One of the biggest buzz-phrases in social media marketing is “return on investment” or “ROI,” as in “What is the social media ROI of our company?” The discussion over social media ROI has spawned a legion of blog posts, papers, books and social media posts from experts and marketers. Some are firmly entrenched in the “social media ROI doesn’t exist” camp, while others advocate loudly for “ROI can always be measured for everything that has an associated business cost.”
The truth? As usual, it’s not so black and white. Social media ROI does exist and it can be measured – but it translates best when measured for particular posts and campaigns. It’s easier to assign value to a post that brought in 10 new customers, but harder to quantify the value of a social media presence in general.
In Part I, we covered the ways traditional measures of ROI can be recorded for social media. Now, let’s talk about some of the new indicators marketers use to evaluate social media effectiveness and whether they shed any light on the “social media ROI” debate.
One of the biggest buzz-phrases in social media marketing is “return on investment” or “ROI,” as in “What is the social media ROI of our company?” or “What’s the ROI on that social media campaign we’re running?” The discussion over social media ROI has spawned a legion of posts, papers, books and social media posts from experts and marketers. Some are firmly entrenched in the “social media ROI doesn’t exist and therefore cannot be measured,” while others advocate loudly for “ROI can always be measured for everything that has an associated business cost, including social media.”
The truth? As usual, it’s not so black and white. The answer lies somewhere in between. Social media ROI does exist and it can be measured—but not for everything a business might want to know about its social media presence.
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Back in the day, you could merrily stuff keywords and hide links on your way to a high search result ranking, pausing only to add more cloaking, irrelevant keywords, tiny text and other black hat search engine optimization tricks. Then the Algorithm got wise and started to care about what was actually on your website, lending more weight to a whole slew of white hat SEO tricks, like meta keywords and URL name construction.
Lately, the eminently unknowable Algorithm has become even pickier with what type of web content it rewards, making all content creators work harder to attain the Holy Grail—a No. 1 search ranking. Of course, no tricks or tips or tactics will ever beat the easiest way to impress the great Algorithm—useful, original content—but here are five still-relevant white hat SEO tricks that will help augment that content.
No matter the size of your business or what you sell/provide/do/give away, you need to communicate with customers/clients/other businesses/your own staff, which means you need an email marketing system. Operations of all sizes and types can reap the benefits of an email marketing system. Most require subscription fees, but it’s a well-spent expense in order to be able to do this:
Keep ’em separated.
People don’t want to know everything. They might think they do, until all those promotional and informational emails start to pile up in their inboxes, and then they realize they’d rather know only what they want to know. An email marketing system like Mailchimp or Constant Contact allows you to separate your huge or tiny email list into smaller lists and groups, so you can make sure that only clients in California are reading about your rad deals on surf gear, or that none of your customers are reading about the employee harassment training scheduled for next week.
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Pivot Communication, a Boulder-based marketing and public relations firm, announces that Melissa Brooks has joined the company as an account executive. She previously worked as an editorial intern at Pivot, and also gained experience in copywriting, editing and creative content planning at an agency in Chicago. She is the co-founder and former editor in chief of online entertainment magazine Cultural Transmogrifier, and graduated summa cum laude from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisc. Brooks will be working on Pivot accounts in multiple industries, including criminal justice, senior healthcare, transportation and more.
For more information about Pivot, call 303-499-9291.
Pivot Communication, a public relations, design and marketing firm, has been selected by Piedmont Health SeniorCare, a Burlington, N.C.-based healthcare system, to develop a marketing campaign for its elder care program.
Piedmont’s elder care program, a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), opened in 2008. Pivot will assist with marketing efforts to attract seniors to the program.
LinkedIn has added a lot of new features in the last couple years, positioning itself as the professional social network and working to provide functionality similar to Facebook. If you haven’t claimed or updated your business’ LinkedIn page in a while, it might be time to check out a few things you can do to liven up your presence on the fast-growing network of over 200 million members.
1. Provide complete and accurate information.
One of the main reasons you should control and update your company page is to make sure viewers see current and accurate information. Make sure to fill out the page with as much information as you can provide, including a list of your services and products, and a brief “About” paragraph that tells your company’s story.
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The so-called experts recommend that you update your website approximately every two to three years. I know what you’re thinking – all of these “experts” work for web design firms, don’t they? Who needs to update so often? Heck, who needs to update their website at all?
