Posts Tagged ‘Sysomos’
As online marketing processes have evolved, the number and sophistication of software tools to support specific functions has exploded. Every discipline within marketing and PR has its own tools, among them:
SEO: backlink tools (Backlink Watch, SEOmoz, Majestic), keyword research tools, page optimization tools, SEO plugins.
Social media: social media monitoring (Radian6, Sysomos, SM2), social media management (HootSuite, SocialOomph, Buffer), Twitter tools, etc.
Web analytics: Omniture, WebTrends, Google Analytics, Clicky, and more.
All are very helpful, even essential, but most are designed for practitioners, that is: they help a specialist in a particular discipline do his or her job more effectively. Not only are they tactical, each focuses on supporting one functional silo or another. Not surprising, since this is how digital marketing is managed today—as a set of largely disconnected specialties. So much so, companies utilize different tools, resources, and in some cases, even different agencies to manage web visibility for brand, SEO, social media, PR, and paid advertising.
And of course, search has evolved—it’s no longer just 10 blue links. Today, web presence goes way beyond a company’s website. News and social links are as vital as are other points of visibility. What’s missing is the larger strategic picture needed for top-level decision-making and for managing digital marketing and PR in a coordinated manner. We’re all missing this because there aren’t tools to help us do it. Or are there?
A “Eureka” Moment
A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about the web presence optimization (WPO) framework. This model (evolved from a 2010 post) came about from KC Associates’ (KCA) client consulting projects. Operating as a cross-functional team, each consultant knew that a framework for optimization is useless unless there’s a way to track and measure gaiting factors that can be adjusted in order to move the optimization needle. So the group took a long, hard look at the tactical tools each consultant uses with a more creative mind of how they might be repurposed for WPO.
For example, SEO backlink tools can provide detailed lists of the precise backlinks to a competitor’s website. This can be quite valuable to an SEO consultant, but it’s mind-numbing overkill for a VP of marketing.
However, a graphical comparison of the type and quantity of backlinks pointing to the firm’s website and the sites of close competitors may be very enlightening (e.g., discovering that competitor A has twice as many media links and three times as many social links pointing to them)—particularly if these measures have changed significantly in a short period of time.
This simple change in thinking was truly eye-opening.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
First and foremost, the WPO framework provides the strategic and structural approach to the unified management of web visibility. And WPO metrics that support this framework provide the critical measurement necessary to enable the overall coordination of these disciplines to improve presence optimization and performance.
The set of 100+ WPO metrics that the group developed for KCA clients is driven by data collected by a host of off-the-shelf tools as well as some custom developed sources. As a collection, the attributes of these metrics differ from what most other tracking and measurement tools are set up to provide in six distinct ways:
- • Focus on management, not execution. WPO metrics are designed to support management decision-making (e.g., where should we devote more resources) rather than tweaks to specific tactics. Put another way, they are about the “what” rather than the “how.”
- • Provide a unified view of results. They provide leaders and team members with an overall picture of press (media outlets), social, website (organic search), industry (e.g. associations, research organizations) and paid web presence. The tactical tools available tend to focus on one or two of these areas.
- • Include competitor metrics. An organization’s digital marketing results don’t exist in a vacuum; it’s critical to be able to view results in the context of competitive activities. Competitive benchmarking is vital to developing strategy and allocating resources.
- • Reflect the value of owned, earned and paid presence, not just the company website. What customers, analysts, journalists, bloggers, and others have to say about you is sometimes more important than your own content. WPO metrics show the value of all of your points of web presence, whether it’s your content or something produced by a third party.
- • Are actionable and NOT “everything but kitchen sink.” Too many tools try to report every possible detail, rather than just what’s important. The result is data overload and analysis paralysis. It’s confusing and too much to absorb, and therefore doesn’t get acted upon. Best-practice WPO metrics focus only on measures that support concrete action.
- • Identify clear priorities. While WPO metrics cover a lot of ground, not every measure matters all the time. For example, if your media share-of-voice remains about the same from one month to the next, but your AdWords conversion rate drops by half, WPO metrics focus on the latter result.
WPO metrics won’t replace tactical, execution-level tools, but they will help guide decisions about which functional tools to use and how to coordinate the tasks of different disciplines for a larger purpose. They fill a critical gap by giving marketing executives, and everyone on digital marketing and PR teams, a unified view of web presence that reflects a more integrated optimization effort.
