Archive for category socialmediatoday

Facebook Page Engagement Numbers and Quick Competitor Comparisons

In addition to Likes and Comments, Facebook is now exposing the number of shares a post receives. This number is displayed for both individual user posts, based on that user’s privacy settings, and on Page posts.

Facebook Shares sequence and news feed posts.

There are definite upsides and downsides to the introduction of shares data in its current form for business and brands, who now have an additional qualitative factor on which to evaluate the engagement success of different posts. InsideFacebook has outlined a number of them. In short…

The upside:

  • Alert users to the availability of the Share option and increase its usage.
  • Give Page admins visibility into what and how often content is reposted (a metric we’ve previously been blind to).
  • Identify who is sharing your content (think potential brand advocates).
  • Push publishers to actively pursue shares.

The downside:

  • Impact of shares on EdgeRank is TBD.
  • Share metrics are not (or at least not yet) included in Facebook Insights.
  • The repost no longer includes the name of or link back to the source (a major downside for brands).

I think initial excitement over the new shares data point overlooks the fact that some of your most important engagement numbers are right there in the open for all to see. And exposing new data points make your success, or failure, at inspiring your community to action is increasingly public.

Impressions, feedback rates, active users, demographics and daily page likes are all masked behind Insights, visible only to Page admins. The wall is good. Social media performance metrics should enjoy many of the same privacy protections that other business performance metrics do. But consider what is behind the wall, what is in front, and how this affects fan behavior and business intelligence. The exposure of Likes and Comments stands as social proof of how interesting your content is, but it also offers competitors, and the merely curious, a glimpse into how good you are at engaging your community. Now your shares are public too.

Why does this matter? After all competitors can’t see your actual engagement rates, right?

Outsiders may not be able to see your actual impressions or feedback rates, but it’s actually very easy to make an assessment as to how you are performing from an engagement standpoint. I often complete weekly competitor reviews for clients, and I can take a rough measure by comparing interactions to Page Likes. There are services that will do some of this automagically, but the following ‘by hand’ method works well for spot checks.

Add up the total number of Likes and Comments on the last 3 to 5 posts for each Page you’re reviewing (including your own). Divide that by the number of posts you looked at to get the average number of interactions per post, and then divide by the total number of Page Likes. Make sure to use the same sample size for each Page you’re looking at (e.g. last three posts for all Pages).

Interaction Rate = Average (Likes + Comments of last 3 posts) / Total Page Likes

Let’s look at Sons of Anarchy, for example:

Sons of Anarchy post, showing new Shares metric

Sons of Anarchy Facebook Page (click to expand)

Post 1 – 3027 Likes, 213 Comments and 358 Shares = 3598 interactions
Post 2 – 4690 Likes, 533 Comments = 5223 interactions
Post 3 – 6822 Likes, 768 Comments = 7590
Total Page Likes – 3,011,562
(Click image at right to view post data and fan count.)

Interaction Rate = ((3598 + 5223 + 7590) ÷ 3) / 3,011,562
Interaction Rate = 0.18%

Jay Baer made a great point awhile back that on Facebook, your competitive set extends beyond other companies in your industry, but all brands and businesses using Pages. You can apply the calculation above to see how any of these brands are performing.

Shares gives you, and me, and additional data point in determining how your social content is performing.

Skilled Facebook Page admins already know that some posts are better suited for generating Likes, and others comments. Ideally, your content mix includes a number of each to keep the fan experience dynamic and engaging. The introduction of shares to the visible metrics lineup will lead to new post types and strategies.

Social media pros, and your competitors, will be stalking your Page to see what works and what doesn’t.

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ask me anything, answer me anything – the formspring.me dilemma

I’ve made a minor addition to my blog. On the right, right under the search box, you’ll find a formspring.me widget. If you’re not familiar with it, formspring is an application that allows users to send, receive and respond to questions. The default header on the question box is “Ask me anything.” and questions may be authored or asked anonymously (account holders do have the option to disallow anonymous questions).

