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Thoughts on the Twitter archive deal with Gnip

After turning off the firehose to Google last year I’d been wondering what they would do with their huge database of users tweets as the next logical step appeared to be granting the search giant access to their archives as well. They announced today that they’ve partnered with Gnip to provide the company with every tweet back to March 2006 when the company launched.

As someone who has developed social/ digital personas as part of the larger marketing strategy this is great news. Using data from various social platforms is a fantastic way to get a broad (and granular) sense of what issues most resonate with consumers, how they feel about your products and your competitors. By analyzing that data a richer picture of your customer emerges.

In the past we’ve only really been able to gather data for the past year, but with this announcement the ability to look at trends over time becomes a possibility. Is the same issue recurring? Has customer service improved over time or gotten worse year over year? Are there seasonality trends that weren’t immediately apparent? All of these data points could now be analyzed (or re-analyzed) based on this new data.

Unless you’re a very sophisticated (and deep pocketed) brand storing broad term data year over year and merging it with the same query sets was probably not at the top of your radar. As Gnip merges this data into standard listening tools running ad hoc reports and performing a detailed analysis becomes much simpler.

I’m looking forward to seeing this roll out and doing some digging. What do you think about this move by Twitter?

Image credit: fagalar on Flickr

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Are you prepared for stormy seas as well as calm ones?

As social media platforms and participation become ubiquitous amongst all demographics it’s more important than ever to understand how to navigate both the calm weather and the storms that will inevitably occur. Social media is an extension of life and as such all the same variables come into play. If a customer loses their temper at your call centre rep they will certainly do so in the more public forum of Twitter or your Facebook wall.

It isn’t just about the huge crisis, it’s about day-to-day interactions where customers are upset with something about the company. How you handle the everyday interactions makes the difference between having a sustainable social presence outside of a “push” campaign mentality. It also allows your campaigns to resonate more as your customers don’t see them as your only use of the medium that they are primarily using to connect with their friends, family, and colleagues.

How do you handle the negatives? Be prepared in advance!

First, before you dive right in know that your company isn’t perfect. This is a tough one for most companies, but it’s true. No one is perfect so accept it and move forward with a plan.

Here are some initial steps you can take to get off on the right foot in social media channels:

  • Gather a list of known issues from your customer service department and any other customer facing departments (retail managers, etc). Identify how you are working to fix those issues.
  • Check your analytics – are there specific patterns you can discern? Content paths, keywords, time spent on specific pages?
  • Talk to your marketing team – what offers have resonated in the past and which have fallen flat? Talk to your PR department – what kinds of feedback do they get from journalists and investors? Have there been any big crises in the recent past?
  • Conduct a social listening audit across all of your business units and find out what your customers are actually talking about (your brand and your competitors).
  • Talk to your product development team – what’s coming down the pipe in the next 6 months and how will that impact your customer base (be honest about this; will it be received well without any need for spin)?

Now put them all together to determine what your hot button issues are likely to be and craft a plan to ensure your front line social media team can address them properly and transparently. Make no mistake, it isn’t a script, but an outline of who your company really is: a human-centric business.

Taking these steps and ensuring your employees are all operating from the same playbook will set your team, and your brand up to be prepared for any storms that arise (which they inevitably will as they do in the physical world) and hopefully allow you to mitigate them before they can manifest into an actual crisis.

Finally, keep in mind that it doesn’t stop here: the learning, discussions, info gathering etc. MUST continue. Change happens; be prepared to roll with it.

Happy sailing!

[photo credit: FnJBnN]

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Analytics, focus and your digital presence

analytics, data, planning

Being present online these days is standard for any company whose customers can be found in this medium, be it with a website, or taking it further to the social media space. One aspect that remains mandatory, no matter how big or how small you are participating is understanding and being actionable with your website analytics data. Your site data is different from conversational data which comes into play and is layered on when you get involved in the social web.

Setting up your analytics and determining what and how to measure is a key first step in managing your focus and presence in the digital space. Having a strategy in place for reviewing and incorporating the insights gleaned is a must. Doing so up-front will save money and effort in the long-term.

What are some of the things your data can teach you?

  • What content are people the most focused on or drawn to? Does it align with your preconceptions of what was important? If not, what are you missing? How can you adapt? What can you do to increase engagement with the content you think should be a higher priority?
  • Are there frequently specific areas of abandonment on your website? Why? Is it as simple as a 404 error, or more complex – heavy load time, unclear navigation, mis-labled content, etc.
  • What content drives traffic but isn’t sticky? Review it with an open mind. Take off your marketing glasses and put on your consumer hat.
  • Where is your traffic coming from? Links? Do you know who the people are who are advocating your content? Are you present where your content is being shared? Are you optimized to encourage sharing?
  • What type of search engine traffic are you getting? Is it quality? Do you rank well for some terms and not for others? Are the engines indexing the pages the way you would want them to?
  • What are some of the keywords that are driving the most traffic from search engines as well as from social networks? Are they what you anticipated? Do they align with your content and focus? What can you do to adjust?

Taking the time to set a strategy in place can provide a goldmine of actionable data and, if included in review cycles, can continue to be a road map to how your digital presence is managed, and can help refine and focus your marketing initiatives. It’s a must.

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