Archive for the ‘Social media management’ Category.

Does social work for every brand?

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Deutsch: Discofeeling

Deutsch: Discofeeling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Femfresh came a cropper back in June, some argued that it was a brand that was intrinsically ill-suited for social. After all, how many people would want to be seen to like a feminine hygiene product on Facebook?

Euan Semple skirts this issue when he talks about some brands getting ‘into social’. He likened them, at a Digital Surrey event last week, to a dad dancing at a disco. “You’re proud of him for giving it a go,” he said. “But you wish he’d sit down.”

We work a lot with financial services brands which operate in a tightly regulated environment. This makes it tough to respond naturally and in anything like as real-time as the fluid and admirable O2, for example.

So should we assume then that social is only for brands which are already naturally engaging, aspirational and great at dancing?

If getting involved is a challenge, FS brands could hire the social equivalent of a body double and see how that works. Bodyform recently chose that route, achieving great viewing figures and industry acclaim for its video rejoinder to a comment on its Facebook page.

But surely, this is missing the point.

Some of those dancing dad brands aren’t there just because everyone else is on the dancefloor. Some are learning to engage in a new and changing world. Their customers, employees and partners are changing the way they communicate. Brands have no choice but to deal with the change. So they need to get in amongst it to understand it. And look for the opportunities to make a real connection with the people that are important to them.

Just being in it, isn’t enough. Bodyform was a great campaign tactic but it missed a trick by not being authentic. Femfresh got their fingers burned and missed a trick by not connecting with and understanding their detractors. These could have been valuable opportunities to learn about engaging in a world transformed by social. These brands do have interested communities active online had they been handled differently.

I don’t think Euan Semple was suggesting that some brands shouldn’t ‘do social’. His position rather was that we have amazing tools at our disposal now that can help us connect like never before.

Not every brand needs to be on Facebook. But every brand needs to understand the impact of social.

Because the opportunity of social is not really about scoring an extra point for awareness on your brand recognition tracker.

The real impact is far more strategic. It’s about building real relationships with the people that matter to your business, so that you can do better business with them.

Engagement in social media can be valuable to a brand. If it’s done right.

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Day 30 - Falling dominoes

Day 30 - Falling dominoes (Photo credit: evil_mel)

I really don’t care how many people follow your brand on Twitter, or Like your brand on Facebook. Numbers like these are essentially meaningless - building the right kind of relationships with 500 targeted people will always be more beneficial to you then meaningless, un-targeted relationships with 500,000.

The same is often said about ‘engagement’ - what value is there in engaging people on social media? This is a valid question to ask, but it is not the same as just attracting more Likes or Follows. Done well, engagement is valuable to a brand.

There are two main challenges to the value of engaging people in social media as brand:

  1. Surely sharing photos and chatting to people online has no connection to sales
  2. If it does have a connection, is it just a correlation (people feel positive about our brand so they both join us in social media and spend more money with us) and not a causation (people join us in social media and therefore feel more positive about our brand and spend more money with us)

What’s the value of ‘just chatting’?

The first challenge is a valid one - you can spend forever as a brand mindlessly chatting away to people without it having any impact on what you do. Are the people you are talking to even valuable to you, and are your engagements helping at all with them to spend more money, to recommend you to more people or to do some other action that will be beneficial.

The truth is that nothing should be done in social media with a clear understanding of why you are doing it - what you want to achieve and why this will help your business - and a clear understanding of who you want to target. These can be difficult questions to answer, but if you are not completely clear on them then you just won’t get the same benefits from engaging people in social.

Imagine a luxury fashion brand. It is probably very easy to get lots of people to ‘Like’ you page on Facebook or to follow you on Pinterest, but are these people actually the ones you want to engage? Or are they just aspirants, or people who like looking at the beautiful pictures? If you haven’t clearly identified who you want to engage (who will be valuable to you) and are managing your activities to attract these, then you may just end up chatting away to people who could have little value for the brand.

Know what you want to achieve, know your audience and make sure you are working hard to attract the right people.

Is it a causation or a correlation?

