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Social Media Optimization

Good summary from a recent post by  Debbie DeGabriell:

Many organizations, as they hear the term “Social Intelligence” used more often in the business setting, are beginning to understand it is must-have insight for executing more informed decision-making in an increasingly socially networked world. But at the same time, because they may not fully grasp the concept of Social Intelligence or know where this information comes from, they are unsure how to leverage it for competitive advantage.

So, let’s break it down. First, Social Intelligence, at its most basic level, is the ability of humans to interact with each other effectively. Applied in the context of today’s business environment, Social Intelligence is what a company needs to maintain meaningful, productive relationships with its current and potential customers, employees, partners, and any other relevant group interacting with the organization—as well as with each other—through social channels.

Learning the hidden value and meaning of social data is achieved by using social analytics, but Social Intelligence takes it a step beyond this by unlocking this value and generating actionable insights that impact business strategy. From a technical perspective Social Intelligence refers to the tools and practices companies use to aggregate social data, which is collected by social media monitoring tools and social analytics engines, with existing data, such as from a customer relationship management (CRM) system. This aggregated data is then integrated with systems of records and real-time analytics engines. This process brings forth previously unknown or seemingly unimportant or unrelated detail about the businesses’ customers, products, campaigns and even competitors. The end result: Actionable insight.

A Social Intelligence platform for generating this insight has three core components, which can come from a single vendor or multiple vendors. These components are:

  • Social media capture – Think of this as the hunting and gathering phase. Social networks and communities are monitored for relevant information, which is captured and then brought into the enterprise.
  • Social analytics – Next, business intelligence becomes super-charged. The captured social media data is processed by being “mashed up” with existing information. The insights created are then shared with other systems throughout the enterprise.
  • Social Intelligence – At this level, manual (i.e., human) and automated processes are combined to ensure actionable insight is actually acted on.

Through the use of a Social Intelligence, an enterprise’s social and business strategies become intertwined, and data collected from the social sphere is analyzed and used to generate tangible value for the organization. The process helps to reveal not only who a customer is, but also, what he or she may want—and even more important, how that customer feels about what he or she wants. The business can then use this Social Intelligence—proactively (this is key)—to predict and anticipate customers’ needs and ideally, fulfill them.

Strong executive leadership who understand its importance and value as a tool for enhanced decision-making and customer service is also critical. When a business decides it’s ready to move from social analytics into Social Intelligence, to succeed it must approach the process like any other important transition, by crafting a strategy, determining and documenting necessary changes, adopting change management techniques, putting in place a learning system and getting buy-in from key stakeholders.

Social Intelligence can unlock the potential the value of social data and help build brand affinity and accelerate business growth. As social communities continue to morph and grow those companies that take advantage of all that Social Intelligence has to offer will be better positioned to act on insights and get ahead of competition

Great advice from the new book:  Power Friending Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business-

1. Act authentically. A few years I worked as a social media consultant with Tony Robbins. As a leading speaker, entrepreneur, and coach, he is one of the busiest people I know. Still, today, Tony has time to manage many of his own social media efforts. As an active Twitter user (@tonyrobbins), he shares honest and compelling personal and professional messages. When he recently celebrated his 50th birthday, he took the time to record a friendly audio message for his fans. Being honest, accessible, and authentic is a key ingredient to social media success.

2. Make time. People complain endlessly about not having time to roll social media efforts into their lives. Let’s face it, many of us are short on time. As many highly effective people will attest, you always have time for the things you put first. Take the Tony example, I’m quite sure he doesn’t have time to record friendly audio and video messages for an audience but he makes time because he knows it’s important for his business.

3. Be consistent. As much as you want to run away from your email and the web for a few days here and there, to ensure that your online marketing efforts are getting results try to participate in the social media world on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean that you have to stay glued to your computer 24-7, but try to respond to comments within twenty-four or forty-eight hours during the work week.

4. Tell stories. If you’re looking for content ideas, there is nothing better than a good story. Whether you’re sharing photos on Flickr or blogging on Blogger, people love to look inside the lives of people at home and at work.  Although you don’t want to share anything that makes you uncomfortable, a little personality goes a long way online.

5. Plan ahead. When I interviewed the face of Ford’s social media efforts for my book he explained that a strategic plan kept his company on top. “A solid social media strategy meant that we had a plan and were well prepared for the newfound attention we received,” said Scott Monty.  While you might not be experience a huge wave of social media activity right now, six months down the road this could change. As a result, you should be prepared.

