June 09, 2013 by
90% of the data in the history of the world has been created in the last 2 years (source: IBM).
It’s given rise to an industry, Big Data, and a significant portion of it comes from social media chatter.
Does it make sense for brands to listen to social media data? What kind of insights are revealed? Does it result in better decision making?
Here are 8 case studies that show the predictive power of social media listening.
- CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS: In the 2010 California governor’s race between candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, a study from Activate Direct social listening proved the ratio of positive to negative social sentiment to be very much in line with the ratio of favorable to unfavorable ratings shown by traditional polling and on-going focus group. But social media listening identified potential crises earlier, faster and for less research money.
- DELL: Uses social media chatter for cross-departmental team collaboration. Over 90,000 employee quickly and easily collaborate and listen in 11 languages in places like the company’s Listening Command Center. What has they found> In the US, Twitter chatter has a positive impact on their reputation and gained positive coverage in Mashable and Fast Company; in Germany, social media chatter among employees helps monitor the success of internal conferences; in China, blogposts have a direct effect on coverage with Sina, RenRen, microblogs and forums.
- HEDGE FUND MANAGERS: “Analyzing social media conversations can provide insights, ‘like X-Ray vision’, about a company’s performance in between their quarterly financial reports.” That’s the point of view of the McAlister Study and how hedge fund managers now listen to social media chatter when their research showed a direct positive correlation between sales and chatter; a 5% rise of positive chatter led to a 5% rise in sales.
- MORTON’S: You may have heard about social media consultant, Peter Shankman, who had the good luck when tweeting a shout out about how a Morton’s steak would be just the right ending to his flight arriving in Newark. The consultant with 150,000+ Twitter followers was greeted at the airport by a man in a tuxedo sent by Morton’s to deliver a complete steak dinner. Social media listening enabled Morton’s to pick out advocate from the crowd and create influence at a low cost. It probably didn’t hurt Shankman’s influencer rating and visibility either.
- NIELSEN: The gold standard for assessing the performance of TV programming, has started collecting social media chatter for TV rating. The Nielsen company said that one in three people using Twitter in June of 2012 sent messages at some point about the content of television shows, an increase of 27% from only five months earlier. Nielsen also estimated that 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smartphone owners used their devices while watching television.
- QUENTIN TARANTINO: His violent Nazi revenge fantasy Inglorious Basterds pulled in more than $37 million domestically in its opening weekend. A good portion is thanks in part to Twitter. After a $14 million opening on Friday, the film picked up steam over the weekend as the positive tweets kept rolling in. Research service, Trendrr, showed the number of tweets about the movie climbed steady through most of Saturday before tapering off early Sunday correlating directly with movie receipts.
- TOYOTA: At the beginning of 2012, the company faced very negative press due to revelation of recalls and announcing them late to the public. Toyota launched a large “transparency” and “apology” campaign using social media outreach. The company had four official Facebook pages, which saw a 10% fan base growth between late January and early March. USA president and chief operating officer, Jim Lentz, also participated in regular Twitter Chats. Toyota experienced a 41% increase in March 2010 sales, compared to March of last year. The company can’t prove a link between social media outreach and the sales boost, especially considering the unprecedented sales incentives and discounted leasing deals and mainstream media appearances by executives on such outlets as NBC, ABC, and NPR. But it certainly didn’t hurt Toyota to be transparent through social media and was a very smart part of a successful integrated campaign.
- UNISYS: A 100+ year old company, Unisys understandably has had some obstacles to overcome when adapting social media to their corporate culture. With several top executives leading by example, departments began to openly share communication using internal social media applications. But success stories within the company show huge innovative payoffs aided tremendously by the open sharing of information available through well-constructed social media platforms and corporate adaptations.
To be transparent, not all brands are benefiting from social media listening. Coca-Cola reports it has yet to see any sales lift from social media buzz, even though the brand has 61,000,000+ fans on Facebook but the company continues to listen.
In the music industry, Tom Silverman reports: “My new take is online media is the propagation channel through which attention waves travel. Bieber and Kutcher have huge attention waves so they travel far and fast. Speed of propagation is greater on YouTube than any other social platform due to the sticky video content. Media is not necessarily neutral. Great images and videos drive engagement faster than words for example. But we keep learning from real life stories. His New Music Seminar is this week in NYC.
Do his case studies prove the predictive power of social media listening? Do you need help finding insights in the chatter for your brand?
