Archive | August, 2012

The Evolution of Social: Search, CRM and Data

24 Aug

[Originally published on Digithoughts)

Right now is a good time to be a social media startup. With a growing emphasis on social ROI and keen interest from all industries in harnessing the power of social influencers, big companies are taking notice and quickly snatching up social media startups.

In 2011, Salesforce acquired social media platform Radian6. Earlier this year, Oracle acquired social marketing platform Vitrue and Google acquired Wildfire, a social marketing software developer. Just last week, search engine optimization giant SEOmoz announced their acquisition of Followerwonk, a social tool that measures influence of Twitter users, continuing the trend.

Moral of the story: Companies like Google and Oracle know that the future of social is search, CRM and data.

Beyond these acquisitions, we are already witnessing the effect of social’s growing importance in search. Hubspot’s Dan Zarrella recently released a study in conjunction with SEOmoz that revealed a correlation between social sharing of URLs and inbound links pointing to them. Whether this has a direct or major impact on search result rankings is still unclear, but some in the industry have their suspicions.

“I don’t think anyone really knows exactly how trending topics on social sites impact rankings – however, we’ve seen strong correlations between organic rankings and social signals, such as likes and shares,” Larry Kim, founder of WordStream, told MediaPost last week. “Whenever we have a new article with a decent amount of social interaction, it seems to catapult the page to the first page of results for keyword searches directly related to the post.”

And now, with search engine updates, like Bing’s social integration with Facebook and Twitter, and Google’s “Your World” results from Google+, search and social have grown increasingly dependent on who is doing the sharing. Enter the CRM function of social.

Platforms like Followerwonk and Klout are tools that help people identify influence in the social realm. Though not yet perfect, these tools give marketers the opportunity to find people who have the ability to get the social network buzzing (which, as mentioned earlier, could boost search rankings).

But aside from the possible SEO implications, what this type of software really gives a brand is the opportunity to build strong relationships with a target market. When Salesforce bought Radian6 for $326 million, they recognized the value of social conversations and saw the future importance of cultivating and monitoring these conversations. For example, studies show that 60 percent of brand followers on Twitter are more likely to recommend that brand, while 50 percent are more likely to actually buy that brand. We can expect to see more integration of CRM with social in the future, especially from Salesforce and Oracle, which will no doubt continue to buy out social startups.

Value must be quantified,  of course, which is why the data and analytics function of these social media tools have become so important. CMOs are increasingly spending more and more budget on social media each year. In fact, within the next five years, marketers expect to spend almost 20 percent of their budget on social media — nearly three times the current amount. With the increase in spending, CMOs are going to be hard-pressed to show ROI. Link tracking, change in customer sentiment and increase in engagement will become even more important; I suspect that companies are already trying to figure out how to make these more quantifiable.

The big questions now become: How will all these companies end up integrating the social startups into their platforms? How will these moves affect the way social campaigns are run in the future? We may find out sooner than later if the buy-out trend continues.

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Hard Work Pays Off: A lesson in work ethic and finding balance

6 Aug

I thought I would take a break from social media and public relations today to offer up a mantra that has kept me going these past few years–“Hard work pays off.”

When I began working two jobs for a total of 40+ hours a week this summer, many people told me to take it easy, “You work too hard,” they told me. Maybe its just the old-school work ethic instilled in me by my hard-working parents, or maybe I am simply an idealist, but whenever someone says that I am working too hard, I have to shake my head. “No,” I say, “I am not working hard enough.”

Thousands of college students graduate each spring, looking for a way into the workforce. The reality is, less than half of them will actually find jobs right out of college, and many others will be forced to take internships before they can find full-time employment. Receiving a college degree no longer guarantees that you will find employment–those days are long gone.

In order to find a good job today, we need to work harder than ever before to get good experience and make those crucial network connections while still in school. We need to have more than one internship on our resume, prove to our employers that we can handle anything they throw at us and stand out from other applicants by demonstrating ability and dedication to succeed in the workforce.

So, what does it take to “work hard” and still have a life?

  • Discipline: The ability to delegate time to multiple tasks is very important in public relations and marketing. If you are working at a firm, you will sometimes be responsible for more than four or five clients at one time, which means you need to figure out how to accomplish everything asked of you by your deadlines.
  • Understanding your limits and how you work: Knowing when to give yourself a break and call it a night is important to the quality of work
  • Saying ‘Yes’ more often than not. The way I see it, saying ‘no’ to your employes is a luxury. You have to put in your time and pay your dues before you can even think that word. This means that sometimes weekends need to be sacrificed when clients move up deadlines.
  • Above all, Balance: If you value the personal relationships in your life, you will need to understand how to balance your work load with your personal life. Sometimes it can be tricky, and I can personally attest to the fact that it is not always easy, but it is extremely necessary.  Remember to take a weekend off once in a while, see your family, hang out with your friends, spend some quality time with your significant other. The way I see it, success means nothing if you don’t have people in your life to share it with.

When things get tough and you feel you are running out of steam, stop. Take a breath. And remind yourself, “Hard work DOES pay off.”