Top Ten Social Media Resources

Top TenWe’re pleased to share our latest “top ten” collection of social media resources – a carefully curated list featuring a valuable mix of tools and checklists, practical guides, and insights and case studies from leading industry pros.

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Top Ten Resources:

1. Facebook Marketing Goals for 2014 – Now more than ever, success in Facebook marketing takes strategic planning and execution, and a working understanding of the many tools and resources Facebook makes available. In this post, Jon Loomer does a great job in identifying, outlining and explaining 14 key Facebook marketing goals for the new year. A great resource. >> READ MORE

2. Three Questions to Answer Before Your Social Media Campaign Launch –  What is the objective of this campaign, what are my key performance indicators, what does success look like? This post from Ignite Social Media provides a valuable walkthrough of these three important questions you should ask and answer before launching any new campaign.  >> READ MORE 

3. The Social Experience: 12 Leading Brands & Visionaries Explore the Elements of Great Social Programs – Social media leads from Whole Foods, RadioShack, Caterpillar, ARAMARK,, and industry pros such as Jay Baer and Ann Handley provide valuable insights in this free e-book from Social: IRL partner, Spredfast. A highly recommended download covering issues such as content marketing, building engaged communities, social customer care, and converged media strategies.  >> READ MORE

4. Ten Tips for Reputation and Crisis Management in the Digital World – In the online era, it becomes critical for businesses of any size to have a social media crisis management plan – or even better, a crisis prevention plan. In this post, Ekaterina Walter discusses some key ways to avoid social media disasters, prevent them from escalating, or even to handle things if everything goes sideways. >> READ MORE

5. Influencer Outreach and Employee Advocacy – One of Social: IRL’s most popular interviews from 2013, features our in-depth discussion with Walmart’s Senior Director of Digital Communications, Chad Mitchell. Chad shares valuable insights on creating meaningful influencer relationships and outcomes. He also discusses the power of employee advocacy and steps Walmart is embarking on to engage, activate and empower their associates.  >> READ MORE

6. Digital Transformation and Disruptive Trends: What to Watch in 2014 – As we’ve headed in to the new year we’ve been bombarded with the typical “predictions posts.” Two we would recommend come from Altimeter’s Brian Solis and Charlene Li.

In his post, Brian shares his agenda for 2014, with some key issues around social business, customer experience and digital transformation. >> READ MORE 

In her post, Charlene discusses disruptive trends she is watching in 2014, and shares thoughts on the implications for organizations and actions they should take. >> READ MORE

7. Social Pros 100th Episode  – Convince & Convert President and Youtility author Jay Baer, recently celebrated the 100th episode of his popular Social Pros podcast. This 50 minute Google Hangout features great conversation and valuable insights from Jay and special guests including Brad Walters from Lowe’s, Jessica Gioglio from Dunkin Donuts, Vanessa Sain-Dieguez from Hilton Hotels, and more. Highly recommended viewing.  >> VIEW VIDEO

8. Digital Marketing Lessons Nonprofits Can Learn from charity: water –  charity: water, a nonprofit that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, is leading the way when it comes to redefining nonprofit marketing; they are exceptional at inbound marketing, focusing on creating powerful content to inspire people to join their cause. This post from Beth Kanter’s blog shares nine valuable marketing lessons from charity: water that other nonprofits (or really any business) can take and apply in their own organization. >> READ MORE

9. Building an Audience-Centric Content Distribution Strategy  –  To fully harness the power of content distribution, brands should shift from serving internal executives with branded key messages to serving journalists, influencers and advocates with relevant information focused on the end reader. >> READ MORE

10. Monitoring and Measuring Social Media: A Practical Guide – Eight practical applications for social media monitoring are highlighted (with examples for each) in this presentation from Social: IRL partner, Sprial16. Applications include competitive intelligence, industry research, market research, lead generation, customer service, crisis management, and campaign monitoring.  >> READ MORE

Smart Social: A Conversation with Expion’s Erica McClenny

Smart Social SmallErica McClenny is Senior VP of Client Services at social software company Expion, and is responsible for providing strategic support and guidance for the company’s major brand clients.

