Posts Tagged strategy

Driving behaviour by metrics; a Google Page Rank discussion

Posted by on Wednesday, 9 April, 2014

pagerankishOr, driving results through defined strategy by encouraging the right behaviours using the right indicators.

What happens when you drive behaviour by measuring activity? You get more of that particular activity, regardless of quality. When the activity isn’t as easily measured, then we start looking at indicators that can be measured, and that is where the slippery slope of metrics driven behaviour begins.

Take, for example, your website’s rank on Google search results. Using that single metric as a driving mechanism for success initially looks good and easy to quantify: is your site ranked in the first few slots on a google search result? If so, you’re likely focused on  the higher the rank, the better…. except, driving behaviour based on this rankling leads to poor practices and even worse behaviour. In order to obtain solid rankings, there were many different ways you could game the system (some less than scrupulous SEO “experts” have tons of tricks to cumulatively work together) to ensure a high spot without having to do the hard work to reach that space organically. Thankfully Google is implementing changes that reward the right thing and remove the ability to actually game the system through simple tricks.

The maniacal focus on being on the front page is what comes from poorly focused, metrics driven activity. Rather, the front page/first spot should be seen as an indicator, a result from doing the right thing. Using behaviours to drive metrics instead of the reverse is the first step to having the right focus on the right things. The common adage is “you get what you measure”, and truly it is in this case as well. The right thing, in these cases is creating quality content and engaged conversation. “SEO has changed. It’s no longer just about getting all of your meta data aligned and your site content optimized, but also about getting your customers involved in the conversation.

So, what’s the solution in this example using Google search ranking as a success metric? The answer is both simple and difficult: Measure and report on the behaviours you want to encourage. Only use search rankings as indicators that those behaviours are showing benefit. What does that mean though? Specifically, it would require measurement of content quality and more complex metrics to be developed in order to identify, in quantifiable methods, the activities associated with generating quality content and quality conversation. But, people are like electricity and water: all three follow the path of least resistance. In this case, that path is taking the easy way out by just looking at your google rank as a single easy metric to show success. But, like I noted above, Google is indeed doing things to reward those who are doing the right thing: both Google Authorship and GooglePlus provide deep benefit without much additional work (assuming you have content flowing already, these simple provide better connection to you and more robust results, they don’t make your content better).

If you’re still focused on page rank, you will soon find your metrics obsolete. With the proliferation of mobile devices and a shift to both smartphone and tablet computing, Google Now will be the driving force in benefits to site owners. We’ve already seen page rank plummet in relevance over the past 3 years as Google shifts their strategy to align more with organic search. Google Now is the future of a dying page rank. As a site owner or content creator, we are all best off paying attention to the future and building the right metrics to drive the right behaviours here and Now.

sentiment_Gauravonomics

image credit:  Some rights reserved by Gauravonomics

Two tenets for a successful social business program

Posted by on Thursday, 13 February, 2014

Guiding LightOwnership, and focus of vision. Those are the two recurring themes I’ve seen these past few years which are necessary to run a successful social business program; both of these will be your guiding light moving forward with any social business strategies or activities.

First up is the idea of ownership. What I mean by this is the transfer of control from a department or project lead to the individuals contributing to social engagement. In most cases this revolves around subject matter experts being enabled and encouraged to participate in their own ways, with their own voices, and around things for which they have passion. Of course, giving people this ownership is easier said than done…. What I have found to be effective is to work directly with people who want to become involved in social business and work with them to define their own vision and purpose. Sometimes that can be a single conversation, from which comes a clarity and inherent ownership over their participation.

Which, of course, leads me into the focus of vision. This discussion of focus actually plays tightly with ownership as the conversations around vision will serve to increase an individual’s personal ownership of their efforts, moving them from an attitude of “additional work” to one of passion and exuberance for engaging in conversation. But what do I mean when I say “focus of vision”? This is a multi-fold idea which can be encapsulated in a few questions posed to anyone who asks me what they should do to become more involved:

Question one: What is your purpose for engaging in social business?
This may sound simple, but the answers can be rather complex. Recall that social business is not an end state, it isn’t a goal in itself, and it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Rather it is a tool that can help you achieve defined business goals or address identified business problems. Once you are able to identify and verbalize the goals you are working to achieve, you will be able to begin looking to see how social business as a tool can work to your benefit. With these goals understood, the clarity of vision, you purpose will begin to permeate your engagement as a framework for everything you do, say, and share. A guiding light, if you will, that keeps you on track and on course to see the results you need.

Question two: Who is your audience?
Your clarity of purpose should help to answer this question as it will narrow your view and begin focusing in on the right people to engage with in order to achieve your goals. If your goal is to improve client satisfaction, then your audience may only be your existing post-sales client base and your efforts focused on helping them with product issues or education. If, however, your business goal is to increase sales, then you can see how your audience cap grows exponentially from post-sales clients to anyone who may be a potential client, as well as maintaining the client base you already have. Knowing with whom you want to engage with socially will go far in helping you to form the right messaging, the right tone, and the right conversations to build towards your end goals.

As an SME, an individual contributor, being able to answer these two questions will take you far in defining your own engagement in social business. With both an understanding of your audience and your vision/goals, you’ll be able to begin seeing the right steps to take, the right ways to engage, the right tone and timber of voice, and use that framework to guide your activities and conversations. More importantly, from a program manager perspective, being able to define those goals and understanding of audience will give your SMEs a deeper sense of ownership and responsibility to engaging in the right ways. It gives them control and over how they engage and serves to help them see their overarching reasons for engaging in the first place.

Of course, as social business program managers, these questions (and answers) should always be at the top of your mind, not only as you are engaging in social conversation, but especially as you are defining your social strategies and activities. They give you the frame-work to know if you should or shouldn’t engage in a particular way, or if a project being presented will be an effective use of your time and resources. If you take nothing else away from this post, let it be this: If someone asks you what they should be doing, or is asking you to take on a social project, make sure they can answer the two questions of goals and audience before going further.

The Naked Marketers, Ep 62: Jason O’Donnell talks smart social strategy

Posted by on Wednesday, 18 July, 2012

In which Pete Wright invited me to The Naked Marketers podcast to jaw flap about social business strategies, Klout, building your brand, thought leadership, and various other tangents. What resulted was a wonderful conversation between three very passionate people with great insights into the world of social business from varying perspectives:

The Naked Marketers is a show that covers stories in communication; from marketing and advertising to gadgets and technology. Each week hosts Pete Wright and Dane Christensen discuss campaigns, tools, and messages with a critical eye and an irreverent twist.