Monday, January 5, 2009

Social Media Case Study: Elf Yourself 2008

A key to success in interactive and social media is program optimization. In the third year of Elf Yourself, OfficeMax ran a seasonal online marketing campaign that overcame a lot of deficiencies from previous efforts. Better branding and a stronger focus on ROI were two of the biggest improvements.

I am fortunate to work at an interactive and social media company where program optimization is highly valued. The BOSSdev services team conducts a review after the launch of key client projects. This process is led by Jason Waack, our CTO. The knowledge gained is shared throughout our organization; and results in a culture dedicated to continual process improvement.

I have applied this approach to an analysis of this year's Elf Yourself campaign. You can read my take on what was done right and what can be improved at the BOSS|talk blog. I look forward to your feedback and welcome your comments.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pop Music Reflects Pop Culture on Social Networks

I just completed a blog posting about how The Killers song Human reflects the evolution of social networks today. The article entitled "Social Media 2009: Are we human or are we dancer?" can be found on the BOSSdev, Inc. blog.

Many bloggers have recently written about the maturing social web and what defines meaningful social connections online. I found that this particular song represents the emotional ambiguity of the digital generation as technology blurs the lines of our connected nature.

I'm interested to hear your opinions on the subject, so check it out and comment away over at the BOSS|talk blog.

In the meantime, enjoy the song Human by The Killers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

3 Free Web Metrics & Analytics Tools

Article #2 in the series “Simple Steps to the Social Web”
Exciting new tools for measuring web traffic and analytics are constantly emerging. A great thing about them is that you don’t need a big budget or expertise as a web analytics specialist to use these tools. So don’t be intimidated by the fact that this post is about web analytics, remember that Social Made Simple is all about making the social web accessible.

Let’s say you’re a marketer at a slow-to-change company. The down economy is putting the squeeze on your budgets. You need to convince management about the importance of online marketing. In order to do so, you’d like to show some statistics about the traffic on your company’s sites. It would be ideal if you could have data such as who’s visiting your sites, how long do people stay on your site, what are the demographics, what other sites do these people frequent and the competition stacks up.

Here are some key tools that can be used to collect this kind of information quickly and all it costs is your time.
1. Quantcast – a measurement service that provides audience reports for millions of web sites. Used by media buyers, the free component of this service provides data on traffic, demographics and lifestyle. Take note of the detailed demographics broken down by this source. I've tested it against client provided data - and the alignment is impressive.

2. Compete – provides free web site data including site traffic, engagement and competitive analytics via their Site Analytics and Trust Scores tools. I particularly find the engagement metrics displayed in the second image below to be quite useful - as all the site traffic in the world won't due you any good if everyone bounces after one or two pages.

3. Forrester Groundswell Profile Tool – provides a free Social Technographics® profile of your target audience based upon their age, gender and location. While this tool does generalize in broad strokes, it is useful in understanding your audience and what kind of experience resonates well with them.

I encourage you to bookmark each of these sites and to begin using these tools. Try them out by inputting your company's web sites and comparing the statistics to those provided by your internal resources. See how the data aligns; as well as where descrepancies exist. Then look into your competition - or relevant examples across industries. This will certainly help you understand some strengths and weaknesses of your online properties. 

I believe you'll find yourself accessing this data often - and sharing it with your associates which will help your organization make more informed decisions.

Monday, December 8, 2008

YouTube Live - The Long Tail Effect

Come Monday, November 24, 2008 bloggers worldwide were judging YouTube Live as a marginal success. Yet, truth be told, their judgements were mostly based upon antiquated perceptions of success from the broadcast industry. The real truth was yet to be told.

The Long Tail was first coined by Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson circa 2004. His book of the same name taught us about a million channels for a million people. The era of the superstar had given way to the digital generation.

Perhaps that's what surprised me most about YouTube Live - the simple fact that most media types didn't get it. While the actual live event was viewed by roughly 900,000 - the event lives on via a classic expression of the Long Tail. Just take a look at the most viewed clips from the event. Just weeks after airing, dozens of these clips have six - even seven - figure viewership.

My initital response to the event is covered in detail in this posting on the BOSSdev blog. And a further discussion on the topic occurs on Mark Cuban's blog. As time passes in this case, the true impact of YouTube Live becomes more apparent.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Social Rant: I Need Twitter Channels! What’s taking so long?

My Twitter obsession started with my profession: social media. Now I’m officially connected with over 600 of the world’s most innovative social media mavericks. That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s a lot more to life than work. I want to discuss travel, entertainment, food, wine, exercise, parenting, marriage, politics and more.

The burgeoning social web brings with it expectations. Requirements even. I don’t want all of my interests and passions blended into one giant social mix that’s shared with every Tom, Dick, Harry & Sally that surfs the social web. The knowledge and technology exists today to solve this problem and damn it, I’m growing impatient. Sure a lot of people are talking about Twitter channels, but why is it taking so long?
+ People discussing Twitter channels on Twitter
+ Google search on “Twitter channels”

I need to be able to quickly switch between work, sports, food, news, traffic and family channels on Twitter. I’ll take main navigation tabs for a thousand Alex. Enough with birds, ratings, tracking followers, leavers and the like… give me something truly useful. Give me Twitter channels.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Social Light: Profile Photos

Profile photos are necessary all over the social web. Every time you create a profile on a web site, you will likely have an opportunity to upload a photo. Profile photos are usually displayed as small squares less than in inch in size and formatted as a .jpeg or .gif file. The most common profile images are close ups of one’s face. I keep a folder entitled “Profile Pictures” in the “My Pictures” folder on each computer. This gives me a variety of good images to choose from quickly. If you need help preparing your profile images, I suggest you either ask a friend who’s savvy with digital photos or Google “how to crop a photo online.” The results will include a variety of free online photo editing tools.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Social Light: Reciprocity

The social web is a mutually beneficial environment in which people help each other in an altruistic manner. To be a good friend or associate online, you must interact in ways similar to the real world. If someone helps you by giving you a positive recommendation, help them by doing something beneficial to them in return – whether it is by writing a recommendation for them or making an introduction to a business associate. Essentially, be a good person online.