Tag Archives: twitter

Putting the “Social” back into “Social Media”

So social media is about being social—no surprise there, right?

Wrong if you are hanging out in this “social media space” not knowing what to do and simply maintaining a one-way Twitter or Facebook account.

Social media is as much about being proactive as being reactive.

In regard to Twitter, the key to maintaining a successful account people want to follow and engage with is engaging first.

Let’s take a look at an account I managed for the past six months.

(The account will remain unnamed.)

We began with 0 followers and are up to 3,400 in 180 days. The key to this account is engaging with followers by creating a discussion, answering those who ask questions, addressing those who send feedback, and thanking those who post images…and doing everything in between.

Being a consumer business, it would be very easy to put Twitter on auto-pilot and blast promotions and focus on products…but that was not the strategy. And that would not yield the results of having 3,400 people actively follow the account.

The social media strategy (and that is why you need a social media strategy) included building brand awareness and engaging with Guests through their social media channels of choice (Facebook, Twitter and MySpace). Twitter, being an intimate source of communication, was focused on managing the brand’s online reputation, creating brand visibility and responding to feedback. The consumers of the brand have a natural inclination to share ideas, images, stories and information and want a chance to “get something special” such as free products.

To get the dialogue started and a “buzz” going about the brand, engaging questions were posted on the account to evoke responses. A simple question, that was relevant to all consumers of the brand, was posed and yielded over 200 responses. The account also hosted contests for a chance to win free products and co-sponsored scavenger hunts with other Twitter accounts to create a longer period of engagement for that particular tactic.

On the reactive side, when there were mentions of the brand within the space, a reactive approach was initiated by engaging with the user and referring to the mention. If it was an issue or concern, the required follow-up steps were taken. If it was a mention of how much the user loved the products, a simple “thanks” was sent.

The Facebook fan page also took a proactive/reactive approach by allowing all fans to comment on all posts, which included commenting to win contests (my personal favorite was a caption contest—over 130 entries and over 250 interactions, and the contest lasted for two hours). The fan page hosts images and slyly adds certain ideas to gauge feedback as to what consumers want from the brand. Oh and it gained over 35,000 fans in the same time frame.

So what did you learn from this (I hope)?

You must decide on a focus for your social media strategy:
1. What do you want to accomplish through your efforts?
2. And more importantly, what will your audience be receptive to in this space?

Once your strategy is developed, to be “social” you must:
• Engage by being proactive first and manage the space by being reactive
• Give your readers/followers/fans what they want and allow them to provide feedback
• Be interesting, fun and never end up mundane, creativity has no limit!

…and this is how to put the “social” back into “social media.”

Using Social Media vs. Using a Social Media Strategy

I was on a call the other day with Dan Green and he made a statement that made me laugh and then sigh. He said “you know, today everything thinks they are a social media expert.” What I thought was going to follow was a statement about how I was one of those people (this was our first interaction). Instead he continued, “…but you understand the strategy and that’s what it takes to be successful.” Over conversation shifted and we began discussing how students, marketers and even some self-proclaimed social media experts just don’t get it. They [social media expert impersonators] think you need to use all the social networks possible at one time to blast your message, need to constantly promote formally and in accordance with a corporate image, and/or to be the first to land in each space…and that is not necessarily the case.

Using social media means engaging with your target audience through thoughtful channels and sending the messages that make the most sense. To do this, you must decide which channels are going to be most effective and then use them effectively! And as I always say, you can’t just be in the space, you have to be active in the space and meaningful to be effective. This might mean that your company will not benefit from a Facebook page as much as it will from a Twitter page…so you shift your priorities and focus. Or maybe the messages you send to your Twitter audience are different than those you send through MySpace.

A question that I constantly encounter is “How can I use Facebook [or insert another social media outlet]?”. The question I would rather hear is “How can I use social media for MY business?” and that is where I can step in and know this client is looking for a strategy and not just implementing tactics without guidance.

Now don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you just have to jump into a space, test the waters and make a splash. Then you have to evaluate the splash and see where it went, how quickly it rippled and how quickly it died (if it does) then revisit and craft the strategy. What I love about social media is that it is constantly changing and maybe what worked six months ago isn’t working today and marketing efforts need to be shifted. Or maybe a new angle has come about and the company can benefit from the use of a new channel. Nothing is set in stone.

