Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Why do Social Media Management Tools Still Suck?

It’s been over 5 years since I wrote this piece on MarketingProfs referring to Charlene Li’s original post that introduced us to new ways to track social media metrics. Here we are in 2012 and after a review of some of the leading social media “management”, “monitoring” and “listening” tools, it’s too bad that we don’t have a single winner-take-all scenario but rather a mashup of tools, some of which work better than others.

Now, I bet you didn’t come here to read that. What I’d like to do over the next few minutes is to give you a sense of the social media landscape that greets you today. Consider this post a primer on navigating the mess that is social media management.

There are tons of social media management tools out there that’s probably confusing to the novice but the ones you’ve probably heard of are the ones above. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I’d highly recommend Jeremiah’s research on this topic.

Where do I begin?

I’m sorry to break this to you but there ain’t a single tool that’s a panacea for all your social media tracking woes. Frankly, you’re gonna find out that there are two kinds of tools that cater to different teams in your organization:

  1. Social Media Management tools (Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc.)
  2. Social Media Listening tools (Radian6, Sysomos, Lithium, etc.)

You’re going to find that all of the tools you evaluate is going to perform better either as a management tool or a listening tool. Very few try to do both (For example, Hootsuite) and in those cases, they fail at one of the two. Chances are that most companies and small businesses will start this journey looking for a social media management tool since the first step in evolving your company’s social media brain is “Awareness” where you identify and track your existing social media presence on social platforms. For example, see LinkedIn’s Social Media Presence below:

Step 1 is gonna be to monitor your activity on these key platforms, identify audience growth (# of followers) across platforms and figure out engagement (how to improve RTs or comments via proper copy and scheduling).

Define your criteria

Step 2 is to identify what are the criteria for selecting this social media tool for your company? The social media tool will have to take into account a bunch of internal requirements that you’ve got to map and then find a tool that fall within the parameters you set for yourself. Here are some criteria I mapped before we began the process of identifying potential social media tools at LinkedIn.

Once you define your version of the above criteria (see above), the goal is to come up with a list of tools that fall within the parameters you define. As you go through the list you realize that the primary challenge is finding a tool that’s complex enough to deal with massive datasets (for example, to plan your marketing campaigns on Twitter or run reports around PR campaigns) while at the same time easy enough to be used by everyone on the team to update your company’s status updates.

So, though Tweetdeck is ideal since it’s free and is easiest to use (has basic scheduling of tweets for e.g.) it unfortunately lacks even basic collaboration / report generation features. So, what you eventually end up with is you’re forced to pick either a Social Media Management System, Listening tool or both.

How does your company do social media? And, if you’ve had a different experience and found your ideal social media tool leave a comment or tweet me @mariosundar

Filed under: Social Media ROI, Social Media Tools, , , , , , ,

The ROI on Social Sharing vs. Email

My “LinkedIn” twitter search is buzzing with this recent blog post by Tamara of Eventbrite (h/t: All Things Digital), where she compares the ROI on social sharing for their company. Social commerce is a growing phenomenon (think Groupon) but data like this helps marketers understand the true value of incorporating the social graph into their websites. A couple of interesting tidbits from the post:

  • The growing increase in the effectiveness of sharing on social networking sites – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

When someone shares an event with their friends through social media, this action results in real dollars. Our most recent data shows that over the past 12 weeks, one share on Facebook equals $2.52, a share on Twitter equals $0.43, a share on LinkedIn equals $0.90.

  • The resilience of email

…and a share through our ”email friends” application equals $2.34

That’s not bad at all. In terms of effectiveness, they’re ranked – Facebook, email, LinkedIn and Twitter. And, here’s the methodology:

We use a custom suite of social analytics tools that we have developed entirely in-house. Our reporting lets us track and analyze not only which sharing options our users leverage, but where on our site each share action takes place. These tools also tie back into our conversion funnels, so we are able to attribute ticket purchases to the specific social distribution channel that drove them. So, for example, we can compare not just the value created by a Facebook “Like” vs. a tweet, but also the performance of shares initiated before or after a purchase.

