Some thoughts on the ROI/ROE of social media

11 Aug

Increasingly, I am seeing articles out there about measuring the Return on Investment (ROI)/Return on Engagement (ROE) in social media.  This morning, I read an article that went so far as to show you how to calculate the dollar figures of investment and the projected value of any customers you may get from your blog.

The thing is this: what are you using social media to accomplish? Without knowing the answer to that, there is no measurement available. If you are indeed using your blog simply to generate sales, it is easy to calculate if you are getting a decent ROI.

However (you knew this was coming), using social media can help you/your business accomplish many goals, such as:

  • Thought leadership
  • Image/branding
  • Name recognition
  • Networking (as in actually meeting other people)

These are not so easily measured in numbers and certainly not in dollars, and yet they all have value.

My conclusion is that you should not waste your time trying to measure your ROI/ROE but instead ask yourself if your social media use is generating value for you. If you are spending hours and hours a day on social networks and haven’t made one solitary connection, it is clear that there is no value for you. If you have made connections, improved your image, heightened your name recognition, perhaps that is the value you seek.

What are your thoughts? What makes you use social media for business purposes?

A tagline that works

10 Aug

Taglines can help or hamper your marketing efforts. They must be clear and relevant. A few nights ago, I was watching TV and saw the following commercial for Red Lobster:

The last line is: “I see food differently. “The tagline for this campaign is Sea Food Differently.  I think this is tagline writing at its best: clever, play on words, and RELEVANT. They are saying that Red Lobster does seafood differently (presumably better) than other restaurants. Perfect.

Compare that to Salonpas. Salonpas, which has a completely weird name that makes me think of a hair salon, is a pain relief patch. They are running this spot on TV right now:

The tagline is: “Nothing’s been proven to beat the relief.”

What does that mean? It is saying that nothing is proven to provide relief–which, I am pretty sure, is not the message they intended.

Some taglines make you scratch your head, some don’t make you think at all, and some, the ones that work, make you think.

Marketing materials don’t replace salespeople

9 Aug

I just came back from a quick trip out to Assateague/Chincoteague Islands. As is the case in any tourist/vacation town, everywhere you went there were rows of brochures about things to do: kayaking, boat tours, bike rentals, etc. Those are all good to have. In fact, I ended up going on a boat trip because I  picked up a brochure for it.

On Sunday, I was at the visitor center on Assateague. They have lots of exhibits about the area, its history and its flora and fauna. You could pretty much wander around the building looking at exhibits and picking up brochures.  However, you would have probably not really noticed or paid attention to the fact that nature bus tours leave from the center.

While talking to the woman at the information desk about trails and things to do on Assateague, she recommended taking the bus tour. She said that you would see the famous Chincoteague ponies, guaranteed, and also lots of other animals native to the area. You would be sitting in air conditioned bus going where nobody else is allowed to drive. In other words, she sold the tour. (BTW, we did see the ponies and a bald eagle, along with tons of egrets, ibis, osprey, and other animals, just like she said)

If she hadn’t given the pitch for the tour, it would have not been on my agenda or even on my radar. A posting about the tour or a brochure alone would not have been sufficient. A knowledgeable salesperson made the difference.

When you can’t have a salesperson, you need marketing materials. But marketing materials should never replace salespeople completely.

Just because its on the computer doesn’t mean you can’t act human

4 Aug

Be warned: this is a rant.

Lately, I have been getting followed and unfollowed on Twitter by a guy who has a networking group here in DC.  He happens to have many Twitter handles (and a surprising number of followers).  He has used at least five different handles to follow me, and then, I take it because I haven’t followed back, he unfollows me. Is this a good way to get me to follow him? NO!!!

Say this interaction was taking place on the phone instead of on Twitter. It would go like this:  He would call from his cell phone, and hang up once I answered. Then he would call from his office line, and hang up again. And so forth. This would be very annoying, and bordering on perverted behavior (if there were any heavy breathing involved).

If he actually wanted to talk to me, he might call and say “Hello, I really think you have some great ideas to share, and I would like to talk to you some more.”  But apparently, he is either unaware of how to behave like a human, or is just interested in numbers.

There is no great mystery to getting Twitter followers: it is simply about behaving courteously and human. That is, showing interest, re-tweeting content to show support and giving credit, and INTERACTING.

Why do so many people forget they are dealing with other people on the Internet? You would not walk into a store and yell obscenities, for instance.  And yet people do this on Twitter as a matter of course.

A computer is just a tool. It need humans to run it.

 

 

Are you ready for prime time?

1 Aug

Here’s something to think about: you can start marketing too early. Sometimes, you  aren’t ready for prime time, as they say.

Last week, I attended a networking event. There, I met two self-employed event planners. They were both very pleasant and seemed knowledgeable about the ins and outs of event planning. Both gave me their business cards. As I always do when I get back from this type of event, I went to their websites. At least, I tried to go to their websites.  Neither website was up–one was “under construction” and the other was a placeholder from the domain registrar. Although both ladies had nice (professionally designed and printed) cards, they skipped a step. You should always have your website up before you hand out cards with the URL–even if it is a one page describing your business and providing contact info.

Later on in the evening, I met two women who are planning to open a yoga studio. They did not have cards, and they told me their website was under construction. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the studio. One of the yogis told me they are considering doing a Groupon…the week they open. I told her that that I would not advise that since she wouldn’t even have worked out any kinks.

