Social Media

An Integrated Approach to Video (Mack’s Slide Deck from #WistiaFest)

By | Building Community, Mack's Musings, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

An Integrated Approach to Strategy

Video is an incredibly powerful tool that is integral to creating a connection with your customers. But it takes a whole lot of channels and a whole lot of effort —in addition to video—to build your brand and your community and to accomplish goals for your business.

Like social media, email marketing, search, other forms of content, and offline efforts, video is just one tool that needs to fit into a larger marketing strategy.

This slide deck is a case study of the first time that Mack Web used video in our integrated marketing strategy. Inside you will find our roadmap. Our process. What we actually did: the goals we set, the strategy we followed, what we measured, and how it all turned out in the end.

(Feel free to walk through the deck yourself – it’s pretty self-explanatory – or have Mack walk you through it by watching the video of her WistiaFest talk.)

The Videos

If you’d like to see the actual videos that we created, take a peek at these. Each video provides a community building tip and a little Mack Web personality. Creating the videos this way really helped us to build brand awareness and a connection with our audience and to earn sign-ups for our community building guide:

Why Build a Community

Building Community Takes Personality

Building Community is a Team Effort

Make Friends with Other Communities

Our Guide to Building Online Communities is Finally Here

But Wait, There’s More

If you really want to experience the power of video, check out these speaker intros that Wistia created for each of the speakers at #WistiaFest. What a great way to honor each speaker and raise the energy level in the room before taking the stage.

I bet you can’t name anything that rhymes with Fogelson.


How to Dominate Google+ Hangouts on Air

By | Miscellany, Social Media, Web Marketing | 11 Comments

Mack Web is  now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

You’ve decided to do a Hangout on Air for yourself or your brand. Great idea! They’re a lot of fun and can help you provide value to your fans and solidify relationships within the industry. They also can make you want to pull your hair out.

oh no i've gone cross-eyed

That’s why I created this checklist with all the things that you want to do when you’re planning your Hangout on Air. This’ll take you from A to Z in chronological order, with a few side trips in between.

To get you pumped and ready to go, here’s an overview of the steps:

  1. Install G+ Hangouts plugin and make sure Hangouts are enabled
  2. Schedule the Hangouts on Air page as your brand page
  3. Connect the correct YouTube and Google+ accounts
  4. Think through the roles of your team
  5. Do a test run before the event
  6. Send panelists and participants an email about hangout structure and additional preparation
  7. Embed the Hangout on your event page or website
  8. Set up the apps in the Hangout
  9. Broadcast your Hangout on Air and have some fun!

**Everything has been updated in December 2015 to give you the most accurate, up-to-date information**

One note before we dive into the deep abyss of Hangouts on Air. Google+ has two products that are very similar: Hangouts and Hangouts on Air. Hangouts on Air is different because:

  1. You can embed the live video stream of the Hangout on Air to your YouTube channel, a G+ Event page, and even your site.
  2. You can have millions of viewers watch the Hangout on Air, but not actually participate in the Hangout.
  3. The Hangout on Air is recorded and published onto YouTube so anyone can watch later.

For the purpose of this post, assume that when I say “Hangout”, I mean “Hangout on Air.”

Let’s get started.

Way before the Hangout

If you or your Hangout participants don’t use Google+ much, you’ll need to install the G+ Hangouts plugin and test it. Also, if your account is controlled by a domain administrator, they’ll need to make sure that Hangouts is enabled for your account.

enabling Hangouts as domain administrator

Here’s where you need to enable the Hangout settings as an administrator


There are two ways you can create a page on G+ for the Hangout on Air to live. You could create an Event page or schedule a Hangouts on Air page. The only differences between the two options is that with the Hangouts on Air page, you can use the Q&A app (more on this later) and you don’t need to embed the video on to the Hangouts on Air page. For those reasons, scheduling a Hangout on Air page for the date of the Hangout can be an easier option for people. You can create this page ahead of time to use for promotion of your Hangout.

Whichever way you create your Hangouts page, you need to create it as your brand page, not with your personal G+ account. The Hangout will not be associated with your brand if you create it from your personal account (unless you’re hosting it as yourself in which case disregard the above advice).

Another item you want to do before you go playing around with Hangouts on Air is to connect the correct YouTube and Google+ accounts (mainly your brand accounts) if they are not already connected. You will get a notification on this if you have not done it by the time you schedule your Hangout on Air.

Here’s another warning for you: only 10 people are allowed on a G+ Hangout on Air at a time (meaning you can only have 10 individuals or screens total inside the Hangout although you can have an unlimited number of people watching it). Plan accordingly. Before you get too far into your planning, also think about the roles your team will play during the Hangout on Air:

  • Who’s moderating?
  • Who else will have control of the Hangout? More on this later.
  • Who will be your tech person (meaning someone who is knowledgeable about G+ who can work out technical difficulties you may/will have with the Hangout)? They must be on hand for the Hangout if they take on this role.
  • Who’ll be live tweeting and monitoring activity on social media?

Along with this, you may want to set a hashtag for your Hangout so that your followers can follow along on other social media outlets like Twitter. I’d recommend making your hashtag short, unique, and descriptive of the event.

During your test run of the Hangout

Yes, you must do a test run, especially if you’ve never ever done anything with Google+ or Hangouts on Air before. Hangouts is a great tool, but you will run into technical difficulties. Do not compromise on a test run to save time or effort. Google+ Hangouts on Air is not the most intuitive platform so familiarize yourself!

It’s best to do a test run about a week before your event. You should run through all the steps in this post as well as test the location, sound, and lighting of the person who is moderating the event. You can decide whether to invite your panelists to join in that particular test run or do another one just for them (depending on how comfortable with G+ Hangouts they are).

In the days leading up to your Hangout

About 3-4 days before the event, I will send participants info in an email about the structure of the Hangout, questions they can expect, and other logistics or prep they need to know about.

