One of my goals for 2010 is to attend some events / seminars / conventions pertaining to blogging and social media, and today was a great start as I attended the Social Media Arizona event in Tempe. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I only found out about it last Friday, thanks to Annette at TwoZen Productions. So, without further ado, here is a story of my day at #SMAZ.
Almost Not Making It
The excitement of the day started an hour before the event actually did. I was right on schedule, planning to leave my apartment at 7:20am for the drive out to Tempe. Ok, I admit, it was about 7:22 when I got into my vehicle, but 2 minutes late isn’t so bad. What was bad was the noise my truck made – or didn’t made, to be more appropriate, when I turned the key in the ignition – the sound of a dead battery. I had to wake up my hubby, drag him out into the cold, and get him to jump start my battery. Then off I went, jumper cables in the back just in case she didn’t start again later in the afternoon for my return home.
Even after leaving fifteen minutes later than planned and dealing with traffic, I still managed to make it to MadCap Theatres just a few minutes after 8. As I walked out of the parking garage, I saw some rather large bunnies that I had to get a shot of with my new Droid, which has one of the best cell phone cameras I have ever used.
Ok, enough about my morning, now onto the good stuff.
Social Media 101
After having a bagel and cream cheese, my colleague Sarah and I went to the first session on Social Media 101, a discussion led by Evo Terra of A Simpler Way. Amongst the topics that came up was some common sense insight into the usage of geo-based social media sites like Britekite and Foursquare. Simply put, don’t post your location unless you want to be found.
I can see that musicians who want to bring in a larger audience at their gigs would want to put out that they are warming up for their performance at the Boom Boom Room, but the random person doesn’t need to be tweeting their daily travel habits like “I’m at Starbucks on 5th and Grand” every morning at 8am. Two incidences (and I’m sure there are or will be more) of how these services can go wrong included one person being stalked and noticing because the same person was everywhere they went, and another person having their house broken into after sharing that they were going to be at another location for several hours.
Measuring Social Media Influence
The most popular topic at #SMAZ was the measurement of social media influence and the elusive ROI – Return on Investment. The keynote presentation by Greg Chapman, President of Sitewire covered ways to measure social media influence across multiple channels using some advertising research methods that helped measure how catalog advertising affected customer purchasing.
- Holdout Groups – taking two demographically similar groups and sending an ad to one, but not the other, and measuring the result of the group who received the ad compared to the one that didn’t.
- Matchbacks – creating a special source code that can be identified as coming from one source.
- Landing Pages – sending clients to unique landing pages depending on source.
- Exclusive Products – offering exclusive products to a particular channel.
- Focus Groups – apply reverse monetization by using social media to get client feedback instead of focus groups to lower research costs.
Social Media Strategy
Probably the best thing I heard about social media strategy is that social media can be more valuable as a listening tool than a speaking platform.
An example of this was given during the keynote. The speaker had went to a restaurant twice and felt the food was bland, so he went to tweet about it. He was soon contacted by someone from the restaurant’s marketing department, and after discussing his experience, the marketer eventually sent the speaker a gift card and revised menu. The food was improved.
Cold Shoulder of Social Media
Park Howell of Park & Co took an interesting approach in his session Cold Shoulder of Social Media. He presented his content like a screenplay, with his main focus being that you should have a story and be a great storyteller when you interacting with others on social media. He suggested that the real benefits of social media are as follows.
- Social media makes you a better listener and writer.
- Social media enhances your leadership skills.
- Social media helps you become a better storyteller.
He also gave an example of a powerful video campaign that charity : water used to illustrate the importance of clean drinking water. It wasn’t just the facts that made the video compelling, but the way they told the story to illustrate the facts. Watch the PSA to understand how storytelling can create a stronger influence on social media.
2010 SEO Trends
- Quality (relevant) backlinks are worth more, while weak backlinks are worthless.
- Google tracks links and related keywords in social mentions, so having a tweet stating “Our updated link building services page http://…” will Google will associate link building services with the referenced website.
- Most important search optimization factors include links (internal and external), fresh content, page title & meta descriptions, H1 headers, URL structure (including keywords if possible), and page load times (Google Caffeine).
- Things to avoid in search optimization include trying to fool search engines using blackhat techniques, keyword stuffing, more links than text on a page (indicator of link farms), and presenting content that is not valuable for a website visitor.
