Posts Tagged: Social Media

Oct 15

SQL Beginners Cheat Sheet

So its been a while again, but push comes to shove and I’m determined to get back on to making a return to this blog. I’m on a bit of a skills development fix at the moment and decided here would be a great spot to report back on what I’ve been doing and to create some documentation on the key learnings.

I recently went through a beginners course on SQL through Code Academy (link to the course here) which I found really interesting and potentially useful for future endeavors.


What is SQL? Known as a ‘Standard Query Language’ its a method of organizing and summarizing data. My general thinking when it comes to this is that taking a structured dataset it allows the user to summarize and manipulate the data. In the case of multiple datasets, it connects them through a common tie so the user can get a better understanding of how they interact.

Why is it potentially useful? I’ve experienced SQL in the context of a data tool where the language organizes raw data in such a way that its  a readable output for the end-user. When thinking about it in terms of even a basic excel spreadsheet, the language allows for the data to be summarized and reformatted saving the user from having to do a lot of manual work.

Below is a select set of terms from the course and example code:


; is used as an ‘End statement’ and is placed at the end of a command. It tells the system to move to the next query statement.

There are three basic functions of the SQL language: To BUILD, ANALYZE or JOIN data tables.


CREATE TABLE: is a command telling the system to build a new data table.

table_name(***): labels a table for use in queries and joining with other tables.

column_1 data_type: defines what data goes into a particular column (can be text, date, number etc.) These can be layered up to create a series of columns

INSERT INTO: is a formatting command used for define the set columns. Following this, column titles can be added ex: (id, name, age).

VALUES: This is a command used to enter in individual entries. Its formatted as VALUES (row value 1, row value 2…);

UPDATE: used to change entries in a table. Using ‘SET’ and ‘WHERE’ entries, data within the table can be altered

ALTER TABLE: Where as UPDATE alters an entry, ALTER TABLE allows the user to change or add data columns.

DELETE FROM: Deletes rows from a table.


Example Code:

CREAT TABLE table_name (
 column_1 data_type,
 column_2 data_type,
 column_3 data_type
INSERT INTO celebs (id, name, age)
VALUES (1, 'Justin Bieber', 21);
 SELECT *FROM celebs;
UPDATE celebs
 SET age = 22
 WHERE id= 1;
 SELECT *FROM celebs;
 twitter_handle TEXT;
 SELECT *FROM celebs;
DELETE FROM celebs WHERE twitter_handle IS NULL;


SELECT *FROM ‘table name': displays all data from the labeled table the SQL interface. The * is used to notate ‘select the whole table’. Other commands such as ‘SELECT DISTINCT’ can be used to summarize a table further based on a column or row entry.

BETWEEN: Is a filter option for the use of numerical data.

ORDER BY: organizes a data set. A related command DESC/ASC(aka: Descending/Ascending) can be used to organize numbers by a set parameter.

LIMIT: Sets maximum number of rows pulled from a dataset.

GROUP BY: organizes data by a specific column entry (example: type of apple).

COUNT: summarizes numerical data by a category (example: how many entries contain X)

SUM: Counts up the numerical data of a particular column in a table ( Ex: How many impressions in total).

MAX(): finds the largest value of a criteria.

MIN(): finds the smallest value of a criteria.

AVG(): finds the average of a criteria.

ROUND(): rounds decimal numbers to a specific integer.


SELECT* FROM movies WHERE imdb_rating >8;
SELECT * FROM movies
 WHERE name LIKE 'Se_en';
 ORDER BY imdb_rating DESC;

SELECT price, ROUND(AVG(downloads),2) FROM fake_apps GROUP BY price;


JOIN: creates a common column between two tables which joins the data set together (ex: id_actormovie JOIN ID_Actor)

ON: states the parameter of the join.

Inner Join: joins entries when a join criteria is met.

Left Join: Combines two tables together side by side and provides a NULL value when the join parameters are not met.

AS: When joining a table this allows columns of the joined table to be renamed without affecting the original unjoined tables.


