Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Patrick Dodd - Guest Blogger
The hype around social media is everywhere these days. If you listen to the social media consultants, you're missing out on the next online gold rush if you don't 'join the online conversation'. Do you need to be on Twitter? Should I be on Facebook? What about a company Facebook page? Where do you start?
You might be surprised, but before you invest any time or energy in establishing presences on any social media platform such as Twitter or Facebook, my recommendation is that you listen first.
The foundation of social media is the conversation. Online technologies have given people a way to connect with one another and talk about things that interest them. Among the many things that people talk about are the experiences that they have with businesses and brands.
The genie is out of the bottle so to speak. So whether you choose to actively participate in online conversations about your business, your competitors and your industry, it doesn’t really matter – the conversations are going to take place regardless!
The reasons that I suggest you listen first are that it gives you an opportunity to gauge the overall tone of the conversation - is it generally positive, neutral or negative? It also lets you know where the conversations are taking place (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs etc.) and the key words being used in the conversation, which is very useful for optimising your site to improve search engine ranking or for pay per click advertising.
Finding the conversations is not like finding a needle in a haystack – it is surprisingly easy using social search engines like Google BlogSearch, Blog Pulse, Ice Rocket, Social Mention and Trackur. Most of these services allow you to set alerts for search terms so that you are notified as soon as a new conversation is discovered.
Getting the right search terms is a process of trial and error but a good place to start is with your company/brand name, competitors' brands/names, and key words that describe your industry. Another great tool that you can use to discover more key words is the Google Key Word Finder.
A word of caution: you will find conversations that are not necessarily favourable. They may even make your blood boil. Have a plan in place for dealing with such conversations before you encounter them. Jumping into the fray with your emotions running high will most likely escalate the situation rather than defuse it.
With that in mind, I encourage you to go join the conversation. Keeping your head in the sand is not a strategy.
Patrick Dodd is a guest Blogger and was Co-presenter at Labyrinth's July Online Marketing Master Class. For more details go to www.reson8.co.nz