Archive for the ‘Top Rank Blog’ Category

PostHeaderIcon 22 Social Media Marketing Management Tools

social media management toolsWith every online marketing channel and discipline, there must be tools to make the task of marketing more efficient and effective. Social Media Marketing is no different. Over the past 6-9 months, I’ve been researching and reviewing a variety of social media management tools that help with everything from source network connections to campaign & social content management to monitoring & measurement. While there numerous tools that manage single platforms (like Twitter) this list includes services that manage multiple social network accounts, content and measurement.

At some point we’ll do more with individual reviews, but in the meantime, here is a list of 22 different social media marketing management tools, platforms and services to help manage and scale your online marketing efforts on the social web:

Shoutlet – Manages social media marketing communications with one platform for building, engaging and measuring social media. Includes multiple account and platform support, social CRM and ecommerce for Facebook, email marketing and mobile features.

direct message labs
Direct Message Lab – Provides consulting, implementation and a platform (REACH) for centralized management of social media promotions & contests, advertising and measurement.

objective marketer
Objective Marketer - Offers social media marketing and analytics with integrated campaign management (Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, YouTube), multi-channel execution, engagement reports and user management.

Wildfire Interactive - Platform for easy creation, implementation and management of branded interactive campaigns including: sweepstakes, contests and give-aways.

strongmail social media
StrongMail Social Studio – Comprehensive social media marketing platform with a referral marketing platform, social sharing tool and campaign management application. (Disclosure: StrongMail is a TopRank client)

Sprout social media
Sprout - Cloud-based visual authoring software used to build interactive Engage Ads and Engage Apps that deliver rich, interactive, and social content across the web and mobile devices.

Spredfast - Enterprise social media management system that allows an organization to manage, monitor, and measure its voices across multiple social media channels. Also offers a white label option for agencies.

socialTALK – allows brands to create (text, photos, videos), manage (customize workflow & approval process), publish (single source, scheduled publishing to multiple platforms) and measure (aggregated analytics dashboard) their content strategy and posting schedule.

Crowd Factory – Suite of social media marketing tools include Social Campaign, that enables marketers to acquire new customers through simple social gestures and custom social marketing campaigns while easily tracking ROI.

Awareness - Social marketing hub that centralizes social media content publishing, management, measurement and engagement. Also includes access to 7 white-labeled, best practice social networking applications.

this moment
@this moment – Built on the @this moment platform, DEC is a system for managing a brand’s presence across multiple online environments combining multimedia UGC, and a variety of real-time inputs which are distributed across social platforms including YouTube Brand Channels, Facebook Fan Pages, MySpace Brand Communities & the iPhone.

MediaFunnel – Offers a Business Social Media platform for Facebook and Twitter supporting multiple users per profile and editorial review. Includes monitoring and integrates with

Virtue – Works with clients and agencies through a Social Relationship Management (SEM) platform offering Facebook tabs & applications, a publishing feature for Facebook & Twitter and mobile solutions.

Sprinklr – Social media marketing platform and consulting services for consumer & B2B marketers as well as agencies. Provides social media audience research, acquisition, content promotion and measurement tools.

Janrain – Web based platform of tools including: Engage to make it easy for users to connect a site with their social networks, Federate to facilitate navigation across multiple web properties & partner sites with a single log-in (currently supports 16 networks), Capture to leverage user data for personalized experiences.

sprout social
Sprout Social – Affordable social media dashboard, monitoring, team workflow, influencer and contact management, performance metrics and daily or weekly email summaries. Supports Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and Foursquare.

Sendible – Social media marketing platform that supports 30+ networks & services offering management of: accounts/profiles, messages & content, social contacts, content discovery, engagement, blog content & promotion, monitoring and analytics. Also offers a white label version for agencies.

KickApps – Self service social media web site authoring and social content management system system supporting video, social networking, social graph & activity streams, apps & analytics. Enables web publishers and marketers to develop branded communities, social applications and interactive widgets on their websites and across the social web. Solutions for small and large business.

Postling – Local business social media marketing platform to create content, stay organized and reach customers. Currently free for small business or personal use. Social Marketing –  A social marketing suite, including feed-enabled social gestures and widgets, social dashboard, segmentation tools, influencer identification, conversion tracking and built-in friend casting.

