Posts Tagged ‘community’

The Power of Social Gravity

This post originally appeared on iMedia Connection.

 

GravityThere’s an irony inherent in modern marketing — when you’ve done your job well, it actually becomes less necessary. You are no longer initiating tons of interactions with your customers, because they’re initiating them instead. This is the concept of social gravity, and you can see it exemplified by a number of the brands we love — Zappos, Hubspot, and Apple.

Social gravity isn’t a new concept. The term that was coined in the Harvard Business Review to refer to those companies with such strong brand followings that it feels like they’re pulling customers into their orbit. The opposite of this would be brands who are shouting on social media and still can’t get customers to give them the time of day. For every one company with social gravity, there are 10 who fall into the latter category.

Social gravity hasn’t actually changed over the last few years since the idea was introduced; the hallmarks of a brand which exemplifies the concept remain the same — providing value, utility, and an environment for community to thrive. What has changed are the data and science used to approach the subject.

So how does a brand develop a high degree of social gravity? The top five things marketers can do to up their social game are:

Participate
Take advantage of the opportunity technology provides to be dynamic (think Google’s Doodle). Interactivity is a great way to create stickiness.

Engage
Arguably one of the most overused words in social, “engage” is really just a fancy way of saying talk to your customers in all the channels they want to use! It’s overused, sure, but it’s impossible to overstate.

Humanize
Your company is the sum of all the awesome people who work for you. Share the story of the people that make you special. Customers like to interact with real people they identify with.

Provide value
The golden rule of social gravity. Draw customers in by providing value to their lives in the form of helpful, interesting content, insider information, deals, or community.

Be a good corporate citizen
When your customers feel like you’re giving back to the community you share, they feel good about engaging with you.

They key is to build a community centered around value and utility. One of the earliest and most successful examples of this is Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter. The site provides valuable (some might say essential) information and an environment where parents and expecting parents can learn from and ask questions of the community.

BabyCenter has been very successful extending engagement across apps, social media channels, and e-mail. The fact that J&J’s association with these properties is subtle makes the pull even stronger. The content and the platform unlock the opportunity, but the community itself drives the experience. Their customers, in other words, are doing the heavy lifting for them.

So, you might be wondering, how can social data help brands increase their social gravity?

The power of data science and the social graph lies in offering brands powerful, efficient ways to grow community size and engagement. There are three core dimensions where social intelligence can drive community engagement and growth:

Community mapping

Successful marketers don’t just understand the demographics, behavior, and preferences of their own online community; they have insight into the broader networked landscape. When we look at conversations around the Fitbit, for example, we can clearly see the natural communities that have formed around the Fitbit ecosystem, some of which Fitbit is already connected to, some of which they are not. By understanding who these communities are, what they are talking about, and who the connectors are, Fitbit can dramatically increase its reach and spread.

Topic mapping

Groups and subgroups often connect around specific topical themes and the more relevant a brand can be the better. Going back to our Fitbit example, clear communities have formed around the Fitbit’s use in sports versus daily casual activities and sleep. Understanding the dynamics and interests within communities makes for deeper relationships and more targeted communications. Finding the highly connected, topical influencers and engaging with relevant content and value can spark activity, like increased reach, retweets, reblogs, and the like.

Accelerators

Influencers have always been an important part of any brand’s strategy, but the conventional tools available have now evolved. Context is key to understanding an influencer’s impact on the subject in question — regardless of followers, a person may be well regarded in the field of sports nutrition but have little influence when it comes to cars. A second key element missing from traditional influencer tools is the idea that certain people can regularly spark and drastically accelerate the spread of content.  By analyzing the spread of content through networks we can now identify who these people are. With the vast amounts of data available today and the significant analytics capabilities of today’s tools, there’s no reason for brands not to understand the context of their influencers and to target the most influential among them.

3 Ways To Use Social Intelligence To Grow Your Community

Grow Your CommunityYou’ve spent a lot time and effort growing your online community to get where you’re at today. You have a great group of people who are interested in interacting and championing your brand, but it’s not quite enough.

The great thing about online communities is that they’re living organisms. They’re always changing and, maybe more importantly, always have the chance to grow.

But how do you help your community grow even more than you already have? You feel like you’ve already done your monitoring to find out where your audience was and then started to engage with them there and they responded. Well, there’s a good chance that since the last time you did your research the landscape has changed yet again and there are a ton of new opportunities out there for you to grow your community even more.

