Recently on One Click Society I had a down-to-earth conversation with Nova Spivack who has been to the edge of space. He talked a lot about the Semantic Web and the future of search and social media. Very cool stuff!

“I worked at Thinking Machines which made, at the time, the most powerful parallel supercomputer in the world. One of the things they were doing there was a lot of different simulations, artificial intelligence type simulations of the brain, as well as all kinds of simulations of physics and emergent computation. A lot of the stuff that I did there and just the exposure I got to all these different projects that were working on artificial life and emergence really helped me think about the early days of the Web. And I ended up building there, before the Web started, I built basically their own web. It was a multimedia hypertext database of all the different projects on all their Thinking Machines installations around the world that you could browse. It was very much like the Web.

And then when the Web came out, in the early days it was actually Gopher before the Web. In those early days, I realized hey, this is a platform where you can do this kind of thing. So I think that kind of thinking launched me into that. I had also done a lot of work on neural maps and other kinds of systems at other companies. I worked on information filtering at a company called Individual. So I was pretty familiar with a lot of these concepts, which then came into play as the Web began.”

Listen to my entire interview with Nova Spivack on the Positive World Radio Network here.

Download the complete transcript of my One Click Society conversation with Nova Spivack just by clicking here.

Social media optimization is critical for painting the big picture so you can see learn and identify opportunities to mitigate losses and optimize gains with your various campaigns.

When I use the term social media optimization, I’m really just talking about any tracking and measuring methods, and assessing the social channels you use to drive engagement and interaction to increase potential sales and profits.

The goal of any social optimization strategy is to provide an experience so consumers can engage with your brand. Knowing the sum of the measurement is not always equal to the parts.

So how can you craft a social media campaign to boost customer engagement and drive them to become loyal customers who BUY?

You must always look at the big picture to assess your success and determine which activity is actually making a dent and turning into sales. With the right data, you can make better decisions on what seems to be working, so you can focus on your efforts to grow and build things such as sales, profits, customer satisfaction and loyalty.

You must have a plan for any social network to integrate your marketing efforts across all channels, to more cost-effectively move your fans into your sales funnel.  The best way to do this is to give them compelling content with info-crumbs of data to lead them down the path of engagement outside of just Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

If you want to drive more people to your site, try focusing on ideas to get consumers engaging with your content at your site via pull marketing, so they can experience or be exposed to your full product line at the same time, without you being invasive.

Often a simple contest or promotion strategically designed with elements of taking action outside of the respective social platform and at your site, or with you directly, will help you lead the horse to your water, faster.  However, regardless of your overall strategy, the elements of any marketing campaign using social media should have the following elements for ultimate success.

#1 Give People A Game-Like Social Experience

Using social media as a less expensive channel for your brand to draw a crowd can be very easy to do and very eye-opening if you can tie results into sales.  This can be very powerful for you. Especially if your brand has an e-commerce platform that can be leveraged at both Facebook and your site, carefully tracking which one is chosen by your target.

A practical example would be to create a contest at Facebook, but make it possible for the contestant to actually purchase at Facebook, too.  This is an excellent way to quietly have a prospect enter your sales funnel without stalking them to make it happen.

It’s fine to incentivize prospects to take action via a contest, but be careful it’s not an element of every campaign.  However, incentives do help answer the all important question ever potential new fan asks, “What’s in it for me?”  If you do this well, you will increase the number of participants and the amount of interaction you receive.

Some great apps or tools to consider for use at Facebook to make your brand more accessible without the heavy lifting of moving them off Facebook, would be:

1.  Shoptab– Ecommerce tab added to your page to promote items during contest.

2. Wildfire app – Use their wide range of applications to encourage user generated content.  Consider asking users to create the top 10 reasons why they would shop with you, with a popularity element incorporated into the contest. This could potentially give you dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of “testimonials” for your brand.

3. Conduit is a great tool to create a customized tool bar to collect items from your site to use for the contest or promotion.  This is an excellent strategy to reduce or eliminate the effort you spend on being a “destination” and can position you to be a part of their day, every day.

4. Facebook Status Updates – Use this function carefully, but when updating fans, sending them to your YouTube channel to watch the video link you send, or giving an excerpt from your blog with a link to read the rest, are both excellent.  By doing this, you begin to get users comfortable with your content and position yourself as a resource.

5. Mobile apps- Even without Foursquare or Facebook places it is possible to make a simple mobile app for a few thousand dollars to unlock deals when they come to your site, or even better to your place of business physically.

#2 You Want People To Create Reward System For Feedback

For example, one of my clients is launching a contest with an American Idol-like experience.  By having popular vote determine the winner, you offer the opportunity for players to invite their friends to come to their entry at your page to vote.

You can also use the players’ news feeds as a form of communications. So if they choose to “publish” the fact they are playing, anytime they upload something, get a vote or anyone interacts with their entry, you can push to their news streams, thereby being top of mind to their friends without them having to advertise for you directly.

#3 You Want To Give People An Incentive People To Spread The Word

Creating an American Idol-like atmosphere focused on the popular vote to determine the winner gives you the chance to build the hype and put power in the hands of the users.

In addition, by incorporating a tell-a-friend script they can add their friends’ emails so you can build your list and also be able to communicate directly with their friends outside of Facebook.