I signed up for formspring.me approximately 5 months ago. In that time I have received nearly 40 questions. I have answered 10, and each time I scan my inbox, I am faced with the dilemma: Do I want to commit to answering every question that is asked of me? Why wouldn’t I want to answer every question, you ask? Well, take a look at 10 questions sitting quietly in my inbox, waiting for me to answer them.

The questions are overwhelmingly personal. In fact, the only ones I would not consider personal are ten favorite records, five minutes of fame, and consider yourself friendly. The having children question, though highly personal, is one that I’m happy to answer. But many of the others are just, well… odd. They are not they type of questions I was expecting, and some leave me slightly uncomfortable. For example:

Is it weird that you missed me? Maybe not if I no-showed on an event you were expecting me to attend, or if  we’re friends but haven’t spoken in awhile. But maybe so if it was a romantic notion, since I haven’t been connected to anyone in that manner for quite some time. Is the question weird? Ummm…kinda. Is the question inappropriate? That depends not only on who is asking (which I don’t know), but also on my intentions for using formspring.

I am a compulsive joiner, often signing up for online applications purely to see what all the fuss is about. I also tend to be very open in both online and offline conversations, frequently talking about subjects and happenings that are not related to my professional career. Thus, in the absence of a stated purpose for using formspring, it would be safe to assume that the purpose is not (or not limited to) professional application (assuming, of course, we ignore for just a minute that part of my job as a social media strategist is to know about things like formspring).

Which questions are appropriate, and which are just plain questionable?

I have no doubt that the more questionable questions are enabled by anonymity, because with anonymity comes freedom. An asker may pose whatever question they choose without fear that they or their intentions will be revealed. They may ask questions that are highly personal not only to me, but also to themselves. I, however, can not answer anonymously, which means I must determine if I want to respond to every question I am asked and how open I want to be in my responses.

Consider that some answers open the door to further questions. The two crush question you see in photo above were submitted only after I answered Who is your secret crush? Consider also that anonymous questions may prompt guarded responses. To a known asker, I might have answered the good looking question with flirtatious banter or sarcastic humor if I knew either to be relevant to my relationship with that individual, but to an anonymous asker, I will likely answer with a relatively unrevealing statement on confidence in one’s appearance answered with a quip about beauty versus brains.

My question(s) to you, particularly to other formspring.me users:

  1. What is your purpose for using formspring.me?
  2. How will you approach questions that don’t align with that purpose (too personal, off-topic, etc.)?
  3. How do you approach questions asked anonymously?
  4. Would you commit to answering every question that was asked of you?




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now holding open community office hours

Ms. Herr offers open community office hoursLong, long ago in a land far, far away… Or rather longer ago than I want to admit to <sound effect: cough cough>April</cough> in pretty much the geographic location I am today, I had the idea of holding open community office hours. At the time, I was unemployed underemployed and yet somehow extremely busy. My weeks were marked by coffee and lunch dates with people who had heard from someone who had heard from someone that I was the person to talk to about whatever it was that they needed help with. My dates would pick my brain, asking questions about social media, community events or business startup ideas.

I could have ranted about how these meetups were essentially free consulting sessions, how they didn’t yield either contract work or employment offers, or how my dates would then run off to implement things we talked about while I still had to scrape together money to pay my gas bill if I wanted to keep taking hot showers. But for the most part, I was enjoying myself for four key reasons:

  1. I love social media.
  2. I love the local Phoenix social-web-tech community I’ve become immersed in.
  3. I love meeting and talking to new people, many of whom seem to find me though this very same social-web-tech community.
  4. And I love coffee.

From something that was naturally occurring, and something that I was enjoying, came the idea to give in and hold open community office hours. Akin to a college professor’s office hours, these are times when people could join me at a local coffee shop or eatery to talk about anything that interests them, whether it be social media, current events or name ideas for the family’s new goldfish.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Every week, I’ll choose 1-2 days to hold office hours, typically in the mornings before the workday kicks off.
  2. I’ll publish the dates, times, and location of these office hours on this public Google calendar.
  3. If you plan to join me, you’ll drop me an email at heather lynne herr at gmail dot com with “office hours” somewhere in the subject line. (I guarantee there will be mornings when that email verification that someone is expecting me will be the only thing that ensures I don’t sleep in an extra hour.)
  4. We’ll meet, chat, and enjoy some good coffee and/or noms.

