Interview with Tamar Rimmon: Analytics Without The Glazed Over Look


Part Two of a series of interviews with Adobe Digital and Social Media Summit Speakers & Attendees. 

Tamar Rimmon, Conde Nast, tells us how her team provides meaningful insights to senior managment and internal clients that support the brand's goals. 

Tamar Rimmon _ Conde NastAbout Tamar Rimmon - Tamar is Senior Manager of Analytics and Audience Development at Conde Nast. She works with Conde Nast’s brands – including The New Yorker, Glamour, and WIRED – helping them deliver unique brand experiences for their audiences and drive engaged users to their sites. Tamar’s career spans the television, publishing and digital media industries.

Toby/Diva Marketing: As Senior Manager of Analytics and Audience Development your days are filled with numbers. Often the people that ask for analytic reports may not live in your world. How do you tell the story of the numbers so your internal clients don’t get the ‘glazed over look?’

Tamar Rimmon/Conde Nast: My team’s goal is to help guide brand strategy by providing meaningful insights to our internal clients. I found that the best way to bring value is to get into my clients’ shoes and understand what matters most to them.

The story should not be about the numbers in and of themselves – it should be about what the numbers tell us regarding the things that are important to our clients, and how they can make better decisions by leveraging these learnings. I’m also a big believer in data visualization.

Presenting the numbers in a visual way is a great way to convey insights and make the data accessible and easier to grasp even to those who are not experts in analytics.

Toby/Diva Marketing: We understand that measuring success starts with goals/objectives. However, sometimes is seems like “data data everywhere and not a drop to drip.” (Apologizes to  Samuel Taylor Coleridge). How have you determined which analytics to focus on in terms of demonstrating value to senior leadership?

Tamar Rimmon/Conde Nast: It's easy to get overwhelmed by data overload, but we have to be in control of the data instead of letting the data control us. Analytics must be derived from and aligned with the goals of the organization.

Conde Nast has always been focused on creating high quality content that caters to valuable audiences, so we structure our analytics around this objective. My focus is on harnessing the analytics to understand who our high-value audiences are, how they behave, and what we need to do to engage and delight them.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What is a must bring to Adobe Summit for you?

Tamar Rimmon/Conde Nast: A notepad! (mine is digital, though…) Adobe Summit is a great opportunity to meet fellow analysts and marketers and learn about all the innovative things they are doing. I like to keep track of the new ideas that I hear about and the thoughts they inspire in me, and I make sure to bring it all back with me to the office when the Summit is over.

Tamar's Adobe Social Sessions: Social ROI all star panel & The rise of the social analyst

This Diva Marketing post is part of an influencer Adobe Insider program for Adobe Summit. I receive incentives to share my views. All opinions are 100% mine.

News Flash - Innovative New Idea! Listen To Your Customers.


Women talking 2
She asked, "What should we talk about in this new social web of yours."

I responded. "It's not necessarily my social web. It's yours and your customers and their friends and their family and .. and .. and. Ask them what they want from you and how they'd like to interact in the digital world."

"Ah," said She. "What a great idea!"

Recently I've been noticing more posts, tweets and social network updates by marketers who have had ah ha moments that customers hold the golden key to their business profitablity. And .. this is their BIG Revelation .. talking to customers can bring valuable insights. 

Hello out there! Girlfriend, I don't know whether to shudder, scream or just sigh. Just for a giggle I dug out my dad's marketing research text book from the 1950's. The following is from the first chapter:

  • American business lulled into a state of complacency during the early post-war period, tended to forget the time-proven truth that the "Consumer is King." ~ John P. Alevizos Marketing Research published 1959. 

Flash 52 years into the future and we hear author and social media professional Geoff Livingston saying to top host Wayne Hurlbert in a BlogTalk interview, "It's not about you it's about them." 

Good business professionals have known this secret way before 1959. Take a look at my Corner Grocer Store Relationship post. How we do it might change but talking to your customers In 1959 or 2011 or 2072 .. it's just a good business practice. 

Social media provides an amazing way to listen not only to what your customers might tweet to you but what they talk about with family and friends. While traditonal market researchers may argue that these behind the curtain conversations are not scientific or statically valid, they do provide rich insights. Often they can serve to complement quatitative research by providing the passion or emotion that can be missing.

Informally reaching out to your customers, while it may result in some bias, is at the very least a way to not only gain insights but to keep in touch beyond the purchase and holiday card. In his MSN Business On Main Street post How To Pump Your Customers For Regular Feedback Randy Myers offers a few ideas on how to secure this type of customer feedback. Note to Randy: while I might agree with your suggestions I do have a bit of a problem with the word "pump". It seems to me to be one sided and negative. Just saying ...

One of my favorite ideas from the MNS post is from Chuck Reeves. ~ "Give the customer a summary or a detailed copy of your findings and ask for any corrections. Giving feedback demonstrates sincerity, invites further comment, and shows that you value and will act on the information provided."

At the end of the day, or post, we come full circle from wha John P. Alevizos said .. customer is king or queen and getting to know him or her is was and will always be .. the 1st step in the road to business prosperity. 

Read More

For free digital tools to help you listen that go behind Google Alerts (which are great by the way) here is the monster list of 198 links (and counting!) from Sales Rescue Team.

Two Sides of Consumer Generated Media: Listening and Participating

 Graphic: Ann's Girls 

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for MSN Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Go Behind The Numbers To Determine Success



How do you determine business success? Not only in marketing communications but in customer service or even with nonprofit programs. Just asking .. 

"Why Toby," You might say. "You set a numerical goal and then see if you can meet it. It's called measurement and metrics." 

"Ah, " I might say. "Yes that's good. Or is it really? Or might it be misleading? Is it enough? Could it be doing us a disservice?"  Just asking ..

This week I was chatting with a friend who recently joined the staff of a nonprofit organiztion. Her focus is to manage social media for one of the non profit's community education programs.

She said two things to me that inspired this post.  #1 - Her boss expected the number of friends, followers, hits to the site, etc. to increase within weeks. #2 - The major funding grant placed a high emphsis on site visitors.

Sidebar: In another lifetime I was marketing director for a nonprofit. Among other elements, our grants measured success by the number of people we serviced; as well as the out reach we did. So I am familar with the demands of funding source reporting. However, In this case, there is a huge disconnect and lack of understanding of social media from my friend's boss and the funding source. Perhaps a post for another day.

