Is your “in” crowd big enough?

Defining success in Twitter, Facebook and other social media services starts with identifying distinct niche communities based on shared interests and beliefs.  Each community member has different levels of participation and prominence.  And in each community there’s an “in” crowd whose actions determine whether others stick around.   Incrowd1sidOrg

How do you know who these influencers are and whether you have enough of them to keep a network alive and thriving?

Success in social media depends on both listening and doing.  It’s difficult to measure the listening part, but you can definitely measure how many people are doing something, and what they’re doing.

Success also depends on who is contributing.  However, a prominent person’s mere presence doesn’t mean he or she is an influencer.  A true influencer posts content, starts conversations, organizes meet-ups and otherwise engages community members.

For a metric to be useful, you need to have a starting point and a goal.  Setting a goal can start with a pure guess that you adjust once you have some data.  Or, your initial goal can be based on benchmarks from a source that makes sense for your strategy and objectives.

This eMarketer story, “Harnessing Active Brand Advocates,” summarizes findings from a social media survey done by Synovate, a research company.  The findings can help you determine whether you have a healthy number of influencers.

The survey found that 26 percent of U.S. Internet users posted online ratings or reviews.  Twenty percent contributed to online forums.  Meetup Eighteen percent attended a meet-up that originated online; almost 6 percent took an active role in organizing one.   The numbers didn’t vary much between men and women, but they did vary by age group, as you would expect.

It won’t be easy to gather this info from all of the multiple accounts you have on Twitter, Facebook and other services.  Measuring social media is art and science grounded in a thorough knowledge and understanding of what and who makes a particular social network work.

Before even counting influencers, I’d start with coldly assessing whether your news org is in–or out.200904_Project-Runway-lawsuit-settled What would it take to be in–and stay there?  Will it ever be possible?

I’m not sure it’s worth the time and resources for a news org to be in a network if it’s not an influencer.  Does just being a follower help or hurt?  Or do community members feel insulted if they perceive a news org is just putting in a half-hearted, token effort?

I suppose it would vary by community and news org.  Oh, great – that’s one more thing to measure and track.



Hank Wasiak: “From Mad Man to Twitteraholic”

As he said himself, Hank Wasiak is not Don Draper, but his ten minutes were the highlight for me at the 140 Characters Conference in LA last week.

Wasiak, co-founder of The Concept Farm, said that social media, as a “killer app,” has brought about a fundamental change in the way we do business and in the metrics that define success.  He said companies must have a “mindset makeover” and a “people strategy” to survive.

He was talking about marketing and advertising, but all I could think about was how everything he said applies to news organizations, too.


Oh, and he also said that the way we’re teaching is completely outdated.  I agree…I’m going to see if I can take his marketing and advertising class at the USC Marshall School of Business in the spring.

140 characters of engagement

I’ve just gotten back from the 140 Characters Conference in LA where the message, loud and clear and 10 minutes per speaker at a time, was that it’s the quality of your followers that matters, not the quantity.

More reinforcement:  Twitter’s new list function is already prompting “mass unfollowings” (thanks to Mary McKinnon/@bestwebstrategy for this link).

Picture 5 The first #140conf in New York in June was all about the unique communities that Twitter inspired.  The dominant sponsor was Hootsuite, personified by a large owl walking around hugging people.  Ann Curry duked it out with Rick Sanchez.  Wyclef Jean showed up, late of course, but illustrating the importance of authencity.  Attendees bonded over the duct-taped power outlets.

Five months later, it appears that Twitter has…matured.  The speakers in LA weren’t giddy.  The lead sponsor was Kodak, represented by CMO Jeffrey HayzlettPicture 2, a glossy brochure touting Kodak’s “convergence media tactics” and coupons for 15 percent off Kodak products. You can’t have either duct tape or power outlets in the Kodak Theatre (where the Academy Awards are held) so the crowd was often bigger in the lobby than in the auditorium.

I still had fun at #140conf LA – it is Twitter, after all – but the biz talk was pervasive:  strategy, goals, objectives, processes, systems, results, the four Ps and the four Es, one of which was, of course, engagement.

Continue reading “140 characters of engagement”

Measuring social media starts with a simple question

How should you measure the value of social media?  Here's a great answer from Pat LaPointe, a marketing metrics expert, "WHY are you doing them in the first place?  If you can't answer that, you're wasting your time and the company's money….

…if you can't describe in two sentences or less (no semi-colons) WHAT you hope to gain through use of social media, then WHY are you doing it?"

Pat's blog entry in Online Metrics Insider has a great framework for working the thinking needed to define the "whats."  I'll be adapting this framework for news orgs for my talk at the Knight Digital Media Center News Leadership seminar on social media. 

One estimate (guess?) about the value of a social media user

TechCrunch estimates that each U.S. social media user is worth $132.

Its methodology:  It took total U.S. online advertising spending (PriceWaterhouseCooper) and divided it by the number of U.S. online users (comScore).  It then took the number of unique visitors for Facebook, MySpace, etc. and multiplied it by $132 to get a valuation for each company.

Facebook “won” over MySpace.  Last year MySpace “won.”

TechCrunch says that “this model is an effective way to rank various competing social networks. It bumps down networks like Orkut and Friendster who
have tens of millions of users in markets with very little advertising spend, and bumps up networks with lots of users in higher value markets.”

Not sure if I buy this – I will think about whether this is a useful number for news sites…or just a number.