Here is an article from USA Today about Groupon (Is Groupon a great idea for entrepreneurs?)  Among the cons of using Groupon is that if you are not ready for the onslaught of business, you will end up turning away customers. Say the yogis get 40 people signed up, but the studio only holds 30, or their computer system has a bug and can’t register new customers? Then those potential customers are going to be disappointed and chances are, won’t be coming back (there are plenty of other yoga studios in the area).

The bottom line is that before you start any type of marketing, whether it be in-person networking or a traditional advertising/media campaign, you need to be ready for business. This means having your website up and running and all your business tools in order (e.g. invoicing, computer systems, ordering, etc.) People have limited time and resources and they will often not give you a second chance.  Or they will forget about you. Or they will think you are an amateur.

Not only should you be ready for prime time before you start marketing, you should be ready for business.

How to judge a business by its website

28 Jul

You may not be able to (entirely) judge a book by its cover (or so they say) but you may be able to judge a business by its website.

Let’s start with the very basic question of does the business have a website? If the answer is no, that says a lot. Among other things, not having a website says that a business doesn’t get how people search for information nowadays, or that it works strictly off referrals and very traditional advertising or that it is not tech-savvy.

However, most businesses do have a website. Some websites are better than others, and that often has to do with the budget allocated to it and also whether it is being handled by a communications person or a tech person (yeah…the communications person should handle this unless you want the website to speak IT).

A website is a necessary part of any marketing/communications strategy.  Keeping that in mind, this is what  should you look for:

Appearance and design: Does the website look good? Is it easy to read? If so, it shows this business has considered that potential customers’ perceptions are important.  Also, if it looks like it was designed in the 1990s, it shows that the business has not bothered to keep up with the times.

Clarity: What does this business do? It should be crystal clear by looking at the home page what kind of service or product the business offers.

About us page: Does this page provide you the information you need to consider doing business with this company? Or is it a lot of fluff and platitudes, short on substance?

Services or product listing: Does the website specifically list what services or products this business provides? How deep do you have to dig for this information?

Contact page: Does the business provide several ways to contact it? Businesses that don’t provide a physical address and/or phone number and/or email are suspicious. They want to be able to contact you but not for your to contact or find them.

Freshness: What is the copyright on the website? When was this content updated and is it really up-to-date? If there is a blog, when was the last blog entry dated? Clearly, if a website lacks freshness, you have no way of knowing if the business still exists or in what form. For instance, if this is a restaurant website, and the menu is date Spring 2008, how do you know if they are still open for business?

Useful information:  You need certain information to decide whether you want to contact a business or not: Does it work with your industry? Are there fees? What are the opening hours? Does this website give you the necessary information you need? For example, you are looking at a hotel website and you have a list of needs (location, availability of WiFi, restaurant on premises)–does the website provide you with the answers you need? In a hotel’s case, does it list of room amenities and hotel services?

Easy to navigate: Is the website easy to use? Do you have to dig deep to get crucial information? If a website is not easy to use or navigate, it shows that the business does not understand what information its potential clients and customers need.  Sometimes, it is a business decision to bury information on purpose (and this tells you a whole lot!)

You can read 5 Simple Tips for Better Business Websites on OpenForum.com to see some more technical issues (like making sure a website is mobile friendly).
What would you add to the list?

 

 

 

Bad habits or perception busters?

27 Jul

This morning on Yahoo.com there was an article about habits that can hold you back, which got me thinking about the things people do, perhaps unconsciously, perhaps subconsciously, that affect how they are perceived by others and that hold them back career-wise.  Some of these habits are particular pet peeves of mine, which certainly have changed the way I perceive someone.

Not answering direct emails: It makes it seem as though you don’t care enough about the sender to answer. If you work at an agency or for yourself, it is an absolute disaster not to answer client’s emails. If you are a client, and you don’t answer your email, you are making it very hard for the agency/representative to do its job on your behalf.

Not saying thank you: I have written about this before, but when someone does something for you just say thanks! A few months ago, I took out a couple hours of my day to meet with some people who were looking for advice. I did my best to listen and give suggestions. To this day, I have not received a solitary note of thanks. It makes me think that neither my time nor my input were in anyway valuable to them.

Not doing what you promised:  If you say you are going to get something by the end of the day, or that you will take on a project and then not do it, you are failing to keep your promises. This makes you seem unreliable, and uncaring. Last year, while working on a group project, one of the group members offered to complete a good chunk of the project. She never did. And she didn’t provide a reason, an excuse or even any further words about it. I would never work with her again. And I made sure that other people knew she dropped the ball.

Being habitually late: The article on Yahoo (link above) says this is a surefire sign of something going on…you resent having your time held hostage to someone else’s schedule. To me, it shows a deep disrespect and makes me perceive you as unreliable.  Enough said.

Never following up: This is a mistake that happens frequently. In the past few weeks, I have been getting estimates to get a fence built. So far, I have received four estimates. Guess how many follow up calls I have had to see if I am interested in moving ahead? None. Not one call. And you wonder why people don’t get business…they don’t even try to get it.

Not remembering/always forgetting:  This is a catch-all, but it covers things such as always forgetting you have met someone before, forgetting to do something, not remembering names, not remembering crucial details, etc.  If you have a bad memory, get an aid of some sort like a calendar or a smart phone.

The thing is some of these may just be annoyances and people will overlook them. But do some of them enough and it will affect how you are perceived. The flip side is that these are easy to fix and if you are aware that you are doing them you can change your ways. Have you recently lost a client? Did any of these play a part? Have you been overlooked for a job or a promotion? Are any of these habits yours?