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新媒体创意工场 Socal Engage & Digital Marketing

 
 
 

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Everything about digital engagement in 2009(II)  

2009-12-27 17:49:47|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Measuring digital engagement


How do you evaluate the cost-benefit of the government’s digital engagement?  As a result of the Improving government online review of measurement standards, several interesting discussions were started around extending the work on valuing and evaluating websites to all digital media.

Evaluation is a key priority for Government communicators. Matt Tee, Permanent Secretary and Head of Profession Government Communications, has prioritised evaluation as a key area of focus, along with skills and behaviour change. This is not surprising given the current economic climate. Government has to account for every pound spent and that means evaluating our communications activity to demonstrate cost-effectiveness.

Matt Tee has also requested that every government department develop a digital engagement strategy by March 2010, alongside the Public Accounts Committee recommendation that every department has a channel strategy, – a sign that digital engagement is being taken seriously.

So, how do we measure it?

As with any marketing communications activity, that depends on what the communications objectives are. However, there are commonalities across different campaigns and across different digital engagement tools and it’s those that I want to explore.

Recently, I’ve been working with colleagues in COI on this problem and we’ve come up with three common measures that appear to work across all digital engagement or social media tools:

  1. Number of relationships
  2. Number of user-generated content items
  3. Number of referrals/recommendations

1. Number of relationships

The number of relationships or connections within a network is a measure of power or influence. For example, it could be the number of followers on Twitter, number of friends in Facebook or the number of subscribers to a blog. In social network analysis, this is the basic measure of centrality within a network, which is called degree centrality.

There are other interesting measures of power within a network. For example betweenness centrality measures the degree to which a member lies between other members of a network. In the Facebook analogy, a person may have 1000 friends but have less influence than a person with 50 friends, each of whom have 1000 friends.

Graph showing betweenness centrality from lowest (red) to highest (blue)

Betweenness centrality from red (lowest) to blue (highest)

2. Number of user-generated content items

The number of user-generated content items measures participation within the network. For example, it could be the number of comments on a blog or the number of videos uploaded to a Youtube channel. It measures the level of engagement of an audience, suggestive of active participation not simply passive interest.

3. Number of referrals/recommendations

The number of recommendations is what many seek. This measures virality, advocacy, recommendability. For example, it could be the number of retweets, the number of  ‘share this’ actions or the number of pingbacks. It goes beyond mere participation; it means your content or message is valued enough to be recommended to others inside and outside the network.

We would be very interested to hear any thoughts on this. Many people are starting to think through return on investment in this area and it would be useful to have some level of consensus before applying to the government’s use of digital media for engagement.     Let us know what you think.


The Rules of Digital Engagement


For contract web workers, consultants, and freelancers who work with far-flung collaborators, multiple clients, and constantly shifting teams, the rules of digital engagement—the way we interact with each other and resolve conflict in virtual space—are constantly changing. As we adapt to new ways of collaborating, we must also learn how to communicate effectively, set expectations, and build team confidence in an evolving work environment.

In a previous te<A List Apartte<, I wrote about the long hallway: the connections, methods, and culture that enable virtual work and virtual companies. The long hallway represents that space between collaborators in a virtual environment, located down the street or across the globe. However, once you commit to working down the long hallway, the question becomes, how do you successfully navigate this new and changing territory?

The challenges of working virtually

When it comes to work style and culture, virtual teams—especially groups of contractors—are inherently less formal and more flexible than traditional office-based organizations. We are, as William Gibson puts it in his novel Pattern Recognition, “post-geographic”—operating beyond physical boundaries. But when workers no longer collaborate within a particular physical space, they must adopt a disciplined devotion to process. In digital space, the physical artifacts of day-to-day business we share are gone—what remains are discussions and deliverables. The way we hold discussions and create deliverables becomes increasingly important.

Driving off a virtual cliff

Effective communication relies not just on the information conveyed, but also the information comprehended. Despite a decade of email and electronic collaboration, we don’t fully understand its effect on what we comprehend and how others comprehend us.

