Joel Postman argues that A Blog is a Better Social Media Hub Than Twitter. I tend to agree, especially from a business perspective. His post got me thinking about the critical elements for a business social media toolkit.
1) A Blog or a Website (it’s the same thing really)
A business or personal brand needs to have a home base – it’s the virtual equivalent of an office or post office box.
However, the reason that a website (powered by a blogging tool or by handcrafted HTML or whatever) is a necessary part of your social media arsenal is that you control it and all of the content therein. This assumes that you to host your own site & have access to all the data. If it is hosted or managed by someone else then your data is at risk if the relationship breaks down or their business has a failure.
Many businesses put their websites/blogs into the hands of third parties & often don’t even know the passwords to access their own information. This is a huge risk!
One thing that is rapidly becoming apparent to me is a convergence between blogs and websites. Someone asked me the other day: what is the difference between the two? It really made me think. And the answer was they are the same thing. This is because the platform – blog as content management system – does not matter any longer.
What is important is the content delivered on the site. We can also see this convergence in the number of websites that now use a blogging platform as their content management system.
2) Social media & social network presence
Social networks and social media are the elements that bring website or blog content alive. These are tools that enable sharing of messages with communities of people who are interested. They also provide an opportunity to move from a monologue publishing style to a conversational dialogue style of interaction.
Even if your business does not want or need to use social networks it makes sense to own your corporate identity. What happens if someone who hates your business registers “YourBusinessName” on Twitter and starts sending out messages?
Also it is worth setting up a social networking presence as a low cost distribution channel for your website content. Think of the website as a publication platform while social networks are the distribution channel.
A big challenge for websites until now has been letting people know that they exist and have useful or relevant content. Social media helps to solve this problem for businesses and personal brands.
The other important thing is to store the content of your social networking interactions for later analysis and reference. For example, on Twitter it is possible to create an RSS feed of a particular user’s or hashtag’s Twitter stream. Just go to search.twitter.com, enter your search term & there is an option to create an RSS feed of that search.
Also a number of plugins are available that enable posting of social network activity to a website/blog. And if all this information goes back to your website it can be backed up and remain available even if the original source network is ephemeral.
3) Social media reputation tracking
Once you take a brand out to play in this socially connected world monitoring what is going on becomes important. I’ve written about this before, giving a few examples where social media has both helped and harmed brands.
An implicit social contract is created by brands when they participate in social networks. Your brand becomes more accessible and people will interact (even if you would prefer that they did not).
There are some great paid services that can monitor your online reputation. However, here are a few free tools that are available:
This kind of monitoring should be setup and reviewed regularly.
Regular participation, care and feeding of social media is necessary as it is now part of the marketing mix. Social media and social networking are part of both the place and the promotion of a brand or product.
Online should be monitored similar to the way we used to monitor customer feedback, newspapers and magazines in the past.