Here are 10 excuses you might be using to not to update your website – and 10 reasons why those excuses are invalid:
If you operate a website that is at all integral to your business, you are probably taking the time to review reports from programs like Google Analytics to check up on the performance of your site. But are you looking at the right things? Do you even know what you’re looking at? Google Analytics metrics are more than just visits and page views, but you don’t need to be a master of all things web to interpret the six metrics you should be keeping an eye on.
1. Pages Per Visit, Average Visit Duration
These stats are all about engagement – how long did someone spend on your site and how many things did they look at? How “good” these metrics are will depend on your site. If you have many different products on different pages, a Pages Per Visit metric below 2 pages probably isn’t that great. On the other hand, if most of your information is concentrated on a few pages, then a Pages Per Visit metric of anything above 1 might be good enough. The Average Visit Duration will tell you how long people were on your site. Was it 30 seconds or four minutes? Is either enough time to get the information they need from your site?
Facebook has made yet another change to its EdgeRank algorithm that determines how a user’s Facebook News Feed is sorted. For most users, this only subtly changed whose cat Instagrams and relationship statuses they see when they log in to Facebook. For businesses and brands that rely on Facebook to reach users and potential users, the change is highly unwelcome and seen as another grab for advertising dollars.
What is the change?
The EdgeRank algorithm is a closely guarded secret similar to the PageRank algorithm Google uses to bring certain web pages to the fore of its search results. Every time either company makes a tweak to either algorithm that affects potential ranking or potential “reach” of Facebook posts is met with ire from brands and businesses that rely upon being consistently on-screen in front of potential customers’ eyes.
Facebook’s News Feed Product Manager Will Cathcart explained to reporters this month that the early October changes were meant to increase the relevance of posts in users’ News Feeds, both from their Friends and pages they’ve “Liked.” Four factors determine a post’s hierarchy in the Feed, or whether it shows up at all:
- Previous interactions. Did you previously Like or interact with the author’s posts before?
- Crowd-sourcing. How is everyone else on Facebook reacting to the post?
- Habit. Do you always Like videos and ignore photos? You’ll see more videos than photos in your Facebook News Feed.
- Complaints. The new algorithm punishes posts from authors who get complaints or have other users block their posts.
Why has it made businesses and users so angry?
The change to EdgeRank coincided with the rollout of Facebook’s promoted posts, where advertisers can pay to push a particular post out to more Facebook users and increase reach. The move is widely viewed as taking away companies’ potential “reach” on Facebook while simultaneously offering to sell it back via promoted posts.
While Facebook insists that the reach of posts (how many people see each one) has not significantly changed, several social media companies have shown with analytics that reach has declined by possibly as much as 50 percent.
What does this mean for my business and my clients?
The changes mostly affect brands with large numbers of followers (people who’ve Liked the page) on Facebook. For most brands with fewer than 10,000 fans, the change in percentage of fans seeing posts is negligible. Larger brands, however, have reported seeing reach numbers of fewer than 6 percent of their fan base. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban angrily tweeted a screenshot of Facebook’s offer to allow him to reach a higher percentage of his fans by paying handsomely to promote his posts. He threatened to move to Tumblr or another platform.
While it’s true that the majority of brand pages will be mostly unaffected by this initial change, it signals a shift in Facebook’s relationship with advertising and its users. No longer do the fans earned through “Like” campaigns belong to the brand page to be leveraged as needed. Facebook has begun requiring that brands earn access to their fans through consistent posting of complaint-free content and by paying Facebook. Companies with smaller audiences on Facebook might soon be forced to confront the paradigm shift and come up with new ways to consistently engage their Facebook fans to avoid losing reach through inactivity or irrelevance.
Promoted posts are not a new idea in social media – Twitter has been offering promoted tweets for some time now – but it does represent a new avenue for Facebook to monetize its vast user base and potentially change its business model enough to stay viable. As it stands, there is no sign that Facebook will be backing down from its promoted posts as a future revenue stream.
Whether the change in EdgeRank purposefully coincided with the promoted post rollout or whether it was, as Facebook claims, only a tweak to clean up users’ News Feeds, the message is the same – Facebook users belong to Facebook, and brands who wish to leverage them will eventually have to pay.