This weeks #SocialMedia Tweetchat Topic: Sentiment Analysis-Opinions Matter, If Only You Knew Which Ones

active_listening

Listening is the first step in social media (everyone says so).  Not only do you have to listen, you have to listen for 6 months or more before you are allowed to do anything.  Just ask the experts!

Frankly, I think everyone says that just to buy a little time before they have to really figure out what to do with social.  At any rate, most of the people who are told to listen have no idea what to listen for or who to listen to.  I’m not going to get into the depths of all things social media monitoring because that would take all day.  So let’s focus a minute.  

  1. You want to listen for mentions of your company, brand and top executives
  2. You quickly determine there is no way to manually search every blog post, tweet or comment on the web so you turn to automation
  3. Yeah, now you’re tracking buzzzz, but what does it all mean?
  4. So you start running reports and determine they are inadequate at best.
  5. Now you’re back to listening again but still not sure what you’re listening for.

 There is a word in the industry called “Sentiment” that is used when trying to determine a person’s attitude.  Online it’s a digital attitude and you only have text to go by.  No voice inflection.  No hand gestures or facial signals.  Just a bunch of words (or “noise” as they call it in the bubble) with little signal.  The challenge, after aggregating all of the buzz or mentions of everything you are tracking, is to make sense of it all and to make it actionable back inside your company.  So the sticking point here is whether or not you can use automated analysis to provide sentiment or if it has to be all human interface.  For any local or small business, human processing of sentiment might be reasonable.  However with any size at all, you would need a small army to determine if people liked your new product or enjoy working with your company…or would you?

If you ask 10 people how to measure sentiment, you will most certainly get 12 answers (yes 12).  The popular themes of managing sentiment revolve around polarity and intensity.  Polarity meaning either good/bad, positive/negative, like/dislike, etc and intensity meaning the volume or amount of mentions.  These are not wrong by any means, but I use a little different formula and you might say it’s probably for different purpose.  I like to consider the following:

  • Mentions – which is broken into volume, intensity and opinion (polarity)
  • Influence – of the person it comes from. How many followers, how often they interact (like a TwitterGrader)
  • Severity – of the content itself. “X product just saved my life or killed my brother” would be Sev1, where “Boss caught me goofing off and fired me, X company sucks” would be low severity.  Further defined by a direct vs indirect mention and context of the content.

OK, try managing that formula through reports.  No way, Jose!  And, by the way, I usually change what I am monitoring (at least the focus) to match what I am working on.  There are companies who are working on ways to automate forms of sentiment through natural language processing and machine based or community based learning.  They have their claims on successes and what they have may work for a lot of people in a lot of situations.  It has to be an individual call.  So how do you know what’s right for you?  That’s where this week’s moderator Katie Paine comes in.  Katie, affectionately known as the “queen of measurement”, spends most of her day answering these questions for her customers.  She will host our next chat with the following topic and questions:

TOPIC: Sentiment Analysis: Opinions Matter, If Only You Knew Which Ones

Q1:  How do you define positive sentiment?
Q2:  How does that impact your organizational goals?
Q3:  How do you know that what you are measuring matters?

Please join us Tuesday 02/16 at noon est and become part of the conversation.  Learn insights and have an opportunity to capture Katie’s attention for a solid hour.  Follow along using #sm47 or simply go to our LIV

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Social Media Marketing:Do you know enough to know where to begin?

Good question right? What’s the simple answer? Maybe not. If you are a marketer thinking about social media marketing then there is a good chance, if you have not done anything yet, that its because you just don’t have enough information yet.

On Monday in Tampa, I attended and spoke at a conference titled Social Fresh, at that conference, during Maggie Fox’s keynote, she nonchalantly asked the audience how many of them were marketers. Surprisingly, more than 80% raised their hands.

Clearly, 2 things became evident: One, there is a need for more social media conferences down in the belly of the  state of Florida(that in and of itself is worth another blog post) and two, marketers were indeed starved or looking for answers/solutions to the primary social media marketing puzzle/question. The How To. Implementation. Why haven’t they done it yet?

In this post I want to address those issues so that you can get started with social media marketing.

According to Equation research, one of the primary barriers for social media marketing adoption for brands or agencies is that they just don’t know enough about social media to know where to begin.

But why? Why is it taking this long for marketers, agencies, brands and businesses to learn about social media? For some of us, we have been talking about and writing about social media for almost 4 years.  Is it fear of social media? Do we have so much on our plates that we don’t have time to check social media out?

Maybe.