Here’s a few tips that will help you use social intelligence to further grow your community:

Find where people are talking (again)

In today’s online world there are always new places and sites where people are going to learn and have conversations about your brand or topics that relate heavily to your brand. Using a social intelligence tool, like Sysomos, can can help you to identify what networks to start looking at. Start by entering a search for your brand name or some key industry terms and then look at where these conversations are happening most. Are there a lot of blog posts that come up in your search? Maybe there’s a ton of Twitter conversations. Heck, maybe people are sharing a lot of pictures related to your brand on Instagram. Find where the action is and then you can dive in deeper to get a better look at you can fit in there with them.

Sysomos Heartbeat - Activity Chart

Determine the real hotspots of activity for your community

You’ve found some of the networks and channels that you think could have a great potential for bringing people into your community. Now it’s time to get more granular to find the best new places and people to focus your efforts on.

While everyone in your community should be treated as an equal, there may be some people and sites that deserve a little extra attention to help bring more people into your community. A social intelligence tool can help you to identify these sites and people. For example, using Sysomos’s Most Authoritative tool can help you determine the blogs or people with the highest authority score that are talking about your brand or your search terms. Are these people or places you frequently interact with? If they’re not, they should be. These are the people and sites that are generally leading conversations and have people listening to them when they do so. Interacting with these people can help them to become more aware of you and your great community. The more you interact with them the more they’re likely to want to get involved with you and likely bring others with them. It’s important to keep seeking these people out on a regular basis as this list is going to constantly change as new voices enter the picture and older ones fade out.

Sysomos MAP - Most Authoritative Twitter Accounts That Tweet About Running Clubs

But people and sites with high authority aren’t the only people that you should focus your attention on. There are plenty of people out there that may be super fans of your brand or highly interested in your space and talking about it that aren’t necessarily your typical “influencer”. That’s why our Sysomos tools also have features to help you identify the people and places that are talking most about your brand or other key terms regardless of their authority. Looking for people and places with the most mentions of your interest can be helpful because while they may not have the reach of some of those people with a higher authority score than them, they’re still talking to people who are interested in the same subjects as them. These are the people that are truly interested and can easily be brought into your community and help to champion it to their own communities.

Sysomos MAP - Top Sources That Tweet Most About Cooking

Learn what your community values and give them lots of it

As a community manager myself for the past 5 years, if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that communities thrive when they find value coming from within that community. Saying that you’ve created a community is very different than having an actual community. People get the feeling of actually being part of a community when they’re able to both give and take in a valuable way. So how do you learn what your community actually values (besides your brand, of course)?

Start by learning more about them and their interests. For example, below is a word cloud made up of the bio’s of Sysomos’s Twitter followers. Twitter bios are a great place to start because people volunteer information about themselves including what they do and what they like. As you can see in the word cloud we obviously have a large group of folks following us that are marketers, communicators and people that are into the digital world. But if we look closer we can also see that these people identify as being fans of sports, music and more regardless of what they do for their day job. This let us know that our current community members have interests beyond social media, so we find ways to insert these other topics into what we do around social media. That’s why on our blog you’ll occasionally see posts where we talk about how social media played a role during other pop culture related events, like The Grammys or The Super Bowl, because we know that our audience likes these things and we’re able to find a way to show them something of value that also relates back to our brand and what we do.

Sysomos MAP - Word Cloud of  @Sysomos' s Twitter Followers' bios

But people also reveal a lot about what they value through what they talk about. So, find out what they talk about most and see if your brand can fit in to some of those things as well. Start looking at what some of your most active community members are interested in and try to figure out ways that you can help them or add value to these things. One step further would be to create a media set inside of Sysomos of your most active community members and then look at text analytics around what they all talk about and see what surfaces. Seeing what a large group talks about in common will give you a great idea of what your larger community is interested in. You can then create content that fits with your brand around those topics and even interact directly with your community members around them.

Sysomos MAP - Buzzgraph of Social Media Influencers' Conversations

If you start making your community feel like they’re really getting something from you, they will also start to share those valuable pieces of content and others will be brought into the community by seeing the value they can get from it.

The ideas above are just a few ways that can get you started on using social intelligence to keep your community growing. Remember that communities are going to constantly keep growing, so keep going back and doing these things time and time again to help your community grow.

