Great day at Monitoring Social Media in London yesterday. I signed up because I was particularly interested in the content aimed at small businesses. In my view, there is an urgent need to make it all more accessible and manageable for time poor business owners, many of whom are sceptical about the effectiveness of social media.
Everyone will have taken something different away from the event but in the spirit of this blog which aims to bridge the gap between the early adopters of social media and the wider business/comms community, here are some of the points that have stuck with me.
Small businesses – focus on your customers first
Mark Schmulen shared some great examples of successful small biz social media campaigns in the US. They were all small retail companies and interestingly had all kicked off their SM campaigns by engaging with their existing customers. Huge success in every case. Why don’t more small businesses do this? Many are struggling to grasp the opportunity inherent in social media but if they stopped to think and recognise the value of a happy customer, the solution would be staring them in the face. Build a base of ambassadors in social networks and take it from there. Simple but powerful.
I particularly enjoyed what Mark had to say as he talks the language of small business. He’s also the guy behind NutShellMail, a nice, entry level solution to monitoring social media activity. It’s an aggregator like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite etc but the report is delivered in a newsletter via email with a static URL so it can be read online – in other words, it’s totally interactive. For businesses putting a toe in the water with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc and struggling to keep up with likes, followers etc, it’s an excellent solution that does much of the leg work. It doesn’t capture comments on your blog but I’m told that’s one for the future. Anyway, it’s FREE!
NutShellMail got snapped up by big gun Constant Contact but it seems to be holding on to its autonomy. Here’s hoping it can maintain the focus on small business, keeping the mechanics of monitoring simple but effective.
Corporates – effective social media monitoring needs human intervention!
Robin Grant of We are Social talked (comfortingly) about the current pre-occupation with technology. Music to my ears as it seems to me that whilst technology is making the monitoring possible, the tale is starting to wag the dog rather than the other way round. Robin cautioned that it is just an enabler, that monitoring is only worthwhile with human intervention.
Dashboards are a case in point; they’re only as good as the analysis that follows. According to Robin, all big corporate marketers want a dashboard but, remarkably, very few actually read them, never mind analyse them. Crazy! Must be something about all the pretty charts and graphs that gives comfort (?!) and yet all you hear from the big corporates is ROI. Something doesn’t compute. Why invest good money in working out who you’re going to listen and where but not read the report or use it to define, re-define or validate your strategy? To me it seems a bit like mixing the ingredients for a cake and never baking it. I guess in some instances it comes down to budget. Perhaps the perpetrators intend to do the analysis bit themselves but never quite get around to it? The message yesterday obviously plays into the hands of the monitoring agencies who would do the analysis and get paid handsomely for it but it does make sense.
My take on all this in the wider context of social media usage: to make best use of outsourced expertise, get help to define your SM strategy, set up the measurement metrics and analyse what comes back but where possible keep the ‘doing’ (i.e. the conversation) in-house where it belongs.
There was lots more which I’ll keep for another day. Better not let it gather dust though – things are moving so fast that the first session at yesterday’s conference was called “A history of social media listening”.