Many business managers have heard of social monitoring but think it is costly, complex, and require you hire specialists. These are all false. There are social monitoring systems which allow you to quickly monitor your company, your products and your competitors. AND they are free and easy to use.
There are conversations occurring about you on many different types of social sites. While most managers are aware of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, significant conversations can happen on blogs, forum boards, video and social aggregator sites [like YouTube or Reddit] and on social news sites. Here are 3 you should use:
- SocialMention.com – Social mention is a great, free tool. Simply put in your company or product name and it will show you who is talking about you. It uses sentiment analysis to tell you whether their conversations are positive or negative, the strength of these conversations and much more. The site is totally interactive [want to look at the positive comments? Just click on them] and allows you to output key hash tags [twitter] and other information to your excel spreadsheets. This lets you compare chatter about your company and your competition. See the Sentiment ratio? If it goes negative…you are in big trouble!
- AllTop.com – Alltop lets you monitor who is influential by topics of interest to you and your company. Simply put in the topic and it will give you the sites & groups most influential in the conversation. A great way to find compelling content for your site or to link up with experts in different areas.
- Listorious.com – For any topic, there are bloggers and experts who are at the core of the conversation. Listorious lets you see who is most influential in your specialty areas. Want to go viral? You need to talk to these people.
We recommend our clients use these tools every week to find out what is happening in social media. They are a great way to learn what is being said about you and your competition so you can manage – rather than just react – to social commentary.
Randy Hlavac is CEO and founder of Marketing Synergy Inc – an integrated and social marketing company located in Naperville IL. Founded in 1990, Marketing Synergy works with companies to build measurable, highly profitable marketing programs and the database and analytical systems to drive them. Randy works with B2B and B2C organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 firms. In addition to Marketing Synergy, Randy has been a Lecturer Professor of Integrated and Social Marketing at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program for the last 21 years. His graduate and undergraduate courses focus on the development of high impact Social IMC marketing programs and many of the course “graduates” work in social marketing today. Dialog with Randy on Twitter @randyhlavac or discuss social issues with the hash tag #NUSocialIMC. Randy can also be reached through his company website.
Twitter gives restaurant and franchise owners and employees a place to connect with customers, listen to customer feedback and get ideas. Yes, you want to promote your restaurant to compel people to stop by. However, focus on that too much and it’s a recipe for social media disaster.
Successful Twitter users share a variety of tweets that help them build relationships and help others. Here are ideas on how you can use Twitter to engage customers.
- Thank customers.
- Answer customer questions.
- Reply to customer complaints as soon as possible — even if you don’t have an answer. Tweet “We’re looking into it and will get back with you.”
- Ask for menu or specials of the day ideas.
- Ask for feedback on customer service.
- Thank people for reviews.
- Ask for music recommendations if you play music or have visiting musicians.
- Share cooking tips especially for the food you specialize in.
- Share timesaving cooking tips.
- Link to posted recipes.
- Ask what people like to include in their dish. For example, you’re a burger restaurant, ask what toppings people like to put on their burgers.
- Use one or two hashtags in some tweets, such as #chicago (restaurant city) #restaurants #dallasrestaurants #nycmcdonalds (city and franchise name).
Humanize your restaurant
- Talk about causes you support.
- Tell the story behind any artwork or pictures hanging in your restaurant.
- Tell people about an employee’s upcoming birthday and that if they wish the employee “Happy Birthday” they will get a special treat.
- Share stories and quotes heard in the restaurant.
- Share customer celebrations with photos. (Ask the customer for permission first.)
- Post photos of employees at work or with their favorite dishes.
Social network integration
- Mention that your restaurant is on Foursquare, and customers can get specials for checking in.
- Ask for Facebook page “Likes” so they catch future specials.
- Announce a contest that encourages customers to share photos of their experience at your restaurant or their favorite dishes. Use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or another similar source for photos.
- Set up a business card bowl with a sign requesting Twitter IDs at the restaurant.
- Link to a video tour of your restaurant.
- Let people know where to subscribe to email updates for coupons, announcements and events.
- Schedule a tweetup offering a discount for a group of 10 or more.
- Share off-menu items that your chefs will make anytime.
- Announce menu items that you’ve run out of and recommend a substitute. (Bonus points: offer special pricing.)
- List flavors of the day or the week. For example, if you’re a yogurt franchise, list or link to your current flavors.
- Announce specials of the day.
- Post dietary menu items, such as vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
- Reveal the new menu or menu items.
- Share where people can find coupons.
- Post a secret word that gets a discount or free item for the day.
- Post upcoming special events taking place in your restaurant.
- Announce events or locations outside of your restaurant where someone from your restaurant will attend.
- Share photos of menu items.
- Hold a trivia contest where the winner gets something free. Questions can be about your restaurant or the type of food you serve.
- Announce dates and times where a food truck will show up.
What other ways can a restaurant or franchise use Twitter to connect with customers?
is a powerful concept that is important to understand when you are setting goals for social networking programs. In my last two blog posts, I talked about what social capital is and how you can measure social capital.
Amplifying an individual, business, or any resource within your network results in the increase and spread of knowledge, ideas, and connections, and thereby increases the quality and quantity of the connections in your social graph.
Amplification is a direct result of relationship brokering. This can be accomplished in a number of ways:
Connecting people and resources to one another
When you connect two individuals with similar or complementary needs and goals, you immediately amplify your network. Closing this gap between these two individuals increases the connectivity and value of your network. The more influential the people are, the greater the value you – and they – derive from being connected.
Sharing resources is another way to spread value on a qualitative and quantitative level. You could share ideas, business knowledge, storefront space, project advice, and many other assets. Through sharing we add reciprocity of trust and value, which is very important to amplifying your network’s influence.
