My Favourite Social Media Management Tool

This is the post I would have loved to read a few months ago. If you're looking for social media listening and monitoring tools, this post is my christmas gift to you :-)

When I started my current job I did a major reserach of social media monitoring tools.
I'm a big fan of aggregating content and having it on one place and being able to handle various accounts from the same base camp.
However it quickly turned into a nightmare trying out tools and discovering that my dads words "There is nothing called cheap" were true.
You get what you pay for, as always.

In my opinion there are 3 levels of these tools, and nothing in between, except for ONE; Sprout Social

These levels are: Free tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Rowfeeder e.t.c. The free
tools have one advantage, they're free. But just as I hesitate picking the cheapest tomatoes in the super market, I seriously doubt low prices. "Something's gotta be bad".

Free tools don't give you the amount of content availible online and they usually dont filter the relevant stuff.
They don't offer reporting, the ability to export data and create nice graphs that will make your boss think he understands social media.

In the middle level you find tools that have a price tag of in between 100-200 eur. These are usually tools that try to offer the same as the highlevel tools (600-1000 eur/month) but again, there is no cheap, something's gotta go.
I used PeopleBrowser for a while. Started out well and I liked it, until they raised the price tag from 70 eur to 400(!)

In my opinion what puts me off with many tools is the complexity and the technical failures that keep happening. They're often not stabil enough, you need to reload the page, sign in and out 10 times for them to get your data well. The interface is usually complex because they try to fit in as much as possible to show they offer an advanced tool with many of the same features as the Radian 6 or Meltwater Buzz tools.

To me it's about sophistication and simplicity.
Rather a few great things than many OK things.

So what does Sprout Social offer me that was different?

First of all there integration of Google Reader inside the tool. Can I just say one thing: Brilliant!
Gone are the days of copy paste links, importing them into hootsuite and then programming them into Tweets.
Above each news piece there is an "Expand" and "Share" button. Click share and program that tweet instantaneously.

Next thing I love is the Discovery tab. Here I set up my searches and can join conversations in the matter on a click, answer questions from people searching for my product or simply monitoring what people are saying.

The Report Tab is my Friday friend (Fridays I calculate the weekly KPI's). This is a great place to get a quick answer to the number of Mentions, Retweets and other valuable information. You pick the date range yourself and everything just WORKS and works WELL.

The MESSAGE tab has a neat feature under the Sent message sub tab which lets you see how many have clicked or engaged with your Tweets.

These are just a few things that make Sprout Social a great tool. Add to that a fantastic customer service center that helps you faster than you could ever expect.
I'm based in Spain and despite the time difference they always answer within a few minutes. I haven't even mentioned the iPhone app that works superb...

Price? For 2 "seats" (administrators) and the Delux plan we end up with a bill of around 80 usd/month. Well worth it!

Related posts: 


Flickr Or Instagram?

Those who know me may say I am anti-Flickr, and maybe I am.
I recognize Flickr as a specialized community for professional photographers and something for the "cool" people, the different "artsy" group who work at agencies and wear purple leggings and yellow glasses. (Joking...kind of)
But I don't see Flickr for us ordinary hobby photographers. I don't see it as the solution to set up a contest among main stream people. I am perfectly fine with Facebook and Instagram. Please add your comments below if you disagree and want to introduce me to the world of Flickr :-)

What Instagram was missing for a long time was the Android app. Flickr took an advantage of this fact and introduced the Flickr app for Android in the end of September 2011. A part from that it was clear that Flickr's owner Yahoo had a clear mobile strategy in mind. However, Yahoo is a big company, and big companys usually move slow. Istagram is smaller, more innovative and faster.

To me it's about the simplicity, the app, the interface and the hottness. Instagram comes out with new filters and features more often than I change my socks (almost).
Instagram is growing twice as fast as Flickr and claims to have more than 14 million users and a speed of 1,3 million photos uploaded per day. They launched in the end of 2010 and are already big in China too.
The app is availible in 10 languages. I like the tagging feature and there are various ways for brands to use Instagram.
According to Yahoo, Flickr advertising pitch page there are currently 51 million registered Flickr members. I'm registered but haven't used my account in a couple of YEARS so I take that number with a grain of salt. Keep in mind Flickr was launched in 2004, that's 50 million users in 8 years.
Instagram is growing with 2 million new users per month. Let's do the math: It will take Instagram less than 2 years to pass Flickr. (Based on Flickr neither gaining or loosing users).
I recommend you to read this great article from Social Fresh talking about Instagram as the largest mobile social network.

Here is a fun video that explains Instagram.


A Little Bit Of Customer Love...

...goes a long way.

We have a supermarket close to where we live. It's a Caprabo store in the middle of Barcelona and although they are not as big as the other stores they do have one really great thing - great people working there.

A few days ago I walked into the store with a friend and while walking in we were greeted by a friendly smile and a "Can I help you find something?"
Now, for you Americans, this is probably something very normal. I remember when living in Los Angeles I sometimes was thinking "Just leave me alone for once!"
In Europe though, or let me re-phrase that one - In Spain! You really don't bump into friendly workers in the grocery store. It's more likely you're going to have to beg someone to help you, or ask 10 people who all tell you to ask someone else. The fruit guy doesn't "know" where the milk is, he is just in charge of the fruit, duuh!

