A to Z of Business Social Media

A to Z Business Social MediaA – Alerts

You can sign up for Google Alerts quickly and easily. Using those keywords and phrases from your preliminary research online, you can elect to have any instance of those keywords and phrases as Google finds them sent straight to your inbox.

Enter the topic you wish to monitor, then click Preview to see the type of results you’ll receive.

Anytime Google indexes any mention in search results of the alerts you’re signed up for, you receive an email notification into your inbox. The notification is a direct hyperlink to the article, website, blog, product review, etc., wherein the keyword or phrase appeared.

B – Blogging

Blogs have been around for over a decade. The word stands for ’web log’ and they’re effectively online diaries. Anyone can set one up, that’s the easy part. Thinking of something interesting to say each time you blog is the tricky bit.

There a number of blogging tools available for free and you don’t need any programming skills to use them. A couple of the more popular are WordPress and Blogger.

C – Crowdsourcing

The term “crowdsourcing” was coined by Jeff Howe back in 2006, in a Wired article which described a new way of sourcing people who are willing to help or work on a project. Enough people with sufficient time can transform into a lot of available manpower. I’ve highlighted below a number of different types of Crowdsourcing

Crowdfunding: Projects are funded by a large group of people. Crowdcube is a great example of an online business in the UK which has raised millions of pounds for all kinds of projects across multiple sectors – with all the funds coming from people interested in supporting the project and not just investment institutions.

Crowdsourced design: Projects are funded for a large group of people to design something, for example, a website.  There have been many successfully crowdsourced designs, one of the most famous ones being the Rally Fighter car, which was designed by the community and built by a company called Local Motors.

Crowdwisdom: Where users ask questions in front of a large pool of people willing to answer, like Yahoo Answers. A more serious form of crowd wisdom can be found at InnoCentive, which is a community where large corporations post technical or scientific problems to people who can help to solve the questions.

D – Digg

Digg is a social news website that can help you share blog posts and web pages. If you find a page you want to share, you can “digg” it by submitting the URL and a brief description of the page through the Digg website. Other Digg users will see your submission and “digg” or “bury” it. Submissions that get a log of “diggs” are displayed on the home page of the Digg website where many people will see them and will be likely to click on them.

In short, if your blog post makes it to the home page of Digg, you can expect a huge bump in traffic. Since most bloggers want more traffic, hitting it big with a post that gets featured on the home page of Digg is like winning the lottery. Unfortunately, making it to the home page of Digg is very difficult.

E – Ecommerce

Social media may not be huge source of traffic to retailers yet, but there are signs that sites such as Facebook are, nonetheless, influencing shoppers. According to research conducted by Sociable Labs last year, nearly two-thirds of consumers say they read product reviews from friends on the social network, with three-quarters of that figure saying that they click through to retailers’ websites afterwards. Once there, 53% claim that they made a purchase, making social recommendations as important a shopping tool as Google search. The statistics are a positive for brands and retailers, highlighting the role social media could play influencing consumers’ online purchasing activities.

F – Facebook

Facebook pages are incredibly useful to businesses as a means to engage consumers. They can be used to grow revenues, support customers, extend marketing campaigns, generate extra web traffic and boost brand awareness. Creating the perfect Facebook page for your business takes time, planning and resources. But judging by some of the success stories, it is worth it.

You can set up a Facebook page for free, but if you want to do things properly it is going to require a budget. It takes time and effort, and potentially people power, if you want to get the best out of Facebook.

G – Google+

With a growing list of new functions, tools and features, Google+ is slowly becoming a front-runner in the social space for businesses looking to increase their market appeal to an online audience. The number of active users on Google+ grew 27 per cent in the last quarter of 2012 to 343 million users.

The first step in creating a Google+ presence should be setting up a business brand page. Ensure relevant information is added to the ‘About’ section, and visually appealing cover image and avatar are used to catch the attention of Google+ users. A number of appropriate links should also be added to the ‘About’ section as these can have a positive effect on the business’s search engine ranking. As with all social media platforms, it’s important to keep your content fresh and engaging.

