Are You Hiring the Right Social Media Horses?

And how do would you know if you are?

In the Inbound Marketing book by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah that I reviewed last week, one of my most favorite chapters was called Picking and Measuring People.  Their position is that in an era of inbound marketing, hiring criteria and performance measurement must adapt to how marketing is changing.  They suggest a framework which they simplify with the acronym DARC.  If you want to learn more about their framework, there is a free chapter excerpt titled “Hiring in the DARC Ages” which is available on their book site.

DARC stands for:

D = hire DIGITAL Citizens.

A = hire people for their ANALYTICAL chops.

R = hire people with web REACH.

C = hire people who can create remarkable CONTENT.

While their initial premise is very good, Halligan and Shah provide an overly simplistic measurement table in the book which looks at just 4 factors.  I think they ran out of gas at the end of their book and it appears that they punted rather than develop a more robust measurement device.

Here are their factors and my critique for each one:

  • LinkedIn Followers – this is a good measure, but it doesn’t really tell how connected a person is or how they present themselves on LinkedIn.  Personally, I’m wary of people who either have too many or too few connections and any figure between 150 and 500 shows that a person is a Digital Citizen and has Reach.
  • Twitter Grade – of course, Halligan and Shah are going to use their own Twitter Grader rating.  But I am doubtful of some of the Twitter Grader results especially when a company account I follow can get a score of over 90 when they haven’t tweeted in over 2 months, the account is barely 6 months old and they only have 148 followers.
  • Facebook Grade – again, Facebook Grader is a Hubspot product that has only graded about 45,000 Facebook users so the raw outcome is also suspect.  For example, my Facebook Grade is 52 which means my profile is better than 52% of the people who have been graded.
  • Blog Subscribers – I’ve been blogging for three years and I don’t know how many subscribers I have because it isn’t something that is important to me.  I do know which posts are more popular and I know that my traffic has been trending up on a month over month basis.  Focusing on just blog subscribers is also a limited way to judge someone’s DARC quotient when you should really be focusing on content and consistency as well.

The industry needs a better measurement mechanism and being someone with analytical chops, I have come up with what I think is a much better way to measure the DARC factor of a job candidate or current marketing employee.  This may not be the ultimate Inbound Marketing scoring mechanism, but it is a credible stake in the ground and I welcome any comments.

My scoring spreadsheet is broken into major categories of blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Other Platforms.  For each category, I ask a series of questions that are graded on a 0 to 5 scale which is better than trying to compare if 300 or 400 connections is better since they are probably both the same.  I have also added 4 columns to identify which DARC criteria is met with each question.  I am still light on the Analytical dimension which is a hard category to quantify, but is an easy skill that can be tested.

The PDF of the spreadsheet has been uploaded to Slideshare and has been embedded below:

In their book, Halligan and Shah say that it is an “ideal hire” when you find someone who possesses all 4 skills (a “4-tooled” player from baseball lingo) because there are not very many of these people around yet.  If you are a smaller company, you should try to get as many qualities in one person as you can.  And by the way, I consider myself to be one of those “4-tooled’ players and not just because I developed the measurement matrix above.  Check me out for yourself.

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Inbound Marketing – The Only Social Media Book You Need To Read This Year

Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

I just finished reading a great book on social media and I strongly recommend that anyone interested in social media and market.  In fact, I would go so far to say that:

if you only read one book on Social Media this year, read Inbound Marketing!

The book is Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media)” by HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.  I am not the only one who is praising this book.  Of the 67 reviews on Amazon since the book came out in October, 61 people rated the book as 5 stars out of five, 5 rated it as as 4 out of five and there’s just 1 contrarian moron.

Wikipedia describes inbound marketing as a style of marketing that focuses on getting found by the customer.  According to the HubSpot website, Brian Halligan originally coined the term inbound marketing and which others have described as relationship marketing or permission marketing.  On the other hand, traditional marketing or outbound marketing is the process by which companies find customers by advertising.  The two types of marketing could not be further apart.  One analogy in the book refers to the divide as “spending with your brain” (inbound) or “spending with your wallet” (outbound).

The book presents the all information in a very clear and concise manner – and each chapter includes real life examples and tips, and ends with a checklist of relevant to do items.

