Traveling and speaking at many conferences, I’m often asked, “How do you come up with a successful strategy for a client? Do you use Twitter, Facebook or YouTube?” I reply that it all depends on my client. Now that may sound like I’m side stepping the answer, but to be perfectly honest, that is exactly the right answer.
There’s No Cookie Cutter Solutions
I know everyone would love to have a “rip open the box and install” solution to creating the perfect online marketing strategy, especially when it comes to social media. However, while a few tactics can be considered to be standard, i.e. securing profiles in social media communities like Facebook & Twitter, how you engage in them can be a totally different story. That’s why research is so vitally important to an integrated marketing strategy in today’s world of marketing to consumers.
There are a variety of different tools you can use to help you with your research. From free to paid, you will get what you pay for. The more expensive the tool, the more information you are going to receive, in both the amount of records and the type of data. From sheer ‘counting’ to actual sentiment analysis, some tools can be very overwhelming in what they bring back – let alone being able to pull actionable insights from that data in order to build a sound strategy for a marketing plan.
Don’t Fall for the Counting Game
When you are beginning to do your research it’s very easy to fall for the counting game. What I mean by the counting game is looking at the sheer number of conversations going on about a particular keyword. Looking at the sheer number, and reporting those numbers as the volume of conversation out there, can be a fatal miss-step if you are planning a strategy around engaging actively interested and motivated audiences.
Take for example the screen capture below of a search on the term “trade show booths”. One can look at this data from Trackur (a tool I highly recommend for doing online marketing audience research) and think that there’s a heck of a lot of conversation going on about this topic.
In reality, when you take a deeper look, by opening up the entries and even just looking at the handles of the Twitter users, you may start to see a pattern of spam in the Twitterverse on this subject, without even clicking through. Once you click through, you’ll discover the same article is being tweeted out over and over again by bots, making it seem as if there’s a lot of conversation about this article, when in reality, there’s not. That’s why taking and counting the number of mentions is a fool hardy tactic.
Take a Deeper Look at the Data
Then there’s those conversations that on the surface might look legitimate, but taken at face value they may also lead you down a path of futility. Take, for example, the highlighted area below:
“Tips for Designing Trade Show Booths” – wow, who wouldn’t think that this piece of content is legit, right? There’s no spamming of Twitter, or Facebook with repeated messages about the content. Well, take a closer look. It’s Tweeted by “babygirlboyname”. Think about people working in this industry. Isn’t it a bit odd of a name to be tweeting about trade show booths, especially with a Twitter profile page like below?
So, on the surface within the tool, the record looks like a pretty legitimate “tweet” that’s just disseminating content, and adding to a legitimate conversation, save for the Twitter handle. However, that handle is what prompts me to dig further, and what would you think I will find? A great article listing a number of tips, right? Wrong.
It’s a blog post full of gibberish; a post put together through some sort of bot to put content on the page. Nothing within the content makes sense. There is hardly one well-formed sentence, let alone all of the capitalization and punctuation errors. The twitter handle offered the clue and the deeper dig confirmed that indeed, we were seeing yet more spam.
To Be Successful You Have to Take the Time & Find the Legitimate Conversations
The above examples are exactly why you can’t take data brought back to you in these social media buzz monitoring tools at face value or by raw numbers. That’s why you need to take the time to research and truly find where the conversations are happening. Taken on face value, by just counting the number of tweets about trade show booths, one could mistakenly be lead to believe, “tweeting” with people is the right form of engagement. It takes a deeper dive into the data to truly discover where the honest, accurate opportunities lie to create a well formed integrated marketing strategy that includes social media tactics.
Photo credit: Flickr user “coljay72″