Google+ Local is a useful tool that allows users to discover and locate businesses that have opted into the service. When a business signs up, it can add information including address, contact information, opening times, photographs and reviews. While Google+ Local is more applicable to SMEs that have a physical location rather than being based solely online, Google+ users have the option to add their own reviews to a Local page, helping to influence the choice of future users.

H – Hootsuite

HootSuite is a social media management tool that allows users to update and post any pages or profiles for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress and others from one place – the HootSuite dashboard. When you sign up, you are essentially given a dashboard with tabs organizing all the social profiles you connect to HootSuite.

Users can implement and analyse marketing campaigns across all social profiles without needing to sign in to each social network individually. For premium accounts, users get advanced features for social analytics, audience engagement, team collaboration and security.

I – IFTTT

IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, lets you create connections between different web apps and services through what it calls “recipes.” To create a recipe all you have to do is tell IFTTT what the “This” and the “That” in your equation are.

The service integrates with a number of different applications, such as Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Google and bit.ly and offers a sizable amount of integration options for each to get you going.

IFTTT is simple to use, and there are thousands of pre-made “recipes” to choose from or even to help you think of what you could use IFTTT for. It helps to keep you organised, save you time, and reduce the time spent wading through the masses of information you see in a day.

J – Joining or Not to Join

Few areas of business and society have been untouched by the emerging social-media revolution – one that is not even a decade old. Many organisations have been responding to that new reality, realising the power and the potential of this technology for corporate life: Wikis, SharePoint and Lync enable more efficient virtual collaboration in cross-functional projects; internal blogs, discussion boards, and YouTube channels encourage global conversations and knowledge sharing; sophisticated viral media campaigns engage customers and create brand loyalty; next-generation products are co-developed in open-innovation processes; and corporate leaders work on shaping their future strategy.

However, many companies still hesitate when venturing into public social media networks, harbouring fears of possible customer criticism such as negative comments on the company’s website. While care does need to be taken when planning social media activity, there are undoubtedly significant benefits of integrating social media into small business operations:

• Social media is a low-cost, low-barrier communication channel that allows businesses to interact with internal and external contacts on a regular basis.

• Social media enables businesses to engage with millions of potential customers and investors available at the click of a button.

• Social media and analytic tools used within a company’s private network can allow employers to track employee sentiments and discover possible areas of contention faster than through traditional means.

My view…Join!

 K – Klout

Klout measures influence based on the ability to drive action across the social web. Any person can connect their social network accounts and Klout will generate a score on a scale of 1-100 that represents their ability to engage other people and inspire social actions. Klout enables everyone to gain insights that help them better understand how they influence others. Klout also provides people with opportunities to shape and be recognized for their influence.

L – LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a must for all professionals and businesses alike. It is not merely a social network aimed for business users. Rather, it should be viewed as an online network of influential people all over the world. Whilst there are many uses of LinkedIn for your business, I’ve highlighted three of the top ones below:

Find new suppliers, business partners and clients – Simple searches in your field will reveal thousands of experts, service providers and potential clients. If you do not personally know an individual, you may request to be introduced through a mutual contact or can send an introductory email. Upgrading your membership gives you improved searches and direct access to more people.

Recruitment – LinkedIn can provide easy access to potential candidates. There are both free and paid options Businesses can search for candidates that fit their required level of expertise and approach them directly, provided they are at least ‘2nd degree’ contacts. In order to search further afield, a monthly subscription is needed. However, even the basic or ‘business’ package allows users to contact any individual with a LinkedIn profile. Businesses also have the option of posting a job ad for a monthly fee dependant on location.

Groups – Groups represent a fantastic opportunity for businesses to network and grow. If you are looking to drive traffic to your blog or company website, think seriously about setting up a LinkedIn Group. The key challenge in some industries is to make your group stand out. The key is to find a niche/area of your business that is under-represented and aim to be the authority on the subject. Nevertheless, based on perception alone, the owner is naturally viewed as the thought leader for that niche unless proven otherwise. The more quality content you produce to back this up and the more effectively you run your group, your community will support you and look to you as a leader in that niche.

