Social Media Marketing & Mobile Marketing: A Useful Resource Guide

By Dr. Todd Bacile | August 27, 2013

social media books

A question posed to me from a fellow professor last week was, “What books or resources would you recommend for new media marketing topics?” The following books in each subject area highlight marketing philosophies and paradigm shifts that social media and mobile technologies have introduced. I personally have read each of the resources below and see great value in each book.

Follow the Authors on Twitter

Following each book’s summary is a link to the Twitter account(s) for the author(s). If you want more information or have comments for the authors you can connect with them on Twitter!

Connected Consumers

The End of Business as Usual presents a complex “connected consumer” revolution that is taking place. Ubiquitous mobile connections and social networks have created a network economy and interest graphs, where consumers easily share experiences and influence others. The author, Brian Solis, points out that a firm’s marketing audience has now become an audience with an audience of audiences, among many other unique perspectives.

Socialnomics posits that social media has created a people-driven economy through connected networks. The author, Eric Qualman, makes several interesting points, while serving up memorable quotes such as, “The 30-second commercial is being replaced by the 30-second review, tweet, post, status update, and so on.”

Information Transparency

Youtility shows the reader how helpful, useful, relevant information supplied by a firm is turning traditional marketing upside-down. The author, Jay Baer, uses several useful statistics and easy-to-read charts to support his positions. There is business value in these numbers!

Influence Marketing with Social Scoring

Return On Influence presents the topic of social scoring metrics such as Klout and PeerIndex. The author, Mark Schaefer, is well known for his social influence consulting work and discussing Klout on his blog. Influence marketing is controversial for some people and often creates a lot of buzz. This book illustrates how influence and social media go hand-in-hand. In effect, “Influence has been democratized.”

Second Screen Marketing

Social TV shows that the internet has not killed TV. Instead, this book posits that the internet has become TV’s best friend! Examples and cases illustrate TV programs are social; and in combination the web, social media, and mobile devices serve as the second-screen lightning rods to amplify consumer-to-consumer conversations about TV shows. The authors, Mike Proulx and Stacey Shepatin, use strategically placed and QR codes to link to “bonus” content.

Social Media Marketing 101

Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Approach is geared toward a college course, with a nicely designed array of chapters focusing on social media marketing strategy and planning. The book contains an eight-step social media marketing plan model, along with a completed plan for a fictitious company. The authors are Melissa Barker, Donald Barker, Nicholas Bormann, and Krista Neher.

Mobile Marketing 101

Go Mobile presents a nice array of mobile marketing strategies and topics that any marketer should be familiar with. Mobile optimized ads, SMS campaigns, mobile apps, tablet computing, and location-based marketing examples are plentiful.  The authors, Jeanne Hopkins and Jaime Turner, have a chapter devoted to how several Fortune 500 firms use mobile marketing.

Fundamentals of Mobile Marketing: Theories and Practices is a nice supplement to the prior text. This book delves into a highly technical summary of mobile’s evolution, along with several academic theories and models prevalent to ubiquitous devices. The author, Shintaro Okazaki, is a widely published European marketing professor.

E-Commerce

E-Commerce 2013 is a detailed text delving into the world of E-Commerce, in more detail and in a manner much different from all of the other social and mobile books discussed in this post.  While this book presents many cases and chapter information that intertwines with social and mobile, the book is devoted to E-Commerce with a progression through an intro section, the technology infrastructure, business concepts, and E-Commerce in action. The authors are Kenneth Laudon and Carol Guercio Traver.

The Microblogging Mindset

The Tao of Twitter is the best book I have found that steps a person through the beginning stages of learning to Tweet to advanced Twitter usage relevant to business goals and strategy. The author, Mark Schaefer, is the same author on this list for Return On Influence and Born to Blog.

Twitter Power also takes a humorous – and useful – look into Twitter. You know the book will have some fun content when you realize that the author, Joel Comm, was the inventor of the iFart app.

The Blogging Mindset

Born to Blog  walks the reader through the beginning stages – and struggles – people may have when blogging. It then progresses to tips and writing techniques needed to become a successful blogger, regardless of your industry. The book contains several personal experiences of the blogging challenges and triumphs that the authors, Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith, have gone through.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive for the sake of maintaining brevity in a single blog post. There are many other excellent resources available; and in many other topic areas. What books have you found useful to navigate social and/or mobile media?

Dr. Todd Bacile (@toddbacile) is a Marketing Professor at Loyola University New Orleans and holds a Ph.D. in Marketing from Florida State University. He teaches Electronic Marketing and Advanced Marketing Strategy.  Social Media Marketing Magazine ranks him as one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter. Have a question or comment? Post it here and you will receive a response.