We use numbers as a gauge of success. It's fairly easy to count. We learned it watching Big Bird, Oscar, Cookie Monster, The Count and my favorite Elmo!

But is that really sufficient to determine the worth of your strategies? Just asking ..

I admit, going behind the numbers takes more time and resources. When was the last time you determined if you hit the "right" people? Or if "they" took away the end objectives e.g, behaviour changes (finding information online versus your call center), perception changes (branding), new skills learned (training)?

  • What was the impact beyond the numbers? Just asking ..

It's not difficult to understand the why we are stuck on the numbers. The history of  business "success" is based on the quantitative.

Back in the Mad Men advertising days broadcast media success was about the reach and numbers. High Nielsen ratings were the gold ring. Decisions lived and died based on the figures. In newspapers and print publications (remember those?) the number of subcribers were what drove the ad dollars. It gave us a baseline. It was ok.

Then we stepped into the digital world and WoW! it was like walking into the Disney World of analytics. We could count Everything .. happy days! Our challenge became which ride (metric) to go on first (or pay attention to).

Then came social media. We had learned how to count our online strategy "results" from banner ads to website analytics. We transfered our hard earned knowledge from the web and began counting. Counting followers, likes, comments, posts. Life was good. Management could understand that type of "success." 

However, with social media came something else. Something that we were never able to determine: who were the People Behind The Numbers. Huge. Powerful. Scary. 

Hold on to your boas .. we can determine:

.. if we are reaching our target audiences

.. if we are acheiving our beyond the numbers goals 

.. if we are relevant to our target audience 

We are now really accountable for if our strategies resonant with our customers and prospects. Oh sure the numbers should matter but to a lesser degree. We should also be paying attention to if we are attracting and sustaining the right people. 

Go Beyond The Numbers Tips

1. Review the profiles of the people who are Likes, Followers,  G+, etc. 

2. Analyze your LinkedIn connects based on the niche you want to attract as clients. 

3. Segment as much as possible within limits of the social network platform. For example, on LinkedIn tag people, in Google+ put them into circles, on Twitter create lists. 

 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10! What are your thoughts?  Just asking ..

Update: Example of going behind the numbers - Brian Solis and analyzed 50,000 of Starbucks’ Twitter followers. What resulted was a rich,complex profile and a indepth understanding of likes and lifestyles. So much more interesting than just the numbers. 

3 Questions To Ask Before You Build Your Social Media Plan


Questions Ask two people if you should include social media as a part of your business communication strategy and you'll get at least three different answers.

MSN Business On Main offers an interesting post written by Polly Schneider Traylor Are You Wasting Your Time On Facebook and Twitter? Polly's post includes insights from a range of people working in B2B and B2C. She reminds us that for social media to be effective it circle backs to building a strategy that takes into account not only business goals (that can be measured) but understand where your customers are, as I like to say, hangin' out on the social web

Part of my due diligence in helping people create social media plans includes talking .. lots of talking. Well .. perhaps not so much talking on my side more so listening. 

I listen to the people within the organization. I listen to their customers/clients. I listen to what is happening in the "industry village" of their social web. This occurs before a decision is made on where to go or even if go. 

Everyone who has ever created a stratgic plan understands this first step is nothing new but it is a critical piece of the foundation. Not only is it important to understand the views and expectations from both employees and the people they service e.g., customers but it's often the first step in building cross department buy-in. Keep in mind social media is more than a new tool; for many it is a change in how they approach business .. internally and externally.

To help you structure the due diligence part of your planning here are a 3 Questions To Ask to get you started on the road to building a successful social media stategy. Of course you will include more in your guide that reflects your objectives, customer needs and industry. 

3 Questions To Ask Before You Build Your Social Media Plan

1. What does social media mean to you? The answers may surprise you. You'll find some people will define social media by the tools e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc. while others by the outcomes such as sharing information online. The insights from this one question are extremely valuable to help you understand the different orientations.

2. Who do you think is doing social media right and why? This question has a couple of benefits. First, it provides tangible insights into what the person thinks is of value. Second, if nothing comes to mind it is a red flag the person might not be as active in the social web as he indicated. Or it could be an indication that there is a gap in the industry when it comes to providing social media innovation.

3. What type of content would add value to you building your business? This seems like a no brainer but lots of surprises surface when you include the words add value to you. You're taking this into what I call the realm of selfless content that may not directly include information about the your brand or products or services. The result is a stronger parternship relationship. 

 Bonus Tip! If you feel that you have to jump in and justify or respond to the answers then you are not the right person to conduct this type of interview. The more you (or someone else) is able to stay objective .. to listen .. the more you'll learn. And the result is? Right! A Successful Social Media Plan.

I'd love to hear and to share with our communty other questions that people ask as part of their pre planning due dilegence. Drop a comment. Thanks!

Diva Marketing is part of an online influencer network for MSN Business on Main. I receive incentives to share my views on a monthly basis. All opinions are 100% mine.

Social Media Idea Management: An intellectual capital hustle?


Idea light bulb Imagine this scene - You've invited me to your home to discuss my ideas that may help you .. fill in the blank .. do your job better/make a better product/write a job description, etc. You also invite lots of other people. We find our way to your house. Instead of drinks together in your living room or coffee around your kitchen table you show us to separate rooms.

Then you walk away. However, naive that we are, we assume you are listening, care about us, that we matter to you.  So we happily share our creative ideas. Although our thoughts echo in our empty rooms we smile pleased to be of service to you. Every once in awhile some one wanders by and chats briefly. But rarely if ever is it you. Not even to say "thank you." 

Where are you? You're sitting behind an online dashboard gathering our intellectual capital as if it were digital diamonds. No girlfriend, it's not a focus group. Or maybe it is. Maybe this is the social media version of a focus group but with less honesty and less transparency. It's called IdeaXYZ or IdeaFireStorm or My(your brand) or ShareYourIdeas ... But don't expect anything back other than the satisfaction you derive in a bit of ego boosting on a brand site with some people who might vote you up or vote you down.

Are The Brands exploiting customers in the name of "engagement?" Are we so excited that The Brands have given us a way to directly and easily express our opinions that we clamor to give mega brands our creative ideas without even expecting a "thank you" in return?

