Show Me The Money!

Social Media ROISeeing the return on investment for social media can be difficult if you’re not sure what you should be looking at in your analysis or metrics. If you’re looking for the wrong things, there can be missed opportunities to capture a new target audience, or to fix your existing social media strategy to make better use of your time online. Here are some tips on how to measure real ROI for your social media work.

So what is it that social media can offer you? Forget about “increased loyalty” and the like. We want things we can actually measure.

  • Increased retention of your existing customers. Engaging with, and keeping, the clients you already have is cheaper, by far, than having to get new clients all the time. Building a sense of community around your brand online is a way to keep them engaged with your business and make them feel that you are engaged with them on more than a simply professional level.

  • Increased repeat purchases. Converting those likes and retweets into sales and referrals might be tricky at first, but once your clients get into the habit of spending money with you, they will keep doing so for as long as there is value in it for them.

  • Reduced marketing costs. Even if you’re paying to promote your posts on facebook, or for pay per click advertising, it can still work out to be significantly cheaper than more traditional methods of advertising. Money you save on marketing can be put to use elsewhere in the business, or on wage increases for your staff.

  • Feedback. People are only too happy to tell you what they think from the safety and comfort of their computer. They are less likely to give you criticism in a face to face situation or a written survey. Take the opportunity to ask your online community what they think about ideas, or if there was something they weren’t 100% happy with during the last transaction. No print costs, no phone bill, and free useful feedback – it’s a win-win situation.

  • Reduced customer service costs. If you have one person employed solely to answer the questions coming in on the phones, why not get that person online instead? It’s faster, cheaper and means your clients don’t have to stop what they are doing in order to get their question answered. They’re already online, so go online. Go to where your clients are.

  • Recruitment. Are you looking for a new staff member? Need volunteers to help you with that barbeque you’re holding at the community centre? Helping to organise a busy bee at the local school? Why not turn to your online client base? If you’ve been running the rest of your social media presence correctly, they will already be engaged with you and your business, so convert it into action.

When it comes to selling social media as a real and measurable platform for engaging with your client base, do away with elements you can’t measure and stick to things you can plot on a chart. It will make the time, effort and money spent on building your presence worth it. You will also be more able to see what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t.

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Spam or Ham? Are your emails lawful?

Are you accidentally spamming your client’s inboxes? Are you up to date with the legal requirements for the marketing emails you send out? I will share the basics of keeping on the right side of the law when it comes to email marketing.

The Spam Act of Australia (C2013C00021) is the main legislation that you need to adhere to when you are sending out emails to anyone. The 60 page-long document details exactly what is and is not allowed when you are engaging in electronic communications. Thankfully, you don’t have to read the full Act. I’ve summarised it here for you.

Spam Can

image credits: Vince_Lamb on Flickr

There are three things to keep in mind when you are putting together an email campaign or sending out emails to your client base.

  • Do you have consent from the person who will be receiving the message?

  • Does your message have a clear indication of who is sending the message?

  • Does your message give the receiver an option to unsubscribe from the emails?

Sound simple, doesn’t it? Now, let’s look at each point in a little detail.

Do you have consent from the person who will be receiving the message?

Consent is either express or implied. Express consent refers to the person receiving the message subscribing directly to your mailing list, deliberately ticking a box agreeing to have messages or ads from you, or they have expressly requested from you over the telephone.

Implied consent is the grey area of consent. There needs to be a reasonable expectation by the person receiving the emails that you will send the messages. This can be through:

– an existing relationship with you and they have previously given you their email address;

– they’ve purchased good from you and have given you their electronic address in the general expectation there would be follow-up emails;

– the person receiving the emails has provided you with their address in the understanding there would be day-to-day transactions and that address might be used for additional communications;

– the receiver has registered a product online or a warranty;

– the person receiving the emails has conspicuously published their electronic address unless it’s accompanied by a message stating that it’s not to be used for the purposes of advertising material;

– the person receiving the emails has given you a business card with their email address on it and there’s a reasonable expectation the messages would be sent by email.

So, what should you do if you’re not sure if you have received consent to send marketing emails to them? Don’t send them emails. It’s really that simple. Remove them from your lists. If you are not sure that you have consent, you might get into trouble for sending the emails, even if you provide all the unsubscribe options required by law.