HootSuite - Social media dashboard for managing social content and engagement on multiple networks with team workflow and statistics.

Seesmic – Web and desktop tools to manage social marketing activity on Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Google Buzz and Linkedin plus a plug-in marketplace for more social management options.

This list of social media marketing platforms & services “ad hoc” was compiled by bookmarking various services as they were discovered or pitched to us (we don’t reply to pitches).  Here’s another useful list of SMMS was compiled in March 2010 by Jeremiah Owyang.

What social media marketing dashboards, software and management tools from the list above have you tested or use? Reviews, observations, insights and questions are greatly appreciated!

Obviously, tools are only as good as the expertise of the people using them, so TopRank Marketing is always interested in helping companies develop their social media roadmap and recommend the right supporting software for implementation.

Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
22 Social Media Marketing Management Tools |

Go to Source

PostHeaderIcon 2010 MIMA Summit with Gary Vaynerchuk & Baratunde Thurston

Read this post, share it on the social web and you could win a free pass to the 2010 MIMA Summit. Details below.

The 2010 MIMA Summit will feature keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV and author of Crush It! (review). Once I heard @Garyvee was speaking in Minnesota I hoped to do a pre-event interview, but it didn’t work out.  Two years ago, Geoff Livingston introduced me to Gary at Blog World Expo and to be honest, I wasn’t familiar with who he was. But my first impression was that he could pass for Joe Pesci’s nephew and had a lot of energy.

gary vaynerchuk

However, after people like Brian Solis and Jason Falls pointed out the amazing work he was doing, using social media to promote his business, I made sure I was in the front row to see Gary give the keynote presentation at Affiliate Summit West in 2009 (photos above). I liked his raw, “tell it like it is” presentation. That style of speaking in Minnesota will either be received as a nice kick in the pants or it could be met with indifferent silence. MIMA members are smart and can also be a tough crowd, so we’ll see.  I for one, am looking forward to it.

baratunde thurstonThis year’s MIMA Summit also features Baratunde Thurston from, amongst his numerous projects and media involvement, The Onion, for the afternoon keynote. I guess two years ago was the time to meet today’s social media rockstars, because it was at my first SXSW in Austin, Texas that I met and had lunch (with a group) with Baratunde.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo then, but found the handy glamour shot to the right on Flickr, along with many other great pics of Baratunde.

For a good sample of Baratunde’s presentation style, check out this video from Web 2.0 Expo: “There’s a #Hashtag for That” where he talks about some pretty amazing experiments with Twitter.

I’d expect both keynotes to be nothing less than thought provoking and entertaining. There’s a great lineup of speakers in the breakout sessions as well, which makes the MIMA Summit one of those events in Minnesota that you won’t want to miss.

Except you will miss it if you don’t have a ticket.   TopRank Online Marketing has purchased a corporate table at the MIMA Summit for the past 3-4 years and we usually reserve 1 ticket for a giveaway. This year is no different.

How to win a Free Ticket to the 2010 MIMA Summit?

In a test of your micro-content writing skills, all you need to do is post a creative tweet using ALL of the following:
@TopRank @garyvee @baratunde #mimasummit

Example: RT to help me win a @TopRank #MIMASummit free pass to see @garyvee & @baratunde

That’s 64 characters used for the message leaving a generous 76 characters for your inspired Tweeting pleasure.  We’ll pick the best Tweet by Friday 9/24 end of day 5pm Central. Oh, and getting ReTweets is not required to win, but might help get your tweets noticed more often :)

The winner will be announced on this blog post.

Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
2010 MIMA Summit with Gary Vaynerchuk & Baratunde Thurston |

Go to Source

PostHeaderIcon B2B Online Marketing Trifecta: Content, Social Media & SEO

social seo content marketingB2B Marketing offers a variety of choices for reaching customers wherever they are in the buying cycle.  Make no mistake, buyer behaviors towards information discovery, consumption and sharing online have been significantly affected by changes in social technology.

At a conference I recently spoke at, an attendee made a statement that social media only works for consumer marketing. The reality many marketers forget, is that B2B buyers are people too.  They have the same social needs and influences as anyone else. Social media, in my opinion and experience, is a great fit for business to business marketing.

