Archive for March 2011
This evening, I had a conversation with a client who noted that a response I’d made to a fan through their Facebook fan page used the pronoun “I,” and my client was concerned readers would think she was the one who’d had the experience. I explained that shouldn’t be a problem, since this business, like many, isn’t branded to a specific individual. So, it got me thinking about why I manage social networks with a bit of a personal touch.
Genuinity. Readers like seeing that their source of news about a particular brand is genuinely invested and involved. I recently felt it appropriate to @ mention a designer jeans manufacturer with an obscure product question because I’d noticed semi-personal tweets coming from their twitter handle…stuff like, “x is playing on office radio today,” or “this vacation is much-needed!” I thought, this person (or maybe people, you never know!) is real, and maybe s/he has time to help me out with something. These little updates made this particular brand (@7FAM, if you were curious) more personable, so I felt comfortable reaching out.
Consistent Voice. I vary my tone, approach, and topics covered across client brands, but I maintain a consistent voice: brand-savvy, intelligent, up to date on current trends and topics (thanks Google alerts!) for all. Sure, the local burger joint is a bit more conversational, and I’ll tweet up my followers having a brew at the pub down the street, whereas I’ll keep things more buttoned up for a local non-profit, thanking readers for pointing me to relevant events. Using “I” in my posts slips in from time to time– tonight’s “I’ve taken my dog there for a few years,” for example, or, “I love Stone beer,” “I’m getting through the morning with some @Starbucks Indonesia blue…how are you coping through Monday?” Three posts that are “me” centric for three different brands. Content relevant to all of my clients is buzzing through my head– so I share it.
Avoid Sounding Corporate. Big corporations have done wonders for their social images and CRM. Starbucks is a great example here, and Skittles is another. These brands are gi-freaking-normous, but manage to engage on a daily level by reaching out to individuals to answer questions, resolve disputes, and even just shoot the breeze. No generic, “your time is important to us, please continue to hold” recordings on loop here. We’re still talking about a brand with a consistent message and voice, but at least one consumer-facing channel (twitter) is approachable to hoi polloi. What I’ve learned from these giant ‘Super Brands’ is whether you’re an army of one or one million, it never hurts to connect with your audience with a one-on-one perspective.
So. I’ll take those infamous “I”s out of posts for clients upon request, but did want to dig a little deeper into why that personal touch is so crucial for all brands.
Want to measure your twitter engagement and snag some quick facts about your followers through a easy to read interface? We’re pretty pleased with the results from Sprout Social.
The tool fits great into our schedule of weekly metrics updates to clients. I pop in every few days, and at the end of the week can share:
- breakdown of followers by gender: these numbers don’t fluctuate a while lot, if at all. For a restaurant client (deets pictured below), a split of male/female down the middle is to be expected. Good to know we’re pretty equally speaking to both sexes.
- age groups of followers: again, a pretty static display. Breaking down ages into 18-20, 21-24, 25-34, etc is smart; 7 age ranges gives us really specific data. In this case, because of my client’s location and positioning as a “college joint,” I was expecting most followers to be undergraduate age, and can use the fact that only 13% of this spot’s followers are as an indicator that we can tweak campaigns to target this demographic.
- new followers, number of mentions, message volume, and engagement: these numbers pretty much serve to show I’ve been doing my job; we want to see positive numbers and up arrows.
Sprout Social also pulls your Twitter feed and DMs into their client, so the program could be used in lieu of a Tweedeck or HootSuite as well.
Pricing plans are $9/month for a basic package, and $49 for a more enterprise edition that includes local competitor keyword searching, supports more (10 vs 5) RSS feeds, and SMS alerts with Foursquare check ins.
Sprout Social also monitors Facebook and Linked In accounts.
Last Friday night, I wrapped up work stuff and left my computer on my bedroom floor. Armed with an iPhone and a friend’s laptop for emergencies, I unplugged. I updated a client’s twitter feed and kept up with my responsibilities there using HootSuite for iPhone, and followed my own network periodically on Tweetdeck. I heard about Japan on public radio in the car on the way to beaches, trails, and dining destinations.
