All posts in “Social Media Monitoring”

The Role of the Researcher in the Social Media Strategy Development Process

Wangari Kamande is a Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

As a research analyst, I often find that I hold the foundational pieces to what would help set the stage for solid strategy development. The information that I gather while conducting the background work to understand a client’s business, their needs, resources, target audience and goals is extremely valuable. This rich information makes it extremely necessary that a researcher be fully engaged in laying the foundational pieces of the strategy development process.

How does research set the foundation for a sound social media strategy?

  1. Understanding the client’s business and social media objectives (e.g., business activities, marketing activities, social media and marketing goals, how activities are being measured for success). This broad understanding will help filter into doing a deeper analysis into the following;
  2. Audience analysis – Understanding who is talking about the brand or who a brand is looking to engage with in the social-sphere, where they are participating in social, what is their current opinion of the brand or other brands where feasible and their social media usage patterns.
  3. Content Analysis – Evaluation of content somewhat overlaps with the audience analysis especially in respect to analysing what people are saying and the sentiment of their social conversations. However, in addition to the user generated information there is another piece of the content mix that is significantly valuable and that includes the resources and information that a brand has in its marketing communications, PR and advertising tool set – all the traditional marketing pieces that can be leveraged and optimised for social media use and engagement.
Sign Post

Source: Socialfulcrum.com

The three broad categories above feed into the development of the following:

  1. Content Strategy – Developing and executing a content strategy that resonates with the target audience
  2. Engagement Strategy – Developing and executing an engagement strategy that appeals and drives a response with the target audience
  3. Positioning Strategy – Having a clear understanding the target audience makes it easy for brands position themselves as the go to source in a specific niche / industry
  4. Listening Strategy – Brands can then tune their listening and customer / client service strategy so that they can effectively serve the needs of their customers / clients.
  5. Measurement – Identify metrics or key performance indicators that will help measure success.  If the objective is to gain awareness, then metrics such as increased engagement, social media mentions, Facebook likes and comments, Twitter followers, retweets (just to name a few) will be indicators. However, if selling is the main objective, click rates, social e-commerce, sales and conversion rates are suitable metrics.

How are you using research to build your brand’s social media strategy?

 

3…..2…..1….We have liftoff of the new iPad.

This post by Wangari Kamande a Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

When traveling to the moon, you better ensure your aim is true at launch, or else you will miss it by a mile. The same is true when launching new products or marketing campaigns, you want to ensure that your product or message meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Now, thanks to social media, brands can have an “early warning detection system” that can alert them of any previously unidentified issues.

You can be certain that Apple, who largely eschews social media marketing, is paying attention to what people are saying online about the new iPad, launched on March 15th.   (The last thing Apple wants is another antenna-gate.)

As reported in the Financial Post’s Tech Desk (and featuring data from SMG’s Research & Insights) team, there was a lot of online discussion about the new iPad.  But a deeper, more focused search quickly uncovered some product challenges and customers who were unsure about whether their device was operating to standard. A small, but vocal group of consumers complained about a yellow tint to the screen, overheating, or the fact that the covers Apple made for the iPad 2 do not fit the new tablet.

For Apple, this represents a great opportunity to quickly diagnose issues and jumpstart remedial action, if necessary with the goal of ensuring consumers are getting the brand experience they were paying for.

Social Media Signals

The signals and value that come from listening represent a big opportunity for brands. One of my favorite quotes is from the Author Harvey Mackay, he says, “You learn when you listen. You earn when you listen—not just money, but respect.” Make the decision to listen today; it will serve your brand well.

The Evolution of Social Media Measurement

As a child growing up, I was often told that aside from reading and writing, the other skill that will come in handy in life was to being able to count. My mother specifically emphasized “count your money”, “count your change”, “make a record of what is in your piggy bank”, and so I emptied my piggy bank every so often to count all the ten Kenyan cents (no longer in circulation as they are of no value) to ensure that none of my siblings had helped themselves to my hard “earned” pennies – more like begged and collected from the floor / ground. All to say, I realized the value of counting early, and we humans like to count where it matters – how much money do / will I make? What will it cost? How many calories are in this meal? How many friends can I count on? What will be my return on investment? and so on. We are counting, consciously and subconsciously, trying to measure the value of our ‘investments’ whatever shape or form they take.

