Archive for the ‘social-media’ Category

Unofficial Twitter rules

September 15th, 2013 Comments off

twOne of the fun parts of my job is teaching the uninitiated about Twitter. It’s hard enough to get the ‘language’ of Twitter when you’re using it to communicate with friends and family. It’s a whole different beast when you’re using Twitter to communicate professionally and build a brand. I have a mental list of unofficial rules that I teach our people on the proper professional use of Twitter to build brand equity.

I stumbled across a great article from Steve Ladurantaye outlining his own personal Twitter rules. These rules are so closely aligned to what I teach that I think I’ll be pointing my people to this post ahead of my session to give them a nice solid foundation before we talk. A couple that resonated with me:

1. You are one tweet away from being fired.

3. There is no difference between a professional account and a personal account.

9. Retweet. But it’s often better to add something to the link to explain why you’re doing.

25. Open a bottle, close the Twitter.

The last one (#25) is one that I really love. I’ve seen too many posts from friends and colleagues that come late in the evening. I’ve sent them a personal, off-the-corporate-network message saying, “Umm… you may want to delete that post”.

Great work Steve!

Categories: social-media, Strategy

I cheated. Sorry. But it’s interesting…

July 11th, 2013 1 comment

cheatI was doing research on another article (ironically, an article on authenticity) when I came across a site called I’m purposely not linking to it because I feel a little dirty. It’s a site that allows you to ‘buy’ fans and followers. Out of curiosity, I bought 1,000 Twitter followers for $12. I figured it’s a low investment to see what would happen.

Well, it happened just like they promised. I started getting notifications that all of these ‘people’ started following me. I had to turn off the notifications for new followers. For a little while there, I felt like a celebrity!

So now I have 1,000 robots following me in addition to the 400+ real people that were following me. What’s the point? The point is actually quite interesting. It really worked like it’s designed to.

One of the bits of advice I give to my colleagues just getting started on LinkedIn is that you have to have at least 50 connections on LinkedIn before publicizing your profile to the people you really want to be connected to. 50 seems to be the magic number when someone takes you seriously as a LinkedIn member. Apparently, something similar happens on Twitter. The content of my feed hasn’t changed much. However, I’m getting more and more ‘legitimate’ followers on Twitter. I’m not able to prove this, but I have to think that when someone looks me up on Twitter and see I have over a thousand followers, that I must be saying something very interesting and want to join the crowd.

So for all my crowing about ‘Authenticity being the key’, I’m sad to say there is another factor. That factor is social proof. People like to do things they see lots of other people doing. It saddens me to say that buying followers seems to work, at least in the short term. I suppose it’s like attending an event. If you see that there a LOTS of tickets available, you may be less likely to attend yourself. But if you see that thousands have already bought tickets, you feel that you better buy or you’ll miss the bandwagon.

Do I recommend this approach? No! It really doesn’t take much for anyone to see that a large portion of my followers aren’t real people. But it was a very interesting experiment. Now… what do I do with all those bot followers?

UPDATE: The folks at Twitter are smarter than I gave them credit for… about a week after I did this, a note was posted to the FanMeNow site saying the Twitter went through and did a sweep of all the robot followers. My fake followers are gone. I’m now back down to reality. It was nice being ‘famous’ for a while. Oh… and no refunds.

Categories: social-media, Strategy

Speaking at the IFIC Leadership Forum

November 6th, 2012 Comments off

I was recently invited to speak at the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC) Leadership Conference. Prior to my talk, Investment Executive asked me to sit down and discuss social media in financial services. Below is the video that was posted to IE.TV.

Click on the images to go to the video

Silu Modi at the IFIC Leadership conference on IE.TV

Silu Modi speaking at the IFIC Leadership Conference

Categories: Press, social-media

Digital Marketing conference

May 24th, 2012 Comments off

I was recently a speaker at the Digital Marketing for Financial Services conference. I gave a one hour presentation on “Effective Social Media in a Regulated Environment.”

The presentation went very well. I also had the chance to connect with some very smart people in the field.

The amazing folks at wrote a great article about the conference, with several references to the presentation I gave. If you get a chance, give it a read.

