR function which is measured on metrics other than the prospects it brings to the pipe, so social media campaigns need to develop their own yardsticks – whether it be the added visibility or the kind of engagement metrics online news sites are measured against. This will feed the sales pipe, but indirectly, just like PR. Now for the icing on the cake: few other marketing initiatives show such on-going returns. With social media you’re often building an asset that will show little depreciation over time.

More tortoise than hare

Try and keep social media campaigns away from the demands of lead generation. Have goals but make sure the top brass aren’t expecting to see results in the same quarter. Chances are, they’ll be paltry. But keep in it for the long haul and assuming all the pieces come together, manifold results will head your way.

eBay’s Richard Brewer-Hay on social media and corporate blogging

ebay_rbhLooking over past blog posts, I’ve noticed that I do have a penchant for hyperbole. However, if you have a little over six minutes of your time to spare and want tips on running social media programs for a large brand, then don your headphones and listen to this short video from Richard recorded at TWTRCON.

Main points:

  • eBay has a full time corporate blogger! How many other brands can claim the same? Richard views his role as that of an internal reporter and spends a lot of time finding out what the eBay community wants to know and then running interviews at the corporate level.
  • Consistency is important when it comes to maintaining a blog. Richard tries to get out at least four posts a week.
  • Many in the industry talk of being transparent and honest. Most people are referring to external communications, but this applies just as much internally. Brand, legal and corporate communications departments all have to understand what you are putting out there.
  • eBay have been among the first to start a social media corporate disclosure program: eg. earnings releases are published on Twitter
  • They are undertaking a social media audit to isolate all social media properties. Twitter questions: Do you use Twitter for business? What’s your handle? Blog questions: Do you blog for the business? What are your goals, messaging, objectives? How do you measure these?
  • eBay are aware there are ‘disparate places where conversations are happening’. They are looking to setup a central platform to pull all this communication together.

Check out this excellent short video on eBay’s social media strategy

How do you track leads from Twitter posts? The bit.ly URL shortening service is one way

The very sharp Sandy Carter asked a question today that had been playing in the back of my mind but being the weak marketer I am, I never really fully got my teeth into: if you put out a promotion on Twitter, how can you measure the effectiveness of that tweet?

Twitter, like every other web presence, should allow for easy measurement. So if your promo attracts 1,000 clickthroughs from your well-crafted tweet you should know about it. Right? Unfortunately those wonderfully effective URL shortening services that that help you keep your Tweets under 140 characters can get in the way.

For instance if the shortening service uses Javascript for the redirect, this can show odd referral data in your web logs. Another scenario is where you use the same link across different Twitter accounts (say, if you hit that magical pulse and find yourself heavily retweeted).

If you use any of the Twitter clients out there, you’ve probably noticed that many offer a host of shortening services. Each of these has its relative merits. So if you are in the position where you really want to know how many clicks emanate from your wonderfully crafted Tweets, some services work better than others.

I thought I’d ask my diminutive Twitterverse what they thought were the most ‘trackable’ URL shortening services. Richard Barley proved most helpful, pointing me in the direction of bit.ly.

A key advantage of this service is it doesn’t matter whether or not you create an account: you can still have access to the excellent stats, which start off like this:

bitlyThere are further stats on geography and which accounts have used the shortened URL and crucially you can see if there are other bit.ly codes for the long URL.

The advantage of creating an account is that you see all your links collected under one interface (great for comparison). If you sign up for a premium account you get even more features such as detailed referrer stats. Interested? Here’s a few examples of how the service works:

Twhirl and bit.ly

To use bit.ly with the Twhirl desktop client you need to setup a bit.ly account. Then go into the tools section and find the API key. Twhirl will ask you for this information when you try to shorten a URL. This is great because all the URLs you post using Twhirl will be listed in your bit.ly account.

Tweetdeck and bit.ly

Tweetdeck takes a different approach by not asking you to sign in (for the record, bit.ly is the default URL shortening service in Tweetdeck). This makes it easier to shorten URLs right off the bat without having to setup a 3rd party service. But then how do you track links? bit.ly has a nifty use for the ‘+’ sign. Append this symbol to any of the bit.ly URLs to receive stats on that link. Here’s an example:  http://bit.ly/45dHIx+.