Is it because your falling back on the excuse that you can’t measure social media? Please tell me that’s not the reason. If so, then please have a look at Olivier Blanchard‘s deck on the basics of social media ROI. Once you have rolled through it, I think and hope your fears on the ROI issue can be put to rest.

Another valid reason that may be preventing you from adopting social media may be budgetary. That can certainly affect any and all social media marketing efforts, as well as marketing efforts in general. If you got no money, then you go no money.  However, I do want to point out that the barriers for entry into social media are relatively low. In fact your only costs when first starting out will be or could be design and labor.

So know this, getting into “it” is easy. In fact Chris Kieff suggests just listening for the first 6 months before you do anything else. It’s quick to set up and easy to do.  I’m not adverse to that strategy, but think that maybe 2-3 months might be just as effective. But the point is, by listening for a bit, that gives you a feel for how things work in social networks and how brands, conversations, posts, links and search results all evolve because of social media.

Managing it takes a little bit more skill. My friend Jason Falls who writes a great blog on all things social media  marketing related, has a post on managing social media marketing. Though it’s from 2008, it’s still relevant and valuable even today. There are some great tips contained in the post.

So you might say you don’t have enough time.  Hey just like everything else in life, it’s all about time management and being efficient with your usage of time. Social media marketing is no different.  I have often said that social media marketing can be an incredible time suck, but the way to work thru that, is to make sure you have a plan every day that applies to your social media marketing strategy and speaks to your social media tactics. Above all stick to it. This includes your personal social media interactions. You have to know how much you allow yourself each day to engage on your own social networks.

Another issue that prevents marketers from even starting and which might be completely out of their hands, is there could be legal constraints. I can tell you from first hand experience how difficult it can be sometimes when any copy or any site designs that you create have to then pass the litmus test of legal. It seemed that everything we did was always not with the customer in mind, but always under the auspices of, “I hope legal is cool with this…”

Beyond that, you may have corporate policies that may prevent your marketing department from engaging in social media, if so, it’s up to you to try and get corporate to look at the bigger picture of social media marketing and its effectiveness. Help them create a social media policy both internally and externally that allows you to use social media in your marketing efforts! Work with them, because there could be a very high likelihood that they have no clue of social media and thus they will err on the side of caution and completely lock down your efforts and attempts at social media marketing.

Lastly, I will say this. Given that search results can return articles and blog posts that rank high on the how to’s of social media and social media marketing, I think it’s important to trust one’s peers and their associated networks. What I’m saying is that if you have questions, go to Twitter and ask a trusted and valued resource. I rely on my network. Rely on yours and get started. it’s not too late.

This weeks #SocialMedia Tweetchat Topic: Destruction of the Media Industry: Will We Be Better Off In the Long Run?

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tough-times-newspaper

Laying out the fundamental issues and challenges in a post has become an integral part of the success of our weekly events.  Usually I produce the post and the moderator comes on Tuesdays and facilitates the discussion.  This week is an exception.  Our moderator, Paul Gillin, has delightfully taken the initiative to not only come up with his own topic, but to construct a post as well.  The following is the guest post by Paul Gillin:

As we head into the second decade of the new millennium, it’s amazing to think how much has changed in such a short time. In January, 2000, few people had heard of Google.  Online advertising was banners and e-mails.  Big media brands dominated the Web. US newspaper ad revenue would hit record levels that year.  Newsroom employment would peak in 2001 as newsstand sales of the top 100 magazines approached 30 million.  No one had heard of blogs.  People used mobile phones to talk.

Fast forward to 2009.  Last year, people spent six billion minutes on Facebook, downloaded one billion YouTube videos and logged over 1.4 million blog entries every day.  The iPhone became the first mobile phone to be used more for data than for voice.  The Internet became the second most popular news medium behind television.  Wikipedia posted its three millionth article.

Meanwhile, US newsroom employment fell to a 25-year low and magazine newsstand sales dropped 63% from of their 2001 peaks.  Reader’s Digest declared bankruptcy.  Comcast said it would buy NBC.

The statistics go on and on. In just 10 years, our century-old mass-market media model has given way to a new structure dominated by the economics of one.  Customers now take their opinions directly to the market.  Woe to organizations that don’t listen.

The contraction of mass-market media has brought plenty of pain.  Tens of thousands of media professionals have lost their jobs in the past two years, crowdsourcing has sent some professional fees into a tailspin and veteran marketers are under threat if they don’t “get” social media.  But is this pain necessary, even beneficial in the long run?