For this latest installment of our Smart Social interview series, we spoke with Erica about some of the key challenges, opportunities and trends she has seen emerge through working with this diverse group of brands. The conversation includes valuable insights for any company embarking on or continuing along the path to social maturity, and concludes with a powerful and practical definition and application of the “smart social” theme.

The interview was conducted via Google Hangout.

Part One: Erica discusses working with brands in a strategic business development role and some of the specific challenges and opportunities that have emerged during that process, from creating the right operational structure for social success, to not setting yourself up for perceived failure by trying to measure against a running stage when in reality you are only crawling.

Part Two: Erica discusses social media-driven and empowered employee advocacy as a means for providing a valuable and trusted extension of brand voice, while also allowing individual employees to serve in a valuable lead generation role.

Part Three: Erica discusses key emerging trends, including the consolidation of data and analysis of cross portfolio customer insights. Also the opportunity for brands to connect through social on a local level without overtasking local employees. She also includes a word of caution about keeping focus and avoiding the temptation or pressure of jumping on every new trend –  “doing an average job of being everywhere vs. doing a great job of being in the channels that most closely align with your goals and KPIs.”

Part Four: We conclude the conversation by focussing back on the “smart social” theme and Erica shares a powerful and practical definition of what smart social means to her.

Five key lessons learned: Social media’s impact on CFCA marketing strategies

Guest post by Shanxi Omoniyi, online content manager at Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA).  Founded in 1981,  CFCA has grown into a movement of more than 250,000 sponsors who are supporting more than 300,000 children, youth and aging friends worldwide.

Here at CFCA we’re blessed to have an organizational strategy that is extremely open and flexible to the potential of social media.

We believe in the power of community, and one of the best ways to illustrate that is through our social media team.

The team spans several departments but has one goal: to support our marketing efforts by providing a welcoming space where sponsors and potential sponsors can build community, receive answers to their questions, and hear more about our work.

Here are some of our key learnings over the years:

1)       Personalize wherever possible.

We hear great stories every day of lives being changed through CFCA’s work in developing countries. These are the stories that get the most views on our blog, retweeted most on Twitter, and shared and liked most on Facebook.

Even in blog posts when we’re running a list of “how-tos” or “Top 10 things to remember about sponsorship,” for example, we’ve found that it’s essential to feature a picture of a sponsored friend in the post.

Often your headlines are the most widely read part of your content. Therefore we’ve tried to personalize every blog post headline, tweet and Facebook post.

Sometimes this just involves asking questions: “Why isn’t my sponsored child smiling in photos?” or “What happens when my friend leaves the sponsorship program?”

At other times, it means using pronouns like “you” and “your.” A good rule of thumb is to try to think of your headlines as if they were to appear on the CNN home page – would you click on them?

2)       Encourage your supporters to help you.

We have the best Facebook fans in the world! Whenever we ask them to take action on our behalf, they’ve regularly gone above and beyond by liking, commenting and sharing our posts with their friends.

In 2010 we tried a new approach to helping children in need by posting their pictures and stories in a Facebook photo album. In the post, we encouraged our fans to share these albums with their family and friends.

Because Facebook is such a visual medium, photos are one of the most highly shared items. Over the last two years, more than 80 children, youth and aging people have been featured on Facebook and sponsored.

Photo albums are also a fantastic way to keep your supporters posted because you can regularly update the photos. When you do, everyone who has previously liked, commented or shared the album will receive an update.

3)    Create a hub of great content to support your Facebook efforts.

When we began cross-posting our blog posts to our Facebook wall, we noticed an increase in our blog audience almost immediately.

Additionally, our blog posts also increased our Facebook presence, creating a relationship of mutual encouragement and support.

The CFCA blog has now become central to our social media strategy, where great content is produced and then shared across a variety of platforms such as our website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

4)    Take time to express your appreciation.

Sometimes Facebook pages respond on their wall only to negative comments or comments that ask a question.

While this is better than not responding at all, I strongly encourage Facebook page administrators to respond also to positive comments.