Or is this simply the way that Brands approach the interaction of social media. Is it the way they view their role in the "conversation" of social media? Is it naivety or is it digital social media ineptness on how they perceive what is appropriate to build and nurture relationships?

Social media has two aspects. The first is digital research. That simply means reading posts and tweets of your customers to better understand who they are, what they care about and what they say about your brand. I think of it as raw, informal, qualitative, real time or what should be the  "first listening post" in your marketing research strategy.

The second aspect is something that is unique to social media. Other than trade shows, there are no business initiatives that I know of where marketers can hang out with their customers. Like any person-to-person exchange it's rarely structured. It can get messy and to make it work there has to be genuine interest on both sides.

  • Establishing an authentic presence in social media is where many marketers fall down. "Most brands aren't doing it successfully." Shiv Singh, vice president/global social media lead Razorfish (study)

Then there is a new kid on the block - Digital Idea Management or Viralsourcing - which seems to me a mash-up of these two concepts. Although based on the user group experience this has a stronger social media overlay. Customers are invited into a special company-based website to talk about what would make a better computer or latte or retail experience.

It's highly social since comments are open, often voting of each idea is encouraged and of course every post comes with the opportunity to be Dugg, Tweeted, Facebooked (new word) etc. One would naturally assume that the people who are on The Brand side would pop in to offer encouragement, provide feedback, say thank you. In other words to join in the conversation or as Shiv Singh says, "Establish an authentic presence." Rarely happens.

 If I were a bettin' diva I would say that Digital Ideology sites will become more prevalent across industries and sectors. Maybe even to engage in real exchanges. For now it seems that companies are using it in a traditional media/marketing way.

Dell is exploring this model and sharing learnings. This presentation from Dell details their Idea Management strategy behind IdeaStorm.  On slide 12 Dell outlines customer expectations as positive experience, action taken on ideas and recognition. With tactics on How To Address including: timely feedback, clear status updates, thank you mechanisms.

Happy to help you out dear brands but I expect you to join in tThank-youhe conversation with me and at least say 

Butterfly Moment


Butterfly with purple flowers Walking Max yesterday and saw a beautiful butterfly on a flower. We stopped. We watched. We were quiet for a moment.

I wondered how many times we miss butterfly moments with our customers? Social media listening gives us the opportunity to do just that: to stop, to watch/listen, to be quiet for a moment.

Enjoy my white paper - Two Sides of Consumer Generated Media: Listening & Participating

Thanks to Timothy Hamilton on Flickr

Many Ways To Listen & Learn


Heart_5 One important outcome of social media is the ability to listen and learn from our customers, and even our employees, through the unfiltered conversations of consumer generated media. However, there are other ways to understand our target audiences and that of course is through primary research.

Skipping around the blogosphere I found three posts that included research studies that might be of help to you:  women in social media, engaging employees and marketing to African American women. I'm leaving a few virtual bread crumbs for you to follow and perhaps travel down a few new paths.

One - A must read is the BlogHer Second Annual Women and Social Media Study. Elisa Camahort, BlogHer, explains the history of the study. The research takes a close look at the habits and attitudes of heavy users - women who participate in any social media activity at least weekly. 

Participants, who were online were more likely to spend less time engaging in traditional media activities like watching TV (30%), listening to the radio (31%), and reading magazines (36%) or the newspaper (39%).

A few more findings - Women are nearly twice as likely to use blogs than social networking sites as a source of information (64%), advice and recommendations (43%) and opinion-sharing (55%), while they are 50 percent more likely to turn to social networking sites as a means of keeping in touch with friends and family (75%),

Two -  Continuing my virtual blog travels I found that Sybil F. Stershic at Quality Service Marketing wrote a great post based BlessingWhite’s 2008 Employee Engagement Report. We're learning that social media influences more than marketing. It's not just about the brand <-> customer relationship. Social media impacts the entire organization from who is hired to management's trust of employees. It becomes even more critical for mangers to understand how to inspire and engage their staff.

Three - Michele Miller, Wonder Branding, concentrates on marketing to women. She well understands that success is dependent on realizing that this segment is more complex than it may appear. There are niches within niches. One important segment is African American women.

Michele points us to an interesting study by Lattimer Communications  that found " 86% of African-American women say that advertisers need to do a better job of understanding and marketing to them." Lattimer-communications-six-personas-black-woman-2008 Lattimer has developed six psychographic profiles.

Social Media Research: Interview with Joel Rubinson of ARF - Part 2


Arf logol This is the second part of my interview series with Joel Rubinson, Chief Research Officer at ARF, Advertising Research Foundation. Part I of Interview with Joel

The ARF mission is to improve the practice of advertising, marketing and media research in pursuit of more effective marketing and advertising communications. When I learned that ARF was actively leading the charge to bring social media research into the mainstream of the marketing research industry I reached out to Joel. He graciously shared his insights on changes and future trends in marketing research.

Toby/Diva Marketing: The amount of consumer generated content is over whelming. One - What is the best way to mine that information?  Two -  Does using free tools like Google Alerts or Technorati still work?

Joel rubinson Joel Rubinson:

Social media and the internet in general have turned life into an interconnected open book exam while traditional research is a closed book exam. 

In real life, access to friend’s opinions is almost frictionless while in surveys, we spring a subject on someone out of the blue, don’t allow them to research the topic or ask friends. That discrepancy is striking to me especially for those products and services where people have a naturally tendency to turn to digital sources. 

If you are hearing different things in social media it either means that comments are sparse or that something has truly happened and you’re the first corporate eye-witness.  You have to decide and we’re still learning how to do that. Also, let me say that focus groups have their own problems when a strong personality becomes the group leader, which often happens.  Much qualitative research has gone to one on one, and triads because of this.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  In addition to conversations that evolve quickly changing opinions, what is your stance of content that is based on the person receiving payment for content (pay per post)  or receiving free products? Can it skew the data?

Joel Rubinson:  I’m not that familiar with that. In general though, I think there are two legitimate strategies for getting input which I gleaned from Dan Ariely’s book, “Predictably Irrational”. There is the social contract and economic contract. Sometimes you need to use the latter but then you need to get the exchange right.

Toby/Diva Marketing: You’re designing a research initiative. What does that look like in the year 2009?

