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.


ManageFlitter Reaches 1 million Users, Giving Away 50 Lifetime Pro Accounts

Social: IRL sponsor ManageFlitter, recently hit an impressive milestone – 1 million users.

To celebrate, ManageFlitter is giving away 50 lifetime Pro accounts.  Visit their website for details and to learn how to enter to win. Deadline for entries is end of day August 20.

With both free and Pro versions, ManageFlitter offers users a powerful set of tools to “work faster and smarter with Twitter.”  It helps users manage and grow their Twitter accounts, and identify and connect with relevant Twitter users via advanced search and follow tools. It also includes Twitter analytics and a unique PowerPost interface to help ensure tweets are sent at the optimal time for a specific audience.

We’ve been proud to have ManageFlitter as a Social: IRL sponsor and we congratulate them on their continued growth and on reaching this special milestone.

Social Media for Non-Profits

Last week, Social: IRL hosted our second non-profits workshop at the Kansas Humane Society in Wichita, KS.

The event saw 65 non-profit attendees from across Kansas and Missouri come together for a day of shared learning focused on the potential of social media as a powerful integrated marketing, communications, and relationships platform, and a tool to drive positive action from supporters.

Social: IRL would like to thank our sponsors who made it possible for non-profit organizations to participate in the workshop free of charge. Thank you Cox Communications of Kansas, Delta Dental of Kansas, Colab Digital, UMB,  Shay Chic Events and Design, Northstar Comfort Servicers, and The Arnold Group.

We would also like to thank the speakers who helped create a valuable learning experience for our attendees, and left them both inspired and empowered. To quote attendee Marcia Mater with Oral Health Kansas, “Thank you for an exceptional learning experience.  My academic and professional experience is in communications… public awareness, organizational design and education.  I came into the seminar knowing the elements and concepts of social media.  What the speakers helped me realize is the interaction of the various elements to create a new approach to designing a communication system.

The day’s agenda featured Eric Melin with Sprial16, Ben Smith with Social: IRL, Maria Loving with Via Christi Health, Katie Grover with Fidelity Bank, Jessica Best with emfluence, JD Patton with Armstrong Chamberlin, and Jennifer Campbell with Kansas Humane Society.

Finally, a very special thank you to our hosts, the Kansas Humane Society, who graciously provided their facility for two non-profit workshops and more than 150 non-profit attendees.  We are inspired by the hard work and dedication consistently displayed by the staff and volunteers at the Kansas Humane Society and thank them for the service they provide to the Wichita community.

Our next non-profits workshop will take place in Springfield, Missouri, on August 23and will again be free for non-profit attendees.

From the “140 Conference” to “The State of Now” – A Conversation with Jeff Pulver and Becky McCray

Jeff Pulver’s 140 Conference has taken place in New York City, Los Angeles, London and Tel Aviv. The events have explored the effects of the emerging real-time internet on a wide range of topics including business, the media, advertising, politics, fashion, real estate, music, education, public safety and public diplomacy.

In 2010, renowned Oklahoma-based blogger, small business expert, and small town advocate Becky McCray, persuaded Jeff Pulver to bring the 140 Conference to Hutchinson, Kansas, and the “140 Conference Small Town” was born.

On November 8, the conference returns to Hutchinson’s Historic Fox Theatre for a third year. Something different for 2012 – a change of name from the “140 Conference” to “The State of Now.”

Social: IRL is pleased to support The State of Now: Small Town. We’re looking forward to our third year attending and would encourage you to join us. Use discount code friendofST12 and you can register for just $40, a saving of some $60 on the standard $100 rate.

You’ll also be able to get a preview of the State of Now: Small Town and connect with Becky McCray at a special event Social: IRL is hosting in Lawrence, Kansas, the evening of October 25.

Meantime, we chatted with Jeff Pulver and Becky McCray to get their perspectives on what makes this event so special, insights on what attendees can expect to experience, and to understand the re-branding to “The State of Now.”

For people who haven’t attended before, could you give a brief outline of what they can expect at “The State of Now” and what makes it such a unique experience?

Becky – Expect real people sharing their own short stories. Expect to feel a connection, as they tell how our shared online space has changed their work, their friendships, or their life.  Expect to get more ideas than how-to’s. Expect storytelling, not PowerPoint. Expect to make friends with people nearby or far away, people just like you, but completely different. 

