Archive for March 2010

Social Media Monitoring Tools - 2010 Review (intro)

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social-media-monitoring-toolsOver the last few weeks we’ve been carrying out detailed tests and analysis on 7 of the leading social media monitoring tools - Alterian, Brandwatch, Biz360, Neilsen Buzzmetrics, Radian6, Scoutlabs and Sysomos. Our aim is to provide an in-depth comparison of buzz tracking tools that accurately depicts their individual pros and cons.

We’ve put the tools to the test by tracking well-known international coffee company Starbucks. We compared over 19,000 online conversations, giving us some really unexpected results and highlighting some staggering differences in the way each tool performs.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be blogging about our findings, and at the end of the series you’ll be able to download the full report for free. We’ll cover:

  • The basics of social media monitoring
  • An overview of our results
  • The location of online conversations
  • Social media monitoring and duplication
  • Data latency
  • Sentiment analysis
  • International/multilingual social media monitoring

We’re also holding a free social media monitoring breakfast seminar on 15th April in London, where we’ll be presenting our findings, as well as giving practical tips and advice about social media monitoring and the best way to analyse results. You can register for the event by clicking on the button below:

Register for Social media monitoring in London, United Kingdom  on Eventbrite


So what are social media monitoring tools?

In a nutshell, social media monitoring tools pretty much do what they say on the tin - they monitor online conversations taking place through social media.  They track anything that’s being said about your business or your brand on blogs, forums, Twitter and other social spaces. Each tool is different, varying in complexity and in the way they gather and process the information, as we will show you over the next few weeks.

Our sister company, FreshMinds Research, has been using social media tools to generate customer insights for years. As we’re a social media agency, we usually work with FreshMinds Research to conduct social media audits or monitoring when establishing a  social media strategy for clients. So over the next few weeks you’ll benefit from the unique findings of a research company working in collaboration with a social media agency.

We’ll start with the basics and work through our research step-by-step. If at any time you want us to explore a certain aspect in more detail, please let us know. Our next post will explore the basics of social media monitoring.

Read the other posts from our social media monitoring review 2010.

Social Media ROI and Obliquity

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image via FlickR courtesy of LucyFrench123

image via FlickR courtesy of LucyFrench123

“The problem with brands in social media is that they act like 19 year old dudes”.
Yelled Gary Veynerchuck at SXSW, excited as ever.

His point was that there is a tendency to approach every interaction with a single goal - sex for the dudes, sales for companies. And to rush towards that goal without pausing for breath.

I have been reminded of Gary’s comment a few times this week. Mostly by the economist, John Kay.

John has a new book out: Obliquity – why our goals are best pursued indirectly. And as a result he’s cropping up everywhere at the moment.

The premise of his book is that the greatest, most profitable companies achieve success as a result of focussing on higher ideals than cash generation. This is not an especially groundbreaking theory - I’ve rarely met a successful entrepreneur who was primarily money-motivated. However I do think he has coined a super phrase and one with a distinct social media relevance.

Obliquity - why social media goals are best pursued indirectly
Success in social media rarely comes from being the 19yr old dude. Sustained social media ROI relies on building realtionships, not converting one-night-stands. The tools of social media provide a new form of communication. As a result they can help you improve products, processes and customer relationships. An indirect, or oblique benefit, might be more sales.

However, obliquity is a tough message when you’re a nervous marketing manger who only likes to spend money on safe bets where ROI has been proven upfront or in advance.

The tragedy of social media is that “digital can be measured”. This drives a desire is to spend £1 and get £1 and 10 pence back before investing more. Whilst such an approach is fine for Google Adwords or other search marketing, social media plays by different rules.

Please don’t act like the 19yr old dude. Customers can spot it a mile off. You’re far more likely to achieve social media ROI if you focus on a different (oblique) business goal first. Use social media to engage customers. Use social media for deeper customer insight or to improve your customer service. The cash will follow.

Fixing the broken windows in your online community

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Banksy Broken Window Theory
Image by IkaInk via Flickr

While sitting on my morning commute to work, re-reading my battered copy of Freakonomics, I came to the chapter dealing with crime rates in New York. It mentioned the broken window theory, a concept I’ve recently looked into a bit more closely as it seems to match my experiences with online communities.

To summarise the theory:

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.