Sometimes just a “Thank you! We appreciate your support” is all it takes to make a commenter feel special and valued. And after all, we want more of those positive posts appearing on our Facebook wall, right?

Tip: Under Facebook’s Account Settings, you can toggle the “Notifications” settings so that Facebook will email you anytime someone posts to your page’s wall or leaves a comment.

5)    Get organized.

For us, a Facebook editorial calendar is an absolute must. It helps reduce writer’s block and keeps us focused on learning how best to serve our audience and how often to call on them.

So far the best experience for us is to post twice a day at most, in the morning and afternoon. It’s a delicate juggling act to know when and what to post, but this has worked best for us in our experience. Also, weekends can be our most responsive times for Facebook posts.

Another tip is to reach out across departments to help with your community outreach. The CFCA social media team started in the Communications department, but we’ve realized over time that social media doesn’t belong to just one person, department or office.

We share updates about Facebook at our weekly community meeting, which includes all departments at our Kansas City headquarters – finance, child services, information systems and more.

Hopefully many of these thoughts will coincide with your own social media experiences. Now it’s your turn! How has social media affected your organization’s awareness and marketing efforts?

Social Media Marketing: Storytelling in 140 Characters

Guest post by Jessica Best, Community Director at emfluence, a full service interactive marketing company based in Kansas City.

In the last half of 2012, buzzwords like “content marketing” have been flying around and industry articles tell us to think more like publishers instead of like marketers. No longer can we simply share our product, its price and where to buy it. Our products solve problems. Our services provide solutions. And when we are great it, it makes for good stories. That’s what social media marketing is really about.

But how? 140 characters isn’t even enough for an introduction to your first chapter… Is it? The Salvation Army recently used a single tweet to tell a story and draw donors into their mission.

Telling a great story in just 140 characters >>  READ MORE

Uncovering The State of Corporate Social Programs: The Spredfast Engagement Index Benchmark

Guest post by Jordan Slabaugh, Director of Social Media at Spredfast, a Social: IRL sponsor providing an enterprise-class social media management system that allows organizations to manage, monitor, and measure their voice across multiple social media channels.

Over the years, we’ve asked as social practitioners how to quantitatively gauge our social programs. The surge of social business has left many questions about the dynamics of companies’ social. How many people are active across the company? How often are companies publishing? What level of engagement are they receiving from audiences? In short: how do you as a social brand stack up next to your peers?

It’s something we’ve discussed at great lengths at Spredfast. And now, we’re excited to announce the launch of the first Spredfast Social Engagement Index Report.


The Spredfast Social Engagement Index Benchmark Report defines the current state engagement across social brands by looking at quantitative data from real social brands from Q2 of 2012. The data uncovers how brands are engaging internally – people, business groups, activity and publishing – and how they are building external engagement – network size, interactions and social reach. We looked at data from 154 Spredfast customers, captured within the Spredfast social media management system (SMMS), which was analyzed by market research firm, Mindwave Research. The 30-page report focused on the following key indicators of internal and external social engagement:

  • Number of users
  • Number of groups
  • Number of messages published across all channels
  • Total activity
  • Current network size
  • Total reach
  • Total engagement


The Social Engagement Index Report breaks down each area of social programs, highlighting the averages across brands, and then segmenting out three groups that emerged based on their level of engagement –“Activating”, “Expanding” and “Proliferating” (more detail on this in the Methodology section of the report).  The goal was to pinpoint levels of engagement and plot current trends across actual companies running social programs. Below, you can see where the 154 Spredfast customers analyzed fall. Organization represents users, publishing, activity and groups where Audience represents network size, external engagement interactions and social reach.