Social media marketing has gone well beyond the hype stage and is now mainstream business practice. Still, questions remain: how do I use social media most effectively across the enterprise? Which social media monitoring tools should I use? What should I monitor for? How do I use my time and resources most effectively? What social media developments and trends should I be watching?
And of course, there’s the ongoing social media ROI debate: how do I measure this? Can social media ROI really be measured? Influential voices like Olivier Blanchard and Jacquie McCarnan present formulas and methods for ROI calculation, while Steve Goldman contends that social media ROI can’t be measured in isolation, and Jackie Cohen reports that more than a third of CMOs still have no idea whether or not social media marketing is producing any ROI.
What to do? Read on for answers to these questions and more from some of the best minds in social media in some of their best blog posts and articles of 2011 so far.
Social Media Strategy and Best Practices
9 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Location Based Services by Social Media B2B
The always-insightful Adam Holden-Bache contends that location-based services like Foursquare aren’t just for consumer marketers, and supplies ideas on how B2B marketers can capitalize such as through partnerships with non-competitive local businesses, incentives and rewards, and in event marketing (“Are you seeing a lot of your contacts attending certain business events? Whether it’s a local tweet-up or a major conference, this knowledge could be useful to help you plan what events you should sponsor or where you should set up your next booth”).
Is Social Media Really Living Up to Expectations? by B2B Lead Roundtable Blog
Brian Carroll talks with MECLABS Director of Research Sergio Balegno about the disconnect between social media activity and results in the B2B environment, and concludes that “marketers are expecting way too much too soon.” Social media adoption on both the buyer and vendor side is happening with incredible speed; the tools that we’ve developed to track other web marketing activities haven’t kept pace. As social media monitoring and integration with CRM systems improves, marketers will have the metrics and analytical tools to more accurately assess the value of various social media efforts and continually improve them.
The B2B Social Media Landscape: a portrait by Beyond
***** 5 STARS
The social media approach that nobody wants to hear by Hugo Guzman
Hugo Guzman explains the importance of listening and planning before jumping into social media (failures also noted previously here in the dirty dozen top 12 social media mistakes to avoid). He lists nine steps its imperative for companies to take in order to “build enough social karma (yes, I said karma) to facilitate things like guest posting opportunities, retweets, likes, etc.”
19 Social Media Best Practices [VIDEO] by Social Media Explorer
30 Ways to Use Social Media for Business People by SEOptimise
Citing a recent study showing that “94% of businesses actually do not use social media even for the most obvious task it’s good for: Getting feedback”–and another demonstrating that those businesses are less competitive–Tad Chef supplies a list of 30 ways businesses can use social media, among them to get feedback, get attention, debunk myths, forge relationships and build links.
5 ways to use social media to build a crowd for your event by Socialbrite
Tamara Mendelsohn of Eventbrite details five guiding principles for promoting events, including choose the right platform, publish your event to Facebook, and “define success metrics and don’t underestimate the effort required.”
Organizing Your Social Media Strategy by CompuKol Connection
Influence in social media: how to find the top bloggers by blur Group
The most underestimated social media asset by iMediaConnection
Noting that “the proper framework of enablement and empowerment can turn a company’s workforce into the most effective means of advancing the goals of the business through social media,” Lori Luechtefeld details IBM’s experience with transforming its business be empowering employees to actively engage as part of the company’s social media strategy.
It’s Not Your CEO’s Fault He’s a Social Media Moron by Social Media Today
Expand Your Social Media Mix: Twitter Alone is Not Enough by Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang
***** 5 STARS
Deftly weaving in a dinner analogy to social media, Jeremiah Owyang compares Twitter to shish-kabob (bite-sized morsels of information) that are tasty but need to be supplemented by “steak”–infographics, Slideshare presentations, blog posts–and topped off with online video for dessert.
26 Ways to Use Social Media for Lead Generation by Social Media Examiner
***** 5 STARS
Debbie Hemley compiles another brilliant A to Z post, this one focused on using social media for lead generation. Her list of tactics begins with Assets, Branding and Compelling messages and continues all the way through Word of mouth, eXcellence, adopting a Yes attitude, and demonstrating Zeal in your social media activities and relationship building.
Social Media Tools
10 Steps to Finding the Influencers in Your Market by Junta42
***** 5 STARS
The brilliant Joe Pulizzi details 10 steps for finding and cultivating relationships with the key influencers in your market space. For each step, he identifies the overall strategy, useful tools, and helpful tips for execution.
