Enter the London Social Media Agency 5km challenge for @GreatOrmondSt (the #social5km)

Tweet

We like a challenge at FreshNetworks. We’re a competitive bunch. As, it appears, is most of London agencyland, be they a pure play social media agency or any marketing, advertising or PR agency with a passion for social media and for competition. So, following a weekend of Twitter banter we’ve decided to accept the ultimate challenge to find the fastest agency team in London, and also the one that can raise most for charity. We’re inviting you all to join us in the 2011 London Social Media Agency 5km Challenge in June 12th. The #social5km as we’re calling it.

About the #social5km challenge

We’re taking part in the 2011 Race for the Kids for Great Ormond Street Hospital. A 5km ‘fun run’ around Battersea park on 12 June. The plan is to enter in agency teams and compete for some serious and less serious awards. And most notably for pride.

What are we competiting for

Aside from pride, there are some serious categories of competition, and it’s not just about being the quickest to finish. Current proposed categories are:

  • Fastest team (mean time for the whole team)
  • Most money raised
  • Most enthusiastic supporters
  • Best dressed runner
  • Most impressive hair

If you want to add more categories, add them in the comments below.

How to take part

Taking part is simple. You need to do two things:

  1. Enter for the race as a team (one person needs to create the team first and then everybody else join it)
  2. Leave a comment below telling us: your team name, your agency (and link) and the people in your team (with their Twitter names)

We’ll keep a list here of the agencies taking part and keep you updated in the next few months.

Oh and the friendly, competitive banter can take place on Twitter - hashtag #social5km

The agency teams

1) FreshNetworks

  • Matt Rhodes (@mattrhodes)
  • Helen Trim (@helentr)
  • Greg Hollings (@greghollings)
  • Dan Harris (@gecko84)
  • Alex Truby
  • Joy Taylor
  • Nic Gutteridge

2) ‘The caners’ from Hurricane

  • Jon Holloway (@socialvation)
  • Paul Cash (@zagology)
  • Lindsay Davies (@lindsaydavies)
  • Jo Bromilow (@redheadfashion)
  • Mauro Niewolski (@mauroniewolski)
  • Matt Simpson (@mrmsimpson)

3) Team TAMBA

  • Kay Hammond (@TAMBA_Internet)
  • Jon Broomfield (@TAMBA_Jon)
  • Adam Keene (@TAMBA_Adam)

4) Team Tempero

  • Dom Sparkes (@domsparkes)
  • Kelda Wallis (@kelda)
  • Lucy McElhinney (@lucym)
  • Frank Sheahan (@FrankusDTankus)
  • Julia Wolter
  • Esther Ivshin

5) Team eMod

  • Tearin’ Tia Fisher (@emoderation)
  • Blazin’ Blaise Grimes-Viort (@blaisegv)
  • Dangerous Dani W
  • Hurricane Helen S
  • Jumpin’ Joanne W
  • Revving Roger W
  • Tearaway Tom M
  • Fiona R
  • Janice P

43% of news sharing online is via social media (CNN research)

Tweet

The Facebook Like Stamp
Image by Denis Dervisevic via Flickr

A study by CNN of how we share and consume news has found that social media is the most frequent way that we share stories online. In their study of 2,300 people over two months they found that social media was used to share news in 43% of all instances. Higher than email, which was the second most frequent method of sharing, with 30% of all instances. SMS was third (with 15% of instances) and instant messenger 4th (12%).

These statistics should not, in themselves be surprising. Social media is the easiest of all these ways for people to share news. To share on Facebook they just need to click a ‘Like’ button, and to share on Twitter or other sites there are one-click ways to share content with your friends and followers. Many sites (including our own) include these links and buttons and news sites, in particular are making good use of these. Sharing by email or SMS is more difficult - you need to copy the link, open the relevant program, find who you want to share it with and then send the link.

Social media tools remove many of these steps and, although we don’t have any timeseries data on this, I would hypothesise that the volume of all news stories shared has increased as the amount of sharing via social media has increased. Social media makes news sharing easier and encourages more people to do it.

The role of social media influencers in news sharing

What is perhaps more revealing from this research is the analysis of who shares what. The study found that 27% of ‘Frequent Sharers’ (defined as those sharing at least six stories each week) were responsible for 87% of all news shared online. As we see in most online communities, a small number of users are responsible for the majority of content produced and shared.

These influencers are those who are sharing very high volumes of news and for news organisations there is a real benefit to be gained from understanding more about how they behave and what they share. There is also a benefit for those advertising around the stories that are shared. CNN’s research found that people who received a news story from a friend in social media were more 19% more likely to recommend brands that advertised around this story. They were 27% more likely to favour the brand themselves.

