Friday, December 21, 2012

Can Customer service be a new metric to gauge a brand’s performance online?

While everyone is talking about content marketing and social media marketing on the online marketing strategies, I believe all of them are turning a blind eye to a gold mine of content in context to their respective brand/service/product – Customer/Consumer created content in form of sentiment. Almost all the marketers focus the bulk of their energy on creating campaigns that will enhance their brand health, but often overlook the importance of what people are saying publicly through social media about the organic customer service experiences they have.

With this curious question in mind out team at TheSocialPeople initiated a research via our ORM tool that helps us capture the brand/industry related data on the social media space, we discovered that there is an immense opportunity for companies to win back lost customers, improve customer service experience and track the customer service performance. By doing this we were able to develop a metric that can enable businesses to define an ROI on customer loyalty & customer retention basis via a strong engagement methodology of converting a threat into opportunity.

During our research we realized that the customer service performance on the Social Media and online space includes two key dimensions – Customer Loyalty and Brand Reputation. These two factors directly impact factors like rate of customer acquisition, wallet share, sales & revenue and customer retention.

So in today’s world of Social media where a customer is brutally honest about their sentiments (positive or negative) brands needs to rigorously monitor their online reputation and ensure that every negative sentiment is well attended to ensure customer retention while every positive sentiment is propagated to all possible circles of the company’s social media ecosystem. In another world a happy customer is the greatest brand ambassador your company can ever afford – Invest more on them!

Viral Thaker, Founder & Director | TheSocialPeople
A seasoned HR & Marketing professional, Viral was one of the early adopters of social media. With over a decade of industry experience under his belt, his skills span corporate strategy, delivery management, customer relationship management, business development and operations management. Viral is a voracious reader, a travel enthusiast and enjoys adventure sports. Follow Viral on Twitter @vrlthaker

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Your Twitter Archive: You Can Now See all Your Old Tweets!

In Dec. 2012 Twitter began allowing users to see their old tweets. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

Get ready to spend even more time reading tweets and not ones from others. Today, Twitter started to roll out a feature that allows users to download and view all their tweets.

Yes, surprisingly, you haven't been able to go back in to your tweet history (or twistory!) until today.

"Today, we're introducing the ability to download your Twitter archive, so you'll get all your Tweets (including Retweets) going back to the beginning," Twitter's Mollie announced on the company's blog this morning. "Once you have your Twitter archive, you can view your Tweets by month, or search your archive to find Tweets with certain words, phrases, hashtags or @usernames. You can even engage with your old Tweets just as you would with current ones."

So how do you get to your old tweets?

Head to the Settings menu on and at the bottom you will see a button to "Request your archive." Click on that and Twitter will then email you with the instructions on how to download your archive.

When you download the file sent by Twitter you will be able to open the file in your web browser and view your tweets and even share them. It's an offline file, but you can view it in your browser and even view the Tweet on Twitter. You can't retweet your own tweets since Twitter doesn't actually let you retweet yourself.

Twitter has also organized your tweets by year and then month. You can hover over the months and see how many times you tweeted at a specific time over the last few years.

Twitter says this feature will begin rolling out to everyone today -- if you don't have it just yet, it's on the way. Just get ready to sift through a few more tweets soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

To be Successful, Social Media has to fail.

A model for success that can help marketers and executives get on the same page for social media investments.

As companies start to invest more heavily into social media, it will quickly bring out the magnifying glass. It’s a big deal. For many companies social media is finally getting its own line in the budget for 2013.  This comes with good and bad news. Executives have been struggling with understanding where social media delivers return since the first time one of their employees came in and begged to test it. Now that it has its own line item in the budget, it’s natural for skeptical executives to approve the budget and pull out their magnifying glass at the same time. Once companies start making real investments in social media, the pressure is on for marketers to quickly demonstrate real ROI. Not those fluffy reports on how many fans and followers were generated.

