Talking social metrics with MMU Marketing students

This week I was invited to speak to Marketing students at Manchester Metropolitan University as a guest lecturer for their Marketing Metrics course, in final year. I gave the students a whistle-stop tour of key social media marketing metrics and how we apply them here at the Co-op.

But, first thing’s first, I dispelled any misconceptions that ReTweets and Likes were the be all and end all of marketing metrics available to social marketeers. They’re a useful content KPI, yes, and certainly have their place, but there is a wealth of metrics available to us when analysing social as a marketing discipline.

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As a means of helping the students understand social marketing for corporate business, I demonstrated a framework those at the Co-op have heard me mention before, the 3 Cs of social media (read about this here), which succinctly outlines the way we segment varying social disciplines and subsequently measure success in those areas.

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So, what are these metrics?

  • Conversation volume
  • Conversation sentiment
  • Response rates and times – particularly key with our regulated businesses
  • Demographics analysis – gender, profession and age
  • Location – even when only 2% geo-tag their social, the macro view is still useful
  • Referral and CTR
  • Ad impressions
  • Engagements
  • Engagement rates – as well as industry benchmarks provided by the networks

As well as this, I did still mention social actions like ReTweets and shares. I also touched on Influencers, as a means of assessing the viability and opportunity within a community conversation, but stressed that influencer outreach can include a whole scope of other metrics like influencer score and those outside of social, such as domain authority – I could spend an hour on Influencers alone!


Before we closed, I introduced two gentlemen by way of their Google Doodle, Mr George Boole and Albert Einstein. Boole because he founded Boolean, a means by which social marketeers can source social intelligence. I urged the students to familiarize themselves with Boolean operators, as it could be their differentiator when applying for roles in social and digital marketing.


Einstein got the closing line because he (may have, the jury’s out) once said: “not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts,” reminding us that it’s our job as marketeers to choose the right measurement metrics for our activity to help reiterate the power of social for delivering business benefit.

Find me on Twitter @jordanjmcdowell

Or contact me by email

A little Co-op digital history & me

Hello, I’m Danielle Haugedal-Wilson, working as an Architect with the Co-op Digital team. For the past 16 years I’ve worked in every business area the Co-op has owned (about 10 unique sectors) and was involved at its digital beginnings.

The accidental marketeer

In 1999 I joined as a finance undergraduate on a degree placement. I fortuitously landed in the Retail Marketing Development team and their spirit was immediately different to how I viewed a stereotypical future in my chosen field. This nine-member strong team pioneered new marketing ideas, new ways of trading and also ran the ‘Divi’ scheme launched in 1995. The team was small, and what they lacked in numbers they made up for in enthusiasm and drive.

First there was wine & whisky

My first assignment was to administer the online wine site, Grape & Grain, launched a few months before I arrived and thought to be the very first in the UK. You may chuckle at its appearance but it did rather well.

blog - Grape and Grain

Then there was Christmas Shopping @ Work

During the winter of 1999 we trialled Christmas Shopping @ Work using leaflets and our email client at the time Lotus Notes (of all things). It enabled colleagues in Manchester to order their ‘big’ Christmas shop and collect it during the last week before Christmas on their way home from the office. Collection week was hectic. Lorries were parked up opposite the Manchester Office complex (where 1 Angel Square now stands) and the entire Marketing Development team, along with store colleagues, handed out orders from 4pm till 7pm and beyond.

To me? No….. Co-op2U

Setting up a trial of the Co-op2U Home Delivery service in 16 locations around the UK was quite an undertaking for my next project and for someone who had no direct experience of this kind of thing. Before I knew it I was choosing the colour scheme for the logo, the look of the driver’s uniforms, and running the photo shoot for the marketing material. It was as terrifying as it was brilliant.

The Home Delivery and Shopping @ work were the roots of our own online grocery proposition. In 2000 Co-op2U launched on a store-based fulfilment model in five stores and was the third grocery retailer to go online after Tesco and Sainsburys. Given our relative size, that was a bold move.

blog - Co-op2ublog - IMG_1891blog - FullSizeRender

I created the end to end process of how a customer’s shop was picked. Some of the flow and layout of the online design was my work – I was doing UX and didn’t know it. Even working on data set-up, I loved it all. Seeing that first order come through brought such a sense of achievement and pride. The site, as you can see, was simple and we went live with an e-commerce site, yet we also offered a CD-ROM disc so you could shop offline back in the slow, slow days of dial-up internet. I still own a copy, it’s possibly the only one left and I wonder if it should be in our museum!

