Social media ROI: Is it worth our time?

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You’ve implemented a social media strategy. Now what? You’re spending all of your time tweeting, pinning, Facebooking, watching and posting YouTube videos and blogging. The big wigs are going to ask: is this an expense we should continue with? What is our return on investment?

There are many tools out there to help you measure your social media efforts. I’ve reviewed several of them that were not mentioned in the course notes and the following grabbed my attention.

SocMetrics is a free influencer platform using a web-based tool that allows organizations to identify existing influencers for your target market, understand who these influencers are, engage and converse with them to help drive your message, and monitor and analyze your social media campaign.

Taken from SocMetrics website

Some of the uses of SocMetrics are:

  1. Influencer outreach
  • Pinpoint the right influencers
  • Validate them
  • Build a list based on your goals. You can even share your list and notes with your customers.
  1. Campaign ROI analytics
  • From your list, start reaching out and turn on the “monitoring” tool
  • View the reporting of your campaign ROI.
  1. Competitive influence report
  • Compare multiple brands in your market
  • Drill down for detailed information including who your competitors’ influencers are
  1. Crisis management
  • Identify the most valuable influencers you need to respond to
  • Learn your influencer’s profile so that you can tailor your message
  • Build relationships with your influencers

TweetReach has basic (free) and pro (paid) options. It’s a tool that allows you to see how far your tweets travel. It tracks how many times you’ve been retweeted and shared, therefore making it easy for you to measure your Twitter campaign. You can use the reports to analyze tweets about hashtags, brand or URL you’ve tweeted about and get social analytics on reach, exposure, tweets and contributors. TweetReach simplifies the way your social media/twitter efforts get measured.

Facebook Insights is a free service built into your Facebook page. It provides data on user interaction, demographics, fan reach, consumption of content and user growth. By analyzing the trends, businesses can connect the dots to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of their campaign.

Unilyzer is a paid service that allows you to analyze which social networks are best for which campaigns. It automatically retrieves data from a variety of social media platforms and organizes the data into a dashboard to make it easier to monitor your social media marketing. It tracks social network size, growth rate and referral visitors as well as provides a side-by-side comparison of social networks so you can easily see which ones are contributing the most visitors.

Taken from Unilyzer website

Social media analytics tools can give you a lot of data. But if you don’t do anything with it, there is no purpose. What you do with the data is key in determining the success of your current social web strategy. Listen to the data – for example, if you have a lot of customer complaints, this could be an indication of an area your organization needs to improve on. If your customers are making suggestions, perhaps you should consider them. It’s one thing to monitor your data, it’s another to do something about it. Make it worth your investment on social media and do something with the information.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and what happens after the data analytics are done.

Rogers: Social web strategy and community management in action

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Screenshot from redboard.rogers.com

I’m currently experiencing an issue with Rogers, which is certainly not the first time. After getting absolutely nowhere with their client service department, I decided to explore their social web strategy and community management to see if I had another avenue to try. After all, timing is fitting considering the fact that the last couple of weeks were spent learning about community management and social web strategies. So why not explore Rogers in action?

Here’s what I found out about their social web strategy:

  • Redboard – in their own words

    The official blog of Rogers Communications, RedBoard™ is a place to discuss news and ideas as well as industry issues and trends. Join the conversation.

  • Through RedBoard, Rogers is committed to providing company and service updates, discuss what the customer wants from Rogers and provide prompt feedback to questions and issues that are posted to the community. However, the blog is not intended to replace Rogers’ Customer Service channels and is moderated. So Rogers decides whether or not your comment gets posted.

  • Twitter – Rogers has a few different twitter accounts, each with a specific purpose.

