By Ashley Fryer – @PortfolioComms
So you’ve set up your company Twitter page, you’re getting a few Likes on Facebook, and you’ve just about figured out LinkedIn – now what?
Social networks are all well and good to have on your corporate CV, but what’s the use if you don’t really know what you’re doing? Well luckily there are some very handy tools available to help you on the path to maximising your social media potential.
First and foremost, making the most of social networks involves having an understanding of what social media really means. Social media is about conversation. It’s a way of talking to a targeted audience, engaging with them and being a receptive listener. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (the holy trinity of social networking) are your platform for this conversation, and there are several ways in which you can start making the most of these outlets.
First and foremost, anyone following more than half a dozen people will find it useful to transfer their Twitter activity over to a social media dashboard. The two most popular dashboards are Hootsuite and Tweetdeck which can be used to manage multiple social networks from one place, with just one login and password to remember. The beauty of an application like Hootsuite lies in its column structure enabling you to simultaneously read your live feed, @ mentions and direct messages in one place. Not only that, but you can also create columns for your Twitter Lists (very handy if you are following lots of people in different sectors) and even columns for searches. For example, if you have a column devoted to a keyword search, you will pick up all the tweets with that word mentioned (be it a client name, a product, or a hashtag you’re following). You never have to miss a relevant tweet again!
Having your network laid out in front of you is an ideal way of keeping tabs on what’s happening. No one has time to be sat on Twitter all day long so a dashboard is a great organiser and time saver. Hootsuite also allows you to schedule tweets ahead of time, so scan your diary for any events or conferences you might be attending and set up related tweets to let your followers know you’ll be there. Always check if the event has a designated hashtag already – the BBC Social Media Summit’s hashtag #bbcsms, for example, hit the trending topics less than an hour into the conference. So stay on the ball and use it to speak to people you know are interested.
You can use both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck to update LinkedIn and Facebook too. Just click the ‘add a social network’ button and give permission for your chosen dashboard to communicate with your networks, and you will be able to update statuses and post links and pictures all from Hootsuite. Just select the account you want to post from (why not do all three?) and you will be able to update immediately onto your chosen social network.
If you’re using social media but aren’t sure how effective it is, try out some of the great monitoring tools at your disposal. Klout, for instance, offers you a score out of 100 based on how influential you are. The measurement is not made purely from follower/friend/like numbers however, but is rather based on your level of engagement with your networks: how many retweets you get, how many @ mentions, and generally how much interaction is happening on your account. You can also take a look at The Social List – the social media equivalent of the Rich List, created by The Times. Its colourful format shows just how important you are in social media. Link it to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Four Square accounts for the most accurate score. You will also get a cool title from it, such as ‘pioneer’, ‘linchpin’ or ‘duke’, depending on your overall social media ranking.
Another way of monitoring your activities is to look at apps such as SocialMention.com which will give you your ratio of positive to negative tweets, your current reach and your ‘passion’ quota. It also lists the keywords you use most often (ours are social, media and blog at the moment!) and will give you an idea of the key listeners and retweeters on your account.
If you’re interested in tracking your follower progress, use a website like TwitterCounter.com, which offers you a timeline of your follower counts, enabling you to track new followers to specific activity. You can also sign up to its weekly email service, alerting you to how your network has developed that week, which is a great way of keeping an eye on things.
So you’ve got your dashboard all set up, you’ve been tracking your influence, followers and keywords, and you’re pretty sure you’ve got hashtags all figured out –what now? Well... you LISTEN. You WATCH. You REACT.
Social media is a global conversation and you most definitely want to be a part of it. Tweet, post and share things about what you’re up to, comment on news items, respond to things that interest you and keep an eye on what people are talking about. If you have an opinion, share it. Speak directly to people using @mentions and direct messages, and respond to anyone that retweets you or talks to you. Just keep a Hootsuite or Tweetdeck tab open on your browser and check in every hour or so. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is when you’ve got all the tools.