Last week at the ad:tech conference, a speaker mentioned the term ‘discoverability’. He was talking about how easy it is for people to find out about your company and buy your product, and that after a new company has their big launch party, so many fizzle out and don’t make an effort to let people beyond the party discover them.
It’s an important concept because this is what a lot of digital marketing really comes down to: Can someone on their phone or computer find your site if they’re looking for it or if they’re looking for a solution to a problem that your product or service provides? There are countless great products and apps that get overlooked, not because they aren’t good, but because they aren’t very easy to find. Here are some tips on how to become more discoverable that go beyond the usual SEO tactics:
· Guest write for a blog. PR is important, and if you can get your story picked up in the press that your customers read, great! Also good is to offer to write a guest blog for a popular site or be interviewed by a popular blogger. This will get your name in front of many more people than your own company blog that may not have so many readers yet.
· Try listing your website at sites like StumbleUpon, joining Digg (re-join if you haven’t used it since its re-launch in 2012), and Delicious. As your page is liked more, it will be exposed to more people.
· Give stuff away. Try running a contest- it’s a good way to gather the contact details of people interested in your product to contact them later with other offers and updates.
· Give more stuff away. Give samples of your product to key influencers to try. These may be journalists, bloggers, industry leaders or other people with a big audience of followers who might then also be interested to try your product.
· Write more blogs. As your company blog gets more content, it will get picked up by search engines and may send more people to your site ‘organically’. Be sure to link to your main page from your blog, so that people can easily click to find out more or try your product!
· Participate in online forums and communities. If you really know your stuff, you’ll soon be seen as a leader in that field and people will come to remember you and your products. Try LinkedIn’s forums, Reddit, or an industry-specific forum to your product to start.
· Traditional media & advertising. Contact traditional media outlets to see if you can do a guest spot on a TV talk show, or be interviewed by a newspaper or radio station. If you’re already advertising online, consider advertising offline too, if you have the budget.
· Go to industry events. Getting known within your own industry will help your credibility. It’s even better if you can speak at the event or have a booth.
Getting a company to be commonly known is not an easy job, and will take months of promotion in all channels that you think suit your product. By all means, have a great launch party, but just remember that that’s not the end of your promotion- it’s only the beginning.
Wondering what your competitors are using to promote themselves online? Create a Competitive Analysis Report at www.heardable.com to see what’s working for them.
Let's say you're working at a start-up company and you think you have a neat product or service and you're looking to improve their brand's heardability. Let's take a closer look at 5 key areas that can influence our brand:
2. Marketing/advertising initiatives
3. Products/service offerings
4. Customer care & communication touch-points
Now let's ask ourselves some thought-provoking questions that might inspire new ideas -- new ways of thinking about how to influence word of mouth around our brand.
Social Currency. Does a company's website make its visitors/customers look good or feel good about themselves? If not, what can be done to change to make users look/feel good so that they are more likely to talk to their friends about start-up company X? This same question could be asked about our staff, services, communication touch points and marketing programs.
Triggers. As Jonah's article says, "If something is top-of-mind it will be tip-of-the-tongue. Just like peanut butter reminds us of jelly, the more we’re triggered to think about a product or idea, the more people will talk about it." If we're a savvy internet start-up, we may be doing a good job with our re-marketing program that exposes our banner ads to just the right audiences, thereby increasing our impressions on any one person in an effort to be a tip-of-the-tongue brand online. A wider questions is, can we apply this same way of thinking to other areas of our business?
Emotion. As Jonah states, "When people care, they share. Whether positive (excitement or humor) or negative (anger or anxiety), high arousal emotions drive people to share." We might be running a social media contest that gives a portion of our sales to charity. It may do a fair job touching on the emotional triggers behind why people buy what they buy. Or why they forward a promotion to their friends. The big question is, besides this one contest, can we apply this same concept to other areas of our business that are not as exciting as a contest? Something that will rile the nerves or bring forth a smile?
