Make it or Break it. The Bottom Line

For every business, the bottom line is profits. How can an enterprise ensure they are going to make it? If you are a small business, and you haven’t hired an outside agency to monitor things for you, then expect to spend countless hours trying to decipher where you stand. Larger institutions have in-house staff to take care of this or hire that work out to a social media monitoring conglomerate. 

How do I do this? Where do I go?

Pixabay – Woman with question marks around her

It can be overwhelming if you are in the process of establishing a new business. Where do you begin? Well, GetApp.com looks like it might be the answer if you didn’t know where to start. It is a brand management software company that helps you decipher what would work best for YOU. Their website states “Best comparison List of Vendor Application and Tools”. The first two paragraphs of their home page deliver a brief outline of what they offer. Below that information are questions to help businesses narrow down what suits them, as it is never a “one size fits all” situation. Here is a breakdown of some of those.

  • the number of people in your organization 
  • industry type
  • filters if you want free access or varied subscription options for their software
  • what types of devices you would like to support for monitoring purposes (phone, laptop, computer)
  • organization types. Are you a private, not-for-profit, small business
  • is it a global or more defined demographic
  • most important, to me, would be star ratings of the various available monitoring platform from prior customers
YouTube video – What is Social Media Monitoring?

Similarities

It operates similarly to an on-line holiday booking platform like TravelocityCheap Flights, or Trivago with all of its filters. You get to pick your destination, hotel, star rating for your hotel, airline transportation, time of departure, and so on. When I decide to book a holiday, I usually do it through a travel agency. I always check prices, location, facilities, customer comments, and star ratings before booking my holiday.

Relax!

Do you think this is a fantastic option for businesses? Would you invest your money into this type of monitoring marketing platform? Why not take the guesswork out of the equation. Wouldn’t you rather be doing this? Hire a professional.

Person sitting on top of mountain overlooking a lake

REFERENCES:

How Brands use Social Media Listening to Measure Success – YouTube

Brand Management Software 2021 – Best Application Comparison | GetApp®

Travelocity | Cheap Hotels, Flights, Vacations & Travel Deals

Flights Deals under $99, Airlines Tickets Under $99 (cheapflightsfares.com)

trivago.ca – Compare hotel prices worldwide

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Blog # 3 – Social Media Measurement and Monitoring

Social Media’s Bottom Line for Businesses https://bit.ly/3rPDD1s

Select Your Perfect Social Media Monitoring Platform. https://bit.ly/3rPDD1s

Tools and Sources – My Favorites

Tools and Sources – My Favorites

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

In this blog post I am going to talk about my two favorite social media listening & monitoring tools and my two favorite sources for social media news & updates. I am going to explain why I like them more compared to their competition.

Awario & Buzzsumo

What I like about Awario and Buzzsumo is that they are very user friendly. Compared to Mentionlytics, Awario & Buzzsumo did not overwhelm me.
I am still a beginner in social media monitoring and listening and learn with each time that I use one of these tools.
But even after a week, I could not make much sense out of Mentionlytics.
But with Awario & Buzzsumo I was comfortable right from the start.

I had a trial with all of them, but their prices vary quite a bit. Awario starts at 49$ a month, Buzzsumo starts at 99$ a month compared to Mentionlytics which starts at 39$ a month.

Awario monitors social media non-stop and sends you updates per email if that is your wish.
And you get analytics, for example about a companies sentiment online. This can also be easily shared with your colleagues.

My favourite, Buzzsumo lets you track cost-per-click, you can find content through their search engine, you can track keywords and it shows you which keywords are the most popular for your chosen industry, it also lets you find influencers and you can watch the competition, monitor mentions of your brand name and lastly it creates reports for you that are easy to export and send to your boss or colleagues.

Mentionlytics is a mix of Awario and Buzzsumo. It is not a bad tool. I was just not comfortable with it and for me, their dashboard lacked some clarity on how to find, use and set up activities.

Sprout Social & Social Media Today

My favourite outlets for social media news & updates are Sprout Social and Social Media Today.