Source: James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. “BROKEN WINDOWS: The police and neighborhood safety” (PDF)

The relevance of this approach to online communities seems clear. As you become lenient to the minor misdemeanours such as repetitive posts and off topic comments, you find the community taking this as a sign to slowly breach the terms more frequently and to a more serious degree. More time is spent dealing with the inappropriate content and you sit back thinking “if only I’d cleared out the comments that started all this.”

It’s tempting to let some of the smaller things go, especially if you have tight schedules for producing content, are managing multiple communities or find yourself buried deep into your engagement processes. However, this is a really fundamental part of the community manager role.

Making sure you remain consistent and respond quickly are key attributes for a community manager and I think this comparison sums it up nicely. So, in order to prevent the squatters lighting fires in your building, repair those broken windows quickly and keep the place looking tidy.

Free bacon at trade shows (SXSW)

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Image from shutterstock

Image from shutterstock

Should we give away free stuff on our stand? This question gets asked every time we attend a trade show.

After entertaining a little debate I always find myself answering “No. A bowl of Quality Street is not a differentiator and it’s probably not going to attract the right type of person to our stand.”

But last week in Austin, at the South by SouthWest Interactive Festival (SXSW), I found myself questioning my strongly held belief.

In Texas, everything is bigger and better. As a result the on-stand gimmicks were actually worthy of note. There were hot dogs and free beer. Free books and a well-thought-out hangover kit. There was even the opportunity to meet a pair of Cheerleaders from the Dallas Coyboys.

My favourite giveaway at the event came from a 10-year old girl on a street corner. She was standing outside the event, holding a huge plate and yelling “bacon, bacon, get free bacon.” It smelled fantastic, tasted even better and proved to me that the right promotion, in an appropriate style can elicit an action.

Now I can’t actually remember the name of the company involved, but I did give them my card.

Do you believe in giveaways at trade shows? has anything worked for/on you?

The seven harsh realities of social media for any brand

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reality tag
Image by Scoobymoo via Flickr

Given that we’re a social media agency, we’re excited about social media and think it could have a hugely positive impact on brands, their marketing and communications, the insight they get, the way in which they deal with customer service and the many other benefits it can bring to an organisation and to the way it interacts with and engages customers. They are right to be excited, the opportunities are great but brands should not hide from the fact that getting an engaging social media presence takes proper thought, some effort and may take time to embed.

When you are getting started in social media it is important to think carefully about what you as a business are looking to achieve and drive your activities from this, from a business-led social media strategy. Jumping straight to tools and hoping they will work for you often causes problems. Facebook is not always the answer and what works for one brand will not necessarily work for another brand. You need to think about what you want to achieve and choose tools that will help you to achieve this.

A second consideration should be what is possible with different tools and how you can use them in a way that truly benefits you. There is a lot said about social media and there can be a tendency to put up a Facebook Page to ‘do social media’ (or worse ‘to drive traffic and increase sales’). Working with any social media tool, just as with any marketing or communications tool needs proper thought. And with social media people often think you can put things up and wait for consumers to start ‘engaging’ with you. This almost always won’t happen. It is one of the myths of social media. You need to work hard to get engagement going, and have thought carefully first about what you are doing and why.

This great presentation from Bart De Waele of Belgium agency Netlash highlights some of these myths, or as he says the seven “harsh realities” of social media. Its is a great summary of some of the misconceptions people have of social media and some of the education and training that is often needed in a brand when they start thinking about why they should be engaging online and which tools to use. These seven myths are timely for everybody to consider:

  1. Nobody reads your blog unless the content is valuable and relevant, you have conversations and you build loyalty over time
  2. Your Twitterstream is boring unless you make it interesting with content that is relevant to your target audience and have the right mix of personality and conversation
  3. Your Facebook Fan Page will be empty unless you have valuable content, interaction and conversation there
  4. Your new social networking site will not be used unless you have valuable and relevant content, give people a reason to engage and build audience diligently with good community management
  5. Your great idea will not go viral unless your content is engaging and valuable and people really want to engage with you
  6. Users will not generate content unless you make it easy, ensure there is something in it for users who are generating the content and facilitate this with good community management
  7. Your employees will not help unless you enthuse, train, encourage and support them

These are harsh realities and the myths that often exist about social media and how it can benefit brands and organisations. Overall they show that tools and technology are not the most important thing when any brand uses social media. Its your content and the people who manage and grow your activity who count. Social media is a social activity and it is having a good and thought-through strategy, and the people to launch and build your engagement online that will make a real difference.

Bart’s presentation is below and is also Required Reading this week at FreshNetworks.

7 harsh realities in Social Media
View more presentations from Bart De Waele.