    @RogersBuzz is for news, special offers and other updates from Rogers Communications
    @RogersHelps is to answer customers’ questions and helping where they can
    @RogersRODO is to provide news and answering customers’ questions about Rogers On Demand Online

  • Facebook – There are also a few different Facebook pages – Rogers, Rogers Incubator and Rogers On Demand Online

From what I’ve observed so far, there are several reps responsible for the management of their social community – they’re most likely the Community Managers. They each have a Rogers twitter user account and always include their names in their responses. This is great so you know exactly which community manager you’re dealing with.

Here’s Rogers community management in action so far:

  1. I tweeted about their terrible customer service on Tuesday. A community manager responded on the same day asking if there was anything he could do to help.
  2. I posted my situation on their Facebook wall. I got a response right away.

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I have been dealing with @RogersDarrell since. I’ve given him all the information I have including email correspondence, names of Rogers employees we’ve been dealing with and reference number of the call my husband had with a client service rep and client service manager on Monday. I have also asked him to listen to the call recording. As of this morning, he is “investigating”.

So far, I feel like they’re at least listening. But the issue has not been resolved yet so I will keep you posted with the outcome through the comment feature of this blog.

I have noticed from their Facebook page that they are active in responding to customers and reaching out to them to see if they can help. I have also heard from someone that her issue was resolved quickly by dealing with Rogers through their social media network. If this is the case and customer service is improved through their social community, then kudos to them.

However, I don’t think they can just rely on their community managers to provide the service that their “customer service department” should deliver. They have to solve the root of their service problems internally. It has to start from the top down and it involves changing their internal culture and hiring the right people, both top and frontline.

If you’re curious to know what it’s like to be a Rogers customer, check out my other blog post. Happy reading and stay tuned for the outcome of “Rogers social web strategy and community management in action!”

To blog or not to blog?

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Social media isn’t just about having an online community for your customers. What about your employees? Perhaps a little less obvious but they’re their company’s stakeholders as well.

It’s not new knowledge that employees who are happy and engaged are more productive and more likely to work hard to help their organization achieve its goals.

Trust is a huge factor in employee satisfaction and level of engagement. Yet, a lot of companies block social media sites for fear that their employees will spend too much time on it. Where’s the trust?

IBM is one company that has embraced social media and instead of taking it away from their employees they encourage their employees to blog.

Absolutely, there are issues that could arise from this. But the key is to have a clearly understood policy of what is considered acceptable and what isn’t. The reality is, employees will blog and post comments regardless of company’s support. However, by supporting the use of social media and having a policy in place, the company can mitigate the risks associated with it.

To take it a step further, should companies implement an internal social network? I am personally exploring this idea for our company and I agree with this article that giving employees an outlet to exchange ideas and discuss current processes can lead to higher engagement levels. And who knows, there might be some great ideas floating around that could help the company grow or save money.

What do you think about social intranet or blogging? Do you think it will make employees more engaged? Or do you think it might actually cause more issues than the company is prepared for?

4 ways to avoid community manager burnout

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I’d like to share an interesting read from Ragan.com on how to avoid burnout as a community manager.

Sometimes we all need to take a breather and remember to turn off our “work” switch when we are not officially working. Lines between work and personal time can easily be blurred especially when apps and smart phones make it so easy to respond to a message, comment or tweet.

Yes, you’re committed to your role and to serving your online community. But it doesn’t mean that you have to be accessible 24/7. The key is to manage your public’s expectations effectively. Do they expect you to respond to a Facebook post at 11:00 pm? I think the answer depends on you. Did you set that expectation?

Personally, I believe that keeping a good balance between your work and your personal life contribute to a more productive you at work and a happier you at home.

What do you think? I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this subject and Ragan’s article.

Community Management: Engage, Converse, Listen, Respond

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Interesting discovery: according to the 2012 Community Manager report posted by Social Fresh, the majority of community managers are women. The infographic indicates that 65% are women and 35% are men.

