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Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

September 20th, 2012

Tumblr’s Continued Growth Makes It a Search Factor

Has Tumblr become a part of your corporate publishing strategy? At one point, as Twitter and Facebook took off, it seemed that this “blog-network” platform (my term for something that isn’t as full-featured as WordPress or other software but definitely more feature-filled than a true social network) was going to be overshadowed by those ascendant networks. But in the last year or so Tumblr has staged a remarkable comeback, despite – maybe even because of – a handful of direct competitors that sought to fill the “just let me post something quickly to my friends” space.

comScore recently released a study showing total unique visitors to Tumblr.com have grown significantly in the last year while the growth on mobile, which is a big way people consume and interact with those they follow, has grown even more sharply. And the number of clicks to Tumblr sites that are happening through search is even greater.

The comScore post mentions one solid reason why brand should be paying attention to Tumblr: Search. That goes not just for evaluating their own publishing programs but also for monitoring since the footprint that Tumblr posts now occupy in search results is increasingly significant. And that’s true – Just as we all kept saying in 2003, if you’re not paying attention to the front page of search results for your brand/product name(s) and seeing where it is that people are talking about you you’re not doing your job.

The flipside of that coin is, of course, what are the brands themselves doing to impact (in an absolutely legitimate way and without resorting to any black-hat tactics) the kinds of results on that front page? As always the best way to do that is a combination of good customer service based on that listening program and a proactive publishing program that gives people something to talk about. So how does Tumblr fit into that?

Just as with every other publishing platform, regardless of size, there are four questions to ask:

What’s the story we’re trying to tell?

Who are we telling it to?

How are we tailoring our story to effectively reach them?

What conversations are they already having that we can be (respectfully) part of?

There are always a ton of good corporate reasons to add a new platform to an existing publishing program. Those only get you so far, though, and often don’t add up to a sustainable or successful addition. Instead it’s important to know the answers to the above questions – and there are more that need to be answered that get into specific tactics, of course – before deciding that something has to be done because hey everyone is talking about it and wow, the kids are there. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, isn’t measurable (or won’t have a measurable impact) and doesn’t appear to fit within an existing community then what might be a great idea needs to be stripped back down and rebuilt so it can become an executable idea.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Blogging, Microblogging, Publishing Programs

September 11th, 2012

Bigger Companies Use Big Tools: Corporate Blog Usage Rises in Fortune 500

The University of Massachusetts Darthmouth is out with its latest study on social media usage by companies in the Fortune 500. I’ve discussed previous UMD studies on this topic here and here in the past year or so.

This study, as in the past, focuses on public-facing blogs at the corporate level, acknowledging that blogs may exist at the divisional level or be only for internal consumption that won’t, then, be included in these numbers.

The study found that the number of companies with public-facing blogs grew from 23% in 2011 to 28% in 2012. Compare that with the most recent study of blog adoption by the Inc. 500, which found that blog use was actually dropping and you can safely conclude bigger, more mature companies are opting for bigger, more mature tools while smaller, growing companies are instead choosing smaller, growing tools.

Unsurprisingly, the percentage of companies with official, corporate-based Twitter and Facebook profiles is much higher, 73% and 66% respectively. This is indicative of how these profiles are more agile, allow for smaller content (and therefore are less time/resource-intensive to source content for) and are focused on interaction with customers, though obviously not everyone takes advantage of that to the same level.

For the first time this study looked at specialty platforms, meaning blogs, Twitter accounts or Facebook pages devoted to a singular purpose such as recruitment, CSR or other topics that still were being managed at the corporate level.

It also found that 2% of the Fortune 500 companies are participating on Pinterest. Unsurprisingly, especially if you’ve been paying attention to the handful of case studies that have eschewed over-enthusiastic hype, most of those are companies with not only strong visual components but also strong ties between those visuals and a retail experience.

So what does this all mean? The increasing number of companies who are using tools of any size or weight – blogs at the bigger, heavier end and nearly pure curation sites like Pinterest on the other – shows that more companies realize there’s a story to tell. It might not be a big story but it’s a story and anyone who ever said there was a one-size fits all method to brand publishing was likely trying to sell you something.