May 12, 2013 by
- 80% of people find a website by typing keywords into the query box of a search engine
- 42% click on the website in the #1 organic search position
- 90% click on a website on the 1st page (Source: SEO Book)
These facts show, for any company doing business on the internet, search engine optimization (SEO) is a requirement.
But search engines don’t buy, don’t download and don’t fill out requests for more information. People do. That’s why, although search rank is important, a top rank is only as good as the content on the website at getting visitors to take the action you want.
How do you accomplish both? Here are 12 tips on how to write for your audience and search engines.
- DO KEYWORD RESEARCH: Keywords are the currency of the internet. They establish relevance to both your audience and the search engines. So look for the words consumers use to express their unmet need; how many express it and how often. Two tools that are a valuable guide in this discovery are Google Trends and Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
- CREATE SITE ARCHITECTURE: When search engines crawl your site, they are trying to give your audience the best match for the words that express their unmet need. So give both your audience and the search engines something to work with and make it easy on them. Organize your keywords and content to create a more complete picture.
- DIFFERENTIATE BY BEING SPECIFIC: The people who are most ready to take action are most likely going to be more specifics about what they need and less willing to wade through a lot of information. So help them on their journey with content that includes “long-tail” phrases, not just “short tail” keywords. If you were in the market for a digital camera and ready to buy, wouldn’t you be looking for the brand and model, not just the category?
- IDENTIFY AUTHORITIES: “It”s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This truth applies to life and doing business on the internet. That’s why hyperlinks (the blue text that goes to other websites) play a pivotal role. They connect you with authorities on your topic. If the search engines determine, through links, you are connected to authorities, they raise your rank. There are many link tracking services. Options range from free to subscription services. A few to consider are: Alexa, ClixTrack and Linktrack and Linktrackr and options from free to subscription.
- WRITE HYPERLINKS INTO SITE CONTENT: The search engine are cracking down on websites that load backlinks into the back end of their websites but they are rewarding websites that do it, authentically, by featuring relevant links in content like suggested above. Also, consider social network pages as links and build your “social authority.” This is increasing greatly in importance.
- USE INTERNAL LINKS THROUGHOUT YOUR SITE: Hyperlinks are also good for connecting pages within your site. This give both your audience and the search engine the opportunity to spend more time with your business and get to know you better. And that’s always a good thing.
- CHECK FOR BROKEN LINKS: Make sure everything is working as it should. A website analytics tool, like Google Analytics is your GPS system. Google offers Google Webmaster Tools for spotting any critical issues.
- TITLE YOUR KEYWORDS IN THE URL, TITLES AND HEADERS: The reason for being for each page is a key consideration for you, for your audience and the search engines. Put your keywords in url’s, and titles. Here is where you need to include them.
- WRITE MORE THAN 200 WORDS ON EVERY PAGE: Your audience and the search engines want to get to know you. Although there are a number of opinions, at least 200 words per page is a good rule of thumb.
- WRITE FOR 3 TYPES OF VISITORS: Regardless of the website, there will always be 3 types of visitors. “Researchers,” who expect to be educated and want lots of information. Reviews and testimonials are important. “Shoppers” look for comparisons. They want to know the facts, but they want the Cliff Notes version. “Buyers” are ready to take action but they want the specifics, as clearly called out as possible. All are important. They also are not mutually exclusive either. One can move from one stage to another.
- KEYWORDS: Now that you have your plan in place, track your progress is raising your rank every month. A good tool to track your progress is SEO Book Rank Checker (Firefox Extension).
- INDEXING: The more search pages your are on, the better so know how many search pages you are “indexed” and work to increase the number. Marketing Grader from HubSpot lets you see how your doing.
To write for your audience is as important, if not more, as writing for the search engines. Do these 12 tips help teach you how to do it?
April 06, 2013 by
“Big Data” is shorthand for the collection of large amounts of data from places like web-browsing data trails, social network communications, sensor and surveillance data that is searched for patterns, new revelations and insights. It’s a catchy term that implies major transformation.
Companies like Amazon, Cisco, Google and IBM are examples of leaders in Big Data. Although most companies aren’t like them, it is clear many will follow their lead because:
- 91% of marketing leaders believe successful brands use customer data to drive business decisions (source: BRITE/NYAMA)
- 90% of the world’s total data has been created just within the past two years (source: IBM)
- 87% agree capturing and sharing the right data is important to effectively measuring ROI in their own company (BRITE/NYAMA)
- 75% of companies say they will increase investments in Big Data within the next year (source: Avanade)
But it’s not the data, it’s what you do with it. Before your company jumps into Big Data, here are 20 questions you should be asking.
