Webinar-ing with Hootsuite

IMG_0171I participated in a Hootsuite Pro Webinar called Essential Social Media Analytics. I chose this webinar because social media analytics, for anyone new to it, can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to know where to start and what to focus on. Hootsuite is considered to be one of the best social media listening/monitoring tools, so it made sense to participate in a webinar hosted by the company.

It was hosted by Tori Swanson, a Hootsuite Social Media Coach. There was no verbal interaction between the host and the participants, but we could send questions to her during the webinar through the chat board or Twitter. I asked a few basic questions to clarify some things she had touched on.

The webinar was really informative and went deep into the capabilities of Hootsuite. The application is impressive. It’s great because you can tailor it to exactly what you want it to be. If you are new at social media, you can stick with the basics. But if you are an expert and know analytics inside out, this tool is amazing. It has so many layers and so many ways to read analytics from every angle.

The host talked about using S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals when developing social media strategies, how to establish business goals and objectives, measuring social success, tracking ROI, and various analytics apps. She also got into some very specific stuff, like the difference between some URL shorteners (i.e. ht.ly vs. owl.ly), Riffle (Twitter insights), and Instagram’s analytic tool Iconosquare.

Thumbs up for this webinar. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about how to gather and understand social media analytics. It wasn’t too long, and it was accessible and informative. I would definitely attend another one like this in the future.

You can find more Hootsuite webinars here.

COM 0011: Blog Post 2: Hitting New Extremes: Social Media and Extreme Weather

Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, and floods. More and more, social media is bombarding us with the latest apocalyptic weather events around the globe. It’s becoming the go to source for rapid fire information, and (surprisingly) analytics for resolving problems.

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Calgary 2013 Flood by Keltek Trust from Flickr via Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved

From Hurricane Sandy in 2012, to Calgary’s floods, and Toronto’s flash flooding in 2013, social media brought these dangers into our homes (or mobile phones and tablets). Platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were helping citizens making them aware of what was happening in real-time.

Who will ever forget seeing those haunting images of the Scotiabank Saddledome being flooded or YouTube videos showing Toronto residents bailing from their condo during the flash flood?

To consider social media’s impact on both events lets look at Calgary’s impact first. Inbound Interactive did an analysis of social media impact on the June 2013 Alberta flood. It was quite astonishing.

Consider:

  • There were 857,000 related tweets.
  • 1.6 million impressions of a photo showing a fire fighter rescuing a citizen from rising flood waters.
  • Calgary’s flooded Saddledome, home of the NHL’s flames got over 1 million impressions.
  • Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s Twitter handle, @Nenshi was tweeted 89,057 times.
  • Around 191,000 times YouTube video were viewed.

Collin Yabdonski of Inbound Interactive and who compiled research on this event told Huffington Post most related social media stories focus on positive community spirit, rather than devastation:

“However, when I conducted the research I discovered that wasn’t the case; the most shared stories were ones focused around community support, volunteerism and philanthropy.”

Meanwhile, Toronto had its fair share of its July, 2013 flash flood covered from social media. Some pictures showcased on Twitter where quite dramatic, including: Flooded streets, and police rescuing stranded passengers on the GO Train.

Social media also provided data for insurers in order to help make more efficient claims on insurance losses. Bright Planet used Twitter in showing where the most tweets happened during the storm. Then the web designing company used those tweets in creating a heat map to help insurers locate where they should effectively spend their time and money on insurance claims.

While social media unpacked the drama in real-time bringing awareness of what was happening in the Greater Toronto Area, it allowed a channel for criticism towards then Mayor Rob Ford who handled the situation badly, in comparison to Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi after their crisis.

Both Calgary and Toronto’s floods of 2013 showed many uses of social media. First, it created narratives, with heroes and villains from each event. It also was a source of critical information for local residents of what was going on. Lastly social media provided necessary data in order to make more efficient decisions on insurance claims in Toronto’s case.

As 97% of scientists agree climate change is coming from man-made global warming due to carbon emissions, the likelihood of more of these extreme weather events will happen is very good. Even My home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba has not been spared from these situations. Twitter and Facebook were key social media viewing points as Winnipeg got pounded numerous times this past summer, including in late August and early September.

