Managing Your Social Media Ecosystem

Posted: January 26, 2012 by beperks in Uncategorized
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By Bret Perkins, MBA Class of 2012

Welcome to Digital Burrito! Your source for all topics related to digital media marketing wrapped up into a convenient, easily digestible blog. Our first post will take a look at the proliferation of social media tools and platforms, and how corporations can effectively manage their social media ecosystem. The social media ecosystem is comprised of both internal and external social media, including platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as social monitoring tools from Radian6 and social CRM software from The figure below shows a detailed, yet hardly comprehensive, look at some social media tools and platforms for different engagement arenas.

The growing consumer adoption and use of social media platforms, tools, and API’s – in combination with the relatively low barriers to entry in the social media realm – have resulted in an explosion of social media firms trying to define a market niche and capture a piece of the social media pie. A recent industry report released by the Altimeter Group, titled “A Strategy for Managing Social Media Proliferation,” found that global corporations are managing, albeit poorly, an average 178 business-related social media accounts. This figure is staggering, and demonstrates the extreme push that corporations are making to engage with their customers online and increase marketing ROI. Recently, Social Media Management Systems (SMMS) have been developed to assist companies with managing their social media ecosystem. Altimeter strongly suggests adoption of an SMMS to assist in managing social media accounts.

In the report, Altimeter suggests that companies put their brand reputation – and online brand presence – at risk when they haphazardly adopt a multitude of social media accounts without an underlying strategy. Jeremiah Owyang, the author of the report, offers 8 tips for effectively launching and managing social media accounts:

  1. Have a clear sense of your business purpose.
  2. Stakeholders educated on the right policies.
  3. Mindset ready for the long-term commitment.
  4. Mindset ready for negative conversation.
  5. Dedicated team ready to engage.
  6. Content calendar of meaningful content.
  7. Plan to triage or deal directly with customer support needs.
  8. Measurement capabilities and a reporting plan.

In class, we’ve discussed the importance of companies getting involved in digital media to be able to engage with their customers, allowing them to market more effectively, sell more products/services and improve customer service. However, without a clearly defined strategy and plan around the management of social media, your ecosystem can quickly spiral out of control. The report cites the dangers and pitfalls of not having a clear plan and workflow for managing your social media. As we began to talk about last week, aligning your e-marketing plan to your overall business strategy and to measurable, achievable goals, is essential for success.

Owyang’s tips touch on many other points that have come up in class: 1 – align your business strategy (social media use) to your business goals; 3 –  social media is here to stay; 4 and 7 – manage the conversation with your customers, and use it to improve customer service; 8 – have clear metrics that can measure and report the success of using social media.

As usual, the Altimeter report is thoroughly researched and offers sage advice for conquering social media woes. However, one pitfall that isn’t discussed in the report (which I have come across often in my professional career in social media marketing) is the concept of “rogue” social media accounts. Rogue accounts can be both unofficial company accounts created by fans, customers, and evangelists, as well as unauthorized official company accounts illicitly created by employees.

Questions for class discussion: How can rogue accounts hurt a companies brand/reputation? What policies or actions can companies take to “recapture” rogue accounts? Is there a middle ground where companies should allow rogue accounts to exist to benefit from the “earned” publicity?

We look forward to your comments!

  1. Chris B. says:

    Rogue accounts can be good on Twitter, where you can find many a #fake account. They are usually funny and not damaging to the brand. The #fake accounts also provide unsanitized feedback on the brand that can be invaluable to the marketer.

  2. michelleblum says:

    Rogue accounts can be annoying and damaging, but they are also a sign that your company/organization is important. In that way it is a compliment.

    Thanks for reposting those social media tips. I should have paid attention to them sooner (especially #2). In any organization of more than 1 person, creating a social media policy from the very beginning is not only smart but will be appreciated by everyone. Employees deserve to be enlightened on your social media strategy, including how and where they should post their ideas.

  3. Paul Quiring says:

    I agree with the previous two comments, but how easy would it be for a competitor to secure a relate Twitter handle and create a rogue account with the sole intention of bringing down your brand? Assuming the rogue accounts aren’t intentionally malicious, I believe active engagement with the rogues from ‘real’ brand accounts can go a long way into not only curbing negativity, but transforming them into a positive asset. The rogue tweeter either has some sort of beef with the company/brand or is seeking attention. If it’s attention, give it to them and try to get them to tweet positively as a result. If they have an issue, address it. If it is a legitimate problem, fixing it will not only take care of the rogue tweeter, but as we discussed, fixing ones problem creates a more positive feeling toward a company than simply not having a problem to begin with. Also, if the rogue has an issue, chances are others do to, and it is worth addressing.

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