How to Maintain a Twitter Audience

Wondering how a top brand like SEGA maintains a loyal community? Look no further! Kellie Parker, Community Manager at SEGA and one of our Keynotes at this year’s Social Media 2.0 Conference reveals internal secrets on how her team successfully reaches the Twitter audience.

- Stacy

How to Maintain a Twitter Audience” by Kellie Parker, Community Manager, SEGA

One of the questions that I get asked most often about SEGA’s community outreach is how we build and maintain our Twitter audience. My first and best piece of advice is to have a conversation, not just push marketing out to them. Notice the ‘just’ in that last sentence ‘ we do push marketing, either in direct tweets or through linking people back to our blog. We are giving updates on our games and corporate activities. But we also re-tweet fan photos, tweet about fun stuff going on in our office (free donuts!) and sometimes not-so-fun stuff (another fire drill!). We reply to most everyone, even when the answer is ‘I’m sorry, I can’t answer that’. We try to be as, well, human as possible.

But the program that helps us grow the most, and most community managers are interested in, is Free Stuff Friday. It started as a way to get rid of swag and promotional items for older games that was just going to be thrown away, as it had little PR value. The community team started rescuing these items because we couldn’t bear for them to be thrown out. We needed to do something with all of this, so we started the Free Stuff Friday program. It’s been wildly successful, and has gone from a way to get rid of stuff to a planned part of our strategies.

How the Giveaways Work
The SEGA Twitter feed is run by the community teams in the US (that’s my team) and the UK. We each update the feed during our normal business hours. In order to make the administration of the giveaways easier, as well as give more opportunity for people around the world to participate, the US and UK team alternate Free Stuff Friday weeks. There are generally 6 prizes per day. For each giveaway, we’ll tweet an item, a number, and a phrase. For example: ‘Giveaway! Sonic the Hedgehog T-Shirt, size L. 5th person to DM ‘Sonic rules’ wins!’ And, as you would expect, the 5th person to DM ‘sonic rules’ to us will win the shirt. We use an auto-follower to follow everyone who follows us, so everyone can send us DMs.

Where We Get Stuff From
The items that we give away really come from all over. Some things were created for promotional use and we get some of those. Sometimes we partner with other organizations, and we get free items through that. (For example, we’ve given away t-shirts and coupons that we got from Chiquita through our partnership with them on Super Monkey Ball Step & Roll.) Sometimes we get samples and other items from our licensing group, who handles relationships to get Sonic on a t-shirt, for example. We sometimes give away copies of games. Different regions often have different pre-order bonuses or special edition packs, and we work with SEGA reps in these territories to get a few of those items to give away. We also sometimes pick stuff up on our own to give away. For example, one of our community managers was in Chicago over the winter break and found some old SEGA Visions magazines at a retro games store there. So he bought them, and we gave them away. As you can imagine, we get a diverse pool of prizes because of this, but I think that keeps it fresh and interesting for our followers.

The Preview Video

To promote the week’s giveaways, my team makes a video each week to show off what we’re giving away. It’s also a chance for our community to see and hear us, and that makes us more human. We’re not the big bad faceless corporation, we’re people.
We generally do the videos in one take. This is mostly because I am not a very skilled video editor. But it’s also because the video is supposed to be a little homemade looking. It’s not supposed to be a slick, shiny trailer-style video because that might make it seem less authentic. We generally leave the camera running while we are setting up and deciding who is going to say what about which item. We’ve captured some really funny moments by doing this. Then we film the main segment, where we describe the items. Finally, we’ll leave the camera running while we’re done if we’re still milling around playing with the items or if we’re in need of anything funny.

In terms of editing the video, I use iMovie on my Mac. I put some titles on it, put some titles at the end with some music, and add a funny (we hope) bit at the end just to leave people with a laugh. Sometimes they are outtakes, sometimes they are jokes’ whatever we had that week.

Here’s the video that we did recently, and this is fairly typical of our videos. We upload these videos to our YouTube account. We also blog them, and that blog link gets sent to our Twitter feed. We also post the blog link to our Facebook pages to generate more interest and followers.