Joel Rubinson:  We have formed a Research Transformation Super-Council of the top leaders in our industry which started on July 15, 2008 with a small group of industry leaders.  The atmosphere was electric, as we had direct competitors in the room; Procter and Unilever; Nielsen, TNS, and Motivequest. 

We started out talking about listening and within 45 minutes we were talking about the very mission, vision, and scoping of the research function. Kim Dedeker from Procter expressed the opinion that research as we know it will be on life support by 2012 and Donna Goldfarb from Unilever said, “My God, we’re all having the same conversations!”  This was really explosive. 

Now, we have run two conference events that were incredibly successful on research transformation and we have a core leadership team that will propose a new path forward that will probably be based on creating a learning organization predicated on three cornerstones:  putting the human at the center; bringing the human to life; and business impact. In only 5 years, the terminology of the future of research has completely and utterly changed and we are leading this initiative, which is very gratifying.

At the end of March, at the ARF annual “ReThink conference 2009” the journey continues with the most amazing learning event ever in our industry. The first day will start with industry leaders from Unilever, J&J, Microsoft, and MTV conveying a sense of urgency.  Then we will have a panel of scientists (anthropology, behavioral economics, cognitive science) advise us.  Then the leaders of Nielsen, WPP, and IRI will reveal plans for moving our profession forward.  Finally, the former president of the Institute for the Future will talk about foresight, insight, and how to “get there early”.  Day two, we have leaders from media talking about the 360 world we live in (including the head of NBC research talking about learnings from the largest media experiment ever called the Olympics) and how the only answer is to put the human at the center.  Day three will be about “innovating innovation” with the kickoff coming from Gary Flake innovation leader at Microsoft.  All of this will be supported by presentations from 20+ leading advertisers and a hands-on “listening zone” where you will learn all there is to know about listening tools.  Repetition, reinforcement, constant communication—we won’t be able to change the industry without this.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Glad to hear that The ARF is taking a leadership role in how social research finds its place in the marketing research mix.

For the marketing research director who is exploring how and where social research “fits” into a marketing research project would you advice her to use CGM as a first step in the process and then bring in traditional research? In other words where do you see social media “research” fitting into the traditional marketing research world at the tactical level?

Joel Rubinson: Preliminarily, I believe it would fit in to a comprehensive research and learning plan in three main ways.

First, I would use it for continuous monitoring to spot corporate reputation issues, customer care problems, emerging social trends, and new vocabulary. 

Secondly, I would use it as a front-end tool for significant new business questions that require their own project plan, coming before survey-based quantitative research and experiments. 

Third, I would create an on-going “enthusiast” community for innovation and dialogue in the brand backyard such as Dell Idea Storm or Starbucks.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Joel Rubinson on Social Media “Research”

Joel Rubinson: Thanks for giving me this platform.  I think this is the research profession’s moment in time if it has the courage and vision to transform and to drive a culture change at the enterprise it serves. 

The new central concepts will be learning and bringing the human to life.  Market Research should become the SPOC for bringing the human (the shopper, the consumer, the person living their life) into the boardroom for shifting focus from a product centric to a human-centric lens. The head of Consumer and Market Learning must synthesize the different data feeds and bring insights to life via storytelling, insights that can galvanize an organization like “only 2% of women think of themselves as beautiful” did for Unilever and Dove. 

Over the next five years, you will see research shift focus to synthesized learning about the human and you’ll see a big change in who enters the profession.

It’s already happening at places like Crispin, Porter, + Bogusky where the planning function has researchers but also includes anthropologists and news reporters. Research, account planning, and consulting will begin to blend as research departments at leading advertisers begin to retool. Innovative research organizations will enable the change.  Some of which will come from companies you haven’t heard of and some from the big guys.  The ARF has become the industry’s leader at devising a listening strategy to extract insights from social media and how to integrate that into the broader range of tools.  We welcome that responsibility.

Toby/Diva Marketing: This aint your father's (or mine) industry .. or then again perhaps it's just beginning to be ..Ellington surveys _3

Social Media Research: Interview with Joel Rubinson of ARF - Part I


With the rapid increase of digital conversations the importance of not only listening to consumer generated content (CGC) but the analysis of this new data set is finally taking its place at the marketing research table. However, the industry is still at the early stages of determining how social media research (my term), which is based on the raw talk of our customers, can be used as a credible decision making tool that complements traditional research methodologies.

The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) is taking a leadership role helping the profession determine best practices. Joel Rubinson, Chief Research Officer - ARF, and I had an extensive email conversation about some of the issues facing the industry ranging from the validity and trust worthiness of the information and content creators to where and how "social media research" fits into a marketing research initiative. Joel's responses were insightful and our interview ran longer than anticipated so this will be part of 1 of a series that will post through the week. Part 2 Interview with Joel Rubinson

Sidebar: It's interesting to see how Joel's views and the perception of social media research differ in 2009 from the 2006 interview I had with Bill Neal, former chairman of the board of AMA.

Arf logol The Advertising Research Foundation
The principal mission of The ARF is to improve the practice of advertising, marketing and media research in pursuit of more effective marketing and advertising communications.  We are the only organization with a complete view of the media and marketing ecosystem as we have 400+ corporate members who represent each of the key stakeholder groups:  advertisers, media companies, media agencies, creative agencies, research organizations, and academics.

Joel rubinson Joel Rubinson
I have been the Chief Research Officer and head of analytics at a number of big research companies, head of the research practice at a leading marketing and innovation consultancy, and started at Unilever.  I have an MBA in statistics and economics from the University of Chicago.  At the ARF, as Chief Research officer, I constantly speak with industry leaders and try to assemble the pieces I hear into a cohesive set of industry trends and priorities.  This approach got us to our three top priorities of research transformation, 360 media and marketing, and reestablishing trust in online research panels.
Joel's Blog CRO-ing About Research @joelrubinson on Twitter.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s take it from the top. Why do you think that "listening in on the raw voice of the customer" has merit?

Joel Rubinson: In a world where consumers are in control, where social media provides unprecedented velocity to the spread of messages like the reaction to the Motrin campaign, a marketer must commit to continuous learning. In turn, “learning” comes from hearing the unexpected. 