One very important do not:

  1. Do not come with the intention of talking about anything that you want a NDA, written or verbal, to discuss. I am by default a very open person and I don’t want the pressure of keeping your secrets.

I’m kicking things off this Friday, November 20th at Liberty Market. If you want to join me, holla!

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social media connections are human connections

Terralever celebrating the Spirit of Enterprise Award, October 2009

Terralever celebrating the Spirit of Enterprise Award, October 2009

I spend my 9-to-5s with the great team of people that make up Terralever, an interactive marketing agency based out of Tempe, Arizona. Recently, the passing of one of our founding and managing partners quickly and dramatically altered life as we knew it. After a week passed and after the funerary services, as we returned to our daily tasks and project deliverables, I kept thinking about the company’s blog. How could we, how should we, go from our last post that announced Andy’s death to a new one covering user interface design or email marketing? What was that post in between, the one in which we, in front of the world, transition from loss to business as usual, knowing there really would be nothing usual about it?

I am touched that Terralever allowed me to author that post. And I am thankful for Courtney Crane, Marketing Manager for Terralever, and great friend to Andy, for helping me find the right words.

Originally posted to the Terralever blog on October 13, 2009:

Social Media Connections are Human Connections

As many of you know, Terralever recently suffered a great loss with the passing of Andy Richter, managing partner, colleague, friend, and mentor. We have mourned and we have laughed as we continue to remember great times spent with a man whose passion for living was infectious.

Shortly before we learned of Andy’s passing, I discovered that my friend and his wife were expecting a baby via a biweekly web comic. Life cycled within mere hours. As the day continued, and news of Andy’s passing spread, the outpouring of support, expressed through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and personal emails, was overwhelming. The loss was not just our own, Andy’s family or those closest to him, but one felt throughout Phoenix and the greater entrepreneurial and internet marketing communities. Each post brought home with new meaning that which I already believed, that social media, however digital it may be, is still human.

Sons and daughters are born, cancerous diseases are fought, promotions are celebrated, wedding vows are exchanged, and losses are mourned. Life is shared as it happens.

News channels will continue to publish the latest headlines, brands to focus on building communities of impassioned evangelists, and retailers to announce their hot new sale. Indeed, our role as an interactive marketing agency is to help our clients navigate opportunities to best leverage their online activities. It is my hope that as we do so, we always remember that social media is where humans connect with one another in meaningful ways.

We cherish the knowledge, guidance and passion that Andy brought to us each day. We are thankful for the gracious support of the community since his passing. Both are inspiration for us as we move forward together.

*If you’d like to leave a comment, please feel free to do so here and/or on the original post on the Terralever blog.

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endnotes: @MsHerr avatar version 2.0

Over the past two weeks, many that I know, and a few that I don’t, commented on the soft edit set for my next avatar. I said I’d crowd-source the selection, and that the image that rose to the surface during the soft edit process would be the image I moved forward with. But in the end, I’ve chosen another image for very specific reasons.

The portrait with the most votes bears a lot of resemblance in expression to my first crowd-sourced avatar. They share an uninhibited smile, a joyful disposition, and a welcoming air. Perhaps there’s even a hint of mischievousness. These qualities may be some of the best loved by those who know me. They set both friend and stranger at ease, in essence, opening them to me.

crowd-selected avatars

crowd-selected avatars*

I take comfort that these qualities are so continuous in my character that they reveal a corresponding continuity in my photo shoots. However, as I plan to keep my previous avatar in rotation, and perhaps even primary, I’d rather not have two avatars so similar.