There are 4 main parts of the book:

  • Part 1 – Inbound Marketing: discusses how shopping has changed, asks whether your website is a marketing hub and whether you are worthy.
  • Part 2 – Get Found by Prospects: focuses on creating remarkable content, and getting found in the blogosphere, Google and social media.  There is a very simple description of SEO (search engine optimization) along with hints for using pay-per-click and organic means to drive traffic to your website.
  • Part 3 – Converting Customers:  talks about how to convert visitors into prospects, prospects into leads and leads into customers.
  • Part 4 – Make Better Decisions: describes how to make better marketing decisions, how to pick better marketing people and measure them, picking and measuring a PR agency and watching your competition

Not only did Brian and Dharmesh write a compelling book, their company lives what they preach.  In addition to their corporate website and blog, they provide several great (and free) tools such as Website Grader and Twitter Grader.  These tools provide a numerical score of how your website or Twitter account is performing along with suggestions on how to make improvements.  They also have a related website called Inbound Marketing University.  Inbound Marketing University is self-described as a “a free marketing retraining program for marketing professionals—as well as marketers between jobs—looking to gain new skills to get ahead in the competitive workforce.”  The site provides marketing resources, webinars, news and a community forum. along with a series of 15 online/downloadable courses that will prepare you to take the Certified Inbound Marketing exam.

A free chapter from the book titled “Hiring in the DARC Ages” is available on the site.  This is one of my most favorite chapters as it talks about the 4 key types of people you should be hiring – digital citizens with analytical chops, marketing reach and content creators.  From my experience, many marketing teams need some serious overhauls to get people who understand and contribute in an age of inbound marketing and social media.

The authors conclude with a very strong call to action:

You have in your hands the playbook for getting found by your prospective customers and have no reason not to get started…now, today, this minute.

In the meantime, I found this Inbound Marketing 101 presentation provided by HubSpot Marketing on SlideShare and it presents a good overview of what is covered in the book.  This should be enough to whet your appetite until you get a chance to run over to the book store and get your own copy (or read it on your Kindle/iPhone like I’m doing).

Whatever It Takes, Round 2 – Partners In Health and Haiti

In 2007, I wrote a blog post about the book Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer.  This is a story of how a young medical student founded a group called Partners In Health in 1987 to serve the most impoverished areas of Haiti.  With last week’s earthquake, the title of my original blog post takes on an even urgent message.

I have been on the Partners In Health email list since I read the book and here is the latest email update from Orphelia Dahl, the executive director of Partners In Health where she noted:

Over the past 24 hours, with communication partially restored in Port-au-Prince, we have been able to coordinate strategy, challenges, and needs efficiently and effectively with our medical and logistics teams on the ground in Haiti. With supplies delivered and initial surgical teams deployed there have been numerous successes at PIH’s sites of medical operations in Port-au-Prince and outside of the city. Today, we initiated a more decentralized approach, identifying four communities and a medical complex in Croix-des-Boquets into which we will expand our efforts tomorrow. We also began a MedEvac program for the most critical patients – four patients arrived in Philadelphia this morning where they all had surgery today and five additional patients were flown to the Dominican Republic this afternoon.

In addition to these details, we have received painful emails, commentaries, and images about the state of Port-au-Prince. We hope that the following two pieces will provide you-our supporters who now stand in solidarity with Haiti-a glimpse of Port-au-Prince. You’ll note, as we have, the profound need for a sustained, long-term international response to this crisis.

The email also contained links to:

So, please do whatever you can to help out the people in Haiti and to keep them in your thoughts – and if you get a chance, read Mountains Beyond Mountains to get a sense of the issues and challenges faced by the survivors in Haiti.

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Here is my original blog post from September 2007:

Ok, I’ll start with full disclosure.  This post has nothing to do with software design or definition.

Instead, this post is about a very interesting book that I am currently reading and one that I feel compelled to share with the Catalyze community.  And the title of this post is borrowed from the mission statement of Partners In Health.

The book is Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer.  This is the story of how a young medical student at Harvard co-founded a group called Partners in Health (PIH) in 1987 to serve one of the most impoverished areas of Haiti.  PIH has since grown into one of the world’s leading health organizations for developing countries and has pioneered techniques for treating TB and AIDS.

One takeaway from the book is best summed up by a online review for the book I read on Amazon.com:

The title “Mountains Beyond Mountains” is a metaphor for life – once you have scaled one mountain (challenge), there are more to come. This is especially true for Paul Farmer, MD, who has devoted his life to what most people call “the impossible.” He has faced mountain after mountain in his quest to help mankind.”