Marketing with content has been a core part of B2B marketing for years and as long as there are long sales cycles with the need for education, there will be a need for content.  Content that attracts readers through search engine optimization and social media channels can do its job of educating, persuading and guiding B2B buyers along the sales funnel.  That’s why, when it comes to online marketing, the combination of Content, Social Media and SEO provide serious competitive advantage.

Content - Pretty much all B2B marketing starts with content.  White papers, newsletters, blogs, video, presentations and any other text or media content types published online.   Without content, search engines wouldn’t exist. What is it that social communities share with each other? Content!  B2B marketers often find difficulty with continuously generating new blog content ideas, so generating more traffic and social interaction to existing content is essential for inspiring conversations and new topics to write about.

SEO – Any digital content that can be crawled, indexed and ranked by a search engine is an opportunity for optimization with keywords that customers use when searching for new vendors, partners and solutions.  Each unique content object with it’s own URL or web address, creates a destination for other websites to link to and an entry point for search engines and searchers.  A quantity of quality content that is easily and often shared socially creates a rich set of signals for search engines and B2B buyers. B2B SEO mistakes are pretty common, but can be overcome by expertise and experimentation. Based on a firm foundation, SEO can provide substantial lift on its own, but especially in combination with great content and social networking.

Social Media – Growing social networks, connecting with others through interactions and information sharing creates an audience that can support content promotion which might drive traffic and attract inbound links from other topically relevant websites. Links from other websites and blogs can serve as a signal for search engines to decide how to rank your content in the search results. Links from within social networks or media sharing sites can send B2B buyers directly to specific resource, product or services pages. Not every B2B company is ready for social media, but it’s likely that their customers and competitors are already there.

There’s a lot of common sense to the experienced marketer in this blog post, but after a very long time in the consulting business, I’ve found common sense to be the least common thing in most online marketing strategies.  It’s easy to be aware of how individual tactics work best for a company, but it’s useful to take a step back and observe how highly effective marketing, like content marketing, search engine optimization and social media, can best work together.

At TopRank Marketing, we’re working with B2B companies ranging from McKesson to Marketo and recently, MarketTools and StrongMail, to develop coordinated online marketing programs that emphasize efficient combinations of SEO, Social and Content that can prove themselves within existing marketing strategy. As part of our own Content Marketing, we share exclusive case studies, tips and best practices through a client newsletter and pull selected resources for sharing in our Tips from the Top Marketing Newsletter which you might find useful.

If you’re a B2B marketer, are you using content, SEO and social media in a coordinated online marketing effort?  As a buyer of business services, have you been influenced by content discovered by both searching and through social channels?

Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
B2B Online Marketing Trifecta: Content, Social Media & SEO |

Go to Source

PostHeaderIcon 5 Instant Search Engines & the Mash-up

instant searchImitation is the sincerest form of flattery and on the social web, that flattery goes one step further, often in the form of a mash-up. Google has launched a variety of services to much fanfare by the media and yawns from the masses (Google Wave, Buzz).

However, the recent implementation of Google Instant has resulted in a number of “instant” implementations on other types of search. Twitter has tempted us with the promise of real-time, all the time and Google’s effort at real-time results has resonated with a number of developers. How much it has resonated with the searching public at large, is not yet being disclosed.

Check out the following Instant Search applications and see which you like best:

youtube instant search
YouTube Instant: Need videos NOW?! Try YouTube Instant by Feross Aboukhadijeh, who was offered a job by YouTube CEO Chad Hurley.

instant image search
Google Images Instant: Apparently Demi Lovato has “D” nailed down but the puppies have the market cornered on the letter “p” using this instant Google image search site created by Michael Hart, who also created instant maps, instant Amazon and others. Oh, and he’s also looking for a job, Google.

bing instant
Bing Instant: If you want an alternative to Google Instant, then check out the real “live search” version of Bing Instant made by Long Zheng.

itunes instant search
iTunes Instant: Why not iTunes instant search? 15 year old Stephen Ou answered the call.

meta instant search
Meta Instant Search BL3NK: If you want a meta instant search experience, try BL3NK

Have you found other instant search applications? Any that are actually useful?

