As the leader of a business, a constant concern is always increasing revenue. Of course the two primary ways to do this are to either increase the revenue current customers provide, or to increase your total number of customers. The simplest and most direct way to reach your audience, and allow them to reach back, is through online media. Continuing this 5 article series, I hope to enlighten you on the 5 most important facets of online media and how to leverage them to benefit your business.
If you’d like to catch up, you can catch last week’s article on search engines here.
Today we’re focusing on social media.
You’ve no doubt heard about social media on TV if not at work or in daily conversation. But how does it affect you, and perhaps more importantly, how does it affect your business? Consider the adoption statistics from even a year ago let alone how they’ve grown since. More and more people are using these technologies, and businesses that evolve to make the most of them will flourish over their competition.
Most of us grew up with the traditional forms of advertising all around us. And we’ve likely followed many of these models with our own businesses. I’m referring to the print and broadcast media format of speaking AT customers, and not speaking WITH them. It’s now an opportunity to create a conversation around your business and brand. Sadly, the majority of people who have adopted social media in their marketing mix continue to spout advertising messages ignoring the major advantages of this new form of media.
As with any type of discussion, I believe you can gain more by listening, rather than speaking though both have an important role. For the longest time, businesses could only receive feedback by looking at sales statistics, or having their customers complete surveys. Now, not only can you receive this information more quickly than ever, many users on social media channels will happily volunteer this information. Below we’ll explore a couple of services you can use to track and monitor your brand on social media.
Conversely, it is important to say the right things at the right time. Social media, like any other medium has its peak usage times, as well as the longer term impacts of users sharing a message and the impact your presence on social media has within search engines.
As with every other aspect of interactive media, it’s generally best to hire a pro to help and allow you to focus on your core business, but there are plenty of tools to help you get a start yourself. Let’s explore some of them:
First choose the networks you want to track:
Different social media networks tend to have different users. While Facebook has grown across the board, certain networks are still more popular in certain areas or among certain audiences. Xanga for example has a larger usage in Asia, while Bebo is more popular in England. Twitter is more commonly used by adults while children tend to rely more on mobile devices and closer knit networks.
I often suggest users track twitter, as it is the most public social network available, and has a myriad of tools build upon its API. I’ve listed three of my preferred tools:
HootSuite – http://hootsuite.com – Is a professional twitter tool which gives you the ability to not only easily track multiple twitter accounts, but also real time keyword searches, trending data, and allows you to comment and reply instantly.
TweetBeep – http://tweetbeep.com – Is a tool similar to Google Alerts, but for twitter. This tool will automatically ping you (as frequently as hourly) with updates on what is being said about your brand or business.
Twitter Grader – http://twitter.grader.com – Another tool from Hubspot, take it with a grain of salt, but it will give you an idea of how your twitter account is shaping up.
To take a look at the bigger online picture, some of the following tools will be a great deal of help to you.
Ice Rocket – http://www.icerocket.com – Icerocket is one of the greatest social search engines I’ve seen. It allows you to look across twitter, blogs, myspace and more.
Chartbeat – http://chartbeat.com – ChartBeat does more than social, it helps monitor a website’s presence and online viability in real time, as well as long term trends. It carries a price tag but is certainly interesting and I believe worthwhile.
Of course we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the search engines themselves. Google, Yahoo and Bing all offer various type of search. In addition to these and other tools, we use Google Alerts to provide a daily briefing on clients’ status. There are a lot of options out there, which do you prefer?
Author Chris Yoko is the president of Yoko Consulting, an interactive marketing firm that helps clients make the most of their web presence, from website development and social media to email and mobile marketing. You can also find him right here at Under30CEO.