Here is the transcript of Dixon’s recent presentation in New York.
Hello New York, thank you very much for having me. My name is Dixon Jones, I think my first ever overseas conference was in fact an internet marketing conference in Vancouver many many years ago, so it is very good to be back at the internet marketing conference. I’ve been doing this for well over 10 years, round about 12 in fact. I head up the link and social team at Receptional, which is a UK based search marketing SEO consultancy. I’m also marketing director of Majestic SEO, how many people have heard of Majestic SEO? That’s the power of social marketing right there, because Majestic is built marketing wise on me telling people about it, so it clearly works. Majestic SEO for those who haven’t heard of it is the largest backlink crawler on the planet, we crawl about a billion URLs a day, we’ve got around a trillion URLs in a data base and we look at the link relationships between different pages on different websites. We check the page strength, the redirections, and crawl data, that sort of thing. So a pretty big organisation and that data updates three times a day, so in itself it is a social media tool, although I’m not going to be talking about that today. If you get bored of my talk today, it’s around about thirty minutes, you can always have a look and figure out what kind of car I drive and head that way instead.
So I’m going to be talking about social media tools, there is an awful lot of them out there. I really don’t want to spend my time just listing tools for thirty minutes and I’m sure you can find a blog post about that sort of thing. But I do want you to go away with a good spread of tools that you can test and more importantly, I think a better understanding of the things you need of your choice of tools when you are trying to measure and engage, report the social media. I will of course talk as everybody does from personal experience and my personal experience with social media marketing monitoring tools, started back at the first SMX Advance conference in Seattle in about 2007, so round about four, four and a half years ago and at that time iPhone 1 had just come out, no one had really built apps for it. Social had just arrived but knowing how to use it for marketers was way too early in the process really, so SMX advanced found they couldn’t have really a speaker per se, so what they did instead was have a big brain storm session of all the people that were there who were all experts in SEO and various aspects of internet marketing and just had questions floating out as a free style session in the room. One of the questions that was asked, a question that I asked was if anyone knew of a tool that would let me log into two or more accounts at the same time? Interestingly back then that was seen as a black hat question, firstly everyone thought ‘he’s trying to manipulate social media and it’s going to be a complete waste of time’. So firstly it was seen as a black hat question, secondly there were not that many tools out there able to do this. But never the less over the next few years, these were the tools that started coming to the fore.
I just want to go through one or two of those, cos along came the first generation of tools. They were all about the Wild Wild west of social marketing. I’m not sure that we are over the wild Wild West stage yet, but you know it was about the wild Wild West and how it might be won. Really they were all about gaining a voice in the social space there was nothing really about measuring. Four years ago there was nothing really measureable, except how many people were using Facebook or how many people were using social media platforms.
There was nothing about measuring because there was nothing formally there to measure. Engagement was fairly blind and there was everything to gain by being first mover advantage, so it was all about getting your name and your message out there, not very much about measuring it at that stage. But the era of API integration had truly arrived. The main tools that came out were things like Hootsuite, Tweet Deck, now that there’s apps there are all sorts of other things, Twitterlator, Ecofon, Twitterific all sorts of bits and pieces but two of the major ones are Hootsuite and Tweet Deck, these tools really did allow us to increase day to day productivity on social. It allowed you to have that important question multiple logins over multiple networks, so you could be logged into Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn at the same time. You were able to have one or several personas as well. So when these tools started coming out, a well know internet marketer Sugar Ray, I don’t know anybody who hasn’t heard of Sugar Ray, she organised half a dozen of us SEOs and internet marketers to gang up and do a little thinking where we analysed these kind of tools out there at the time. One person did Radian6, another person did Hootsuite another did Tweet Deck, that sort of thing. So we had six different articles that we cleverly linked them all together and all benefitted out of them. My favourite one and the one I wrote an article on at that time was Net Vibes. I like Net Vibes as a tool and still do to a certain extent to this day because it still had this idea of different personas. You can set up different dashboards and engage with those dashboards but it also had a very drag and drop feel to it. You could just drag an idea and create your own dashboard very very quickly. One of the other reasons I liked it is that your definition of social and the way you want to talk is very different to other peoples. So this could allow you to bring in the weather for example, so it may be relevant to you in your particular industry as well as Facebook’s, eBay and other platforms as well. So it was a very successful system I thought at the time but interestingly it was all built on these APIs. It really only worked with a very good internet connection I found. Back then in 2007, internet connections at conferences were all a bit dodgy. So I think that it was very good and very good at engaging. More recently, they have this analyse feature now which we may be able to talk about later in the presentation.
