Brogan and Owyang Orchestrate GeniusI would have thought it difficult to overshadow my excitement for my afternoon session at Blog World Expo on Friday. I’ve been looking forward to the social media strategy session featuring Jeremiah Owyang and Chris Brogan for a month. But my morning session and afternoon keynote bookended probably the coolest conference day I’ve ever experienced. From getting the scoop on blog analytics to listening to Mark Cuban talk about his experience blogging (not included in my recap, but available on other folk’s blogs), I had a blast, learned a lot and networked a lot more.

Yes, I gave away my last business card, roughly about 3:30 p.m. local time today, to Rachel Luxemburg.

Here’s the recap. I’ll Utterz later and probably digest and post something else this weekend.

Just The Numbers: Understanding Analytics

Avinash Kaushik, and author, blogger and “Analytics Evangelist” for Google. Full time job is Occam’s Razor, but not Occam’s Razr by Ike Pigott because that one isn’t by Avinash Kaushik. And it’s too early in the morning to be that confused.

(To beat it all, I got a Twitter from Ike at the start of this session. My head almost exploded.)

He made a good point that Web 2.0 dictates content creation never stops. A single post becomes a new post when a comment is added, someone blogs as a response, etc. The distribution also never stops and is uncontrollable as links, trackbacks and so on proliferate, provided, of course, the content is strong. The old model of Creation à Distribution à Consumption now has multiple arrows pointing to and from one another rather than just the flow chart pair of pointers. What this session is about is how to measure all the activity in those arrows and the man is good. He spelled it out, blog post style, in a list.

6 Ways You Can Measure Success of Your Blogs

  1. Raw Author Contribution – Users, categories, posts, comments, pages, words in posts, words in comments, etc. He averages nine posts per month and 1,637 words per post. Over time, he wants to know if there is a trend of what he is doing to populate the blog. This is a quantity measurement only, not quality. It helps instill discipline in your blogging efforts.
  2. Audience Growth (Onsite, Offsite and Holistic) – Onsite audience growth is simply basic Google Analytics metrics like visits, unique visitors, pageviews, etc. Look for trends in visits and unique visitors. How many come and how frequently do they come back. Audience growth offsite is best indicated by your feed subscribers. He stresses to look at all of the numbers as trends over time, not snap shots. The holistic approach is a report of visitors, unique visitors and unique blog readers. This is an addition of the unique visitors plus the feed subscriptions. While there is overlap, it gives you a perspective on the number of unique people that come to your blog since most feed subscribers see your post, but in their reader, not on your site.
  3. Conversation Rate – “Blogs are the most social of social animals. I blog because I want to have a conversation.” He ends each post with, “Okay, not it’s your turn,” and asks questions about the post for his readers to answer. The number of visitor comments divided by the number of posts is his conversation rate. He also looks at the number of words per comment to know how in-depth their conversation is.
  4. Citations – He says the best tool is Technorati and measuring citations is done there best. It measures how many other people are talking about you. The number of reactions, authority (number of blogs linked to you in the last six month) and your rank in terms of blog volume compared to the rest of the world. He tracks all these over time but realized that the authority score is a count of unique blogs that cite him and is, therefore, what interests him more. It measures relevant, recent conversation (ripples) you have created in the blogosphere.
  5. Cost – Very few people measure cost. Why? Technology, Time and Opportunity Cost are his three measures. Technology is the domain name, hosting, etc. Time is the hours times his rate of $100 per hour, which he just made up. The Opportunity Cost is what else you could be doing. In that same time, what money could you make doing something else? His total cost is $220K.
  6. Benefit – Technorati has a comparative value badge, which is neat, but define your own benefit measurement. Are you making money from speaking engagements, AdSense, exposure? Is your network growing? Does it expose your business. But also consider this: Does it make you happy?

Analyzing what factors are most important to you and weighting them appropriately is up to you.

Anecdotally, Avinash did say, in answer to my question for the group, that he hasn’t seen any social media measurement firms that are producing anything different or exceptional in their reports or methodology. He did say they were trying and many of them are well-intended, but most of this measurement, specific to blogs, can be done without outsourcing the task and your dollars.

Creating A Coherent Social Media Strategy

Jeremiah Owyang and Chris Brogan are two guys who have received the (insignificant) benefit of my blog post link pimpage for the last two to three months. So not coming to their presentation would have been rather stupid of me. Being a brand evangelist for these two guys was a pretty fair networking strategy. They both knew who I was before we ever got to Blog World. Jeremiah is pulled from a lot of angles but we chatted a couple of times. Everyone at Blog World and beyond probably heard verification Brogan and I get along well.