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Real-time Engagement Using Social Media: The Qualtrics Case

By Dr. Todd Bacile | August 21, 2013

Social Media Engagement

A benefit that social media has over mass media is the ability to hypertarget individual consumers. While much is made of hypertargeting advertisements, another non-invasive communication strategy is for a brand to engage with consumers in real-time, as needed by an individual person. Personalized content relevant to a segment of one person.

For marketers to successfully engage consumers via social channels in this manner, a brand must provide context-specific relevant information, when and where a consumer needs it. Jay Baer refers to such highly useful content with his conceptualization of Youtility. To provide useful information in this manner takes more than hypertargeting advertisements: it requires a firm to provide helpful information a consumer would like to see at a particular moment.

For a firm to truly achieve relevance, authenticity, helpfulness, and information availability when needed by a consumer requires real-time engagement. A simple operationalized example happened to me in a Tweet chat last week. Here is a recap of how one firm successfully engaged consumers in real-time.

Qualtrics: Real-time Engagement

Among the ways I use Twitter is to participate in Tweet chats and help others by answering questions. Tweet chats are easily facilitated using a hashtag on Twitter. One chat I participate in is the #AskAngel tweet chat every Tuesday from 2:00-3:00 pm EST hosted by @afmarcom. The thing I love about this chat is the range of questions people ask, along with the helpful people who choose to answer. Below is a snippet of last week’s #AskAngel chat, where Holly posed a question for the group:

Real-time engagement with

The screenshots from the #AskAngel Tweet chat depict an organic (i.e. non-paid) real-time conversation about a brand as discussed by consumers. The conversation continues with retweets, replies, and favorites as the conversation unfolds:

Real-time engagement 4

Brands understand that mining social conversations can produce useful marketing information. However, Qualtrics took this one step further by joining in the conversation in real-time as it was unfolding.

Real-time engagement 6

The customer service people manning the Qualtrics Twitter handle tactfully jumped into the conversation in real-time. The above conversation achieves several things for Qualtrics. First, the brand is exposed to in-depth qualitative data about what consumers like about its product. Second, consumer-endorsed positive word-of-mouth is exchanged among several people; and retweeted or shared to other social networks and followers. Third, Qualtrics provides a useful resource (a link to their online Qualtrics University) when another curious consumer asks for more information. This was most likely totally unexpected by the Tweet chat participants!

There is a certain “Wow” factor associated with such an exchange. It shows the brand is listening, cares about helping consumers, and does not use a sales pitch in an effort to close a sale. It is real-time social media engagement strategies such as the one pulled off by Qualtrics that enables brands to begin to build relationships with consumers.

Dr. Todd Bacile (@toddbacile) is a Marketing Professor at Loyola University New Orleans and holds a Ph.D. in Marketing from Florida State University. Social Media Marketing Magazine ranks him as one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter. Have a question or comment? Post it here and you will receive a response.

Fake Followers: The Social Media Brick Wall Effect vs. The Herd Effect

By Dr. Todd Bacile | August 16, 2013

The Brick Wall EffectBuying Twitter followers, Facebook Likes, and other artificial means to create a facade of a large brand audience happens every day in our electronic marketing environment. While I don’t condone this type of activity, it is a natural extension for marketing managers who are trying to support the popularity of their social media presence. However, firms need to be careful because creating artificial engagement often leads nowhere in the long run. Or does it?

The Social Media Brick Wall Effect

The social media brick wall effect is a label I use to describe the outcome of buying artificial engagement. The going rate to buy 1,000 Twitter followers starts at $5. With a few dollars a person or brand can build thousands of connections to their brand in less than a day. But, if a company purchases these followers what comes afterward?

The answer: nothing. No engagement. No retweets. No organic consumer discussions or recommendations. It is as if a brand has run into a dead-end brick wall without any two-way communication.

What are you really buying when you purchase followers or likes in bulk? A lot of these social media accounts are empty shells. The person – or computer algorithm – that created each fake account does not actively manage it or produce meaningful content. This means there is never any engagement or discussion about the brand. This is the antithesis of social media: the brick wall effect is non-social with zero engagement.

Status People Faker Scores

Some people may argue, ‘But, if I buy a few followers nobody will ever know. Then I can build with real followers.‘ Maybe so, maybe not! Services such as Status People’s Faker Scores can inspect any Twitter account to generate an estimate of how many followers are fake (i.e. bought).

Faker ScoresRun your own Twitter handle through Faker Scores. What percentage of your following is fake?

And when people or brands are outed regarding a fraudulent social media following it can make the headlines! Brands or people in the spotlight have been accused or busted for buying a large following, which then often creates defensive, negative PR surrounding the person or organization. Instead of engaging with other people to create meaningful relationships, energy is spent defending a silly ploy.