M – Mobility & Social Media

According to Ofcom in the UK, 55% of adult smartphone users have used their phone for social networking, with one in four (40%) doing so regularly. This rises to 74% in teenagers with 62% doing so regularly. Ensuring that your websites and content are easily viewable via smartphones is becoming more and more crucial.

N – Newsreaders

If you happen to read articles from the same websites every day, then Google Reader might be just for you. Reader consolidates your favourite websites and blogs into one, easy to manage interface. Think of Google Reader as your personalized online magazine. It’s easy to set up and easy to use.

O – Online vs Offline

Social media is still only part of your marketing mix and strategy albeit an increasingly important one. Depending on your industry or sector you will need to consider which will be the important communication channels and how much time, resource and money you invest into which. Ignore Social Media at your peril however!

P – Pinterest

Pinterest is a relatively new, but rapidly growing social network that allows users to visually share, curate, and discover new interests by posting, also known as ‘pinning,’ images or videos to their own or others’ pinboards (i.e. a collection of ‘pins,’ usually with a common theme). Users can either upload images from their computer or pin things they find on the web using the Pinterest bookmarklet, Pin It button, or just a URL .

As with any other social network, Pinterest offers a range of activities you can initiate to market your company to a new audience. The goal here is to gain brand recognition, drive traffic to your website and be successful at converting the new visits into leads.

Q – Quora

Quora is an excellent platform for organisations interested in showing open and transparent thought leadership. You won’t be able to post your news release as the site is moderated and people will contest and question your viewpoint, but if you really know your subject matter, it can be an amazing way to establish your authority in a given field.

Even if you’re not in a position to use the network to demonstrate thought leadership, Quora can still be a useful tool for gathering customer intelligence. You can get insights into how users feel about all kinds of subjects and even ask questions of your own. It’s not a substitute for traditional surveys, since the user base isn’t a representative sample, but it can be an easy way to start getting a glimpse into how your customers think.

R – Reddit

Reddit is a social news website driven by user-generated content in the form of a link or a self-post. Most users view Reddit as a modern-day bulletin board system enhanced for the web. Users submit content on forums, which are split into multiple “subreddits”. Subreddits focus on a specific topic, and there are hundreds of thousands of them. The most popular forums have over 1 million subscribers and more than 100,000 subreddits.

Reddit users rank the content other users submit by voting it “up” or “down. Submissions voted “up” by large numbers of users get listed on the front page of Reddit and usually receive large amounts of engagement from the Reddit community.

Reddit has 2.5 billion page views per month and 34.9 million unique views each month.

Businesses can use Reddit for link building and traffic generation as well as for market research and getting your message out to target audiences with tailored messages. A note of caution though – anything that seems overly promotional or advertising-focused will be very negatively regarded by the community.

S – Stumbleupon

StumbleUpon is a social media bookmarking site that allows users to “like” websites and add them to their profile. These websites are then shared with their friends through their profile and by using the “stumble” button, which is added to a user’s browser toolbar when they sign up. The stumble button basically sends a user to a random website, usually one previously liked by a friend. StumbleUpon boasts more than 30 million users. Each user fills out a survey of their interests, so there is definitely the potential for your business website to reach a broad and targeted audience.

StumbleUpon asks their users to define the categories that interest them, everything from archeology to zoology. If your business fits into one of these interest categories well, your site can get a lot of new visitors that are more likely to be interested in your business. Additionally, you’re going to get a steady stream of visitors if you use it properly and regularly.

T – Twitter

It took Twitter three years, two months and one day to reach their first billion Tweets. Today, there are over a billion Tweets sent every three days. These Tweets represent conversations related to almost any topic imaginable.

For businesses and brands, these conversations provide a rich canvas and a powerful context in which to connect your messages and your brand to what people are talking about right now. It’s a canvas for telling engaging stories, for participating in cultural events, for broadcasting content, for connecting directly with consumers, and for driving transactions. Businesses can influence and participate in real-time conversations on Twitter to drive consumer action with integrated paid, earned and owned campaigns, delivering results throughout the marketing funnel.

