TakeFive with TweetReach – Evan Hamilton

Welcome to TakeFive with TweetReach, where we talk with notable members of the social media marketing, analytics and measurement communities, pulling together insight, commentary and conversation around all things social media and measurement. This week we’re happy to welcome Evan Hamilton, Community Manager at UserVoice, a provider of customer support and feedback tools.

TweetReach: Welcome Evan! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?

Evan Hamilton: I’m not sure I had an ah-ha moment – my friends were just all on IRC in high school and all on Facebook in college. It’s second-nature to me. It took businesses a lot longer to find their “ah-ha”.

TweetReach: How important was measurement in your initial social media strategy and how has that evolved?

Evan Hamilton: Measurement is not something that is still really expected from Community Management, but I started attempting it in 2009 because I felt that I was doing important work and wanted to show it. I’m still working hard to do that, and the tools have only gotten better.

TweetReach: What metrics are most important for your job and/or your company?

Evan Hamilton: Share of voice is very important for us. Much of community management is simply building rapport and loyalty with customers and potential customers, and seeing how much you are part of the general conversation in your space validates this work. I also look at engagement — if people aren’t replying or retweeting, it doesn’t matter that they’re following you.

TweetReach: Have you looked at social media success or failure in other industries for pointers on how to apply best practices to your audience? Any good examples?

Evan Hamilton: The best example I’ve seen is the Old 97′s (right out of TweetReach’s home state of Texas). I think because they’re not a company focused on “marketing”, they do a great job interacting with their fans. Whether it’s posting a fun behind-the-scenes photo, supporting a fan who is fighting cancer, sharing some music that they love…everything they do is really genuine and engaging and valuable to their fans, and they get a great response. More companies should stop thinking about how to “market” to customers and instead think about how to delight their fans. (Adding some electric guitar might help!)

TweetReach: How do you think about the mix of different social media networks when designing your social media strategy? Are you trying different approaches with different networks? How important is measurement with each?

Evan Hamilton: You have to take different approaches. People act differently on each network. You might be on Facebook to tend to your Farmville and on Twitter to talk business — the same message will resonate with you differently in each location. Not to mention it’s obnoxious to see the same message from a brand in two locations.

TweetReach: For many, social media has enabled us to become more engaged with our communities. Most of us are in constant communication with our constituents every day. How do you see integrating analytics and measurement into everyday social media activity?

Evan Hamilton: I think there’s danger that we won’t see beyond our circles (Google customizing my results based on my social activity means I get a very biased view of the world) but also a lot of opportunity to connect with people deeper. If you can tell me which friends of mine are into folk music, I might bond with someone who had never told me that they like Wilco, too.

TweetReach: Let’s talk about social media measurement in the context of a broader business measurement strategy. What do you think – is measuring social media success useful by itself? How do you link social media metrics to larger business goals?

Evan Hamilton: You’re not doing social media for the hell of it — it has to be linked to a larger business goal. That might vary though — for Dell it’s selling more computers, for UserVoice it’s both acquiring and retaining customers, and for someone else it’s something different. You definitely have to figure out that goal, map out the KPIs, and then try to accomplish it. Otherwise there’s no point. Just because pools are cool doesn’t mean you should throw away your desk and buy some swim trunks — unless there’s a business objective you can accomplish in the pool.

TweetReach: Do you have any secret techniques, tools, or other Jedi strategies that you can share with our readers? Any best practices for getting greater reach for your content?

Evan Hamilton: Use the Google URL tool to add tracking tags to your URLs. I’m tired of hearing people say that Twitter clients make it impossible to tell where traffic came from. If you use a tracking tag, you will (largely) know. For getting greater reach of your content, I suggest just being part of the conversation. All the “tricks” I’ve seen and tried are rarely as successful as talking to people and sharing good stuff with them.

TweetReach: How important is a person’s influence to your social media efforts? How do you decide who to respond to?

Evan Hamilton: Everyone deserves fair treatment, and you never know who has a network effect that isn’t measurable.

TweetReach: Where do you go for measurement and analytics-related news and insight – any particular websites, blogs, forums, Twitter accounts that are of particular value?

Evan Hamilton: I mainly listen to what my network has to say, honestly. Best practices will always bubble to the top.

TweetReach: Thanks, Evan!

Evan Hamilton is Community Manager at UserVoice, where he handles social media, content creation, customer support, and community-building. Evan writes the blog “Understanding Your Customers” for UserVoice, featuring insights into succeeding through great customer service.