Categories: Press, social-media, Strategy

It ain’t free…

December 15th, 2011 Comments off

I wrote something similar a few months back, but I just loved this image. I have no idea where it came from (if it’s yours, please let me know!). It was emailed to me. For everyone that thinks Facebook is free:

Categories: social-media

Social media in 2011

October 30th, 2011 1 comment

Steven van Belleghem has posted a great presentation on Slideshare showing the state of social media worldwide in 2011. Warning up front that this slideshow is well over 160 slides!

There are a few stats in this that surprised me (both positively and negatively). For example:
  • The awareness of Facebook is close to 100%
  • Facebook is used by over 400,000,000 people daily (almost half of all accounts!) with the average session lasting 37 minutes
  • Positive experiences lead to more social posts than negative experiences. I would have thought the opposite, but sadly, when I think about it, positive experiences are more unique and post-worthy than negative experiences.
  • People have on average 25 apps on their smartphones, but use only 12 apps regularly (I know that’s the case with me… I have close to 100, but most are never or rarely used)


Categories: social-media

IETV Interview

March 16th, 2011 Comments off

After my interview with Investment Executive, they invited me in to an on-camera interview about social media and the new guidelines for investment advisors.

Click on the image below to go to the video interview:

Categories: social-media

Investment Executive article

March 12th, 2011 Comments off

Forgive a little ego stroking, but I was recently featured on the front page of Investment Executive magazine. I gave an interview regarding the social media efforts at the company I work for.

Click on the image to read the article

Categories: social-media

Following the Social Media wave

January 27th, 2010 Comments off

Peter Kim wrote a fantastic article on the dangers of following the latest Social Media trends without understanding what you’re doing. The article is called ‘The Marketer’s New Clothes‘ and it highlights what I’ve seen happen a few times.

Four things strike me as lessons from the article:

1. Make sure you know what you’re getting into:
If you don’t ‘get’ digital media, no worries. Do your research (starting here, of course). Go to industry networking events. Find other marketers that have run digital campaigns. Learn from their successes and their failures. Stand on the shoulders of giants.

But for heaven’s sake, don’t just get your information from an agency or a ‘Digital Strategist’ that has a vested interest in getting you to buy what he’s selling. If you are talking to an agency, don’t let them baffle you with jargon or make you feel stupid for not understanding. Remember what my motto:  ‘If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old…

2. Question everything:
Don’t let the latest trends get in the way of a proper strategy. Whatever shiny new thing is being developed for you, ask how it is going to contribute to your bottom line. What measurements are going to be used? What’s the baseline? How are you going to measure the ROI? Again, if your agency or your strategist can’t answer these questions off the top of their heads, you may want to start asking even more questions. That should be considered a huge red flag.

3. Beware the herd mentality:
Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you should. You have to know who your audience is, where they live online (if they even do) and what they are looking for. It has to be relevant. But even more important, beware the herd mentality inside your organization. I’ve been in the situation where the CEO of the company walked into my office and told me that we need to be on Facebook! Every other major company is on Facebook, why aren’t we?

(Sidenote: When the CEO walks into your office and says we need to do ‘X” right away, do not say ‘NO’, unless you want me to introduce you to a couple of fine recruiters I know. Figure out a way to do it, put together the plan on how to do it right and the cost/benefit. When you’re discussing the plan, try to find the opportunity to inject your thoughts on the feasibility for the company if the cost/benefit isn’t there, along with alternatives to achieve a similar end result).

4. It’s ALL ABOUT the ROI:
At the end of the day, we’re all in this for one thing. Money. Yes, I’m sorry to break it to you, but every company is out to make money. And if any activity you do doesn’t contribute to the bottom line, chances are that you won’t be doing it for long. So if you’re getting into digital media, make sure you know how you’re going to prove to the higher powers that the $100,000 you’re spending are going to make or save the company $100,001 very soon. And the person or group putting your digital media strategy into action had better have the answer for you as well.

Categories: social-media, Strategy

Online ROI Revisited

November 4th, 2009 Comments off

ROISome time back, I posted a lengthy article on how to measure your Social Media ROI. That seems to have become a big topic recently, so I decided to revisit it.