This is when I got hooked on digital and retail. This is when I knew that a career in finance was not for me.

…..and trials end 

The trial was over just over two years later and the sites closed. The Co-op is different and so is the market in which we operate, something which Richard Pennycook reflected on in his recent Radio 4 interview with You&Yours. His opinion that online delivery is expensive to operate and not something we’ll be taking on again any time soon is one I wholeheartedly agree with in the current climate.

I’m still here – and that’s a good thing

The pioneering spirit of that Retail Development team changed my views on what I wanted out of a career. The diversity of the Co-op appealed – where else can you work on Farms one week and Funerals the next? But my feelings went deeper. It was its heart, the Co-op model itself and what it stands for – more than just profits but for the values it was founded on: self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.

So, I look forward to the revival of that pioneering spirit in digital at the Co-op with the arrival of Mike Bracken and his team.

Thanks for reading. I also tweet as @MrsDHW

Social Media Forums for Angel Square colleagues

Hi, I’m Rebecca, the Co-op’s Social Media Campaign Manager. My job is to reach people on social media channels using owned and paid media.

Sharing knowledge and best practice is one of the main focuses of our Social Media team. For the last three years we’ve been holding forums for colleagues who want to keep up with all things social, and it’s great to see that there’s still real interest in these events.

Image 1

All content for the forums is produced in-house and we use them to share what’s going on in the world of social at the Co-op as well as updating on new channels, new advertising options and user trends. At previous events we’ve also had guest speakers from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and have hosted a blogger discussion panel with two mummy bloggers.

Latest learnings

Last week we held a forum in our Manchester Support Centre, 1 Angel Square.

Image 2

Gail, our Social Media Lead, was up first. She talked about the reintroduction of Google+, Twitter testing new multi-answer polls and Snapchat launching Story Explorer.

Next it was my area, campaigns. Sometimes we focus on individual campaigns, but this time we played a short film, created by Campaign Executive Ben, to showcase the range of activity since the last forum. Check it out below:

We like to revisit previous forum topics to show progress or share results. This time we looked at community management to show what the new team, headed up by Jordan our Senior Community Manager, has been up to since they joined. It was great to be able to share real results and promote the reasons why it’s good to use social media as an engagement tool, not just for broadcast.

Last but not least we had Fiona, our Content and Planning Manager, up to talk about using social media for thought leadership. We like to share valuable skills with the forum attendees so that they can apply these in their own social world. You’ll be pleased to hear that blogging was a key part of this section.

We always try to leave time at the end for a lively questions and answers session. We get asked some interesting questions which shows that people have really listened. This time we had a question around the use of ad blockers and how we think this might affect social media advertising results. We know that Facebook and Twitter users already have the option to hide individual adverts or hide all adverts from brands and that this negative response can be tracked (on Facebook only). We believe that the introduction of ad blocking technology will drive more of a focus on native advertising (in the newsfeed/ timeline) and as advertisers we have to make sure even more than before that our adverts are targeted well and contain relevant content.

So, that concludes a sneaky peak into the work we do on social at the Co-op. The forum is currently only held in our Manchester Support Centre – our goal for 2016 will be to get more of our colleagues involved. So watch this space!

Blogger Engagement Event – Christmas Showcase

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust recommendations above all other forms of advertising. In the digital landscape that ‘word of mouth’ role is often played by online influencers.

The strategy to build a network of influencer advocates has been ongoing over the past year. Now, we have a community of highly engaged influencers, opted-in to help us share stories about our products and brand through their networks. During 2015, the Digital team have worked with this community to promote campaigns across Food, Funeralcare, Estore and Legal Services, ranging from large campaigns to smaller product reviews.

The 2nd annual Christmas blogger event – the highlight of the Co-op’s influencer engagement calendar – was held last Friday. Before our very eyes the restaurant in 1 Angel Square (our support centre) transformed into an elegant Winter Wonderland to host 75 bloggers who braved bad weather and worse traffic to attend.