SELECT AS 'Album', albums.year, AS 'Artist'
 FROM albums JOIN artists ON albums.artist_id = WHERE albums.year >1990

Jul 13

Building Business Value in Facebook Insights

So the recent Facebook Insights Beta launched with a lot of fanfare a few weeks ago and then there seemed like a resounding ‘meh’ as discussion of it quickly faded. Obviously using the platform day in and day out I have a few ideas of what I’d like to see and how I would push the system if I had the keys to the castle, so to speak.  Facebook holds a lot of data on what people do online and I feel there is a true opportunity for them to safely push the limit on what their data can deliver. Below are just a few ideas I’ve been considering as a result of my work with the platform:

Measuring how many people actually still care: Something that is still a focus in regards to Facebook fan pages is of course the fan base . While fans don’t really have the option of doing this any more, a fan could previously be a fan but opt out of all of the page’s posts.  Having an understanding of how many people are sticking around vs. just displaying a firms logo on their Like list would be a nice little addition and perhaps avoid inflated expectations.

Who are my new fans/Who are the ones that are leaving?:  Sticking with the idea of fan counts, it would be great to have an approximation of what kind of demographic a type of content brings in in but also pushes away. Perhaps you’re running a campaign that you thought was completely geared towards men 18-24 years old, but it turns out to be that you were off the mark and you’re attracting a completely different audience and sending your target the other way. Getting an understanding of who is liking and disliking a page will allow marketers to better test and plan their campaigns instead of simply just pointing towards their fan count and saying ” Look! Our engagement numbers/fans are up!”.

Quantitative Analysis Tools:  Truthfully, having to read through posts for a month and trying to create an actionable insight is pretty painful. Facebook’s interface for exploring comments makes it very difficult to be able to express the  consumer voice on the page. There are a few social listening firms that do qualitative visualizations really well. Facebook should really tap into this type of technology so  that Marketers can understand the voices of their customers vs. getting just a sample approximation.

Longitudinal post engagement analysis: For those who have been in social long enough, you may remember that Facebook delivered two types of engagement reporting. In what I’ll call Facebook insights v.1  you can get a pull of total Likes, Comments and Shares from all content created since the page was started over a certain time period. For Facebook Insights v.2 (current)  now you only see what engagement content posted during your chosen reporting period has received. I think it would be great to be  able to see a v.3  where you can understand the level of engagement a post receives over a period of time .

What I mean by this is perhaps content was really relevant to an audience and users continued to comment on a post for an extended period of time. On the other hand maybe a post was only sort of interesting and received a spike of interest in the first day or two and then really tapered off to nearly zero. Having just an aggregate number doesn’t really tell me how my fans engaged with content and what sort of impact this content had on the community at large. Additionally in terms of an overall content strategy it lets you understand if you’re making effective use of all of your content assets at hand.

BONUS Benefit!  Outside of measurement something like this  would also be a great tool for community managers as it allows them to see where potential issues or opportunities to engage are happening at any one time.

With the right technology in place I strongly believe that all of these potential features (and more!) fall within the realm of possibility. Facebook gathers a lot of user data and while it is important for privacy reasons to keep a tight control on it, freeing up some of the larger aggregate data would allow marketers to better target and manage their page rather than see their fans come and go based on their perceived benefit from the page.


Is there anything that you would add to improve Facebook insights? Or is it a matter of there is some data on the platform already that is completely irrelevant? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Apr 12

Why Isn’t Digital Marketing Doing More?

Having been in the trenches of the digital industry for a few years now, I’m starting to note that my optimism has begun to slow a bit. Based on general industry observations and recent conversations I’ve been having  the feeling that the industry has begun to slow down has started to fall on me.  As a specialty that often touts itself as game changing and disruptive I feel we haven’t been pushing enough of those boundaries lately.

Time To Demand Better!

Recently Facebook insights was down for nearly a week and this was the second time this year alone that this has happened. The biggest shocker for me has been that this didn’t make news at all and no one really spoke out about it. Instead everyone went on their way and hoped that Facebook would get to eventually fixing this problem. When we are looking to provide data and insights to our clients how is this acceptable?

From what I’ve observed, social networks and tool suppliers haven’t been doing a lot to really push the envelope. We haven’t gotten any closer to understanding our fans. We don’t have a better understanding of what our initiatives deliver. More often instead I feel we are left with ambiguity. The reason this isn’t changing is because we aren’t making it clear about what we want. As an industry we haven’t been putting any pressure on our suppliers who are instead themselves setting the agenda.

Demanding Better Of Ourselves!

As practitioners I feel we could push the envelope more as well. The race for fans still continues and we have yet to come to the determination of when we  don’t need any more fans! In terms of engagement we understand how people engage but we aren’t delving much deeper into why. To build better results we are asking people that follow us to “Like” or “Share” but we aren’t developing any better understanding of whether messaging resonates with our fan base or even if who we are advertising to are really the right people at all.

Looking Outside The Walls:

My feeling is that a lot of the time as individual firms we are looking to build our own buzz and aren’t bringing anything useful back to the industry. When I read the latest article from Ad Age or Mashable I’m rarely excited or blown away by a firm’s latest research report. Truthfully I’ve been more excited by what’s come out of the realms of academia and development.

When I’m reading academic journal articles such as “Consumer’s decision to shop online: The moderating role of positive informational social influence” or “Consumer Tribes: membership, consumption and building loyalty” that’s when I sit back and think ‘Wow that’s one more piece of understanding I have about how people work!”. With more resources and less hurdles to go through I don’t understand why we aren’t able to continually deliver ground breaking consumer research.

Time for Personal Reflection:

A potential problem with writing a post like this is that just about anyone can yell out “hypocrite!” and ask what I’m contributing. What I would have to say is that in the early part of this year I’ve been looking at ways at expanding my skill set and strengthening the work I do.  This year I don’t plan to read any of the countless social media books that have come out. Instead my goal has been to read more on topics outside the industry such as branding and research. Something I’ve also been spending a lot of time on lately is work in the social listening realm. I’ve been more active in asking questions on how things operate on the tool side and on developing stronger methodologies internally.

So this is my rant and a bit of a call to arms for digital marketing practitioners of all stripes. We’ve promised that what we do is ground breaking and innovative, let’s make sure that this is what we actually deliver!

Feb 12

Brand Impressions vs. Brand Experiences

At the recent Facebook Marketing conference Facebook presented what most likely will be how the firm will operate its site for the next few months. While the most visible change to the general public will be the inclusion of the Facebook Timeline on branded pages, Facebook also placed an emphasis on expanding its capabilities for paid ad space on its online and mobile platforms.

Impressions vs. Engagement:

A key point of focus for digital marketers has been encouraging consumer engagement with brands rather than blasting out messaging. With the recent changes in its insights platform and expansion into how brands can promote itself through the site, Facebook seems to be disregarding this idea by placing brand impressions at the forefront.

Potential for Backfire:

As even brand page content has now become potential ad space, consumers will become continually exposed to branded content but also may become dis-engaged. As brands begin to fight their way onto user’s newsfeeds marketers may see a potential backlash where consumers decide to unlike pages to decrease the onslaught of content aimed towards them. This will be because while the content will have higher visibility it may have little relevance to the audience it hits.

Getting back to basics:

My thought on this is that it’s a move backwards towards pay and spray advertising and away from the relational marketing that I personally hold in higher regard. As a consumer a brand creates little to no interest to me by continually exposing itself through ads and promotional activities. Instead I have higher affinity for a brand and its product when I feel a sense of value from the relationship it has built  and the worth that I place in using the product. While through advertising I may see the brand more often, it probably won’t change my opinion when this advertising provides me with no demonstrable value.

Jan 12

Doing Measurement Right From The Start!

This post got its inspiration from  Building Data Into The Stuff That Agencies Make written by @kevinrothermel where he spoke about integrating data into the work that agencies do. I thought this was an important idea and perhaps something that is not often thought about enough when awesome and creative works of advertising, public relations or marketing are put in front of consumers.

