Why use 5 social media tools when you can use 1?

I recently came across a post by Dan Virgillito on SocialMediaExaminer that discussed 5 platforms to achieve 5 social media management tasks:

  1. Evaluating progress with all-in-one monitoring – dashboard to oversee social activity and key metrics.
  2. Collaborating with team members to create great content – quite valuable – especially for larger teams and organizations.
  3. Measuring results with advanced reporting tools (frankly this felt like #1). Perhaps the subtle difference is that monitoring is more of a browser based KPI centric display while the reports is something you can download and print.
  4. Monitor multiple campaigns with custom boards and widgets. Not feeling that this is even needed in any way, but I guess the author is referring to a way to perhaps share your analytics? Or perhaps being able to embed various pieces of your reporting into other systems that you organization might be running?
  5. Stay front and center with scheduled content. Being able to schedule and publish is certainly of enormous convenience.
I quickly ran some numbers to see how expensive something like this will be. The tools in Dan’s article will run you about $600 per month (that is if your team is less then 3 people, the price sky rockets if you have a larger team).
I would build on this and define a must have toolkit of any social media manager as follows:
  1. Interact with your social audience – from scheduled and bulk publishing to being able to quickly and easily respond to a new follower or a new comment.
  2. Conversion tracking – publishing is great but meaningless if your can’t connect it to actual conversion figures (sales, new customers, etc)
  3. Powerful reporting – from simple on screen charts to comprehensive downloadable reports.
  4. Search and keyword tracking – tracking buzz and identifying conversation around a certain topic or a set of keywords.
  5. Goals and objectives – setting up objectives and tracking progress towards them based on current performance trends.
  6. Extensibility – being able to take collected analytical data and conduct further research. This means that data presented by the report must be easily exportable.
  7. Team management – being able to conduct social media activities along side team members and clients – all with well defined set of permissions and access levels.
  8. White label? Somewhat optional but is important for many. Being able to custom brand your reports will ensure your corporate identity is front and center.
  9. Programming API – for those with more advanced data needs – having a secure API to move data from and to this reporting platform.
  10. Hosted or SaaS – for organization with high security requirements – being able to host the platform as appliance internally.
Check out Social Report Advanced plan – $79/month (much better then $600/month) – has all the features in this list. Unlimited users too! If you don’t need “White Label” or “API” – you can use our Standard plan – that’s just $39/month.

 

Organizing your social media data

If you are running an organization with multiple departments doing different things with social media, you might already be wondering what might be the most efficient and transparent way to organize the way you manage the information that flows through these various social accounts as well as gain some visibility into how effective they are.

For starters – you should be using a single tool to achieve this purpose. Being in a situation where multiple different tools are used, will not only increase logistical and operational overhead but also will make any reporting difficult.

Next – decide on how would want to structure your social data. Here is one idea:

  • Projects – each department can be represented by a project (i.e. Europe Sales, or Mobile Technology, etc)
  • Users – users will have ability to access one or more projects with various permissions.
  • Social Profiles – social profiles are added to projects. If your ‘Europe Sales’ group has a Facebook page, they can add it to their project.

Here are few things you will be able to accomplish now:

  • Access each project and view reports as they relate to that specific project.
  • Check on prior, current and planned social media activity.
  • Mix and match projects. Create additional projects that represent different dimensions of your social data. Here are few examples:
    • Project called “European Facebook Pages” – can include all Facebook page profiles from your Europe offices.
    • Project called “All Sales Twitter Accounts” – can include all Twitter profiles for all your sales teams.
    • Manage user permissions. Securing your social accounts is a big concern. Making sure that access to your social credentials is well insulated from users is important. In this model – none of your employees ever needs to know your Facebook Page password.

You may also want to consider where this product is hosted and running. Getting a 3rd party to host and operate your social media management is great and has its advantages (i.e. cost, time to go live). Hosting it inside of your network and adhering to your security guidelines and protocols may also be a big factor.

Own your data by having full access to your information. Not just in a form of Tweets and Facebook page updates on these networks, but in a form of downloadable and exportable storage of information that can easily flow into in-house reporting platforms.

Learn more about Social Report

Monitor your sales team’s social media activity

As Social Report continues to grow and acquire a diverse client base, I realized one thing: no two clients’ needs are just alike. I thought it would be interesting and valuable to share few examples of how our clients use tools available on Social Report platform to manage teams, automate daily business management functions and monitor team’s social media activities.

