Social Media – 20 Tools For Social Media Monitoring

In the spirit of entente cordiale (although, if I’m to be honest, if I ever drink cordiale, it’s normally cassis), and in order that it never be said that I don’t give you (dear blog snorkellers) a little something every now and then, here is a post wot I ‘appened upon recently, providing a list of 20 free tools for use in monitoring social media – both for the results (yeah, right) of any social media marketing activity you may be (misguidedly) undertaking and generally, for mentions of you, your company and your brand.

The list contains splendid-sounding stuff like Addictomatic, Buzzoo, Surchur, Brandeye, Tazzup, and SocialMention amongst others – however, before you rush off and fill your boots with free monitoring, might I sound a couple of words of caution.

Also included within the list, and put forward as a a good and sensible solution, are Google Alerts. If you’re like me, then you’ve been using Google Alerts to monitor online news feeds for quite some time, and recognise their shortcomings. In the nicest possible way, Google Alerts are not groundbreaking and simply ride on the back of Google’s raison d’etre – being a good search engine. The results they deliver are far from complete and miss great chunks of – sometimes important – content.

This does rather imply that the other 19 solutions on the list are also not rocket science – and, having had a quick go myself, I can vouch for this. They’re not rocket science and they’re far from being complete.

Sorry – and I can’t help myself – I think the tools for monitoring social media are like the media themselves – misunderstood, over-estimated, inaccurate and not delivering of much in the way of value.

But – hey – make your own mind up.

Corporate Communications – Trends for 2010

Following on from the piece in PR Week (issue dated January 29, probably still on sale, this week’s cover price – oooooo – £12.34, or nearest offer – or just click here) about the latest Edelman Trust Barometer (well done the Week – a genuinely useful news piece – I have high hopes of you for the future), I came across this, an article from Entrepreneur magazine.

(Before I go on, I should also say that the author of the article, one Susan Gunelius, also features regularly in Communicate Magazine’s ‘Who’s Blogging What’ section. So do I, actually, so it’s no guarantee of quality.)

Anyhoo – yesterday, btw, was Groundhog Day and the wee critter duly came out of his quarters, saw his shadow and condemned us to six more weeks’ winter. Or maybe it’s just the States. Small creature’s vermin, in any case. The article in Entrepreneur magazine provides – for discussion, obviously – 10 marketing trends for 2010. I have to say that my initial instinct was to discard it as hippy nonsense (and some of it I still do) but in the light of what Messrs Edelman had to say, I can’t help but thinking it needs a further examination, especially in terms of how some of the 10 might affect the corporate communicator.

Thinking caps on, then, chaps – eyes down, here are the trends that we should be pondering:

  • Transparency and trust are paramount (Edelman go as far as to propose that trust and transparency rank higher than product quality – I’m summarising – and that financial return is one of the least important factors in driving corporate reputation)
  • Less interruption, more enhancement and value-add – don’t go disturbing people with your messages (unless you’re Mr T and Snickers) – give them something they can use
  • People want value – sometimes as simply as making their disposable incomes go further with discounts and free stuff – give them that and they’ll love you
  • Show, don’t tell – actions speak louder than words, so demonstrate what the benefit of your stuff is – what will the audience actually get if they give you their hard-earned
  • Peace of mind is the new black – your audiences want reassurance, because they’re hurting right now, and they want to hear it in your marketing and communications messages

OK – I’ve paraphrased it, and I’ve not included all of the 10 Marketing Trends for 2010 – because I still don’t believe in the ‘global conversation’ voodoo, and I do think that there is still an outside chance that social media as marketing, comms and sales tools may still be exposed for the valueless charades that they are. (Oooops – did I say that out loud?)

(Back to Edelman briefly – their study shows that traditional media are still more highly trusted that social media, blogs or websites – so there, social media evangelists and gurus! Eh?)

Finally, and it’s not new, but maybe we can make it work this time round – ‘integrated marketing trumps standalone tactics’. This means a new era of co-operation between sales, marketing and comms, if we are to get it right.

