Social Media Marketing: Managing Your Engagement

In this fourth article in a series on the complexities of social media marketing, I’ll be talking about some of the ways you can manage your engagement in SMM and see how you’re doing. I’ll probably cover some of this in later parts as well. Let’s get started.

If you’ve missed previous parts, you can check out what I said about Twitter apps, Facebook games and apps, and more. As I’ve noted previously, a Business Insider infographic revealed 28 different social media marketing areas; in this series, I’ve been trying to explain what they are and how you can use them to promote your brand and your company. It isn’t just about Facebook and Twitter after all!

The first topic I’d like to discuss in this article is content curation sites. Examples of these include BuzzFeed, Storify, SkyGrid, and more. These companies let you bring content together in interesting ways to get your message across. Usually, you can pull items you’ve found from a variety of places into one one spot, make comments on it, connect everything together, have subscribers, and so forth.

For example, a Storify page from the Washington Post shows one of their stories, but also includes links to related stories, more items from Washington Post (possibly from other sites, like Twitter tweets), and comments from users. Because of the way Storify is set up, however, the Washington Post was able to tell the story – about users turning to Facebook to get news concerning a Twitter outage – in an unusual way. The publisher pulled the comments from Facebook and Twitter users and posted them directly into the page; this allowed them to follow one of the most important maxims of storytelling: “show, don’t tell.” A fun example from BuzzFeed also illustrates this point.

The challenge here is that you need to have something meaningful to say, and know how to pull it all together in a way that will entertain your readers. These pages have a “man on the street” interview quality to them; if you know how to search for tweets and comments on social sites covering particular topics, that’s half the battle. Make it relevant, make it entertaining – and as with any social media, you need to do it regularly to develop a following. You’ll need to study the content curation site you’re thinking of using, too, to make sure you can fit your pages for them into their categories. If you can make this work, your readers and subscribers on these sites can share your pages on their favorite social media, thus raising your visibility.

Next, I’d like to discuss analytics sites. These include Omniture, mixpanel, bluefin, webtrends, and more. If you’ve ever used analytics to measure the popularity of your website and web pages, you probably have some understanding of how these services work. But these specifically focus on how social media impacts your website. Omniture notes that its product “enables marketers to directly measure their social media efforts, and understand how conversations on social networks and online communities influence marketing performance.” The key point is that these services let you MEASURE your efforts, so you can see how you’re doing.

The exact mix of services that each of these companies, and others in the same space, differs tremendously. Many of them offer free demos or trials, however, and it’s worth taking advantage of these to see if their product gives you the kind of actionable data that you can use.

Finally, I’m going to talk about the area of social brand engagement. Companies that represent this area include Adly, SocialVibe, and MyLikes. These sites offer an intriguing service: they match social media influencers (such as celebrities) up with brands looking for someone to promote them. Not all of them operate in this way. SocialVibe, for instance, “enables advertisers to engage with consumers when they are most motivated to interact with a brand experience, such as while playing a game or seeking access to premium content.” MyLikes bluntly says on its home page that it pays Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr users to promote stuff they like.

Social brand engagement, in other words, is kind of like getting paid word-of-mouth advertising, with a paid middleman to match you up with the right people. Is this just like paying for links? You can let your own conscience be your guide here, but there’s certainly a fair bit of gray area.

Remember that Google considers paid links to be black hat if you bought them for the purpose of raising your ranking in the search engine. If you purchased a link on a website simply because that website has greater visibility with your target audience than you do, however, and you’re hoping to get traffic from that, technically you’re not in violation of Google’s Terms of Service. If you use this kind of social media marketing, you’re arguably doing the same thing; you’re not (directly) trying to increase your ranking in Google, you’re trying to increase your visibility in social media and get your brand in front of your target audience.

That’s all I have room for today. We’ll continue to cover this next week.

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