One of our existing clients, a firm with a sizable sales team (~50 people) was looking for a business management software to help CEO gain better visibility into that team’s social media activities. His sales team is tasked (among other responsibilities) with growing the company’s social presence through expanding their own networks on social media platforms like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. Social Report was asked to demonstrate a set of metrics that could automate monitoring of this team’s activities. For example, the CEO wanted to know how many followers, connections and friends each member of his sales team had been able to gain in a given period of time as well as engagement levels of his sales staff with their followers. He also wanted to monitor his team’s communication activity and content quality across all social media networks they had presence.

Before  using Social Report, he manually collected passwords of all this team members, logged into their accounts one by one and downloaded the numbers into one massive Excel spreadsheet where he manipulated the data into data points and charts he needed. The whole process was “very manual, inefficient and time-consuming series of tasks I wish could be fixed with a click of a button, so that I could actually focus on running my company”.

Here is how Social Report helped streamline this processes by arming the CEO with instant insights into his team’s social media activity:

  1. Create an Social Report account
  2. Added each sales team member to Social Report platform as a user.
  3. Sales team members added their social media accounts to Social Report platform (and therefore the CEO no longer needs to manually collect his team’s passwords and log into their accounts)
  4. Social Report will then begin collecting insights for each social profile.
  5. Overall reporting as well as individual reporting is now available.
  6. Now the CEO simply logs into a single dashboard and quickly assesses how his sales team is doing by having all the actionable data previously collected manually at his fingertips.

Result? Another happy client, who now can focus on strategic thinking and better ways of growing his business and other fun things CEOs do and one less mundane task to worry about. Accelerated reporting and increased efficiency helps him and his company focus on actionable items in real time.

You might be wondering what the costs are for a setup like that? They are laughable! This setup included:

  • Primary account.
  • 50 user accounts with separate logins for each sales person.
  • Unlimited reports!
All for for just $79/month. Considering the time spent before and costs associated with that, this is clearly a no brainer for any company.
While this case study focuses on managing a sales tea. I am sure you can easily extrapolate and see how this can be applicable to many other places. If you have ideas or suggestions do send them to us!

How to interview a social media manager

Hiring a social media manager can be a risky decision. There are hundreds to choose from so how do you choose and who ever you choose gets high level access to your personal information. Here are some points to follow when finding and hiring a social media manager.

  1. Make sure your potential manager knows about different reporting and publishing platforms such as Social Report, Hootsuite, or Buffer. A publishing platform is a 3rd party application that allows you to post to schedule posts in advance. They also allow you to post to all social networks at the same time. Why is this important? You would need a place to oversee your new hire activity. You will need a tool for that. A tool that will enable you to see how well your new hire is doing and control access to your accounts.

  2. Ask if he or she knows about various ranking algorithms that networks use that determine how well you social message will do. Essentially you will be asking for tricks to use for your social media campaigns to ensure maximum exposure. Specifically ask about Facebook Edge Rank it works by considering how strong the relationship is between a specific user and specific page, looks at the mix of comments, likes and shares a specific post has received and how much time has passed since a post was posted
  3. Ask about various advertisement platforms.  Get a sense of which platforms your candidate used, which once he would recommend for you.
    • Google+ uses Adwords for their ads
    • Facebook can run highly targeted ads
    • Twitter you have promoted posts and less targeted ads
    • Linkedin has targeted ads but works better with job postings and more company related news
    • Pinterest just started rolling out their advertising platform
  4. Talk about ad budget and how this agency operates. Do they charge for a campaign or do they keep a percentage of your ad budget instead. If they are only charging for a campaign this means that you input your budget and give the social media manager access to create ads using only that budget. If they are telling you to send them the money and they are running ads separately than they are most likely not using your full budget and taking a percent for themselves. This is a very unethical practice, but with reporting software like Social Report you can get full transparency of your advertising campaigns.
  5. Ask if they typically request their customer’s logins to their social accounts. The only good reason for this may be that on some networks there is really no way to create give authorized access to your account and thus if your social media manager is going to help you do things like redesign your profile areas on your account, this may be required. In all other cases your new hire should be able to conduct their entire operation through a 3rd part tool like Social Report. Learn more about managing your social credentials.
  6. Discuss workflow for publishing campaigns. Will you get a chance to review them? Will they present a road map of campaign activity for the next few months?
  7. Discuss the method of reporting this agency or a consultant uses. How often will get reports? What would these reports show? Ask about how they think the progress will be measured by? Here you would want them to talk about tracking conversions. All the things they will say about ‘reach’, and ‘engagement’, and ‘virality’ is all great – but in the end you would want them to show desire to prove the impact of your by setting up a conversion tracking mechanism.
  8. Check their own social profiles. Are they active? Check how many followers do they have? Are these followers legitimate or did they buy them? Learn how to tell which followers are legit.
  9. Certainly don’t forget to ask them about previous work experience. Specifically try to ask them to talk about customers that are similar to you and how they worked with them. What kind of results they were able to achieve.
  10. Definitely talk about where the work is being done. Do they do it themselves? Do they outsources? Not a huge deal but it can help you better manage your relationship with the team. Chances are also higher that efficiency will be lost if an extra layer of communication exists. The more direct the relationship the better!