Several recent articles have varying thoughts on the topic, from Sysomos blog that states that there is no ROI to measure in your Social Media campaign (and I blatantly stole the image on the right from their post) to Oliver Blanchard’s fantastic presentation on how to measure your ROI.

I’m more in agreement with Blanchard. Mostly for the reason that I’ve done exactly the same type of measurement in the past and it proved, without a doubt, that our primary web visitors were spending more with us than non-web visitors.

In a past life, I had to prove that our website was actually delivering value to the company. And there was no buying into the old stand-bys of ‘increased brand recognition.’ The powers that be wanted to see one thing… dollars.

Fortunately, I had our entire customer database at my disposal. We decided to set up an A/B/C comparison. We knew who our frequent site users were (frequent meaning visiting at least once per week), and who our non-visitors were. We started built a baseline to show what our sales were with visitors and non-visitors. That chart showed a clear pattern. Site visitors were more valuable than non-visitors. However, we didn’t have a control group. We didn’t know for sure that it was the website that made sales increase among that group. We had to set up a control case.

We started a campaign to recruit 1,000 new visitors and watched their sales patterns over a year. Using the baseline previously established, there was a clear inflection point in sales once those new recruits started using the website more frequently. Without going into numbers, you could see with the naked eye an inflection up in sales (and other measures) once users registered for the site and started using it more often.

Key Steps to measuring ROI:

1. Establish a Baseline: Understand the objectives you are trying to measure, measure them today for as far back as you can, and establish a baseline. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea if you’re reaching your goals.

2. Keep your time line: Every time you do something of significance online, add it to the timeline.

3. Control for other actions: If other outreach actions are happening in your organization, control for them as they will also impact your baseline measurements. If possible, look at the impact during similar campaigns in the past and establish a way to discount for those impacts when measuring yours.

4. Keep measuring: Keep an ongoing tally of your stated objectives and metrics.

5. Look for the inflection: Don’t be disappointed if the inflection doesn’t come quickly. It takes some time to see a real financial impact from your digital strategy. You’re looking for something like the following slide, copied from Blanchard’s presentation:


6. Adjust: If the inflection doesn’t come, or it’s not as big as you had hoped, adjust. Don’t just sit there with your fingers crossed. Look at your qualitative measures to see if they are adding up. They don’t always correlate into dollars, but if they aren’t where you expect either, you may need a larger adjustment.

As much as we in the digital world would love to believe that our qualitative measures are the be all and end all, eyeballs and positive sentiment don’t pay the rent. Our strategies and campaigns, at some point, have to translate into real $$$.

Categories: social-media, Strategy

What are your goals?

October 18th, 2009 Comments off

whuffWhen I wrote about the Basic Pillars of a Digital Strategy, the question I received most often was ‘What goals can I start with?’ It’s difficult to answer as the goals are usually internal to the needs of your company and your brand. I outlined in my post about measuring your ROI about how you can turn qualitative goals into quantifiable measurements. But there are some qualitative goals you may want to keep in mind that you may not want or need to measure. They are goals that should be part of your strategy, but only if you truly believe in Social Media as a way to keep in touch with your customers:

  1. Listening
    Before doing anything, listen to what’s going on. Use any sort of paid or free monitoring tools to find out what is being said about your company and your brand. These are your customers, your potential customers, your peers and competitors, your evangelists and detractors. Use their unsolicited feedback to help shape your strategy and improve your business.
  2. Caring
    Listening won’t do much if you don’t care about the response… and show that your care about the response. Before telling your own stories and pushing your products, respond back to those who took the time to comment about you. Give thanks for positive feedback and help turn your detractors into evangelists.
  3. Sharing
    Those who care about your company, your brand and your products love to get the inside scoop on what’s going on. Share stories of real people inside your organization, real trials and tribulations you’re facing, real success stories.
  4. Speaking
    Get involved in the conversations taking place all around the internet. Get engaged with your audience and talk where they are listening. The response received when a person from a company responds to a user on an open forum is usually positive, if it’s done with a human voice, with genuine caring and without spin.
  5. Building relationships
    Building strong relationships with influencers online is one of the most effective ways to keep building positive social currency, or ‘Whuffie‘ as it was coined by Cory Doctorow and used by Tara Hunt.