The Value of Fake Followers

A recent publication in the research journal Science empirically showed how a news story that planted an initial, single “like” (in the form of an up-vote) versus zero likes on a news aggregation site significantly increased engagement by others. The reason was posited to be a herd effect: people will like or follow something that other people already like. This research did not examine fake likes or followers; however, the results suggest that planting some fake likes may cause other people to engage. If someone liked it, then it might be worthwhile.

The reason fake engagement may produce some value is due to the nature of vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are measures such as the number of downloads, page views, or “Likes”. Vanity metrics are easy to manipulate and do not always correlate to measures that have business value, such as sales and profits. The measures may produce some useful information, but more often than not are superficial in nature.

The following quote sums up the limitations of a vanity metric:

A useful metric is both accurate (in that it measures what it says it measures) and aligned with your goals. Making your numbers go up (any numbers–your bmi, your blood sugar, your customer service ratings) is pointless if the numbers aren’t related to why you went to work this morning.” – Seth Godin

Whether the brick wall effect or the herd effect trumps one or the other remains to be seen. Social media research will most likely delve deeper into these effects.

Todd Bacile (@toddbacile) is a Marketing Professor at Loyola University New Orleans. Social Media Marketing Magazine ranks him as one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter. All questions or comments are welcome and will be responded to!

Facebook News Feed for Small Business Owners

By Rickey Helsel & Dr. Todd Bacile | August 6, 2013

How-To-Become-More-Visble-On-Facebooks-NewsFeed_fw_

How do I get my posts to show up in my Facebook audience’s news feeds?” It’s a question that is often asked by many small business owners. The following is a simple and concise explanation that the non-technical business person should understand.

The first step to optimizing your social media content is recognizing that Facebook is also a business. Facebook stays in business by keeping users engaged. And its success is attributed to the EdgeRank algorithm.

What is EdgeRank?

EdgeRank is a formula that Facebook uses to predict which posts a particular user (i.e. your customer) would like to see in their news feed. All of the components of this proprietary formula are not made public; however, we do know that it contains three main variables:

  • Affinity
  • Weight
  • Time Decay

Focusing your content creation in these three areas will optimize your posts to appear more often in news feeds.

Affinity – Who posted it?

An affinity score is Facebook’s numerical value assigned to how much a user likes your brand’s page. Affinity is unique for every relationship. For example, the affinity score between Johnny and your Facebook page is different from the affinity score between Sally and your Facebook page.

Affinity is important because it is tied to engagement. Facebook measures engagement (and thus affinity) through actions such as:

  • Clicks
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Wall posts
  • Shares

Actions requiring more effort result in a higher level of affinity between the customer and your brand’s page. For example, a “like” is valued less than a comment on a post, because typing a message requires more effort than simply clicking “like”.

Brands stimulate engagement by asking customers to act upon posts on the brand page as a means of increasing the customer’s affinity score with the brand. Asking questions, asking for comments, requesting pictures to be posted, and asking people to like a wall post are all popular calls to action used by brands. Taking this one step further, creative brands build contests or promotions around these engagement activities.

Weight – What kind of post is it?

Different types of posts are weighted higher, and therefore have a better chance to appear in a news feed. Posting videos, photos, and links are reportedly the heaviest in weight.

Also of relevance to engagement is that Facebook users vary in which types of posts they prefer to engage. Some of your customers may prefer text, while others may prefer pictures. It is important to spend time analyzing your Facebook Insights to see which post type is most popular before tailoring your content.

As a general rule, post type variety is important. If you see that your users engage pictures more, it isn’t wise to only post pictures. Solely posting pictures alienates those who prefer to engage text or video. Find the right post type balance based on Insights.

Time Decay – How old is the post?

Think of Facebook posts as potato chips: new chips are crispy and fresh, while old chips grow stale. Facebook keeps our news feeds “fresh” by adding the element of Time Decay, which is simply a fraction of 1/X. As the age of a post grows, so does the denominator (X), which results in a smaller value.

The strategy for time decay is simple: post often (but not too often as to be a nuisance). The more fresh, quality content you put out there, the better your chances are of appearing in your audience’s news feed.

Rickey Helsel (@rickeyhelsel) is a rising new media star, with experience in mobile application development, social media advertising, electronic marketing business plan development, numerous programming languages, and management information systems. Find out more about him at RickeyHelsel.com. Todd Bacile (@toddbacile) is a Marketing Professor at Loyola University New Orleans, where he teaches Electronic Marketing and Advanced Marketing Strategy. Social Media Marketing Magazine ranks him as one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter.