15 July

6 Steps to Successful Digital Listening

In today’s world, the customer is king and just like traditional kings, the customer will tell you exactly what they want, so you better listen. To listen, you have to find out what your customers are saying, and in today’s hyper-connected world, customers are talking online. But how do we listen to them online? Through digital listening.

Digital listening means locating and analysing what is being said about a company, brand or individual on the internet. The listening can and should take place across many channels – as many as your customers are located on – to get a full, balanced report of how people view your company, brand or product.

Getting started with digital listening can be intimidating. Venturing on to the internet unprepared and finding that there’s a whole conversation going on that you weren’t involved in until now can shock even a veteran marketer. So, where do you start? (more…)

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08 November

Teens turning to Snapchat to avoid prying eyes of Facebook

Snapchat has been in the news recently by turning down an offer from Facebook to acquire it for $3 billion, but why? Many of us of have heard of Snapchat but don’t use it, let alone understand it. So why is Facebook prepared to shell out this much cash for such a young start-up?

What we can see is a counter flow movement where teenagers are leaving Facebook basically because of success, with almost 1.2 billion active users the social network has also attracted mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and ceased to be a place of free expression, Facebook has ceased to be a place where teens can call their own. Facebook is no longer the space where the teenage user can be free and share all their dirty little secrets.

Read the full article on connector360.net

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31 July

The Social Media Screw-Ups Collection

 

Social media can prove an evil mistress at times. More of a frenemy then a best pal. One minute you are reaping the rewards of the online movement, the next you’ve got every damage control procedure underway. A simple term-of-phase or accidentally using your business account instead of your personal one can backfire causing a serious negative impact on your business.

You can find yesterdays presentation from the Cork Chamber of Commerce  below which outlines some of the ultimate ‘oopsies’ that have occurred through businesses using their social media channels. Enjoy!

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Image credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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06 June

Match Metrics To Your Strategy – A Focus On Facebook

We have looked at the main success factors in great digital marketing last week, so today we’re going to laser in on one of the social media giants: Facebook.

Besides your own website, Facebook is arguably your online shopfront.  With this in mind, using Facebook to build customer satisfaction is key but monitoring your performance is just as vital.

 

Facebook – Made to Measure

Okay, so you have built up a healthy following and you feel you are engaging your fans well.  Regular updates and the odd cat meme?  Excellent, but remember that every aspect of your Facebook interaction with fans can be measured to hone your efforts further.   One point to note however, is to link these metrics with your Facebook strategy.

The basic (and the most popular) metrics to note are fan count, likes & comments.  As these grow, they provide many a marketer with a warm and fuzzy feeling of success!  Simply speaking, a rise here is a positive step but if not allied to your objectives they mean surprisingly little.

Measure Against Your Goals – An Example

A brief example that this humble writer can recount was from time spent working with a local visual arts festival.  One early objective was a campaign for artistic submissions launched worldwide to give the festival an international flavour.   The net was spread wide to forums, Facebook & Twitter communities etc to attract them.  After this big push, the event’s Facebook friend count increased by 400% in three weeks!   Cue the celebrations, until the next phase of marketing began.  This was centered upon promoting ticket sales and attendance, where local fans are the obvious target.   The discovery was sobering – our hyper-inflated friend count revealed that most of these new fans were international, from Asia, South America, even Australia…  None exactly in a position to attend a festival in Dublin!

Ready, Take Aim, Measure

What to take from here is that while basic Facebook metrics often highlight positive trends, they may not be the right ones for your aims.

Looking to spread great content?  – Look for number of shares of your links, or its ‘viral’ spread

Promoting an event? – Measure if fans are primarily in your area, promote posts to local users only

Increasing leads & referrals? – Check Google Analytics, are clicks from Facebook to your website growing?

If you want to use social media to improve your business, you’re in for the long game.  Returns may not be rapid, or easy to pinpoint at first but keep your objectives in mind and stay the course.  Growing your Facebook presence must be a means, not an end.  Whatever your business is looking to achieve, use Facebook to assist these goals and measure to suit.

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13 May

Interview with CTO Barry O’Sullivan on Dublin City FM’s The Persuaders Marketing Show

Alex Gibson from Dublin City FM’s The Persuaders Marketing Show talks to CTO Barry O’Sullivan about the history of SocialMedia.ie and how Boss Metrics came to be through the NDRC’s Launchpad programme. You can listen to the full interview here from 3.50.