Jeff – When I curate these conference, I try to be the “Human DJ” trying to mix the voices and stories shared.


Hutchinson KS, saw the first “Small Town” State of Now conference. What brought about the specific small town focus, and why Hutchinson?

Becky McCray with Jeff Pulver in Hutchinson last year. Source:

Becky – Jeff had dreamed up the idea of bringing together 140 characters in the real world, to strengthen our online connections. He debuted it in New York and took it on the road. As he went to Barcelona and Tel Aviv, Steve Tucker and I teased Jeff about coming to a smaller town, getting out of the big city. Of course, Jeff took us up on the offer. So then I started looking for a town near me, but closer to an airport, and also cool enough to host an event that I knew would draw people from all over the world. I had been in Hutchinson for a tour of bloggers that Cody Heitschmidt and other locals created, so I knew a bit about it. And Hutch managed to beat out the two other towns I looked at, so Hutch it is. And it’s turned out to be great. Occasionally, I get some static that Hutchinson isn’t a small enough town, but I live in a town of 30 people, so I get it. The people of Hutchinson have given us a small town welcome.  


Focusing specifically on Hutchinson, who are the speakers? What type of stories do they share?

Becky – At Hutchinson, we have the people you’d expect in a small town: business owners, teachers, people from nonprofits, farmers and ranchers, and more. And they came from 18 states and 3 countries last year. Then we also have people from big cities who have a connection to small towns, like Ron J. Williams of New York City who has family in small towns. So we’ve had Val Wagner of North Dakota talking about making time for social media in agribusiness, Grant Griffiths sharing how he launched an international high-tech business from his basement, and Jay Ehret of Waco, Texas, talking about selling your soul for business. Then we had Steve Tucker touching our hearts with the story of an online friend who passed away, Laura Girty talking about what happened after her son died and came back to life, and Joe Cheray talking about surviving incest in a small town. That is a pretty amazing mix of stories! 


Some of the stories shared at the State of Now events are intensely personal. What do you feel motivates people to step outside their comfort zone and share at these events in a way they might never typically do?

Becky – I really think it’s because Jeff asked. He offered to share the stage, and he invited the people of small towns to step up. And the stories just came pouring out. It was like no one had ever asked before. 


From the first couple of years in Hutchinson, any stand out memories you can share?

Jeff – My memories start before the first conference. “School Bus Racing” in Hutch was a surreal experience.  For me it is always about the people and the communities that get formed.


Jeff, As a native New Yorker, what were your key personal takeaways from the “small town” experience and that first Hutchinson event?

Jeff – As a result of visiting Hutchinson, I have made it a point to include the stories of some of the people I met in NYC at our annual global event. It helped that in August, 2010, I drove across the Midwest for 6 1/2 days. I visited quite a number of small towns during that journey. Key take away was that I needed to return to Hutchinson and make this an annual event. Our conferences provide a stage for people to share their stories. It doesn’t matter where they are from or who they are. Everyone’s voices matter. And we try to offer as many people to speak that we have room for.


Until recently, “State of Now” was known as the 140 Conference. Why the change?

Jeff – Mostly because I wanted to take away the false belief that we are a Twitter conference. Our conferences provide a portal into what is happening at this very moment and the continued effects of the evolution of the real-time web on our lives – both from a personal and business perspective. “Exploring the State of NOW” was the original tagline. Now it is the formal name of the conference.


State of Now returns to Hutchinson on November 8. Anything you can share on what attendees can expect to hear or who they can expect to hear from?

Becky – The call for speakers is still open, so I can’t reveal any secrets. But I can say that I see lots of returning favorites, and even more new names. People from Iowa, Wyoming, Michigan, New York, Louisiana, and Kansas are already in there. I know this will be another amazing year! 


For someone who hasn’t attended before, what would you say to encourage them to make the trip to Hutchinson?

Becky – Let’s share some of what people who have made the trip said: 

“Rather than leaving with a bunch of tips, tools, and systems, I left with a bunch of ideas, concepts, and connections.” –Scott Wendling

“Some things are just too small to miss.” -Jay Ehret

“Hutchinson was the perfect place for this small town event. It’s filled with warm, welcoming people and unexpected surprises. We traveled 650 feet underground into the tunnels that run under the city and got to experience life as an ant. After the conference there was a party at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. We got to see space suits and space ships that actually went into space. Who could have imagined that this small town in the middle of America could hold such wonders.” -Nelson DeWitt

“I encourage anyone within 1,574 miles of Hutchinson to attend.” –Greg Falken


State of Now: Small Town

Hutchinson, Kansas – November 8, 2012

Event website:

Register with  promotion code friendofST12 to save $60.