Web browsing and bit.ly

You can incorporate bit.ly with any web browser. Once you set up an account, you can drag the boomarklet to your toolbar and use this to shorten the URL, with the option to post directly to Twitter.

There are other uses of the service and it integrates with other clients (and I’m sure the iPhone), so if you have more information, feel free to comment. Now let me drift into speculation on the power of bit.ly and what it means for the web.

Taking on Friendfeed

I’ve been a heavy user of Friendfeed for some time: it’s a great tool for taking content from anywhere (including Delicious links) , aggregating it, and posting it on to Twitter/Facebook (for the uninitiated, here’s an explanation of Friendfeed). However, Friendfeed has gone down the route of concentrating more on engaging discussion around the content and does not yet offer publishers decent stats on which links have attracted most clicks. Is this a potential Achilles heel? It’s making me reconsider recommending the service for business/marketing purposes.

Taking on Digg

Beware Digg, you mighty news aggregation service: there could well be a significant player in town. Gigaom recently reported that bit.ly has received $2 million in funding – interesting given the statistics bit.ly offer could turn it into a compelling Digg-like service. When people use bit.ly to shorten a link, they are indirectly voting for it (in much the same way Google treats a link from one site to another as a vote in the PageRank algorithm). If you pull all this information together, you have a great social bookmarking system. Those links that have created the most stir (eg. through retweeting on Twitter) will be ranked the highest. I haven’t seen in practice and there maybe some kinks to iron out (how do you categorize links?) but the idea is intriguing.

Taking on Google???

OK, so we’ve stated that these links become votes. You could also argue these links are more social than the ones that Google tracks by looking at website relationships. Bit.ly already has a search engine, but this could bloom into a major feature if the service becomes widely adopted. It’s been noted that Twitter is replacing Google for certain queries (I received better information for this article from Twitter than from Google), and as bit.ly is a link between Twitter and the wider web, the service is in a good position to show which web pages are most useful to people. Why doesn’t Google report on these links too? At the moment many of these services fall outside of Google’s domain given that the Javascript tracking they use can render links invisible to the major search engines. This goes for most URL shortening services: not just bit.ly (although some services are beginning to offer more Google-friendly links).

Will Twitter get into the fray?

As a final point there is much speculation floating around about how Twitter will moneytize its service. Offering premium services to corporate customers seems highly likely. Could one of these services be the kind of statistics that bit.ly dishes out, if Twitter gets into the URL shortening business?

I, for one, think the URL shortening space is looking increasingly interesting, and at this point bit.ly is well poised as a major player.

CoTweet: Twitter tool for businesses | Corporate blogging news digest

If you’re using Twitter for business purposes you’ve probably already realized some of the shortcomings of most Twitter tools:

  • Managing multiple accounts can be tricky
  • Having multiple authors for a single channel can cause confusion and duplication
  • Dealing with actionable Tweets
  • Creating groups and categories for incoming Tweets

Whilst there are tools that let you perform some of these functions (Tweetdeck and Twhirl spring to mind), few cover all these features. Until now, that is.

CoTweet is a powerful corporate Twittering tool used by the likes of BestBuy, JetBlue and Ford, that helps manage and process your Tweets. I’m afraid it’s still in private beta (I’m afraid I’m only speaking from what I’ve read: I haven’t tried it out yet).

News highlights

Four business uses for Twitter | 26 Mar 2009 | ComputerWeekly.com
Gartner’s classification on micro-blogging uses: marketing tool, building reputations, sharing experience, information gathering.

How has PR changed over the last 10 years? Social Media PR Blog takes a stab at a top ten list
The way PR professionals conduct their business has changed drastically over the last 10 years. Video, corporate blogs and SEO were all practically non-existent at the end of the last century.

