Archive for social media

Social Media Audit: Gaining Essential Clarity

Posted in marketing strategy, social media with tags on March 3, 2011 by wisdomlondon

Image credit: M Bartosch

Whether you’re just starting your social media journey, or are fully underway, such is the pace of technological and behavioural change that constant assessment and reassessment is a must.  Social media does not stand still, and neither should your thinking.

Quick and meaningful

One of the tools we use to assess in a quick yet meaningful way is the Social Media Audit.  It sounds pretty unsexy, doesn’t it? But it’s an exercise which provides a genuine insight into what is happening and not happening, what much be done, and where that sits within your industry and alongside your competitors.  We often use this as a pre-strategy phase, to allow us to present a clear view of the “as-is” situation from a very objective standpoint, and to pave the way for defining future direction, opportunity and action.

How it looks

You can pretty easily audit yourself, but even better is to have a third party do it for you, for genuine objectivity.  At a very high level it addresses:

  • Current use of platforms – where, how, who, when
  • Notable results to date
  • What’s working, what’s not, what needs to happen next
  • Internal factors, such as buy-in, engagement and knowledge levels
  • An assessment of available resource (time, people and money)
  • Benchmarking against competitors and across relevant industries

Clear vision

What you get at the end of it is a clear view of where you are in social media terms, which you can then hold up against objectives.  Is current activity working? Where is it not? Which areas need more or less focus?  In addition, it will provide you with a list of immediate remedial work to be done – whether it’s tweaking a process to allow you to respond better, updating profiles, linking platforms or dealing with unmoderated comments. Sometimes these quick fixes can make a big difference.

As with most good social media activity, it’s as much about good planning and process as it about ideas and creativity. Making an audit a regular priority, whether quarterly, six-monthly or yearly, is simply good practice. How else can you be sure that your strategy is working, can be practically managed and is succeeding in setting you apart from the crowd?

Kate Spiers is founder of Wisdom London, a communications consultancy with a pragmatic approach to social media. Get in touch if you’d like to know more.

Online Competitions: Essential Considerations for Marketers

Posted in brand, marketing strategy, social media with tags , , on February 17, 2011 by wisdomlondon

Image credit: Felixco Inc.

For many brands, online competitions are a great way of engaging existing audiences and customers, as well as building awareness further afield and driving inbound traffic.

But competitions aren’t necessarily simple. Trial and error is often the best teacher, but here are some pointers for the thought process you need to work through, when designing and running an online competition:

1. Objectives are all

Be clear about what you want to achieve, or you can’t accurately measure success. Do you want more newsletter sign-ups? To build awareness of a new service or product? Referrals? Or – equally important but trickier to quantify – to build brand loyalty and engage customers?

Once you’ve defined your overall objective, you can then agree some basic measures and design the competition accordingly.

2. The prize is right

You need a compelling reason for people to enter a competition. Let’s face it, we can get what we want pretty easily these days, so make it worthwhile.  The prize or reward should also be commensurate to the effort required of the entrant to participate – lots of effort should equal pretty damn magnificent prize.

Which leads to…

3. User experience can make it or break it

To make a competition really fly, barriers to entering need to be as low as possible.  The mechanism for winning needs to be thought out well, and should be informed by your objectives.

For example, if you’re building awareness and driving traffic, asking people simply to sign up at a dedicated space online to enter works best.  And fortunately, this is quick and easy for the user.

To engage is a little more complex. You might be asking people to generate content (post pictures of customers using the product in question, write something, share something, make something). Again, keep it simple and keep the UX at the forefront: Are instructions clear? Is the platform for sharing up to the job? Are you asking too much?

4. Work your channels

Decide wisely where the competition should live. Facebook works well for engagement style competitions, as you can drive discussion and it’s a ready-made platform for sharing – posting comments, pictures etc is intuitive.

If it’s awareness you need, a blend of online channels works well. An e-newsletter could launch the competition, driving traffic to a dedicated webpage, which has sharing and bookmarking buttons. Announce it on Facebook and Twitter too.

Working with a partner for the competition increases your audience (and might give you access to a whole new audience), and can increase your punching weight when it comes to the prize, so it’s worth considering.

5. Rules is rules…

There are rules guiding online competitions and you must be aware of them. Factors such as timezones and jurisdictions (for closing dates), the Gambling Act 2005 (which demands that competitions should not be “illegal lotteries” – so skill should be involved and no payment asked) and the CAP code need to be adhered to.

Law firm Pinsent Mason LLP has created a great guide here.

6. Data! Data! Data!

A competition is a prime opportunity to collect data – don’t miss it.  Think about which details you ask for in a sign-up style entry and consider an extra question, which might provide you with vital insight into consumer behaviour. But keep it light-touch – this should not compromise the UX.

Basic monitoring for competitions on social media platforms can provide good insights into key influencers and brand advocates.

