Tag Archives: social media monitoring

It’s fine to plot the interest graph, but what happens next? (Social Media Week panel)

In a panel discussion today on social listening at the swanky new SF PeopleBrowsr office, the interest graph formed the basis of a lot of the discussion. I guess I’m out of touch with social media monitoring as this concept was new to me. First we had the social graph, of which I’m aware: a mapping of all your connections (say friends and family) to whom you are connected across social networks. Now with some degree of overlap, you can also plot an interest graph: this time mapping connections based on a shared interest. Susan Etlinger of Altimeter used the example of a fashion site where people build connections based on couture. You may not share these interests with your grandma, but only a small subset of your friends, and the extended network of aesthetes you meet on the fashion site.

Jodee Rich from PeopleBrowsr suggests these interest networks are of more value to businesses as it gives a truer value of an individual’s importance to them. Businesses will get more value by targeting their communications around those people who have authority in that interest area (interest graph). Context is everything. You only have authority in relation to an interest (or theme). Having 500K followers on Twitter means nothing unless those followers share the common interest which is of value to the business tracking you.

This got me thinking where my own social presence and my social and interest graphs lie. By day I work in the technology sector and I generally share with people with this interest (from within my company or external folk) on Twitter. This is where I geek-out. Now I do have the other side to my online communication: where I share pictures of my newborn, other interests like music and art and bizarre oddities I find on the web. This extra-curricula activity all happens on Facebook. And rarely do the twain meet. I know not everyone divides up their online existence to this extreme, but many will have some degree of division and in these cases businesses need to ensure that they have tools that can map across the different networks in use.

When it came to what businesses should do with all this listening intelligence they build, I felt that there were more questions than answers. Tim O’Reilly proffered that sophisticated companies will go beyond business intelligence and use social listening to shape business processes. Effectively molding products and services around what the audience says it wants. However, he also suggested that this ‘autonomic’ model of business should have some human component if I understand rightly what he later said about ‘humans going the last mile’. Computers can only go so far before some level of human intervention is required to make sense of the data and take appropriate action. I’m uncertain as to at what point human intervention really makes sense and I know this is a hot topic of debate in decision management science.

O’Reilly also states that ‘great companies have everybody listening’. Listening isn’t just the domain of marketing or comms departments, but everyone can get involved and use this input from the market to drive the company forward.

I can see a flaw in this plan: the tooling.

I have problems enabling anyone to listen who doesn’t have social media responsibilities written into some part of their function. Even if I can get them access to a social media monitoring dashboard, they’ll be looking at the predefined generic terms determined by the marketing/comms team that setup the tool. This won’t include the terms that a local office would need to monitor the conversation relevant to them. So I inevitably end up pointing them to personal social media tools like Tweetdeck, which lacking any kind of workflow, offers no scope for coordinating conversations.

Brian Solis deserves a shout-out for doing a wonderful job of guiding the conversation and even working in a ‘sexy’ Marvin Gaye reference.

Engaging a social media agency? SMG provides template questions

Those far-reaching tentacles of Shel and Neville over at the FIR Podcast picked up an informative new document from the Social Media Group titled ‘Social Media RFP Template’.  As more and more agencies from across the marketing spectrum (and in particular SEO and PR) now offer social media services, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

Apart from dealing with the obvious stuff you’d cover with any agency engagement, such as agency background and their past experience in this area, the RFP also covers the following areas:

  • Integration of social media across marketing/communications functions
  • Social media channels employed
  • Reputation management and social media monitoring
  • Establishing social media profiles
  • Influencer outreach
  • Crisis management
  • Social media training
  • Compliance with legal requirements
  • Metrics and measurement

I’d say this list is equally valid if you are in the situation of having to prepare a job description for a social media manager or associated role.

Download the report

SMG also run the hugely popular Social Media Today blog aggregator. If you write in this space, you should definitely hook up your blog!

Finding Twitter communicators in your organization using Tweepsearch

If you work in a large or distributed enterprise and are tasked with finding the members of your organization who are bullish about the use of social media, you may have realized just how tricky this can be. In these days, where company communications are slipping further away from the centralized model and into the hands of employees, there is no easy way to locate those employees who could be your best advocates.