Along with that there are, presumably, structural changes that have happened within those companies to accommodate the publishing program, whatever level it exists at. Material needs to be sourced, vetted, written (or created in some manner), approved and published. When you think about the fact that this isn’t just a “Oh hey, let’s start a Facebook page) decision that was made (or if it was it hopefully wasn’t long before someone came along with a reality check) but one that required substantive changes to be made to the organization. That’s a deeper story that lies under these numbers.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Blogging, Publishing Programs

August 2nd, 2012

Voce’s Platform Team Partners with Automattic’s WordPress.com VIP Program

In 2001, Voce’s Platforms team came together to do one thing – build great web experiences upon great content platforms. Since then, the team has delivered products across a myriad of platforms while always in search of the best platforms that could deliver for our programs. In 2006, we had the opportunity to build the Sony PlayStation Blog and it was that point that we decided to test the WordPress platform for our team.

So, over six years the PlayStation Blog has grown from WordPress version 2.1 and we have grown to use WordPress not just as a solution for blogs, but a full-featured content management system (CMS) for some of the largest companies in the world. It’s no secret, we are firm believers in not only WordPress’s capabilities, but the community supporting it.

When delivering projects of this scale, we’ve had the good fortune of working very closely with the folks at Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com) to deliver the best solutions possible for programs of this scale — and today that relationship gets a little closer in the launch of their VIP Service Partner program.

Paul Maiorana talks more about the program on the WordPress.com VIP Blog, but for me, involvement in this program is a testament to the work this team delivers day in and day out. We’ve been diligent in building a team focused on great user experience, development talent and customer service for the most demanding programs today.

We’re only scratching the surface when it comes to WordPress’s potential and this relationship with Automattic really has us all excited for where this takes us. If you’re a passionate developer and you’d love to join us, learn more.

About the Author
Nick Gernert leads the Platform Services team that's part of Voce Connect and oversees all web development efforts as well as making sure all those efforts are strategically sound. He is on Twitter as @nickgernert.

Filed in Development, WordPress

July 30th, 2012

An Internship is What You Make It

Many people think of an internship position as a non-paid position, usually held while in college finishing up a degree requirement. However, during the recovery from one of the worst recessions in recent U.S history, what if you’re choosing a new career? How can one proactively jump into a new industry without getting a new degree altogether? An internship is the perfect opportunity for anyone looking for a change. But the opportunity is all controlled by the actions that the said intern demonstrates.

I started my career at Voce Communications as a Public Relations Intern. During my first few weeks as a “Vocian,” I was handed various responsibilities. As an intern, you’re not expected to know how to do everything. However, knowing when and how to ask questions is important in order to for the internship to be a beneficial experience. When asking and seeking answers, it is important to listen, learn, and improve on each task assigned to you. Working as an intern in any business, everyone can point out the “new guy.” But, can the “new guy” actually make a lasting impression with their work? There are some interns that blend into the background and do the minimum that is expected of them. It’s all up to the individual to turn the internship from a temporary position into a permanent one. Hard work, determination and bringing up new ideas or new ways of doing things will set an intern apart from blending in.

Go the extra mile; volunteer yourself to go to conferences or brainstorming sessions. Introduce yourself to anyone that works for the company. How many interns feel comfortable making a fool out of themselves at the drop of a dime? Well, you probably won’t be asked to do that. But, my point is, if you leave a lasting impression of the work ethic you bring with you into the internship position, you have the ability to turn a temporary position into a permanent one and the opportunity to establish the beginnings of a new career.

You can follow Sundeep on Twitter as (@SundeepDosanjh)

Filed in Career Development, Voce Culture, Voce People

July 2nd, 2012

Twitter Timing Study and the Need for Small Adjustments

If you are in any way running or otherwise managing an online publishing program then you’re likely always looking at stats. Not just for how things are performing on-domain but also how what’s being published on Twitter, Facebook and other networks are going to drive traffic back to a “hub” site, how those items are garnering on-network engagement and more. It’s kind of what we do.

One recent study that caught my eye looks at Twitter posting and shows that engagement rates are higher than you might otherwise expect on weekends. While the numbers vary from one industry to the other, Buddy Media found overall engagement was 17% higher than on weekdays. Some might be surprised by this since it’s probably broadly assumed that people are out and doing other things on the weekend and not sitting there checking Twitter, either on their computers or on a mobile device. But the same study shows that posts published during weekday “busy hours” – between 8AM and 7PM – see higher engagement than whatever the baseline is.