Barry at Dublin City FMBarry tells Alex how he recognised that many applications were being developed with the customer in mind, yet these companies had not conducted sufficient market research or spoken to the customer. This meant that upon release of the product they have been met with ‘a negative  reaction’ from the customers they set out to help.

After listening to customer needs, SocialMedia.ie developed their software and a service model, which adds an extra layer of interpretation in top of traditional analytical platforms. The 3 step process consists of an Audit, Analysis and Action plan. The audit is performed by the software, then the analysis and Action Plan is developed by the team in order for the client to improve their digital marketing strategy.

Barry also talks about the importance of sharing and creating relevant content that must be aligned to overall business goals. Once this content is published across a companies social channels it goes into the ‘Shared content feedback loop of fan generation’. The people who interact with the post will extend the reach of the brand page. However, when analyzing social channels its more important to look at the number of brand advocates you are creating opposed to the overall number of people that follow you.

Barry goes on to give some examples of research which SocialMedia.ie has conducted including an analysis of Ireland’s Banking Sector who have a social presence and who are Ireland’s most social political parties.

 

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08 May

Communities gang up to love their brands

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As we showed you yesterday, clued in consumers have formed communities online. They tell each other about what they want from life, what they have, what they need and what their favourite goods and services are.  Seth Godin calls these communities “Tribes” and you can learn a lot by interacting with your tribes.

Idea-mining your customers

Working with customer communities involves more than just support and troubleshooting.  You can also use them to mine for potential ideas and innovations.  Large companies done this to great effect. Some examples are Dell’s Ideastorm initiative, My Starbucks Idea forum, and of course Microsoft’s ‘I’m a PC and I designed Windows 7’ campaign that lifted them from post-Vista blues.  They admitted that consumers hated their last product, that they needed to take advice from users more and made it their launch campaign to great effect!

Strategy formation

Listening to your communities can help you switch your marketing focus from ‘push’ to ‘ pull’. I.e. in future your brand won’t push itself onto potential customers, instead you’ll be there to help customers when they are ready, pulling them in.

Listen to the problems they have, what they expect from you and how they use your product. Look at your business from their perspective and see your brand as they see it. Take an ‘outside-in’ approach and update your strategy based on their needs, this will let you target your audience better, improving your reach.

Stories, dealing with the bad and the good

When dealing with a negative stories sprouting online, the main thing to remember is that the complaining customer will have the sympathy of the community.  Whether it occurs on ‘neutral’ ground or your own social media pages, David V Goliath thinking often prevails. Communities need to be convinced that you are there to help them.

The customer usually holds the sway of public opinion (especially in a complaint situation), so tread softly, be polite, offer to take them ‘offline’ into a private email, phone or face to face conversation and resolve things there.

If they are talking about a good experience, then jump right into the conversation and thank them for their feedback. This will enhance their warm and fuzzy feeling, making them feel that they made the right decision.

Doing it right, an example

A great example of this type of community interaction happens daily on tripadvisor.com.  As the hotel and hospitality industry are so beholden to public opinion, hotels will often respond to comments. They’ll give an explanation for bad feedback or thank good reviewers for their kind words. Either way, this kind of interaction shows they care, painting a positive image of their brand.

Check back tomorrow for some success stories on making community outreach a priority…

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07 May

Finding Customer Communities Online

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Anywhere that people gather online creates a community, whether its a handful of enthusiasts swapping tips on fly-fishing equipment, to giant consumer and business forums sharing ideas and experiences. Recent Neilsen reports state that over 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations for purchase decisions, whereas just 53% of people trust content written by your company about your own product or service.

What has changed of course is where this discourse takes place. Facebook is the new watercooler, Twitter is the chat over the garden fence, message boards, forums, even blog comments are the gathering place where every manner of product, service, business and brand are discussed.

The good news however, is that these conversations aren’t taking place in a hidden consumer clubhouse that your business will never learn the secret knock to enter. You can find these customer communities and listen to their discussions to enhance your own product offering.

Open Sesame… Finding the Door

Online communities are there to connect data and people, so naturally people will congregate where this data exists in easy to find pockets. This can of course mean that the usual social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums etc are hotbeds of these types of conversations, but digging a little deeper and you can find all kinds of specialist communities such as

  • Industry centric communities like pissedconsumer.com, Tripadvisor, or tech repair forums. They can contain highly motivated, very active and extremely knowledgeable members, their thumbs up (or down) may stick!
  • Consumer advocacy groups such as Which? Local
  • Online investor forums, for example onlinetradersforum.com. These communities are info-loaded and highly attuned to the strengths and weaknesses of companies. Being negatively mentioned here could be a real alarm bell.

