Tools and Resources. COM0015 – Blog #1

Listening has to be one of the most important tools for organizations. Social media has allowed the instantaneous exchange of thoughts and ideas and this information can be powerful to organizations to meet customer expectations. Only when you listen can you modify your marketing message to be the most effective it can be. The trick is, that you have to listen to understand your audience and not listening to reply.

We have but two ears and one mouth so that we may listen twice as much as we speak. – Thomas Edison.

Call me old fashion, but most of my listening I do the old fashion way. When I say old fashion, I mean know whom my target audience and find out what social networks they may be communicating through. For the organization I recently did some work for, I found that the market they were trying to reach located themselves in unique grass roots groups on Facebook. Most of these were secret groups, so it took a little more investigating to find. Residing in these Facebook groups were key influencers in this community. I starting out in a couple of these groups and listened and I was able to find that these groups were located across Canada and nationally. It took a bit of time and some active listening, but this “uncensored” information was truly the most valuable to the organization I was working for. Being that the members of the group were among their peers, the information was honest and uncensored and really gave the needs of this community.

Business questions concept with a question mark symbol on a red paper and a multitude of question marks signs on scattered white papers.

Finding the right tools from a variety of resources.

In any strategic listening exercise, it would be wise to gather information from a variety of sources. Facebook is a great way, but using only one tool limits the breadth and accuracy of data. Google Alerts, Twitter, Blogs are also very important listening tools to your data collection. Google alerts is a content change and notification system that allows an email to be sent when content is changed. Some businesses require media monitoring and while this is not a fool proof medium, it certainly speeds up the process.

The project, company and organizational needs will always determine the best resources to use. Google Alerts and Facebook are always my go-to starting point, but every project is unique and needs a different social solution.

News sources are also valuable to the data collection for organizations. What happens in the world directly impacts an organization. This could be everything from social trends to federal budgets.

fresh ideas phrase and light bulb hand writing

Social media and online resources have brought fresh ideas for news formats.

Once upon a time we would pick up a newspaper and sit with a morning coffee and read the news. Those days are slowly fading with news being at our fingertips just moments after it happens. Tools to help collate various news sources can be a time saver. Feedly.com is my tool of choice for this as it can collate information I need from a variety of sources into a “one-stop shop.”

Although I still read local news through my twitter news feed, I spend most of my time with news sources like The Huffington Post and Mashable. I think the model works for my generation who want the news, want it fast, but are seeking a little bit of entertainment too. I confess, I do read Buzzfeed quite religiously as pure entertainment. It’s addictive, but should come with a warning declaimer that you could spend hours there. Anyone else have this same issue?

 

COMM0015 | Blog Post #1 – Come Equipped

Copyright All rights reserved by WarFighters UK

As an inner “military video game” nerd aficionado I find the best moments are when you’re a highly trained sniper on a stealth mission, simply standing by, observing, listening and gathering intel. It requires you as a highly trained special forces operator to be very patient, calmly persistent and above all, extremely observant. Taking note of human behaviour, landmarks, and high value targets.

So why am I boring you with all this military geekery? Well, if you haven’t made the connection yet, being a sniper is similar to being a social media specialist. Before you barrage the public with your arsenal of tweets, status updates and blog posts , a good amount of reconnaissance must be done; observing what’s trending, listening to what matters and then creating a plan of attack.

As a sniper social media specialist in training, I’ll show you some of the gear I take into the field.

Mission: Monitoring

KLOUT

What it’s good for: Giving you an overall scope of your social media influence

I’m not too sure of how it’s all calculated , but it analyzes many of the popular social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn to name a few…) and scores you a number from 0 – 100, with a higher number meaning a greater influence. This tool has improved over the years, and is able to breakdown which social media tools are the having the most impact from all your posts. I find it quite handy because after prolonged use, it actually gives you recommendations of where to increase engagement with other social media influencers. It’s a good tool to give you a general view of your campaigns, or to monitor industry influencers and thought leaders.

FACEBOOK INSIGHT

 What it’s good for: Super detailed analytics for Facebook engagement.

