A guest post from IIA Social Media Working Group Member Eoin Kennedy of Slattery Communications. You can check out Eoin’s blog here. (I particularly like his most recent post at time of writing about the implications of using multiple usernames across social networks.)
IIA Member Company SimplyZesty recently ran another successful measurement camp. The session itself was attended by less than normal but ran to a familiar structure with two presenters followed by a group activity based on three case study scenarios.
Overall although online is much more measurable than traditional media the demands to quantify it financially have not been met to date. The first wave of measurement has been around physical numbers i.e. numbers of followers, number of posts. These give a topline indication of engagement but translating this into actual worth is tricky. How much is a follower/friend actually worth? Sure it’s great to get some “thumbs up” and “love” but what are these actual measures worth? For property owners such as bebo this poses real challenges. Engagement models are generally built around the pushing and advertising of the page profile but savvy brand holders want more. The burden of responsibility is getting pushed back to the property owners as marketers want more metrics to gauge success while platform owners need agreement on values attached to elements so that they can build charging models. Currently the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) advertising model is the main charging structure used. If the platform owner is charged with the financial delivery then they need to have full control over the creative, which again would pose problems.
Philip McCarthy now ex Bebo gave a good overview of some campaigns that they have run and admitted that measurement is still at an early stage. Bebo does engagement very well but an experience with Coca Cola Burn posed interesting questions about what he should have charged. Current values are around 3 euro cost per thousand which would indicate a value of €60k for the Coke campaign that achieved 20m impressions. The campaign achieved 17,000 visits to the site, 126 comments, 7 photos, 70 quizzes, 679 skins used.
Engagement is something that social media does really well and according to Philip there must be a value to it.
Philip debated using traditional rates that are charged for advertorials, something that is pretty much set and understood with traditional media. Basing digital charging models on established off line models has merit in that brand owners understand them but is probably not the best starting point.
The establishment of a base line measurement was discussed that could be used across other media but no one has yet taken this step to any great degree.
Where this gets particularly difficult is in getting values on things like thumbs up, love and other signs of engagement used on different social networks. It’s great to get them but what do they really mean and what value could be put on them?
One of the areas discussed that could help on measurement in the real world was the use of redeemable bar codes. The idea being that rather than a virtual present that people could send a ‘printable’ bar code or even one that could be displayed on a phone. This could be taken to an outlet and redeemed. This could help track social media activity to actual sales. For example a coffee shop could build an app that allows users to send a coffee to friends. The friend could print out or show the barcode that would be scanned through at an actual coffee shop. By doing this the coffee shop could measure the actual sales generated by the voucher and social media activity. Some good work in being done in this area by IIA Member Company Zappa but problems still exist for terminals to read bar codes on screen.
The overall feeling from the event was that some leadership needs to be established in measuring the value of online campaigns and that the current metrics, while good, are not financially based enough for brand owners. The UK Measurement Camp has also suffered from similar problems.
My own observation is that once criteria that are reasonably sound are established Klout, TweetLevel for Twitter, or Technorati for blogs could start to become industry standards. At some point someone needs to take a brave step. The online community will undoubtable respond and some progress could be made.
This week’s case study is the slideshow presented by Aedan Ryan at the launch of “Join the Conversation: The Guide to Blogging for Business” in April.
A short aside – Making an audio recording is a handy tactic if you would like to reuse your presentations on your company blog. You can easily attach a good quality digital voice recorder to a sound desk to record your voice. (I have an Olympus DS 30 with a Sony ECM-MS907 Mic) You can go even simpler and just record straight to your recorder. I noticed Alan O’Rourke of Spoiltchild using iTalk on his iPhone at an event recently – this app is free. If you are doing the presentation at an external event make sure you have the permission of the organisation for whom you are presenting before posting the presentation on your blog.
Garrendenny Lane Interiors is a home business based in Carlow. Owned and run by Lorna Sixsmith, it offers a new and unique way to shop for your home. Rather than browsing in a standard shop in town, Lorna’s background in Interior Design allows her to provide a personal service where products can be displayed in a relaxed “home” environment. Not having a shop front in the town does mean that Lorna faces some additional challenges in promoting the business.
