Social Champ. The overnight social referral transformer.
I will be the first to admit. I don’t get social media. Last week I ran into something exotic that despite my ignorance and incompetence made me generate social media referrals and conversion rates I had never experienced before. When it came to plotting goal conversions and tracking on my google analytics screen, it was a sea of glorious green.
I understand how to use Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and Twitter for myself. I even have Tumblr and Stumbleupon accounts though I will have to locate my login details now. I look up trends and share news items that I find of interest and every now and then when I get the time upload that photo album from our last magical vacation. But when it comes to using social media for business, social media for lead generation there is only one word that comes to my mind – loser. If you ask my team and colleagues at work, they will make it two. Total loser.
I have tried. As my friends and family members bear witness, I have tried and the result can only be described politely as disastrous. And that doesn’t include class mates and distant relatives unfriending and un-following me because my timeline is darkened by my zeal to share posts and offers for buy one, get one free. I wake up every few months and become zealous again for a few days and then as my latest campaign to generate leads through social media falters, I give up and go back to hibernation mode.
In the beginning I tried Facebook posts and any advert promoting tools that would make it possible for me to generate a guaranteed income by hacking Facebook advertising. End result – wholesale disaster again. I create ads and I run them and I get some traffic but nothing real, sustainable or even worthwhile. The net impact – wasted dollars I had spent on marketing that I wish I had spent on something more useful, like a back scratcher or a seat warmer.
So when Sameer first mentioned his tool called Social Champ that was created for Social media marketers, you could tell that I was a little under whelmed. For those of you who remember my reaction to poor Taha and Whispero, I had an even colder reaction to Sameer’ initial pitch for building a tool for optimizing social media posts. I just didn’t get it.
Even the fact that Guy Kawasaki, a role model for many founders and entrepreneurs in this part of the world, loved Social Champ and was running free demos across the globe didn’t raise my enthusiasm. Admittedly I was a little bit curious about what Guy saw in this itsy bitsy teeny weeny company from Karachi.
I will also confess here, in the interest of full disclosure, that I was a little jealous of all the attention Guy was showering on Sameer and his team. But what the heck it was just a social media tool, how good could it possibly be. And while I have always respected Guy a great deal, this whole fuss about social conversions after my poor experiences was quickly turning me into a cynic.
End October I ran into Sameer again as Social Champ got lucky and received a wild card entry to represent Pakistan at the upcoming Asia Pacific ICT Awards in Taipei, Taiwan. As one of the mentor of team Pakistan, I saw Sameer’s presentation, drove him around in my car as we together performed my daily school run and talked about the structure of how he should pitch at APICTA. At the end of the day I told him, I will give the product a short spin to see if there was something we had missed. Something that we could add to our slide deck. Anything that could possibly help him standout from the crowd of entries from 24 economies across the Asia Pacific region.
On 2nd November 2016, just an hour before midnight I finally downloaded the chrome extension of Social Champ and logged in. I set up my account, hooked up my social media properties and shared a few posts. I liked the interface, loved the ease with which I could add feeds, share, schedule, and queue content across multiple timelines. I could even pick up remote content from feeds that I followed and automatically post content off them straight to my timeline. I loved it enough to send Sameer a storm of short emails about usability suggestions and product ideas, including immediately extending Social Champ to Instagram.
I had an upcoming trip for work next week, so the next evening I was back on Social Champ again. To be fair the product experience had been pleasing and I wanted to play a bit more. I guess all the attention Guy had been paying to the product had really paid off in spades.
What I really wanted to do was run a small short experiment. Last night’s results had been interesting. Not eye catching but promising. Now I wanted to see if I could schedule a week worth of posts across my Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Pinterest accounts and Fan pages. Nothing like real data to see if our gut feel and reactions had real substance backing them up.
I was booked back to back for work in Dubai for 6 days and in my absence I wanted to share more love with my many followers than I normally do. It would be a short experiment. One week. From one Friday to the next and in my mind the results would really speak for themselves. Time to find out if Social Champ was really a tool for champions or total losers.
Surprisingly the week long posting schedule took only 20 minutes to setup on Social Champ. The bulk of that time was spent in identifying and locating the content I wanted to share. If I had the list ready, I would have been done in less than 5 minutes. 7 days, 7 social identities, 3 posts per day. Done in 5 minutes. That experience reminded me of my many battles with prior platforms that had promised more but delivered much much less.
