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Archive for December, 2011

Counting ROI in Pennies with Social Media

“Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell.” ~ Holden Caufield, The Catcher in the Rye

That is…if you let it.

During our webinar yesterday Activating Your Socially Connected Business, Lee Isensee (@OMLee) and I caused a minor flurry on Twitter when I Tweeted about the results Lee showed from the IBM/comScore social sales data from Cyber Monday. The findings revealed that $7 million dollars captured on Cyber Monday 2011 in online sales was directly attributable to social media. This makes up 0.56% of all online sales on Cyber Monday 2011.

The skeptics were quick to pounce on the paltry figure, with #WhoopDeeFrigginDo’s and “rounding error” rhetoric (see the Storify.com synopsis). And I agree, that half a percentage point, by anyone’s count isn’t a whole lot of impact. Even when it equates to $7 million bucks in a $1.25 billion dollar day of digital shopping. However folks, remember that all online sales last year represented just 7.2% of holiday cha-chingle in retailers’ pockets. According to comScore’s numbers that’s $32.6B in digital business over the 2010 holiday shopping season. Yet, how many of the total $453B in last year’s holiday sales…or this year’s forecasted $469B in holiday sales…were/will be ***influenced*** by online channels? The answer is a lot.

According to research firm NPD, 30% of all holiday shoppers plan to buy online this year, with the numbers even larger for high income households. Further, a full 50% of shoppers will turn to the Internet to research products prior to buying this year. And this that doesn’t include another 20% that will rely on consumer reviews and 4% who will turn to social media for their pre-buying intel. As we know, many of these shoppers will hit the stores with smartphones in hand, ready to get info or tap into their social networks as necessary.

My point is that if you’re so narrowly focused on social media that the only reason you’re in it is for the money…then you’re missing the point. Social media is today – and will be tomorrow – an enabler. It’s a method to engage with people on a meaningful level and to allow them to engage with one another. As a brand, if you can’t see this then you’re totally missing the point. It’s not all about the Benjamin’s. Social media ROI is important, but trying to pin everything down to bottom line metrics will have you “blue as hell” when it comes time to tally the numbers.

Instead, work to identify other Outcomes for your social media objectives that ***don’t have*** direct financial implications, but that ***do have*** business value. Demonstrating that your social channels reduce call center costs, elevate customer satisfaction, or simply drive awareness of your in-store promotions will deliver value deep within the business.

I’m all for generating ROI from social media activities and making direct revenue correlations when they exist. Yet, in today’s world, social media isn’t just about the bucks. It’s a means to deliver better experiences for the many people who turn to that channel.

If you’re interested in learning more about Activaing Your Socially Connected Business, download Chapter 3 from Social Media Metrics Secrets, courtesy of IBM.

Published on December 16, 2011 under Analytics Culture, Social Media Measurement

Google’s New Social Data Hub

Google’s Eric Schmidt appeared today at LeWeb 2011 and dropped some notable quotes during his interview with conference organizer Loic Le Meur (@loic), including this prescient perspective: “It’s reasonable to say that in the future, the majority of cars will be driverless or driving-assisted.” Foreshadowing perhaps? Could be…but closer to reality:

Google’s Executive Chairman also quipped, “It’s easier to start a revolution and more difficult to finish it.” Google should know. They’ve been revolutionizing the way in which consumers interact on the Web since their inception and news posted today following the LeWeb chat follows suit.

The news reveals a new initiative launching today called the Social Data Hub. What’s even more exciting is the Google Analytics Social Analytics reporting to appear sometime next year. While the details were somewhat vague, I got the inside scoop and what was published should be enough to incite a minor frenzy in the Social Analytics circles.

The “Social Data Hub” is a data platform that is based on open standards allowing Google to aggregate public social media posts, comments, tags, and a plethora of other activities using ActivityStream protocol and Pubsubhubbub hooks. (Yea, that’s a real thing…I had to look it up too.) Early partners in the initiative include social platforms such as Digg, Delicious, Reddit, Slashdot, TypePad, Vkontakte, and Gigya among others. Of course Google’s own social platforms, Google+, Blogger, and Google Groups are included as well. Noticeably absent from the list are social media moguls like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn who have yet to buy into the new Googley idea of a Social Data Hub.

So What…?

If you’re scratching your head wondering how this is different than Google just trying to get more of the world’s data, you’re not alone. At first glance this may seem like yet another big enterprise ploy to get more data (and oh yeah, Don’t be evil). Well, I see this as a huge win for marketers, bloggers, publishers and anyone else trying to discern the impact of social media marketing across the multitude of channels and platforms available today. Currently, most marketers are forced to evaluate their social media activities through the lens that the platform (or their social monitoring tool) offers. Typically this yields low-hanging counting metrics which can be of some value, but more often than not end up as isolated bits of information that don’t provide business value.

Getting at this all important business value in many cases requires wrangling the metrics into another system, processing data and just generally working hard to gain some incremental insight. This is laborious work for the average marketer, so it’s no wonder that eConsultancy just reported that 41% of marketers surveyed had no idea what their return on investment was for social media spending in 2011. Yikes!

Google’s new Social Data Hub – coupled with Google’s Social Analytics reporting – has the potential to knock the socks off these unknowing marketers. By aggregating data from multiple social platforms into the Social Data Hub, they have the ability to make comparisons across platforms to show which channels are driving referrals, which are generating the most interactions, and which are potentially not worth investing in. It’s not that big of a stretch to imagine Google linking this information to data within their Google Analytics product such as Adwords, Goal completion rates and cool new flow visualizations. If/when Google applies the lens of their analytics tool to this new aggregated data set, look out marketers — you just hit the jackpot! Of course, I’m speculating here, but the possibilities are intriguing for a Social Analytics geek like me. That is of course, if platforms open their APIs to the Social Data Hub. A big if…

So Why Would a Platform buy into the Social Data Hub?

Well, it’s questionable if Facebook ever will opt in for this system so I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one. However for other social platforms, being part of the hub has some distinct advantages. They get to prove their value by partnering up with one of the only solutions on the Web that is capable of providing real comparative data on the performance of social channels.

This is a no-brainer for fledgling platforms that want to increase their visibility and even for established players, opting into Google Social Hub could mean the difference in gaining advertising dollars from skeptical marketers. While the big dogs in social media may take a while to come around, I see this new Hub as a potentially great equalizer for understanding the impact of social media as it relates to referrals for on-site activities which can ultimately lead to conversions and bottom line impact.

While today’s announcement may be just a small ripple in the social media pond, I see big waves building for Marketers. But that’s just my take on the disruptive and revolutionary force that is Google…

If you want in on the action, here’s a link to request access to the private beta for Google’s Social Analytics Reporting: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/socialpilot/

And here’s one to for platforms to join the Social Data Hub: http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/socialData/socialOverview.html

Published on December 7, 2011 under Events, Social Media Measurement


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