Managing conflict in virtual space

When I travel outside the United States, especially in countries where I do not know the language well, the information flow between myself and others can be poor and communication requires extra effort. There are a host of reasons why, including cultural differences, translation problems, and misplaced assumptions. To communicate in these circumstances, you need a profound lack of embarrassment (especially when trying out new words), a little ingenuity and, of course, a lot of patience and understanding. I try to apply these core techniques when communicating in virtual space.

Good communication technique might not completely eliminate the low-level conflict that can dominate some virtual projects, but it can help minimize the pain. Here, then, are some strategies for dealing with conflict on virtual teams.

Respect others’ communication styles

Communication style—the communication methods people use and prefer, how often they check in, how much they tell you, and how willing they are to communicate—can greatly affect project workflow. Whether you’re the project manager or a team member, it’s important to understand and adapt to the communication style of those working with you.

For instance, some web workers prefer to be constantly in touch via instant messaging or Skype. Project teams may designate a VOIP conference room as an open meeting space and leave their headsets on all day. Others may prefer to communicate during specified meeting times only, and view a constant flow of updates and questions as intrusive. It’s helpful if the project manager can bridge the gap between these types. While differences in communication styles won’t necessarily sink a project, it can cause unnecessary conflict and make the working environment tense. For instance, if someone expects an immediate response to a question, which doesn’t arrive until the next team meeting, they won’t be happy. Conversely, badgering an unresponsive colleague with messages and requests for additional meetings without considering their need for space can be equally troublesome.

Maintain real-world decorum

The virtual world often provides a shield that allows people to write things online that they would never say to someone in person. It’s difficult to stare someone in the face while you tell them you think their idea is rotten—and that’s good. In the real world, such discomfort over hurting someone’s feelings makes people think of gentler ways to express dissatisfaction with the work, and to suggest improvements, all of which leads to less conflict and better cohesion. But in the virtual world, people will often type things that are more bold—and rude—than they would ever say in real life. So it’s important that all team members work hard to maintain face-to-face standards of politeness and strive to frame criticism in as positive a manner as possible.

On longer projects, debrief regularly

You can’t make adjustments if you don’t learn from your mistakes. Simply taking notes about difficult situations can spark new solutions or reveal hidden problems. Many design teams hold a post-mortem project meeting to analyze how the work process unfolded. However, in a virtual space, you may need to adapt to changing situations mid-project.

Negative is a four-letter word

The morale of a virtual team can play a huge role in the success or failure of a project. As virtual work provides flexibility and freedom, it can also be isolating and even somewhat depressing, especially if you enjoy interacting with others regularly. This is another reason why conflict in the virtual space can be difficult to manage. If a team member already feels isolated or hasn’t really adjusted to the realities of the virtual work experience, this can spill over into the project.

In virtual space, there are also fewer ways to vent frustrations. So, once a project goes bad, it can be a lot easier to dwell on negative emotions. The benefits of keeping communication positive—encouraging people, celebrating milestones, and just saying “thank you”—can make a huge difference over the course of a project.

Mitigate stress

Above all, as the project manager, it’s vital to regularly evaluate the stress level of your team members. In virtual space, it’s too easy for hard-driving types to work all the time, never taking much needed breaks. Since there is no official office space to help dictate the time boundaries of work, that choice remains in the hands of the individual. So if you rely heavily on a developer who doesn’t know when to stop coding, encourage him to take a day off. Mitigating stress and anticipating burnout on your team is crucial to surviving a project.

Stay in touch

And, of course, everyone should stay in contact on a regular basis—weekends (hopefully) excluded. Never let anyone on the team disappear or lose touch for longer than a day. A project can quickly unravel unless team members touch base with some frequency.

Self-defense for the web worker

Ultimately, on web projects, no matter how much you anticipate, you’ll end up having tough conversations and tense moments. Some creative debate can mean that team members are fully engaged and passionate about a job. However, if conflicts are ongoing and never resolved, the tension can sap enthusiasm for a project and make meeting deadlines difficult. Not agreeing with how the project is proceeding is OK. Not being able to live with it is not.