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Forewarned is Forearmed

It is now increasingly important for a company to know every nook of the web where chatter about your business may be taking place. These online tribes of like minded and information hungry customers can make or break your brand. In certain markets, even a smaller number of savvy customers can possess the knowledge levels and opinion leader status to deliver a word of mouth blessing, or kiss of death.

So get listening, get monitoring and get searching for these communities that will be discussing your brand. As Oscar Wilde aptly put it “the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about”.

 

 

 

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01 May

Preventing Disaster – How to avoid a social media crisis

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A social media crisis can strike like lightning, and can feel like a tornado flying through your business and your brand .  Of course, once it hits you can manage it with a strong and consistent plan to calm the storm and come out on the other side without too much damage.  Like any trouble on the horizon however, good forecasting can help you sidestep the problem to a large degree.  This is where active social media engagement, and more importantly, studious social media monitoring can save the day. They prevent a light breeze from becoming a howling gale of negative opinion against your brand.

1219415_small (1)Monitor

The practice of listening to the market. Depending on the size of your company, this can either be self managed or outsourced. There are a plethora of great monitoring tools that you can use to look for any mere mention of your company online.  Google alerts, and more focused tools such as Sproutsocial and Mention can scour the internet for any mention of your brand (you decide the search term the program looks for).  It will pick up everything said about you whether its good, bad, or indifferent.  Once you see something negative, don’t stick your fingers in your ears and hope the problem goes away, reach out and engage the user and look for the underlying cause.  They may be picking at a thread that is about to unravel…

Engage

Make sure to talk with your customers online when they aren’t buying, or when they want to tell you something.  Share appropriate content that helps their own business and lives, they’ll appreciate it.  Over time, they will become an advocate of your brand and may come out swinging to defend you if a negative story surfaces to reassure others of your reliability and trustworthiness.

Good Vs Bad ReputationBe reputation aware online

Mediabistro.com reports that 33% of all social media crises are caused by the organisation themselves. It can be from their own official marketing efforts, or ‘rogue’ employees posting inappropriate material, replying to a complaint in a rude or insensitive way. This is especially topical right now in Dublin with several restaurants and bars embroiled in rapidly escalating crises over bad customer service and ill-judged, ill-mannered replies to comments online.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

Ensure that however big or small your business is, or how structured or ad-hoc your social media use is, that all staff taking part in its management know how to communicate in line with your policy.  If you don’t have an official policy, even a quick brainstorm session with your staff on what is proper and what would be taboo will get everyone on the same page.

 

In summary, look to turn a potential crisis on its head and instead use it as a means to strengthen your brand online and your business practices to boot, there is clearly opportunity available in equal measure.  I’ll leave you with the unwitting genius of Homer Simpson to boil it down into one word…

Lisa Simpson: “Look on the bright side, Dad. Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for ‘crisis’ as they do for ‘opportunity?’”

Homer: “Yes. ‘Crisitunity!’”

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23 April

Irish Political Parties – Social Media Analysis #BOTB

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Continuing our SocialMedia.ie ‘Battle of the Brands’ social media analysis series, this week we’re looking at the Irish Political Parties. We’ve analysed their data and their communication styles, seeing if we could spot trends, patterns or differences. Have a read below to see what our data analysts found out.

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What we discovered

  • Fine Gael and Labour use Facebook as a promotional tool for the party, often posting press material relating to the party and Ireland’s economy
  • Fine Gael and Labour often get negative comments on posts, which they ignore
  • Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein use Facebook to comment negatively on the current state of the country/government
  • Sinn Fein is the clear winner in terms of engagement
  • Sinn Fein is the only party to mention the death of Margaret Thatcher, which strikes a chord with their fans

Key Insights

A lot of people are unhappy with the current political and economic situation in Ireland. They know we’re in trouble and they are wondering what our leaders are doing about it. This is further reinforced by the media, with the news and newspapers frequently telling us about all the problems that the country currently faces.

This is why the least effective accounts are those that project a positive image. Their posts are always positive, which followers seem to view this as misleading, causing annoyance and negative comments. Conversely, people react positively to the accounts that criticize the current government. Both Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail use Facebook to complain about the current state of the country, which seems to resonate strongly with their fans. Fans feel like they are being told the truth, or at least part of it.