A few things that I make sure to cover are:

  • Tell them you will be inviting them to the Hangout 30 minutes before it starts (or goes on Air) to take care of a few last-minute logistics and make sure all is well before go-time.
  • Make sure they know they need a Google account and have the plugin installed on their computer before they can log into the Hangout.
  • Remind panelists that internet bandwidth is important so they should ask their team not to upload/download big files, back up their computers, or all watch the Hangout during the Hangout itself.
  • Ask for their cell phone numbers in case of internet issues. That way you can communicate with them easily if something goes wrong.
  • Have a logo file ready to upload for their footer during the Hangout (more on this below).
  • Let panelists know that you will be muting them during the Hangout when they are not speaking so that there are no audio issues. They can unmute themselves when they want to chime in and then mute themselves again when they’re done talking.

30 minutes before the Hangout

You made it this far and you only have a little more to go before you’re ready to rock your Hangouts on Air. To start the Hangout, you either go to your Hangouts on Air scheduled page and get started there, or you can start a Hangout on Air from scratch.

To start or schedule a Hangout on Air

  • Go to the Hangouts on Air page (it’s also in your left-hand nav under Hangouts). The new Google+ layout has Hangouts on Air in slightly different place when you go to the Hangouts page so I took a screenshot for you:where to find Hangouts on Air on new Google+ layout
  • Select “Create a Hangout on Air” on that page – don’t worry, it won’t start broadcasting until you tell it to.

Google+ hangouts on air page

  • You’ll be asked to put in the event name and details. Select ‘starts now’ (or later if you’re scheduling it).
  • You can invite your audience by typing in their emails or their names to find them on Google+.
  • Then, select Share.

how to schedule a Hangout on Air


  • You may get a screen that asks you to connect your YouTube and Google+ accounts. This is something to take care of when you test out the Hangout on Air.
invite guests to hangout, connect youtube

Here’s how to invite guests and connect your YouTube account to your G+ account if you haven’t already done so.

You’ll now see this:

hangouts on air screen

What you’ll see when you’ve done everything right

Now you still need to do a few things before you click that tempting Start Broadcast button at the bottom.

1. Embed the video stream on your Events page (skip this step if you scheduled a Hangout on Air instead – it will do that automatically)
2. Embed the video on your site (if you plan to do so)
3. Set up your apps
4. Do a final check with your panelists

Embed the video stream on your Event page

If you’re using an Event page to stream your Hangout on Air, you’ll need to embed the YouTube embed link there.

  • Grab the YouTube URL from the lower right corner of your Hangout screen.

how to find youtube embed and video embed links for hangout on air

  • Plug that into your Events page if you created one. Go to your Event page, then Edit Description,  Event Options,  Advanced, and then Show More Options. If you did a Hangouts on Air page, just ignore this step.

hangout on air events page edit event

You’ll see the YouTube URL on the second from the last line. Paste the URL in there. page editing

The video on the page will show a coming soon type message until you start broadcasting so you can get this going ahead of the hangout.

Embed the video on your site

To embed the video on to your site, grab the video embed link just below where you grabbed the YouTube embed link. Paste that into your page where you want your video stream to be. Update your page and save. Just like the Event page, the video will show a coming soon type message until the Hangout starts broadcasting.

Set up apps

All of these apps can be found on the left-hand navigation panel or can be added as an app from the Add an App feature.

Control Room app

If you want to give control to co-moderators or managers to mute/unmute or take someone off screen, this is the app to do that.

  • Hover over that participants name and click the dropdown button to the right of their name.
  • Choose Give Controls and they’ll now be able to do the same things that you can do in the Hangouts on Air.
  • If someone comes on to your Hangout uninvited, this is the app you’ll use to shut them down (don’t laugh – it’s happened to me before).
Cameraman app

This app controls the broadcast and how panelists come on. I follow Google+ Hangouts mastermind Max Minzer’s advice and select yes, no, yes on the three options. Like so:

google+ hangouts on air cameraman app

Hangouts Toolbox app

This app will take your Hangout on Air from amateur to pro in 1 minute flat. What it’ll do is create a footer below each panelist with their name, company, and company logo.

  • Click the add app extension in the left-hand nav. Find and add the Hangout Toolbox app.
  • It’ll ask for your permission.
  • The app will then show up on the right side.
  • On the tab that has the person in the circle to the left, enter your name and company name; upload your logo; and change the color scheme of the line in the first box to the right.
  • Where it says “Lower Third” – click to change it to “On.”
Here's what the Toolbox app looks like

Here’s what the Toolbox app looks like

  • If you want to make changes to your name or logo, make sure you turn the lower third off, make the changes, then turn it back on.
  • Your panelists will need to do this themselves, but that’s why they should come on early to the event so you can walk them through this.

If your footer shows up in reverse, all you need to do to change it is to click the rotate or mirror icon and rotate until the footer looks right.

Google+ hangouts on air toolbox app - rotate or mirror logo footer

  • Here’s an example of a footer before I rotated it: wrong layout for toolbox app footer G+ Hangouts on Air
  • This is what the footer will look like when done right:G+ Hangouts on Air Toolbox App correct footer layout
Q&A app 

This app lets your audience ask you questions before or during the Hangout. You’ll need to set this up before you start broadcasting and you’ll have to use a Hangouts on Air page rather than a simple Events page. In order to enable the Q&A app, you need to click on the Q&A icon on the Events page preview video.

How to turn on the Q and A app on G+ Hangouts on Air

It will go from greyed out to a color icon when the app is enabled. You will do the same for the Showcase and Applause apps from this page if you want to use them.

Showcase app 

With this app, you can share links to resources, content, products, and sites without disrupting your broadcast. This is helpful if your participants mention articles when they’re talking and you want to send listeners to those pieces, or if you have a call to action you want to send viewers to.

You enable the app for use the same way you enabled the Q&A app above by clicking on the icon on the preview image on your Events page before the broadcast begins. In the screenshot below, it’s the yellow icon in the middle.

How to enable the Showcase app on Google+ Hangouts on Air

To use the Showcase app:

  • Once the app is enabled, you can use the app in the Hangouts on Air window.
  • Click the yellow Showcase app icon on the left-hand navigation in the Hangouts on Air.
  • You’ll see the text field where you can add a URL. Once you add the URL, you will see the item you can show when the time is right.