U – User Generated Content

In recent years we have developed into a society which likes to share …digitally. User (or Customer) Generated Content is content that we upload to a website or social media platform, examples of such content include audio files, photographs, videos, presentations, documents and reviews.

Research carried out has shown that more than 8 in 10 say user generated content from people they don’t know influences what they buy and indicates brand quality, while 51% say it is actually more important than the opinions of their friends and family, and far more trustworthy than website content. [Source Talking to Strangers Millennials Trust people over Brands Jan 2012]

V – Voice of the Customer

With incidents like United Breaks Guitars now commonplace, it’s painfully clear that social word-of-mouth has tremendous consequences when brands give a poor customer experience. Of course, there’s upside too. Social media is a veritable goldmine of insights that can help a company innovate and improve its competitive position.

Participating in social media—via online communities, blogging and networking sites—is now thought of much like the internet a decade ago. A company is conspicuous in its absence of a social media plan, especially if it sells to consumers.

W – WordPress

Think Oak is written using WordPress. It’s a very versatile blogging tool that is easy to use, has a range of free and chargeable templates, great analytics and has built-in search engine optimisation for Google and Bing. It’s open-source and can be hosted (WordPress.com) or un-hosted (WordPress.org). Even some of the world’s biggest brands use WordPress – Ebay, Ford, Sony and CNN all use it for their blogs!

X – Xbox 720, Playstation 4 & Next Generation TVs

With announcements of the next generation games consoles imminent, it will be interesting to see whether any increased elements of social media are woven into the new Xbox and PS4 operating systems. With 55% of homes having games consoles that can link to the internet plus advances in Smart TVs that already connect with social media channels, I would expect significant growth and opportunity in this space.

Y – YouTube

Though Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter were the leading social networks that swept through the business world in recent times, YouTube continues to be the most valuable video marketing and advertising tool for businesses of all sizes. By far the web’s largest and most popular online video archive, YouTube offers fantastic opportunities for a business to show off its expertise, share knowledge, market products and connect with customers, colleagues and prospects.

Z – Zero to Hero

With some investment of time, energy, enthusiasm, creativity and a little bit of know-how you can rapidly build up the social media presence of your organisation. This is Social Commerce: Turning Social Media into Sales by Guy Clapperton is a new book that I would recommend to get you started,  together with his previous book – This is social media.

Ultimately, you need to choose the social media services that are right for your business. You can’t be engaged with users everywhere and on every medium. If you try, you’ll quickly be focusing only on social media and not on your business. Stick with a handful of services where you can build a following and engage customers on a regular basis.

Hope you enjoyed this A to Z. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

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The Brand New, Brand You! ~ Part 6

Measuring SuccessIn the sixth and final part in the series of The Brand New, Brand You, I will be covering the last step in the START process in Brand New, Brand You, Test.

So you’ve got to grips with Brand New, Brand You. You’ve developed your Brand – Your values and your Vision. You’ve started to build up your network of contacts and your personal brand with a wider audience. But what are people saying about your brand? Chances are, if you’ve been working with the STAR elements of START, people are talking about you and your brand already. How do you monitor these conversations both online and offline?

Online

Getting Started: How do people talk about you?

A good place to find how people know and speak about your brand is to look at the keywords and phrases they use to find your website.

You can find these metrics in the analytics package you’re using with your website. If you’re not using an analytics package like Google Analytics, Webtrends or Clicky, then brainstorm keywords and phrases that you may have heard clients/customers use in discussions you have had with them.

There are a large number of tools to choose from for monitoring Brand You and many are free to use. Here are a few free brand-monitoring tools that you may wish to try out.

Monitoring Tools

1: Google Email Alert System

You can sign up for Google Alerts quickly and easily. Using those keywords and phrases from your preliminary research, you can elect to have any instance of those keywords and phrases in combination with Brand You as Google finds them online sent straight to your inbox.