We’re also curious to know how you’re using social intelligence to grow your communities. Let us know in the comments below.

Do you need social intelligence to grow your community? Give us a shout to find out how we can help you with it.

5 Takeaways From The PreCommerce Summit You Can Act On Now

W2O's 5th Annual PreCommerce SummitLast week we had the extreme pleasure of sponsoring The W2O Group’s 5th Annual PreCommerce Summit. This is a gathering of some very smart people to talk about what’s driving markets and people today. The event was a whole day of speakers from across a wide variety of industries that had something interesting to teach everyone in the audience. Topics for the day ranged from data across all industires to biases in our minds and workplaces to to the internet of things to telling better stories and even a fun fireside chat with Al Roker.

While everyone that spoke at this event had something interesting to say or teach the crowd, we picked out 5 things that we thought everyone in any industry should learn and can think about. In no particular order, here they are:

Try doing different things” – Mike Marinello, Head of Global Communications, Bloomberg

Mike Marinello’s talk at the PreCommerce Summit was actually about the need to be able to measure everything they do so they can show the value of it. That said though, Marinello said that his company isn’t afraid to try new and different things to attain their goals. When they know exactly what they’re measuring towards, they can try interesting new things because they will know which of them works and which don’t. Not everything is going to work in terms of helping to achieve your goals, but you’ll never know what else will if you’re not willing to at least try new and different things.

Use your data to tell an important story” – Chuck Hemann, Global Analytics Manager, Intel

As the Global Analytics Manager, Chuck Hemann sees a lot of data every day. He knows though that not all of it can be fully used all the time. That’s why he tells his team to pick out the one or two points of data that they think are most important for what the company is trying to achieve and tell that data’s story in a way that everyone will understand. Why is that data important? What does it mean to us right now? What does it mean we should be doing in the future? Data is very important to companies today, but you can sometimes have way to much data. Know what data is important and don’t just show numbers to people, use that data to tell a story and make people understand why it’s so important.

Engage or die” – Ray Kerins, SVP, Head of Communications and Government Relations, Bayer

Ray Kerins works in the world of pharma, which is notorious for having a lot of restrictions around what they can and can’t say. However, in a world where everyone and anyone has a voice, Kerins knows that if him and his team aren’t joining the conversation along with those other voices, whatever they say will be the only thing heard. Kerins talked about how he believes engagement is the way to get your story heard by everyone, especially those talking about you. If you don’t engage with those people that are talking about you then those people will own your compny’s story, not your company. So, engage or die.

Tech isn’t the big disruptor, business models are” – Mike Edelheart, CEO, Pivotcon

Too often we hear “this new app/software is going to change the game.” But how often is that actually the case? During his talk at the PreCommerce Summit, Mike Edelheart was quick to point out that tech can sometimes help to change games, but really it’s the business model behind what the tech is doing that’s the driving factor. Yes, Netflix was a technology, but it was really it’s streaming movies and TV shows anytime anywhere business model that changed the game. Same with Uber. Uber is an app, but it completely changed the business model for how people can get from point A to point B quickly and efficiently. So if you really want your company to be the next big industry disruptor, maybe don’t think about that app you have to build and think about how you can change the way you’re doing business to do it better.

Stop thinking of marketing like war and instead think of it like a garden” – Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business, Twitter

Daina Middleton started her talk by pointing out the fact that a lot of marketing terms are very similar to war terminology. Marketers talk about their stratagies and tactics to get their messages out. But in a world where marketing has turned into cultivating relationships and communities, maybe we need to think of marketing more like a garden. Relationships don’t just happen because you have a good marketing campaign. They happen because you need to put time and effort into slowly gaining trust and then nurturing that so that you can form an actual relationship with people. It’s very much like a garden. Your garden doesn’t grow overnight because you found the best soil or water. It grows over time because you put time and effort into it. Middleton actually has a formula for participation that says Discovery + Engagement + Connection = Participation, which is what makes up a real community. And all of these things take time and effort, but are much more worth it in the long term.

 

These are just a few things that we learned at the 5th Annual PreCommerce Summit, but they are also things that we think every company can start thinking about and act on right now. For a full run down of what every speaker had to say during the PreCommerce Summit, check out the W2O blog.

