Category Archives: Social Business

Social Media ROI

Every now and then I hear that it is hard to find out what is the ROI in doing social media. Honestly I find such statement to full of baloney? The old adage “there is no such thing as a free lunch” comes to mind… why would a business take the time and money and do social media without knowing what the ROI is ?

Sadly most business think about social media is all about awareness… The problem with awareness is how do you know, what is working?  And how do you know that because of a social media campaign people are coming and buying and how many more people are they bringing based on the experience they had on your website, your store, etc.  Awareness is nice to have, but that awareness needs to mean something.

Before starting a social media campaign … understand what outcome you want to drive i.e. define success 

Just like when you take on any new business venture there is a success criteria that you have in mind. You may not hit the target in a straight shot manner but you want to minimize the variance between you want to be versus where you get to … (which is why I have always wondered my christopher columbus is called a great discoverer because he was way off the mark on reaching India but that is a blog for a different day) . The same concept applies when you start a social media campaign… what is the outcome that you want to drive ? Is it to Maximize buyers of your product and services? Is it to minimize the time to discover you product and services or is it to make sure that influential people are talking about your product or service … So know the outcome you want to drive … and please let it not be “awareness”. Here are some examples of how can you calculate some elements of Social media ROI.

Net Promoter Score

When you start a social media campaign, the ideal state is to know the economical value of each of the followers you gain on twitter or have an additional like on your Facebook page. In order to understand Net Promoter Score.

Start with the baseline on where you are at before the campaign. Know when the campaign ends … please do not keep a campaign running for long time otherwise it is a useless process

My example of calculating a Net promoter score is as follows  :

An additional follower on Twitter brings in 5 additional followers (amplification factor of 5)

NPS = Net increase in sales / Net growth of Twitter follower based on the campaign

Now you can know the amplification factor and you know the economic value of each follower

Spending

When you run a social media campaign, it is best to run a campaign with a special URL. Why a special URL ? Well thanks to the wonders of the web we have entered a new world of behavioral segmentation instead of the age old demographic segmentation.  The web allows for great flexibility to learn and know exactly what potential clients are doing when they get to your site. When you run a social campaign have a customized URL and have your website instrumented with your favorite analytics tools.  With your customized URL you can validate if you see increase in purchases based on the social media campaign.

Net increase traffic = Traffic after campaign – Traffic before campaign

% of Buying versus visiting = # of Purchases/ #Net Increase in traffic

A good barometer would be at least 10 % of visits generated are actually buying … but if your visits are just 10 people from the whole campaign …then there is something that is generally wrong with your site.

Loyalty

How many users are returning ?? This question is usually looked over as we are usually smitten by net new transactions  versus existing ones. Remember the existing clients are the ones that got you here and yes those new clients that you acquired via the campaign if they return to the site and purchase more, well that is good too.  Thanks to Cookie technology on the web, marketers and technologists know whether you are new visitor or returning visitor. In this case you want to look at

% Returning visitors = #Returning visitors/ Net increase in total traffic

% Purchases made by Returning visitors = # of Purchases/ #Returning visitors

if the Returning visitors percentage is high (i.e. over 50%)  that means the most responsive group to your campaign has been your existing client base .. which is a good thing … but then you have to ask yourself the following questions

Are these clients bringing new clients ? ( Going back to our NPS discussion)

What are the additional things are they buying ?

What is the average size of purchase for returning clients ?

These are the kind of questions that will help you develop and maintain a social media program and increase investment in social media outreach programs

Earned Media Value

If you end up using an agency to do your work… then it makes sense to hold them accountable for the work they are delivering. Thanks to Web analytics we can hold them accountable if there is a white paper campaign based on the business goal you have identified then  make sure you have elements in place for the right attribution of such efforts and have identified the right KPI. Don’t just stop at looking the #of downloads or the # of Shares of your content … look how that actually impacted the overall sales or whether or not the link back actually helped your ranking on Google’s SERP results.. these things matter. You can also look at overall sentiment data as well such as

# of Negative Mentions/ # of Positive Mentions  (High percentage means you have brand problem)

If you are resolving issues via Social media as in support then you want to look at things like

Avg. time to resolve an issue

# of complaints received/ # complaints resolved

Frequency of contact with the client on the complaint

These are just some examples of Earned Media Value. You are building a presence for your brand and with your community.

