Sunday, July 26, 2009

5 Ways to Reach Social Media Audiences via Paid Search SEM/PPC and Sponsorship Tactics

Integrating Paid Search (PPC) and Social Media

One of the key challenges with social media is figuring out how to measure success and how to tie pricing to performance. SEM (PPC) advertisers have already figured this piece out, and by combining the best of PPC SEM pricing and keyword-level targeting, it's only natural that SEM (Paid Search, PPC) managers can help bridge the gap between search and social media.

If you are an SEM (PPC, paid search) manager, here are 5 mostly keyword-targeted ways to potentially help clients reach their target markets within the social media landscape. If you're a social media director, you should understand how these services work and how they can aide your community-building efforts. And if you're a marketing director, you can use this list as a conversation starter with your partner agency(ies).

Note: Advertising spam is a major issue, especially on Twitter. There are many services that do not seem to have any regard for the community-aspect of the social media landscape, and the opportunities below are focused on adding value to the community through advertising. However, please note that these are new and thus relatively un-tested tactics. As with any new opportunity, you should carefully evaluate the partner before embarking on a new campaign.

Twitter Sparq - Cost Per Tweet; and potentially Cost Per Click

As Saul Hansell of the The New York Times writes..."...Twitter Sparq places ads on some Twitter applications, including PowerTwitter (a Firefox plugin) and TwitterFon (an iPhone application). Twitter Sparq is designed to be an automated auction of text ads, much like Google’s AdWords. But while ads on Google relate to what you are searching for, Twitter Sparq ads are shown to people based on 'the list of historical keywords that the user has tweeted in the past,' the company’s site explains. " Just as interesting as the targeting method is the format of the ads themselves. There is a headline and a bit of text, as in a Google ad. But under it are two links, “Tweet now” and “learn more.” The later link jumps to the advertiser’s Web site. The former creates a draft tweet that the user can edit and send to his or her followers. Advertiser can fish for compliments, ask questions related to how their products are used, or even encourage people to criticize rivals."

Target by: keywords that a user has tweeted in the past
Pricing Model: Auction-based Cost Per Tweet, though TwitterSparq is also exlporing a cost per click (CPC) pricing model
  • the number of times your Sparq prompt appears to a user
  • the # of clicks to tweet
  • # of successful tweets
  • the average reach of these messages
  • # of retweets
  • the number of click-throughs to landing URL

Reach: not directly available, but Twitterfon (one of the places where Twitter Sparq ads can appear) has been downloaded over 1 million times and reports over 200,000 daily users; and the PowerTwitter Firefox Add-on has been downloaded over 200,000 times

TwitterHawk - Cost Per Tweet

"TwitterHawk is a real time targeted marketing engine that will find people talking on twitter now by your chosen topic and location, allowing you to really hit your target mid conversation with ease." (From TwitterHawk's site). Basically, you enter in your target keywords and when TwitterHawk searches Twitter and finds Tweets containing your keywords, you are able to reply back to those users with a relevant message (tweet). This could be perceived as spam, so extra care must be taken. Here's an interesting video of Jeff Ferguson, Director of Online Marketing for Napster, talking about his experience with TwitterHawk, and how he handled a user who initially perceived his campaign as spam.

Target by: Keywords (within tweets)
Pricing Model: Cost Per Tweet (Max: $.05)

  • Clicks
  • Cost Per Click (CPC) - the site claims an average of $.02 actual CPC
Reach: Potentially over 20 million (# of unique Twitter visitors; ComScore -June 2009). NOTE: in order to avoid being perceived as spam, TwitterHawk limits the number of tweets you can send out to 1 per hour.

TweetBeep - Sponsorships

Think Google Alerts for Twitter. You input keywords and TweetBeep will send you emails throughout the day when your keywords appear in Tweets. 100 character text ads and an optional 50x50 or 100x50 image appear within the email alerts.
Target by: (I'm hoping to interview Michael Jensen regarding keyword-targeting options; though I do not believe this is available yet.)
Pricing Model: Daily, Weekly, Monthly Sponsorships (e.g. $49/day for one of up to 6 spots in the advertising rotation)
Reach: Over 24,000 Twitter users receiving over 60,000 email alerts per day

Facebook Social Ads - Cost Per Click, Cost Per Thousand
While traditional display ads can be purchased through Microsoft's advertising platform on CPM basis, Facebook also offers its highly-targeted social media ads (text headline, small pic and about 100-estimated characters of text) on a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) or cost-per-click (CPC) basis. These ads appear alongside profile pages.
Target by:
  • keyword
  • user age, sex, relationship status, workplace
  • geography, interests etc.