On a more technical note, cropping and image size also had a significant impact on my selection. Many individuals addressed cropping issues in the evaluation of the jump photos. No one mentioned it with the profile on the swings, wherein my hand would likely get cut off entirely. And no one addressed image size. Consider that social profiles and applications display images fairly small. Twitter’s web interface displays images at a mere 48×48 pixels. When you scale down many of the top images from my soft edit set, something gets lost. In the jump photos, it’s the fact that I’m jumping and it’s most of my distinguishing features except for my hair. In the crowd-selected image, it’s my eyes. With one of my words, touch, being so much about connection, and with so much of that connection flowing from great eye contact, I could not justify that loss.

selected images from soft edit set

selected images from soft edit set*

That brings us to my final selection, the image that was liked by most who commented, voted top by a handful, and caused the one who didn’t know me want to. Thank you to all who participated. Your feedback was insightful and had a great deal of influence on what is now @MsHerr avatar version 2 point oh.

MsHerr avatar

photo credit: tysoncrosbie

*All photography by Tyson Crosbie. I love him. He’s awesome!

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crowd-sourcing my avatar selection, version 2.0

Four hundred sixty some odd days ago, I sat down for a portrait session with Tyson Crosbie. Of the hundred or so shots that were taken, a soft edit set of 16 images were uploaded to Flickr and opened for comments. I asked a public, comprised of my online communities of friends and followers, to tell me which image they most connected with as a representation of Ms. Herr.

And I’m at it again.

Seven days ago, Tyson and I got together to capture a new body of images. In his process, a session is driven by three words chosen by the subject as articulating what they want the final portrait to portray.

MHwo_avatar_touch joy rogue

These are my words, chosen after significant personal reflection, chosen because they distill not only who I am, but also how I aspire to engage the world around me.

The soft edit set for this session will go went live on Flickr today. Comments will be open for people to select their favorite(s) and provide critical feedback. Which one(s) most genuinely conveys my character? My aspirations? My human dimensionality? Which one captures my words? Which one connects?

I hope you’ll help me choose.




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@MsHerr hits 10k tweets… & hands over the keys

Twitter_MsHerr_9953rd tweet

After 26 months on Twitter, I’m fast approaching ten thousand Twitter updates. That’s a lot of characters. It’s a bit of a milestone. Not like turning 18. Or turning 21. Or losing your virginity. But a milestone nevertheless.

@spectagirl suggested 10,000 shots. Indeed momentous, but not quite what I had in mind. @smarti9 started #MsHerr10kWatch2oo9. My friends are often quick to rally behind my endeavors in some fashion or another.

A few hours ago, I was 10 tweets away from 10k. By the time you read this, I’ll be 7 tweets or less from 10k. The build up to that 10,000th tweet has been fun, but also a bit daunting. Suddenly 140 characters has become a much bigger deal than necessary. There is this pressure to be momentous. Funny considering I’m much more likely to miss it completely (despite @smarti9’s 10k watch) and either use it on a reply or post something completely irrelevant.

I’ve decided to hand over the keys to my Twitter account. That means you (and everyone else) will have the opportunity to post as and from @MsHerr for up to 26 hours.

Why am I doing this? This is not the first time I’ve yielded control of my social presence. A year ago, I asked my community to help me select my avatar. My reasons then still hold true today. I believe in the social web. I believe in trusting my friends, connections, and communities. I believe in yielding control. And I’m curious to see what will happen. It could be phenomenal success or it could be an abysmal failure. But why not? Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question.

How will it work? I have set up a Ping.fm account linked to @MsHerr and will publish the associated posting email address in my 10,000th tweet. You (and everyone else) can send a tweet to this address, where it will then feed automatically to @MsHerr. My only request is that you sign your tweet with ^@yourtwittername (please replace yourtwittername with your actual twitter name so people can link to you). Ping accepts text updates and photo updates, so feel free to post pics too. If you need a how-to, check out Ping’s posting guides.

My disclaimer: I reserve the right to delete any tweet. If you do not sign your tweet, I will probably delete it. If I feel violated by your tweet, I will probably delete it. After all, this is my account we’re talking about.

That’s it. That’s the deal. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me proud. And remind me why I fell in love with the social web so many months ago.