Results
Once we started doing these giveaways, word spread pretty quickly. We started gaining lots of new followers. We’ve been doing these giveaways for almost 2 years now, and we typically gain 500 ‘ 1000 new followers per week. And although I have no metrics to back it up, I feel pretty confident that we get more new followers on Fridays than any other day. The giveaways are a win for everyone ‘ our fans get some free stuff, we have an outlet to create content and connect more directly with our followers, and we have a way to give away stuff that’s of little value to the company but tremendous value to our community. It takes just a few hours of my time every other week, and we see tremendous return on that investment.

How You Can Implement This
Not every company has fun T-shirts or toys to giveaway, and I understand that. But nearly every company has a product. And nearly every company has people who are fans of it. Even just your company logo on a keychain will excite people. But do you have free product you can pass out? Can you feature someone on your website? Basically’ what can you give back to your fans? I’m sure if you think about it, you’ll come up with a few things you can give away.
Take these ideas and make them your own. Mold them to the needs of your company and your fans. But it’s a way to use Twitter that’s made us pretty popular with our own fans, so I wanted to share this great idea.

Questions?
I am happy to answer questions about our Free Stuff Friday giveaways in the comments, so please ask away!

Measure Up Brochure Released


Taking place June 6-8, 2011 in Boston, MA, Measure Up is the world’s most comprehensive cross-dimensional view of marketing measurement best practices. With a focus on return on investment (ROI) as it relates to the integration of traditional, online and mobile activities; specifically, Social Media, this event is designed to answer business critical questions of today and tomorrow:

How are customers using Social Media to drive their marketing activities?

How can companies measure, manage and improve social media activities?

And most importantly, how can companies understand the analytics across the entire marketing mix and incorporate those results into improved marketing strategies and tactics to drive higher revenue, profit and brand share?

Download the Measure Up brochure here.

Rather than reinforcing the separation between digital versus traditional media, Measure Up promotes the integration of all marketing measurement, analytics and operational processes to drive the brand strategy. This can be best achieved by adding a new universe to the mix, Marketing Operations. Marketing Operations help to support not only the smooth functioning of the business of marketing, but also the measurement, accountability and systemization of marketing processes.

Industry professionals will go back to their office with a better understanding of how measurement, analytics and optimized resource allocation can drive their marketing strategies and tactics.

As a reader of The Market Research Event Blog, we’re offering you an exclusive discount of 15% off the standard price when using discount code TMREBLOGMU. Register here.

We hope to see you in Boston this June!
Cheers!
The Measure-Up Marketing Analytics Team

The Measure-Up Event webpage: http://bit.ly/i6QXuK
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/TMRE

