Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Power of Social Media to do good #1 Health

I define good as those things that help people. Health, a better life, a job, happiness, success, these are all areas that social media has been proven to have a major effect.
Over the next series of posts I will take a look at these areas in turn and provide examples of how social media is having a game-changing dynamite-type impact.


Social media is having a real impact on healthcare in practical ways, not just by providing information, which is a good thing, and has generally positive effects, but in truly impactful ways too.
One example of this is how people requiring kidney transplants are finding kidney donors in the United States and elsewhere through social media. Professor Jerry Wilde of Indiana University is one person who has benefited from this. Jerry had a particularly difficult case. A previously donated kidney had grown a large tumour. He needed a new one.
The normal waiting list is three to five years for a new kidney. Jerry couldn’t wait that long. A friend of his started a Facebook page. Through the page they found someone willing to donate a suitable kidney.
And don’t get the idea that this is a unique case. Tom Brady, a quarterback, used the power of social media to get 10,000 people to sign up for, a web site that matches patients in need of organs with potential donors. This was reported in the Baltimore Sun.
There are many more examples of surprising ways that social media has helped people improve their health. Here are some examples of how people use social media for personal health purposes now:
1.    You can get support for your personal health goals through putting those goals out for all to see. By using social media sites to help you remember, you will keep on track and be reminded of the shame you will feel if you don’t stick to your goals.
2.   You can use Twitter hashtags, such as #weightloss, to record and track your weightloss activity. There are apps and programs that will remind you about your weight loss goals as well and plug you into communities of people who have similar goals.
3. You can get better, more up to date, health information through social media. and are just two examples of Facebook groups that provide real assistance to sufferers and their families. You can also use YouTube and other social channels to research techniques, success stories and how-to information.
Other examples of using social media for healthcare are:
1.  Getting mobile messages when you need to take your medication, via a timed social media posting service.
2.  Finding good doctors, seeing what else is available and getting feedback on medical issues from social media contacts.
3.  Keeping better medical records, all in the cloud, and telling professionals where and how they can access your records.
This list is far from exhaustive. Social media will impact every aspect of healthcare in the future. We are moving into a very different world. This future for healthcare wasn’t even imagined twenty years ago.  
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

12 Ways to Measure & Monitor Social Media

There is a management adage that says that you can’t manage if you don’t measure. 

Social media marketing is the biggest thing to hit marketing since it was invented. Marketing textbooks are being hastily revised as you read this. Undergraduate courses and graduate programs are all undergoing rapid change, because of what is happening in the world of social media.
The old marketing world is changing almost as fast as if you’d put a stick of dynamite under it.
One of the things that is happening is the way that marketing is now becoming pervasive throughout organisations. Everyone needs to think with a marketing hat on if they are getting involved in social media.
An understanding of what is word-of-mouth marketing, where people tell each other about your products/services, and what is viral marketing, where lots of people tell loads of other people about something, is spreading. Marketing is coming out of the stuffy office and getting involved in the real world.
One of the other aspects of marketing that is also changing, is the things that you will measure. Social media monitoring is taking its place among the key performance indicators and dashboard metrics that have pervaded modern management.
If you are looking to decide what to include in your measurement systems here are some suggestions:
1.       Sentiment analysis – how many negative comments and positive comments are there on social media platforms about you or your service - in actual and percentage terms. Keeping a track on this, and all mentions of you on the most likely social media platforms, is the most basic action all organisations should take. Not knowing what is being said about you, when that information is readily available, might almost be considered irresponsible.
2.       Tone – on a 3 or 5 or 7 point scale, of how enthusiastic/couldn't care/disgusted posters are. This is not a perfect art, but you can get data on key themes in the tone of comments.
3.     Influencers – the numbers of high "follower ratio" followers you have & their engagement levels with you. Having a lot of influencers is good, but it is better if you are engaging with them. Natural engagement will come when you first make contact, when you post and when you are retweeted.
4.      Demographics – traditional measures of geographic, age, sex, status, interests of your followers. It is useful to know who your followers are, where they are from and all the other pieces of demographic information. You will be better able to decide what to say, when you know who you are talking to.
5.         Sub communities – number and types of sub communities spawning around your main social media presence. If you make cakes these could be chocolate cake lovers, gluten free users etc. Sub communities will require separate conversations and talking points, and they do have to be re-assessed as your community builds.
6.       Base statistics on follower numbers, unfollower numbers, re-tweets, messages, posts for each platform, including smaller/up and coming platforms such as Pinterest/Flickr, forums, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vine, specialist blogs, etc, depending on which you focus on. These stats are not the most important things in social media, but they are good for people with a competitive instinct. If social media is to deliver what you want and you have only ten followers, who are all dedicated evangelists for you, than that is a success to me. Quality trumps quantity on social media, like in most things.
7.        New markets, new trends, new topics emerging from conversations with customers and prospective customers. You may pick these up instinctively or you may list these in a structured way.
8.         Competitor activity, sentiment & other key metrics for your competitors. Incredibly, you can do much of the same analysis for your competitors as well. This is a period of unprecedented openness in social media where we can all see what our competitors are up to on Twitter and Pinterest and many of the other major sites. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.
9.       Theme clouds – what are the key topics, popular words and phrases that are bubbling up and falling away among key communities. These can be tracked on a regular or irregular basis and placed in lists or theme clouds.
10.      Keyword tracking – do you have key words? How are they doing? Are you tracking raw numbers and patterns of change? If you are using key words you may want to check what your competitors are doing and what other people you would like to emulate are doing on keywords too. Key words are part of your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. SEO is a world of technical website marketing in three little letters.
11.       Internal benchmarking – How are internal divisions/branches doing compared to each other on key metrics? How are things changing over time? Most of the above key metrics can be done for divisions within your organisation, as well as for the organisation itself. Comparisons between divisions can be useful if they highlight laggards who could be using social media and who aren’t.
12.      External benchmarking - How do your stats compare with peers, competitors? Social media sites occasionally throw up useful data on case studies of how people are doing on social media. These can be particularly useful if you still have people in your organisation who are not on board with your social media strategy,
The above are 12 key metrics. I am sure you won’t need to develop “target scores” in all of these areas, but the above should give you plenty of food for thought when it comes to picking the key metrics that you will report on.
But it’s not just reporting you should be thinking about when you develop your metrics. You should also be thinking about return on investment (ROI). If you are investing considerable sums in social media you need to see where you are getting the best return. The above metrics will help you assess that.
ROI analysis should be considered carefully for social media. ROI analysis was originally developed for the financial services industry and has some key components. Financial analysts use formula for deciding what the ROI is for any given investment.
These formulas require you to decide what is the initial value of the investment, what the period of the investment will be, and what the final value of the investment will be.
The final value calculation is always the trickiest one. That value can be calculated at the end of the period or estimated in advance. When an estimate is used the final outcome can be compared against the estimate after the period is over.
An investment of 100 which achieves a return of 150 is rated as a 50% yield or return in the given period.
If you can achieve that you will be doing very well. If you achieve less, consider whether the period of investment should be extended. If you continued investing you could end up with the required yield. In some cases firms invest for many years in areas of opportunity before achieving a target return. The question is always; who decides how long you will invest for.
And on that discussion point many boardroom bust ups take place! If someone says you must pay back your investment in social media in year one, then be wary that they are expecting too quick a return.
Did the first people to install telephones in offices have similar ROI struggles, I wonder? I am sure they did in some places. The dinosaur home for instance.     

