Hootsuite’s five insights into the future of social media marketingby
Social media is reaching a tipping point for marketers, especially on Twitter, where most brands have had a presence for long enough to establish their own tone of voice, build up a following and understand where the benefits lie beyond existence for existence’s sake.
Hootsuite is one tool that tends to seep seamlessly into the social media marketer’s daily processes. Having been around almost as long as Twitter, the app’s simple but refined dashboard allows people to post, follow and segment multiple social network accounts including Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and, of course, Twitter. Handy for personal accounts, yes. Gold dust for business users.
Beyond the dashboard, Hootsuite is building what it hopes will be a platform for the marketers who have moved past the tipping point, with advanced analytics and suggested content just two components that should help drive them forwards. Clearly the business brains behind the interface see a far more enriched future for social media marketers than that currently being experienced, but what does that involve? Hootsuite’s VP for community, Jeanette Gibson, explains some of the facets the company is currently focused on, and why they could be central to your business’s social future.
1. Monitoring everything
Though social media monitoring has been a term most marketers have been familiar with for several years, the fact is that even huge global brands have only recently woken up to the insights that can be gleaned from analytics.
Using advanced tools to monitor who is talking about your brand, at what time and in what context goes a long way to being able to interpret the types of message you should be putting out, and targeting those people who regularly talk about topics within your space with relevant content:
“Our analytics gives us a unique understanding of timing on social media platforms,” says Jeanette Gibson. “We know that a lot of people are looking at Twitter first thing in the morning. Lunchtime is a good time for reading content, and then in the evening we see more people using social through their iPads while watching TV. Our research shows that customers consume more in-depth content in the evenings.
“Monitoring is so important for getting this sort of insight, and so we recommend businesses do an audit of their company on social – get to understand whether they have rogue channels that might be deemed a security risk. There might be a fake account, for instance, where there’s negative conversations that you didn’t know about. Audit and understand your digital footprint and then set up your listening, your keywords and alerts, so you can find out what those critical words are and whether there’s unhappiness towards you.”
2. Automatic posting
In a press announcement at the start of June, Hootsuite made some serious noise about its ‘suggested content publishing’ tool, which will automatically schedule social posts for business users, as well as deliver keyword suggestions based on your user history, so you can tailor your posts.
This advanced form of analytics shows that the future is in targeted social media, as opposed to mass-distribution; and that social media business users should focus on quality, rather than quantity:
“A social media manager can only go so far; they may not know the latest goings-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc,” Gibson adds. “They also may not have the insights they need to successfully distribute their content, which is vital for evolving that side of a business.
“There’s a few key components to the suggested content idea – the first is the automatic selection of keywords based on what you have already published from a particular social account. So if I pull up the Hoot Business handle on Twitter, for example, it will automatically pull up ‘social media’, ‘analytics’ and ‘business’ as keywords. It then searches the web for the latest content based on those keywords, and automatically recommends the best time to schedule your content around that.”
3. Internal brand advocates
Customers want more content; it’s one of the biggest challenges marketers face. Creating, sharing and gaining engagement on new content takes time and resources. How businesses go about achieving this is key.
One area Hootsuite has already bet big on is integrated social network tools, and it believes that the way businesses can combine internal social networks like Salesforce Chatter or IBM Connections, with external networks such as Facebook and Twitter, will be integral to their successful content creation:
“It’s a critical issue right now, and a huge topic of conversation for enterprises because they desperately want more brand advocacy, and for employees to collaborate globally,” says Gibson. “Using social means to do that is really important – what IBM connection is doing is really critical to company culture, motivation, collaboration. Companies have been asking ‘how do I get that Facebook internally?’ and ‘how do I encourage employees to create and then share content from internal to external channels?’ It’s a big opportunity but one that’s difficult to get right.
“There’s a whole thing around social business incompetence – according to Gartner, half of executives are not engaged with social, and that’s a critical change that needs to happen because that helps drive the culture of a company. It’s not that every CEO needs to be on Twitter, they just need to understand these new technologies, and let their employees use them and at least listen to what people are saying about your brand. This will create a domino effect that will lead to a more engaged and interactive organisation as a result.”
4. Escalation plans
As social becomes more critical to your operations and you increase your social monitoring capabilities, rules start to apply as to who can deliver social media messages, who can react to trends and who should deal with problems via the channel.
Gibson believes organisations of all sizes will start to require ‘escalation plans’ to cope with these factors, especially in workplaces where internal brand advocates are encouraged and integrated social networks exist:
“Having the ability to have an escalation plan in place is important – so getting your HR, PR, marketing departments engaged to say, if something happens, what should I do? Something may come up in PR that’s a product issue, for instance. How does a company grab that and deal with it? It’s great to listen, but unless you do something about it, that’s all it is.”
5. Remove the fear factor
Is your social presence hampered by what you do and don’t deem appropriate? The social media ‘fear factor’ is certainly not uncommon, and brands are increasingly hitting a brick wall when they attempt to communicate on open platforms.
Customer services departments are confusing matters, because often the brand voice hampers attempts to resolve problems over social networks, and too often a conversation will be shut down with a request from a customer services rep to continue the discussion via a separate channel. This, Gibson explains, is likely to be the biggest hurdle for businesses to overcome in the near future, and could guide the next wave of technological innovation in the space:
“Many businesses are too afraid to say anything, so they don’t say anything at all,” she states. “The whole point of listening is that if you see something inaccurate or negative, respond. Tell people the facts about that stuff. That’s where companies get in trouble – they’re scared to respond, don’t understand how to respond or don’t respond at all, and then other people respond on their behalf. That’s an opportunity going amiss that could be damaging in the long-run.”
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.