Media has historically been one of the least efficient disciplines on the planet. It’s a profession that declares success if only 97% of its audience ignores an ad or tosses the mailer into the trash. It gains one customer at the expense of annoying 50 bystanders. When department store magnate John Wanamaker said half his ad dollars were wasted, but “I don’t know which half,” he was being generous.

The new Internet has flipped the economics. As media control has passed from institutions to individuals, waste has begun to be worked out of the system. The cost of reaching a targeted customer will only decline in the years to come.  Sadly, efficiency will also devastate those industries and professions that thrived on media’s historical inefficiency.

There’s no question we’re in a period of media destruction, but is this a necessary precursor to a better world?  Today, everyone can be the media.  That means we have unprecedented access to information from all points of view, but we’ve also lost our sense of whom to trust.  Is ubiquitous access to unlimited information a blessing or a curse?  What will we be saying about his period a decade from now?

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That’s a great foundation for this week’s topic.  I’ll add a couple of thoughts directed squarely at the corporate side of this discussion that relate to content, trust and brands.

Today anyone can produce content and distribute to a potentially sizeable market.  The capabilities are ubiquitous and the cost is next to nothing.  With so much content now available, many forms of content quickly become commoditized and thereby become almost irrelevant.  With that, think about your company for a minute and the brand/s you represent.  These brands are usually strongest when consumers view them as a resource for their specified purpose whether it’s household cleaning, motor oil lubrication, exercise equipment or anything else. 

Since commoditized content is counter-intuitive to your brand strategies, aggregating stuff (content) just so you have more stuff does not fit with most corporate objectives.  Whether it’s for your customers, employees or partners, you want them to come to you as a resource for trusted content rather than as an aggregator of everything. 

Harnessing appropriate and relevant content as a resource for your customers / audience is becoming a significant differentiator in the market. 

Topic:  Destruction of the Media Industry: Will We Be Better Off In the Long Run?

Q1:  Does the proliferation of new media make us more informed or just more confused?

Q2:  Can businesses and institutions legitimately fill some of the trust gap that’s been created by the collapse of media institutions?

Q3:  Can armies of bloggers and citizen journalists fill the void left by the loss of media institutions?

So the chat will take place Tuesday 2/9/10 at noon EST.  Participate by following #sm46.

14 Quick Tactics to Encourage Corporate Social Media Adoption

This past Tuesday on our weekly Hashtag socialmedia tweetchat, we were honored to have one of the classiest people I’ve gotten to know, host our chat, BL Ochman. To say that it was a successful tweetchat is an understatement, but what really pushed the chat over the top was the last question in which she asked for quick tactics to encourage corporate social media adoption.

BL recounted the raw responses on her blog post, but I wanted to clean them up a little bit, make them into complete sentences, add some clarity and lastly point attendees from Social Fresh to this page.

What’s great about this list?  What we have here is the full circle of social media; crowdsourcing, participation, sharing and invaluable input from peers, consultants and practitioners of what works-all for the benefit of  quick internal corporate adoption.

Note: I’m also including hyperlinks to sites that add more value to how and what you will do with these tactics. Make sure you open them.

1)  Create a Social Media case study of who is talking about your company both in good & bad ways. Show the benefits of why you need to join in.

2) Demonstrate for corporate executives the increase in visibility from search rankings that result from searchable presence on social media sites

3) On-going social media education!  By providing weekly Twitter tips via email you can share best use, reports, case studies, trends, etc to show that it’s not intimidating.

4) Show corporate management stats on issues where competitors used social media & they did not. It’s a very clear way to demonstrate value.

5) Teach your execs and colleagues how to follow conferences and events and comment via hashtags

6) Encourage your employees to follow your company via social media tools and platforms like Twitter and retweet, post, etc. Be part of the conversation. stress to them that it also helps employee engagement.

7) Create a hashtag around your company, product, or industry and drive the conversations.

8. Map and find out where your target audience is participating in social media. Where are the conversations? Find them.

9) A first step for company enthusiasm could be to use social media to help build community within the company – HR bonding.

10) Show corporate executives how social media tools  like wikis and internal communities, can help increase productivity. not all SM is external.

11) Show management what your competitors are doing in social media and those results.

12)  Set up real time keyword/product/industry monitoring engines and show them the results.

13) To prove to executives of the value of social media, I like taking 12-18 month stock chart of competitors using Social media and showing them their results matched against it.

14) Building a business case for a new marketing initiative begins with research: customers, competitors, industry leaders> benchmarking

Even if you take one of these and put it to use, you are or will start to build a case for internal social media adoption. The key is showing them the results. And remember, it happens with or without your company. It’s your choice.