Public. As the article says, people tend to mimic others. Public observability can sometimes drive imitation (e.g. sports celebrity sneakers). Most brands/companies are doing little in the area of creating public imitation. Is this an opportunity for your business?
Practical Value. Jonah states, "People don’t just want to look good, they also want to help others. So more useful equals more shared. Think articles about 10 ways to raise capital or five key negotiating tips." A start-up brand could retool their blogs and social programs to come across as providing helpful tips and advice. Being more helpful or adding more utility could be applied to one's staff, services, communication touch points and marketing programs.
Stories. "No one wants to seem like a walking advertisement, but they will talk about something if it’s part of a broader narrative. So build a 'Trojan horse' story, a message that carries your brand along for the ride," the article states. Most brands/companies are not grist storytellers. And most start-ups are too busy to figure out creative ways to develop an integrated transmedia story campaign across channels. Is this an opportunity for your business?
Following the advice above won't guarantee that your new start-up will be the toast (and talk) of the town. But if you understand the reasons behind WHY people mention your brand and why they share it with others, you may gain a competitive edge. The art to this science to learning how to best harness these insights to you can offer better products and experiences to your key constituents.
Brands are trying to become more relevant than they ever have before. A big part of this is the fact that in order for them to acquire and maintain customers, they need to sustain markets. How are they doing this? By building systems. Systems are connected through APIs (application programming interfaces). APIs connect people, products and entire networks.
Think of a system as one that has a bunch of interrelated and interchangeable parts. That system may contain traditional branding elements and ad campaigns and social media content and PR stunts and all that, but more importantly, it is comprised of tools and platforms and utilities that allow people and companies to connect, learn and transact more meaningfully. Further, these dynamics call for communications to be multi-dimensional, such that push messaging is being replaced by emerging disciplines like participatory storytelling, data journalism and other forms of ‘new media’ which break through the boundaries imposed by traditional media gatekeepers. Therefore, a system is much more than the sum of its parts -- it is at once a means to educate, inform, entertain, prospect and experiment in ‘perpetual beta’.
For those corporate stakeholders who are fearful, consider this: Systems are not only sustainable, but they are scalable. In other words, there’s real money at stake.
Leading brands like Nike, for example, are capitalizing on social movements to better understand market behaviors and sources for new inventions, and are even accelerating business ideas that are extensible with utilities they’ve successfully built (like Fuelband). Nike still makes beautiful ads, but its real stocktaking has come in the way it builds products and services with its customers. Others, like Target, are using social platforms to crowdsource design. Others, like P&G, have created joint-venture funds to build up local economies through entrepreneurship. Even more interesting are the efforts of smaller brands like Dermalogica, that benefit from outsourcing infrastructure and by building up value in the supply chain itself. And where government or educational institutions are slow to task, new co-ops and special interest programs expedite development and allow more people and more entities to fail forward, or more productively, to learn by doing.
The key to measuring value in a system? Data (obviously). But not just any kind of data. Data that reflect the entirety of the system. This is where we turn the data culled from APIs into actionable insights from which a brand can make critical business decisions.
The impetus for us founders at Heardable in building a holistic measurement tool -- one that measures hundreds of online interactions -- was to show how online performance provides context for what a brand system does. That system isn't just the content a brand publishes, its social media conversations, website visits, or aggregate product purchases, but how the entire system competes against others in the category. Our score reflects that competitive edge (or lack thereof), and our subscores reflect how a brand can optimize its position in the marketplace or category. Our category reports go a step further: They show correlations between brand performance and market performance. Our own API gives brand developers opportunities to build intelligence around all of it, in myriad ways and through many creative applications.
As brand managers, marketers and technologists, what are you doing to build sustainable systems (and therefore sustainable brands?)
We'd love to hear from you!
Twitter and other microblogging platforms are inherently local, relevant, and social. They’ve organically created a powerful mix of content and relationships, and there are a couple of simple things that they can do to unlock more value, and that local businesses can do to leverage the platform.
