The New Community?

choice2I had an interesting conversation the other day with an industry colleague who used to be a community manager and is now building his own social media training and speaking consultancy. We got into the usual topic of social media and how businesses are still learning to adopt it in their communications programs. We also discussed his past life running online communities for businesses and the differences between managing a purpose-built community and navigating a community like Twitter.

I asked the question, will branded online or topic-specific online communities suffer because of the popularity of general communities such as Twitter and Facebook? For example, will you still participate in communities built around TV shows like LOST, life experiences like motherhood, brands like Kodak, or user communities for products such as Quickbooks or even EMC’s ControlCenter Community? Or has the ability to follow and hold such conversations simultaneously on Twitter taken your attention away from such communities?

Are you more likely to participate in one over the other? Do you get enough of what you need from a brand you admire on their Facebook fan page (ex: Avelle) or Twitter account (ex JetBlue), or will you still join an online community built for their customers? Is there one kind of online community that you prefer over another?

If you have an opinion will you please take our poll and/or leave a comment here with your opinion? Thank you in advance! We’re very interested to see how the future of online communities evolves over the next 6-12 months.

Computerworld takes a look at the value of social media; featuring two PerkettPR clients & their ROI

rdWhether you call it social media, new media, social marketing or another moniker, the big question remains the same – how do you measure its value? We’ve been able to measure value from day one of jumping into the social marketing world here at PerkettPR, and now we’re thrilled to be helping clients to do the same. Reality Digital and Litle & Co are both featured in a series of articles on Computerworld today regarding the value and ROI they’ve seen with their social media efforts.

In “One Company’s ROI Tally for Social Media,” Reality Digital’s CEO Cynthia Francis says calculating return on investment starts with understanding what you want to accomplish. She includes a breakdown of investment vs return, including:

  • Total investment for social media programs (including technology costs and PR agency hours): roughly $3,000 per month
  • Total sales leads generated in April, May and June: 72
  • Average sales leads per month: 24
  • Average cost per sales lead: $125
  • Lead conversion to sales opportunities: 11.1%
  • Lead conversion to closed deals: 1.4%

Litle&coIn “What’s your Twitter ROI? How to measure social media payoff,” our client John Stevens, director of corporate content and communications at Litle & Co., says the company has seen “six-figure revenue come in because of the connections made through social media.” He discusses the need for firm ROI figures and future decisions around using public sites such as Twitter or building proprietary systems.

What’s your return been on social media investments to-date? Do you expect the ROI to increase, decrease or remain the same in the next 6-12 months? How are you using social media in your business? CMOs and marketers, what kind of help you do plan to enlist for PR, social marketing and advertising in the next year? Please take our survey – it’s only two questions and we’d love to hear from you. Thanks!

Persuasive Picks for the week of 09/14/09

Why corporate blogging is like selling uncut cocaine
Ok, you got me. This post came out last week. But, how could it not be a pick with an eye-popping title like that. Oh, and our own Fred Han interviewed David Spark a while back as well – in case you missed it.

A need for social media etiquette
So you’ve made that first step into the world of social media and it’s beginning to get exciting. AP business writer Barbara Ortutay shares this post on The Tenessean.com that advises readers to use a little restraint and put more thought into what they share on social networks.

Social media – PR’s new BFF
Do PR and Social Media go together like chocolate and peanut butter? The results of a recent study posted on bizcommunity.com seems to point in that direction. Read on for more.

The 10 Myths of Social Media
This post by Mikal Belicove on the Entrepreneur.com blog reiterates “10 Social Media Myths” by Eric T. Bradlow, co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Interactive Media Initiative. Bradlow recently presented these myths to B2B marketing and advertising professionals at the Lift Summit.

Why B2B Companies Have a Distinct Advantage Online
Another great post from Valeria Maltoni that includes additional links to helpful information for B2B’s.

ShopUp Proves Social Media Value to Fashion Retail World

Over the last year I have sat across many-a-Starbucks table from social media and marketing consultants of all types. I have given advice on job hunting, standing out from the competition and more, and I’ve asked a lot of questions, such as, “What makes you an expert above and beyond the next guy/gal?” A lot of times, the answers were vague.

But one of those times, I sat with Rachel Levy (@bostonmarketer). Rachel has a very interesting story to tell – she recently became the Director of Marketing and Social Media for Second Time Around, a chain of contemporary, designer, consignment clothing & furniture stores. But prior to that, she spent a year off – networking, job hunting and ultimately, with the intelligent use of social media (as well as some tenacity), reinventing herself. (See her recent blog post about this.) In our conversation Rachel stood out – she’s smart, insightful and most of all, she was enthusiastic about finding the right position with the right company.