These goals are hard to measure, but they should be part of any Digital Strategy as they are the currency that enable your company to truly engage with your audience.

Categories: social-media, Strategy

Controlling the conversation

October 13th, 2009 1 comment

megaphone“… But what if people say something bad about us? On our own site? How would that look?”

This is probably the number 1 fear from executives about opening up the corporate or brand website to user-generated content. And they have a good point. What if you build it and they actually do come? To complain?

I’m here to say that not only is that a possibility, it’s probably going to be the reality. Probably not what the executive wants to hear. But the real questions shouldn’t be ‘What do we do if…’ but ‘What do we do when…’

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. If you have a product or service that holds a promise that you don’t deliver, you have bigger problems than the comments on your website or public forums. You have a bad, unsustainable business model. But let’s assume that you have a good product or service and you strive to deliver value to the customer. You’re still going to have some people not happy and they may vent on your site. That’s not a bad thing.


That’s right. It’s not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, this is a perfect opportunity to turn it to your advantage. Everyone knows that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. How you respond to those issues makes a big difference.

  1. Allow comments on your site and your postings:
    First things first. If you want to be true to the ‘social’ part of your social strategy, you have to let your customers be heard. Their comments are the voice you’ve been wanting to hear. Unfiltered by your staff. Again, if you are holding your end of the bargain, you will have good comments more often than the critical ones, but encourage both. Use the comments as an opportunity to get market research from the people that took the time to come to your site. But that doesn’t mean you have to let anything through.
  2. Have a visible and permissible moderation policy:
    You do have to moderate your comments. But your moderation policy has to be clearly posted and fair. Criticism must be allowed, and even encouraged. However, language must be civil. No spam, advertising, link bait, personal attacks or off-topic comments. Otherwise, even if the criticism seems unfair, it stays.
  3. Respond to your evangelists and critics alike
    Let people know that you’re listening. That doesn’t mean that you have to respond to every comment. But comments that are critical or evangelical deserve a nod of acknowledgment. As simple as “Thank you” or “Much appreciated” for good comments is enough.
  4. Respond with a human voice
    For the critics, you have a choice. For simple customer service issues, a comment from the company stating, ‘Please contact Joe directly at this email address and he’ll make sure your issue gets the attention it requires” is remarkable. Not only are you helping to resolve an issue for one of your customers, but you’re doing so in a public way, letting everyone else know that you do, in fact, care about your customers. In other words, do not have all responses to your customers come from your PR department. Do not regurgitate the marketing speaking points. If you do it correctly, you may turn customer complaints into kudos as @comcastbill has been able to do for Comcast.
  5. Allow SMEs through the company to respond on the company’s behalf
    SMEs stands for Subject Matter Experts. If there are questions or concerns about a specific product, let the people in charge of that area respond with a human touch. Answer questions clearly and directly. Again, not just with a marketing line, but as if you actually *do* care about what the respondent is saying.
  6. Spiral out. Respond on other sites, not just your own
    Use an alert tool, such as Google Alerts to monitor your name in the news. BlogPulse, or Radian6 to monitor what’s going on in the Social Media space. If you see mentions (good or bad), go to those sites and respond. Let the world know that you care about your customers, where ever they are talking.

Building loyalty and evangelists comes from not just having a good product or service, but making sure that your customers feel like they are being heard.

Categories: social-media, Strategy

Social Media ROI

September 15th, 2009 2 comments

measure-300x225“How do we measure our Return on Investment from our Social Media efforts?”

That question will eventually be asked by Senior Management. Unfortunately, that question is usually asked after the strategy has been planned, executed and in the wild for some time. At that point, the teams usually scramble to find any stats and data that show an up or down trend in… something before and something after the launch of the strategy. But how should you measure the ROI?

Good question.

The Problem:
The tough part is figuring out what you’re going to measure. First, to get the obvious out of the way, if you have an eCommerce site, and you have a campaign that has specific targeted links to your shopping site, you can easily measure your ROI from increased sales through those links. We’ll leave that out of the discussion for this post.

In a social media strategy, your execution could potentially be free (not counting soft or brown dollars). If your campaign relies on internal Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) communicating and engaging with your audience using free channels such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs, your incremental cost of the strategy can be close to $0.

