Tracking and measuring Social media marketing has been of utmost interest to me the last couple of months, with more and more enterprises, SMEs and startups taking to social media marketing with vigor, it becomes important to measure and track results and effectively make data driven decisions to increase revenue / brand awareness.

The first step is of course to listen and monitor. The presentation below is a great place to start understanding the importance of monitoring conversations and buzz around your brand on Social Media.

The 4 step process of Listen -> Plan -> Respond -> Evaluate

seems to be the most effective for tackling problems and quickly closing the loop.

Stayed tuned here for a detailed analysis of Monitoring tools, both free and fee-based which you can use to monitor buzz, sentiment and conversations about your brand.

Does your brand or company have a website ? I’m pretty sure it does. Well if you thought that it’s the end of your online presence, then it’s high time you rethought your web strategy. You might be running a highly successful offline business, but your social media strategy can be a game changer.

If your brand or firm is not participating in Social Media using tools that include a collection of blogs, wikis, forums, photos and videos sharing sites, then you really don’t have an online presence.

These days Social Media such as forums, wikis and blogs in particular are playing a notable role in influencing the buying patterns of consumers. Often consumers look for opinions, user experiences and reviews on such sources before purchasing a product. Detecting influential nodes and opinion leaders and understanding their role in how people perceive and adopt a product or service provides a powerful tool for marketing, advertising and business intelligence. Look at these insights from a very comprehensive research study by Universal McCann.

  • 73% of online users read a blog
  • 57% join social networks
  • 45% have started a blog
  • 83% have viewed a video online
  • 39% subscribe to RSS feeds
  • 36% think more positively about companies that have blogs

I find the last insight extremely encouraging, and I hope that this will encourage you to rethink your brand’s online marketing strategy.

What are your thoughts ? If you are running a highly successful offline business, how are you leveraging social media as a touch point with your customers ?

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I’m sure most of you know what Social Media is, for others –

Social Media is a dynamic and growing area that includes a collection of blogs, wikis, forums, photos and videos sharing sites. According to Wikipedia

Social media describes the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other.

The fact that social media is changing the way people collaborate and interact with each other is now a given. Below is research data from a Forrester’s report on usage of various social media avenues.

Social media participation

Social media can become a powerful voice for your brand and add credibility by allowing users to share opinions and experiences about your brand. Below are some of my thoughts on how you can leverage social media to build your brand image – especially useful for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Blogging – This should be the starting point of your social media marketing strategy. It needs to work both ways – Read blogs using Google Reader, Bloglines and comment on blogs to get link love and imporve your credibility. You could use WordPress, TypePad, Blogger for easily setting up your blog.

RSS – Use RSS feeds to enable your consumers to take data away from your portal / blog and enable them to take it to places where conversations are happening. This will enable interesting conversations to evolve around your content. Some tools – Feedburner, Google News and mysyndicaat

Social Search – By social search, I am primarily referring to local content search providers. Being active in user engaged communities like Yelp, Yahoo Local, Local.com can give you a platform to advertise your brand and engage with potential users.

Social networking – Consumers these days are spending quite a lot of time on social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Orkut etc. Being on these networks enable you to understand what your customers are talking about and provide services targeted at them.

Consider building widgets/ applications which can integrate into these networks. This makes it easier for your consumers to share information about your product / service with their friends and peers. As a result,brand endorsements are visible and shared amongst members. Chains of endorsements might evolve from this sharing, making social networking incredibly powerful and influential. Facebook has an entire category of business applications with over 1000 different applications.

Social bookmarking – This is a great way to tag content and enable traffic to your site. Allowing users to share information from your site using social bookmarking tools like del.icio.us, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Mixx will enable your brand to get more coverage.

Social conversation tools I like to bunch tools like Twitter, Thwirl, Plurk and FriendFeed into what I like to call “social conversation” tools. These are very powerful tools to start conversations with other people and virally spread information. Several corporations have already starting using Twitter as a part of their main stream marketing model – Jetblue for instance has a twitter feed enabling their customers to get real time updates on flight timings and weather conditions.

So what’s your social media strategy ? How are leveraging and influencing the crowd to use your brand ?