How big is the opportunity?

Last, but by no means least, we asked delegates what they perceive to be the biggest opportunity in social media?

The biggest opportunity for the delegates that day was how social media offers a direct channel to the customer, enabling real time engagement and ‘true’ two-way conversation.  Listening to what followers are saying about a brand or industry, responding accordingly and embracing the feedback, will create important dialogue with employees, customers and other key stakeholders.

Social media usage is extending to customer service departments; “increasing the quality of service provided by companies engaging in social media”.  All this builds brands and increases brand currency; again highlighting the importance of a company-wide integrated approach.

To make social media work for an organisation, it needs to be relevant to the organisation.  Is it a space where the target audience is happy communicating in? Some responses from public sector delegates were specific to scenarios that play out every day for them, for example, a home counties constabulary’s “opportunity to engage on local issues with their local policing team”, or a housing association using social media to monitor important issues and free up staff time to communicate quickly with tenants.

Clearly the speed and directness of engagement via social media is a risk and opportunity.  Which side it falls is dependent on how an organisation views the importance of social media and therefore invests in its management, ensuring that those responsible have the resources, tools and knowledge to both plan and respond effectively.

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PR Professionals discuss the biggest risk in social media

Continuing our 3 part series, this time we’re looking at risk. You can view part 1 here if you missed it.

What do you perceive to be the biggest risk in social media?

At a recent CIPR conference entitled ‘Reputautions in Flames: The risks from online’ we had the opportunity to ask delegates this very simple question.

For the majority the biggest risk in social media is the lack of control, over both message and activity. Companies with multiple accounts will find this an issue especially where accounts grew organically and are only now subject to guidelines and implementation into an overall strategy.

I’m not surprised that control of social media activity is a big issue for PRs, clients have come to us with horror stories where account managers have moved onto competitors with account details and passwords, renaming Facebook pages and instantly transferring the ‘friends’ that the incumbent worked hard to engage with.

Not having the resources to plan, implement or monitor activity is also seen as a risk. PRs know they can’t simply pay lip service to social media and having the people in place to truly consider a strategy that fits is key to integrating social media activity into a business’s marketing and PR agenda.

Finally “not listening to your customers and not embracing feedback” is a risk but, as Asda’s Dominic Burch pointed out, this could become a huge opportunity if the team is ready and able.

More on the opportunities of social media next time.

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PR Professional Survey- part 1

At a recent CIPR conference entitled ‘Reputautions in Flames: The risks from online’ we had the opportunity and asked delegates three very simple questions:

• What do you perceive to be the biggest risk in social media?
• What do you perceive to be the biggest opportunity in social media?
• Which requires the most attention?

Jumping to the final question, people were pretty much split. An equal number of people citing either risk or opportunity; a smaller number said they were both as important as each other.

Usually risk and opportunity are two sides of the same coin; it’s no different in the social media arena! One PRs worst scenario is another’s opportunity to engage. Asda’s Dominic Burch highlighted this when he spoke to delegates of the power of direct engagement with customers over complaints coming in via Twitter. The channel is there, his team is prepared and the opportunity to ‘turn’ the complaint around could result in a positive ‘tweet’ and renewed purchasing in store.

Tune in next time to find out what delegates perceived to be the biggest risk in social media.

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What a load of old policy!

As social media is such a new space then policies range from a single e-mail, which just tells everyone to “Resist from doing anything on social media until the Directors have given the green light” to very complex legal documents that baffle all, but trained lawyers.

It is a minefield and as the world of social media is moving so quickly then the document that you produced last week will be out-off date just after it has been printed.

I found this about how the Team at the Beijing Olympics handled their own social media policy- Click  Here for IOC Blogging Guidelines for Persons Accredited at the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, Beijing 2008

Pretty formal (I think that explains a lot about the IOC) and does cover off all types of behavior. The thing about social media is that change happens so quickly and is all based around the business, the capabilities of the employees (involved in social media) and the sorts of situations that employees might find themself commenting on or responding too.

