Much to blog about.

Vanity versus valid metrics

Marketing metrics that matter: Is it valid or vanity?

February 27, 2015 | by Jordan Overton

We can’t deny it – we live in a digital world. Every day, marketers must manage social media channels, monitor website visits, analyze analytics and perform dozens of various tasks, all to make sure their brand is performing at peak capacity.

But is posting regularly and checking website analytics enough? How do you truly evaluate what you’re doing to separate the valid metrics from those that appeal to our vanity?

First, you have to set benchmarks before the beginning of any campaign. Comparing your results to your initial benchmarks will tell you why your campaign was successful, help guide upcoming marketing decisions, and reveal opportunities you can capitalize on during future campaigns. Without benchmarks, you’re blindly guessing and your data isn’t providing you with real answers.

Second, you have to know which benchmarks to monitor. In this post, I’ll explain two different vanity metrics – metrics that are thought to indicate success but are typically taken out of context and disconnected from reality - and I’ll provide two valid key performance indicators that are better to monitor for a truer measure of campaign success.

Vanity – Followers:

Picture this: you’ve launched your campaign. You login to your social media measurement tool to evaluate after the first month, and you have thousands of Facebook likes, Twitter followers and blog subscribers. The campaign has been a success, right? Maybe, but how can you be sure? What if, out of all your new fans, none of them have taken any kind of action? You have the numbers, but odds are you’ve attracted the wrong audience. Your audience is happy to click “Follow” or “Like” but is reluctant to do anything after that. How do you determine which members of your audience are valuable and which ones are simply a number? The answer is, you have to further analyze your audience to make sure your messaging has impact.

Vanity – Impressions:

Vanity metrics have the tendency to focus on quantity over quality. They value tons of views and visits over actions. On the surface, the bigger numbers look and sound better. But when you dive deeper, you’ll be able to see what your audience is doing once they’ve seen your posts. Impressions show how many people have the potential to see a tweet, post or blog. But they don’t break it down further, causing marketers to wonder if their messages are really hitting their mark.

Valid – Active users:

A user who subscribes to your blog or chooses to follow you on social media but fails to take further action offers very little value to your brand. Don’t focus so much on the numbers. Instead, focus on what your audience is doing once they see the call-to-action. After all, a growing amount of subscribers and followers can provide your brand with a false positive. Your numbers could be consistently on the rise, but it could be an instance of ‘one and done.’ Your audience sees your message, but then they leave, offering no value or return on your investment. You have to make sure to ask yourself: Is your audience responding? If they aren’t, you need to reevaluate your digital strategy and campaign messaging.

Valid – Engagement:

One of the great benefits of social media is that it supplies a two-way conversation between the brand and the consumer. By doing this, brands can establish a relationship with their customer base. Instead of monitoring impressions alone, marketers need to evaluate their engagement levels. Impressions show possible views. Engagements can take those impressions and show which of your consumers performed an action upon seeing your message. Marketing professionals should focus on actions rather than potential views.

On occasion, it’s okay to work vanity metrics into your evaluation. Just make sure you’re also using valid metrics – such as active users and engagement – to understand the true success of your campaign efforts.

Have you come across vanity versus valid metrics during your marketing efforts? Discuss with me or Bohlsen Group on Twitter.

About the Author: Media Specialist Jordan Overton manages the online presence of various local, regional and national nonprofits and corporate clients. He also contributes to Bohlsen Group’s digital strategy. Find Jordan on Twitter: @jordantoverton

Bohlsen Group Case Study

Case Study: Robert J. Matsunaga

February 24, 2015 | by Courtney Stiehl

Full-time writer and photographer Robert J. Matsunaga recently penned “A Journey of a Thousand Seasons,” a science fiction novel that explore issues of adversity relevant today. With no previous social media accounts, Bohlsen Group not only set up Matsunaga on social media but helped him establish a solid foundation within the science fiction online community.

Client: Robert J. Matsunaga, an indie author through Bohlsen Group client Author Solutions, a Penguin Random House Company, was a former professional photographer before transitioning to a full-time writer. Matsunaga wrote science fiction novel “A Journey of a Thousand Seasons” to explore his own creativity and provide a good story. Through his new book he created a new civilization while exploring problems of adversity relevant today.