Lead up to the IIR TDMR: Interview With Chris Hobson of txteagle

This post is co-posted with The Green Book.
Continuing our series of interviews with the stellar line-up of presenters at the IIR Technology Driven Market Research event, today we have my conversation with Chris Hobson, COO of txteagle. A little back-story: I have mentioned txteagle several times in previous posts as a company that I think has tremendous potential to impact market research in a very big way. In other words, I am a fan, and I was excited to have the opportunity talk with Chris about what txteagle is doing. I think you’ll find it interesting as well! LM: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me Chris. CH: No problem Lenny; I’ve been looking forward to it! LM: Great. Well let’s jump into it! Txteagle seems to be making a big splash and generating a lot of interest within the market research space. Why do you think that is and how did you determine that this market was right for you to target? CH: I think txteagle has generated excitement in the research industry because we deliver on several key unmet needs. At a strategic level, global organizations are acutely aware of the fact that their ‘next billion’ consumers will be in traditional developing countries such as Brazil, India, China, Latin America and Indonesia and less traditional frontier markets such as Turkey, Vietnam, Malaysia and much of Africa. And they also know they must develop deep consumer market insights as they enter these markets. In order to conduct effective research in these emerging markets, txteagle has built a large community of 2.1 billion people in almost 100 countries. Importantly, because we have integrated with over 220 mobile phone operators around the world, we have the ability to not only communicate with these community members on their mobile phones but also to compensate them for answering surveys in the form of mobile airtime. We determined that market research was the right place to focus by simply listening to our customers. We have engaged with dozens of global brands and other multi-national organizations over the past two years and they consistently re-iterated the importance of leveraging mobile to learn more about their future consumers in emerging markets. LM: What do you think are the major drivers of change in the market research space right now and how is txteagle planning to take advantage of those trends? CH: Well, the first change, as I mentioned earlier, is the recognition of the importance of emerging markets. The OECD and McKinsey both estimate that about a trillion dollars in new spending power gets created each year in emerging markets as millions of people join the new middle class. Global brand companies like P&G, Coca-Cola and Nestle have all publicly stated that a large portion of their revenue and earnings growth over the next decade will come from these markets. We feel like txteagle is uniquely positioned to help them profit from this historic opportunity. The second change is the growing importance of mobile as a means of data collection. Mobile helps researchers connect with hard-to-reach demographics who may not have access to a computer and the Internet, something that is especially important in emerging markets, where the mobile phone is the most ubiquitous computing device. Also, there has also been growing concern for a while about the validity of certain methodologies and the advent of the professional survey taker. Another key advantage of mobile is that because each phone number is by definition unique, it helps to generate more valid responses and insights for our customers. LM: Your point regarding the need to gain intelligence in emerging markets, where mobile penetration is ubiquitous but internet connectivity is low makes perfect sense. That said, mobile research, especially as a quantitative technique, has been slow to ramp in the U.S. but that seems to be changing with the advent of the ‘App Revolution’; with many of the emerging markets that seem to be your sweet spot still being on 2G networks and feature phone heavy, how can txteagle help researchers overcome the resistance to SMS and WAP methods? CH: I think it’s a question of alternatives and the analogy I would draw is to the advertising business. Major brands have many, many options for communicating with consumers in Manhattan or London or Hong Kong, where TV, Internet, broadband, social networks etc. are ubiquitous. The story is very different in rural India, small villages in China or the favela of Brazil, so innovative marketers looking to reach their next billion consumers have figured out ways to use mobile phones to engage with those consumers, despite the low penetration of smart phones. We are seeing that many in the research business are doing the same ‘ recognizing that mobile may have drawbacks but also that there are innovative ways to get great insights and information by focusing on the strengths of mobile in these markets ‘ ubiquity, low cost, close match with the desired demographic, ability to start a dialog. txteagle makes it easy for researchers to experience this because we combine the survey technology, access to respondents and incentive mechanism into one offering. LM: You mentioned concerns about validity of methodologies and I assume you’re thinking of the non-representative nature of online panels and the switch to convenience samples as the prevailing norm for online research. How is your offering different? How can you help researchers get back to something closer to the glory days of RDD sampling? CH: We have integrated with over 220 mobile phone operators in 100 countries, which gives us access to 2.1 billion mobile phone numbers. The exciting thing is that this enables us to do population-level surveys of mobile phone subscribers, which, given the penetration rates of mobile in emerging markets, is one of the closest matches to a random sample available. LM: So if someone wanted to conduct a study among rural populations in India via mobile, how