Social media is forcing us to operate in the now

We have our memories; and we all have a future that we look towards, but what we have right now is now. Social media provides us with, and allows us to provide, that real time data stream of what is happening now. Today. This moment, this hour, this minute.

We connect on various social networks with people who we have shared our lives with in the past. We connect with folks who we share common interests with in the work place, but it all happens in real time. We share our lives now with our family and friends as it unfolds. It’s immediate. We react, we create, we comment. In the moment.

These interactions are going to become more defined, more finite and more micro as we hurtle forward.

And I’m OK with that.

Engagement by proxy

I was looking at the definition of proxy for some odd reason the other day and I was struck by the irony of the definition.

Last week, Todd Defren, who is taking a unique approach towards the social media space by discussing the ethical side of engagement, blogged about ghost tweeting and ghost blogging. Essentially asking his readers to determine whether doing either or not doing them, had any ethical merits.

But I have news for Todd and everyone else. Ghost blogging and ghost tweeting happen a lot.  A lot more than people will care to admit. It happens because people that write and talk and engage for a living are a lot better at it than people who don’t do it for a living. And those that don’t, would rather leave it to those that do. Though I applaud him for taking the high ground on this issue, Todd knows it’s a lot more prevalent than most will admit. So do I.

Is there a solution, I don’t know. There might be, but it has to meet the criteria of the agency and the expectations of the client. Good luck with that.

Engagement by proxy.

This weeks #SocialMedia Tweetchat Topic: Fear Factor: Understanding the Value of Adding Social Media to the Mix

FUDFUD! (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt) is typically used by sales and marketing types to position themselves against competitors.  IBM used to be renown for using this tactic and now it’s being used in a different way.  Executives are turning FUD around and using it on their own organizations with regards to the use of social media.  While companies widely accept that social media is transforming the business landscape, executives are still reluctant to approve anything more than small tests or pilot programs.

This reluctance by executives is being translated by many to simply infer that they are scared.  Looking at it from an executive point of view however might shed a different light on the use of social media.  Companies have spent decades building out their networks of consumers, partners, suppliers, employees, and special interests.  So why does management shudder whenever you begin to put a “social” in front of the network?  Consider, today’s business models are developed with layers of hierarchy and managed very linearly.  By this, I refer to the typical order of developing product, inserting the supply chain, managing distribution, creating point of sale campaigns and attracting consumers.  There is a very linear process for managing corporate messaging, customer service, measuring consumer sentiment, channel partner alignment and so on.  What social media does is dis-intermediates most linear processes and connects disparate networks in ways that enterprises have not yet created “management” solutions for.  Like the classic management book implies, we have moved the proverbial manager’s cheese.   So what does this mean to social media champions inside companies?

In order to make decisions, executives need clear objectives, relative impact on short term and long term business and data points to back it all up…not theory.  Introducing a company’s employees to be social is one way to start (a good post by Rachael Happewill help identify ways to get started).  This helps to build confidence, trust and develop skills for those tactical purposes.  What is still missing though is the bigger issues surrounding change management and working procedurally in a non-linear environment.  For instance, at its most basic, what happens when corporate messaging is spread by consumer reviews not Corp Comms department?  What happens when consumers demand (or request) product features instead of market research?  Take it a step further now and consider what might happen if your consumers could connect directly with your suppliers and eliminate your company’s role in assembly?  Now it moves beyond ratty little conversationalists to a complete dis-intermediation of non-essential middlemen and your company is no longer relevant (think newspaper business).

In order for companies to consider adopting social across an enterprise, social media strategists need to move beyond campaigns and tactics and begin considering corporate lineages.  A research study commissioned by Cisco contained keen observations for agencies and strategists to consider.

“Only one in seven of the companies that participated in the research noted a formal process associated with adopting consumer-based social networking tools for business purposes, indicating that the potential risks associated with these tools in the enterprise are either overlooked or not well understood.”

This is only one of the findings that was pointed out.  The entire excerpt was reported by CNN Money here.

How do we ease executive’s minds and begin socially infusing companies?  Our moderator this week is tasked with helping connect those dots.   Helping us out this week, B.L. Ochman will provide her years of insight and success at convincing executives to get past dipping their toes in the water.  Our topic and questions follow:

Topic: Fear Factor: Understanding the Value of Adding Social Media to the Mix

Q1) Why do executives still doubt social media?

Q2) Do companies have time for social media?

Q3) Are there quick tactics that can be used to build company enthusiasm around SMM?

The twitter based chat will take place on Tuesday 02/02/2010 at noon EST.  To participate follow #sm45 on your favorite Twitter client or on our live site.