Update: I’ve edited this post to provide a more objective view of social media and how it can be applied.
This is the second post in a 6 part series on using social media. In this second installment, I look at search feeds.
I recommend using a reader to have a single place for reviewing your feeds through the day vs. having mutliple emails in your inbox.
Online Reputation Management: With search feeds, this helps you to track mentions of your company throughout the Web, in blogs and Twitter. Depending on the content of the blog posting or tweet, consider commenting or tweeting back respectively. While the response may be a couple of hours or even a few days later, people appreciate that you have responded. It demonstrates that you’re listening to your audiences.
Competitive Intelligence: While you set up feeds for your company, also set up feeds for your competitors’. This way, you can stay on top of any media, blog or tweet mentions regarding your competitor. And when appropriate, participate in the converation with your company’s perspective or introduce your company to the blogger and twitterer.
Industry Trends: Set up searches for key terms within your industry. This will help you to stay on top of industry trends that you can share with your colleagues or uncover additional reporter/bloggers/twitterers within the industry.
Setting up RSS feeds with specific search keywords is an easy way to monitor your company’s online reputation while keeping tabs on your competition. The search results can also uncover new reporters and bloggers who may be interested in your company, further expanding your relationships with key influencers.
Other posts in the series:
Update: I’ve edited this post to provide a more objective view of social media and how it can be applied.
There has been a lot written about how to use social media and what the ROI is from using the various tool. Instead of trying to reach all audiences, I view social media as another communications avenue to expand the reach of your company’s specific audiences and customers.
If I was in an agency, I would list my key objectives and list the tools that would help accomplish these objectives. Since I’m not, I did what was easiest – listing the different tools I use and bullet pointing how each helps me. See how lazy I got going in-house…=)
I originally was going to have one post but I realized this would be too long. As such, I will have a multi-part series focusing on one segment of separate tools. In this first installment, a look at microblogging.
Twittering a Twhirl
I use Twitter as my main microblogging platform, with Twhirl to manage personal and corporate accounts. Check out my previous post on Twhirl for more information.
- Brand awareness: Twitter is gaining traction as viable avenue for brand awareness. I anticipate seeing more company brands using Twitter as a viable communications vehicle. Similar to a website, they will need to have a Twitter handle; otherwise, we’ll start seeing “Twittersquatting” happening.
- Customer Engagement: Twitter is another way for your company to connect and engage with customers by following the customer’s brand, a specific department or individual for updates. This is especially true if your customers tend to be early adopters of technology. I recommend responding to appropriate tweets, especially when your company is mentioned or if people are discussing a related topic.
- Industry Conversations: I recommend following key individuals, such as reporters, analysts and industry luminaries, who are relevant to your company. In this way, you can keep a pulse of topics important to them and provide insight from your company’s perspective.
- Competitive Intelligence: Consider following individuals from competitive companies. This is one way for monitoring what competitors are doing and who they may be speaking with.
- Corporate Marketing: And I purposely put this last. The first tendency is to only tweet updates about what your company is doing – new webinars, white papers, etc. While this is important, you need to balance this with tweets about industry topics that would be of interest to your followers or links to interesting articles. Remember, participate in conversations. It’s not a one-way marketing channel.
While microblogging is still “new” to many marketers and public relationships professionals, it is quickly becoming a de facto need like a website. Since microblogs are bite-sized updates, a more intimate environment is created between the Twitterer and her followers.
A company that engages its audiences with microblogging can further increase its brand awareness, while creating a stronger community.
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One of my most popular posts last year was my summary of 2008 trend lists. I’m a little late this year, but better late than never =) When I look back at my three trends, it seems odd that I selected the growth of blogomerates, social media connections for PR and long tail PR. To me, these seem almost second nature!
So what do I think will be top trends for 2009? Here are my top three:
Brands that participate in conversations will thrive: Ever more so than ever, the need to participate in conversations with your community/customers is more important. Not only from a brand management perspective, but also for demonstrable bottom line results. The brand that connects with me – either for bad or good – will more likely get my attention. And when the nexy crisis emerges, those that are transparent and timely will succeed.