Pricing Model: Auction-based CPM or CPC. CPCs tend to be lower than on Google AdWords and thus offer a potentially attractive way to help scale site traffic in a highly-targeted way. Additional Metrics include a Demographic Profile of people seeing and clicking on your adsReach: Over 77 million (June 2009 ComScore data) - Sponsorships

"Meetup is the world's largest network of local groups." Numerous online and offline opportunities exist to find and reach highly-engaged people around a variety of topics. Be sure to check out "How to Use Advanced Social Media Search Functionality Within to Find and Engage Your Online Evangelists."

Pricing: Potentially Free! (if you want to sponsor less than 50 Meetups, you have to reach out to individual Meetup organizers and work out an arrangement. If you want to target over 50 Meetups and your budget is at least $5,000/mo., will assign you an account executive to help with planning and execution.

Reach: over 6 million members across over 55,000 groups.

Note: many other social media advertising opportunities exist, many with reputations for promoting spam. I will not name these other companies here; and if a company has been excluded from the above list, it does not automatically imply that it promotes spam or should be avoided. The point is: be careful. Even when executing a Google Content Network campaign targeting social media sites and discussion forums, it is important to monitor for click-fraud. Especially for pharmaceutical brands, it's important to start with a small list of highly credible sites/partners and expand slowly.

So the lines continue to blur across online marketing tactics like search engine marketing (SEM/PPC, SEO), social media, CRM and display advertising; and integrating the various channels and tactics is critical, but it's often a challenge to put the right people in charge of each opportunity, and then to track success across channels. I hope you find the above tactics helpful, and that your paid search (SEM, PPC) team is working closely with your social media director and display advertiser planners to create sophisticated programs that support your overall campaign in highly-targeted, highly measurable, accountable ways.

Are you testing any of the above opportunities? What did I miss? Are these worthwhile media partners for reputable brands?

Leave a comment below, Follow me @iano1000 on Twitter, and get Search and Social Media via email or RSS here

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pharmaceutical Search Engine Marketing: 8 Keys to Effectively Planning and Executing a Pharma SEM Campaign to Help Launch a New Drug

How to Launch a New Drug Using Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Prepare Early (start planning at least 3-6 months prior to expected FDA approval)
  1. Study past similar drug launches and the impact of key events on search demand. What impact did the FDA-approval announcement have on search demand? Did pre- and post-FDA approval announcements impact searches for the drug's brand name? How was unbranded search traffic impacted? How does the launch of an offline DTC campaign impact both branded and unbranded search demand? Tip: Google Insights for Search is a great way to research past drug launches, or you can work with the SEM paid search specialists at your strategic online marketing partner agency to conduct this research for you. Many drug launches miss out on key opportunities to capture site traffic and CRM signups of HCPs and potential patients; especially at key moments, such as when the FDA announces their approval of the drug. Here we can see that search demand for Cimzia surged 5x upon the announcement of FDA approval for Crohn's Disease and 3x upon the announcement of FDA approval for Rheumatoid Arthitis:

2. Secure adequate budget. Once you've studied cases and examples of similar drug launches, you need to translate this into a model that forecasts search traffic and spend. While the research may show daily and weekly spikes in traffic around key events, the model is probably best done on a monthly basis, beginning at the moment the FDA approves the drug and running through the next 12-16 months. This model should be detailed with forecasted costs per click; traffic forecasts and notes explaining key assumptions on a monthly basis.

Build the campaign (begin at least 2-3 months before expected FDA-approval):

3. Conduct expanded keyword research. Use a strategic framework that makes sense for your brand. A good starting point is to think about translating the Search Funnel to the "Patient Pathway". For example, build out several keyword lists related to Symptoms --> Condition --> Treatment --> Brand Name --> Generic Name --> Doctor --> Competition

A different approach is required to effectively target healthcare providers (HCPs), and this will be the subject of a separate post, but don't forget to consider primary care providers (PCPs), as well as specialists, pharmacists, nurses etc.