So anyway, this guy smiled at us and we were so shocked that we literally thought for a moment that maybe it was some type of practical joke going on. "Something is not right here" my friend said and had a troubled look on his face.

Yesterday we went back to the store and while signing the receipt the same guy smiled and asked us if he could help us with anything else and I suddenly couldn't stop myself:  "You are such a nice person, do you know that?!" The guy smiled even more and told me some joke in catalan that I didn't really get but we all smiled and felt good inside.
And let me just admit one thing. When I walked into the store the first time it was only to check the price on something but because this guy was so friendly and spent several minutes trying to find what I was looking at, I simply couldn't walk out without buying something. So I bought a couple of small things (that I really didn't need) but this guy made me feel so welcomed and valuable that I wanted to return the feeling.

So here it is again, the people business, is highly profitable so let's try to adapt this mentality more!


The Social Media Department Of 2015

Social media KPI's, reach, channel views on YouTube, engagement metrics, unique visitors to blog, likes on content and brand mentions. A few years ago many of these expressions didn't even exist. Now they are hot subjects and important parts of a social media managers job.

But there is a big risk here that I want to pinpoint. A risk that I'm experiencing myself and that I see a lot of fellow community managers and social media team members facing and that is to get too caught up in these metrics.
We're still in a period of time where the social media departments often are not getting the right resources and right long term investment that's necessary for everyone to do their job well. The results can be creative people trying to do the creative work but faced with lots of other (important) tasks.
But should a blogger or a web designer do business analytics? Should a graphic designer do a P&L report? Should a customer service representative do Excel spread sheets about forecast projections?

My point is, that I think many social media departments are facing a difficult situation. Social media is a hot subject and most companies know they have to do something, and as much as possible, for as little resources as possible. Nothing new here.
The risk though, is that the creative blogger moves away from what he is good at, doing things that he is not good at, and the result is devastating. Less content in less quality and reporting eating up his time.
If the company is asking one person to do everything, the risk is that nothing will be done with excellence.

How do I see the optimal social media department of the future?
Let's imagine a medium size company, 100-200 employees.
Social Media usually falls under either marketing or communications but let's say the department head is the Social Media Director. Responsible for the team, reporting to the stake holders, calculating budget e.t.c.

1.) The community manager. Depending on the size of the company and how many languages need to be covered there could be the need for 1, 2 or 10 community managers.
The community manager is responsible for interacting with people, answering questions, searching for conversations and pitching the brand in the right way at the right time. Working closely with the customer service department. Maybe even having a second person in between, forwarding the complaints/issues/subjects that need to be adressed.
The community manager is sophisticated social media listening tools social media listening tools and reporting to the Social Media Director/Digital Director.

2.) The Social Media Manager being the strategist, doing strategical planning for the company's social media actions. Researching, planning and contracting the right tools, applications and services to execute the campaigns together with the community manager, being in charge of setting up contests and campaigns.
Also being a content strategist the social media manager should work closely with the bloggers of the company. The social media manager works closely with marketing, product and retail to integrate all campaigns in a timely manner.

3.) The Social media analyst, reporting to the stake holders about important metrics. Working closely with the agencies/services contracted to report on overall development. Working closely with the community manager and social media manager to optimize all channels for best business results. The social media analyst should also have access to listening tools but rather than being focused on Twitter or Facebook development, he/she should be looking at the website conversions and traffic.

4.) The blogger. This person could be external, or it could be a team of company bloggers.
5.) The SEO and link-expert. Working closely with the bloggers.
6.) The ad manager. Setting up Facebook ads, Promoted Tweets, working with SEM and Display marketing.
7.) The web programmer. Helping out with blog programming, being a consultant for services. Do we really need to hire an agency to develop this app or can we do it ourselves in-house?
8.) The online PR manager. Doing blog outreach. Having the online contacts, being the brand ambassador. Posting on other blogs, contacting influencers, setting up co-operation deals, finding the win/win situations.

Let's hope we're going in this direction so that everyone can focus on what they are good at, and therefor optimizing the time and results.


3 Social Media Tools I Use Daily

Be Awesome on Twitter is what Buffer promises us, and they do stick to their promise.

This brilliant app helps you together with the chrome plug-in to schedule great content in the moment you see it by a single click (ok, two clicks to be exact).
There are 3 price plans.
In the free plan you get to schedule up to 10 tweets.
I´m on the pro plan for $10/month which lets me buffer up to 50 tweets.
There is also a super version for 99/month which gives you unlimited buffering...
Why I like Buffer and what makes it special? I used to use Hootsuite but got tired of how time consuming it was copy/pasting the links into Hootsuite. This just let´s me schedule whatever great content I bump into.

Sprout Social
Great social media listening/management tool. Just started using it so I 'll write a more detailed post about it later on but it seems to give me exactly what I want - for the right prize. Approx 100€/month for
unlimited searches, several "seats" and a great scheduling message feature.

Stumble Upon
I use StumbleUpon to find great content. I find SO much great stuff that sometimes I stay up way to late stumbling and stumbling. I use the app on my iPad. The only thing I miss is the Bufferapp in the iPad!


The People Business - Highly Profitable

"Things change. People don´t"
"Companies don´t do business with other companies. People do business with people"
Two phrases that have stuck with me for years.

As human beings we have our personalities and our values. Those are difficult things to change.
Meanwhile we see the world as we know it, change around us every second. New apps, tools, ways of doing business pop up around us as we speak and we´ll pick them up, try them out, see what works...

Our basic values that most of us share, haven´t changed...and will not change. Things like wanting to be treated well, appreciating good customer service, wanting to be loved, smiling when somebody presents us a great deal.
But what have changed and even more - will KEEP ON changing is the environment, the place where we spend time, the places where we do business, the platforms we use, the approach we take.
Companies and businesses that don´t adapt these changes will lose, period. Companies that don´t understand the value of changing to meet the customers needs will go out of business.

As a customer I now have more choices where to spend my money than ever before. I can pick in between 100 types of cereals in the food market, 10 places to buy my cocktail dress, 20 different gyms to do my spinning lessons and hundreds of restaurants to have dinner on a Friday night.
Each of them can set up a Facebook page or a blog in a matter of minutes, but not each of them will show me that they care and that they are willing to step up for me as a customer. Far from all of them know how to change the way they do business to fit the customers needs.

It´s true that the customers are more in power than ever before, but we are still human beings with feelings and empathy. That said if a company surprises me and gives me something extra to do business with them I DO feel like I owe them a little bit of my time or money. It´s an opening to give me a first sweet taste of that the company is about, what´s their mentality, are they NICE PEOPLE?
Behind that desk is there a person doing her job just because of the monthly paycheck or is there harmony and love in this house?
That guy in the super market yesterday, who helped me find exactly what I was looking for, I simply COULD NOT walk out without buying something, even though my initial intention was to just have a look. He really wanted to help me find what I was looking for.

I got a free invitation to try out a new gym (DIR Tusets) the other day and not just that, the nice girl at the reception called me up and said I could come back and try it out for free again, anytime I wanted to!

On the other hand I bought a pair of 200 eur headphones (Beats By Dre) 2 weeks ago and signed a 3 year insurance with FNAC (where I bought the headphones).
A small accessory part that probably costs 5-10 eur (the ear hooks) broke in the moment of putting them on and neither the FNAC or the brand (MONSTER) offered any type of help. Makes it highly UNLIKELY I will recommend this brand or the store to anyone I know. Makes it LIKELY I will feel the need to spread the word to warn other customers by tweeting or posting on Facebook about it, remembering every time I pass the store "This place does not deserve my time or my money".

Think about the small cost for them to get my blessings and loyalty and the massive damage this treatment can cost them if they pass on me.
The gym will get my sweet words, a blog post and possibly a new customer.

The customers are in charge and we want basic things in a complex and technological environment.
The trick for businesses is to figure out that environment and combine it with the voice and atmosphere of people.

This is a mentality that businesses have to adapt.
It´s about the details, the small things, the points that make the business human. Because people do business with people.


5 Things To Remember When Setting Up A Video Contest

In my recent blog post How To Set Up A Video Contest I spoke about the back-office and set up of a video contest. Today I wanna give you some great advise for how to execute the contest. What to keep in mind and what I personally learned from own experience.

  1. The Goal. Like with all social media campaigns you should first determine why you want to set up this contest.
    Is it to get more subscribers on YouTube?
    Is it to increase the channel views on your channel?
    Is it to provide something great and fun for your audience?
    Is it to impress share holders of the company?
    Is it to make money?
    Drive traffic to your website?
    Whatever it is, write it down, speak openly about it and take notice on the status of the different channels BEFORE you launch the contest to be able to compare the results. How many fans do you have on Facebook, how many visitors to the blog and how many channel views and comments on Youtube for example.

  2. Clear Instructions. Video may seem simple to you and me, but we are definitely not the average internet surfer. Provide clear instructions on HOW to participate. I'm not kidding you here. The last contest we set up we wrote down what formats we accepted and still the majority of the files uploaded were jpegs, docs, excels and power-points. Show HOW to participate with pictures. Make a dummy-guide.

    People will likely imitate exactly what you have told them, so be creative in your examples and if you can - provide more than one example. Another point here ts to make it EASY for people to participate by not requiring any specific great quality. Let people film with their cell phones and you will make their life's much easier and you'll receive many more videos!

  3. The Prize.Make it something good. If you can't afford it, then you're better of not launching a video contest. It will be more work than benefits because not a lot of people will enter the contest. An iPad, a laptop, a trip, a great gift-card for something online are some attractive prizes. If you can also provide something small for the first 100 participants that's a big plus. In our case we gave away 5eur gift-cards on Amazon to the first 100 people.

  4. The Promotion.Make sure the whole company knows about the contest. Everyone should help promoting it, in their email signatures, to their friends, through their Twitter accounts. Post the contest on your Facebook page, your blog, website, Twitter account and keep posting somewhere on a daily basis.

  5. The Legal Stuff.Make sure the company's lawyer takes a look at the legal notes and make sure you are covered for all types of incidents. Even if putting in there that you have the right to change the rules may sound ridiculous it can be helpful when you bump into something completely unexpected. However, this situation should be avoided and could obviously create a bunch of bad noise and upset people so it's just an emergency case option. Count on people getting upset about their video not having the same success as other participants videos. Make sure you are very clear that you won't accept any double voting, friend campaign-commenting to win and that you have the right to disqualify anyone breaking the rules.
Like a last point I would say, LEARN. Your first contest won't be perfect but take note about what you could have done better and keep it for the next time.

Have fun and Good Luck!


How To Set Up A Video Contest

We speak a lot about Facebook and Twitter contests and there is tons of information to find on the web about applications, rules and "how to's".
Video and photos are the most popular consumed medias, they reportedly gives you the best edgerank on Facebook and spark the best engagement according to both Facebook Insights and other analytic programs. Yet there is little information to find about HOW to set up a video contest.
I know 4 ways to set up a Youtube contest, maybe you know more ways, if so please comment on this post and share your experience!
First of all you can go through an application, such as Wildfireapp or Easypromos. It's pretty easy, not expensive but the downside is that if your goal is to increase the channel views on your Youtube channel, that's not going to happen with this option. An application let's the users leave their video url from the users channel. Also making it crucial for the participants to set up a youtube account if they don't already have one. Important is to make it easy to enter the contest and to not make it complicated or ask for too much.
Second option is to build a microsite or an interface for your website that lets people upload there videos. Great option but could be expensive I imagine.
Third option is to go through Youtube and pay thousands of euros (I read 5000 in youtube's help forum) for a custom made page that let's people leave upload there videos. Flashy, beautiful, easy and... EXPENSIVE.

But there is another option that we used recently that I really want to recommend.
Sharefile offers a service similar to an FTP server, a customized upload form and a back-office where you can see and download the videos and then manually upload them to your youtube channel. 50-60 eur/month depending on how many videos you expect to receive (how much space you need). Cheap and works great!
In my next post I will give some tips on the actual video contest.
Have a great weekend!


Fun tool for engaging posts!

I just saw this great post by KLM on Facebook. Guess the picture. So simple and 260 comments and 226 likes in 2 hours. Not bad.
Made me start to think about engaging posts and I found this great puzzle maker.
Give it a try!

provided by flash-gear.com


Priority: Awareness Metrics

How to measure the improvement of our Blog posts, Facebook posts and Tweets is a hot subject.
Many blogs write about Reach measurements, Awarness metrics and social media ROI is on everybody's mind. The number of options to measure social media seem to be more than the number of coffee combinations on Starbucks.

My personal opinion is that we complicate things too much in life and in business. The most simple things in life are usually the most genious and effective.

Here are 3 questions and 3 answers that can be applied to more or less any business.

1. Why are we going to be active in social media?

2. What platforms are appropriate for our business (Where are our custumers?)

3. What can we offer our audience through our social networks that we can't offer elsewhere?

How to measure our activities

Why measure reach? Well to be frankly honest this is the only number most executives ask for and you need to be able to tell how many people are in your brand community. But Reach has a minor value to real business. Reach on Twitter doesn't say much. Having 10.000 followers could mean 10 people saw your tweet and one retweeted you to his 10 followers where not a single one of them continued your tweets journey. But hey, this is a metric that we currently can't escape from so let's throw it in there.
Number of Likes on Facebook
Number of Followers on Twitter
Number of unique visitors on Blog


Now we're talking reactions. Much more important in my point of view than Reach. This is where we see HOW people are reacting to our posts. Do they like us? Hate us? Want more/less? Can we help them?
Applause rate (read this post for some more details)

Number of comments per blog post
Number of retweets per tweet
Number of shares and likes per Facebook post
Number of +1s

Economic ValueEvery companys goal is different and here is where you need to set up goals in Google analytics.
What is a conversion for you and your business? Is it a sign-up form for newsletters? Is it a business transacion (that somebody actually buys something on your website) or is it lead generation (somebody requesting more info about your product?) Depending on your goals this can all be measured through GA.
Is your business offline? Do you sell chocolate bars in a store or cupcakes in an airport? Well then a suggestion would be to measure social-coupons. Make "only social-media offers" such as offering your customers a free coffe in exchange of a password only availible on Twitter. Count how many came in with the code and compare it with a day/week where you didn't have the campaign. This will definitily boost both Reach, Engagement and Economic Value.

That's it for today!


New Facebook Insights

We Social Media Marketers are always looking for new, better and more efficient ways to measure our campaigns that we launch through platforms like Twitter, Youtube or Facebook to name a few.
Recently Facebook introduced a new version of Insights (Facebook’s own analytics package for fan pages). These are great news for us social marketers and just recently I attended a webinar hosted by Wildfireapp to get a better idea of what to expect from the new Insight.

The main goals with this update are to understand the performance of your page and learn what type of content really works.
The new dashboard is availible for all page admins, however if you’re more than one admin the one who accepted the first “test” may be the only one seing it. In my case I was the lucky one :-)

In the graph to the right you can first see the“Total number of fans” which is nothing new. But right next to this you will likely smile. “Friends of fans” represents the potential reach of your fan page. It’s the number of fans of the page AND the friends of your fans. In our case we have a potential reach of more than 2 million people.
Obviously it’s going to be hard to reach all of them unless you know the perfect formula to end up in the news feed for each one of your fans AND create such compelling content that all of them decide to interact with your page.