The data validates the growth of social business and the findings point to a few key trends across the industry:

  • Social media is no longer one person’s or one team’s job. On average, 29 people are participating in social programs within an SMMS across 11 business groups and 51 social accounts. Gone are the days when one social champion or social media team is expected to “own” all social activity. The trend is to activate more people to have more targeted, relevant conversations.
  • Companies are expanding social engagement opportunities through increased publishing and activity. Companies published an average of 4,924 messages over the quarter, averaging engagement of 2 million interactions during Q2 of 2012.  These messages, or social content, each provide new opportunities for audiences to engagement with social brands. These messages, or social content, each provide new opportunities for audiences to engage with social brands. While quantity doesn’t equal quality, the Social Engagement Index shows that as brands increase contributors, groups, and activity their external engagement rises disproportionally.
  • Social is allowing companies to communicate directly with an “opted in” network. Companies have an average social network size of 1.8 million people, potentially reaching 47 million impressions over one quarter. Pair the increasing pace of audience acquisition with a high level of activity, and brands are increasing the chances of being seen in coveted news feeds.
  • Publishing is heavier on Twitter, engagement is higher on Facebook. Companies are publishing nearly three times as often on Twitter compared Facebook. Yet Facebook yields 9x the engagement for each message published. However, some brands found the opposite, highlighting that determining goals and audience preferences are mission critical to success.
  • Corporate social programs are multi-channel, requiring employees to participate in multiple roles. It’s no longer a debate on which one network to adopt. Companies are utilizing at least three social networks and assigning up to five levels of roles to employees to allow the right people to focus and engage their audience in the best way.











The report is chock full of data and insights. And while there’s more to be said for each specific area, a few key opportunities and takeaways emerged.

Engagement is the name of the game.
Social brands are vying for both placement in a news feed and validation that their audience is actually actively participating. These interactions – Comments, Retweets Likes ,Clicks, etc. – prove message resonance and relationship intent with a brand.

Orchestrating the outliers.
The truth is, a good percentage of brand activity is still being published natively or through disparate applications. Meaning: brands have an opportunity to “reign in” social accounts, content and users currently active outside a centralized system. Without this, aggregate reporting, orchestration and brand protection oversight are nearly impossible.

Technology is a friend.
How can a brand be efficient with 29 users, 51 social accounts and publishing around 50 messages a day? Similar to how Content Management and Marketing Automation Systems help coordinate, centralize and measure other communication efforts, the exponential growth of social business is emphasizing the need for technology like an SMMS.

Low hanging fruit, ripe for the picking.
Personalized approach and goals aside, tactical opportunities surfaced as opportunities for social brands.

  • Content. If engagement is the name of game, content is the secret weapon. Ensuring that messages appear in a user’s news feed so that they can engage depends on the fact that your content is compelling and resonates.
  • Contextual insights. Great moments in engagement are exciting. But realizing how to learn from these and optimize for future content is key. Findings ways to use labels and add context to social activity helps percolate up insights.
  • Segmentation and focus. Your audience wants more, quality activity. Getting the right people internally (your 29 users) sharing the most relevant and targeted activity with your external audience allows brand to stop marketing by megaphone.
  • Coordination. It may not be an attractive area of focus, but it’s crucial. 29 users across 51 accounts that need to respond to 2 million user interactions each quarter signals the need for concerted coordination and internal planning. What content does each user focus on? Who will respond to what? What is the escalation process?
  • Conversion. Not all engagement is equal. And interestingly enough, the data showed Clicks outperformed any other interaction type. Regardless of industry, brands have a keen opportunity to actually convert social users from a social site to a corporate website, landing page or even point of purchase.

More thoughts and insights to come about Spredfast Social Engagement Index. In the meantime, get a copy of the report, digest the findings and share your thoughts and feedback.


Solving the Challenge: Effective Governance in a Distributed Engagement Environment

Guest post by Peter Heffring, CEO of social software company Expion, a Social: IRL sponsor providing scalable enterprise-grade software to listen, content plan, publish, moderate, analyze, govern and share content on Facebook and other social channels. The post originally appeared in MediaPostBlogs.

The most pressing concern from marketers who manage social media for global brands is no longer about presence or participation – it’s now a mature focus on governance and collaboration. The proliferation of social media engagement through Facebook, Twitter and other widely adopted platforms presents a new frontier for global brands as well as a new set of multi-location challenges that involve cultural and communication differences in every country, city and corner of the planet.

Marketers face many obstacles when it comes to distributed engagement, from how to control what is being said and shared by page administrators across various brands, locations and countries to who is managing the process and ensuring the sharing of best practices across the globe.