I see social media’s impact growing in relation to extreme weather events. I see more emphasis on media networks utilizing social media on the ground from citizens to cover these types of events instantaneously where networks can not get to. I also see social media being more integrated further with Environment Canada’s weather warning system, as it strives to improve on its own fallacies.

But also, there is some unexpected benefits in social media’s relationship with extreme weather events. Big data used from social media analytics will make insurance claims faster. Social media analytics will also help advance smart grids through information technology, providing better information to utilities. This will help avoid blackouts and integrate renewable energy more smoothly into the grid.

What impacts do you see social media having on extreme weather events?

Target Audiences, ALG-COM0014 Digital Communication

ALG-COM0014 Digital Communication
Post 3 – Target Audiences by Karen Cooper
Instructor: Nelly Leonidis

For my third blog post in the online course, “Digital Communication,” of Algonquin College’s  Social Media Certificate part-time online program the assigned topic centers around researching the target audience for Cooper Photography & Design to reflect on the characteristics of its audience and to describe some of the ways that could be effective in communicating with this audience via tools and social media strategies.

To understand Cooper Photography & Design‘s audience from an analytical perspective, I logged into Google Analytics; to see the number of its active users through analysis to appreciate what the user retention rate was; its demographics related to the age, gender, language, and the location of its users; the behaviour of new versus returning users: viewing their frequency, recency, and engagement on the site; and also viewing what technology accessed the site from which Internet browsers were used most often to what service providers were the most popular to access the site.

A great training tool for Google Analytics is the Google Analytics Academy to improve analytics skills with free online courses from Google.

Karen Cooper

Why is the above analytical information of any importance to your business online or social media strategy?

Researching information about your target audience answers the question of who is already using your products and services and how this information gives you an idea of who the potential people are that you’d like to bring to your site.

Outside of Google Analytics, to research what people who are interested in photography and design want to see, I also use tools like:

  • Twitter to research target communities
  • Hootsuite to measure my impact with social media analytics
  • TweetDeck to track build and organize custom timelines
  • Google Trends to identify the kinds of things people in my target audience are searching for
  • Google Alerts to receive emails or notifications when specific keywords come up in new web content
  • Feedly to subscribe to RSS feeds based on keywords
  • Facebook to research groups and pages to keep track of news and trends

Wikipedia also offers up a complete list of Twitter services and applications.

And, to document the findings of my research, I use Evernote because it works on all devices.

COMM 0015 Assignment # 5 Overwhelmed by Web Analytics

Analytics has become the new measurement tool for businesses. Increasingly, organizations are taking a data informed approach to make decisions on everything from where they advertise, to understanding who their customers are.

The information is fascinating, but can also be overwhelming, simply because there is so much data to dissect. I recently attended a professional development session on web analytics that helped me and my colleagues better understand areas of our web site that were performing well and others that were not.

From determining how long people were staying on our site to exploring where most of our visitors live, the information is very powerful. The challenge is to figure out what are the most important things we need to know. The facilitator said it best when he said, “You could easily bury yourself in analytics for days and still have more questions.”

Chris McFarlane gives Pembroke staff some Google Analytics training

I work at a community college and we are particularly interested in improving the web experience of prospective students. The web site is a primary recruitment tool, but with fierce competition from other colleges for the same students, our web site has to be more engaging then our competitors.

Web analytics is providing us with an opportunity to evaluate our site’s performance, while also providing us with other information that can help inform our marketing strategies. From search engine optimization performance to bounce rates, we are digging deeper to understand who our students are and what content gets their attention.

I’d love to hear how others are using web analytics? Please share your thoughts.

How And Why Your Business Should Measure The Results Of Your Social Media Campaigns

You wouldn’t invest money in a technology stock on Wall Street without stopping to check how well it was performing. You would also take time to choose which measurements were important to you and why. For example, you should measure percentage gain, dividends returned, performance compared with competitors, etc. This information would help you to decide if you should buy, hold or sell a stock. Measuring your social media campaign requires the same diligence. It is important to know which aspects of your social activities are successful and which need to be changed or dropped. Be aware however, that it may be far more difficult to draw a direct correlation between money spent and income generated. It is difficult to measure Social media results in the traditional ROI sense,  and there may be more appropriate ways to determine whether your campaign is bringing results.