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Bit Gravity releases a free, customizable flash player

BitGravity just launched a subdomain for their sandbox projects, and the first release is a free flash video player. Lead developer, Dean Casalena provides a great video demonstration and writeup of player features. I don’t do a lot of video. Correction, I don’t do any video (unless you count 12seconds). But the BG player is sexy enough that I almost wish I did.

I’ve seen BitGravity players in action with MultiView, revealed during a special episode of Diggnation, and various live streams set up by Brian Shaler. Each time, I’ve been impressed by the production and player quality, so I assume this new player is up to par. But what really sets my branding and marketing heart a beating is the theming options. The interface allows you to insert your logo into the viewer and change the colors of the player’s status bar. This ability to customize is great from a branding perspective.

It’s not uncommon for individuals, startups, and small businesses to search out low cost ways to meet their needs. In the process, they must settle for the default appearance of a tool, usually designed to reinforce someone else’s brand. With the BG player, there’s no need to settle. You still have the BG logo on the left of the status bar, which is great because it denotes quality. But the rest of the player is all you!

BitGravity flasy player

Note: This message is inspired in part by BitGravity co-founder, Barrett Lyon. I’m guessing I popped on his radar with this tweet, and he reached out to say thanks. Just thanks. That’s it. Simple and easy. Yet that acknowledgement led to me to talk twice more, on Twitter and here, focusing on exactly what I liked about the BG player … twice more than I probably would have otherwise. That’s community/fan/advocate relationship building. Bravo!

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two theories regarding social media, human dimensionality and community fragmentation

Social media is at once a new and old field. Those such as Christopher Locke, his fellow authors in The Cluetrain Manifesto (website or book) and others who have been around since the internet’s inception would say the foundations were lain decades ago. Those who have entered the field in the last couple of years are still considered early adopters. Yet there are many more that have yet to realize that those giants known as MySpace, YouTube and Facebook are just the biggest in a seemingly endless stream of social media channels.

Like so many fields in fledgling states, the early adopters are in a mad rush to understand the trend, define the vernacular, explore the potential and forecast the implications. Social media is deconstructing conventional notions of relationship building, information sharing, and personal and brand engagement. The implications will be numerous, diverse and far-reaching.

Some would consider me an early adopter…

I’ve been sitting on two theories for several months. They are theories that I think few people, if any, are talking about. And they are theories the have emerged as what I’ve learned in the relatively short time I’ve been engaged in social media has subconsciously intertwined with the semblance of knowledge gathered during my years as student of architecture (UNM and ASU).

To date, I’ve done nothing to push, publish, or promote my theories, largely because I have felt a bit intimidated by the amount of research that I think will be required to adequately explore them. But time to sit no more. Time to give my thoughts public face. Time to talk less and DO more. (Thanks to @templestark for callin’ me out).

one: social media facilitates the re-piecing of human dimensionality.

Driven largely by our car-dependent culture and the specialization of industry knowledge, we have come to live very fragmented lives. We live in one place, work in a second, and play in a third. We give our time to this group and our money to that one. In each place, neighborhood, district, and organization, we associate with specific groups of people, each representing a niche, and often isolated, community. We project the parts ourselves relevant to each community’s respective cultures, operating within specific norms and talking about specific subjects. We are perceived accordingly and we are encouraged to maintain certain boundaries lest one area leak into another and compromise our standing in both.

With little crossover between our personal, professional, recreational, and hobby interests, most of the people we encounter only experience a small sliver of our personalities. Yet what makes humans so fascinating is the interweaving of likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, skills and knowledge, indulgences and aspirations. These things interweave to create depth, breadth, complexity, and richness. They create dimensionality.

Social media opens the door to the fuller picture of our selves. We may still generally correspond with friends on Facebook, network with colleagues on LinkedIn or Biznik, and share ideas with people of similar passions on any number of niche interest sites, but the barriers to connecting with any one person in any number of communities are dramatically reduced. Time and distance are only nominally relevant. We’re easier to find. We’re easier to observe. We’re easier to engage. Indeed, it almost seems taboo to deny “friendship” in one community when it’s already been granted in another.