As motivated marketers, we constantly strive for perfection. In a distributed engagement environment, our collective efforts toward a P.E.R.F.E.C.T. solution would significantly improve the chances of overcoming today’s social governance challenges.


A global brand that is serious about governance must start with a comprehensive social media policy that encompasses all the rules and guidelines on how to appropriately communicate as a representative of the brand. A policy is intended to be a map that shows the boundaries of communications, but also the various opportunities that social media empowers the brand with — customer interaction, direct-response, product feedback and more.

(No) Exceptions

Good governance gives different levels of publishing and administrative authority to different individuals within a social media or marketing team. All members of the team should understand their roles — and a social software solution can ensure they are properly managed with a clear management and approvals structure. If the social software can’t handle the governance requirements of a global brand, then exceptions are created and the system won’t work. The platform must be able to handle the various controls and rules for the brand; otherwise, there will be a gap in communications and the worst exception can generate a crisis.


The ability to have a real-time conversation with customers or people or see a real-time pulse of what’s happening are frequently mentioned when asking someone about the power of social media. The need for real-time governance is essential in this dynamic world of now. Real-time translation and sharing capabilities for top-performing tweets and posts across a brand’s social network will ensure best practices and maximum efficiency on a global level. Social software continues to evolve to empower marketers further with a system that distributes information, changes and alerts in real-time.


Governance must be flexible and adapt to the various job roles and responsibilities for each region, team and page. Brands today need a social software solution that can be configured based on the social media needs of their unique brand, giving them the flexibility they need to communicate — within the agreed-upon guidelines that ensure a consistent brand voice, and sharing of best practices.


Social media is more than a conversation. The interaction between a brand and a customer or fan builds a relationship and produces an experience — whether positive, negative or indifferent. Governance should integrate the ethos of a customer-centric company, always considerate of the customer experience and ensuring that the entire path of customer interaction exceeds expectation.


A centralized approach through a brand hub (and approval chain) ensures a consistent brand voice and generates the needed oversight for relevant stakeholders regardless of region. Marketers should look for a social media management platform that offers a highly efficient mechanism for centralizing social media communications and facilitating governance and collaboration for a global brand.


Marketers should receive training up front that is ongoing, as social media engagement evolves and tools and features in social media management emerge to serve the public. Training on these tools is essential, but training and guidance on how to engage people and build relationships is critical.

Governance of this distributed engagement paradigm is — and should be — a cornerstone for any marketer looking to promote or protect a brand with multiple locations, pages or products. Global brands that tackle the CORE social media challenges through the above value-set are well-positioned to meet the needs of distributed engagement – and well on their way toward a dynamic world of perfect governance.


Top Ten Social Media Links and Resources and Upcoming Social Media Events

We’re pleased to share our top ten links and resources for the week, and details of upcoming Social: IRL events.   If you would like additional resources sent direct to your inbox, you can subscribe to our free email newsletter.


Top Ten Links and Resources:


1. If You Don’t Have a Social CEO, You’re Going to be Less Competitive  CEOs and their executives set the cultural tone for an organization. Through participation, they implicitly promote the use of social technologies.  That will make their organizations more competitive and better able to adapt to sudden market changes. READ MORE


2. Understanding Mobile Consumer Behavior – Valuable stats & insights from Google’s “Our Mobile Planet” READ MORE


3. Seven Universal Truths for Ensuring Brand Relevance – The age of big corporations doing whatever they want is over. Now companies must find ways to give back, and to do it in ways that consumers find authentic. How can a company get there?  READ MORE


4. Responding to customers via social media – Good tips and a helpful “response assessment” flowchart shared by Spiral16. READ MORE


5. World’s first ‘Wikipedia town’  To better engage tourists, this town installed 1,000 real-world QR code plaques linking back to Wikipedia articles. READ MORE


6. Creating and Using Great Social Content – View an on-demand recording of the recent Spredfast webinar with Jason Falls READ MORE


7. Social Engagement Handbook – Created by the Red Cross as a guide for their local units, but also an excellent resource for any non-profit or small business. READ MORE

8. Scaling Your Social Business – Valuable insights in this must watch video of Jeremiah Owyang’s keynote at the Dachis Group Social Business Summit.  READ MORE

Bonus: Regain Control and Minimize Risk: Your Strategy for Managing Corporate Media Activities – More valuable insights from Jeremiah Owyang in this SocilaVolt webinar. View the recording while it’s still available.