If your organization is anything like the ones I’ve worked for, these individuals often fall outside the traditional folk who have handled corporate communications: PR, product marketing, field marketing, etc. Working in the B2B tech space, many new communicators are popping out of the cadre of young developers entering the company. We as communicators/marketers can play a great facilitation role: imparting comms training to willing subject matter experts. Problem is finding these people.

Step up Tweepsearch

Tweepsearch is a very specific Twitter tool: it just searches Twitter profiles. This makes it particularly useful for finding those folks on Twitter who are affiliated with your organization. Eg. for IBM, here’s a sample of the Twitter profiles the service throws up:

The service lists the number of followers, to give a sense of the degree of influence, and the number of updates which gives an indication of the level of commitment.

Next step is to isolate those handles that look most promising and start contacting them directly.

Other uses of Tweepsearch

This isn’t the only use of this service: a topic search can help locate those people on Twitter who share your interests. You can also search by geography if you want to find those who Tweet on the subject of your locale.

So, go ahead and give Tweepsearch a whirl. Let me know if you find new uses for this interesting tool.

Shel Israel to Twitterville: stop following me!

Working in social media around the Valley, it’s easy to fall into the trap of turning into a geek groupie. The digital glitterati are everywhere and, yes, because we live in a world of social media, they are omnipresent (regardless of what your social network of choice might be). You can spend hours on Tweetdeck watching the lives of industry pundits unfurl. It’s the virtual equivalent of a medieval court with a number of well-placed nobles (read industry pundits) throwing out scraps to the courtesans in their wake.

If you are looking at business applications of social media, you are probably familiar with one of the number of Twitter handles around which much of the readership revolves: @jowyang, @scobleizer, @guykawasaki, @mashable and of course, Mr @shelisrael. Many of us, if we’re honest, with our retweets and attempts at drawing them into the conversation, have the not-so-hidden desire to emulate them.

To a degree rightly so. This field is largely a meritocracy and most of these folks have gotten to where they are by proving their mettle. However, last night, one of the cadre voiced dissent. Shel Israel, presenting at an SNCR event promoting the launch of his new book Twitterville, proclaimed ‘we are not the influencers’. Shel made an impassioned plea to get out there and follow anyone with passion and relevance within your sphere. If you’re a company, look first at your customer base and employees (Lionel Menchaca and the Dell story of customer engagement is one of the featured case studies in the book). The core message: don’t just go after the social media influencers, ie. don’t blindly get pulled into a herd mentality.

This, however, sparked the most lively debate of the evening. The fact that the cult of celebrity transfers so well to Twitter (check out the number of followers for @britneyspears or @stephenfry if you don’t believe me) does suggest that even as we move away from a broadcast medium like TV, at heart we still need our media royalty. The masses will follow the few.

If I understand Shel correctly, he is calling for us, as social media and communications experts, to really move away from that old broadcast model and explore the small pockets of communications these new social tools open up. Unfortunately somehow the conversation got derailed and this point was not revisited before the event closed.

Shel’s point resonated with me as I know I’m as guilty as anyone of spending time analyzing the strategies industry bigwigs and analysts put forward, mesmerized by the latest technologies and trying to figure out which social media monitoring tool will give me the biggest bang for my buck. How much am I missing? That social media monitoring tool is important, but its nothing unless there is commitment to really listen and react to the conversations it uncovers.

An immediate step I’ve taken is to set up some search channels in Tweetdeck around our core brands. For those Tweets I can’t deal with, I can parcel them off in the relevant direction within the organization (mainly product marketing). Even though I’m no subject expert in the technology I market, there’s no reason why I don’t engage with this crowd, eg:

  • Explore ways to wire them closer into the organization
  • Plough them further for information on their applications and what’s working well
  • Tie them into our partner organization that offers beta versions and exclusives to the privileged few

Just to name a few ideas. A practical way to use Twitter where it works best: to engage at the personal level.

So, if Shel doesn’t mind, I can steal his mantra and say, ‘go – stop reading this blog and find your real thought leaders out there’. The unsung heroes within the company ecosystem you discover on Twitter will prove the worth of your social media efforts.