Which social metrics truly matter?

Whether you are just getting started with social media or are an experienced expert I am sure you can’t help but notice a wide range of metrics that tend to be thrown around when social media is being discussed.

We often get calls from new customers that ask us about where to find some of them. It is often a bewildering experience to answer what some of them may potentially mean.

Some of the bigger market players in the social media space are also often guilty of developing metrics and reports, creating catchy definitions for them and then marketing them to users as meaningful social media insights.

Before I talk about examples, let me point out that I am looking at this issue from the stand point of a business owner, with a product to sell, who is looking at social media as a way of increasing his sales (business). This business owner is not looking to be as famous, he is simply looking to get more business.

Let’s take a look at few of them and what in reality that can translate to for you:

1. Reach and Impressions – these are often times used interchangeably and typically imply that a certain number of people were reached and/or this many people ‘saw’ the post. If you consider how much data and content moves in social networks (i.e. twitter, facebook) – this is somewhat hypothetical. If the person was right then a there, looking at the Twitter timeline – yes, he could have seen it. You can probably see how unreliable of a metric this can be.

2. Engagement – this is actually a lot more specific. Lots of things fall into this category. Some obviously matter more then others. Let’s say someone retweeted your content. This is not bad, but often times you would find people doing it just to keep their dead end accounts updated. If someone on the other hand favorited your tweet – this is super awesome. Likes are not bad but too compulsive – does not take too much of an effort to do and thus means very little. If someone takes time writes a 2-3 sentence comment – this is obviously a sign of someone who is a lot more involved.

3. Virality – something that encompasses bits and pieces of reach, impressions and engagement. Typically presented as a number plotted on a chart. Most likely an attempt can be made to connect growth of virality with good things to come. If you see this metric – always request to see it side by side with metrics that matter, just to make sure there is a correlation.

4. Influence – finding key influencers, finding users that influence a particular discussion the most. This all depends on how this is determined. If this is a simple count of number of tweets with a certain keyword – then this is fairly inconclusive. If a connection is made between tweets of a particular user and that specific tweet causing future conversation – then it can be quite reliable.

5. Sentiment – do people say good or bad things? It is actually not that difficult to tell. What is however a lot more difficult to do accurately is to determine if people say good or bad things about a topic that interests you.

You obviously want to have some basic performance reporting to understand how well your social media presence is performing. Don’t loose sight of the end game though – more business driven to your organization.

There is only one way to do that – good old conversion tracking. Posting to your networks and determining if people buy products or become your customers as a result. Look for answers to questions like “How many of my Facebook users have become my customers?”.  Take a look at Social Report Publishing tools to see how we solved this problem.

How using Google Analytics and Social Media can result in stellar campaigns

Most people keep their website analytics separate from their social media analytics. This is a poor choice because you want to see exactly how your social media profiles are affecting your website. Let’s say you are running a big twitter campaign, don’t you want to know if it is actually sending traffic to your website? The impact may be more subtle  - let’s say you ran a less direct promotion on Facebook (i.e. few blog posts) – did those result in a spike of traffic to your website?

Your social media profiles are important but people aren’t buying anything from there. You want to make sure that your social media profiles are sending traffic to your site, so you can continue to stay in business.

The reason people do keep their website and social media analytics separate is the result of most social management software not offering Google Analytics, Clicky, and other various website reporting in conjunction with social media analytics. 

So how do you use your Google Analytics to your advantage?

The first thing you are going to want to do is connect your Google Analytics to your Social Report account. To do this simply follow the steps below:

  1. Login to your Social Report Account
  2. Click on Add Accounts
  3. Type Google Analytics
  4. Login to your Analytics account and connect it

Once you have your account connected you will be able to start seeing data just like you would in Google Analytics. The only difference is now that you can switch over and view all your social media analytics in the same platform. Let’s say you are running a big twitter campaign, you want to know if there is a spike in traffic to your website as a result. Social Report has a nice feature where you can see all these stats side by side. This gives you a fantastic way to show correlating stats so you can make the best decisions moving forward.

