Genealogy: SEO & Facebook

Hard to believe that it was approximately 16 year ago (late August 1996) that I started working on an on-line version of the Knecht family history that would eventual morph into the Knecht Family History website. The initial project wouldn't be completed for a few months being first published (now under a defunct URL) in December 1996.

This work took many of the stories of the family that my late father had told me plus the top levels (at that time) of the family tree that we was busy documenting and recording.

Since then the site has undergone very few technical updates with the last major overhaul of code taking place in 1998. A true testament to what sound HTML practices and clean code can do to the longevity of a website.

As a result of this effort, I was eventually able to expand research into the family when Facebook appeared by searching on some of the unique surnames in the tree and contacting people and pointing them to the on-line project. By having a website to point them to, it took away the suspicion many people have when contacted by genealogist as they can see the connection.

Despite these successes and further research successes up and across the tree (expanding the number of previously unknown branches and descendants) one of my goals of my late father which not obtained in his life-time was to find and establishing contact with the twin grand-daughters of his late great-uncle Jack "Knecht" Levy. Even when trying to document this branch no-one even knew the names of these girls and all research turned up dead ends. That was until last week.

One of these girls (now 65 years old) had hired a professional genealogist to find the family that she had become estranged from. I made the genealogist job extremely easy. With a simple search on the girls father's and grandfather's names (both common, but not in combination) both results turned up the Knecht Family Website.

We have now exchanged many emails and family stories plus have chatted on the phone.

The lesson here is, you can use the web and Facebook for more than just keeping up with the friends and family you know. You can use it to make new friends and find those long lost branches of your family that for various reasons became estranged and now crave that connection. We all talk about the Internet and social media as the great human connector, it's time now to put it use.


K'necht to be Interviewed on 660 KSKY Dallas Fort Worth

To all my friends & family in the Dallas Fort Worth area. Tomorrow July 17 at 12:35pm (CST) I am being interviewed on 660 KSKY radio on the "Everything Internet" show. I'm not sure if it will be right at 12:35 pm but I know it will be sometime before 1:00pm.
During my 10-15 minute interview, I’ll be discussing SEO and search marketing in general plus a little talk about my book The Last Original Idea.
You can also listen live via the web at: http://www.660amtheanswer.com/ if your not in the Dallas Fort Worth area or if you don't have a radio handy.
Please tune your radios to 600 KSKY. Feel free to send me your thoughts and feedback afterwards. That's how I continue to learn & improve.


How to Measure Social Media

As marketing departments jump on the "social media" bandwagon and start diverting tens if not hundreds thousand of dollars towards it, the inevitable question is starting to come up. "How to do we measure its success". This theme has been the subject of several keynotes and conference addresses I've given over the past two years and the answer is simple. You can't!

 OK you can't precisely measure the total success but you can measure various components that make up the campaign success and by examining the overall change is these components you can know if your efforts are being successful, neutral or actually hurt your brand.

The first step in measuring success is to stop calling it social media. Social media are the individual tools used to spread your marketing message through social interaction (word of mouth marketing). For example placing a phone a call, holding a webinar, setting up a facebook page, establishing a Twitter account, creating social content (a blog), etc. When you add the different social media tools used in your campaign together you get a "social marekting campaign". Now that we got this settled, we can go about measuring the success of the campaign.

The primary purpose of any social marketing campaign ("social campaign") is to draw people together who have a common interest (your product). You can then engage and interact with them. For each organization you first need to identify and define your goals and objectives for this interaction. Typical ones include:

  • brand awareness;
  • increase in sales;
  • improved customer relations;
  • improved customer satisfaction
With your goals clearly defined and a methodology in place for measuring them, start your social marketing campaigns one at a time while holding all other marketing efforts steady. Now wait and start measuring. Social Marketing/Word of Mouth Marketing takes time. So give you campaigns time to rise and shine and don't expect an instant home run.

Just imagine a twitter campaign when you have zero followers. What can you expect? Nothing of course. It takes time and an ongoing effort to build up a loyal following. In the early stages of a twitter campaign your goals and measurements have to be around follower growth and engagement. Once you established a solid foundation, you can then start marketing to them as part of your overall engagement. Who you engage and market at the same time is a tricky manoeuvre and unique to your particular audience and how you built up trust.

This same measurement concept will also apply to Facebook, G+, blogging campaigns and any other form of  word of mouth marketing. If you've developed a loyal following and customers and you given them something to talk about they will. And the more they talk (presumably positively about your brand) the more growth in followers, customers, sales and ultimately profit you should see. After all, isn't an increase in profit the ultimate ROI because without profit, our businesses will cease to exist.


A Discussion on Social Media Marketing & Measurement

As part of my ongoing promotion of my book The Last Original Idea, I'm a featured guest on a Shindig.com event this Thursday June 28th 6pm-7pm Eastern. I'll be focusing mostly on social media marketing campaigns and how organization can measure if their social marketing efforts are being successful.

Shindig is an interesting technology that allows full interaction (voice and video) not only between the host and the featured guest but between attendees as well. I've sat through a couple other Shindig events and they are very cool. So even if you only have a few minutes I encourage you to drop by and check out the technology.

