Blog Archive

I was a journalist back in the 90s. At that moment, social media was not there yet. LinkedIn was launched in 2003, Facebook saw daylight in 2004, and Twitter was born in 2006. Because of social media, there’s no central authority in the press anymore. That decentralization becomes common: everybody can become important at once when the message is good.
Social media has a huge impact on our lives. But some people are still resistant. Vote for or against social media after reading the 5 remarks below.

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A couple of months ago, the New York Police Department (NYPD) fell victim to a hashtag hijack. Combining law enforcement with a good public image isn’t always easy in a city like New York. That is why the NYPD launched a Twitter campaign as an attempt to boost their public image. In their tweet, they encouraged people to post pictures of themselves with a member of the NYPD and the hashtag #myNYPD. They hoped to get overloaded with pictures of smiling citizens and friendly cops.

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Social media has become prevalent in each and every marketing plan imaginable. We use it to interact with customers, launch campaigns, serve as a helpdesk, you name it. At this point, we have all agreed that social media provides added value for companies and consumers alike. That’s why it is time to take things to the next level.

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Social Media Strategy

I don’t have to tell you that Social Media are all the rage nowadays. Brands are engaged in a virtual arms race, trying to conquer every social platform known to man. We need a Facebook! And a Twitter! And a Pinterest! Come on troops, we can’t stay behind! Wait, where are we?

A multitude of brands is drowning in a barrage of like and win. They have no goals (other than ‘get an abundance of vacuous likes’), no vision (other than ‘social media is the future!’) and, let’s face it, no idea what they’re doing.

We are living in a multi-channel world

The most important thing to realize is that Social Media itself are not a KPI. Being present on Social Media is not an endgame. They are merely another channel that you can earn, rather than buy, to get your message across. One of the more significant tasks when venturing into Social Media is defining these messages and assuring that they align with your offline strategy.

Be where your customers are

Trying to be present on every possible social platform is not only time-consuming, it is downright useless. If your brand caters to hardcore gamers, you probably won’t be needing a Pinterest account any time soon. An interior decorator, however, should have been adding inspiring visuals yesterday.

Content is key when it comes to a successful Social Media Strategy, but one easily forgets that all content must be adapted specifically to the various Social Media channels. One size does not fit all. Take pity on your Community Manager and do some research into your customers’ favorite platforms. This will allow your Community Manager to spend more time creating and optimizing content, rather than struggling to post to a bulk of accounts that barely reach anyone.

Monitor wisely

Of course you want to know whether or not you are gaining or losing followers. However, it is not, nor should it be your main KPI. Go beyond the headcount and choose quality over quantity. How many people did you help this week? Are people actively engaging with your brand? Are you sending a clear message that serves a purpose linked to a business goal?

Take a sufficient amount of time deciding which Social Media KPI’s you value most. They can make or break your entire Social Media Strategy.

Author: Lauren Van Bever. You can follow Lauren on Twitter (@ikbenlauren) or connect with her on LinkedIn

Building an engaged community is more than just adding a Like button on your website, or autotweeting every new article. These are but mere tactics, with little effect when used in isolation. They need to fit in a larger strategy, focused on watching, curating, and stimulating desired behavior. Talking is not part of it, and pitching even less so.

Barkeepers rarely stand at the counter engaging in self-oriented monologues (not where I live anyway). They may own the place and wear the crown, yet they’ll never own what people talk about. As Bernadette Jiwa recommends in Make Your Idea Matter: “perceive this as an opportunity and focus on the atmosphere so that good stories get told.”

Watching, i.e. recording and learning from statistics, is key to understanding your community and improving future-oriented actions.
What are people talking about? Why do they love your brand and what are their gripes? Who are the major influencers? What’s the best time of day to approach prospects with a question or quote?

Watching or listening, perhaps your most important activity, allows you to better furnish your bar. You’ll discover what works beautifully and what doesn’t, giving you a unique advantage to fine tune the way you communicate, to find new or better values to propose, and effective ways to engage your community.

Steering the conversation

Curating, or policing, is what you do to steer away from undesirable conversations.
Although free speech advocates will quickly regard this act as censoring, I believe you have every right to do so: as a host, your mission is to ensure win-win interactions and discourage, limit or even oppose acts likely to damage the mood in the whole bar.
Be careful though: being too harsh or clumsy a curator will undermine your credibility and the attractiveness of your ecosystem. The good news is that, once you’ve established a like-minded community, that community will regulate itself to deal with occasional undesired behavior. A self-governed solution makes your brand a lot more credible than if you had to swoop in and show troublemakers the door.

All in all, this means that the need for curating content is at its peak soon after you start. Depending on where your audience lives, you can anticipate by initially choosing media that allow curating, e.g. your website commenting system, or Facebook. Once the social awareness for your brand has grown, you may reach out to media that have little or no policing options.

Become the talk of town

Stimulating, or devising ways that encourage desired behavior, is the softest, most durable and accepted way to steer conversation.
More than praising or retweeting a positive message about your brand, effective stimulation can take many forms. For instance, in 2004 Facebook was launched in only one university, Harvard College. Intended or not, this decision stimulated the development of a fine mesh network. The scarcity also piqued the interest for the network in foreign universities, contributing to its huge success once it was extended.

You, too, can find ways to stimulate desired behavior and the quality of your community:
Can you create scarcity and make your patrons feel special?
Does your commenting system allow upvoting good comments?
Do you get in direct contact with your influencers and most active contributors? What can you offer them?
Have you looked into gamification? Gaming elements can provide a powerful incentive for people, while making them contribute in a desired way.

Bars come and go, and some become even quite fashionable for a time.
Others remain favorites for ten or even forty years. Despite staff changes, these bars are successful because they understand that patrons return for the atmosphere, the mood. Not for the individual behind the bar. Create stories.

Author: Koen Mannaerts. You can follow Koen on Twitter (@mannaerts) or connect with him on LinkedIn

Two weeks ago, I spent a weekend in France with a couple of friends. When I came home on Monday evening, I went straight to my sofa and grabbed my phone. I quickly wanted to check if I hadn’t missed anything on social media. When I finished, it was dark outside and I had been hungry for more than an hour. I had read all my feeds and it had been a complete waste of time. You probably know this feeling, right?

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DataWe are living in an era where everybody has a personal viewpoint and is shouting it from the virtual rooftops. The web is literally exploding with them: on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, all kinds of blogs and many … many more.

Some might find this ‘opinionization’ of our society cumbersome, but it opens up a world of potential in a corporate environment. What if we could harvest these public thoughts into something a company could use? What if we could use them to predict the future of a brand, product, service, consumer behavior or even an entire industry? Talk about real added value!

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DelaereJanDo you remember the times when communication was either done face-to-face, by phone or by paper mail?  When written communication only took place after thorough reflection and consideration?  When students left on an international exchange program or friends expatriated and we didn’t hear from them for weeks on end?  When companies used to rely on unidirectional communication, pushing their news, assuming everyone wanted to read what they had to say?

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