In considering how to integrate data to effectively measure a campaign or initiative (as well as to ensure that measurement is most effective overall!)  it is in my honest opinion necessary that it is put in place from the very start! I don’t mean the first day of the campaign or when all the pieces of the initiative are starting to come together but starting when the very first utterance of the initiative is said long before it is even decided what is going to be done.

Measurement At The First Meeting:

All marketing and even more generally communications efforts have a goal of what they are to achieve. This is the basis of what the measurement initiative should be. In the end the firm wants to measure how effectively their efforts work to achieve the end goal. Having this goal set out clearly and  understanding of how measurement can be integrated will spark everything to come.

Reviewing Past Data:

Remember all of those reports you had from previous campaigns? They aren’t something that should be put on the shelf once you have reviewed it at campaign end. They should be categorized and brought out every time you start to plan an initiative. Why? Because they hold the key learnings that you can form your strategy around. From this data you can see what worked, what didn’t and what can be reused in your work going forward. Without consulting with what you previously did you doom yourself to repeat the same mistakes.

Realizing Your deficiencies:

With your goals and your plan nearly in place  you can begin to realize if measurement can be done thus allowing the project to move forward. Simply put, if you can’t measure an initiative based on its goals then it should be highly questionable if it should go forward. If you don’t know whether something did great or completely flopped there is no way you can go back to your stakeholders and prove that you didn’t waste their money.  Some limitations in measuring a campaign can be technical (does the technology exist to measure this?) or can be as a result of  a strategic or tactical issue where the campaign is improperly aligned or perhaps the campaign goal set at the start needs to be revaluated as its either not defined enough or just unrealistic.

Improving The Visibility Of Measurement:

The point in all this that I’m trying to make plain and simple is that measurement needs to be given as much attention as everything else. Effectively measuring your work cannot be done when measurement is brought in as an afterthought because then its effectiveness is compromised. When its brought in at the start of the process it is then kept at top of mind and as a result allows any opportunities or potential difficulties to be considered. In a continually competitive landscape measurement isn’t a nice to have but a must have to prove your work.

Jan 12

Considering Authority vs.Influence in Online Outreach

To start the post off, the basis for my thinking comes from a presentation and resulting conversation by Jesse Hirsh from Metaviews regarding “The Future of Authority” given at the Academy of the Impossible. This presentation consisted of brief look at how we as a society currently view authority and how this affected the events of the past year. As part of this discussion a comparison of the current thinking of online influence against the idea of authority caught my attention because it was directly relevant to what is currently being done in terms of marketing products online through social channels as well as to the whole idea of individual influence and its measurement (example: Klout).

What I took away from the presentation is that the concept of being influential vs. being authoritative is the difference between generating awareness of a specific topic vs. generating action on it. When you are ‘influential’ the information you share has a larger reach than the average person. This is in comparison to being considered an authority where a person’s audience is likely to place trust into and act upon the information they distribute. To put it even more simply you can say that one person is really good at sharing a message but the other is trusted enough to have their message actually listened to.

After considering the difference between influencer vs. authority the question then becomes why do marketers place so much emphasis on influence? When the supposed promise of social media is to reach the most targeted audience as possible why is the focus still on the more traditional ‘pay and spray’ approach? My inference is that the focus is still very much on being able to see how many eyeballs an effort can generate (something tangible) vs. reaching someone with authority and the change in opinion/potential for future sales generated by those that trust them (something not as easily measured). To not be active in reaching those with authority though is something I find puzzling as isn’t the end goal of marketing to generate sales rather than have users simply know about your product?

To conclude I’m not saying that marketers should do away with influencer outreach as awareness generation is still important. When considering where marketing dollars are going though it is also important to consider if you can use your limited resources to positively change people’s minds about your product than simply having people exposed to it. To keep this post from going overboard I’m completely disregarding the implementation aspect of taking such actions for now (I’m thinking about it!). Watch for a post on that topic to come up very soon!  I’m interested in what others have to think about this  topic though. If you have an opinion feel free to share it in the comments or by sending a tweet to @kevrichard.

