Myth Buster: Social Media is Free

Many individuals who are just getting into the game of social media have heard social media is free or cheap due to the fact that many platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are free to sign up for and maintain on a daily basis. Free to sign-up, but not exactly free to maintain.

“A significant 58% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week and 34% are 11 or more hours weekly. It’s interesting to note that 15% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media.” (2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Social Media Examiner)

As the old adage says, “time is money” and time is not free. Marketers who want to increase brand awareness and engagement do not spend just 10 minutes here or there Tweeting and posting. They take the time to listen to what people are saying regarding their brand, what the competition is saying, what consumers are saying regarding the competition, and more. Then they take the time to respond, question, and comment in a relevant manner.

“Those with more years of social media experience spend more time each week conducting social media activities. For example, 63% of people with 3 or more years of experience spend more than 10 hours a week doing social media activities.Only 41% of those with 1 to 3 years experience spend that much time.” (2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Social Media Examiner)

Conversation in social media is not an overnight success like winning the lottery. It takes time, effort, and in turn money, spent on the people who “manage” the brand online. Those with experience in digital marketing realize the more time and effort spend in social, the greater the reward. Newbies, take note.

This was post was originally written for Socialnomics.

Facebook shares are 6x stronger than Tweets

Eventbrite demonstrates Social Commerce in action; specifically the Facebook “Like” and the “Tweet”  increase ticket purchases, especially when shared after the point of purchase. Between the social networks, Facebook shares led the pack, generating an average of $2.52 while Linkedin shares were worth $0.90, and Tweets just $.0.43.  The impact of sharing via email was still strong at $2.34.

People are more likely to post to Facebook after they have purchased a ticket to an event, in order to share with their friends and family what awesome conference, party, or networking event they are planning to attend. In turn, when friends and family see this post shared, they may also purchase a ticket to the same event because if that person is attending, it must be worth checking out.

As seen below: Over the last six months, 40% of sharing through Facebook occurred on the event page (pre-purchase) vs. 60% of sharing which occurred on the order confirmation page (post-purchase).

As seen in the stats above, unfortunately for Twitter, Facebook still overshadows it in reach for sharing by almost four times the amount. Facebook to this day is still a more “social” platform where people show who they are, what they do, and where they like to go. It “mirrors” their real life. Twitter, although enormous as well and still growing, has not been adopted by as many people, just yet. Will this change with the new quirks that are coming out with “liking” something on Facebook? Will people want to “like” something when it will be shown as a “share” versus a harmless “like?” Perhaps. Perhaps not. But for now, Facebook still takes the cake on ROI on event sales and promotion via social media.

This post was originally written by me for Socialnomics

6 Tools for Engaging your Top Influencers

Let’s say you are opening a new restaurant which is focused on your wine selection and your cheese plates. Let’s say you are also considering launching an iPhone app and/or participating with FourSquare or Groupon and giving cool offers to consumers. What would be included in your marketing strategy? Finding the local bloggers who write about wine and cheese? I think so! Influencers in your brand category are not just useful and handy to have in your back pocket, but essential to a marketing strategy. These influencers can speak on your brand’s behalf (and probably already are) and “influence” other potential consumers to check out your brand and/or also Tweet, blog, and comment about your brand. Tools to determine the influence you or your business has is important but aside from knowing the type your reach, it is important to find the “influencers” in your brand category. But how? You could use the search options in Google, Twitter and Facebook to initially take a look. To do so you want to first:

1. Determine keywords for your brand category (to make search more concise and easier)

2. When/if you find possible “influencers” on Google, Twitter and/or Facebook you want to see how active and influential they really are. Are they blogging consistently? Getting a lot of comments? Have a lot of subscribers and/or followers?

Problem is this can take more time than you may be willing to put in. Thankfully for those of us who prefer things at our “fingertips” there are other tools out there that can assist with this process and do most of the “harder” work for us!

Traackr: I had the privilege of meeting Pierre-Loic Assayag from Traackr last summer and received a hands-on tutorial on how Traackr works for brands. With Traackr you can find out who leads the conversations in your brand category. The key to their madness? The team does not resort to “dogmatically defining influence” but instead they have “built a process to progressively discover what drives influence.” The team at Traackr, focuses on 4 things: 1. Search (crawling of social media platforms for most active users); 2. Identify (aggregation of user accounts across platforms); 3. Qualify (calculations left to the brainiacs); and 4. Report (Data of top ranking ‘influencers” and what to do next). Their metrics focus on Reach, Resonance, and Relevance. 3 very key things! Traackr has different subscription models and you can request a demo in order to learn more about their options.