9 Social Networks Your Business Should Be Using by Likeable Media
The Social Media Strategists Power Tools [Consumption] by NewCommBiz
Social Media and Online Video
9 new rules for YouTube marketing by iMedia Connection
Greg Jarboe lists nine helpful rules for video marketing, such as “Rule 1: YouTube marketing is the new video marketing…YouTube gets more than 86 percent of visits to 77 video sites in this country.” (Hulu, at #2, gets less than 4% of visits.) And “Rule 2: You can’t make it on YouTube alone…even with close to 2.0 billion out of the nearly 5.2 billion viewing sessions in the U.S., only 38 percent of all viewing sessions occurred at YouTube.com…45.13 percent of viewers discovered videos by going to a video site (i.e., going to YouTube and running a search or clicking around the featured or related videos). But 44.24 percent of viewers discovered videos embedded on blogs or other websites.”
Social media: Adding video to your digital marketing plan by SignOn San Diego
Erik Bratt expounds on the popularity of video marketing (“video capability was the fastest-growing website feature for small-business advertisers in 2009, with one in five hosting website video by the end of the year”) and the different types of videos businesses can consider using, including screencasts, customer testimonials and video email.
7 Little Known Tricks That Will Get You More YouTube Views by SocialTimes
Social Media Case Studies
The Fantabulous Lists of Social Media Case Studies by Social Media Today
Looking for examples of social media success to emulate? Giedrius Ivanauskas supplies 17 lists of social media case studies such as WOMMA’s Case Study Library and 35+ Examples of Corporate Social Media in Action from Mashable.
B2B Social Media Example: GE MarkNet by Social Media B2B
Social Media Trends and Predictions
2011 Trends: Make Your Corporate Site A Social Media Hub by Business 2 Community
Pam Moore outlines a dozen ways companies can fail at social media marketing, from not understanding the social media “ecosystem” for their industry or hiring the wrong consultant/agency for help to assuming social media will fix a broken business (it’s won’t–it will expose it) and having unrealistic expectations in general.
Social media: What lies ahead? by iMedia Connection
Shelly Palmer predicts that Facebook will face increased competition from better tools, that smart phones will continue to advance and account for a higher share of online traffic, and more in this 11-minute video.
Are These Social Media Trends of 2011 Part of Your Strategy? by Social Media Today
It is the structure of social networks that shapes influence… and the structure is changing by Trends in the Living Networks
Ross Dawson delves into the concept of influence networks to explain why some tweets go viral and others don’t, noting that this is a rapidly evolving area and that research shows “professional blogs are the most influential news media in sports and the second most influential media in politics and national news, while personal blogs are the most influential in entertainment and the second most influential in technology. In general the influence of blogs tends to decay more slowly than other media.”
Social Media Policies and Regulation
10 Steps to Managing Employees on Social Media by Write Speak Sell
**** 5 STARS
Noting that “Well-written (social media) policies prevent public relations disasters and potential legal liability. In addition, when done properly, they also create environments that foster productivity and loyalty among employees,” Kyle-Beth Hilfer provides an outstanding 10-step list to use as a guide in writing a social media policy.
Social Media Policy Unites Social Media Initiatives by Social Media Today
Going down the same path as Who Should Write Your Social Media Policy?, Tim McCord emphasizes the need to create a team when crafting a social media policy and selecting monitoring tools.
NLRB Says Companies Can Not Discipline Workers For Posts in Social Media by iMedia Connection
In news that every company needs to hear thought most likely don’t want to, Chris Boudreaux reports on a recent case wherein the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that “companies can not discipline workers who post criticisms on social-networking sites.” Chris concludes with: “This clarification by the NLRB is a big deal for a lot of companies in the United States.” Indeed it is.
Social Media and SEO
Why social media optimization is the new SEO by iMedia Connection
Noting that many people now “receive the majority of their news on Twitter or via posts on Facebook and LinkedIn before resorting to a Google search on any given topic…How many times have you seen an article posted on Facebook or Twitter that has either made you click on it, or urged you to suddenly search about the topic? It’s a fascinating process,” Dennis Franczak explains why social media optimization (SMO) is now taking center stage in online marketing and how to go about it successfully.