The bigger challenge to the value of social media engagement is that it does not lead to greater value for a brand, but that people engage more and spend more because they already feel positive about the brand. In short - that this is an example of correlated events and not causation.

A great piece of work by Bain & Company last year addresses this. Their Social Media Consumer Survey looked at average annual spend of customers who have a meaningful engagement with a brand in social against those who do not. Overall, those with a meaningful relationship spend 30% more annually.

If we were confusing causation and correlation we would expect that it would be those who are already positive about the brand who are spending more; those who are less positive about the brand would not. But the research doesn’t show this - those who’s spending is increased the most are the ‘fence sitters’ (those ambivalent to the brand); even the brand’s ‘detractors’ spend 20% more annually if they engage in social.

Bain Social Media Consumer Survey, 2011

So what does this mean for engagement in social?

So having good engagement in social media can be valuable to a brand - it’s not another meaningless number like Followers or Likes. Meaningful engagement, with the right people can lead to greater value for the brand from those customers.

But getting good engagement is not easy - it involves having a clear view on why you are using social, on the audience you want to engage, and on how you turn them from being passive to having an active relationship with you in social media. Most brands could get better at this and a focus on quality engagement, with the right people, will always pay greater dividends than just hunting down a few more Twitter followers or Facebook Likes.

Beating social media trolls

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You may have already seen yesterday’s news that the Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke, has proposed changes to British defamation laws which could see websites obliged to hand over personal details (including IP address) of those posting defamatory messages online.

A number of high-profile cases of online trolling and cyberbullying have become big news of late including those of Nicola Brookes and Louise Mensch MP. The idea behind the change to the law is about shifting responsibility for user-generated content from the web platforms (who are currently treated as the ‘publisher’ under existing libel laws) to the user themselves.

We think that the change is a sensible one. It simply doesn’t make sense for websites like Facebook (25m UK users) and Twitter (10m UK users) to be held responsible for every word written on their platforms – policing content would be an impossible in terms of both the scale of the job and lack of context for judging whether offending posts are indeed defamatory or threatening.

Last night Al Jazeera English interviewed me about this and asked why I think the changes proposed are a good thing for our freedom of speech. So why do I think that? Well, at the moment, as a user of social networks and blogs, if I take offence at something someone says to me, I can contact the platform in question and demand that I want the content removed. The platform, lacking context and in fear of being responsible for potentially libellous or otherwise illegal content more often than not will just remove it – regardless of whether a law has been broken or not. And if the law is broken it would take extremely costly legal action (as in the case of Nicola Brookes) to get a website to reveal the identities of the law breaker.

Under the proposed changes, if I feel genuinely aggrieved and can provide context to prove I have a case, not only can I have the offending content removed, I can have the identity of the troll revealed to me so that I can take appropriate legal action.

The message: that trolls and cyberbullies with fake names and photo-less profiles can no longer hide behind a cloak of anonymity when they fail to act responsibly online.

How to avoid being the victim of trolls

Anyone who engages online - both individuals and brands – is at risk of becoming the victims of trolling. Here are some top tips to help you avoid being a victim:

1. Privacy settings
Tightly controlled privacy settings will help you control who can engage with you online and the places where they can do it. The tighter these are the less likely it is that trolls will be able to infringe on your most ‘personal’ places online – inbox, Facebook wall and in your newsfeeds etc

2. Know your enemy
Is the perpetrator really a troll? What can you find out about them by looking at their profile? Clearly using a pseudonym? Faceless profile photo? Lots of activity on their profile in a similarly negative vein? You may well have yourself a troll.

3. Don’t feed the trolls
A piece of advice I often to give to brands I work with who are worried about trolling is that 99% of the time the best thing to say is nothing at all.Trolls thrive on the attention they get and knowing that they’ve caused offence or got a similar reaction. If you can, avoid getting involved and tell your friends and family (or indeed colleagues) to do the same and they’ll usually just go away.

Facebook ads - focus on growing and engaging your fan base

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General Motors Facebook adsFacebook has been very much in the spotlight, with a great amount of press attention on the run-up to last week’s IPO and the company’s recent stock performance.