Ultimately though in those earlier tools, hour for hour of work that I put in this tool was the coolest. This was for me the most productive because it had a different approach. It’s actually one of the most simple but it set up a set and forget kind of mentality and was very simple to understand. So I don’t need to remember to Tweet a post because it will check every few hours to see whether a new post has been put up on this blog or that blog and tweet it if appropriate. It will engage with anybody that follows me by sending a message back after an hour or two saying ‘thanks very much for that follow that’s great. Did you know I’ve also got this blog out here?’ It does those sorts of things and when it looks at messages, things out there and key words, it sends the information to me in an email. I didn’t have to log in all the time. The data came to me, like Google Alerts and let’s face it Google Alerts is the first medium monetary tool that’s out there. But something really in those tools was missing, sooner or later when I thought about it, the Wild West stops at those tools were just engaging people. They were engaging without prejudice. When I was using these tools initially, I did really not understand the verticals and the choice I was trying to play. I was not able to report to clients in ways that they understand and I was not even sure who I was engaging with or why?So I really felt in my journey that something was missing here and more was needed. For example, people were engaging with me on Twitter in my stream in ways that I found really bizarre. This person, Inbetweeners Simon came into my Twitter stream but I don’t even follow the man, he’s got seventeen thousand followers but I’m certainly not one of them. He got into my Twitter stream because of a re-tweet from the real Mark Hall who is a guy who is in my Twitter stream or though why he’s the real one I don’t know. Should I have found this guy before he found me? Some people and some personas I found stick to one topic that they are great at and others stray, they start talking about all sorts of things like the real Mark Hall talking about klung.co.uk, which you only want to go to if you really know what The Inbetweeners is really all about.
So why should we chase or engage with random people on the internet? These streams aren’t getting any better, this is Google+, and this came into my stream the other day some girl in China got into my stream with some pink man in a Superman outfit with a cat on his chest. Garbage in garbage out if I start engaging with this, what am I going to get? So these systems may scale to a point when your just engaging but what if your job is to promote for example the city of New York? Then all these systems aren’t going to work because there are just too many people talking about New York and you have no way in the Hootsuite of usefully syphoning out the good stuff from the irrelevant stuff. There’s another problem as well, I was running a social marketing consultancy, a social consultancy and I found that as an individual I had some influence in the internet marketing space. I have DixonJones.com as my web site and I have my handle Dixon Jones, Receptional my agency and with that I could develop an internet marketing proposition, I could do something of value for my own agency. However, when it came to some of the sites we operate and manage Ferry to France, we have a site that compares all the ferries from England to France but we had no relevant authority in that space. In social media terms they have changed the parodims ones so we had no travel proposition we could take out. Another site we had womensunderwear.net, well I’m not even a women contrary to popular belief. As I’m not a girl, I have no authority in that space so I have no clothing proposition. I found that being able to influence as an internet marketer, is not the same as being able to influence other internet marketers. So IBM also did a study. What do people, what are people wanting?
