Archives for category: Social Business

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Ever wondered what people actually do on their smart phones other than talking, texting and accessing email? A study by BBDO and AOL just published in the Harvard Business Review’s January-February 2013 issue gives us a glimpse into that. The main lines:

46% of non-phone/text/email time was devoted to consuming non-news-related content. In contrast, only 19% was spent directly interacting with other people (presumably on social networks).

The share of time devoted to seeking information on a product or active shopping was only 12% (126 minutes per month on average). but note that light (or passive) discovery, which is the process of receiving recommendations from peers and being exposed to marketing content or word-of-mouth content occurs mostly in the 65% of non-phone/text/email time during which smart phone users are passively interacting with both content and their network, and during the phone/text/email time not included in this particular infographic.

What does that tell us?

1. Don’t let the 12% fool you. In the context of an infographic like this, it’s easy to forget that the act of shopping is merely the culmination of a process of discovery, desire and validation which ultimately ends in a transaction. If smart phones users only spent 6% of their time actively shopping wouldn’t suggest that they are buying less products. It might only mean that the mobile transaction and checkout process is more efficient. So don’t sweat the fact that shopping is dwarfed by “me time” and socializing.

2. Whatever smartphone users do the most indicates where mobile attention-share is. If you have a marketing message to share, adapt it to mobile users’ behaviors. (In other words, just be where they are.) If your ideal customers spend 46% of their time consuming cat videos and gossip columns, it may not be a bad idea to either shift some of your advertising dollars there or create/sponsor/share/syndicate that kind of content.

3. If the second most important block of time consumers spend on their smart phones is dedicated to socializing (on social media platforms), it isn’t a bad idea to run passive searches on certain keywords that are relevant to your business and/or industry. (Brand names, product names, product categories, etc.) How many people are talking about you and your products? How many people are talking about your competitors? How many people are looking to purchase a type of product that you sell in the next few hours? In the next few days? In the next few weeks? If you haven’t yet established this basic level of monitoring, you are handing over a significant portion of your sales to those competitors who are actively looking for opportunities to create connections with consumers via mobile channels and converting those connections into sales.

Note that the study metered the average “socializing” time block at 410 minutes per month, which at 13-14 minutes per day, only accounts for a portion of the time consumers spend interacting with others on social channels using all of their devices.  For reference, recent studies (like this one) put active Facebook usage in the US at about 26 minutes per day (8 hours per month). That doesn’t include time also spent interacting with other people via Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Quora and other platforms.

4. If you are a B2C business and you are not making it as easy as possible for consumers to discover your business through social channels and “me time” content channels, your marketing/business development strategy is not 2013-relevant.

5. If you are a B2C business and you are not making it as easy as possible for consumers to do business with you on their mobile devices, you are going to lose business. Hotels, airlines, restaurants, car rentals, retail, and so on. Your mobile commerce platform must be slick, intuitive, pain-free, and fast. We can’t really help you with that, but we can help you with the monitoring part (number 3).

Cheers,

The Tickr team

PS: Feel free to join our growing digital community on Facebook and on Twitter and tell us what you think. (We won’t spam you. We promise.)

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Filed under: and now, for something completely different… Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an in-depth analysis of so-called case studies involving digital influencers, awareness campaigns and free swag. Just a few straightforward observations (maybe even insights) about this little-spoken-of confluence of fashion design and digital navel-gazing that the cynics among us might point out could very well be a sort of marriage made in heaven. While that’s neither here nor there, here’s what we got out of that information:

1. Leverage events.

Events like New York Fashion Week (and design houses participating in them) are now leveraging social media to increase their reach and penetrate markets. Case in point: Marc Jacobs gained over 5,000 new Twitter followers in one week by leveraging its digital presence during the fall event. Michael Kors gained an impressive 15,000 in the same time frame. Victoria Beckham (while not in Paris watching DB play for PSG) managed to gain 53,000 followers that week.

If your industry has big events, use them. It doesn’t matter if it’s CES, the Oscars or the Detroit auto show. Starting today, your business is going to have a digital/social media plan in place before you attend your industry events. Not taking advantage of this magnet for media coverage and attention borders on negligent.

2. Rethink the world of the catalog.

Badgley Mischka & Bergdorf Goodman, understanding the potential power of Pinterest (think demographics and layouts) previewed their new collection exclusively on the platform. The result: almost 40,000 net new followers for their Pinterest account, after posting only 42 items. Cost of printing: zero. Cost of mailing: zero. Cool factor: high. Virality quotient: high.

Well played.

3. Context is king.

Sometimes, a product is just a product. But anything that speaks to both an appreciation for original design and its owner/user’s sense of cultural identity is bound to be incorporated into someone’s photo feed. Enter Instagram. Whether you think the whole thing is an orgy of vanity or a cute little phase humanity is going through right now doesn’t matter. Fact is that people like to take pictures of themselves and of their stuff and post those pictures on Facebook and Instagram and wherever else they can. Some companies approach this with suspicion if not apprehension. Others embrace it completely. The fashion industry finds itself in a very unique position in regards to this whole cultural phenomenon because its entire existence is predicated upon people wanting to look good and be socially desirable. In other words, if Pinterest is a natural extension of the catalog, Instagram and Facebook are the natural extensions of people’s own private catwalks and red carpets. Some numbers:

Over 650,000 people follow Burberry’s Instagram account. 500,000 people follow Marc Jacobs’ Instagram account. Gucci: 350,000. Kate Spade: 300,000. And so on. You get the idea. And don’t cringe (especially you serious photographers out there) but 73 Instagram photos from New York Fashion Week were accepted into Getty Images’ library. Yes… times, they’re a-changin’. It isn’t a bad thing either: empowering people to share your products in a way that gives them both approval and context creates a free engine of discovery and recommendation. You want net new customers? You want to get people to covet your products and get off the fence about buying them? Well there you go.

4. Understand your key channels.

Sure, most of the channels you want to focus on are no-brainers: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on. But there might be some niche channels you need to leverage as well. For the fashion world right now, one of them seems to be Pose. The platform a) uses a user co-creation model to curate collections of “looks” that users can browse and b) integrates a shopping into the experience.

What’s the big deal? 1,000,000 users and 120 million images viewed per month.  How many people are opening your emails or taking time out of their day to come by your website?

