Quantifying success: Only you truly know when you are succeeding


Measuring success from social media marketing

Sure, we can point at someone like Donald Trump or Ted Turner and say, “here are two really successful guys.” Maybe they are, maybe they are not. How can it be said they are not?

Success is a very personal topic.

A few days ago there was a post by Yet Another Social Media Guru who was giving a formula for success via social media marketing. His list included a few “dos” and “don’ts” but it never really dealt with the heart of the matter: what are your goals?
Channel Distribution
In his short and elementary post he included a “do not” that many do and from which they enjoy a great amount of success. In his encounter with this author away from the post he did not quite admit his goal was to “get more comments and likes” but certainly alluded to that result. So this poses the question which begs to be answered: what are your goals and how do you measure them?

Quantifying success through metrics.

When advising a client, friend, reader, or listener on a social or marketing method an important first question is nearly exclusive to, “what are your goals and what is it you need to achieve to call this campaign successful?” Not one of them has said, “I need to get more comments and likes on my blog.” In fact it is widely anticipated the most common answer will be, “to make more profit”.

In order to recognize success one must first define success. That definition may be “to increase my orders by 30%”. If so the metrics are simple. Begin with the number of sales you have had on average for the same period and compare your results at the end of the campaign period. On the other hand if the definition is “to get 1000 likes during the period” there is nothing to compare to you simply use that one metric. You either garner 1000 likes or you do not.

The delineation between successful and unsuccessful needs to be clear.

When developing a more complex metric it becomes crucial to know when the tipping point has been reached. The precise moment when success is achieved must be clearly defined. When man walked on the moon that was the tipping point for the goals set forth for that mission. It may have been said, “the trip was still a success because even though the astronauts did not leave the module we experienced landing on and launching from the moon” if those were minor goals.

When thinking about how to measure success your campaign may have many goals:

  • To increase storefront traffic by X%
  • To recognize an increase in retail profits by X%
  • To add 300 people to our email list

So before one starts taking, or giving, advice about success on a sweeping horizon it is important to identify what quantifies as success. Otherwise more damage could be delivered to the reader or hearer than had one simply said nothing at all. Investigate and verify must always be a part of the strategy for winning this digital, guerrilla style attack on marketing in the new millennium.

In summary

Know what defines success. Establish a simply and accurate method for measuring results. Never be afraid to change directions especially when the campaign includes social media marketing. When receiving advice from a blogger or an article found on the internet check their credentials and verify everything said. The same goes for this blog post from this social media manager.

Awesome Screenshot – my choice for quick and easy

For those of you still stuck in the archaic maze of Windows Explorer it’s time to switch. For those of you who use Firefox, Safari or Chrome here is a fast, simple screenshot extension you’re probably going to love. Having tried several I have come to use this on the most. Oh I use Jing, Evernote, and have tried a dozen or so extensions but this one is the first choice out of my tool box for 95% of my screen capture needs.

What I like about it

Unlike some extensions or third party apps it loads almost immediately. Click the icon, it asks if I want the visible page, a selected area or the full page. (Note for https it’s visible or full only, not selected area.) Once I have made my choice and performed any necessary tasks it opens in the editing window where I can crop, label, blur, draw shapes, lines, and choose how I want to save the file. I can save locally, online temporarily or online permanently. See Figure 2.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

What I wish it had

It’s a short wish list and rather personal. If the color selector for the font included all RGB that would be nice but what would be even better is to be able to select font family, style and size. Additionally I would like to be able to capture short videos like in Camstudio but without the need to capture audio.

Where to get it

You get find it in your browser’s extension store or you can download it directly from the creator’s website at http://awesomescreenshot.com/

38,544 free royalty free pictures

Free Royalty Free Photos

Free image from Pixmac.com

It’s the blogger’s bane. We know we need photos and images and we know all the stock photography sites have great selections. Even with the credits system who wants to spend a buck or two every time they write a new post on their personal blog? Relax, here is a bank full of images. Unlike some of the free image sites these are quite professional.


The challenge is this: the category is “free”. While in free if you click on similar you will get more than the free images. Obviously the site exists to create an income for the owners and chances are you will one day use their services for their fee paid images.

There is a high likelihood you will find what you are looking for in the free category. If not the others are price very reasonably. Just go to Pixmac and click on the “Free” tab.

Screaming for dialog? Public Social Media Policy

@JennHoffman Banned for tweeting

Banned for tweeting

UPDATE: Jenn will be our special guest on Social Media Edge on Tuesday, May 24 so be sure to tune in live where all the fun happens!

