Social media has emerged as the new buzz word in growing your brand or business online. In fact, social media marketing services are now the fastest growing marketing channels in the world. So what’s all the fuss about?
In Europe 58.4% of people are online daily, in the US that rises to 77.4% (Internet World Stats). Forrester Research reported that 75% of internet users used social media applications in the second quarter of 2008, marking a rise from 56% in 2007. According to Nielsen (2009) 10% of all internet time is spent on social media sites. In the US, during 2008 there were reportedly 82.5 million content creators which is set to climb significantly by 2013 (eMarketer). You get where I’m going, the internet, including social media, is a powerful tool to grow your business.
The response by many brands and professionals has been to develop their own ‘social space’ and social marketing strategies. You have probably heard of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, they have been dubbed ‘the big four’. It is common for brands to be present on these spaces. Many professionals also use LinkedIn, I certainly have an account. Online communities have been around since before social media became social media. Brand communities can be an excellent platform to connect brand advocates together.
These types of social media allow us to develop our own social space in which we can post our own content and interact or engage with others. Essentially, we can manage information flows from these accounts.
Developing our own social space is great we have the potential to reach our target audience, network with others and connect our advocates together. Growing a brand or our own personal brand with conversation and networking. However this only comprises a small part of social media.
This is where it gets interesting…
As with brand and professional online spaces, individuals and consumers have social spaces. There are also numerous communities and media which hold conversations about brands or even us as professionals. We cannot control or manage these conversations. Interestingly it is these conversations which hold the most influence.
So how do we find the conversations surrounding our brand or personal brand?
The answer: social media monitoring software.
I prefer the term ‘social filtering’. You filter out the ‘noise’ and attain the right conversations. This has a huge impact on growing your brand. Instead of solely producing your own content you join other conversations and filter the ‘noise’ surrounding your area of business or expertise. You can also find out what your customers, potential customers or advocates really think about you.
Yes, you may have accreditations on your own social spaces but remember it is the third party spaces that are most influential. Through filtering you can also find the conversations, on topics surrounding your brand and area of business or expertise. Not everyone will come directly to you, I advise you to find them. Grow your business through finding the right conversations.
Many, many different types of social media filtering [monitoring] software exists. There are platform specific through to the whole social media landscape.
So, which is best?
I’ve still not found the ‘best’ tool.
A few months ago a thread on the community Quora asked that specific question. Several answers emerged but Radian 6 and Sysomos seemed to be the most popular. A link to a Fresh Networks blog post also suggests, Brandwatch, Alterian, Scoutlabs, Synthesio, Social Radar and PeerIndex.
Elliott Lemenager, a Microsoft community manager also suggests Collective Intellect.
Linda Cheung and Mark Bower of Connectegrity are also social media filtering providers who I have in my network. I have to give Linda credit for the term ‘social media filtering’. Connectegrity are a fast growing start up specialising in B2B social media filtering.
The use of such monitoring tools is really dependent on how much you want to invest. Lauren Vargas, director of community suggests that you consider the following before investing in social media filtering software:
Depth and Breadth of Coverage: ensure you’re capturing all relevant conversation from across the social web
Analytics and Metrics: Determine the specific media metrics you can track, filter and analyse via report
Collaboration and Workflow: As your social media strategy matures, you’ll want the option to share data among your team
Engagement: Determine if you are able to coordinate, track, and measure all outreach from within the platform (avoid wasting time jumping back and forth from inside and outside a tool to capture valuable information)
Scalability: Check the availability of integrating your social media monitoring across other areas of your organization
Provider Growth and Longevity: Determine how the provider will grow and improve with your needs; how the platform will deliver on long term solutions and/or if the provider will require resources from your organization to upgrade
Fresh Networks also suggests some free providers, Addict-O-Matic, Alltop, BoardReader and Social Seek to name a few.
Remember, the software only provides one part of the solution. You can filter the ‘noise’ but what do you do now?
Think about social media as a cocktail party, networking event or business expo. You network, obtain contacts, and later work those contacts. Everyone seems to think social media is an instant fix, it’s not. You network and grow contacts in a virtual space instead of a physical space.
Once you have found the conversations to join:
- Get the best person/people for the job. Sometimes it can be easy to leave social media responsibility with ‘someone’. Don’t do it! Social media is lasting, remember the content will always be there and the conversations are in most instances public. Put the best foot forward with the best person for the job! You wouldn’t send anyone to a cocktail party would you?
- Get the right content. I keep on hearing content is king, I hate the saying but you have to share appropriate content for your brand or business. Remember everything you post or share will be linked back to you or your brand.
- Don’t try to sell. I have started to get lots of tweets asking me to do something or promoting something. I don’t like this. That is just spam. Linking back to the getting the right content. The content should not directly form a sales pitch. So off putting. Instead be knowledgeable in your area of expertise. Offer advice. Remember you wouldn’t do a hard sell in a cocktail party or networking event. Its’ the same on social media.
- Keep in contact. You don’t network, get lots of exciting new contacts then never contact them again. You build a relationship.
- Maintain a profile. Once you enter social media, especially if you have what I call a branded social space, you must maintain a profile. Think about your website, would you have an out of date website? No. Well it’s the same with social media.
It’s not all about creating noise or becoming the new viral sensation. You have the ability to grow your business in areas that were traditionally hard to reach. Social media is global allowing you to grow internationally. There are millions of conversations waiting for you to join.