All things virtual will rise in popularity and then wane by the end of the year: Right now, all companies are spooked by the economy. I think this is a knee jerk reaction that will benefit companies that can help move physical events online (note: my company provides virtual events solutions). While this will provide immediate cost and time savings by reducing travel and hotel costs, I think that the pendulum will swing back by the end of 2009. However, once this trend begins, I believe that companies will reconsider which events to hold in the physical world vs. the virtual one.
It’s not about the tools, it’s about the information (attributing this to Stuart Miniman): I was chatting with Stuart when he made this comment, and he’s right. Right now, we’re enamored with all the tools – Twitter, Tweetdeck, Twhirl, Facebook, Friendfeed etc. – but what this all boils down to is the how to receive and send information. The company able to bring manage and disseminate information based on audience preferences – and in real-time – will have an advantage in the age of overwhelming information.
Other 2009 Predictions:
Peter Himler over at The Flack beat me to a list of 2009 trends. These focus on social media, marketing and public relations
Influential Marketing Blog – 2009 Predictions from the Pros at PSFK
Conversation Agent – The Future is Now. Valeria looks at the future of the agency and company in this post.
Scott Monty’s Social Media Predictions for 2009
Marketing Pilgrim – Why 2009 is THE Year for Social Media
Chris Brogran – 8 Marketing Bloggers to Watch in 2009
Charlene Li of The Altimeter – Predictions for 2009
Judith Hurwtiz’ Weblog – My Top Eleven Predictions for 2009 – predictions for the world of software.
Inside the Marketer’s Studio – David Berkowitz’s Marketing Blog – Search Trends to Watch in 2009
It’s All Virtual – 2009: The Year We Go Virtual
The Junta42 blog – 42+ Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions for 2009 - Nice summary of predictions from savvy marketers.
Paul Dunay’s Buzz Marketing for Technology – Top 10 Marketing Predictions for 2009 - Paul selects his top 10 from the Junta42 Blog list.
What’s Next Blog – B.L. Ochman’s 2009 Online Marketing Predictions: Mobile, Better Lighting, Subscriptions Rule - I like prediction number 7 =)
Collaborative Thinking – 2009: Planning Considerations for Enterprise 2.0. While not a “trends” list, it is an interesting list to read nonetheless
Read Write Web – 2009 Web Predictions. Predictions by the staff at RWW – acquisitions, business plans and more!
Micropersuasion – Reading Tea Leaves for 2009 in Google Search Data. I love Steve Rubel’s approach to data mining information from Google Search to analyze trends for 2009.
Social Media Explorer - More 2009 Predictions… And A Few Of Your Own. Jason Falls is a very insightful guy. He brings us predictions from Mindsalt. I like the one about time snippets vs. time slot for attention.
Small Business Hub – Online Marketing: 2009 Predictions. Small Business Hub is HubSpot’s blog. They once again bring us a wealth of predictions for this year and even beyond.
Furrier.org – Clay Shirky Media Business Market – His Forecast for 2009 – Look for the deeper meaning within his words . John Furrier writes this blog about all things Silicon Valley and tech. John does the heavy lifting to better understand Clay Shirky’s 2009 predictions.
Experience Marketing Perspective – Five Marketing Trends that Will Boom in 2009. Kristin Morris brings a fresh perspective with her trends regarding virtual events, mobile marketing and more.
my 2 cents – PR Forecast for the New Year. David Reich provides some interesting insights about PR for 2009. I’m not sure if these are pessimistic, optimistic or a bit of both =)!
Brendan Cooper – provides his thoughts for social media in 2009
Daniel Durazo’s Blog – Daniels highlights his top public relations trends for 2009. Daniel is correct that the landscape has changed and those who can keep up with it will succeed.
Leave a comment if you have any additional trend lists you would like added.
Previously, monitoring one’s corporate reputation was much more difficult – you had to get physical copies of the articles and paste the articles onto paper. Yes – I’ve been in PR THAT long! LexisNexus then made the job easier with electronic clippings. Now, with blogs, Twitter, electronic archives of print articles and plethora of online communities, there is much much more to monitor.
