Social media management
From presidential candidates to companies, friends and celebrities, over 200 million registered users are out there on the micro blogging site, Twitter. The clutter is aplenty and you’re not alone if you feel lost in the world of symbols and general chatter! An estimated 140 million tweets are sent a day, so, how does one cut out the noise and make the most of the micro blogging site with a limited amount of resources and time? Read on to get a host of useful tips on how you can use the site to the best of your advantage, getting tools to automatically sift through all the unwanted messages that don’t really concern you or your brand.
Twitter friendly applications:To begin with, leveraging the advantages of user friendly tools like Tweetdeck, Twhirl and Hootsuite to manage your twitter account better and select relevant information for you or your brand is worth knowing. Tweetdeck for example works as your personal browser that you can install on your system and customize according to your specifications. Suddenly, Twitter becomes so much easier to understand with this handy tool. Attractively designed and inviting to users, all one needs to do is download the tool and it works behind the scenes, giving you unobtrusive, yet relevant updates as and when they come in. Twhirl is another very useful tool that rolls everything one needs for Twitter into a neat function. Hootsuite is an application and can also be used for managing multiple social networks, especially Twitter.
Keyword searches: Once you’ve set up one of these applications, invest time initially on looking for keywords and people who are tweeting on a topic that you want to track. ‘Follow’ing these people is useful as it saves time and eliminates unwanted chatter. Subsequently, you can keep track for new users that you may want to add to this list.Re-tweeting is a popular way to rebroadcast information from one tweeter to another as this information is usually found particularly interesting and useful by another individual/s and therefore worth tracking.
Mentions: Another search criteria that you can set for your brand is @mention. When you do this, you get an alert on anyone who mentions you. This column will track it and keep a column for your ready reckoning with all the people who have been Tweeting about you.
#tags and direct messaging: Advanced Twitter users use the organically evolved #tag. This is to enable the person who tweets to categorize the message, making it show up more easily in searches. Following these tags is also a time-saver. When replying to messages, replying via direct messages will earn you a higher chance of getting noticed and a reply as opposed to posting a general message on the site that people may ignore.
All these could save you time on looking for information relevant to you, now, how do you make YOUR brand stand out and get people to notice you?
Beings search engine friendly: To be noticed, you’ve got to have your head above the crowd. And to do that on a micro blogging site like twitter, your tweets should be SEO savvy and contain keywords for which you are trying to market your service.
Tracking your performance: Performance is tracked not only by the number of people following you but also by the number of relevant followers, number of useful interactions, and your influence over your followers. There are many free and paid twitter analyzer tools that you can use to assess various aspects of your twitter presence. If your relevant followers increase, you know you are doing something right. If they’re dwindling, it’s time for some introspection! Key influencers of your brand are people who not only talk positively about you, but also have a big ‘followers’ list themselves. This insures that that they spread the word for you. If you’ve earned a substantial number of followers that fulfill these criteria, your time on Twitter has been well spent!
Where is twitter heading? It was a bubble that grew with such a pace that the growth went out of control. And now is it about to burst and leave the rest of us wondering, was it even worth it?
When twitter started, it was amusing to be online on my favorite TweetDeck application that allowed me to say whatever I wanted, without thinking too much before writing it down. The first few days were somewhat addictive, when I followed each and every conversation happening and tried to make more friends, read tweets by famous people I liked, and gain “followers”. But soon enough, the euphoria ended. I started getting bored of the constant chit-chat, senseless hash tags, increasing number of spam messages, and above all the timeline that flowed and changed like a stock market ticker.
I believe many people are like me. I would like to connect with people I “know personally” on Facebook, and rest of the “business contacts” on LinkedIn, which is more serious and professional. I like to read the news by setting RSS feeds of my areas of interest. Now what do I use twitter for? Having conversations with strangers; passing time (which is already in deficit), shouting about my new blog posts that hardly gets any visitors from twitter, or for bugging people by re-tweeting famous quotations every minute of the hour.
Twitter’s defects are now very apparent. Though it was meant to meet the inherent need of every netizen to have meaningful online conversations and share thoughts, it is now slowly failing to do just that because of all the distractions, and problems like:
No more meaningful conversations: Although some updates are thought provoking, the rest of 99% of the times, it’s just worthless chatter. I do not want to know if you are staring at a wall now, which incidentally you were doing five hours ago too. I also do not want to read that same old copy-pasted one-line wisdom again and again. I do not want to read the running commentary and collective grunting and cursing every time a match happens. I know, you can control who reads your tweets, who follows you, and whom do you follow. You can even follow people and ignore their tweets by putting them in lists that you never read. But then the essence of having conversations is gone; and not to mention that this requires a lot of work and time too.
Too little value as opposed to the time spent: We are information hungry, but we do not have time to sift through running junk to find a few compelling thoughts. Twitter demands time, if you want any good to come out of it. The moment you start following a few active twitter users, your timeline starts to run like Bolt. There’s no way you can read the feed by spending five minutes a day on it and perhaps that’s the reason why about 80% of the twitter accounts have activity nearing zilch and 60% of new users stop using twitter after their first visit.