Football soccer goal net

Establish Clear Goals

It is impossible to accurately measure your social media campaign without establishing clear beginning and end points. So begin by establishing a baseline, a snapshot of a specific moment in time to which you can compare your social media results. Furthermore it is vital to determine what you should be measuring. Some information is more valuable to you so ensure that you know what your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) are.  Determine whether you should you be looking to improve your number of clicks? Comments? Likes? Sales?

LI and Bernoff state in their book, “Groundswell”  that “Your strategy should be designed from the start to focus on a primary objective, and it is progress toward that objective that you should measure.”  Focus then, on the correct goal or you may find that you do not have the metrics that you require.

For example, if your primary goal is to increase your profit margin, then perhaps that is what you should be measuring, not likes, comments or sales. However it is difficult to accurately measure your social media impact using profit as there are so many factors to take into consideration.  On the other hand, if you understand that improving your social media campaign will eventually have an impact on your bottom line, or if you are working for a non-profit organization, you may be more interested in seeing an increased number of comments which would, in turn, point to increased engagement, a valuable social media commodity.

Study or office stationary

Use Appropriate Metrics Tools

The following tools represent only a few of the better known products available. A quick search of the internet will reveal many others, each with their own characteristics and capabilities. Choose those that best suit your requirements.

Google Analytics is a tremendous free tool  for measuring social media impact. This tool will allow you to accurately determine KPI’s and boost your ability to meet your customers needs  more effectively.

Hootsuite is another tool that provides a wide array of measuring tools to help you determine how effective your social media campaign is. With over 10 million users and an option for a free trial it is a good place to start.

Sproutsocial is similar to Hootsuite in that it provides a comprehensive platform for publishing to your social media accounts, engaging your audience and measuring performance with analytical tools.

Popular Measurements

Most of the tools available can provide an overwhelming amount of data. While this may seem intimidating at first, take time to decide on the data that will actually be useful to you. Some of the more popular measurements to consider are those that deal with the following categories:

Reach – This will allow to measure data including numbers of fans, followers and likes. These numbers will help you to determine if you are growing your audience.

Sentiment – This will allow you to gauge and respond to the positive and negative comments you are attracting on your sites.

Engagement – If you want to know what people are thinking and saying about your organization and its products and services take time to focus on engagement. Examine the number and quality of comments, clicks, video views and anything else that requires your audience to interact with your social media activities.

Sales – Although this may not be easily measurable,  it is useful to understand what social media interaction leads  directly to measurable sales activity.

Summary

Measuring your social media performance is a vital part of any campaign and should not be considered an afterthought. Establish your goals, choose your measuring tools and decide which measurements are important for your business or organization. They are important keys to the success of your business.

Comm0015: Blog Post 1: Tools and sources

Mark Zuckerberg must have seen me coming. I don’t know exactly when his plan to become the internet was hatched, but he has definitely succeeded in my household. Facebook is the most accessed site on my computer, with Google a not-so-close second. Facebook is an excellent aggregator of information, whether it be public or personal.Certainly, I use it to lurk former classmates’ pages and boast about my son’s most recent accomplishments, but I also use my news feed to follow actual news. You know, major-world-event, earth-shattering, is-it-ISIS-or-ISIL, real actual news. I like pages from alternative and mainstream media outlets, personal blogs, local organizations and other aggregators. Rather than trek from one website to the next, I can simply scroll through my news feed for a (truly) fair and balanced look at what’s going on in the world beyond George Takei’s latest amazon review.
I use Google in a similar way. When something is happening that I have a particular interest in, such as the current Ebola outbreak or reviews of new TV shows I might want to binge watch, I set up a Google Alert to automatically push the information I want to my inbox.
In terms of listening or trend-watching, I will admit I don’t do much of that on my own time. However, because I am involved in my organization’s social media strategy, I do engage in monitoring on a professional level. I use Facebook Insights to identify different demographics in our target audience and what content most interests each of them. In addition, I follow our competitors and stakeholders on Twitter to see what conversations we should become involved in and to identify potential gaps in our offerings. Finally, I host a biweekly Web quiz on our corporate homepage and provide an analysis of the results to our third-party content providers. This helps them identify whether their messaging is being heard and, more importantly, being understood.