- Best links are from trusted sites with proper anchor text.
- Anchor text should be varied in your link building campaign, including capitalization changes and plurality. Most natural links generally are linked to your website or company name.
Blogging Tips for Serious Bloggers
This was one of my “must attend” tracks in the agenda. The presentation included great tips for both beginning to advanced bloggers.
- Nobody has all the answers on blogging.
- You have no editor to tell you what not to post on your blog.
- It’s a fallacy to write only when you have something to say.
- Don’t overthink – you’re better off posting something that is only 80% good than not posting at all.
- Want to tweet your post three times in a day? Since you can’t send identical tweets in 24 hours, try writing three different headlines for your post so you can have three unique tweets back to your article.
For more great tips for serious bloggers, you can also check out the slides from the presentation.
Social Media ROI
Later in the afternoon, Evo Terra discussed ways social media ROI could be measured, which would (in an ideal world) mean the social media strategist would be able to do the following.
- Know their client’s goals, and make (or hope) those goals are measurable ones such as increasing sales on a specific product by a certain percentage, reducing costs related to advertising and inbound sales calls / customer service requests, increasing gross profit, increasing sales efficiency, and so on.
- Record every significant social media actions and changes including the beginning of a campaign, increase in fans / followers, tweets and retweets by influential Twitter members, eBook and Press Releases, and guest posts.
Again, in an ideal world, the social media strategist would be able to overlay social media actions with business metrics and be able to show social media influence in the bottom line. If a social media strategist is unable to prove measurable ROI, alternative statistics to show proving the benefits of social media would include:
- New rankings (or change in rankings) for a particular keyword after social media campaigns.
- Share non-financial impact items like an increase in website traffic, improved sentiment about the brand, and relevant fan / follower numbers.
Another great point brought up during the Q&A was that social media ROI reporting would need to be approached differently based on the executive the social media strategist is approaching, such as a CFO vs. a website administrator.
The official closing at 4pm didn’t happen, not in the scheduled room anyway. Instead, Sarah met with one of the social metrics panel members from IBM, Tiffany Winman. I was doing my own thing (compiling notes, figuring out what I wanted to share in this post, etc.) and jumped into their conversation near the end. Tiffany asked us for input of what we would have liked to seen but didn’t at #SMAZ – the topic that came to mind for me was more discussion on how to build community on social media and engage with fans / followers. She also suggested that we read the book Groundswell – a must read for social media strategists.
The following were mentioned throughout the seminar as good social media resources for monitoring and learning more about social media strategy.
Social Media Tools
- Trackur – Social Media Monitoring Tools in just 60 seconds!
- Radian6 – Radian6 gives you a complete platform to listen, measure and engage with your customers across the entire social web. Listen and join the dialogue with Radian6.
- Social Mention – Receive free daily email alerts of your brand, company, CEO, marketing campaign, or on a developing news story, a competitor, or the latest on a celebrity.
- Spiral16 – Creator of Spark, an advanced software toolset that provides a fresh approach to social media monitoring based on organization, accuracy, visualization and analysis.
- Google Alerts – Email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.
- HootSuite – Offers visualizations link statistics to impress your friends, your boss or just yourself with graphs showing not only a summary but also individual tweet statistics!
- PostRank Analytics – For $7 per month, you get a complete picture of the reach of your content – right down to each story – across the social web.
In addition to speakers at the event, the following were recommended for those who want to learn more about social media strategies.
- @minethatdata – helps CEO’s understand the relationships between customers, advertising, products, brands, and channels.
- @andrewfreeman – an Online Media Planner in Arizona, making his clients look good online while generating more customers.
- @fvongraf – founder of Social Media Arizona.
- @abbief – from HMA Public Relations, full-service marketing communications and public relations firm with the vision and experience to secure recognition for its clients.
- @mashable – providing the best social media news and tips.
More #SMAZ Reviews
I didn’t get to see all of the tracks unfortunately, but there are some great reviews from other attendees. Check out the following for more about the other sessions.
Did you attend SMAZ? I’d like to hear about additional gems of information that I missed in other tracks since I couldn’t be in more than one place at a time. If you didn’t attend, did you learn something new from the presentation notes, slides, and resources above?