Archive for the ‘Getting started in social media’ Category.

The FreshNetworks guide to getting started in social media

Roads At Night: It's Picking Up
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Over the last ten days we have shared our thoughts on four steps any brand should do when they are getting started in social media. The aim is to give any brand who is looking to use social media (or indeed to use it better) a framework to work through, some ideas and also a lot of questions and decisions that will need to be made. As I say in a recent article in the Independent: “The biggest mistakes companies make, are implementing a tool-based, as opposed to people-based, strategy”.

The four posts in the guide are below. Many of these posts raise as many questions as they offer answers and getting your use of social media right is not easy. But they should provide a useful framework for any brand looking to get started in social media. And if you need some help with this you can always give us a call!

The FreshNetworks Guide to Getting Started in Social Media

  • Part One:  Do you know what people are saying about you? Buzz tracking, social media monitoring, the power of understanding who is talking about you where and why, and some great free tools for any brand to use
  • Part Two: What do you want to achieve? Working out your brand’s aims and objectives (and making these measurable) is the single most important factor in a successful social media strategy. Do this before you think about technology.
  • Part Three: Have a go and experiment with social media Once you have clear objectives that are measurable it’s time to get going. Try things out and experiment, but make sure you do them where you know you will have the greatest chance of achieving these aims and engaging the people you want to engage.
  • Part Four: Track and evaluate the success you are having When you are using social media tools it is essential that you are measuring and tracking your performance against these aims. Measurement is critical and assessing the benefit you are having will help you to refine and improve your strategy overall.

Getting started 4: Track and evaluate the success you are having

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For any brand getting started in social media, the most important thing is to be able to show the impact you are having. To be able to evaluate and assess what is working and what isn’t having the results that you might expect. To show the return on investment that your efforts are having and how this compares to other methods.

There is a lot of talk about social media measurement and it is true that in isolation it is difficult to know where to start. But for businesses with a clear social media strategy, it is actually much easier than many people think. We stressed earlier in this guide to Getting Started in Social Media the importance of thinking about the reasons you are using social media before you jump in to use any tools or to engage people. We talked though a process to define clear and measurable business objectives and aims for your use of social media. It is important that you make these both clear and measurable. Typical objectives that a brand might consider include - acquisition of new customers, retention of existing ones, number of new insights or ideas into the business, or number of customer problems solved. These are just some of the objectives that brands may have for using online communities and social media, and all of them are measurable. At the simplest level they either save money for a brand or they generate revenue.

In the online communities that we manage at FreshNetworks a lot of time is spent defining the objectives and then working out first what metrics should be measured against these, and then monitoring and reporting on these to make sure we understand how the community is performing. It is important to establish a set of metrics that you can measure to assess how you are performing against your aims. In many cases you will want to measure a mix of things for each aim, but overall you should be able to show and prove what impact you are having.

Example: If you want to use social media as an efficient way of resolving customer queries, for example, you probably want to measure the number of unique customer problems you have on the site, the number of problems that are solved by other members of the community. You can then put an equivalent cost that it would have taken to service these queries through other channels and measure the actual reduction in, for example, call centre costs that you witness over time. This is what Dell did, and this is how Dell managed to work out that one member of its customer support community saved them $1m a year in support costs. That’s real ROI.

So the final stage to getting started in social media is to make sure you are ruthless about measuring what you are doing. It’s the only way you will know what works (and what doesn’t) and prove the impact you are having with social media. To do this you need to have clear objectives and these need to be measurable. Then you can measure the actual impact you are having on business aims. The actual benefit your social media strategy is bringing to your brand.

You can read the full guide here: Getting Started in Social Media

Getting started 3: Have a go and experiment with social media

Have a Bite
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There are too many stories of brands having tried and failed to use social media effectively. It may have been a disaster or, more usually, just not have had the impact and return on investment for the brand as it might have had. The most effective way to avoid this is to make sure that when you are getting started in social media you have done some effective planning first. Listen to what people are saying about your brand in social media so that you know what people are saying about you and where they are saying it. Then think about what you want to achieve with your social media strategy. Only by doing this will you be able to develop a clear and focused plan and, perhaps most importantly, measure the benefit your social media efforts are having.

