Tuesday, November 11, 2014
IST 686 Blog #4 - Social Media Analytics
After going through the past weeks reading from The Social Media MBA by Christer Holloman where he discusses what needs to be done in order to ensure positive returns on investment from social media, I was particularly interested on how this might apply to Foundation by Zurb’s social media strategy. Outside of the fact that Zurb creates one of the web development industries best programming framework, I actually had no idea what kind of a tech company Zurb is. Since Foundation is essentially a free resource for web developers, I was keen to find out how exactly Zurb made money. I needed a better understanding of the company in order to determine its returns on investment with their promotion work on social media.
Zurb is actually a tech consulting company that does web development for startups and small companies. Foundation was actually a product the company developed for rapid-prototyping when they realized that there was a need for such a framework in the market. That essentially means that Foundation isn’t exactly their bread and butter, but rather an open resource that helps promote the Zurb brand. In that sense, I believe that Zurb approaches social media platforms such as their Twitter and Facebook profile as well as their blog as tools to really get their name out into the web programming community. While Zurb won’t directly make revenue from making out blog posts and sending out tweets, it does help inform developers, from the amateurs that are new to web development to the experts that know what they’re doing, about the framework’s latest developments. Moreover, their social media presence also helps form a self-helping online community amongst developers.
With a better understanding of Zurb’s, I moved on to look at how successful they have been with promoting Foundation through their social media profiles. As I previously mentioned in my last two blog posts, majority of the content that Zurb puts up on Twitter, Facebook, as well as their blog contains promotion images and simplistic writing. There really isn’t really a lot of technical writing or code references at all. When they do have to reference technical terms in their tweets or blogs, Zurb would then have links to their own tutorial page instead. While I won’t exactly say that Zurb caters towards beginners and amateurs, I do think that they at least try to reach those that are relatively new to the ideas of responsive design or framework-based programming with their posts on social media.
When you come to think about it though, this approach actually does make sense. While the people that follow or come across Foundation through social media most likely are programmers, there most definitely would be a huge variation in terms of their programming skills. By “dumbing” down their content, at least Zurb can guarantee that anyone that may come across the tweet or blog post would understand the purpose when they read it. Programmers essentially make up Foundation by Zurb’s followers anyway so their approach absolutely makes sense. Even though this approach doesn't exactly cater towards beginners and those that are unfamiliar to programming might get lost when going through Zurb's social media feed, I'd like to think that the comments section would be a great place for these people to catch on. It still would be important for Zurb not to make things too complicated though. This approach very much captivates Hollomon’s point on “Knowing Thyself”. Zurb has demonstrated that they are very well aware of the people that make up their target market is and how these people might thing. As a result, they are able to build their social media campaign with the idea of appealing to this market base.
Moving on, I wanted to see how effective Foundation’s tweets and blog posts are in order to measure the returns on investment Zurb has placed on their social media campaign. As of November 10, Zurb has a Klout score of 63. While not that high of a Klout score, you also have to consider the fact that Zurb’s pool of followers is primarily consists of programmers. I’d like to think that 63 is a fairly decent score for a tech company like Klout and it does reflect a certain amount of influence it has in their social media campaign. It really isn’t all that surprising considering the fact that each Facebook post or tweet that Foundation makes gets a fairly large amount of retweets and favorites (between 5 to 50 retweets/favorites) and likes (between 5 to 100 likes). All this goes on to prove is that their followers actually get what they’re trying to say. Most importantly, these posts on Facebook and Twitter garner quite a large amount of interaction, as followers will often follow up with tweets and posts containing questions or comments. I find it particularly interesting how followers of Foundation by Zurb prefer commenting through Tweets and Facebook posts rather than actually commenting on the blog posts that Foundation puts out. I guess this is for the better since social media would allow these users to access other followers of Foundation by Zurb to answer any questions they might run into.
With the primary goal of promoting their framework and keeping their users up to date with their latest progress, I’d like to think that Foundation by Zurb has been pretty successful with their social media campaign. Even though I couldn’t exactly find figures on Zurb’s market share in the web programming framework industry, I do work pretty closely in the industry to know that Foundation is preferable to many programmers. In that sense I believe Foundation by Zurb has been successful in achieving their primary goal.
In addition to promoting their product, Foundation by Zurb has built an excellent community through social media. This allows Zurb more flexibility in that they don’t need to invest a lot into providing supporting to their framework. If anybody happens to run into problems whilst using Foundation, that person has a very good chance of having his or her question answered through interacting on Zurb’s social media platforms. This strategy highlights Hollomon’s point on “Embracing Disruption as a Strategy”. There is just no way Zurb can effectively provide support to their millions of users. Embracing social media enables Zurb to provide users with solutions while also doing so at almost no financial cost at all. Most importantly, their community is essentially doing their promotion work for them as they generate interactions through social media. Its just a matter of time before these interactions show up on someone’s social media feed – pretty genius strategy when you come to think about it.
All in all, I think Foundation by Zurb’s social media campaign has proven to be very effective. Even though there aren’t exactly financial returns on investment, they have been able to improve their overall while also establishing their name as one of the leading web programming frameworks in the industry through the use of social media. Zurb's social media strategy certainly captivates many points that were highlighted by Hollomon. Their effective social media strategy definitely has played a large role in establishing Foundation as one of the better programming frameworks in the industry.