Putting Value on the Priceless

I thought that half of the readings this week were trying to force a number onto something that couldn’t necessarily be computed. The other half was like a story that found its footing at the end and turned in two of my favorite articles of the semester. As a storyteller, it will be my job of telling you the “facts” of the supposed monetary value of social media first before I dive into the longstanding effects social media on your personal life.

Mashable basically told me that in order to gain measurable return on investment or ROI, you need to be personable and interact with the audience. It’s a concept that’s basically been beaten to death in the last 10+ weeks, if you don’t please your audience, your product suffers. Also being fake and not having great content hinders your ability to sell. Tell me something I don’t know yet. I feel like what they are doing with this article is just recapping everything we’ve learned into one compact place and it didn’t really have an effect or give me an epiphany moment. If this were the story’s introduction, I would have stopped reading already.

Sales Force Marketing Cloud wrote an article that could have easily been titled “Social Media Fundraising 101” because knowing what I know now from my time in this program, I could’ve deduced all of those tips if I wanted to create a fundraising campaign. These tips can also be handy when running a business, so I don’t necessarily think that it needed to be just about fundraising. I was looking for something to jump out at me and convince me that there’s something unique about this approach, but there wasn’t. Now that I think about it, the article could have been titled “How to Market Anything You Want Using Social Media”, because these tips should come into play 100% of the time.

Now for the more redeemable conclusion to ROI story, there’s no singular way to do it says Raven Tools. I swear Courtney Seiter, who wrote this article, went into my brain pulled out exactly what I wanted to say about ROI. Don’t set impossible goals or try to do math that makes your head hurt. Do what you do best on social media and the results will please you. I completely understand and agree with her stance that as journalists we need the answers. But as a critic, where I come up with my own answers and nobody else’s, this notion of do what you do best really speaks to me. E!, Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone are three of my favorite brands, but all of them have completely different approaches to social media and they’re all successful. Everyone has a different voice and personality and shouldn’t be told that they have to do it one way to excel.

My other favorite article this week, for completely different reasons, was The Atlantic’s piece on how social media is helping, not hurting, the most important investment of all which is the human relationship. I want to show this to all the naysayers of social media, shake them and tell them to join this century. Playing devil’s advocate here, I hate when you’re trying to have a face-to-face conversation and they can’t put the phone down. But, that’s just one instance where I don’t think social media benefits a person in the long run. There are few occasions where I outwardly pimp my brand, the Social Roller, or use my disability to prove a point, but when other people do that for me, it makes me happy. I would not be getting a master’s degree right now if it weren’t for social media. I think being able to use Facebook and Twitter (among others) can help me become a better journalist and a better marketer because it gives me the access to human contact that I sometimes rarely get without the help of my parents or city transportation. Social media helped me immensely when I was in the hospital for several weeks unable to attend school, I would have gone crazy without it. In short, social media is my life saver and no amount of money can come close to the ROI I have received in being an active social media user.

What are your thoughts on social media ROI: can it be calculated and should it be calculated?

Did you learn anything new or helpful about ROI in the articles by Mashable or Sales Force Marketing Cloud?



SEO of Websites and Blogs-How You Can Improve It

I titled my post slightly different this week based on the readings. One of Razor Social‘s articles taught me that by putting the keywords of your title first, it will increase the likelihood of that post showing up on Google. It makes sense and if you really think about it, the way you word your title could mean the difference between 10 people reading your blog and over a million. Some of the author’s other tips, while excellent if they end up working, are slightly time consuming and not very practical for the average person who also has several other things on his or her plate. His example about putting all of your blog posts into Slideshare so it can rise in Google search is a hidden gem of a tool. But who really has time to do that for every post? Many of the people enrolled in this social media program have full time careers and families to provide for (not me, but most do) and are finding it even hard to keep up with the work we are doing now. None of us have the time to put this blog into Slideshare just so it can be found on Google!

There are few articles that try to promote a website and sell me on it without having looked at the website for myself. Ian Cleary managed to do that with his article about Google Webmaster Tool. Sign me up right now, because even though I only really have blogs right now and do not currently host my own website, Google Webmaster will be a life saver when I do have one. Just when I think SEO is simple to pinpoint and master, I learn that a website’s Sitemap might play a major role in where it ranks on Google and that videos need their own Sitemap. Sorry, I’m geeking myself out in my own head at the possibilities of how big my website or any website can grow if everyone knew these tools. And I have become such a marketing fanatic that I want everyone who has ther own website to know these tools and I want to be the one to tell them. Some of the technical stuff goes right over my head and I will provide that article if they have any other questions, but if I can helps other people’s websites grow, that makes me happy.

Forbes emphasized one of my biggest problems with regard to my own blogs that I am fully aware of but do nothing abour, tags and keywords. I spend so much time writing the posts themselves that when I do have the energy to put a few tags on, I don’t pick the right ones to make the blog show up on Google. And I always take “keywords” too literally and purposely keep them short, which is exactly what I shouldn’t be doing. And those keywords are what will bring my pages to the top of Google search which results in 95% more hits than the second page. These readings gave me extremely valuable tools that I will be able to use not only with this blog, but with other future websites.

Would you consider putting a blog post into Slideshare to receive more hits on it?

