At the School of WOM last month in Chicago I attended several presentations about ethics in social media. I also heard WOMMA Board members and staff talk about defining and upholding ethical conduct in the social media space.
While WOMMA’s role in this is important, it is also unusual. In other professions and disciplines, practices are usually clearly established first, and people who push the envelope know they are at risk of stepping out of bounds. For example, medicine has well-defined parameters of care and accepted practices. As these become the community standard, those who ignore them know they are in danger of ethical violations.
But because social media is so new and constantly evolving, sometimes it seems we are looking at what can be done first – and then worrying about the ethics later. This can do our profession a disservice because it can and make clients more wary of taking a risk and trying something viral or social. One of my clients at a Fortune 50 company remarked to me that the social media team was thought to be “the cowboys” of the company – exploring new things in a rough, rugged and sometime unsophisticated way without regard for the consequences.
While social media teams might be innovators and risk takers – can’t they also be shepherds of ethical practice? Don’t we all know the difference between being transparent and a little foggy? Can’t we all see the difference between taking risks and being reckless?
It really is the basic difference between right and wrong. One non-profit client of mine summed it up best, “some social media firms are so interested in making a name for themselves or a splash with their campaign that they forget to make a contribution to the discipline.”
So, the next time you are developing a strategy or designing a campaign ask yourself: If this became our community standard would that be good for the profession and our clients? If the answer is no, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. In my mind the ethical advancement of my client’s business objectives is always the main dish – not a side order added as an afterthought. The real question is: What’s on your firm’s menu? Let me know – I’d love to hear your views and experiences.
I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that every brand out there starts off looking at measurement in the same way: Measuring ROI of their social programs. In fact, brands get so consumed in this one particular measure, that they forget about what’s really import: Measuring the social engagement of your customers. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for measuring ROI and I think it’s important that brands know exactly what they’re getting for those social media dollars, but it’s important to create an approach that measures each phase of the buying cycle and not just the bottom line. This is the only way that you will ever create a business intelligence tool that will allow you to react to the marketplace, and not just report out.
Now that we’ve acknowledged the elephant in the room, let’s take a look at how you should approach accurately measuring a social media program. The answer isn’t scary if you follow these six steps.
Step1: Identify all of your social media channels.
Start by making a list of all of the social media channels that you are currently using to engage your customers. This would include Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, branded communities, partner communities, etc.
Step2: Create a list of data points.
Once you have identified all of the channels, evaluate each one and create a list of all of the data points that you can easily get from each.
Step3: Define the KPI that you need to measure.
Be specific here. Do not limit yourself to something generic like “support” or “community traffic.” Define a KPI that you feel confident justifying to senior management. This will also help you define the correct data points you need in the next step. For example: “decreasing the cost of online product support” or “increasing product awareness” are much more targeted KPIs that everyone can understand and support.
Step4: Select metrics that tell your story.
Go back and look at your list from Step2. Pretty comprehensive list, eh? Don’t worry; we’re not going to use all of them. In fact, your first task is to eliminate 50% of the metrics. Then, select six to eight metrics (out of all of the channels) that you feel will prove out your KPI.
Step5: Build the dashboard.
Start simple. Create a template in PowerPoint or Excel that you can easily insert data into and generate graphical reports. Set a time once a week for you to pull the data and populate the dashboard. This can be a manual process at first, but eventually you will need the assistance of an automated tool.
Step6: Evaluate and react.
Now that you have all of the relevant data in a single dashboard, share it with your team and set a recurring meeting to discuss your results and set next steps. It’s important to right the ship immediately if you are trending downward, but it’s just as important to evaluate what’s working and how you can leverage it in the future.
Granted, social media measurement can be a little daunting. Just Bing or Google “social media measurement” and look at all of those results. Most of which tell you absolutely nothing at all expect a few stats of what Facebook and Twitter are currently measuring. By following the steps above you should have a firm grasp of what it is that you’re trying to measure and how to create a process to accurately measure your social media program.
How are you currently measuring your social media efforts?
With my 25th wedding anniversary rapidly approaching (yipes), my mind has naturally been on relationships. Thinking back to all the advice we got leading up to that summer day in 1986, it occurs to me that some universal principals apply to building any great long-term relationship – with family, friends, colleagues and maybe even brand fans. Different kind of engagement, I know, but work with me here as we adapt a few of those key lessons to community-building.