Here's a blurb from Shindig itself on Thursday's event.

"Join Alan K’necht in an on-line face-to-face interactive session, ask questions plus learn how marketing has evolved and how we can apply the lessons of the past to today’s hot trend of social media marketing. As a bonus, you’ll be able socialize with other marketing members of the audience"

To participate you must  register/RSVP. To do so,  please visit: http://www.shindig.com/event/alan-knecht


Deconstructing Klout Topics - Part 2

As a follow-up to my previous post on "Deconstructing Klout Topics" published 4 days ago (January 13, 2012), I thought it might be helpful to show how the test has progressed.

Late last night at approximately 10:30 pm (yes I was checking every 4-6 hours for changes) the topic "social media measurement" appeared in the blue sash on my Klout score. Yet during the day I received not even one additional +k on that topic. So what changed?

I received the last +k on that topic on January 12 in the morning and according to Klout that brought my total to 10 according to Klout (since I started this test on January 12th), yet before the last +K was  given I was also at 10 so obviously a technical issue on Klout's end for not upping the count. Regardless it moved me to position 59 between Perrier Pelser #58 with 10 +Ks (http://klout.com/#/BerriePelser) and Jeannette Baer #60 with only 9 +ks (http://klout.com/user/MyAgenda) and to my surprise Perrier also didn't have the topic on his slash either but Jeannette did.

This morning when I checked (after the nightly Klout update), the count of +k on this topic was correct at 11 and I had moved up to position 51 between Jeff Esposito (http://klout.com/user/jeffespo) and Goefry Zorrilla (http://klout.com/user/goefry) both of whom have the topic of "social media measurement" as part of their blue sash.

Now while I able to garner the topic in my blue sash, Perrier Pelser still doesn't have it as part of his blue sash, but he has been granted since yesterday a yellow sash for "Social Networks" (meaning Klout has determined on it's own that he is one of the top 20 influential people on this topic) which clearly shows that Klout has updated his sahes. As of writing this he's now in position number 59 and topic "social media measurement" for both of us, is still rated as High while for some lower in the list (fewer +k) it is rated as strong.

What might I have done that Perrier Pelser (aka Ber|Art WordPress ) didn't do, that I now deserve the blue sash? While I have been paid little to no attention to his on-line activities, I've made it a very conciousness decision to write the previous blog post on social media measurement, I've talked up a fair bit a conference keynote that I'm going to deliver next week on the subject of "Social Media Measurement" across multiple social media platforms that generated many retweets, shares, G+ and likes. The result, I got recognized that I do yield some influence on this topic while Perrier most likely kept doing what he does and garnered a yellow sash on the topic of "Social Networks".

 So what conclusions can I make from this test as how Klout Topics are influenced by the giving of +k's.

1. Getting a +K does move you up the topic leader board, but on their own doesn't get you a sash;
2. If Klout doesn't think you influence on a topic and you or someone else adds the topic to your list it isn't going to get you the blue sash unless you can truly demonstrate you actually yield some influence on the topic (as determined by Klout).

I think this is an excellent position for Klout take and should stop people from topic bombing Klout for bragging rights or for whatever value they see in the blue sash. And if you do truly think that you do yield influence on a specific topic that Klout hasn't assigned you, then yes get lots of +k on the topic, but adjust how phrase things to actually focus the the topic.

If you want to keep helping with this experiment, please be sure to G+, share, like and tweet out this blog post plus don't forget to give me a +K on the topic of "Social Media Measurement". Also give it a try yourself and let me know how your results compare.


Deconstructing Klout Topics

If you're at all familiar with the world of social media you've know doubt heard of Klout. I'm not hear to praise or condemn their attempt to measure and quantify an individuals success using various social mediums (social media), but to explore their recent changes to their topics lists.

The use of "topics" as part of Klout's evaluation is an attempt by Klout to ascertain and make public specific topics that individuals are influential on. This is not to say that you are one of the top influencers on a given topic just because it is listed in your profile but that from all your social media posts, engagements, likes, retweets, comments, etc. and of interactions by others that they initiated that these topics have occurred highest in your data stream.

Of course, Klout knows that they might be wrong and a single post that takes off might yield undo influence and affect these topics. So a few months back they allowed you to delete topics that you feel are not appropriate. But the key question became what about topics that Klout doesn't find and associate with you.

To resolve this issue about 2 months ago, Klout allowed individuals to add topics to their own accounts and to accounts of others. This is a simple process, you simply navigate to the persons Klout Topic page and click on the "Add Topic" button. Of course it will cost you. The cost 5 Klout +K (most people get 5 a day). And now you have a new topic in your (or someone else's) topic list. You can then choose to share this with the world via Twitter or Facebook and then encourage others to agree with you by giving a +K to that topic (a vote in simplest terms).

So that's the basic, now here comes the fun part. If Klout feels you're one of the top influencers on a given topic they give you a yellow sash on your Klout score and if you're one of the top +K receipients for that topic you get a blue sash. While so far I've only received a blue shash, I was curious as to how Klout determines who gets these. Is it purely a numbers game (the more +K the better) or is it a combination of +K plus some external factors. Faced with this thought, I of course went out to see what I could find.