We move further to the right and see “People Talking About This” and this is a true engagement metric. This gives you the number of people who have interacted with your page, liked, commented, shared, checked in e.t.c in the last 7 days.
Last we see “Weekly total reach” which means the number of unique people who have seen any content associated with the page in the last 7 days.

If we scroll down a bit we´ll come to my favourite part. Here is the place to really see what resonates with your audience. Does a post that ends with a question generate more engagement than a post with a statement? Does your audience prefer videos or pictures?

The first metric I have highlighted here is “Reach”. It’s the number of unique people who’ve seen the post. So even if we have 10.000 fans it doesn’t mean that all of them are going to see our posts.
Secondly is the one I would pick as my absolute personal favourite, “Engaged users”. It’s the number of unique people who’ve engaged (clicked) on your post.
At the end of the day, this is what we should try increase as much as possible.
The number of fans means nothing if they just ignore our posts!

 is also interesting. Here we see the number of unique people who’ve created a story about the post as a percentage of the number of unique people who’ve seen it. This is a great place to compare different posts.

Let’s craft better posts!
My opinion is that this should help marketers to know better what works and what doesn’t work with their fans. This will help us craft more relevant and engaging content that will spark more activity and at the end hopefully we will manage to turn that activity into real business.


The Essence Of Social Media

I was accused of not understanding the "essence" of social media the other day. Yepp that's right and I have never been so happy and proud of what should have been a negative comment in my life!
Why? Because it means I'm not the intern posting the flavor of the day cupcakes to a company blog anymore. I'm not anymore limited to explaining Social Media as something JUST intangible.
I'm also now capable of thinking in business, back-office and reality.

The person referred to me as thinking too much in business and not enough in the intangible form.

I don't know math really well, I kind of suck at Excel and I'm not a great swimmer. But I do understand social media.

What is social media really? The word implies it's something social and it's media, what's that really? Photos? Web? Music? "Media" could be a lot of stuff.

So here is my take on it and I'll round up with a conclusion of why I think social media can't just be flower power love and peace.

Social Media to me is a new (well not really anymore!) environment where the customer rules.
It's a new way of doing business in a BETTER way.
It makes companies improve, in everything from the way they treat their customers and the quality control of their products, to the experience offered to the customer and the way we let them consume our product (on their terms).
Social Media is boring made fun. It's bad made good.
Social Media is feelings and emotions.
Social media is responsibility and attention. Social media is technology but it's even more humanizing.

Now, bearing all of this in mind, social media is not free and it takes man-power to handle.
It takes qualified manpower and qualified manpower is not cheap.
I sometimes see these job offers of companies looking for a community manager and offering 20-30K/month and it's so obvious the company doesn't get it yet.
Qualified manpower take their job seriously and they know the company is investing and that usually means the company expects to see some type of return of investment...at least AT SOME POINT.
Social media is NOT just posting on Facebook and tweeting. A social media job implies making carefully thought-through strategies, having very clear goals and objectives and being able to report on those.

Crafting engaging blog posts about the best place to buy mozzarella cheese or why visit the Eiffel tower all in it's honor, but always with awareness of what this post, this campaign, this investment brings to the company.
YES if the goal is to create good-will, great positive sentiment and positioning the company as THE hub for information then let's focus on these things but keep in mind it may take a long time to see those monthly salaries, application costs, contest budgets make their way back into the company.

Here is the thing. The general budget for social media is still not huge. In fact it's pretty small.
And unless you're Starbucks with 40 people full time doing ONLY social media, the resources may not allow you to only bear in mind good-will.
Even more, the boss may ask you to report where those dollars for that Facebook contest or Blog design are entering back into the company. Sorry to break it to you, but the fact of the matter is that most of them won't understand your beautiful explanation of how amazing this is for the online climate and how the brand is being perceived in a positive way.

Folks, let's never turn social media into something that it's not. Let's never forget that the customer is and should be in the center. Let's understand it is an organic channel and should take time and effort to nurse, grow and expand.
But let's also be professional. Let's invest money in the right people to handle social media, then let's give them the right tools to create the greatest experiences for the customer, but then let's also make them accountable for their actions and ask for tangible results.

Do I or do I not understand Social Media?

Social Media - A Central Role Inside The Company

Where should a Social Media Manager be based in a company? Marketing? Corporate communications?

Social Media is many things. It's Marketing, communications, customer service, PR, sales and human resources. Maybe it's slightly more marketing than anything else but the social media profile in your company should be deeply integrated into every department.
This person should attend the weekly staff meetings in offline marketing to know what campaigns are about to launch, to be able to back them up online.
Also he should know where online marketing is investing their time for example to coordinate the email marketing campaigns with social media campaigns.
He/she should know if the human resource department is hiring, to be able to post that on Linked In or Twitter.
The person should know the general direction of the company to know the tone of voice, the direction, the general feeling of where the company is and is going.