Reminds me of a post from Dan Yoo on the LinkedIn blog, where he talked about the effectiveness of Groupon.

“You can see the initial spike in revenue in the graph below. That’s to be expected after distributing a coupon. What we found even more interesting was the “new normal” that resulted. Even after the bump from Groupon, our revenue has leveled off to almost 50% higher than before.”

Of course, Dan works at LinkedIn and was profiled in our Talent series, where we feature employees who do cool stuff outside of their day job at LinkedIn. And, if you haven’t guessed by know, by way of disclosure, I work at LinkedIn.

Are there other studies that compare sharing ROI around? Let me know in the comments section.

Filed under: Facebook, Linkedin, Social Media ROI, Twitter

Companies still don’t get social media ROI, but do it anyway

Most companies these days do social media today (In a recent survey, nearly 72% of marketers say they use social media – see survey below). Now, don’t get me wrong, I know the tangible benefits that social media brings to a company, but not having clear goals before engaging in social media nor having an accurate way to measure it is probably one of the main reasons for companies to abandon social media when they find “it’s not working”!

Companies don’t know how to measure social media ROI

But, I digress… What got me thinking was a recent survey conducted by KingFish media, by interviewing “457 respondents primarily split between corporate management and marketing/sales management”. There were quite a few interesting facts that the survey unearthed, but nearly half of them (43% of marketers – see graph below) haven’t measured ROI being the most concerning.

I couldn’t agree more with social media marketer, Olivier Blanchard, who said in a recent post:

The chatter around social-media ROI is as strong as ever for two reasons: The first is simply because ROI [points to] one of the most important questions an organization can ask before green-lighting a social-media program: I could spend this budget somewhere else — Why should I spend it on social media? Before any other questions can be asked, you have to start with “why.

But is this what companies are doing? More after the jump.

Companies don't measure social media ROI (Source: KingFish Media)

So, what are companies using social media for?

As expected, companies and marketers use social media (loosely defined) for two things: Sales (get leads and manage accounts) and Branding (everything else falls under this bucket). I was surprised that PR wasn’t explicitly mentioned under qualitative metrics though both PR and customer service objectives were mentioned under the quantitative metrics (see #21) section.

Companies use social media for sales and branding (qualitative)

But what do they measure…?

Sales (easily the most straight forward goal) has 3 metrics around it being tracked (leads generated, new customer conversions, and increase in average order size) while most of the remaining metrics tracked are around branding. Some of the metrics are around PR (mainstream media mentions), SEO (search engine rank changes), customer service (customer reviews posted). All three of which are valid social media goals , as I’d pointed out years ago – here).

But companies measure nebulous branding for the most part (quantitative)

And, looks like the scariest part is that most companies aren’t even getting to the ROI part until months after instituting a social media program:

Others don’t get around to asking about ROI until 6 to 18 months after a program has begun and budgets need to be reviewed. Trust me, when 10% of your group’s budget is being cut, you start asking hard questions. Social-media programs not clearly in support of specific business objectives had better come up with a good answer when the budget hatchet starts to come down. (via Olivier’s interview on Smartblog on Social Media)

Now, this is definitely NOT a place for your company to be in. The good news is that over 50% of companies (per the survey mentioned above) have clearly defined metrics and ROI. There are also gold-standard companies that are pioneering social media in terms of what it can do for your company and measuring it aggressively. Stay tuned for clear examples on how companies are using social media within the organization on this blog.

If you like similar content you should subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter!

Your company must be using social media (looks like most companies are). What does your company primarily use it for?

Filed under: Social Media ROI

ROI of Viral Marketing

Seth Godin pens a classic blog post that questions the effectiveness of “viral marketing”. And, while doing so, he raises an important challenge that bedevils marketers who create social media.