Interior design is a relatively new career choice for Lorna, having worked as a teacher, lecturer and head of department previously. Within those roles, she had to plan, deliver, work to targets, (persuade teenagers to complete coursework – easier said than done!), work to time scales and lead teams. While her current business has many of the same requirements – working from home means that these tasks are all done by her and at any hour of the day (or night).
The website was launched in late 2007 and the online shop (www.garrendennylane.ie) opened in August 2008. It stocks items such as kitchenware, bed linen, accessories for children, gifts, tea sets, clocks and candleholders. Such a wide variety of products can make search engine optimisation tricky on a small site.
Lorna first heard about blogging via an Enterprise Board training course and had her web developer integrate the blog into the website to get the most benefit from incoming links. Lorna freely admits that IT is not her strong point – but this does not hold her back from running a successful blog.
Some of the benefits of blogging provides for her business are:
- A better opportunity to reflect her expertise in the Interior Design business on a regular basis
- Information is available to customers 24 hours a day
- Customers have the opportunity to see some of the latest projects
- Constantly updated content keeps customers returning
- The blog and twitter account provides direct access to customers in a way that is difficult with static web pages
- It’s easy to post photos and descriptions of new products without producing a catalogue type interface
- Products can be promoted in a more personal way – without the bland description a traditional online shop may have
- The blog offers more opportunities for search engine optimisation
- Twitter allows customers comments and questions to be dealt with immediately
Lorna spends up to one and a half hours per week writing for her blog (circa three posts per week) and spends about the same time following other people’s blogs. This will be good news for business bloggers that are concerned blogging will take up too much time. Almost 32% of the respondents to the IIA Business Blogger Survey noted that they spent four to eight hours per week on their blogging activities. Lorna recently appeared on RTE’s Not Enough Hours program – where she claims the amount of blogging she does was exaggerated. The program did highlight the difficulty of balancing a work and home environment.
From the first day the blog articles were a mix of personal items, product reviews and tips. Lorna felt that this mix would be most suitable for her target customers because it enhances the personal service she provides. She feels the personal touch is very important for her business – both online and for direct contact. While the blog articles provide a behind the scenes view of her business she also provides an unusual twist on the theme. Customers can send photos of a room (via email or twitter) and get interior design advice by phone and email. The importance of seeing the products is not forgotten either as she sends samples via the post.
It’s not yet clear how useful Twitter will prove as a long term business tool for GarrenDenny Lane Interiors. While it provides direct contact to customers (especially home users outside of normal business hours) Lorna is aware how some users seem to be addicted to it. The majority of her customer contact is via the blog, email or phone calls. Currently she monitors activity on Twitter but only occasionally “tweets”. While also using Google Adwords, Online Directories, LinkedIn and Facebook to promote the business, Lorna says the blog is the focus of her activities. She does admit to being new to Twitter and has not ‘worked’ it properly yet.
One of the major issues for businesses is which metrics can they use to measure the success of a business blog. The IIA Business Blogger Survey found that the top ways that Irish businesses measure the success of their blogging activities include receiving positive feedback from customers and being referred to positively in other, more traditional, media. On both these counts Lorna has been successful with her blog but says she still has a lot more she wishes to achieve. Specifically she says she needs to write articles with a higher focus on potential search engine optimisation.
Her success rate so far has been excellent – she says 30-40% of her business has come via her blogging activities. Her blog has helped her gain customers(*) and make sales in the UK and in the US as well as Ireland. The exchange rate has meant that sales to the UK have drastically reduced but she says the export sales she gets are related to the blog. Lorna also guest writes for an American blog and sends a monthly newsletter that helps remind her customers of her online presence.
With house hunters and home decorators becoming increasingly Internet savvy it’s important for businesses like Garrendenny Lane to not just have an online presence but to be available for their customers and to give them direct access to real people. Lorna is leading the way in showing what a small business can achieve.