So what makes a community manager effective and successful? There are many different opinions and tips on this from various sources including Mashable, PR Daily and ChrisBrogan.com. After reading through some of them and thinking about this role in terms of the company I work for, I’ve decided to provide a summary based on what I would want out of a community manager:

  1. Great personality. A community manager should be able to get along with just about anyone or know how to deal with difficult situations or people tactfully.
  2. Effective communicator. This isn’t just about writing skills. It’s also about verbal communication, listening and body language. It’s about being engaging and knowing how to engage with the community online and offline.
  3. Customer service oriented. I don’t recall seeing this in any of the articles I read, but I believe being customer service oriented is essential. Community managers may not be customer service reps in the traditional sense, however, they serve as a liaison between the organization and the community. They need to strive for service excellence. Their behaviours reflect back on the organization.
  4. Responsive. I believe this ties in to both #2 and #3 above nicely. When there’s a problem, a complaint, or a difficult situation, be responsive. Do not ignore people’s posts/comments. Not all comments are going to be positive. The key is how you handle the negative ones. Having a social community is a 2-way street.
  5. Know the tools. A community manager should strive to bring the best social media tools onboard to use as part of their community management strategy. Knowing which tools would be best used for which purpose is vital in the success of community management.

At the end of the day, I believe that to be a successful community manager, you must engage, converse, listen, and respond.

What do you think? Do you agree?

Here are a couple of examples of Canadian companies who demonstrate effective community management.

Photo credit: Tim Horton’s Facebook photos

Tim Hortons has a very active online community that appears to be effectively managed. They have a separate website specifically dedicated to the online community, where every cup tells a story. The purpose is for consumers to share their stories of how Tim Hortons has been a part of their lives, through words, pictures or videos.

Tim Hortons utilizes various social media tools including YouTube, twitter and Facebook to reach out to the consumers. They have 1.77 million fans on Facebook and 11,488 followers on twitter. These social media avenues are used to run a contest, tell a story, share information and engage in online conversations with the consumers. The most recent activity on their Facebook page is a call for consumes to vote for them to win a $50,000 grant for the Tim Hortons Children Foundation.

Photo credit: Porter Air Facebook photos

Porter Airlines is my favourite airline ever! For those of you who have never flown via Porter, I encourage you to try at least once and I promise you will fall in love. Porter has embraced social media and effectively uses Facebook and twitter to communicate with customers and offer promotions. They have over 15,000 fans on Facebook and over 19,000 followers on twitter.

Porter uses Facebook to engage in 2-way conversations with their customers. They ask questions and they address concerns. They make the conversations engaging by posting pictures and videos of various information and promotions.

They also use twitter communicate with their audience. They use it to post information such as delays, job openings and Porter in the news. Most importantly, they reply to their customers’ tweets, an indication that they are listening to their customers and are interested in what they have to say.

After reading about these two companies, do you believe they are using social media effectively and are managing their online community successfully? Let me know what you think. I look forward to your comments!

Why these 10 blogs?

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There is an unbelievable amount of social media blogs out there and it’s hard shifting through all of them. It can actually get overwhelming. So, I’m going to save you the trouble and post the 10 blogs that I think are worth following:

  1. Heidi Cohen
  2. Jeff Bullas
  3. Jeff Korhan
  4. Pushing Social
  5. Simply Zesty
  6. Social Caffeine
  7. Social Media Examiner
  8. spiderworking.com
  9. Very Official Blog
  10. Viral Blog

I chose the above blogs based on content and visual attractiveness. For me, a blog should be easy on the eyes. When a webpage is very busy, I tend to get overwhelmed by it. I also think that it should be easy to find old posts and other information such as external links.

The way the blogs are written is also an important factor for me. People tend to scan information and I’m guilty of that too. So I am generally drawn to blogs that are shorter. If the blog post needs to be long, it should still be easy to read through if they are broken up into many shorter paragraphs.