HOW DOES THE DATA MAKE THE DECISIONS BETTER?
- What are the decisions you want the data to help you make?
- What can’t you do today that Big Data could help you do?
- What issues does it clarify to move the business forward?
- How do results inform or compel action in the organization?
- What is the Return on Investment (ROI)?
WHAT IS INVOLVED TO IMPLEMENT?
- What skills, technologies, and existing data development practices do you have in place that could help kick-start a Big Data effort?
- Where does the data come from and what are the best methods available to collect the data?
- Is it data at rest, data in motion or data in use? Is the data trustworthy? Is the data volatile and incomplete?
- What does proof-of-concept look like?
- What determines whether the business should “green light” a Big Data investment?
HOW DOES IT MAKE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES BETTER – BECAUSE CUSTOMERS SHOULD BENEFIT TOO?
- Who are your customers? What are their needs? How do they drive the business?
- What combination of factors produce the best results for your customer?
- How does the data help you understand how to motivate a mass audience and also satisfy individual needs?
- Can the data predict how customers react to a future event based on their reaction to a similar event in the past?
- Are there locations, geography, time of year or time of day when the best results for your customers are likely to occur?
IS YOUR ORGANIZATION READY?
- Can your company manage the changes brought by Big Data?
- What values matter most to the organization, and what marriage of data, algorithms and change get us there?
- Is the set of metrics that you’re measuring within the security posture of an organization?
- Is there a right set of metrics? Are the current set of tools providing vision with the best possible clarity?
- Are you working with the right model? How do you know? How do you improve it if it is or make changes if it’s not?
These question are to help you see the potential Big Data has on your business as well as your company’s values and culture. Since it’s also going to require a big investment of money, time and talent, it’s worth it to be asking the big questions before you begin.
Do these questions help? Is your company ready for Big Data?
March 10, 2013 by
90% of all purchases begin online (source: IBM). This happens because it’s easy for us to type the keywords for what we need into the query box of a search engine.
If a Library of Congress existed for keywords, it would be Google Trends. It’s the largest catalog of keywords in the world. Google Trends stores, charts and trends every keyword since Google began monitoring them. Google Trends also identifies similar keywords and shows the location where they are searched most often. It’s probably one of the most valuable business building tools available, online or offline.
How does it help grow any business? Here’s how in 8 simple steps.
- THINK LIKE YOUR CUSTOMERS: Go to Google Trends and begin by typing the keywords you want trended. It’s similar to how you would normally use a query box. You can even get results for multiple keywords at once by separating them with comma. But now you’ll see the world from your customer’s perspective and what they need.
- SEE WHAT’S ON THEIR MIND: You’re taken to a simple but very well laid out dashboard. It indexes those keywords to show how consumer search has trended over time. It charts: 1) How it has changed, 2) What are similar keywords they are also searching, 3) Where is the most activity coming from. You can even customize the time period (4). Let’s look at each of these four areas with specific examples.
- BEST MEET THEIR UNMET NEEDS: It looks like it’s a good time to be in the wedding business from the chart above; that is, if you sell wedding dresses. If you’re a wedding planner, not so much. This should send a signal to any wedding planner to include the selection of a wedding dress as part of their planning process.
- KNOW WHEN DEMAND IS GREATEST: My mother-in-law wrote a cookbook. It’s called Savoring the Hamptons. It’s a labor of love but a challenging time to be selling a cookbook. However, during the holiday season, demand jumps. In fact, it doubles. One reason, as the letters indicate on each peak, is that’s when the “Best Cookbooks” articles for a particular year come out. Google Trends even explains the changes for you. This shows when to be applying resources.
- UNDERSTAND CONSUMERS VALUES: It seems, for people who are looking for cookbooks, making it simple and easy to understand is important. This is because as many people who are searching for “cookbooks” are also searching for “101 cookbooks.”
- IDENTIFIES WHERE THERE IS THE MOST DEMAND: In the lower left corner of the dashboard, you can click on any country and, the darker the color, the greater the search activity for a particular keyword. For cookbooks, the greatest number of searches occur in Maine, Montana and the state of Washington. It’s a good thing my mother-in-law’s cookbook is available online.
