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5 Lessons Learned from Covario’s INFLECTIONPoint Conference

February 13, 2012


It was Covario’s client conference, INFLECTIONPoint, last week. Here are the key lessons I took away from the various panel discussions, case studies, and keynotes.

1. Surround yourself with people smarter than you

When Billy “Moneyball” Beane kicked off the first day, there were some great real-life applications of how data and analytics can help you make more informed business decisions. Billy had the vision, but he didn’t have the advanced analytical prowess to turn that vision into a reality. That’s why he hired numbers geek, Paul DePodesta. During that one hour keynote, it was Paul (not Billy) who became my hero. All I can say is, English football can learn a lot from the sabermetrics approach (new England manager, please take note!).

So rather than trying to be an expert at everything (which will lead to inevitable mediocrity), surround yourself with the best in order to raise your business game to the highest level.

2. Social media metrics should be short and long term

The Social Media Value Quadrant

Josh Bernoff’s day two keynote neatly summarized all those familiar examples of companies who have either suffered the wrath of angry socially-connected customers, or utilized them in clever ways to the company’s benefit.

However, the one slide that stuck with me, was a quadrant diagram showing four ways that social media can generate value:

  • Directly Financial vs. Indirectly Financial
  • Short Term Value vs. Long Term Value

My feeling is that many companies, in an effort to show some kind of return on social media, focus too much on short-term impacts (traffic, leads, revenue, savings). Whilst this is understandable, especially given the current economic climate, we should not lose sight of the long-term impacts (risk management, branding implications) that social media can have too. We do, however, need to find better ways of measuring/showing these impacts in a way that doesn’t come off as fluffy. And that, I think, is where the big challenge lies.

3. Increase your chances of being viral by looking at data trends

Jeff MacGurn’s case study on SOPA and viral campaigns threw out a bunch of interesting insights. Covario analyzed over 50,000 pieces of content and found that:

  • Thursday is a big day for content to go viral
  • The majority of popular content tends to go viral late afternoon as people start to wind down for the day
  • However, “serious” subjects tend to go viral in the morning when people first get into work
  • Of the popular content that goes viral, 20-30 people tend to be responsible for it

When looking at recurring traits, Covario found a pattern as to what made viral infectious. These included the use of hook lines, the mention of a well-known brand, popular keyword usage, a sprinkling of humor, as well as a little contention.

So to summarize: know the optimal days/times your audience is using social media, know who your influencers are, know which social media vehicles they are using, and always use appropriate targeting.

4. Every company has their own search challenges

Big or small, under- or over-funded, all companies have their own challenges when it comes to search and social media marketing.

Whilst small teams run into resource and budget issues, they are a lot more nimble (a HUGE benefit when it comes to SEO and social media) and they can integrate campaigns with relative ease. Big companies may have the money and the manpower, but their organizations tend to be heavily siloed, leading to a lack of integration between PPC, SEO and social media, and a whole lot of frustration when it comes to process overload and cross-department buy-in, particularly when each department has different goals.

I guess my point is, if you are one of the small guys, the grass isn’t always greener. More people and budget may solve some problems, but it also creates a whole bunch of others.

5. The elusive “year of mobile” is… here?

Whether the “year of mobile” is truly here or not, it is clear that mobile is something that can’t be ignored:

  • 6.8 million smart phones were activated on Christmas day
  • 350 million users actively access Facebook through their mobile devices
  • Search engine websites are the most visited sites on mobile

There’s no getting away from it. Our sites need to be mobile friendly and mobile optimized.

Additional Information

Also check out Search Engine Watch’s review of InflectionPoint. Miranda’s coverage of the conference was excellent.

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