Here’s more info on Google Instant and what it means for searchers as well as search optimizers.

Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
5 Instant Search Engines & the Mash-up |

Go to Source

PostHeaderIcon 19 Questions to Determine Corporate Social Media Readiness

social media marketingEven though a company sees the value of social media, it doesn’t mean the organization or its members are ready for it. Have you started something you really weren’t ready for? Sometimes it works out and other times it doesn’t.

In order for companies to realize the maximum benefit from social media marketing, there must be a certain level of understanding about the nature of online communities, social media sharing web sites and applications. One of the most effective ways TopRank Online Marketing has found to assess a company’s awareness, capabilities and resources for social media marketing is to conduct an external audit and an internal survey.

Identifying a company’s current state of social media readiness helps determine benchmarks and sets a baseline from where to build from. This is part of developing a social media strategy and helps avoid the random testing many companies are calling their at social media strategy.

There are a number of free or low cost tools that one can use to identify a brand’s current social web participation, ranging from social media monitoring software to profile checking tools like KnowEm to social search tools like How Socialable, 48ers or socialmention.

With many companies, there are often a mix of official and unsanctioned social media accounts setup. It’s important to get a handle on such participation, who’s managing the accounts, whether they are run by employees or fans and what the company can learn from them. Getting a handle on the difference between how social the company is and will need to become is essential for planning, training and strategy development.

As part of the evaluation process, here are a few questions companies might ask themselves and answer as they embark on a social media marketing journey:

  1. What goals do you hope to achieve from a social media marketing effort?
  2. What measures of success will be used to evaluate a social media marketing program?
  3. What are your current social media channels and destination web sites/pages?:
  4. Do you employ a full-time community manager?
  5. If not, do multiple staff share the role of community manager?
  6. Are you conducting a formal effort at monitoring social channels using a social media monitoring/analysis software application? (Ex: Techrigy SM2, ScoutLabs, Trackur, Vocus, SocialRadar, Radian6)
  7. Is there a particular business unit, division or product that can serve as a test case?
  8. If active, how long has the company participated with social media sites and which? Blogging, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Wikis, Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc
  9. Are current social media participation on different sites coordinated?
  10. Is a dashboard and campaign management tool used for social media content promotion?
  11. Have you noticed any particular preferences within the target audience in their social web participation?
  12. Do they prefer particular sites? (Twitter vs Facebook – blogs vs forums)
  13. Do they comment, do they contribute content, do they tend to observe, do they not participate at all?
  14. Have you identified and engaged and/or networked with influentials in your target industry on social web sites?
  15. What unique value do current social media efforts offer clients/prospective clients? What need do they satisfy better than the competition?
  16. Are text content or media regularly shared on other social media sharing sites?
  17. Is there a user generated content component of your web site? Profiles, comments, reviews, content sharing: text, image, video or audio?
  18. What departments, business units, cost centers and approval entities would be involved with the Social Media program? Is there an internal social media council?
  19. What internal human resources are available within the company for support and implementation of social media marketing initiatives? (Content creation, network development, promotion, monitoring & analytics, community engagement)

Obviously each situation is as unique as the company and its objectives, but the list above can provide valuable insight into a company’s state of social media marketing readiness as well as provoking new thoughts and concepts. The more informed companies are about the social web, the more successful they will be at qualifying and managing social media marketing agency engagements.

You might be wondering, why did I pick 19 questions when 20 would be a much nicer, even number? It’s because I’m curious what your 20th question would be. What are we missing? What else would you ask to determine the social media readiness of a company, business unit or division?

Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
19 Questions to Determine Corporate Social Media Readiness |

Go to Source

PostHeaderIcon 6 Tips For Making Content Pop on the Social Web

content marketing social webWith the growing momentum of content marketing, a lot of companies get hung up on making investments in quality articles, white papers, videos and other media only to find they’re not getting much traction. I’ve heard it time and time again at conferences in discussions with brand marketers where they’ve invested in creating great content and digital assets but are frustrated at the lack of reach.

Over the past 6 1/2 years of blogging, followed by contributing articles, posting videos, photos, PowerPoint slides, reports in PDF format and other types of content publishing for our own agency and for clients, here are a few guidelines that stand out for helping content get better reach.