I’d say she’s found it.

Last night I attended #ShopUp, a shopping event that Rachel planned to help raise awareness of Boston’s Second Time Around (the company has 21 shops in cities around the U.S.). Now, I’m a rabid fashion fan and involved in the industry as a Board Advisor to New York City’s Style Coalition, but last night I wasn’t paying attention to the fashion. I was paying attention to the social marketing of this event – Rachel did an amazing job.

I sat down with Rachel today to ask her about the event. I was so impressed with it, I wanted to share it as a great case study in how social marketing can help any business – when done well. I’ve heard a lot of people claim social media expertise – but anyone can pull off tactics like running a Twitter account. Integrating them into an overall strategy is a different story.

PPR: What was your overall strategy for #ShopUp?

RL: Mainly, I wanted to spread the word about who we are and what we do – specifically, create regional awareness for the Boston store through word of mouth. A specific part of that goal was to get people to interact with the product. Having a party and getting them into the store was the best way to do that. Consignment shopping is a different experience than shopping for new retail – I wanted people to experience it first hand. Lastly, while this event was held in Boston, I also wanted to use it to create national awareness for our 20 other stores – creating curiosity for shoppers to find out about the store near them.

PPR: What was the event?

RL: ShopUp was an evening of shopping and schmoozing. We encouraged shoppers to come by for appetizers and drinks, a little shopping and, in honor of New York Fashion Week, a fashion show. Held at our store, we provided shoppers with 20% off during the event, and handed out 10% off coupons for future shopping. We also encouraged shoppers to bring in any designer clothes to consign that evening.

Christine Perkett (@missusP), Michael Durwin (mdurwin), Carissa O'Brien (@carissao)

Christine Perkett (@missusP), Michael Durwin (mdurwin), Carissa O'Brien (@carissao)

PPR: How did you use social media to promote and run ShopUp?

RL: Pre-event promotion included a community contest through Twitter, where our followers nominated the models for the fashion show part of the evening. We created the hashtag #ShopUp for easy tracking of the conversations taking place around nominations and the event itself. Once we had nominees, we had people vote for the four models who would be in the show. This process proved to be very viral – people were really interested because they had a part in creating the show. We also posted news about the event on Facebook. During the event, we had guests vote for the best outfit and model – again, via Twitter. The model who received the most votes for a specific outfit got to take the clothes home. To share the event with those outside of Boston, we streamed live video through UStream, Twittered during the event (using TweetDeck and CoTweet) and we’ll be featuring a compilation video of the entire evening on YouTube. Our photos are also up on Flickr, and many people sent TwitPics during the event as well. Lastly, today we issued a post-event survey through a BostonTweetUp twtpoll.

The runway (photo by Pamela Rosenthal)

The runway (photo by Pamela Rosenthal)

PPR: What was the ROI? Did you reach your goals?

RL: Oh yes! About 75 people attended the event and our sales were positively impacted. We experienced a positive return on our investment in regards to revenue vs expenses as well. Although I don’t yet have figures to share around the specific number of impressions driven by the event, I can say that we drove new business – 50 percent of the people who attended had never shopped here before… but either did last night or intend to return, I’m sure. (PPR: Rachel incorporated a smart strategy to ask attendees two questions at the registration table; 1) Have you shopped with us before and 2) Can we add you to our mailing list?)

Congratulations to Rachel and Second Time Around on a terrific event – and to the lucky model/winner (Manolo Blahnik shoes, Escada sweater, jeans & accessories!), Carissa O’Brien.


Persuasive Picks for the week of 09/07/09

techcrunch_punked.jpgYeah OK, So Facebook Punk’d Us
Facebook’s PR team gets some fun revenge on TechCrunch by pulling a fast one on Arrington & Company by subtly revealing a new “feature.”

Gaffe by Tweet: Top 10 Social-Media Slip-Ups Musicians, movie stars, professional athletes and now, even politicians are flocking to Twitter. Some use it well. Some don’t. Newsweek shares 10 slip-ups from the political camp.

Social Media for B2B
Socialnomics author, Erik Qualman gives some insight and advice to B2B companies looking to wrangle their social media strategies… by reviewing the way B2C’s have been doing it.

The new PR: Nimble Twitter responses make grass roots easy (or hard)
Sarah Gilbert shares a few stories showing the importance of listening, responding and acting quickly to customer comments on social media channels.

How Customer Support Organizations Must Evolve
Along the same lines of the previous pick, Jeremiah Owyang expands on how customer service organizations must evolve and adapt to survive the rapid changes in customer communication. Slides from Jeremiah’s recent presentation on the topic are included in the post.