At Heardable, we also think that in order for brands to have a global impact, they must address the needs of customers at the local level.
Twitter has a great opportunity here to further develop a system that adds true social and geographic relevance to search. There’s much more to say about that, and this discussion is meant to focus on some specific UI changes that uncover more of the value in Twitter search from a social and geo-targeting standpoint. In the short term, it would be great to see an indication of social relevance: maybe a graphic bug that indicates how “close” the tweet is to me in my Twitter social network. Geographically, we like what they’ve done with the “near:” option in the search query, and for travelers or people that don’t read the manual, maybe a “show me results near me” checkbox could be a simpler solution.
As Twitter volume and usage grows, what are the opportunities in this area for local businesses as well as global brands?
Here’s an example. Lou On Vine is a local restaurant in Los Angeles that we really enjoy. The owner has an interesting and offbeat wine cellar, and their food is sourced from small farms locally and across the US. The menu changes regularly. They’ve gotten some good press, and are a little off the beaten path in terms of location. If they were up on Twitter, I’d certainly follow them if they announced new wines, menu changes, weekday specials, and so on. I might even RT if I saw something I was particularly enthusiastic about.
For the local business owner, this is simple, quick, and effective. Local businesses do not always have the time and attention required to create a full-fledged email program - maintaining lists, designing emails, writing paragraphs of content, and so on. This small effort brings them into a huge mass of potential customers that are already grouped – very generally – by common interests and social ties. If I re-tweet a LouOnVine message, it’s going to my followers – a group that is likely at least a little more interested in this type of restaurant than the general population.
And when someone searches on Twitter for “Lou on Vine” they’ll see that menu change or new wine, or my re-tweet. When someone I follow is in LA and searches for “good restaurants” and checks the “select results near me,” maybe they’ll see a tweet of mine referencing Lou On Vine , and that I’m very close to them on the social graph.
Further, if you as a brand or a local business (or as a local extension of a global business) index good, compelling content (blog or microblog posts) with enough frequency, you’ll show up in search results that aren’t just specific to that particular area, because now you’ve established contextual relevance.
If you run a local business or a global brand, don’t wait: start a business account on Twitter. It literally takes 2 minutes. Then at least once a week post relevant messages that are useful to customers and potential customers. Follow people in the area that are passionate about, or at least interested in, the types of services or products you provide. Twitter is a great way to get more out of your valuable relationships and content.
More importantly, the Heardable tool allows you to look at all forms of your digital outreach so that what you say locally takes on a voice that can be shared globally.
Try our free tool today and see the possibilities for yourself!
In the past 24 hours, two separate people have asked me if we measure sentiment. More and more people are focusing on this. We also think sentiment is important, and so our tech guys built an amazing system to monitor it for all 15 million+ brands in our system. He’s also brought it forward on each brand’s profile (see yours here: Brand Profile).
How we measure sentiment
We track the mentions a brand gets in major social media networks, and then our system analyzes whether the mention is positive or negative and weighs it against all of the other mentions of that brand. You can see a list of recent positive and negative comments, as well as your overall current situation, marked with a score.
Why is sentiment important?
It has been said that “No PR is bad PR”, meaning that any mention of a brand- even a negative one- is a good thing, right? But in today’s hyper-connected networked world, the intention of the brand mention is just as important as the mention itself. There’s no point being excited that thousands of people are suddenly talking about your company if they’re all saying awful things about it. Negative events can quickly go viral and damage or ruin your business if you don’t deal with it quickly and professionally. Examples of PR disaster management range from Chick-Fil-A’s 2012 woes, to the unexpected notoriety of Amy’s Baking Company in Arizona, due to their responses to people posting in a wide variety of online forums.
