Archive for November 2009

Finding the powerful benefits of a social media solution


Image by monkeyatlarge via Flickr

Tim continues his series on Selling Social Media.

So, we’ve got the attention of the stakeholder to discuss using social media within the organisation. By seeing a glimpse of some of the incredible achievements in social media for other industries or competitors, this has earned the right for a more detailed conversation with him. It’s now time to dive into more detail with him, and to align some of the various social media benefits against the unique requirements of this particular stakeholder. But what are the unique requirements?

This phase of the sales process is known as ‘determining the needs’.

Let’s use a real-life scenario and a brief recap. Say you have used the ‘elevator pitch’ to a Marketing Director in the travel sector and highlighted that Marriott achieved an additional $5m sales from people that accessed Bill Marriott’s executive blog. This is an impressive statement of fact, and you have his attention; and as a result he puts an hour in the diary for a more detailed chat on the subject.

What do you do now? The biggest mistake is to go to the one-hour meeting and then continue blindly selling the proposition, because you don’t yet know what’s going to be the business driver for this particular stakeholder. When marketing any service (and social media is no different), everybody’s individual business needs and priorities will be different. Grow revenue, cut costs, enhance innovation, improve customer service, and so on; it’s a long list of possibilities.

So, the elevator pitch grabbed his attention, but that won’t be the reason that social media may work for his particular organisation. The specific needs and objectives will be absolutely unique to this organisation, and it is your job to align these unique needs to the social media possibilities.

The rock band Weezer has a great single out at the moment. It’s called “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”. The brackets are in the title. I love this title because it encapsulates the blundering teenage angst that we can still remember from when we were that age. Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. Similarly, the biggest mistake at this stage is to launch into the one hour conversation with a pushy “I want you to do this because….”, as if you were that teenager all over again! Instead, in this phase of the sales process it is time for a more consultative approach. You ask the questions, and then listen carefully to the answers. A bit like the doctor diagnosing the patient, you take the role of the consultant, and determine the business priorities that are most relevant for this stakeholder.

Read all our posts on Selling social media here.

Social media monitoring is easy; it’s what you do with it that counts


reminder: easy
Image by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Flickr

Social media monitoring is easy, well at least the first part of it is - collecting mentions and stories about your brand, products or other terms. There are a lot of tools out there - from free social media monitoring tools to enterprise level solutions. There are a lot of good agencies who can help you to use these, or it may be enough just to have a go yourself.

Speaking at a conference earlier this week, I was reminded of this fact. Most people in the audience said that they did some kind of social media monitoring - from simple Google Alerts to large, enterprise-wide sentiment analysis tools. But one question from the floor highlighted the problem many were having:

Social media monitoring is great, but how do I deal with it? All I get each month is a long list of things people have said. What do I do with that?

This surprised me. Social media monitoring is about much more than just gathering the data. It’s what you do with this data once it’s gathered that makes the real difference.

Any good social media monitoring campaign should have three core elements:

1. Gathering information

This isn’t just as simple as using Google alerts, a back-links search tool, or even an enterprise-level sentiment analysis package. There are many places online that these tools just won’t reach, namely anywhere behind a log-in and password. That rules out Facebook, most forums and many online communities. These are often the most interesting places to find mentions of your brand, product or other terms you’re interested in.

If you want to get a full and complete picture you need to combine some of these excellent tools with analyst time. Find out and then track where people hang out talking about your brand and make sure you have a presence there. This is an ideal role for your community manager to play as part of a hub-and-spoke model of social media engagement. The human element to gathering information means that you start to really understand not just where people are saying things, but in what context.