Sprout Social is one of the leading social media management tools and they also have a blog with news and updates about the social media community.
I find their blog very helpful and informative. Especially for a beginner in social media, they offer a lot of helpful advice and tips.

Another page I started following recently is Social Media Today. I like that they have a wide range of topics. You can find marketing, PR, social media, advertising and business-related articles on their website.

I also like Forbes or the Huffington Post, but especially Forbes is a bit too business-like for my taste. Most of their articles are business-related. I can not really say why it is not my favourite news page, but I find the tone that Sprout Social and Social Media Today write in, is more personal and authentic. They reach me more on a personal level.

What are your favourite monitoring & listening tools? And what are your favourite social media news outlets?
Let me know in the comment section.

COM0015 – Blog 1: Social Media Trends and News Sources

Social media trends

There are two ways in which I keep track of social media trends. First, I am subscribed to daily newsletters from Social Media Today, SocialBakers Blog, Hootsuite Blog, and Influencer Marketing Hub. Newsletters from these platforms go directly to a dedicated folder in my email inbox. I look at these newsletters daily to get a sense of major developments around social platform updates, social media marketing, digital marketing, etc.

On a typical work day, when I am glued to a computer screen, receiving a newsletter via email is the best way to make sure I pay attention to it. Source: Giphy

Second, I use LinkedIn and Twitter search functionality to find content that contains keywords and hashtags of interest to me. This allows me to track what various thought leaders and influencers think about where the world of social media is moving.

I use these particular listening and monitoring tools because they provide a good coverage of the topics that I am interested in. I use insights I get through these tools to develop and tweak social media plans and content. I also use these insights to learn about what is happening in the social media world beyond my area of expertise.

News and updates sources

I use Google Alerts to stay abreast of news and updates of interest. I currently receive daily alerts for 18 keywords, and I change these keywords quite often.

I also use Flipboard, a free news aggregator, that fetches news from all the websites I follow and organizes them into “magazines” for my convenience.

Google Alerts and Flipboard help me stay up-to-date with news and updates of personal and professional interest. GIF source: @rjblomberg on Giphy.

I prefer Google Alerts and Flipboard to other tools because they are easy to use, reliable and free. They help me stay up-to-date with major developments that are important for the organization I work for and for my personal professional development.

And what tools do you use to track social media trends or news of interest? Let me know in the comments section below.

Social Media: Do You Create or Curate?

To create something means bringing an idea, a concept or a visualization to life.  It also means that it never existed before.  In social media, the creation process involves taking your own photos, drawing your own images, writing your own text without any other references other than your thoughts, making your own videos and putting together your own designs.

To curate means something different.  Curating involves researching, finding, gathering, organizing and sharing the content of another person or entity to present it to the public.  The question becomes if it is possible to “borrow” or to “copy in parts” the work of another party without consent.  That may be cause for copyright infringement. 

What exactly is copyright?

“Copyright is the exclusive legal right to produce, reproduce, publish or perform an original literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work. The creator is usually the copyright owner. However, an employer—for example, a film studio—may have copyright in works created by employees unless there is an agreement in place stating otherwise.” (Government of Canada, 2016)

To know more about copyright, watch the following video:

What does infringement mean?

“The action of breaking the terms of a law, agreement, etc.; violation.  The action of limiting or undermining something.” (Lexico, 2019)

It is easier now to understand that “using” someone else’s content online is not acceptable and is illegal.  Anything that is found on the Internet is not necessarily available to be shared or used freely without obtaining consent from the owner of the content.  The credit must be given to the owner of the content, which is, in general, the creator of the content itself.  So, when you are curating, it is important to indicate to whom the content belongs to, where it comes from and where it was found.

The content that is being found online is as valuable as the written content of a book, the lyrics of a song, the logo of a company or a simple photograph.  It is important to respect and research all content that is being use in any content that is dedicated to social media in order to know if it is licensed and to whom it belongs to.  Once done, a permission can be requested to copy or share, in whole or in parts, the content in question.

There is a lot more to say about copyright infringement and its importance, but the goal of this blog is to raise awareness among social media users and the proper ethic regarding “borrowing” someone else’s content.  So, the next time you will need content for social media, will you create or curate?

