Tag Archives: social networking

The Best Time To Post On Social Media is…?

We’ve all been there before. We are about to post across Social Media (SM) and that foreboding question finally hits us. ‘When is the best time and day to post on SM’? I mean, we want as many relevant (maybe even irrelevant) people to see our postings and content, right?

This ever evolving digital social process is called ‘The Science of Timing’ (SOT).  If we get it right, everyone lives happily ever after.  If we get it wrong, no one gives us a second thought.

The “Science of Timing” predicts the optimal time to post on Social Media

SOT (a.k.a. the optimal time to post) revolves around 5 different paradigms and approaches otherwise known as: The Common Sense Approach, The Segmentation Approach, The Best Practices Approach, The Auto Scheduling Approach, and the Contracompetitive Timing Approach.

Huh?  Keep reading.

The Common Sense Approach is based on an intuitive sense of when people would or would not be on SM. For example, when people are asleep, at work, or at school, they are probably less likely to interact with SM. Whereas, if people are awake and the timing is before, after, or outside of work or school, their likelihood to use SM increases on average.

The Segmentation Approach involves timing based on the SM habits of your targeted audience, which coincidentally, you’ve collected over time. For example, if you and your organization are targeting teenage gamers during the upcoming summer, you’ve likely monitored their SM patterns over time, and will run a campaign based on the SM idiosyncrasies they’ve displayed. In all likelihood, their SM behavior will be different when compared to the entire online population as a whole.  Hence, the Segmentation Approach.

In contrast, The Best Practices Approach is based on how the entire SM audience acts as a whole and provides optimal timings based on aggregate online behavior.  You can think of it in terms of talking at a cocktail party, where there is a lot of chatter at its peak attendance point.

The optimal time to post on Twitter is late in the weekday, between 2pm ‘ 5pm EST

Dan Zarella, SM Scientist for Hubspot, recently addressed the SOT Best Practices Approach for both Twitter and Facebook.  ‘The optimal time to post on Twitter is late in the weekday, between 2pm ‘ 5pm EST, as this maximizes ReTweets. Coincidentally, we’ve found there is no significant difference in clickthrough rates according to the time of day or the day of the week, so it’s okay to experiment with your Tweets on the weekends and during late hours.’

Zarella further explains, ‘We’ve discovered clickthrough rates dramatically reduce, the more you post within an hour.  The clickthrough rate for a second post drops to 50%. The clickthrough rate for a 3rd post within an hour is almost nil.’  Zarella is not suggesting to Tweet less as he points to a strong relationship between the number of tweets per day and total followers.  Instead, he suggests not to ‘crowd out’ your tweets per hour.

Zarella also suggests three key timing points for Facebook: (1) post every other day as  mainstream pages that did this displayed the most likes, (2) post content on the weekends since it elicits the most amount of shares and (3) post content in the morning as shares tend to do marginally better than those published at other times.

Don’t “crowd out” your Tweets per hour

But if everyone uses The Best Practices Approach, wouldn’t the SM landscape become overcrowded during those specific times and diminish the likelihood of anyone hearing your message?

Great question.  Keep reading.

The three previous methods require someone from within to personally determine optimal timing.  Whereas with The Autoscheduling Approach, 3rd parties determine optimal posting times.  But what are these 3rd parties’ optimization practices you say?  And how do they measure up to yours?

After investigating Autoscheduling practices, two unique terms surfaced: static vs. dynamic. A static Autoscheduling system optimizes timing based on The Best Practices Approach, not on individual behavior. While a dynamic system optimizes timing through individual / follower behavior, and gets better over time. So which method would you prefer? Find out which method your provider utilizes.

Last but not least, there is The Contracompetitive Timing Approach. This approach is actually the opposite of The Best Practices Approach and circumvents its downside.  This territory lies at the beginning and tail-end of the cocktail party, where crowds are smaller in number, thereby improving the odds of individual engagement.  By utilizing Contracompetitive Timing, smaller crowds are more likely to hear your voice that would otherwise be lost in the chatter of a full-swing cocktail party.

