Thoughts on Social Media from Newport Interactive Marketers Meeting

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Social Media Blogs
Tags: , , , , , ,

Last week I attended the Newport Interactive Marketers Meeting in beautiful Newport, RI at Christies‘ Restaurant.

It was wonderful meeting everyone who attended, and I must say, I have not been at a meeting on Social Media that was as well attended as this one. I look forward to going to more of these meetings, but even more, I look forward to the conversations that I hope continue among us as we wade through the sea of social media. Since many of us exchanged business cards, I am hoping we can stay in touch and serve as a resource for each other.

A Few Things Leading up to the Meeting and Kudos to Our Sponsor

The meeting sold out with 75 people signed up and more walk-ins! I heard people say they found the meeting through the Providence Journal Social Calendar (keep this in mind next time you are looking for a place to publicize your meeting!). There was lots of buzz about the meeting leading up to it, with hashtags flying all over Twitter (#NIM; #Eventbrite ; #RI). That was one point we never got around to in detail was the use of #Hashtags but I think we could do a whole blog on that alone.

Suzanne McDonald (@Sue_Desigeditor on Twitter) did a fabulous job setting up the event, creating the buzz around the event, designing the invitation and selecting the venue. A special shout out to Sue.

In this blog I am only going to focus on a few topics we touched on; with the focus on ROI.

Questions and Summary Responses (my perspective)

The section will summarize some of the questions asked and offer some guidance to give you something to ponder as you apply the things we learn in these sessions.

Social Media – Define it

Social media is about being social. Pure and simple. It’s about having conversations. You don’t want to be shouting at people nor selling. @PRNick said it best, “If you think Twitter is about selling, you can leave that thought behind”. We have plenty of opportunities to sell; how often do we get to just talk with our customers? It’s a great opportunity to educate (and not just about your industry) and to connect on a different level with customers. I liken it to the corporate image but a lot less heavy-handed. In other words, its constantly dress down Friday.

A second point here that needs to be said; know your brand image before you ever get onto the social platforms. Make sure the person behind the pages is knowledgeable about the company and although representing the company, can do it with a lighter hand than the static corporate website or the customer service representative.

And remember, conversation is a two-way street! You can build up a huge following but if you follow no one, you can’t have a conversation (@carloverkat). Be courteous, retweet people’s message, they will retweet yours. Thank people for the retweets. But the flip side to this is once you get people talking to you, you need to respond. There is no faster way to lose followers, friends, fans than to ignore them. Like any relationship, it has to be nurtured and fed.

How can I measure ROI (Return on Investment)

  • We all keep talking about ROI, ROI, ROI. You can not calculate ROI if you don’t have a strategy to begin with. In simple terms, why are you planning to use social media? What is the reason you are on it?
  • The second point is know your demographic. Each of the social media platforms can have a different demographic. And my demographic will potentially look different from yours based on my business. Learn it, then build your pages to appeal to it. There are tools within each platforms (MySpace , FaceBook , Twitter) that can help you evaluate your friends, fans and followers.
  • Do not discount any one platform as long as it fits your strategy (we come back to strategy first). A point made was that MySpace is dead or dying, yet for my company it is where we have our most friends! It is definitely more work to keep up with as it is more like programming a web page but worth it if you have the following.
  • Don’t use or set up a platform if it doesn’t fit your strategy just to say you are out there. There is nothing worst than dead pages. Have you ever looked at someone’s account and said ‘eww why would I follow them they never tweet?’ or ‘ their page is never updated’. Social Media is about interaction and what I call ‘Just in time communications’.  It is fast paced (watch your feed for 5 minutes and see how fast paced it is).

So Can I Measure ROI?

As with any project or new undertaking, there are costs associated with new endeavors. I think with Social Media being such a fluid media right now, it is  do-able, just not necessarily in traditional terms. And the ‘investment’ you are making in time may not be realized for a while as we are all struggling to figure this out. Does that mean never get into it? Absolutely not, because for a few minutes or hours a day (depending on what you want to put in) and the cost of internet connection, the returns can be fabulous. For now here are some of the things I look at:

  • Are my customers talking with me?
  • Can I get them to repeat my message? This is a very big part of social media (sharing out and retweeting). It keeps your brand in the consciousness of your customers.
  • What are my customers saying about me?
  • Can I get my customers to act on my message? This is probably what most of us are after and the real measure of ROI.
  • Am I getting more followers or are they dropping me. There could be a number of reasons this happens, poor content, no interest, you are not appealing or reaching them. It could also be they thought your site did not meet their expectation. The numbers are fluid and will change but if you see a mass exodus you better look at what you are doing.

Closing:

There is so much to cover on this topic. More than any one blog can cover so I will be covering a different topic each week. For the next post, I would like to go over some monitoring tools and ‘free stuff’ I have found that I find useful in measuring ‘success’ as defined by our strategies.

I look forward to your comments! Please feel free to disagree/agree with me (make sure you tell me why). Remember this is a conversation… a little bit about a lot of things.

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Comments
  1. Kathie, great summary of social media! You did an amazing job that night, as did Nick and Dana.

    For New England Multimedia, there was a marker I was waiting for to see if social media was really worth the investment of time I put in. Along the way I’d heard to give yourself 6 months to learn the medium and put into practice what you learn before expecting to see a good return on investment (ROI) in terms of conversions — whatever those desired conversions are for you. For us, it’s an increase in sales of websites, WordPress, video production, and consultations. (Yes, we thought “sales” when I started our social media campaign).

    My original intent was to build relationships with business owners who might need our services later. Because our LinkedIn presence has been so anemic (my fault), I wasn’t reaching the business owners. I spent most of my time on Twitter and Facebook. Interestingly enough, though, right around the 6-month mark, we started getting referrals from other social media users who were passing our name on to their business owner clients. We’ve gotten so busy, we’re considering hiring people. I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that the demographic I’ve built relationships with has been the most productive for us in terms of sales, when none of them are the business owners I was hoping to reach! While I don’t advise that strategy for anyone else, the principle remains — social media works because relationships are being built!

    Michelle Quillin, New England Multimedia/New England HD
    Twitter: @NEMultimedia

  2. Brian La Tour says:

    Wow , Carloverkat I am throughly impressed and I can see you are very informative about your topics !!! I also see you are very passionate about what you do in Social media and I say Girl Run with it!!! I want more !!!

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