Well IBM did a study, just recently earlier in this month, I think it was October 11th it came out. They asked around about 1700 CMOs of large organisations what they were looking to measure. They all want to know the return on media investment. That’s what they need to know for their social marketing spend, so they really want to get to the bottom line so they want to be able to get this social media and put it into their statistics and their sales statistics and I can’t do that yet, it’s just not out there. What is out there is the understanding that as in all web site analytics, not all engagements are created equal. So how could we deal with this fundamental issue? That social is not all about numbers, the IBM survey says ‘we want to know numbers’, ‘we need to know the amount of pounds and pence’. When it comes to our internet marketing strategy, we need to know how to get to that pounds and pence. So I was building the social profile of Majestic two or three years ago in a much much faster format that I could with Ferry to France or womensunderwear.net and I was able to demonstrate added value even though I couldn’t necessary count at all because all our sales were coming through effectively social media and marketing. We seem to be doing a very good job on that and the reason I was able to do that was because I understood in this industry the relationships with the people I had to talk to. I understood in SEO who were the influences, who were the players. So I now need to go back a step in my journey of trying to find the right, the best social marketing tools. I need to understand as an agency or as an in house SEO for that matter how I can add value to the client and my decision is that we need the social strength within the agency that can then feed the social strength of the client. Ultimately we want Red Bull to be the best drinks brand out there within the social media space.
And if we do that then we’re building and building the clients brand which is the purpose of the social space. Rather than try and bring their own brand but we are feeding our own techniques so that we can ultimately get this stuff feeding the clients business and this is where the CMOs can really start measuring the ROI at the far end. So this is what I want to achieve and thinking about it in that sort of term helps me to decide what I want to measure. So up until now I just measured engagement. What I want to do now is start looking at other things that I could measure and see which one was better appropriate. The CMOs want this, the CMOs want to monitor the traffic or rather than return the investment from social marketing. Other things we can measure along the way are monitoring clicks that are coming from social channels. We could try and monitor key words and see who’s talking about different key words out there or thirdly we could try and monitor the influences with social verticals. Let’s have a look at these three things and it becomes quite clear which the best one for me is. Let’s have a look firstly at the URL short list, for measuring clicks from social media channels, the URL shorteners were one of the first ways of which people started doing that so a URL shortener is a bit like bit.ly, there are loads of other ones. The original was tinyurl.com. My journey with URL code shorteners has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride. The first thing I did was by a script which I put on r3.ms. I did a script on there and put it out there. It got hacked and all of a sudden there were hundreds of thousands of extremely dodgy links coming through my r3.ms domain. So I had to scrap it and delete the whole domain and start again then make another script but I found that was unusable in other applications. So what happened was I put up a script, I put up a short URL so when the next time anyone used it they changed the URL and put it into their own script. Which now means we use bit.ly and my recommendation is that if you can use bit.ly with your own domain name mapped onto bit.ly so that ultimately you use your own domain name.
However, tracking the clicks and bit.ly is good, it gives you a sort of demographic break down of the kind of people who are clicking through on different links but people do change their URLs. I think though ultimately the problem here is that the social media networks themselves are out to grab that market. So for example Twitter now shortens everything to a t.co domain as part of a service to protect users from harmful activity. What they are really trying to do is to own that click through space. That means that every click now goes through their own t.co domain and what is also interesting is their t.co domain gives a 200 response before a message redirection which then goes to bit.ly. This gives a 301 response to which ever website you’ve got. So if you use a bit.ly domain and you put it into Twitter it gets re-wrapped in a t.co domain. The search engine is going to stop the 200 response of the t.co. They aren’t going to pass any equity, that’s ok that’s one thing. But what happens in the future when Twitter says ‘hey we’re going to help users get a better experience because we can see this is going to redirect to this page so we’re going to cut out bit.ly completely from the system and we’re going to get the t.co going straight through to the end site. All of a sudden the URL is useless. So I think there is some limitations to using click through tracking. If however, you want to use click through tracking I would encourage you instead of using a URL shortening service per se you use a perimeter on the end of your URL. So if you are trying to get somebody to example.com, you send them through to example.com?source=Twitter May 23rd or something like that and then what you do in Google Analytics is you set that up as a social media channel. So you’d say right, anything that comes in with the link of source-twitter is a social media channel. You also go to Google webmaster tools and you eliminate the parameter source from being duplicated in Google webmaster tools to stop duplication organic search engines. Now you’ve started to bring your click throughs to the website and to Google Analytics itself.