So which SOT approach is the best? The Common Sense Approach of when people are online? The Segmentation Approach that profiles your specific target audience?  The mega-blast to a crowded room, Best Practice Approach?  Perhaps the best is The Autoscheduling Approach which leaves it in the hands of the experts? Or maybe the Contracompetitive Timing Approach seems like a valid alternative, so your messages aren’t lost in the masses? Perchance it is a combination of all the above? 

In your personal experience, the best SOT approach is _________. (Please comment below)

Chris Ruby is an award-winning Marketing Research & Consumer Insights Executive with Fortune 500 consulting experience. His niche is the ability to turn complex data into compelling stories that induce a call for action among key decision-makers. His work has been featured by MRA, MRIA, IIR, Norstat Times, Chadwick Martin Bailey & the Optimization Group. Keep up with Chris Ruby by following him on Twitter @ChrisRubyMRX or by reading the Chris Ruby Market Research Blog.

How sales professionals can use social networks to best serve the customer

When we think of putting the customer first we should think about the initial, and most consistent, contact they have for their purchase:  the sales person.  Today’s sales professional must use his or her social network to be successful.  And that success will come from using their social network to take a ‘customer-centric’ approach.  Certainly the marketing department is hip deep in the social media milieu…It’s not to be ignored.  But, I’m speaking to the sales professional in this thesis.
A Sales Professional Is Many Things
The best sales people must follow a disciplined process.  Customers have gained power and gone global, channels have proliferated, more product companies are selling services, and customers expect a single point of contact.  The sales person has to play a number of roles in this relationship:

  •  Company leader. The best sales people actively help formulate and execute a territory strategy, and they collaborate with all functions of the business to deliver value to customers.
  • Customer champion. Customers want senior level relationships with their supplier.  Customers expect an inside peek at their offering to be sure their buying decision is sustainable over time.  They need to understand product strategy, see future offerings in advance, and participate in decisions made about future products.
  • Process guru. Although sales professionals must look beyond the sales and customer processes they have honed over time, they can’t abandon them. The focus on process has become more important because buying decisions are being thrust on some users without buying experience. 
  • Organization architect. Good sales leaders spend a lot of timeevaluating and occasionally redesigning the sales organization’s structure to ensure that it supports corporate strategy.
  • Course corrector. Sales leaders must pay attention to what’s coming, because the business world changes constantly.  On the other hand they have to pay attention to the situation on the ground right now; to thrive in ambiguous environments and to respond when quick adjustments in priorities are needed.

The Best Sales Pros Have Powerful Social Networks
Social networks are critical.   It’s an oversimplification to say the more contacts you have, the more leads you’ll generate, and, ultimately, the more sales you’ll make. Different configurations of networks produce different results, and a nuanced understanding of social networks will help the best sales people outshine competitors.

 Different social networking abilities are required in each stage of the sale:
  • When we’re identifying prospects, we need our networks to help us acquire precise and timely information about opportunities from contacts in the marketplace
  • As we meet many people in the prospect’s organization our network helps us gain buy-in from all levels, titles, locations & disciplines
  • As we create solutions we need specialists with knowledge outside of our purview so we can bring value to the table
  • And when we’re closing the deal we need to mobilize our contacts from prior sales to act as references

A sales professional’s network often pays off most handsomely through all of these social, and sometimes indirect, contacts.   But we have to ask ourselves do our contacts know all the same people, or are their associates widely dispersed?
What Is The ‘Right’ Social Network For A Sales Executive?
The right social network can have a huge impact on the sales professional’s success. It’s misguided to believe the key is having a large circle filled with high-powered contacts.   It’s better to cultivate a different kind of network: select but diverse, made up of high-quality relationships with people who come from varying spheres and from up and down the corporate ladder. This diverse crowd can help those in sales learn, make decisions with less bias, and grow personally.
Six critical kinds of social network connections:
People who provide information, ideas, or expertise;
Formally and informally powerful people, who offer mentoring and political support;
People who give developmental feedback;
People who lend personal support;
People who increase your sense of purpose or worth;
People who promote work/life balance.
The best kinds of connections are “energizers”–positive, trustworthy individuals who enjoy other people and always see opportunities, even in challenging situations.
Four Simple Steps To Keep A Sales Professional’s Social Network On Track
If you’re a salesperson and you want to improve your social network, here is a four-step process you might want to consider to improve it.