Caption Setting the scene in the 8th floor restaurant
Caption Setting the scene in the 8th floor restaurant

The format was very different to last year. Our guests were seated in tables of 10 and treated to a 4-course tasting menu featuring Co-op own-brand products and award-winning wines. They were taken behind the scenes to gain exclusive insights from product developers, updates on campaigns, a blogger panel Q&A… all nicely rounded off with cheese and some very special cupcakes.

We engaged with the bloggers on a deeper level because, for us, the events provide a unique opportunity to really connect – to get to know the people behind the blogs and from there, decide how best to work together in 2016 and beyond.

Guests tuck in as the starters are served
Guests tuck in as the starters are served

And the bloggers responded – taking to social media before, during, and after the event, reaching over 200k accounts with close to 400k impressions. Over the next two weeks we’ll follow-up with the attendees and reach out to those who couldn’t make it to increase brand noise over the Christmas period.


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blog - tweets 2

I’m currently working on finalising the strategy for Influencer Engagement for 2016. I can’t yet reveal exactly what’s coming up, but expect to see our relationships with our blogger partners grow and become more intertwined – helping us to stay visible and relevant in the digital landscape.

Personalised cupcakes were a special treat
Personalised cupcakes were a special treat

Co-op Insurance Scoops Award

Last night we were crowned Digital Project Team of the Year at the Post magazine’s Data, Analytics & Technology Awards. Why? For delivering a project that made people smile – Nostalgia FM.


Here in the Insurance Digital Team we love to create content that gives people a different perspective on our business and we have a lot of fun creating it.

Nostalgia FM launched on 14th September with a Twitter promoted trend, a big-bang on Facebook, and a very busy day (and night)! As midnight came we handed over the promoted trend baton to Starbucks and their pumpkin-spiced latte.

But not until we’d had over 1,000 shares and more than 700 conversations (people love to reminisce about their driving playlists – the cheesier the better).

It’s difficult to achieve standout in the crowded insurance market, so Nostalgia FM was created as part of our customer engagement strategy.

We love getting external acknowledgement for our social campaigns, especially as this award follows a recent Twitter case study on our summer #MessyMoments campaign and coverage in E-consultancy’s Best Social Campaigns.

We’ve got loads of stuff in the pipeline that we think you’ll love, so keep an eye on us – you’ll never guess what’s coming next!

You’ll find Nostalgia FM, along with our other fun stuff, at The Hub, Go take a look, you may be surprised at what you discover (bet you didn’t expect to see goats on an insurance site…)

Join in:

Chris Twigg – Customer Engagement & SEO Manager

Every second counts

What will you be doing in nine seconds time?

More than likely you won’t be reading this blog. The average human attention span is eight seconds. Even a goldfish has a better attention span.

Here are my three tips on writing for the web…

1. Short and sweet

I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort - Clarice Lispector

Concise writing is hard and takes time. Do the work so the reader doesn’t have to. The quicker you get your key message across the more chance the user will have read it before they lose interest.

To find out more about the perfect copy length read this great blog post ‘the optimal length for every social media update and more’.

2. Show and tell

We all notice pictures on a web page more than the words.

Eye tracking experiments show users spend more time looking at pictures compared to text and more time looking at ‘relevant’ compared with ‘non-relevant’ images .


Adding a picture shouldn’t be an afterthought. Treat images with the importance they deserve….but don’t feel like you have to add an image. If the image doesn’t support your key message, don’t use one. A reader’s attention span is so short you don’t want to distract them from what’s important.

3. Get someone else to read it

Four sticks! No it's 3

Just because you can spell the 1,025,109 words in the English language and recite the grammar rule book doesn’t guarantee perfect copy.

We see the world from one perspective, our own, and it takes special effort to see it from someone else’s.

Getting another person’s interpretation of your copy can iron out any misunderstandings and ensure your key message isn’t lost.

Do you have any top tips on writing for the web?  

@peterbrumby, Digital Communications Manager for The Co-operative Group.

Influencer Engagement: Progressing from the first date

Hi, I’m Annette, the SEO Manager for our Food division. I started at the Co-op last April and attended the annual ‘Christmas in July’ Press Event. I hadn’t met any of the product developers before, but I was blown away by their passion as they explained how and why each product had been carefully crafted.

