I’ve pitched quite a few internal social media initiatives over the past year and a half and always seem to come across the same three questions. So I thought that I’d share them here, along with the answers that seemed to work for me during my biggest pitch to date, just yesterday.
But before I get into the Q&A, I think that a caveat is in order. Most of my experience has been around developing social media initiatives for ideas, as opposed to developing social media for established brands. If you’re interested in finding out what people want to know when they don’t really have a product just yet, and the answers that seem to make them comfortable, then read on…
When Do I Start?
I could regurgitate Groundswell* and every other social media somebody out there and tell you that you need to start listening today… But when you’re not dealing with a product that people already know about, which is the premise of this post, your next question will be something along the lines of how do I know who to listen to?
And that is the right question.
When we’re developing a new product, we’re in meetings all day and need to get the biggest bang for our relationship marketing buck. We want to find and develop relationships with people who share our views AND have an audience of their own, so the finding part comes before the listening part. The answer to this question is still, we can start today… but we must start by understanding who we want to listen to because we don’t have time to listen to everybody.
What do I do?
The next question you’re going to get is: “Great, so how do I do that?” And lucky for you, you’ve read this post and will have an answer to this brain teaser. There are plenty of tools out there that do social media monitoring. My friend Kevin Palmer put this awesome list of them all together and is threatening to start reviewing them because he is a machine who doesn’t breathe the same air that we breathe… Most of these tools cater to known brands, but there are a handful that generate network maps of the blogosphere based on keywords. Those are the ones that we want to know about.
It’s a little known fact that I make fun of buzz word expressions like “leverage social media” because it’s commonly misused and I hear it a lot. But building a strategy around the network effects that relationship marketing can possibly provide would be as close to “leveraging social media” as I’ve ever seen. The idea is as easy as the following six simple steps:
1. Establish the keywords you think people would use to find your product
2. Pump them into a tool like Social Radar or Sysomos
3. View a network diagram of the sites using those key words
4. Pick the most connected sites and put them into your reader
5. Build a Twitter List of those blog’s authors
6. Start trying to get attention and build rapport
How Do I Know It Works?
The beauty of tools like Social Radar and Sysomos seems to not only lie in their network analysis capability. There is also a tremendous amount of beauty in their reporting capabilities. We can use the tool to pick out the most connected blogs for a niche segment that we care about, start building relationships on their sites and on Twitter, and then follow those sites from within the tool to monitor conversation share.
Let’s say that we pick 100 “connected bloggers” that write about keywords similar to the keywords we created for our new product. And that over the course of two to six months we’ve been spending the bulk of our time building relationships. We’re not going to have been able to connect all 100, so we log the people who we have built some kind of rapport with, and then put a two sentence, personalized pitch E-mail together and fire away during our product launch phase.
What is interesting about the tools is that we can calculate social media reach and our increase/decrease in conversation share over time, in relation to our relationship marketing efforts. That’s definitely important. But we can also monitor the network effects of the relationships we’ve built by looking at the second order relationships, the people who are connected to the people we are connected too, to see if and how our message is spreading.
Now we just need to put that social media reach data up against our landing page’s web analytics data to see which of our relationships is driving the most traffic/conversions to possibly do something special with those individuals.
That’s really all there seems to be to it. Answer those three questions and you’re on your way toward getting approval to move forward with social media for your new product launch. Let me know if you think that I’m out to lunch on this one, or if you have a different question that what questions you get and what the answers are in the comments below.
*I really enjoyed reading the Groundswell and highly endorse it as the place to start when thinking of social media for business. At the same time, the examples in the book are all known brands, which is different than what we’re talking about in this post.