If we only rely on traditional research approaches where the researcher controls the dialogue, your vocabulary will always trail the market and you’ll be much slower to sense the next move of the market than organizations that continually listen and learn. Listening to naturally occurring conversations in what we call both the consumer backyard (social media, search, @comcastcares in Twitter) and the brand backyard (like Dell Idea Storm) is essential for the continuous learning organization.

Social media and search provide a continuous flow of undisturbed insights giving us a continually refreshed picture of marketing opportunities and threats.  Also, the picture is always on consumer terms not yours (the marketer).  If people want to talk about a product in terms of the solution or social factors, if they want to find substitutable purposes for things that never sit next to each other on the retail shelf, God bless them.  If activists start to trash your brand, like happened with Motrin, you need to be there immediately to sense, respond, and dialogue.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What do you say to those people who question the credibility of consumer generated information/data?

Joel Rubinson: Marketing decision making is inherently risky business.  80% of new products fail. 50% of ad campaigns provide no sales lift.  Marketers are in the business of making decisions based on hunches that come from what Bayesian statisticians would call “priors”.  Acid tests are, “Does listening to CGM add to better hunches, improve the priors…does it increase the probability of an “aha” moment vs. the use of traditional research methods alone?” 

Many cases are now documented in books, articles, presentations where it did…by Nielsen Online, by Charlene Li at our recent conference in San Francisco, by MTV and Schwab via managed online communities. Others will be presented at our annual conference at the end of March. Also, no one is suggesting that it is an “either/or” situation as listening should go on simultaneously with survey-based information.  Listening can help brand tracking be more agile where new vocabulary is injected much faster into the tracker based on what is learned from listening.  I’ve seen better brand equity analysis from TNS/Cymfony who integrate their brand equity tool with listening.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What do you say to people who question the credibility and the statistical reliability of the “sample/people” who produce content and comment on social media platforms such as blogs, social networks, Twitter, review sites, etc.?

Joel Rubinson: Purists challenge listening to social media on the basis that the statistics of sampling can’t really be applied, at least not yet. However, that is not the same thing as saying there is no statistical validity. For example, there is published evidence from regression modeling that measures of brand affinity or equity can be calculated from social media which, in turn, correlate with sales trends.  Personal experience with publicly available tools like Blogpulse indicates for me that CGM trends pass the sniff test. 

Recently, the NY Times created a great tool for analyzing tweets from the super-bowl.  It seemed more “true” than commentary by trade journal columnists and was closer to biometric results in terms of which super-bowl commercials really popped.  While we might not yet fully understand the science, the natural state of these comments often provides more honest feedback than respondents’ answers to questions in a survey if they aren’t worded quite right.  However, we must acknowledge that these are still early days for this new type of data and the science of how to analyze it in some valid way. 

Clearly, there are certain types of marketing situations where CGM is of less value as the target consumer might not be active in social media or where the product is so “low involvement” that there is not enough input coming through.  Back on a positive note, CGM can either be thought of as a flawed sample (glass half empty) or a census of something really important (glass half full); what people are saying about you online, sometimes in direct reaction to a viral marketing campaign you purposefully executed. If you believe that comments in social media by consumer activists are important, you really must monitor social media. 

While there is push-back from some quarters on analyzing social media, it is a combination of legitimate questions based on the state of the art mixed with risk-aversion and change anxiety. Those who tenaciously hold onto old methods without considering this new source of insights will lose relevance as marketers will just go directly to those who mine social media, customer care, etc.

The ARF is committed to experimentation and harvesting industry experience to fully examine its usefulness and those key business issues where it is proven to add value. Ultimately, we hope to provide roadmaps for research buyers as to how to best incorporate social media in their “data feed” strategy.

Toby/DivaMarketing: Given as you indicated that decision making is risky business are you saying that the data (which assumes the people producing the content are trusty worthy) from CGM is a credible source of information for marketers to base important strategic initiatives?

Joel Rubinson: While we still need to create the roadmap for using CGM as a source of insights, I am very optimistic that it will add value, so credible?  Yes, I think it will have credibility as providing useful information and being believable to senior management. If by “base” you mean, use in isolation, no, that isn’t the model we are proposing. 

We believe that there is such a thing as a research value chain where the center of gravity is shifting from the activity of data collection to synthesis.  CGM will be a slice…one input…that will always be triangulated with other approaches.

Blogger Relations Series: Bloggers Talk To Agencies and Brands


Pulse of the Industry: Blogger Relations Part V

Social media marketing combines the innovation of technology and the internet with an old fashion concept .. building customer loyalty by creating stronger relationships through understanding. However, social media as a new marketing strategy is more than a blog or a social network or a tweet. Unlike any marketing technique I know it involves reaching out and connecting with and to people.

Blogger relations is a new tactic that some say is it a form of public relations. Perhaps. Perhaps not. However, swirling around BR are many discussions on the expectations of bloggers, as well as, agencies and brands. Susan Getgood has written some great posts on the topic. I was curious to know what bloggers thought was the "right" way to reach out to them. I also wanted to know what agencies and brands have learned in the early stages of this emerging industry.

So I conducted an online survey and tapped a few bloggers, agency and brand people. 99 people participated. Since the research is not statistically valid let's call it an industry pulse check from the people who are working in social media. Their feedback is a good starting point to understanding expectations and continuing this critical conversation about how to create value for bloggers, their communities and our client brands.

Blogger_social_collage_march_5_low It seems appropriate that the last question in this series about Blogger Relations should go to the bloggers. Warning! This is a long post. However, the insights were so valuable that it was difficult to cut back much. Delicious the post and read at your leisure.

Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy Part III: Agencies Talk To Bloggers Part IV: Brands Talk To Bloggers Part V: Bloggers Talk To Agencies

Question: If you are a blogger ... what would you tell people on the agencies and the client side who ask you to participate in blogger relations strategies? 68 responses

The big take aways for me were:

  • Read my blog. Know who I am. Target to my interests. Personalize.
  • Provide value to me and my community.
  • Tell me about you. Ethics count.
  • Treat me with respect. Treat my community with respect.
  • It's a two-way conversation.

Katie Paine, hit the high notes, "Listen for a long time before you take action. Get a sense of the conversation. Only contribute what the blogger will see as valuable and relevant."  In her kind to be cruel way, Nicole Simon adviced, "Become less clueless. it is basically the same game, with new rules and new participants."