1. Purpose: What do you expect this content to accomplish?

The purpose for a content object can be complex and multi dimensional or it can be as simple as getting readers to click and visit a web page.  Either way, some real thought should be put into being specific about primary and possibly secondary objectives.

2. Message:  Compelling, Unique, Inspiring, Actionable

One of the biggest issues with content companies publish is that it tends not to be customer centric.  SEOs use keyword research to inspire their content recommendations. Keywords are a reflection of demand for topics customers are interested in. Same goes for social keyword research and using personas to guide editorial.

The message is obviously tied to the purpose for the content, so the degree to which it’s unique, inspiring or actionable will vary. You should be able to boil down the essence of the content into a single or two sentence summary.  Think elevator pitch. It should also be crystal clear what you want the reader (or watcher) to do after consuming it.

3. Packaging: Quality, Creativity, Usability & Design, Sharability

It used to be that typos, mis-spellings and lack of design were the norm with blogs but these days business blogs need to be as professional, albeit conversational, as company web sites.  In today’s short attention span world, crap content with snappy packaging will often win over quality content and normal appearance.

This doesn’t mean you need to adopt tabloid tactics, but it does mean that there should be a very strong motivation to employ creative resources to design a great experience for consumers.  Readers should be able to tell quickly what the top level concept is (as well as search engines), it should be easy to consume or scan and it should definitely be easy to share/save/post to social news and bookmarking sites.

Essentially, if the actual content is interesting then make sure the design is interesting too.

4. Distribution & Promotion – Push / Pull, Syndication

This is where I get to use the “Build it and they will come.” quote from Field of Dreams because this is the source of frustration for many marketers publishing new content with frustration over the effect.  First, make sure the publishing system offers automated distribution such as through Email subscription or RSS.  Cross posting updated content to a news roll on the home page or newsroom is also helpful

Building social channels is key for the “pop on the social web” part of this post.  Develop social networks on the channels where conversations are happening relevant to the people and companies you’re trying to reach. If they’re on Facebook for example, you might find it makes sense for your Fan page to accept posts from the blog and that the blog also posts to Twitter. Then have Twitter post to LinkedIn.

Pushing out content automatically must be designed carefully to avoid duplication and especially avoid a high ratio of self promotion.

“Pull” in this case means optimizing content with keywords people search for relevant to the content you are publishing. Make SEO part of the publishing process so content creators have keyword lists they can draw from and guidelines to follow when writing new text content or creating other types of media.

5. Call to Action

Give readers something to do next, whether it’s share, subscribe, join or even buy. The call to action is tied to the purpose of the content. Not all content needs to have an explicit outcome, but if you don’t ask or even tell readers what to do, it’s pretty much a certainty they won’t do what you want. The story of the content should guide the reader to a conclusion that involves a next step. This might be as passive as reading the next article in a series or proactively soliciting a visit to a landing page.

It’s also perfectly fine in many cases to offer more than one thing to do next. The additional options can be part of the design of the web page (White paper, Webinar, Newsletter, Consultation) or included in the copy of the article/blog post/video or whatever the content format is. However, the call to action should never distract from the key message.

6. Monitor, Measure, Analyze & Act

Make sure you have some kind of goals in place along with tools and processes for measuring performance, both in the short and long term.  Whether you use Google Alerts, social media monitoring tools, web analytics, clipping services or something else like PostRank, make sure you track the reach of the content you’re promoting. Analyze where you’re getting traction and document what appears to be working or not.

Be free to test and understand that not everything you post and share, no matter how well-written, packaged or promoted, will gain traction.  Pay attention to time of day, headlines, link sources, traffic sources, citations without links and anything else that could affect reach and outcomes.

Be strategic and opportunistic. Plan content out, use overriding themes and metaphors to tie the message and call to action together.  Understand that developing and promoting content to achieve a desired outcome is a very different thing on the social web vs. direct marketing/response.   Also be aware that opportunities might arise and you should be prepared to create and promote content on demand in order to take advantage. Responding to breaking news or trending social topics for example.