Join Social: IRL and Becky McCray in Lawrence, Kansas, October 25 for a special evening event sponsored by Lawrence Public Library, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, and Social Media Club of Lawrence. 

Spruce up your social this spring – Register for this valuable three-part webinar series

We’re excited to share details of this upcoming webinar series being offered by Social: IRL partner Spredfast.

The webinars feature industry thought leaders such as Jeremiah Owyang, Jason Falls, and Michael Brito and will provide valuable insights on 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.

Click here for full details and free registration.

The webinar is the latest free resource offered by our friends at Spredfast. We’ve enjoyed sharing many of their whitepapers and best practice documents, all of which are available for free download (registration required) via the Spredfast website.


Creating and Using Great Social Content

Jason Falls, May 15, 1pm CT

A well-manicured social presence blossoming with great content is what draws people to your gate. Join us to examine the continued importance of great content and how to keep your social fresh and engaging.

Details and free registration.


Knowing and Delighting Your Social Customer

Michael Brito, June 5, 1pm CT

To set the hive buzzing you need to provide a consistently compelling social experience. Join Michael Brito and social business leaders as they discuss the importance of knowing and understanding social customers and how to use that knowledge to deliver value, provide unique experiences, and constantly exceed expectations.

Details and free registration.


Organizing and Creating Social Program Processes

Jeremiah Owyang, June 26, 1pm CT

Plotting your social presence and implementing processes for maintenance and growth can be the most difficult parts of undertaking social initiatives. They are also the most crucial steps to guarantee success. Listen to thought leaders as they provide advice and key insights into organizing social at scale.

Details and free registration.

Perspectives on digital influence

“Digital Influence” is very much a hot topic of conversation. Who has influence? How is influence defined? Can you really score influence? These are just a few of the questions often subject to passionate debate.

As we continue to explore the digital influence landscape, we turned to Social: IRL sponsor Appinions, an opinions-based influence measurement tool for brands and agencies, to get their perspectives.

How do you define digital influence? 

At Appinions, we consider two forms of online influence: personal influence, which is one persons’ influence sphere (and measured by tools such as Klout), and contextual influence. We believe that it’s the latter, contextual influence, that is most useful for brands to consider. Appinions considers “influence” to be opinion based; that is, once you express an opinion, it is compelling and resonant enough to elicit action/response from others in the form of a quote, reference, link or re-tweet.

What does it take to be an “influencer”  

The power to elicit some kind of action based on one’s opinions.

How is your approach to measuring influence different to more popular score-based systems? 

Appinions is very different from Klout, Peerindex and other personal influence measurement tools in that we only consider contextual influence. Rather than returning a singular, unvarying score for each influencer, we develop influence measurement in the context of a topic which is customized and highly specific to a brand’s particular strategy.  Our contextual influence measurement is multi-dimensional and across both social and traditional networks, focusing on the actual opinions and actions elicited, as well as the qualitative weight of where each action was published.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about the current approach to influencer marketing? 

Too much emphasis is placed on personal influence – those scores which indicate one person’s individual strength as an influencer in general. Until recently, however, that’s all that most people were aware of. Contextual influence is going to be far more valuable to brands in the long run.  Additionally, influence happens on and off-line; a personal influence score based on a couple of social networks is far less accurate and representative than contextual influence developed across news, blogs, tweets, forums and TV.

Appinions offers a separate toolset focusing specifically on the “Influencer Gap.” Could explain what this is and why you put so much focus on this?  

The Influencer Gap gives brands an accurate and disciplined tool to measure success by understanding its Share of Influence, which is increasingly critical for today’s marketers. Specially, who should be speaking about you but isn’t? This allows brands to focus on developing thoughtful strategy and outreach programs that will increase the reach and engagement those brands can have with the people that influence their market the most. Having existing brand advocates speak more about you is one goal but finding those influencers that don’t speak about you and get them into a conversation, is even more valuable in the long run.

What would be the top five tips you would share for re-thinking and better understanding how we look at digital influence?

1) Don’t confuse personal influence with contextual influence. While personal influence has its place for individuals and brands as one dimension of influence measurement, only contextual influence will help a brand understand who is influential in the topic or category they are trying to measure.