Case in point. When or if a post failed, Social Champ would let you know that the post hadn’t gone through and it would try again till it was able to share your content on your desired platforms. The process is transparent, you don’t need to worry about it. Social champ’s understated marketing collateral doesn’t do justice to the product.
The Social Champ Experiment – Context
Here is some context for the experiment I ran. I run a site focused on computational finance courses at FinanceTrainingCourse.com. It is a field that revolves around pricing of complex financial instruments. When I run training workshops or teach executive MBA students, I use the site as a reference. You can describe us in one word. Boring.
The site is a few years old and generally gets between 25,000 – 30,000 visitors and between 55,000 – 65,000 page views per month. Bulk of our visitors come from North America and Western Europe but we also get reasonable share from Asia, Africa and Australia. Primary source of our traffic is organic search. We get some referral and direct traffic and every alternate month run a outreach post for our mailing list.
We are not exactly main stream media and we are quite happy with the traffic we generate. It is a like Quant and Geeks solutions, Excel templates, solved problem, mathematical models galore, resource. If you had to figure out a difficult derivative pricing problem, put up an ALM model, graph a volatility surface, immunize an investment portfolio, or debug Monte Carlo simulation code, you will ultimately run into us in your google search results.
In the past my biggest beef against my own social media marketing efforts was that while I could always generate traffic, engagement and the time spent on site by social media referred traffic would be very low. That just didn’t cut it. I didn’t want window shoppers or even worse ships sailing silently by in the night. I wanted customers who browsed and gazed through the product on display and eventually came back and bought something.
I had not actively shared content from the site on social platforms recently. Work had been piling up and there was no space in the schedule to regularly post updates. I would do a post once every few weeks when I had the time but I had not allocated any dedicated or committed resource to run our social portfolio. Still the existing social media properties generated some random traffic; nothing to write home about.
I setup Social champ to share between 2 – 3 posts a day from both my site as well as from public sources from Friday the 4th of November to Friday the 11th of November. These were the days I was travelling to teach a portfolio management course in Dubai and I wouldn’t get anytime at all outside of the class room. I wanted to see what kind of an impact social champ would generate from my site in my absence.
Two new posts were published during the control period on 4th and 8th of November. There were a total of 15 registered students who finished the course on Thursday evening of which only a handful looked up the site during the course. Like me they didn’t have the time to catch up on their readings. Even if they did, that traffic would have should up under referrals via email since we were not connected on any of the social platforms.
The campaign was intentionally killed on Saturday morning on the 12th of November, when the last post queued on Social champ went up. No new posts were queued or shared on Sunday to isolate any persistence or follow on effects. None were found. I also ran a much smaller limited campaign on Monday (single posts) after the cool down period to see the impact of a planned week against two random posts on two consecutive days. The planned week dominated.
If by chance you were watching my feed and you thought I had suddenly found the time to post while running my training sessions and complaining there wasn’t enough time during the day to breath, sleep and feed myself properly, it wasn’t me. It was all Social Champ.
Let the results speak for themselves.
At a high level if you just look at traffic numbers in isolation the results may not seem impressive. At first!
Consider the fact that we are looking at 6% growth in traffic week on week. Yes I have seen higher but if we could sustain this trend even for a month that translates into 26% growth compounded over a month. Over a year that adds up to a very significant jump in traffic (between 16 – 20 times depending on how you compound).
But the real kicker is the spike in social media referrals and conversions.
The three big beneficiaries using Social champ were Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter where attributable traffic grew by over 200% for Facebook, 168% for Linkedin and 200% for Twitter. While the original base over which the comparison was done is small given my dead in the water social media history it was still respectable given the trends I have seen with other teams and startups.
And finally traffic that actually spent time on site. Traffic that didn’t just ping and leave into a wormhole – my so called wormhole visitors. This is what got me really hooked on to the model. Traffic that stays, engages, clicks and converts.
Traffic is hard. Quality social traffic is harder. Social Champ made it easy to experiment with posting time slots and track the results of my choices using analytics. I could see which posts did well in terms of likes, clicks, shares and retweets and correlate that with the time of the post.
