Social media refers to a computer-mediated, interactive, and Internet-based platform that allows people to create, distribute, and share a wide range of content and information such as text and images. Social media technologies unleash and leverage the power of social networks to enable the interaction and information exchange.
Jesse Farmer, cofounder, Dev Bootcamp, quotes social networks as a collection of people bound together via a specific set of social relations. Social media, in turn, denotes a group of Internet-based applications build over the foundations of Web 2.0 that support the creation and exchange of user-generated content.
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In other words, social media relies on Web-based technologies to generate interactive platforms where people and organisations can create, co-create, recreate, share, discuss, and modify user generated content.
Prior to the advent of social media as an open-system approach to exchange content effectively, business organisations and public relation practitioners rarely focused on business dynamics to manage brand images. With the changing business environments due to the evolution of social media, business organisations also adopted the open-system approach based on reciprocal feedback.
This in turn has completely transformed the way information was communicated or the manner by which public relations were developed. The new approach encourages active participation in development and distribution of information by merging innovative technologies and sociology.
Social media provides a collaborative environment which can be employed for:
- Building relationships
- Distributing content
- Rating products and services
- Engaging target audience
Social media provides an equally open platform for novices as well as experts to express and share their viewpoints and feedback on various events and issues. This information can in turn be employed by business organisations to gain insights about customers’ perspective on their products and services.
In this manner, social media enables business organisations to receive a feedback and promote a dialogue between customers, potential customers and the organisation. Inother words, social media allows business organisations to promote participation, conversation, and sharing and publishing of content.
Social media, however, can take different forms, which can be categorised as follows:
- Social networking websites: These provide a Web-based platform to users where they can create a personalised profile summarising and showcasing their interests; define other members as connections or contacts; and communicate and share content with their contacts. Examples of social networking websites include Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Hi5, and Bebo.
- Blogs: Short for ‘Web logs’, blogs represent online journals to showcase the content organised in the reverse chronological order. Examples of blogging sites include Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr.
- Microblogs: These allow people to share and showcase small posts and are suitable for quick sharing of content in a few lines of text or an individual photo or video. Twitter is a well-known microblogging website.
- Content communities and media sharing sites: These allow users to organise and share different types of media content such as videos and images. The members can also comment on the shared content. Examples include YouTube, Pinterest, Flikr, and Instagram.
- Wiki: It represents a collective website in which the members can create and modify content in a community based database. In other words, the users can modify the content of any hosted page and can also create new pages in the website based on the wiki technology. One of the most popular examples of wiki websites is Wikipedia, which is an online encyclopedia.
- Social bookmarking websites: These websites allow users to organise and manage tags and links to other websites. Well-known examples include Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Digg
Apart from the listed ones, social media may include websites that showcase reviews and ratings such as Yelp, forums and discussion boards such as Yahoo!, and websites that showcase virtual social worlds that create a virtual environment where people can interact such as SecondLife.
The marketing executives at Argon Technology are planning to incorporate social media in their marketing strategy to reach more and more customers and improve their services based on customer feedback.
Incorporating social media into everyday sales and marketing routines of an organisation is not easy and requires gaining a command over certain set of tactics and tools related to the efficient management and utilisation of social media. In order to effectively leverage the possibilities provided by social media for the growth of business, the organisations need to focus on certain key elements of social media along with the corresponding techniques.
Social media participation involves a focus on the following key elements:
In order to effectively incorporate social media, the business organisations first need to understand how to collect and leverage useful information and market artifacts. This involves critical and careful analysis of the information coming from various sources such as customers, competitors, journalists, and other market influencers.
Various tools such as feed readers, blog subscriptions, and email newsletters can be employed to collect information from various sources.
Once the information is collected from various sources, the next step is to effectively curate the important information to be sent to the clients and internal stakeholders. This involves intelligent filtering and aggregation of the information collected from various resources. This not only provides an effective insight to the customers but also helps in having a clear vision about the current industry standards and market trends. Various curation tools such as Newsle, LinkedIn, and RSS readers can be employed for this task.
After collection and curation of the collected information, the organisations need to create valuable content objects that can provide a focus and industry buzz to them. This is an effective marketing strategy to create a leader position in the industry. This can be accomplished by employing various publishing programs and sharing routines.
A key element for implementing effective social media is sharing of information. This employs sharing your content, information, and ideas with others. This helps in expanding the social media network. Various tools such as Feedly and Hootsuite help in sharing information and content over the social media.
The basic idea behind social media is to engage the existing and prospective customers. The tools and routines of social media and the regular practice of listening, curation, and sharing help executives and sales personnel of an organisation in engaging more and more customers, stakeholders, prospective customers, journalists, and industry influencers. Tools such as Salesforce help to connect people from different categories. Apart from that, various mobile apps also help in expanding the realm of reaching more and more people.
Social media analysis is now broadly used by marketing agencies, social media managers, PR and communications experts, political groups, journalists and teams across the enterprise to effectively observe and indulge users on social channels and carry out research more efficiently. For businesses, social media analysis can help to inform and support:
- Online brand management by helping you sense negative sentiment and collect metrics for brand analytics, which helps you to track brand health and reputation on social channels.
- Competitor analysis by letting you gather baseline metrics for your competitors’ actions and user involvement over social media and compare your brand’s performance against that of rival firms.
- Product improvement by allowing you to identify customers’ dissatisfactions, choices, and evolving needs and find ideas for better features and other improvement to your products.
Talking about leveraging social media analysis for data-driven marketing, the marketing agencies will likely receive the major benefits from social media analysis because of the many ways in which it can be utilised to optimise their content and notify their strategies.
Social Media Analysis can be optimised with:
- Campaigns: Social analytics to evaluate effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and validate investments in social media by gaging social media ROI.
- Influencers: Find the best influencers to amplify and augment your brand assets by classifying those having the maximum reach or greatest impact in your target market.
- Audiences: Audience analytics to classify high-value groups and discover their interests, demographics and brand affiliations to develop personalised content and more engaging campaigns.
Social media analysis is chiefly influential when it comes to understanding customer opinions and preferences. Brands may implement social media sentiment analysis to determine the emotions or tone behind the words people choose when they discuss or talk about a product or brand on social channels.
They can use it to sense negative remarks or press reporting that could potentially turn into a public relations catastrophe if mishandled.
With the accurate tool, firms can use social media analysis to notice patterns in customer behaviour and concerns and in online chatter about a specific person, product, or topic.
By getting to know influences and swings in online conversation, firms can identify evolving trends while learning more about how consumers use and speak about the products and services—or those of their rivals.
They can leverage trend analysis to cleanse key insights over their brand’s online presence, consumer opinion of their brand and their rivals and target audiences all over the world.
Social Mention, Hootsuite Analytics, Google Analytics, UTM parameters, Brandwatch, Talkwalker, Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Instagram Insights, Snapchat Insights, Pinterest Analytics and LinkedIn PageAnalytics are some of the very common analytics that are available.
Now, perform the following steps to analyse the text through Social Mention:
- Open the following link in your browser:
The Social Mention website will appear, as shown in Figure 9.4:
- Type the name of the product about which you need to gather information in the Search box and press the Search button, as shown in Figure 9.5:
A Web page appears with the sentiment score for the product (DELL, in our case) being displayed on the left-hand side, as shown in Figure 9.6:
The extended view of the Sentiment score also shows the top user, top hashtag, and source is shown in Figure 9.7:
You can get more information on the feedback of the product by clicking any link on the Web page.