Mountains Beyond Mountains is an inspiring and good read to help put things in perspective, especially challenges we may be facing.  The book has been out since 2003 and I cannot believe it took me 4 years to get around to reading it.

If you want to learn more, here are some other links that may be of interest:

Power of Social Media – Gaining a Competitive Edge

Power of Social Media Presentation by Karl Kasca Sponsored by the Career BridgeBuilders Group at American Martyrs Church

Social Media expert Karl Kasca gave a presentation last night on the “Power of Social Media – Gaining the Competitive Edge through LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!” For me, the content was interesting and confirmed what I have already been living for the past several years.  But what intrigued me was the turnout and level of interest for a presentation sponsored by our church’s career outreach ministry.  There were well over 100 attendees and for many, this may have been their first exposure to using social media tools for business and career networking purposes.  Almost all of the audience raised their hands when asked about Facebook and many had a LinkedIn profile.  Far fewer were on Twitter and a smaller handful were active bloggers.  My point is that the attendance from such a wide cross-section of people proves that social media is reaching a tipping point that goes far beyond the early adopters.

Here are a few of the ‘new’ website, tidbits and reminders that I picked up last night:

  • Pipl – an interesting (and free) site that purports to be “the most comprehensive people search on the web”; for example, here is the Pipl search for Tom Humbarger
  • Tweepsearch – a way to search who is following a Twitter user and a way to search bios of members
  • Omgili – a neat way to search across community forums
  • Social reputation – I like the reminder to think about social reputation (see slide 14-16)
  • Facebook privacy settings – Karl also reminded the audience to check their Facebook privacy settings which were recently changed on a global basis by Facebook
  • Using Google to search LinkedIn and Facebook – the presentation has some interesting examples of how to power search these sites with Google

Finally, here is the SlideShare version of Karl’s slide presentation:

2010 Social Media TrendsSpotting

I’m kicking myself all the way to Sunday for not getting on the Trendsspotting bandwagon this year.  TrendsSpotting CEO and Founder Taly Weiss reached out to me on December 14th asking me to participate in this year’s predictions.  I actually started drafting my thoughts and still have my draft email, but got sidetracked when I decided at the last minute to visit my parents in Ohio before Christmas.

So, I never got around to sending my predictions to Taly.

But if I would have followed up, here are the predictions that would have been included:

  1. Facebook will continue to gain ground as the top social networking site while MySpace sinks further into oblivion
  2. Mid-to-large companies will continue to struggle with implementing social media because they aren’t hiring experienced people with the right type of experience
  3. Somebody will come up with a better and cheaper mousetrap to track activity across all social media channels
  4. Slideshare will emerge as the dominant social document sharing site and will be acquired by somebody
  5. Apple will come out with a tablet product, but it will be too expensive for me to purchase

Some common themes emerged across the predictions including innovations around location-based and mobile services, and the emergence of 3D augmented reality and exclusive social media sites.

My favorite predictions came from Seth Godin, Drew McLellan and Charlene Li, who said respectively:

Folks that put in the time and energy to build a foundation over the last 2 years will be rewarded while latecomers will merely whine

Content marketing isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and many CFOs will prematurely pull the plug on their efforts because the results are not instantaneous.

Social media in 2010 will cease being the shiny new object and instead, become part of the everyday lexicon of business

Here are the predictions of the 30 visionaries, notables, marketing and social media experts that did submit their predictions:

Twitter in the Restaurant Industry

I wrote a blog post about social media in the restaurant industry yesterday and wanted to follow that up with a more detailed analysis of how restaurant brands are using Twitter.  I expanded on my list from yesterday and now include the top 10 restaurant brands and Twitter handles as identified in National Restaurant News:

Top 10 Restaurant Brands on Twitter as of 1/6/10

As you can see, only Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are really exploiting the Twitter channel based on the number of followers and the level of tweets.  And Burger King and Wendy’s are dismally failing on Twitter and appear to have given up their Twitter experiment after only 1 tweet.  The other top brands are doing just ok on Twitter and I would grade them a C or C- due to low numbers of followers, low number of lifetime tweets and inconsistent tweeting patterns.  One final intriguing insight from the analysis above is the wide disparity for all brands between the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers.

So, how should restaurant brands be using Twitter?