Of all the parties, only Sinn Fein is actively talking about the death of Margaret Thatcher. Her death strikes a chord with their members, leading to a significant increase in their fans. Sinn Fein are the clear winners on Facebook, consistently posting engaging content. They frequently post images and videos, with very few  plain text status updates. Other parties could learn from this.

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What we discovered

  • Parties are consistent in their tweeting, with regular tweets put out every day.
  • Fine Gael and Labour use Twitter the exact same way as they do Facebook, all their messages are positive
  • Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein tweet about problems and issues with the current state of the country/government
  • Limited engagement with followers, Twitter is used as an information source, not an engagement tool
  • Limited use of Hashtags across all parties 
  • Margaret Thatcher’s death is a hot button at the moment, Sinn Fein are using it effectively to drive engagement

Key Insights

Irish political parties use Twitter and Facebook in the exact same way. They have clear messaging strategies which they broadcast across both channels.

There is a clear pattern emerging. If the party is in power, they will post mainly positive material. We believe this is  because they want to project a positive image and don’t want to say anything that could paint them in a bad light. Those not in power will post mostly negative material which  comments on how those in power are doing a terrible job. They will occasionally tweet positive content about themselves. This is used to reinforce the idea that the current government is incompetent, while they are competent and would do a better job.

Yet again, Sinn Fein wins hands down. They have the most followers, they have the most retweeted content and they are the most consistent in their tweeting.

More to come soon!

That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll be looking at cosmetics sector in Ireland, looking at who’s doing the best and who needs some work.

If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on the latest Digital Marketing news, tips and trends, then signup for our newsletter here!

 

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19 April

Trapped in a lift with your competitors and a hot lead, what happens next?

elevatorWe’ve all heard of the ‘elevator pitch’. It’s the bite size, 10 second pitch that all businesses and brands should have at the ready. It boils down your offering to it’s simplest, stand out terms.  Let’s say you and your competitors are trapped in an elevator for real and a huge potential customer is there and ready to deal.

You open your mouth to wow them and then you and your four competitors recite the exact same thing.  This may get you thinking ‘Wait, how exactly ARE we better?’  You’re ready to find your key differentiator…


Repeat after me… How to bottle your lightning

Complete these simple sentences to see if you can narrow down your differentiator

“We offer …….. that other competitors cannot match”

“We aid customers that need …. better than anyone else”

Maybe that wasn’t so easy?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone in having to think a little deeper to capture that elusive spark of advantage.  In the modern market,  it is increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself clearly on product superiority alone.  Sure, companies like Apple can, but mostly it’s the intangible elements that fit together to make a company the leader, or an also-ran.  In other words, often service, customer interaction and even your brands story can be the game changer.

Identify, Nurture, Benefit

Your brand is unique, from its origin story, to its staff, its style of communication and advertising, its owner, its passion.  That heady mix is you, and how you deal with it and help your customers might be the reason they flock to you.  The follow up call your reps make the day after a big delivery, or your service agents make after a problem, these tiny interactions could be creating the special value that your customers really appreciate.  If you want to know if this is true, ask your customers!  They will tell you what you are getting right, as well as wrong.

They may like your light hearted brand personality, your hands on rock and roll owner or the calm knowledge your staff possess.  By all means test internally for this, but you have to think ‘outside in’ i.e. look for the differences others see rather than the ones you might be the only one noticing.

Once you have narrowed down these factors, promote them to your staff and nurture all the elements that make you a success – stay the course!  The benefits of knowing what makes you tick will come…

listen-300x300-resized-600A cautionary tale – Practice what you preach

Once you recognise your key differentiator, listen to your customers for signs that you remain on track.  Make sure to treat direct customer contact seriously at all stages of a purchase (from enquiry, to purchase, to after sales, to problems).  The golden rule today is that if they are talking to you, they are also talking about you.  Monitor all social media channels for any feedback, good or bad on how you’re doing – this is your benchmark.  Take action and respond to any chatter online about your customer’s experience with you.

For example, if you pride yourself on start-to-finish customer relationships and your clients find that your sales staff are ducking them once an order is secured, leaving them to deal with HQ for any follow up or issues, this goes against the whole purpose.  Ensure that your key differentiator is visible and working well across all stages of the customer relationship.  Otherwise, the disconnect between promise and delivery will drive your clients right into the arms of competitors.

If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on the latest marketing news, tips and trends, then signup for our newsletter here!

 

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