How to add an item to be shared on the Showcase App

  • When you’re ready to show an item, just click the checkbox next to it and it’ll be visible to your audience. Unclick the checkbox on that item when you’re done with it.

How to show an item in Showcase app on Google+ Hangouts on Air

To learn more about the ins and outs of the Showcase app, Mark Crosling has additional tips and tricks for you.

Applause App

You can use this app to allow your viewers to express their thoughts about the Hangout via thumbs up or down icons. If you’re looking for specific feedback or questions from the audience, the Q&A app would be a better option. However, if you want to get votes or do a simple poll during your broadcast, the Applause app would work well.

Final Checks Before Going Live

There are a few final things to check before your broadcast goes on air:

  • Is everyone there? If not, copy the link to the Hangout on Air and send it in an email to them. Some people don’t get the notification from Google.
  • Does everyone’s sound and video look ok?
  • Does everyone know where the mute button is?
  • The camera should automatically go to the person who’s speaking. To override this, the moderator can select the video image at the bottom of their screen to select the person he wants to be show.

Once you’re all ready to go, click Start Broadcast and you’re on air as well as streaming the video to YouTube and your site (if you chose to). Live tweeting the Hangout can enhance the experience for all and provides easy retweets to those who are listening and following along. You’re all set to start hosting your own Hangouts on Air now!

Do you have any questions I didn’t answer? Run into an issue? Want to commiserate about the difficulty of using G+ Hangouts? Share in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter.


Why Follower Count is Bullshit

By | Data and Analytics, Mack's Musings, Social Media, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Web Marketing | 7 Comments

Quest-PostIt’s impossible to communicate the value of social media efforts when you’re using a metric like follower count. It’s easy to measure, but it doesn’t mean anything.

You’ve got to put in the work to measure the right things so that you can determine whether your efforts are actually making a difference.

I’ve got a whole lot of reasons for (and proof of) why you should be measuring social media success differently. In an effort to provide a few suggestions on how to do that, I’ve put together this case study. A slide deck that tells the story of my own two-year, follower-building effort.


Social Media Engagement Metrics: Taming the Elusive Beast

By | Data and Analytics, Social Media, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement | No Comments


Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

Meaningful social media metrics are like an elusive mystical animal (for the sake of having a good metaphor: a unicorn). You go searching for what you want, and you find metrics that are close, but not quite right (um, a donkey). Or you realize that there’s no way to get exactly what you want (just grow a horn already, donkey).

That’s been my life for the last couple months. As part of our quanlitative quest, I’ve been obsessed with finding the most relevant and useful qualitative metrics to complement our already great quantitative social media metrics list. Given that we use different metrics based on each client’s strategy, it’s been a complex undertaking.

However, there are some social media engagement metrics that show promise – they more effectively communicate the true value of social media efforts and show whether your community is actually engaging with your brand.  I wanted to share those with you so that you can benefit, too.

Calculating True Engagement on Facebook

[Editorial note: Facebook moved this metric since I first reported on it so I’ve updated this blog post to include new screenshots and stats.]

Let’s set aside all the backlash Facebook’s received recently with its steep decline in organic traffic to brand pages because they are doing one engagement metric right. I’m going to start with that one.

Facebook’s Talking About This metric has been around for a while, but we’ve only really started paying attention to it recently. This metric is a great, public equalizer: great, because it bypasses taking fan numbers at their face value and puts it into perspective of how many people are actually engaging on that page; a public equalizer, because you can see this metric for any page.

Here, on Mack Web’s own Facebook page, is where to find the information you need to figure out the Talking About This metric:

How to Find Facebook Talking about This number

Facebook Talking About This Number second screen

The Talking About This metric counts “stories”, meaning everything from liking a page to posting on the wall or a post, sharing a post, mentioning a page in a post, or checking in at a location. That’s a whole lotta engagement in one little metric. That’s why it’s a good overall number to look at for Facebook.

I look at the Talking About This number divided by the number of fans, and multiply by 100 to get the percentage of engagement. This tells me the percentage of fans who are actually, actively engaging with the brand. I watch to see if it rises or falls, month to month, and what inspires those trends.

Here’s the formula if you want to take it for a spin:

Formula for the percentage of fans who are actually actively engaging

And this is how I keep track of it in a spreadsheet:

Calculating Facebook's People Talking About This Percentage
*Note on date: measure consistently on the same day every week or month, and note the date in your spreadsheet.

This percentage can unlock the reality of how a page is performing. If a brand has a lot of fans, but a low Talking About This percentage, then you know no one’s really engaging with the brand. All they have is a higher fan count, but they don’t have the attention of those fans.

Let me give an example.

NY Times vs. The Huffington Post. Which would you think has the higher Talking About This score? Don’t look below or sneak a peek at their Facebook pages. Just take a guess.

Actually, The Huffington Post is the big winner here (at least according to Facebook’s Talking About This metric).

Huffington Post Facebook Talking About This Number

The NY Times Talking About This Percentage

Here it is in action in spreadsheet format with the above example:

Comparing Huffington Post vs NY Times with Talking About This number
Not only is this metric helpful in truly understanding engagement on a page, it’s useful when we’re trying to educate clients who are fixated on fan count.

Calculating Engagement on Other Social Networks

Which other big social media channel takes engagement metrics to the level that Facebook has? Right now, none of them. Not Twitter, not LinkedIn, not Google+.

Publicly, these channels all focus on follower or fan count and hardly anything else. You can find your own engagement metrics in their analytics platforms, but you can’t often find your competitor’s unless you love counting and simple addition. Also, more often than not, the engagement metrics that these social networks provide for your own pages or profiles are either not great or are hard to pull together. And yet most channels have the capacity to provide us with that engagement data we crave. They just don’t. (Don’t even get me started on this).

For example, here’s the Impressions graph you can see on your LinkedIn Analytics page (but you can’t see for any other profile). In order to see total impressions for a month, you’ve got to add all the impressions up.

