Social Media Metrics

I’ve had some difficult discussions about how to measure the value of our web presence, and some even more difficult discussions on how we should measure the value of social media.

I don’t think visitor traffic says that much, our peak traffic days in the last year have coincided with announcements related to the current financial crisis. We’ve had assistance from the Dutch Government, a new CEO, and most recently an announcement that we will be splitting the company. On those days our web traffic soared even if our shareprice didn’t so clearly traffic does not equal value to the company.

For me there are two ways a site can generate value for a company; reduce costs or increase revenue. Social media programmes need to show the same kind of benefits, and there are plenty of examples out there, the DellOutlet twitter is perhaps the clearest example – where followers can benefit from offers from the dell outlet store that otherwise wouldn’t get much publicity.

I’m not the only one lamenting the lack of sensible thought within companies on measurment and ROI for web/social media; Jay Baer points out that we might be “cherishing the wrong trophy” when we chase facebook fans and twitter followers. David Meerman Scott dislikes ROI (like any good marketer) but still pushed for thinking about “creating buzz” and business impact in a recent presentation.

But the hands-down best, winner-takes-all explanation of why and how ROI matters in social media comes from Olivier Blanchard in this presentation.

Two items that particularly pleased me;

  1. the acknowledgement that it will take time, as in months, to realise the financial impact of social media (slides 28 & 60)
  2. the reference to those easy-to-get web metrics as “non-financial impact” (slide 34)

Aside from that there’s a certain genius in the use of images in this presentation – it’s worth a look for that alone.

From Dusty Collection to Revenue Stream

To date the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney has never had a photographic exhibition, and yet their collection of photos has become a revenue stream. How?

Well first of all they started loading the Tyrell Collection – a set of more than 7000 glass plate images known to be free from copyright – to flickr under a creative commons licence. In other words they put the images into public space, in effect they gave them away. So again how did that become a revenue stream?

Before setting up the flickr account the powerhouse had some of the Tyrell collection on their site, and were fairly happy with their 30,000+ visitors per year. In the first two weeks of putting the collection onto flickr saw more than 40,000 visitors.

Visitor interest has been really high, with visitors helping to identify where some of the collection is shot, and actively commenting on some of the images. The museum has also picked up on a mashup of their images, google maps and google streetview to allow a then and now comparison, the mashup was developed not by the employees of the museum, but by a fan. Other fans have made a more lowtech comparison, using images from the Tyrell collection in the foreground of a photo of the current environment.

Some photobuffs have gone to even more trouble creating remixed versions of the images.

The original plate glass image in the Tyrell Collection A remixed version entitled “Madame Pooch”

The museum works hard to load up the collection, to produce a “photo of the day” blog, and to collect images on flickr into the Tyrell today group on flickr (and link them to their historical equivalents. It’s a lot of work, but it’s paying dividends. It’s all been successful enough for the Powerhouse to create a book – published on demand – of the best of their flickr experience called “Then and Now“.

Their once dusty collection has become a revenue stream with uses and orders of their photos increasing year on year. The collection has become an asset, maybe one day it will even earn itself its very own exhibition.

image: camera

Building Buzz via Exclusivity

ABC is launching a new show, a comedy called “Modern Family” and one of the ways they’re creating buzz is by giving a preview of the show to a relatively small group – just 20,000. This elite fan group are the “Inner Circle”, recruited by the station in earlier marketing campaigns, and they’ll get a code that lets them see the pilot programme on their ABC Player.

The marketing plan behind this is that those in the “Inner Circle” will create a lot of buzz around the programme, particularly on social media tools, and ABC hopes the key will be shared.

Google did a similar thing with the launch of gmail, initially you could only get an account if you were invited.

What is interesting is both companies are promoting something that has potential to reach an unlimited audience.  Once broadcast the TV show reaches all subscribers to that channel, and since it’s invitation-only release in 2004 gmail now has more than 100 million accounts. However they’ve chosen to create “scarcity”.

Why would a business do this? Simply to create a greater demand, basic economics says that if a supply is limited while demand grows then the price the supplier can ask rises. This is why strawberries are expensive at certain times of the year – it is not connected to the cost of production but a reflection on what pricing the market will permit.

In the case of ABC the higher price would translate as larger audiences leading to greater advertising revenue.

I’m curious to see how this will work out for ABC – will the buzz from 20,000 of the “Inner Circle” be enough to create a critical mass and win the ratings war? The show should be screening now, it will be interesting.

images champagne,  graph from Wikimedia Commons

Pay what you think it’s worth

Years ago my parents when to a concert to raise money for musicians in Sarejevo, the tickets were free. You had to donate to leave. It was brilliant, everyone there was already ready to show support and by the time they’d heard the music they were in a good and generous mood. I’ve always wondered what the ticket “price” really was. I’ve also wondered if anyone else had tried this model.

Today I read of some other cases that have; a taxi driver, a chiropractor and a law firm.  It is another alternative payment structure like “freemium” – where a free model is available, but you pay a premium to get all the features.

I think it works under two conditions.

(1) when you are providing a personal service where clients and supppliers meet each other during the profession of the service, where both parties trust each other and have learnt to communicate. In other words where there’s an existing relationship.