The state of digital marketing in Asia (Market-interactive.com)
“Despite the hype on mobile and social media, marketers in Asia will focus on corporate websites, email campaigns , search engine optimization and behavioural targeting as the key digital marketing strategies in the coming year, according to results from an annual digital survey.”
Is this particular to Asia or applicable to other markets too?

Free Social Media Monitoring Tools (Take Me To Your Leader)
A great list of the top tools for measuring social networks: from blogs to forums to Twitter.

Blogging rediscovered (The Korea Herald)
An interesting article covering the history and current state of blogging in Korea. Interesting cultural differences, such as the prominent position of meta-blog services that “interconnect individual blog sites in different portal services, leading to greater traffic and Web exposure”

8 Excellent Tools to Extract Insights from Twitter Streams (Social Media Today)
If you need to measure your influence on Twitter, or know how many times one of your links has been clicked on, check out these tools.

Blogging and Reputation Tracking (Podcasting News)
Coverage of SXSWi experts talk about corporate blogging: monitoring conversations, keeping content fresh and the relative merits of having a multi-author blog.

The Future of Twitter: Social CRM and brand monitoring (Jeremiah Owyang)
Can Twitter make money by helping brands decipher the conversations taking place in the Twitter space? This post generated a lot of interest and debate.

The semantic web, and what it means for marketers (ReadWriteWeb)
Corporate blogger John Cass goes into detail on what Web3.0 will mean for us: “the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines.” Is this a further step towards the semantic web?

Corporate Blogs Spring Up, But Effectiveness Questions Remain (CNN)
“He sees it as an excellent means of direct communication with both interested media who tap into the blog and many non-journos who get the information directly from him without the filter of established news outlets,” Dee Allen, spokesperson for GM talking about star FastLane blogger Bob Lutz

Attracting more authors for your corporate blogs (Leading Virtually)
Create a culture that supports blogging, reward blogging efforts and show success are just some of the tips in this timely article. For companies that have blogs, maintaining them is the big issue.

Less than 5% of blogs are a result of direct corporate social strategy (Moneyweb)
There’s some great stats here on the size of the blogosphere and the market penetration.

Three secrets to simplicity (Boagworld)
Bottom line: think about what you can take away from your design, rather than always looking for new things to add.

CoverItLive: live blogging platform
I’m still trying to work out where the real value-add is in this, but there’s definitely a lot of features rolled into this tool.

Ustream: live video blogging as featured on @boagworld
If you are looking to make your blog more interactive, check out UStream – a great service for getting out a live version and recording of your show.

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An SEO perspective | Corporate blogging news digest

If you are involved in setting up or running a corporate blog, you are probably well aware that one justification for the effort is the love Google will probably show you for your regular, fresh content and wonderful referrals (links) from the blogging community.Using a blog to garner links is growing in popularity as SEOs find that old methods such as obtaining sponsored links are becoming more and more difficult.

As SEO Ninja points out: ‘As link building becomes a more exhaustive and costly task, blogging is an area of the web, where savvy webmasters show a more kind-hearted approach to providing links. A blog can be positioned within or out with a company’s primary domain name, meaning that any residual page rank can be distributed to the sales page from highly content-relevant material.’ Read the full post

News highlights

Google Reader now allows direct commenting
Google Reader now allows you to add comments to the blogs you read directly within the interface. These comments are viewable by your Google Reader friends and at the moment can’t be exported out of Google Reader (to say, Friendfeed). Beware: yet another reason for your feed-reading audience not to visit your blog.

Twitter Is the ‘Five-Tool Player’ of the Social Web (Forrester)
Twitter can be used by businesses in a variety of ways, writes Josh Bernoff of Forrester. The multi-purpose tool can deal with everything, from customer support, to brand energizing to research.

Twitter grows 33 percent over the past month
The Social Times reports that Twitter is currently going through a massive growth spurt. Note that 8 million of the 10 million visitors are based in the US.

Spam-to-Content: A Ratio of Junk (Gartner)
This problem plagues us all. Personally, I find Akismet a useful solution to strip out most spam. This post raises another point: how far do you go with comment moderation?