Welcoming Jason Harris to Sysomos

Jason HarrisIt’s always fun when you get to work with someone you like, respect, and who is generally just a great human.

I’m incredibly excited today to announce that Jason Harris will be joining the Sysomos family as Senior Manager, Community and Evangelism.

I’ve known Jason for a few years now, mostly through our shared professional circles and many mutual friends in social and technology. And I had the pleasure of working with him just this past year as part of his recent work with Republic Publishing and the influencer programs they’ve built with Microsoft and Nokia.

Jason comes to us with a rich background in tech and community, which makes him the perfect fit to help Sysomos level up our community engagement and produce some outstanding content. Jason will also be out and about as a key member of our evangelism team, speaking at events, meeting with customers and prospects and representing their voice within the company, and sharing Sysomos’ exciting vision for the future with the industry.

You’ll all certainly be hearing more from him here on the blog as well, so stay tuned for that.

In today’s fast-moving technology landscape, community and evangelism are no longer just “nice to have” functions but essential components to a smart, engaged and innovative business. I couldn’t be more excited to add Jason’s smarts, personality and skills to our growing community team here at Sysomos.

He’s going to have to get used to visiting Canada occasionally in the winter (he’s based in lovely Oregon where it’s much warmer than Toronto this week), and we’ll get him loving poutine and toques soon enough.

Please join me in welcoming Jason, and if you’ll be at SXSW Interactive, don’t forget to register for his unofficial Mobile Meetup here.

More to come!

Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day! #CMAD

Community Manager Appreciation Day

Today is Community Manager Appreciation Day, a day to thank the many community managers out there that work tirelessly (and sometimes at insane hours) to make sure that brands and their audiences are always getting the best experiences possible.

Over the past few years the role of a community manager has become more prominent as more and more companies see the value in having one. However, what’s interesting about the role is how it’s defined differently for every company that has one.

In pretty much every organization the day-to-day activities of a community manager will vary, but one thing will always remain constant; the community manager is a connection between a company and their audience. They act to help both the inside and the outside of their organizations and usually have a great handle on what’s going on on both sides of the fence.

This is so important in our modern world where everyone with an internet connection has a voice. Someone needs to listen to all of those voices and make sure they’re being heard. This means relaying what’s going on in the world to people inside their organization as well as letting their external audience know what’s happening inside the organization.

The community manager is sometimes overlooked as just the person that “plays on Twitter all day.” But this is hardly true. A community manager needs to be a wealth of information with their finger always on the pulse of pretty much everything going on in the world and find ways to relate that information to further the happiness of their many communities (the internal and external ones).

There’s also many ways that people can go about performing community management. Below is a presentation that I gave to open CM1, a community manager focused conference in Toronto, about a year ago. Inside you’ll find a few ways to look at how you can go about managing your community and I also give some insight into how I go about being a community manager.

So, if you work for a company that has a community manager or if you know one out there in the world, let them know you appreciate them today. Presents are always welcome, but even a heartfelt “thank you” will surely warm their heart.

To all my fellow community managers out there, thank you for being awesome and furthering our profession. On behalf of the entire Sysomos team, we salute you all.

Using Data To Delight Your Community

Every company or brand out there has its fans and naysayers. It’s just a part of business. One great example where we’ve seen both types prominently over the past few years is the company formerly known as RIM (now known as just BlackBerry).

The company was at one point the leader in smartphone technology. In fact, they were probably the first real smartphone makers in the market. But then other companies like Apple and Google entered the market and some people felt that BlackBerry had been left behind. Fast forward a few years and BlackBerry has made a stunning reemergence in the field with their fully redesigned operating system known as BlackBerry 10.

When BlackBerry announced that it was completely revamping itself from the ground up, it was again met with its fair share of vocal fans and naysayers. For example, take a look at this tweet below that highlights one of the naysayers being countered by one of the very vocal fans:

One thing is for sure; whether it was from a naysayer or a fan, there was a lot of talk leading up to the launch of BB10. Check out this popularity chart below for mentions of BB10 over the past 6 months leading up to the launch. There were over 19 million tweets during this period.

Now, this is where the story gets very cool:

TELUS, a large telecom in Canada, was just as excited about launching the BB10 line on their network as some of the super fans out there were. They also knew how excited a lot of their customers were for the new BlackBerry devices. That’s why they decided to reward a lucky customer who was the most eager (and persistent) for the big release.