6. Embrace criticism. No one likes negative comments, but may times this feedback can help your organization make appropriate changes. The worst thing you can do when someone lashes out with a complaint is to ignore them completely. Often times, the individual simply wants a reaction and someone to listen to their problems.

7. Listen well. To pick up on the last point, be aware of what people are saying about your brand or business. A free and easy way to do this is to sign up for Google Alerts, so you can monitor online conversations on a regular basis.  Depending on what you hear, look to your plan to figure out how you want to engage.

8. Create a policy. As social media continues to grow quickly, and more than 400 million people worldwide continue to flock to Facebook, now is a good time for your business to develop a social media policy. This document can help your team determine what’s appropriate to talk about online, and how they should interact in various situations. For example, Coca-Cola’s social media policy includes a few smart guidelines, including advising employees that the Internet is permanent and that local posts have global significance.

9. Go mobile. Remember how quickly the mobile world is exploding. Within more than one million iPads sold since launch, the demand for apps on the go shouldn’t be ignored.  Consider developing your own application, either now or put it on your project plan for the future.

10. Have fun. Although the technology is constantly evolving, and often frustrating, there are lots of exciting opportunities in the social media environment. A few weeks ago I hosted a workshop where attendees were tasked with developing an online video campaign for a fictitious airline in under thirty minutes. Many groups pitched pretty traditional ideas, but one group dragged their chairs up on stage and acted out an online skit with “Amelia Earhart” leading the audience through their plans to go viral. In other words, the most creative and original ideas have the best chance to stand out.

Where Twitter Is Going

by ConsumerSphereGuy on June 6th, 2010 in Innovation, Social Media Optimization, Twitter

There are a number of major changes and new features in the pipeline for Twitter. Here is an overview:

Proximity- If you were not aware of it, Twitter considers itself to be a largely mobile service. Sure, during its adolescence it grew mostly on its website, but now with the plethora of smartphones Twitter is focusing on its mobile side.

Today Twitter began to discuss “points of interest,” that are going to allow tweets to associate tweets with locations, and not just raw latitude and longitude data. You can tie a tweet to a place. Everyone is noticing the similarity of this to what Foursquare and Galla are doing.

Twitter had this to say “[points of interest are a ]way to see where a tweet is coming from but also a way to read all the tweets coming from specific nearby landmarks.” That is going to make Twitter more personal, and more interesting. As we will see, more data more relevance, or as @Rsarver said “proximity is a proxy for relevancy.”

User Streams- If you thought that PubSubHubBub was fast, wait until you see User Streams, Twitter’s upcoming uber-real-time feed. Imagine no lag whatsoever between when I tweet, and when it shows up in your desktop Tweetdeck. This is the Google Wave of tweets.

Even better, it is going to come with no rate limits to let everyone use it as they will. No more running out of API calls, hallelujah. Assuming that Twitter can handle the load that this will add to their hardware, this is going to make Twitter feel much more like the final version of FriendFeed: information overload.

If you are familiar with Clicky’s Spy feature, it is like this but for the updates you want. And is not just for updates, but also for your complete social graph of DMs, @s, Favorite tweets and so forth. Twitter is only letting developers play with this for a few days as a trial, so we have to wait, but when this does come out it is going to be a massive upgrade to the basic Twitter experience.

A Twitter is going to let developers and applications tag tweets with metadata. What type of metadata? Any metadata that developers want.

Twitter decided to let developers decide how to handle the next big thing in metadata. What is even more important is Twitter’s decision to let developers pull the data back out of Twitter, once it has been sent it. More or less, this is a read write API for calling and tagging anything.

@Anywhere- If you missed our coverage, check it out here. @Anywhere is live, and out in the wild. Bringing deep Twitter integration to a plethora of websites, @Anywhere is going to bring hovercards, tweets, and other Twitter features inside of a publisher’s website.

If you know Facebook connect, this is Twitter’s answer.

Communication/Developer Relations- Twitter is launching a developer website, and is working to have more open and active discussions with developers as to what they need, what they want, what they hate, and what needs to change right away.

Twitter could do nothing smarter than this. If they want to stay ahead of their competition, and continue to be the darling that they are to all of our hearts, this is the golden goose they need to keep fed.