Sometimes no reaction is the best reaction

It can be hard to separate critical words from the messenger, or to set those words aside once they’ve been said, especially if they’re related to your work or contributions. But, this is part of the challenge of keeping a virtual project on track. Both clients and team members will want to blow off steam, and they’ll need to bend your ear. Simply saying “I hear you” or “I understand” can work wonders, even if that’s all you offer, in the end, to solve the problem.

Dodging bullets

Direct confrontation with a team member or client, especially on the phone or over e-mail, can lead to a horrible conclusion. It may feel strange to dodge a direct inquiry, but sometimes it’s necessary. “Let me get back to you on that” is perhaps the greatest piece of verbal self-defense. Just as in martial arts, if you’re not there when a punch lands, you can’t be hurt by it. Deliberately inserting a pause into a tense conversation gives people the opportunity to cool off. And—while it might seem trite—sleeping on a problem can reveal possible solutions.

Flexibility and adaptability are the keys to the virtual work process and managing our digital engagements. Considering the project from perspectives other than your own and realizing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts goes a long way toward achieving harmony in cyberspace. But in the end, virtual work and the methods you’ve developed to manage it are still new and without precedent. We are all still hard-wired for a world in which we work face-to-face with people, and the virtual workspace is still in its experimental stages. We must not forget this as we shape our communication strategies.


Six rules of digital engagement within online advertising

What could be the blueprint for a successful digital agency of the future? The managing director of one digital engagement agency offers his predictions.

The digital engagement agency is the creative child of the entertainment and advertising industries, spawned by the void left by traditional agencies that insist on applying heavy-handed advertising techniques to the internet, largely ignoring its interactivity. This new hybrid agency applies creative principles to online advertising that engage rather than annoy the user, working with the network principle rather than against it. Digital engagement agencies usually try to understand their audiences, engage with them, entertain them and educate them. We believe there are six simple rules of digital engagement: 1. It is rude to interrupt. 
We advocate the use of engagement to deliver a message, rather than the interruption method preferred by online display advertising. A consumer is much more likely to connect with a message that they have chosen to listen to than one forced upon them, especially given that an interruption advert by its very nature stops the user from doing something that they have chosen to do. The implicit brand message gleaned from interruption advertising is: 'We stop you from doing the things you enjoy'. 2. Reduce media spend and increase production spend.
The internet is constantly expanding and each day it becomes more expensive to place an advert where the target market might see it. The traditional formula of 90 per cent of budget on media buying is becoming untenable. Digital engagement agencies turn this formula on its head and maintain that spending the majority of the budget on creating something that appeals to a target market is much more effective. If the content is strong enough, the users will find it. Positive brand experience is not the only benefit. ROI is often massively better than a traditional campaign, particularly as the overall budget required is often smaller. 3. Every successful piece of digital engagement is a de facto viral campaign. 
The internet was built to allow interesting content to be passed among users. Digital engagement content is the most popular kind of content on the internet -- viral games dwarf the traffic that even the most celebrated viral video campaigns generate. Viral is the effect and not the cause and so, unless a viral effect is evident, the following do not instantly qualify as a viral campaign simply by virtue of the fact that they exist:
  • Content placed on YouTube.
  • Content placed on websites through a big media buy.
  • Content placed on a microsite with a 'friend get friend' mechanism.
A viral effect is the exponential growth in user levels of a piece of content that captures the imagination of the audience and cannot be achieved through media spend. As digital engagement campaigns rely on the strength of the content rather than a media buy, any successful digital engagement campaign ought to be truly viral by definition. 4. Friendly coercion = better conversion.
A successful banner advert can hope at best to achieve a 1 per cent click-through rate, with 0.5 per cent seen as a good result. The number of users who accidentally clicked and found themselves whisked away from their intended destination against their will is something that cannot be accurately tracked. A successful digital engagement campaign will see a conservative click-through rate of around 10 per cent. The reason for this variance ought to be obvious to anyone who experiences regular social interaction with other human beings. The former is an uninitiated, sales-oriented message from out-of-the-blue that is met by instinctive objections from the human brain. The latter is the end result of a user-initiated engagement that lasts more than five minutes. This digital engagement produces a positive experience in the user's mind and creates a trust that clicking through will continue that mood. In the realm of real-life social interaction, a good metaphor might be this: a banner advert is a speculative chat-up line, yelled across the dance floor of a noisy, crowded club. The digital engagement campaign is an intimate dinner for two followed by a taxi home.  5. No more lies.
Traditional advertising is judged by an array of 'finger in the air' metrics and suppositions. It is assumed that a TV advert will have been seen by everyone watching a channel, whether or not they were making a cup of tea, and the number of people watching a channel is based on viewing habits of a small selection of the population. The impact of this advert is then judged by focus groups and by more guesswork, based on increases of overall sales that are affected by many different factors. This is then treated as fact. A digital engagement campaign carries accurate and transparent metrics. It is tracked remotely and so displays not only how many users viewed it -- no matter how many different sites it sits on -- but also tracks exactly how the user interacted with it and for how long. Where acquisition online is the goal, a properly executed digital engagement campaign should show exactly how many viewers become customers. 6. Video is good -- interactive video is better. 
Broadband internet makes seamlessly streamed video an attractive addition to the web. Traditional agencies will have brainstormed the many intelligent uses of video online and how this new medium can be exploited. The result is even more interruption advertising, this time with sound and an immensely increased file size. Imagine that! Users with 3G not only have to put up with interruption, now they have the pleasure of paying extra for it. How about that for a brand experience? 'Improved' media buying has resulted in the user not only seeing video adverts crammed into banners, but also pre-rolled in front of any video that users have elected to watch. The subconscious brand message is: 'You will see our advert -- whether you like it or not!' The use of video within applications such as Flash makes for an infinite world of possibilities, with programming and video combining in a way that interactive TV could only have dreamed of. Digital engagement agencies recognise that interactive video experiences, personalised for the user, have a much longer retention time than any 15 second pre-roll, and they need no media buy. Rightly, they are seen as the user's destination, rather than the irritant that sits between users and where they want to go. Our team has applied these rules to diverse and successful campaigns, ranging from Sony PlayStation 3 to Stan James. We have proved that spending the majority of the ad budget on creating content that engages with users not only delivers a positive brand experience but also often produces an ROI that traditional online advertising formats cannot hope to match.