Read my blog. Know who I am. Target to my interests. Personalize.

Liz Strauss offered her insights to how bloggers are different from journalists and continued on on to tell how to create relationships with bloggers without spamming.

Most bloggers are not journalists in the way we view our readership. We view them as communities who share a bond of trust. We don't offer that relationship to someone we don't know. Email blasts insult us. If you don't know me or my blog, what you've sent is spam.

Carefully choose the bloggers you invite to that small gathering at that fine hotel for your client's product. The event won't do much if you invite us to something we don't blog about normally and the hosts aren't genuinely interested in getting to know us.

Corporate PR releases won't cut it with Nedra Weinreich. "Read my blog! Don't send me a corporate press release without showing how your products fits with my blog. A personalized pitch makes it more likely that I will respond." 

Nor will they entice Randall Moss. "I am happy to blog about your product or your service anytime, so long as you ask nicely and the content will fit into my general scope. If you send me an idea you can send me copy as well but please try and make it conversational and not a PR pitch. I can see through that and so can my readers."

Or ..

Mass pitches and straight press releases rarely work. Send me a personal email, let me know why this is relevant for me and why you chose to send it to me. Better yet, build a personal relationship with me before you actually need me for something. Finally, give me some kind of incentive or exclusivity. – Rohit

Or ..

Take the time to read my blog and know what it's about. I have a unique niche and don't respond well to mass-market pitches. – Sybil Stershic

Several people reinforced that that bloggers are not under any obligation to write about your company or brand. Keep WIFTM .. what's in it for me .. top of mind.

  • Read my blog first and stop freaking pestering me like I HAVE to write about what you're pitching. - Anonymous
  • Know my name and my blog. Don't delude yourself that I have any great desire to write about you to HELP YOU (BTW: journalists don't write about company to help the companies) Ask yourself what's in it for me, the blogger, not you, the company. – Anonymous

Read my blog ..Blog_read_blog read my blog .. read my blog - please! read my blog.

  • At least read my blog before you contact me (and look carefully on my blog for clues on how to contact me). And don't mass-email me from mailing lists you acquire. Ever. - Neville Hobson
  • Please try harder to target your efforts towards me versus just the rough pencil sketch of "blogger." Meaning, look at our last 10 or so blog posts to see if your relations pitch matches the person. - Anonymous
  • Please read the blog first and then contact me with educated questions. Otherwise, I feel like it's spam. - Cece Salomon-Lee
  • Read my blog and website, watch my YouTube videos, search for me on LinkedIn and Facebook and listen to my podcast before you contact me. – Jay Berkowitz
  • Read the blogs first, if you think it will be a good fit for your company or product then contact the creator of the blog. It's important to make sure that you both have a vision that is headed in a similar direction. Kinda like acquiring a new company. The Gap would probably never acquire Hot Topic because the long term vision is too diverse it's not a good fit. The same way with blogger relations. - Mei-Li Thomas
  • Understand our coverage area before pitching to us. - Anonymous
  • Don't waste my time with irrelevant pitches. - CB Whittemore

Relationships are important. Get to know me.

  • Relationships are everything. Get to know me before you pitch me. That doesn't mean we have to be personal best friends, but that you are acquainted with my blog, topics I cover and and interacted with me either through twitter, Facebook or email. - Paul Chaney
  • Get to know the blogger you're targeting. Just sending them a freebie isn't enough. – Rich Brooks
  • Please at least make an effort to seem like you're trying to personalize an approach - don't just do a mass e-blast and call that blogger relations. Anonymous
  • Since I straddle the two (agency/social media co and a blogger - will take a shot at this too) Its a two-way street here unlike traditional PR activities which were more push. Listen well, engage in REAL conversations, don't appear to 'spam', make yourself visible in the blogworld! Better still, start blogging yourself :) - Dina Mehta
  • Get to know the blogger before you ask for exposure on his\her blog. Strike up a relationship first, ask for favours second and make sure your requests add value to the blogger's community.- Mark Goren
  • Build a relationship with me; don't just tell me you are a "loyal reader". I would prefer to know you over time so we can trust each other. Becky Carroll
  • Start a conversation and begin a relationship before trying to sell me. Just like you (hopefully) would in person. Anonymous
  • Stay in continuous contact and understand that helping bloggers and the company better communicate and understand each other should be the main goal. – Anonymous

Not all bloggers welcome participating in a blogger relations program with a "stranger." "Don't bother. I write what I want anyway. Just be my friend. You'll have better luck that way." Anonymous

  • As a blogger, I would tell social media marketers to use 80% education/inspiration/entertainment and only 20% or less sales promotion when interacting with the blogosphere (including micro-blogs like Twitter, Pownce, Plurk, Jaiku). A company or ad agency should delegate the job of interacting with bloggers and social networks to people who have a genuine passion for the problems their products solve, and not just sales of the product.

Contribute relevant insights and helpful tips, and only rarely, almost reluctantly, hype a product, and even then only "product as solution", as when someone is seeking a digital voice recorder, for example. Steven E. Streight

Provide value to me. Provide value to my community.

  • Give them (my community) the same attention they have given you, by reading my blog and taking further action to learn more about you and your products/services. - Roxanne Darling

In addition to offering dos and don'ts BL Ochman also reminded us, "The bottom line is that nothing you say matters if your product sucks."

  • No Dear Blogger emails - read the blog and know what we write about. Hint: most of us list the categories we cover - no embargos that allow bloggers to run a story after MSM - Google the bloggers on your list so you know if they've covered your client's competitor - don't say "because your Alexa ranking is amazing" I think you'll want to cover this (I'm not making that up. It was in an email pitch last week.)

Don't send a 500-word pitch. - Don't pitch. Inform. - Give me a heads up BEFORE you give the story to everyone and her dog or don't bother me.

What is "Value?"  Junk_man_cart As the junk man says - what is of value to one person may be trash to someone else. In blogger relations relevancy for the blogger and her community plays a big role in what matters.