Here are a few tips about how best to monitor sentiment:
· Understand your brand’s typical base line for sentiment and what your company finds acceptable. It might be that yours is a business that people simply like to grumble about (cable service, anyone?) so your score might seem more negative than say, an amusement park. Once you know what’s normal for you, you’ll be able to spot if there’s a sudden spike of movement.
· Be aware of any external events that could influence how people might see your brand. If you’ve done nothing different,but you wake up one morning to find your sentiment score plummeting, check the news. Perhaps you need to issue an official action or reaction to something. One good example is how the British people soured on the royal family after Princess Diana’s death because of their slow reaction to publicly making any statements about it.
· Be aware of internal events that might suddenly cause a drop in your sentiment. Has an employee done something monumentally stupid (insulted customers, photographed themselves tampering with a customer’s product)? This is also a risk to watch for and be prepared to react to quickly and publicly.
· If you’re launching a new product, you should keep a close eye on your sentiment to see how customers are reacting. iPhone 5 anyone? Apple Maps? Enough said.
Move quickly if there’s a sudden worsening of your sentiment score. If your team can rapidly come up with a winning strategy for diffusing disgruntled customers, it could stop a major PR disaster before it starts. If your reaction is really on the mark, you may even end up with more loyal customers.
If all seems to be steadily going well with your sentiment, perhaps consider a campaign around what would make people even happier. It’s nice to have happy customers, but even better to have customers who love your brand so much, they will evangelize for you. Figure out what the next level of service is that they expect from you and create a campaign around offering that.
Not sure what your current sentiment score is? Check your up-to-the-minute data in a Heardable Report. You can make one in less than five minutes. www.heardable.com
Here's the 411 on a feature we launched a couple of weeks ago: top-level industry category leader scores.
For over two years, we've been using NAICS (the North American Industrial Classification System) codes to illustrate the industry associated with each brand. Why? Because we thought that would allow more granular filtering and usefulness. Then a month or two ago, we woke up and discovered an amazing fact: we can do both. We can continue to provide the same amount of detail, but concatenate the NAICS codes to form more useful "uber-categories", such as "Auto, "Beauty", "Fashion", and "Travel".
We further decided to make this work using sub-domains, as in "health.heardable.com", and "marketing.heardable.com" - because this provides an unlimited amount of categories with the ability to drill down using any number of parameters.
Pages live now include the advertising and marketing,arts and entertainment, automotive, beauty,employment, fashion, finance, food and beverage,health and fitness, lifestyle and dating, media and telecoms, real estate, semiconductor, travel and leisure, and utilities industries
Please take a peek and send us your feedback - we've also recently added the excellent UserVoice feedback widget to each of our pages. We'd love to hear what you think about our new Industry Leader pages.
In a recent article published in Businessweek.com, Todd Parsons wrote:
"What many big social media advertisers have failed to grasp is the 'social' component of social media. To date, many brands have focused on individuals rather than relationships among individuals and the economic power of those relationships. Who is most likely to influence their friends? Who is most likely to share with friends? Who is most likely to buy or take some other action? Those are vital questions to address to truly unlock the social value of an audience."
Great observations, Todd! This is one of the reasons Heardable clients use our MagicFirehose API to take raw social brand performance data and then visualize it in context of its relationship to other factors.
Consider that a brand's social ecosphere can be examined in several unique and interesting ways, such as these four:
1. Social performance over time (current data, velocity & trajectory)
2. Brand equity vs. advocacy assessment
3. Conversational keyword and sentiment analysis (associating millions of consumers to particular brands they are most aligned with)
4. Fanbase assessment (advocates/detractors, etc)
Article commenter, Upsidedownpoint, made an excellent point when he stated:
"…most companies treat social media as a medium for CRM and DM, not for engagement. They see it as a problem that needs to be managed, not an opportunity to reshape their brand in the image of their consumers. Like any channel, when its misused or misunderstood, it fails."