9. Startup Outlook – The Brand Marketer’s Guide to Evaluating Startups – A monthly guide from 360i helping brands better evaluate emerging technologies and platforms. READ MORE

Thanks to our friends at Expion for sharing this great resource.


10. Twitter to the Rescue – Fascinating video looking at the life-changing impact Twitter is having in rural areas on Kenya. READ MORE


Special Announcements & Upcoming Events:


Free copy of Realtime Report’s Guide to Influence Measurement Tools – How do you identify and grow advocates for your business? Which tools are most useful for discovering and measuring influence? What’s the difference between Personal Influence and Contextual Influence. Free download thanks to Appinions (regularly $20)  READ MORE


Join Social: IRL, Brian Solis, and 500 of the top media minds in the industry in New York for Pivot – Here’s why we’re attending and are recommending the event for all agencies and brand marketers. We also have a VIP discount code to share, which will save you 20% on registrations.  READ MORE


Social Media for Non-Profits – We’re excited to announce two additional dates for our non-profits workshops. These  events are free for non-profit organizations to attend. Join us in Wichita KS on July 24, and in Springfield MO on August 23.  READ MORE


Links include content identified as being from our sponsors Spredfast, Expion, SocialVolt, Spiral16, and Appinions. We are grateful to these sponsors for their support and enjoy sharing content and webinar opportunities they provide which we consider to be valuable to the Social: IRL community.


Top ten social media links and resources and upcoming social media events

We’re pleased to share our top ten links and resources for the week, and details of upcoming Social: IRL events.   If you would like additional resources sent direct to your inbox, you can subscribe to our free email newsletter.


Top Ten Links and Resources:


1. Turning audiences into activists – Five valuable lessons in social media engagement READ MORE


2. Web 2.0 Is Over, All Hail the Age of Mobile – Got a solid mobile strategy in place? You better have!  READ MORE


3. Perspectives on digital influence – Social: IRL chats with Appinions about personal vs contextual influence and the evolving digital influence landscape. READ MORE

Bonus: Thanks to Appinions you can download a free copy of the Realtime Report on Influence Measurement Tools. (regularly $20 to download)


4. Spruce up your social this spring – Free three-part webinar series from Spredfast featuring Jeremiah Owyang, Jason Falls and Michael Brito covering key issues such as creating and sharing great social content, delivering unique customer experiences, and creating social programs that are optimized for maintenance and growth.  READ MORE


5. Building an engaged and responsive audience  40 great tips from Copyblogger READ MORE


6. Your company has social media nailed. Now what? Five great questions that will help you avoid complacency.  READ MORE


7. Social Media for Non-Profits: Listening, Setting Goals, Storytelling – Copy of the presentation Spiral16 recently gave at Social: IRL’s non-profit workshop in Wichita KS.  READ MORE

Bonus: Integrating social media in your marketing plan – We’re also pleased to share the presentation emfluence gave at the Wichita non-profits workshop.  READ MORE


8. “Engagement” is not a goal, it’s a result. Focus on the actions that go into making the result happen – A valuable reality check from Social Media Explorer’s Jason Falls. READ MORE

BONUS: “Redefining engagement” – Brian Solis on the need to develop more meaningful connections, relationships & outcomes.  READ MORE


9. Pinterest as an online resume – Creative and effective use of Pinterest that landed this user a job offer.  READ MORE


10. How Restaurants Can Leverage Facebook Timeline – Expion share some good tips that can really be applied by any business.READ MORE

Congratulations to our good friend Zena Weist who recently joined the leadership team at Expion as VP of Strategy.  READ MORE


Upcoming Social Media Events:


Join Social: IRL in Des Moines, Iowa, June 6 for a special “Beyond the Keynote” event with Brian Solis – Brian and special guest speakers will discuss critically important issues such as surviving “Digital Darwinism,” the rise of the connected consumer, the evolution of social business, disruptive technology and how to compete for the future, the psychology of engagement, and the rise of digital influence. Brian will also participate in a unique bigger dialogue style fireside chat and audience Q&A, a format that allows us to dig deeper and dialogue on a more personal level than the typical keynote.  READ MORE


Social Media for Non-Profits – We’re excited to announce two additional dates for our non-profits workshops. These events are free for non-profit organizations to attend. Join us in Wichita KS on July 24, and in Springfield MO on August 23.  READ MORE


Join Social: IRL, Brian Solis, and 500 of the top media minds in the industry in New York for Pivot –  Here’s why we’re attending and are recommending the event for all agencies and brand marketers. We also have a VIP discount code to share, which will save you 20% on registrations.  READ MORE


Links include content identified as being from our sponsors Spredfast, Expion, SocialVolt, Spiral16, and Appinions. We are grateful to these sponsors for their support and enjoy sharing content and webinar opportunities they provide which we consider to be valuable to the Social: IRL community.

10 elements regulated brands must consider before entering the social space

Today’s post is a guest post from Melanie Woods, Interactive Marketing Manager at UMB Financial Corp.  Melanie will be among the guest speakers at the upcoming Social Media for Financial Services and Regulated Industries forum Social: IRL is hosting at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City on Friday, May 11. This event is free to attend and while the focus will be on financial services, many other businesses will relate to the challenges being discussed (including privacy concerns, desire to control the message and protect the brand, risk and regulatory compliance, getting corporate buy-in).  All are encouraged to register.

Everyone knows by now you begin a social strategy with goals, key performance indicators, relevant content and a clearly defined social media policy. If you are in a regulated industry, you have to take a few more steps to reach a compliant social media strategy. Simply put, regulators consider social media (likes, posts, comments, ratings, etc.) from the brand, or its associates, another form of advertising; therefore, it’s subject to the same rules. The following elements are critical for regulated industries to remain compliant in the space.

1.       Risk assessment

2.       Archival process

3.       Compliance approval workflow

4.       Customer service integration

5.       Crisis plan

6.       Training and certification for anyone representing the brand

7.       Internal social media guidance council (compliance, legal, technology, human resources)

8.       Enterprise-wide social policy education

9.       External social policy

10.     Access controls

Regulators are updating their guidance on a regular basis to try and keep up with the ever changing landscape of social media. Thankfully, your friends in legal and compliance can help guide you through the regulated waters. If you are just getting into social, start by grabbing lunch with your legal and compliance departments. You will be spending a lot of time with them in the future.

Finally, people always ask me if I think every brand should be on social. My answer is, if your audience is there and you have content they want or would find helpful, then YES. However, if your audience isn’t there, then you need to focus on the channels they are in, but closely monitor shifts. And, if you don’t have content worth sharing, then you have bigger problems to solve before you consider social media.

If you can do social in a regulated industry, you can do it anywhere! Cheers to all of those who are paving the way in regulated industries.

The seven whiteboard sessions every social strategist needs to have in 2012

We’re excited to be able to share a valuable new resource – “7 Whiteboard Sessions for Every Social Strategist.

Click to Download

This dynamic new whitepaper discusses seven key areas that all social media practitioners and organizations should be thinking about to help businesses continue to grow and thrive their social media programs throughout the year.

The paper was produced by Spredfast, a leading provider of Social CRM software for social media monitoring, engagement, coordination, measurement and integration.  Spredfast is also a  Social: IRL sponsor.

In preparing the paper, Spredfast spent a great deal of time talking with customers, partners and industry leaders from organizations such as Altimeter Group, Edelman Digital, MarketingProfs and Social Media Explorer to identify the biggest areas of opportunity in social media for enterprises and agencies. From those discussions, seven key areas of opportunity emerged:

1. Gaining Insight About Your Social Customer
Your customers are at the heart of everything you do – or should be doing – in social media. How are you learning about their preferences, activity and interactions to help inform your decisions?