2. Understanding what is being said

As the lady who spoke up in the conference last week showed, it is all very well having great social media monitoring in place, but if all you end up with is a long list of mentions then this may never end up being useful to you. You need to analyse the mentions, conversations and discussions that are taking place online to make sure that your business is really getting benefit. This may be something that you do manually, or it may be something that you do using text analysis tools. But you need to analyse what is said to understand:

  • the themes and topics that people are discussing online, how these change and how they interact
  • the people who are talking about you and how they can be segmented
  • who is talking about you positively and who is talking about you negatively

3. Knowing when to respond and who to monitor

One of the real benefits of social media monitoring is when you then use the information you have to monitor people and join or respond to conversations where relevant. We’ve written about this before. Knowing when and how to react if somebody writes about your brand online is important for anybody embarking on a process of social media monitoring. If you find a post that needs responding to, you should have a policy in place to know how you should respond. Further when you find people talking either extremely positively, or extremely negatively, about your brand online it is important to have mechanisms in place to monitor and track them. You want to know who likes your brand and who dislikes it so you are ready to respond to them when relevant. This is even more important if these people are influential. Our recent post looked at how to use Twitter Lists as a free social media monitoring tool to do just this.

So social media monitoring is much more than just the tools you might use or the list of mentions, discussions and conversations you might get from them. That’s just the starting point. More important is how you analyse them and what you do with what you find. This is the bit that is less easy, but reaps greater reward for your brand.

Facebook isn’t always the answer - 77% of fan pages have fewer than 1,000 fans


Tumbleweed (Salsola tragus)
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It can often seem like the simple, and obvious step for any brand. You want to engage with people online, you want to get your brand using social media. What’s the answer? For too many brands the first thing they do is go to Facebook and set up a fan page. This might not always be the right answer.

Research from Sysomos, reported in TechCrunch, shows that Fan Pages in Facebook are not always as popular as some brand might think, or hope.

The research looked at 600,000 Facebook fan pages on Facebook and looked at how many fans they have. Over a third of all pages (35%) had fewer than 100 fans, and over three-quarters (77%) had fewer than 1,000 fans. The number of groups with more than 10,000 fans was small, and very few indeed have fans in six figures. The distribution was as follows:

  • 95% of pages have more than 10 fans
  • 65% of pages have more than 100 fans
  • 23% of pages have more than 1,000 fans
  • 4% of pages have more than 10,000 fans
  • 0.76% of pages have more than 100,000 fans
  • 0.047% of pages have more than one million fans (297 in total)

Facebook fan page members

Facebook is not always the answer and the proportion of fan pages that attract a large number of fans is relatively small. Size is not always everything, but many brands setting up a presence on Facebook are doing so because they hope, and expect, to easily build a large fan base online that they can engage with. This is not as easy as brand expect and too often those looking to Facebook for large volumes of engaged fans will be disappointed.

Facebook is not always the answer. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. Brands that make the most successful use of it are those who have a clear strategy and have thought about exactly why they are using Facebook and who they want to engage. There are many examples of successful use of Facebook by brands, but as this study shows, many many more examples of brands who fail to get a large volume of fans.

Before you do anything with social media you need to know why you’re doing it. You need a social media strategy in place to know what you are looking to acheive, who you want to engage and the best way of doing this. If, having gone down this process, Facebook is the answer then you should move ahead with it. But very often it won’t be and you should be considering something else instead. If more brands thought about their strategic aims and put a detailed engagement plan in place before embarking on a social media campaign, there would be fewer of these empty Facebook fan pages.

TIME Magazine and Techland: A community management #fail?


Question marks with transparent background
Image via Wikipedia

Guest post by Ben LaMothe

Key to successful community management is understanding what a community’s interests are. In media, it’s important to know where your community gets its news and information on a daily basis.  Unfortunately for TIME Magazine neither concept was paid much attention to with the launch of their new tech news site Techland.

Writing on his Twitter account earlier last week, paidContent founder Rafat Ali summed it up in 140 characters: “ launches standalone tech site Techland, filing the void in the consumer tech coverage online. Just in time.”

With the launch of this web site, it leads me to wonder just how much TIME Magazine knows about the tech news community.

My initial thought was that TIME sees dollar signs. The tech community is full of early-adopters who buy up the latest and greatest in tech devices, often at higher-than-it-should-be prices. There’s a major advertising opportunity here, because it allows TIME to charge higher ad premiums than it can on I can’t say that with certainty; however that’s where my thought process leads to.

