TakeFive with TweetReach – Holly Homer

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 Holly Homer, writer of June Cleaver Nirvana, founding partner at Business 2 Blogger, and operator of several websites devoted to her home in Texas, including the popular She is Dallas.

TweetReach: Welcome Holly! Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?

Holly Homer: I had been blogging for a year or so when Twitter started to become popular among bloggers, but I was Twitter-resistant. I was happily using Plurk. Plurk was great because it was similar to Twitter, but the comments nested so you could follow a full conversation. The Plurk timeline showed a conversation topic and how many people had responded below. I was mocking my friends on Twitter and lamenting how random and pointless Twitter was when one of them said, “Who cares how great Plurk is if everyone is on Twitter.” That was the moment I realized that the key to social media was the social part. I got over my Twitter issues and have grown to find its random nature charming.

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

Holly Homer: Initially, I had no strategy. I am a mom blogger. I am posting pictures of my kids and telling silly suburban stories. As my readership grew, I started getting approached by others to write about something on their agenda. Back then, blogging was (and is now to a lesser degree) in no-man’s-land. No one wanted to pay for me to do things because it was unchartered territory, but they still wanted me to do things… just for free. I figured out really quickly that if I ever expected to be paid for blogging, I was going to have to figure out how to prove my worth. I started learning about SEO, Google Analytics, StumbleUpon, Alexa, Twitter and Facebook to help define my sphere of influence.

As my sphere of influence grew, I was getting more and more email pitches. Some mornings I would wake up to an inbox with 5 or 6 new ways I could write about a company in exchange for a product or service. None of these pitches fit my blog, but that didn’t mean they weren’t good opportunities for another blogger so I passed them on to my blogging friends. This went on for a few months and I thought, “Someone needs to organize all this!”. That is when I had the idea for Business 2 Blogger. I bought the URL and sat on it for nearly a year as I tried to avoid taking on another project. In the meantime, I found some partners and in February of 2010 we launched the site that matches companies with bloggers. It is based on the HARO model where businesses tell us what type of bloggers they need and how many and we pass that information on in an email to our blogger members. The interested bloggers “apply” for the opportunity and a match is made.

The information I had learned about how to justify my own worth was now being used to help other bloggers find writing opportunities. I am a big believer in online karma.

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

Holly Homer: Each and every campaign we run at Business 2 Blogger is different. People are looking for different things for different reasons, but all of them have to justify a budget. The better the match, the more effective the message will be within a sphere of influence. BUT we still have to define a sphere of influence. In campaign responses, bloggers self-report traffic but in all of our paid campaigns, we verify with Alexa ranking, Compete score, Twitter metrics, Facebook likes and Klout to try and achieve the most objective picture of actual influence.

When I manage a blogger campaign, my weekly reports include URLs of blog posts written about my client and TweetReach numbers surrounding the promotion’s keywords, the client’s Twitter profile and any related hashtags. I am in LOVE with TweetReach trackers. I buy extra trackers like I buy shoes – a girl needs one for every occasion! Clients appreciate the numbers (and fancy graphs), but it is extremely helpful to me in finding those bloggers who go the extra mile. The extra mile isn’t exclusive to Twitter and often the people at the top of my TweetReach report are also the bloggers who tagged several extra times on Facebook or wrote an extra blog post. They can’t help it and they are the people you want on your next promotion.

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?

Holly Homer: Size TOTALLY matters. Social media influence is about influence. To influence there needs to be an audience. I hear people claim that they have a “small, but engaged audience”. Just because I have a large number of followers doesn’t mean I don’t have an “engaged” core. This argument is easily won by a TweetReach report. Let’s leave out number of impressions for argument sake and look at number of retweets, recruitment of others to a conversation and number of responses. I will take the blogger with the 5,000 followers almost every time. The fact that someone HAS 5,000 followers shows a serious level of engagement.

TweetReach: Any social media pet peeves? What practices irritate you the most when you look at the state of the industry?

Holly Homer: UGH. I take poor social media skills personally and feel compelled to gently correct. Bad Twitter affects us all. Take the example of the auto-direct message. The fact that 80% (my guess) of people on Twitter now send one out when I follow them has rendered the Twitter DM useless. Who wants to wade through all that spam willingly? People forget that there are OTHER people on the other end of Twitter. Twitter is like a huge networking cocktail party. Introduce yourself, shake a few hands, listen to a few stories and skip the hard sell.

TweetReach: Great advice. Thanks, Holly!

Holly Homer writes June Cleaver Nirvana, runs several websites devoted to her home in Texas including She is Dallas, and is a founding partner at Business 2 Blogger. She is the mom of three boys who occasionally slips away to the nearest casino for a poker tournament. Follow her on Twitter as @Texasholly.