Here’s what I think.  Most people have a fairly set number of restaurants that they frequent during the year and most places are near where they live and how they match their lifestyle.  As a family, there are probably 10 or 12 restaurants that we”ll visit over the course of the year.  Because we like variety, we’ll eat at the restaurants at the top of the list 5 or 6 times per year and about 2 or 3 times per year for the restaurants near the bottom.  The challenge and opportunity for the restaurants in my ‘stable’ of restaurants is how do you move up our list so we’ll increase the frequency of our visits.   This is where social media could come into play.  While none of the restaurants I frequent are using social media effectively, I know I would be more likely to frequent restaurants who do a good job of keeping in contact with me by tweeting interesting facts, tips, reminders about my favorite meal, announcements of new promotions or menu items, etc.  As the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind” – and social media can help to keep and increase brand buzz.  In my case, Twitter offers immediacy and is the best way for a brand to reach out to me to increase their mindshare, to send targeted marketing messages and to interact with me.

As such, brands should be leveraging Twitter to touch each of these core functions:

  1. Corporate mindshare – use Twitter to evoke positive images of the brand such as tweets with new products, blog posts, corporate news and profiles of employees/locations
  2. Targeted marketing – use Twitter to make tweets about marketing campaigns and promos; promote different restaurants or menu items
  3. Customer interaction – use Twitter to listen to what customers are saying about the brand and create a Twitter dialog with customers who post comments about the brand

Most of the other top 10 brands seem to be doing fairly well on the Customer Interaction reason, but only Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are really using trackable URLs to push people to their website or marketing promotions.  Unless you can track the clicks, it is very hard to measure any level of return on investment (ROI).  Other than the Dunkin’ Donut yeDDi promotion, I didn’t see any marketing promotions or campaigns.  Starbucks had a number of tweets about their new mobile apps and the only way I found out about it was via Twitter.

McDonald’s is an interesting case in that the link from their Twitter page goes to the “Meet the Tweeps” page. This is a nice touch that identifies the 11 associates tweeting on behalf of McDonalds and provides a brief bio snapshot of each tweep.  Plus, @McDonalds adds an identifier at the end of each tweet to signal who is authoring the tweet (^abc where abc stands for the tweep’s initals or name abbreviation).  However, McDonald’s seems to use Twitter almost exclusively for customer interaction and rarely tweets a trackable URL.  I counted just 5 tweeted URLs over their last 100+ messages.

To assist all restaurant brands, I have jotted down some simple Twitter rules to follow with the Twitter strategy broken into the components of acquiring followers and tweeting:

Acquiring Followers

Consistent and steady growth in the number of followers is key.  The tips for acquiring new followers include:

  1. Follow anyone who tweets about the brand
  2. Follow top Twitterers in each zip codes/areas where the brand has a restaurant
  3. Automatically follow back anyone who follows the brand
  4. Post a link to the Twitter account prominently on the brand
  5. Display Twitter link prominently on your website, in stores and in all outbound communications

Tweeting

Here are the simple guidelines for tweeting:

  1. Contribute 5 to 10 original tweets per day; for example, plug new blog posts, promote marketing campaigns, announce corporate news, and discuss general news relating to nutrition or food/restaurant industry
  2. Tweets should be spaced evenly (hourly) throughout the day and it is ok to re-tweet popular tweets (both HootSuite and CoTweet allow you to schedule tweets)
  3. Add a short URL (bitly or owly) to as many tweets as possible so tweets can be easily tracked – never use a URL in a tweet that cannot be tracked
  4. Re-tweet all positive tweets about the brand
  5. @reply to anyone who tweets about the brand (positive or negative comments)
  6. Don’t get into public Twitter fights with customers – take divisive issues offline with direct Tweets

Brands should also consider sending an automated thank you message to all new followers and include a link to a promotion.

What does all of this mean? My hope is that all brands – not just restaurant brands – do a better job of leveraging Twitter to drive mindshare and customer interactions.  I also look forward to seeing more casual and fine dining establishments doing a better job of interacting with me as consumer.  If restaurant brands are not understanding how to leverage a mainstream tool like Twitter, how can they possibly keep up with the changing environment with new tools like Foursquare and other location-based services?

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CORRECTION (1/7/10)Wendy’s is not failing on Twitter.  I just ‘found’ the wrong Wendy’s Twitter account when I doing my research.  Their ‘real’ Twitter account is @TheRealWendys and for some reason, they also tweet under @UrBaconMeCrazy.  And they actually have a very cool Wendy’s Realtime social media portal which provides videos, pictures, cool facts and other fun stuff along with links to all of their social media properties.