would that work? Can you walk me through the process of working with txteagle and explain how your model compares to an online panel provider? CH: Probably the best way to get a sense for how it works would be to visit our web site where we walk through the whole process [Editors note: http://txteagle.com/technology]. The core of it is that we combine a massive pool of potential respondents (2.1 billion people in almost 100 countries) with survey technology (web or mobile) and a universal currency for compensating respondents (mobile airtime). So a client comes to txteagle, defines a survey, selects target respondent profiles by location and demographics and then defines the level of incentive. We then locate the appropriate respondents in our global community, execute the survey, compensate respondents for completed interviews and present the findings back to the client. The client can be a market research firm or the end-user of the research, but the overall offering is very different from an online panel provider. LM: Looking ahead 3-5 years, where do you see the market research space headed and where will txteagle fit into that vision? CH: In keeping with the international nature of txteagle’s value proposition, I’m going to start with a caveat based on a quote from Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu: ‘Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.’ With that in mind, I do think that it’s a fairly low risk proposition to predict that the trends around using mobile as a way to generate new insights in developing markets will continue and probably pick up steam. txteagle has an opportunity to be a leader of that trend given our ready-made base of mobile-enabled survey respondents, integrations with 220 mobile carriers and ability to compensate 2.1 billion people. One thing I do know for certain is that it will be a lot of fun being part of that future unfolding. LM: agree; the next few years are going to be a lot of fun as we watch things play out! You’re moderating a panel discussion on App Based Mobile Research at the IIR Tech Driven Market Research event. What is your take on the subject and what do you hope for attendees to get out of the discussion? CH: App-based mobile research is an exciting space that is creating many opportunities to generate new insights through the intersection of location awareness, immersive non-survey experiences (e.g. games) and ongoing dialog as opposed to a one-time survey. It will be great to hear how researchers at innovative companies are using these techniques and what kinds of new insights they are generating. I hope that attendees can leave with a sense for the opportunity, a couple of thought-provoking ideas and some issues to consider as they embark on exploring the space.
LM: OK, last question! So what’s next for txteagle? Are you going to primarily focus on being a global source for mobile sample, or are there some more tricks up your sleeve in the near future? CH: Yes. Today we can provide access to 2.1 billion mobile respondents and an incentive mechanism in almost 100 countries. Expect to see those numbers grow to 4 billion mobile respondents in almost 200 countries in the next year or so. That said, we do have several tricks up our sleeve that will take advantage of this massive global reach and unique compensation mechanism. Stay tuned’ LM: I absolutely will! Thanks so much for your time Chris. I’m looking forward to seeing you in Chicago at the TDMR! CH: Thank you, this has been great, and I am sure the conference will be as well. Talk to you soon! About Chris Hobson, Chief Operating Officer of txteagle Chris Hobson leads txteagle’s efforts to create value for our customers and partners. He brings to txteagle over fifteen years of leadership experience in sales, marketing, business development and general management. Mr. Hobson began his career as a Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble and prior to joining txteagle he was SVP Operations at eCredit (now Cortera), which was acquired by Fidelity Ventures in 2006. He is currently an advisor to several Boston-area technology start-ups. txteagle helps global organizations learn, educate and grow in emerging economies by leveraging the power of the mobile phone. Through a network of over 2.1 billion mobile phone subscribers across almost 100 developing countries, txteagle leverages the emerging market community for two inter-related services; i) GroundTruth: gathering local data and opinions ii) GroundSwell: leveraging those insights to improve consumer engagement. Mr. Hobson is a graduate of McGill University and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. About the Author Leonard Murphy: Lenny is a seasoned and respected industry leader with an entrepreneurial drive. He has been called a visionary and is renowned as an innovator. He has successfully established several companies in the MR space including Rockhopper Research, a leading full service global research firm and MDM Associates, a MR consulting firm, before founding his current companies: BrandScan 360 and his consulting practice LMC group (www.asklmcg.com). Mr. Murphy is a key consultant and adviser to numerous market research agencies, and works across the industry to drive the development of innovative research practices by developing strategic alliances with multiple ‘best in class’ providers. Lenny serves on the Board of The Market Research Global Alliance, the premier social network for the global MR profession. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Research Industry Trends Monitoring Group & Publisher of the GreenBook Research Industry Trends Study, the oldest study in the industry devoted to tracking changing trends in MR. He is on the Advisory Boards of the Festival of NewMR and The Merlien Institute. He is also the Chairman of the IIR Technology Driven Market Research conference. Rounding out his busy professional life, he is the Editor in Chief of the GreenBook Blog. Lenny can be reached at lmurphy@brandscan360.com