(*) How does Lorna know she is gaining customers via the Blog? At this point one might expect details of Google Analytics accounts, cookies and other tracking mechanisms but Lorna uses the most reliable method of all – She talks to her customers. When a customer contacts her with queries – she makes a point of asking them how they found her.
Thanks to Emmet Ryan of Villa81 who made this video which sums up the launch yesterday of “Join the Conversation: The Guide to Blogging for Business“.
I am delighted that the IIA Social Media Working Group are launching “Join the Conversation: The Guide to Blogging for Business” today. Being a member of the working group (and we are all volunteers) I know how much work went into the guide and all the agonizing that was done over the tiniest details . I hope you find it useful and inspiring. However the whole group would love if you could share your thoughts and feedback in the comments here or via twitter, by email, by skype; whichever is your preferred medium!
I have prepared a social media press release for those of you who might like some background information on the guide and those involved. This includes links to media, images, content and a Delicious page with all manner of related content. It might be worth grabbing a feed for this as I will add to it as more content appears online. I hope you find this a useful way of sharing information and I would love any feedback you have on this approach.
A big thank you as well to IIA Member Company Vermillion Design who developed the design of the Guide. It is designed to work best on screen but can be printed also.
This week’s case study has been written by Joy Redmond, CEO of Flexitimers.
Karina Heavey is no ordinary marketer but a marketer who has recently harnessed social media to affect change and create a community of pro-active people not content to sit back and wait for the recession to go away.
In August 2008, Karina formed the 121 Business Network Ireland group on LinkedIn in response to her dissatisfaction with the business networks available at the time, having identified that there wasn’t an appropriate group focussing exclusively for members based in Ireland.
She didn’t actively promote or push the group until a turning point came in January 2009 when she was made redundant from a senior marketing position in SPSS. Although a highly competent and experienced marketing professional with a Masters from UCD, Karina prior to this had no online social media expertise or experience.
She felt there was both an opportunity to learn while giving something back and believed that if she brought people together, opportunities would arise for all. Soon she extended the brand to marketing with the intention of creating a community of people with an interest in marketing. Believing that the marketing associations valued the speakers at their events more than their individual members, Karina wanted her network to value and reward its members.
First on her to-do list was to proactively build the group membership on LinkedIn. To achieve this, she joined 50 marketing groups on LinkedIn, filtered the members by region (Ireland) and keyword (marketing) and arrived at a list of 600 prospects. Again her marketing know-how allowed her to write a compelling personal invitation that resulted in 350 registrations within one week. Karina personally approves every request for membership to ensure the group ethos is not diluted.
Knowing the difficulty in engaging discussion and networking online and the importance and power of personal relationships; the next task was to organise monthly face-to-face meet-ups where members could informally build relationships (not pitch), have fun and feel valued.
Her experience of event management came into play and after researching several city centre hotels, the Mint Bar in the Weston Hotel was chosen as the preferred venue for two reasons -its central location and their promise to provide a space free of charge every first Wednesday of the month. Again her marketing training taught her that consistency was key and so the “First Wednesday” club began. There were 25 attendees the first night in February and numbers have doubled month on month since with the same people returning and bringing more people and spreading the word.
The First Wednesday club is also marketed via her website/blog which provides interviews with marketers, round-ups of the First Wednesday club and competitions to encourage more interaction both online and offline. One interesting application merging both online and offline activity is the video reel of corporate logos representing the attendees of the First Wednesday Club.
Karina then created a Facebook page to extend the group’s reach where visitors are met with a Welcome video and members receive a welcome email that sets the rules, expectations and protocol for the group. There is a space entitled ‘Opportunities Exchange’ where members can promote/trade opportunities, jobs and business deals with the effect of minimising spam on the discussion board.
Karina is not content to limit the network to Dublin and has set up regional managers in Cork and in Limerick. The 121 Cork Network is going to launch that regions ‘First Wednesday Club’ next month and she’s seeing her memberships growing in Sligo, Kildare and Mayo.
A sense of fun and achievement, continuously improving and progressing an idea through its ongoing successful destinations while facilitating important social and business communications is what Karina perceives to be the key benefit of all this social media activity.