He should also be very close to communications to have access to press releases and have someone to secure the outgoing messages with, so that all are on the same line.
He should know how sales are going and if there are products that can be used for contests or sweepstakes.
He should know what's going on in the customer service department to know what questions are coming in and how the company is replying. AND coordinate the channels for that.
He or she should have support from a copy writer to craft engaging blog posts and he should have an easy to reach person from the legal department (new school preferably) to exchange ideas and secure the usage of email addresses, terms&conditions of contests e.t.c.
He should also be very close to the designers (the product department) to maximize the company's products for social media, may it be logos, messages or website design.
The list can go on, but my point is that Social media doesn't really belong in one place. Which is why I think it's becoming more and more important to have this profile in-house.
If we externalize social media we don't really care enough about it and at the end we don't really care enough about our customers.
An agency is great for many things but I'm against hiring an agency for social media communications.
Hire the agency to design the Facebook page landing page, the blog or to come up with a great contest idea, but care enough about your customer to let them be handled by the brand they think they're being handled by.
Social Media is trust, it's fast and it's a 2-way communication, NOT 3-way. Meaning, talk directly to the customer, it's faster, it's more genuine and it gives you more control of the quality of what's being said.


Facebook Winner In Spain - Maltesers

Here is a perfect example of a brand that is very predictible to have a lot of fans, without a lot of effort.
It´s clear that a consumer product such as Maltesers, Coca-Cola or Ben&Jerry's is going to attract a lot of people. It´s a pleasure consuming chocolate or ice-cream, and it´s a friendly brand.
But take a look at their Facebook page, they don´t do a lot, almost nothing. This page is in Spanish but I can tell you that the updates are nothing espectacular, there is no customized landing page and only one customized tab. The tab itself is a simple link to the webpage.
Don´t get me wrong here, they´re not doing something terribly wrong here, maybe the opposite. The page doesn´t give the impression that they have invested money into Facebook, but STILL they have almost 1 million fans. 
But this also makes you wonder, what COULD they achieve with a mandatory LIKE button for fans to access exclusive content, or at least some fun application that lets you play around with Maltesers...

Quick Social Numbers

Some quick numbers on a Thursday morning that I just received from SocialFresh
  • Social media and blogs continue to dominate our online time as consumers, on our computers AND phones
  • Americans spend more time on Facebook than any other site
  • Women watch more videos, men watch longer videos
  • 70% of social network users shop online
  • 53% of social network users follow brands
  • Tumblr is a new emerging social network, tripling it's audience this year
  • Social network users are more likely than other online consumers to be found at political rallies, sporting events, and at the gym


L´Oreal Social Media Fail

There is this nail-polish that I always buy in Sweden and yesterday I decided that it´s ridiculous of me to have to buy it in Sweden when the brand is L´oreal which I should easily be able to find in a metropolitan city as Barcelona.
Let´s quickly examine how I did this, from the point of view of any typical customer. Oh well, the average customer may not blog about it but he/she would probably do what I did at first. 

1. Go to the web page

Guys is it just me or does this web page have the most ancient look ever. Check out the small boxes on the right side, awful. http://www.loreal.es
I try to find my nail polish but it´s nowhere to be found.

Nowhere on this web page exists any type of CONTACT tab. But all of a sudden I notice the Twitter icon at the button. Great I think, this means they are active on Twitter so I will be able to buy my nail polish as soon as tonight (cus everyone knows that a corporate Twitter account can not wait more than maximum 3 hours to answer a customer request).

2. I click on the Twitter icon and what pops up is the L´oreal Press account. Huuuhh? I think, Ok not what I expected but a Tweet account is always a Tweet account. I tweet them and they answer 12 hours later.
They tell me: We will answer any questions or doubts via this email address.
Here I get a bit put off and I´m thinking, Yeeez couldn't they just have answered me right there on Twitter. After all what I´m asking for is a store in Barcelona who sells L´oreal products. It´s not brain surgery.

3. I send an email to the email address and get an answer 2 hours later. Saying: Thanks for your email, we would love to answer your questions but it requires you to call a number and speak to us personally. Let´s reflect here for a second. Wouldn´t it be much cheaper and easier for them to just answer me with less than 140 letters in the form of a tweet. Sending out a personal letter? Who knows, maybe I will receive a paper letter too?

I´ll pass on this and I´ll move over to another brand. Simplicity folks, is what counts. We live in a society that moves fast. You have my attention for a quick moment. Catch me don´t lose me!


The worst web pages

You´ve gotta be freaking kidding me. And someone wonders why Spain is in CRISIS? We can´t even sell online.

I need to buy a vacum cleaner, so I go to http://www.mediamarkt.es, one of the biggest and most known places to buy these types of things.
I thought also, why not look for a dishwasher at the same time, I think the one we have could break down soon.
What am I looking for? Product, price and the nearest place to find it, right?
What do I find? The HISTORY of the dish washer. Who freaking invented it. Absolutely mind blowing. No price, no product, but yeaahhh now I know it was invented by a German guy named Jacob Christian Shaffern in 1767. Isn´t that just great?

So I go to the second option, Miro.es and there it´s even worse. They show me some weak web page full of flash ads and popups that make me think of a discotech in the 80s. The products can be added to your list, but cant be bought, and don´t show any prices!! WTF. C´mon people, we can do better than this!!!

The effectivness of this country is so low. Millions of people without jobs and the onces that DO have jobs they say they do need to create a new webpage...TOMORROW. Later, another day, not today, the sun is shining and the sangria is flowing.


Companies Breaking Facebook Rules

Facebook have some rules about where and how you can launch contests through them. Facebook promotional guidelines. So many marketers seem to forget about this... Just saw this example. This page only has a hundred fans so maybe they don´t care if they get shut down but it still seems like such a shame to me. 
Example of how you CANT build a contest (this example is a spanish site)
Pay attention! Facebook can shut down your page anytime if you break these rules. You MUST use an app to launch a contest and you can NOT require people to comment or like things on your page in order to enter the contest.
I´m putting this picture in the extra large size even though it doesnt fit the blog but I really want you to see what it says so we leave you with zero doubts.


Quick Facebook Tips

Creating a good landing tab for your Facebook page can make an enormous difference in terms of getting new fans. You can design it so that NO-fans see one thing, and FANS see another thing. This can be easily done with a free app from for example Wildfireapp or Cool-tabs.

Here are a couple of examples of GREAT Facebook landing pages.

Skittles have integrated a small box at the top which informs the user of it´s 19 MILLION fans. Why is the genious? Because unless you scroll down you will see that impressive number.
Next I want to mention their updates. Look how short their posts are and how many comments and likes they get. Pepsi and Coca Cola goe down the same road. Less is more. Use short and engaging updates, preferably with a question now and then.
Always think about the screen view of the viewer. If you´re a designer or creative mega-screen user and you´re sitting with your massive 27 inch Apple screen you´re not going to see what the average user sees. Have a laptop next to you or ask to use your friends or colleagues computer to see what they see.

Another great landing tab can be enjoyed if you surf into the facebook page of  IdeaPaint. I just LOVE how they have integrated the links into the background.
The dowload gives you a coupon with the charmy message "Well arn´t you clever". Take-Away: Use a casual language. Facebook is as far away from a corporate website as you can possibly get.

Last I want to mention IdeaPoint´s Youtube tab. They have added a GREAT Facebook plugin and instead of SHARE this they use SEND which seems a bit more original.


Choosing a Social Media Listening Tool

I recently started a new job and part of that job was to find a social media listening tool.
I had done my research good and had a whole list of everything from free tools such as Socialmention, Hootsuite, Twittercounter to medium size tools such as Rowfeeder,  SimplymeasuredInvolver and  Peoplebrowsr to the top tools such as Radian6Sysomos and Meltwater.
I had previously been an inspector from outside, now I was thrown into the hands-on-try-out-every-tool-in-the-world to-find-the-best-one.
What tool to pick is a common subject among community managers and social media managers these days and most people have only tried the free or low cost tools yet. Companies are still hestitant if a 600 eur/month investment is necessary.

I always thought that we are so advanced and have so many options when it comes to monitoring, tracking and engaging through a tool. But I have realized the ugly truth, it´s not so glorious as it seems.
Ladies and gentlemen, I´m here to tell you that there is not a single medium size tool that has convinced me 100%.

If you´re a large organization supported by a well-known brand (think Colgate, Toyota, Motorola, Vodafone) with a lot of existing online chatter and maybe hundreds of employees and you want to give access to various departments to track and engage in conversations, a 600$/month tool such as Radian6 or Meltwater might be what you´re looking for.
What´s the advantages?
The sentiment is more accurate the more you pay. There is a human being behind the desk somewhere to verify that negative really IS negative.
The access, you get various logins for many people (some tools call it SEATS)
The extension of handling the posts, assigning posts, following up e.t.c.
The number of platforms on which you can directly post (posting directly to your wordpress blog for example or accessing Facebook fan pages)
The reporting, whether or not the tool lets you export nice graphs, excel sheets or if it only let's you extract the raw data.

But if you DON´T have lots of people already talking about you, you may still be interested in listening and engaging. Here comes the problem. Most medium size tools only offer you tracking/listening/monitoring and NOT engaging directly inside the tool. It may not be a problem if you like posting from the original outposts or through a tool such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. But for me, I like collecting things into one place.
I managed to find two medium size tools that give me both but neither one of them have convinced me 100%.
PeopleBrowser offer us 3 products, Research.ly, Viral Analytics and Engagement Center, all together for approx 100 eur/month (149$). The price is good, the idea is excellent, the interface is beautiful, the reports are great. BUT the technical part doesn't work great. It takes long to load the pages and I´ve had more error messages in one day than Mac has given me in my iMac the last 2 years. The support team are great and answer fast to emails and questions, but it's a bit annoying to reload the page 15 times for it to work properly.
The reporting works OK but far from perfect. When I want to export the beautiful graphs they dont get exported with the time frames I have indicated and some graphs don't load correctly. I finally ended up doing it manually, making a screenshot and dragging it into a Keynote presentation which I later exported to a PDF.

Next one is Involver. The special thing about them is they offer various apps, contest, sweepstakes, review and poll apps under different categories. So if you sign up for their Pro plan which is in the price span I was looking for, we get access to 2 apps for our Facebook fan page. That´s good.

Now, their Pro version is around 100 eur/month too and the interface works better than People Browser. It's cleaner and works faster, no tech problems.
However I miss simplicity. Maybe this is because I´m pretty stressed and need to figure out the tools fast, but if I need to spend more than 30 minutes looking for where I can track hashtags and retweets I´m either stupid or it´s not clear enough. Either way it has to be created for the stressed people too :-)
The pro version doesn't let me post directly to my Wordpress blog, then I have to upgrade to the Business level and now where talking 700 eur=999$/ month (baahh!!). The business version also gives me more outlets (20 instead of 10), more users and better analytics (the option to export nice graphs for example).

Hootsuite on the other hand is a basic tool, it comes as a free version or paid version and the paid version actually gives me a lot of what I need.

I´m in the middle of this jungle and if someone has any great tip or opinion, feel free to let me know!


Social Media is 24-7

Logical things are logical in different countries and they depend on the perception of each individual. I have encountered more than one interesting situation where the term "Culture Shock" has made it´s definition very clear. But this post isn't about that.

One thing that for sure is universally logical is the fact that a Social media or Community Managers job is not a 8-5 job.
This article published by Mashable including a study by Buddy Media came out a couple of months ago and I just returned to it today. Sometimes I like doing that, return to the articles that made an impression on me.
Now I have to be honest and say that this time schedule is not 100% correct for every brand in the world. You have to try out (and document) when your fans respond best to your content, maybe it´s not thursdays or weekends at all.
But there is some good info here that you can try out. Some makes a lot of sense and is extremely logical to me.
A person working with social media is a profile should be located in between the company and the customer. Knowing the companies goals, campaigns and assets, but communicating this on the customers terms and conditions, using their language and entering their territory. Obviously being prepared to be available off regular business hours. Even more obvious a person that truly enjoys being in front of a computer and has a genuine interest in the world of Facebook, Twitter and Blogs. A person that doesn't mind stepping away from the dinner to reply to a comment on the FB page or re-tweeting something good. Sounds harsh? Well it takes some planning, and discipline that´s for sure.

I read another article the other day that were about the simple fact that just by responding to every single comment and doing so within a short period of time, a brand is not just showing they care but they are also encouraging the behavior of interaction. Spark conversations by leading the way.


Social Media KPI´s

Brian Solis did some of the best sessions on this years Social Media Success summit and today I was browsing his website and found this article.
You Cant Measure What It Is You Do Not Value

Let´s talk about KPI´s today. Key Performance Indicators.
"Design outcomes and returns and integrate KPIs that capture progress, performance, and opportunities for optimization" Brian writes.
Progress, Performance and Opportunities - Increased brand awareness, Leads Sales and Loyalty I would interpret.

Return of investment could be Increase sales, Share of voice, Brand sentiment and many other things but how do we get there? How do we establish goals on the journey? What should we look for, measure, document and use to adjust or change our content and strategy so that we end up where we originally planned to?
The ROI itself is not having 150 comments per post instead of 35, that´s just an action, a result of great content but when the CEO asks you about the ROI that´s not going to be enough. But the number of comments is in fact one of many possible KPI.

Let´s lists some up here:

1. CTR (Click through Rate), Subscription rate, Unique visitors and Page views on blog. Google analytics can measure how well your blog is resonating within the community. Document each week or month the traffic. If it´s increasing - good. If not, maybe the content needs to be changed, maybe the design of the blog should be considered to change too? Lot´s of Page views but not an over whelming number of uniques? Means the content is good and people stick around to read for a while, but maybe you´re not promoting the blog well?

2. Number of comments on blog, retweets and mentions on Twitter, comments and likes on Facebook (Daily feedback in Facebook Insights), comments on discussion posts/news and groups on Linked In. Number of fans and followers, number of times people use your hashtags, fan generated posts, reviews and downloads. This is what I call engagement rates. This is also a good sign to know if you´re content is appreciated and if you´re on the right track.

3. Email subscription, registered users to group or forum and social media sharing

4. Influence. Through SocialMention or Google Alerts, measure the share of voice once per month. Share of voice in my book can be a KPI and sometimes part of the over all ROI too. If in fact one of the objective from the beginning was to Increase Brand Awareness then Share of voice is in fact not only a KPI but also a part of your ROI presentation.

"But my boss wants pure hard leads" you may think. Ok no problem but then some tracking tools will be necessary.
Google analytics and Bit.ly can help you with that. Specific campaign forms posted on blog or in the community, shorten the FB and TW links through Bit.ly and go back to track how many clicked on the links, put Google analytics on your FB Fan page, or simply ask those who contact you how they found you. Maybe add a Social Media button on the contact form?
I´m not a fan of over-selling or bombarding people with Buy-Our-Stuff messages but I would say that in at least 30% of your messages there should be a call-to-action. That´s 1 out of 3 weekly Facebook posts for example. The second post should be about something really valuable for your customer, something that can HELP him or her decide. It could be something that doesn´t even have anything to do with your company or your product but is helpful to your target customer. The third post should be FUN, fun and engaging. Hey, who doesn´t like to have a bit of fun?!

Hopefully these KPI´s can get you going in your quest to measure your social media efforts and if you do it right, tweek the content so that the KPI´s show you a positive result you should be on your way to glorious ROI too :-)