And of course, content is vital. I’m in charge of exploring and implementing a social media strategy for the company I work for. When I explored all these blogs, I chose the ones whose content are relevant to me. For example, I came across a social media blog focused on PR Agencies. I’m sure they have a lot of useful information, some of which might come in handy for me at a later time. But for what I need right now, this blog was clearly not for me.

But not only does the content need to be relevant, it should also be well written and interesting. Catchy headlines “catch” my attention. What a surprise! I’ve come across some blogs where there are a lot of spelling and/or grammatical errors, which is such a turn off for me. I’ve also come across blogs where the blogger sounds like he/she is “ranting” rather than “blogging”. I strongly believe that if you want people to read your blog, you need to learn how to soften your tone.

The 10 blogs which I have included in my blogroll have passed my requirements. They’re well laid out, interesting, relevant and well written.

Happy reading!

Beyond the big four

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This week as I was exploring social media tools beyond Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn – a.k.a. the “big four”, I stumled upon…well, StumbleUpon. StumbeUpon is a discovery engine that essentially helps drive traffic to your website. It uses “like” and “dislike” buttons and a recommendation technology that enables your audience to explore more content on your site. It also reaches out to people who are interested in your content, but wouldn’t have known about it otherwise.

According to an article on Ragan.com, StumbleUpon drives more traffic than Facebook and Twitter. In August and September 2011, 50.3% of website referrals came from StumbleUpon, followed by 37.4% from Facebook.

There’s so much potential of StumbleUpon in the Public Relations world. It can be used for essentially any product or service launch. For example, my company launched LIVEasy last year, a new, innovative insurance program designed for the busy professionals in mind. One of my projects this year is to explore and implement a social media strategy for our company, and I would definitely consider using StumbleUpon to promote this new product. The goal is to bring awareness to the consumers. Without StumbleUpon, consumers may not know that such an innovative insurance product exists and I’m going rely on this discovery engine to help bring traffic to our LIVEasy product page.

Now moving on to location-based services…do people really care where I am or where I’ve been? Do I care where they are? Plus I already use the check-in tool on Facebook. So why do I need foursquare?

20120202-204531.jpg The difference is that foursquare is more interactive. You can earn mayorship, badges and superuser status based on the number of check-ins you have. It’s a great way to find various venues in a place you’re not familiar with. For example, you’re in another city and you need gas. You can use foursquare to find a gas station close to you. And then you can check-in so that all your friends know where this gas station is. The next time they’re in the same area, they’ll know where to find gas. You can also use this to provide tips and reviews, similar to Yelp.

Businesses can use foursquare for various campaigns and promotions. For example, Pepsi uses foursquare to run a contest, taking advantage of the badges. Users who unlock the Pepsi Summer Fun badge are eligible to win tickets and a trip to an MLB World Series game, $500 gift cards and summer party kits from Pepsi. Even the news media are getting onboard. The National Post, Edmonton Journal and Vancouver Sun experimented with foursquare, where their editors placed editorial content as tips.

Before I explored foursquare, I only thought of foursquare as a check-in tool, which can easily be done through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. But after learning how businesses can integrate foursquare into their marketing efforts, I’m going to start using it and think of ways that our company can get involved.

My last exploration is the QR code, which is a 2-dimensional code that can be used for information and tracking. The underlying concept is that a user would scan the code using a smart phone, and it will take them to a webpage showcasing the company’s product, service, promotion, video, etc. Many PR professionals use QR codes in their mobile campaign. flyte has put together a list of 50 uses of QR codes including using them on business cards, conference name tags and banners.

QR codes are quick and easy ways for people to learn more about your company. Whether you’re promoting a specific product, service, contest or event, a QR code can drive traffic to your specified URL. People see it, they’re curious, they scan it.

Well there you have it. We are not limited to using the big four for our PR and social media strategies. The goal is to drive as much traffic as possible to your website or your campaign by using the big four and beyond.