So sharing of news stories in social media is beneficial not just to the news organisations but also to the brands who advertise alongside these stories. There is a real benefit to properly analysing and understanding how people share content online - who is sharing this and what content are they most likely to share. As social media grows and the use of ‘Like’ buttons becomes ubiquitous we should expect even more sharing online and so an ever increasing importance of proper analysis of what users are doing.

Three ways to act on your social media monitoring

Tweet

sydney opera house - surreal steps
Image by Chewy Chua via Flickr

This week we published the final report in our Review of Social Media Monitoring Tools (download the final report here). Reflecting on the report and its findings with clients and others this week, we have found ourselves discussing the importance of not just listening (although this can often be a good first step for those who are not yet doing it) but also acting on what is said about your brand and other terms of interest in social media. As the report shows, the different social media tools are of value for different purposes and choosing the one that is most suited to your brand and your needs is an important step.

Even before you have your social media monitoring in place, any brand can benefit from working out a plan for what you will do with all this information you are going to gather. Dashboards and reports can be useful, but the ability to take actions or make decisions using this information is much more useful for any brand. What you do with your social media monitoring is as important, if not more important, than getting the monitoring in place in the first place.

Different brands will want to engage with the conversations they discover online in different ways. The following are three great ways for any brand to engage with these conversations. The first two are ways in which you can capitalise upon the outputs of your social media monitoring internally and the last one on how you can use it to engage externally. They all require you to connect with different teams and functions in your brand and may need internal process change to make a real difference.

1. Inform the language of your marketing and communications

Observing and analysing the way people talk about your brand, competitor brands and the market you are in more generally can be a real and valuable source of insight for marketing and communications teams. It lets you learn how people talk about you, the language they use and how they compare you to other competitors and substitutes in the market. By properly searching not just for brand terms but also the terms that people use in relation to them you can start to explore the language that people use. This has a number of benefits. You can use the language and keywords to refine and ammend your search strategy. You can use relevant language and expressions in your marketing and PR activities. And you can start to use the same language when you are engaging in social media.

This relies on you ensuring that different teams across your brand are connected to what your social media monitoring reveals. And probably more importantly that you set up the reporting and analysis to ensure you are looking not just at what is said, but more importantly at how you can change your own communications and language on the basis of this.

2. Predict market changes

One of the real benefits of social media monitoring is that it allows you to track over time the things that are discussed in relation to your brand and your market. By tracking what is discussed over time allows you to identify when more conversations about certain issues being to emerge. Imagine, for example, that you are a large chain of pizza restaurants. One of the the things you might monitor is references to pizza being bought in a supermarket or eaten from take-away restaurants. Your social media monitoring should be set to alert you when and unusually large number of conversations of one of these kinds are present in social media. What is causing people to talk more than is usual about a topic and what can you do about it.

This kind of trend spotting can be of huge value to any business but relies on you having the mechanisms to capitalise upon this knowledge. Usually this would be a good indicator for your insight or research teams, or a marketing function to explore the trends that appear to be emerging and to make sure you are putting plans in place for any changes it may be spotting early.

3. React and respond to mentions of your brand online

Finally, any brand should consider its process for reacting and responding to what people say abotu you online. Whilst the previous two activities are very internal, this is external and involves engaging directly with people in social media.

There are many ways in which people refer to and mention a given brand online. And in most instances there is typically no need to respond. You can just leave the mention and monitor it if you think relevant. We have written before about how to react if somebody writes about your brand online, and the process described here is a great starting point. The next step is to integrate this with your own internal processes and to change these to ensure conversations online are engaged with and responded to when relevant.

This touches heavily on the importance of sentiment analysis - often negative comments need to be responded to in one way and by one set of people, and positive comments in a different way by a different set of people. We’ve written before about the problem with automated sentiment analysis and the best advice is to make sure that you keep a level of human involvement and analysis to make sure you’re responding to the right things in the right ways.

Read the other posts from our social media monitoring review 2010 or download our final report

Vodafone, Twitter and the challenges of managing your brand in social media

Tweet

Vodafone
Image via Wikipedia

It’s been an interesting afternoon for Vodafone. Their VodafoneUK Twitter account has attracted a lot of attention after one Tweet in particular stood out from their usual customer service conversations online. In between the Tweets resolving network coverage and other queries one stood out. You can read about what was actually said elsewhere. But, in addition to some rather questionable grammar, the message was offensive and not appropriate for a brand’s Twitter stream at all. It was clearly the work of either a hack, a case of very bad judgement, a disgruntled employee or an inappropriate sharing of passwords.