So what’s a marketer to do when it comes time to analyze engagement efforts on social networks other than Facebook? I’ve got a list of engagement metrics I’ve either 1) been using for a while or 2) recently found and think are worthwhile. Lucky for you, I’m going to share those, too.

Applause, Amplification, and Conversation

We are big Avinash fans over here at Mack Web so it’s no surprise that the basis of our engagement metrics is seated in Avinash’s Applause, Amplification, and Conversation metrics. We talk about these metrics a lot, and for good reason. You can find them (and calculate them) on all social networks in one form or another. Plus, they give you meaningful information about the health of your social media channels by showing you how well your fans are engaging with your brand on social media. These are our foundational social media engagement metrics – you have to watch these metrics in your analytics to fully understand your brand’s social media engagement.

In case you’re learning about these engagement metrics for the first time, here’s a quick breakdown of what they indicate:

Applause: This metric shows whether people like what you’re posting. If they’re not liking/favoriting/+1ing your stuff, it may mean they don’t like what you’re putting out there.

Amplification: Amplification shows that people like your posts enough to take action and share them.

Conversation: Conversation indicates whether people are actually interacting with you. Here you’ll be looking at @mentions, replies, comments, etc. on your posts.

Some other metrics that are good indicators of engagement and action are:

  • social media referral traffic and
  • how social media traffic effects micro-conversions or goals on your site.

Both of these metrics could make up a blog post by themselves so I’ll skip over them for now. (But stay tuned for more on these in future posts).

Additional Engagement Metrics I’m Experimenting with

I haven’t yet had a chance to put these metrics into full effect, but with the little experimentation I’ve had, they’re proving to be really promising:

Average Engagement Rate on Other Networks

Okay, yes, I know I just said that Facebook is the only network with easy, public engagement metrics. The most important word in that last sentence is easy. The Talking About This feature makes pulling this engagement metric simple. It’s in the same place on every brand’s page and publicly available. 

You’ll notice that I also said you can find engagement metrics on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. It’s just harder. They have all the data, but they don’t share them yet and also won’t give you a lot of information about your competitors. (Which always makes me think that the social networks must be hiding something, but maybe that’s just the conspiracy theorist in me).

Fortunately, there are wonderful people in the world, like our friends over at Raven, who have already figured some of this out. Here’s how you can calculate engagement rates for the other networks (and their competitors if you really love counting likes, +1s, shares, and the like).

Essentially, what you’ll be doing is adding together all the small indications of engagement (Applause, Amplification, and Conversation metrics) to build your own Talking About This metric for each social network. This allows you to track how many of your fans and followers are actively engaging with your brand, both in the moment and over time.

Average engagement metric forumla - 2

Add the total number of retweets, mentions, and replies together (Sprout Social is my friend here). Divide that number by your follower count and turn it into a percent. I like to look at this metric over a longer period of time to see a trend.

Much like Twitter, add up all likes, comments, and shares for the month on your company page and divide by total followers. Make that a percentage and look at the trend over time.

Side metrics rant: LinkedIn analytics is really special in my book because they don’t give you a total number for the month, as I mentioned before. Plus, its API doesn’t play nice with other analytics platforms. I hope you enjoy adding because you’ll be getting a good workout between LinkedIn and Google+ below. If you figure out a workaround, please leave it in the comments below – I will send happy thoughts your way as a sign of my gratitude.

Google+ is super fun because most pages (unless it’s a local page) don’t have easy numbers on the backend for shares, comments, and +1s. I have to count them on the actual page – suffice to say, that my simple addition muscles are real strong.

Click-Through Rate: The Content that “Clicks” with the Fans

This metric is a combination of two metrics: clicks on content and reach (a big thanks to Steve Webb for this tip). When you divide clicks on content by the reach of the content, you get this magical percentage that tells you how many of the audience who saw your post actually clicked on it.

Click through rate equation - 2

What can Click-Through Rate tell you?
I’m just getting started with this metric, but my favorite use thus far is as a barometer of whether people are liking the content we’re sharing and creating. Think of it as a way to measure an even fainter sign of interest than applause metrics. Your follower isn’t willing to commit publicly to liking you, but they are willing to see what you have to say beyond your 140 character message. Click-through rate can also be a great indicator of whether the wording of your updates entices them to click.

How to use Click-Through Rate
I see a few good ways to use click-through rate. You can use it to compare campaign to campaign on the macro level. On the micro level, you can use it to compare how specific pieces of content or content topics or themes perform. You can even use click-through rate to compare how different updates for the same link did.

You also can look at the level of interest from network to network for certain types of content. For example, you might find that Twitter followers like reading about case studies more than your LinkedIn followers. Or that your LinkedIn followers really like reading about ROI of social media.

How to Calculate Click-Through Rate on Various Social Networks

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty here. Currently, click-through rate data is only available on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Sometimes, I think G+ is floating off in left field somewhere, picking dandelions. I hope it’s having a good time, at least.

In order to calculate click-through rate on Twitter, I use Sprout Social and you’ll also need to use links for your clicks to be counted. Unfortunately, you can’t get this data on Twitter Analytics. On Sprout Social, go to Reports, then Sent Messages, then Twitter. Here’s where you get the info you need to calculate click-through rate:

So now you want to take the number of clicks (249) and divide by the reach number (750) and multiply the result (.33) by 100. This update had a 33% click-through rate. Not too shabby.

On LinkedIn, you’ll find click-through rate under the Analytics tab. Divide number of clicks by impressions and multiply by 100. Here the click-through rate would be 9%.

Facebook’s click-through rate can be found in Insights under the Posts tab. Look down at All Posts Published. In the example below, if you divide number of clicks by people reached and multiply by 100, you’ll get click-through rate for this post (2% click-through rate).

A Note on Sample Size when Using Click-Through Rate
Let me address the elephant in the room when you’re looking at click-through rate: sample size. Obviously, working with 249 clicks and a 750 reach (as in the example above) is not going to provide definitive answers. This means that you want to be careful about drawing conclusions from click-through rates taken with a small sample size.