With a reported 1.1 billion active users, Facebook truly is where the people are at. The analytics here are pretty thorough, and are all dashboard-ed for you, so it’s easy to navigate through. It shows you the age demographic of those who like your page It gives detailed insight an all your posts, such as its reach, how “viral” it is, and even sentiment (negative or positive). Definitely a great tool for the biggest social media network, that will probably be part of most social media campaigns.

Mission: Listening

TAGBOARD

What it’s good for: #hashtag herding!

Hashtags are everywhere now. It’s grown outside of Twitter and is now being supported by many different platforms. Big players like Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and quite recently Facebook have all adopted the hashtag system. So what TAGBOARD does is that it herds these hashtagged posts into one convenient place, allowing you to create “boards” of certain hashtags that you want to keep tabs on. As a graphic designer,  keeping an eye on visual posts from Instagram, Vine and even Facebook is important, and I can do it with ease with Tagboard.

Honourable Mention: GOOGLE READER (R.I.P.)

From taking the other Social Media courses , Google Reader was our go-to tool. It was easy to use and pretty effective once you got around it’s limitations but sadly, it breathed its last breath this past summer.

Mission: Gather Intel

I don’t have one or two go-to sources for news… but I have a few go-to news aggregating tools and sites that scour the intertubes and collects all this intel for me.

Flipboard

I use this amazing app on all my iOS Devices to keep me in the loop about graphic design, social media, video games, sports… pretty much everything! It gathers all my news and searches for any topic I want to keep track of. It’s pretty nifty, check it out:

Alltop.com

I discovered this site when I signed up for my first Social Media Course last year, and it’s been and continues to be a great resource for Social Media news, trends and commentary.

“Stay Sharp”

These are just a few of the tools that I deploy to stay on the radar. With any tool that you use be sure to take the proper time to get acquainted. I always suggest to give it a good 14 day minimum when trying it out first. I think 2 weeks is enough time to really tinker, research and experiment with certain tools in order to get the best out of them.

So those are a few in my arsenal. What social media tools are you using to keep tabs on your industry?

Blog Post 1: Tools and Resources

Social Bookmarking and Content Gathering

My personal favorite for this one was Twitter, however, I am admittedly more visually stimulated (as I’m sure most are), so Pinterest and Digg are quickly becoming my favorite tools for gathering bites of information – what I mean by this is quick inspiration or clarification, quick fixes (recipes, gift ideas, quick tips or steps on how to do a given task, opinion gathering). Due to the fact that I’ve learned a few things doing social media for an IT department and how private I like to keep all my profiles, Twitter is quickly fading in to the background for me on a personal basis. From an organizational basis, however, I find it incredibly helpful. It allows you the opportunity to respond quickly to questions or requests that aren’t terribly complex or have an involved process attached to it. From an College IT department standpoint, Twitter is really the preferred tool for getting a message out to most students or staff – often times, IT will send out mass e-mail communications to the appropriate audiences if a system has gone down or if upgrades or maintenance is happening, and we get so much feedback that the e-mails are annoying and too frequent. On the other token, if we were to under-communicate or communicate less, people would still complain, so it seems that the only way to win this battle is to communicate only the most time-critical/system-critical information in a mass email, otherwise, stick everything else on Twitter. That way, you’re giving your audience the liberty to pull information from you, rather than being pushed.

Social Monitoring

Hootsuite is certainly the one I use for the department – mind you, the only channel we use is Twitter, but in this regard it allows me to see everything that’s going out, coming in, things that are scheduled, and any direct messages. I have tried using Hootsuite for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn channels synonymously in the past, but I find it’s really optimized for Twitter.
Blogging

This is an interesting one – I’ve used WordPress for years, and continue to use it in my professional work for blogging and site maintenance, but I have found that Instagram has really changed the idea of blogging for me. If I’m writing an extensive amount of content on something, then naturally a platform like WordPress would be ideal. Instagram, however, is what I use for what I like to call ‘phlogging’ or ‘photo blogging’. It’s a really short and sweet, no bologna application that can capture so much in few words, and I find it more fun because of all of the other creative apps (Picstitch, Pixlromatic) that feed into it.