Jennifer Sable Lopez offers a nine-step checklist to making social media activities SEO-friendly, such as incorporating keyword research and making sure your content is easily sharable across the most popular social networks. She uses the word campaign unfortunately, but otherwise it’s a helpful post.
Why Not Be The CMO Of Everyone? by MediaPost Search Insider
***** 5 STARS
Writing that “every person in an enterprise is potentially an authentic, invested content producer, networker or influencer. Very often, employees in large enterprises are actively evangelizing their brands or products and no one in the home office even realizes it,” Derek Gordon advises CMOs to solicit content from the broadest possible array of contributors within an organization in order to develop more valuable, search-optimized copy.
Social Media Monitoring
20 free, awesome social media monitoring tools by Socialbrite
Top 20 social media monitoring vendors for business by Socialmedia.biz
J.D. Lasica and Kim Bale review 20 powerful fee-based tools for professional social media monitoring, among them Radian6, Lithium, Alterian SM2 and Attentio. For guidance on how to evaluate these tools, check out 9 Criteria for Selecting a Social Media Monitoring Tool.
Top 10 analytics tools for social media by iMedia Connection
Pam Sahota provides helpful mini-reviews of 20 free social media monitoring tools worth checking out, from Twilerts and Backtype through Proxlet (which, among other features, helpfully filters out those annoying Foursquare checkin tweets) and Trendrr.
Social Media Dashboards by CompuKol Connection
Neil Glassman raises a number of questions to help focus social media monitoring activities (e.g.,”Does your query language mesh with your consumers’ language? Or is it industry language?”) then makes three key recommendations to help organizations really get value out of social media monitoring.
Social Media Metrics and ROI
6 Critically Undervalued Social Media Success Metrics by Convince & Convert
Jay Baer details the half-dozen social media metrics and tools he views as the most meaningful yet undervalued, from the Klout scores of your Twitter followers (rather than just number of followers) to share of voice and inbound links.
Social media metrics: 5 things to learn in 2011 by Ragan.com
Social Media Strategists Look Hard at ROI this Year by eMarketer
According to research from The Altimeter Group, “when it came to social media programs, 82% of respondents reported they would be investing in brand monitoring in 2011, while 77% cited staff budgets and 78% training budgets…Creating ROI measurements tops the list of internal social strategy objectives for 2011, with 48.3% of respondents highlighting that goal.”
3 Ways social media market research can impact your business by ListenLogic
Noting that “Market research is now beginning to leverage social media in a revolutionary way that provides insights and impact across the organization,” Chris Karnes explains how social media listening can be used to measure marketing campaign effectiveness, drive purchasing decisions and inspire product innovation.
6 Buckets of Social Media Measurement by Take a Peck
Jason Peck details six “buckets” of metrics companies should use to evaluate the success of various social media initiatives, including business metrics, awareness (e.g. website traffic, searches for brand terms) and engagement (Facebook likes, blog comments, retweets, etc.).
Social Media ROI for Idiots by Social Media Today
Hmm, not to sure about the title of this post, as idiots are unlikely to get social media ROI. Or even to get social media for that matter. But regardless, Jacquie McCarnan helpfully provides several different formulas for calculating social media ROI, based on different factors such as qualified leads, employee retention, and customer engagement.
Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel by SocialSteve’s Blog
***** 5 STARS
Contending that social media ROI can’t be measured in isolation, Steve Goldner recommends instead measuring its contribution to the business through key performance indicators (KPIs) including awareness, consideration, loyalty and advocacy. His brilliant “Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel” graphic makes the post worth a look in itself.
Social Media ROI business measurement by Slideshare
***** 5 STARS
Social Media Research, Facts and Statistics
Gordon MacMillan reports on research from McKinsey showing that “companies that are starting to do it (social media marketing) well are being rewarded for their efforts (e.g., with higher operating margins and market share). More than that, it says those that fail to implement social media could be making a ‘critical mistake.’” He also shares four key steps McKinsey suggests executives should take to move their organizations forward.
Chris Boudreaux cites a study concluding that nearly 9 in 10 large-company CEOs believe social media is important to their business strategies, and that “43% of CEOs say they will ‘significantly change’ their strategies in the next three years to respond to customers’ increased use of social media and mobile devices.”