And, of course, keep a close eye on your analytics, to observe traffic spikes, entry patterns and user behaviours – then work that knowledge when designing your next competition.

Kate Spiers is Director at Wisdom London, an integrated communications agency. Follow Kate on Twitter here and contact Wisdom London here.

What consumers want from corporate social media: Accountability

Posted in social media with tags , on February 14, 2011 by wisdomlondon

There are myriad reasons to engage with consumers on social media channels. Awareness, intimacy and advocacy are just some of the potential upsides.

But when the going gets tough, there’s one thing above all others that consumers really want. Are you optimised for accountability?

The fine line

Demonstrating accountability, especially when things aren’t going quite right (customer service issues, or a technology failure, for example), can mean the difference between drawing customers closer than ever before, or losing their trust completely. And, as we know, the social world is a pretty unforgiving place when consumers feel let down.

Think about the travel chaos caused by adverse weather at the end of 2010. We all accepted that it wasn’t the train operator, airport or airline’s fault, but we did expect accountability in keeping us informed. What we most needed was a commitment to providing the information we were looking for, quickly and as accessibly as possible. We wanted to know that our needs were being taken seriously.

Some succeeded and many didn’t.

So what’s the lesson here?

Don’t wait for disaster to strike before kicking into gear. Plan all of your communications with accountability in mind – and for crisis and customer service communications, this should be at the forefront. An unerring commitment to providing information, and the articulation of your efforts to rectify a situation should underpin all of that. In addition:

  • Monitor like crazy: Be aware of issues the minute they break (major or minor), and commit upfront to solve it, whether or not you have the solution right away.
  • Use judgment: Is it appropriate to continue campaign comms about offers and promotions while there’s a bigger situation to deal with? Sometimes not. Be prepared to temporarily divert from the plan.
  • Make it personal: It’s frustrating communicating with a nameless avatar when you need answers. If the situation is serious enough, it might be time for management to come to the social media frontline and demonstrate their overall accountability through a dedicated Twitter stream, Facebook announcement or shared video.
  • Be transparent and set expectations: Keep lines of communication open around the clock if necessary, let customers know what’s happening (even if it’s not conclusive), and deliver on promises.

Consumers get that to err is human. And when brands can demonstrate passionate accountability for solving problems and providing answers, they’ll most likely find that forgiveness really is divine.

Link: An analysis of Eurostar’s crisis handling on social media channels

Kate Spiers is director of Wisdom London, an integrated communications agency. You can follow Kate on Twitter here and contact her here.

Wisdom London news: Our social media workshop features in FT

Posted in wisdom with tags , on February 1, 2011 by wisdomlondon

Wisdom London recently ran a Social Media workshop for female entrepreneurs in SE London (much as I love big business, I love doing stuff in my community too). It was covered by FT journalist Silvia Pavoni, who wanted to explore the world of female entrepreneurs and especially the burgeoning movement of “mumpreneurs” (her term, not mine).

You can read the story here!

Social Media and PR: Are the “blurred lines” an opportunity or a threat?

Posted in marketing strategy, social media with tags , on December 1, 2010 by wisdomlondon

Sarah Thomas posted today on the Wallblog about the blurring lines between social media and PR.  She’s right in raising the fact that this is creating a tangible shift in the PR industry, which can present either a huge threat or a massive opportunity, depending on how you look at it.

I’ve weighed in with my view, excerpt here:

It’s a given that now PR agencies should now be equipped to embrace social media as a channel, for the good of their clients – but by equipped, I don’t mean simply a team who know lots about Facebook. I mean that they should demonstrate an all-encompassing understanding of not just how social media works (in conjunction with and in relation to other channels) but also what it means to the business world. It’s about having a social mindset: understanding what a social consumer wants, does, needs and how that impacts the world, then applying that in the most meaningful and effective way possible.

Sadly that’s not always the case now, hence the huge opportunity for social media pure play agencies, social media consultants and specialists. Perhaps the old style of marketing of the last 20 years was too hung up about individual channels – social media is certainly forcing us to re-examine that. Hence the blurry boundaries between PR and social media, social media and advertising, advertising and entertainment… A channel does not look quite like the channels we learned about at CIM any more.

So in general, PR agencies need to up their game – or partner seamlessly with those who have that specialism – but either way, they need a social mindset, to be of strategic value to their clients and to hold their own against growing competition elsewhere.

Read more: http://wallblog.co.uk/2010/11/30/blurring-the-lines-between-social-media-and-pr/#ixzz16sA8FElq

What do you think?  Can PR handle the task of social media adequately? Or only a part of it? Should PR agencies even get involved?  And in terms of cutting the pie, who’s best placed to manage what (when you think about SM pure play agencies, social PR agencies, digital comms etc)? What is the agency of the future like?

Kate Spiers is director at Wisdom London, an integrated communications agency with a pragmatic approach to social media. Also a great believer in the social mindset.