Honoring Employees For Improved Customer Service

With the holiday season behind us, many are relieved to have the stress of annual travel over with. Meanwhile those who travel regularly throughout the year continue to face increased security, long lines, high prices and more. American Airlines is looking to put the pleasure back in traveling and improve the flying experience for its customers by building a sense of competition between airport station teams and honoring improved customer service and innovative problem solving with its quarterly ‘Customer Cup’ awards. San Francisco, Denver, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic were awarded the Customer Cup this quarter for improvements in internal customer satisfaction ratings in several categories, including increases in customer interaction and baggage delivery ratings. The Customer Cup represents a small part of the airline’s focus on improving the experience for its customers by strengthening internal communication and processes. Employees from all sectors of the business are encouraged to bring forward ideas and solutions to improve the travel experience for customers, and recognition programs such as this one reward innovation. “Given the challenges the industry faces, the Cup is a great way to recognize the accomplishments of our employees,” Mark Mitchell, American’s Managing Director ‘ Customer Experience stated in a press release, “It’s through their dedication and ingenuity we can deliver exceptional travel experiences of our customers.” By improving participation in improved customer experiences amongst internal stakeholders and streamlining customer experiences with new technology’including iPad, iPhone and Android mobile apps’American Airlines is turning the focus away from the inevitable negatives of flying and towards increased customer satisfaction. Has your company had any success with employee recognition programs? What goals and strategies do you have for 2011 to improve your customer experiences?

A look back at SMC20 2009: My Facebook’s On Fire! Some Thoughts

Social Media and Community 2.0 Strategies is taking place April 4-6, 2011, 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts. Fridays leading up to the event, we’ll be recapping on of the sessions from the 2010 Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Event. For more information on this year’s event, download the brochure.

My Facebook’s On Fire! Some Thoughts.


GE Healthcare Customer Acceleration leader Tom Zimmerman’s opening talk, “Join the Conversation,” just wrapped. In the wake of an open question to the audience – how do you manage a social media firestorm? – I’ve already had two really good conversations.

First off, Zimmerman admitted he’s never had to manage a firestorm on GE’s behalf, so he asked the audience what they’d do. No one was forthcoming about a situation unique to them, but there was plenty of opinion. The big takeaway seemed to be to know your weaknesses in advance of diving into social, and plan ahead for that.

Even if you can’t make the change people demand, stay respectful, open and responsive. A resistant attitude is the kiss of death.

Here’s the gist of two convos I had afterward:

With Ryan Bowling, director of communications for Mars Chocolate: if people know where you stand, and you’re not beating around the bush about it, it’s plenty. Most of Mars’ brands, such as Wrigleys, have individual social media strategies; he knows all community managers and discusses potential community issues with them swiftly. They are equipped with guidelines for how to respond to some social media situations in advance (likely reminiscent of the Air Force’s own Rules of Engagement for Blogging), as well as a clear understanding of the company’s pressure points: if a Mars brand get poked, the hope is that they’ll reflexively know best how to respond, like ninjas.

With Andy Abend of MarketSmarter. He’s blogging the conference too, and we discussed the work it takes to implement a social media strategy with a company that’s determined it wants outside help.

Asked how he feels about Apple’s “closed” and combative attitude toward users in the space, and he laughed.

“Is it really that closed?” he asked. He cited the various product leaks that cause frenzy, and we discussed Gizmodo in some depth; he thinks there was more behind the scenes.

But with regard to whether Steve Jobs’ openly hostile attitude toward journalists, etc. is a bad thing, he grinned and said, “I think it’s just part of the game.” In his view, getting a negative response out of Apple gives users a bit of a fame halo. It’s something that evidently works for Apple, maybe because there’s no ambiguity about where it stands.

Follow the goings-on in realtime on Twitter at #socialc20. You can also follow my stream @luckthelady.

Selecting a Primary Community Platform Part 2

Hope you caught part one of this series from Jive. The second part of the series gives insights from Telligent on what to consider when picking a primary community platform.

- Stacy

“Community at Its Best” by Wendy Gibson, Chief Marketing Officer, Telligent

1. Community at Its Best

A viable community solution is one that will grow with and adapt to your needs. When selecting a community platform, we’ve found that there are a few key factors you should consider to build a healthy, sustainable community. In the next several posts, we will explore these factors.

One of the most important considerations is that you need a community strategy that includes: identifiable business objectives, an emphasis on being personal, relevant content, rewards and recognition, and where membership has its privileges. Too often technology leads the decision-making process. Nowhere is this more evident than in the social software market. While not nearly as rampant as it was a few years ago, companies still often buy this technology without first defining a strategy for what they want to accomplish.

‘ What type of community will you launch?