  • Give us early access, give us lots of information and images. let us give feedback and know that it will make a difference. Listen, track, and monitor what people are saying. Make sure someone can answer questions as they come up. – Tris Hussey
  • Provide value, be authentic, show personality, include humor and focus on building relationships. - Anonymous
  • Emphasize facts and access, not packaged PR - most of us can tell the difference ... - Marc Danziger
  • Give me content that I could use - give me data, give me research, figure - that's what helps me. Don't give me press releases. Rajesh Lalwani
  • Don't send me junk. Don't send me the same thing you sent 25 -100 other bloggers. Let me actually help you by giving me what I want: good content, access to leadership and some level of exclusivity. Drew McLellan
  • Give them the two definitions, find out what their goals are, as those goals will determine the strategy, conduct an audit of the community and the company, for scope of what needs to be done, and to understand the capabilities of the company. Is someone available who should write, can they write well, can they write the amount that will be sufficient within the community? – John Cass
  • I only have relevance to my readers because I act as a filter for them. If you can help me to do that, then we may have something to talk about. But there does need to be an exchange of value. It is not just about "news". - Anonymous
  • Please be relevant to me and my readers. - Becky Carroll
  • Connect me to the product or service and don't ask me to blog about the product or service. I will do so if I feel like there is some value to my readers. – Marianne Richmond
  • Stop looking at me as a target, send me stuff that will make me look smart and informed when I share it. - Kami Huyse
  • Don't ask a blogger to blog about your products. Instead, post rich, relevant, altruistic comments on her blog that demonstrate your expertise and credibility as an innovator or industry leader. Such enriching, or even comical, comments will inspire the blogger to check out your ecommerce site and perhaps try your product or alert others to your company. - Steven E. Streight
  • The strategy needs to be something that is consistent with my current goals - Sherry Heyl
  • I am not going to lie for you or shill for you. I will offer my honest opinion, but only if I think that the product or service is something my audience is interested in. - Alan Wolk
  • Show real value. Illustrate that you know me and know what I write about. Hey, these are the same rules we've had for traditional media relations. Sadly, too few seem to be following the rules. In fact, it seems that the number of bad actors increases exponentially each year. - Robert French
  • Military history is written by the winners. Capitalistic history will be written by the bloggers. Make sure the product or service is serving the triple bottom line of economics, environment and social good. The last thing you need is to draw permanent attention to the product (and company) that brought destruction to the planet or society. If your product doesn't serve the triple bottom line, then don't take to bloggers. – Mary Hunt
  • That I would be happy to "play" as long as our goals mesh and our audience is similar. I don't have time to spend promoting things that have nothing to do with my long range goals. - Heidi Richards
  • I actually get these too, as a blogger. I have many contacts in the industry and elsewhere and periodically get requests to help them spread a message. It's always very flattering and if I believe in it, I will blog about it and help distribute the message.

I tell folks that I don't like to advertise unless it is something I believe in. My readers expect that, so I don't mention anything that I don't actually believe in or support. I get offers to advertise on my blogs, for pay, but so far I haven't found any of those offers to be anything I actually support. – Tim Jackson

  • If it is relevant and it helps me forward my own goals, I am fine with it. But as journalists have been saying for decades - do your homework, read the blog. Make sure you don't pitch off topic ideas that mean nothing to me or my readers. - Sally Falkow
  • Make sure that the product is germaine to my area & community. – Anonymous
  • Give me samples to share or loan out so my audience can try the products, make mashup videos, etc. Give me access to one or more of your execs/tech staff to interview and add a real face to the company. Give them some reign to discuss things besides the product itself. Think out of the box. An in-depth project or campaign with a specialist in your space might have much more ROI than a scattershot approach that is far less personal.- Roxanne Darling

Tell me about you. Ethics count.

If blogger relations is about building relationships it would be wise toWomen_whispering listen to Shel Israel. "This is not one directional. It is conversational or the program is likely to fail."

The social media mantra: honesty, transparency, authenticity is also two directional. Bloggers hold brands managers and agencies people to the same standards that they impose on themselves.

  • Always be authentic and I believe you increase "trust" in your business! I always think of blogging as an online resume or meeting and stay aware of professional boundaries (Don't think it's local bar, it's more like the old office watercooler.) If you're going to participate I believe you need to be approachable and converse - it's a 2 way dialog (if not you may actually create a negative backlash). - Cyndee Haydon
  • Be up front and transparent and don't waste my time. – Anonymous
  • Don't hide behind anonymity. Come out, use your real name, and engage with people. Put up an About section and personalize it with names, photos and short bios. Focus on building relationships with people, too. It may seem risky, but in the end you will be better off. – Anita Campbell
  • That they have to make the transition from safe disembodied corporate prose to one with a strong voice, strong opinions, and caring about the world. – Jane Geneva
  • We value transparency and complete disclosure. - Prashant Kew
  • To tell me you have someone senior, preferably several, in your team who is blogging regularly and with whom I would be able to discuss directly and frankly any stresses that arise in the relationship. - Des Walsh
  • Be reader-focused and genuine to your principles and beliefs in the subject matter. - Elaine Fogel
  • Be straight up. I don't expect you to know how all this works, though I do expect you to be honest with me about your goals and tactics and where I fit in.

Inform your partners and engage them. If you are a manufacturer, integrate your dealer network. If you are in consumer products, integrate your retailers and sales staff. Train them in advance (some bloggers like myself offer training and coaching), get them ready to participate and capture those leads on the spot.- Roxanne Darling

Treat Me With Respect. Treat My Community With Respect.

The Big R Word .. Respect was repeated many times through out multiple questions. Some people felt that brands/agencies don't "get" that most bloggers do not get a pay check for writing their blogs. It takes time to write a post and time does not always = money.

  • Treat bloggers with the respect they deserve as influential media. - Carolyn Wilman
  • Time is as important or more so, than money. Please be available to participate in the conversation on my blog; don't expect me to answer technical questions that you could do better. - Roxanne Darling
  • Once again, it's all about educating readers and connecting them with each other, NOT promoting a product or brand. It's a tricky wire to walk for brands - how do you sponsor without seeming biased? -  Michele Miller
  • Respect the fact I owe you nothing. Any reason I choose to work with you is because I believe in your product/service. Recognize I did not establish myself as a blogger to be a clearing house for your public relations or advertising needs. You don't get to set the rules. I do.

So, the one question you need to ask me is, "What are your goals for your blog and your readership and how can we work together to achieve a good fit, because we'd like to talk to your readership?" - Susan Cartier Liebel

  • I need to ask if it's paid, they seem to take our time and input for granted. - Anonymous

Yvonne DiVita suggests that new bloggers may not care about the "relationship" but rather the ego stroking by a popular brand's notice.

