Archive for July, 2011
Social networks are now more popular than search engines in the UK* so it’s important to ensure your brand has a consistent voice across the social web. This necessitates a formalised approach, particularly for larger organisations, but it is important to be flexible and leave room for creativity and innovation.
Company social profiles are a key element of modern brand building. Proactive participation creates new opportunities for companies to interact with customers and prospects, share content and tap into professional networks up and down the supply chain.
Compared to company profiles the value of employee social profiles, with their unstructured mix of personal and work-related content, can seem less clear. However, if properly managed, employee social engagement can play a significant role in helping organisations achieve their social media objectives.
Increasingly people are using social technologies as research and networking tools for work. By supporting the use of personal accounts and harnessing this enthusiasm, companies can extend their social outreach organically and build a stronger sense of community.
But how can brands maintain a level of consistency with so many people adding their voice to the conversation? Here are some ideas for keeping enterprise-wide social media engagement on track.
1) Establish a set of guidelines
Making sure your company has direction for social engagement is essential. The approach needs to be fixed enough to ensure a consistent message yet flexible enough to allow for creativity and innovation. A simple set of guiding principles can help direct staff participation and maintain company standards.
2) Offer training
People who make mistakes online usually do so innocently. If you want your employees to use social networking tools to the company’s advantage, offer training. Employees will be open to learning more about how to use social networks to further their own careers and the brand.
3) Define objectives
It’s important everyone understands why the business is engaging with social media. Whether it’s to increase sales leads, reach new audiences or improve customer service, define the objectives early on. This will make it much easier to develop strategies, assign responsibilities and recognise success.
4) Break down barriers
Don’t limit participation to the marketing team. Select participants based on their individual skill sets and encourage all departments to look at how they might benefit. Successful social initiatives are those that draw on expertise from all requisite disciplines including IT. The result will be a more connected organisation.
5) Share experiences and ideas
Social media is a learning process and the landscape is changing rapidly. Platforms that are working for you now may fall out of favour in the future. Encourage participants to share experiences and ideas. Lessons learned on one platform will lead to innovation and new thinking on another, ultimately serving to optimise the approach.
* Source: Hitwise, – Robin Goad, June 2010
It’s not a new phenomenon, but it occurred to me whilst watching the coverage of the Murdoch questioning by MPs (on the live BBC feed), that there exists a huge amount of commentary and meta-commentary running parallel with such news events.
Bloggers will no doubt be writing thousands of pages of opinion and opinion based on slightly older opinion in a spiral of self-referencing text based vacillation. This provides us with a rich and ever expanding theme of content that over time forms the mulch of the internet and the basis of search results for years to come.
More interesting to me though is the micro blogging and stream based comment – mainly on Twitter – that thunders on in the background. I say background, but in point of fact, watching the Murdoch inquiry, I found myself paying far more attention to the slew of 140 character comments that scrolled down my screen in a separate window. I realised I was actually not watching the video, but dropping in pithy replies to tweets from Charlie Brooker and Emma Kennedy and trying to get a rise from Alan Sugar. This is when I stopped watching the live stream.
At times it can be far more entertaining to see what a bunch of comedians and political commentators have got to say about an unfolding event than it is to engage with it in a more traditional, passive way. By experiencing news events in a filtered, abstracted way, through people whose opinion we have actively sought out, we feel that we are part of an event. I would suggest however, that we do not become part of the original event, but actually part of a ‘meta-event’ – an event that exists like a cloud around the central event, persisting and connecting with other meta-events far beyond the boundaries of the original story.
And this is the power of Twitter and other stream based social media. We invite and filter the type of news (or content) based on our own personal preference. Then we begin to treat this filtered ‘us-friendly’ content as reliable or authoritative information – which we then recycle into our own streams, to be accepted as reliable and authoritative information by others. Ultimately we join in with the happy illusion of being informed and participatory consumers of current events but we are in effect cherry picking only the most personally interesting elements of the entirety of the data.
Twitter is fun. We can fool ourselves into thinking that participating in a meta-event such as the Murdoch enquiry makes us somehow better informed – which it does, but only better informed about what other Twitter users are saying. The beauty of this is that by becoming active participants in a meta-event as opposed to passively absorbing the main stream media narrative, we are promoting ourselves to the position of Editor In Chief in our news room of one,
Which leaves only one question. Who will you sack when you authorize the tapping of your own phone?
The launch of two important social networking browsers within the last six months has set the stage for the next step in online communications. The number of social networking devices has inevitably led to the integration of tools that allow users to simultaneously surf the net and communicate with friends.
Rockmelt launched its offering at the end of last year and is continuing to grow in popularity. The Rockmelt browser displays news, RSS feeds and updates from Twitter and Facebook as well as including a web browser for users to search, share and chat about their content. The main benefit of Rockmelt is its integration with Facebook. Easily shared, and using the instant elements of Facebook such as ‘Chat’, Rockmelt has instant appeal to Facebook addicts. Still in the early adoption period Rockmelt is relatively unheard of but if you want to start combining browsing and chatting (especially on the iPhone) it may be worth a look.
The Google+ platform is, in some ways, a similar concept. However Google+ acts more like a social hub with a browser attached rather than a browser that has social networks tacked on. It seems to me that Google+ has taken the flaws of existing social media and attempted to create the antidote for them; for example ‘Circles’, which encourage users to segment their life (much like reality) so that pictures of that messy night out don’t end up being seen by your boss. However, the limited trial has meant a true comparison will have to wait. Although feedback from the lucky few has been mixed, one message that seems to be clear is that the Google+ platform isn’t really particularly groundbreaking which may explain why Google have downplayed its soft launch so much.
These two ‘socialised’ browsers will no doubt continue to develop and improve. I am leaning more towards the Rockmelt platform to be honest but I think Google+ will become a better tool for the hardened social media junkie.
Have a play with both, I’d love to hear what you think.
While social networking continues to infiltrate our personal and business lives we are starting to question and analyse the impact and influence this is having on the world. Social networking analytics site Klout has created a way of measuring our influence on the world, devising a simple numerical currency that we can measure ourselves by.
The system determines just how influential your online activity is; this is known as your Klout score. By looking at the size of your active audience (those who both listen and react to your messages) they can calculate your sphere of influence. By using 35 variables Klout are able to measure what they call True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Scores to give your online presence a score from 1 to 100.
Through analysing the data collated from sites such as Twitter and Facebook Klout believe they can not only calculate your influence through the size of your network, the content available and also how people choose to interact with that content, but also encourage growth of these areas.
As a motivation for social media upkeep Klout definitely encourages you to monitor and compete with yourself (and others if you so wish) to ensure your influence continues to grow. What is exciting about this is that it feels very empowering. Celebrities and brands no longer seem to dominate, in fact your influence is just as important as theirs. What it also proves is that having followers simply isn’t enough, it all harks back to the idea of value and content, are you giving people influential material that enhances their lives and inspires them to pass it along.
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