STUDY: Return On Investment In Facebook Eludes CMOs by All Facebook
Jackie Cohen summarizes and comments on a recent Bazaarvoice / CMO Club showing that “Nine out of every ten Chief Marketing Officers participate in at least three forms of social media promotions, yet many don’t know whether these efforts yield a return on investment…(while) 15.4 percent have a significant return on investment and 20.6 percent have an average return…34.9 percent said they don’t know whether they have an ROI, and 8.6 percent have none.”
How much does Social Media cost companies in 2011? by MackCollier.com
***** 5 STARS
Mack Collier very helpfully provides social media consultants, and companies looking to hire them, with pricing benchmarks for common types of projects. For example, ghostwritten blog posts cost anywhere from $50 to $500 per post, with most providers charging $100-$250.
There have been numerous posts written about the pitfalls of social media marketing (including helpful pieces from Online Social Networking, Sysomos, and one I wrote for HubSpot). But the list below is a summary of the most common mistakes based on both my client experience and research for this recent presentation:
Avoid these dirty dozen of the most common social media marketing mistakes and you’ll be well on your way making social media not just an effective vehicle for marketing and PR, but a productive tool across your organization.
Failing to LISTEN. Social media is about having a conversati0n with your prospects, not broadcasting to them. You can’t have a conversation without listening. Trying to treat social media like the old world of interruption-based advertising won’t work. It will backfire.
Assigning it to an intern. Your social media presence is, for many of the people you’re trying to reach, now the public face of your company. Your social media strategist is your public spokesperson. It takes business savvy and years of industry experience to do this well. It’s far easier to teach a subject matter expert in your company how to use social media tools than it is to try to magically impart product, company, industry and business knowledge to a social media intern.
Failing to plan. Social media efforts should be based on understanding of which tools to use (based on where your customers, partners and industry influencers congregate), who will be responsible for what tasks, what your objectives are, and how you will measure success. Otherwise, you’re flailing.
Using social media as a direct response vehicle. Except in rare cases (e.g., a restaurant tweeting out lunch specials to area businesses at late morning) social media is just not effective as a direct marketing / direct response tool. Particularly in the b2b world, your fans, followers and connections are looking for helpful information and interaction; blatant promotion is more likely to turn them away than to turn them into customers.
Trying to automate interaction. Conversations can’t be automated. Automated welcome DMs on Twitter and the like are obnoxious. While there are places for automation in social media (such as monitoring and automatically submitting blog posts to various social networking and bookmarking sites), it’s best used carefully and sparingly.
Expecting instant results. Social media success is based on content and trust. It takes time to build a critical mass of both. Search traffic to blogs increases over time as the blog establishes authority and amasses content. Followers, fans and connections increase as trust and dialog are developed. By all means, expect and measure results from social media. Just don’t have unrealistic expectations of achieving those results overnight.
Allocating insufficient time and resources. Some marketers (and even CFOs) mistakenly view social media as “free.” While it’s true you don’t have to pay a fee to put up a Facebook page or start tweeting, there is nothing free about successfully using social media to reach and engage with customers and prospects. It takes time and effort to create content, promote it, monitor social media conversations, and participate in dialog. Social media marketing requires adequate allocation of time and budget just like any other tactic; the specific line items are just different.
Sending mixed signals or messages. Virtually every organization that has employees is already participating in social media, whether “officially” or not. With three-quarters of Internet users now using social media, your employees are already out there. And just as almost everyone talks about work about work outside the workplace, most people will tweet or post about their employment from time to time as well. It’s critical to communicate your social media objectives and messages to employees, establish and communicate a social media policy, and train them in the proper business use of social networks. Proper training dramatically reduces the risk of an employee releasing sensitive information, inappropriate comments or just plain muddled messages (e.g. Kmart as the place for fashion, or Oracle as ideal for small business) to the market.
Being dishonest or misrepresenting the facts. As noted above, social media success requires building trust with your audience; nothing shatters that trust like being untruthful or even less than transparent in social media. The Walmart blogging scandal is a classic case study in what not to do, but the problem isn’t limited to big companies or to the b2c world. A blog represented as being by the CEO better contain the CEO’s words. Corporate Twitter accounts should reveal who’s behind them whenever possible. It’s far easier to just do the right thing from the start than to try to repair a damaged reputation later.
Failing to provide fresh, relevant and valued content. In less than two decades, we’ve gone from a world of information scarcity to information overload. To stand out and make an impact, your content needs to be both original and helpful to your audience. Traditional marketing materials (e.g. product brochures and case studies) are not content; they still have their place, but that is later in the sales cycle after a sales dialog has been established, not at the exploration and initial interest stage where much social media interaction occurs.