Enter the topic you wish to monitor, then click Preview to see the type of results you’ll receive.

Anytime Google indexes any mention in search results of the alerts you’re signed up for, you receive an email notification into your inbox. The notification is a direct hyperlink to the article, website, blog, product review, etc., wherein the keyword or phrase appeared. 

2: SocialMention

SocialMention allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you across the web’s social media landscape in real-time. SocialMention monitors 100+ social media properties directly, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Google, and many more.

It’s straightforward and easy to use. You simply type the brand, product, service name or keywords/phrase into the search field, select where you would like to search the social sphere for the search term(s) you have entered and click the Search button. I recommend searching all of the categories, but if you’re limited on time and resources, narrowing your search breadth and depth may be a good place to start.

SocialMention also provides the ability to narrow or broaden your brand monitoring as you like.

Based on your search criteria, SocialMention will return all of the mentions of your brand or keyword/phrase across the web.

Within the results, you’ll be provided a number of statistics, not just the instances of brand/keyword mentions. Based on SocialMention’s search metrics, they’ll provide you sentiment ratings, top keywords used in conjunction with your brand, top users of your brand name (those mentioning it the most), strength, passion, reach and more.

You’re able to click on the links where your brand is mentioned which facilitates a direct response to the person or party mentioning your brand or keyword/phrase.

While these provided metrics are not completely scientific, they’re a good reference point for understanding the nature of the types of conversations and comments surrounding your brand.

3: TweetDeck

To narrow down where you monitor your brand, TweetDeck offers you a simple way to view multiple conversations and searches from one location. You can use the dashboard in multiple locations such as laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet.

TweetDeck is your personal real-time browser, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and more.

You can monitor your brand mentions as they happen and respond just as quickly!

The power of TweetDeck and other similar dashboards like HootSuite is the ability to see tweets (conversations, comments, feedback) regarding your brand and keyword/phrases in real-time.

4: Technorati

To monitor the blogosphere for what bloggers are posting about your brand, I recommend Technorati. It’s an online tool that searches a blog directory of nearly 1.3 million blogs for all mentions of the brand or keyword/phrases that you enter in the search field.

Technorati is the world’s largest blog search engine and robust community blogging platform.

When the search results are compiled, you have a listing of posts for perusal to again determine what kinds of product and service reviews, comments, feedback, stories and more are being shared regarding your brand.

Using Technorati for monitoring your brand via blogs allows you to post comments and feedback on the blog posts. Yet another tool that permits you to join in the conversation about your brand.

The search results Technorati blog searches return can be a powerful tool in finding and building a network of blogger brand ambassadors. When you find your brand mentioned in a blog post, take the time to read it, and comment. If questions are raised about your brand on a blog post, feel free to answer the questions. Many bloggers who take the time to write about your brand will welcome your participation in the comments/conversation. Use these opportunities for involvement to build your network of brand ambassadors, as often these folks are some of your biggest fans and advocates!

5: Klout

Klout is tool used to measure and leverage your online influence based on your use of social media communication tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Google+. Wherever you have an online presence, you have the opportunity to influence people by creating or sharing content that inspires actions such as likes, retweets, shares, comments and more. The more engagement your posts receive, the more influential you are. Tracking this influence overtime, allows you to understand your brand resonance further, and basically, highlights what you should continue you doing, and what you should refrain from exploring.

6: Bit.ly

Bit.ly is a URL shortener that tracks clicks to a URL you shorten, regardless of where you shorten it, and lets you see how many clicks that link received. It’s also a good way for determine the engagement of your network, as well as the best times to post an article. For example, tweet a blog post at 8 a.m. with one bit.ly URL, then tweet it again with a different bit.ly URL at 1 p.m., and see which time gets you the most clicks. Do this a few times, and see if you can figure out what time of day is the best time to regularly publish your blog posts.

When deciding which online monitoring tools are best for your brand’s needs, take into account all of these considerations: what, where, how and why you are monitoring. This will help you plan for and hopefully succeed in brand monitoring and give you a roadmap for how and where to participate in the conversations about your brand online.

