Following on from my previous post, it’s time to throw myself to the wolves and tell you exactly what it is I’m doing all day. Hopefully by outlining my regular daily routine you’ll begin to see how various platforms can be used by your social media staff to enhance your customer’s experience and generate revenue.
Where relevant I’ll try to post exact figures and ROI, and detail some of the new ideas that have come from our social outreach recently...
So, it’s 9am on a Monday morning and as a dedicated social media professional, what am I doing?
Social media is a 24 hour business, so like business people in many industries I’m up checking through my Google alerts, reading conversation updates from LinkedIn groups, checking Facebook for status updates and poring over blog posts during the commute.
I find it useful to begin be setting up alerts for broad terms like ‘Multichannel’ and then drilling down into them over time to focus more on your specific company. It’s a good way to get a broad view of what’s happening and what people are interested in.
The ability to stay up to date is extremely important for anyone involved in social media, and I always take twenty minutes to check out relevant sites and catch up with breaking news first thing. This includes news sites but also means firing up Tweetdeck and trawling through my emails and RSS feeds. Once I’ve had a good look through I can work on my to-do list and prioritise any new developments that require action.
We have several campaigns running at Econsultancy, and I consider myself extremely lucky to be part of a company that has such efficient internal communications.
Reading and research are a major part of the job, but it’s important not to get carried away, a good social media manager will allot themselves a strict timetable and stick to it. 20 minutes in the morning is plenty (although I do dip in and out of Twitter).
Right now my efforts are focused in four main areas:
- Answers: a brand awareness campaign based around LinkedIn and various forums.
- Blog outreach: contacting leading bloggers as part of an ongoing outreach programme.
- Aggregators: The daily promotion of our content on through bookmarking sites.
- Blogging and other outreach: that would be posts like this one.
I’m also preparing to ramp up our presence on Facebook, and engaging daily on Twitter and various sites. It would take some time to cover all of these, so right now let’s concentrate on our Answers campaign, I think it’s a great example of active engagement and adding value and it has a solid, measureable return (including hard cash figures) that we can look at as we go along.
In addition, as it’s developed the campaigns provided a few small innovations and additions that have made a big difference.
“So what’s ‘answers’ then?” I hear you ask…
Recently we decided to become more active on LinkedIn (and industry forums in general). While we have a good reputation, we aren’t as well known as we’d like on the service, so we wanted a quick way to reach new potential customers there.
One of the most obvious places to start was in the ‘open questions’ forum, so I found suitable categories based on our areas of expertise.
These included CRM, Social Media, SEO, mobile marketing, e-commerce, and so on. Once I’d narrowed down the fields to find relevant questions I converted some of the URL’s for these forum threads into RSS feeds and set up a dashboard for them using NetVibes, a free tool that I find quick and easy to use for projects like this.
As search queries become more complex, you might also want to consider Yahoo Pipes, which also allows you to route multiple RSS feeds into a single stream.
I also added RSS feeds for relevant question searches from Twitter, Google alerts and related forums. You can set up relevant searches for your brand name, company, or industry area fairly easily.
Go to search.twitter.com and searching for terms like “help” OR “can anyone recommend” . We obviously wanted to weed out all the links as well, so be sure to add “-http://” as a qualifier. Your search should end up looking something like this: social, media "social media" help, OR anyone, OR suggest, OR need, OR how ? –http.
Here’s how those feeds look in Netvibes:
It’s now fairly simple for me to curate these and send out a daily email with suitable questions to a dedicated email adress.
Those of you who follow us on Twitter may have noticed that our links now come in custom form, shortened to ec.ly. This is a simple enough procedure thanks to bit.ly, but we wanted to track individual staff members. How to do this quickly and easily?
Firstly, we thought about analytics code. GA code has three main elements:
- Source = Staff
- Medium = Answers
- Campaign = Individual
By designating individual staff as 'campaigns' we can now easily see who posted what, where they posted it and if it resulted in traffic and conversions.
Now it was time for some brainstorming, which produced a neat piece of practical innovation as we tried to work out how staff could quickly and easily share their own custom links. Simple (at least, it is thanks to our excellent tech team).
We added a widget to http://econsultancy.com. Now, whenever a staff member is logged in, they can click a ‘share link’ button on any page, and will be provided with a unique link. It’s custom shortened and trackable – and looks like this:
Of course, this doesn’t just give us a chance to find out who is spreading the most link-love. It also means that every link we leave carries the Econsultancy brand, helping spread awareness wherever it’s posted and retweeted.
Incentive and results
In order to promote participation, we’ve added an internal incentive - Amazon vouchers to you – for the person driving the most traffic and set to it. By targeting people with a problem and offering help and relevant material, we’re driving:
- 300-400 new unique visitors daily (This figure continues to climb).
- More than 18,000 visitors in total.
- More than £3,000 in revenue over a three week test period.
We did experience a spike on October 4 thanks to a viral surge for a blog post (this one), but this still represents valuable traffic and while the figures aren’t enormous, they certainly represent solid ROI for a program that ultimately requires two minutes a day for anyone who wants to get involved.
We’re now expanding the program to cover extra forums, blogs and communities.
So far we’ve had a great response from the campaign. It’s a simple, inexpensive way to spread awareness without spamming it helps build awareness, it’s useful and it has the added bonus of building the reputations of individual staff on the service.
It also clearly demonstrates the core elements of social media: Listening, reflecting and responding, engaging the customer in a non-intrusive fashion and providing value where there’s a need. Simple points that all social campaigns should attempt to follow.
In the next post I’ll look more closely at some of our other campaigns and talk to professionals from other industries to find out more about how they are using social media.