Using our MAP platform, TELUS was able to analyze millions of conversations about BlackBerry and BB10 from across Canada to find the people that were talking the most positively about their excitement for the new smartphone. By cross-referencing the top BB10 anticipators with their client records, they were able to grant one lucky customer’s wish of being one of the first people in the world to own a BlackBerryZ10 device.

This is a great example of how companies can use big data (both from social media and from their own databases) to show their customers and fan base that they’re listening and that they care what they think.

Dan Fricker, TELUS’s Social Media Community Manager, had this to say:

“Social media’s one of our many ways of connecting and actually having conversations with customers. What Sysomos offers is an incredible way to listen to those conversations, from different people all over the country. Beyond engaging in real-time interactions, we can also go back and see what people have been anticipating most about the launch of BlackBerry 10, for example, or who’s been talking about this new device the longest. That’s the case with @Im_Sure_ who’s been tweeting with @TELUS about the BB10 for weeks. With tools like Sysomos and the power of social we can engage in customer conversations like Matt’s, arguably the BB10’s #BestFan. Given Matt’s such a big BlackBerry fan, we surprised him with his very own Z10 today.”

Does Size Matter?

Within the social media world, size matters. It’s all about the number of followers, “Likes”, retweets, comments, Diggs, etc. But at the end of the day, size doesn’t matter.

What? How does that work?

Social media isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. What really matters is creating a community that is engaged and involved even if it’s a modest-size community. With a strong core, brands have a better chance of sustaining their social media efforts because there is a group of enthusiastic supporters willing to share the load along the way.

This is a better situation than having a large number of “Likes” or followers who are rarely engaged, if they’re engaged at all. In the scheme of things, these kind of people are fluff that easily blows away when the first distraction comes along. There is little value in these people because they don’t make an investment in the brand or community.

It is important to recognize the quality vs. quantity reality because far too often brands are mesmerized by large numbers. As a result, the success of their social media efforts are judged by lots of “Likes”, which means little if many of these people have no real connection.

Of course, quantity can be a challenging argument because large numbers do talk loud when a company is trying to measure social media ROI. It explains why many companies are willing to dangle lots of “carrots” to attract “Likes” or followers. This way they can turn around and tell the V.P. marketing that their social media efforts are working.

For now, size plays a strong role because there is so much focus on ROI. In time, however, brands will hopefully start to drill deeper into the value of their communities, which could make them realize that quality can be as important, if not more important, than quantity.

Introducing Sysomos’ New Community Manager

Greetings, Sysomos community!

My name is Sheldon Levine but some of you may know me by my social media alias, 40deuce. I just wanted to take the time to introduce myself as Sysomos’ new community manager.

Some of you may have already noticed me getting involved with Sysomos over the past two weeks but from here on, I’ll be much more visible and available.

I’m really excited to be working here with the fantastic staff at Sysomos. I’ve been getting to know the services, Heartbeat and MAP, all the people around the office. So far, I’m loving it .

The company was doing great before I stepped in the door, and I’m here to give it more of presence in the community.

Right now, you may be asking what exactly does a community manager do?

That question is answered differently by every organization, but I’ll tell you what I’ll be doing to start.

For the first little while, my goal is to get better acquainted with you, the people of the Internet. Specifically, I’m going to be learning about the people within the social media world, and what they’re saying about themes that revolve around our business of social media monitoring and analytics

I’m going to be tweeting, reading blogs, and meeting people on behalf of both myself and Sysomos. I will also be contributing to this blog to help add to the great stuff Mark Evans has been writing. As well, I will be helping to create some of the great special reports that Sysomos puts out, as well as a few other behind the scenes things.

I really love meeting and talking with new and interesting people, so I’m really happy to be doing this on behalf of a company that I really believe in.

Finally, a little about me. I recently graduated with a Masters in Professional Communication from the University of Western Sydney in Australia where I focused on social media.

I’m a big nerd and love all kinds of geek and tech toys. I also love to write and share cool things that I find online. I mostly do those things through a few personal blogs. You can see them all on my landing page.

If you want to know more, you can always get a hold of me via Twitter at either the official Sysomos account or my personal one, 40deuce. And of course, there’s always my email sheldon@sysomos.com.

Can’t wait to meet and get to know all of you! Speak to you soon.