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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

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Using Social Media Analysis for a Competitive Advantage

By | January 6, 2015

social_toolsYou’re analyzing and measuring your own efforts on social media, but what about your competitors? Taking a few hours each month—or at least each quarter—to review your top two to three competitors’ social strategies can provide great insight into what your organization is doing well, where it is falling behind and any new content areas or audiences that are being overlooked.

While many brands take note of how their fans and followers compare to the competition, there is more to measure that will provide more valuable information. Remember that you don’t know how your competition acquired those fans and followers. It could be because they have amazing content, or it could be they are spending thousands each month in Facebook advertising or contests.

Below are three areas to measure when performing a competitive analysis.


Comparing engagement rates is a much more accurate way to determine how your content and social presence stacks up to the competition. If your competitor gained a ton of fans through advertising or contests and those fans aren’t really interested in the brand, their engagement rate will plummet.

Measure engagement rates for all your social networks, or at least Facebook or Twitter. Start by adding competitors’ Facebook pages to your “Pages to Watch” list on Facebook. This will allow you to easily see how often your competitors are posting and how much engagement they are receiving. For Twitter, there are several free and paid tools available to calculate engagement rate, or you can manually calculate it by taking Mentions + Retweets/Number of Followers.

If a competitor has a higher engagement rate, take a closer look to examine why. This is important for two reasons:

  1. You can discover what content the competitor is creating that is resonating with your audience.
  2. The high engagement rate could be due to a negative reason, such as complaints about service or a crisis situation.

Overall, make a point to look at your competitors’ social networks to evaluate what they are saying, how they saying it and who is engaging with what they said. This is a great way to get content ideas, as well as see what doesn’t work without having to test it out yourself.

Share of Voice

While engagement rates measure your competitors’ performance on their own networks, what about what people are saying about them (and you) elsewhere? This is where share of voice comes into play. Measure the volume of online conversation—Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, blogs, forums, news, etc.—that is taking place about your organization and each of your competitors. Who has the most and why?

Again, human analysis is required here, because a competitor could be talked about the most for all the wrong reasons, so it is important to dig a little deeper to see what is driving conversations. If the conversations are positive, it’s time to identify what the competitor is doing that you aren’t, and brainstorm ways to create conversation drivers.

Target Audiences

This last area of measurement requires a bit more effort, but the payoff is worth it. To evaluate your competitors’ target audiences, take a look at the content created on their blog and social networks for the past month. Break out each post in content buckets—who is the target audience and what message are they using to reach the audience.

By identifying how your competitors are choosing to use their content, you can uncover a great deal of information about their overall marketing and advertising strategy. Which audience shows the most potential? What messages resonate with the audiences and on what channel? This information might reshape who you are targeting and how, or it may simply validate that what you are doing is working. Either way, it is likely worth the effort.

So, as you are finalizing your yearly reports, remember to add in competitive intelligence for a better-rounded look at how your organization’s social media is performing. And finally, remember to take what you learn to improve your social strategy, not copy your competitors.



Consumer Brand Manufacturing Spotlight: Millennials, Holiday Shoppers & Amazon Rankings

By | December 11, 2014

8163387744_0d26292e73_zThis week, we’ve got a grab bag of interesting notes for the harried holiday-season marketer of consumer-brand-manufactured items. The 3 major themes are millennial brand engagement on social media, online holiday shoppers and Amazon rankings.

Social media & millennials
First up, millennials on social media. Specifically, why they choose to engage with your brand on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

The Center for Marketing Research tells us (via MarketingProfs) millennials reportedly like companies on Facebook in order to indicate brand loyalty (84%), receive updates (83%) and get coupons/discounts (66%).

On Twitter, millennials engage with companies to get coupons/discounts (85%) and show brand support (78%).

As for Pinterest, we see a twist:  Millennials (76%) say they primarily engage with brands there in order to share their interests/lifestyle with others.

Holiday e-commerce shoppers
Last year’s MarketingProfs data showed 92% of holiday shoppers will go online to either research gifts or make a purchase. Ariel Carron, content manager for Ve Interactive, puts forth some strategies in MarketingProfs for better engaging that peculiar brand of consumer seen at the holidays. Not your regular everyday shopper, the characteristics of this species include urgency, deal-hunting, confidence-seeking and a strong attraction to fast and free shipping. Catering to them should lower the average 75% retail abandonment rate seen in Q3 and strengthen annual bottom lines.

#1 Amazon rankings
We all know Amazon is a major artery for online retailer traffic—Compete has it accounting for 22% of consumer visits to all online retailers in September (up from 19% in Sept. ’13). What’s even more interesting is that Compete also recently reported that on average, 35% of consumers click the first Amazon shopping search result. 17% click the second (notice it drops in half), and 12% (about one-third of the #1 ranking) click the third product listed. A mere 3.5% make it all the way down to #10, which is usually at the bottom of the first page for Amazon desktop search.


Photo courtesy of Sharon Hahn Darlin via Flickr.

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Social is Your New Best Friend

By | November 17, 2014

It’s pretty rare that a person can say they’ve had all good experiences with every brand or product they’ve tried. There’s usually a bad experience that sticks out in your mind like a sore thumb, one that enraged you so much you swore you’d never use that brand again. Believe it or not, that anger provides the perfect opportunity for a business to prove their customer service, and sometimes gain a brand advocate.

Disgruntled customer What if that was your brand or product and that customer is now spouting awful reviews about how much you suck? Much like showing up to prom wearing the same dress as another girl, you have two options; you can ignore it and hope it doesn’t make you look THAT bad, or you can embrace it.