Lesson 1: Don't rush into it! Think before leaping into the community pool. By definition, establishing a relationship takes care and nurturing to live up to its potential. Be brutally honest with yourself about your organization. Are you truly interested in building a long term relationship, or are you more of a serial one-night stand type? No judgments here. A series of campaigns that are sexy, exciting and short-lived may just be a better fit. In other words, if you don’t have the time and resources to sustain a community, then don’t do it until you are ready to make a commitment.
Lesson 2: Spend quality time together. Time is one of the single most critical investments a brand makes in building a successful community. Brands must be truly present – sharing exclusive content, answering questions, providing feedback, and so on. Obvious, right? But surprisingly, not a given. Like any good relationship, you can’t just ‘phone it in.’ This is especially important in the start-up phases of the relationship but should continue for the life of the community. Much of what compels a consumer to engage with you is the opportunity to get to know and interact with the brand they are passionate about.
Lesson 3: Relationships are a two-way street. In running a great community, you’ve got to maintain the right balance. Contribute to the conversation without dominating it. Ask for feedback and return the favor by sharing key responses. Be aware of what’s going on throughout the community. Guide, assist, participate but don’t be overly prescriptive. Each community has its own rhythm and a cadence that works for its members. And as it grows, ideally ownership for the health and well-being of the community is shared between the brand and the membership.
Lesson 4: Little things matter. Often the focus is on the big gestures – the major events, contests, campaigns. But in reality, it’s the day-to-day that speaks volumes. At Community 2.0 this spring, the community management team at ScotTrade reinforced that with their very practical and effective approach to building relationships with nearly 50,000 fans. A few pieces of advice: Be welcoming – let them know you’re happy they’re here. Get to know your members, especially your VIPs. Keep it interesting. Acknowledge contributions. And remember, a simple thank you goes a long way.
Lesson 5: Nobody’s perfect. Even the most avid fans will run into issues. Listen – and react appropriately and quickly. Let them know they’ve been heard and what you can (or can’t) do. Ignoring a problem won’t make it disappear; in fact, it can exacerbate it. If something in the community isn’t working for the members, then don’t hold on to it – it’ll just become unnecessary baggage and you risk killing community momentum. Be genuine and authentic; don’t try to be something you’re not. It’s key to building trust, the backbone of strong relationships.
So netting it out, communities – like any successful relationship – don’t just happen, they take work. But speaking from experience, the return is priceless. So, are you relationship material?
A day in the life of social measurement.
Several times a day, industry experts tweet about the breaking news, insights, and cool tools on social media measurement. My colleagues curate and share countless pieces of content so that we have insights into the latest and greatest. To be honest I can’t carve out enough time to go through it all in detail. Like most time-starved folks, if the headline grabs my attention I click through, scroll down and scan for a great new nugget or two, then exit. One of the main reasons I can’t always consume content on social measurement is that I spend most of my time doing measurement. Take a prototypical Monday as a case in point:
8:00 am. Run SPI.
Community A: Omniture feed shows that unique visitors increased. Analyze where they came from and what they did. The new banner ad caused a spike in traffic. So did the socialization of a Facebook post on the corporate page. Next key data points: how much time they spent on various pages and what content got the most love from visitors?
Community B: Google Analytics indicates that bounce rate decreased and time on site was up slightly. Tuesdays are the busiest. Make a note to post content late on Mondays to increase eyeballs. Idea Section got the most traction, which can be attributed to the new re-design and simplified layout that brought it front and center.
Community Health and Performance
Community A: What’s the member conversion rate? Showing a steady uptick; not bad organic growth. Looks like our blog attracted some great comments from the members, but the latest forum post seems to be a non-starter; we need to recalibrate that one. Can I pinpoint all of the spikes and dips over time to specific engagement activities?
Community B: Log-ins increased this week and community generated answers were up. Flag this for the Support team. We could use more user generated content for the new product launch next week. Alert the Community Management team for direct outreach to our top performing members.
10:00 a.m. “To the cloud!”
Community A: What does the Sysomos report tell us? Did we move the needle? Check on the number of mentions and how our posts and tweets got socialized. Are we getting talked about by the right Influencers and how can we more deeply engage with them? Visit Social Mention.com to evaluate the network effect of our content amplification efforts during the latest campaign.
Community B: While checking my weekly Google Alerts for competitor info, hot topics and the latest news, I notice a good blog topic for the engagement calendar and pass along to the team. The BuzzMetrics report in my inbox shows that there are new additions to the list of key influencers (above average positive mentions). Determine action plan to nurture relationships.
