Social Media Quick Wins For Small Businesses

How to hijack, monitor and automate your social media campaigns for quick wins.

In recent years social media has become an advanced and at times complex field for business owners. From monitoring to automation, human interaction to buzz hijacking, staying on top of the game is crucial. At London SES Andrew Girdwood, Paul Madden and Marcus Tober set about demystifying what’s hot and what’s not.

Andrew Girdwood - Big Mouth Media

Andrew Girdwood suggests two things that anyone who works in social media must know.

Firstly, content can't look cheap and secondly, you need to deal with fragmentation - as the social media space is so fragmented. Social media audiences are here there and everywhere, so it is imperative to monitor content. You’ll want to get the right tools.

[Editors note: Google Reader has been discontinued, other alternatives are Feedly and NewsBlur.]

A simple free tool that is an excellent content monitor is Google Reader. Reader can become like a command center when it comes to social media monitoring. Combine Google Reader with Google Alerts and you can create a free powerful content monitoring system.

Whilst Google Reader and Google Alerts are useful, there are other social media tools that can help with social media tasks.

  1. Evri.com - the user can teach EVRI to monitor social media.
  2. Trap.it - is an online tool that allows people to monitor sites for social media mentions.
  3. StrawberryJ.am - helps condense monitored content into an email containing just the top five stories a day. Currently in Beta mode, the tool can help make sure you don’t miss anything important to your sector and save you time.
  4. IFTTT.com - is a tool that can track conversations on Twitter and, similar to Strawberry Jam, sends an email digest.
  5. Bufferapp.com - a social media success story that can tweet four stories automatically.

Whilst social media tools can be extremely useful, Andrew argues that strategy is better than shortcuts. This is because shortcuts can be dangerous if you don't think things through. For social media its wise to remember the principle: ‘monitor cheaply, but react quickly.’

Paul Madden - Automica

Social media influence costs money, and to be efficient at running campaigns, Paul believes that it's necessary to look at automating as many tasks as possible.

Effective automation can prove to be cheaper, faster and easier than manual methods. However it’s important to remember that all engagement should be human, because social media is after all, about relationships.

Paul argues that when managing social media campaigns, anyone involved should be under control. Social media managers should set time aside each day to step in, engage and develop relationships.

On the question of how often to post, Paul believes it is best to post often. This is because it allows content to drip-feed into people heads. Whether people are looking for brand awareness, generating a buzz or seeding content, the more often you can appear the better chance you have of the posts being seen by the greatest number of people.

Paul argues that people follow or like because they are interested or curious. Their reason for following is purely because they think they should follow. On Twitter people follow an account because they feel they might miss out if they don't.

To get to this stage of perceived authority, it does take volume, and to get volume automation is key. Twitter tends to be better for an automated approach. Facebook can be difficult to leverage for volume. Whereas 12-20 updates a day might be acceptable on Twitter, two status updates a day might be best on Facebook.

Tools for social media automation

Socialoomph.com - A good tool to add social accounts and schedule updates to various networks. With Social Oomph it's possible to configure a Tweet cockpit and create large reservoirs of Twitter updates which can be drip-fed out every X hours. The software can also email a reminder when it runs out of pre-loaded tweets.

TweetAdder.com - This software has lots of functions for following and un-following people. It can also schedule tweets via the web so the posts tweeted always show as 'via web' which disguises the fact its from an automated tool. Tweet Adder also has a function to auto follow and un-follow users. The limitation with the software is that it needs to run on the Windows platform and tends to work best when left to run 24/7. Having a spare PC to run it off can be best.

In summary, Paul suggests that the aim with social media is to try and build relationships within a niche and use tools to automate where possible. However, always ensure that any campaigns involve human interaction.

Marcus Tober - Search Metrics

Marcus suggested that it’s possible to ‘hijack’ buzz generated by big brands. To do this he advocates that people monitor relevant brands and identify when large advertisers mention anything that crosses into their niche. It’s possible to join the conversation when a topic that’s mentioned overlaps with your business interests.

Smart marketers can use large events, social impact and cross media impact to build on an already engaged audience. Marcus sees it as a simple technique - using social media to ‘jump on the bandwagon’. That said, topic hijacking on Facebook is much harder because posting on brands walls can rarely be effective.

In summary, topic hijacking requires you to monitor events and find influencers for relevant topics. With this done, it's time to engage and retweet or mention them. By becoming engaged in the conversational exchange, it's possible to leverage a big brand’s buzz to your advantage.

Marcus recommended reading News Jacking by David Meerman Scott.