Each new request in a subsequent platform, whether online or off, flows from an interest that extends beyond the slivers of our personality toward the greater whole of our dimensionality.

two: solutions to community fragmentation will be found first in our online communities, and if they’re paying attention, urban planners and designers may be able to extrapolate the learnings for application within our physical communities

The fragmentation of our physical, neighborhood, and civic lives has long been a concern for urban planners and community developers. Whole genres, such as New Urbanism, have emerged from the search for design solutions that will help us patch the pieces back together for more cohesive lifestyles. Organizations, research efforts and books are dedicated to identifying causes and posturing solutions. There will be no one right answer, but there does not yet seem to be a satisfactory answer.

The proliferation of social media platforms is trending to a similar fragmentation of online communities. Blogs, videos, networks, bookmarks, games, podcasts and live-streams all provide means to produce, distribute and share content. Even within a single content type, there are a multitude of platforms. Consider YouTube, Viddler, Vimeo, Ustream Tv, and many more, all operating in the video space.

Early adopters jostle for beta invites from each new launch. We play with the functionality, features, user interface and mobile capabilities. We play with the other users. We love an application and become loyal users and evangelists. We hate it and they migrate back to another preferred application. Or we fall somewhere in the middle, neither passionate nor dispassionate. Over time, we collect a pocketful of applications we use frequently, as well as a vast network of friends/colleagues/associates unique to each application. We collect fragment communities.

The online world grows, adapts and evolves much faster than the physical world, so while online communities mimic that which has already undermined our physical communities, they will also find solutions much quicker. From inception to prototype to product launch, maturation times drop and results evidence sooner. The quest for solutions has already begun. Feed aggregators and application sharing are only the beginning. Urban planners and designers who take heed now will experience a virtual living lab, and the learnings will be invaluable.


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a few considerations before starting that 2nd, or 3rd, Twitter account

“Who should I follow?” It’s a question every new Twitter user asks. But it’s also a question that established users continue to grapple with. As our following counts escalate, so do the challenges of keeping up with it all. The questions may shift to more narrow focuses such as follow etiquette, data quantity and filtration practices, but the root question is the same.

There is a worthwhile conversation emerging on this subject on Tomas Carrillo’s blog. I highly encourage you to read both his original post and the comment string before continuing with the rest of this post.

Tomas is leaning toward creating a second account so that he can manage his professional and personal interests separately. For many, this can appear an attractive solution.

The jump into multiple accounts is a critical step with a variety of implications. The benefits will vary depending on your goals, but there are some ramifications, for both user and reader, that are easy to overlook.

  1. Compartmentalizing business, personal, and niche identities as separate entities forces others who may be interested in the multiple sides of you to follow multiple streams. It’s easy to think others might only be interested in the _blank_ side of you, or that you’re only interested in the _blank_ side of others, but that’s rarely true. Being one-dimensional is usually considered a character weakness.
  2. Maintaining multiple accounts is likely to increase your overall time investment on Twitter. Just as you are forcing a reader interested in the multiple sides of you to read multiple streams, there will be individuals you engage both professionally and personally. On which account do you then follow them? More often than not, you’ll probably choose to follow them on each of your accounts, increasing the redundancy of your feeds.
  3. One account is likely to become favored, while another will become neglected. While your time invested on Twitter increases, time available in a day remains static, making it less feasible to devote equal and adequate attention to each account.
  4. You may undermine your brand. Whether you are a company or an individual, your brand is the unique composition that emerges from a variety of facets, from history to aspirations, from deep-seated values to social connections. As you siphon off certain facets for promotion in other channels, you risk the overall richness of the fuller brand. This risk is greater for freelancers and sole entrepreneurs. Your business is most likely an extension of yourself, and as such, your professional and personal lives are mutually reinforcing.

Using multiple Twitter accounts to separate interests is a growing trend, but in general, it’s something I would advise against. The exception may be for highly niche interests. For example, I maintain @PhxArtYC to provide updates on events at the Phoenix Art Museum. And consider Francine Hardaway who tweets as @Earth911 which is dedicated to environmental and recycling content.

Unless there is a need separate a niche interest from your personal brand, keep a single stream and show of all the different sides of you.

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