2) Invest in focused WOM aimed at those people that count, which will have a direct impact on a business’s bottom line over time.

3) Don’t fixate on the influencers talking about your brand today, focus on those that aren’t as that’s how you grow your brand’s awareness.

4) Perception is reality, don’t ignore the criticisms or misconceptions discussed about your brand. Translate them into insights for your marketing strategy or product development cycles.

5) Influencers respond best if you deliver a relevant message to them. Reflect on their points of views as you communicate with them – that should translate into higher levels of engagement on their end.

Want to learn more about Influence Measurement Tools?

For a limited time, you can download the Realtime Report’s Guide to Influence Measurement Tools for free (registration required), courtesy of Appinions. The report is typically a $20 download at the

The report details:

  • 5 business cases for influence measurement tools
  • The difference between Personal and Contextual Influence
  • How to use influence analysis to manage brand strategies
  • Best practices for using influence measurement tools to manage influencer relations, perks promotions and other marketing programs
  • A detailed look and comparison of Personal Influence tools (Klout, Kred, PeerIndex, TweetLevel, and PeekAnalytics) and Contextual Influence tools (Appinions, TRAACKER, mBlast, and SpotInfluence)

Click here to download the guide today.


About Appinions:

Appinions is an opinions-powered platform that makes it easy to identify, analyze, monitor and engage with influencers. Not only that, but Appinions enables researchers and publishers to automatically mine, analyze, and summarize opinion to gain insight into what people and organizations are saying, thinking and feeling.

Based on a decade of research at Cornell University, the platform features an extensive database that includes millions of opinions extracted from blogs, Twitter, Facebook, forums, newspaper and magazine articles, and radio and television transcripts.

The platform not only focuses on the influencers creating content but the influencers attracting the most attention. This lets Appinions provide a unique and unmatched view of the influencer landscape.

Services include the Appinions Influencer Exchange that lets public relations agencies and brands quickly and effectively discover influencers based on any topic, brand, issue or person, and the Influencer Gap that helps brands perform topic based analysis in order to effectively establish relationships and engage with these key influencers.

Learn more by visiting their website at and connect with them on Twitter and Facebook. You can also check out the Appinions blog for regular insights on the ever evolving influencer landscape.  You can also view this short video to learn more the discovering, monitoring and engaging with influencers using the Influencer Exchange:

Zena Weist Joins Expion Leadership Team

Those of us in the Kansas City area know Zena Weist as a founding member of the Kansas City Chapter of The Social Media Club, a great wife and mother, loyal Jayhawk, and  a passionate supporter of autism awareness.  Professionally we’ve admired her work leading digital and social teams at Sprint, Hallmark, Embarq and H&R Block. Most recently she was Vice President of Strategy with Edelman Digital Chicago.

Zena has also been a great supporter of Social: IRL and has attended and participated in a number of Social: IRL conferences.

We’re excited to share news of Zena’s latest career move, joining the leadership of social software company Expion.  Zena has joined as the firm’s Vice President of Strategy, and will report directly to Expion’s CEO, Peter Heffring.

“Zena has operational leadership experience in Fortune 500 companies and a solid reputation as an enterprise digital strategist, social media catalyst and brand thought leader,” said Peter Heffring. “As Vice President of Strategy, Zena will work with our clients and demonstrate how Expion’s platform can be utilized as a solution to specific organizational and market challenges they face today. With her experience, Zena brings industry-specific knowledge, and big brand experience that we will rely on to ensure Expion’s platform continues to be the leading social media management software solution for the world’s largest brands.”

“I’m excited to tap into Expion’s unparalleled combination of business intelligence and social media-based technologies to help evolve how brands interact with stakeholders in social channels,” said Zena, “and to empower brands to be more strategic in the digital arena.

Expion is also a Social: IRL partner, and we’re looking forward to the new opportunities this brings us to work directly with Zena and the Expion team.

Congratulations Zena and Expion on this exciting news.

You can also read Expion’s official press release here.

Amplifying a message to an exponentially larger audience

Just how effective can social media be at amplifying a message?

The 2012 South by Southwest Interactive festival offers another great example of how, with the right message and audience buy-in, a relatively small group can leverage social media channels to amplify that message to an exponentially larger audience.

Our friends at Spredfast (a Social: IRL sponsor) had the honor of serving as the official social media management system for SXSWi.  They created the infographic you’ll see below, “Small Flock, Big Social Reach.”