Dave Fleet On:15 Ways PR Agencies Can Help Companies With Social Media


15 Ways PR Agencies Can Help Companies With Social Media

09.11.16

"Help wanted" signAs social media has grown in acceptance within companies over the past few years, one debate never seems to go away – whether agencies should be involved in social media communications, or whether the only way to maintain an “authentic voice” is for companies to undertake it all themselves.
Agencies can help

Not surprisingly (given that I work for a PR agency), I sit in the camp that says that agencies have a significant role to play for many companies. For sure, companies can do some or all of these things themselves, but there’s no reason agencies can’t help without compromising the company’s efforts.

Here are 15 different activities an agency can undertake – legitimately and effectively – to help companies engage in social media.
Getting started

1. Baseline audits

One of the first steps in any communications initiative should be an online audit to both understand the current environment and to set a baseline for measuring results of future activities.

2. Audience research

Alongside an initial audit, learning to understand your target audiences is a foundational piece of a communications strategy, be it online or offline.

3. Corporate policies

Whether your company is engaged in social media or not, it is important to set boundaries around social media. If you are engaging in proactive outreach online, it becomes a somewhat more involved process covering more areas (for a quick start, check out this ebook on corporate social media policies)

4. Workflow processes

What happens when you spot an issue? When someone asks a question? When someone discusses your company with other people? When someone criticizes you? Who is involved in the response? What will you (and won’t you) respond to?

These are the kinds of questions you need to consider before the occasion arises, and which experienced agencies have encountered often enough to help you answer.