No running. No smoking. No standing. No shirt, no shoes, no service. No skateboarding on sidewalk. No Tweeting?

In case you missed it actress Jenn Hoffman was banned from the Chateau Marmont for tweeting. But really was it “that” she was tweeting or “what” she was tweeting. And if it was “what” where is the line?

We know airlines, mostly, want all mobile devices off during takeoff and landing, some hospitals ban mobile devices in telemetry, and there are dozens of places where photography and video is off limits. So where should those places be?

Recently I was at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market in a suburb of Atlanta. Being a blogger and a foodie and my wife having written for No Reservations on Facebook you can imagine I was loaded and ready to get some shots. I had to sneak them. There is a no cameras sign on the wall. Why? Allegedly to protect the illegals who work there but whatever the reason it’s the rule. What about the bank? Do you just walk into the bank and start firing off snapshots of the vault, cameras, exits?

The required dialog needs to be lead rather than pushed. I know I have many counterparts out there, people like Gahlord Dewald, Jeff Turner, Laura Fitton, Chris Brogan, and others who could help guide the conversation. And, in fact, if we do not guide this conversation it will present itself through a course of natural progression.

  • If tweeting is banned how will it affect businesses where it is banned?
  • If tweeting is limited or censored how does that affect civil liberties and free speech?
  • What existing laws protect and defend the rights of the twitterer and what are the limits of those rights?
  • What are the other questions needing to be addressed?

Your opinion is valuable, too. In fact you may be the “Golden Child” in this crucial evolutionary step in Social Media. So please don’t keep it to yourself and weigh in on the topic.


How to unlock the FourSquare Day Badge

It’s very simple if you want to add the FourSquare Day Badge (4sqDay) to your account.

On 4/16 (four/four squared) simply check in anywhere and use 4sqDay in your comment.

How to get your 4sqDay Badge
How to get your 4sqDay Badge

What are your thoughts about 4sq as a shopper? How about as a marketer or retailer? Have you claimed your location on FourSquare?

If you are a merchant or a marketer claiming your location is very simple. All you need to do is go to FourSquare.com and find the link that says, “Search and claim your venue”. It’s pretty self explanatory from there. If you do not want to handle that or if you just need someone to do it for you I will be happy to help – just contact me.

If you are not familiar with FourSquare there is plenty of information about it at FourSquare.com

Seth Godin: Transparency dictator?

glass house
They used to say "People who live in glass houses" ...

Pointing fingers and casting stones

I do not regularly read Seth’s blog. I have not read Seth’s books. If someone quoted Seth to me I would miss it and think it was just their conversation. Congratulations to Seth for being popular and successful. I think that’s awesome when someone succeeds.

When people say to me “I don’t get social media” I explore to see if they really care to get social media or if they are simply being conversational or even flippant. So when I say “I don’t get the attraction to Seth Godin” it is an invitation for an education. In truth I have read some of his blog posts but have yet to see the attraction. Today was no different with the exception of the fact it inspired me to write about it.

Today I followed a link from Twitter, where you will not find Seth Godin, to a post titled Why you might be choose to be in favor of transparency. In the post Seth shakes his fingers at farmers in Iowa and doctors for wanting to protect their reputation at the cost of not allowing others to comment on their behavior or services. He then goes on to compare the reviewing of a book to the services a doctor may render.

How shortsighted must he be?

Clients often retain me for my online reputation “clean up” and brand management skills. When starting the forensic journey to see how a negative rating is posted in some place like RipOffReport it is amazing what you can uncover. Often times, not always of course, the party who placed the negative comment was completely out of line, had some ridiculous expectations and a hot head. Sometimes it takes throwing a bevy of lawyers at the situation to clear the slate before the damage can be cured. Just one comment in such a high traffic publication can cost a company hundreds of thousands or even millions in missed revenue.

Imagine you are a doctor and “lose a patient”. The rage from the family can easily be directed at you. It may matter not that, in your defense, “the patient’s head had been severed for 3 hours when he got here”, people can be interminably egregious in their pursuit of “justice”. One place no professional would care to see their name is on RipOffReport – perhaps especially a physician.

Like I said, I am not a regular reader

Seth’s blog on being transparent and that definition including allowing people to slander you at will and comparing that to the lost sale of book or two because of a bad review is meandering away from logic. Of course I would like to have asked a few questions there in the comments section. Had it existed I would have. Further I would not have spent this much time on the subject nor have called into question Seth’s own level of transparency.