 PostRank Connect: In short – this tool “connects” brands and influencers. The team makes a valid point — “You need influencers to run a successful campaign. But the fragmented Social Web doesn’t make identifying, validating, and measuring influence easy. And before you can develop relationships with influencers, you have to find them.” And the goal is to not waste hours twiddling our thumbs and only finding one or two possible influencers. The goal is to find the top influencers in the specific brand category your brand is in — in an efficient amount of time.This nifty tool does the work for you by measuring the value of online users and their followers. It will analyze “influencers” by certain metrics such as topic, georgraphy, and engagement across multiple social platforms. Intrigued? PostRank Connect — “connect” with them here to find out how they can help you!

Buzzstream: A company that realizes that businesses should be focusing on building relationships (such as with influencers) rather than taking the time to find each influencer for their brand. BuzzStream finds them, you build that awesome relationship by using their detailed influencer profiles, delegating engagement activities, and tapping the lists that are made just for you by BuzzStream. At your fingertips for your ease. This tool is focused more for PR and Social Media folks, and has easy-to-use tools that can be utilized right from your web toolbar (in order to stay better organized with each particular “influencer”). Plans for Buzzstream start with a free “test drive” and start from $49.99/month.

Attensity: A powerhouse of information. They monitor 37 million blogs and forums, have access to the full firehouse of Twitter content, support the discussion content on public Facebook Fan Pages, in addition to MySpace, LinkedIn,Craigslist, all major news sources, review sites and they are always looking to and willing to add more. Will they be able to find the key influencers in your brand category for you? Most definitely! Finding these key influencers will not only help you know how you can better your service/product but also stay ahead of the competition. Attensitycan be contacted directly for pricing and plan information.

 Teramatric: The team at Terametric believes that influence should be measured relative to your peers. Otherwise, or it loses its value considerably. Thus, their measurements are centered around this principle so that your business can get an accurate sense of why type of influence you need (in other words, WHO should be considered influencers that you interact with, what type of relevant information you provide to your audience, how often you post it, and so on). In addition, Terametric will break down influencer identification by industry, products and brands so that you can get a more detailed understanding of how to increase your influence within these groups. The tool makes it simple for you and identifies the influencers on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) and segments them by industry, product, and brand. You and your competitors are also scored on your level of influence which includes an analysis of your followers’ influence. Most importantly, you can track historical “tweets” that these influencers have made in the past and in real time, the tool will filter the twitterverse for you so that when an influencer tweets, you’re alerted to respond. Terametric starts at $500/month for Enterprise Product Marketing and Agencies with a 1-month, no-risk, Free Trial. SMBs should contact Terametric directly for pricing.

Twendz: Want to know who on Twitter is already talking about your brand and/or brand category? And what they’re saying? Twendz can help! This nifty tool can help your brand identify the top Twitfolks who are saying positive, neutral or negative things re: your product/service/category. Then you can take these lists, follow them, engage with them,. and “influence” your “influencers” to be kickass brand ambassadors. You can take part in the conversation with them and build relationships with these influencers and ensure that the key influencers in your brand category are talking great and awesome things about you. Twendz can be contacted directly for their plans and prices.

Of course there are many more tools out there that help find the key influencers for your brand category. But can you imagine how long this blog post would be if I kept on going? Rather than making this list like a novel, feel free to comment, question and let me know what you think.

How to: Use Social Proof to Drive Sales

Traditional businesses use customer testimonies such as in a brochure at the Dentist’s office or on a page on their website in order to give a human voice to a brand. It allows a business to demonstrate “someone else recommends this, you may like it too.” Social proof is the idea that people are already talking about your brand online. Oftentimes, they are saying positive things! Thus, it would be beneficial for businesses to take those conversations and use them to their advantage with the easily accessible social media tools at their fingertips.

Facebook has made it simple for your audience to express interest in your business, your content, and anything else related to your brand. People can “like” it, “share” it, and “comment” on just about anything posted on the platform, which in turn can be seen and shared by anyone else on Facebook. For example, if I’m on Facebook and I see a friend has “liked” and/or “commented” on a blog post by your business, I may be more apt to check out the post because a friend has “advocated” on behalf of your brand. It is social proof via New Media (which people get at their fingertips all across the globe within seconds). I may be just as apt to check out a post or brand that has comments or likes by numerous people, and/or a person who is “influential” and has shown his or her interest in your brand. If he/she likes it, I may too.