5. Social media training

While it doesn’t take much expertise to send a tweet, the norms of communicating in social media channels can require education and explanation. Social media can require a bit of a departure from the way companies have traditionally communicated. It doesn’t mean anarchy, but traditional “messaging” approaches don’t fly so well in these informal channels. Agencies can help to transfer the necessary knowledge around this to clients new to the social media realm.

6. Social media scoping

You don’t need to be everywhere online. Twitter and Facebook might not be the right places – perhaps your audience is primarily hangs out on forums or message boards. An agency can help to scope-out the right places for your company to establish a presence online.
Strategic planning

7. Strategic development

Agencies can bring together a wide variety of communications experiences and expertise that make them well placed to assist with or lead the strategic development process for social media for their clients.

8. Campaign ideas

Right now my perspective of the ideal approach to social media is a foundational long-term strategypaired with well thought-out campaigns that provide spikes in attention and engagement. As above, agencies can bring together creative minds to design those campaigns.

9. Campaign extension

Unfortunately, PR is still often at a point where it is called-in last minute to support other initiatives, whether it’s announcing something that’s already decided or supporting a marketing/advertising program. At those points, it can be difficult to come up with anything effective that benefits the organization. Agencies aren’t a silver bullet, but again they can contribute ideas.
Execution

10. Ongoing monitoring

Monitoring can be very resource-intensive, especially if your company has a significant footprint online or in peoples’ minds. Agencies are well placed to help deal with this pressure.

11. Online engagement

This is one area that I’ll rarely recommend the agency take on. It’s a lot of work and requires a thorough understanding of the online environment, but it’s something that (in most cases) should be done in-house. It allows for shorter approvals processes (important in a fast-moving conversation) and a more authentic voice.

Still, sometimes companies either can’t or aren’t ready to take this on. It may be resource issues, uncertainty over the medium, trust issues or a variety of other legitimate reasons, but there are times when an agency can undertake this work, as long as it’s transparent. It’s not ideal, but it’s possible, with the goal that, over time, the company will in-source this work.

Regardless, agencies can help to advise companies on their outreach – be it advice wording and norms or on whether in fact to engage or not with specific people.

12. Influencer outreach

I used to call this “blogger outreach” but online influencers are so much broader than just bloggers nowadays. Just as agencies undertake media relations activities in traditional public relations, so they can also reach out to online influencers in the new form PR has taken.

13. Issues management

If your company is interesting and matters to people, they will talk about you. That talk won’t always be positive. Sometimes it’s something you’ve done; sometimes it’s something about your product; sometimes it’s “news.” The list goes on. Regardless, monitoring for issues, identifying them early and coming up with suitable responses isn’t easy.
Full-service

14. Design and creative

More often than not, you’ll need some kind of design work done for your social media properties. Maybe it’s a Twitter background; maybe it’s a Facebook page or YouTube channel design; maybe it’s something more involved such as a stand-alone site. Either way, a full-service agency can help if you don’t have the in-house resources to undertake this work.

15. Development

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and their ilk are tremendously powerful sites, and they may well be where your audience hangs out. Still, there are times when they just may not suffice, or where you want to build on top of the platform they provide – Facebook or mobile apps, for example.

What do you think? Are there other areas I’m missing?

Sonia Simone On: 7 Harsh Social Media Realities


The 7 Harsh Realities of
Social Media Marketing
by Sonia Simone

Last Friday I was in Atlanta, where I gave a talk on social media marketing at Dan Kennedy’s InfoSUMMIT conference.

I’m something of a fish out of water at a Glazer-Kennedy event. For example, unlike at Blogworld, I’m the only person in a room of 800 who has pink hair.

I wasn’t sure they’d be too receptive to what I had to say, but they surprised me.

They were warm, welcoming, and extremely interested in my no-shortcuts, no-magic-beans answers to their questions about how to use social media for marketing and business.

So in honor of Dan Kennedy, who sometimes styles himself as the “Professor of Harsh Reality,” I thought I’d talk today about some of the not-so-kumbaya aspects of social media marketing.