There is always…. something creative coming down the pipes and endless opportunities.

Managing search.twitter.com

The Twitter search function is optimal for companies interested in monitoring what is being said and who is saying what about their brand on Twitter.

Here are a few things I learned about using search.twitter.com for a brand:

1. It is better to reply to someone after they mention your brand, rather than just following them. It is an even better idea to wait for them to follow you before you first. Real life example: There was a positive brand mention for an account I was working on and I decided to follow the person. I also replied to them after following. They blocked me and made another mention that it was “creepy” that I knew they wrote about the brand and then I followed them. Changing my strategy, I sent replies to new mentions of the brand before following and got a much more positive response (no one else blocked me…so far).

2. Set up a Tweetbeep account. Tweetbeep will allow you to received mentions of your brand via email (once every hour, once a day, etc.) instead of manually monitoring search.twitter.com. You set the criteria and can search for as many words or phrases you wish. You will also have documented results in your email.

3. Also be sure to search your @name. If you don’t, there might be some third-party mentions you will miss (i.e. someone might be tweeting about you and not at you). Sometimes these mentions are just as important as a one-on-one dialogue exchange. Some of these messages deserve recognition and/or need to be addressed.

4. You can also use other “trigger words” and search for those to give you grounds for deciding to follow certain people based on interests. It takes a little bit of reading and scanning to be sure the mention is relevant so it is good to stay on top of this type of search.

Search.twitter.com is the best searching source for Twitter (in my opinion) when monitoring brand mentions. For other searches, Twibs (businesses on Twitter), Twellow (search for people based on keywords) and Twittergrader (finding influential Tweeps based on geography) will do the job.

Sidenote: The Twitter search function also offers the ability to add your search through an RSS feeds and use the advanced search options to better target what you are looking for, so use these options to receive direct results and to narrow criteria.

See you later, MySpace

Working with new clients to create social media campaigns starts with the question, “What is your goal?” and leads to “Which outlets are going to be most effective and which are secondary?”

A goal of creating awareness in the social space means you need to determine the intended audience and decide where they are spending their time. Are they on Facebook? And are they ACTIVE on Facebook? The answer to both is probably yes due to the interactive appeal of Facebook and the pushing of messages through the newsfeed and availability of interesting applications.

Are they on MySpace? Are they ACTIVE on MySpace? The answer to the former is probably yes and most likely the latter will yield a no.

Why is this?

My thought is that MySpace was the first big social media networking space that paved the way for Facebook to make a splash. Since Facebook was only offered to students when it was introduced, others who wanted to adopt this activity opted for MySpace feeling it was the only option–therefore profiles were created and MySpace kept it presence.

After Facebook opened its doors to everyone, and MySpace was purchased by Newscorp in 2005, the market shifted and everyone was hanging out on Facebook abandoning their MySpace presence. It did take a bit for people to adopt and embrace Facebook if they did not join in college because the thought was “that is just for college kids, right?”

But now, MySpace is commercialized with ads inundating your login and welcome screen. Businesses create MySpace pages that become second Web sites with high-quality graphics and backgrounds. The messages are interrupted with noise from advertisers, crazy customization and spammers by the dozen.

So should companies abandon MySpace?

If companies are on MySpace, they should stay there and monitor the account and stay “somewhat active,” but their efforts will be better spent creating a blog, updating their Facebook pages or using my personal favorite, Twitter 🙂

Twitter Query Answered: Use a brand or a person to represent the brand?

This morning on twitter, I posted the question, “When using social media, does it make more sense to use a brand, or use a person who represents a brand?” In 10 minutes I received seven responses. Obviously, I am not the only one who has encountered this dilemma.

This topic has been weighing heavily on my mind since becoming very involved in social media and using it for businesses. I began by promoting myself and learning how to use social media by using my own name and profile to garner business as a marketing consultant specializing in social media. I offered my services, and my social media interactions and usage became my “real time” portfolio. People were interested in me because I offered some sort of value and wasn’t just pushing a brand on them; I was providing information and insights. I just also happen to offer consulting services and some felt I knew what I was doing by following me and viola!