Karina herself has been rewarded for her efforts and has proactively raised her profile with an RTE interview live from bizcamp, a podcast interview on The Persuaders and a feature in The Sunday Tribune. What’s more, she has created her own opportunity by being recently hired as Digital Campaign Manager with IIA Member Company TradeDoubler, no easy feat for a marketer with little or no digital expertise less than six months ago and in an extremely difficult economy.
Karina has become a role model and inspiration to many and like her 121Marketing Network, proves that there are still opportunities out there and with positive drive and enthusiasm success still awaits those who create their own luck.
The IIA Social Media Working Group not content with the imminent launch of Join the Conversation: IIA Guide to Business Blogging in Ireland next week are forging ahead with their work on the next set of guides. Expect to see guides on social networking, podcasts and RSS in the very near future.
Last Thursday some members of the group and other interested parties came together in The Digital Hub to workshop the draft guide to podcasting for business. You can listen to the whole workshop on a set of three podcasts available from the IIA. You can grab them from our website or ITunes. (N.B. The latter link will attempt to open your iTunes)
A big thank you to Krishna and her team in Biz Growth Media for recording and editing the sound files from the workshop.
Karlin Lillington, the Irish Times technology journalist, who has recently started podcasting herself, came along and has a written a great summary of the thoughts that were shared that evening.
If you would like to read the draft of the Guide to Podcasting for Business you can check it out on our wiki. We welcome any comments or questions that you might have on the wiki itself.
And just for Friday larks you can also hear me be a total eejit in the podcast. Brian Greene, who gives some excellent guidance and tips, asks something along the lines of, “Can I make a point about the importance of silence?” and I say “Yes please do.” Nice one, Roseanne!
At the start of 2009 we undertook a survey among Irish businesses that already have blogs. We asked them a number of questions to try and understand the objectives of their blogging activities, what results they were seeing and how much time and effort they put into managing their blogs.
We will be discussing the results in detail at the Business Blogging breakfast briefing on April 22nd, but in the meantime here are the high-level survey results:
This is written by Campbell Scott of IGOPeople.com. All comments, queries and case study suggestions welcomed via comments below. Thanks! – RS, IIA.
Our previous case study gave an excellent overview of some of the social media tools that are available to businesses, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Youtube etc. This case study is based on observations about how O2 Ireland have embraced the use of social media, to get closer to their customers (and potential customers). This summary records some of the interactions with customers that have taken place, some of these on IGOpeople.
O2 were well aware that their brand, products and services, pricing etc. were all being talked about online by their customers. These discussions were taking place on blogs, discussion forums and social networks. Many people would have posted comments which were negative in tone, complaining about specific problems or the way they had been treated by O2 as a customer. For O2, the challenge was how to engage or join in the conversations taking place. Many of the comments in discussion forums are anonymous, or take place in a tone and context where O2’s response or involvement in the discussion may not be particularly welcome.
O2’s answer to this problem was to take the brave move of creating their own, open user discussion forum, where customers could ask questions and seek help, voice their opinion or complain. Registration was a requirement, to help O2 get in touch with members privately if required. This was a very positive move which was received well by O2 customers. As this was new territory for O2, they did demonstrate some early naivety, by correcting the content of some members posts, but their customer community was tolerant of this, as it was a new environment where everyone was learning.
Although the O2 Forum has developed from these early days and is now a popular and active community, O2 have extended the range of social media tools they use to reach customers, including Bebo, Twitter and now IGOpeople (links take you directly to the O2 profile page). We’re delighted to have O2 as part of IGOpeople, but everyone can learn from some of the specific conversations they have become involved in.
O2 have jumped straight into IGOpeople, posting regularly about items of interest to their customers – promoting shiny new phones and new product releases. This week, they offered customers the opportunity to direct any questions they may have to the Head of Customer Care – not something that is available to a consumer every day of the week!