(Less sniggering at the back, please.)

Crisis Management – The Idiot’s Guide To Creating A Plan – Eurostar

Ooooooooh, ouch. Eurostar provide an object lesson for everyone in how not to do it. The reason I come to this now is because of this piece – which I have lifted from Steve Virgin’s blog (most excellent, by the way, wholly recommended) – which details Eurostar’s commercial and marketing reaction to the – well – cock-up, frankly.

It mentions their social media concerns and demonstrates that social media was not included in their crisis management plan. Oooops.

It simply isn’t something you can ignore. Be prepared – or be prepared for the consequences.

Social Media – Raging Against The Machine

News reaches Wordmonger Towers that the triumph of shouty rap metal outfit Rage Against the Machine over what, apparently, is Olly Murs wearing Joe McEldery’s skin in their race to grab the coveted Christmas No 1 spot is being seen as final, irrefutable proof that social media works as a marketing/communications tool.

As you’ll all know, dearest blog snorkellers, RATM’s win was driven through Facebook (by two people who, according to the tittle tattle, have now been offered jobs by Simon Cowell. And turned them down). As a result, you have otherwise fairly sensible marketing people running around implementing Facebook and Twitter strategies, because – quite clearly – social media can motivate hundreds of thousands of people to buy a product.

No. And stop it, before I get cross. There are a number of reasons why the RATM/OMIJM’sS battle was so big, and why it worked through Facebook. None of them are applicable to a brand, business or organisation.

Most importantly, this issue became so big because of the seething hatred of being manipulated by Simon Cowell that was latent in – well – most people, actually. I hate to state the obvious, but were it not for trad media (TV, print etc etc) there wouldn’t be any hatred for Simon Cowell (or his creations), because he wouldn’t be mainstream.

Social media did not invent the Cowell Beast and thus while Facebook stoked the fire, the fire itself was laid, fuelled, had petrol poured on it and was lit through traditional channels. The audience was ripe for this and I’d like to bet that many of those who visited Facebook for this particular issue had never done so before, were driven there by what they read in the papers or heard on the news, and will never go back because there’s nothing for them there.

And the fact that this was all about reclaiming the Christmas No 1 for the people (and the Christmas No 1 is an analogue tradition) meant that RATM’s victory was assured from the word go, social media or no social media. (And don’t go moaning that the victory was achieved through downloads – downloading music is not the same as using social media, and, in any case, had the single been only available on acetate through selected branches of John Lewis, it STILL would have sold enough copies.) Music is important to people – certainly it’s more important to more people than social media brands are – and it calls them to action.

So, today’s lessons. Social media is not a valid marketing or communications tool. It is not. (Yesterday I read yet another article about ‘great uses of social media’ and yet again, the example used was Zappo in the States. It’s about time we realised that THERE ARE NO OTHER EXAMPLES.) In this case, while the Facebook element was hyped beyond proportion, it was just one communications channel, which was amplified beyond belief by the swathes of trad media coverage. The other important point to make is that the subject matter – the product, if you like – was something close to very, very many hearts. It was personal. It was not corporate – in fact it was dramatically anti-corporate.

Social media, I conclude, can only really work if you are independent, anti-establishment, small in size and in tune with the current popular mood. Any hint of slogan, brand, message or intent to sell and you become Simon Cowell – and probably end up on the receiving end of protest through the very media you’re trying to harness.

Social Media – Size Matters

The following excerpt is from a post about the Interbrand Top Global Brands survey, vs the Sysomos on-line presence survey – which shows how top brands are perceived in terms of social media ‘buzz’. (Horrible word, not mine.) Here you go:

“One conclusion that could be speculated based on the data from this small study is that well-established, mature brands don’t seem to need the high levels of social media buzz to sustain their value, while new and growing brands can reap great benefits from the power of a social media buzz.

Of course, this is a very small study of just the top 20 brands based on global value, so conclusions can only be hypothetical.  However, it makes sense that new and growing brands have more to gain from investing in social media advertising and branding campaigns than established or new brands do.”