References:

Creativelaw.co. 1200 x 926 png. [Image online]. Retrieved at https://binged.it/2Z1kj35

Hope. (January 9, 2019). Creating vs. curating content: how to avoid copyright infringement on social media [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.hopelinker.com/2019/01/09/copyright-infringement-on-social-media/

Lexico. (2019). [Online dictionary]. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/infringement

Government of Canada. (September 7, 2016, p. 1). What is copyright? [Website]. Retrieved from https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/wr03719.html 

Government of Canada. (September 7, 2016). What is a copyright? (Canada) [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljNS5p3cqls&feature=youtu.be

You are not sure if you are creating or curating your content on social media? Are you confused about copyright and infringement?  To know more, read my blog at https://bit.ly/2WskiU5

Are you wondering if your content on social media is subject to infringement? Read my blog at https://bit.ly/2WskiU5 #copyright #infringement

COM0015 – Blog #1: The best stuff, and how I find it

As we’ve seen in our reading, there a ton of great ways to monitor what’s happening among online communities, and to track new content as it is shared with the world. For me, though, nothing holds a candle to the late, lamented Google Reader. It was easy to use, it was free, and it had a clean, simple interface that I found led to a great user experience.

Until I come across a monitoring tool that captures my heart and bandwidth the way that Google Reader did, my preferred approach is an ad-hoc one, using Instagram and Facebook searches.

Solid listening skills

I’m in control

There are two reasons that I prefer to do manual searches of mainstream sites like Instagram and Facebook for the purpose of social media monitoring. The first is that it gives me the illusion of control; I type in the keywords or hashtags I want to search, and I determine for myself if what comes up is relevant or not. Of course, I know that I’m still at the mercy of the platforms’ algorithms, and that I’m not seeing everything. Nonetheless, a part of me still feels that what I find through manual searches and analytics tracked on a spreadsheet will be more accurate.

The second reason is that, because these Instagram and Facebook are now so ubiquitous, they are considered “safe” by the IT group at my work. I am trying to explore tools like delicious.com and diigo.com, because they are new(er), they are still blocked by the firewalls that IT has set up; this means that if I come across something interesting while surfing at my desk, in order to save it to most social bookmarking sites, I would need to go to the “trouble” of finding that same content using the browser on my cell phone (thereby eating into my own data plan) and bookmarking it there.

Where’s the good stuff?

My two go-to sources of news and updates are Jezebel and CBC.

Jezebel is a prime spot for feminist commentary on cultural trends, from the trivial, like the latest Snapchat filter, to the revolutionary, like the #metoo movement. Jezebel is owned by the same company as Gizmodo (Gawker Media), and the two sites cross-publish from time to time. So when I make my regular visits to Jezebel for its take on news and culture, I am also often presented with tech articles from Gizmodo, where I can get more technical information about the tools supporting or driving the trends.

CBC is more closely tied to my organizational interests. Working for a government department, much of my time is spent preparing for and responding to news coverage. CBC, being a national news site, covers federal policies and spending very frequently, and I need to know what they’re saying about my department and Minister so that I can anticipate their reaction to upcoming issues, as well as the questions they are likely to have for us. CBC also has really interesting radio programs that talk about the place of tech in our culture, and about apps in development (e.g. Spark, Quirks and Quarks, Day 6), and through that I often learn about broader industry issues that will help my professional development.

Photo credit: paulsgraham.ca

A new listening tool? That sounds scary to me…

As I said, Facebook and Instagram, being such mainstream tools, are the ones which I am most comfortable. But I know that, in order to advance in the communications field, I need to change my social media habits. The New York Times published an interesting article related to this recently, Why Trying New Things Is So Hard to Do. The crux of the article is:

“Habits are powerful. We persist with many of them because we tend to give undue emphasis to the present. Trying something new can be painful: I might not like what I get and must forgo something I already enjoy. That cost is immediate, while any benefits — even if they are large — will be enjoyed in a future that feels abstract and distant”.