Like the Creating Conversations With Your Readers session with Wendy Piersall, et. al., yesterday, Owyang and Brogan started by asking the community what they wanted to get out of it. The difference in this session was Jeremiah and Chris were able to keep the presentation on topic while addressing the questions of the group. (Wendy did a good job of steering yesterday back. I don’t mean to imply it was her fault.)

Jeremiah, who has branded himself well as The Web Strategist, offered up the point of a social media strategy was to develop the long-term decision-making for your website and web outreach that meets three spheres: users (or community), business objectives and technology. To define your strategy is to plan for the long-term direction using web tools.

The first step in the Brogan/Owyang process of devising a strategy is curiously the one most of us think is last: Measurement. They both stressed that beginning with measurement gives you a benchmark, which then gives you something to shoot for and measure future efforts against. Makes perfect sense. Why do we not think of this?

As an aside, and I think both would agree, this point sort of proves something I often entertain while at conferences. It’s not that the speakers we’re watching are so much smarter than the attendees. It’s that they’ve had more experience and deep thought in the topic and have clarity of thought there. (I still thing Jeremiah and Chris are brilliant, but knowing their revelations are the product of a logical thought process and not some divine genius gives you some confidence as a payoff.)

Their take-aways were five easy things to remember.

  1. Understand The Elephant – Listen to the conversation about your brand. Know what is being said, who is saying it and where.
  2. Turn bullhorns into party hats – Don’t yell at your customers. Create an environment for them to join the party or join the party they are already throwing.
  3. Develop a plan – Self-explanatory. Nothing done well just happens.
  4. Be holistic – Jeremiah’s case study of his work at Hitachi and their look at the recent Dove campaign both illustrated the ways the social media plan touched all parts of the day in the life of the consumer. From marketing materials and advertisements to customer support functionality and response mechanisms, good strategy reaches each ingredient in the marketing mix.
  5. Just tools – All of the mechanisms and methods of your social media strategy are just tools to achieve the work of marketing. And marketing, according to Jeremiah, is simply connecting consumers with products. At the end of the day, that’s what you’re doing with a social media effort.

Jeremiah also discussed his successful advanced strategy deployment of the Data Mining Wiki. It was (and is) and unbranded resource for everyone in that specific industry. The introductory paragraph there says:

Dear Storage Community,
Thanks for visiting this resource ‘wiki’ for the Storage Industry. Deciding on the right storage solution is important –You’ll need to get expert opinion, and opinions from your peers. This wiki can help you get quick and up to date information on the Storage Conversation. I want you to succeed, hope this helps.

This is a genuine outreach to offer relevant tools or content to the community in an appropriate and acceptable fashion, done with context in mind (links to Hitachi competitors were on it from the beginning) that made (makes) the company appear to be a thought and practice leader. My assumption would be that it ultimately led to improved perception of the company and perhaps even better sales results in the long run (though other factors had to gel well for this to occur.)

Jeremiah said the PR folks asked him what he was doing, linking to the competition. He replied, “I’m making us relevant by joining the conversation.” I would say Jeremiah made them relevant by leading it.

Other relevant quotes I jotted down:

  • Brogan on the appropriateness of Facebook, MySpace, etc.: “The question is ‘Can you engage them?’ The people are there. Do you need lots of people or just a small group of the right ones?”
  • Brogan on blog comments: “You want to attract the negative comments so they happen on your site and not someone else’s.”
  • Owyang on lifecasting: “Lifecasting is only interesting when you are interesting or you’re at an event.”
  • Some research stats from Owyang: The internet is the No. 1 medium in workplace in North America. It’s No. 2 at home. White collar professionals over 35 represent the largest growth market in Facebook.

Expectation: Walk away with a 368-pound brain full of enough web strategy knowledge to take over the world, or at least frighten a small village.

Success? Close. Like Marshall Kirkpatrick yesterday, these two guys have mad smarts and you just feel smarter being in the room with them. And, of course, I’m drinking their Kool-Aid pretty hard, so I was going to love it anyway. For perhaps a less glorified (read: unbiased) view of things, check out Lisa Barone’s recap.

The last session I went to isn’t even worth blogging about. It’s not so much that it was awful more than it was my desire to get work done (this blog post and actual work for my real job I was behind on). I simply didn’t pay enough attention to know if it worked or not. But as I type this, 14 people have walked out on it and two folks haven’t cared to let their cell phones go off, so I may not be missing anything.

Once again, for the coverage of these and other sessions from Blog World Expo, check out the other bloggers by searching for the Expo on Technorati or check out a few I’ve singled out below.

  1. Lisa Barone at BruceClay.com
  2. Conquest Chronicles
  3. Jack Army
  4. Jeremy Wright
  5. Blog World Expo’s Live Feed

[tags]Blog World Expo, Blog World, BlogWorld, conferences, blogging, social media, measurement[/tags]

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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