Bonus tip: Give recognition! People will work for money but die for recognition. Give deserving kudos to commenters, those that share and help promote. Also give recognition internally to those that help create content. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for shaping desirable behavior.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. If you have any content creation, packaging, promotion or analysis tips, please share them in the comments.

Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
6 Tips For Making Content Pop on the Social Web |

Go to Source

PostHeaderIcon Video: Cycle of Social & SEO

While in Hong Kong I thought it might be interesting to start doing videos that offer tips against an interesting backdrop. There are so many amazing conversations and topics discussed at the events I travel to, why not combine that somehow?

Watch this Content Marketing Optimization video to learn the simple, yet highly effective, method of incorporating search and social media keywords to guide content marketing optimization efforts. Combine optimized social media content with promotions to increase the traffic and sharing that will provide subsequent data to mine even more effective content ideas.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Please let me know if you like this format of content. I’ve been doing more video interviews of other people in the search and social media marketing industry lately but I haven’t used video to share my own ideas. In the interest of making this blog even more interesting and useful, your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Video: Cycle of Social & SEO |

Go to Source

PostHeaderIcon Brent D. Payne on SEO for Journalists

brent d payneI’ve been connected via the social web with Brent Payne for several years and we finally met in person at SES Hong Kong. Working for the Tribune companies as Director of Search Engine Optimization, Brent has been able to make a significant impact on news web sites like the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times.

In this interview, Brent shares his experiences with how optimizing news content for search engines works as well as the challenges and results from training journalists on how to use keywords to improve traffic to news content.

Click here to view the embedded video.

If you work with a media company or online publisher, do you train writers, reporters, editors and journalists on how to optimize content with keywords? Have you tried and had great results? Have you tried and met strong resistance?

Check out Brent’s Blog here.

Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Brent D. Payne on SEO for Journalists |

Go to Source

PostHeaderIcon Avinash Kaushik on Storytelling & Web Analytics

avinash kaushikThe opening keynote presentation at SES Hong Kong featured none other than Avinash Kaushik, co-Founder of Market Motive Inc and the Analytics Evangelist for Google.

In this video interview, Avinash talks about the value of communicating analytics information in more meaningful ways. He gives examples of metaphors he’s used to present important analytics information that helps others better understand the meaning and implications of the data. There are lessons here for companies that report tabular data with no insight and little creativity in communicating insight.

Click here to view the embedded video.

What creative ways have you found to communicate web analytics insights? Have you had nightmare experiences with web analytics reports?

Check out Avinash’s “must-read” web analytics blog, Occam’s Razor, here.

Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Avinash Kaushik on Storytelling & Web Analytics |

Go to Source

PostHeaderIcon Six Critical Steps to Take Before Starting Your Social Media Monitoring Initiative

social media monitoringNote from Lee: This guest post comes to us from Andy Beal, CEO of social media monitoring tool Trackur and coauthor of Radically Transparent: Monitoring & Managing Reputations Online. Andy and I have known each other for many years and in fact, Andy was the first “famous” SEO blogger I had the opportunity to meet in person. He was gracious, helpful and very smart then and continues those traits today. He literally wrote the book on Online Reputation Management and I appreciate his willingness to share practical insights into the world of social media monitoring.

Social media monitoring. Reputation monitoring. Buzz monitoring. Call it what you want, but it’s all the rage. All the cool kids are doing it! However, friends don’t let friends monitor social media without first teaching them the six critical steps that most companies overlook.

Don’t start any kind of online monitoring effort until you’ve worked through these important steps. Ignore them, and you’re setting yourself up for failure.

1. Understand Your Goals

Just because you can monitor everything that’s being said about your brand online, doesn’t mean you should just jump in, without setting clear goals. That’s the monitoring equivalent of hanging out at an open bar–you’ll quickly get dizzy and will end up with a major headache!

Take the time now, to write down what your goals are for your social media monitoring campaign. Are you trying to better understand how Twitter users talk about your products? Are looking to measure the success of your new viral marketing campaign? Or, perhaps you suspect a rogue employee is sharing too many company secrets.

We talk a lot about “monitoring” social media, but you also need to “measure” the information you collect. You can’t do that without first defining your goals!