If you’d like to talk more about the social mindset, or how social media is best integrated into your communications planning, get in touch here!

Social Media Statistics – Good Stuff I’ve Found Recently

Posted in social media with tags , on November 16, 2010 by wisdomlondon

I’ve been poking around, finding social media statistics for various presentations and thought they might be worth putting all in one place and sharing.  Hope you find them useful:

Rennee Harrison of Bee Social: Social Media Business Case Studies and Statistics – a nice Prezi, from 10 November 2010

Social Media Stats from Socialware – downloadable, broken down and mostly from 2010

Social Media for PR pros: How they’re using it – good stats and examples from Mashable, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics – Great stuff from Dirk Singer at Rabbit.  Like the themed articles.

Good review of Optix Solutions Social Media Survey 2010 here from Visible Banking, with some analysis and recommendations

US Site Business.Gov provides 10 social media benchmarks, based on stats (April 2010)

I hope they might be of use.

Kate Spiers is Director of Wisdom London, providing really, really good integrated communications.  And, occasionally, stats.

Reaction to @baskers: A Clear Call To Action For Social Media Policy

Posted in social media, Social Media Policy with tags , on November 15, 2010 by wisdomlondon

This weekend has seen a furore develop in the mainstream press over the blog and Twitter account run by Department of Transport civil servant Sarah Baskerville, or @baskers, as we now know her.

The likelihood is that the extensive and in many cases inflammatory media coverage will make many businesses uncomfortable about social media in general, and once again raise the question of where the line is to be drawn when it comes to employee tweeting.

I have my own opinions about the whole saga but what I’m more interested in here is what businesses can take away from this – because I think this represents an important call to action to get social media policy right.

Optix Solutions’ 2010 Social Media Survey found that less than 30% of respondent companies had a company social media policy in place. Yet one of the key barriers for business (especially in more conservative, and especially regulated, B2B environments) when it comes to embracing social media is a sense of fear-driven paralysis.  Not least because we realise that you cannot control what an employee has to say.

So, in light of this story in particular, my, message to business is this:

First of all, this is not new. Facebook has provided a similar platform for years now – Twitter simply allows greater amplification – but does not guarantee it. Before that it was IM, email and the good old water cooler where people chatted about work and vented their frustrations.  They still do.  Calm down. Technology is not the problem.

Second, you can’t control what an employee has to say online or offline, but you can hypothesise, mitigate and set parameters and guidelines in line with what you genuinely need to protect or manage. You can draw the line, but you need to be realistic about where.

I’m not going to go into the how and why of social media policy here  (post forthcoming) but I’d like to outline a few thought processes to which businesses should devote some time in the first instance:

Know the terrain

Do you even know how many of your employees are using social media? Which platforms? When? Are they using them for purely personal networking, or is there a professional bent to what they are doing online (for example, are they tweeting relevant content, talking to others in similar or related industries, taking part in forum debates)?

You need to understand this first and foremost. But tread carefully – an open and honest dialogue with a pre-stated objective will be more fruitful than sudden or defensive questioning.

Know the dangers

What are the dangers of your employees tweeting about work? Do you trust your workforce to maintain professionalism on an open and fairly personal platform? Are they incentivised or encouraged to do that? What might happen? Can you hypothesise about any potential flashpoints and consider what the ultimate effects may be? It’s worth considering those scenarios on a scale of 1 to 10, so that you know where to focus your efforts when it comes to encouraging responsible use of social media.

Know your bottom line

In any business, certain topics will be off limits for the outside world – whether it’s clients, methodologies, projects, internal news. You need to know what your bottom line is when it comes to acceptable and unacceptable – and be able to demonstrate and articulate a solid business reason for that.  Some content might be sub-optimal – no-one can mitigate for every single scenario – but know what to sweat and what not to sweat. You have to cede control to some degree.

Know the best-case scenario

Again, here’s where hypothesis comes into play very userfully. If it’s a given – as it probably is – that some of your workforce are using social media platforms outside of official corporate accounts, think about what the best-case scenario here could be. If your employees where actively encouraged and empowered to use Twitter, for example, to engage with the outside world in their professional capacity, what might the upside be? A broader view of your industry, new contacts, a heightened online profile for your organisation and increased awareness are just a few of the benefits, and are easily realised.  Not only that, but empowerment through demonstrating trust is powerful when it comes to team motivation and engagement.

This is worth some thought. After all, if knowledge is power, applied knowledge is power with added understanding, foresight and direction. Once you’ve considered these questions, you’re already a good way towards being able to develop a solid social media policy which does away with some of the ambiguity the Department for Transport have been faced with – and I’d urge you to give that some serious consideration, if you haven’t already.

Kate Spiers is director of Wisdom London, providing brilliant integrated communications to businesses.  If you’d like to talk to us about how to go about developing your social media policy, get in touch here.