Why Social Capital May be Your Most Effective Growth Asset

Social Capital's Path Toward Actions and Outcomes

In a paid, owned and earned media world, where even paid media can be supercharged by social sharing and activity, the digital marketing of today must capitalize on social capital to fuel growth. 

Most early, mid, and growth stage companies have limited budgets or business models that make using paid media as an acquisition strategy, out of reach, ineffective, or both.

Earned media (press and blogger coverage) and owned media (company blog, content and social media) when done properly are typically more cost effective and deliver better results. Why? 

In a sharing economy. we can’t buy customers or users (real ones anyway), despite the fact that we marketers look closely at Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC). We have to earn customers through, trust, experience and repetition. 

At Make Good Social, we created a model we dubbed, F.A.R.E. to guide the consistent creation of frequentauthenticrelevant and engaging earned and owned media content that builds trust and increases the likelihood of a share, which in turn boosts social capital.

Author and analyst, Brian Solis writes in his book, “The End of Business as Usual”,
 
"Brands are no longer created, they are co-created".

Customers and prospects freely express their opinions online about the brands, companies and apps they use - especially when they have a bad experience - and occasionally when they have a good experience.

But whether they express their opinion or not, their experiences (with your content, your product and your people) will shape their level of trust with you. And trust is a critical component of building social capital. 

The graphic shown above, 
from the report “The Rise of Digital Influence,” by Brian Solis of the Altimeter Group shows social capital’s path towards outcomes and actions.

So why is social capital such an effective growth asset? According to Solis,
 
"Social capital is the key that unlocks digital influence and new customer touchponts".

According to social economics 
researchers, “most definitions of social capital… focus on social relations that have productive benefits.” 

In this case the productive benefit is; customers find joy (and an ego boost) in sharing a product/service they get value (e.g. knowledge, entertainment, utility) from and the business gains introductions to new customers.

As most of us know, the referral, word-of-mouth, introduction is one of the most effective ways to get a new customer. A referral is an implied endorsement. A person we trust has vouched for this product or service so our scrutiny and natural skepticism is reduced and we are much more likely to sign-up, buy, join, etc. 

The more social capital a business has, the more likely people will be to share. The more that people share, endorse, vouch for and recommend your product or service, the more your business will grow. 

Social Capital can help:

  • Increase customer growth - more referrals
  • Shorten sales cycles - trust equals shorter evaluation periods
  • Increase retention and reduce churn - your customers will be more likely to give you another chance if you make a mistake 
  • Boost the average sales price - if you’re selling something (and you should be, why else are you in business?) - people will be willing to spend more with you
  • Lower barriers to; entering new markets or product segments, forging new partnerships, securing earned media (press) coverage, and even - raising growth capital
To learn more about how your business can raise the value of its social capital, contact the team at Make Good Social for an opportunity audit and analysis.

5 September 2013 ·

Content Marketing and Social Media: How Do You Know If It’s Really Working?

You’ve read all those blog posts. Social media has hit the mainstream and content marketing is buzzing. You have a presence. You produce content. Maybe you even have a social media manager and a content director. But how do you know it’s really working?

Reporting on a recent study, Sam Laird at Mashable blogged:

How do marketers and entrepreneurs measure whether social media marketing pays off? Most do so by measuring the accumulation of friends, likes, followers and other online connections. Thirty-nine percent look at shares of brand content, while 35% measure actual leads from social media. Just 18% measure success by overall brand awareness and favorability as gauged by consumer surveys.

Looking at the data reported, it’s apparent that we measure what is easy to measure: likes, fans, followers, views, visitors, while measuring leads, sales and customer perceptions take more effort.

Still it is very doable and not so overwhelming when measurement is part of a program and a strategy. Simple measurement techniques are usually the result of a lack of a strategy and a lack of a clear set of objectives for what one is trying to accomplish with social media marketing or content marketing. 

As an example, perhaps you are looking to improve conversion rates in the acquisition funnel (e.g. get more people to sign-up). You can measure your current conversion rates at each stage in the funnel (e.g., register, attend, etc.). Then, as part of a program surrounding one segment of customers you measure the changes in conversion rates after audiences interact with content assets (videos, blog and website content, eBooks, guest posts/articles, infographics, etc.)

Reported data shows that website visitors who view product videos are 85% more likely to buy.