  1. Identify who your connections are and what they offer you,
  2. Back away from redundant and energy-draining connections,
  3. Fill holes in your network with the right kind of people,
  4. Work to make the most of your contacts.

Today’s world of sales is all about the customer.  Today’s social network is a gift to sales people, allowing us to best serve our customers with the best information, the best relationships and the best thinking.  A sales person’s social network allows them to keep their fingers on the pulse of the marketplace, readying them to make course corrections on an ongoing basis in an ever changing buying environment.  

And, of course, the very best use of social networks for a sales professional is to use them to listen to their customers.

Harvard Bus Rev. 2011 Jul-Aug;89(7-8):149-53, 167., A smarter way to network. Cross R, Thomas R.
Harvard Bus Rev. 2006 Jul-Aug;84(7-8):102-12, 188., Better sales networks. Ust??ner T, Godes D.
Ron Shulkin blogs researches and writes about enterprise technology focused on social media, innovation, voice of the customer, marketing automation and enterprise feedback management.  You can learn more about Ron at his biography web site:www.shulkin.net. You can follow him Twitter. You can follow his blogs at this Facebook group.  You can connect with Ron on LinkedIn.  
Ron Shulkin is Vice President of the Americas for CogniStreamer??, an innovation ecosystem. CogniStreamer serves as a Knowledge Management System, Idea Management System and Social Network for Innovation. You can learn more about CogniStreamer here http://bit.ly/ac3x60 . Ron manages The Idea Management Group on LinkedIn (JoinHere).

Social GUI: The Future of Control Panels

This post is cross-posted with Ubercool.

The quest dates back to the early heyday of the dotcom boom. Online marketers wanted a complete 360-degree view of their customers, optimally displayed in one single screen. To this day the challenge remains. While the data mountain has grown markedly, our reporting interfaces remain a step behind.

But there’s hope. The arrival of HTML 5 will provide developers with the ability to fashion incredibly intuitive and malleable control panels, guaranteed to satisfy all but the most particular social marketer.

This HTML 5 demo gives an inkling of what’s feasible. We see a major market opportunity for a start-up that develops a ‘lego block kit’ analytics front-end that would gain wide industry deployment simply because the challenge of developing a highly pliable reporting front end often outweighs the crux of a program’s core features.

Why is this important? The cost of managing social engagement analytics programs is negatively impacting digital agencies’ operating margins. This trend exacerbates an already well-known factor ‘ overhead costs of digital ad production are significantly higher than that of traditional advertising:

  • Overhead costs ‘ Digital agency overhead costs form a significantly higher part of the overall cost of ad production, 45% vs. 12% (PDF; 2009 ‘Understanding the Economics of Digital Compared to Traditional Advertising and Media Service,’ AAAA).

  • Operating income ‘ The top 30 digital agencies increased gross income by 18% in 2010, but their operating margins fell sharply in 2010 from 9.5% to 5.7%. A well-run agency achieves good margins by keeping staff costs to no more than 55% of gross income. In the past year it worsened to 65%.

Clearly, the growing data mountain being produced by social engagement analytics is causing agency staff costs to balloon, which is not sufficiently being offset by heady overall revenue growth. This dictates that next-generation social GUIs be far easier to use and customize.

One company, Kansas City-based Infegy has just released Social Radar 3, which pushes the GUI envelope. Infegy Founder and CEO Justin Graves’ demo of Social Radar 3 last week underscored how easy it is to create customized analytics views on the fly. This is particularly relevant in a market where many marketers still enter queries as strings of Boolean variables.

Social Radar 3 has an elegant interface that uses drag-and-drop technology to enable users to customize their dashboards and reports. Reports can be shared via Excel, PDFs and URLs.