For all the executives out there, it’s important to take a step back from your magnifying glass for a second because you are about to destroy any chance for social media to be successful in your company. I truly believe it should be measured and it absolutely should be held accountable as any marketing channel would. But right now, social media is still in its infancy in many companies and there is still a lot of fear holding back big investments. If you measure social media only in pure ROI, you will shut down the program before it has the opportunity to show you where it has the most impact. Marketers are begging you to give social media a chance, but it’s equally important that marketers provide a framework for social media investments that make executives feel comfortable. Here’s a model for success that can help marketers and executives get on the same page for social media investments.

The first step in ensuring that social media is on the path to success is to have a strategy. All this talk of “trying things out” and “testing to see what happens” is bullshit. Executives should absolutely call this out if it is happening in your organization. Sorry marketers, but if you say this, you know it’s because you have no idea what you are trying to accomplish and haven’t taken the time to build a plan. You may have a hundred reasons why you haven’t made the investment to do it, but it doesn't change the fact that social media without a strategy is like giving an employee a corporate credit card without a policy for how it is to be used. That is a surefire way to open the door to unforeseen risks. Understanding where social media has an opportunity to deliver success requires an investment in research and strategy development that is designed to achieve corporate objectives. If you aren't sure if this is happening in your organization, go ask the marketing team what they are trying to achieve with their Facebook page or any social media channel they have been talking about. If you get the “deer in the headlights” look then it’s time to pull back and take the time to develop a strategy. Executives should have confidence that their marketing team is using social media to drive a business objective. Businesses operate to accomplish one thing: drive more sales while reducing costs to drive a higher profit. Therefore, if your social media strategy can’t be measured in terms of sales volume, revenue or costs, it probably doesn't align with what the executive team gets paid to do, deliver higher returns. The disconnect between corporate objectives and social media needs to be resolved as soon as possible.

Every strategy should be developed to allow for risk-taking that uncovers where social media delivers the highest impact. The reality is that every strategy evolves once it’s being implemented because marketing is an evolutionary practice. We test, we evaluate, we refine. Innovative companies have learned that failure is a critical part in success and it’s important for your marketing team to understand that you encourage them to fail as much as you encourage them to succeed. This is critical because if you don’t, your marketers will put their “marketing spin” on the data you see. That’s not beneficial for anyone. We need full transparency and your marketing team needs to know that they won’t get the verbal beat down in a meeting if their data doesn't show a resounding success every time. Testing is a huge part of driving social media success, which means that each social media failure is in fact a success because it is one step closer to figuring out what will work. The challenge is that, in many risk-averse companies, a single failure can kill an entire program.

Let’s start by agreeing that in order to be successful, social media has to fail.

Did that give you heart palpitations? I know it freaks me out a little too. We can’t have marketers out there just throwing caution to the wind and risking our company’s brand and reputation in a very public forum. It’s important to put some framework around how testing will be accomplished in order to preserve the brand. So let’s control the impact of our failures by applying some rules for acceptable risks. Marketers need to be able to explain how they are taking “calculated risks” to executives with an understanding of the business and the potential fallout. Executives need to be able to determine whether the level of risk is acceptable or not before they can fully support a program that will fail before it succeeds. In essence, we want to build a testing environment that supports and even celebrates failure. Think about it as failure with hand rails.

There are plenty of marketing channels that are like a light switch. We turn them on and see an immediate impact on the business. Most of those marketing channels are in the advertising space and they are very important in the overall marketing mix. But social media isn't a light switch. To be successful social media requires an engaged audience and an audience takes time to build. There are a lot of things that can be done to help build an audience faster, like integrating some advertising elements for social media content; however at the end of the day you need to give social media a runway. You need to understand that social media is a long-term strategy and the most important thing for your marketing team to understand is that you’ll give it the runway it needs provided there is progress toward the end goal.

I’m going to tell you something that may freak out my marketing counterparts. Social media ROI will be negative for at least the first year. How long will social media ROI be negative? It depends on how closely the strategy is aligned to corporate objectives, how fast the team can test and iterate and how successful the team is at creating killer content and building up the desired audience. This is another one of those calculated risks that can be managed; however, if you think your company is going to dive into social media and you are going to have a flood of cash waiting at the other end within a few months you may be sadly disappointed. And I’ll be the first to say that there are companies that have been able to drive huge sales returns using social media in what appears to be an overnight success. The untold story in those case studies is the time those companies spent before that overnight success testing and iterating before they found something that hit. That isn't the sexy part of the story so it rarely gets told.