Right now, the main way that I monitor my company’s reputation is through RSS feeds of specific term searches via Google or Twitter search. So I was curious to try out Andy Beal’s Trackur service. I signed up for the free 14 day trial and here’s my take on this service.
Trackur is pretty simple to use. You enter in your search term, fill out a couple of other crtieria and bammo – you get results. Depending on the term, you may get a mix of results that you have to tweak. I tested the terms from Google to filter these results out, such as exact phrase or asking it not to include results with specific URL. Unfortunately, I seemed to get a mixed result.
I also didn’t see any Twitter or LinkedIn results in the resutls. Interestingly, more results appeared when I searched for my personal online moniker “csalomonlee.”(NOTE – if you see my full name, I’m usually responding as a company representative).
Once you’ve played around with the searches to get what you want, you can save that search, set it up as a RSS feed and start monitoring what’s being said about your company.
Power of Influence
One feature that I did like is the ability to determine the influence of a particular outlet, which is key in PR when thinking from a purely metric perspective. While I liked the idea of an influence ranking, I wasn’t clear how this ranking worked.
I assume that a higher number indicated more influence. I looked at a couple of different sites and the corresponding influence rankings. I was confused by why some sites had higher numbers than others. If you see the below screenshots, gooruze.com had a higher number than my blog. The site had more blog mentions and had a registered traffic rank, but my ranking was only 5 below Gooruze’s.
Conclusions: The Final Analysis
I think Trackur has the potential to be a useful tool for monitoring your online reputation. The cost per month is not outrageous and within reach of most individuals and corporations.
I would like to see some additional enhancements, such as keeping preferences for viewing search results (expanded or not) or providing thumbnail rollover explanations of the key elements within the tool. There are some nice touches like the ability to add notes to specific items, which is helpful when viewing your results over time, or the ability to view results in summary or abstract form.
And note to Andy – you may want to update your video intro as Google does offer RSS feeds for searches =)
Accuracy: 3.5 out of 5
Ease of Use: 5 out of 5
Cost: Won’t break the bank
Last week, my cousin forwarded me an email to warn me about buying gift cards from several retailers this year. Wanting to pass along this friendly consumer warning, I posted the email with my thoughts on my blog.
Since then, I believe that I was duped into passing around false information. While this email may not be accurate, it was successful, as I did forward it to others and posted it on my blog. And if it is truly false, I was also intrigued by the response, as well as lack of response, by the retailers named on the list.
Why was the email successful
The Power of Fear
The email was partially successful because it is playing with our fears about this holiday season. With the current financial markets, layoffs and overall uncertainty of what will happen in a few months, many of us are tightening our belts this season. And since gift cards have become a popular to give gifts, many of us would’ve been concerned about buying something that wouldn’t be valuable after the new year.
I don’t know how many people my cousin forwarded the email to; however, if I assumed that 50% of the people forwarded it on and an additional 50% forwarded it, this email could have been spread to several dozens more. We were all motivated by good intention to provide a friendly warning to friends during the holiday season.
Kernel of Truth
Most importantly, the emails had a kernel of truth in it. The news had covered news about prominent retailers going bankrupt this year, such as Sharper Image, Circuit City and Mervyn’s. The email further added to this semblance of truth with additional information about store closings by retailers. And the seemingly detailed information served to enhance the email’s validity.
Ease of Technology
More now than ever, it has become easier to spread inaccuracies online – hit forward to spread an email to your contact list or copy, paste and publish it on your blog. Others will record a quick message on their webcam and post it online. Technology has become so ubiquitous that it becomes even tougher to control the spread of misinformation.
The Net Net – Monitor Your Online Reputation is Even More Important
Since posting about this email on November 20th, I received two retailer comments.
I work for Ann Taylor Stores Corporation and wanted to assure you that Ann Taylor is a financially strong Company with a healthy balance sheet.