When in doubt, if you are making an option on your website for people to sign up to your email lists, give them “double opt-in” to make sure they understand that you will be sending them messages.

Does your message have a clear indication of who is sending the message?

The sender information to be included in the email is expected to be valid for 30 days after the message is sent. This is in case anyone needs to get in contact with you in a way that isn’t online. This can be easily included into the signature of your email.

Does your message give the receiver an option to unsubscribe from the emails?

Always include an unsubscribe feature in your emails. This can be as simple as a link to another page that automatically removes their email address from your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software or email lists. Automating this means less work for you and adds a surety that you’re not spamming anyone.

Spammy spam spam

image credits: timag on Flickr

So, there are three easy steps to make sure your email marketing campaign is running by the book.

  • Do you have consent of the people you’re sending to?

  • Have you clearly identified your business?

  • Have you given an unsubscribe option?

Got an hour or two to spare? You can read the Spam Act of Australia here:

Spam Act 2003 C2013C00021

Things I Believe In.

This is an incomplete list of some of the things I believe in. There’s no real point to this post, other than to categorise myself as someone with a very complicated belief system and perhaps let others realise that their belief systems don’t have to necessarily make sense when viewed as a group.

I believe science has done good, and bad.

Image

Image credits – Flickr: J J “Macys-Believe”

Scientific advancements have done some incredible things for society. It has also done some very bad things for humanity. Take the atom bomb for instance. It started as an endeavour by Einstein to produce essentially free, seemingly inexhaustible energy for the world. Then it got turned into one of the most destructive forces on the planet. Now, some might say that it was the human factor that turned good into bad. I’m still undecided on this opinion. I think that yes humans were definitely the factor that led to the atom bomb, but it was also the human factor that developed the idea for good in the first place.

I believe in the universal divine.

I think there is an essence of divinity in everything. Everything. Every human being, every animal, every plant, the sky, the sea, the dirt, cars, buildings. Everything. Everything is a reflection of a facet that which created it, and so there is a sense of magic and beauty in that that just cannot be explained… yet. Perhaps science will lead to this answer. I’m just not sure that I would necessarily want the answer presented to me. I’m sure I would embrace it and find a way to coalesce it into my belief system, but all the same – I like to hold onto the childlike naivety that belief in something beyond myself provides.

I believe all knowledge is worth having.

Good. Bad. Indifferent. All knowledge is worth having, or having access to. With more knowledge, you are better positioned to make better decisions regarding yourself and others around you. Lack of knowledge can lead to poor choices that have far reaching ramifications beyond what you can possible foresee. Even the information that makes you sad at the time of gaining is worth having. Would I want to know if a partner was cheating on me? Absolutely! Would it make me happy to know it? Definitely not. IS the knowledge worth having? 100% yes! Having that knowledge would allow me to be better positioned to make a decision regarding the continuation or discontinuation of the relationship, based on other information regarding the situation.

I believe that climate change real, but that humans didn’t cause it.

Sure, our activity on the planet – burning fossil fuels, digging the face of the planet to pieces- certainly didn’t help abate the process of global warming. I think it was inevitable that the climate of the planet was going to change, as it has in the past, but that human activity has sped up the arrival. I see people who deny that climate change is real and that they shouldn’t have to change their ways as idiots. How is changing your habits and consumption to make the planet a better place a bad thing ever?! Using less, recycling and reusing more is only going to make the world and humanity better. With such a small percentage of the population using such a large percentage of the world’s resources, it just seems senseless to argue that you shouldn’t have to change your habits to benefit someone else. Leaving the world a better place for generations to come is a good thing, regardless of whether or not it will affect the degree to which climate change occurs.

Moving House.

Now, I’m not going to claim to be an expert in moving house, BUT I have done it more than my fair share of times. I have a few friends who are currently or about to move house, and I thought rather than give each of them my wealth of experience individually, I would share my knowledge with everyone. That way I only have to say it once. So, here you go:

Moving house on back of truck.

Oooor you could just move you house… -image credit: Flickr – Ania_*

My Top Tips for Moving House.