Step 1 - I added a topic to my list of topics "social media measurement". I thought this was appropriate since I lecture on the topic at various conferences and have moderated a few panels on it as well. Of course simply adding the topic didn't generate a sash.

Step 2 - I took a closer look at a random sampling of those listed by Klout as top +K recipients and noticed from the ones I looked into that all had the appropriate blue sash with the topic listed. So I concluded that you had to be one of the top 100 to get it.

Step 3 - I mentioned my test to a few friends and started generating some +K to the topic of "social media measurement". What I noticed from this is that Klout evaluation of my topic changed from "Low" to "Medium" to "High" and moved the topic up high in the list. There is one further level of "Strong" which I've yet to achieve for this topic (I have for 4 other topics and for 2 of the topics I have a sash) and still no appearance on sash.

Step 4 - I looked at the list of top 100 again and noticed that my 9 +K placed me in 65th position. I then checked the +K counts of those 1 above (Matt_pierson)  and 1 below(Eric Melin) my listing. We all have 9+ Ks yet both of them have "social media measurement" listed in their sash but alas not I. I further checked and noticed that Eric Melin (listed below me) had comment of strong while Matt_pierson (listed above me) was also rated as high. So why the difference in ratings for the same number if +Ks?

From what I could see, it looks like Matt_pierson received multiple +Ks from same person. While the total +Ks is the same perhaps their is a waiting issue if the same people keep voting for your topic. Yet this didn't affect the order we appeared in so I'll assume it has something to do with timing (most recent to receive 9 appears at the bottom).

Based on reviewing these discoveries I have 2 theories. One that it will appear in my sash shortly, but it that might only occur during a major update (not a daily update). Or more likely that Klout is using other factors beyond +K to determine if you truly deserve the topic you'v add or was assigned to you.

So for now I'll wait & see what it takes to get "Social Media Measurement" as topic in my sash. Will this truly mean I yield influence on the topic and that people agree that I do or will it mean that I was able to manipulate the opportunity for a more informative sash. Perhaps a little of both.

If you'd like to help with this experiment, you can do two things. First make sure to Like, G+ and share this post (scoring tools like that kind of stuff) and secondly go to my Klout topics page and give me a +K on "Social Media Measurement". I'll be monitoring it daily for now, and I'll post back an update when I get rate a "Strong" and if and when it appears in my blue sash.


Defining a Social Marketing Campaign

As marketing departments jump on the "social media" bandwagon and start diverting large portions of their marketing budgets on them, many have no clue on how to effectively execute this effort, nor do they even have the fundamental understanding of how measure their success.

The first step marketing departments need to make is to stop calling it social media. Social media are the individual tools used to spread your marketing message through social interaction. For example placing a phone a call, holding a webinar, setting up a facebook page, establishing a Twitter account, creating social content (a blog), etc. When you add the different social media tools used in your campaign together you get a "social marketing campaign". Now that we got this settled, we can go on to establishing the basic criteria for any marketing campaign its purpose.

The primary purpose of any social marketing campaign ("social campaign") is to draw people together who have a common interest (your product). You can then engage & interact with them. Now for each organization you first need to identify and define your goals and objectives for this interaction. Typical ones include:

  • brand awareness;
  • increase in sales;
  • improved customer relations;
  • improved customer satisfaction
While there are hundreds of possible purposes, you need to pick one. Once the purpose is defined, you can then define the objectives and goals of the social campaign and implement tools to monitor your success towards them.

For example, if you goal is "improved customer relations" you can set an objective of reducing the amount of negative posts (tweets, blogs, etc.) or negative reviews with the goal of reducing these by 50% within 3 months.

With objectives and goals clearly defined, the best social media properties to meet the goals and objects can be identified. Creative material & an implementation strategy prepared along with the acquisition and implementation of tools and methods for monitoring the success of the campaign can be establish.

Last point that all marketing departments need to remember is that social marketing isn't anything new. It's been around thousands of years. Yet more modern examples can be found by simply going back to the early to mid 1990s. Back then a popular Internet hangout (yes mostly geeks) were Usenet groups. Usenet groups to those unfamiliar with them can best described as a place where anyone could post a message and members of the group could post responses for all to see (they would eventually morph into discussion groups).

Back in the 90s a food manufacture monitored a Usenet group on its brand. Within this Usenet group fans of the brand were quickly swapping posts about the various flavors and changes to packaging etc.  Little did they know that there was a fly on the wall monitoring all their posts. This worked wonders as the company would test market new flavors and then seed the conversation with "has anyone seen the new XXX flavor is it any good??". Very quickly those in the test market were responding with their thoughts (too sweet, blah, yummy) which would then be harvested and processed by the brand in determining if adjustments were necessary to new the flavors before a national release or if they should be scrapped all together.

Is this use of a Usenet group any different then what a brand could use its facebook page for or perhaps a facebook page created by an existing fan? Not in the least!

Let's stop trying to reinvent the wheel under the buzz phrase "social media" and recognize our efforts as "social marketing campaigns" and that they've been around forever.