We already communicated early this year that we are closing a number of stores through 2010, but we continue to open new stores and have close to 1,000 stores in our fleet. Ann Taylor and LOFT Gift Cards are a great idea for gifting this holiday, and they can be redeemed at any of our stores or online.
Although the source of this viral email is questionable, we felt we should clarify the misleading information because we want our clients to always feel confident in their Ann Taylor purchases.”
While I applaud Ann Taylor for being the first to comment within a few hours of my post, I did inquire why no name was included with the comment. I thought this would add a personal element – you know, putting a face to the company. Regardless, I quickly updated my blog posting and this is when I started to question the veracity of the email. (Still waiting on response though from Ann Taylor PR regarding name…)
Wilsons Leather is NOT closing any stores. Wilsons Leather sold the company in August. All of the Wilsons Leather stores that were closing are already closed. The Outlet locations are still in business.
With Wilson Leather, a real person did respond to my post about 3 days after my initial posting. Is this soon enough or has the damage been done?
Conclusion – Be Careful with What You Post or Email
People are people. We tend to believe our friends and family when they send us emails out of good intentions. I would like to say that I will be better about the information that I get, but I can’t promise this. With the speed of email, blogs and video, corporate brands have to be more diligent about their online reputation.
While my blog doesn’t have the reach of others, Ann Taylor and Wilson Leather both recognized the value of posting a comment regardless. You never know what your customer is reading and from whom.
The others? Well, despite my posting, I argue that not responding only further supports that the email may be accurate … at least for them.
What do you think? Anything else that helped to propel this email?
Last night, I went to my first Social Media Club organized by the San Francisco/Silicon Valley chapter. Larrissa of Livingston Communications mentioned it to me – while she wasn’t able to attend, I’m glad she told me about it. Yes – I know what you’re thinking – you ONLY just heard about the SMC? Well, I AM getting old =)
The event was held in San Mateo and was surprisingly well attended – about 40-50 people. There were 6 social media case studies being presented, highlighting not only program strategies but also how these campaigns contributed to increased awareness in the marketplace.
Last night’s event was Ustreamed and my understanding is that presentations will be available. I’ll update when I find out more. Briefly, they included:
My Starbuck’s Ideas – Execution and results to date
Sutter Health Castro Valley – Using a blog to reach your community and how to counsel your client on the steps
Nero Product Launch – Blogger outreach program and how this increased conversations about Nero
Dwell Conference – How to use social media to drive attendance to a physical event and create a self-sustaining community until the next event
Network Solutions‘ Social Media Efforts – Discussed how the program began, getting executive buy-in and results
Get Out the Vote Video – Driving views and comments for a YouTube video
Time – Doh! It takes time and these case studies demonstrated this once again. Set proper expectations with your client or executives.
Comment – Take time to respond to people’s comments. It signals that you’re listening and helps to continue the conversation. And it seems to be an underutilized strategy for YouTube videos.
Measure – Each of these case studies had key objectives and success was measured against these objectives, such as achieving 3 million views on YouTube, selling a number of registrations to an event, or reach of postings to key audience.
Update – Be Visual – David Peck was frustrated by PowerPoint for his preso, which lead to a quick chat before he left for the evening. I concur with him – Shashi presented a photo of Geoff Livingston with boxes of Motrin in his hands. No words but everyone in the room instantly knew what that meant. While I couldn’t provide this feedback to David, I would have recommended doing a flickr stream intead – upload his images to a dedicated folder and set to a slide presentation or just manually forward. I don’t know – that was an initial thought but getting out of PowerPoint or not using it at all was the key takeaway.
Conclusion: Social Media IS an Opportunity for PR
Per my last post about Will Social Media Kill PR panel summary, this meeting demonstrates the opportunity for PR to leverage social media for higher value to clients, while providing demonstrable results. It’s about more than blogger relations (though Mike McGrath did present on this), it’s about how to reach your client’s core audience and achieving key marketing objectives. Social media is just one of the ways to achieve this.
What do you think?