Get started on your packing as early as you can.

Contrary to what you might think, you can live for a few weeks without all your trinkets and DVDs and books and whatnots lying around the house. If you make a start on these sorts of things, you might look like you’re rocking the student chic lifestyle, but it’ll mean you aren’t doing the last minute panic packing.

Try to pack a room at a time – and label label label.

Assign one box to one thing or room. Label that box with what is in it. not only will it help you move each box to the room it needs to go to at the other end, but it will also mean that you don’t have to open every box to find that specific thing you needed three hours ago. I tend to label the box in big capitals with the room name and then a bullet point list of what is in it under that. Also, I label every side except the bottom of the box. That way, you know which side is down.

Pack yourself a first week suitcase.

Depending on how many clothes you need, how much you eat, and what you’ll be doing for the first week, you may not require a whole suitcase. If you’re moving a family, you may need a minivan. Either way, have changes of clothes for the first week, toiletries, bedding and basic food supplies (for me, this is breakfast food and coffee) in a single carry case. That way, if you pull up sore and tired to get more sorted straight away, you can at least survive without rifling through your well organised boxes for essentials.

Get your supplies and get plenty of them.

Don’t think you’ll ever want to do anything with all those local newspapers? See packing tape on special a month before you’re planning to move? Got a friend who is offering boxes but you’re not sure you’ll use them just yet? Boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape and newspapers might cramp your minimalistic decor, but they never go off. Set aside a corner of a room to pack them into. You don’t know exactly how much you will need until you get started. Trust me, it’s much better to have too much of the stuff than having to unpack boxes that have already been moved, just so you can finish packing away the place you’re moving out of… Believe me. I’ve been there. It’s not fun.

Got friends? Enlist their help. Thank them with food.

While we would all like to have professionals move all our belongings (and really, who wouldn’t like to have someone else come in, pack, move and unpack? Yes please!), it’s not always a choice, especially if you’re moving on a budget. Get a bunch of friends together with the promise of a chill-out and hang-out session at the end of it all. A barbecue and drinks is nice and easy (and minimal dishes to wash afterwards), or going out for dinner (though this is only good if you have the energy) works too. It’s a nice way of saying thank you to everyone that helped you out, and also means that dinner for the first night in your new house is sorted.

Talking about teamwork, have multiple teams.

If you have enough friends, try and have two teams in transit (one coming, one going) and a third to help clean the place you are leaving as rooms are emptied. This may seem like a luxury, but you’d be surprised at how quickly things get moving with just a little organisation to the teams. Depending on the size of the rooms of the place you are vacating, you may only need a cleaning team of two or three people. Make sure everyone knows the route to and from both houses, and that mobile phones are charged in case of emergency.

Make sure everyone is well hydrated and snacks throughout the day. 

Moving furniture and boxes is hungry and thirsty work. Fainting and the “hangries” are not good things when there’s work to be done. Make sure there are cups (better yet, remind everyone to bring along a water bottle) and access to water is clear at both ends. If it’s a full day of moving, make sure everyone stops around meal times to replenish their energy.

Start making it a home right away.

The bedroom, bathroom and kitchen should be the first three rooms you get to some semblance of normality when it comes to unpacking and settling into your new home. These are the rooms that you’re going to need as full access to as soon as possible. If you’re like everyone that I know, you’re not really going to be able to take too much time off work to move, so the next morning is probably going to be a race to get ready. Make sure you have everything you need out and good to go for the morning. You’re going to be tired and sore. If you have a favourite picture or vase or decorative element, put it up somewhere. It doesn’t have to be put where you feel its final placement will be, but just somewhere that will work for now until you begin sorting things out.

This is not a fully comprehensive list of tips, and I am sure that everyone has their own tips that they use to make moving house a better, less stressful experience for everyone involved. I’d love to hear them, so share them in the comments below.

The 404 page.

I have been thinking lately about the more forgotten corners of the web and what happens when designers are asked to design something they don’t think will add anything to the overall impact of the website they’re working on. The particular example I’m talking about is the 404 page.

