Targeting Social Media: From Theory To Practice
Once one has accepted the premise that social connectivity behavior is distinct from more traditional matrices of individual online behavior and psychographic profiling, the question becomes how to integrate that new data set purposefully. In the second part of a conversation begun last week, Jim Calhoun, CEO of Popular Media, outlines some of the challenges of social media targeting from theory to practice.
Behavioral Insider: What are the components related to viral behavior that can be measured and tracked and, on a high level, how do you use math to unbundle them? Can you illustrate with a few examples?
Jim Calhoun: All components of a social media marketing program should and can be tracked. Marketers should track metrics such as consumer-to-consumer sharing activity, additional lead volume, new accounts opened, and total value generated from these programs. Social media marketing programs also allow you to identify and profile your key influencers and get visibility into new conversations generated from their network. Marketers should also watch/listen to what people are saying about their brand.
We do not "unbundle." Quite the contrary -- we look at a cumulative impact of program changes on the program outcome. If you look at simple metrics -- such as sharing volume or click-through rate from invitations -- you may optimize for this particular step of the process yet negatively impact the overall goal of the program. PopularMedia Conversation Optimizer uses multivariate predictive modeling techniques to assess how a combination of factors throughout all steps of the viral process impact the desired outcome of a campaign.
BI: What are some of the common features of social media advertising that has viral potential? Conversely, are there common features that identify campaigns that have low viral potential?
Calhoun: Social media marketing is about creating content that is engaging and drives people to share. It is also delivered in a format that is easy to share. A few techniques to increase potential include: Always inform your strategy with data, know who you are targeting and know their connections, where they socialize online and their propensity to share. You need to engage with the right audience to encourage sharing-right from the start.
Also critical is clarity: Clear beats clever. Keep it simple, it's a 'conversation starter' -- come in later and build that relationship. You also need to make it easy to share. Include things like address-importing functionality; share how many times the item has been shared, keep the visitor on the page.
Then it's important to enable authenticity: don't push with heavy incentives to send stuff to your friends and make sure you don't bait and switch to get clicks. This will be poorly received by those friends.
A final consideration is to preserve and increase social capital for participants. When you create a program, participants are putting their social capital at risk: Am I increasing my status by sharing something cool? Do my friends open the emails I send them? Or am I going to look like a schmuck?
BI: Can you give some examples of ways your platform is being successfully deployed?
Calhoun: Sephora, one of the world's top cosmetics retailers, worked with [us] to identify influencers and build brand buzz. The program yielded 3x higher response rates than banner ads or email. Participants generated an average of 2.5 peer-to-peer brand impressions each; top influencers recruited over 100 new brand enthusiasts each.
Zecco Trading, an online brokerage, increased trading accounts opened by 941% with a word-of-mouth referral program developed with PopularMedia.
We worked with the band Good Charlotte to launch a social media marketing program that generated more than 14,000 participants in eight weeks. Jajah, an Internet telephony service, doubled registrations for its service with its program. Friend-to-friend referrals through the program yielded 86% participation and 50% conversion. Entertainment Publications doubled year over year referral sales, tripled the number of customer referrals made, and increased click-through on viral invitations from 10% to over 40% with a program from PopularMedia.
BI: What are the most important challenges to effectively deploy and grow the platform for the rest of 2008?
Calhoun: Our biggest goals going forward are taking current social media marketing and capabilities into mainstream business to drive broad ROI, keeping pace with the rapidly evolving Web 2.0 world, making sure we address growing mobile, video opportunities. We're also heavily focused right now on managing buyers through economic uncertainty.