Offline

In short, ask for feedback; from your manager, their manager, your peers and your customers. Seek feedback on a regular basis, especially after you have identified Brand You improvements or areas of focus. Exchanging information and perceptions is an iterative process, not a single event. You can do this relatively informally by just asking for feedback face to face outside of any structured one-to-ones with your manager, or you can use more formal mechanisms such as 360 degree feedback questionnaires and personality testing.

Receiving feedback is a gift that provides you with honest information about people’s’ perception of your behaviours and performance – Be open to what you will hear!

1: Face to Face Feedback

A Face to face meeting is a great way to get quick feedback about the Brand New, Brand You. I’ve listed below a few Do’s and Don’ts for these types of feedback session.

Do’s

1. Set-out to the person giving the feedback your reasons for wanting feedback and areas of Brand You that you would like feedback on, e.g. personal impact, quality of work, areas for improvement etc.

2. Encourage honest, straight talking and reassure the person that they don’t need to hold back.

3. Let the person finish what he or she is saying. Really listen to what is being said, and often more importantly, not said.

4. Try to summarise the feedback at key points in the conversation, to ensure that you have listened effectively

5. Ask clarifying questions, if you’re not sure what’s being said and ask for specifics, if not provided.

6. Take the time after the feedback session to evaluate the information and consider specific actions for improvements.

7. Teach yourself to recognise situations in which a certain behaviour needs to be altered. Feedback can help you self-monitor your behavior at times when you are less than optimally effective.

8. Use feedback to clarify goals, track progress toward those goals, and to improve the effectiveness of your behaviors over a period of time.

Don’ts:

1. Become defensive or explain your behavior. (You can either spend your time defending your actions or you can spend your time listening)

2. Interrupt the other person, unless you need clarification.

3. Be afraid to allow pauses and periods of silence when you receive feedback. This gives you time to understand what is being said and it gives the other person time to think about what they say.

 2: 360 Degree Feedback

360 Degree Feedback is a more formal system or process in which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them. This typically includes the employee’s manager, peers, and direct reports. Typically a mixture of about eight to twelve people fill out an anonymous online feedback form that asks questions covering a broad range of workplace competencies. The feedback forms include questions that are measured on a rating scale and also ask raters to provide written comments. The person receiving feedback also fills out a self-rating survey that includes the same survey questions that others receive in their forms.

Generally,  360 feedback systems automatically tabulates the results and present them in a format that helps the feedback recipient create a development plan. Individual responses are always combined with responses from other people in the same rater category (e.g. peer, direct report) in order to preserve anonymity and to give the employee a clear picture of his/her greatest overall strengths and weaknesses.

360 Feedback can also be a useful development tool for people who are not in a management role. Strictly speaking, a “non-manager” 360 assessment is not measuring feedback from 360 degrees since there are no direct reports, but the same principles still apply. 360 Feedback for non-managers is useful to help people be more effective in their current roles, and also to help them understand what areas they should focus on if they want to move into a management role.

360 Feedback methods tend to measure the following areas of Brand You:

  • Behaviours and competencies
  • How others perceive an employee
  • Skills such as listening, planning, and goal-setting
  • Subjective areas such as teamwork, character, and leadership effectiveness

Most company HR Departments will be able to help you perform a 360 assessment, but there are tools such as Appraisal 360 available for you to purchase online, but these can be relatively expensive.

3: Personality Tests

There are numerous personality and psychometric tests available which measure a skills such as verbal, numerical, abstract or mechanical reasoning (these are often called aptitude tests) and questionnaires used to find out about your personality type, learning style or career choices, which can help you and / or an employer make informed choices. Tests are often used by employers to give an objective assessment of a people’s abilities. They can also be used throughout your career to gauge areas for development.

There are plenty of management tools out there concerning personality types that you may wish to explore– Myers Briggs, DISC Strategy being the better ones in my experience.


That concludes the final step in START and the Brand New, Brand You series. Let me know you get on!

If you missed the first  five posts of The Brand New, Brand You please click Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5

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