The official response from Vodafone (as you can see from almost every message they have sent since on Twitter) is that it was a breach of rules by an internal member of staff and that they are dealing with it internally. This is the kind of PR that any company doesn’t want, and as it was done through Twitter it will no doubt be held up by some as one of the downsides of social media and of engaging with customers online in this way.

Putting aside any short-term issues and negative publicity, there are a couple of things we can learn from what happened to Vodafone today. First in how you should manage your use of social media as a brand, and second in how you should respond when things go very wrong.

Managing your brand in social media

We’ve posted before about how to write your firm’s social media policy and, perhaps more importantly, what to do once your firm’s social media policy is written. The basic principal is that it is the quality of your staff and the relationships they make with customers that will make all the difference. Not the technology you use or any technological solutions you put in place. The general principal is that if you trust your staff to represent your brand in traditional media, then you should be able to trust them in social media.

Of course, Vodafone may not today be able to empathise with this and there are some differences. Notably that anybody with access to a Twitter account will be able to say something that is immediately and directly communicated to customers. This is a huge responsibility and one that people should not take lightly. But it is a responsibility that brands should give to their staff and one that is most important when building your brand online and in social media. Whilst there are many agencies out there who can help to manage your brand online for you, with the appropriate training and support (which may need to come from a specialist social media agency) the best person to represent your brand online are your own employees.

The key things here are:

  1. Have a culture where social media is acceptable. Encourage your staff to use social media so that they become comfortable with it and that is becomes part of your culture. This is a big shift for many organisations and one they are often nervous of.
  2. Have ongoing social media training across the business. Things change and they change quickly in social media. A firm that wants to position itself best online needs a regular and ongoing set of training and ideas and knowledge share. Try things out and share what works and what doesn’t for your brand.
  3. Trust people but have a very clear policy in place. You should trust people to interact with your customers online but be aware of what they are doing. It is not one-to-one communications, nor is it always one-to-many. You are talking to one person but in a very public environment. Recognise this and have policies and processes in place for this new way of communicating. But make these policies simple and clear to understand.

And whatever happens you need to be aware of the risks and have processes for dealing with them. Social media is growing and changing rapidly and as such can be a very forgiving place if you approach things in the right way. Everybody is experimenting and will often forgive you if things go wrong and you handle them in the right way. For me this is what Vodafone got right.

What we can learn from Vodafone’s response

When things go wrong the way to respond to it can be simple. Vodafone did two things that all brands can learn from. Whilst there will be discussions, debate and probably some negativity about what was said this afternoon for sometime, fundamentally, Vodafone should not suffer too much damage, because:

  1. They responded quickly and said what was happening. In social media, people can spread messages quickly. Vodafone also responded quickly and said exactly what happened and was happening. It wasn’t a hack but an internal employee and that person was being dealt with.
  2. They responded in the same place that people are talking about them. Vodafone responded to its Twitter followers on Twitter, using the VodafoneUK account. The key to crisis management in social media is to respond where people complain. Otherwise you risk alienating them and losing your role in the story.

So lots that we can learn and lots that they got right. But no doubt a challenging day for Vodafone today.

  • Vodafone suspends employee after obscene tweet (guardian.co.uk)
  • Top five Twitter gaffes (guardian.co.uk)
  • Vodafone suspends employee over obscene Twitter update (telegraph.co.uk)

McDonald’s serves up social media

Tweet

Image by thomas.merton via Flickr

McDonald’s is the world’s largest and fastest growing food service organisation. It is also a brand that attracts a lot of discussion and debate online. Not all of it positive.

This presentation from Heather Oldani, their Director of PR, is a great overview of how McDonald’s is using social media and online communities. From Twitter and Facebook to their own online communities. It’s an interesting insight into how a brand like McDonald’s is using social media - what they set out to achieve and what actually happened. But the presentation is Required Reading this week at FreshNetworks for the five key learnings that Oldani outlines from McDonald’s experiences:

  1. Don’t ask “Should we engage using social media?”; ask how you should engage
  2. Get your strategy right before you start using social media - know what you’re trying to achieve
  3. Collaborate across the business - social media impacts on a range of different teams and job roles and often leads to these teams having to work together in different and new ways
  4. Be flexible and try new things
  5. Be open and responsive to feedback - listen to what people say (positive or negative) and respond or engage if appropriate

For us, the most important of these is number 2 - getting a clear strategy before you start to use social media is critical for any brand. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, consumers won’t either.

BDI 11/12 The Social Consumer - McDonald’s Presentation
View more documents from Business Development Institute.