His defense *

Some years ago Seth defended the missing comments form from his blog in a post linked in that asterisk by the heading. It only creates more questions for me to ask of him. Whatever his reason it is a lack of engagement. Someone told me once why he does not have an active Twitter account and I do not recall the reason nor do I care. What is becoming more and more evident is that Seth is not as transparent as he may suggest you should be. Nor is he as engaging as virtually every other “big name” in marketing who has an online presence.

Go ahead, set me straight because I allow comments and I’m on Twitter @thekencook (does not, by the way, make me right or better than Seth or anyone else).


Your online experience sucks because your advice came from a doosh

I am tech savvyGranted the chosen words do not make the classiest of titles but I may or may not have a bone to pick. In part I do but it is only from my personal experience and interaction with my clients and friends which inspired this short article. Surely I have trusted enough of the wrong people in my life. With today’s technology and the massive amount of information shared by our friends and others it is almost impossible, at times, to tell the difference between real trust agents and people who think they are correct just because they are writing.

The real estate industry is full of sudden tech advisers, tech consultants, social media experts … pick a title. Most of them are simply users of the technology and perhaps have a solid understanding of how to use the technology for a benefit or to achieve a goal. They have never actually, successfully created, measured and managed much more than their own account – if that. Others are simply looking for fame and will publish anything they can think of to get more comments, earn more points or score some favor as they reach for the stars.

Why I am investing my minutes into this article is because their advice can, and does, hurt some of you. Oh I don’t expect to get too many likes, tweets, comments, or reblogs from this article. It’s not pretty, it’s not open minded, it doesn’t extol the virtues of someone with more Klout than I. There is no idol worship and there is finger pointing and name calling. Call me the Chris Christy of Active Rain today. It is not my goal to be named the most influential, most quoted, most reblogged, most anything. My solitary goal is to urge and convince you to think, investigate, question, and prove what you are believing even if you read it on a well known blog or heard it from the big keynote at a big event from a well known expert.

Theory is great. It’s also fragile and breaks easily. We all need theory at some point to get us started. Fortunately for the wise the days of theory have usually past by the time we impletment a new tool, new method or new practice. For the pioneer there is theory which we usually write about as theory rather than edicts on a topic with which the are only vaguely familiar which only serves to deceive and confuse the reader.

Practical experience rules the real world. Because bloggers, real estate agents turned tech experts or Facebook moguls, have no need to meet any qualifications you can find an amazing amount of them. Even ones you know barely know how to use email can be heard speaking on the frightening aspects of Facebook security and privacy, how to game Twitter, how to write a blog everyone will comment on, or some other, equally exciting topic at local and national events.

Inspect the data. If someone tells you, for example, Twitter is a waste of time. First, don’t believe them. Second, make them tell you exactly why Twitter is a waste of time. If they have an account with that little silhouette for an avatar, have 8 followers and follow 11 people that will explain it. On the other hand if they have 10,000 connections, have tweeted a few thousand times and still say it’s a waste of time – ask them how they qualify why it would not be a waste of time.

Sometimes it’s a matter of expectations. If you expect to start a Twitter account, add 10 friends, push your Active Rain posts to Twitter and maybe “check in on your tweeple” about once a week – yes. Waste of time. Likewise if you sit in front of your computer or on your iPhone 10 hours a day Tweeting about Hollywood, politics, what you ate for breakfast, or similar and expect to be selling houses as a result … probably not working out.

Identify your personal goals. Then compare with the goal of the person passing out advice. Is your goal to meet people and get them to like your fan page? Work towards that goal and trust the advice of someone else who has successfully done so. Is your goal to spend as little time on social media platforms but drive visitors to your anchor site to request your ebook? Then trust someone who has done so successfully and ask them to prove it.

We are born with too little trust, give to much of it away through life and often pay the price by blindly following those who have not proven the value of their words.

This post is not only a rant but also a cautionary reminder to myself to write about what I know, know what I write about and to be able to back it up with real world experiences, data and recommendations from others.

// Beginning of hope.


2 tools to harness Twitter keywords

“How can you keep up with Twitter?” It is a question often answered at social media and tech sessions probably around the globe but definitely all across America. And, in deference to those who will want to add that there are better tools let’s start by saying, “okay”.

There are many tools available for monitoring the Twitter stream and to even mention them all here would be a waste of your time and likely an impediment to your further reading. We are, therefore, limiting our indulgence to a mere two. One live and one which notifies us via email. Furthermore it does little constructive to share the tools with you without identifying a method of use. So first the tools then the method.

