By Dan Betts - Head of Digital at Focus Integrated Marketing Communications

All too frequently brands and organisations jump on the bandwagon when it comes to the latest digital marketing trends without any real insight into whether it holds any tangible benefit or worth to them specifically.

This is often due to digital mediums being the vogue topic amongst marketeers and there is a fear they will miss out or be seen to be behind the times if they do not have a presence. The belief is that with so many companies capitalising on innovative and exciting new marketing channels, surely they will work for everybody.

It is rare within the online marketing realm that a platform cannot be approached with a level of insight that gives a brand the foresight to make calculated judgements on whether there will be a worth or benefit (or potential worth or benefit if delivered in the correct way) to the endeavour. Social media and which channels are most worthwhile for brands is no different.

Crowd sourcing (the process of generating a targeted group of social advocates) is at the foundation of any successful social media marketing campaign and the techniques employed within this can provide vital insight into deciding which social media channels are most suited and worthwhile to a brand.

Social media monitoring software gives users the capability to monitor the entire social web for mentions of specific keywords in real-time. One of the major issues for brands is that they often miss this vital initial phase altogether and move straight into the implementation, meaning they have no insight as to where is best to have a presence in the first place.

The techniques involved in crowd sourcing provide details on who is talking about a brand, company, competitors, related topics and perhaps most importantly when talking about which social media channels to have a presence in, where these potential social advocates and customers are residing in the social realm.

The initial research through social media monitoring techniques gives brands the capability to (with insight) establish worthwhile social media channels to have a presence in, whether these be the more established social networks such as Facebook, social bookmarking channels such as Digg and Stumble Upon, or targeted forums and blogs that could be lesser known or more niche.

With most social media channels being relatively inexpensive to utilise, there is no reason for brands to avoid the most dominant. However, social media monitoring techniques will provide a greater opportunity to use these for the most benefit and highlighting those that are less well known but may provide just as much worth.

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