Use click-through rate to guide your experiments on social media, not as a final judgment of what you must do. With a small sample size, click-through rate can only give you so much information about what’s going on on your social media pages. To draw an accurate conclusion, you’ll need to test a lot of theories and analyze loads of data. I never said this all was easy.

Taking Advantage of Engagement Metrics

Finding these types of metrics that show the value of our social and community work is our number one goal this year. It’s our Quest. Stick around for the ride – in the end, we want to swap out that donkey sporting the paper maiche horn for the real deal: a beautiful unicorn.

Have I missed your favorite engagement metric? Share in the comments below.


The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement

By | Building Community, Business Stuff, Data and Analytics, Social Media, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Web Marketing | No Comments

Quest-PostIn which Mack Web shoots for the moon and and hopefully lands among the stars (since we’re pretty sure the moon is dusty and barren and impact would be both painful and messy)

Let’s just be clear up front: we think we’re pretty great.

We’re proud of the work that Mack Web does, we’re proud of the growth and knowing-stuff-ness that have centered on our community building goals of the last few years. We’ve made tons of new friends, published an Arthur, been invited to some nifty conferences, told a lot (a lot) of llama jokes, and discovered/developed/adopted/hybridized/stumbled-accidentally-over-in-the-night our beloved ‘Goals Not Tools’ approach to web marketing and brand building.

That’s some good stuff.

But you know what else was some good stuff? Uniting all of Britain under one benevolent rule and establishing a prosperous meritocracy of virtue, chivalry, and the rule of law.

But did Knights of the Round Table stop with Camelot?

Camelot is a silly place

No. No, they did not. They set out on a new holy mission rather than resting on their laurels.

(Or so Monty Python would have us believe, anyway).

How could we, the noble denizens of Mack Web, do any less?

And so begins our great journey of 2014 and beyond: The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement! (Trumpet fanfare, please).

(Curious? Be patient. You’re going to be hearing that fanfare a lot this year).

In which Mack Web makes up a word and undertakes a vital task

Do not adjust your screens: you are seeing that word correctly: Quanlitative.

We made it up because there wasn’t a single word that adequately described what our deep thinking and praiseworthy insight identified as the principal challenge we (as a company and an industry) are currently facing: proving the value of what we do.

These are common dilemmas for the circles in which we run: how to demonstrate the ROI for social media and this community building stuff, how to get buy-in from the C-Suite, tracking the indirect connections between online campaigns, offline campaigns, and legitimate leads. And so forth. You get the picture.

Lots of people are taking a crack at this in their own ways and we are definitely borrowing inspiration and sitting on the shoulders of giants and the like. But – as far as we can tell – nobody has gotten it quite right yet.

Which leads to our grand adventure and the birth of a brand new word.

As we framed it for ourselves, what we’d like to solve is this: how do you wholly and adequately marry quantitative measurements (number of sales or leads, volume of downloads, increase in signups, etc.) and qualitative measurements (brand reach and awareness, follower vitality, thought leadership, and all that stuff)?

So that’s what we’re going to try to do.

And to kick it off, we decided we needed the right term for it. It wasn’t hard for our own ingenious Mack Fogelson to portmanteau it up. (Hey, if the paparazzi can do it, so can we. Brangelina, anyone?)

quanlitative etymology

So let it be written. So let it be done.

In which Mack Web reveals their deepest hopes and fears (appreciate this moment of vulnerability, please)

We’ve got our sights set slightly lower than the Chalice of Christ and its consequent immortality (but really only slightly).

What we hope to have in hand, at the end of all the questing and dragon-slaying and sage-seeking and trail-blazing and trap-evading and riddle-decoding, is this: a method of measurement that puts the integrated back into integrated marketing. After all, if we’re pulling in all the channels and trying to accomplish both intermediate and company-wide goals, we need to be able to measure and report that in a quanlitative manner. If it just so happens to be fully scalable, aesthetically pleasing, and both convincing and comprehensible to the layperson/C-suite type audience? Well, won’t we be happy little clams? (That’s the Grail).

That’s what we hope to find/create. But here’s what we actually want, the big party when the triumphant questers return home: more trust from our clients. We want to be able to quench that ever-present uncertainty, to prove that our methods have value and thereby gain a little breathing room to try new things, to get off the defensive and go on the offensive. (That’s the Immortality).

We’re not so naive to think it’s going to be easy.  There’s a reason nobody’s quite nailed this down yet.

Neither do we think we’re going to hit the mark in just a year. It takes time to summit Everest. For 2014, we’re just aiming to get out of Kathmandu to the Base Camp.

We’re going to take it one challenge at a time.

trials of the grail

In which Mack Web unveils some of the expected milestones of the journey

Though this is our first formal Quest fanfare, we’ve already started laying in the groundwork. We’ve been spending some quality time with Avinash Kaushik’s now-famous See, Think, Do framework.

Plus our own Mack gave her first talk of the year at SearchFest 2014 on integrated marketing KPIs (specifically in relation to video) that’s going to give you some hints on our starting point.

(Like this one: it’s not really integrated marketing if you don’t look at both the individual channels and what they come together to form. ‘Cuz that’s kinda the definition of integrated. Dictionaries are a always a good point of origin).

Along the way, we expect to be picking up knowledge on a lot of subjects including (but most assuredly NOT limited to):

  • All sorts of analytics
    There’s Google Analytics and there are all kinds of social analytics and then there’s the offline stuff that’s measure, but by golly, by gum, we’re going to tap into whatever it takes to get the job done.
  • Psychology of the C-Suite types
    We’re going to be getting up close and personal with the Myer Briggs DISC personality model, probably. Good times.
  • Automating for scalability
    ‘Cuz if these reports each take 70 bajillion (wo)man-hours to put together? Dude, we quit. Let’s go home and eat Red Vines.
  • Learning to learn from ourselves
    We’re working on getting better at identifying our blindspots and spotting opportunities for growth.
  • And undoubtedly much, much more
    Every accomplishment will be communicated on our blog for your viewing pleasure and lauded with gifts and gold stars and probably chocolate.