Well. I’m usually a pretty self-motivated person; I get up and go to work, I manage client work on the side, I drag myself to yoga nearly every day, I keep up with exercising my dog. This week, I didn’t have any motivation to practice yoga– despite a thumb drive full of AVIs and mp3s– or to crack open a laptop for more than uploading a video of dogs playing to facebook. So, I was bad and also didn’t contribute to this blog. Not to worry about the dog, though, he had plenty of off-leash walking time and runs on the beach.
I started to get antsy thinking about our little project and where it’s going. We (there are two of us) set milestones and mini-goals for ourselves, but sometimes we don’t hit them. (I, for example, was going to update this blog, at least twice a week.) Being semi-unplugged from the B2C world, I started wondering how useful what we’re doing really is. Sitting by a fire and listening to records (with iPhone in hand, don’t worry, I didn’t lose all touch with reality!), I wondered who really cares about facebook pages, twitter streams, and word press contests. I took a break from them, and I survived.
Luckily, I snapped back into reality, receiving an email newsletter from O2 Yoga on my phone. I actually saved reading it for an undetermined time in the future when I felt I’d be more desperate to connect back to ‘real’ life. I got a few twitter mentions. People commented on the photos I posted to Facebook. A former teacher and friend revealed some wonderful news and blogged about it, so I had some e-reading material for an evening.
I took a healthy, sort of break from social media, using it for what I needed (as opposed to checking in idly constantly during the workweek— we all do that, right?). What I found so reassuring was the connectivity social media gave me back to things that keep me grounded when I’m not away: yoga, friends, family.
Taking a few steps back from being so wrapped up in the the topics I want to write about and share insights on made me nervous at first. But all of my networks were here waiting when I got back.
This week, I’m jumping back into my routine and seeking out 3-4 new social tools per day– anything from a client like HootSuite to a metrics solution like Sprout Social (thanks Quora!). I’ll share some good tools when I’ve gotten my hands dirty and can comment on them. Here we go, milestone to hit.
Thought I’d devote this post to a sort of long-form #FF to highlight a couple of freshly launched brands that we’re keeping our eyes on. Each parallels a start up I’m familiar with, so I’ll be curious to watch them grow.
First, for anyone looking to make a quick(?) buck, I stumbled upon Gigwalk in Craigslist’s marketing jobs section. Their application is exclusively for the iPhone and uses your location to offer up nearby “gigs,” which involve visiting local businesses, taking photos, and answering basic questions on hours of operation, wheelchair accessibility, etc. So far, I’ve only seen gigs that pay $5 for what is estimated to be about 20 minutes of work.
Sounds like: Yelp, anyone? Looks like they’re trying to build a network of local shops rich in general information. The job post also refers to “review[ing] local businesses” and implies greater payment may be offered for that kind of contribution.
Cool idea? Sure. But it seems one would need to patronize each establishment (or appear super sketchy!) to capture all information.
Suggestion? Push notifications to users when they’re close to or at specific spots that offer a gig. We tweeted this to them last week, and will accept royalties! (Just kidding.)
Sweet! A product from super start up –I use this term referring to the major funding they’ve secured along with the support of Google– Scvngr that leverages the popularity of daily deals– with a fund raising component twist. The basic concept is this: buy a deal (a la Groupon, Buy with Me, CoupMe, KGB deals, you get it). Great. If you liked that spot(currently on offer are Boloco, Kickass Cupcakes, and the Middle East), you’ve just unlocked level 2, which is a more deeply discounted deal. Buy that, and you’re really rollin’ VIP and can buy yet an even better one.
With an iPhone app at launch(!), I’m stoked about the potential here. They’re currently in Boston and Philadelphia.
Sound like: Groupon? Sorta. GoodTwo? Kinda. I like this fusion of the two models: The Level Up is robust, comes with an app, and has brand cred from parent company Scvngr. They’re less in your face about the fund raising aspect— it’s GoodTwo’s cornerstone, as they actually rely on those orgs to sell their deals— but it’s a nice tie-in.
The Level Up isn’t super clear about how the non-profit contribution piece works, but notes some portion of deal proceeds goes to the charity partner. Deals for Deeds maybe?