Infegy, founded in 2007, now tracks some 40 million Web sites, including blogs, forums, image sites, news sites like CNN and the BBC, Twitter and more. Says Graves, ‘[We obtain] essentially any useful content we can get our hands on, but focus principally on consumer-generated content.’

Infegy’s market is growing fast. Marketers are demanding much more accountability. Their struggle to analyze campaign performance from Web sites, Facebook, Twitter, iPhone and Android apps, will lead marketers to more than double investments in Web analytics by 2014, according to a May 2009 Forrester Research report, ‘US Web Analytics Forecast, 2008 to 2014,’ which predicts that U.S. companies will spend $953 million in 2014 to install, license and support for Web analytics services.

Piper Jaffray has a more aggressive view of this marketplace, at least they did in 2007 when they issued a five-year forecast that would have the Web analytics services market reaching $1 billion in 2011, based on a CAGR of 19% (PDF; ‘The User Revolution,’ February 2007). Keep in mind that both these forecasts are umbrella figures, because they include such general analytics players as Coremetrics and Omniture.

A big driver of this spending will be social media. Social engagement marketing not only brings the added dimension of being able to listen in on conversations but also to measure shifting attitudes about brands, an aspect dubbed ‘sentiment analysis.’

Infegy allows clients to search four years’ worth of online ‘chatter,’ with trend analyses that provide a historical overview of sentiments shifting over time, returned in merely two seconds.

Social Radar 3 is able to filter data in any of 12 languages, by country, positive or negative sentiment and drill down to source type, engagement frequency, time stamp, unique post, and other parameters.

To enable near-instantaneous search results, Social Radar abstracts trends by showing normalized listening volume. A typical chart shows the percentage of Infegy’s content during a set time period, be it day, week or month, that mentions a query. Explains Graves, ‘The reason we show this is that it is considerably less effected by long-term change and unrelated events. Social Radar’s database is much larger now and gets considerably more content each day compared to three years ago, so to make a trend over such a long time period useful, we need to normalize the data. Users can also switch to absolute counts if they need them.’ The race is on to improve the display and interpretation of social analytics with every monitoring tool vendor rushing to provide simplified dashboards that are more powerful, yet easier to use. Remarkably, this social analytics program was written by twentysomething Graves himself. The company say it’s profitable and cites such customers as Novell, Pizza Hut and Sprint. We hope this type of friendliness becomes an industry standard, so users can focus on developing that 360-degree view of the customer, one that marries online and offline engagement in a single view. It would certainly please those who’ve been wishing for such a system since the pre-historic days of ’99.

by Michael Tchong

Hear more from Michael Tchong on Wednesday, April 6th at the Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies Conference.

NASDAQ Goes Social

I came across this article in WebProNews that discusses that the world’s largest exchange company has launched a social networking community called “NASDAQ Community“. The aim of this group, according to NASDAQ EVP John Jacobs, is to promote market transparency and investor education among people in the financial sector with shared interests.

Members of the community are able to create profiles, ask questions on discussion boards and rate and review stocks.

The ‘Greying’ of Social Media

From our post yesterday looking at a not-so surprising article in yesterday’s NY Times, Who’s Driving Twitter’s Popularity? Not Teens, which looks at the popular growth of some of the latest social media in the last few months, specifically, Twitter; I thought I’d add my 2-cents. As we noted, they supply some interesting data from comScore including that just 11% of Twitter users are between the ages of 12 to 17. Overwhelmingly, Twitter users are an older segment of the population and as Forrester Research notes in the article, people aged 35 to 54 using social media grew 60 percent in the last year.

Shocking? Hardly. Over at Mashable they’ve highlighted this in their coverage of the NY Times piece here, and had written about this just a few weeks ago. In the NY Times piece they highlight a couple of obvious reasons why, first, that the nature of the technology, much more public than social networks like Facebook, is less enticing to teens who are more comfortable interacting and sharing with their friends rather than random strangers coming across their streams. This in turn, looking at it from a professional perspective, offers adults a means to find interesting and useful topics and discussions relevant to their interests.