Once you’ve got a clear plan it’s time to start thinking about technology and tools that you can use, and most importantly to start experimenting. This is where it gets fun.

When you are working out how to use social media tools, which to experiment with and how there are four main things to think about to help you get going:

  1. Use your buzz tracking to understand where people are talking about you. Compare this with the people you want to engage in social media, those who will help you meet your aims. This will give you an understanding of where the people you want to engage and the conversations you want to join are. This obviously only gives you half the story as you may also want to engage people in a new place or in your own space online.
  2. Decide which of these tools will help you to meet the aims you have set out. If you want to capture potential new customers, for example, using Twitter or Facebook may not be the most useful tool as these will not give you the contact details you probably want. If you want ideas into your business, there may be better ways of doing it than a forum or blog. Think carefully about what you want to achieve and the full range of tools available to you.
  3. Get cracking. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking and planning so far. Now it’s time to just try some things out. One of the benefits of social media is that it can be relatively low cost to experiment. Start small and try a few tools. If you need blog then put one up quickly and invest time in getting it creating content and encouraging and growing engagement. Experiment with a small number of tools and evaluate how effective these are being, switching on more tools over time.
  4. Work hard to get the engagement. Getting the tools up and running are really just the first step. The tough work starts when you start to engage people in social media, whether that’s in Facebook, on Twitter, in blogs, forums and other sites or indeed on your own online community. Engagement is hard and it needs a clear plan and dedication to make it work. The benefit of experimenting and having a go with different tools, and growing your use of social media in a controlled way is that you can see what is working, amend your techniques and try new things. If you have the right measurements in place you will know if you’re reaching your targets and if not you need to evaluate if you are using the right tools and if you are engaging people in the right way.

Once you have tools up and running the final stage for any brand getting started in social media is to make sure you are tracking and measuring your success. That’s what we will look at in the final post in this series.

You can read the full guide here: Getting Started in Social Media

Getting started 2: What do you want to achieve?

Day 17/July 22 - Dartboard
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In the first part of our guide to getting started in social media, we looked at buzz tracking. Why brands benefit from understanding who is currently talking about them online, what they are saying, to whom and where. Once you have an understanding of what is currently being said about your brand in social media, you will be much better informed about the issues of interest to people, the opinions they have, who your influencers and advocates are and where you can start to engage with people in social media. The next step is to work out what you actually want to achieve.

For too many people, social media is seen first and foremost as a technological solution. People decide they want to ‘implement social media’ and then work out what they want to do with it. This kind of enthusiasm is great and people who want to harness and use social media for your brand should be embraced. However, for any business there is a critical question you need to answer first: “what are you trying to achieve”.

There is much talk about measurement and proving the ROI of social media. One way to ensure that you are able to show the impact that your use of social media has had is to make sure you have clear and measurable aims in the first place. Maybe you want to increase customer loyalty, reduce the cost of your current customer service channels, increase customer satisfaction, get new ideas into your business or reduce the cost of your customer insight spend. These are the kind of aims and objectives (at a very high level) that some of our current clients at FreshNetworks have. And all of them are measurable. You can show the impact you are having on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. And you can show either the revenue you are generating, or the costs your are saving, your brand.

A clear understanding of what you want to achieve should be the first step for any brand looking to get started in social media. This may be a detailed decision process or it may be simple, but no brand should try something without at least some aims. A simple three-step process for any brand is:

  1. Think about your current business strategy. Consider what would make the biggest difference to your business. Evaluate where you can contribute in the short-, medium- and long-terms.
  2. When you have thought through this you need to evaluate and refine your aims based on what is achievable using social media. Not everything is and not everything should be.
  3. Finally consider each of the aims and objectives you have left and how you can measure the impact you are having. Think about what you should expect from social media, what return you should see and what return you would expect for the investment you are putting into your activities.

This is a simple but effective process. The most important thing is to critically evaluate what you want to achieve as a brand and then work with people with experience of using social media to understand the full and diverse range of things you could do, tools you might use and engagement methods you might employ to contribute to these. This is often an iterative process and will help you to refine what you are looking to achieve and make sure it is realistic and achievable.