There might be better monitoring tools out there, but after a work day spent at the computer, when I get home, I’m often ready to unplug, rather than hopping back online and exploring new tools. So, my question for you, dear reader: how do you push yourself to try new tools? How many monitoring platforms did you experiment with before deciding on your favourites?

COM0015: I spy with my little eye.. or monitoring current events

When it comes to monitoring trends and the latest news online there are plenty of options.  Some programs gather all the information of all (most) of your social media platforms in one lovely package to glance over. Others keep all your favourites sites or blogs gathered together so you can read all the newest news in one place! All of them have their uses but they may not be the best thing for you. Let’s take a quick glance at two of my favourite, and explain the reasoning as per why I use them.

I am a consultant for a direct sales company that sells cooking products. Not only do I need to keep an eye on the trends that competing companies are offering but I also need to observe and listen to what fellow consultants are doing.  And because I am a mom of two young children I need micro-information that is quick to monitor and read up on. That means that pages of blog posts, up to date emails, and massive data packages are of no use to me. I just do not have the time.

The one place where you will most likely find me is on Facebook. I love looking at the insights. They make it quick and easy to look at (pretty graphs make me happy).

Capture

source: https://www.facebook.com/business/a/page/page-insights

I mostly enjoy the “Pages to Watch” option. This allows me to select fellow consultants or competing company ones and allows me to see what is working for them and what is not. If I want to see what they are posting, all I have to do is click on their pages to go check them out when I have the time.

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source: facebook.com

My second favourite is the microblogging leader: Twitter. I can access my twitter on mobile wherever I am and at any time. I can also keep a more watchful eye on accounts or persons I believe I need to monitor. I love their lists feature. I can keep them private (so no one needs to know I am spying on them – I mean…no I mean spying), or group them in a public list that others can see.  Twitter also allows me to see what is trending (locally, countrywide, etc…) and also lets me do a hashtag search (also known to us old folks as the pound or number sign #). Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Quick shout out to Instagram that allows me to see trending hashtags in the foodie and cooking world!

For my current lifestyle, portability and quick looks are what I want. I have found that Facebook and Twitter are those who work the best for me. The best tools to use are the ones that you are going to use. No point spending money or assembling great RRS feed lists if you are not going to use them. Find what works for you. Just remember to be adaptable and pay attention to the tools that are available as something better may show up.

What are you using to pay attention to the latest news and updates in your field?

It’s My Life

Can we change who we are?

When commenting on someone’s discussion forum I was reminded of a privacy issue around personal information online.  Basically, there was a ruling in the European Court of Justice that determined that personal information must be deleted if it “appear[s] to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purpose for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/10827005/Google-must-delete-your-data-if-you-ask-EU-rules.html).  In a nutshell this means that if you had an affair 10 years ago that was revealed online, or had declared bankruptcy 15 years ago, or been caught doing drugs and had posted it on Facebook Google had an obligation to delete the link according to the above criteria.  BUT, it was not required to remove the information.  Therefore if someone looked hard enough, they would be bound to find it (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/10827005/Google-must-delete-your-data-if-you-ask-EU-rules.html).

This raises some very interesting issues for me especially in the interest I’ve developed in personal branding.  I’ve spoken before about honesty and the importance of truth with personal branding and therefore it might seem logical to think I have everyone has a right to know everything about you.  I also firmly believe though, that everyone deserves a second chance.  I think you’d be very hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t done something in the past that they regretted; luckily for me the majority of it was pre-internet.

Most recently here in Canada there was a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court where it was decided that Google must remove search items globally when it has been decided in Canada that they are in breach of an injunction.  In this case, a company which manufactured something was suing a distribution company, claiming that the distribution company had stolen their technology, copied the product and was selling it as its own.  The manufacturing company argued that if the distribution company was only prevented from marketing in Canada then the theft would be ongoing and the Supreme Court agreed saying that it was not in breach of freedom of speech regulation (http://www.businessinsider.com/google-must-remove-worldwide-search-results-says-top-canada-court-2017-6).