Plant seeds in all the smart places. Not just where everyone else is planting theirs either. Plant them also in places where people come specifically to find the kind of stuff you want to sell.

5. Use infographics no matter what your industry is.

No need to go into lengthy explanations about this one. We would have probably never even heard of Pose had it not been for that infographic.

Lesson: It doesn’t matter if your business only sells peanut-shucking machines to the tabby aristocracy in the Democratic Republic of Catistan (yes, it’s… a real place): use infographics to help potential customers discover your company and your products.

6. Use hashtags.

One of several common denominator in all of those wins: the use of specific hashtags. Now, wait a minute… we know what you;re going to say: hashtags aren’t necessary or cool anymore. Well, half of that is just nonsense. While it’s true that they aren’t necessary for monitoring purposes, they are nonetheless helpful. Here are three reasons why: Identity, virality and measurement.

Identity: they provide context for social content. Virality: they’re social objects that invite participation and sharing. Measurement: necessary or not, they do make monitoring, measurement and reporting a little easier for your digital team. Using the attached infographic as an example, imagine how much of a pain it would be to effectively track every mention of New York Fashion Week without the #NYFW tag. By creating official hashtags, you help bring clarity and order to what might otherwise be an incoherent mess of social mentions.

7. Monitor digital channels for key activity.

Monitor and measure mentions, followers, comments, shares. Do this qualitatively and quantitatively. Measure that against visits to your websites, visits to your stores, impact on sales volume, brand awareness and brand sentiment. Use the proper tools. Use the proper methodology.  Treat this stuff like the job it is and not an afterthought. Treat social channels as the product discovery channels they are and strive to understand the mechanisms by which your social content and activity ultimately drives sales. It isn’t that hard, but it’s work and when you treat it like work, it pays off. Big time.

We hope that gave you some cool ideas to work on. And if our Command Center app can help, all the better. Big thanks to ebay deals  and Mashable for the infographic.

Cheers,

The Tickr team

PS: Feel free to join our growing digital community on Facebook and on Twitter and tell us what you think. (We won’t spam you. We promise.)

If you have been reading our blog these past few months, you have probably noticed that we spend a lot of time talking about digital mission control centers. Given that our product generally ends up being used in a digital mission control center setting and that most of our clients are engaged in some phase of either developing or expanding a digital mission control center, we are in a unique position to observe, discuss and provide insights on the inevitable adoption of digital mission control center by every agency and brand in the world inside of the next three years. This trend may have been accelerated by a single event which took place during the 2013 Superbowl.

A quick recap: Superbowl Sunday. The Baltimore Ravens are leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6 with only 13:22 left in the third quarter. Suddenly,the NOLA Superdome experiences a power outage. Moments later, Oreo tweets this ad with the caption “Power out? No problem.”

Clever, right? Yeah, we thought so too.

The result:

Oreo tweets

The biggest boost in mentions and follows for any brand at the Superbowl. Compare that to any other Superbowl advertiser.

The same image received over 20,000 likes on Facebook, and the marketing, digital and advertising worlds were abuzz with Oreo and 360i’s marketing clever little guerrilla coup during the Superbowl.

Why is Twitter relevant to this conversation? Well… Judging by our own monitoring of the Superbowl, the lion’s share of brand mentions and real-time conversations about the Superbowl happened on Twitter:

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This isn’t to say that Twitter is more valuable than Facebook or that social networks are more valuable to advertisers than traditional media channels like TV and radio. This isn’t that kind of post. What we are observing is that every channel has its own unique value, and when it comes to amplifying the impact of a particular event to promote a product or brand, Twitter tends to be a high volume, high reach, high velocity channel.

Look at it another way: what Oreo managed to do in under five minutes with a few computers and an agile social content team was both more effective and considerably cheaper than most multi-million advertising spots broadcast during the game (including its own). There were virtually no production costs involved. There was no media buy involved either. (Note: the average Superbowl ad was reported to have cost around $4M this year.)

Will this ultimately turn into more sales for Oreo and Kraft? Maybe. Maybe not. Only time will tell. You could ask the same question of any of Superbowl Sunday’s ads and the answer right now would be the same: we don’t know yet. All we know is that the impact of this one little piece of real-time marketing was a measurable win in terms of reach, in terms of social sharing, in terms of generating positive product and brand sentiment, in terms of positive brand engagement, and, last but not least, in terms of its overall cost. If anything, that’s a very good start.

So how did Oreo and 360i pull this off? Well, Buzzfeed’s Rachel Sanders has a quick recap of how this little win came to be:

“We had a mission control set up at our office with the brand and 360i, and when the blackout happened, the team looked at it as an opportunity,” agency president Sarah Hofstetter told BuzzFeed. “Because the brand team was there, it was easy to get approvals and get it up in minutes.”

Wait… 360i had a what where? A “mission control center?” Set up at the office? You don’t say.

This is the part where we sit back in our awesome 100% recyclable ergonomic chairs, cross our spectacularly muscular arms, and smirk at you without actually saying “we told you so.”

Bonus: digital mission control centers don’t have to cost anywhere near $4M either.

To be fair, there is a lot more that went into this win than a mission control center: a leadership team brave enough to give its digital, brand and agency teams the go-ahead to build a clever social engagement campaign (remember Oreo’s “Daily Twist”), the right digital team to execute on that plan, the right collaboration processes, the right resources, the right tools, and the right environment. You need it all. But it is no accident that the first thing that came up in the Buzzfeed interview was the mission control piece of the puzzle. Having one has become a tactical imperative. It’s as simple as that.

Our guess is that every brand and agency who had a “we wish we had thought of that” moment on Monday morning is now looking into finally building something similar to what 360i and other forward-thinking agencies already had in place for the big game. This is how digital marketing is done now.

Every evolutionary leap needs a catalyst. We all just witnessed one. Cool, huh?

Other screen shots from our Command Center‘s Superbowl monitoring adventures:

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Tickr Superbowl 7

If you are new to this topic, we invite you to do a quick search for some of the articles we have already posted here on the topic of digital mission control centers (how they work, why they matter, how to integrate them into your business, how to use them to track campaigns and/or PR crises, etc.) and of course find out why most of them already incorporate Tickr. You’ll want to use other tools as well, by the way. We’re only one small piece of the puzzle.