Now that your account has been connected let’s discuss how we use this data

  • Demographic matching – You want to make sure that people visiting your website are the ones visiting your facebook pages. You can check this by comparing the location demographics of people who follow or like your page to where people are coming from when they go to your website.
  • Location Specific Posts – Let’s say that you see an increase in website traffic from Texas. It might be fruitful to include a few posts related to Texas News, this can give your vistors a sense that you understand what they want to see.
  • Location Specific Ad Campaigns – Similar to the statement above but you could run location based advertisements. This is much more powerful than location based posts because if they were on your website without buying anything and than saw an advertisement on their newsfeed they have a much higher chance of buying something.
  • Advertisement Targeting based on traffic source –  Let’s use Reddit as an example for this. Imagine a story or picture about your company hits the front page of Reddit, this might result in a huge surge of traffic to your site. You would want to start running advertising campaigns directed at people who like Reddit because they have a high chance of already knowing your company. You could make an Ad that says something like “You might have heard about us on Reddit”. The reasoning behind this goes back to the same idea in Locationa Specific Ads.  If you read a story about a company and than see an advertisement you are much more likely to click on the advertisement.

The biggest and most important use for using Google Analytic’s in conjunction your social media networks is simply seeing how well your Social Media Profiles are being used to drive traffic to your site. If Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ are not a top referral source for your website than your campaigns might not be as effective as you first thought.

 

Do you own your social data?

Social presence is a significant investment, both in terms of potential costs of paying consultants to help you manage your presence and in terms of your own time and effort in polishing and improving your social profiles.

How are you protecting this investment?

You are most likely taking a lot of precautions to protect your data in general – primarily through backups. Perhaps something as simple as a flash drive or something a bit more thorough like a cloud based storage.

Isn’t your social data in need of being backed up as well?

You may be wondering why this is a must. Let’s look at few scenarios:

  1. What if you accidentally deleted a piece of content of Facebook or any other network. Not that difficult to do right? There is no “Recyle bin” to go an undo your action.
  2. What if such deletion was not accidental? What if you feel victim to a hacking attack?
  3. What if you need to re-use content that was previous published on one account in another?
  4. What if you had legal requirements to maintain and preserve information in a readily accessible way?
  5. What if you just needed a way to access all of your data in a simple and quick manner?
  6. etc, etc, etc

If you think that social networks will allow you to easily and simply just grab your data – you are mistaken.  You can certainly get it but it will be an enormously time consuming effort. The most likely reason for this is that most networks are not designed as data archiving or analytical tools They are designed to show you the last hour, perhaps a day worth of data. The rest is almost irrelevant as far as they are concerned.

You will have to find a way to access your data and own it. Social Report is certainly a great tool to use here. Completely effortless to setup, collecting and storing of the data is a hassle free, completely hands off experience as we do all the work.  There are several ways you can get a hold of you data, which is stored in perpetuity for as long as you are our user:

  1. Access it via our dashboard and analytical tools.
  2. Download to Excel
  3. Get your programmers  (or ours) to help you build awesome integrations by using our API.

One other cool thing is that it can be used in addition to any other tool or product your might be using for your day to day social media management.

The basic subscription that will allow you to get this going is just $9/month. Considering that piece of mind in knowing your data is safe is priceless, this must be an awesome deal!

 

 

See all of your social data in one place

If you have happen to own a handful of social accounts it must be extremely tiring to log into each one of them on a daily basis to see what’s new. Even if you have installed tool bars or mobile applications that often times come with social networks you are still facing a fairly challenging task of following and interrelating events as they occur across your networks. Not to mention that if you needed someone else help you with your social presence the task will then becomes even more logistically problematic.

From the standpoint of someone who uses social networks for practical purposes (i.e. marketing) – each social network is really nothing but a stream of events. Some are worth looking at and possibly dealing with, some are purely informational.  Wouldn’t be awesome if you can have a single unified stream of events, presented in a ‘twitter timeline’ fashion with ability to quickly filter, search, share and respond to if necessary?

This is what Social Report Feed is for – single place where you can look at to see everything that happens across your social networks.

To get going – all you need is to connect your social accounts, something that would do regardless to get all of your reporting done. Once accounts are connected, we go to work by downloading and putting all of your comments, likes, new followers, subscribers, connections, check-ins into a simple list.