Just in case you’ve never come across one, it’s what is displayed by your internet browser when it can’t find the page of the link you clicked on. There have been some awesome examples of cute, funny and otherwise interesting 404 pages in the past. My question for today is: “Does it matter if your 404 is cool?”

My initial answer was “Not really.” After all, it’s just a page for people to see that you’ve got a broken link, right? Well, not that you should have those because you’ve checked those links a million times… Haven’t you? Of course you have. Silly me for thinking otherwise.

But then I got to thinking. The 404 page is sometimes a missed opportunity to build some more love for your site or brand. In fact, all the “error” pages that a visitor can come across can be capitalised upon. Take for example some of these great pages that build more webby love for their sites:

My friend, Rebecca Jackson of Melbourne Water, shared with us a lovely story about the 404s for her company, which I happen to think are gorgeously cute. They also shine a spotlight on a community project the company is involved in, the Frog Census, which is something everyone should know about.

There is also this particularly cute 404 page from Github. Star Wars, tentacled kitties (or at least that’s what it looks like to me) and error pages – how can you possibly go wrong?!

Github 404 error page

Oh all of the webby loves!

So, have you seen some awesome 404 pages that make you giggle or “awwwwww…”? Seen some other error pages that helped you connect with a brand just a little bit more? Share them below!

EDIT:
Since posting this, I was sent the link telling the story of the Github OctoKitty. You can read it too!

I was trawling Huffington Post this morning and came across this, so I thought I would share:

Huffington Post 404

 

EDIT:

I came across this 404 yesterday and thought I would share. In fact, perhaps I ought to start a Pinterest board or Tumblr for these.

Frankolafratta 404

Book Review – “Buzzing Communities” by Richard Millington.

Disclaimer: This book was included as an addition to the attendee bags for the swarm conference held during September in Sydney, which I was the blogger for. I was not paid to review this book, and have decided to do so to spread knowledge about it under no reciprocal agreement.

 

"Buzzing Communities" by Rich Millington

“Buzzing Communities” by Rich Millington

This book is subtitled “How to build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities” and boy does it teach that.

Having heard Rich speak at the swarm conference a few weeks ago, I was pretty excited when I finally got a chance to read this book. Since returning to Perth from Sydney, I have started a new full time position, as well as continuing my study, so “free time” is a mythical unicorn that frolics in pastures unknown to me at the moment. I tried to make a start of it on the plane home, but sleep was apparently more important as far as my brain and eyes were concerned.

Rich is the founder of the company Feverbee and The Pillar Summit. They run courses for professionals teaching community managers best practices for their groups. Should I get a few moments to take a better look into it, I would like to attend one. Oh free time, you special luxury you. ahem, but I digress.

This book is split up into clear sections, starting with how to manage your community, and what you need to know about your members. Within each of these sections are very straight forward chapters that describe in moderate detail the elements a community manager needs to understand in order to really get a community moving and building. There is also a good amount of information on how to properly sell the idea of building a community to higher management.

Perhaps the best section, from my view point at least, is how to really measure the return on investment for your community. We sometimes gets blinded by the warm fuzzies of community building and management that we forget that there’s only really worth and value to a company if you can show, on a chart or graph, what the community is giving back to the business. Rich manages to clear away the warm fuzzies, without hurting anyone’s feelings, and get down to the nitty gritty of it all.

He also does a great job of helping community managers define what success looks like. After all, if you don’t know what success looks like to you, or your management team, how are you going to know when you’ve achieved it?

He also includes a couple of great appendices at the end of the book. There is one describing some great online communities to go and have a look at, as examples of the principles he describes in the book. There is also a recommended reading guide, giving the reader a chance to go and build on what has been learned in his book. I particularly like when instructional books do this because it show a degree of humility on the part of the author, or that they want the reader to get more than what they can just offer them in the book they have penned.

I would recommend this book to community managers of all levels of experience, as well as marketing and PR teams who think they might like to develop a community for their brand. If both sides of the field know what is what when it comes to starting, redesigning or building a community online, then the outcomes can be much clearer and everyone knows where they stand.

 

Rich Millington’s book “Buzzing Communities: How to Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities” is printed by FeverBee and can be purchased through Amazon.com in paper form or for the Kindle.