Challenge: Many of the elements in Matsunaga’s story are unique, but the challenge was to set him apart from other science fiction writers and novels on social media. He also didn’t have any social media accounts or social media experience going into the 12-week social media campaign, so he was unsure about his own ability.

Solution: We used Matsunaga’s background in fine arts to distinguish his work on social media. His eye for architecture and paintings lent itself to Pinterest, so we spent time building up his Pinterest profile and connecting with an arts-focused audience to introduce to his work. We also tapped into the robust science fiction community on Twitter.

Results: By the end of the 12 weeks, Matsunaga had a very active presence on his blog (25 posts), Twitter (200 tweets, 500 followers), Facebook page (1,200 likes) and Pinterest (8,500 pins, 450 followers). His numbers have increased greatly since then. More importantly, his social media presence has enhanced his work and become a significant part of his daily life. He continues to connect with like-minded people and promote his novel online, now without our help.

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About the Author: Media Specialist Courtney Stiehl supports corporate clients through public relations, social media management and helps develop brand identities and communications strategies. Find Courtney on Twitter: @CourtneyStiehl


Rebranding Part II: Revolution vs. Evolution

February 19, 2015 | by Mandy Bray

In Rebranding Part I, we talked about six signs that it’s time to rebrand. To recap: if your brand name is frequently flubbed, if you’ve undergone a major business change including a merger or international expansion, if your graphics are dated or reputation is suffering, then it might be time to rebrand.

There are so many elements that go into a brand: a logo, tagline, typography, color palette, voice, mission statement, and brand promise. As companies determine that a change is needed, the single question they must answer is, which elements do you change and which do you keep?

First, you must decide if a total or partial rebrand is appropriate. Bohlsen Group Art Director Terry Million calls this Revolution vs. Evolution.

A Revolution rebrand typically involves an entirely new name and logo, while an Evolution rebrand may include light updates to graphic elements and messaging. Some brands will cycle in a new slogan every few years, while others will make light graphic updates every decade or so—some not immediately apparent to the customer—to match industry trends. In other cases, it may be appropriate to simply update key company messages depending on changes in services lines or industry.

To decide what is best for you, you must make the following determinations:

Measure your current brand equity

Whether through market research or anecdotal evidence, determine what aspects of the current brand are most valuable to your clients. Is it name recognition that shows generations of longevity? Is it a logo, brand promise, or spokesperson that has become iconic for your company?

Know your target audience

Always keep your goals and audience in mind when considering a change to your brand. After all, they will be the first ones to let you know if they don’t like it. Just ask Gap, Tropicana, or Kraft.

Consider the cost

There is no magic formula to calculate how much a rebrand will cost. There will be an upfront cost in strategy and design, and then a secondary cost in implementation—a legal name change, photo shoot, signage, stationary, etc. On the other hand, consider the cost of not rebranding as your competition gains market share over you. If you plan on investing money in marketing and advertising this year, don’t put lipstick on a pig by putting your dollars behind a dated and derelict brand.

A new logo won’t fix everything

Your company goals and culture are at the heart of everything that radiates from your brand. If you know that you have a disconnect with your customers, a new name or logo isn’t a magic bullet to capture their hearts and sales. What will catch their loyalty is a willingness to listen, clear communication about branding changes, and values that match theirs.

Want to learn more? Click here to read a case study of how Bohlsen Group rebranded The Land Bank of Indianapolis to Renew Indianapolis when the nonprofit was threatened by a scandal involving another organization in its industry.

About the Author: Chief Copywriter/Publicist Mandy Bray‘s effective writing skills sharpen Bohlsen Group’s in-house copy—including web copy, white papers and press releases—and her content strategy skills add to the success of client projects. Find Mandy on Twitter: @MandyBray

Bohlsen Group Case Study

Case Study: White River Festival 2014

February 17, 2015 | by Jessica Redden

Bohlsen Group used social media, media relations, and grassroots street outreach to promote the White River Alliance and its 2014 White River Festival, an annual two-week mission to illustrate how the White River affects the entirety of central Indiana, and ways the public can become involved in its preservation for years to come.

Client: The White River Festival is a project of the White River Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of local governments, educators, allied organizations, industries, and citizens working together to improve and protect water resources throughout central Indiana.

