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What Kind of Conversations Are You Having on Twitter?

Social Sonar - Thursday, March 06, 2014

Are you a data nerd? You might already be in the habit of tracking engagement on big social platforms like Twitter. In an effort to make things more of a two-way street, you may have set up a system to compare the amount of information you broadcast to the amount of posts that actively invite followers to participate. But is this binary view of content enough to represent the variety of interactions you have online? One new study says no.

In an interesting new set of findings, the Pew Center for Research reports that there are six different kinds of Twitter conversations happening online. Online chatter may seem random and chaotic when you’re engaged in it, but these six conversational archetypes shed some light on the overall patterns that give Twitter communities structure.

How can you include some of these new findings into your overall social strategy?

1. Take a look at the diagram that visualizes the six types of conversations. Which one do you think most closely resembles the conversations you typically have?

2. Take stock of the different models. Which ones represent broadcasting (information going out on a one-way channel) versus engagement (an ongoing dialogue with the opportunity for followers to reciprocate)?

3. Identify the types of conversations that your organization almost never participates in. Is this a natural extension of your business’s philosophy, or a missed opportunity for rethinking how you communicate?

4. Which model (or combination of models) best helps you achieve your social media goals? For instance, if your goal is to become a go-to destination for news in your industry, you might want to focus on content that results in a “In-Hub and Spoke” model.

5. Put the call out to other members of your team, whether they work in communications or not. What kind of conversations do they typically see your business engaged in on Twitter? This could lead to some revelatory information about the role and purpose of your organization on and offline (Do you exist to strike up polarizing conversations around social issues? Act as a support for questions and requests? Or something else?). 

Curious to know how the folks at the Pew Center were able to capture all this information? Take a look at the full study here and learn more about their methodology. What do you think about this approach to thinking about Twitter conversations? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

From Supernatural to Veronica Mars: What TV Fandom Can Teach You About Social Media's Value

Social Sonar - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ready to hear something really uncanny? The TV show Supernatural, about two demon-hunting brothers that drive cross country vanquishing all kinds of evil creatures, has been on the air for nearly a decade, against all odds and despite the fact that its viewership (as measured by Nielsen ratings) is pretty modest. In fact, Supernatural’s real time viewership (that is the, number of people who watch the show as it airs on the CW) is so unremarkable that if it belonged to any other show there’s no doubt it would have been staked through the heart long ago.

And yet, season after season, Supernatural rises from the dead. It’s the kind of phenomenon that exemplifies the extent to which fans have been able to leverage the power of the web to affect the landscape of television.

As NPR reports, Supernatural's secret to remaining in the zeitgeist is an unrelenting online fandom that uses social media and the web to connect and build a community around anything and everything related to the show. That includes message boards, huge “fanfic” sites, a near omnipresence on Tumblr, and continued chatter on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Supernatural isn’t alone in its ability to cultivate passion for its characters and stories on social media. The TV show Scandal became a huge hit last year, in large part because of the way viewers took to social media to react in real time to every twist and turn. In the words of the LA Times, it became must-tweet TV.

Other cult TV shows have also benefitted from the fervent love of their online followers. It’s hard to think that the NBC show Community, with its penchant for incredibly obscure inside jokes and meta humor, would still be on the air if it didn’t have such a devoted and vocal online following. What’s more, social media played a key role in ensuring the return of the show’s original creator, Dan Harmon. After a falling out with NBC, Harmon was fired, only to retake the reins last year after fans made it clear they wanted him in control of their favorite show.

Veronica Mars may have solved her last case on TV years ago, but interest in the show lived on thanks to the Internet, so much so that even though its last episode aired in 2007, a new movie is set to be released later this year. The film was crowdfunded through Kickstarter, a maverick move that would have been unthinkable before the era of social media. The reignited love for Veronica Mars and the excitement about the upcoming movie has sparked so much interest that on top of a feature film, there’s also a brand new spinoff in the works set to premiere as a web series.

Social media has become such an integral part of the TV watching experience that traditional metrics just aren’t an appropriate gauge for a show’s popularity and cultural clout anymore. Recognizing that social media has fundamentally changed the way people interact with TV shows, Nielsen launched Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings at the end of last year. It’s a move that signals an expanding role for social TV data in shaping programming, and a growing influence from fans who now have an unprecedented power in shaping what’s on their screens.

Looking at the bigger picture, these case studies in TV shows whose destinies have been shaped by social media say something about the immeasurable value of fandom, stoked by social media.  It’s a kind of loyalty that persists and is rekindled over and over by virtue of people having a space to celebrate the things they love online. That’s a testament to the kind of online communities that social media has been able to foster and a sure sign that their power to affect culture at large will only continue to expand.

Learn More About Your Followers With New Facebook Graph Search

Social Sonar - Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Facebook’s latest update is a more intuitive and personalized kind of search engine. With dozens, hundreds or thousands of interactions happening constantly, it’s impossible to keep track of the mountain of information that your business accrues every day. With the new graph search option, it’s easier to find out where your followers live, what kind of shows or movies they enjoy and even what kind of posts they’ve engaged with in the past. But what does that mean for your overall social media strategy?

Where My People At?

