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Social Media Benchmarking Q&A

  |  March 29, 2011   |  Comments

Four questions and answers that will help you find out the benchmark metrics for budgeting a social media initiative and the staffing needs.

People often send me questions and occasionally my answers come together as a nice blog post or even ClickZ column! So below are some questions I answered where this was exactly the case.

  1. What are the benchmark metrics for budgeting a social media initiative - including staff, equipment, time, and search engine optimization? At least, what are the variables that will be in play as you create a budget?
  2. What are the benchmark staffing needs for an initiative? If you want to do X you will need X people or hours.

Let me answer these first two questions with one answer. For smaller and mid-sized organizations, the key place to start is what social media technologies and properties do you want to launch. If you are a tech/B2B firm, do you need to worry about Foursquare? Most likely not. If you are a B2C firm, do you need a SlideShare account? Probably not.

Then make a list of the properties you need and model the time it will take to produce and maintain them. Typically, a standard platform with a blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter account, SlideShare account, YouTube channel, and Flickr and LinkedIn profile page will require a full-time social media manager who develops and gathers content, writes and publishes tweets and posts, monitors and moderates posts, and creates a monthly report of results and ROI. Keep in mind that this person is also gathering leveraging content (articles, presentations, photos, videos) that have already been produced from company insiders and existing staff - so they should not be responsible for "creating" all the content. In effect, they are the company's citizen social journalist.

1. What is a standard workflow model with Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, etc.? The key to producing a steady content stream is to unify the workflow for all your properties and create social conversations and workflow around single pieces of news and valuable content. For example, a video might trigger the following workflow:

  1. Produce video
  2. Post to YouTube
  3. Post to Facebook
  4. Write a blog post about it and post to blog with embedded YouTube video
  5. Post video and transcript on website's video section for SEO
  6. Add to websites Google XML video feed
  7. Extract 10 facts from the video and schedule 10 Facebook posts over the next three months linking to the video
  8. Extract 10 facts from the video and schedule 10 Twitter tweets over the next three months linking to the video
  9. Optional promotional/integration tactics:
    • Add video link in blog to company email signatures
    • Drop a press release on the video and link to blog post
    • Drop email on video to house list
    • Embed video in banner ads
    • Etc.
  10. Measure video plays across platform
  11. Measure leads/ROI from video visits on blog, site, and social promotions

Now if you are an organization that wishes to have a layer of brand or legal compliance, these items may need to be put into a publishing schedule so brand managers, marketing managers, or legal teams can approve the content. There are collaboration and workflow tools like HootSuite and SocialEye. (In the spirit of full disclosure, SocialEye is my company's tool.) Once posted, then one must have off-the-cuff responses for moderation guided by a set of standards and standard operating procedures. Sort of the rules of the road established by legal and brand management on how to interact with people in the social space. For most, it can be pretty simple - act like you are at a party but your grandmother and boss are there. Be friendly and fun but well-behaved and discreet. Don't swear or reveal confidential information.


2. What are productivity expectations per unit, or person, or arena? For example: if your task is to create, populate, and monitor 10 Facebook accounts or Twitter accounts, how many hours do you need each day, week, or month. On average, between creating and gathering content, writing tweets and posts, moderating and responding to comments, and producing monthly reports, one could easily spend on average 30 to 90 minutes per day per Facebook page and up to 30 minutes per day on a Twitter account. Clearly time goes as your fan and follower base grows the frequency of posts increase. Also, this person should be looking for ways to incorporate and integrate social media into marketing programs that already exist. So 10 to 20 hours a month should be allotted to strategy and integration tactics development as well as special content development. So if you are managing 10 Facebook accounts and many other properties, you will need a couple of hands-on people and a manager/strategist over them tying everything together.

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages to populating with videos? How do the costs and monitoring requirements change? Video is always great content since it can trigger social activity as listed in the above workflow and is easy to share with Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons. However, it is not the only thing a company should be doing. Video should always be part of the mix along with photos, infographics, white papers, fact sheets, studies, checklists, coupons, articles, blog posts, and other content being produced by your organization and other media outlets and bloggers. It can also get expensive and time-consuming if you want to be pushing a steady stream of high quality interesting content. If you are set up with the right equipment (a basic video camera and laptop) and you are willing to push low production value/casual video content, you can certainly up the volume and frequency of video content you push. In most cases, to successfully produce a regular and ongoing video in the style of a "vlog" (or video blog), you need a very interesting personality or luminary who is prepared to produce regular segments.

A famous example of video blogging is Gary Vaynerchuk's Wine Library TV. He has produced nearly a thousand videos and while the production value of the videos is low, the informational value of the videos is very high for wine lovers. So he has a huge following and his vlog and social media tactics drive his wine business. Any company that represents a facet of life, business, and consumerism can own a space by creating an ongoing stream of valuable video content - but the key here is "ongoing."

Through Gary's videos, he has organically (in other words, without advertising) garnered over 35,000 Facebook fans, 850,000 Twitter followers, and has generated millions of video views.

4. What are the suggested investments in equipment and software needed for various initiatives? If you are doing video clearly, you will want a good camcorder (or good web cam), a good mike input so your sound is clear, either basic video editing software that comes with the recorder or something nicer like Premier, a powerful laptop, and of course a YouTube channel. Camtasia is good for turning PowerPoint decks into videos too.

As for managing social media content production and collaboration, workflow, monitoring, and measurement, there are a number of tools and technologies. There are things like CoTweet and HootSuite that are on the lower end of the spectrum, and more robust end-to-end social media management tools like the one my company developed, SocialEye.com. If you want to measure the levels of chatter and buzz out there around your brand, you can use tools like Radian6.

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Harry Gold

As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.

Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.

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