If you do have your own items, you should find ways to incorporate the interaction with them –such as a “no purchase required”, but check out our items and tell us which ones are your favorite, etc.  Creating a group component to winning the reward is key to any campaign’s success.

#4 You Want People To Leave The Social Network To Engage With You

The main reason I recommend a brand have a Facebook page is to be able to increase loyalty and trust, which should make their affinity for you more “sticky.”  The ability to communicate with the customer outside of their inbox is very powerful.  Avoiding over-communication as it relates to email marketing, will protect your house list of emails by reducing the chance for opt-outs.  Being able to communicate to your customer or prospect via a Facebook note or email adds a shot of social caffeine to your bottom line.

The purpose of building this relationship is to position your brand to be top of mind, so when someone is ready to purchase, they think of your first.  By including an incentive for your prospect to become more familiar with your product line as an element of the promotion or contest, you have the opportunity to build awareness of your brand and of all the products available for purchase from you.

Part of the purpose of social media is to get your target audience to think of you differently to either increase sales from new prospects, or deepen/broaden the purchasing habits of current base.  By using a fun network like Facebook as a way to talk to start the conversation, you will find it makes sense to have patience, be strategic and casually nudge them to your site where a fan’s value is increased and tangible to the bottom line.

#5 You Want To Increase The Frequency Of Your Visitors

Getting consumers to your site is key – the more they come, the more opportunity you have to sell them something.  Using a contest with daily entries will allow people to be exposed to items they might not look for on their own. From my experience, by simply using the contest to give your current customers a reason to visit your site more often should increase sales.

The opportunity for you to add incremental sales to your bottom line is huge.  And if you can give your prospects a choice of something besides just purchasing the first visit, like downloading a free report or even purchasing a small ticket item, will let them dip their toe into the water at your pool, before jumping in.

#6 You Want People To “Discover” Your Brand & Its Value

This is your chance to position yourself in the minds of the consumer and have them experience what you have to offer to them. You want to continue to build a relationship for better products and pricing in your store, even after the promotion, so you have to have a plan for that.

If your site is the net to catch the fish, social media is your vehicle to drive them there so they are more qualified when they clearly understand. “This is who I am, what I stand for and this is the value you can get from doing business with me

Be cutting edge on the way you get the consumer excited about your niche and you will be the brand that leads them in 2011.

#7 You Want People To Buy Your Products

This is key to the ROI of your social media spend. Make sure your contest is not salesy, but capitalize on every communication opportunity you have so you can use the proper call to actions. Once they get to know you, you should see your conversion rates go up.

Let them interact with you now, during the promotion, but have a clear-cut strategy so you can nab them later.  Having simple Call To Action on the right side bar of your blog or site, in combination with helpful links in your posts, to get them interested. And even adding a CTA box at the end of each post, like we did at Pick The Brain, a personal development box, increased opt-ins by well over 50%.

Bonus:  A List Of Social Success Metrics / KPIs

Tracking and making sense of interaction is a fundamental part of your success if you want to truly bridge the gap between social media marketing and direct response. The following list of metrics should factored into your internal score card you create to measure your success, and remember all KPI’s are not created equal in terms of success indicators.

For example, number of views doesn’t necessarily matter as much as number of new visitors to the website, or number of sales, etc. So you must find a way to weigh the score for each one in order to fairly assess the campaign.

The success of the contest should be measured by an agreed upon list of KPI’s (a sample list):

  1. Number of new fans
  2. Number of likes per items
  3. Number of votes the contestants get
  4. Number of comments
  5. Number of click-throughs on links
  6. Number of sales from links to yours site
  7. Number of sign ups for webinar
  8. Number of new emails
  9. Number of shares with their friends
  10. Number of entries
  11. Number of sales on your site
  12. Amount of time spent on per visit
  13. Time spent on targeted pages
  14. Total number of participants
  15. Number of emails collected
  16. Views of videos, ads, other content
  17. Phone numbers collected
  18. Mobile numbers collected
  19. Number of downloads
  20. Number of uploads

Unfortunately too many people create marketing campaigns with too many moving parts, not clearly identifying wins along the way, except the occasional focus on leads or sales (which should be the ultimate outcome for any initiative.)

Trying to move a brand out of the old mentality or plain old ROI is difficult.  But if you can get them to drill down in a language they understand, you might have a shot.

For example, I had a health insurance client who wanted use to use social media to drive leads.  No matter how we explained that is a slow and organic process, this is all they focused on.  Brand affinity, reach, influence and trust had no meaning for them.  Even when we explained these goals would majorly impact their conversion rates.

Unless you ask the tough questions and manage your client’s expectations, you could find yourself trying to explain why a wildly successful social media campaign that improved positive sentiment, doubled brand mentions and created an engaged influential crowd for spreading the world, didn’t suck and wasn’t a waste of money.

Without goals and goal values you are not doing web analytics, you are doing web iamwastingyourlifeandminelytics. Sorry, OOD.

After following a structured process to create a Web Analytics Measurement Model most companies find that they are able to identify the goals for their web business.

What they find exceedingly hard to do is identify the economic value added to the business when those goals (micro-conversions) are met.

Read more here….