Cost of fan acquisition

This is also an overlooked element on social media campaign. People tend to forget that social media is an investment and it does not come free. There is work involved and the cost is not just promotional material cost.  The cost of fan acquisition includes the following elements

  • Cost of the team involved in Social media outreach (Companies that do this wrong have a common pool of social media “experts” or have one person dedicated to an entire brand). Remember with social media you reap what you sow.
  • Time spent on researching the topic before developing the campaign ( there are ways to calculate this .. such as Looking at the hourly rate of the person hired and amount of hours spent on research)
  • Then obviously campaign development
  • Campaign execution and testing
  • Iteration

On the last point of iteration… believe me you will be iterating a lot during the campaign.  Although a lot of might be assuming that a social campaign can be time bound and it can be, but social program do not finish as the next social outreach starts as the prior one ends… all of this is all series a iteration.

Recommendation

This blog is by no means exhaustive… but it is a list of things that have worked for me. If you have any additional ideas and thoughts please feel free to share. I have value your opinion good or bad.

Don’t forget if you do social media with a goal and purpose in mind… you can have a lot of fun.

The world has not changed. It is just the medium that has

Unlike my past blog posts this is more of me just being reflective on the way the world has evolved over the past decade. People say the world has changed and I believe that the world has not changed but the medium has changed. Those who don’t understand the medium, well they believe the world has changed.
It is funny that these days traditional companies still view their service to their clients based on products and offerings and ignore the complete “experience”. Yes I know experience is a catch all term but in the context of this blog the term “experience” is the culmination of both product and services.
I will be the first to admit, this is not something new, but if you look around the Internet. You will think everyone has found this new talisman to profitability called “experience” or even better “Delighting your customers”. To me terms like “Delighting your customers” does not mean much, what is more valuable is what can you do for them that will make them look better in the eyes of their clients.  That is more meaningful, because you can focus on the kind of jobs you clients want to accomplish.
The web was founded on the principal to allow humankind to collaborate irrespective geographical and political boundaries (it took a while to get there) but it has not changed one thing our innate tendency to be social (matter of fact it has amplified it exponentially). Which is why the power of Web of equalizes the people who consume a service with the people who produce a service. Social computing has now allowed people to be more informed about a product and service and also understand what other people like them think about the “experience” before they commit to such a service themselves.
As most of you know I am very big Apple fan, the reason for that is Apple as a company does not do everything well, but the things that are part of my day to day routine, it does extremely well. Which is why I as a consumer will pay premium for that kind of service. Yes there is a market for a Samsung type client but that is not a demographic that belong too.
What is amazing is that most smaller companies and some big have figured out the engagement aspect of the web and have really created a fan following, where as the rest of the industry is still using the web as an online brochure for their company. In the future companies that will survive are the companies serve their clients well and use the web channel effectively to engage and build a community around them.
There are still companies that still believe that slow and steady wins the race. But unlike in Aesop’s Fables I imagine today’s world there is a big hare competing with 1000’s of tortoises and each tortoise covers piece of the track they are going to race in and they do it really well. By racing like that the hare has already lost the race before it even started because each slow tortoise is a specialist in a micro conversion (i.e. each segment) which all work together in the context of the macro conversion (i.e. win the race).
Companies of the future will all have passionate user base and community. They will have a 1000 tortoises racing and that will enable a more fluid and complete experience against the bigger hare (unless the hare come forward with a 1000’s hares themselves).They will value more what each of their peers has to say instead of “vendor speak”. They will focus and engaging rather just being consumers.
So the net is nothing has changed except the medium ….. and some are just figuring that out
You can contact me @ kkanakas on twitter with your comments