There are far too many issues here to cover adequately within one blog, although I’m going to attempt to draw a conclusion here.  From right to privacy, to an internet without borders (who polices the internet???), to personal and corporate honesty there is the potential for great harm to come to both individuals and honest companies.  So perhaps we should try and keep it simple and although I’m not religious, I feel that this is perhaps the simplest and best conclusion I can arrive at: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

What do you think?  Should our mistakes from the past continue to haunt us?  Or should we get a second chance? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

  To find out more about your rights with your personal history online, check out my blog by clicking here. #privacy #google

  To read more about personal privacy online click here to read my blog “It’s My Life” or check out @privacyforum.

COM0015 – Blog#1: Evolving Tools and Tried and True Sources

I think it’s now pretty clear that social media isn’t going anywhere. Once you give people the opportunity to be part of the conversation – and to start their own conversations – it will be impossible to retract. Individuals and organizations that are able to use this to their advantage, to listen to these conversations and shape their messaging accordingly, are bound to be successful.

Social Media Pollsters

Last year we saw two of the most shocking election surprises in history. First was the Brexit vote, in which the UK surprisingly voted in favour of leaving the European Union. The second came in November, when Donald Trump (much to the awe of the news networks covering the event) won the presidential election over Hillary Clinton.

The polls had been wrong.

The United Kingdom was supposed to remain a part of Europe. And Hillary was supposed to be the newest resident of the White House. All the polls had said so.

Actually not all.

Traditional telephone polls had been calling for a ‘remain’ Brexit vote and a Democratic victory, but more sophisticated polling technology – that uses artificial intelligence to examine social media – were much more accurate. Advanced Symbolics, a company based in Ottawa, correctly predicted these upset victories, as well as the Liberal’s overwhelming victory in the 2015 federal election. Erin Kelly, the president and CEO of Advanced Symbolics (and a friend of a friend), explains in this article from Policy Magazine how and why social media polling is superior to traditional methods.

Social Media polling

From telephone calls to social media posts – is this the future of the polling industry?

I have not personally had the opportunity to use this technology but I’m a huge fan because it demonstrates just how valuable social media listening is. What would have happened if in the weeks before Nov. 8 voters knew that Hillary Clinton would likely win the popular vote but lose the electoral college and therefore the presidency? Would people in Britain have voted differently if they knew there was a serious possibility of leaving the EU?

Of course social media listening and monitoring is possible without the sophisticated equipment and fancy technology. Facebook is a great tool for anyone looking to monitor what people are saying. Almost everyone has a Facebook profile and it’s the place where people are most likely to share their opinions.

Where do I get my news?

I hate to be unoriginal and say Facebook and Twitter but: Facebook and Twitter. For breaking news from around the world there’s nothing better than these two platforms.

StockSnap_FJD8MFBWAB

Almost anything that’s happening in the world will be broadcast on Twitter before anywhere else. People will tweet from a crisis before anyone else knows there’s a crisis. And reporters will tweet about a crisis before they have a story written. And even if you’re completely oblivious, the Trending Topics will tell you something big is happening. You won’t get many details with Twitter, but it’s definitely the place to find out you should be looking for them.

StockSnap_12ZSD6AWCT

You can get breaking news from Facebook too but that’s not the reason I like it. Many publishers on Facebook now use the Instant Articles feature, which means that if you’re reading it on a mobile device, the loading time is almost zero. This means you can actually read the article instead of giving up after looking at a blank page refusing to load. If all you’ve got is your phone to give you information, it’s important that you’re actually able to get that information.

By following and liking the organizations you want to receive updates from, you can tailor your newsfeed to show you exactly what you want to see.

 

So what do you think? Will social media monitoring soon replace the traditional telephone pollsters?

 

Images found at Stocksnap.io and edited by me.

COM0015, Blog 1: Tools and Resources

I have a full-time job, which limits the amount of time I can spend on social media work for FlashDesignsStudio.com (FDS). I created a Feedly dashboard as part of the Social Media Monitoring and Measurement course; however, I found it limiting. I prefer Hootsuite. I spend a half hour on the bus going back and forth to work each day. Hootsuite allows me to be productive during my commute. Through the Hootsuite app on my tablet, I can monitor my various streams and like, share or retweet effortlessly. Feedly does not have that capability. On weekends, I use Hootsuite’s online interface to schedule a week’s worth of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts. Hootsuite also connects to Drop Box, making organizing and posting images that much faster and easier. I sometimes use Ow.ly shortened URLs to track traffic.