The same is especially true for companies; they are interested in understanding “What is in it for our brand / company?”  What is the value behind every dollar spent? So it’s rather natural that this question is asked of social media campaigns and executions.  So let’s take a look at the social media measurement journey for brands.

1. Counting the Number of Fans and Followers and Comments or Retweets

There were days not so long ago, when marketers would pop champagne after hitting their 1,000 fans or followers milestone, they added the ‘#winning’ to every post and settled in fan bliss world (I exaggerate). Really, the marketing teams in most companies were excited to see customers connecting with them but often wondered, what does this mean? What can be done with this? Where do we go from here?

2. Social Media Measurement Tools to measure overall brand mentions across platforms

Using proprietary tools such as Radian6, Sysomos, Netbase just to name a few, brands have been able to do what we call here at Social Media Group a conversation scan or a social media brand audit. Using the most appropriate social media tools, this requires a deep dive into not only volumes of mentions, but also social media types / platforms used, sentiment analysis, top influencers on social media channels, share of voice (if looking at your brand in comparison to key competitors) or even sub-categorizing data to cover key themes or topics and campaigns over an established period of time. This continues to be very useful, but companies are still wondering – so now what? Using these tools they know what, who and where conversations about their brand are taking place and hopefully leveraging this to find innovative ways to engage with their customers. However, the question is, How is this all impacting companies’ bottom line? In other words “Show me the money from my social media investment”.

3. Then came, “Wait a minute! How do we get our fans/followers on our website?”

So companies started to engage with users by providing links with answers to questions from fans, promoting products and services that would link back to their websites. This was and is still helpful for companies in analysing their web traffic using tools such as Google Analytics to evaluate where their traffic is coming from e.g., Facebook, Wikipedia – again, counting!

4. Integrating Social Media Measurement with CRM

According to a report by Michael A. Stelzner on the Social Media Marketing Industry (2011) one-third of all social media marketers want to know how to monitor and measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media and integrate their social media activities. This is what company executives have been fussing about; they want to understand the implication of social media investments in relation to sales, revenue and cost.  The term for integrating Social Media with CRM is Social CRM. In a nutshell, it involves managing your communications, building relationships with the online community and measuring the results that reflect the bottom line – leads and sales. Social Media Examiner has provided a robust list of metrics that will help marketers get their executive team on board with social media. Further, the social customer has provided 10 steps to integrate CRM and Social Media.

5 Categories of Social Media Measurement

Source: Full Frontal ROI

Every part of the social media measurement evolution journey has brought value to evaluating the impact of Social on Leads and Sales. Moreover, every measurement remains important but should not be represented on its own; they all fit together like a jig-saw puzzle and provide input necessary to expand and grow engagement and lead generation opportunities.

 

Dealing with the “Unfriend”, “Unfollow” & “Unlike” Factor

Wangari Kamande is Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

Lately, I have read status updates or heard friends say to me “I am going to ‘unfriend’ all these Facebook friends that I don’t really know or care about” or “I am tired of reading status updates that have no meaning or value for me.” This one was on one of my good friend’s status updates on Friday “…just spent the last 30 minutes “unfriend-ing” people from my Facebook & will continue doing so this weekend…I was getting tired of all the stupid status updates…The line had to be drawn somewhere :) .” This sentiment also holds true with “un-liking” brands.

According to a recent study by NM Incite, the top reason cited for friend-ing someone on Facebook is not surprising – it’s knowing them in real life (82%). The same applies for brands – people “like” Facebook pages of brands they are aware of. On the other hand, offensive comments are the main reason for unfriend-ing (55%). According to the study, here are a few things you might be doing that will leave you wondering if the apocalypse happened and captured all your social media connections: updating too often, updating less frequently, lack of originality, too many salesy posts, irrelevant, posting repetitive and boring content, just to name a few.

The study further indicates that men are more likely to use social media for careers/networking and dating while women use social media as a creative outlet, to get coupons/ promos or to give positive feedback.

