Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Small Organisation and the Social Media Part Five; Online Awareness

When initiating a social presence, it is important that the organisation posesses a degree of knowledge about online perceptions of both the brand and the industry. The development of an uninformed strategy may result in the inappropriate allocation of resources, which in turn will almost certainly result in social media failure. This is true of both large and small organisations, and online research should comprise one of the core elements of any ongoing social media strategy. Whilst the task may appear daunting at first glance, many tools exist which have been designed to facilitate social awareness, allowing social media strategists to draw value from the 'cesspool of misinformation' that is the Internet.

Navigating the Maze
When looking to draw an understanding from the content available online, it is first necessary to recognize where references to both the brand and the industry are appearing. As user generated content causes the Internet to expand, the capacity of an individual or team to manually monitor this information would appear to be greatly impeded. In order to successfully navigate this content, references to specific terms need to be identified in the online sphere. As with traditional content, the easiest way to do this is to initiate a search. Whilst the prospect of monitoring each of the terms relevant to the business may seem like a significant undertaking, the ease with which specific phrases and keywords can be identified is surprisingly easy.

Whilst many of the generic search tools such as Google and MSN Live Search establishing the mood of relevant online conversations, their scope is often too broad. More specialised social media specific tools will almost certainly enable the organisation to glean a more accurate, and digestable, insight into the online conversation. Many of the more commonly used social search tools offer an insight into blogged and microblogged conversations.

Searching the Sphere
Google Blog Search and Technorati are two of the more commonly used blog searching facilities. Enabling users to search the blogosphere for terms relevant to both the organisation and the industry, these tools represent an efficient means of trawling user generated content for information of interest; whether this interest be positive or negative. The incorporation of RSS functionality means that users can have search results automatically delivered to their browsers. Whilst this functionality does not exclude the need to digest the content, it is often a good indication of online opinions at a given point in time. For those that continue to monitor the results obtained on an ongoing basis, these tools can also help to highlight blogs with a particular interest in either the organisation or their products, thereby illustrating social commentators of organisational significance; a useful insight in anyone's eyes. For those looking to obtain an insight into microblog conversations, Twitter Search offers similar functionality for obtaining an insight into the Twitter platform.

The Power of Insight
Whilst search tools such as those described above do not replace the need to manually scan the content for material that may damage the organisation, they can provide a number of useful insights into important brand perception considerations; including level of brand visibility, degree of brand relevancy, and the context in which the organisation's name is appearing. Used in conjunction with tools such as Google Alerts, a service which delivers an alert to the recipient's email to advise of new content containing a set word or keyphrase, the organisation is far better prepared to proactively develop an appropriate social media strategy.

There will invariaby be those who question the need for the small organisation to monitor the social media. This attitude is naive. Attempts to enter the social media will almost certainly draw comments from the community. Unfortunately for the organisation, the opposite is not true; an organisational absence from the social media does not necessarily mean that conversations concerning the brand will not apper online. Assume the worst. Monitor the social media and shape your strategy accordingly.

Show the Rogue some Stumble love

No comments:

Post a Comment