(If you aren’t familiar with our new Command Center edition, here is a 1 minute video that touches on the basics.)

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Also, be sure to enter our Command Center beta/contest:

The categories: non-profit, journalism, and for-profit.

The way it works is simple: 1) Sign up. 2) Enjoy free access to Command Center. 3) Submit a case study (or summary) of how Command Center helped you with a project. That’s it. We even have prizes and everything! The sooner you register, the better. (Sign up here.)

Cheers,

The Tickr Team

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At long last, we can finally unveil our new baby: Command Center. We’re super excited to finally be able to share this with you.

What can you expect? More power, more data and more screens, for starters. More search and monitoring customization too. Command Center basically takes Tickr and gives it… well, superpowers.

You know what though? We’ll get down into details of how to use it next week (we’ll also be launching a contest that will let you use Command Center to help you tell your story to the world). Right now, check out our revamped website and this quick one-minute demo of Command center‘s key features, how it works, and what it can do for you. (Click here or on the image below.)

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See? Digital monitoring and social business intelligence just got 100x simpler, slicker, and more powerful. (You’re welcome.)

Cheers,

The Tickr team

Also feel free to join our growing digital community on Facebook and on Twitter and tell us what you think. (We won’t spam you. We promise.)

Here’s a quick tour of where things stand with key social media platforms today. Hat tip to HuffPo and iStrategyLabs for putting this together:

 What jumped out at us:

23% of Facebook users check their accounts 5x or more per day. That isn’t far from how often the average person accesses an email account every day, and most likely a lot more time than anyone spends on your company website. Give that some thought.

Also, 80% of users prefer to interact with brands on Facebook (than on other social channels). The value they get out of that interaction is 100% up to you though, so make it worth their while. (Most brands don’t make it worth anyone’s while. Work harder at this.) 77% of B2C companies and 43% of B2B companies report having acquired customers from Facebook. [source]

By the way, 488 million users regularly use Facebook mobile. (See our previous posts that touch on mobile statistics.)

34% of companies have generated leads from Twitter. Or should we say “only” 34%? It should be 100%. (See our previous two posts. They touch on that and explain how to turn that around.) The magic word: monitor.

Bear in mind that about 0.05% of the total Twitter user population attracts almost 50% of attention on the channel. Without getting into discussions about the validity of “influencer scoring,” (Klout, Kred, etc.) understand that not all Twitter users are created equal. Some will amplify your reach while others will not. Seek to understand this process better. Test and map it if you can.

This also means that if you fail to understand how Twitter works, your content will go nowhere. 71% of the millions of tweets each day attract no reaction whatsoever. They may be seen, you may be able to estimate total “impressions,” but your audience’s reaction will be zero. Keep that in mind when designing content and evaluating its impact on your audience. (Content relevance/value matters.) Impressions are not behavior. There’s a missing link there that you need to provide.

Conversely, 56% of tweets from customers are still being ignored by companies. (Also see our two previous posts.) If every company had a mature social business program, that number would be zero. In the business, the technical term for this kind of insight is called an “opportunity.” Better get on that. (It’s so easy to fix that too. All you need is a decent monitoring tool. Ahem.)

635,000 people join Google+ every day. (Wow! That’s a lot. Really?) Look, even if Google+ is still a little odd and you don’t understand its value or purpose, start using it anyway. If anything, it’s a great platform for seamless collaboration between project teams inside your own organization. As Google+ continues to grow and evolve, you will grow and evolve with it.

Active users spend upwards of 60 minutes per day across Google products. (That’s email, Google search, G+, etc.) Compare that to the average 15-20 minutes per day spent on Facebook. We expect that the value of Google+ becomes clearer, usage will increase.

The average Instagram user spends more time there than on Twitter. And you may not know this, but Instagram is searchable. (Check out how Tickr incorporates Instagram images into its monitoring dashboard.) Here’s a screenshot if the link doesn’t work:

If there is one thing you should know about Pinterest, let it be this: Pinterest is social sharing on steroids. 80% of the content posted to Pinterest boards is repinned (like a share on Facebook or a retweet on Twitter). What this means: Pinterest is a strong vehicle for a) social discovery (from recommendations) and b) product bookmarking. Take a step back and consider opportunities for your business. If you’re a retailer of any kind, Pinterest should be on your radar. (You can post your products there, with back-links to an e-commerce site, for instance.) Same thing if you’re a hotel or a restaurant operator. Car manufacturers? Same deal. From summer camps to gyms and from cruise lines to media outlets, Pinterest might not be a bad investment. Create visual content that you can seed Pinterest with.

Remember: Social Discovery and (aspirational) product bookmarking. Bonus: 50% of Pinterest users have children,and 80% of these users are women. If you know your key target demos already, that’s pretty relevant information.

 So the moral of this post is that there’s still a ton of room for improvement in your social business program. No matter if you are a small little startup or a giant global brand, not only could you be doing better with social, but with a few small (and smart) changes, you might be able to see BIG results fairly quickly.

Our piece of that pie obviously deals with monitoring and listening. Just by combining the right focus and the right tools, you can increase lead generation virtually overnight. You can improve customer service (and consequently improve customer retention, loyalty and recommendations) in a very short timeframe as well, and perhaps even turn your social customer service practice into an overall cost savings project (it won’t be the first time). By being aware of where people spend their time, what they do there and how long they spend on these platforms each day, you can also improve brand awareness, product discovery, product recall, and even positively influence purchase intent (that whole product bookmarking thing is pretty effective).

So don’t get stuck on that whole “content is king” thing. It has value, but it turns out to be a small piece of a much bigger social business puzzle. Start focusing on the other pieces. The ones that actually create value, drive business, and boost loyalty. (Ironically, they may be cheaper than content creation.) Properly monitoring channels for threats, opportunities, reactions and consumer queries would be a great place to start.

Cheers,

The Tickr team.

As always, feel free to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (we promise never to spam you with junk), and of course try the free version of Tickr. You can always upgrade to Pro or Enterprise later, but only if you want to.)

If we spend a lot of time talking about the need to use social media for market research, it’s because a lot of what we do revolves around that. Like most monitoring tools, Tickr is a pretty handy companion to Google when it comes to studying keyword  trends, digging up brand mentions, capturing consumer insights, and so on. You’ve seen our multi-channel dashboard. It’s simple. Today, let’s look at some numbers relating to businesses incorporating social media into their market research, courtesy of Social Media Examiner and Mediabistro.