  • New bloggers who don't care about blogger relations...they just want to tell friends a major brand approached them to blog. imho they will take over and true blogger relations will fall by the wayside. interestingly, fan bloggers are the best people to engage for blogger relations...those of us who have large blog networks may know the ins and outs of how PR should approach us, time goes on, PR will not need to approach us. they will have all the bloggers they need, in the general populace.

To pay or not to pay .. that is the question.

  • Finally, never pay or otherwise compensate bloggers or comment posters to attack your competitors or praise your company, as in PayPerPost. Incentivized opinions are detrimental to the blogosphere, because they break the Trust Web of peer-to-peer recommendations. - Steven E. Streight

Alanna Kellog commented that even if a blogger agrees to write about a brand or book or event the blogger decides what to say and when to say it.

  • If you want to reach a blog's readers -- and control the message and the timing -- buy an ad. - Alanna Kellogg

Merrill Dubrow reinforced the benefits of blogs.

  • It is the latest communication tool that allows you in real time to gain reaction to anything and everything you could ever imagine which allows you to get a pulse on a new product or service for your client - Merrill Dubrow

Bringing it back to what's is all about .. combining a blogger's interest with those of his community.

  • Write about what you want to write keeping in mind your target audience but without compromising the integrity of your blog. - The Marketing Girl
  • Be very clear on your intentions for blogging - the Who, Why, What, and Where - that forms your existence and relationships. Then stay true to your intentions. Do not take comments "personally" - it's not about you. You can be "right" or you can make a difference. - Cynthia Holladay
  • As a blogger, I would tell social media marketers to use 80% education/inspiration/entertainment and only 20% or less sales promotion when interacting with the blogosphere (including micro-blogs like Twitter, Pownce, Plurk, Jaiku).

A company or ad agency should delegate the job of interacting with bloggers and social networks to people who have a genuine passion for the problems their products solve, and not just sales of the product.
Contribute relevant insights and helpful tips, and only rarely, almost reluctantly, hype a product, and even then only "product as solution", as when someone is seeking a digital voice recorder, for example.
Don't ask a blogger to blog about your products. Instead, post rich, relevant, altruistic comments on her blog that demonstrate your expertise and credibility as an innovator or industry leader. Such enriching, or even comical, comments will inspire the blogger to check out your ecommerce site and perhaps try your product or alert others to your company. - Steven E. Streight

Ann Handley's response is a great end game wrap up that concludes this series.

  • My sense is that companies who have successful blogger relations outreach have acknowledged bloggers and blogging, and have acknowledged the affect each can have on their business. To that end, they have reached out to blogs/bloggers who cover their space in an effort to get to know them, but not to control or censor what the blogger ultimately writes.
  • I do make a distinction between journalists and bloggers. Journalists have a responsibility to present all sides of an issue, and should at least attempt to keep their bias at bay. Bloggers are free to have an opinion and a point of view.

Thank_you_chocolate.. to the pioneers of social media .. all of you .. who are forging new ways to make business personal and accountable while adding value for your customers.

.. to the 99 people who kindly responded.The following agreed to be quoted and publicly acknowledged.

Michele Miller WonderBranding
Mei-Li Thomas, No Fear, Just DIVA
Paul Chaney, Conversational Media Marketing
Kim Haynes, Texas Gal Ramblings
Des Walsh Des Walsh dot com
Alan Wolk The Toad Stool
Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing and Consulting
David J. Neff, American Cancer Society; Sharing Hope TV
Steven E. Streight aka Pluperfecter (formerly known as Vaspers the Grate)
Nicole Simons, Cruel To Be Kind
Sherry Heyl, Concept Hub, Inc
Ike Pigott, Occam's RaaR
Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust

Yigal Cohen, Linx Analyst and Blogger Relations
Susan Cartier Liebel, Building Solo Practice University
Liz Strauss, Successful and Outstanding Blog(gers)
Robert French, infOpinions?
Cynthia Holladay, UpRight Marketing
Alanna Kellogg, Veggie Eventure; Kitchen Parade
Yvonne Divita, Lip-sticking
Jay Berkowitz, Ten Golden Rules
Heidi Richards Mooney, WE Magazine for Women
Tim Jackson, Masi Bicycles  Masiguy Podcast
Marc Meyer, Direct Response Marketing Observations
Mark Goren, Transmission Content + Creative
Sally Falkow, PRoactive  Leading Edge on the Daily Dog
John Cass Author of Strategies & Tools for Corporate Blogging Blogger at PR Communications

Shel Israel, Global Neighbourhoods
Ann Handley, Annarchy; Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog
Francois Gossieaux, Emergence Marketing
Erin K Vest, Queen of Spain
David Berkowitz, Inside the Marketers Studio,

Kate Spencer, Fordham University
Ed Gaston, Chrysler
Michael Rubin, Blog Council
Cyndee Haydon, Clearwater Real Estate Tampa Homes
Katie Paine, KDPaine's PR MeasurementBlog
Drew McLellan, Drew's Marketing Minute
Anita Campbell Small Business Trends
Rich Brooks, Flyte
Jane Genova, Law and More
Marianne Richmond, Resonance Partnership
Becky Carroll, Customers Rock
CB Whittemore, Flooring The Consumer  The Carpetology Blog
Roxanne Darling Partner, Bare Feet Studios Bare Feet Blog
Dave Williams, Co-Founder, 360i

Tris Hussey, A View From The Isle
Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones
B.L. Ochman What's Next Blog
Carolyn Wilman Contest Queen

Rajesh Lalwani, Blog Works

Dave Taylor, Ask Dave Taylor
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Nancy White, Full Circle
Neville Hobson,
Nedra Weinreich, Spare  Change blog
Dina Mehta, Conversations with Dina
Rohit, Influential Marketing Blog

Prashant, Markitechture
Katherine Malone, Fleishman-Hillard
Randal Moss, American Cancer Society; Community Mobilization
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Merrill Dubrow, M/A/R/C The Merrill Dubrow Blog

Graphic Thanks to CK for the Blogger Social and Blue Chip.

Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy Part III: Agencies Talk To Bloggers Part IV: Brands Talk To Bloggers Part V: Bloggers Talk To Agencies