- Participate on social media & engage with your constituents
- Measure & monitor the relationships between influencer sets
- Understand which individuals are associated with your brand vs. competitors
- Harness your brand advocacy to improve your brand equity
- Ensure that your marketing campaigns are reflective of your fanbase
Do you think consumers would be less inclined to follow a 'brand' if they knew the brand employed ghostwriters/freelancers instead of official employees of the company?
I'd like to answer this question by first posing two statements:
1) Ghostwriters are hired hands
2) A brand is a terrible thing to waste
I think a company runs a huge risk outsourcing their social media activities to an outside microblogging service unless that 'ghost-brander' has some skin in the game. As hired hands, a ghostwriter can make a mistake, be fired, and move on to her next gig while the brand must suffer through the blunder, repair the damaged inflicted, and control the negative impact of the snafu's aftermath.
If you are a marketer at the helm of a large brand, I would urge you to think twice about the quality of the ghostblogger (is this an individual, a social media agency, etc.) and what type of training and recourse you may have in the event an unforeseen error occurs, or word gets out that your brand may not be as 'authentic' online as the corporate brand promise pontificates.
In the book, "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding," the authors state that the most important aspect of a brand is its single-mindedness. They tell how most great brands possess a singularity of focus, a clarity of message. Volvo has done it with safety; Ritz- Carlton with class; Absolute Vodka with "hipness." The authors caution that the easiest way to destroy a brand is to put its name on everything. Diversification, they argue, can lead to a weakening of a brand's quality, a drop in top-of-mind awareness, and more.
In the gold rush of brands to quickly embrace social media--either to listen, engage in, or get heard--has lead to some pretty poor decisions that have cost some brand dearly.
Some firms participate in social media as an extension of their internal marketing department's duties. Some have found great success by promoting social advocacy as an extension of an employee's job function--training and empowering certain staff to become the living, breathing, extension of their brand's value proposition (the face of the brand). Ford's social media advocate, Scott Monty, comes to mind. Consumers seem to value the sincerity of the brand's voice.
If social services are outsourced, the rub comes when a consumer asks: "With whom am I speaking to? Are you a company employee or a hired hand?" How this questions is answered is critical. An honest answer clarifying that no, this is not an actual brand employee, may turn off a portion of your followers and perhaps generate some bad press. A dishonest answer could cause much greater harm if the truth ever gets out, which will surely have a negative impact on your followers and your brand image--likely resulting in a press feeding frenzy to shame your brand into an apology.
So as we re-think the original question,"Do you think consumers would be less inclined to follow a 'brand'if they knew the brand employed ghostwriters/freelancers instead of official employees of the company?," our answer as a consumer utilizing social networking is:
"I don't care about the use of ghostwriters as long as my dialog with the brand is honest, timely, helpful, useful, consistent, straightforward, and as transparent as possible."
However, if the question was, "Would you be less inclined to recommend that a 'brand' if you knew that brand employed ghostwriters/freelancers instead of official employees of the company?" our answer would be:
"I would be less inclined to advise brands to utilize ghostwriters on services like Twitter, especially if you are a popular, well-established brand who had the wherewithal to develop an internal social media outreach strategy involving real, authentic employees.
If, on the other hand, you have tried to launch an internal social outreach program to no avail, or if you are a smaller emerging brand with less to risk, partnering with a capable third-party to properly represent your brand on social networks is entirely feasible.
In fact, the risk of not participating in the social arena at all far outweighs the risk that something may go wrong in your attempts to engage in meaningful social conversations."
Hits. Likes. Followers. Every digital marketer wants to have a lot of these. But simply growing this number doesn’t always lead to increased sales. Let us walk you through what’s important when looking at these numbers, and how to avoid the pitfalls of simply trying to grow your reach without focusing enough on turning that into sales.
What are vanity metrics?
Vanity metrics are simple data that show basic information about your company’s digital marketing but that don't directly measure what's really impacting a company's revenue. They are called vanity metrics because they are numbers that people can use to easily show off, as in,“Look at how many website hits/Facebook likes/Twitter followers/Snapchatters(and so on), we have!”