‘ What are your business objectives?

‘ What metrics will you use to measure your success?

These (and others) are questions you must ask to create your strategy before you launch your community.

2. Integrate Technology on a True Platform

In order to help you build a successful community, you will need a true platform. A true platform allows you to build on top of it, consolidating your existing social properties onto it. You can support both internal and external social communities, and enterprise-grade features and services built in mean you don’t have to use a complex web of social media applications to get the functionality you need.

Probably the biggest struggle that the large enterprise software companies have in this fast-growing market (besides faster iterations for getting their product to the market) is overcoming the natural instinct to build isolated information silos.

Because today’s organizations don’t have a single technology vendor, they must build and integrate with a collaboration platform, as opposed to cobbling together a number of disconnected applications. Integration abilities allow you to bridge the gaps between the different social applications your community members use. Integration with CRM and CMS applications enables you to leverage and extend your current IT investments, instead of displacing them. Now more than ever it is important to connect and integrate a company’s collaboration across all its investments ‘ from CRM to financial reporting. By integrating e-mail into your collaboration environment, you can tear down information silos that force collaboration to be dependent on technology.

Social tools are part of the fabric for how organizations work, and will be increasingly so in the future.

3. Always Consider Scalability

We now close out our series on building a healthy, successful community. Scalability is important to consider. Whether your community is small or large, you should be able to add functionality as the community grows, publish your sites in different languages, and provide a mobile experience that connects people to people, and people to information, anytime, anywhere. In addition, the platform needs to be user friendly to encourage high participation rates so you have a robust, engaged community.

Where is your community in its lifecycle? Understanding the community lifecycle is part of building a comprehensive strategy specifically around moderation and management of a community.

Combined, these recommendations can guide organizations to pick the right platform and strategies in order to build the communities that they envision to accomplish their unique goals.

Web Seminar: Will Mark Zuckerberg Reinvent Insurance? A 2011 Prediction

The insurance industry is ripe for a “Napster Moment,” and the question is “who will be responsible for revolutionary change?” Maria Umbach, VP of Financial Services Innovation at Maddock Douglas will walk you through the steps that lead her to this conclusion, and why Facebook may be up for the challenge. This session promises to be very engaging, inspiring and perhaps even controversial with opportunity for Q & A.

This webinar will highlight:
‘ Key signals of an industry on the brink of a groundbreaking change
‘ The difference between revolutionary and evolutionary innovation
‘ Hypotheses about what the future of insurance could look like and why

Click here to watch it today.

Does Your C-level Finally Get Social Media?

Here it is, finally, an in-depth analysis on how to create ROI and executive buy-in from your C-suite. One of our fantastic Keynotes weighs in on how to overcome management challenges in the wide world of social media. Read on and take note!

- Stacy

“Closing the Information-Gap” by Sasha Strauss, Managing Director & CEO, Innovation Protocol


Twenty-four months ago, CEO clients responded to the notion of social media with ‘don’t waste my time talking to me about that childish thing.’ Now, they’re asking how they and their organization can elevate themselves to a leadership position in their category on the back of social media. Oh, and ‘please define tangible, financial benefits’ along the way. This ubiquitous gap leads to all kinds of problems’the biggest one being apprehension. To mitigate this nauseous sensation, I suggest three things to ponder:

‘ Cost
‘ Voice
‘ Measurement

COST: Contrary to popular belief, social media isn’t free. Organizations shouldn’t just participate in online communities’they must strive to lead the discussion. That’s never been free in any sector, why would it be in the most powerful communication channel in history? Social media will take money to increase visibility or address the needs of your audience. For example, last year, Pepsi skipped the Super Bowl and launched The Pepsi Refresh Project. The campaign received over 61 million votes from users giving input on various initiatives – from building playgrounds to donating pajamas. The program gathered more than $14 million to fund 352 projects, and they’re fully committed to the project for 2011. What kind of tangible benefits will Pepsi receive from something like this? It actually isn’t even measurable’not yet anyway. What matters is that they’ve essentially shifted their target demographic and converted a brutal advertising spend into a social campaign that is positively impacting millions. That social impact translates into an army of supporters/believers/advocates/customers that prefer Pepsi now over the alternative.