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Driving engagement

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

A recent statistic from the Institute for Marketing Science in Australia provided sobering news for Facebook marketeers there. Only a half of one percent of the fans of 200 top corporations assessed "talked about" the brand. "Talked about" was the Facebook metric for posting, liking, sharing, tagging, commenting.

The experience elicited the usual advice to increase engagement. It should be noted that most users of the underlying products or services happily continued using them.

As well as that it is likely that only a small number of customers will ever engage with a business or brand and that these may be early adopters, high impact individuals and leaders. However proof of such contentions is not available.

What is clear is that social media will provide a deep way to engage with customers. The greater the engagement the likelihood is the greater the brand loyalty.

Engagement strategies can use 5 entertainment industry engagement drivers to drive up engagement; fun, a story, sensory delight, a cause, or a pay off. If brands master one or more of these they will get people talking about their brand.

In my book on social media, Social Media is Dynamite, I explore these options in more depth.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Can you use social media to increase loyalty?

Loyalty us not as easy to define as people think. 
For me loyalty is a graduated thing. Yes, we can say we have loyal customers, but are we getting the maximum possible level of support from them?
Are they buying all of our products/services, visiting our sites regularly and defending and promoting us? Are they as loyal as members of our family?
If that is our goal, the maximum possible level of commitment, can social media help us to achieve this?
Here are four ways you can use social media to build reader loyalty:
1.            Listening and responding to negative sentiment or suggestions posted on all relevant social media channels. People who say negative things about you may have something valid to say. Why not listen to them, examine their issues, and answer them, if you can?
2.            Ask people to recommend or retweet or re post something from you. People talk about "who promotes you scores" as a key metric for understanding loyalty, but the percentage who are willing to take action to recommend or retweet should be a reliable figure too, as it’s not about stating your intentions, it’s about taking action. People may say they will promote you, but not actually do it. I suggest actions speak louder than words. 

3.            Offer real value, updates, background research  & special offers to people who visit your sites and those who sign up to receive posts or Tweets. By making people feel part of a community in some way you will increase engagement and loyalty. Highly engaged site visitors become advocates too. A high percentage of them will recommend you to others. Your Facebook page can provide special offers and your Twitter & Pinterest posts can show photographs of locations you are using. You can also make these offers and updates local by getting local outlets to take part in this campaign, so that readers/site visitors build relationships with their nearest physical outlet.

4.            You can track if customers are happy using social media too. You can do this buy asking them direct questions, via surveys/posts, and by monitoring any replies/posts they create on the subject. This is being proactively interested. You may not incorporate customers ideas in what you do next, but being open to ideas is a good thing. It shows respect for your customers. It also encourages engagement.

Engagement is a key metric for social media. How many retweets, posts, photographs and comments people contribute is one measure of engagement. How that compares to your overall number of visitors and followers is another.
But there are deeper measures of engagement too. How often are people coming back to each social media channel? Are people using many aspects of your social media, for instance are they posting pictures to a Facebook wall?
Some highly engaged people contribute in a truly significant way to sites, such as editors at Wikipedia, and contributors to self supporting literary forums. Can your site accommodate such highly engaged visitors?
And do you want such high levels of engagement? It's up to you to decide.
Thankfully, you can change your mind too as the social media world develops around us.
That’s one of the best things about social media. It’s not a world set in stone.      
You can test, retest, and change. 
I welcome any input to this article about using social media to increase loyalty.

To support this site - over 60 free posts so far on social media for you to explore - please buy my guide to social media. And enjoy!