Social Media Attribution

When I first started consulting on social media back in 2005, I was introducing blogs, wikis, podcasts and the newly -emerging social networks such as Facebook.

Both with my academic colleagues and with clients, one of the persistent questions was “How do I know I’m getting any benefit from these social tools?”

Seeing the impact of your social marketing relies on attribution, which is similar to the older metric of ROI (return on investment). Both are sometimes difficult to quantify.

ROI is a very dollars-and-cents measurement. You invested $1000 for an ad buy and it produced $5000 in sales. (Some might call that ROAS – Return on Ad Spend – but I’m being simpler here.) .

In a more detailed article on Buffer, attribution is said to assign value to the channels that drove an outcome. That might mean dollars but it might not. Attribution could measure a purchase or a web visit or a download.

It is a bit of reverse engineering or backward design because you re looking at something like someone signing up for your service or just a newsletter and tracing back to determine what channel or channels can be attributed to that event.

A simple example that doesn’t concern ROI is my own tracking of the referring sites for posts on this site. I can see if traffic to a post came from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, one of my blogs or just a search engine. When someone finds me via Google, I can see what search terms they used. Those results can be surprising. I might get a surge of traffic from a search or link on a site to “Erik Satie” or from “flat web design.”

touchpoints

Attribution is generally broken down as being in three modes: Last-touch, First-touch and Multi-touch attribution. (Take a look at this diagram from digitalthought.me about more on multi-touch models called Even, Time Decay, Weighted, Algorithmic, etc.

The first-touch attribution credits the first marketing touchpoint. For example, you run an ad and monitor how many contacts you came from that ad.

Last-touch attribution credits the channel that a lead went through just before converting. Maybe you ran an ad on Facebook which someone later tweeted and the lead came from the Tweet that linked to your site for a purchase, so Twitter gets the attribution.

Last-touch is easier to measure, but both single-touch models fail to show the complete and sometimes circuitous customer journey. That’s why multi-touch attribution is used. This gets much more complicated and more difficult to track. More complicated than the scope of this post. But as an example, the time decay attribution gives more weight to touchpoints closer to the final conversion event. If your original ad is the starting point but the final purchase came after a tweet that was retweeted and then posted as a link in someone’s blog a week later, the blog gets more credit (as a personal endorsement) than the ad although obviously none of this would have happened without the ad.

Back to that question I started getting in 2005 – it is important to remind clients that social media used for marketing and as engagement and brand-building may not always generate leads or sales directly but rather indirectly.

Attribution is more complicated than this primer, so you might want to check out these sources:

Website Support and Maintenance Services

maintenance

An article I read recently asks “Should You Sell Website Support or Maintenance Services?” Well, why wouldn’t a designer sell those services?

Some designers want to do only that – DESIGN. Build a site and then let it go. There are also clients who want that. Build it for me and then I’ll take care of it myself.

I have had my share of both approaches. I have also designed sites and handed them over only to have the client contact me months or a year later to ask if I would do updates. Their intention to keep the site updated didn’t work out.

There are also some companies that focus on support and maintenance services.

Why offer clients support and maintenance services? The number one reason must be that it is ongoing and so means steady income. Let’s say you charge a client $2500 to create a small restaurant website. Then you offer maintenance services at $50 an hour. If that site only requires an hour per week, you will make $2600 in the next year.

You can also offer these services to someone whose site you did not design. I have maintained sites that people already had on places like WordPress, GoDaddy, Squarespace, and Zenfolio that they either didn’t know how to keep going or simply didn’t have the time or desire to update. Two of those clients eventually asked me to build them a brand new website.

Support and maintenance services, though not as interesting or creative as designing, can be lucrative. If you have a less experienced employee, support can be a good training activity before giving them their own design projects.

 

Brand Ambassadors

I received an offer recently to become a “brand ambassador” for a product line. The company is owned by someone who is an acquaintance and knew I had a background in social media marketing. Boosting brand awareness by using celebrities, customers and employees is becoming more and more common.

Though customers and employees may not have the audience and followers of a celebrity, they may have more believability as a spokesperson, especially if they are not being paid to endorse (which is what celebrities have been doing for a lot longer than there has been social media).

When you officially make some a brand ambassador, you should not just let them go on their own.

Most brands will create clear guidelines as to what they can post. A bad post can do a lot of damage.

You would need to create and curate relevant content for them. Images, logos, and text can be provided with guidelines how how much personalization and variation can be done.

I did this kind of campaign with a large national professional organization. The official but “unpaid” ambassadors who completed a series of campaign tasks around a national conference could get all or a portion of their conference stay covered. It was a good motivator.

Employers will often use a platform like Hootsuite or Smarp to facilitate employee engagement and advocacy by providing an internal content management system. Employees can access shareable content and schedule posts.

Customers – who are generally unpaid and unofficial ambassadors – can also be effective. As in my own experiences, when someone retweets or shares your official post they are endorsing (unless they make a negative comment along with that share!). That kind of 1:1 or 1:many word of mouth promotion is very powerful.

You’ll see offers made in this vein. For example, retweet this to your followers with a special hashtag and the company will select 10 retweets to win a product package.

When Clients Don’t Provide Content

photo of a woman handshaking with a man

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I saw a topic on the Squarespace Circle Forum titled “How do you work with clients who are lacking content?” Squarespace is a popular website creation website and I use them with several clients. (Note: the forum is open to registered users) Though the posts are focused on web design clients, the question applies to other design situations.