(2) where it’s easy to compare the market price for the service, in the Concert example the attendees were all regular concert goers so knew roughly the price of a ticket. I’m currently having rather massive dental work done, it’s time consuming and complex. Although I know what a regular treatment costs I would probably underestimate the costs of this work.

I think it’s less likely to work where the service is anonymous, for example a retail relationship where it won’t be necessary to return to that supplier, or a service provided by an anonymous corporation – for example an insurer.

I’d like to be wrong, but I suspect without the relationship our own self interest will take over.

photo cello

Twitter for Executives

It’s the latest fashion, everyone is on it, it’s in the news. Is your CEO on Twitter?

And a tougher question, should CEOs be on Twitter?

Yes – but with a caveat, Mashable has come up with the “5 Habits of Successful Executives on Twitter” (I think they mean 5 Habits of Executives Who are Successful on Twitter, but I forgive them). There list includes

  1. They are their brand’s conscience
  2. They don’t sell they share
  3. They are real human beings
  4. They write well
  5. They commit

It’s a good list, as far as it goes, I’d add that they need to have something to say, and what they say needs to match the brand. Of course the CEO’s personality should already be congruent with the brand – but that’s not always the case.

Flying Green with EasyJet

I’ve just booked flights on EasyJet, and with a click I could offset my share of the carbon production of the flight.

Guilt free flights at the click of a button



When I fly for work my company offsets the carbon produced, but this is the first time I’ve been able to do it on a private flight.

I think it’s great, they’ve chosen UN certified partners for the carbon offsetting and are trying to do it at minimal cost to the customer. Their carbon offset programme seems to be reasonably well thought through.

They’ve been in trouble for some of their claims, apparently they referred to their flights as being lower carbon emitters per person than  a Prius. A pretty wild and easily refuted statement. However very few cars emit carbon at anything close to the 104 g/km rate quoted for the Prius, most people are driving cars at a higher emmission rate. So while the statement by EasyJet was incorrect, the concept behind the comparison was not so far off.

I know there’s a lot of “greenwash” out there, and people could argue that the company should avoid this externality and just pay for the carbon emmission themselves. However this seems like a really easy way of letting the consumer make greener choices. It’s too easy to demand that companies become carbon neutral but the forces us to put our money where our mouth is. I like it.

EasyJet could impress me more by showing me some statistics on how many people on my flight have paid for their emissions, and some overall reporting on how many people choose the option.


image aeroplane via pixabay

4 Keys to a Great Briefing

Selecting the right company to work with on a creative project can be tricky. If you work in marketing or communications it’s a skill worth developing; you’ll need it for website development, photography assignments, visual identity development and ad campaigns. Any marketing manager will find themselves developing a briefing several times a year, whether it’s part of a selection process or a new assignment with an existing supplier. I think there are four key areas of information that need to be covered in a briefing; context, aspiration, process and logistics.

Help the potential supplier understand who you are. What are your brand values? Describe your brand personality – if that sounds weird describe who your brand would be if it were a person. Who are your customers – how do you want them to describe you?

Provide visual information, existing brochures and websites, brand and/or photography guidelines – even if you’re moving away from that look, it will help the designers understand your company and the legacy.

What is the big idea?

What is the one message you want customers/visitors to get above all else from this project?

Try to inspire the creatives; you could include songs, images, quotes, words that support your aspiration but; resist the temptation to “spell it out”, too much factual detail at this point won’t get the best out of your creatives. You want them to be inspired and creative – not just implement to the limits of your creativity.

Here’s a great presentation on what should be in briefing from the creative’s perspective.

How do you want to work together? This is possibly the most important part of the briefing, but it rarely gets attention – this is partly because it’s very difficult to assess on paper. I treat the whole process as a test for the company; all contact from the moment the brief is sent to the decision date. Easy ways to get disqualified in this period include; not being able to say my company’s name correctly (yes, it happened even after being told how to say it), being rude to anyone you meet from my company during the process (the Richard Branson approach), or wasting my time (yes, it’s happened).

People recognise it when it’s right though, if your team walk out of a briefing with a potential supplier saying things like “they really get us” you’re probably in the right direction.

I look for four things; do they listen, do they build on our ideas, do they do anything extra and do they get my jokes.

The last one might seem frivolous, but if you’ll be working together intensively for a longer period of time it’s important that the relationship is there. Getting each other’s jokes is one sign that you’re on the same wavelength, and that you might enjoy each other’s company.

Possibly the least interesting for the creative – but very important for the account manager to know! Set out who from your side should be the contact person, I recommend a single point of contact if possible. Explain what you expect to be delivered. State what options they have for presenting those deliverables (eg: we sometimes need to be able to email design examples – so I’ll need a standard format file less than 1MB). State the deadline. Are you paying any fee to support their development work – and is the written off against the costs of the successful company? If the briefing is part of an assessment process then explain the criteria for assessment and how (and when!) the decision will be made.

These details are not interesting for a creative person so I usually set them out on a separate page to reduce distraction.

Keep the document short. If you can’t convey what your company is about and what your brand means in under 200 words then perhaps you need to give that more thought before you start an ad campaign.

There will very likely be a group of people round the table when it comes to the decision, two things worth keeping in the front of everyone’s mind are the customer and the aspiration. It can help to name the customer, in our case we called her Iris,  and then the discussion became “would this appeal to Iris?”

What do you think? Do you recognise these as the four most important keys? What else would you suggest?