VOICE: What you ‘sound’ like within the social media sphere is also extremely important. Social media allows an organization with countless voices to condense that cacophony into virtually a single sound. For example, the voice of Zappos (@Zappos) on Twitter is CEO Tony Hseih. He has over 1.7 million followers and shows his fluency in the social media space by using powerful features (like hashtags: #) while taking the time to engage and publicly refer to other users. As both the CEO and official Twitter voice, Tony sets the tone for Zappos and can clearly represent the brand, no matter what the circumstance or context. It’s an authentic dialogue that followers use to connect with their favorite online retailer, and Zappos can use their social media observations to understand their connection with their audience. As an individual, Tony can speak on behalf of his industry, consumers or even himself’because it’s authentic, it’s social, and it’s timely. This freedom flawlessly represents the Zappos brand, but might not necessarily work for a more conservative organization like Disney. Disney’s audience is so diverse’and, potentially, so concerned about general internet content, that Disney has actively decided NOT to have a singular social media voice. Or a social media voice at all. Robert Iger, the CEO doesn’t have a Twitter account ‘ but he understands the power of the environment. For example, his company recently purchased the social-gaming company Playdom and launched the ‘Let the Memories Begin’ campaign. It takes user-generated social media content of happy park-goers enjoying themselves publicly for use in advertisements and promotions. In fact, this month Disney World began projecting guest photos onto Cinderella’s castle and on Disneyland’s ‘It’s a Small World’ in California ‘ it’s media, it’s social and it’s universally desired and consumed.

MEASUREMENT: We’ve covered the cost of social media, and therefore it’s clear that content blasting around the Internet would have financial implications. So the final consideration must be measurement. Social media enables users to publicly portray their affinity for content posted by clicking ‘Like’ or adding the person/organization as a ‘Friend.’ This mark of popularity has quickly become a barometer for content relevancy. While your number of ‘Likes’ or ‘Friends’ are great indicators of interest, they’re just a temporary acknowledgement of your relevance. What also must be considered is WHO is publicly endorsing you. In offline retail, it’s the difference between your friend Sally telling you she loves Miracle Whip and Oprah mentioning it in an interview. The validity of the endorsement is correlated with the significance of the endorser. The prestige of endorsers is a more accurate measurement of how well your social media strategy is doing. Fortunately, there are plenty of free tools to measure your impact and influence in social media. For example, Google Analytics is a free service that supplies detailed information about visitors, like where they’re coming from (physically and online) and what they’re doing when they arrive.

If you want to get a strong sense of how social media can build advocacy ‘ but how it also requires deep analysis of cost, voice and measurement, check out the explosive advocacy around Old Spice. Yeah, your dad’s deodorant. A brand nearly written off by grocery retailers worldwide. In a last-stitched effort to capture youth attention, the brand launched a series of video responses by towel-clad Isaiah Mustafa that directly addressed casual users and celebrities alike. In this world of ‘Likes’ and proprietary analytics, Old Spice’s social media managers were able to look at the number of views each video had, the followers it generated, and immediately measure user behavior and sales on their site. In as little as a few months, marketing managers attained bottom-line results that reflected consumer understanding and the eventual retail action it informed. More importantly however, Old Spice is building a community of advocates that will follow and listen to the brand as it continues to evolve. They’re now listening’ what you tell them next is yet another chapter in the ever-evolving game of social media marketing.

I suggest that you do not fear the beast that is media pushed through social channels. Embrace and look at the next 6 months as an opportunity. An opportunity to gather fans, learn from their words, support them through social actions and grow your understanding of the market you’re trying so aggressively to own. Just think, organizations of all sizes and budgets can finally engage their audiences with real-time mass communication. I’ve dreamt about this very notion since my first days in the communication field. I was disappointed that press releases took weeks to grab media attention. I was frustrated that even the wealthiest brands had to write, produce and distribute print media campaigns to clarify false assumptions thrown into the public sphere. Today, it’s nowMedia. It’s in controlledMedia. It’s what we’ve always wanted: social media.