Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with notable members of the social media analytics and measurement community. This week we’re happy to welcome Adam Price, co-founder of Speak Social, an Austin, Texas-based company that handles all aspects of social media marketing for brands.
TweetReach: Welcome Adam! Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Adam Price: I come from an SEO background. My “ah-ha” moment happened while I was running analytics on one of my SEO clients. I noticed that a competitor’s Facebook page ranked above my optimized site. This site had massive amounts of SEO content and great back-links, yet we were suddenly second to an un-optimized Facebook profile. That planted a seed that I couldn’t get out of my head. I started researching social media non-stop and realized that it is the future of search. I understood then that social media will become the center of every marketing strategy going forward. I want to be a part of that.
TweetReach: How important was measurement in your initial strategy and how has that evolved?
Adam Price: Measurement is critical. The early problem in social media was that most books treated ROI like it didn’t exist. Most of the talking points around tracking and measuring ROI centered on why analytics didn’t matter, and how to refocus the conversation. I had more luck focusing on enterprise level companies who treated ROI as the central issue. At that level, they can’t just hide behind marketing fluff. You have to show hard data.
Today, tools to track social media success are booming as an ancillary business to social media marketing. Initially I pitched tracking ROI of our campaigns as my differentiator over the competition. Very few people were doing it. The social media marketers I looked up to were focusing on analytics from the beginning, following the “If you can’t track it, it doesn’t exist” model. It was a huge learning curve to get my head around how it related to the bottom line, and we continue to work on it. I learned early that time was a big factor of every campaign. Social media marketing specifically takes time before you can show results. The client must accept limited results in the first months. The clients that stick with it see results once the infrastructure is in place.
TweetReach: Does size matter? David Armano has written about the importance of topical influence. What do you think? How important is the size of someone’s social graph vs. their influence in a particular topical area?
Adam Price: David has it right, but this one is touchy. Overall, I would say a social graph size has little use to a client’s bottom line, but that’s not always the case. We represent professional athletes and models, and to them raw numbers mean quite a lot.
One of our most successful nonprofit campaigns started with a Twitter account of only 200 followers, but they were the right 200. If I had a restaurant, I would rather have one Paul Barron as a follower than 1,000 unassociated followers. This is nothing new of course; influencer marketing is old hat. The truly interesting thing is how many of the walls between a brand and the influencers are knocked down by social media. Those walls will rebuild, but until they do, we have a unique opportunity to reach out to anyone.
TweetReach: Do you have any examples of how analytics have helped you adjust or improve your social media activities? Has this ever happened in the middle of a campaign?
Adam Price: Absolutely, we obsessively track analytics. It’s important to develop social media measurement strategies based on business objective KPIs. There is a wealth of monitoring data available, but without a focused strategy, the data will not effectively develop and direct the campaign. At some level, we are always adjusting and tweaking. If our blogs get fewer views than expected, we revamp. If our Twitter reach is smaller than expected, we readjust. We never based measurements off the raw number of Twitter followers and Facebook likes. Those metrics were never a sound justification for social media marketing.
TweetReach: Is ROI for Twitter campaigns achievable? There a many different ways to measure activity, but how do your gauge your success, or help your clients do the same? What’s missing from the equation?
Adam Price: ROI for Twitter is absolutely achievable. Twitter requires you to be specific. You have to know who your audience is, and if you are reaching them. You need to create trackable links that you tweet, then measure who clicks those links. We gauge our client milestones upfront, and then work to meet them. The goals are tailored to the client. The question is not is ROI achievable, but is it achievable with this client?
When a potential client asks me to define the ROI of social media, I start by asking them how they track ROI on their current marketing strategies. What’s missing most times is the client’s holistic understanding of their business. You need to be crystal clear on where you are starting from with a campaign and where you are going. The best clients know their business inside and out. When you bring a tool like Twitter into the equation with one of these clients, it’s not hard to work together to gauge success.
TweetReach: Any social media pet peeves? What practices irritate you the most when you look at the state of the industry?
Adam Price: I think the thing that annoys me the most is the all too common perception that understanding social media channels directly equates to understanding social media marketing. We have a diverse staff of people on our team each who have different specialties, and we did that in a very premeditated way. Social media cannot be encompassed solely in Facebook. A true social media marketing strategy has multiple elements that have to each be accountable. I don’t mean to say that social media marketing is unapproachable or you have to have a team to have success, but right now there is a tendency to grab an intern who has a thousand friends on Facebook and make her your “social media solution.” The results are ineffective, at best, and reflect poorly on our growing industry.
Social media marketing is like anything else, you succeed by taking the time to gain knowledge before you begin. The great thing about the social media community is that they are so motivated to share what they know. You don’t have look very hard to find the information and help you need when you are just starting out.
Adam Price is a co-founder of Speak Social, an Austin, Texas-based company that handles all aspects of social media marketing for brands. Speak Social represents businesses, nonprofits, athletes and personalities. Adam strives to develop and improve the social media campaign process, which can close the gap between brands and the people that use them. His continued study of online media and marketing allows him to construct strategies that serve the client’s message and goals.