Other Social Media Posts
Last night, I went to a panel discussion hosted by the Horn Group and Girls In Tech. There was a star line-up of panelists: Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research and Web Strategist Blog, Kara Swisher of WSJ and All Things D, Susan Etlinger, VP of Horn Group and Sam Whitmore of Media Survey as moderator.
The topic provided attractive with over 200 people packed in the Horn Group offices on Howard St. Considering the economic news swirling around me, the event reminded me a bit of the heady dot.com days – yes, I really am that old Virginia! Twitter tag #prblog.
Sam took a quick poll of the audience before commencing with the Q&A. It seemed the audience was 60% PR folks, 20-25% Horn Group clients and other people interested in the topic from marketing/social media backgrounds.
PR is not dead. It’s being reborn” – Sabrina Horn
To summarize some key quotes from the evening (may not be verbatim quotes but gives you a gist of the meaning):
“Join community to reach audience regardless of your client. Has the relationship with person I want. It’s the influencer model”
“Opportunity for PR is to listen. People will tell you what they’re interested in”
“Extend the value of PR – currently don’t have the key skills to do that”
“Big opportunity to use these tools to grow beyond corporate communications”
“Use the tools to repair the PR reputation”
Kara Swisher – I’ve read her blog and hearing her in person was definitely more amusing!
“PR people are so easy to get upset. Stop being reactive to the bloggers who are doing this to be trafic whores”
“War with PR is not important. There are more important things to fight over like Proposition 8”
“Focus on people with amazing relationship with people”
“Give me news and trends that your company represents. Trends with interesting products. Needs real news. Interesting figures and thought leaders. Cool interesting products that people are using. Weird stories will also get me too.”
“Nothing new – it’s about how good is the product. Don’t PR crap products”
“PR is about creating replicable processes, but replicable process can get you in trouble.”
“Relationship economy. Release is so narrow”
“[PR's] obligation is to not put out shit out there. If it has value, then yes. Otherwise, no.” Charlie Cooper, CNET
“How to leverage important bloggers to help with news” – Razorfish
“How does PR practitioner leverage these tools to help business”
“Performance based payment and measurement like a media buy – will an agency risk this?”
Deja Vu – Didn’t we see this 10 years ago?
For a panel discussion that promised to be titillating, I found that it was bogged down by semantics of PR’s role in the social media landscape versus how the industry, as a whole, can better address this as a core competency. These were the same discussions that occurred 10 years ago with the rise of the Internet, which ironically was referenced when Sabrina pulled out a big, black binder about the impact of the Internet on PR.
To paraphrase one audience member, what we’re referring to – Twitter, blogs, wikis, etc. – are just communications tools. In 5-10 years, these may be commonplace ways to communicate with your audience. While the panel was informational for those new to PR or currently struggling with PR’s value within the larger marketing and social media landscape, I think the panel didn’t truly delve into the question of the evening – Will Social Media Kill PR.
I was sitting in the balcony where most of the social media folks were sitting. When Sam turned to us and asked if our issues were being addressed, frankly they weren’t and I said so (yes, that was me voicing the need to get beyond PR and talk about how this fits into the larger marketing arena). Unfortunately the discussion turned back to the basics of PR 101 meeting social media.
In the end, I agree with Jeremiah. PR has a window of opportunity to leverage social media to build higher business value with customers and companies beyond a corporate communications capability. When the discussion evolves from which outlet can you get me in to one of what audiences do you want to influence, then PR will have a seat at the table.
But hasn’t this always been the crux of the problem for PR from the beginning? Does social media really change that conversation? I don’t think so. What do you think?
- Jeremiah’s post about four biz opportunities for PR agencies
- Kara Swisher’s post about the panel
- Sam Whitmore’s summary
- Charles Cooper’s take – PR is Killing PR, not Social Media.
- While Lewis Green wasn’t at the panel, he brings up a good point about the value of social media in PR.
- Horn Group’s summary about their Is Social Media Killing PR panel.
- Jennifer Leggio’s post at ZDNet. I think she summarized it perfectly: ” too much focus on dialing for dollars and not enough focus on making PR stretch to support real business initiatives.”
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of product marketing for Lanyon Solutions, Inc. and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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