There are three main areas of practice for social media that your company (or you) should be thinking about: listening, connecting, publishing. From these three areas, you can build out your usage of the tools, thread your information networks to feed and be fed, and align your resources for execution. There are many varied strategies you can execute using these toolsets. There are many different tools you can consider employing for your efforts. But that’s the basic structure: listening, connecting, publishing.
Listening tools have more than one application: they’re useful for customer service. They’re good for PR & crisis management. They’re also good for marketing opportunity discovery, and finally as an R&D lead source. Realizing that there are many applications for the same category should give you a sense of what needs doing. Again, let’s look at this like a frame for your efforts. Once you’ve decided to take on listening, you’ll have to answer the following:
- Which tools should I use? (Free? Radian6? ScoutLabs? Sysomos? A combination?)
- Who should do the active listening?
- Where do we route the information?
- What are we doing with analytics tools? (Hubspot, Google Analytics, etc)
- How do we measure success?
Listening is primary to many of the other areas of practice, because it’s your primary instrumentation. As you can see, I include mechanical “listening,” the use of tools like Hubspot and Google Analytics, into the space of listening. This is normally bunched up in company’s web departments, with an SEO person. And yet, I believe we should align it here.
Connecting embodies all the points of social presence and outreach, as well as community building. This is your Twitter and Facebook usage, your commenting on blogs, your building of private communities or your nurturing of other people’s communities. This is your HR hiring process as well as your lead generation. This is where all human interaction opportunities are routed. Even when listening detects some action to take, it should be handled by whoever is assigned to connecting. (Note: this could and might likely be the same person.)
Tools for connecting (just some serving suggestions – don’t use all of these):
- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
- Blog accounts like Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Posterous (“passports,” as I mentioned in my personal branding ebook).
- Bookmarking accounts like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon
- YouTube, Flickr
- And what do you do on these? Who do you connect with? What are your contact policies? What are the rules of engagement?
What you do in connecting is very important. Here’s where social media really shines. Connecting and making it a two way street is such a big opportunity. It’s a chance for your customers/clients/prospects to feel seen, heard. It’s the essence of giving people what they really want most times: an interaction where both sides feel heard. It’s also the primary place sales people will find value in social media. It’s also where new blood is found for projects and initiatives. It’s where databases grow. It’s where you can nurture your organization and its connecting points. It’s where community can happen.
The last of the three areas, but no less important, publishing incorporates how social media does what it does best. The ability to blog, make video, share photos and audio effortlessly, and do so for free or cheap is one of the reasons people come to the social media shores. Once you see the value in content marketing (organic SEO results, the opportunity to connect, the ability to share news in a non-email way, the chance to tell stories that matter to you and your organization), you won’t want to stop.
Publishing has many tools:
- Blogs such as WordPress (either hosted for free at WordPress.com or hosted on your own site, using WordPress.org), Moveable Type, Posterous, and more.
- Video platforms like Blip.tv, YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, and dozens more.
- Audio platforms like BlogTalkRadio.com
- Live video like Ustream.tv, BlogTV.com, and more.
- Photo sharing on Flickr.com
The trick with publishing is to make the information relevant to the consumer of this media. B2B has great opportunities in using publishing to improve the communications/sales process by making simple, short videos instead of simply lobbing white papers. Customer service can create behind-the-scenes blogs to show how to better use a product. Smaller businesses can capture their best customers in a photo or quick video. People can record radio shows that cover what matters most to the business. The possibilities are endless, and the opportunities to promote great content are equally dizzying in their promise.
Tying It All Together
It’s in how these tools are all used, in the nuances of good etiquette, quality content creation, effective promotion, useful policies, and a myriad of other pieces that the details become important. We’re all chipping at this stuff in some way or another, and this part’s where we work on tying it all together.
At New Marketing Labs, we have worked with companies in all these areas, but it’s fun how there’s always a variation on the emphasis. In some projects, we do much more publishing work. In others, we’ve done almost all connecting. Blending these areas and fitting them appropriately for our partners is what is most exciting.
Does this lay out the way you see it? Are you working in these three areas? How are you working on these projects with clients or inside your own company? If you’re a smaller business, how does this translate?
Photo credit pdz_house