The top 10 digital tools in today’s classroom

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It’s interesting to see how advanced we’re gotten. Paper copies are slowly disappearing with everything being digitized. One advantage for sure of having e-textbooks: not killing your back carrying tons of heavy textbooks. I seriously think I’m slightly hunched because my backpack was always bigger than me.

I’m totally onboard with e-textbooks.

Thoughts on Communications

The top 10 digital tools in today’s classroom

It is amazing to me how quickly the classroom is changing. In South Korea, for example, by the year 2015 all textbooks will be available for download on a variety of platforms, including computers, smart phones, and tablets. An agreement was made with Samsung and the government of Korea to provide all students with a tablet computer – no more textbooks. Not surprisingly, this will save the government a lot of money. Similar trends are occurring in Canada.

Schools in Canada are also using YouTube technology to post lectures. It is expected for the student to watch the lecture in the evening as homework and use class time to work with other students on individual assignments.

It will be interesting to see how other social media platforms will be incorporated into the classroom over the next 5 years.

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What about LinkedIn?

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LinkedIn is probably the largest professional networking website in the world with over 100 million members worldwide. But from my own observations, the members are not as active on it as members of Facebook are. Perhaps this is because it’s more of a professional website than a social one. Or maybe it’s because people don’t really understand how to use LinkedIn to their advantage.

On a personal level, I don’t really use LinkedIn all that much. I know I should but I feel there’s an invisible wall between my personal life and my professional life that should not be crossed. Although my tweets can feed directly to my LinkedIn status simply by adding the hashtag #in at the end of my tweet, I often choose not to do this. I feel a little bit uncomfortable sharing my personal updates with my professional network.

On the other hand, I’m a LinkedIn advocate when it comes to business related use. When I was an HR Manager for a high tech company, I took advantage of the LinkedIn recruiting solutions to recruit hard to find candidates. 99% of the jobs I had to fill at an average of 10 positions a month were mostly engineers – software, hardware, electronic, video, audio, etc., with very specific skillsets that could only be gained through experience. In addition, I had to fill jobs in other countries as well such as Japan, Korea and Hong Kong.

I remember when we were opening up a new office in San Diego and I had to find 4 senior RFIC design engineers. Yes, not just any engineers but ones with very specific skills. I would not have been able to successfully recruit highly qualified candidates had it not been for LinkedIn. There was no way that I would have been able to fill these positions in the U.S. and overseas by using the traditional job boards such as Workopolis and Monster.

Through LinkedIn, I was able to reach out to candidates and create a “talent pipeline“, engaging candidates in conversations rather than using the usual method of recruitment. People may not indicate on their profiles that they’re looking for new opportunities, but when presented with an opportunity, they would listen and perhaps consider making a career move.

Another use of LinkedIn is to help connect with people. If you have a job interview for example, you can look up the interviewer’s profile on LinkedIn and perhaps you’d be able to find a common ground you can discuss during the interview. Often interviews are about a connection you have with the interviewer, not just strictly experience and skills.

I found this interesting video on LinkedIn, explaining what it is and how you can use it to your advantage, whether to grow your network professionally or to help your business grow.

Here’s some interesting stats about LinkedIn, as shared by Invisible//Ink//Digital.

  1. LinkedIn has 101 million members worldwide
  2. About 36% are between the ages of 25 to 54.
  3. North America and Europe make up 3/4 of LinkedIn users.
  4. Over 52% of members are located outside of the U.S.
  5. 15.3% of business users are from the high tech industry.

Great to know. This is something that might be worth checking, especially for people who work in companies thinking of getting onboard with social media and new technology.

Socialease

If you haven’t already heard or been to PodCamp Toronto, you don’t know what you’re missing.

What is it? PodCamp is a two-day conference of new media communication. There you will find a diverse group of people, stemming from newbies to professionals, who participate and host in workshops on new media. The best part? It’s all free! All you have to do is sign up and go!

PodCamp takes place on February 25 and 26, so keep an eye out for the workshops you’re interested in and sign up!

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