I design courses online and faculty are my “clients” in that instructional design role. An ID designs a course but the content is almost totally provided by faculty.

I’m currently working with faculty at a community college and the biggest problem encountered is getting faculty to provide their course content in a timely fashion.

I also design social media strategies. In that role, I often am the content creator to a degree. I often write posts, add images and repost/retweet relevant content. But that can only be done from the raw content (text and images) from the client.

In all three situations, we design based on the content. It doesn’t work very well the other way around.

So what do users on the forum suggest? Most of their suggestions are aligned with my own practices. Here are some suggestions for working with clients that don’t provide content – or even better, for trying to avoid the no-content situation.

  1. Talk to the client about content and imagery before beginning. Be clear about what is ready to use, what needs to be created and who will create it. I have for some projects created copy, images and media.
  2. Have a timeline with milestones that need to be met by the client (I like weekly ones) in order to trigger your own design work.
  3. Many designers use a questionnaire of some kind. For example, in designing courses, we ask faculty to fill in a worksheet with course goals and objectives (they are not the same thing!) and a syllabus.
  4. You may need to create video how-to’s for the client on how to create content for their site.
  5. Stay in touch. You need to contact them when they are behind on delivering their content. Their prep work determines your ability as a designer  – some hand holding/teaching how to write copy for websites, etc. Email is the least effective way to stay in touch. Phone conversations are better. Web conferencing and screen sharing is better. Face to face meetings are still the best way.
  6. I like having a place for sharing files and collaborative space. Google Drive works, but I prefer Dropbox which has features for collaboration. Both are free for basic cloud space and can be expanded for multiple projects.
  7. You might use temporary filler text and images on a website so that you can continue designing.
  8. The “client” may actually be many individuals such as writers, photographers, graphic designers, media creators, librarians etc.

In some unfortunate cases, a client not providing content will not only delay a project but could end your relationship with the client.

Set the Timer

Being a virtual worker has its obvious advantages, such as no commuting, variable work hours and days, and working in your pajamas from the couch. It also has its disadvantages, such as allowing you to do nothing and lose track of time.

Because much of my work these days are billable hours rather than a salary, it is important that I keep track of how long I work on a project. I need those stats both to invoice clients and to give estimates to new clients.

This was a skill I needed to develop when I shifted my working days to virtual ones. One technique that I started using turns out to have a formal name. More on that in a bit…

This time management and productivity technique is very simple. When you start a task (not a project, but a piece of it), set a timer and work on that task for 25 minutes. Then, take a short break (3-5 minutes). Start working on the task again for 25 minutes and repeat until it’s completed.

I just started doing this on my own and it was only later that I discovered that I was using the Pomodoro Technique.

Il pomodoro.jpg
Pomodoro tomato timer
from Erato at Italian Wikinews. – Transferred from it.wikinews to Commons by Fale using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. His technique was to use a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Originally, he broke it down into six steps. These intervals are named pomodoros, the plural in English of the Italian word pomodoro (tomato), after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student.

The technique has been popularized more recently via a bunch of apps and websites that provide timers and instructions.  I just use a cheap digital timer that can count down. I tried using my phone timer but for some reason it was less effective. Perhaps because the screen would go to sleep, so those numbers weren’t always staring at me.

One of the app options is Focus Booster which will automatically record your timesheets  for each project or task and lets you export it for easier invoicing.

This technique is closely related to several other productivity techniques, such as timeboxing, and iterative and incremental development.

Timeboxing allocates a fixed time period, called a time box, to each planned activity. Several project management approaches use timeboxing. It is also used for individual use to address personal tasks in a smaller time frame. It often involves having deliverables and deadlines, which will improve the productivity of the user.

Iterative and incremental development which is often used in software design. The basic idea behind this method is to develop a system through repeated cycles (iterative) and in smaller portions at a time (incremental), allowing software developers to take advantage of what was learned during development of earlier parts or versions of the system.

What’s Cool With Gen Z?

gen z
I looked at “It’s Lit: A Google Guide to What Teens (Gen Z) Think is Cool”

The social media global penetration will hit three billion people worldwide by 2021, and one of the fastest growing, quickest adopting generations on social media is Generation Z  These are the current teenagers and they make up about 26%, of the US population.

Where are they posting online? Snapchat, and Instagram are cool. Twitter and Facebook, not cool. Still, Facebook is still almost a daily habit for most teens for viewing/consuming content from friends and family, but they are not engaged there or posting.

Snapchat and Instagram don’t encourage sharing as much and are more about who you follow which makes them feel more private/closed allowing messaging and shares without it being public.

Apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and other chat services may play no roll in your clients’ or your personal social media landscape but are growing in popularity with Gen Z.

Pinterest is down with only a 26% reach with teens. In Google’s report, they don’t treat their own YouTube property as social media but as a streaming service. In that category, teens rank services in this order: YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu.

I was surprised at some of the brands they engage with most often: Oreo, Playstation, Doritos, Xbox, Apple, Nike, Amazon, Chik-Fil-A, and Go Pro. Low engagement goes to  Patagonia, Zara, Lululemon, Quicksilver, Oakley, Nordstrom and Sunglass Hut. If you are in that latter group, you would want to consider where these teens will be looking and buying in the next decade when Gen Z purchasing power increases significantly. Will you have lost them?