Sep 11

Is Sharing the New ‘Like’ on Facebook?

Getting users to ‘like’ their content has been a strategy of many Facebook fan page owners in recent weeks because it quickly amasses simple engagements and creates awareness of the page. But with users given better ability to curate the content on their news feed and profiles, being able to focus more so on app and ‘life period’ content, this mode of user engagement may not be as useful moving forward.

Engagement above the fold:

With the new OpenGraph optimized news feed, a separation has been made between content more useful to the user which is the first thing they see along with everything else further down the page. As this feature allows us to grab just quick information on the go we are less likely to scroll down the page and view everything else. This includes that post to ‘like’ carrots from the food fan page you liked a few weeks ago!

Can you ‘share’ this?

Without the full changes to Facebook completely implemented it’s hard to make an exact prediction to how corporate content will operate (sponsored posts anyone?) but with demos from the recent F8 and some functionality already in place some predictions can be made.

Prediction ONE: Posts of major announcements and big campaigns will reach higher on the news feed. Why? Much like with Twitter, people want to be the first ones to share breaking news and content with their friends. As a result this may lead to multiple content shares (increasing volume relevancy) and friend discussion on the topic ultimately driving this content higher up the news feed.

Prediction TWO:  Branded apps will become a stronger way to engage with fans. Why?  The creation of brand relevant apps where users can either create content or where users are encouraged  to return to on a regular basis is something that will either build the opportunity for a news feed impression (ex: creating a Spotify playlist) or because of usability reasons will create constant brand exposures as a result of using the app. With the new Timeline taking more of focus on life activities instead of user engagements apps are a way for users to become more active with a brand and integrate it into their online ’life file’.

Is it Time to Rethink Brands on Facebook?

All in all Facebook made some big changes to how the site will operate. Without looking into the future too much I think it’s going to be interesting to see  how brands will need to adapt to continue to stay relevant online with consumers. I don’t think it’s going to be as simple anymore as just putting out rounds and rounds of content for users to ‘like’ and comment on. I feel brands will need to create deeper relevance to continue to drive their messaging to consumers.

Jun 11

Writing Great Analysis (in 100 Words!)

This post was a bit of an interesting challenge. If you frequent my blog you know that I tend to be a bit long winded when creating posts. Its something I’m used to and enjoy. Well in providing social media analysis, writing long essays does not flow very well. One of my manager’s  came up with the challenge of writing a post about writing social media analysis in exactly 100 words in a good exercise to test myself. Well you’ll find below that the challenge has been completed:


What Makes Great Analysis?

Clear and succinct communications are needed for strong analysis. Start with a brief introduction:

“Requesting user action generated significantly higher engagement”

Place key data up front:

“Asking users to click “like” for support generated an XX% increase against the campaign average”

Provide additional insight:

“ In total, the EPM for the period was XX against the current period average of XX.”

When providing recommendations, link suggested actions to outcomes.

“By directing fans to act on posted content they will be more likely to engage with subject matter”

What makes great analysis? Easily read and actionable information.


When writing this I found that I had to strip out a lot through multiple drafts. While I’m used to writing under a restricted word count writing in 100 words I found to be really tight.

Let me know in the comments what you think of challenge! I’m curious what people feel about its effectiveness and whether this sort of writing is useful in all cases. If you like you can also get in contact with me at@kevrichard or

Mar 11

The Secret Code is….Hidden Promotions

When the word ‘promotion’ comes up in the context of retail stores,  large signs or banners describing a firm’s next big deal comes to mind. “Get some gear! 40% of everything” or ” 2 for 1 on all merchandise” and the list goes on. When you go to the mall or shop online you’re often inundated with different sales and offers. So much so that it sometimes seems like some stores are having sales every day. These kind of promotions are aimed to get the most attention and hopefully drive the most traffic and as a result need to be as obvious as possible. But what if retail promotions were more covert? Instead of being open to everyone  it becomes something that is found or stumbled upon?