While this is quite clearly a statement of the bleeding obvious, on a bit of reflection, like most statements of the bleeding obvious, it actually needs saying.

If there is any benefit in social media as a marketing tool, it is most easily accessed by small companies who a) have nothing to lose b) have everything to gain c) do not have massive organisations and overheads d) have limited employee numbers e) do not have massive marketing budgets and programmes, thus having the ability to dedicate time to social media as their sole (or major) route to market and f) will see and appreciate any ROI their activity generates. And if you reverse engineer points a to f, you’ll see why established organisations are wasting their time.

Here’s a link.

Social Media – B*ll*cks to Twitter

Better late than never. Trawling through my backlog of trade magazines, I came across an issue of Marketing from September 30. Almost a month old. I’d be a really crap journalist.

Luckily I’m not. And neither is Mark Ritson, who wrote this (to my mind) brilliant article. Mr Ritson is an ‘associate professor of marketing’ – whatever that is – and these are his thoughts on the parallel between what’s happening now with social media and what happened 10 years ago just prior to the dotcom bust. Here’s a flavour:

“If you believe the hype, Twitter is the future of media and marketing. John Borthwick, chief executive of web investor Betaworks, told the New York Times last week that Twitter ‘represents a next layer of innovation on the internet’ and that the investment was justified ‘because it represents a shift’. Ten years ago, I would have gulped, assumed I was missing something, and nodded my head at this.

“These days I am older, fatter and a good deal wiser, and I say (in fewer that 140 characters): bollocks to Twitter. And bollocks to it being worth a billion dollars.”

It’s nice to know that I’m not alone.

(Mind – a month is a long time in social media and Mr Ritson may already have changed his mind.)

It’s The Brand, Stupid

It’s been a rollercoaster couple of weeks.

Patrick Swayze passes away, the wife goes into mourning and, if I interpreted the brief glimpse I got of the TV last night correctly, sitting through Dirty Dancing (again) looms large in my future. (Which begs the obvious question – why does everyone consider Dirty Dancing a better film than Point Break?)

Then the world-stopping news that gastronaut Keith Floyd’s clogs have gone pop (rather delightfully, after a large meal, with wine), I’m in mourning, and no matter how much I may wish it, I cannot see Auntie Beeb treating me to an evening of back-to-back Floyds on Whatever. Anyway, back to me, Clive.

So I’m feeling a little bruised inside, and – is there no let up? – the breaking news that Keisha has left (ousted, more like) the Sugababes, to be replaced by the less-than-successful and (in my opinion) pulchritudinally-challenged Eurovision entry, Jade Ewen.

Which means that there are no members of the original line-up left in the band. Cue frenzied debate around whether the name should be changed, whether, indeed, Sugababes should continue, whether the fans are being cynically exploited.

The answer to all of this – if I can be tiresomely arch (and I can, oooo, I can) – is in the letter ‘r’. There are now no members of the original line-up left in the brand. But the brand itself continues. What’s fascinating about this is that, in a world of manufactured pop music and fake bands, the Sugababes have always seemed to have the edge – there was something almost credible about them (maybe it was – is – the constant rumours of in-fighting, bullying and general nastinesses) – and yet, with the constant changes in line-up, they are the most manufactured outfit of the lot.

So manufactured, in fact, that it no longer matters who works for it. The Sugababes is a brand, like Special K – those who work for it are its guardians and that’s all they will ever be. (Pity poor Jade, who may think that she’ll leave some impression on the brand, but obviously won’t – like the brand manager who thought up Frosted Shreddies – who remembers him? Or her, obviously).

And like any brand, its loyal consumers will still continue to purchase it, whether the packaging changes, whether it now has 20% less fat (and this is not a veiled reference to Ms Buchanan, she was my favourite, after Mutya, clearly), whether it now has a chocolate coating or added boysenberries.

And it’s a timely lesson to all communicators – something for us to remember when dealing with our customers, external and internal. We (they) are not the story. The brand is the story. No-one person is bigger than the brand.

And the show must go on.