The infographic highlights how in the first two days of SXSWi, 100,682 users generated a total of 224,302 event related Tweets, that reached a potential audience of some 341,723,790 users on Twitter.

To put it in perspective: A group of just over 100,000 users potentially reached some 65% of all Twitter users. To get the same number of impressions via Google AdSense that SXSWi got via Twitter would cost an estimated $2.5 million.

The infographic also provides interesting insights on exactly who was tweeting about SXSWi, and where from. You can read more about that and the implications of what’s revealed by visiting the Spredfast blog.


SocialVolt delivers enterprise social media management solutions for businesses and agencies

We’ve been  pleased to have Kansas City-based SocialVolt as a new Social: IRL sponsor for 2012. They have been a great partner, already participating in Social: IRL events in Wichita and Kansas City, co-hosting a webcast with the American Marketing Association, and providing guests posts for the Social: IRL blog.

SocialVolt delivers enterprise social media management solutions for businesses and agencies. Its unified platform supports engagement across brands, while delivering accurate reporting from multiple channels. With SocialVolt, companies maintain control, minimize risk and empower staff at all levels to build profitable customer relationships in real-time. Check out SocialVolt’s blog and new website for more details, and connect with them on Twitter and Facebook.

SocialVolt brings structure, quality and control to your social media programs. You can publish content, manage workflow, listen across channels and report results all from one platform – so you can spend less time juggling tools and more time driving your company’s social media strategy.

With SocialVolt, you can manage social media across the enterprise, from marketing and customer support to sales and product development. Users can maintain control, minimize risk and empower staff at all levels while listening to and engaging in social media conversations across multiple brands.

Ideal for heavily regulated industries, SocialVolt bakes compliance and risk management into your social media program with detailed audit trails, prohibited terms, custom review dictionaries, approval workflow and access controls. You can securely enable staff and volunteers to spread the word through social media without giving up control of your brand identity while ensuring compliance with corporate standards and industry regulations.

SocialVolt is also ideal for agencies looking for a turnkey, centralized solution to manage social media engagement, listening, reporting and compliance across multiple clients and brands.

The SocialVolt social media management platform enables users to:

  • Publish across networks, accounts and brands
  • Ensure quality with content moderation
  • Listen for brand-relevant social conversations
  • Report the results of your social media strategy
  • Prove compliance and minimize risks

Social: IRL is now pleased to help SocialVolt announce their new Channels tool. Announced on February 22, SocialVolt Channels monitors Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube and millions of blogs for brand conversations. Using Channels, users can create unique listening agents by setting tags to follow conversations about their brands and competitors, while tracking their share of voice in social media. Channels also includes a new sentiment engine. Based on a series of scientific algorithms, all posts are immediately classified as positive, neutral or negative, allowing users to gauge brand sentiment in real-time.

You can learn more about the new Channels tool in SocialVolt’s official press release and in these posts published today by Forbes and  AllFacebook.

The SocialVolt platform is available in the following editions: Team, Business, Professional and Enterprise. Visit for more product details, pricing and a free-trial.

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.

In social media, going global starts with local – How localization and contextualization increase engagement

Today’s post highlights a valuable webinar opportunity with Brian Solis, principal of Altimeter Group and author of Engage! and The End of Business As Usual.  The webinar is hosted by Expion, a Social: IRL sponsor and leading provider of social media management solutions for enterprise clients.

Brian Solis

When brands effectively communicate at the local level, they reach their target customers with relevant content that resonates. Yet integrating social media into a marketing strategy presents unique challenges for regional, national and global brands. How do today’s top consumer brands manage their social strategy effectively across the globe and throughout their organizations?

Brian Solis from Altimeter Group and Peter Heffring from Expion explore the strategies and implementation tactics the leading global companies use to manage their social presence across different countries and markets.

Brian’s research shows that localizing social content for specific markets and cultures dramatically multiplies the impact in terms of engagement, virality and actual sales.

Peter will detail how technology supports Global Brands and the multiple strategies they use to form communities that retain a unified brand presence on a global scale.

Join Altimeter Group and Expion for this free webinar to explore how the leading consumer companies deploy a variety of strategies to reach customers at a local level.