3 ways to research an Opportunity

I know I am not an entrepreneur but I do know a thing or 2 about intra-preneurship. Working in technology company, every now and then you come across new cool things. Being product manager in my prior incarnation, I have been called a buzz kill  when it came to taking out the “coolness”  from the shiny new thing (Although I must confess I do enjoy working with cool things too). 
          When I am look at cool technology especially since I am in the business of selling software. I have to ask myself the following questions:

  • Does this new solution or cool technology solve a pressing problem?
  • Is the problem big enough that a potential customer is willing to pay for it ?
  • Does the opportunity match with my ability or my teams ability to deliver a solution?
  • Are the profits worth taking the risks?
Granted that one cannot be a complete expert in everything but that is where your ability to research comes in  and I am not talking about going on the internet and searching on the topic.  The internet is one of the few tools in your quiver that you use. 
The first thing you need to do is a frame the problem by asking yourself the following question:
What is the problem you are intending to solve ?
By answering that question you have identified the problem area/s you are going to research (It is critical for any venture actually_ .  Once you have identified the problem then  these are the following 3 areas that I would look at to evaluate the opportunity further:

1 – Meeting with Clients about a potential problem to be solved

Clients will tell you what their specific problems they are facing without even prompting and also the jobs they want to get done. Some might go to the extent on how you should help them to get their job done.  To me clients are a great source innovation. Now if you believe the Henry Ford’s old adage (which I do) “If I had asked my clients what did they want ?  They would have said faster horses”. But when working with your client base, the framing of the question needs to be different   instead of asking them the opportunity problem ask them the kind of work they are trying to accomplish. You may find some surprising inputs that might validate the opportunity at hand. Too many people expect their clients to just get it and understand the problem space they are going after or intend to go after.

2 – Meet with your Business Partners and Sales force

Both of these constituents are hungry to look at new opportunities and they are usually one of the few sources of validation. Business partners are useful because their business depends on you being successful and they also have access to first hand knowledge of why they are being employed by your clientele. 
Your sales force is the other constituent (if you don’t have a sales force then you should go back to doing #1). Sales always wants to win and as they should. They are one of the strongest advocates of  your products/solutions and they would be first one to let you know why they are losing on certain opportunities

3 – Internet based 3rd party research

The internet is truly a boon to doing tertiary research. You can get access to papers written by some well established analyst at a large analyst firm or you can take the simple route of trolling websites where your potential user base gets together to exchange and share ideas. I would go as far to say that trolling forums is just as effective as reading up on analyst papers (there is an art to it, but it can be done). It is called social listening. What do I mean by social listening ?  Well in the “internet of things” there are congregations of people in the virtual world building relationships especially on forums like “Linkedn” or even “Twitter” for that matter. Sometimes, all you have to do is join the right group or follow the right hashtag and you can get your answer/validation of the opportunity at hand. The analyst paper will probably give you a better idea of the market size but these two efforts combined provide a winning combination.
Let me assure you these are not fool proof activities and sometimes no matter how much research you do you may deliver a dud sometimes (just do it fast enough, so that you can course correct early on).
What are some of your ways to research an opportunity ? Appreciate any insight you can provide.
You can contact me @ kkanakas on twitter with your comments

How to get your business idea going

I am big a fan of Spreecast, but this topic is something that is close to my heart. Some insights on how to implement a business idea and get it going.

Product Management: 5 Ways statistics can help product managers

Statistics was never one my favorite topics but I was reintroduced to it when I went back to school  and now I cannot stop talking about. It also helps that BigData is now affordable to a lot people, cheaply I might add and the fact the predictive analytics is “in” thing right now.
                          I usually get a chance to talk to few new product managers and I am always surprised how little value they give to statistics in general. Yes doing regression analysis on variables may not sound cool but if you master a few techniques you can actually go far. In this blog I document 5 areas where a little bit of statistics can help

