By the time it was all over, we were well into planning our return next summer.
Even when a hard sale metric isn’t available or measurable, we can still build a measurement program evaluating results through the lens of financial investment. A federal government client wanted to use paid media to drive visitors to an online hub for healthcare planning information. We evaluated our paid media campaigns on the basis of their financial efficiency to drive traffic to the website’s pages that user testing had found most effective at changing attitudes and behavior. By defining a measurable, digital success metric and evaluating on the basis of cost per on-site action, we delivered more valuable traffic at a lower price.
Tying sentiment to programs recently helped PNConnect assess the impact of a client’s mobile app on brand equity. Over the course of a year, we identified users on social media who mentioned using the app and then tracked their mentions of our client’s brand pre- and post-installation compared to general social media users. We found app users doubled their positive mentions of our client after the initial download of the app, while general social media users showed no change over the same time period. The app was not only well received by customers but created online advocates.
To help build a successful Facebook page for a client that offers an elective surgery, we focused on the lurkers. We paired traditional audience research with trends from organic search data to identify the barriers consumers face when considering the surgery. Our content strategy centered on addressing these barriers to help the lurkers overcome them, and the measurement captured “silent actions” such as clicks on content as well as what the audience did on the website. Through this content and measurement approach, we improved engagement with the Facebook page’s content 73% from the starting benchmark.
Each issue, we hear from a digital or social media program leader. This month we talk to Mark Avera, Senior Account Executive and Social Media Manager at Porter Novelli Atlanta.
What role do you play at Porter Novelli?
I’m a social media strategist and program leader in our Atlanta office, and I’m the digital lead and community manager for the HP Graphics Solutions Business. Additionally, I serve as the liaison between our office and digital marketing experts across the Porter Novelli network.
What developments on the Web are you most excited about right now?
The steadily increasing rate of social media adoption in the B2B space. For years now, we’ve seen early adopters in more traditional markets, such as the commercial printing industry, dabbling in the social web. But over the past 18-24 months, participation has picked up, and more recently we’ve seen that adoption accelerating even faster. These audiences are also maturing in their use, from their levels of engagement and platform use to their content creation and experimentation.
What one thing would you change about the digital landscape today?
Streamlined regulations that move at the speed of the digital age. For example, chatter rippled through the digital marketing world when the FTC announced updated social media disclosure guidelines in March. While I certainly agree with the spirit of the guidelines and believe that additional clarity is not only helpful but necessary, they fall short of recognizing today’s changing media landscape. Some level of uncertainty will remain as our industry continues to evolve, new platforms emerge, and the lines between media entity and interested consumer continue to blur, but this will fade as once-new ad formats and digital marketing tactics mature.
What are the toughest challenges you and your clients are facing?
Internal skepticism around social media, especially from stakeholders who play a role in the program as experts. When looking at a client evangelist program, we are careful to engage authentically to avoid customer and prospect skepticism. But not all subject matter experts are digital natives, and not all technical spokespeople are social media savvy. Their own belief that they cannot connect to customers authentically via a digital channel can become a self-inflicted challenge. Fortunately, it’s an opportunity to grow the team, and it has been one of my most fulfilling exercises with clients. When a new creative solution demonstrates that authentic, two-way, beneficial connections can be forged online, you get to see an exciting transformation in your own team that is incredibly rewarding.
What’s one thing you’re seeing differently now compared to a year ago?
Improved metrics. Virtually all of my clients’ primary social media platforms have seen upgrades to their analytics, and we’ve implemented more robust measurement across the board. This has helped elevate conversations about social media’s ROI with key stakeholders in startups and enterprises alike.
With an eye toward the future, Adobe has made a commitment to encouraging students’ passion for design while forging lifelong relationships. To support India’s burgeoning design student community, Adobe India wanted to build a dedicated Facebook page that would act as a hub for sharing, learning, and showcasing work. They tapped the PNConnect team to help hatch a thriving online community.
As a first step, the team completed an audit of the forums, groups, and sites design students in India were already visiting. Based on what students were saying and doing on these sites, as well as the people they were following, the team developed a content strategy squarely focused on key audience needs. Adobe launched the page with relevant, useful content, promoted through Facebook ads that targeted the key audience precisely and efficiently.