Being negative. On the Internet, your words live forever. There’s rarely any benefit from making enemies, and prospective customers respond far more positively to constructive information than to trash talk. That’s not to say of course that you can’t objectively describe a disappointment with a vendor or be a bit controversial at times, but personal attacks and derogatory statements about competitors are more likely to damage the source than the target.
Treating social media as a silo. Social media is, ultimately, a sophisticated communications tool; it’s utility extends far beyond marketing and PR to product development, HR, customer service and other groups. In the most advanced stage of social media adoption, companies truly integrate the use of social media across the organization. For those organizations in earlier stages, the key is to train your marketers and subject matter experts on the proper use of social media tools, not to treat social media as a distinct function separated from business knowledge or function.
Social media monitoring tools are increasing essential for companies of all sizes as the explosion of social media content renders manual monitoring efforts hopeless. But how do you choose one? With almost 200 social monitoring tools (and new entrants still coming to market), available at a range of price levels from free to if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it, how does an organization select the right social monitoring tool for its needs?
Range of coverage. Virtually every social media monitoring tool worthy of the label covers the big social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), social bookmarking sites (Digg, Reddit) and content sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr). Many include at least the most popular blogs as well. The best also monitor message boards and forums, easy to overlook but critical particularly for niche b2b products and services. For example, a discussion of the latest developments in aerospace composites is probably more likely to happen on a niche engineering forum than on Facebook.
Frequency of alerts. News can travel extremely fast through social media. Even if it’s “only” a customer complaint, you don’t want it sitting out there unanswered for long. It’s imperative that your social media monitoring tool provides realtime or near realtime monitoring and alerting, so you can respond to critical items promptly. Certainly, not every comment requires an immediate reply, but when a customer or prospect has a question or issue, response time matters. And in social media, the whole world can see how fast (or not) your response time is.
Workflow capabilities. A blogger raises a question about your company’s financial outlook. A user is frustrated by a perceived malfunction in your product. A customer shares an idea for an enhancement. A highly favorable product review is published in an online journal. You may discover any of these events through social media monitoring, but in each case not is the response different but the respondent is too. The financial question needs to be directed to your CEO or CFO; the user issue to customer support; the enhancement idea to product management; and the product review to marketing. If there is any significant volume of social media commentary about your product, service or company, look for a social media monitoring tool that provides workflow tools that make it quick and easy to notify and direct the right person to take action on each new mention.
Value. Price is always a consideration of course, but in selecting a potentially critical business tool like social media monitoring (consider the cost of BP’s social media failure), the more important consideration is “value,” as in: does the tool do at least as good a job at meeting the specific social media needs of my company as competing tools, and is it priced similarly or lower than tools offering equivalent functionality? “Free” is always a popular price point, but in the world of social media tools (as in many other areas of life), you get what you pay for. There are several free social media monitoring tools that provide limited functionality but can serve as a starting point for small businesses; however, larger and more socially active organizations will quickly recognize a need for more sophisticated fee-based offerings.
Support and training. Even with advanced UI design, more sophisticated tools are fundamentally more challenging to use. Be sure to get clarity on what kind of training is offered upfront, how much personalized assistance is offered as part of the package, how to get questions answered and how robust the internal help system is for ongoing use.
Metrics and reporting. What kind of reporting capabilities does the tool provide? Your specific needs will of course vary based on company size, level of social media activity and your organization’s specific goals and objectives, but two critical roles of reporting for any organization are: 1) the ability to demonstrate progress/change over time (e.g. more website traffic driven by social media) and 2) actionable analytics (measures that enable you to determine whether you should do more a specific activity, do less, or do it differently).
Geographic/language coverage. Enterprises that do business globally need the ability to track social media mentions across borders and in multiple languages. Global monitoring capability adds cost and complexity to a tool, so don’t buy it if you don’t need it, but for multinational businesses, this is essential functionality.
Integration with other applications. Again, small companies with fairly simple programs don’t need to be too concerned with this, but companies with larger, more complex social media programs should investigate how their social media tools under consideration integrate with applications such as CRM systems (e.g. Salesforce.com), marketing automation tools and web analytics packages.