Segmentation

If you are product marketer or product manager this is one activity you have to do. Segmentation is critical activity even in the context of a startup.  If you need to create a new niche in the marketplace or focus on a particular type of client archetype or experience this is key. One statistical technique you can use effectively is regression analysis to see which independent variables influence the dependent variable. If you don’t know what I am talking about I would recommend the following books as a great primer on statistics
Heads first Statistics or Statistics in a nutshell  both book happen to be from O’Reilly media because they are actually useful books

Value Analysis  

Every once in a while you are asked what is value or how do you know what is valuable to your client base. In statistics there is a tool you can use called Conjoint Analysis.  Conjoint analysis let you look at different aspects or features and figure out how to maximize and identify the right features and function to deliver by looking at the data (which you should have after meeting your clients). One of the best explanations of Conjoint Analysis is given in the book Marketing Metrics. Conjoint Analysis is very powerful tool and can also give you broad insight into managing your requirements better for the various products you bring to market

 

Analyzing trends 

Trends are the anathema of product managers especially if  the trend has already taken a foothold in the marketplace.  Obviously the most simple way to spot a trend is a to plot on a graph and see the trend (if you are doing that, it means the trend has already taken hold and you are late in the game). In order to stay ahead of trend and if you are constantly engaging with your clients, you should be able to see what variables are important to them. There are some tools like binomial distribution that can help in identify a trend manifesting in a sample survey you with your client base. Binomial distribution can always provide a good proxy for a full blown research effort but they can offer a quick an dirty way to get an idea of what is going on.

Client Satisfaction analysis 

I am big fan of Pareto Charts or most commonly known at the 80/20 rule. You can  identify the top issues that matter to clients and focus your efforts in remediating those top concerns in your overall user experience. There are plenty of credible examples of how to develop a pareto chart but the simplest explanation that I have read is on a blog written by blogger Duncan Haughey. Please check out his blog at the following URL:  http://goo.gl/4E2VV

Quality

The definitive book in this context is Katrina Maxwell’s book called Applied Statistics for Software Managers 
There simple regression analysis techniques that Katrina highlights that can be used not only by software managers but these techniques are applicable to anyone launching a new product whether it be software or hardware manufacturing
As you can statistics can be applied very effectively in product management activities and just like everything you can provide context. I do want to emphasize just looking at raw data would not do, you actually need to get out of the office and talk to clients and get the data.  You can use other 3rd party research to do the same.  The emphasis on using statistics will start to happen more and more in every one’s jobs as Big Data infrastructure continues to be accessible to people.

You can contact me @ kkanakas on twitter with your comments

Social Media: 5 Rules to engage in social media

I don’t claim to know everything about social media and honestly I am learning more everyday by listening my friends on Facebook, my connections on LinkedIn and my followers on Twitter. It annoys to me to no end when people use social media as a way to broadcast their own voice. Social media is not another broadcast mechanism, it is way to engage.




Rule #1: Don’t just broadcast take genuine interest in the people you connect with. Do you really want to be the person that you encounter in a social outing that just talks about himself or herself.  Remember “The Jimmy” episode from Seinfeld, you really don’t want to be that.



Rule#2: Don’t try to be everything to everyone. You cannot make everyone happy. As a Canadian one of my favorite band is the Bare Naked Ladies and I can’t help but use few lines from their song “Everything to everyone”


You know all the right people 
You play all the right games You always try to be everything to everyone Spin around and fall down, do it again You stumble and you fall Yeah why don’t you ever learn Spin around and fall down, do it again”

This relevant even in Social media. Narrow your focus, if you want to have a following, focus on few areas. You don’t need to be on every social media outlet possible, focus on few and focus on those topics that are close to your values and interest. Believe people will appreciate you for that


Rule#3: Write with a purpose. This is the hardest part and builds on top of Rule#2. The areas that I like to focus is on Product Management, Strategy, and Social Media. That is pretty much what you are going get on this blog. If your not clear about your purpose in social media, you are not going to get far

Rule#4: Give something of value to your audience.  If you expect your audience to do something for you, you need to give them something first that is important to them. I would recommend that people the book “Influence” by Robert Cialdini
Try it out and you will see engagement happen


Rule #5: Keep at it. It is easy to give up. It always takes an effort to get things going. Some times things take off quickly some times thing don’t. Don’t be discouraged, use it as a learning experience, improve and keep at it. 




