Uncovering the Information Potential of Social Media
Social media has become mundane, an everyday part of our lives. Yet, the understanding of the key characteristics of social media or what it can do to benefit organizations in their decision-making is sometimes lacking. Because of their failing to understand the idiosyncrasies of social media, both individuals and organizations constantly face either potential or very real social media crises.
Understanding the characteristics of social media is vital
A real world publicity crisis could be triggered if, in the heat of the moment, an employee publishes a controversial tweet about his or her employer. The fact that everything in social media is multiplied means that the tweet may travel far beyond its intended audience, acting as a catalyst for the crisis. Perhaps an organization with a clear set of guidelines for what employees can and cannot do in social media, and an understanding of this multiplying characteristic of social media could have averted the crisis.
Content is the king also in social media. Failure to communicate in an interesting enough manner or resorting to aggressive marketing tactics may backfire and result in little engagement from potential customers. Communications should be honest and down-to-earth, with hooks used to spice up those themes that might otherwise be deemed not that earth-shattering.
Social media should be harnessed to benefit the whole organization
Along with an understanding of what social media is and is not, an organization may need guidance in how to get the maximum information out of it, to help with planning its future operations. A number of organizational units can stand to gain from social media monitoring. In addition to communications and marketing, these include units as diverse as HR, R&D, sales and customer service.
The important thing is to make sure one knows what one wants to achieve and that the objectives set out for social media support wider organizational objectives. In addition, information should be shared freely. In this way, information silos can be avoided and social media is not left with a role equaling occultism of a few chosen ones.
Information should guide action
Social media analysis helps to extract crucial intelligence from social media. When buying an analysis, an organization should always return to the “why” question: why is this information useful to us, how will it aid us in improving our operations? Extra care must be taken so as not to accept vanity metrics: mere volume of media coverage does not tell much, while trying to put a monetary value or any other number to one’s social media presence probably serves only the person who asked for this information.
Instead, focus on finding out the themes in connection with which your organization appears in social media, as well as those key influencers who talk about your organization and who are worth engaging in discussions with. It is also important to know what kind of sentiment is used to describe your organization. In all analysis, specific targets should be defined and their materialization measured over time. An improved sentiment would testify of an improved public image.
The creative pool that social media offers for analyzing information that may benefit organizations is vast. To take full advantage of it, one must move beyond automatic reports and employ some human brain power to get those valuable insights. In our e-book, Handbook of Social Media Intelligence, we looked in more detail at the different aspects of social media and various ways of getting intelligence out of it.
You are very welcome to download the e-book at bit.ly/SoMeIntelligence.