A great example is Amazon (below) — a business that regularly posts on Facebook such as this upcoming announcement (see below). It has 219 “likes” and 174 “comments” — I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty intrigued and I would assume that I’m not the only one. These numbers, this “proof” of interaction, can reel in more of your target audience if you pump out valuable content and use Facebook and Twitter to your benefit. Now the key is to show your audience how people are interacting with you and how often they are.

Twitter is a great way to show off your numbers and real-time engagement. And there are a bunch of helpful & free tools to make it easier for you:

Tweetizen: You can use this web-based app to embed a Twitter widget in your blog and have your stream rolling in real time, (all the time) for people to see when they visit your blog. Therefore when someone visits your blog, they will see the positive commentary going on about your brand in “real-time.” For example, if I visit a blog for a new service I am considering and see that someone just Tweeted “wow, what great easy-to-use app and great/reliable customer service available for questions or issues that arise,” I am more apt to invest further into the app. I would more likely trust a fellow consumer’s praise on a brand than what it says on the brand’s website about themselves. Consumers trust consumers – who doesn’t look on Yelp before they go to a restaurant? Social Proof. Tweetizen is great for this because a simple and easy-to-use widget, which allows you to stream recent tweets, or specific hashtags. Best part:  it’s free. Believing that Twitter is “one of the biggest hubs of activity on the Internet” the team of wanted to assist users with the use of Twitter. The service allows people to utilize Twitter badges and widgets which can be your “latest tweets” and/or search results from a stream. Thus, you can tailor what your target audience sees when they come to your site/blog. For example, if you are having a conference and want to show conversation is going on, you can focus on conversation with the conference hashtag to be streamed. Then visitors to your site will see in “real-time” the tweets of people want to attend, are attending, and those who are “pumped” about this certain conference. They’ll talk about speakers who are going to be there, what they learned, who they met — advocating on behalf of your brand. Awesome. is also a free tool.

Twubs: Not only does Twubs have a super cute mascot, but it has an embeddable widget feature which allows photos and videos. This photo and video option is awesome because it gives the opportunity to add a human face to your product/ service/ business by highlighting the community. If you have an event, embed a Flickr slideshow of pictures from it on the blog and show people having fun. This proves people like your brand and are proud to show it! And if you preferFacebook over Flickr, Facebook allows you to tag people easily so you can add more value to each picture and event album. In addition, rather than Twubs being a typical Tweet stream, the stream would be built around a particular hashtag (aka subject you are focusing on such as a product name you may be launching) so your audience can see what’s being said about whatever it is that you want them to know about. If there’s a large chatter going on, your audience will see it through this widget in real-time. Social Proof. (p.s. It’s Free).

Tweetmeme: Part of me just loves saying the name of this Twitter app, but aside from that it is known as the “retweet button” app. It allows for a button to be placed on your blog or website so people who visit can retweet content on Twitter. Awesome, right? And…the button allows for people who visit your blog/site to see a real-time count of how many times your content has been Tweeted. So, if I see great content (that other people are also commenting and raving about) — I may retweet it too! Social Proof. Tweetmeme also has this exact same option for a “follow” button for people to instantly follow and to keep a real-time  count of the amount of followers as well. There is also integration capability with Twitter Counter, Twitalyzer, andTwittergrader. Free but there is also a Pro version which you can Sign Up to find out more details regarding.

Twitter Counter: A great way to show of f the number of Twitter followers you have on your site. Simple and to the point. If you have a lot of followers, people will notice and check out what you have to say and talk/Tweet about it too. Social Proof. In addition, there are further options such as a Twitter Feedburner (like for your RSS but for Twitter). Pretty cool and its free for the widget but to get your analytics there are 2 pro plans: $15 or $25/month depending on the plan you prefer.

 Zuberance: A great tool to “energize your brand advocates.” It’s a platform that is basically made for you to give your current/future loyal consumers the chance to be  “brand advocates”and to talk even more awesome things about your brand (including ratings, reviews, and stories) on your behalf across the social sites like Twitter andFacebook. Then you can track how this progress is going and see how beneficial it has been for your brand. For Pricing and Plans: Contact Sales.