Monitoring beyond social media. Finally, organizations that actively target both traditional and social media may want to look at tools like Vocus, Cision and/or Sysomos which integrate PR and social media monitoring functions into a single platform. Social media isn’t an island and marketing / outreach efforts there should ideally be integrated with other programs, so in these environments, monitoring capabilities beyond social media become valuable.
Keeping these nine criteria in mind (or least those that pertain to the size and complexity of social media efforts in your organization) will help you make the right choice from among the broad array of social media monitoring tools on the market.
Looking for an easy way to create a cool graphical email signature with trackable interactive buttons? Supplement your email list with your contacts’ social network info? Find out if the username or vanity URL you want is still available across dozens of social sites? Display a feed of brand-related comments from a variety of social networks on your website? Create video emails? Convert PowerPoint presentations to Flash, or into YouTube videos? Search for a brand name or keyword across all of the most popular social networks at once? Monitor social media discussions of your company or product in real time? Create animations? Promote events through social media? Gather competitive intelligence?
Economic conditions may have been tough in 2010, but there was no shortage of online innovation. Discover how to accomplish all of the tasks above and more using some of the coolest free and modestly priced social media and web tools released in the past year or so.
Cool Social Media Tools
A slick tool with free and fee-based options for creating graphical email signatures, adding interactive buttons and even tracking click-throughs from the different elements of your email signature.
A handy way to supplement your email contact list with information about those prospects from the most popular social networks.
Check dozens of popular social networking and social bookmarking websites to see if the username or vanity url you want to use is still available.
Don’t want to follow Twitterers who aren’t following you? This tool makes unfollowing non-followers easy.
A free tool for finding the relative influence of any Twitter user. For those accustomed to getting stratospheric scores on standardized tests, Klout can seem a bit harsh. If you need more of an ego boost, try TwitterGrader.
Create your own online newspaper from Twitter and Facebook updates based on any topic or group of contributors. Your custom paper is updated daily and easy to share.
***** 5 Stars
Display a feed of brand-related comments from a variety of social networks on your website. Highlight the best comments, selectively hide comments (e.g. that are irrelevant or profane), and enable site visitors to share comments back to their social networks without leaving your website.
A free service for setting up, promoting and hosting Twitter chats.
Social and Alternative Search Engines
A realtime social search engine that pulls current and recent results for any term from Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, Digg and Delicious. Searches can also be filtered by platform.
A different kind of search engine, Qwiki (currently in alpha) delivers a combination of audio, images and text in response to searches on an expanding variety of topics. In the site’s words, “Think of asking your favorite teacher about Leonardo Da Vinci, or your most well-traveled friend about Buenos Aires: this is the experience Qwiki will eventually deliver, on demand, wherever you are in the world… on whatever device you’re using.”
A powerful people search tool. Find long-lost acquaintances, extended family members, or a future love interest. Discover what information is available about a potential future boss or employee. Interesting, though the “Who’s searching for you” feature appears to be more a spammy sales tool than a functional offer.
Blekko’s Tools Give Search Marketers Google Alternative by MediaPost Online Media Daily
Granted, the web is littered with “Google killer” alternative search engines, but Blekko, created by Rich Skrenta and Mike Markson, is really cool. It enables users to perform slashtag searches, so for example, rather than just searching for “social media marketing” and getting a zillion results of all types, you can search for “social media marketing /blogs” to see only results from blogs. Or use /forums too see only results from discussion forums, /date to sort results by recency, or even create your own slashtags.
Social Media Monitoring Tools
A feature-rich, realtime social media monitoring and engagement tool. In addition to customizable search and sentiment monitoring, the Buzz Tracking feature provides realtime “metrics around how much buzz is out there, how much of it is yours, how much of it is your competitors’, and what’s buzzing industry-wide.” Lithium also includes response assignment and reporting tools. A free trial is available.
A slick, easy to use social media monitoring and alerts tool. Create an account or try it out by setting up a free alert in just seconds.
A social media monitoring tool that tracks your brand and keyword searches across Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, Google Buzz, Blogs, and News, and reports results hourly. Actionly also includes Twitter account management and analytics tools.
A realtime social media monitoring tool featuring sentiment analysis, key influencer tracking, and the ability to sort/view results by geography and demographics. Sysomos has an impressive blue chip customer list and the company’s recent acquisition by Marketwire gives it solid brand and investment backing.