If you’re the owner of a pizzeria based out of Brooklyn, New York, you’re probably interested in growing your fanbase only as far as you can deliver. How do you make sure you’re targeting the people nearest you? With graph search, you can now pinpoint how many of your fans are local. If your service isn’t limited by a geographic location, you can see which areas are prime for expansion.

What Do You Like?

Are you curious to know what else your followers are into? This might be really valuable when it comes to cross promotional campaigns. If you discover that your customers are also big fans of Grumpy Cat, maybe it’s time to post a few more memes featuring her. You can discover more about the interests of your followers this way and tailor your content to encourage their engagement.

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What’s My Demo?

With graph search, you can also pinpoint vital niche markets. You may suspect that your target audience exists in the overlap between millennial Harry Potter fans and beer enthusiasts, but up until now, there was no way to be sure. By pinpointing that precious overlapping slice of space where two big fields of interest intersect, you could be zeroing in on the most important demographic to your business. 

One of the great things about the search is that you can type in full phrases instead of just a string of search terms. That means you can find the answer to queries like “people who love mangoes and Rihanna.” Ready to try out graph search for yourself? Facebook is rolling out a beta version this week, so keep your eyes peeled and expect the option to show up soon on your own Facebook account.


5 Basic SEO Strategies

Social Sonar - Thursday, January 17, 2013
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Search engine optimization (SEO) may not be part of the social media, but if you're creating or maintaining a blog, it may be particularly helpful for your business. Online portals like Google and Bing help give visibility to business using SEO. In the end, knowing the tricks these search engines use can help you create a sale for your business. Here are some basic SEO principles to help your site.

1. Tracking
If you don’t track and analyze your marketing efforts, how can you know if something is successful? The easiest first step is installing Google Analytics. It’s free for basic functions, so once you get used to various features, you can determine whether you need the paid version. Just try it out and start looking at conversions today.

2. Keywords
Determine keywords that fit the business and services that you provide. Utilizing keywords within your content, including tagged photos, is the best way to optimize your site. Since Google and Bing algorithms do all of the work, it won't cost you anything!

3. Site Map
Clean up the structure of your site. Don't overwhelm search engine crawlers with too many bells and whistles. While some sites use Javascript to give the site a sleek look, search engines can't read this design, meaning your website won't be visible to your potential consumers when they run a basic search.

4. Landing Pages
Creating targeted landing pages for services, products, or FAQs provides visitors answers to their search inquiries. Your homepage is certainly key to your business because it’s the introduction to your brand, but it’s not the only page to worry about. Providing a range of landing pages means your business will be optimized for search engine ranking and obtaining consumers.

5. Links
Structure your links. Make sure your content is strong and your pages are specific to what you are talking about. Example: www.yoursite.com/press_release/May_2012. Failure to provide specific links to content, or having links unrelated to the content itself, doesn’t help your SEO ranking.

Though these tips are helpful to remember, the bottomline is that if you don't provide strong content that showcases your business, services or products, the best SEO optimization will not bring people back to your page. Be sure to keep content creation in mind as much as these technical specifics!

Eight Social Media Metrics You Need to Monitor

Social Sonar - Friday, November 23, 2012

You spend time, energy, and money making sure your social media presence is known to your customers. As a business owner, you may not have time to look at every graph and chart provided by your social media manager. With social media still being a new marketing tactic for some businesses, how can you tell if your efforts are successful? What metrics should you be examining?

1. Traffic

You should have Google Analytics or another program installed to track all the visitors to your website. Examine your traffic from all social media platforms. Create a chart that identifies your top sources. Over time you'll be able to see which have the most growth potential.

2. Visitor Retention

This is different from traffic reporting. Understanding the time people spend on your website when they are referred from social media is important. If you see that your visitors are leaving quickly, then you should consider updating the design and/or copy of your landing page. Also, look at the information you are providing. Are you just selling your products or giving useful information? Remember, interesting information goes a long way, and overselling a product turns fans away from your business.

3. Audience Reports

The purpose of social media is mostly to engage and interact with followers. Just remember you want those followers to grow in numbers. It's always good to keep records of how many new followers or likes you are receiving weekly.

4. Engagement Reports

Interacting with your followers is a key component of social media. Record the number of active members vs. total members. If you find that you have a low percentage of active members, perhaps you need to start a campaign to reach out to those members who have not participated in any social media conversations lately.

5. Conversion Rate

It would be unrealistic to say you aren't selling something on your social media site. Just like any other medium, you want to keep a good handle on what drove your consumer to make a purchase. Creating a unique code for your social media fans to use at checkout, or a coupon fans can print out and redeem in your brick and mortar store, is the most direct way to track sales.

6. Mentions

Are you giving people something to talk about? Be on the lookout for how often your brand gets mentioned. For Twitter you should create a #hashtag so you can look at what has been said about your business when you do a search.

7. Sharing Report

As a child we heard things like, "Sharing is Caring". The sharing report has the same idea behind it. Look over how many shares your Facebook posts have created. How many friends of friends have shared your posts with their network? It’s important to know that your content is worth spreading.

8. Blogger Breakdown

You share your ideas and tips with the world via Blogger or Wordpress, but are your readers connecting with your information? Remember to make sure that you turn on the "Allow Comments" section on these blogging sites. Encourage opinions from your readers. Always add in social media buttons like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. Make it easy for your follower to spread your word by the click of a button.