We create content that is hampered or selfish or boring. Or we create something completely viral that doesn’t do any marketing at all.

He’s absolutely right!

Something being viral is not, in an of itself, viral marketing. Who cares that 32,000,000 people saw your stupid video? It didn’t market you or your business in a tangible, useful way.

So, what is? A truly viral Product. Eureka!

If you want to do viral marketing, you can try to come up with a viral ad, but you’ll probably fail. You’re better off building the viral right into the product, creating a product that spreads because you designed it that way.

I couldn’t agree more. It actually reminds me of Guy’s mantra on evangelism being intrinsically tied to the worth of the product itself.

The starting point of evangelism is having a great thing to evangelize. It is a product or service that improves the lives of people, ends bad things, or perpetuates good things. It is not simply an exchange of things/services for money.

In your minds, as a marketer, what is the true ROI on virality? Have you worked on campaigns that involved viral marketing. How did you measure success and what were your goals/metrics? Feel free to share.

Filed under: Miscellaneous, Social Media ROI

Where’s the Return in ROI of Corporate Blogging?

My recent post in Marketing Profs’ Daily Fix led to quite an entertaining and valuable discussion on the ROI of Corporate Blogging. Here are a few quotable quotes:

CK:

The thing that I find about blogging–and quantifying based on sheer volume of traffic–is that not all traffic is created ‘equal’.For many blogs, having 100 of the right, highly engaged readers far outweighs 1000 users that are either not necessarily in their target audience, engaged or in the purchasing cycle.

Stephen Denny:

Blogs give you insights, answer questions some of your users never thought to ask, and take good care of your 1%-ers (and probably the next 10%-ers, too).

Easton Ellsworth:

One way for a company to make it easier to measure the value of its blog is to clarify the blog’s purpose. Is it simply to address customer questions and concerns? Is it primarily to spread the word about new products? Is it to invite suggestions on where to take the business? The better defined the purpose, the more easily measured the ROI(ROB).

Also, Debbie Weil, author of the Corporate Blogging Book, wrote:

I’m currently running an informal survey on corporate & CEO blogging and the use of social media tools. The answer to the question: Does corporate blogging need to be tied to the bottom line (i.e. does a dollar value need to be tied to its success)?

60% say NO | 26% say YES.

I’m definitely surprised by those percentages and would love to know what Debbie’s target audience comprised of.

Feel free to participate in Debbie’s corporate blogging survey here

Any other comments to add on the corporate blogging ROI question?

Filed under: Business Blogging, Social Media ROI

Blogging ROI: what’s easy; what’s not?

Starting with the following caveat,

As you can see, this process and framework is not cut and dry, black and white. Rather, it’s highly subjective, requires tremendous judgment, and is open to interpretation. But it is a starting point for an otherwise nebulous activity.

… Charlene Li, from Forrester Research, takes a stab at defining what’s hitherto been an intangible pain-in-the-neck for all corporate blog evangelists (such as myself) for so long. Here’s the oft-quoted Figure 2, that outlines the measurement best:

(Source: New ROI of blogging report from Forrester)

What’s easy to measure:

(a) Press Mentions – this is the greatest indicator of current value and is also the easiest to measure
(b) Search engine placement
(c) Word of mouth

What’s not easy to measure: (due to amorphous value considerations)

(a) Savings on customer insight – this is not exactly impossible but may prove to be more time-consuming & nebulous than imagined; measuring the no. of times blog comments provide useful business insight.
(b) Blog traffic – what are similar content channels to blogging? is it advertising through RSS feeds?
(c) Increased sales efficiency – I believe an increased number of clients and prospects reading your blog will inevitably lead to increased sales but I’d love to read the Forrester Report to figure out how they measure that. Do you have a better idea of how it’s done?


It’s ironic how new media’s true worth is calculated on the basis of the old media it finds placement within!

Filed under: Business Blogging, Social Media ROI

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