Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Proving the Value of Forum Engagement - SMX Advanced

Today I attended SMX Advanced in Seattle, which had surprisingly nice weather. This was definitely a more digitally savvy group than other conferences I've attended recently, but I guess that's why they call it "advanced."

I had the privilege of speaking on a panel on "Proving Social Media's Value" and was joined by Ben Straley of Meteor Solutions, Tarla Cummings of Location3 Media, and Tony Adam from Yahoo! Chris Sherman from Search Engine Land moderated.

Ben's company helps clients track the "pass along" effect from online campaigns. Whether it's a retweet, email forward, or IM forward, he made the case that looking at traditional site traffic referral site logs undervalues the WOM effect. He showed some great data with the group and how niche sites (based on referral traffic) can some times spread the word better than the perceived high traffic sites.

I then presented a way to measure forum engagement, based on allocating a revenue value for promoters and detractors, a concept based on Net Promoter. The key takeaway was that public forums offer companies a way to improve their brand perception (if done right) and win over detractors. And I presented some simple math to calculate the incremental revenue lift from doing so. I won't do into it to much here, just check out my presentation below instead.

Tarla, a fellow online agency representative, shared a case study for a hotel client of a marketing campaign they designed, managed, and measured from start to finish. They pushed out promo codes over, Twitter, Facebook, and SMS, among the usual online marketing tactics. She tracked the usual conversion metrics and also the # of fans/followers acquired, email sign-ups, and retweets. So while the campaign broke even in terms of revenue vs. marketing spend, she argued there was future value in the opt-in fans, followers, and mobile contacts.

Tony, who made it clear that he's not from the Search side of the business, talked about how hard it was for him to convince Yahoo! execs internally to invest more in social media. He shared tips on how to do that, such as showing competitive examples.

Side note: The free lunch that was provided for conference attendees was awesome! Kudos to Third Door Media and others who planned that part of the conference! =)


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