This is starting to achieve what the CMOs are going to need from you. From there you can track it through to sale, it also has the advantage that if somebody changes the t.co to a bit.ly or a dzd.oomph or something like that then hopefully they will take the end perimeter as well and so you’ll still have that information taken through. Analytics is where you want to be right? So use analytics as your major social marketing monetary. So that’s tracking clicks, but what about monitoring a phrase? Let’s say that the social media your tasked with going out and talking to everybody that needs to know about iPhones for example, maybe we could try and model the social world around queards, well that’s a little bit of a challenge again. Its ok if your to work with a brand but ultimately if you’re going to work with just genetic key words you have the same sorts of challenges as you do with organic search because no business should try and win based on one organic key word. Some social monitoring systems are trying to track things like there’s Google alerts as we mentioned as the first one but also there’s a very good one here called Tracker. I don’t know anybody who has tried tracker. Tracker is a very big system and it can start tracking different searches, iPhone sprint Dell is the example here and you can see who’s talking about them, how many mentions they are hearing on social media channels over time and whether the velocity is going up or down. You also have the ability to go in there and check sentiment, so whether each of these individual mentions are positive or negative towards your brand. Tracker is a very interesting tool a similar one that does the same sort of thing is built with regular tools and maybe even using the same data for all I know.
But this is another representation where you have a listing of all the mentions, in this case Motor Mystery Games. You have the choice of saying is that a good mention, a bad mention or an ambivalent mention, so you can put sentiment in there and again this tracks over time the daily mentions of a particular key word. But there are certain amounts of scaling issues I think we’ve got on the tracker one for example 1259 results and 750 results for iPhone in the last 24 hours. It’s quite a lot if you’re having to go through every single one of them. So you need to start working out how that’ll work and if you’ve got a phrase like New York again the scaling gets out of hand on a genetic URL.
So this leads me to another approach I think that just monitoring key words and social is really like looking for a needle in a hay stack, so it lead me to the decision on my journey to start tracking on how influential individual personas were and rather than trying to be reactive and engaging with particular key words the only way to be proactive was to make sure I worked cleverer not harder. I needed to be better focused and the evidence suggests that this is the right approach. So there’s some research from Cornell University and again this is less than I’m told. They worked out that if they checked around about 260 million tweets from Yahoo research and they found that 20 thousand users were responsible for nearly 50% of the entire attention span within Twitter. Just twenty thousand users, that’s less than 0.05% of the user population. If you separate this out by industry, by vertical and you have an incredibly small number of influences within any one group in any one niche. So it’s all about for me tools to measure personas as the next step forward. Sure I want to get to this ROI goal at the end but it is measuring the personas and finding the right people. Right now we come to Klout, Klout is one of the main tools that they used when they were doing that study. Klout gives every persona on the internet a score between 0 and 100. They also attempt to track the main areas of influence that anyone is influential about.
So here is my free Klout page and it shows that I am active on several different social media systems that I have identified, it says that I have a Klout score of 54 out of 100 and it thinks that I am influential about affiliate marketing, Pubcon and marketing. It’s not too far from the truth. It does other things as well because what it does from there is it starts finding other people in my sphere of influence and it aims to fit me into a type of person and groups these people together. Now the Cornell University research showed that the influences in a given field tended to stick together which makes sense right? If you are a rocket scientist, you probably want to know what the other rocket scientists know because there’s not that many people that really are rocket scientists, ok. So that’s true, I know all of these personas. I think I’ve met all bar maybe one of these and that’s only cause that’s Stig helmet and we’re not quite sure who it is. I might know who it is, so I know all these people, two of them in fact are me but that’s another story. It goes on and tries to describe some other useful metric system score but it’s also got my true reach and that’s their estimate of actually how many people I can talk to and influence.
So I really have when I blog around about a thousand people that might listen to me and that’s about fair enough really. What is interesting with this Klout thing is that they have 3500 API users, so there are three and a half thousand other tools that are building this kind of score into their own metrics somewhere around the world.