Other advice for increasing the number of mentions, replies and Retweets from this study includes using hashtags (not a terrible idea when there’s a real purpose behind doing so but it also makes your updates look ugly), using images (even more important with Expanded Tweets and the fact that images display in apps like Tweetdeck) and only Tweeting about four times a day (not exactly a realistic option for any sizable publishing program but I get what they’re saying).

Meanwhile Buddy Media also looked at Facebook publishing timing and found that, when it comes to dayparts at least, almost the exact opposite is true, with posts published outside that 8AM-7PM window performing better than those broadcast during the so-called “busy hours.”

Much was made in some of the industry press in the wake of this study about how the results showed marketers were “failing” at Twitter in particular but, as usual, that’s not quite accurate.

In order to “fail” the game has to be over. And the game’s not over.

Social media is a game of small tweaks. The word “pivot” gets thrown around a lot by commentators who like to sound interesting and professionals who want to make sure they’re using the latest jargon. But I always think about it in terms of driving and the way you never keep the steering wheel perfectly straight for very long, instead making small adjustments in one direction or the other as the road and conditions dictate.

Yes, you turn sometimes and occasionally turn all the way around to head in a completely new direction. But it’s not always about big changes that completely reconfigure how you’re doing business. It’s sometimes about the small adjustments that help make a small improvement that then is built on the next time you make a small adjustment that leads to another small improvement.

So take the findings of this study and, if warranted, make small adjustments. Then measure and see if it’s working for you since, as with all findings from every study, your mileage is going to vary. Then keep turning the wheel.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Microblogging, Publishing Programs

June 29th, 2012

Voce Turns 13: Let the Teenage Years Begin

Voce San FranciscoEvery year on Voce’s anniversary, Richard Cline, Matthew Podboy or I sit down to write a blog post about what it means to be another year older. We talk about our culture. We talk about our clients. Then we drop an obscure reference to a Will Ferrell movie. It’s a great formula and I can write posts like that for the next 20 years (assuming Will Ferrell is still a box office draw…which he will be.)

But the three of us share one primary perspective. A perspective of someone that has been at Voce since the beginning.

So this year it’s time to hear from someone else…the Voce Nation.

Dave Black, Voce Old Timer and 80′s Rock Aficionado

But before Vocians from across the country publicly make fun of my many character flaws, I would like to thank our people and our clients. You have made Voce a puberty-stricken, awkward teenager, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Andy Burt (1+ years)

Moving into PR was the scariest career choice I had ever made. After building a career in the games industry, I was considering joining up with a PR group run by three guys who I was convinced were either brilliant, insane, or possibly a mix of the two. I’ve also never had a boss who’s high-five could literally kill someone, but Matt Podboy wouldn’t have it any other way. Looking back, I’m happy I made the move, as the tightly-knit community of people here is, in my opinion, unmatched at any other company. Here’s to many more years, Voce!

Pete Schiebel (3+ years)

When I joined Voce I thought I was joining a company, but instead I joined a culture. It’s refreshing to feel so close to so many people all the way across the country.

Lindsey Smith (6+years)

When Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” I think he was looking into the future at the “Voce way.” To me Voce is such a special place because when I come to work I don’t feel like part of a headcount or a dollar sign – I feel like a person that matters. So how do I feel about Voce? Lets just say Voce was kind enough to take me in at 22 years of age and I haven’t updated my resume since the day I started. – Lindsey Smith, 6 years, 6 months, 20 days (Plus 4 months as an intern!) and looking forward to many more

Dyani Vanderhorst (1+year)

At Voce I have had the great pleasure of working with and learning from the best in the industry. My team members inspire confidence, lead by example and empower me to deliver work to the best of my ability every day.

Ryan Lack, (7+ years)

Voce has given my family and me a lot in the last seven years, including a big dinner party on my very first day. That day happened to coincide with today, the anniversary of the company’s humble beginnings, but I chose to look at it as a celebration of me. It made me feel very special, let me tell you.

In my time here I’ve seen the company grow from small independent firm with approximately 25 employees to a recently-acquired business with 80+ employees in the Bay Area alone. It has been a tremendous honor not only to grow within Voce’s walls but also to be a part of helping build them. I’m often asked what keeps me here, “Wow, seven years. That’s a long time. What keeps you coming in everyday?”