Note also that this Feed feature also comes equipped with ability to address each event in a way that makes sense for that specific event. If this is a comment, you will get a ‘reply’ button. If this is a ‘new follower’ you will get ‘follow back’ options (among several other choices). In some ways, this is super helpful as you will get some guidance as to what should typically occur when something happens on your social network.

An extra super useful feature that comes with feed is ‘best time’ analysis. Essentially you can quickly get a time chart based on your events (possibly filtered) that will show up when these events tend to occur. Wondering when your typically get new followers or new likes? Super easy to find out!

Why is knowing time of occurrence of certain events important? It can help you better time your social messages. So instead of random intervals, you can perform certain tasks based on when it is best to do them. The context of each such task may differ. For example if you are about to post to twitter, you may quickly see what is the ‘best twitter time’. If you are looking to upload a YouTube video, you may find out what are the most hours of the day when you get most viewings.

Having a unified view of all your social events is a powerful and necessary tool for anyone having a social media purpose. Just makes your day to day that much easier and efficient!

 

 

Managing your Social Media Manager

If you have hired or thinking about hiring a social media manager you might be already thinking about how to manage that relationship. The are a number of important aspects to this relationship:

  1. Sharing credentials to your accounts. This may not sound like much if you are just starting out, but over time you will realize how much problems a potential misuse of this information can cause.
  2. Tracking what your social media manager actually does. Instead of relying on reports that you will be provided, you may want to have your own method of understanding what is actually being done for you.
  3. Understanding impact. Again – you will most certainly be provided with a report but having your own way of tracking your social media accounts can offer you a powerful way of cross referencing the progress that your social media consultant may suggest he or she is making.

Let’s try an analogy. Say you have hired an SEO expert. This individual will go out and try to improve the ranking of your site. How would you track his progress? How would you know that from the day he started till now the progress has been made? You would quite simply go to Google Analytics, take a peek at your stats and know in seconds if your site is doing better as a result of this consultant efforts.

Same exact situation here except that the problem space is much broader. We are not simply talking about a single platform – you will most likely have a number of social media accounts and having a tool capable of giving you insights for each and every platform is going to be key.

With Social Report you can quite easily accomplish this. You can even manage multiple social media consultants independent of one another to even further compare their performance. Here is how:

  1. Create a Social Report. You can start at our most basic level (just $9/month)
  2. Create a project to represent your brand
  3. Add your social media consultant to this project as a user.
  4. Add all of your social media accounts to your project (IMPORTANT – you do not need to give you consultant access to your Facebook pages on or Twitter accounts on Facebook and Twitter – you just need to give them access to your Social Report project)

This is it! Now your consultant can login and work. You can also login and check up on things from time to time!

 

 

Every Social Media Agency’s Worst Nightmare

Imagine this situation: you are working at a social media agency and you absolutely loathe your job. You have to deal with (in your opinion) the dumbest people to have walked the earth, and you don’t think you get paid nearly enough to do it. One day you are sitting in your office, minding your own business, when you get called upstairs to Human Resources. You know you’re not getting a promotion, so it must be the day you finally get fired. You knew this day was coming, as your quality of work has greatly stagnated because you resent your bosses so much. You have one simple thought: if you’re going down, you’re going to take the company down with you, just to spite them all. 

Now, let’s look at the flip side of this scenario. You’re running a social media agency and you have this lousy employee. They have a terrible attitude towards the clients, always getting into arguments, and never answering their questions. You have given them chance after chance, but it’s reached the point of no return. You simply need to let them go.

In most businesses, this isn’t necessarily a difficult procedure. You fill out the paperwork, and let the bad employee go. The difference between a normal work place and a social media agency is the power employees have to ruin someone’s business. Employees have the power to ruin not only your own company’s reputation, but those of your clients as well. In a single status update, they could publish racial slurs, profanities, and cause a PR nightmare for everyone involved.

A disgruntled employee is every social media agency’s worst nightmare.

So the question is: how do you prevent a disgruntled employee from wrecking havoc amongst your clients’ social media networks?

The easiest solution is to avoid giving employees access to client data, but obviously this isn’t a viable solution. The only plausible option is to use a form of social media management software that allows only your clients to control their login information while fully enabling you to conduct your work for them. Luckily, this method is already integrated into Social Report. Social Report allows clients to connect and control access to these accounts for you. This feature also prevents you from worrying about whether you have the correct client information, and gives clients access to scheduled publications for their social media accounts and complete reporting.