In which Mack Web shamelessly pleads for questing companions and wayside support

So here’s the deal: we are going to be reporting the progress on this quest throughout the year. It’s going to be our focus project so expect to hear about all the cool things we learn and resources we develop along the way. (We love sharing questing bounty with our boon companions).

But it is a truth universally acknowledged that solo questers don’t do as well as the ones who have partners and sidekicks and the occasional Rivendell rest stops. (There’s a reason the Fellowship of the Ring was nine, you know).

So we’re asking you to take part in this ongoing quest conversation of ours. Share examples, ask difficult and annoying questions, point out when we’ve gone astray, give us cryptic hints to get back on track.

We value your contributions, no matter what form they may take.

the fellowship




The Integrated Marketing KPIs of Using Video to Build Your Brand

By | Building Community, Data and Analytics, SEO, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments


Using video to build your brand is powerful. It’s the closest thing to real, human interaction and it’s what helps to connect people to the authenticity and personality behind your company.

But if you’re simply using video to build your brand, you’re leaving opportunity on the table. There is so much in your video efforts that can be leveraged in other channels like social, search, email, and offline. Integrating these channels will accelerate the growth of your community and your brand. It’s the sum of all the parts that leads to your true value and return on investment (ROI).

Measuring The Success of Your Efforts

There’s two things to consider when you’re measuring the success of your efforts with something like video (and other types of content): you’ve got The Parts, and The Sum of The Parts. With The Parts, you want to consider how the individual pieces of your efforts, like video, are performing.

What value are they providing? Are those videos furthering the reach of your brand? Are they helping people to feel more connected? Are they garnering more leads? The same thing applies to other “parts” like social media, email marketing, other types of content, search, and offline efforts. Analyze how those parts are individually contributing to your success.

And then, more importantly, be sure you’re taking a look at The Sum of The Parts. This is your 30,000 foot view. When you add up all of the integrated pieces of your efforts like video, social, search, email, and offline, what effect have they had on your business as a whole?  It is the sum of all of these parts that provides the true ROI and that work together to build your brand and your community.

KPIs for The Parts and The Sum of The Parts

Depending on your project, and goals, there are many key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you determine the success of your efforts and the impact they have on your business. This slide deck includes some suggested KPIs for both The Parts (video) and The Sum of The Parts (video, social, search, email, offline) communicating success indicators for integrated marketing efforts.

Remember that it isn’t just video, or social, or search, or email, or offline efforts alone that make a difference in your business. It’s the integration and sum of the parts that add up to a greater whole. And that’s what it takes to build a community.



Q&A: Building a Community Without Content

By | Building Community, Social Media, Web Marketing | One Comment

The Essentials of Community Building

Many companies want to better understand how they can start building their communities. What are the first steps? How long does it take? Can I do this on my own?

A few weeks ago at the OpenView Webinar, we talked a whole lot about the Essentials of Community Building and a related question was posed:

Q: How do you start building a community if you don’t have a ton of content and a full strategy in place yet?

A: It would be incredibly misleading to tell you that 1) it’s easy to build a community, and 2) that you can do it without content. Communities don’t build themselves. They manifest from great companies who invest a tremendous amount of time in their brand, improving their product, and actually listening to their customers in the process.

Apart from content, community takes a ton of hard work, consistency, and heart. But it most certainly can be done whether you’re a one person company just starting out, or a large organization who has been building a following for years but hasn’t really done much to foster those followers into brand advocates.

Much of what you do to build a community begins with goals, strategy, and ultimately, content. That content can come in many forms: the carefully generated content on your website and your blog, the stuff you share on social media, the prose you choose for your packaging and products, and certainly the words your team speaks online and offline when they’re interacting not only with their peers but with your customers.

So how do you build a community without content?

You don’t.

But what you can do is get a head start on building your community with other people’s content. And that, in itself, is an integral component to building your audience. Sharing other valuable content isn’t the only way to build a community, but it does make a statement about your knowledge (reflected in what you’re reading) and builds relationships and connections with people who may eventually become part of your community.

So, if you don’t yet have a ton of content, but you really want to build that community, give some of this a try:

1) Set some goals

Even if you don’t have a bunch of content, a strategy, or much in terms of company resources, you still want to start with goals. Setting these goals (and we’d recommend that you make them SMART) will help keep you focused on where you can add the most value and make the biggest difference in your business.

2) Identify your community and share other people’s (good) stuff

As I mentioned, if you don’t have much of your own content to share, you can share other people’s valuable content to get the momentum going. Sharing other people’s content adds a ton of value to your own customers and community and it also helps you to begin building relationships with the people and companies who may end up being part of your engaged audience.

Start by identifying the people, blogs, and knowledge sources that may be a match for your community and then share their content.

There’s a detailed breakdown of how to do this on the Moz blog, but we like to start with questions like these:

1. Who is your target demographic?
2. What specific industries do you cater to?
3. Who are your partners and colleagues?
4. Who are your competitors?
5. Who do you respect in the industry (people and companies)?
6. What organizations are you a part of?
7. What industry blogs do you currently read?
8. Who do you follow on social media (people, companies)?
9. What events do you attend?

Identifying the possible sources for building your community will help you to determine who to begin building those relationships with. But remember, don’t do this with a “what’s in it for me?” mentality. You’re certainly looking to be strategic about who you’re building relationships with, but be sure to keep your customer (and your future community) in mind.

As you read the content from these sources, determine what’s a match for them. Look at this process as an opportunity to learn new things and become exposed to new people who you may actually enjoy becoming friends with. If you genuinely come from a place of authenticity, this community building thing becomes a whole lot more effective and valuable. So if you don’t have a ton of content, start building your base by curating other people’s valuable content.

3) Don’t just broadcast, engage

Let me put it to you straight. For a long, long, long, long, long time, you may have absolutely no engagement (did I mention this could be for a long time?). You will go through a stage in your community building efforts, especially in the beginning, where you’re being extremely diligent and consistent in your efforts, you’re sticking to your established routine, and you’re sharing all kinds of great stuff. But that doesn’t mean that anyone will talk to you, care, or be motivated to engage with you.