The Cornell research also used a system called Kred, which is going to be out on a kred.ly and that has elements of Hootsuite style, it’s made by these people, poeplebrowsr.com and that’s not a miss spelling. It has elements of this Hootsuitey kind of thing but it also does a lot more to try and start analysing the kind of things that are happening out there. It tries to build sentiment, in this case I put the word link building up as a test but it tries to have a look at sentiment. It tries to look at whether males or females are looking and using that word. It looks at the kind of community and the kind of geographical locations. So I think that they have a whole load of interesting stuff, this is only in alpha really at the moment. It’s not up and running but it does seem that they’ve elements of some of the other valuable tools out there and they are trying to take it all to the next level. God knows how much it is going to cost. They have also brought in things like the drag and drop idea that Netvibe has but it’s still in Beta it may become my tool of choice, I don’t know.
My journey has only really reached here in terms of what we are able to achieve in social media monitoring tools but I’m a lot further along the road than I was when I got my first trial to use Tweet Deck or Socialoomph!
So personas, that’s a couple of ways to look at personas but beyond the systems that we used for that Cornell research, if we are going to have a look at personas, maybe there are other ways in which we can do that. Here are a couple, who has heard of Empire Avenue? Empire Avenue is a social stock market game, where you buy shares in other people on the internet. It is truly a fun game and I don’t think that there is any money involved, you can spend money on these things. What they are doing is using a system called Gamification. Gamification is being used on considerably more web sites to try and get more and more engagement from a user. LinkedIn have used it for example, where they suddenly found that people weren’t filling in their profiles properly so what they did was that they put up ‘Your profile is 10% complete’ and there’s a little bar. Then as soon as you see that bar, you’re going to think ‘oh there’s 90% of my profile to do, I’ll just do a bit more’. The amount of completeness of profiles across their user base increased substantially over a very short period of time. That’s Gamification giving people a little reward, a little badge or something like that to say ‘man with complete profile’. It’s a great badge to have.
Well Empire Avenue is all about Gamification, so if you feel that social media is all about monitoring individuals and monitoring personas rather than searching for keywords, then this Gamification is really a good idea. You can do almost all the same sort of things that you can do on Klout and Kred for example. I can search for analytics and I can suddenly see all the people that have analytics in their profile. Then I could sort all these people out by the share prices, so this is share price if you take that as a kin to their influential power and find people that are interested in analytics and that also have social power on the internet. Or perhaps you could use something like Twitterlizer. Twitterlizer goes another way and says ‘let’s try and humanise the whole thing’. It gives a whole load of personalization to my profile.
That is how far my journey has gone, things have gone a long way from having just a Hootsuite or a Tweet Deck and just engaging blindly with people. Although I haven’t necessarily given you the tool of my choice, I have got my ideal tool and process, which would enable me to do something like find people with social Klout, with a ‘c’ or Klout with a ‘k’ or Kred or oomph. People that are our clear influences within a vertical I then need to combine with that my ability to add some kind of relevance in that vertical either through my own blog, through my own media, through my own presence because I don’t want to have a presence that is completely unrelated. I need to do that to be able to engage with these guys. If I can do that I can get my influence just big enough to be able to engage with the guys that really have the influence, then with my ability to engage with them I can then go to clients or my boss with a valued proposition and say ‘hey I can talk to these twenty people that are the best in their industry or sector’, or amongst the best. They will listen to what I have to say.
That is a powerful proposition that allows me to go to a boss to a company and say I have something of value for you. Of course some of you want me to come out with the best tool you’ll want me to give you a winner. So I’m going to leave you now with another way of visualising all of these tools and here are ten of these tools and Majestic has the ability to look at the number of links to each of these tools from around the world. So this is a little chart that updates every 8 hours or so and visualises how many in this case referring IPs or referring sublets are linking through to each of those examples and if you want to use that as a measure, then really you are crowd sourcing your opinion of the best search monitoring tool out there and on that score Net vibes comes out on top and is one of the best tools of social media monitoring purposes.
So there you go ladies and gentlemen, if anybody wants to try Majestic I am able to give you a free trial. If anybody wants to have a guess at the kind of car I drive then you’re more than welcome and I’ll try and give a prize out of some description. Ladies and gentlemen thank you very much I hope there are some questions.