Thus, social proof is awesome and can be shown off even more via free (or cheap) tools at your disposal. Why worry about what to say about your brand to sell your product/service when people are already saying great things for you? Your loyal consumers are your brand advocates and the key (the social proof) to gaining future consumers (driving more sales). When consumers talk – other consumers listen. Use their words to your advantage with the ease of the widgets and apps discussed above.

So take a chance, check out my Toolkit, and give these helpful apps a try…did I mention they’re mostly free?!

3 Ways Other Than Klout to Measure Influence

Twitter influence of an individual is not just about the number of followers that he or she has. Is it ever that simple? Klout has a cool set of algorithms they use to calculate the influence someone has on Twitter, which includes the ability of a Twitter user to “make people act.” Can someone with 500,000 followers make you retweet and mention more? You’d think so, right? Not necessarily.

For example, actor Ashton Kutcher has over 6 million followers, but it doesn’t mean he has high Twitter influence. More likely than not, people who just Tweet and do not mention or retweet others, will not be retweeted or mentioned either. In addition, their topics discussed on Twitter are more likely to become trends. So how do you figure out if  you have amazing and astounding Twitter Influence (other than checking your “Klout” — because you know you already have)? Keep reading…!

Twitalyzer: A great analyzing tool to help you determine the influence you have in the Twitterverse. It measures a person’s (or brand’s) influence via their followers, references by others, retweets  and others retweeting their posts. Thus, it’s not just about the number of followers but a bunch of metrics which together allow Twitalyzer to come to your “influence” percentage. Don’t be disheartened if it’s not as high as you had hoped. It doesn’t mean you aren’t “influential’ in your twitter circle. However, it is awesome to see who you can influence, who influences you, and other great analysis that comes along with this tool. If I am promoting my brand via my personal Twitter account, it’s important for me to know what my influence is on the Twitter community, and why my percentage is that high or low. Then I can analyze who I am able to influence and use that to my advantage when building awareness and/or working on a social media strategy for a product/service/brand. Twitalyzer has 3 pricing plans ranging from $4.99 to 99.99/month.

 TweetLevel: A tool that gives your “tweet level” based on your “importance” which gives you 4 result metrics including your influence, popularity, engagement and trust. In order to determine one’s “influence” with this tool,TweetLevel looks at a “combination of the number and authority of someone’s followers together with the frequency of people name pointing an individual (via @username) and the how many times an individuals posts are re-tweeted. Other attributes were included in the final score but were given a lower weighting.” I know I couldn’t figure this out on my own, and its helpful to have a tool which will do the analysis, algorithms and funky stats for you. Once you have the “level” you or your brand is at, then you can use that to focus further on where you have more influence, and/or try to expand the influence you already have. One tip that TweetLevel (and other strategists) emphasize is that you shouldn’t “protect your Tweets” (despite privacy concerns) — it will lower your influence and make others less “trustworthy” of who you are and what you have to say. TweetLevel is currently in Beta and Free.

Twitter Grader: A cool tool that measures the “power, reach and authority of a twitter account. In other words, when you tweet, what kind of an impact does it have?” The factors that go into this tool’s algorithm include # of followers, power of followers, updates, update recency, follower/following ratio, and engagement. However, Twitter Grader won’t tell us the specifics on how they “calculate” — there’s a “special sauce” and I’d be killed if I were to find out and blog about it! So… when you get your “grade” – awesome – but what does it mean? This tool analyzes all parts of your grade for you and gives you a detailed response to help you realize how “influential” you are. “The grade is calculated as the approximate percentage of other users that have an equal or lower score.”  For example, if I received a Twitter Grade of 96.6, it means that about 96.6% of the other users got a lower score than I did. Didn’t get A’s in high school, maybe you can with your Twitter Grade. Best part: it’s Free.

And for all you fellow social geeks out there, here’s a BONUS 4th tool:

 Terametric: Has a new function called Optimizer for Twitter which allows for a great deal of Twitter analysis on your brand. But what I thought was really cool was the industry tracking feature. It helps brands get real-time tracking on Twitter handles, brand mentions, competition, influencers, themes, hashtags, and more. Thus, it is ideal for identifying influencers who are Tweeting about your brand/industry that you should engage with.


So instead of finding your own influence, you are focusing on others who are influencing the community within with your brand/product is targeting. Terametric starts at $500/month for Enterprise Product Marketing and agencies with a 1-month, no-risk, free trial. SMB’s should contact them directly for pricing.