Finally, it’s important to understand that social media is only one part of the marketing mix. Companies should not be staking their success on social media alone. Social media needs integration with other marketing channels to deliver the highest return. And despite popular belief among executives, social media isn't Facebook and Twitter. When done well, social media strategies are designed to align corporate objectives with content that is specifically designed to achieve them and the channels where they can reach the largest audience. Many times through the research stage, we find that the majority of conversations that are happening around a company’s industry are happening on blogs and forums. It isn't sexy. But if 60% of the conversations around your industry are happening on blogs and forums, starting with a Twitter and Facebook strategy is just plain stupid. Social media isn't about the “cool” social media channels. It’s about being where the conversations that can drive business value are happening. That may be Twitter, it may be Facebook, but more often than not it’s happening where you least expect it. And because companies aren't starting with a strategy, they are spinning their wheels on social channels that are “nice to haves” instead of those that are “must haves”.

With all of this, I highly encourage executives to give social media the room it needs to fail so that it can truly deliver success. But don’t do it without a plan, without managing risk, and without understanding where the conversation is happening. Providing a runway that allows for failure is smart. Providing a runway that has a .50 caliber rifle pointed at isn't.

Did your organization give social media a budget for 2013? Do you have a social media strategy? Is your organization prepared for social media failures? Join the conversation! Leave a comment and let’s start a healthy debate on whether marketers and executives have aligned expectations for social media in 2013.

About Author
Nichole Kelly is the President of SME Digital, the digital marketing division of Social Media Explorer. She is also the author of How to Measure Social Media. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bad Content Marketing Habits to Kick Before 2013

Image Source:

Content marketing has been all the rage in 2012, and content marketing will continue to wield significant influence next year.  Why not commit yourself and your company to some content marketing New Year’s resolutions?  There are common bad habits practiced by content marketers.  Although they all have solutions, some may take more time and effort to correct than others.  According to Pamela Vaughan of HubSpot, companies that maintain blogs get 55% more website visitors and 97% more inbound links and have 434% more indexed web pages than companies that do not maintain blogs.  High-quality business blogging has real value, so start 2013 off with bang by kicking your bad habits and taking your content marketing to the next level.

6 Content Marketing Bad Habits

1.  Infrequent Blogging

The more often a company blogs, the more traffic and leads it will be able to produce.  Businesses that update their blogs at least 20 times per month generate over five times more traffic than businesses who blog less than four times per month.  Businesses that blog at least 20 times per month also generate 4 times more leads than those that do not blog.  

2.  Poor Planning and Coordination

You need a clear content marketing plan that everyone at your company follows. Your website, social media activity, press releases, newsletters and email marketing should all be coordinated and tailored to each of your various vertical markets and channels around a unified, targeted message.  In all your content marketing, you need to communicate the unique value your company can provide in solving problems and finding solutions for your prospective clients.   

3.  Not Using CTAs

Always include a call to action (CTA) in your blog posts.  Providing high-quality premium offers will increase engagement and help move prospects down the marketing funnel.  Informational offers, such as ebooks, whitepapers and webinars, function well, because people reading your blog are likely to be interested in more free information from you.

4.  A Lack of Variety

Your blog should focus on a wide variety of relevant industry topics.  Variety in content form is important as well.  While traditional blog posts are necessary and important for driving traffic to your website, there are other forms of content you can employ to add some variety and freshness to your content marketing.  It is easy to fall into a content creation rut—producing the same types of content over and over.  Here are some other forms of content that you can feature on your blog to ensure variety and freshness: infographics, webinars, SlideShare presentations, video tutorials and cartoons.  

5.  Poor Engagement

It is important to treat all your content marketing as a communication channel that provides you with the opportunity to reach your target audience.  You should always respond to comments and questions posted to your published content in a timely and friendly manner. 