Challenge: Our challenge was to work with the White River Alliance to draw attention to the 2014 White River Festival and its annual two-week mission to illustrate how the White River affects the entirety of central Indiana, and ways the public can become involved in its preservation for years to come. Illustrating the difference between the Alliance and the Festival proved integral to our ability to effectively communicate the purpose of these two designated festival weeks.

Solutions: Bohlsen Group worked with White River Festival organizers to establish the goals of the festival and consequently, the different angles for media pitching and content creation. Individual events were highlighted in ways that communicated to both media and the public the value of the White River impact. Bohlsen Group compiled local and regional media lists tailored for the White River Festival, reaching more than 3,000 relevant contacts both locally and regionally. We pitched and coordinated interviews leading up to and during the festival as well as securing advance and post-event coverage with various media.

As part of the social media campaign for the 2014 White River Festival, Bohlsen Group helped to develop and maintain social media communications leading up to and during the festival with Facebook and Twitter consultation, suggested hashtag use, and a revised Twitter handle. Bohlsen Group also executed grassroots efforts, working with the Indianapolis Central Library and other local branches to distribute 2014 White River Festival branded bookmarks to visitors. As part of our internal Street Team efforts, Bohlsen Group was able to distribute 2014 White River Festival flyers and posters to more than 75 targeted locations in and around the Indianapolis area. 

Results: The 2014 White River Festival was widely covered by the media leading up to and during the festival through interviews, event previews, calendar listings and photo galleries, and ticket giveaways. Print coverage included: NUVO, Hendricks County Flyer, Rushville Republican, Indianapolis Star, Indiana Living Green and Muncie Star Press. Internet coverage included:,,,,,,,,, and more. Broadcast coverage included WIBC News radio, WFYI afternoon drive, WIBC Morning news, WTHR (NBC), multiple appearances on WISH (CBS) and WXIN (FOX), and others.

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 About the Author: Senior Account Executive Jessica Redden manages accounts for Bohlsen Group’s Entertainment & Events division and co-manages the E/E division’s internship program. Find Jessica on Twitter: @jess_redden

Junior Achievement Header

Client Spotlight: Junior Achievement Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame 2015

February 12, 2015 | by Mandy Bray

Bohlsen Group is very excited to welcome our newest client, Junior Achievement of Central Indiana. This organization’s core values include passion, integrity, respect for creativity, and “belief in the boundless potential of young people”— beliefs we fully back and share. This outstanding organization educates students about financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship in a nontraditional classroom setting. We will support JA’s mission through providing services including social media, blogging, marketing strategy, media relations, and creative design.

JA inspires young people to explore and create opportunities, make good decisions, and believe in their own potential through an in-school education program to grades K-12 as well as their experiential capstone programs such as JA BizTown® and Finance Park® Virtual. JA of Central Indiana recently received a 5-star recognition, setting them apart as an elite chapter.

27th Annual Central Indiana Business Hall of Fame

One way that JA inspires its young participants is by providing them with real-world examples of outstanding men and women who epitomize success in the business world, high moral and ethical standards, and dedication to important civic causes, thereby improving the quality of life in the community.

On February 19, JA will hold its popular Hall of Fame event with approximately 500 business leaders and their guests. To commemorate the event, JA has created a signature cocktail for the event, the “Stargarita” orange margarita sponsored by the Indianapolis Star.

Junior Achievement students will participate in the evening’s events, which will include introductions of the Laureates and video presentations highlighting their many accomplishments. This year’s Laureates are Martha Hoover, Owner and President of Patachou, Inc.; Andy Mohr, Founder and CEO of Andy Mohr Auto Group; Scott Molander, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of LIDS Sports Group and William Shrewsberry, President and CEO of Shrewsberry & Associates, LLC.

A VIP reception will kick off the event, followed by a dinner and awards ceremony at 7:00 pm. For ticketing and sponsorship information, visit

To learn more about Bohlsen Group’s Nonprofit division and marketing and public relations services we’ve provided for similar organizations, click here.

About the Author: Chief Copywriter/Publicist Mandy Bray‘s effective writing skills sharpen Bohlsen Group’s in-house copy—including web copy, white papers and press releases—and her content strategy skills add to the success of client projects. Find Mandy on Twitter: @MandyBray