- DISCOVER COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES: In the top-left part of the dashboard, you can customize and change the time frame. I charted the last 90 days activity for Amazon, Walmart and Best Best. I was surprised to find that searches for all three peak on Sunday. It may be a day of rest for some, but, with this knowledge, it’s an opportunity to steal share from the competition.
- SEE THE ABSOLUTE NUMBER OF SEARCHES: Google Trends works by indexing keywords. If you want to see the exact number (and some people do), just go to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
There are a range of businesses listed in these examples because there is no business that can’t benefit from the use of Google Trends. We use it to help guide the business direction of our clients from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups. Maybe we can help you on the use of Google Trends for your business? Do these 8 steps help you to see how Google Trends can help your business grow?
March 02, 2013 by
What makes some of us want to create something new and build a business instead of joining one that is already established?
Conclusions are no one is born an entrepreneur and no formal study turns you into one. Instead, an entrepreneur is made through a journey; one beset with obstacles before opportunities where a spirit raises to the occasion. Maybe that’s why many say the most distinguishing asset of entrepreneurs is their entrepreneurial spirit.
To guide, get through the hard times and help you get there, here are 44 obstacles entrepreneurs overcome.
- Know how to take advantage of an unfair advantage – Forbes
- Vision and dissatisfaction with the present – Forbes
- Ability to get people on board and add to that vision – Forbes
- Flexibility to adapt, openness to feedback and the ability to learn – Forbes
- Persistence and execution – Forbes
- Start small with the means that are closest at hand – Harvard Business Review
- Find ways to reach the market with a minimum of resources such as time, effort and money – HBR
- Take a product to the nearest potential customer even before it’s built – HBR
- Plans that are made and unmade and revised and recast through interaction with others – HBR
- Landmarks that point to a discernible path – HBR
- Know that surprises are not deviations from that path – HBR
- Believe the future is out there to be discovered – HBR
- Obtain pre-commitments from key stakeholders – HBR
- Because the market in unpredictable, it has the opportunity to be shaped by their actions and decisions in conjunction with stakeholder and customer-partners – HBR
- Are not waiting for jobs and incentives and come to them – HBR
- Don’t wait for the right people to come along – HBR
- Have a process – Inc.
- Trust their gut – Inc.
- Have got something to prove – Inc.
- Have had someone in their lives who paid attention to their skills and it made a difference – Wall Street Journal
- Spend time asking provocative questions – WSJ
- Observe the world like anthropologists – WSJ
- Network with people who don’t think, act or talk like them – WSJ
- Have a burning desire to build a great company – pandodaily
- Focus on things like user experience ahead of monetization – pandodaily
- Create a culture where it’s fun to come to work – pandodaily
- Know there is a better solution to a problem than how everyone is solving it right now – Vijay Anand
- Seek out, acquire, practice the skills they need to succeed and do what they have to get to where they want to be.- George Torok
- Have a much higher level of trust toward their society, their peers, colleagues, subordinates, and employees – Cipe
- Have a low fear of failure - OpenLearn
- Begin with who they are, what they know and whom they know, and immediately start taking action and interacting with other people – Darden Business Publishing
- Focus on what they can do and do it, without worrying much about what they ought to do – Darden
- Creating something new with existing means – Darden
- Committing in advance to what one is willing to lose rather than investing in calculations about expected returns to the project – Darden
- Are willing to make actual commitments to the project, without worrying about opportunity costs, or carrying out elaborate competitive analyses – Darden
- Acknowledge and appropriate contingency by leveraging surprises rather than trying to avoid them, overcome them, or adapt to them – Darden
- Relying on and work with human agency as the prime driver of opportunity rather than limiting entrepreneurial efforts to exploiting exogenous factors such as technological trajectories and socio-economic trends – Darden
- Do not wait to “discover” the perfect opportunity – Darden
- Act on things they can do without worrying too much about what they ought to do – Darden
- Reflect an emphasis on future events they can control rather then those they can predict – Darden
- Are propelled by sufficient conditions for the creation of new ventures and new markets, not through necessary conditions – Darden
- Make a variety of contributions that, on average, begin to look very much like progress over time – Darden
- Create something out of nothing – Krauthammer
- Help other would be entrepreneurs – Inc.
These learnings and experiences have been a guide in my journey. I hope, if you’re on that journey, they help you too.
Do these 44 obstacles describe what makes an entrepreneur to you?