At some restaurants you can find a ‘secret menu‘ where there are  items that they don’t advertise but if you’re in the know will make for you anyways. Its a bit like a secret club where customers get something that publicly no body knows about and as a practice is something that ( to my knowledge) hasn’t been really explored in retail as much.

Recently I came across an unadvertised discount from the GAP that spurred my interest in secret promotions. Its  since been taken down from this marginally legit sounding page.  I had come across this link on a Reddit sub forum from someone who had came across it somewhere else. It asked for my cell number and in exchange sent me a discount code to be used at checkout. With some hesitance I tried it out as the site didn’t seem to have much relation to the GAP other than having its logo. Had I not trusted my source for the link I would have passed on it thinking it was a phishing attempt. It did end up working even though not even the employees had much of a clue about it having just come across it once before.

How is a promotion like this useful? Well in my case it gave me a feeling of exclusiveness (mouhaha! I’m one of the few!) and it brought me into a store I don’t often place at the top of my shopping list. With this promotion being so out of the ordinary it encouraged me to research further and with no promotion time span given it placed pressure on me to use this sooner rather than later.

Looking beyond myself as the customer, I estimate the benefits of this approach would be even further expanded when an influencer or content creator comes across this type of content. By seeing this ‘hidden’ content they have the ability to share and build further credibility with their audience. As a result I would presume a two fold result: this person would have a greater affinity for the company (Hey this company had awesome content that I could share with my following. I like them!) and there would be the seeding of this content to this person’s trusting followers who will be more likely to go through with a  purchase.

So…. how is this type of promotion or even campaign implemented?  That’s probably the harder part. Does the firm put up a site and just wait for people to come across it? Should content be seeded through chosen users or be  placed on specific sites? As interesting as this idea is implementing it is the much more difficult part and needs to be explored further. But looking at this just as a concept there may be opportunity in this rather than continually   building larger advertisements to get into the faces of the company’s potential customers.


As always feel free to contact me at either @kevrichard on twitter or


*A note about this post. I’m not in anyway trying to say that lying or being not upfront with your customers can be used as a tactic. Obviously lying  equals angry customers which goes on to decreased sales. I mean to discuss the use of content delivery strategies that are outside of a firm’s owned properties (website, Facebook page, store front).

Sep 10

Do you want Foursquare with that?

The most important concept in social media marketing that I’ve learned is that for efforts to be effective they should be connected to how the firm earns money. Having fans and creating engagements is great but when it’s not driving firm revenue in some way, shape or form it’s not useful.

That’s why when I read Mashable’s recent article about the McDonald’s head of Social Media Rick Wion celebrating a 33% increase in Foursquare check ins with a pilot program they ran I was disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. While the goal was apparently not to increase sales immediately this campaign could have been much cooler in seeing if McDonalds actions actually created an increase in sales( or not…).

How McDonalds could have measured the campaign (if they had wanted to):

McDonalds could have easily done one of two tests to see if this campaign was effective. First and probably most easy is that they could have just compared sales and check-in results from previous days for an extended time period to see if this 33% increase in check-ins actually led to an increase in money into stores. If revenue saw a significant jump when foursquare activity spiked (barring other variables) Mcdonalds would have at least some proof to try the campaign again.

The second test is running the campaign on a smaller scale comparing it between two similar markets. One would run the Foursquare campaign and the other would have no promotions. In the end, sales and check-in figures would be compared between the two. If the market with the Foursquare campaign saw an increase in check-ins along with revenues in comparison to the control market McDonald’s could further test this campaign and have it rolled out on a larger basis.

While I don’t know the full goal of the McDonalds Foursquare campaign I feel that despite the celebration within the Mashable article it’s still important to clarify that social media in business is not successful by engagements alone. If I would go on twitter or another network and tried giving away something for an audience action people would have jumped on it as well. In the end social media campaigns need to be attached to financial drivers because most companies can’t operate on foursquare check-ins alone. ;)

Do you have a question or comment ? Feel free to reach me at @kevrichard or