Online marketing has become increasingly complex over the past few years, and there have been countless posts in countless websites about how to market yourself, your brand, your site or your product on social media. There have been almost as many posts detailing why getting social right is now an important part of your search strategy as well – something that has been unequivocally proven time and time again.
What I don’t get however is, why people still think that marketing through social hinges on raw follower/friend/like counts? (for the sake of this article, I will refer to those as ‘social metrics’ from now on).
Of course, having a decent amount of social metrics is part of doing well in the social sphere, but it is not the primary metric we should be considering. The most important thing, which is all too often overlooked, is the interaction yield between you and your connections.
You could have 10 million followers, but if none of them every pay any attention to what you share, whats the point?
So what’s the perfect social picture?
In specialist fields/niches your audience should be interested in what you are promoting. Nothing particularly ground breaking I hear you say, but it goes totally against the ethos of buying followers or likes, where you are essentially vanity marketing.
Lets use my own (twitter) account as an example, I work in Inbound Marketing (SEO/Social Media/Marketing etc) so you would expect most of my followers to have expressed an interest in such things. Well, using a combination of followerwonk and wordle, here is a wordcloud of every one of my followers bio’s – pretty much what you would expect.
Putting it another way, pretty much what the search engines would expect if they were looking at assigning some kind of thematic scoring to the stuff that I share. Another interesting data visualisation here helps us understand the potentially transient nature of social media profiling.
If you would like to do this on your own or your companies account, all you need to do is:
1) Grab your followers bio data in a download from followerwonk.com (or other similar service)
2) Copy and Paste all of the text in the bio’s directly into the new wordcloud area at wordle.com
3) Choose your colour scheme etc. using their WYSIWYG editor.
All in all it shouldnt take any longer than 5-10 minutes to complete.
Other Data Points used in Social Media
As I started working here at ExpediaEAN in March this year, its fair to say that my focus has shifted from other industries and verticals into travel. This has also been represented quite neatly by the profiles of people following me on twitter, which include the word “travel” as you can see from the graph below.
The green arrow points at the rough date when I started at Expedia, and the blue line plots 1 point horizontally for each new follower, and one place vertically for each new follower who uses the word “travel” within their bio.
This kind of data is pretty easy for you or I to chart in just a few minutes, so if we are capable of looking in that much depth that quickly, imagine where the search engines have got to already in thematic and influence scoring.
If you are interested in doing this on your own account, here is how you can build the same in a few easy steps:
1) Download your full follower details using followerwonk.com – make sure you use the entire dataset, not a sample, and when it has run you need to also download the CSV version (it’s got extra data in it). Depending on the size of your twitter account it might take a few seconds to 15-20 minutes, and cost from a few cents to a couple of dollars.
2) Once you have got the sheet, you need to mark the cells which contain the text you are looking for. In the example I have used for this post, the keyword I looked for was just “travel” but this same technique can be extremely handy in other disciplines as well to find the right group of people to target promotions to (think: how can I target all of my followers who are based in xyz etc.)
The formula that you need is:
in the formula, replace the word travel with whatever you want to be the trigger word, and replace the word CELL with the correct cell reference that you want to search. By ending the function with *1 it returns numeric values in place of a TRUE/FALSE argument, which allowed me to just sum the results in another column and produce the graph above.
While of course you should monitor these metrics for your social accounts, it is important to understand that KPI’s should not be attributed to this kind of data, setting goals and targets for this kind of thing is notoriously dangerous. It is extremely important in all of your interactions to keep focussed on your niche, and targeted towards the interests of your core demographic.
The flip side to this is however that you CAN use this as a negative KPI: “If my follower count falls to less than 50% in my local country”, or “<10% of my new followers express an interest in my niche” can be good early warning signs that any social media marketing you are doing, is not bringing in the right kind of follower.
So How do I Apply it to Travel?
Really the key takeaways from this are, that there aren’t any (or many) shortcuts left.
The first thing that you should do is have a real plan. Not just something vague like “I want to sell more package deals”, something with multiple stages, deliverables, and above all, realistic achievements.
I would be much happier with something like:
1) engage in the xyz community through twitter/facebook/google+
2) share authoritative resources, and answer any questions consumers may have
3) continual engagement with the community, combined with publishing relevant resources
4) drive traffic back to my published resources.
You will notice that I at no point have put financial targets on any of this. I’m afraid to say that if we are at the stage where we are building out our social presence, we are a long way off setting financial targets on it as a channel. Before we get to that level of complexity we will have to build out a bit of a following and reputation first!
As a final note on this post, I’m happy to announce that over the coming weeks we will have some in depth marketing studies around using twitter for your business, and how it can be applied in the travel affiliate space.
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