The thing to remember about building your community is that it’s all about people. Just because social media is digital and seems so convenient, doesn’t mean that these relationships will build overnight. Keep in mind that you’re connecting with real humans and that requires you to actually be a person yourself.

So make an effort to engage. Don’t just share other people’s content. Get out there. Talk to people (both on and offline). Read stuff. Learn some things. Don’t make it about you. And look for opportunities to connect with people (and not just because you want their business). It’s those connections that will eventually help you to build a community full of brand advocates who love your company and want to tell their friends about your product.

4) Be worthy of your community

So this whole sharing other people’s content thing will only take you so far before your followers will start wondering why they would follow (or keep following) you. Why would they tell other people all about your company?

At some point you’ll hit a wall and need your own stellar content (and strategy) that exudes personality and communicates the story of your brand (and not just on social media). You’ve got to eventually have something of value that will attract people to your community. This plateau will come quickly. So get the ball rolling with other people’s content but all the while be sure you’ve got a plan to generate your own.

So while you’re working behind the scenes to set your goals and build your own something of value, identify the higher purpose of your company. That’s what you’re going to actually build your community around, and that’s what your content should be about.

In addition to this question, I also addressed a question about increasing engagement and content sharing. Have another question about community that we haven’t yet answered? It may be in our community building guide, but please reach out. We’d love to hear from you.


The Super Awesome (and a little stalkerish) Email and Social Media Account Matcher

By | Building Community, Data and Analytics, SEO, Social Media, Web Marketing | 10 Comments

Mack Web is  now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Back in August, there was quite a rush of excitement around the office when our friends over at SEO Gadget wrote a blog post about using the FullContact API to mine user data.

We’re nerds. We admit it.

The one thing that really caught our eye was the ability to find social networks based upon a user’s email address. Say for example you have an email list that you collected at a conference. Now you’d like to follow up with those users via email, but you’d also like to find them on Twitter to see if any of them are professionally active or influential.

Traditionally, you’d have to enter all the email addresses (or names) manually into Google search to see what you can find. If you’re really clever, you may try to use a gmail plug-in like Rapportive to try and match the email addresses. But that’s all a lot of work because you have to look at email addresses one-by-one. If you picked up 200 business cards at a conference, you can easily burn a day or two trying to match all the profiles.

Enter FullContact

They have a great system that allows you to run queries against their massive database of users. Even cooler, they allow you to find up to 250 matches a month for free. Although you couldn’t run an entire marketing email list for a large company with these few queries, it’s great for those conferences or small batch lists you need to try and match up. Searching for social accounts tied to 250 emails manually would take quite a while.

Since this service is set-up as an API, it’s not incredibly user friendly for us non-programmer types. Thus the Microsoft Excel macro that FullContact gives away was great because it suddenly gave non-programmers access to the FullContact database.

But we ran into a couple problems.

1. It’s really slow. It can take 5-10 minutes to run less than a hundred names. That’s lame.

2. It only works on Windows and Excel. I use a Mac. We had one of our interns run it this summer, but he is back at school. And I’m not buying a computer, a copy of Windows, and a copy of Excel just to run this.

3. Macros are a pain. You have to install them to make sure they are operating correctly. Sometimes they don’t work. Sometimes they don’t run with your version of Excel. There are literally hundreds of reasons why one might not work. They are just a major inconvenience.

From Microsoft to Google

So one day, I decided I’d try to build a Google Spreadsheet that would query the API. At first I thought about trying to create a script. But I’m not that great of a programmer plus scripts require you to authorize and install them within your spreadsheet. I really wanted a plug-and-play solution. I wanted something I could give to someone who had zero background in Excel that would allow them to run the queries without any kind of training or help.

Thus after hours of trial and error, endless frustrations, and dozens of Google searches (like 6 hours of work straight…seriously), I was able to create a spreadsheet that pulls in social profiles from FullContact using only the built-in ImportXML function within Google Spreadsheets. I then managed to use a mess of CONCATENATE, Xpath, SEARCH, and other random functions(in other words, I did fancy spreadsheet things) to display each of the main social media profiles: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.

The Spreadsheet

So enough talking about it, let’s see how it works. First off, let me say it’s really simple. It’s literally copy and paste. I’ll include the link at the end, but here’s quick walk-through:

1. Open the spreadsheet by clicking the link. Make a copy of the spreadsheet for your own use. This document not editable, and I will not share it with you. So don’t ask. Just make your own copy. 🙂 It’s as easy as going to File>Make a Copy

Make a Copy in Google Docs

2. Next, set up a developer account with FullContact. It’s simple and easy. Just give them the info they want, and they’ll get you setup with the account.

3. Get your API key. Once you have your account created, go to the FullContact dashboard. Your API key is big and red and right in the middle of the page. You can see the screen here, but we blacked out our API code so you don’t steal it. Thief.

4. Enter the API key into your new copy of the spreadsheet. It goes in the red box labeled: API Key (clever, right?). As a rule of thumb, in this document you should edit the red cells. You should not edit the blue cells.

FullContact API Google Docs

5. Finally, open the document or spreadsheet where you have your email list saved (you do have the email addresses in some sort of list, right?). Copy only 50 emails on that list and paste them into the spreadsheet in the red cells in Column A, Rows 3-52. Within seconds, you should see social media links begin to appear as they are found by the FullContact API. All 50 ImportXML functions run at once, so you shouldn’t have to wait more than a few seconds for data to appear. Cool, huh?

6. In order to make this data accessible later, you need to copy the results into a new document (or a new sheet within this document). Once this sheet returns the data, select all the cells that you want to save, then go to a new spreadsheet, right click, and select Paste Values. If you just try to do a normal Paste, it will only copy the formulas, and that isn’t going to help you very much. Paste Values will actually paste the results (the links to social profiles) into your new sheet.

You should also know…

There are a few limits and things you should know about this document before you dig in.