But very simply as a segment of the population, the ‘Teens’ demographic overwhelmingly uses social media/networking compared to other age groups. In a sheer numbers comparison, there’s not many more users to attract to the technology while other age groups, all you have is room to grow. In fact, in the case of Twitter, that may be what will eventually happen for 12-17 subset of users. But for me, what is fascinating is how fast the comfort level is rising in the adoption and ongoing usage of social media by older users – not so much that they are leading the charge in using technology, but rather its overall importance as a tool among many tools they use. In the past, in the early days of the dot com boom and bust, web usage was still highly segmented. For social media today, its usage overall is beginning to top even the frequency users access their emails:
In fact in a follow-up piece on their technology blog, BITS, they look at this growing adoption and usage by older demographics, citing recent Forrester reports and data. Clearly, as a communication and interaction medium this growth in usage by older segments of the population raises some questions. For marketers, particular brand managers, the hope that the power of tv, radio and other traditional mediums to influence purchasing decisions will somehow remain strong is increasingly questionable. Why? Well, looking at advertising dollars and ROI through those mediums seems shaky at best. I’m sure any media buyer out there would say not so, but I am biased. And as we pointed out this week, clearly marketers see the numbers and the level of adoption by all age groups and customer segments, and its not a question of should we use social media, but when.But looking past marketing, the impact of social media on the business landscape raises even more questions. How does it impact customer service, if increasingly customers feel they are able to get better and faster responses via social media a la Twitter, case in point, Comcast and Southwest Airlines to name a few. How might it impact product development, market research, sales, etc, etc. Of course, I may be simply preaching to the choir.But then again, every time I work with direct marketers and product managers in certain industries, I continue to hear, well our audience just isn’t that tech savvy. When I hear that, my eyes glaze over and mind drifts away and I think, for your sake, I hope it’s true.

McDonald’s and Social Media

In Time, they look at McDonald’s recent online actions with the social networking site 365Black. Last week, discussion started on Fox Nation about the website, which some see as stereotyping the community. This began an online discussion that suddenly spiraled out to such sites as Digg. McDonald’s doesn’t have a well-rounded social media campaign, and as a result, has had trouble maintaining a clear online presence.

Muhammad Saleem, director of social media strategy for the Chicago Tribune’s Chicago Now commented on the situation:
“Even if the idea was a good one and truly was promoting black cultural heritage, it really does come off as manipulation and stereotyping. It’s part of a larger problem ‘ McDonald’s doesn’t have the sort of brand loyalty and trust to be able to have this sort of campaign and have it be embraced.”

McDonald’s responded that this is a social networking website for individuals to come together and share experiences about how McDonald’s has changed their lives.

What do you think about McDonald’s actions to reel in the negative coverage they’re receiving over their social networking website?

Using Virtual Worlds for Customer Service

I came across this interesting article in ReadWriteWeb that discusses how the enterprise has not yet quite dived head first into virtual worlds, even though it has been around since 1995. Virtual worlds are different because it recreates social interaction found in real-life in a digital space. While the benefits of using it within teams are clear (social networking, real-time collaboration, & interactive training) what are some ways that we can use virtual worlds to aid customers? Will this be something more and more companies will take a look at in the future?

Community Friends and Strangers

I came across an interesting article on Seth Godin’s blog in which he describes marketing to friends and strangers. Seth goes on to describe the difference between our real friends, and “friendlies”, which are people to we share a digital link with but are not real friends. How has this concept affected the way we use social media to reach our friends? Is there a difference in the way we market to these two groups?

Social customer service

Although many companies are diving into the world of social networking customer service, it still remains to be seen whether or not companies need to set up formal contact centers with these mediums. The survey done by Datamoniter found that using these tools for customer service really depends on the company. The company should have social networking tools already at work in their company, and foudn that it’s often more useful for small companies. Find out more here.

Small businesses embracing social networking

A new article at the New York Times looks at how small businesses are embracing the networking abilities of social media. Using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other smaller niche sites can prove to reach the right people in a timely manner throughout the world. They’re also free. Today, 38% of all small business owners are members of a social networking website, and an estimated 260,000 businesses using social networking to promote themselves. Read about specific businesses and how they’re using tools at the New York Times.