 

Source: NM Incite

 

So, this begs the question, how do we manage the number of social media ‘break ups’? I use the word “manage” because, truth be told, not all people will stick with you – in fact, an interesting statistic I recall hearing on TV went something like “25% of the people you meet won´t like you and never will; 25% won´t like you, but could be persuaded to; 25% will like you, but could be persuaded not to; and 25% will like you and stand by you no matter what.” With that in mind, how can we create a positively magnetic relationship and level of engagement with the people we value in social channels?

Whether this is for your personal brand, a.k.a. “YOU”, or a company brand, the following thoughts run true and are useful in getting you plugged in with those in your sphere of interest.

1. Who is your social audience?

While your entire target audience might not be actively engaged in social media, identify what your sub-targets and potentials are and determine their demographics, the social media channels they use and their interests. This can be achieved through a combination of some secondary research and if you want to really get to the core of your audience’s interests in social, performing a conversation scan using social media listening tools will provide you with a good picture of what is going on within your sphere of interest. Well-armed with the “who” you are looking to connect with, you can move on to the next step.

2. What is your brand’s intended social experience?

Determine the purpose that each social media channel will serve in reaching your audience. Along with that comes the underlying values of the brand, your brand’s voice—remember, social media is for sharing and engaging with others. Determine if your brand will be funny, serious or provocative. Overall, the motivations behind your social presence will be evident soon enough. If they serve the interest of your audience you will have a loyal following.

3. Win with your execution

Now that you have your audience and your social experience down pat, the content needs to captivate and match your audience needs. There are many articles that have been written on creating effective content, including on this blog. Do your research and package your brand with interesting content that will set up your social community for success.  A conversation calendar that is reviewed through the lens of the two steps above will help you get organized and ensure that you’re consistent and focused in your communication.

Keep in mind the best listeners make the best conversationalists. If you are looking to create and maintain a growing, fresh community in social media, you need to establish a listening framework to monitor your audience  and hopefully draw insights that would feed back into your social media strategy execution.

 

Questions to ask when choosing a social media monitoring vendor

Listening to the voice of your consumer in social media is fast becoming a strategic imperative.  According to a recent survey by Leger Marketing, the majority of companies have some kind of social media listening strategy in place.  For some, this means a simple and free solution like Google Alerts, while larger organizations, usually those with larger social media footprints turn to enterprise grade software as a service (SaaS) solutions.

Literally hundreds of software tools have emerged to meet the demand of this market, presenting companies with the challenge of deciding what the right tool is for their company.

Creative Commons. All rights reserved by Don Moyer

At Social Media Group, we’ve done the due diligence on a healthy contingent of the tools that are out there.   Our process entailed creating a scorecard based on an established set of criteria that aligned with our business needs.  While your company’s requirements will likely differ, here are some smart questions to ask prospective vendors:

1)      Do you have access to the Twitter fire hose? Twitter is a huge source of social media activity, with 250 million messages being produced each day.   It is not uncommon for brand mentions on Twitter to account for 75% of all social media messages.  At SMG, we refer to Twitter as the social web’s circulatory system – a network that people use to readily share information that inspires and interests them.  People also use Twitter to complain.  A lot.

Regardless of how Twitter is being used, you want to feel confident that you’re getting all of the relevant messages.  Yet, Twitter is increasingly selective about who gets their data.  Not all social media monitoring companies have access to the “fire hose,” (the full stream of Twitter data) so you best understand what your vendor is getting (or missing).

2)      What is the service level agreement? Service outages can be a major source of pain and frustration.  If the system goes down, you might be left with a team of analysts sitting around with nothing to do, and your company is exposed to risk because the social web never sleeps.   While some interruptions are inevitable, make sure you have sufficient recourse in place should the software you choose fail to operate as needed and expected.  Make sure you have a dedicated representative who will be responsible for working to resolve issues quickly and satisfactorily.

