In my previous article I mentioned the fact that long gone are the times when the enterprise totally controlled conversation about its business. Social networking has revolutionized the game. It is clear now that more power will go into the hands, or shall I say mouths, of the customers with distributed social networking coming to the fore. I ended the article by asking you what was your social networking strategy.
Now let’s be clear about this:
Not to have a social media strategy… is to have a social media strategy. An ad hoc, improvised one.
Which means that:
- you are mostly unaware of where the talk about your company is happening and
- maybe you don’t even care.
OK, let me be fair. I am not so sure about point 2. But I’ll bet you are like most of us: you don’t really know where on the Web is the conversation happening about your company. You probably have a company twitter account, a blog and a Facebook page. This is all great. Still, what managers realize more and more is that the channels we create to communicate with our customers are not the only ones available to them out there. If in doubt, get a look at this presentation on social network monitoring by Steven Di Pietro:
The fact is “markets are conversations” . As managers, we must find ourselves involved in the conversation.
Back to Basics: Environmental Scanning
The first step in any sound strategy is to be aware of our environment. In the case of social networking, we must find out who says what to whom, where and when about us. It’s plain common sense. It is also the foundation of any social media strategy.
You can’t do anything about what you don’t know. This the idea behind the approach.
A number of social media strategists agree with this view. For example, this diagram from Joanna Halton shows the steps to follow to develop a social media strategy:
As we will find out, technology is not an issue here. A host of tools are available online that let us scan the web environment for trends and mentions about our brand.
You may chose between commercial and free offerings.
This innovative website allows you to track your online reputation, and respond, as users mention you on social networking websites (Facebook, twitter, etc.) You can register for a 2 week trial period, after which you will have to pay a monthly fee. Check out the features.
This website provides you with very detailed information about who is talking about your company. Informations include demographics, influence, geolocation, sentiment and topic categorization. No free trial seems available. But, if you are ready to put the bucks being the talk, why not?
This website offers you access to real-time data about your company. The data is mined from social networking websites such as Twitter, Flickr and Facebook. To have access to the trail version you must provide some information about yourself and you company. Give it a try.
Free Monitoring Tools
This website allows you to track mentions of your brand name on more than 40 social networking websites. Pretty effective actually. There’s a Pro version if you want to get more insights and tools
This one is one of the best I tried. Nothing too fancy. Just a direct access to mentions of your brand with an evaluation of the tone used. So if negative words were used in relation with your brand name, it will tell you and show you where. Isn’t that great? SAMEPOINT is definitely part of my tool set.
For a more complete list of tools visit 48 free social monitoring tools.
Where to from here?
Well, as I already said, strategy implies awareness. In the case of social media strategy awareness must answer, amongst many others, these questions :
- who is talking about you?
- what are they saying?
From there use the various resources on the Web and find out more about how to develop a social media strategy for you company: