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Social media has dramatically changed the way companies interact with customers. The 24-hour flow of information on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, LinkedIn, Google+, as well as endless blogs and mainstream media sites can be daunting to manage.
Settling upon best social media practices for your company might seem as simple as having a conversation with someone 10 rows up from you at a basketball game during the fourth quarter. However, businesses can now get close, personal and involved in the social media conversation with specialized platforms and tools.
An Inside Job
One key to a winning social media strategy is authenticity. EveryoneSocial, a company that helps employee and brand advocates share original and curated content on social media, strives to meet this authenticity.
“Brand messaging doesn’t carry as much as it used to and the buying cycle is shifting,” says Eric Nystrom, vice president of brand development at EveryoneSocial. “People do their own research and rarely engage with the brand itself—they rely more heavily on [purchasing from] people they trust and know.”
Today, most companies’ employees are social media savvy. So how does this platform keep all that is said about a brand in line with company goals? Nystrom pegs education and training as essential to mitigating risk for a company.
The EveryoneSocial platform gathers content around what the brand feels is important, and then the subscribing brand can hand select what they want shared.
“[EveryoneSocial] sets the guard rails to make sure content is brand approved,” says Nystrom. Depending on how open the company chooses to be, EveryoneSocial not only curates the content around what the brand feels is important, but also opens up the opportunity for employees to share and bring in their own content.
The idea of empowering real people from a company’s pool of naturally social employees gives brands an edge, says Nystrom. This inside-out approach comes from the belief that bringing value to employees creates a symbiotic relationship.
“We think that people matter and it’s really about the people versus the view that the people are an extension of the brand,” says Nystrom. This school of thought results in authentic content, which builds up the brand and gives employees a voice that is uniquely their own. The overall result? More engaged employees and a brand strategy built by people who feel trusted and therefore care more about company goals.
Another aspect to social media strategy is listening and being able to use what is heard to build on what works and to change what doesn’t. Brands need a way to gather, analyze and interact with the social media conversation. Knowing what is being said is one thing—understanding large amounts of information continually being produced around a brand’s presence is another.
Seeing every piece of information from the social media conversation in one place is extremely valuable to businesses, but for social media managers the work can be time consuming and overwhelming, says Keith Nellesen, CEO of Utah-based NUVI, a real-time analytics platform focused on social media listening, engagement and reporting. His company works to save other companies a lot of time by giving them an easy way to see what is going on in social media in real time.
“How do you keep your eyes and ears on everything?” he asks. “We make it easy to gather and disseminate that information to the company. A social media analyst can see all information from the NUVI platform and edit that information to reports for everyone to see.”
Tools from the NUVI platform gather conversations and mentions, analyze conversation patterns broadly or in-depth, and show all that information in an easy-to-understand way in real time on a command center type of portal. That information is accessible by all social media team members whether they are in the office or working remotely.
NUVI also keeps tabs on conversations from fans and key influencers in a unique market segment. NUVI also provides in-depth analysis of a company’s goals and customization for tracking social media and other metrics exclusive to a business.
One certainty in social media is change. You may figure out how to authentically participate, track, listen and harness a conversation in social media before you iron out a way to carry on a real conversation without shouting over 10 rows of noisy basketball fans, but what is the future of social media?
Nellesen predicts brands will have more tools and will be able to connect and interpret social media faster and more efficiently, as he sees new tools being developed as a response to NUVI clientele’s online needs.
“I am more often optimistic about the future than concerned,” says Nystrom. “Social media is a growing area for companies to think about. Brands need to get their employees involved to become more open, more engaged and more transparent.”