According to MediaBistro Techland will be led by a group of tech media icons, and senior writers at Here’s a breakdown of how Techland plans to serve the tech community:

Techland will feature interviews with icons of the tech culture world; breaking tech news and features; previews of products, books and shows; weekly video wrap-ups with Grossman and Ha playing new games while discussing tech news; weekly video reviews; Battlestar Galactica updates; news on comic books, science-fiction literature and films; and exclusive clips, commentary and video interviews on TV shows, DVDs and video games.

The Grossman and Ha mentioned are TIME senior writer Lev Grossman and TIME technology editor Peter Ha.

By that description, Techland has a lot to live up to. It’s clear that their aim is to hijack the tech news community with a super flashy (and, in my opinion, hideously designed) web site and the backing of a massive legacy publisher.

With so many tech news outlets already aimed at consumers, what does TIME hope to achieve with Techland?

Now-former managing editor Josh Tyrangiel explains the rationale:

Techland understands that the same people who care about the latest Apple news also happen to like Star Trek and World of Warfare. It’s a link between technology and culture, with the resources and standards of a mainstream media outlet. We believe there’s really nothing else like it.

What this boils down to is essentially tech news for the masses, veiled as an attempt to connect with the tech community. That’s a big community management fail, in part, because it seems that a lot of assumptions are being made about the community they’re hoping to serve.

By bringing together all of these relatively-unrelated topics onto one web site, I’m sure TIME thinks it’s making it easier for users to get information about the things they’re interested in, with little effort required. But is that a problem? Are tech news readers upset that they can’t get their Battlestar Galactica news updates on the same site as the breakdown of the latest iPhone OS update?

I haven’t done the research, but I suspect it’s not keeping people up at night. From where I’m sitting, this boils down to a money-grab by a cash-strapped legacy media publisher wanting to latch onto the coattails of an increasingly influential tech news scene. The community may not stand for it.

How to use Twitter Lists as a free social media monitoring tool


To-do list book.
Image by koalazymonkey via Flickr

We’ve posted before about why Twitter lists are great and some of the uses that can be made with them. Over the last few weeks since they were launched to all users, we have been experimenting with them at FreshNetworks and with our clients. One clear and valuable use for them has become clear - as a free social media monitoring tool. Here’s a guide to how you can use Twitter Lists in this way.

Twitter Lists for social media monitoring

Social media monitoring is the best way for brands to understand who is currently talking about them online, what they are saying, to whom and where. They can analyse the sentiment expressed (are people broadly positive or negative to them) and identify individuals who are promoters or detractors of a brand. Whilst it may not be appropriate to react or respond to their posts, monitoring these people can be a useful exercise. Knowing what your promoters are saying about you and where, and tracking the sentiment of detractors. Are they becoming more positive to your brand or more negative. Who are they talking to and influencing, and what are they saying.

So it’s important that when you identify Detractors, you have a mechanism for keeping track of what they are saying online. This is where Twitter Lists come in useful.

Twitter Lists can make it very easy to group your Promoters and Detractors and have an easy and accessible source to find out what they are saying online. Putting all of your Detractors in a List means that they are in one place. When you find a new Detractor online you can put them in this List, and if somebody stops being a Detractor you can move them from it.

This use of Twitter Lists is effective for two reasons:

  1. As a brand, you can put somebody into a List without having to be following them. If you have an powerful Detractor online, you may not want to follow them from your branded Twitter account, but you may want to keep track of what they say.
  2. Twitter Lists can be private. You probably wouldn’t want a list of your brand’s biggest Detractors to be shared online. All the people who hate you most in one convenient list. Because Twitter Lists can be made private, you can mitigate the risk of people finding this. You know and can monitor who they are, without sharing this information with other people.

So Twitter Lists can be a great, and free, social media monitoring tool. Identify the people who love or hate your brand most, or who write about your brand most online and then put them into Lists. Have a List of Detractors, a List of Promoters and a List of Ones to Watch. Make these Lists private and, if you don’t want to, don’t even follow the people you put into the List.

Then track what they say. Follow the List, read the comments and learn on a daily basis what your Promoters and Detractors think and say about you. Easy! The hard work begins when you try to change opinions or harness those who are positive about your brand.