Reading this blog, you are engaged in one of the fastest growing Web phenomena. The “blogosphere” is growing at an astounding rate – 1.4 new blogs per second and 17 blog posts per second, according to Technorati’s 2007 State of the Blogosphere report.
You came to the SIIA Experts’ Guide blog to learn from other industry professionals, and possibly to participate in the ongoing discussion. Similarly, you can learn from your target audiences by listening to the conversations occurring blogs and in other social media such as podcasts and online forums.
The “PR and Web 2.0” article I wrote for the Expert’s Guide provides an overview of a recommended three-pronged approach to entering the world of social media:
1. Monitor online conversations to inform business decisions.
2. Share company news and product information through online communication channels. (For multimedia news releases examples, go to http://www.cblohm.com/news.)
3. Participate in social media to communicate with key audiences.
The first step is most critical. Before you leap to step three and launch a corporate blog, take the time to become more social media-savvy. You’ll learn effective techniques to build corporate visibility while enhancing your company’s reputation. Plus, you’ll get a peek into the professional lives of educators.
You can glean valuable information from monitoring what is being said online about your organization, and about educators’ concerns and interests. With more than 70 million active blogs, it’s likely that your company (or your competition) has been mentioned. Increasingly, educators (and journalists) are relying on social media for content, news and recommendations. The insight you gain can help your company improve customer service, product development, marketing campaigns, and communications with target audiences.
Here are some of the most popular Internet search tools you can use to monitor online conversations:
• Technorati allows you to search millions of blogs and tagged social media (i.e., videos). Set up a “watchlist” to generate automatic searches for your keywords.
• Google and Yahoo Alerts send you email notices when there are new search results for your search terms.
• For a comprehensive online video search, try Blinkx, which uses a sophisticated combination of software to find and qualify videos that match your search terms.
• Twitter Search provides the means to search the real-time information transmitted through Twitter, a popular micro-blog site. (Unfamiliar with Twitter? Click here for a tutorial.)
Several companies offer fee-based social media measurement services such as Cision, Webclipping.com and Andiamo Systems. Whether you do it yourself or use a service, tracking social media conversations is a worthwhile investment to get a detailed picture of brand awareness, brand perception and the competitive landscape.
Watch for company-relevant Wikipedia entries to learn about trends and education issues, and for company or product mentions. Be aware that Wikipedia is a carefully monitored site, and contributors must follow certain policies and guidelines.
A growing number of educators are venturing into virtual worlds, namely Second Life and Google’s Lively, for educational purposes. Become a member to see what’s happening in these exciting 3D arenas.
Monitor Important Information
News travels through the social media sphere in seconds, so executives need to track online conversations to know when their brand or a key issue is discussed. This is critical if the company needs to respond to a discussion quickly and appropriately. It can be as simple as posting a blog comment to correct a product price in a post, or as challenging as dealing with a customer service issue that’s been cast in a negative light online. Social media monitoring also can reveal emerging trends and novel uses of company products or services.
Types of information to monitor include:
• Company name and URL
• Product names and URLs
• Executives names
• Volume of mentions
• Share of voice
• Total and unique voices
• Name of blog/podcast/video and its creator, with demographic information if possible
• “Customer voice” to track sentiment, product use and more
• Education topics relevant to the company.
This posting was written by Charlene Blohm, president, and Kristen Plemon, Account Executive, of C. Blohm & Associates, Inc., a public relations consulting firm for the education industry. Charlene can be reached at email@example.com, twitter.com/CharleneBlohm, or 608-839-9800.