One big headline was the announcement that General Motors was pulling its $10million Facebook ads account. This has clearly rocked confidence in the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook, but may not come as a surprise to many, as a social media setting is not necessarily the prime location for people seeking product information on a car.

It is important to note that while GM may be pulling its advertising, it will continue to develop its large Facebook presence across its brand pages, and keep a focus on engagement.

Here at FreshNetworks we take the approach that Facebook ads need to be aimed at growing the audience and engagement level of a page or app. By keeping ads within Facebook itself, the barrier to entry for a prospective fan is much lower than sending them to an external site.  Having said that, there are some important steps to consider when planning a Facebook ad campaign:

Testing the effectiveness of a Facebook ad

As with any marketing activity, you need to test and evaluate various approaches before committing a large outlay to a campaign.

What metrics should you be looking at?

While the click-through-rate is an important measurement, we’ve found that optimisation should be focussed on Facebook’s “Connections” metric, which measures activity in terms of engagement (likes, comments, app use etc.) so that the effective reach of your ad is maximised.

Optimising your Facebook ads

Splitting your adverts into campaigns makes it much easier to segment them according to target audience and content. We’ve found that breaking your ads up into campaigns of five ads each makes it much easier to manage and measure the effectiveness of particular ads.

Selection and formatting of images is vital. The imagery used obviously has to be eye-catching, but also something that is personalised and relevant to your target audience.

Following up a Facebook ad campaign

Once you have tested, optimised, and run your Facebook ad campaign, it’s important to carry the momentum and keep your new audience engaged. As with any social media activity, it is important to keep a clear strategy in mind, and determine why a new fan will want to come back to your page or engage with you.

To really understand social media, you must also understand online communities

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Audience at a Dan Deacon concert

It is very easy to get excited by social media. By “Likes” and “Follows”. To think about the tools you can use. To worry about creating content. To feel you must rush to be on the latest platform or site. But in all this excitement it can be easy to forget something that is more important than the tools, platforms and sites that you can make use of - the skills and expertise you need to identify, manage and grow a true online community.

When we talk about social media we are really only talking about tools that we can use to help us and the people we engage to achieve a task. To make a success in social media we need to understand online communities. For those of us who have been working in this space for many years this has long been the basis of all our work.

What is an online community?

There is a temptation to assume that all use of social media is the same - that we are ‘doing social media’. But this is just not true. There is a fundamental difference in how people behave when they are primarily in a group of actual friends (such as on Facebook) and how you interact with people not because you know them and are friends with them, but because you share a common interest (such as in a forum for fans of Arsenal football club, a site for mum chatting about nutrition in early years or a group of runners helping each other with training advice and tips as they prepare to run a marathon).

An online community is a group of people who exhibit this second behaviour. They do not necessarily know each other, and may not have any desire to become friends in that broader sense of the word. They do have a common passion, interest, concern or question. And they can find and engage with others online because of this.

Working with online communities

For most organisations looking at social media, it is only by identifying, building and engaging with online communities that they will start to get real benefit. Online communities are truly scalable because they do not rely on becoming ‘friends’ with people but mean that you (the organisation) and the rest of the community engage on topics that you all share in common. This is real engagement in a way that just amassing Likes or Follows is not.

Social media just provides the set of tools you can use to do this. But the real skill is threefold:

  1. Firstly to be able to identify the community you want to engage and understand why they would engage with you. What is the passion, problem, concern, issue or question that you can connect with your community about? And why would they connect with you at all about it?
  2. Then how do you find these people and help them to find you? Likes on Facebook or Followers on Twitter do not necessarily make an online community.
  3. Finally how do you manage them. There is a valuable and often heated debate elsewhere about the differences between a social media manager and a community manager, but any community does need the ‘party host’ role. A community manager who facilitates conversations and activities, helps to moderate the community so that it is a productive and friendly place for all, and who acts as the link between the organisation and the online community.

With all the excitement of social media it often feels like we have forgotten what we have known for many years about online communities and the way they work and interact. For anybody looking at or working in social media a solid grounding in how online communities work and how we should work with them is essential.