On the flip side, you may have invested considerably into your strategy. What do you measure to see if you’re reaching your objectives? The answer ties back to your Digital Strategy. When you discovered your objectives in your Digital Strategy, you decided what you were going to measure, right? If only life was so easy.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative:
The problem usually comes down to the old “Qualitative vs. Quantitative” issue. You want to achieve qualitative results, but measure them in a quantitative, unambiguous way. Typical objectives of a Social Media campaign may include:

  • Increase customer loyalty
  • Provide better customer support online
  • Encourage brand evangelism
  • Increase trust in our company
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Increase the influence of our brand

All reasonably valid. The tough part is finding the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure them. A common suggestion is, ‘Double (or Triple) the number of followers we have on Twitter.’ Achieving that is not too difficult if your execution team is actively engaging people on the right platforms. But the question is, ‘what does that achieve’? Is it better to get 1,000 random new followers on Twitter, or 100 targeted new followers that are qualified leads, in the right places, that will lead to one of your qualitative objectives? The goal here is to lay out your qualitative measures and make them quantifiable. They need to be defined at the outset, to avoid the tendency to measure any statistic that is going up as a sign of success!

What to measure?
Examples of KPIs from qualitative success criteria include:

  • Reduction in support calls and emails from baseline
  • Number of blogs relevant to our industry that posted something about our brand (good or bad)
  • Number of influential Twitterers that tweeted something about us
    • those influential blogs and Twitterers have to be identified in your Strategy before you execute the campaign
  • Number of repeat visits to our main site or micro-site
  • Increase in average session length or page views
  • Number of new comments on our blogs / posts / support forums
  • Number of comments on other blogs / posts / forums made by our team that elicited a positive response from others
  • Increase in Google PageRank against baseline

Of course, there are many more things you can attempt to measure to see if your qualitative objectives are quantitatively achieved. These measures also give you something to hang your hat on as you continue to refine your tactics to achieve those goals.

Good Luck!

Categories: social-media, Strategy

The Corporate Love / Hate with Social Media

August 31st, 2009 Comments off

love hateTwo sides of the same coin. Two different studies show how companies have almost contradictory views when it comes to social media sites.

On the one hand, a study from Marketwatch shows that almost half of all companies surveyed use social networks to screen potential job candidates. On the other hand, a study from ScanSafe shows that over 75% of companies block social media sites from their employees.

If you read the two studies, there are some interesting stats within. For example, the following results in employee screening were most likely to have a candidate rejected from getting the job:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photos (53%)
  • Content about alcohol or drug use (44%)
  • Negative comments about previous employer (35%)
  • Shared confidential info about previous employer (20%)

Most interesting to me was that 16% of respondents rejected a candidate because they used a smiley face or other emoticon. 🙂

Facebook and LinkedIn were the tools of choice for employers, while Twitter was last at 7%.

With the other study, there weren’t too many surprises in companies blocking social networking from the workplace. Unless the company’s business is social media, most companies feel they would have a lot of people soaking up a lot of valuable time at the office being social.
What’s ironic is that most of those companies that would block social networks from their employees either have, or are working towards, having a significant presence on those same social networks. Interesting…

Categories: social-media

Social Networking… who’s your audience?

August 27th, 2009 2 comments

twitter_by_ageContrary to popular belief, if you’re trying to reach a young audience, Twitter may not be your best bet.

(Side note… am I dating myself be defining “young” as under 25?)

A recent study by Neilsen has shown that the vast majority of Twitter users are over 25.  I’m actually supposed to know this stuff, but even I was surprised that 20% of Twitter users are over 55!

The New York Times has an article trying to understand why teens shy away from Twitter. But the same article also makes some interesting points on what Twitter’s main attaction is to the older crowd.

Though Twitter’s founders originally conceived of the site as a way to stay in touch with acquaintances, it turns out that it is better for broadcasting ideas or questions and answers to the outside world or for marketing a product. It is also useful for marketing the person doing the tweeting, a need few teenagers are attuned to.

So again, the same old lessons. First, make sure you know your target audience. Second, make sure they are tuned to the channel you choose to transmit your message. Third (and most important), make sure the message you are transmitting is relevant and engaging to your audience.

Categories: social-media