6.  Not Having a Social Sharing Game Plan

You should have a concrete strategy for sharing and promoting your content.  Avail yourself of all opportunities.  Syndicate your content on sites like Business 2 Community and Social Media Today; share your content on all the major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.  Leverage your content with social networking.  Who are the top influencers and thought leaders in your industry?  If you do not know, you should figure it out and start communicating with them.  Comment and ask questions across all available channels, including links to your content, when it is appropriate.  This will add to your online credibility and status.  Klout is a good site to explore and identify influencers. 

Resolving not to make the mistakes listed above can increase your reach and incite increased traffic, higher lead generation and more new business.  Get organized, and be strategic about content marketing in 2013.

Monica Romeri

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review of Social Media in 2012 and Predictions for 2013 [Info-Graphic]

Yet another eventful year gone by and a lot has developed in this time gone by. Thankfully the world is not showing any sign of ending (it's already 9/12/12 and three more days to go for the 'D' Day) and so I thought I can gather up my grey matter to try and envision what would be the predictions for the Cyber Marketing and Social Media in 2013.

Now before I go ahead with my predictions for 2013, I'd like you all to review my predictions made for 2012 (Evolution of Social Media in 2012) which to my surprise has hit the bulls-eye on accuracy:
  • Content Marketing was THE WAY all through out.
  • Businesses started to focus more on the level of influence on their fan following rather than just the number of fan followers.
  • Marketing, Technology and Data have converged that resulted in a lot of new tools / ORM products being launched in the market to fight the menace of 'Big Data'
  • Talking of legal battles in Social & Cyber space the story of companies buying the klout of bloggers and threatening them was not a surprise to me. Everybody knows about the Samsung fiasco with blogger community.
  • Social Security was another prediction that took the lime light of lot. Lots of cases of people being booked or arrested were trending on Social News circles just for using their democratic right to expression and speech. The Indian Government virtually proposed to create a watchdog body to monitor social networks users and manage their online reputation.
All this said and done still does not make me the Nostradamus of the Cyber & Social Media space. All my predictions are based on in-depth analysis, experience and a little bit of the gut. This time I thought to make my prediction a little more simpler and interactive. Below is an info-graphic of the 13 most probable topography of Social Media Marketing in 2013:

Any predictions of your own? Share your comment below or on Twitter @thesocialppl and Linkedin.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Twitter to reduce its character limit to 117 coming February

Think 140 characters isn’t enough to say what you want in a tweet? Get ready for 117.
Starting in February, tweets that contain URLs will be reduced to 118 characters, 117 for https links. While that may seem like a huge drop, the change represents a two-character drop per tweet from what you are currently able to send when a hyperlink is involved.
Announced Thursday on Twitter's developer blog, the adjustment is due to some upcoming changes in Twitter’s link wrapper. The revision extends the maximum length of wrapped links from 20 to 22 characters for non-https URLs and from 21 to 23 characters for https URLs.
What that means: When you tweet out hyperlinks that Twitter shortens, those links will now take up a little more space, reducing the content you'll be able to add to the message.
The announcement this week was meant as a heads up for developers, in order to give them time to update their applications before the change takes place.
Twitter users won’t see the switch go into effect until Feb. 20, 2013.
Do you think the two-character loss will make a difference in how you tweet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Campaign Trail: "Hello Honey Bunny", What an idea Sirji!

Idea Cellular's "Honey Bunny"
TVC going Viral.
Someone shared a video of the new Idea Cellular TVC on my Facebook timeline warning me it’s going to be addictive and it sure has been. So, if you are still grooving to the Gangnam style, then here’s a much more equivivalent funny song that is sure to make you go, “Feeling something something, Hello Honey Bunny Honey Bunny, You’re my pumpkin pumpkin Hello Honey Bunny”. If that looks cute, the tune makes it even peppier; you just can’t get it off your mind!

The new TVC shows Indians from around the country, with varied cultural backgrounds, connecting as one big happy family of over 120 billion people, all of whom are seen humming one song - ‘Honey Bunny’, albeit with a regional flavor!