At FreshNetworks, we have worked with brands who have started working in social media. They are doing great things and it’s great to see them experimenting. But without having thought through what they are trying to achieve, why and how they will measure it their social media efforts will more likely than not fail. If you are not clear in your mind why you are doing it, you can be sure that your users will not understand what they are supposed to be doing in your social media site.

Of course, this is easier said than done, but it is a valuable and important step for any brand getting started in social media. And remember at this stage we’re still not really talking about technology. Not yet at least. That part comes next.

You can read the full guide here: Getting Started in Social Media

Getting started 1: Do you know what people are saying about you?

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When brands are getting started in social media, they really benefit from understanding who is currently talking about them online, what they are saying, to whom and where. After auditing what your brand footprint currently is, you can begin to make decisions about where you should have a presence, the issues of interest to people in social media and the discussions and debates that your brand can both benefit from and contribute to.

A thorough audit of your current presence in social media (or perhaps just the presence of your brand through customers, fans and others) is the first step for any social media strategy. Whilst Google Alerts provide a useful source for the latest items that are indexed by its search engine, to understand properly what is being discussed by your brand it is worthwhile investing in some detailed buzz tracking.

The best results come from using paid-for services such as Radian6. These conduct and analyse real-time, deep searching into what people are discussing in public forums and social media online that is analysed according to the reach of the posts and discussions and the influence of the people discussing your brand. You can drill-down into your keywords, understand which discussions are prevalent across different social networks and online communities and identify, measure and track your main influencers online.

As with most of our advice, however, a good first step is just to have a go. To do this you need to first establish what your keywords are and then use some tools (paid-for or free) to see what people are saying. Your keyword list is critical here and time should be put into building a list of terms about your brand, organisation, market and customers. Then you are ready to go. And if you don’t want to invest in a thorough, paid-for service right, and you are willing to put in more work and use multiple services, then there are a number of good free tools in the market. Some of these are listed below.

Only when you’ve got a clearer view of what people are saying about your brand and how it is represented online can you start to really develop a strategy to get started in social media.

In tomorrow’s post we will look at how to estabish the aims of your use of social media and how you can measure success.

You can read the full guide here: Getting Started in Social Media

Some free buzz tracking tools

Earlier this year Econsultancy produced a list of free buzz tracking tools which provides a great starting point for any brand looking to explore what is being said about it in social media. The original article is here, and the list republished below:

  1. Addict-o-matic – Allows you to create a custom-made page to display search results.
  2. Bloglines - A web-based personal news aggregator that can be used in place of a desktop client.
  3. Blogpulse – A service of Nielsen BuzzMetrics. It analyzes and reports on daily trends within the blogosphere.
  4. BoardTracker – A useful tool for scanning and tracking within forums.
  5. Commentful – This service watches comments/follow-ups on Blog posts and similar content such as Flickr or Digg.
  6. FriendFeed Search - Scans all FriendFeed activity.
  7. Google Alerts –Daily or real-time alerts emailed to you whenever a specific keyword (chosen by you) is mentioned.
  8. HowSociable? – A simple way for you to begin measuring your brand’s visibility on the social web.
  9. Icerocket – Searches a variety of online services, including Twitter, blogs, videos and MySpace.
  10. Keotag – Keyword searches across the internet landscape.
  11. MonitorThis – Subscribes you to up to 20 different RSS feeds through one stream.
  12. Samepoint – A conversation search engine.
  13. Surchur – An interactive dashboard covering search engines and most social media sites.
  14. Technorati - Search engine and monitoring tool for user-generated media and blogs
  15. Tinker - Real-time conversations from social media sources such as Twitter and Facebook.
  16. TweetDeck - Not only a great way to manage your Twitter account, but the keyword search means you can see what people are saying about you.
  17. Twitter Search – Twitter’s very own search tool is a great resource. Can be subscribed to as an RSS ffed.
  18. UberVU - Track and engage with user sentiment across the likes of, FriendFeed, Digg, Picasa, Twitter and Flickr.
  19. wikiAlarm – Alerts you to when a Wikipedia entry has been changed.
  20. Yahoo! Sideline – A TweetDeck-esque tool from Yahoo. Monitor, search and engage with the Twittersphere.