After working on a few business campaigns, I found myself encountering the obstacle of facing companies that only wanted a corporate branded account with no name or association with a real person. This was a good approach for some brand visibility and awareness, but the “buzz” soon started to fizzle. I found the anonymity fostered the social media space to become just a platform for promotions—and that is not social media and not necessarily what people want. The interactions depleted and with social media “if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

When an influential person, or someone of interest, was put behind the brand, the account became more about the person and their value rather than the value of the brand and others were more accepting.

My solution then became, make two…or three! There is nothing wrong with creating more than one account to hit different audiences and serve different purposes. Let’s use twitter as an example…

If my company has a brand and I want to create a twitter account, I should go ahead and do it. I can then target specific people based on my intended audience and gather followers who will find value from my tweets. I might add a promotion here and there, maybe some videos showing the internal culture and other tweets that provide relevant information. I might also have a social media person or the CEO add an account. This person should make the account as personal as possible, but also mention they are a part of the brand and keep that in mind when tweeting. Because different audiences want different things from twitter, there is not a single solution except to listen and observe the social space and craft your plan to reach your targets how they want to be approached.

@spurdave pointed out… “The Red Cross and National Wildlife Federation @NWF do this well. @clairesale @starfocus http://budurl.com/j4ct.”

This solution is even stronger when creating blogs. Not many people are so brand loyal as to want to read a blog about a specific product, but maybe they do want insights from the CEO, Social Media Manager or HR person. More than one can be created (and maintained) and they can link to each other offering an array of information with different perspectives and ideas.

So thanks to @prebynski @HomerSmith @ryanstephens @spurdave @noahcohen @stevebencsics and @Energy_Geek for the feedback.

Twitter App Overload

So every time I search the net and check out my twitter feed, I see more and more apps popping up that are intended to make using twitter easier…but I feel like it is making it harder. I can either explore all the options (which takes time to install, use and hate/love) or find out who is already using these apps and go from hearsay.

I recently received an iTouch so I obviously dove right in and researched the social networking apps and found more than one available for twitter, which lead me to ask for opinions from my fellow users to find out which app works best. Twitterfon or tweetie…one is free, one costs $2.99. Sigh. Decisions.

So how do you feel about these apps that are popping up daily? Are they making your life easier or complicating your use? Is there a central blog that reviews applications? If so, let me know so I can do some leisurely reading on my iTouch while at the gym instead of using every application on my own–which would take forever!

Twitter- What’s the point?

Saturday, I was monitoring tweets using Tweetdeck (which I downloaded this weekend and will post my likes and dislikes about the application soon) when a friend of mine said “So what are you doing? Are you on twitter again? What’s the point?”

My typing came to an instant halt, I slowly turned my head as my mouth dropped in utter surprise that (gasp) she didn’t know why it was important to use twitter and didn’t understand the concept. To me that was like saying, “What’s the use of the Internet?” Eeeek!

I put down my laptop, told her to sit and said we needed to have a serious talk. She seemed a bit surprised that her comment stirred such a reaction, but seriously, it’s twitter.

In order to not bore anyone and to get the point, I will break it down to the concept I find most important.

Keep in mind that businesses and individuals have a different set of long-term goals for using twitter, but it all boils down to the same short-term goals and benchmarks to reach the ultimate goal.

Heather M. Milligan, Director of Marketing at Barger & Wolen LLP pointed out, on the radio talk show Lawyer 2 Lawyer , that twitter is used to encourage others to get to know you, like you and trust you…and I completely agree.

Think about it…

Twitter is about putting words in front of a face, name or business. It is about having a medium where all people are equal and have the same access to others. It is about putting us on even ground and humanizing companies. Once you find people to interact with and you begin a dialogue, you are now a real, live person representing someone or something.

We tweet about problems, thoughts, advice, interesting facts and others get to know us. Once they know us, we want to give value and get people to like us. We want people to follow us and read our tweets and enjoy them and find them useful. Once we prove we can add value, our next goal is to create an element of trust.

In a business, when trying to attract new clients, those three concepts are most important in the decision making process. Sometimes it takes weeks, months and years to cultivate that relationship…but twitter cuts that time down drastically and allows us to be known, liked and trusted and build our reputation and relationships 140 characters at a time.

After explaining this, I asked her if she still had questions. Her response “Wow. So it’s like talking to people without talking? That’s weird.”

I will just assume she is not an early-adopter (although at this point, it’s not that early) and will catch on with the next wave.