How much emphasis do you put on tags or keywords and do these readings change your idea of how important they are?

Measuring Your Business With Analytics

Everyone in business wants to know that the content they are producing is making an impact on their audience. With social media analytics you will see just how easy it is to know what works and where you should turn your focus as a marketer. Peter Odryna used a case study to show how marketers can prepare themselves to provide the best socal media marketing strategies using analytics. This article was more about learning from mistakes and fixing them rather than starting a brand new analytics-based campaign. It was also a way of showing how a marketing agency should obtain a client rather than a business managing analytics on their own. While I appreciate the explanation of the agency side of things, only parts of this article, such as how to search for trends in the industry, were helpful to companies that do their own social media marketing.

The lists on both YouMoz and Tech Radar were helpful to those like me that were unfamiliar with most of these analytic-tracking websites. I knew of the major ones like Hootsuite and Klout, but the ones like Buzzstream and and Social Mention were new to me and ones I would definitely consider using in my business. The YouMoz article was especially helpful and in-depth because he gave an analysis and weighed the pros and cons of each website, which I was very impressed with. Although he may have slightly favored the ones that were free, I saw no signs of playing favorites; just unbiased analysis.

Bynd hit on some things in this article that go further than just the numbers, which has been one of the most important lessons of this class this semester. In order to achieve to numbers you want for your business, you need to understand what will bring those numbers in. Using previous analytics to measure what the audience will respond to and giving them more of that content will not only help your business to thrive, but will give the consumer the satisfaction that the company is listening to what they say. And a little trick to this is letting the customers believe that the content is based on comments and feedback when in reality it is due to the measurable feedback of analytics. Like the other article said, you can’t try to figure out what everyone wants, but by using analytics you can please the majority of consumers.

One of my favorite pieces of information from this week’s readings was from RazorSocial. They said that if you form a relationship with your biggest social media influencers they will continue to promote your content and it will increase the audience for both you and the influencer. The other interesting thing about this article was that it was the only one that had any way of properly using Google Analytics or Google+. The rest were not equipped to measure Google+, which shows how much less influential it is than all of the other social networking sites.

Do you use any other tracking websites besides Hootsuite and Bit.ly? Which ones appeal to you that you have never heard of?

Have you ever interacted with an influencer of your brand/business on social media or have been contacted by a brand because you were an influencer?


Going Viral: Why It’s a Good Thing Despite It’s Name

People will tell you they don’t care about how large their audience is and all they want to do is produce content they are proud of. While the second half might be true, all anyone who posts on social media wants to do is produce content that will go viral. Carson Ward suggests that if people want their content to go viral, they have to make their posts longer. I find this conclusion strange because in the age of Twitter, where everything is 140 characters or less, I thought people wouldn’t have the patience to read long posts. While long posts might be evident that the author paid attention to the subject and knows what he or she is talking about, that is not always the case. I remember being in my first journalism class at the University of Arizona and I was apologizing to my professor for all of my stories being short. She told me that it was good to get in the habit of only telling the important things and “trimming the fat.” So I find myself either skimming or skipping long stories because they could’ve been written more concisely or they contain details that I think are common knowledge to the reader so there’s no point in telling it again.

There was also a running theme in this week’s readings about what makes content go viral, so when I read Social Triggers‘ article and saw similar content I took notice. The three most important factors in producing viral content is to stay mostly positive, evoke emotion from your readers and give them content they can use. As I have told people in my own personal circle of friends, I tend to share content on Facebook that I feel passionate about. Rarely is it just a funny image or popular article, but the theme of the content that drives me to click the share button. The theme of the content is almost always positive–something good happening for the disabled community or LGBTQ community for example–but every now and then I have to share something that really pisses me off. So I think that an author can write something that evokes emotion, but it is also the responsibility of the consumer or sharer of that content to show their emotion in spreading that content. If they don’t, people will just pass by it as another link.

Forbes was the third article this week to cite Jonah Berger as somewhat of an expert on viral content. He says that people share content with the hope that it goes viral because it makes themselves feel better that people are paying attention to them. That is why people share content that they are emotionally invested in. If there is an article on music that I have shared on any of my pages, and people start liking, commenting or re-sharing that content, it makes me feel better because I take it as people trusting my advice on music. Seeing as how I want to be a music critic and would love for all of my future content to be influential, it especially makes me feel good when I share something that I have written about music and it gets shared to others outside of my current audience.

This infographic of the 5 key elements to making content viral has one very important contradiction, one that I mentioned earlier in the post. It claims that viral content should have skimability, or that consumers should be able to absorb the content easily. As I questioned before, if longer posts tend to go viral, how can skimability be one of the more favorable aspects of viral content? That is why I will always try to make my posts as short or as long as they need to be and not to make a post longer just so it can go viral. And finally, probably the most important aspect of viral content–as noted in every article so far–is the ability to practically apply it to your life. While Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMAs doesn’t exactly scream life-changing content, most of the top 50 shared articles on Facebook are of parenting tips. People want the answers to life even if they don’t admit it, so anything that can be beneficial to them will get shared.

What drives you to share content on Facebook or any other social network?

Do you think longer or shorter content is shared more often and why?