First things first: Remember how in our last post, the study we shared with you suggested that increasing brand exposure and increasing traffic to a website were among the top goals of social media programs? We run into the same theme here, with 85% and 69% of respondents identifying them as the top two most valuable benefits of social media. Marketplace insights came in at number three (65%). We were also pretty excited to see lead generation and developing loyalty rounding out the top five.

Unfortunately, the report also tells us that almost half of B2C companies still don’t use social media for marketplace intelligence. (59% for B2C and 68% for B2B.) That’s shocking. Remember what we said in our last post about too many companies still chasing the wrong goals and not understanding how social fits into their business model? We see that reflected clearly in these two numbers.

The rest of the infographic isn’t super helpful, unfortunately, so let’s talk about some of the types of market intelligence a monitoring tool can help you with:

1. Tracking keywords (including hashtags) can help you track a campaign’s reach, stickiness and demos across demos, channels and regions. The same principle works for product releases, press releases, event awareness, etc.

2. Monitoring changes in sentiment and changes in the use and frequency of specific keyword combinations can help you graph consumer perceptions of a brand or product.

3.  Looking for sudden spike in mentions of your brand or product could signal a looming PR crisis. Use monitoring software as an early warning system.

4. Monitoring for mentions of your brand or products will alert you to customer service opportunities in real time. Airlines, cable providers, hotels and retailers are already using channels like Twitter and Facebook to respond to customer service issues in real time. Benefit: Reduces customer erosion, increases customer loyalty, increases the chances of positive WOM, positive PR, cost efficient alternative to call centers.

 5. Monitoring for mentions of your brand and key product categories will alert you to consumers considering a purchase. Weigh in and you could tip the scales in your favor.

6. Add a geolocation feature to your monitoring tools, and you will be able to map all of the above. What does that mean? More localized targeting of campaigns, responses and community engagement, for starters. You can see if a PR problem is limited to certain geographical area, connect a potential customer to the sales team closest to them, or identify areas of the country (or the world) where your latest campaign isn’t hitting the right notes.

(Above: You aren’t dreaming. That image is a sneak peek at one of the new screens available in Tickr‘s soon-to-be-released Command Center suite. And yes, we’re bringing map functionality to you guys this year. That’s all we can say for now, but… you spoke, we listened, and… you’re welcome.)

Anyway, knowing what we know, the fact that 59% of B2C companies report not using social media for marketplace intelligence really bothers us. We get the content publishing piece, but… all that talking without really listening? That’s an ocean of opportunities not even being tapped, right there. Given that real-time intelligence has a direct impact on marketing reach, net new sales, brand perception, customer loyalty and a slew of other business-relevant points of focus, we want to help change that this year. If we accomplish one thing, let it be that.

We’ll be back soon with more.

Cheers,

The Tickr team

PS: As always, we invite you to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and of course try Tickr (it only takes a few seconds to create an account).

How Organizations Structure Social Media Teams

Infographic by- GO-Gulf.com

Last week, we came across Go-Gulf’s social media team infographic (above) and found some of the numbers on it pretty interesting. (The infographic was based on a 2012 survey of more than 2,700 social media professionals conducted by Ragan/NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions.) Here is what jumped out at us:

1. 27% of companies surveyed still have dedicated social media teams, vs. 65% of companies having evolved towards functional social media integration.

2. In spite of the fact that 65% of companies surveyed assign social media responsibilities to employees with other duties, a whopping 82% of these companies report that less than only 1-3 people in their organization are involved with social media.

3. Only 22% of the companies surveyed are planning on hiring for social media related roles in 2013, and 25% are relying in some part on interns to manage some aspect of their social media programs.

4. Only 3% of the companies surveyed answered that a business background was a most sought-after quality in their social media hires.

5. 47% of companies consider that 1-3 years of social media experience is all their hires need.

6. The top three types of degrees most valued for social media roles were communications, PR and marketing.

7. Not surprisingly, the departments most likely to be involved with social media are Marketing, PR and corporate communications.

8. How is success measured? 86% of these organizations use likes and followers as their principal success metrics, followed by web traffic (74%) and deltas in reputation/brand sentiment (58%). Only 40% mentioned lead generation and 31% sales.

9. When asked what social media campaigns should be driving, the responses overwhelmingly pointed to increasing brand awareness (87%), followed by increasing web traffic (62%) and improving reputation (61%). Increasing sales and generating leads hovered between 40 and 45%. Improving customer service was in 6th place at 38%.

10. Almost half of the companies involved in the survey post content on social channels less than once per day.

11. When asked about major roadblocks in social media campaign measurement, 65% pointed to lack of time, 63% on inadequate manpower, 41% on lack of funding, and 39% admitted that it was not a priority. 39% also admitted that they were unsure of what tools they should use, and 23% thought that the task was “overwhelming.”

12. Only 5% of companies surveyed are highly satisfied with their social media programs. Almost 70% of companies were either somewhat satisfied or dissatisfied with their programs.

What does this tell us?

1. The goals are still wrong.

For starters, brand awareness should probably not be the primary objective of a social media campaign or program. Second, increasing sales should not occupy the 5th place. If half of companies still are not connecting the dots between social media activity and sales, there is a fundamental problem with how social media is being used by the average business. Speaking of that, if only 38% of companies are using social media to improve customer service, we still have a long road ahead. Note that market research and consumer insights did not even come up as an answer.

Tip: Focusing on the wrong goals leads to generating the wrong results.

2. There is a disconnect between what companies claim to be focusing on and what they are actually measuring.

87% of companies surveyed state that their focus is brand awareness, but the principal units of measure for it, according to this survey, are likes and followers. (Note: net changes in mentions might be a better indicator of brand awareness.) So basically, they are measuring the wrong things. That’s not good.

While 61% of companies claim to be focused on improving reputation, only 58% of them actually measure it. A similar gap exists between the 40% of companies listing increasing sales as an objective versus only 31% measuring social media’s impact on sales. This is puzzling. Why are so many companies not measuring key performance indicators?