Measure your social media marketing performance with tracking tools for the major social media networks, keep tabs on competitors and compare your results to theirs, and get alerts about trends and social media activity. Wildfire is designed to enable organizations to easily create branded interactive campaigns (e.g. sweepstakes, contests and surveys) and publish them to multiple social networks and their own website. Pricing ranges from $30 to $150 per month.
Other Cool Web Tools
Proclaim Messenger enables you to easily combine pre-recorded or live video with PowerPoint presentations to produce video email campaigns (with full analytics), one-off video sales emails, or hold live one-to-one or small group video chats. Pricing ranges from $30 to $100 per month depending on features.
Runaware’s TestDrive® suite of services provides software developers with marketing tools and a hosted interactive online demo environment that allows customers to evaluate real software in their web browser, complete with tutorials and detailed usage reporting. Runaware’s Cloud Platform offerings enable clients to experiment and evaluate SaaS and PaaS using their own application without requiring any modifications.
An inexpensive tool for converting PowerPoint to Flash web files, ideal for creating online presentations, Flash banners, photo albums, e-cards and more. You can import other Flash files and audio as well as record narration. The output can be saved as a Flash file for the web, converted to a self-running executable, used to create an auto-run CD or sent as an email attachment.
Billing itself as a “keyword analysis and comparison engine,” Qirina is a simple but useful SEO evaluation tool that helps users understand a site’s position in the keyspace, assess the quality of the site’s on-site SEO, and identify competitors in search.
Reviews of More Cool Web Tools
Another Cool Tool To Optimize Your Site Loading Speed by Daily Blog Tips
Now that Google is taking site loading time into consideration as a ranking factor, webmasters are feeling the need for speed as never before. Here’s a quick review of WebPageTest, a handy tool for checking any site’s pre- and post-cache load times.
6 slick news aggregators you should try by iMedia Connection
Josh Rose reviews six “news aggregators (including Popurls, Netvibes and Alltop) that…are moving beyond the simple RSS reader. These are customizable tools that can be shaped into exactly the right resource for the most important information you need to know.”
PowerPoints That Turn Into YouTube Videos Create Instant Marketing Tool by MediaPost Search Blog
Laurie Sullivan provides an update on Brainshark, “a tool that turns PowerPoint decks into YouTube videos. The platform turns a presentation into a video slideshow (with voiceover/audio) formatted to upload onto YouTube with one click.”
6 Free Sites for Creating Your Own Animations by Mashable
6 Newfangled Social Media Tools Worth Discovering by Convince & Convert
Jay Baer shares his thoughts on a small collection of tools worth checking out, including Curate.Us, which is sort of a social media-friendly version of ClipMarks; Formulists, a slick tool for automatically creating lists of your Twitter followers based on criteria you select such as having a similar follower count or having retweeted you in the past month; and Wibiya, which lets you create a custom footer bar for your blog or website that enable users to easily translate a page, share it via their social networks, link to your YouTube channel or perform other actions.
12 Social Media Tools for B2B Pre-Event Marketing by Social Media B2B
***** 5 Stars
Adam Holden-Bache presents a dozen tools that can “help event organizers extend an event’s visibility, attendance and pre-event conversations,” from LinkedIn Events and Facebook Events to build attendance, to location-based services for event check-in, to Slideshare for leveraging presentation content after the event.
***** 5 Stars
The brilliant Adam Vincenzini reviews a collection of highly useful social media tools including Twoolr for Twitter statistics, MentionMap for analyzing “what a particular person is talking about on Twitter and who they are talking to,” TouchGraph for visualizing where your site is being mentioned, and Citrify, a simple yet effective web-based photo editing tool.
The Best Things In Life Are Free: 10 Tools For Digital Professionals That Don’t Cost A Dime by MediaPost Online Media Daily
A quick review of 10 free tools for online marketers, for tasks like keyword research, competitive intelligence gathering, social media monitoring, test marketing and presentations.
Most Popular Free Windows Downloads of 2010 by Lifehacker
***** 5 Stars
The most popular free Windows tools of 2010, including Soluto for speeding up slow PCs, Snow Transformation for those who want their Windows screen to look like a Mac, Freemake video converter and editor, and MultiBootOS– a true geek tool that lets you load multiple operating systems onto a USB drive and select between them at boot-up.
4 Social Media Predictions for 2011 by oneforty blog
Social media monitoring tools are predicted to get both more sophisticated and less expensive in 2011, and several interesting vendors are cited here including Argyle Social, viralheat, Beevolve and eCairn.