And so, a few weeks later, I started on my first outreach campaign – eager to share these fabulous stories and products with the blogosphere. I remember sending out carefully constructed emails to chosen bloggers and… absolutely nothing. I couldn’t understand it, I thought that bloggers would be lining up to work with a brand as established as ours, but it turns out that we had never worked specifically with bloggers before.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to build a blogger database for the team. I knew that sending out a couple of products just wasn’t going to cut it, We didn’t just want a couple of random guest blog posts or product reviews. We needed a connection – a new way to work with bloggers that would produce advocates and partners – excited to work with us and enthusiastic about our brand… And so the Christmas blogger event was born.

That 1st event was compared to a first date – an exploratory evening for us to find out more about each other.
1. Co-op-Blogger-Event-Paul-Dempsey

We introduced them to our sumptuous food and drink, and they told us what their challenges were. The feedback from the event was very positive – some even said that it was one of the best blogger events of the year. Not bad for a 1st effort!

Blogger Event

We’ve been building on these relationships for a year – sending updates, hosting smaller events, including bloggers in campaigns and sending out occasional products for review. The invitations for this years Christmas event at 1AS on 27th November, went out last week and the response was amazing – RSVPs increased 300% over last year! Not only is this event bigger and better – there is more involvement from across the business than last year with PR, Food Digital Marketing, Food Product Developers, Taste Team and Sodexo in the trenches along with us in SEO and Social – working to bring it all together.

The panel of bloggers – taking questions from the audience at this year’s event will feature-

rsz_blogger_-_louise Louise Hegarty of
Louise is a Parenting and Lifestyle Blogger from Nottingham. She’s been blogging since 2012, and it has a blossoming readership and a large social following. Lou has an honest and open writing style, and is happy to share her experiences of IVF, Parenting and life in general. She has a 3 year old daughter, and loves making lists, talking too fast and eating lots of cheese.

rsz_blogger_-_janeJane Arschavir of
Jane Arschavir has been blogging since June 2013. She stumbled into blogging following a life-changing injury and her blog grew from there. Jane writes about a whole range of topics (hence hodge-podge), and her hobbies include getting brain freeze from eating ice pops too quickly, writer’s block and shouting at the television.

 rsz_blogger_-_sianSian Russell from
Siân’s blog has been established for over four years. She writes about parenting, days out, travel, food, product reviews, lifestyle and the Yorkshire Dales. She has presented at BlogCamp events on video editing techniques and YouTube. In July 2014, she graduated as a mature student in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and now manages a Bed & Breakfast in the Dales

We’re so excited! Keep your eyes open for the post-event round-up!

3. Co-op-Blogger-Event-Masterchef
We even had some extra special guests – Masterchef anyone?

Google Bootcamp

First I should probably introduce myself; I’m Paul Morris, Head of Digital & Social Media at the Co-op.

This week I got on a train to the big smoke for the 1st CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Digital Bootcamp hosted by Google. It involved circa 80 CMO’s from brands including Premier Foods, Lush Cosmetics, Bower Publishing, Weetabix & Vision Express.

I spoke on a panel in the afternoon session but first there were speakers from Wharton Business School, Boston Consulting Group, the Internet Advertising Bureau, eConsultancy and of course Google themselves.

And on that note here are my top 5 take out’s from the morning session:

advertising has changed

1/ The personal nature of mobile demands a different marketing mind set. Optimising for reciprocity is where it’s at.

2/ Big data is the wrong way of looking at it. We want better data. We should not be afraid of smart data compression and retiring data when it gets old.

3/ I really liked Eric Bradlow, Wharton School of Business, customer value model that expanded upon  ‘Recency. Frequency. Monetary value’ and added in ‘Clumpiness’ (how clustered are the purchase events). For more information visit his paper on the subject

4/ Google reinforced the need for a content marketing model online and promoted their YouTube ‘Hero, Hub, Help’ schematic; something we have been adapting for a while.

5/ Eric Schmidt’s (executive chairman of Alphabet) 70:20:10 Model was promoted as broad model for digital advertising and it’s something I think many companies could benefit from:

70% of time spent on what you know works
20% of time spent on what you think works
10% on experimentation

Moving on to the panel itself…

Google CMO digital panel
(I’m the chap on the right)

The 3 man panel included myself, Patrick Venning (Marketing Director for Pernod Ricard) and the chair being Eric Bradlow (Professor from Wharton School of Business).

It was an interesting discussion that focused on Digital ‘Quick Wins & Big Bets for 2016’.