2. Adopting Social Media Company-Wide
Social media has moved far beyond just social media marketing.  How are you planning to help roll out social media beyond just Marketing efforts to achieve business goals in departments throughout the business like Sales, R&D, Customer Care, HR or Public Relations?

3. Operationalizing Social Media with Workflows and Processes
Expanding social media throughout the your business is complex. How are you planning to operationalize social media with internal processes, communication standards and workflows to make the activity seamless between teams and people?

4. Getting the Most out of Your Great Content
Content is at the heart of everything you do in social media. But that doesn’t mean it has to be all new content or that it should exist in a vacuum. What content do you have that should be used across you social channels and how can this be used in an engaging way?

5. Delivering Better Customer Experiences
Creating good experiences is the key to successful social media programs. What do your customers want or need to experience to make their interactions positive and unique with your brand?

6. Integration
Social media initiatives are one part of a greater business initiative. And because of that, they need to be integrated into greater systems and reporting dashboards so that they can add context to overall goals.

7. Showing a Return on Social
What are your social media programs yielding in terms of social impressions, activity from your internal teams and engagement from your target audience?

Regardless of where you are in your social planning and strategy efforts, these seven areas are key to hone in on from a social media perspective. They can help make your current social programs richer and also ensure you are planning with an eye toward future social business success.

In preparing this whitepaper, Spredfast took a creative approach in presenting each area of opportunity as a “whiteboard session”, with ideas on how to approach planning and assessment and an action plan to get started. Importantly, the “whiteboard sessions” can be used as the foundation for a series of meetings designed to foster discussion and secure the buy-in needed to make your efforts successful.

For a brief overview of the whitepaper, check out the Executive Summary embedded below.

To access the complete 36 page whitepaper click here. You’ll just need to complete some very basic registration information and will then receive a free PDF download.

Kudos Spredfast. A great resource with a practical, fun and creative approach.

Disaster Recovery Can Help You Sail Safely in the Cloud

Guest post by Maureen Griffith, Communications Specialist for Codero, a leading provider of optimized hosting infrastructure who creates scalable solutions using dedicated, managed and cloud hosting services.

As a hosting provider, Codero took great interest in the recent Amazon cloud outage in April which affected a great many of its customers. The online retailer Amazon is also the world’s largest cloud-computing provider. The four-day disruption occurred when a configuration change to upgrade the capacity of the primary network was executed incorrectly. Backup procedures failed to work due to the sheer volume of data that was incorrectly diverted.

Consequently, even weeks later, there is still a lot of buzz out there questioning the reliability of cloud.

Cloud is a very desirable service because it is highly scalable based on your needs – you only pay for the resources you use. Despite the outcry about cloud outages, cloud is not going away. Demand is growing for cloud thanks in part to its cost-effectiveness and green benefits.

The Amazon crisis impacted a wide variety of social media sites which rely on cloud hosted infrastructure like Reddit and Foursquare. Cloud services are known for their reliability and scalability so it’s only natural that many—especially social media sites—have placed a great deal of trust in them. But IT managers should not be complacent. They should consider upfront how they will respond to their users if their cloud services are interrupted because they can be interrupted. Those businesses using cloud services should take the lead in planning for service failures themselves.  Technology departments who deliver applications to customers need to be aware of the management tools that can give them a greater level of control and protection over their cloud environments.

You may not have the in-house capabilities to react quickly to cloud problems so relying on a hosting provider to create a disaster recovery and business continuity plan is a proactive move.  Codero helps customers plan and put safeguards in place with services architected to respond to failure in the cloud.

A Disaster Recovery (DR) plan is a recommended best practice to be used with cloud as a backup solution to prevent data loss. With DR, you can retrieve lost data and ensure business continuity if you suffer an interruption in cloud service. Think of DR as the life preserver on the sailboat. You don’t want to sail without some backup protection. You don’t want to fail to design for your cloud computing model. Balance the cost and complexity with the risk. Every component has its own architecture and there are tradeoffs between levels of resiliency and cost.

The first step to an effective cloud solution is to ask your hosting provider questions that give you the information you need to build in resilience. Design for failure. Inquire about recovery and redundancy before you make your ultimate cloud decision.