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Developing / Defining / Improving Your Online Conversations


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On 4/7, I was a part of Ignite Wilmington, held at the awesome & newly renovated Queen Theatre. As if talking about Social Media wasn't nerdy enough, I used Star Trek (TOS... mostly) to get my point across. Apologies to, like, everyone.

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  • When you think about your program, think outside of facebook & twitter. Think about blogs & forums. Bear in mind, exploring new social communities does NOT mean conquering them. Channels that are free and popular (like fb & twitter) are net necessarily going to be the best for your audience. Review your client base & determine where they are most likely to reside.
  • You can do this a few ways – through tools like ScoutLabs, Looxi, Radian6 or simply set up some Google alerts. I know social media tools really appeal to the egomaniac in all of us, but consider that the web is about more than just you. So if you are a business or personality, don’t just type in your name and be done with it. Look for places where discussions about topics relevant to your brand and to your customers are happening
  • There are 3,500+ AAA brand mentions PER WEEK on forums and blogs alone. We’ve found that there are equally as many mentions of AAA on facebook & twitter over the same time frame. For us we know that the volume of conversations about us are much greater than the volume of conversations we are participating in, which is as much a blessing as it is a burden.
  • The web has always been social – long before social platforms came into their mainstream. One thing we’re seeing a lot of is Talk about Website integration > the past & future of the web.
  • The next step is to be logical. While exploring new civilizations is an important part of the USS Enterprises’ mission and, therefore important to Spock, logic is one of his more defining attributes. As a Science Officer, and half-Vulcan, Spock must apply logic in all assessments. In social media, if we’re going to talk about logic, we’re going to have to talk about…
  • Data. Understanding what your Data is and is not saying is crucial to the successful development of your social presence. Because the platforms we use give us these numbers, we are content to report them, BUT numbers themselves are messy little things. They can be irregular, complex, irrational. You must remain logical. Don’t get swept up in the size of the numbers – ask yourself what they’re really saying.
  • Twitter is a good example of a platform that provides information that is easy to misinterpret. Let’s look at Mr. Shatner here who has 555,905 followers. Just kidding. What he does have is ~556,000 people who clicked the follow button. When we consider website traffic, we don’t just say “we had 540,000 visits last month”. We talk about page views, bounce rates. We ask “Who are these people? Are they new here? How many times have they been here? Who sent them?” So why don’t we ask the same questions about our Social Media Programs?
  • On twitter, a convenient way to understand & organize followers this is through Lists. Group your followers into “persona” type groups. For @TravelwithAAA, some of our lists are: Visitor Bureaus, Business partners, Delaware Tweeps, spam (or buzz) accounts. Some are public lists, some are private.
  • This is manual and can take a while, but it’s worth it. Learning about each and every follower enables us to get a better idea what our audience looks like. For AAA, seeing that Tourism Bureaus are one of our larger follower groups, we know how to create content that is relevant to them – and to their followers. Similarly, we can see where our engagement levels are lacking – and adjust information accordingly. Create for your audience – not just the C-suite.
  • Facebook fan pages are a step above twitter in that you can now get more than just a fan count when you use their Insights analytics tool. Ok, yes, technically Fans & Likes are measurable and important in their own way BUT what’s more important are numbers like your Feedback rating (comments & likes/impression) on posts & your level of engagement (monthly active users/lifetime likes).
  • External communities: mentions, positive & negative sentiment. Don’t use automated sentiment analysis – drill that ish. Community blog – should follow 90/9/1 rule.
  • Bring it on back to the website with… facebook/twitter/social Tracking – Omniture, Google Analytics, Coremetrics
  • What drew me to social media was the human element. The conversations and lessons I learned from people around the globe. The internet is how I made & lost friendships, joined a band, fell in love, and landed me the incredible job that lead to me being able to speak here today. Don’t just troll the web looking for conversations about your brand – look for conversations about topics of interest to your customers or Members and place yourself there when appropriate.
  • Just like Spock, there is a human side to Social Media, which is increasingly being passed over. By creating these groups, you have a better understanding of who your followers truly are so you can create better conversations that help you learn more about your audience & your brand.
  • “ customer loyalty is not a commodity that companies own” – cluetrain manefesto People long for human contact, storytelling, sharing and companies are always there ready to fill the gap. But corporate responsibility is to fill this gap ethically. Not to exploit human wants and needs but to interact with them & tell their stories responsibility & ethically. Find out what your audience wants to hear about. Ask their permission”
  • So to recap: if you want to be successful in the social space, you have to be open to exploring areas outside of the mainstream social space. When you collect your data, you need to be critical & parse out input from information. As a business operating in the social space, it is of great importance to be human. Don’t just talk AT people – talk with them.
  • Developing / Defining / Improving Your Online Conversations