Maybe it’s because you’re in marketing. Maybe it’s because you’re from the younger generation assumed to be digital natives. Or maybe it’s because you’re already been experimenting with social media and your success has been noticed.

You have chosen you to write a social media plan, now what? Where do you start?

Here are some ideas

1. Opportunity Backgrounder

Start your social media plan with some startling statistics and pithy quotes about the huge shift away from traditional publishing towards social media.

If you wrote this plan two years ago, you would have leaned on the endorsement of old media with quotes like this:

“Consumers are flocking to blogs, social-networking sites and virtual worlds. And they are leaving a lot of marketers behind.” – The Wall Street Journal

But now you can tell the big opportunity of social media by just relying on social media’s accomplishments. Include nuggets like:

* 4 of the top 7 highest-traffic websites (Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Blogger) are social media websites
* Two-thirds of the global internet population visit social networks — Nielson, Global Faces and Network Places
* More than half of all people in the U.S. over 12 have set up a social media profile
* With over 400 million users, if Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd largest country in the world
* Twitter now has 110 million users and is adding 300,000 a day

Add with a flourish a quote or two from a top social media book, such as Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, or The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott.

2. Define Social Media

Because social media is such a nebulous thing for many, you need to put concise parameters on what it is. However, don’t start your plan with the definition of social media because it’s not as exciting as the first section about the big opportunity. Get their attention first, and then you can go Webster on them. Include something like this:

“Social media is user-generated content on the internet. It’s created with free or inexpensive technology, is easy to update, and can reach a niche audience or millions. It can be mere words in a blog, but also user-generated videos, photos, and audio. It can be interactive with unfiltered comments from visitors. And as user-generated content, it does away with controls associated with traditional media – and most of all, it removes the need for big media.”

3. List Tangible Business Goals

If you don’t already have a social media plan, it’s very possible that your top management fears that social media is only a plaything. You have to show them you mean business. Tell them how you will use social media activities to:

* Build awareness
* Strengthen relationships with clients, prospects, and influencers
* Better understand your buyers
* Improve customer service
* Identify new product ideas
* Increase web site traffic
* Improve search engine rankings
* Drive traffic to your trade show displays at events
* Generate leads
* Generate sales

You don’t have to promise to do all these things. And preferably your goals will match top management’s goals. But whichever goals you choose, make them attainable, and include a measurement plan. Ask for a grace period (at least several months) for learning and experimentation until you have to start proving tangible results.

4. Plan A Timeline Of Steps

You can’t just push a button and have a full-fledged social media marketing program running full-swing. But management won’t wait forever, either. Give them an idea of what your steps will be, which may include:

* Time to define goals, objectives, and strategy
* Time to get trained on social media
* Time to determine team, either internally, choosing a social media consultant, or both
* Setting up accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube
* Finding your existing community of clients, prospects, and influencers on the main social media sites listed above, on niche social media sites, and on established industry blogger sites (if you determine your clients are not yet on social media, you may not have a plan!)
* Time to set up your own blog
* The sequence of social media sites you will concentrate your efforts
* Time needed for listening to each online community
* Time to develop a following
* Time to create content, such as a blog (which is ongoing), videos, white papers, podcasts, and more
* Time to learn time-saving tools such as RSS feeds, Technorati, Hootsuite, Bitly, and more
* Dates of pre-scheduled progress reports

Write this timeline of steps on paper, not in stone. This is a working plan that you use every week, and change as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

5. Set Realistic Expectations

Because social media revolves around so many free tools, and because it has become the darling of marketing hipsters everywhere, expectations run high. So you also need to help your team understand there’s no guarantee it will be a silver bullet. Tell them things like:

* Social media is not a panacea: if your company or product sucks, social media is not going to make that go away
* While many of the tools are free, it can take a substantial investment in time and consistent effort to build up a loyal following on the main social media sites
* Social media is not just another advertising channel – old-school product messages will go down in flames
* There is a substantial learning curve of the technology, language, and culture of the various social media sites
* Social media is always evolving, so successful methods can stop working
* Success may require effort from a team, not just one person

6. Ask for Resources

Getting this plan accomplished will require resources. Don’t be shy, ask for help, be it training, people’s time, or budget to pay for consultants, website hosting fees, a video camera, or useful web applications you later determine you need. Because social media requires near constant attention, tell them you need a laptop with broadband access, and a smart phone with an unlimited web access plan, too.