Inviting people with varied and opposing points of view into conversations
In your network, it’s important to create a diverse array of groups, ideals, goals, and backgrounds. Connecting with people who are different from yourself and from each other promotes the exchange of ideas, adds energy, and sparks more interesting discussions. It also gives you a stronger and more useful network.
The fascinating part of measuring your social capital and mapping your networks is that you can see which individuals, which businesses, and which resources have the positions of power in your social graph. Being in the core group brings one type of value; being on the periphery of the network delivers a different degree of influence. To amplify your network and your network’s influence, you want to target individuals who are both important and influential.
The people, organizations, and resources within your networks work together to create a common understanding of the personal and professional opportunities that lay ahead. You can identify people with needs you can fill, people with new and innovative ideas, people with talent and expertise, people with resources and various forms of capital – and target those people for your relationship-building efforts. When you deliberately and strategically amplify your network, you will produce the kind of strong connections you need to maximize your social capital.
This series of guest blog posts about social capital is courtesy of Bennett Resnik, a consultant on social capital and networks, and the creator of “The Hands We Shake” lecture series on how to build, grow, and sustain social capital. He is an expert in networking strategy and social capital retention. Bennett has helped start-ups, small businesses, non-profits and individuals develop a comprehensive strategy to build and cultivate their social capital.
In my last blog post, I talked about what social capital is. Today I’m going to look at some tools you can use to analyze and measure your networks.
When any type of group is created, be it a non-profit, a formal corporate hierarchy, a small business franchise, or social clubs, we need to take a step back and visualize the organization’s structure. Do you like how the organization and its people are arranged? Are there ways to make improvements?
These questions can be applied to personal networks. Can you visualize your personal and professional connections to see if there are changes you can make? Yes, you can!
Nothing will increase your awareness of your networks and the networks that are available to you more than creating a map of your networks. Mapping out your networks creates a visualization of the social capital available to you and your business, and helps you identify action steps for improving your network.
Here are a few software programs that can take your social ties and show you how everyone you know online fits together:
Gephi is a software program that allows you to create your own network map from scratch, entering in names and associations. In addition, there are several programs within Gephi that can collect social data from your Facebook profile and Facebook groups, mapping your connections there. Gephi, unlike other applications, can perform a dynamic network map. Networks are constantly evolving, and with some light coding, Gephi programs can continuously pull data from Twitter, Facebook or other sites, showing you how your network is changing.
NodeXL is a software program that is integrated with Microsoft Excel. It can be used by those with limited knowledge of social graphs and analysis; however, it also provides advanced features for analysts. NodeXL allows the user to plug data into a spreadsheet and also pulls data from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and other sites. This is a great tool for visualizing online networks, with a small learning curve.
InMaps is a tool LinkedIn has created to map and visualize your LinkedIn network. The great feature of this tool is that you can zoom in to different clusters and groups of the network. Once you select an individual in your network, their LinkedIn profile and details open on the right side of the screen. For users that rely heavy on LinkedIn networks, this is a great analytical tool.
Mapping your social network is a great idea. You get a beautiful image that makes it easy to see not just the people you are connected to, but how they are connected to each other. It’s the perfect first step towards optimizing your network and defining actionable steps to improve the quality and quantity of your relationships.
In my next blog post, I talk about how to amplify the relationships in your social network.
Today’s blog post is courtesy of Bennett Resnik, a consultant on social capital and networks, and the creator of “The Hands We Shake” lecture series on how to build, grow, and sustain social capital. He is an expert in networking strategy and social capital retention. Bennett has helped start-ups, small businesses, non-profits and individuals develop a comprehensive strategy to build and cultivate their social capital.
Being part of a social network, being inter-connected with other people has value, even to those people who are on the periphery of the network. Social capital incorporates not just friendships and social ties, but a wide array of identifiable benefits that flow from the exchange of trust, communication, and collaboration.
“Social capital refers to the institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of a society’s social interactions… Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions which underpin a society – it is the glue that holds them together.” (The World Bank, 1999)
“Whereas physical capital refers to physical objects and human capital refers to the properties of individuals, social capital refers to connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them. In that sense social capital is closely related to what some have called “civic virtue.” The difference is that “social capital” calls attention to the fact that civic virtue is most powerful when embedded in a sense network of reciprocal social relations. A society of many virtuous but isolated individuals is not necessarily rich in social capital.” (Putnam 2000: 19)
Social capital can be positive – an asset that you use to create value for yourself and tap into for the benefit of others. It can also be negative. A lack of relationships or associations with people who are perceived as a threat can decrease the value of your social network.
One of the key components to social capital is trust. In fact, many studies measure social capital by asking “Do you trust the others?” Other studies analyze the participation in volunteer groups, associations or civic activities.
Social capital is difficult to quantify – there is no simple and widely accepted way to measure the current state of an individual’s social capital or the changes in their social capital. But social capital is an important asset for both individuals and businesses.
When a business accesses social capital, it eases entry into new markets and new customer bases, and delivers opportunities for expansion and cross-promotion. Looking analytically at the social network of the individuals involved in the business can speed this process. If you can identify who has what connections, and who are the key influencers in their networks, you can foster relationships and build bridges to people who might be needed.
In my next blog post, I will share some tools you can use to analyze and better understand your social networks .
This guest blog post is courtesy of Bennett Resnik, a consultant on social capital and networks, and the creator of “The Hands We Shake” lecture series on how to build, grow, and sustain social capital. He is an expert in networking strategy and social capital retention. Bennett has helped start-ups, small businesses, non-profits and individuals develop a comprehensive strategy to build and cultivate their social capital.