The survey aims to answer that question, but here we run into a strange set of answers:

Not enough time: 65%

Not enough people: 63%

Not enough money: 41%

Not a priority: 39%

Unsure of what tools to use: 39%

Too hard: 23%

Let’s address those excuses one at a time:

Not enough time/not enough people comes from the fact that 82% of companies only have 1-3 employees touching social media campaigns. Only 9% have 6+ employees involved with their social media programs. (Note that 78% of these companies have no plans to hire more social media staff in 2013.) Solution: either start deploying more social media responsibilities across the rest of your organization or get help. Either hire someone or partner with an agency to fill the gaps as needed.

Not enough money should have nothing to do with an organization’s ability to measure basic KPIs. That 41% of companies checked that box is pretty puzzling.

Not a priority came in at 39%. That’s just shameful. Measuring KPIs is part of the job. It should be a priority for 100% of social media professionals.

To understand the unsure of what tools to use/too hard excuse, we have to look at the background and experience of the average social media professional touched by this survey. First, the majority of these companies preferred social media professionals with only 1-3 years of experience to those with 3-5 or more. Inexplicably, only 3% of respondents identified a business background as a sought-after quality in a social media professional’s background.

Tip: if 97% of your social media professionals don’t have business backgrounds, how do you expect them to understand business measurement?

Not to sound harsh, but when 39% of social media “professionals” either don’t see KPI measurement as a priority or don’t know what tools to use to measure the success of their campaigns, then 39% of social media professionals don’t have the basic qualifications to even be social media professionals. Either train them or replace them.

3. Only 5% of businesses are happy with their social media programs. Let’s fix that.

No kidding. Let’s consider why:

- Let’s start with 39% of social media professionals not really knowing how to show the value of their own social media programs and campaigns to their bosses (or not thinking of it as a priority). Fix: hire competent professionals.

- Speaking of hiring competent people, if your team consists only of communications, marketing and PR professionals, it is incomplete. Your social media team (dedicated or not) must also include customer service professionals, product managers, business analysts, and salespeople. Tip: the reason you aren’t selling anything is probably because no one from sales is even looking at your social media program. Fix: Change that.

Once you start focusing less on marketing and more on customer service, you will see an immediate change in engagement. Expect a positive change in online sentiment inside of a week as well. You will also see a boost in mentions and recommendations. (Measure all of that.)

Also, once you start monitoring keywords and mentions (your brand, your products, product categories, mentions of behaviors associated with purchases of your products, campaign hashtag mentions, etc.) social media channels will become three things for you: a) lead generation engines, b) customer retention engines, and c) market research engines. So take the time to test monitoring tools. Use them side by side. (Build mini digital monitoring centers). Listen with purpose and we promise that the the value of your social media program will no longer be a question mark for the people you answer to.

- Now let’s talk about goals. Does anyone really think that brand awareness is more important to a business than sales? Of course not. If you don’t agree, here’s something to chew on: what does brand awareness ultimately drive? (Answer: sales.)

Fix: forget what social media gurus have been selling you in their e-books. Social media campaigns’ goals should be aligned with your organization’s goals. What this means: If your company’s goal for 2013 is to increase sales by 11% YoY, then the primary goal of your social media program/campaign should be to help drive that 11% increase. That will be its macro objective for the year. Now let’s look at the series of micro objectives that feed into that:

    1. Net new customer acquisition
    2. Increasing customer loyalty/retention
    3. Focus on customer development
      • increase buy rate / frequency of transactions
      • increase yield (average value of transactions)

Everything that your social media team does should focus on these three areas. The awareness, word-of-mouth, engagement, likes, followers, mentions and visits are among the many vehicles your organization should use to drive these specific outcomes. Think about how to build new value for your customers. Think about how to create better customer experiences. Think about how social media channels, activity and tools will help you become a smarter business, a better business, a more useful business, a more pleasant business.

Tip: Pair a customer service representative with a digital marketing person and let them work side-by side with a handful of monitoring tools for two weeks. Do the same thing with a salesperson and your PR/crisis management person. Then bring both 2-person teams together and turn it into a 4-person team. (They don’t have to be literally side-by-side, but it helps if you can work it that way.) The value of that type of cross-functional collaboration will become evident when your social media activity begins to drive the above objectives.

 Okay, that’s it for today. We hope what we covered here will help many of you improve your social media program’s results. (Let’s get that highly satisfied stat up from that lousy 5% by January 2014, okay?) We’ll keep bringing you tips and insights, so check back with us often. (We’re also on Twitter and on Facebook, so subscribe to our no-spam feeds there.) And if you haven’t added Tickr to your digital monitoring toolkit yet, just click here and kick the tires a bit. We’re pretty sure you’ll like it.

Cheers,

The Tickr team.

Don’t get any ideas. We don’t actually have a crystal ball in the office. Well… there’s the magic eight-ball and it’s never been wrong, but a crystal ball, no. Not yet at least. But as we have begun to find out, combining a few pairs of eyes, a little curiosity and some solid monitoring software is kind of the next best thing. Over the last few months, we have been looking at technology, culture and business trends to see what business wanted, what consumers wanted, where technology was and who was working on what, and we have come up with a few predictions for where things seem to be headed in the world of digital over the course of the next twelve months. Here are five that we feel pretty strongly about:

1. Mobile gets even bigger.

The trend has been pointing to an increasing shift from desktop internet access to mobile internet access for years now. This will not change in 2013. A few bits of relevant data:

A year ago, ebay bet big on mobile. The result: Roughly $10B in mobile revenue in 2012 (more than double what it was in 2011). That’s a purchase every 2 seconds. The company plans to continue to create mobile-specific transaction vehicles and content to make it even easier for sellers and buyers to use mobile devices. Mobile now also drives 22% of QVC’s digital sales. If you are not continuously working on making it easier for your customers to transact with you (or each other) via mobile devices, you need to. (Even if you are a small brick & mortar retailer, take a serious look at the possibility of enabling mobile checkouts.)

Of all searches on the web, roughly 30% now come from mobile devices. According to a BIA/Kelsey report, mobile searches will continue to catch up to desktop searches, generating 27.8 billion more queries by 2016. Even now (still at about 30%), this trend is especially important for brick & mortar businesses as the majority of mobile searches are local. Restaurants, bakeries, hardware stores, florists and other specialty retailers, take note.