4. Develop Text Ad Messages and testing matrix. Create a plan for what you want to test. Include key performance drivers, such as testing headlines to ensure you are capturing the attention of searchers by staying relevant to their search queries, and testing calls to action to ensure you are setting up your landing pages in a cohesive manner that helps drive on-site conversions (e.g. relationship marketing registrations; aka CRM signups).

5. Be clear about the objectives of each keyword category; defining success metrics for each. This will allow you to develop and test messages that reflect different objectives for different keywords. For example, if symptom-related keywords are part of your campaign, then you may be targeting these keywords with the goal of increasing condition awareness and not necessarily with the goal of driving CRM signups. Therefore, the ways you define success will be different and should impact how you develop the ads for symptom-related keywords. Understanding the nuances between keywords and how they impact success metrics and ad copy development is one of the signs you've got an experienced, pharma SEM strategist.

6. Develop and Register Vanity URLs. Depending on the keyword list and aligned success metric, unbranded vanity URLs will likely be necessary to develop and register, in order to maximize site traffic where educational and CRM sign up goals can be achieved.

Get Your Campaign Reviewed and Approved (ideally, at least one month prior to FDA-approval)

7. Educate your Medical, Legal, Regulatory committee on FDA DDMAC Guidelines. Make sure they understand the key issues and how they impact the performance of your search engine marketing campaign performance. Again, your strategic online marketing agency should provide you with a formal POV on this topic. It should include specific creative examples so that your MLR commmittee can understand how the guidance translates to actual creative. Having your pharma SEM strategist present during the MLR reviews of the SEM campaigns is critical.

8. Ensure tight coordination with the search engines' editorial teams. Each engine has slightly different rules regarding what can be said within text ads, how you link to various landing pages and how Vanity URLs are to be implemented. Again, your SEM agency should already have deep relationships with the engines, and will help ensure an expedited review and approval process, so that you can launch as quickly as possible following the FDA's approval of your branded drug.

Did you find this helpful? Anything you disagree with? Questions?

Please leave a comment below, and follow me on Twitter @iano1000

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Retailers: 5+ Easy Ways to Leverage Twitter

5+ Ways Local Retailers Can Leverage Twitter Creatively
Due to the real-time nature of Twitter, the key to effectively leveraging it is to provide frequent updates. Aim for at least one per day. You may also consider one in the morning, one at lunch and one in the evening. Think about what makes sense for your business and your customers. And don't get overwhelmed, here are some ideas to make this simple.

In Rich Nadworny's recent post at Digital Strategy, he recommends companies utilize their employees (not just the marketing team) to listen to the conversations happening, and respond accordingly. This is great advice, and fortunately for retailers, you can leverage your customers too!

Once you've signed up for an account on Twitter, added some basic info to your profile, and began following people and other retailers in order to listen and understand the rhythms of the conversations, here are a few ideas on how retailers (clothing stores, coffee shops, food stores, laundromats, dry cleaners, etc.) can leverage Twitter to encourage repeat sales, increase loyalty, expand awareness and grow their customer base.

1. First, Listen to Your Customers.
Ask your customers if they are on Twitter and then follow them (don't worry, it's ok - that's what Twitter is meant for.) Similar to how you've collected email addresses in the past, you could put a registration sheet by the register and ask people to write down their Twitter profile names. Or you could put a sign by the register announcing your Twitter profile name and asking; "Do you tweet? Follow us on Twitter for news, sales announcements and events."

Before actually posting to your Twitter profile, it's important to listen first, so that you get a feel for what people are talking about, how they feel about things, and so that you're not coming in "from left field." After listening for a while, the next step is to actually post tweets of your own...

2. Announce New Products, Menu Specials, Sales, Events
After you've signed up, began following a few people and listened to the conversations, the next step is to actually begin posting tweets of your own. One way retailers can provide valuable, relevant content is to provide new product announcements. Think about the customer; think seasonality. Think time of day. CityMarket, my favorite natural foods co-op in Burlington, Vermont, does this well. Follow them

Here's a list of many retailers (mostly large national chains) that are already on Twitter.

3. Be Creative: Add Tweets to Your Menu Pricing
This doesn't have to break the bank. For example, how about adding a menu item like "Cranberry Sauce: 1 Tweet"

Again, due to the real-time nature of Twitter, the key to having a strong presence is by being part of the conversation on a regular basis (at least daily). By providing incentives to your customers to tweet about you, you'll be enlisting the help of a team of loyal customers, which you'll need.