You have to follow people you don’t want to: Celebrities and famous people gain instant followers as soon as they open a “verified” account, but the rest of the world has to follow others in order to be followed back. It’s a vicious circle which promotes the philosophy of mutual back-scratching. I have to read what you have to say, in order to make you read what I have to say. And there’s no point of twitter unless you have a following of people who read what you have to say. So, a normal twitter user would only have 2-3% of real useful online interactions. And the chances are that it’s with people he or she already knows. So, why not switch to Facebook or good old email.
It’s easy for your message to get lost: Just like you, other users also have timelines that are changing incessantly, unless they are following approximately five inactive users. If you send out a useful piece of information, the chances of it getting lost in the clutter are quite high. In order to get heard you start sending the same piece of information repeatedly. I consider that annoying when somebody else does it.
Is it useful for businesses? Big companies are using it to send out company news, product info, and useful tips for customers, but what are the returns? People who are interested will anyways search online to find that information. So, here’s a thought: wouldn’t it be more useful to spend more time on search engine optimization of your content, rather than twitter?
Twitter is not gone till now, but there’s something drastically wrong with the whole system. People get excited about it, join it, explore it for a while, lose interest, and walk away. I have seen many who have done just that. Twitterville is populated mostly by youngsters, and people who have time to kill. Thought leaders and celebrities frequent it to send out messages, but it is hardly ever a two-way conversation. And the most important twitter user is the invisible eye of a marketer. He sits silently to observe what is being said about the brands he is studying and do something useful with the insights that are generated. How much value it has generated is still doubtful.
But there are some ways twitter is helping business owners – the other side of twitter. I will talk about that in my next post.
Some companies have brilliantly used social media to gain visibility and market their products. Coca Cola was recently named as the brand “making the best use of Facebook”. ‘Expedition 206’ was the largest social media project ever by Coca Cola. In the B2Bspace, Dell has effectively used Twitter to connect with its customers. Even the ‘Go Green’ campaign by Dell is an excellent example of using Facebook to generate interest.
Today, if your business is not on the social network you are losing out on a huge marketing opportunity that exists in the online world. If your target audience is there, then doesn’t it make sense for you to be there too?
Why should your business be on the social network?
- Reach out to a global audience: Today’s customers are not location based. They could be in Kolkata or California. As a marketer you need to reach out to all like-minded people in the most cost effective and impactful way.
- Create the hype: Remember the Zoozoo campaign by Vodafone and the hype it created? It was one of the most successful online campaigns that was carried out and had a fan following of millions residing on the internet. It is also one of the best campaigns that used print, electronic and social media in the most integrated fashion. You can easily achieve faster word-of-mouth publicity with social media campaigns.
- Connect with and motivate customers: Launching schemes, running online contests, awarding loyal customers. The interactivity of the online world has a lot to offer. A marketer can easily use this to connect with customers.
- Create brand awareness: Especially for B2B companies Linked In, Twitter and targeted groups can help in creating brand value in the cheapest and the most effective ways.
- Thought leadership: Blogs, communities, forums are some of the best means to position your company as a thought leader. These are the segments where you can tap your potential customer. By genuinely and intelligently answering in the numerous online conversations and sending out informative articles, you can build thought leadership in your domain.
- More visitors to your website/blog: By posting informative links on your social media accounts, you can garner move views, click-throughs, and conversions. Google now takes social media into account too and will do it even more in future. Having your relevant keywords in the posts will help.
- Lead generation: At the end of the day, everything boils down to sales. Social media has proved to be an effective approach to generate leads. Especially Search Engine Monetization and optimization are tools which are beneficial in this.
Even though it is a relatively new medium, the battle for consumer attention has become tough already. Using it intelligently can get you the right benefits.
Some social media goof ups:
- Not having a dedicated social media objective: Every company cannot just generate leads through social media. The objectives could be related to number of conversations, positive comments, brand impact, and so on. What is it that you want at the end of the campaign? What do you want to achieve? This must be clearly defined right at the beginning.
- Providing delayed or no response: Your audience is on the internet all the time. You cannot afford to have a lazy approach to response. In the online world prompt response speaks volumes about the brand.
- Not deploying dedicated resources: Social media as a space is relatively new and is constantly emerging. It’s important to have a dedicated specialist executing and monitoring the activity. No seriousness, insufficient content, no tactics to attract people, delayed responses – will only aid failure of your social media efforts. You should have a genuine attitude to help customers and give intelligent info to them.
- Only dictating and not interacting: Social media is all about interactions and conversations. Communication has to be two-way to create an impact. Participate and succeed.
- Not monitoring your brand name online: One negative comment can have a ripple effect and spoil your efforts, but if you are in the loop, you can give it a positive twist to negative comments and also learn what your competitors are doing on the online social space.
To conclude: Social media is a medium that cannot be ignored. To achieve best results marketers have to look at using all pillars: print, electronic and social media in tandem to get the maximum return on investment.