Now as an online Marketer I was curious to study this campaign trail and see where this is heading. This new approach by Idea Cellular in their TVC made me think about the means most of the telecom providers are following. Upon studying the common factors I came to see the big picture; all the telecom companies in India are following a particular theme clubbed with their USPs or trending offerings at that particular time.

Look at Airtel’s campaign which focused purely on the buyer sentiment and EQ with their “Har ek friend zaroori hota hai” & “Jo tera hai wo mera hai” campaign; or Vodafone’s with their variety of adds focusing on the cost effectiveness (Irfaan Khan ads) or the network range (Pug ads) to the various VAS (Zoo zoo ads) or Reliance Mobile talking about their cost effective tarrifs. All these TVC had a purpose/theme or a philosophy behind them as a route.

Now let’s get back to our Idea Celluar’s “Honey Bunny” TVC which honestly left me confused. Until now all their ads had their flagship route of “What an idea Sirji!” strongly fulcrumed on some CSR initiative or social message. But with this new TVC the whole campaign seems derailed to me. No doubt the jingle is catchy and simplistically obsessive and Amit Trivedi (composer of ‘English Vinglish’ & ‘Dev D’ fame) has done an exceptionally great work contributing a jingle which is simple yet obsessive after a long time (the last simple jingle to be composed to my knowledge was for ‘Nirma’ in ‘80s).

Looking at this on the positive side I have a strong feeling that this new campaign of Idea Cellular is a well planned attempt by its brand communication and marketing team to strengthen their social media and online presence. What’s interesting to note is that Idea Cellular has been creating a buzz on its Facebook page a few days prior to releasing the TVC. Fans were asked to guess who or what is a Honey Bunny. In addition, there were many updates with teaser videos that helped in building up the suspense.

Below graph shows the viral growth in traffic on the TVC’s YouTube channel:
So to summarize on my campaign trail - initially I was skeptical with my assumption that this TVC was a desperate attempt of company’s brand communication team to get their brand viral, but at the end of it I realized that the Marketing team at Idea Cellular has done an exceptional work in terms of reaching the masses with its unique content strategy centered around ideas in a weekly set pattern, till this severely addictive song promotion, the Idea Facebook strategy seems to be well aligned. The telecom brand’s intention to create exclusive content for its fans is indeed impressive and would definitely help in building a long term community.

I’d like to congratulate the Idea’s creative agency Lowe on this note and sign off in a typical Idea Cellular way, “What an idea Sirji”.

You can’t stop singing ‘Honey Bunny’, can you?

Viral Thaker, Founder & Director | TheSocialPeople
A seasoned HR & Marketing professional, Viral was one of the early adopters of social media. With over a decade of industry experience under his belt, his skills span corporate strategy, delivery management, customer relationship management, business development and operations management. Viral is a voracious reader, a travel enthusiast and enjoys adventure sports. Follow Viral on Twitter @vrlthaker

The New SEO Rules in a Content Marketing World

Shane Snow
Shane Snow is a Mashable contributor and co-founder of Contently, which builds tools for journalists and brand publishers.

Five years ago, it seemed nothing was as buzzy and mysterious as SEO. Today, “content marketing” has taken over as reigning buzzphrase in marketing circles, with many SEO practitioners shifting their sales pitches to match the trend.

The difference, essentially, is content marketing aims to create content humans want to read, whereas SEO aims to create content that pleases search engines. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but not long ago creating cheap, machine-friendly garbage for SEO was as effective as putting time and money into quality content.

Not anymore.

Many bloggers and publishers today are seeing traffic from social exceed that from search engines; social sites like Pinterest, for example, are now top traffic sources for some retailers.

Yet, Google still gets 100 billion searches every month, according to Search Engine Watch. Publishers angling for social media traffic would be foolish to ignore search entirely.

How can content marketing organizations remain search-friendly while adhering to best practices in social media?

