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My first day at Web 2.0 Expo 2010 was spent in the Applied Communilytics Intensive workshop.  Basically, it was a look at how and why you should look at the analytics of social marketing campaigns and was headed by Alistair Croll and Sean Power of Watching Websites.  Here is their rundown of the day.

My take?  It was too high-level for me and didn’t really get into a lot of details.  Maybe I’ve been living in the world of web and business analytics too much but there really wasn’t much new or ground-breaking here.  But there were some interesting points.

For example: the primary point that Sean kept referring to all day was that you should know your business goals before you embark on any social campaign, so you know what to measure and whether or not you’re succeeding.  Seems obvious and, well, is obvious.  Ryan Kuder, one of the panelists who was recently laid off from his company due to an acquisition (awkward!) harped on that point, too.  This sounds like the gripes from marketers who are asked to do work because some exec thinks it’s interesting instead of knowing why it’s important.  I feel your pain; I know I feel it all the time.  But unfortunately, that doesn’t make for an interesting presentation about communilytics.  That’s really just Project Management 101: be very clear about your goal.

In the defense of the presenters, I think they really did know what they were talking about and if I had a particular question, I think they’d be great resources.  Which leads me to believe that the lack of detail in the presentation stems from one of two things:

  1. It’s difficult to create a detailed presentation with truly actionable ideas in this area for this broad of a group.
  2. Communilytics really is just a flavor of web/business analytics and there really is no other special sauce.  Know your goals, translate to KPIs, and you’re off to the races.

So which do I think it is?  At the end of the day, we joined with the Lean Startup Intensive by Eric Ries.  At the end of that session, Eric said that those of us in attendance were at the cutting edge of this stuff, the earliest adopters, the trail blazers.  If that’s true, then it’s #2.  And I tend to agree.

Here at Intuit, it really doesn’t feel like we’re doing anything that cutting edge in tracking or measuring our social efforts, but Kira Wampler  told me that everyone told her that we were cutting edge, too.  Maybe I’ve been living and breathing analytics and optimization so much that I’ve lost sight of that.

I’ll just spew out my other observations… uh… now:

  • Referring URLs are useless (or becoming more useless) as people follow links found in apps (like desktop/phone Twitter apps).
  • Alistair and Sean defined your message as becoming “viral” when the average number of people who repeat/amplify/retweet your message is > 1.  Maybe not a new definition, but I hadn’t heard it before.
  • A lot rides on your ability to get your followers/fans/users to “retweet” or otherwise amplify your message (in Facebook, would that be “like”?).  So watch and track that carefully; learn from what does and doesn’t trigger a retweet from your base.
  • Successful social campaigns are not about me (the company) or you (the user) but about something else. Get the user into a safe conversation where they don’t feel they owe you anything in return (money, time, etc.). Not terribly new, but illustrated amusingly by Alistair with a story about picking up women in Las Vegas.
  • Tactic: send meeting requests to bloggers to get on their calendars. Makes sense to me; that’s how to make sure I do something too!
  • You can’t really A/B test Twitter messages (it’s a broadcast medium so everyone gets it). One alternative: use PPC ad copy and measure click-through rate to test your message if you really want to.  Or as Hiten Shah from Kiss Metrics suggested, just send it out and apologize if it bombs.
  • Alistair predicted that we’ll go from a PPC to a PPA (acquisition) to a PP-change-of-opinion model.  That is, as social sites get better at measuring your brand value on their network, they could charge you based on that increase, not just per impression, click, or acquisition.  Interesting to consider.
  • And the people who impressed me were the presenters, Alistair Croll and Sean Powell, as well as Hiten Shah, Erin Hunter, and Dave McClure.

And that’s it!  Looking forward to tomorrow!