Ready, Set, “Influence!” And here’s the Toolkit you need to get started…

Tags: Klout, terametric, Tweetlevel, Twitalyzer, Twitter Grader, twitter influence

FutureM Un-Conference

Unfortunately due to my silly MBA classes, I was unable to attend any of the FutureM events earlier in the week, but I was able to hit up a couple events Thursday night. Holland-Mark‘s Digital Man Mike Troiano spoke about “Scalable Intimacy,” siting their client example Notch Session (which I must admit is some exceptional beer — especially if you want a few without that headache the next morning). The set up of this event was particularly interesting, since it was a contest where the winners received on the spot social media advice from Mike himself. (Full disclosure: I did work for Holland-Mark and loved every minute of it.)

And who were the winners?

3rd Place: Creative Crafts for Creative Kids

2nd Place: Formaggio Kitchen

And the 1st place winner is….United Way of Mass Bay!

All 3 received specific advice on areas they were having trouble in – whether it be content strategy, which social media tool to focus on (depends on where your target market it), etc. Lets just say, the crowd was not yawning, and they were not leaving early. Mike knew how to keep the crowd laughing and entertained while teaching the crowd on how best to utilize social media to your advantage. And if you are now sorry you missed this, you can see check out the full deck from the event.

And as I tweeted from the event last night: “Remember the social, not just the marketing” – Mike Troiano.

After saying “great job” and “c ya later”, I quickly ran off to Mantra where Cyberbrew had been kicked off. There was an eclectic crowd of veteran “cyberbrewers” and newbies (such as myself). Unfortunately I missed the open bar, but I did meet some interesting folks and ran into a few good friends (Jason Rush from Boston Interactive and Joselin Mane from BostonTweetUp). Familiar faces always make an event that much better. While I laughed at the men who “networked” from one female to the other, I drank my glass of wine and chatted away…until next time FutureM, you sure did rock!

"I like it on…" Facebook Status Updates

Were you a part of this year’s breast cancer awareness viral phenomenon on Facebook? Last year it was what color bra you were wearing, this year it was where do you put your purse when you come home. A little bit of scandal with a bit of fun and lots of awareness for a great cause. How can you not partake?

“I like it on the dining room table”….what about you?

PodCamp Boston 2010

After attending numerous social media networking events such as the 140 conference, and now Podcamp (and soon to attend FutureM), I can officially claim my “nerd status” without rebuttal. Although, I was only able to attend the 2nd half of this weekend’s PodCamp conference (can you blame me for wanting to run the Susan G. Komen 5K on Saturday as well?) — it was well worth the commute over the bridge to lovely Cambridge.

I joined my good friend, Sean Zinsmeister as we hopped from David Wells (Social Media for Social Good) to Paul Gillin (B2B Social Media – Really!) to Morriss Partee (Geolocation) to Chrisopher Penn (Podcasting 101: 5 years later) to Lane Sutton and Avrom Honig (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare — It’s Taking Over Our Lives).

I definitely enjoyed David’s talk as I’ve worked for a local nonprofit (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company) for about 2 years, where I also utilized social media platforms in order to spread the word n’ do some “social good” for a non-profit that has given such cultural enrichment to the community of Boston.

Paul was more than informative on how B2B’s can and should be using social media platforms to their benefit. Having worked for a digital agency in Boston I realize that utilizing social media platforms is not just a good idea, but imperative.

Morriss hit a hot topic with geolocation. Although I am not a big fan of letting people know where I am via Foursquare and other geo apps, I realize the impact these apps are having on businesses. If a business utilizes an app like Foursquare or Gowalla in a way that consumers are pumped to participate and use it, then it can reap great rewards for that business.

Chris, entertaining as always, kept the audience laughing and intrigued by the different tools that podcasters have at their disposal for delivering their content to their audience. Who knew it could be so easy?

Last but not least Lane and Avrom were the perfect duo — they created quite a discussion regarding privacy and young social media users. How will the new generation of teens impact social media in the future? Guess we’ll have to wait for Lane and his fellow teens to show us.

After a jam-packed day — I am looking forward to seeing these speakers and those I missed again at a future conference. Until then — I salute my fellow social media nerds that I am not only impressed with the work and involvement of each person at these conferences, but look forward to see what develops next…

Fast Company’s Influence Project

Can’t help but be intrigued by this project — who will be most influential? I hope it’s not some fluff person who wins due to having a bazillion fans/followers. I hope Fast Company keeps the respect they have earned from me by choosing a person who truly deserves such honor.

What’s even cooler? They get to be on the cover of November’s Issue. Kick ass.