We also used a little bit of intelligence to identify user traction by the hour. For our business, bulk of our converting traffic originates from North America and Western Europe and visits us when we are busy catching up on sleep in Karachi. Using Social Champ scheduling algorithm made it possible to get in front of this audience on all of our social platforms at the time when they were receptive to seeing our posts. If you are a market trader your only available bandwidth is two hours before markets open (4:30 am Karachi time, 7:30 am East Coast) or an hour after markets close (3 am Karachi or 5:00 pm Eastern).
By using the repost function and a bit of creative scheduling made it possible for us to track which hours were the most effective in terms of follow through clicks and conversions with this audience.
While my original focus was on all social platforms, once we started getting traction and traffic on Facebook, FB posts became the core agenda in our testing strategy. That is how I discovered that while most engines I had played with failed with Facebook, Social Champ just stood apart in generating traction on that platform.
This week we are going to do a run with twitter and see if we can beat the results we witnessed with Facebook on twitter.
So here is the conclusion again just in case you missed the trend in the data and commentary above.
The damn thing works. Finally a tool that delivers.
I was a total loser when it came to generating and converting leads through Social media. I stumbled onto Social Champ last week. This week if the results above are to be believed I have been transformed into an overnight social media champion. I know exactly how bad I am when it comes to traffic generation but the results using Social Champ say otherwise. It’s not me, it’s Social Champ.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Social Champ and an apology to Sameer Ahmed Khan for not recognizing and appreciating his genius earlier. I now finally get why Guy is so excited about this team. They deserve every single bit of praise Guy, Peg and all other Social media gurus are showering on them.
There are caveats of course. Social champ worked exceeding well for me on Facebook and Linkedin. Possibly because of the size of my network. It did well on Twitter, not so well on Google+ when it came to quality traffic that stayed. We already had great content to share and it was just a question of setting up the content queue on Social Champ. Without the content, we possibly wouldn’t have done so well. But on the other side of the argument when we shared this same stellar content before on Facebook we only managed to attract wormhole travelers.
Having said all of that, the fact still remains, that over the last six years of experimenting and running after the universe of social media tools, Social Champ was a breath of fresh air. It’s ease of use, effectiveness and the goal conversion spike speak for themselves.
If you are into overnight transformation, give Social Champ a spin. And thank you Sameer, Ouzel Systems and Guy Kawasaki for finally converting me into a believer.
(Ps. And if you are still interested, this Sunday if I get the time, I will go ahead and post the results from the full two weeks of my test run with Social Champ. Given what I have been seeing, the numbers are even more eye popping. But more on that later.)
Social Champ – 2.5 week update.
The promised update is here. Unlike the first week we now have a bit more data. After stalking Sameer at one of his product pitches I was also able to get a better handle on how to use the product to hack from traffic from twitter. Once again the results speak for themselves.
The twitter hack obviously worked wonders and the results are even more impressive than first week. The concept of repeating your tweets at predefined, preset intervals certainly works better than expected. Think of it like a auto marketing platform on steroids that delivers your message to your audience across a range of slots to discover which slots work best for conversions and traction. Once you have that you can concentrate your posting schedule around those time zones.
All in all Facebook traffic up by 500% , Linkedin by 310% and twitter by a whopping 1,225% (obviously because of the very small base of comparsion). All this over a window of 18 days running from 2nd November to 20th November. The comparison benchmark is traffic from the immediately preceding 18 days in October.
The quality of traffic is also substantially higher than prior non social champ campaigns we have run on Social media. Overall session duration is up but pages/session down by a bit.
The product continues to function as promised. As you learn to tweak your schedules it gives you a great deal of data through analytics about which windows and time slots to focus your posts on for the maximum return.
Social Champ – 3 week update.
We crossed three weeks with Social Champ this Thursday. Here are the numbers from this evening.
On the goal conversion front goal values and goal completions continue to rise with Social champ.
On the Social Network referrals and click through front, Facebook referrals up by 733%, Linkedin finally flat lines at 303% and Twitter just took off 3,250%. More importantly look at the Avg. Session Duration for Twitter referrals.
If you are in the social space and you are not on Social champ, you have no idea what you are missing out on.