Social media, as much as people think it’s just trending topics or annoying ads, is actually another form of damage control. While everyone loves to get “likes” and fantastic reviews or positive comments, sometimes the negative ones can have the most positive impact.

The companies who get complaints and try to cover them up or ignore them don’t understand the role or importance of social media. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people have the potential of seeing that complaint and forming a negative opinion because of it. But, the same people also have the potential of seeing the company’s apologetic response, if the company is brave enough to admit they messed up. For those companies who choose to respond, they give a customer a glimmer of hope that someone cares about their mishap.

As a customer, having to call a 1-800 number and wait while an automated voice tells you, “your call is important to us, please wait” only makes a bad situation worse. Social media allows companies to address a person instantly after they post a negative comment. And apologizing publicly makes the company look good, not just to that person, but everyone who sees the post.

Social Media

While it might cost a new product, a complimentary service or a check on behalf of the company, being able to change a disgruntled customer into a brand advocate is worth it! Sometimes a little social attention is all it takes to change one bad tweet to a loyal customer, spouting nothing but praises. Don’t overlook how important client relationships can be, even if your product is amazing. If people don’t think the company and customer service are amazing, your product loses value.

So wear that prom dress proud and post #twinning with your accidental pair! No one would ever know it wasn’t planned.

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How Hospitals Should Respond to Ebola on Social Media

By | October 22, 2014

With the current news and hype over reported cases of ebola in the U.S., healthcare providers have a great opportunity to serve their communities. By dispelling myths and instilling confidence that they are taking the appropriate measures to ensure their community will be safe, health systems can help calm a panicked public. A good communication tool to use for this purpose is social media.

Don’t ignore the situation like an ostrich. Post a statement. Communicating with your community and patients is critical at a time when they are looking to their healthcare provider for information on a crisis (or perceived crisis) that is relevant to them.

Make your statement meaningful and informative, potentially with links to further resources for more details. Try to include facts about the situation (in this case, ebola), and what actions the health system is doing to ensure its staff are trained and ready to handle it.

Don’t neglect your community and patients when they are already posting questions or comments on your Facebook page or through other social media channels. People are looking to the health system(s) in their communities to provide authoritative information and be responsive. Serve your patient community well by serving this role.

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Creative Student Recruitment: Getting Personal in EDU Marketing

By | October 9, 2014

creative student recruitmentIn higher education marketing, you probably try all the digital marketing tactics to achieve higher enrollment rates. Maybe that’s pay-per-click advertising or search engine optimization. While I’m a proponent of both, I think college marketers can lose sight of the bigger picture. They get lost in the data. They stress under deadlines. They celebrate the wins of increased enrollments and feel the pangs of defeat when a program is underperforming.

Rarely do they stop to consider what their milestones and KPIs mean for each student. They focus on marketing the college, but do they really anticipate student needs? If they get personal (and creative) by addressing students’ concerns and desires ahead of time, the battle of getting students to click “Apply now” is already half-won.

Consider these common college “regrets,” “things I wish I knew,” and “wish-I-would-haves” from real college alumni. They probably sound familiar. They’re common experiences that can only be realized in hindsight. Keep them in mind when creating your marketing plans. They will help you think outside of the box – and reach the heart of what matters to your prospective students:

“I wish I would have experienced a broader community.”

Freshman year is the first time teens are faced with the opportunity to start fresh. They can develop themselves into the people they want to be. This is exciting, but it strikes fear in a large number of incoming undergraduates. Will they be liked? Will they fit in? How will they make friends?

Don’t ignore these concerns; find a way to market your university’s community-building opportunities. Maybe it’s a networking event for prospective students, an email that explains the roommate selection process, or a Facebook group for each dormitory. Get creative in how you ease the anxiety of your newest group of students. Here’s a cool example of a college promoting their community identity.

“I wish I would have balanced my time better.”

As students work on building community, they struggle with balancing their school and personal lives – particularly in the first year. It’s a major concern for most parents. Facing this pain point of the college experience head-on could win you credibility.

At high school recruitment days, spend a portion of your time discussing this balance (and round off the session with branded planners). Or build parent confidence by arming them with resources for addressing this topic. Simply adding a link to your academic or tutoring center in emails creates a sense of support. (Increased retention rate from addressing this struggle is a bonus!)

“I wish I would have majored in something that better aligns with my life goals.”

Knowing what they want to do with the rest of their lives isn’t something you should expect from your incoming students. Around 75% of them will change their majors before they graduate. Find a way to understand and embrace this indecision. Consider these techniques:

  • Rename your undeclared major to something more exciting.
  • Admit students into a particular “area of interest” as opposed to a specific degree.
  • Hold a faculty Q&A session as part of a guided tour.

Helping undecided students feel like they have a place on your campus will boost their confidence in what your university has to offer them.

“I wish I would have taken better advantage of on-campus resources and events.”

The decision to attend a college goes beyond location, program offering, and price point. It extends to the emotions and preferences of each student. Look for ways to include non-program related differentiators in your marketing campaigns. How about a Vine series of highlights from your nationally-ranked basketball team? Or an infographic of your tutoring and advising services? Try an instructo-graphic explaining how to use those complex machines at the gym, or a Tumblr micro-blog for your study abroad students.

The more you highlight what makes your university great, the more you’ll reach prospective students on an individual level. Take, for instance, this twitter account that celebrates “the best damn band in the land.”

By getting personal, higher education marketers can flip their strategies. Instead of simply marketing the college, focus on informing and empowering the student.Tweet: Instead of marketing your college, focus on informing and empowering the student. #highered [Click to tweet]

What is your biggest college “regret”? What would you do differently if given the chance? Leave a comment below to inspire us all.

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