Suggestion: Will be interesting to follow these 3-tiered deals; I’m wondering how sustainable this model is and how far businesses will go with stellar deals. I see some kind of need for levels 2 and 3 to build on level 1 deals, rather than being unique vouchers.
Any other new launches worthy of a quick peek?
Here at Local Social, we like words. A lot. We use them when we’re posting content for our clients on Facebook and Twitter, when we’re speaking to vendors on their behalf, and when we’re blogging. One word that’s been on my mind since reading Rework[find it on Amazon here] is “asap.” The authors have coined the catchphrase “asap is poison,” and their argument holds up: basically, don’t tell someone you’ll do something “as soon as possible.” If an action item is a priority, obviously you’ll get to it as soon as you can. What does that even mean?
If you’re going to prioritize something (or not), just say, “I’ll do it” PERIOD. Or, “I’ll do it within ____ [tangible amount of time, i.e. the hour. And you mean it.] Or even, “I’ll get to that after I grab a sandwich, floss my teeth, get an oil change, pick up my kid from school, shoot off that project proposal, and check Facebook for five minutes.”
Either give someone no room to guess when something could be done, or explain clearly what your timetable is. “ASAP” hinges on a lot of factors. What if it’s never possible to get to the task?
I find myself at my desk job jotting memos to the team about how I’m “getting Verizon in to look at the phone line issue ‘asap'” and find myself hitting the delete key and giving a precise answer. Otherwise, all I’m saying is I’m getting the job done “at some point, when it could happen, depending on a variety of factors, over some of which I have no control.”
It’s just one of those four letter words that’s NSFW.
Lately, I’ve been championing twitter to my clients as the way to have your voice heard. Funny, when I read recently that a whopping 8% of internet users have a twitter handle. To support my instinct that twitter is still a relevant tool to reach the masses, I can site Techland’s September 2010 study, which concludes that twitter users average 18-24 years old, with an annual income either below $30,000 or between $50,000- nearly $75,000 and typically reside in cities. Cool. Boston-area businesses, let’s use twitter to market to them!
What I’m interested in sharing are some categories of tweets that yield strong returns. This post isn’t so much about tweets with ROI, but with return on no investment. Sure, we can get all meta about this and consider the device on which you tweet an investment, the person you’ve hired to tweet for you an investment, even the physical exertion of typing the words or copying a link cost energy. But we can all agree that twitter is a free service to use and the words you say don’t cost you cash to think up and push off into cyberspace.
So, for no cost to you, consider these options:
- RT Contests. Duhh. “RT to win 2 tickets to tonight’s sold out show @RandomConcertVenue”. Your post gets pushed to every follower of the re-tweeter. If you’re giving away something cool or have interesting things to say, expect to pick up some followers from the effort.
Just for fun, a twitter search for “RT to win” around 9:15 on a Tuesday night yields this random sampling of fun giveways:
- Link to current content. Got photos of a new product or something relevant to the community? Somerville-based Trina’s Starlite Lounge [@trinastarlite ] is awesome about posting their Dog of the Day and Blue Plate Specials. Down the street in Cambridge, Inman’s East Coast Grill [@EastCoastGrill] posted funny pictures of the staff shoveling during Snowmageddon 2010. Build a sense of community and approachability with your followers by sharing relevant content– often. On days when I don’t see at least one post from these spots on my feed, I wonder what’s up.
And, PS, we’re talking built-in metrics now; twitpics and youtube pages, for example, publicly count number of views.
- Engage in Dialogue with customers. Follow the customers who follow you, and see what they’re up to. Check your @ mentions at least once daily, since some may be questions of conversation starters. When I asked frequent updates Alice + Olivia a sizing question and didn’t hear back, I was pretty put off! (Granted, they have 14,000 followers, but still!) Conversely, I mentioned ordering yoga gear from be present, and their social maven was quick to tweet me back, asking what I’d ordered. Their speed to connect with me parallels speedy service and prompt email resolution to questions. Companies on top of their social on the most basic employee-to-customer level put customer service first, and there’s really no other appropriate way to do business.
Anything we missed? What other tweets score serious impressions, contribute to additional site/content views, or connect with customers?