2. Know Which Keywords to Monitor

Now you know your goals, you need to determine your keywords. What exactly do you plan to monitor on the web? Your company name? That’s a given, right? Your CEO’s name? Check! Depending on your goals, you might also consider the following:

  • Your product brands–iPhone, Android, Windows, Fiesta, and Motrin are all buzz-worthy products.
  • Popular company employees–are they saying too much?
  • Your trademarks–watch for infringement
  • Super secret products–the ones you worry might leak to the web
  • TV and Radio slogans–is that cute jingle resonating with your audience?
  • For more suggestions, download this PDF.

3. Start With the Free Monitoring Tools

Trackur is one of literally hundreds of social media monitoring tools you can pick from. You might think that the CEO of a monitoring tool would want you to immediately invest in a paid solution, but I’m not your typical CEO. Instead, I want you to try all the free tools first. Google Alerts, Social Mention, Twitter Search, if it’s free, use it!

Am I insane? Possibly, but not because I want you to use free tools. I want you to use free tools for two reasons.

First, for 80% of you, the free tools will be quite sufficient for your needs. Maybe you don’t get a lot of online mentions. Maybe you are a small mom-and-pop shop. Maybe you’re a Realtor and only need to monitor your name–that’s it! You won’t need the extra tools and features that come from paying for a social media monitoring dashboard.

Second reason: you won’t know what’s worth paying for, until you’ve tested the free tools. For example, maybe you need a tool that can tell you not just who’s talking about your brand on Twitter, but who’s talking about your brand on Twitter AND is influential. Or, maybe you need a way to let various employees have access to your social media monitoring reports. Until you use the free tools, you won’t know what features are worthy of opening up the company check book.

4. Roll-up Your Sleeves and Monitor This Yourself

That leads me to tip number four: monitor your reputation yourself, before outsourcing it.

Just as I don’t recommend you pay for a monitoring solution until you’ve tested the free tools, I also don’t recommend you outsource your reputation monitoring until you’ve attempted it “in-house.” Why? Because, until you’ve attempted this internally, you won’t know what your needs are. Go straight to a marketing, PR, or specialist online reputation monitoring firm, and you’ll likely be taken for a ride. You won’t know what questions to ask, you won’t know what reports you need. You’ll simply hand over lots of money and hope for the best.

Monitoring social media in-house gives you the opportunity to learn directly from your clients. React in realtime and learn first hand what your weaknesses are. The moment you outsource that, you add an extra layer between you and your customers. If you’re going to add that extra layer of insulation, you’d better have clear goals and set clear expectations. It’s hard to do that, when you’ve not been in the trenches yourself.

5. Don’t Silo the Information Collected

OK, so you’re monitoring in-house with either free or paid monitoring tools, or you’ve outsourced the entire task. Next, you need to decide where this collected information is routed. Who in your company is alerted when a customer complains on Facebook that his laptop battery just exploded? Whose responsibility is it to ensure that your cars’ gas pedals doesn’t stick in the 2011 models?

I’m seeing more companies tackle this “chain of command” question by appointing a social media quarterback–aka a Community Manager. Call them what you want, but their job function is to collect and collate the data that comes in from your social media monitoring efforts and ensure critical information is passed on to the most appropriate person, or department in your company. They’re the social media silo buster! They ensure there are no bottlenecks or silos of data.

6. Commit to Act on the Information Collected

The data is flowing in to your company. Your Community Manager is making sure that same data is flowing to the most relevant person in your company. OK, so now what? What’s actually happening to that data?

The last step is to make sure you have a process for ensuring you take action on the important information gleaned from social media. Are you actually improving your products? Are you actually training your employees to provide better customer service? Are you actually ensuring your deep sea oil wells don’t leak in the future?

Commit now that you will not just pay lip-service to your customers. Get commitment from your executive team that they will actively listen to what’s being said about your company. Or as Dell puts it:

“We want the customer is walking the hallways…this is not a communication exercise, this is not a feel-good thing, this is part of the DNA of Dell!”

Are you ready to make social media monitoring part of your company’s DNA?

You can find Andy blogging at Marketing Pilgrim and on Twitter.

Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Six Critical Steps to Take Before Starting Your Social Media Monitoring Initiative |

Go to Source

Special Offers