Expert Q&A: Blake Cahill, Visible Technologies

Blake Cahill, SVP of sales and marketing for Visible Technologies, answers a few questions about social media and social media measurement in this week's Expert Q&A.

Most everyone in the PR industry is trying to tackle the social media measurement issue. What are some of the ways in which Visible Technologies has done so?

Blake Cahill: Many are beginning to pay attention to social media, as we found in a Webcast and survey I'll reference later. We enable organizations to listen to and learn about conversations revolving around them online and then participate in the right conversations at the right time. As a testament to the belief in what we do, we use the service for ourselves, too. We not only look for conversations about Visible Technologies' brand and products, but we listen across the broader social media, advertising, PR, and technology landscape, and frequently introduce our opinion in relevant conversations. This not only raises visibility about the company overall, it also helps us drive content to our blog and Twitter feeds.

What are some of the most important metrics for social media measurement that Visible Technologies has identified?

Cahill: Monitoring is simply not enough; it's about joining the conversation and measuring the impact that it has. The most common measures that we see people focused on are: volume of conversations, overall sentiment of conversations, number of key influencers participating - or not, and impact that the client is having by creating conversations.

Visible Technologies recently hosted a Webcast called Unlocking Social Media's ROI through Engagement & Participation. What were some of the main points raised in the Webcast?

In the Webcast, Peter Kim from Forrester Research gave context on the changing relationship between brands and customers. One fact he raised that I found interesting is people are spending more time online, and less time watching TV or reading print media. PR professionals must be investing time and means in online media sources – including social media.

We polled the audience of the Webcast and revealed some interesting stats that I thought I would share. The question to attendees was “How would you rate your organization's level of social media engagement?” Attendees answered as follows:

a. Not quite ready – no current social media plans (6%)
b. Information gathering – learning more about this new marketing channel (21%)
c. Getting started - monitoring blogs and other online conversations (19%)
d. Formal program/initiative – dedicated efforts, processes, and resources in place to collect social media data and learn from it (13%)
e. Comprehensive program – a complete process for monitoring, learning, participating, and evaluating social media engagement and results (8%)
f. No Answer (34%)

Of the attendees who participated in the polling, I found the breakdown encouraging around the number of marketers who are getting started or have formal or comprehensive programs – 40%of attendees. This indicates marketers are beginning to realize the value of paying attention to conversations their target consumers are having online and will soon move to address the need to engage with them on a deeper, relationship-building level.

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