Monittor for live stream Twitter harvesting

Live stream watching with Monitter


For those who have a staff or the time to sit and monitor a live stream for keywords we will present monitter. If the keyword you are watching is very broad like “golf” on a Sunday afternoon or “Lady GaGa” during the music awards you will have your hands full. Because Monitter allows you to search for phrases that may be a better choice.

Monitter allows you to spy on multiple keywords at one time similar to other third party applications that allow 2 way interaction but this one appears to have a much lower consumption of memory. It’s free, there is nothing to download, it runs in your browser.

Twilert - let me know when someone tweets me?

For a more robotic approach there is Twilert


Again, there are tons of tools which offer the same or similar service. We are looking at this one and it is clean, simple and does the job.

Twilert is easy to sign up for, lets you add multiple keywords and phrases, has an intuitive scheduling interface, and does exactly what it says when it says it will do it.

Okay, so what?

One can have every tool in the world yet until they actually is it the only purpose is … unknown. So here is just an idea of how to use these tools. Let’s say you are a plumber in Oshkosh. You set your keywords to “Oshkosh”, “leak”, “construction”, “remodel”, and -of course- “plumber” and “plumbing”.

On Twitter it is possible to offend someone so I personally do not recommend auto-responders. When I monitor keywords I like to personally visit the stream of the person who is tweeting and make sure what I am about to offer is of interest to them. Is it still spam? Many would say so but I treat Twitter like the high-school lunchroom or a cocktail party. If you are at a party and you hear someone ask, “does anyone know a good plumber in Oshkosh?” that’s a lay down. But what if you overheard someone say, “Oshkosh …. leak”?

Hopefully this has you pointed in the right direction. Try being genteel and not just blurting out “http://oshkoshplumber.com” but perhaps, “I am a plumber in Oshkosh, I saw your tweet about a leak. May I answer a question for you?” If they don’t respond they are probably ignoring you. It’s up to you if you leave a link.

Cloud storage for free

Free cloud storage, 5 GB

Can’t decide how much memory to get on your pad or slate computer? Wonder no more, here’s 5 GB for free …

Amazon Cloud Drive
Amazon Cloud Drive

You have probably heard of DropBox. In fact I have pushed it for a long time as a favorite and I have the 50 gig account (which is completely full). Now at the same time I have had an Amazon S3 account since December 30, 2007 where I have stored massive amounts of data for about $5 per month – First 1 TB / month of storage used $0.140 per GB. In my case that’s about 35 GB.

If I switched to reduced redundancy the price goes down even more – First 1 TB / month of storage used $0.093 per GB so about $5 per month for 50 GB. Compared to DropBox that’s about 1/2 price … sort of.

DropBox does not mention data transfer in their pricing because they assume most subscribers are going to upload and leave it. Of course we have no metrics available on that so it is a statement of assumption from experience through operating a similar service through about 2001. Amazon, however, does mention transfer and it’s 10 cents per GB. Add this to the storage and if you upload a few hundred gigs in a single month it could get costly.

But wait, there’s more.

While I was at the tech conference REtechSouth in Atlanta Amazon went and threw a firecracker in the honeypot (don’t ask if you don’t know) and released their own online storage simplified for the average user. In fact in direct competition with DropBox who uses the Amazon S3 cloud for their clients.

Amazon Cloud Drive
Amazon Cloud Drive

What Amazon offers is phenomenal pricing and some built in gadgets to make directly storing with Amazon much easier and more attractive. Admittedly Amazon’s Cloud Player for Web and Android are great tools. Chances are the 2% of people out there trapped on an Apple device will whine about it since it uses Flash but if Amazon does the smart business thing they’ll spend the extra bucks and create an iPhone app while the iPhone/iPad is still viable.

Here’s what you get from Amazon for free:

  • 5GB of storage
  • Amazon Cloud Player
  • Unlimited access from any computer

Want a tip on how to get 1 year of storage for 20 GB? Purchase an album from the Amazon music store and get 20 GB free for a year. After that, at current prices, the 20 GB account is a whopping $20US per year. That’s enough space for 4000 songs or about 2000 images from the standard mobile device.

Free royalty free images

Royalty free public domain images
Royalty free public domain images

Public domain royalty free images

This is just a very quick post to share a resource. There are many and you can find them by using your favorite search engine, or at least Google will return several.

I am asked often about images and copyright. While I am not an attorney I do know if you use someone else’s image without permission or “the right” you can get in some trouble. Here is a site with several images released into the public domain meaning the copyright owner has released their rights and made these available for public use by anyone for any reason including commercial.

While there are many more sites which do the same this article does not include them simply for time constraints. There are mentions of other resources on this site and you should add your own in the comments – you know, take one leave one.