Mobile paths to purchase are hot. A 2012 study by Telmetrics and mobile ad network xAd suggests that roughly 50% of mobile search queries in travel, restaurants and automotive verticals result in some kind of transaction. The number is highest for restaurants (85%), followed by automotive (51%), with travel lagging in third but at a no less impressive 46%. As stated earlier, the study also notes that local searches tend to have higher conversion rates.

If your digital strategy is not yet focused on mobile, time to change that.

Bonus: you can find pretty much every relevant 2012 mobile statistic here.

2. Apps take a bite out of the “old” web.

As tablets and other mobile devices are increasingly becoming our web interfaces of choice, apps are redefining how we think of digital access and web experiences. The “web” is quickly moving away from websites and turning to apps. While this does not signal the death of websites, businesses will have to think very seriously about how consumers are now accessing digital content, and what their expectations are in terms of digital experiences.

Some stats: There were 45.6 billion mobile app downloads made this year, nearly double the 25 billion downloads in 2011. Over six years, the progression looks like this:

2011: 24.9 billion

2012: 45.6 billion

2013: 81.4 billion

2014: 131.7 billion

2015: 205.3 billion

2016: 309.6 billion

Just as companies found themselves adding Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Youtube channels to their digital footprints four years ago, apps are cementing themselves as the new digital interaction frontier. Successful brands will continue to create a variety of digital experiences based on the types of interfaces their customers (and potential customers) use, and apps will become the increasingly crucial gateways between them and their markets.

3. Social media continues to be a mess of confusion for businesses, but… insights.

Confusion about how to properly use social channels to grow consumer communities, increase meaningful engagement, drive new business and increase brand loyalty will still plague organizations focused more on traffic and likes than on actually changing consumer attitudes and behaviors. Social platforms like Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Twitter will continue to struggle with their revenue models and long term value to users. Measuring success (including but not limited to ROI) will continue to mix sensible, business-focused data points and social media guru-driven nonsensical value equivalency equations and ROI calculators.

There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel: digital intelligence tool will make it easier to dig through social channels for consumer insights and paths of opportunity. By combining digital monitoring tools and a new generation of social channel-facing CRM solutions, brands with the will to derive more pertinent insights from specific consumers and their target markets at large will be able to do so faster and cheaper than ever before. Data analysts and consumer insights specialists will increasingly see their disciplines merge as their tools become more powerful.

4. Digital mission control centers to the rescue!

With an ever increasing need for real time market data and insights from Customer Support, Marketing, PR, Business Development, Sales, and other business functions, expect to see greater investments in digital infrastructure. Major brands and the agencies that serve them have already begun to build digital mission control centers that allow them to keep tabs on a variety of channels (many of them social) and track mentions of their brands and products, monitor shifts in perception (positive or negative), track the success of specific marketing and advertising campaigns, monitor consumers’ reactions to a product launch and correlate that data to sales numbers in real time, prevent (or manage) PR crises, conduct market research, and so on.

These mission control centers will vary in size and complexity, but the trend towards creating multi-screen environments for project management teams is accelerating and for good reason: the complexity of digital channels demands new solutions and a new approach to real-time information management. Don’t worry though. This new complexity is balanced by a new generation of digital monitoring, management and visualization tools that make it easier than ever for companies to manage campaigns and workflows and organize themselves around data.

(Speaking of that, we will be releasing a pretty hot new product very soon, so stay tuned. We’re pretty sure that you’re going to like it!)

5. Big brother gets pushed out by big mother.

We’ve all heard about big brother. Looking at the amount of information collected on us each day by search engines, social media platforms and even our mobile devices, it’s easy to start feeling as if our privacy is being incessantly invaded. Many consumers have already begun to push back against digital intrusion, or at the very least, distrust it. Well, the flip side of the privacy coin may just be the concept of big mother.

Unlike big brother, big mother is not interested in exploiting your data. Big Mother has your best interest in mind. Her main concern is to analyze your tastes and habits so she can better understand and predict your needs. If you are familiar with Apple’s digital assistant, think of a more focused and insights-driven Siri. So how does big mother look on the consumer side of the digital divide? For starters, she shields you from ads you don’t want to see and instead makes ads that are both time and topic-relevant visible to you. She allows you to control the degree to which you want your digital experiences to be interrupted by commercial messages. (For instance, you may want to turn off targeted ads and special offers while you are at work, but turn them on while you are out shopping.) She also allows you to be more or less open to local ads and offers where and when you want to be. Big mother is essentially an intelligent filter whose degree of initiative you can control. “It’s almost lunch time and I want to eat someplace new today” becomes a prompt for action driven by big mother’s insights about your tastes, the time of day, your spending habits and your surroundings.

On the business side of big mother, what you have is data. If you are a pizza restaurant, big mother can let you know that right this minute, 130 people who like to eat pizza twice per week are within five blocks of your location, and that 25 of them have their local notifications turned on. For a small fee, you can choose to push an ad or an offer their way through a social channel or SMS. This push notification will not come across as spam since those 25 individuals have made themselves open to them. If, like mobile search, 85% of passive prompts from a big mother-enabled device result in a transaction, an investment of a few dollars could result in significant net new revenue and potentially a whole new set of new customers.

This organic approach to real-time, predictive marketing works because consumers are in control of it. Remember “permission marketing?” This uses mobile devices to make it a reality. It also eliminates spam and scattershot targeting (which is no kind of targeting at all), cuts down on ad spend waste, increases conversions, and does it all without betraying consumer trust. Side benefits: increased potential for social discovery, more opportunities for word-of-mouth recommendations (digital and otherwise), facilitates (and relies on) mobile payments, and above all, saves consumers time. Done well, the experience itself will be fun and cool.

The idea behind big mother is to create value for both consumers and businesses. It’s to give everyone more of what they want and less of what they don’t. By combining consumer data, social data and mobile functionality, big mother is will begin to become a reality in 2013. The first company to successfully create a slick, user-friendly interface, the connective tissue that makes it work across an ecosystem of digital channels and the marketplace that makes it all possible will literally revolutionize digital marketing and mobile commerce. It may be premature to expect something like before December 31, 2013, but as the conditions are right (the technology is available and there is a real revenue model attached to it), we could very well see the first versions of a big mother app turn up sometime in 2013. We’re crossing our fingers.