When vanity metrics can be useful
Basic Metrics: Vanity metrics can be useful in the very basic sense of measuring how many people your brand is reaching. The bigger the numbers, the more potential customers are hearing your message. It is generally good for these numbers to be big and growing.
Happy Boss: Your boss may be impressed by these numbers. If he or she is, pat yourself on the back…briefly. Then take a deep breath and explain that these numbers actually only reflect the beginning of your sales funnel, and that from these, a portion of people will become more aware of your product, some of those will start to trust it, and finally (hopefully!) some of those will buy something.
When vanity metrics aren’t useful
Look Beyond Number Growth: Don’t get stuck focusing on growing these numbers. It’s easy to start swapping ‘likes’ with random people, having your granny sign up for your ‘tweets’, and so on, but if these people are just padding your numbers and are never going to be real customers, they can just cloud your analysis. It’s even worse if they are bought from a list that has nothing to do with your business; then your numbers might be huge, but your sales will still be stagnant. It’s better to have a smaller number of quality people counted who might one day become real customers.
Grouchy Boss: Your boss may look at these numbers and say, ‘So what does this mean for our sales?’ or ‘Why do we have so many likes, and no paying customers from this channel?’ The vanity metrics numbers, however big, won’t justify their own existence. At the end of the day, sales revenue is what’s going to matter.
How to use these numbers smartly
Context: Look at the data in the context of what it is showing about your marketing efforts in relation to your sales pipeline and KPIs. Are you:
1) Attracting brand new people to your sites? You can easily see this in the basic vanity metrics; see if the numbers are growing. It’s also good if you can track turnover (seeing how many people disengaged from you- unlike, stopped following, unsubscribed, etc). It’s possible that your numbers have stayed the same, but existing people have signed off, and new people have signed on. You can then see if you have a problem keeping users signed up.
2) Keeping people engaged long enough to want to try a product? This will show in your bounce rate, and page views per visitor. Maybe you need more engaging content, or to be more clear about what solutions your product provides, or more easily deliver what it is that people came to find at your website or page.
3) Making actual sales? Compare your sales figures to your marketing efforts. See if a new initiative has seemed to increase your sales. Surveying buyers will also help link which marketing activities led them to you.
Not sure what any of your metrics are? Check your up-to-the-minute data in a Heardable Report. You can make one in less than five minutes. www.heardable.comby Francine Martindale
Sometimes people ask us, “What is the purpose of your ‘Measurable’ report section? I already know what analytics software I use.” Indeed you do. But here are some key points as to why we think this section is important (and you should too):
· You can find out what analytics software you aren’t using. By looking at the square graph,you can see which ones you use, and which ones you don’t. Some of those might be useful to sign up for,so that you can have a more complete picture of your online marketing efforts.
· You can see which ones your competitors use. Maybe they are measuring their mobile ad use and you are not.
· You can stay on top of which systems are out there to use. Maybe there’s one that’s showing greater details than the ones you currently use. Or something new and cool. Our reports will always show what we think are the important analytics options available today, so that you can rest assured that you’re using everything that you should.
· You can see which software is the most chosen option across the websites for which we collect data.
· Having at least 2 analytics solutions running at the same time will help to give you redundancy in case one of them changes their algorithm, which could then change your score. By having something else running too, you can see if the impact on your score change came from the software change (in which case, only that software’s results will change) or something that you’ve done (in which case, all of your measuring software should show the change).
· Not all software is good at everything. You’ll want at least one that has great real-time results tracking, and another that’s got great deep historical data recorded.
Measuring the results of how each of your online Marketing channels is performing is the best way to know specifically which of your efforts are working, so you can put your marketing dollars and time behind what will work best.
Wondering what software you’re using vs. all the possibilities? Start by checking your Heardable Measurable Score at www.heardable.com .by Francine Martindale