Harsh Reality #1: No one is reading your blog
As far as anyone can figure, there are about 200 million blogs around the world. Technorati tells us there are about 900,000 blog posts made every 24 hours.

The world is not waiting breathlessly to hear what you have to say about losing weight with acai berries, making big money as an affiliate marketer, or how to join your Secrets of the Breakthrough Millionaire Insider Guru Mastermind Platinum Club.

Me-too content gets ignored. Scraped and remixed junk won’t cut it. There’s too much good content that you need to compete with. And there’s no magic system that can replace sitting in front of your keyboard and producing something that somebody wants to read. (Or partnering with someone who can.)

If you don’t have a great answer to the question “Why should anyone read your blog?” you’re going to be pretty unhappy with your results. That’s why we spend so much time teaching you how to produce better, smarter, more effective content.

Harsh Reality #2: You’ve got to give (some of) your best stuff away
It’s very natural to expect to get paid for what you do. And you should have a business model that leads to exactly that.

But first, you’ve got some dues to pay.

Commenter Corree Silvera mentioned her favorite Brian Clark quote from this year’s Blogworld Expo:

Don’t sacrifice a lot of money later for a little money now.

The answer to the question in Harsh Reality #1, “why should anyone read your blog?” is that you’re going to give away some of your best, most valuable, most life-improving material away for free, within a well-defined content marketing plan.

Just remember Sean d’Souza’s bikini concept. You can give 90% of it away, but there will always be people who will happily pay to see that last 10%.

Harsh Reality #3: It will eat your life (if you let it)
Social media marketing would be pretty easy if we never had to eat, sleep, shower, or hang out with our kids.

But if doing those things is important to you, you’re going to have to set some boundaries.

Know what you want to do with social media, keep yourself focused, and set a timer if you have to. The tools are amazing, but so is their power to distract you from what you’re trying to accomplish.

Harsh Reality #4: Social media hates selling
Is there anything more pitiful than that guy who gets on Twitter and won’t shut up about how he can put you in a condo today with no money down despite your lousy credit rating? Even the spammers are blocking this dude.

It’s really hard to sell products and services in social media, mostly because this audience hates salespeople worse than they hate Microsoft. You may be able to get some limited success out of it, but more likely you’ll be banned, blocked, shunned, and abused.

Instead of promoting a product or service, promote fantastic content. Promote a great special report or an amazingly valuable email course. Promote wonderful stuff that you’re giving away.

Use excellent free stuff to build authority and trust. Then you have the right to make an offer and possibly do some business. Not before.

Harsh Reality #5: What they say is a million times more important than what you say
Your marketing might be beautifully executed. You might have a special report that goes more viral than H1N1, a great-looking blog that hits Digg twice a day, and an email marketing sequence that copywriting genius Gene Schwartz would have been proud to write.

If your reputation sucks, none of it matters.

People with lousy products, crummy business practices, and shady backgrounds get found out. And word spreads with frightening speed.

Treat people right, because if you don’t, you will be exposed. And it will not be pretty.

Harsh Reality #6: A blog is not a marketing plan
Blogs are cool, but a single useful tool isn’t the same thing as a solid business and marketing plan.

Blogs are just one way to get your best content out there, and they work best when you pair them up with email autoresponders, special reports, Twitter, and any of a dozen other powerful tools.

Just hanging out and being cool isn’t enough. If you’re in social media to do business, you have to develop a strategy for taking mildly interested strangers and turning them into raving fans . . . and customers.

Harsh Reality #7: You don’t get to opt out
Businesses that think they can ignore all this “Twitter stupidity” tend to get painfully rude awakenings.

The conversation will happen with or without you. You definitely don’t need to respond to every chucklehead with a Facebook account (and you shouldn’t), but you need to keep your ear to the ground, and you need a clue.

OK, enough about harsh reality already! If you want our best advice about what to do to create a great online business, subscribe to Internet Marketing for Smart People, the Copyblogger email newsletter. It’s some of our best stuff, no junk, no fluff. And of course we will never, ever spam you or share your information with anyone.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of Remarkable Communication.

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