There’s a lot more exciting stuff on the calendar for 2013, but we’ll leave it at that for now. Happy 2013, everyone!

*   *   *

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Today, we want to point you to one of this year’s top resources about the state of media (and one you should bookmark) – Nielsen’s State of Media: The Social Media Report 2012. There’s no need for us to peel back the layers and outline every piece of it, but we do want to point out a few key findings before you guys spend some quality time with the report itself.

1. Compare the amount of time spent on social media by device category: PC vs. mobile/tablet. On average, mobile web & apps win out over PC. That is pretty significant when you consider where web development, advertising dollars and marketing campaigns will go in 2013 and beyond. We have passed the tipping point: the PC is now the “old” interface. Mobile devices have overtaken the PC when it comes to digital social usage.

 2. Year over year, unique users of the mobile web has almost doubled in the US. (82% increase.) Mobile app users have also increased by 85%. PC web users, however, have gone down a bit (4%). Something about these numbers remind us of other media tipping points we’ve seen in the last few years.

To make this data relevant to you, let’s focus on a few quick questions: where are your customers? How are they accessing the web? How much time are they spending there? (How much time are they spending there compared to “traditional” media, and how will this impact where you focus your resources and budgets?) What kinds of experiences are they expecting? What are they talking about? What does this all mean to your business?

 

3. Year over year, US web users spent 120% more time accessing digital content through apps than a year ago vs. +4% via the good old PC. But wait… when you look at net numbers, the lion’s share of minutes spent accessing web content the PC still dominates: 363 billion minutes (PC) vs. 158 billion minutes on mobile web and mobile apps combined.

So here, think trends vs. volume. Be aware of the shift, but be also be aware that the good old PC-based web is far from dead. Plan for mobile, plan for apps, invest your money there, but don’t abandon the non-mobile web just yet. Think “and” rather than “or.” Think combination rather than replacement.

 4. Social TV: look into it. How this ties into advertising, reach, WOM, net promoter score and customer acquisition isn’t super complicated.

Also, from January to June 2012, active Twitter users discussing or sharing updates about TV content grew from 26% to 33%. Whether you are a media buyer or a social media director looking to justify your budget, this trend is worth keeping an eye on. If it inspires you to use social media to drive the reach of your television content (including advertising), you’re on the right track.

How can social channels and social sharing increase reach and amplify the reach of your content? How can these same mechanisms help customers discover your products or move them up into their hierarchy of planned purchases? How might you leverage monitoring platforms to better understand these mechanisms and tie them into customer acquisition, development and retention strategies?

(If you weren’t yet asking these questions, you should be.)

5. “Second-screen” is actually a little more complex than what has been presented to your team, but that’s a good thing. Here is a quick breakdown of what people actually do on the web while they are watching television content (and how they do it):

- Shopping (45% on tablets)

- Looking up product or special promotion information (TV ad related; 50% on tablets)

- Visiting social networks (44% on tablets)

- Doing research on the show they are watching (35% on tablets).

Takeway 1: Immediate calls to action work. If you are buying ads on TV (or working with product placement strategies), make sure that your digital storefront and/or digital springboard towards an offline purchase is a) easy to find, b) easy to share, and c) built to drive the user behaviors you expect it to drive.

Takeway 2: Tablets trump phones when it comes to second screen experiences. Design your digital marketing platforms accordingly:

1. Build deliberate second screen experiences.

2. Design one-click tie-ins to product pages, social channels and other relevant content.

Takeaway 3: If you plan on paying for TV content in 2013 (advertising or actual programming), you’re going to need to include a second-screen plan to go along with it. Not doing this is basically the equivalent of posting a phone number in an ad but not having someone to answer the phone if someone tries to call. Relying on people to Google your product, your TV program or your company worked great in 2010. You can’t really just rely on that anymore.

Note: Your second screen experience should include a) social components (sharing, #hashtags, links to Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and b) transaction driver components (links to product feature pages, customer reviews, online stores, and brick & mortar store websites).

Okay, that’s it for us. Big thanks to Nielsen and NM Insights for putting this together. Reports like this one tend to help companies make better digital spend decisions, so that’s a huge + in our book. For that, it goes at the top of our 2012 studies bookmarks. Great stuff. We hope it will help you with 2013 planning.

To check out the full report, go here.

To return to Tickr.com, click here.

Cheers,

The Tickr team.

In our last post, we talked a bit about leveraging social media to drive demand and lead generation. Today, let’s start talking about the basic mechanisms behind that. It’s a pretty big topic and we want to try and get down to actionable how-to stuff for you, so we’ll have to do this in three or four parts. Today is Part 1.

1. Start with a great product.

Sure, this seems so simple that it goes without saying, but… well, it is overlooked more often than you think. Corners get cut, things get rushed, budgets fall short, companies miss their window of opportunity and the result is too little, too late, and the burden falls on marketing, PR, sales and the social media team to make it all work anyway. It happens every day and no company is immune, so we don’t want to pretend that it doesn’t happen.

Here’s the cold hard truth: if your product isn’t really valuable to your market, it’s just going to sit there on that shelf. It doesn’t matter much how much “social media” you put behind it. All that money you are spending in marketing and advertising to “build awareness” for your brand and product is being wasted on trying to put lipstick on a pig. What are the odds that you’ll actually be able to pull it off? How much money are you willing to throw at a problem that no amount of marketing or social media can fix?

More to the point, what happens when your newly acquired customers finally move from awareness to desire to purchase and… your product isn’t as great as they expected it to be? Do you think that more Facebook activity will help? (It won’t.) More digital monitoring? (Nope.) The best marketing and social media program in the world won’t save you if your product isn’t a winner. So before you put too much work into your social media program’s lead and demand generation strategy, make sure that you have something worthwhile to drive people to. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and ultimately working to turn people off.

What makes a product a winner? It depends. It could be design. It could be price. It could be reliability. It could be the aura of quality that your brand provides, even if the product itself is only slightly better than your competition. It could have more to do with great customer service and shopping experiences than the product itself. It could solve a problem more effectively than anything else out there. It might just look nice, weigh less, work better, boot up faster, have better ergonomics… We could literally go on and on and on about what might give a product a definitive market advantage. The point is that it needs to have at least one, and the more of them, the better. Before you launch into a social media campaign, figure out what you want to talk about.