On weekends, I use the Google Analytics plug in on the WordPress website to monitor traffic on the FDS website, which is one of the key success indicators. On a monthly basis, I can dig deeper into the website traffic and audience reports through the Google Analytics website. This is particularly useful to see who (demographic information) is coming from where (our social media networks or elsewhere). Having updated websites as far back as 1999, I am so thankful I no longer need to sort through raw website user data.

Of course, I also use Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and Bitley to monitor and track social media activity, but I spend more time on Hootsuite and Google Analytics.

com0015-blog1-facebook-share

 

I have many sources of news. I think my best source of information is a set of Google Alerts (which I view through Hootsuite) that shows photography contests, exhibits and other events happening in the Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto triangle. As well as providing content for the website, blog, Facebook and Twitter, Norm and I use the information to plan our photo excursions and submit images to contests. When I finish well in a contest, I post it on the FDS social media networks. It is a testament to the quality and creativeness of my images.

While most photographers are aware of all the magazines, stores and manufacturers on social media, few know about Science Daily’s photography research RRS feed (which I also view through Hootsuite). Having worked with medical and academic journals for more than a decade and with newspapers and magazines for longer than that, I can understand complex ideas and explain them in plain, everyday language. I rewrite the photography research media releases with information from the published research paper and post as Technology News in News Flash, the FDS blog. These have included advances in lens technology and how researchers are data-mining social media photos to guide land use policy, conservation planning and development decisions. This is well suited for our more advanced photographer audience and positions FDS as being knowledgeable of the cutting edge.

Listen Up!

People have a lot to say!

It’s amazing how much valuable consumer feedback gets put online.  People are constantly posting their thoughts about the important things in their lives, including: products they love or hate; why they love or hate them;  what they wish was different and how they perceive a brand image.  A quick Google search confirms my belief that reviews and word-of-mouth advertising have a huge impact on consumer decisions.  I know that is true for me!  While I won’t automatically reject a product with one bad review, it does have an impact.  And positive reviews have an even stronger impact on my own decisions.

But are businesses listening?

It’s also amazing how much of this information escapes online marketers.  It is pretty standard for a company to respond to emails or posts to the company social media.  But what about mentions where the company hasn’t been tagged, and could easily never see?  I really enjoy Shopify’s blog because it covers many interesting topics related to ecommerce and marketing.  They recently posted an article that focused on the importance of listening to online conversations in order to collect and take advantage of this goldmine of consumer feedback.

Image result for goldmine

So why should a business listen to online conversations, and seek out interactions that consumers didn’t intend to initiate?

  1. To learn what their consumers want.  Social media posts will provide the most honest opinion.  Businesses can use these comments to inspire positive changes that will increase customer satisfaction.
  2. To find opportunities to engage and educate new customers.
  3. To go above and beyond by offering solutions to complaints that consumers didn’t expect to have resolved.
  4. To gain exposure by “piggy-backing” on the social media reach of the account they are responding to.

With so much noise online, how does a business hear the real message?

The Shopify article lists their top eight services to facilitate online listening.  They include services like Hootsuite, that allow you to schedule your posts as well as as collect listening data, and other more specialized services like Sprinklr, that offer in depth listening and allow you to compare with the competition.  With all the clutter and noise online, it’s clear to me that social listening would be nearly impossible to do effectively without using one or more of these tools.

As more and more businesses take interest in the benefits of listening on social media, I am sure that there will be more and more social media listening tools popping up!  I expect that this will become the driving force behind many social media campaigns, because the ones that don’t will get left behind.

What is your experience?

I know I find it off-putting when I look at a business’s social media and see that customers have complained or asked questions, and the business didn’t respond.  Have you ever posted on social media about a product or service?  If so, what made you do it, and what kind of response did you get?