These are just 5 simple rules that can help when you want to start interacting in social media . So if you are blogging, tweeting, Pinteresting, Facebooking, or whatever your social media platform you use, these rules should apply to them equally. Just one request though, figure out where you want to engage with your audience instead of taking a scatter shot approach. That will also be helpful.

You can contact me @ kkanakas on twitter with your comments

Strategy – Power of Empathetic Design

When I was soliciting ideas for my next blog, I kept hearing things about design and its ramifications to a product user interface. To me the term design is above and beyond just the user interface of a product . I agree user interface is a key element but design has elements that go far and beyond just a simple user interface or intuitive product abilities.
Good products are designed with empathy or as I call it empathetic design. So what is empathetic design, new products and features only take off when people find useful things to do with the product or service. People who start with design in mind are not there to create new industry, they are there to create an experience that resonates close to their heart and the hearts of several other people (think about AirBnb.com). It is true that most design elements start with a frustration that an individual faces but is that problem faced by several other people. So the question is how to validate that problem? 
 As Eric Reis says in his book “Lean Startup“, you need to build something called as the minimum viable product “MVP”. Get the minimum viable product our there in the hands of people and observe what they do with your product and get validation. Empathetic design is about doing things that you can focus on and doing them well.  But when you focus on a particular feature or function you need to focus in the broader picture as well. Similar to what Tim Brown wrote in his book “Change by Design“, when Amtrak came to IDEO to design the high speed rail car, IDEO did not only focus on designing the rail car, they also focused on the entire experience of travel by train from the curb-side.  Now that is something (BTW even as I write this blog, in China they have a high speed train from Shanghai to Beijing that is faster than the acela service from Amtrak, but I bet you the curb side experience maybe significantly different between both)
As mentioned in prior paragraph focus on a few things and do them well but ask yourself these questions “are the few features that I am working on are they about to solve a problem worth solving ? and are people willing to buy your solution since the problem is pervasive?”. As I paraphrase what Larry Page said in his interview with Charlie Rose “Innovation is not innovation if it cannot sell” So to that effect empathetic design depends significantly on the premise of open value co-creation. (Apple is an exception, but their folks observe their target consumers a lot of which I proudly claim to be one)
One of the companies I admire is P&G from a value co-creation perspective. This is one company that has figured out a way to make decent margins on a commodity product “the detergent”. They find ways to sell detergent to their constituents in so many different and innovative ways (the other company that I admire is Coca-Cola, I mean sugared water really?). Going back to P&G, the company participates in many competitive industries which initially thrived on patents and proprietary technologies  etc. Now P&G openly courts innovations on their products via internet with their connect+develop program. The reason why P&G and the likes make decent margins, is because of their focus on the overall experience i.e. Some one wants to wash with Cold water there is Tide Cold etc. If there a defective box or a canister, the stores where their products are sold take the product back no questions asked (similar to what Amazon does with the overall experience). These are things that help people gravitate towards these products/services and continue to be repeat clients.  The net of what I am saying is that empathetic design is a profitable venture as long as you look at the experience and the overall utility of the product/solution.
If you observe carefully empathetically design products build on top of other ideas (in most cases existing ideas that are incomplete from an experience perspective). They usually simplify/ refine on the existing idea and in most cases it usually works. Think about it, was the iPod really a new kind of a mp3 player or was it that the iPod provided a way to carry all my music and listen to when I want or where I want. To complete the experience I have a legitimate way to download content for it as well. Now that is empathetic design at its best. 

The bottom line is empathetic design keeps the user in mind and whether you use cases in development or any other methodology in any other department it will be doomed to failure if all departments fail to have the same understanding of the problem the company is going to solve for the user.

(BTW All the companies I mentioned here are just to make a case, I am not endorsing that my experience is commonly shared, but if you look at their 10K, it proves my point. Your experiences may vary)
You can contact me @ kkanakas on twitter with your comments