FullContact API only counts successful matches. The successful match rate according to FullContact is around 60% – meaning you can probably run close to 400 emails before you run out of queries since many will be returned empty. If you don’t get anything back on a query, it won’t count as an API call. That said, if the person has other information within the FullContact database (such as another social network login, an address, or job title) that data won’t get returned to this spreadsheet, but it will still count as a positive match. You get 250 matches with the free plan and paid plans start at $99/month.

Currently, Google Spreadsheets limits the total number of ImportXML calls to 50 per document. So you can’t run more than 50 emails at a time. That said, you can paste the emails into the document, then copy the social data out into a new spreadsheet, then replace the old emails with 50 new ones. It’s still WAY faster than doing it by hand. If you upgrade to a paid plan and need to run hundreds or thousands of emails, try the Excel macro or have a developer build you a custom solution as running 50 at a time will take a while.

There is no “run” button! The ImportXML function runs automatically, which is usually a good thing. However, if you exit the spreadsheet and then reopen it later with the emails saved inside it, the sheet will immediately make those same 50 API calls. Any successful matches will count against your total. So when you’re finished with the document, you should DELETE all the emails (or your API key) so as to not waste calls every time you open the sheet.

OK, here is the link. Knock yourself out: Spreadsheet

Also, once you make a copy, you’ll be able to see the crazy long formulas I used on the back end. (For what it’s worth, this is probably the most intense spreadsheet I’ve ever made…and I have a graduate business degree). Feel free to customize the formulas to meet your data needs. I only ask that if you find other useful data to call, please share an updated copy of this sheet with me. I’m sure there are hundreds of pieces of data and requests you could pull into it. I’d love to see what y’all come up with. You can find me on Twitter: @tyler_brooks.

Hope this helps!

Q&A: Increase Engagement and Content Sharing

By | Building Community, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

The Essentials of Community Building - Mack Web Solutions

During the Essentials of Community Building Webinar last week with OpenView Labs, we had a few questions that I was not able to answer. I’m going to provide some of those answers here over the next few weeks:

Q: Once you get your following, how do you get them to really start engaging and sharing your content?

A: My recommendation would be to make it all about them. Figure out what your community really wants. You’ll know you’ve hit it right when you’ve accomplished the goals you’ve set forth: more engagement and more sharing of your content.

If you’re wondering how exactly to better engage your community and discover the content they would love to read and share, ask them. Try doing some surveys to determine what’s on their mind. If you’ve got a large community like you’re suggesting, you should get some really good data.

There are a few companies that I’ve seen do the survey thing really well.

Wistia’s Take Our Survey Video

Wistia put together a video that asked their community what they wanted to learn. Not only was the survey conducted in a manner that fits perfectly with Wistia’s culture and values, but it provided them with some really important data about their community.

Wistia received more than 780 responses in just 1 week. The video was so successful that Wistia had to take the survey part down so that it didn’t collect any more responses (and just allow people to link to the video). It was a really creative way to connect with their community and figure out how to get them what they want.

Moz’s 2013 Blog Survey

You certainly don’t have to create a video to administer a survey. Moz put together a survey to ask their community what they thought of their blog and then they published the results.

Moz Survey Results

This survey helped Moz figure out what their community really wants, and it also lets their community know they’ve been heard. What’s great about that is, in the coming months as the Moz blog fills with all of the content that they know their community wants, they should receive more engagement, more shares, and many other indicators of success that they’re tracking.

As with everything in your marketing (and your community building), it’s all about experimentation. You’ve got to try some things out and see how it works (or doesn’t). Start by really listening to your community and let them help you determine your direction.

More Questions?

If you have more community building questions that you’d like answered, reach out to us at @mackwebteam or contact us here.

The Essentials of Community Building (with Guide, Webinar & Slidedeck in Tow)

By | Building Community, Social Media, Web Marketing | 3 Comments

Community building is not about social media. It’s about people. Building a community is not about how many followers you acquire on social media. It’s about becoming a valuable brand and then building an engaged audience around it.

All of this community building stuff requires a shift in perspective. It’s a focus on accomplishing goals for your whole business and really paying attention to your customer’s needs. But lucky for you, everything you do to build a community will naturally build a better business and help you weather Google’s ever-changing algorithms.

Over the past few years I’ve been blogging, speaking, and, as a company, we’ve been doing a whole lot of community guiding. As a result, I’ve got some resources that will help lead you through three of the biggest building blocks of community: the tools, the process, and the measurement.

I’ve broken these resources down for you in three simple steps:

Step One: Download this Sucker

If you haven’t yet downloaded our free guide to building online communities, now’s your chance. This 147 page guide is packed full of all the gory details of community building. From the benefits to the tools, to the process—and even how to make adaptations as a company, an agency, or an in-house person tasked with the role of community building—this guide has it.

And the best part about it is you won’t want to stick a fork in your leg when you’re reading it, either (which we feel is a pretty large incentive).

Step Two: Watch this Webinar

After you’ve downloaded our 147 page guide (we don’t call it Truly Monumental for nothing) you may want someone to hold your hand as you read it. And because that might get a little weird, you can watch this Webinar instead (thanks to OpenView Labs). It’s the 45 minute run down of our 147 page guide and it walks through the key takeaways of community building including the tools, the process, and the measurement.

Step Three: Download this Slide Deck

In addition to the guide and Webinar above, this slidedeck is the play-by-play of the key takeaways in our guide (and it’s what I walk through in the Webinar). Throughout the deck you’ll notice some references to pages in the guide where you can get additional details and information.

This deck also has a few new things in it that are not in our guide like how to use the SMART framework to define goals (starting on slide 35) and an approach we’ve been using for buy-in (starting on slide 84) that can help better communicate the expectations that come along with the phases of community.

Send Us Your Questions

We spend a lot of time testing and determining what really helps businesses build their brands and communities online. We’d love to answer any specific questions or help you solve any unique challenges you’ve been facing. Please feel free to reach out to me or the Mack Web team on Twitter, or certainly contact us here. We look forward to having you in our community.