3)      Can you engage with consumers directly through the tool? If customer service is a priority for your company, then you’ll want the opportunity to address customer questions or confusion as soon as it’s discovered.  The ability to do this from within a listening platform is by far and away the most efficient way to manage this process.  Needless to say, if you are empowering your customer service team to manage online customer issues, then you’ll need to have the appropriate rapid response framework and escalation processes in place.

4)      What enhancements have been released in the past year?  What’s in the development pipeline? This social media listening market is moving quickly.  Companies are being acquired regularly and innovation is essential to break free of a commoditised market.  Sometimes when these companies are acquired, innovation is accelerate, while other times it stalls.  Getting a track record of what improvements have been made in the past year will help you understand if you can expect the tool to be continually upgraded.

5)      How much will this cost? Ahh, price. There are many different pricing models in this field, user seats, search profiles and pricing based on data volume being the most common. Whatever the pricing model, ensuring that the pricing is both reasonable and will remain consistent is what you should strive for.  The last thing that you want to worry about during a crisis (read increased data volume) is to lose control of the costs required until the matter has been diffused.

6)      Can the system integrate with other platforms? Surely, one of the most interesting developments in the social media monitoring market of late was Salesforce.com’s acquisition of Radian6.  For sales driven organizations, this move holds great promise, foreshadowing a future class of applications that’s capable of moving customers down from the upper reaches of the sales funnel into legitimate sales opportunities.   SMG will be keeping a close eye on this one.

The social media listening market presents a vast sea of options for companies today.  When choosing a tool, start with your listening objectives, define your selection criteria, then be prepared with questions and try before you buy!

 

Why businesses can no longer ignore social media listening…

As a reformed market research analyst delving into the unstructured world of social media – I often ask myself what is relevant and useful for our clients (noise versus signal)? How can we get through the murk and provide value in a way that impacts our clients’ brand perception and ultimately creates leads and more opportunities for business?

The truth is, for all this good stuff to happen—positive brand perception, customer loyalty and increased leads for business—companies cannot afford to ignore what is going on in social media beyond their owned channels. When I was a child, my mother often told me that there was a reason why I had one mouth and two ears and she said it was because there was more to gain from listening than talking all the time. I believe this applies even more so to companies with established or growing brands. Here are some reasons why social listening matters.

1. The power of word of mouth almost equals the power to express “social right”

Consumers not only have the power of the wallet but also have the power to express their “social right”—views of their experience with a brand on social channels that can build or break your brand. Granted, word of mouth may not be the same as a tweet or blog, but it has the ability to influence opinions and have a huge impact on a brand. According to an article on Social Media Today, 89% of people look online before making a purchase decision by reading reviews, tweets, chatting with friends online, searching discussion forums etc.

With foursquare check-ins being shared via Facebook, there’s an opportunity for cross-platform social influence. For instance, I have seen some status updates recently with negative comments referencing a certain coffee shop. Even though it may not have been in my list of coffee shops to go to, you can bet that I’ve got an opinion about it. If anyone asks me about coffee shops in the area, I might just respond with “I don’t know which one is best, but I have heard terrible things about xx”. If the coffee shop is listening to what people are saying about them on foursquare and other channels, they have an opportunity to redeem their brand by dealing with the complaints as they arise.

2. Social media use and engagement is growing tremendously

There are gazillion statistics on the growth of social media use in general, according to  Facebook, and Pingdom, one in nine people on Earth is on Facebook and people spend 700 billion minutes per month on the site  (which explains the chunks of time lost as I stare, in a trance, at tons of pictures and status updates from people I haven’t seen in over ten years). According to some stats on TechCrunch, Twitter is adding nearly 500,000 users a day, and an average of 190 million tweets occur per day on Twitter – you get the picture. Social media is here to stay and it’s no longer a matter of if it stays but how we are to respond to this growing and engaging new way of communicating. For a business to stay ahead or keep in step with its target market, it’s absolutely necessary that you listen and engage.

3. To gain insights and customer intelligence

There are some interesting actionable insights that companies can gain from listening to what people are saying about them. I have often found it quite useful for our clients to know what social media sites are for and against their brands, as this provides an opportunity to strategize and engage if necessary with their brand detractors and advocates.

