Social media matters. Whether you’re a household name or a brand-new blogger, social media is key. It’s how you establish influence. It’s how you maintain your good name. It’s how you spread the word about your products or services.
Are you making the most of it?
From big brands to small firms, top bloggers to new ones, we all need to keep tabs on what’s being said about us online. “Even if you or your clients have ‘decided’ not to actively participate in social media, it’s really not a choice,” writes Jason Schubring at Six Revisions. “Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does social media. Either you can fill the vacuum with your perspective, or your customers and competitors will fill it for you. The choice is clear.”
The Fact Is, People Are Talking
Since people will be talking about you on social media, whether or not you join them, especially as your brand expands—it’s vital to know about it, even if it’s not all good. Then you can use those mentions to your advantage. You can turn the talk into a way to boost your brand.
Do you know who’s talking about you? Are you tracking your social media influence?
Find out What Are People Saying about You
First things first: once you know you want to monitor your social media presence, you have to figure out what that means. What are you looking for exactly? To put it simply, you’re looking for your brand. You want to find everything that’s being said about you on every social network. You want to keep up with the social media community in all its forms.
Things You Might Find:
- Tweets mentioning your brand
- Content shared from your site on Facebook or Twitter
- Pins to your content on Pinterest
- Mentions on other blogs or websites
- Reviews posted on industry sites (i.e., Amazon, Travelocity, yelp)
- Links to your site in blogrolls or articles
- Other content regarding your industry or specialty
What all this content possibility means is that it’s not enough to have social media profiles. You also have to watch the networks. Take the big-name payment processor BluePay as an example. On the bottom right of the BluePay website, you can see this is a financial company that’s active on both Twitter and LinkedIn; yet those profiles are only part of the equation. To know what’s being said about BluePay, you’d have to do some research. In other words, you need to know how to monitor social networks.
How to Monitor Social Media
In today’s Internet-centric world, there are plenty of tools available for monitoring your social media presence. Here are some highlights:
1. Google Alerts.
Through Google Alerts, you can set up automatic keyword searches for the name of your brand (or its competitors) and receive regular updates via email or RSS feed. So for a company like BluePay, for example, this would mean notification every time a press release goes out or a news article mentions you. You can set your queries to filter for only news, blogs or video mentions; or you can include any and all references.
2. Network-Specific Searches.
Within each network, it’s also possible to search for your brand and see what’s being said.
- Twitter Advanced Search: Like Google Alerts, Twitter Advanced Search allows you
to set up specific criteria for searches of content on Twitter.
- LinkedIn Search: There are many ways to search on LinkedIn, whether for people
or job listings or through updates or companies. One especially helpful place to check is the Advanced Answers Search, where you can hunt down any mentions of terms relating to your industry. If you’re a graphic designer building your brand online and looking for new clients, you might search for questions/answers regarding design
- Flickr, Delicious, Digg: All of these networks allow you to set up RSS feeds for searches on your brand name and industry terms.
3. Facebook Insights
Maybe your company sees the value of social media enough that you’re already on Facebook and other networks. TSI is a good example of this—they have an active Facebook fan page where they’re regularly linking to industry news and company updates. In this case, you can log right into your Facebook dashboard and use the Insights section to gain knowledge about fans, page views and new wall posts. Staying up-to-date on what your audience is saying on your own page is especially important, as fans will expect you to be listening.
Designed to measure influence, Klout can be a powerful tool for bloggers and business owners. It shows you a tangible measurement of your online influence and offers several tools that can be helpful. Use it to find information about competitors or professionals in your industry who are on various lists; see what topics users are assigning you +Ks in.
As you gain information and insight into what’s being said about your brand and your industry online, the next step is knowing what to do with it. Do all mentions matter? How can you respond to them?
Know Which Mentions Matter Most
The Internet is democratic in that anyone can have a voice. Yet not everyone’s voice has the same influence or reach. A user’s scope of influence is directly related to the power of their communication. So part of knowing how to respond is knowing whom you’re talking to.
Evaluate the User’s Influence
- How many followers, fans or subscribers does the user have?
- How many Retweets?
- How many external links point to their blog?
- How many comments do their blog posts attract?
- Do people respond to them often?
After you’ve analyzed a user’s network and influence, then you can determine how to respond to them.
How to Respond
Remember that in social media as in every other part of life, people are people. Behind every profile, there is still a person posting or Tweeting, someone with whom you can converse and connect. So how do you do it? How do you turn online mentions into good press?
It’s all about Engagement.
Joe Hall writes at Search Engine Land that “Proper engagement needs to contain either one of two things: a ‘click’ factor or a ‘response’ factor. A click factor is an incentive for the user to click through a link … A response factor is an incentive for the user to respond and engage in dialog.”
How can you encourage clicks and responses? The most basic answer is to ask for them, through clear calls-to-action that prompt responses. Here are a few ideas:
- Ask a Question: One of the surest ways to start a conversation is by asking a question. When you see someone Tweeting about recently buying your product, why not respond by asking how they’re enjoying it? Or if someone says they had a bad customer service experience, reach out to them for more info.
- Give a Solution: When a user is expressing a problem or concern, there’s nothing like giving them a solution. When you reach in a LinkedIn discussion board about a manager looking for a better precision measurement tool, tell him about yours. When you learn someone can’t find your product at their store, see if you can get it there.
- Offer an Incentive: Other effective engagement techniques include contests, giveaways and other promotional strategies that give the user an immediate benefit or reward. This could be “Test this product for a chance to win a year’s supply” or “Fill out this customer survey and get 20% off your next order.” Or it might be, “We’d love to send you some free samples to try.” The idea is to provide an incentive attractive to the user.
By understanding the basics of social media monitoring, you have a good start in building and strengthening your online brand. Does your company or is your personal brand already doing this? What results have you seen? Or if you’re new to monitoring, how have you seen other brands do it well—through engagement on social networks?
Give us your thoughts!