11:00 am. Social Media Integration.
Community without Walls
Community A: Check Facebook Insights. Nice pop in number of likes, but only a few comments. The holiday weekend is coming up, so let’s swap something timely in and see if that sparks the conversation. Visited our advocate’s product review on YouTube – over 20,000 views, with likes and comments.
Community B: Check Twitter and for new activity. Healthy bump in new followers, must have been the targeted outreach from social media monitoring. Follow back. Reply to DM’s and log hash tags. We are driving traffic to and from this channel, and it is becoming a great awareness tool for us.
12:00 pm. Report.
Develop dashboards to show how our communities are performing against KPIs. Pull in all the information from SPI. Highlight the key drivers behind the data. Show what’s performing and what’s at risk. Provide recommendations on action items to address weak spots and leverage strengths.
Align data points to our business objectives. Traffic and share of voice are up, which means we are driving awareness. Engagement is improving, so we’re impacting brand loyalty and affinity. Answers submitted by the community have increased, which is directly reducing support costs. Product reviews have a broader reach, fueling consideration, preference and purchase.
1:00 pm. Lunch!
Scan the latest content on social media measurement to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Move on to the next ask of the day, Advocate Identification.
But before, I go….how do you measure?
Be honest—how much time do you spend thinking about your actual presence on LinkedIn? Like many others, I joined LinkedIn because it was the networking tool du jour for business professionals. I spent a little time filling in my profile, accepted and sent invites as I had time and perused periodic network updates that I found in my inbox.
In essence, LinkedIn was the online version of my old Rolodex, a place where I gathered contact information on new and old colleagues, clients and others I met during my workday. I paid little attention to keeping it fresh, following best practices and using it to truly network. I am sure my approach was similar to most of my LinkedIn connections as well.
Using LinkedIn for a client project forced me to immerse myself in this tool in a whole new way. I found that I was leaving so much on the table by not taking advantage of LinkedIn to exchange knowledge, ideas and opportunities with my network, which is the core of LinkedIn’s purpose.
After a little research and some networking, I learned that putting LinkedIn to work in a new way does not require a huge time investment. Getting back to the basics and taking a few small steps can make a big difference. Here are some quick—yet effective—changes I’m making to boost my presence:
· Status updates. We are all used to updating our status on Facebook, Twitter, even IM. I didn’t even realize LinkedIn offered this feature! What an easy way to let folks know about the latest thing you learned, accomplished, are working on, etc. I plan to update my LinkedIn status at least once a week.
· Keyword homework. Spending time thinking through and researching the keywords that best describe who you are and what you do really helps optimize your presence. I came up with a list of my keywords and worked them into my profile, job descriptions, etc. I can already tell this will need ongoing attention to keep fresh.
· Personalize your invites. I learned this the hard way when someone who knew me almost punted my invite to link. Don’t just use the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” when communicating. A personal message that reminds folks about who you are will go a long way.
· Complete and neat profile. How complete is your profile? Ninety-five percent isn’t bad, but 100 percent is definitely better! LinkedIn makes it easy to fix this, offering “Profile Completion Tips” to help you get to 100 percent—just “follow the yellow brick road.” For mine, I really needed to shorten my descriptions. A neat profile (one with succinct bullets) is always more likely to be read.
· Sell yourself. Most folks, including me before I changed it, use their current job title as the headline for their page. My headline is now a short description of what I do (utilizing my keywords, of course). Only 140 characters allowed…so be creative!
· Recommendations hold real value. Nothing is better than recommendations from people who know how good you are at what you do. I already had some (it is best to have at least three), but realized they were getting dated. I’m pretty shy about asking for recommendations, so I spent some time providing unsolicited recommendations for people I worked with first. In this case, you usually don’t have to ask them to return the favor; they typically do it on their own.
· Group up. Another area of LinkedIn I spent time exploring is “Groups.” I found and joined a number of groups germane to my interests, background, experience, etc. This list helps represents who I am and is an easy way to stay in touch with organizations, schools and companies that will extend my reach and network ongoing.
· Be helpful. This is next on my LinkedIn to-do list. I plan to spend some time on the “Answers” section to jump in on current conversations and become a true member of the LinkedIn community.
I know this is just a start—now it’s your turn. What have you done to get more out of LinkedIn? Feel free to connect with me here or on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/pamela-flores/2/9a6/593