However, the thing that is impressed me about O2, is the willingness to reach out to customers. There are a number of conversations where they acknowledge their shortcomings and state how they will fix things up, or recognise the need to make changes in the future. Their answers don’t always give you the answer you might demand, but they are there to listen and consistently discuss the issue, in a really honest and believable way – even if the answer isn’t quite what you want.
Here are some nice examples of the conversations they get involved in
This is the first in a series of Social Media Case Studies that the Irish Internet Association Social Media Working Group will be producing over the next few months. This is written by Eoin Kennedy, Slattery Communications. All comments, queries and case study suggestions welcomed via comments below. – RS, IIA.
Using Social Media to Drive the Recycling Message
Repak is a packaging compliance scheme that funds packaging recycling activities in Ireland. It collects levies from organizations that produce packaging and then uses these funds to pay subsidies to waste contractors and local authorities for collecting used packaging from recycling supporting Household Recycling Bins, Bring Banks and Recycling Centres.
This has helped Ireland achieve its EU Packaging Recycling targets. Its license also has an educational remit to drive awareness of recycling and improve actual recycling behavior.
The organisation runs a series of traditional campaigns but these were generally one way so in 2007 the organization looked to embrace the online community and social networks in particular to help further engage younger audiences in a more interactive and media rich way.
- To educate, motivate and engage people in recycling of used packaging
- To create online platforms to engage with a different demographic groups
- To develop compelling online content
- To position Repak as expert on packaging recycling issues
- A profile page was established in Sept 2007.
- Full editorial calendar covering relevant Repak content reformatted for Bebo style and covering key initiatives such as Bring Banks on the Street, Repak Christmas Campaigns and Easter Campaigns, Award Winner, Green Schools Calendar.
- Videos developed and uploaded including Building of ‘blinged’ Bring Banks and Interview with UK artist at launch of Repak Recycling Week in BT2.
- Photos from key launches.
- Answering of recycling queries.
- Series of competitions on the whiteboard.
- Per material a day updates/ updates recycling facts.
- Frequent blog posts.
- Posting and visiting of other profiles.
- Friends network expanded to 1076 and views over 19,700.
- Multiple entries to competitions. Some of the entries were pretty elaborate and allowed us to play back how they drew them.
- 200 Comments after 2 months– some of which were one liners, others were queries while others were supportive.
- 307 Quizzes taken.
- Over 500 Polls.
- Over 1000 view of videos.
- Expanded network and community of people interested in recycling.
Other social media channels
Repaks also deployed a number of other online platforms to spread the message to a wider group and target older age groups including:
Video coverage from different Repak initiatives and launches. Over 1,000 views of different videos.
Community creation through uploading photos to photo sharing sites (generic for reuse by others) and specific launches. Generic photos of recycling activities made available for the community to use. Others give a snap shot of colourful recycling launches and campaigns.
A blog was created and populated focusing on recycling issues in Ireland. Written, video, audio and photo material utilized from different initiatives. The blog aims to create a repository and debating point for recycling issues, topics and updates from Repak.
A group within Facebook has been established to interact with an older audience and create a platform for sharing on recycling issues from seeding discussion and sharing material from video to photography.
The wide range of online properties means that Repak can communicate with a broader range of online communities in a media rich format not possible previously.
- Wider online footprint.
- Positioning of Repak as expert in packaging recycling issues.
- 24/7 Availability of Repak and recycling issues.
- Engagement and community development with other recyclers.
- Regular and easy to update content from video to photography.
- Better search engine visibility.
- Driving higher recycling rates and acceptance of recycling message.
- Direct contact with harder to reach demographics.
- More positive public face of the organisation
Repak has now established a number of communications channels and communities through which it can interact and with which it can communicate. The organisation produces a wealth of content and through customising the messages for the different platforms and utilising video, audio and photography it can portray the recycling message in a variety of different and engaging ways. Further engagement with these new communities needs to be undertaken to create a truly interactive relationship, in conjunction with the ongoing development of content and other tools such as applications. Social media now forms part of the planning process for all Repak initaitives.
Repak are a client of Slattery Communications who helped develop and maintain their online presence.