Timing Your Tweets for Success (Twitip)
Timing is everything. Especially in the Twitterverse, where your 140-character nugget can easily get deluged by the stream. This is a big issue for Twitter, given the reliance of this broadcast medium on instant communication.

Corporate Blogging Guidelines (Brian Hurley)
You know you need them (and we’ve covered the issue of corporate blogging guidelines before), but check out some great examples from Brian Hurley. Yahoo, Plaxo and IBM are included in this list.

Scoble recommends use of low-cost cameras eg. Flip Mino HD (which costs about $200) for online video
If you want to turn your blog into a vlog (video blog) consider Flip Mino HD, which costs about $200. Robert Scoble shot almost all of the recent videos on Fast Company TV using one.

Mashable innovates with new Twitter ad format
A new kind of advertising is born: let brands post their Tweets on your pages. Will Twitter work this into their business model? Tweetsense?…

10 ways to measure social media success (Econsultancy)
Ever wonder whether all the effort you’re putting into social media is pulling any results? Some say it can’t be done, but Chris Lake approaches the subject of how you can measure social media success.

Robert Scoble’s Corporate Weblog Manifesto
More like a historical document rather than news, this is still earily accurate 5 years later. My personal fave: ‘If your life is in turmoil and/or you’re unhappy, don’t write.’

15 Useful Twitter Hacks and Plug-Ins For WordPress (Smashing Magazine)
If you are a WordPress user who happens to Tweet (who doesn’t?), here are some plugins and code samples that will help you synch your blog with Twitter.

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Problogger’s detailed guide to corporate blogging

The Problogger team really do a good job of pulling together top tips from many respected corporate bloggers. Putting together an editorial calendar, not worrying too much about a unified voice and how you implement an editing process are all covered in this detailed post.

They finish on probably the most important point: establish a measurement program. I think this really could be the subject of a blog post all on its own. Hmm, now there’s a thought.

Read the full Problogger article

ROMO: a new era needs new marketing metrics

I was fortunate enough to attend the TechTarget Online ROI summit in San Francisco recently. I can definitely recommend this event as one of the best places to meet like-minded individuals if you happen to work in tech marketing.

ROMO: your flexible friend
In the opening presentation, TechTarget’s Marilou Barsam, SVP of Client Consulting and Corporate Marketing highlighted what she sees as the big changes in online marketing to IT professionals. She brought up the interesting point that the metrics we use to measure campaigns do have a significant impact on the way we plan, execute and decide whether or not we see our campaigns as successful.

We are now developing campaigns more as interactive spaces rather than just simple point-and-click download documents. Throw social media into the mix and you have much more immersive experiences for the audience. For a given topic (say SOA integration), you may have video demos, blog posts, white papers and standard web pages. All work well to generate awareness and promote engagement, but cannot easily be measured using old school direct response techniques. You need metrics that measure engagement and awareness. This is the move away from ROI (return on investment) towards ROMO (return on marketing objectives). This metric is more fluid and can be adapted to the situation.

As far as I can tell, Marilou is advocating a move towards the metrics used by the media industry: average time on site, returning visitor ratio (and what those visitors who visit regularly do) and average page views per visit. Video and audio content introduce their own demands: rather than just clicks, you need to know the length of time people spend on these media. This makes particular sense for campaigns that are driving either awareness or interest. The one drawback I see in moving to this more flexible ROMO framework is how to compare different campaigns. If you aren’t using consistent metrics site-wide, then how can you gauge relative success?

Marketing is oh so passe, dahling
Somewhat related to ROMO is the move in marketing content towards media models. The argument here is that the straightforward logic (that underpins so many marketing campaigns targeting IT professionals) is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The campaigns that win out are the ones that include both logic and emotion. In this context, drama and humor have a strong part to play.

I suspect we’ll see this trend play out in the next few years. Company websites will start to borrow more from online media sites – both in terms of the type of content on offer and how that content is presented. For instance over the last few years we have seen a proliferation in video footage, blogs, podcasts – just for starters, all these tools need to be more fully integrated into corporate websites.