Through a program designed to measure the impact of activities defined by a content marketing and social media marketing strategy and plan it’s possible to get much deeper insight into customer opinions as well as ROI. The optimal measurement, to truly see if it’s all “working”, requires looking at metrics from total reach to support resolution, from the value of a Facebook fan to share of conversation. That may not be possible right away, but there are ways to get beyond measuring likes and mentions.

What are you doing?

16 August 2012 ·

Converged Media Lab: Top Success Criteria by AltimeterGroup on Flickr.
Top Success Criteria for Converged Media: Combining, Paid, Owned & Earned Media From the Altimeter Group: “11 Success Criteria to Make Converged Media a Reality: We found through interviews a set of patterns from respondents on what will make this a reality and organized the criteria into four distinct categories: Strategy, Organization, Production, Analysis. While this process is likely followed in any individual point channel, now, it must be an integrated approach.”Via Flickr: From Altimeter Group Report: “The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned and Earned Media,” by Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang. Download the report at www.altimetergroup.com/research/reports

Converged Media Lab: Top Success Criteria by AltimeterGroup on Flickr.

Top Success Criteria for Converged Media: Combining, Paid, Owned & Earned Media

From the Altimeter Group: “11 Success Criteria to Make Converged Media a Reality: We found through interviews a set of patterns from respondents on what will make this a reality and organized the criteria into four distinct categories: Strategy, Organization, Production, Analysis. While this process is likely followed in any individual point channel, now, it must be an integrated approach.”

Via Flickr:
From Altimeter Group Report: “The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned and Earned Media,” by Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang. Download the report at www.altimetergroup.com/research/reports

20 July 2012 ·

The Convergence of Paid, Owned & Earned Media by AltimeterGroup on Flickr.The Convergence of Paid, Owned and Earned Media 
This Venn diagram from the Altimeter Group’s latest report reveals the trend among successful brands and brand marketers who have seen measurable effectiveness from combined efforts across channels.Via Flickr:
From Altimeter Group Report: “The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned and Earned Media,” by Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang. Download the report at www.altimetergroup.com/research/reports

The Convergence of Paid, Owned & Earned Media by AltimeterGroup on Flickr.

The Convergence of Paid, Owned and Earned Media

This Venn diagram from the Altimeter Group’s latest report reveals the trend among successful brands and brand marketers who have seen measurable effectiveness from combined efforts across channels.

Via Flickr:
From Altimeter Group Report: “The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned and Earned Media,” by Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang. Download the report at www.altimetergroup.com/research/reports

20 July 2012 ·

5 Reasons Why You Need to Focus Your SEO on Content

By now, most of you have probably implemented many traditional SEO techniques, keywords in Meta Data, keywords on page, as many inbound links as possible, etc. Now, some of those factors might be actually hurting your search ranking.

According to the latest ranking factors data from Searchmetrics the following factors are most relevant for a good ranking in Google search results:

  1. Social media signals: social signals from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are frequently associated with good rankings. So that means you need quality content that people are willing to share. Use our F.A.R.E. Content model to create content people will be willing to share.
  2. Brands have the advantage: Mainly because they produce more content and achieve higher engagement and social signals. You can start making a dent in a niche by focusing on content.
  3. Too much advertising is detrimental: The algorithms appear to prefer sites that have a balanced approach between content and ads. So focus on content, not ads on your site.
  4. Link quality is essential: Backlinks are still important but quantity is not the only important thing. Inbound links from poor quality sites can actually harm your ranking.
  5. Keywords in domains still important and frequently attract top results: despite all the rumors to the contrary, keyword domains are still alive and well and are often in the top rankings.
Here’s the ranking factors chart from Searchmetrics:

Tell us what you’re seeing on your site. Do you agree, is conventional SEO dead?
Image courtesy of Network Solutions

27 June 2012 ·

About Me

Chris Bechtel, Principal and Chief Marketing Officer at Make Good Social, a division of Blue Deer LLC a full-service marketing and business development consulting firm for start-ups and growth-stage organizations focused on strategy + services for demand generation, revenue and growth. Chris is a content marketing, demand generation, social media marketing, online PR professional and growth hacker who has spent more than 15 years working with consumer and B2B startup tech companies as well as leading Fortune 500 companies including ACS (a Xerox Co.), City National Bank, Epson, and Target extend the reach of their content online.

Contact Me: about.me/chrisbechtel

Make Good Social
Blue Deer LLC