2. Make sure you aren’t focusing on the wrong outcomes.

We learned yesterday that 83% of B2B organizations using social media use it primarily to raise awareness, but that less than 35% use social media for demand generation. That’s shocking, so let’s change that right now.

You should know by now that beating a “like us” and “follow us” drum isn’t getting anyone very far. If you like giving away iPads and 20% off coupons, great. Do it. But be aware that a like drive on Facebook or a “follow us” campaign on Twitter don’t exactly focus on generating leads or demand. They focus on generating likes and followers. So before you spend a lot of time on convincing volumes of people to “like” your Facebook page even though many may never become your customers, spend some time thinking about the outcomes that these likes and follows are meant to drive. Remember that you aren’t on Facebook to attract likes. The value of a like to your business is precisely zero. A million likes on Facebook don’t alone drive the slightest bit of demand, so don’t kid yourself for one second about that.

If, however, you focus on attracting customers to Facebook so you can interact with them in a way that is valuable to them, then you will be able to convert some of those likes into actual dollars. Your business needs you to drive leads and demand, not likes and followers. It isn’t to say that your business shouldn’t try to grow its communities on social channels (it absolutely should), but remember to stay focused on the key business outcomes that your social activity will be driving.

3. Make the customer journey an integral part of your social demand generation program.

Understand where your fans, followers and subscribers are in their customer journey. The easiest way to do that is to divide them into three basic categories: a) not a customer yet, b) new customer (not loyal yet), and c) loyal customer. The types of behaviors you want to drive from members of each of these three groups are different, which means that the focus of your content, conversations and interactions will be different depending on which of these groups you happen to be targeting at any given time. (And yes, you will always be targeting all three simultaneously.)

Put simply, the core of your activities in social media (and elsewhere) will be split into three areas: a) customer acquisition, b) customer development and c) customer retention. Do you see how just by doing this, you change the focus of your social media efforts from likes and shares and clicks to actual business-focused outcomes?

Do a quick test: right now, are you able to select ten random likes (fans) on Facebook or ten random followers on Twitter and tell me where they belong on that a/b/c scale? Which ones are prospects?  Which ones are new customers? Which ones are long-term, loyal customers? If you have no way of determining that right now (no way to connect your CRM database to your social accounts or no account teams who can connect the dots for you), you need to fix that as quickly as possible. If you don’t, you won’t be able to legitimately generate demand and leads from your interactions across social channels.

One last tip: Don’t focus all of you efforts on like/follower and customer acquisition. Focus at least as much on customer development and customer retention. THAT is where social media channels truly shine anyway (mass media and traditional marketing often do a better job of creating quick mass awareness than social channels), and driving business from existing customers is a lot more cost-effective than driving business from new customers. How much more effective? Here is your answer (courtesy of Bain & Co):

On average, it is about 6x cheaper to drive a sale from existing customers than it costs to drive new business through customer acquisition. The question you have to answer now is “where are my money and attention better spent: on acquisition, or on development and retention?”

Think beyond the acquisition piece. It’s only one third of what you should be focusing on. Build value. Build relationships. Build loyalty. Build word-of-mouth channels. Work smarter in the social space.

We will revisit the topic of acquisition, development and loyalty again (and in more detail) in Part 2.

4. Make sure that you aren’t trying to drive the wrong conversations.

“Check out our latest blog post” is going to pull some traffic. And if you tweet about it every 78 minutes from 8:30am until 2:30pm, you will probably double the traffic you would have gotten had you not tweeted about it. Multiply that by 3-5 posts per week for over 50 weeks every year, and your blog’s “content strategy” (even if it efficiently rolls through the social media expert, journalist, PR maven, oversharer, affiliate community member, agency guy, blogger, SxSW speaker wheel of interest) is going to get old fast. What can you possibly write about almost every business day that will actually be of interest to your community? Your products don’t have that many features. Your office’s cupcake parties aren’t that interesting. There might not be a blizzard outside your HQ for another three months. So… how are you hitting all the right notes?

Here’s a tip: Listen. Listen to your community. Listen to online conversations. Browse comments in blog posts that relate to some problem your products help solve. The more you listen and read relevant content that isn’t your own, and the better you become at it, the easier it will be to figure out what you should be talking about, asking about, publishing and chatting about. Here is a short list of some of the things you should be listening for:

  • Complaints about your products and/or company.
  • Complaints about your competitors’ products and/or companies.
  • Wishes. (“I wish that my [insert product category here] would do [insert new value-add feature here].)
  • “How do I” questions relating to keywords relevant to your world. (If you are an airline, “what’s the best way to book a flight from my iPhone?” is the kind of question you want to look for. It prompts conversations that can help you introduce a prospective customer to your awesome smart-phone app.) Hint: help people solve problems. If you can’t solve them yet, work towards a way that you will be able to in 3 months. Or 6 months. Or a year. Listening to their problems and questions will help you build new centers of value that will in turn help make you more attractive to new and existing customers.
  • Comparison questions. (“iPhone or Droid?” tells you that someone is looking to buy something. If you’re a Samsung reseller and you look for those kinds of product mentions across a variety of social channels, you can reach out and perhaps influence a decision.)

Also look for discussion groups, user community groups, relevant hashtags, etc. It might take a little trial and error, but you will figure it out quickly enough. And if we can help with that piece of the puzzle, even better.

We might have to revisit this specific topic in more detail at a greater date, but you get the idea: Set up a listening practice whose purpose (at least partial purpose) is to look for demand and lead opportunities. If a question or topic comes up often enough, write a blog post or two about it. Produce a few videos and post them to YouTube. Create an infographic or a presentations that you can post to Pinterest or Slideshare. That way, every time it comes up from that point on, you can just link to it. Aside from the time-management piece and the SEO benefit of doing this, you will be sure that your content addresses actual questions and issues that consumers are dealing with in the real world. That’s valuable, and if you do it right, your social channels can become valuable all day long, every day of the week. So from now on, don’t just push marketing content on social channels. It isn’t enough.

Stay tuned for Part 2. We’ll get a little more tactical.

In the meantime, come by and say hello on Facebook, check out our no-spam zone on Twitter, and of course, check out our Tickr monitoring dashboard. (There’s a free version, a pro version and an enterprise version, so we have you covered.)

 Cheers,

The Tickr team.