Therefore… media policy/ guidelines should be scenario based meaning that employees can quickly check on their internal “Wiki” to see how a situation needs to be handled. Hmmm may be an additional feature coming soon on CrowdControlHQ.

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Luminar- Excelling in Social Media

It is great to get feedback from work that you do, but it is even better when they agree to write a case study. Things like this seem to make the job all worthwhile!

Luminar is in the destination entertainment business, with a wide variety of venues that include Oceana. The social media explosion has allowed Luminar to interact with their customer base at a local level using Twitter and Facebook. However with localisation came fragmentation as managers’ understanding and experience with social media varied.  Luminar wanted to bring the expertise back into a centralised system that educated, showcased best practice and managed key corporate messages in a consistent way, while still encouraging localised interaction that fitted with each audience.

One of the biggest challenges was security- Accounts and passwords were being managed locally and the risk here was the possibility of a disgruntled ex-employee running riot with the company’s accounts.  This type of brand reputation risk is new to most Boards but Luminar took it seriously and backed the implementation of CrowdControlHQ – a social media management tool – which put ALL the organisation’s social media accounts back under the control of the group marketing team.

In additional to managing the risks, Luminar are now able to co-ordinate marketing and communications activity across multiple accounts.  As well as allocating messages and tasks to teams managing their brands and venues, the tool also allows local flavour to top down promotions such as third party sponsorship.  One competition to win tickets to a festival saw the same take up in two hours via social media that had previously taken two weeks using more traditional methods.

Luminar have been approached by 3rd party sponsors because of the way they use social media and nail national campaigns for them.

“With the level of understanding and quality of communications increasing we can only see success ahead with social media taking its place as a valuable addition to our marketing methodology.  CrowdControlHQ has given us that confidence.”Mark Noonan, Marketing & Ecommerce Director- Luminar

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The localisation of social media

Social media is perfect for multi-site retailers. I always get excited when I speak to these organisations because social media allows for very local engagement- This has worked for organisations such as Wholefoods in a spectacular way. The proof is in the pudding and sales are on the up.

Many retailers or multi-site organisations have already set up social media accounts to match their physical locations. Some were set up by employees and others set up by the central head office team. I hope that it is the later otherwise you will need to read the series on the risks of social media and start taking action soon.

One of the reasons to go to a retailer is for advice and a personal shopping experience. If a consumer just wants the product then it is so easy to make that purchase online, save time, effort and in many cases money.

Social media allows for local engagement- the opportunity to develop a personal relationship, meaning that promotions, demonstrations, shows, talks and advice can be tailored to the local audience. Make the users feel special and they will keep coming back. Use offers or demonstrations to draw people into the stores.

Of course this opportunity does require  managing and with multiple locations and each location having a couple of social media accounts this can be a headache which puts off a lot of companies. Well this can be managed and this was the reason why CrowdControlHQ was developed. Look out for the white paper on our website coming soon.

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Why local government needs to engage

Some of the key themes in Technology have been to automate processes, make them more streamlined and enable better data management. I found some really interesting stuff from KPMG. They had done quite a lot of research in the US on why local government needs to engage and I just wanted to add my thoughts into the mix.

Social media has enabled engagement to take place, to develop local relationships as well as gather ideas and opinion. Here’s how and why-

The public use social media- almost 1/4 of all internet time is spent on social media. If you want to get their attention then this is the place. The public wants you to be there also, even if it is just to complain!

Listen- the biggest problem with most organisations is that they think this a broadcast tool- yet another channel to push out messages. Social media is so much more than that. If you listen to Twitter, News sites and the Blogosphere you will most cetainly have your finger on the pulse.

Get help and ideas from the public– People love getting involved in sharing ideas and solving problems.this is a great way to get some constructive feedback on things that are not currently working at a local level.

It must be two-way– no one likes to be taken for granted and so if the relationship is just one-way then the other party will get bored or just feel that they are being “used”.

Payback time– Where other systems require users to be trained- social media has been built to be intuitive so the people you want to engage with already know how the system works.

Social media is a great tool if it is used right- let’s see how local government uses it.

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