4. Spark Conversations and Create a Customer Community
To make this easy, you could post a question each day on Twitter, and then ask customers to post their reply via Twitter. For example, coffee shops could use their Twitter profile to spark conversations among customers by asking "What are you reading today?" or "What's on your iPod today?"

Encourage customers to reply @yourprofilename or use YourStoreName #hashtags.

5. Finding/Hiring New Employees
Finding qualified employees can be difficult, and by posting job openings on Twitter, you can leverage the power of your customer base to quickly spread the word for you - even if they haven't been to your physical location.

6. Lost and Found
Most local retailers have lost and founds, so why not use Twitter to help your customers re-connect with their items? For example post a tweet like "Found: Briefcase @Espresso77. Free muffins for local retweets."

Recommended Further Reading:
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's Beginner's Guide and Tutorial to Using Twitter

If you're a local business owner, be sure to check out Pat Kitano's excellent Slideshare presentation "The Local Business Owner's Guide to Twitter", where he shares excellent examples for a range of local business owners like massage therapists, attornies, and restaurants.

What do you think?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

3+ Ways to Measure the Impact of Social Media on Search

(How to Measure the Impact of Social Content (blog posts, Tweets, etc.) on Search Within Social Media and Social Networking Sites)

In this post, we'll focus on how to measure the impact of Twitter, which reached about 22 million people in May.

1. #Hashtag research = keyword research

Just as people had to learn how to search using traditional search engines like Google and Yahoo, people are learning how to better search social media sites like Twitter. Increasingly, they are using hashtags. A hashtag is simply including the # symbol in front of a keyword. For example #diabetes . People can subscribe to follow hashtags or they can search for them, allowing them to stay current on specific topics, and recently Twitter began hyperlinking hashtags within tweets allowing people to go diretly the search results for that hashtag instantly.

You can find out which hashtags are most popular or trending by reviewing

Here we can see that tweets tagged with the #diabetes hashtag are on the rise:

By researching which keywords are popular at the moment, you craft messages that are relevent and timely, and by including the hashtag in your post, you expand the reach of your tweet beyond your follower list, which leads us to...

2. # of followers you have

The more followers you have, the more likely the content you post will be seen (found).

Your number of followers measures your immediate audience on Twitter. It's a way to measure the opportunity each of your tweets has to reach and engage your audience.

TwitterCounter allows you to measure and compare your profile against competitors (or friends :) Here we can see that Bing has more followers than Yahoo; and it's growing it's follower count faster than Yahoo.

Additionally, Twitter directories like Social Brand Index or Technobabble, list Twitter profiles and usually rank by number of followers. Since we're focusing on measurement, we will not discuss why focusing purely on your follower count ignores some of the core principles of social media (e.g. listening, engaging in conversation, adding value, etc.)

3. # of clicks on the links you post on Twitter

Linking to relevant content within your tweets adds value to other users, and by utilizing URL shorteners with tools like Tweetburner you can measure how engaged people are with your tweets by tracking the number of clicks on the links you post.

Sites like Tweetburner rank top URLs within Twitter and post lists of the top-clicked links. Appearing on these lists is similar to getting your content voted up on Digg; though the traffic impact is not as substantial...yet.

Similarly, posting pictures to your tweets adds value, and using a service like TwitPic allows you to measure how many people are viewing the pics you post.

4. Search for People Who Are Sharing Your Site or Blog Post on Twitter

You can now track when other people post links to your content on Twitter using tools like backtweets .
This is similar to Google's Webmaster Tools, but specific to Twitter. It's different from tracking when people click on the links you post. Backtweets actually shows you when people post links to your content organically. Without checking a tool like backtweets, you would only be seeing a portion of how the community is engaging with your content. It's also a great way to find new people who are interested in your content. Follow them, and they'll likely follow you back, if they aren't already.
I encourage you to explore these tools. There are others, so please let me know which you find most useful. You can find me on Twitter @iano1000
UPDATE: shows you how many impressions your tweets have generated broken down by the users that helped spread your message via retweets. Very cool. shows you the reach of your individual tweets and those that were retweeted, and also allows you to see how you influence and are influenced by people geographically.
Are you already using the tools above or others? Please leave a comment with a link to your blog and I'll be sure to stop by!