Awareness E-Book Raises the Bar on Social Measurement

The question of how to measure social media performance, particularly in a marketing context, continues to be one of the industry’s hottest topics. Although many people are aware that traditional metrics like page views, visitors, followers and likes are poor indicators of success, the vast majority of marketers I speak to still focus on these overly simplistic criteria. These numbers may be of little value, but at least they’re understandable.

The more sophisticated practitioners are turning toward metrics that indicate engagement. Examples include comments, retweets, shares and subscriptions. Now Awareness Networks has contributed some important new thinking to this topic with a free e-book entitled “The Social Marketing Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing.” (Full disclosure: I am quoted in the book but did not contribute meaningfully to the methodology and received no compensation.)

Awareness outlines five priorities that companies should define in becoming a best-in-class social marketer:

  • Measure and Grow Social Reach
  • Monitor Social Conversations
  • Manage Social Content
  • Practice SEO
  • Measure and Analyze Social Activity

Not surprisingly, the company has tools that help in many of these areas, but that’s one reason its research is so useful: The recommendations are based upon the experiences of more than 100 customers.

The most successful of those are reporting direct correlations between social media marketing and sales, and they have certain practices in common. Most use at least three major social media channels, compared to less than two for the average company. They also have multiple presences within each channel, such as product-specific pages on Facebook. And they measure like crazy.

Nearly 80% of the companies Awareness surveyed use social media channels to identify and respond to customer service issues and two-thirds use them for prospecting. Remarkably, only 18% said they have “formal tracking process in place to manage processes and better understand success criteria.” In other words, a lot of social media is still being done with seat-of-the-pants justification.

That’s going to change as more sophisticated metrics emerge, however, and here’s where this report has particular value. It describes four measures of content effectiveness that take into account multi-channel activity: Content-to-Contact Ratio, Comments-to-Content Ratio, Comments-to-Profile Ratio and Content-to-Share Ratio. I won’t describe these metrics in detail – you can find that in the e-book – but each speaks directly to the value of engagement.

As businesses spread their wings across increasing numbers of social communities, they need to get a better handle on what’s working and what isn’t. The cost of maintaining an effective presence is only going to go up as the market gets crowded, and it won’t be acceptable for only one in five companies to have meaningful measurements in place.

As I have noted elsewhere, our current obsession with counting fans and followers is an artifact of old media thinking. Online marketing provides much richer options for understanding how people interact with our content. Awareness’ e-book is an important attempt to try to nudge marketers toward realizing the potential of the information they gather.

Awareness Social Funnel


Making It or Breaking It with Customer Service

From Innovations, a website published by Ziff-Davis Enterprise from mid-2006 to mid-2009. Reprinted by permission.

On June 13, Vincent Ferrari decided he no longer needed his $14.95-per-month account with a major online service provider. Ferrari had heard stories about the company’s notoriously poor customer service, so on a hunch, he wired his phone to record the conversation.

What he got is a marketer’s nightmare. After waiting 15 minutes on hold, Ferrari finally spoke to a customer service rep who spent the next five minutes insisting that he shouldn’t cancel the account. Despite Ferrari’s repeated requests to “Cancel…the…account,” the agent wouldn’t give up. The exchange reached the height of absurdity when the rep asked to speak to Ferrari’s father. Ferrari is 30.

There was a time when a story like this would have been shared and laughed over with a few friends. But this is the age of the blog and Ferrari did what any self-respecting blogger does these days. He posted the recording.

The response was overwhelming. More than 1,000 readers weighed in with comments, many lamenting their own customer service horror stories with the vendor. Ferrari was interviewed on the Today show. Google news lists 32 news accounts of the incident. The recording was downloaded more than 65,000 times from YouTube. Demand was so high that Ferrari’s blog server crashed. You can read his story here.

The conventional wisdom that a dissatisfied customer tells 10 people about a bad experience is outdated. Today, they tell millions. Social media is unforgiving in this way. Consider the poor vendor in this situation. One negative exchange with a customer resulted in a firestorm of bad publicity that was wholly out of proportion to the offense. Ferrari had a juicy story to tell and the media loves a juicy story.

For many businesses, customer service is a neglected afterthought. Squeezed to cut costs, businesses are increasingly marginalizing the customer experience by inserting automated phone systems and ponderous Web interfaces between themselves and their clients. Or they’re outsourcing the whole thing overseas. The result is that customers are becoming more and more disenfranchised. And they’re going to sites like The Consumerist to vent their frustration.

I set out today to write about innovative customer service, but in researching the topic, I discovered so much rancor about the state of customer service that I changed course. It seems to me that in the outsourced, cost-controlled, Webified and automated business world, innovative customer service is increasingly about going back to basics. It’s about providing your customers with a speedy, hassle-free exchange with a pleasant human being who genuinely appreciates the customer’s business.

Think of the businesses you patronize that give you good customer service. What do they do right? Chances are they make a positive customer experience part of their value system. Whether it’s an efficient web design, a helpful e-mail newsletter service, a pleasant telephone support staff or a cheerful hello at the checkout counter, they show you that they appreciate you as a person, not just an account number.

So innovative customer service these days isn’t about innovation so much as it’s about core values. Getting back to basics. Sweating the details. How important is a happy customer to you? How dangerous is an unhappy one?

Let’s close with a positive anecdote. The other day, my regular Federal Express delivery guy rang my doorbell just to tell me that it was starting to rain and he had noticed the top was down on my convertible. He didn’t have tell me that; I’m sure he had plenty of deliveries to make. But he took literally one minute out of his day to help a steady customer. I will remember that small courtesy for a long time and will tell other people about it. In fact, I just did!

What are businesses doing to make you a happy customer? Share your stories in the comments below.