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!

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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.