After setting the scene with how Digital is used in our businesses we moved on to our biggest marketing challenges. We all felt a key challenge was an age old one; that of channel attribution and understanding the true impact of your marketing budget. At the Co-op we use some sophisticated multi click attribution and online/offline econometric modelling, however these models are certainly not infallible and I know many other organisations have the same challenge.

After a few more questions I got to my favourite part of the session; where I got to poke the excellent moderator with a pointy stick!

Eric asked the question of what did I used to believe was true and was no longer the case.

I replied that everything I heard in his earlier lecture on Big data I was starting to question.

Queue an awkward silence from the assembled CMO’s.

I explained that whilst I thought “Data was the new oil” and is hugely important to any marketer we needed to ensure that we did not optimise out “romance” or storytelling. If everything in marketing was quantifiable, automated, and predictable then you can have little fun with mystery, friction, and the beauty of the unexpected! Luckily Eric saw the point I (well actually I have blatantly stolen this view from Tim Liberecht’s book on ‘The Business Romantic’) was trying to make and of course correctly pointed out all that better data is what you built great storytelling and brands upon. I consider that argument a draw 😉

If you like my musings then please keep an eye on this blog or visit my personal blog; and I’m @searchmuse on Twitter.

SearchLove London – 2015

Hello, I’m Jen, and I’m a SEO Executive at the Co-op.  SearchLove is arguably one of the best search events of the year,  I attended this years event and learned far too much for one post so I’ve decided to highlight a few gems.

The Future of Queries

Tom Anthony, head of R&D at Distilled sees queries changing a lot in the future, one trend being implicit signals over explicit as users expect us to know the context of their query. The explicit aspect of a query would be ‘co-op store’ while the implicit aspect would be for us to know that they are on their iPhone on Balloon Street, Manchester. As we look to the future we will be using the data gathered through wearables and beacons to enable us to delivery hyper local results depending on whether the user is walking or running, or simply stood on the other side of the road.

This data will then influence another future trend, compound queries. Google no longer deliver results from each query independently and instead use previous searches and user intent to deliver a more accurate result. If marketers start thinking about the users intent rather than keywords they will soon be able to cut out competitors and serve the user direct. Great example using Google’s voice search below

An SEO Approach to Content Marketing

Anum Hussain, Growth Marketer from HubSpot tried and tested a few tactics when building a content strategy for new website, Sidekick. Her tactic began traditionally; producing SEO site pages, building high quality relevant links and increasing social shares, yet her results really began to change when they updated historical content with related site links and doubled down on one topic across all content. This is a simple tactic that reminds us how effective some onsite fundamentals can be, and one we definitely plan to start increasing.

Be a Unicorn

Larry Kim, founder and CTO of WordStream taught us his best Facebook and Twitter advertising hacks of all time reinforcing the phrase we’ve used a lot over the past 12 months, “you’ve got to pay to play”. He suggests to only promote content that would work organically and so if it takes off organically then promote it, it’s all about being reactive. Not only will it save you time finding good content (unicorns) it will also save you money if you promote it to the correct audience, or retarget users for an extra push.

Larrys Pyramid Scheme

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Will Critchlow, CEO and co-founder of Distilled shared some practical advice on a topic that has been a talking point of late, download sizes (his diagram explains the industries’ issue pretty well).

Will downloading content

accelerated mobile pages) has launched to combat this with many top tier publishers on board. Try it out here (on your mobile) or use this guide to start creating an AMP page.

Chasing “perfect

Ian Lurie, CEO of Portent stressed we need to start chasing the human algorithm, it’s the only one that doesn’t change and the one we should already understand. Understanding what humans want from our content instantly moves us closer to perfect. Things to consider;

  • Content delivery
  • Rational navigation
  • Correct targeting
  • Broken links
  • Speed

…plus many, many more.

The Algorithm

Rand Fishkin, founder or more preferred title, Wizard of Moz, shared some fascinating data on where the algorithm is moving and reinforced many of our theories. Our perceptions have been that the algorithm is flattening and he produced the data to prove that. However, as more ranking factors are added to the mix, links are just as important as they were, meaning we need to stick at what we’re good at and continue building great links while incorporating the rest. I’m sure you’ll want to read all about search ranking factors 2015 in full.

I hope you found this round up useful, as I said there was so much information that I didn’t manage to squeeze in but you can find it all here, let me know what you think below or find me @jenbowden1