A good example is Domino’s Pizza . A couple years ago there was a YouTube video set up by two of their employees that went viral and was a brutal disgrace to the brand. This definitely got the Domino’s management ears perked and they were not only ready to listen to their customers but also open to engaging with them so they re-launched their pizzas in a new campaign that integrated what their customers were saying. As a result of listening the company was able to make a complete turnaround for their brand. And they continue to listen…

The social media world is here to stay; your best bet is to get with the program and listen. As popular author Harvey Mackay says, “You learn when you listen. You earn when you listen—not just money, but respect.” Make the resolution to listen in 2012.

Here is a social media listening infographic from closingbigger.net

Social Media Listening

Announcement: Social Media Group Teams Up With FPinfomart

Today, we’d like announce an exciting new partnership between Social Media Group and Canada’s leading media monitoring service, FPinfomart.

FPinfomart, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., is a one stop resource for traditional media monitoring, covering print, newswires and broadcast in a single integrated platform. Our partnership brings together industry leading mainstream media coverage with SMG’s social media Research and Insights Practice whose principal job is to help clients understand and act upon conversations in social media.

Why are we so excited about this new venture?

  • It recognizes the convergence of channels.  Social and traditional media are now inextricably linked and analyzing them separately no longer makes sense. Social media pundits often reference the decline of traditional channels, but a more honest appraisal of the landscape would still recognize to the mass power of print and broadcast and the conversation it triggers online.
  • Insights from social data now have greater context. Looking at social media data alone is the equivalent to a horse wearing blinders. Brands need to see the bigger picture. At SMG, we’ve witnessed social media groundswell lead to coverage in mainstream media, and vice versa. With integrated measurement, clients can see the entire landscape, not just a sliver.
  • We will deliver extra value to our clients. SMG is all about helping clients succeed on the social web.  Increasingly, the social web is populated by the media and responses to mainstream media activity.  Being able to tell a story and take action based on a holistic view of influence and issues is a powerful, unique and creative offering.

Together, Social Media Group and FPInfomart will now provide a complete, holistic view of the communications landscape that is unmatched in the marketplace, enabling our clients to understand and act upon what’s being said in any channel.

To find out more about this unique offering, please email me at patrick [dot] gladney [at] social media group [dot] com, call +1 416-703-3764 or Contact Us.



Social Media Support for Mayor Ford – Not So Much!

We recently completed some analysis for the Toronto Star about social media perceptions of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.   Here is a quick summary of our findings:

There’s no questioning Mayor Rob Ford’s popularity among Torontonians.  He received 53% of the popular vote in last November’s municipal election, and approval polls conducted early in the summer showed that at least 57% of Torontonians think that he’s doing a good job.  But if that base of support is still holding, their voices are being drowned in social media, where Ford detractors consistently share the outrage and scorn for Toronto’s top civic leader.

In the last 9 months,  the Mayor was mentioned roughly 43,000 times over a variety of social media channels, with  Twitter being the primary channel, home to 70% of all mentions.  Fewer than 7% of the posts were positive. The largest spikes of online mentions  were brought on by this summer’s biggest controversies, like Ford’s decision to skip the Pride Parade, his suggestion that citizens call 911 if they witness graffiti artists defacing property just to name a few.  Negative mentions about the civic head hit record highs in July spurred by Doug Ford’s dust up with Margaret Atwood about the potential closing of public libraries and other cost-cutting measures being discussed at the time.

Looking at approval polls or election results, it’s clear that Rob Ford has the support of Toronto voters. However, these supportive voices seem to be overshadowed in social media where Ford detractors continually dominate the conversation landscape.   Politics are fueled by passion, which makes social media the perfect outlet for people to express their unvarnished opinion.  Time will tell if the increase in negative online sentiment is reflected in future approval polls.

A Quick Look at PostRank's White Paper on URL-Based Monitoring

PostRank’s new white paper Listening Beyond Keywords highlights some key ideas to consider in the realm of social media monitoring as well as the need to move past the standard keyword-based approach. PostRank thinks the future is in URL-based content monitoring and they make a pretty good case. (more) Continue Reading…