In Social Media, Going Global Starts With Local

Thursday, January 26

2:30 EST / 1:30 CST

Click for Free Registration


Companies Continue to Struggle Managing Their Social Media

Today’s post is a guest post from Joe Cox, Marketing Director at SocialVolt, a Social: IRL sponsor offering web-based social media management solutions for companies and agencies that integrate engagement, brand monitoring, campaigns, influencer management, and compliance. 

Join SocialVolt’s Joe Cox and Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang on February 15 to discuss the findings from this report in more depth. Attendees will walk away with a great guide for how to effectively implement a corporate social media strategy. Click here to register for this free webcast.

A new report from Jeremiah Owyang and the brilliant folks over at Altimeter Group warns companies of the real threat of being buried by the proliferation of social media.  The report states, “Beyond coordination challenges, unchecked accounts and disparate customer interactions expose brands to a host of legal, compliance, and fragmented brand-perception risks.”

The study found that global corporations are struggling to manage an average of 178 business-related social media accounts.  No, that is not a typo – I said 178 business-related social media accounts!  To be even more clear, these are not personal accounts, but all accounts opened by the company.

Here’s the breakdown:

Base: 140 global corporate social media program managers at companies with over 1000 employees (Q2 2011) Source: Altimeter Group

At first glance, this stat can be hard to fully grasp or even believe, but with large brands, the accounts can rack up with blinding speed even after only a few years of being active in the social space.

Let me give you a good example:

When I was working as a field marketer at a large beverage company in 2009, my peers and I began creating local Facebook and Twitter accounts for each large city in which we were actively holding events, had sampling teams, had conducted influencer outreach, etc.

Within a year, we had more than 100 disparate accounts with no coordination among each other before corporate decided to combine all of this activity into one single brand account on both Facebook and Twitter.

Within a month, we had abandoned all those local accounts…but what happened to them?  Were they all shut down?  I have a sneaking suspicion that most are still out there, un-manned ghost ships floating about in the social void.  Could those accounts be a risk for the company?  Certainly.

Remember that this example is only one brand, and only in the United States.  You can see how companies with multiple brands and products, multiple locations, and even separately run marketing teams in different countries can start collecting this social dust like a Swiffer.

If you don’t have goals and objectives, you are winging it.

My favorite part of the report is that, on average, 70% of enterprises asked said that their social media efforts were meeting business objectives.  That’s great news, right?  But wait, there’s more.  Only 43% of the same brands asked said that they actually had formalized goals and objectives for their social media teams.

Base: 140 global corporate social media program managers at companies with over 1000 employees (Q2 2011) Source: Altimeter Group

This is critical in understanding why businesses are having such trouble managing their social efforts.  Without putting a stake in the ground, without goals and objectives being set before campaigns and quarterly plans kick-off, there’s no way to determine the success of said campaigns.  It becomes almost laughably clear when the data is compared on Altimeter’s report, but this detachment is incredibly easy for large corporations to fall into when they are managing so many teams, brands, accounts, etc.  This is summed up very clearly in Altimeter’s report:  “This symptom of ‘fire, ready, aim’ will continue as new business units within the corporation continue to adopt social technologies – this is just the start.”  Basically, the problem is only going to get bigger, so put your foot down now and commit to a proper social media infrastructure before it becomes more complicated, more expensive, and potentially brand-damaging.

Time on screen isn’t scalable, but social media management systems (SMMS) are.

Company wide coordination with social media efforts is a challenge for companies and large brands, but it’s the key to success.  The study points out that less than half of all companies have a coordinated approach to company-wide social media deployments.

Base: 140 global corporate social media program managers at companies with over 1000 employees (Q2 2011) Source: Altimeter Group

The problem lies with the breakneck pace adoption rate.  Social media adoption has grown at a disproportional rate compared to the tools to manage it, and that has directly led to companies not keeping pace with their social media accounts.

In the report, Elizabeth Rizzo, director of interactive strategies at SHIFT Communications said, “When publishing through these platforms you often can’t stay on top of all these messages and can’t tell what’s been responded to.”  Because brands can’t be everywhere at once and often don’t have the tools in place to help streamline that process, they quickly become drowned in reactive online behavior and lose the ability to get a grip on the big picture.

With an infrastructure, goals, and objectives in place, enterprises will begin to rely more heavily on social media management systems to untangle and streamline their efforts.

Join SocialVolt and our guest Jeremiah Owyang for a webcast on February 15, to further discuss these and many more of the social media issues facing corporations.  You may register for the webcast here.