The New Rules of SEO for Content Marketing
Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, outlines five best practices for content marketers hoping to maximize SEO value in an ethical way.
  1. Create content that people will have an incentive to share.
  2. Do keyword research, so you don’t waste effort writing about things people don’t care about.
  3. Put all your content on the same domain/subdomain. (e.g. don't use, use
  4. Stand for something, and write about it. People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
  5. Don't separate your brand from your content. For instance, casino sites that make fascinating infographics about animal rights aren't going to last long.

Successful content marketing publications rely heavily on social traffic for timely impressions. They build search rank for their archives almost as a byproduct of good social content. Well-ranked branded publications like adhere to Fishkin’s advice of producing “large amounts of content people find interesting,” combined with “solid UX” and SEO basics: clean URLs and smart markup.

Machiavellian SEO Doesn’t Work Anymore

Just as in traditional journalism, content marketers should never seek to betray or deceive readers, whether through SEO practices or their content. Anything that borders on sneaky or unethical eventually gets filtered out of search engine results, if history is any indication.

“Manipulative techniques like 301'ing old sites, hordes of anchor text rich links, exact match domains, etc. are gone,” Fishkin says. “SEO today is holistic. It demands that you build signals real brands have that, in years past, could be artificially overwhelmed by large quantities of links or other tactics.”

Search engine algorithms constantly improve to defeat what amounts to cheating — sending false signals of real popularity, like link trading schemes. Today’s algorithms even factor sharing into their search rankings, so users can blissfully skip over crappy content.

Syndication and Influencer Content Works

High-growth blogs tend to focus on content distribution — getting their stories and headlines on other blogs or news sites across the web. Done well, this can build honest links to a site, indicating to Google that brands with authority trust a site’s content enough to publish it on their own. Plus, other blogs tend to riff off of popular posts on authority sites, which can solidify search trust.

Additionally, inviting influential writers and publishers to guest post on your site not only encourages traffic, but also boosts social signals when those influencers share your domain with their social media followers.

At the end of the day, good SEO is baked into good content.

Says Fishkin, “Delivering an exceptional experience and building a true web brand are now essential to long-term SEO success.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Ekspansio

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Forget “Subscribe,” Facebook Is Soon To Be About The ‘Follow”

Facebook today announced that every user's Timeline profile page will soon include "Follow" buttons instead of "Subscribe" buttons. The move is an obvious effort to encourage users to follow celebrities and other public figures on Facebook instead of on Twitter. Evidently, the term "Subscribe" wasn't clear enough to Facebook users, while "Follow me" was pioneered by Twitter but appears in just about every social application you'll use today.
The new Follow button will have the same effect as the old Subscribe button, the company says. When you click Follow on Sheryl Sandberg's Facebook page, you'll begin seeing public updates from her in your News Feed. Alongside the Follow button is the Add Friend button; as always, if someone accepts you as a friend, you'll both see updates from each other in the News Feed. Subscribe, like Follow, has always been a one-side affair, but its meaning was not quite clear enough according to Facebook.
The company said, in a statement:
Starting today we are updating the term "Subscribe" to become "Follow" across the site as we found it is a term that resonates better with people on the service. Nothing is changing about how the feature works.
While the function of Subscribe hasn't changed, today's purely visual update is an obvious concession to the times — an admission that Facebook lingo isn't always permanent.
Have your subscribers become followers yet? Do you prefer the new word? Is there a subtle competitive anti-Twitter strategy at work here? Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Facebook Now Lets Users Create Repeat Events From the Past

Facebook built a new feature that lets users create a repeat event, company engineer Bob Baldwin announced Monday.
Members of the social network can now go to any past event that they hosted or attended, and replicate a new, similar event.
"It'll copy the details into a new event (which you can preview and edit before posting) and invite your friends from the past event," Baldwin wrote on his Facebook Timeline.
Rather than going back to square one, the feature will make it easier for users to fill in an event's recurrent details -- useful for monthly trivia nights or weekly study groups, for example.
Users can't use the feature for events created by Facebook pages they don't manage, according to Inside Facebook, likely to prevent spamming fans of the page. The website also reports that users can't invite the entire guest list of an event originally hosted by a friend; they can only invite their own friends.
Top image courtesy of Flickr, ewan traveler; Source: