Social Media really kicked off back in 2004 when Facebook and MySpace (2006) came onto our radars, but who would have thought it would be as bigger part of our daily lives as it is now?
It is not only dominating our lives personally, for businesses, social media has formed part of their marketing strategy in more ways than one and this continues to be more and more apparent as the years go on.
For the purposes of this post, I feel it is appropriate to list just a few ways that businesses have changed tactics and incorporated social media into their plans.
Let’s start with Facebook, who many would say is the Mother of Social Media. Started off as a networking tool on American college campuses to discuss topics and keep your ‘friends’ up to speed on what is happening with your life. Now with over 600,000,000 members, Facebook has become a big player in marketing plans!
Fan Pages and banner advertisements are available for businesses to market their product or service and increase brand awareness. For more on setting up your business on Facebook, check out a recent post from Andrew Tonks.
Launched back in March 2006, Twitter quickly became hugely popular with celebrities who wanted to keep in touch with their fan base. Allowing you to post updates with 140 characters which told all ‘followers’ what you were doing, thinking about or about to do.
Businesses soon cottoned on to Twitter and saw a way in and began creating pages for their company, following users that had shown an interest in their specific offering and tweeting about special offers and promotions that were available. This then drives customers to the business website where they hope to convert the visitor.
Additionally, one of the most unique features of Twitter is that companies can monitor what their followers and other members are saying about their brand. Anything bad or good can then be followed up promptly.
Twitter is a big part of our lives working in the Digital Marketing sector; not for generating business, but more for brand awareness in the niche. Interacting with fellow marketers is a must, you can share ideas and learn from each other. Even though we are in a competitive industry, we are all a friendly bunch who enjoy socialising and networking with each other :)
The last social platform I am going to discuss in this post, (although there are over 300 more) before coming onto actual monitoring of the brand, is blogging.
Blogger was created by Pyra Labs in 1999 and gave users of the Internet a great tool for ‘blogging’ about their day to day lives, interests and frustrations. In other words, an online diary available for all to read.
The vast majority of businesses now have a blog on their website and have adapted the traditional blog and transformed it into a valuable business asset.
Rather than talking about what is happening daily in personal lives, business blogs focus on industry specific news and ideas.
Social Media – Can Also Be Bad For Business
OK, now that I have discussed some of the ways that businesses have adapted social media to suit their needs, I want to talk about the way that social has had a negative impact on businesses and how that is dealt with.
The Internet is an open forum and social media platforms have given Internet users a way of expressing their feelings in the public domain. This is especially apparent on Twitter and personal blogs.
As much as social media has benefited companies, it can also quickly destroy any positive brand publicity and loyalty you have built up if it is not managed correctly. Customers of products and services can sometimes have a bad experience and we all know how much more likely you are to talk about a bad experience than a good one.
My golden rule that should be taken away from this post is DO NOT IGNORE THE NEGATIVE BUZZ!!! if one of your customers has had a bad experience and is talking about it on the web, it needs to be dealt with in a very timely fashion. Leave it too long and it will spiral out of control, reaching the eyes of your ‘currently’ loyal customers and worse still, those that may have had a bad experience with you in the past but not voiced their opinion on a social platform.
These are the ones you need to be wary of, as a gentle reminder of their bad experience from a fellow customer WILL more often than not make that customer add to the negative press and tell the world about their negative experience.
Often responding to a customer openly on the Internet and dealing with any issues will turn the customer round and deal with the problem there and then. Leaving negative press there to fester will come back and haunt you very quickly.
Positive Press – Promote, Engage & Reward
We often get so hung up on dealing with bad press that we forget those that are actively talking about your brand in a positive light. These customers are your world!! Without them, you would not have a good, solid business and for this, you should be engaging with your ‘Brand Angels’ and thanking them for the good press.
I have seen this work well for companies, simply offering your thanks or even a small discount on a future order with you will go a long way on the social networks. Your ‘Brand Angels’ will continue to talk about your brand positively and share their experience with friends.
There are lots of tools available that allow you to effectively monitor mentions of your brand across the Internet. Some are paid for and can be pretty expensive but there are also ways of achieving the same results with little or no cost. I will say though, that the less you pay for a tool, the more ‘man’ time you will probably have to invest.
As a company we use BrandsEye, which is a mid range price tier tool and is ideal for the level of monitoring and reporting we need. It still requires time to setup and manage on a daily basis but very quickly you can see trends in discussions that are happening about your brand on the web, good and bad.
Some of the cheap or free tools that you can take advantage of are:
Google Alerts (free)
– Add your brand name into Google Alerts in “” and specify how often you want to be alerted of when your brand name appears on the web.
Giga Alerts (small fee)
– Track a number of phrases and import the results straight into your RSS reader to enable easy management.
– Setup custom searches on Twitter, which you can save, and have the search imported into your Twitter management portal (I would recommend TweetDeck or HootSuite) to keep track of your mentions on Twitter
Generic Name Brands
Brand Monitoring is much easier if you have a unique company name like Coca Cola, Pringles or Cadburys. If you have a brand name that is a generic word(s), this is when you will really need to invest a lot of ‘man time’. Brands like Apple, Shell and Puma will be finding it much harder to monitor brand mentions as they will be trawling through mentions of their name that are totally unrelated to their brand.
So, a heads up if you are starting a new company or are looking to rebrand, my advice to you would be to choose a brand name that is very unique and different from anything out there now. New companies are even making up words to keep them unique.
That pretty much sums up my post, hope you enjoyed it and if you have any questions or additional points or recommendations, please feel free to leave a comment.
With the continuous rise in the number of forums, review sites, blogs and social networks, it is now more important than ever for you to protect and monitor your brand name online.