And ask for something free but priceless: For your top management to share their buy-in with your plan to help you get more cooperation from the rest of your company.

7. Recommend Who Does Social Media For Your Company

The first step of choosing who does social media for your company is deciding between doing it internally, hiring a consultant to do it, or a combination. You can shorten your learning curve with social media consultants who can train you and help identify online communities where your clients already gather. But ultimately, your social media activity really should be done by people who work for your company. It’s just too hard to hire an outsider to be the authentic voice of your company.

Then figure out who does social media within your company. Just remember that while the youngest member of your marketing or customer service team may be the most familiar with social media, they may not be the best choice to represent your company in social media. You want someone who has:

* Deep knowledge of your customers, industry, products, and company
* Exemplifies the personality of your organization
* Insatiable curiosity
* Integrity
* Good people and communication skills
* A quick study on technology
* Very strong work ethic

That person, of course, may end up being you.

8. Finish with an Urgent Call to Action

While similar to how you started your plan, you want to finish with some more strident points that create a sense of urgency. End your plan with things like:

* “We no longer control our brand – it is being shaped by our customers in social media with or without us, so we must engage with them to protect and enhance the brand.”
* “Social media is where our communities are shifting their attention; we ignore them at our peril.”
* “If we delay our entry too long we risk being left behind by our customers and our competitors.”

Social Media is a vast universe of communities, cultures, and ultimately, for the marketer, choices. I hope these 8 parts of a social media plan will help you to inspire your organization to get engaged with your clients, prospects, and influencers via social media.

Where Twitter Is Heading

by ConsumerSphereGuy on April 15th, 2010 in Innovation, Social Media Optimization, Twitter

Twitter has a steady stream of updates, capabilities and new offerings. Following some of the key innovations.

Proximity

If you were not aware of it, Twitter considers itself to be a largely mobile service. Sure, during its adolescence it grew mostly on its website, but now with the plethora of smartphones Twitter is focusing on its mobile side.

Today Twitter began to discuss “points of interest,” that are going to allow tweets to associate tweets with locations, and not just raw latitude and longitude data. You can tie a tweet to a place. Everyone is noticing the similarity of this to what Foursquare and Galla are doing.

Twitter had this to say “[points of interest are a ]way to see where a tweet is coming from but also a way to read all the tweets coming from specific nearby landmarks.” That is going to make Twitter more personal, and more interesting. As we will see, more data more relevance, or as @Rsarver said “proximity is a proxy for relevancy.”

User Streams

If you thought that PubSubHubBub was fast, wait until you see User Streams, Twitter’s upcoming uber-real-time feed. Imagine no lag whatsoever between when I tweet, and when it shows up in your desktop Tweetdeck. This is the Google Wave of tweets.

Even better, it is going to come with no rate limits to let everyone use it as they will. No more running out of API calls, hallelujah. Assuming that Twitter can handle the load that this will add to their hardware, this is going to make Twitter feel much more like the final version of FriendFeed: information overload.

If you are familiar with Clicky’s Spy feature, it is like this but for the updates you want. And is not just for updates, but also for your complete social graph of DMs, @s, Favorite tweets and so forth. Twitter is only letting developers play with this for a few days as a trial, so we have to wait, but when this does come out it is going to be a massive upgrade to the basic Twitter experience.

Annotations Twitter is going to let developers and applications tag tweets with metadata. What type of metadata? Any metadata that developers want.

Twitter decided to let developers decide how to handle the next big thing in metadata. What is even more important is Twitter’s decision to let developers pull the data back out of Twitter, once it has been sent it. More or less, this is a read write API for calling and tagging anything.
@Anywhere

If you missed our coverage, check it out here. @Anywhere is live, and out in the wild. Bringing deep Twitter integration to a plethora of websites, @Anywhere is going to bring hovercards, tweets, and other Twitter features inside of a publisher’s website.

If you know Facebook connect, this is Twitter’s answer.
Communication/Developer Relations

Twitter is launching a developer website, and is working to have more open and active discussions with developers as to what they need, what they want, what they hate, and what needs to change right away.

Twitter could do nothing smarter than this. If they want to stay ahead of their competition, and continue to be the darling that they are to all of our hearts, this is the golden goose they need to keep fed.