The audit showed that budding designers loved to show off their skills to the community. To meet this need, the team launched “Designers of Tomorrow,” an online competition that offered students a stage and the chance to win Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Adobe Certificates.
The competition progressed over three months, with a new theme every month: Rhythm of Rain, Technology & You, and Festivals of India. To reach a wider audience, the team launched a series of Facebook ads and targeted 40 Facebook groups with design-related interests. Offline, posters in five key schools encouraged students to submit their designs.
Over the course of the campaign, the contest received 208 entries, and the Facebook hub gained 70,100 fans. Adobe saw a significant spike in followers across its network, as well as increased student engagement and consideration for Adobe products.
Each month we select a client’s “Burning Question” and solicit answers from other clients and our senior staff. Something on your mind? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about it.
If you pre-schedule social content, immediately postpone or “unschedule” all automated posts when news of a tragedy breaks. Whether or not you ultimately decide to pause your publishing, you don’t want a preplanned post to make the decision for you. Something that was totally benign originally might take on unintended connotations in the context of a tragedy. Take some time to plan your approach and review everything in the queue.
All other factors being equal, tragedies that affect a greater number of people are likely to get more news coverage and generate more intense emotions, setting the stage for a backlash against brands who continue publishing. When mass casualties or destruction is involved, it’s wise to take a break out of respect for the victims.
The more shocking an event, the more likely the public will consider ongoing branding or promotional activity inappropriate. Flooding along the floodplain of a major river or wildfires in areas prone to fire, while devastating, are not wholly unexpected. Nature happens. But an unprecedented disaster, a terrorist attack, or a mass shooting stuns even the most jaded audience. When your followers are reeling, they’re not in the mood for everyday posts.
Based on the course of related stories in the past, gauge how much attention the news media is likely to give the tragedy. Events that dominate the news cycle tend to dominate online conversation as well, making it less advisable to continue publishing. Even if no one gets upset with you for publishing in the aftermath of a crisis, your followers may ignore your content because they’re paying attention to the tragedy. Wait for things to calm down and the news media to turn to other stories before you return to normal publishing.
One school of thought says a brand shouldn’t mention a tragic incident at all unless it is directly impacted, to avoid any appearance of exploiting the tragedy. Others feel it’s more respectful to honor or pay tribute to the victims of such an incident regardless of direct impact. The best choice depends on your brand’s specific character and audience.
There is one definitive “don’t do” in this equation, however: Never draw a connection of any kind between the tragedy and your brand or campaign. Exhibit A: Epicurious expressing “sympathy” for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing with links to recipes.
A simple human expression that your thoughts are with the victims is more than enough. It says the people behind your brand are experiencing the same emotions as your audience, without in any way exploiting the tragedy for financial or marketing gain.
Everyone grieves in his or her own way, but brands have potential business motivations, and so are held to a higher standard. To avoid offending followers and others during a tragedy, above all be sensitive to your audience’s emotions and take the time to choose your words carefully.
For more information about our team and approach, or to learn how we can help your organization with digital strategy, development and measurement, please visit the PNConnect site.
James O’Malley in New York contributed our feature story on commonly misunderstood and overlooked metrics. From Detroit, Chrisopher Barger shared insights on publishing after a tragedy. Shane Jacob in Bangalore brought us this month’s case study, on Adobe’s Designers of Tomorrow campaign. Chad Hyett in New York and Chris Thilk in Chicago contributed stories and insights for the Social Networking Stats, Advertising Trends, and Noteworthy News sections, and Amanda Wu provided the latest stats. Mark Avera in Atlanta graciously took the Spotlight hot seat. Chad Hyett, James O’Malley, and Josh Hallett answered this month’s Burning Question.
Thanks to Greg Pabst, Jennifer Laker, Peter Schiebel, Sean O’Shaughnessy, John Ciacia, and Jeremy Harrington from the Platforms team for providing design and development support, and to Mary Gaulke, Josh Hallett, Dave Coustan, and Tom Harris for editorial oversight and proofing.
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