The answer to that is a pretty simple one, actually – it’s the family. We try to make a habit of hiring not only the best and brightest but really cool and interesting people, too. Voce has given me a lot, but what it’s given me most of all are what I generally consider to be many, many lifelong friendships. That’s what has made it such a special place for me and is most certainly chief among the reasons why I’m still here.

Gina von Esmarch (5+ years)

The best team to work with bar none. I am always impressed with this company and it’s love for hard work and hard play. This is one of the few places where the years just fly by. Thanks for executing such a great biz model, hiring like minded folks and giving us a place to enjoy our work.

Terrell Neilson (6 months)

Voce’s culture is defined by the down-to-earth people who work here. Everyone at every level is approachable, friendly and fun. This is why I came to Voce. Like they say, “it’s all about the people!”

Tiffany Curci (12+ years)

It’s been a little over 12 years and I’ve always loved the people I work with (and not in an HR-infraction kind of way), those that have gone on to do other great things and those that remain, like our three founders. They’re still funny, even the 10th time I’ve heard the same joke, because apparently Groundhog Day and Anchorman jokes just never get old. Oh yes, and I’m still challenged and inspired every day, even if it’s a high-kick contest (HT to Jeff Urquhart for the best high kick I’ve ever seen). Gotta love that in career choice and work family (which does kind of remind me of the ‘family’ of news anchors from Anchorman).

Filed in Voce Culture, Who We Are

June 5th, 2012

It’s Not Curation; It’s Storytelling

If you want to get into the social media equivalent of a bar fight (and who doesn’t, they’re a hoot) there’s no better way to do so than to bring the conversation around to “curation.” Choire Sicha’s recent post on the topic is a great one that’s well worth reading, especially if you stick with the bar fight metaphor and read it with a “your mama” type of voice in your head.

Let’s be clear, for the sake of argument, about some definitions here. I’m not in this instance talking about taking someone else’s content and repurposing it in some manner on another site. So this isn’t about a story that first appeared on the New York Times’ site and rewording a couple sentences before posting essentially the same story on another site. The “curation” I’m talking about is taking links to stories, posts, photos and other material and linking to it from a platform like Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr. And that’s something that doesn’t need to be controversial since it’s simply all about telling a story.

I’ve been pondering Matthew Ingram’s post about blowing up the concept of the news article for several days and how it relates not just to journalism but also corporate publishing programs. Specifically I’ve been focusing on where he makes the point that increasingly the model that works best is “small pieces, loosely joined.” That’s where the idea of curation comes in since it’s those smaller pieces that curation fills in.

There’s a new study from (of course) a company that specializes in content curation services that shows the number one reason a company will engage in a curation strategy is “thought leadership” and that makes sense. “Thought leadership” looks nice on a presentation slide and hey, who doesn’t want to be leading the thinking. But when you stop and think about it the idea of achieving a leadership position (where people pay attention to what you are saying) through curation (where you are riffing off of what others have already said) falls apart rather quickly.

It’s better, in my mind, to curate with the mindset of it being just one part of an overall storytelling strategy.

If you know what the story your company (or brand or division or whatever) is trying to tell is then you’re already likely executing the biggest chunk of that on your home blog or other publishing platform. But there’s only so much that can be put there, both because of time constraints and because the audience will only support so much output.

That’s where curation comes in. If you’re trying to sell vacuum cleaners and the main blog is 75% about your product and the remaining 25% is about the industry that’s a pretty good mix. Then your status network outposts (Twitter, Facebook etc) can become where you share stories not just links to those posts but also to reviews of your products, consumer stories, industry trade show information and whatever else, all in proportion to what you have found your audience to be most interested in.

So those links to other people’s information, writing and other material isn’t because you want to be the end-all-be-all of your space and the first mover whose every word is hung off of (though that would certainly be nice. Instead all those links and updates that you are curating are ultimately helping you to better tell your story. They are the small, loose pieces that fit together to make something bigger.

There’s an example I go back often: If you have three big stones and a bag of gravel and you need to get them all in a single bucket the best way to do so is to put the big stones in first. Then when you pour the gravel it will fill in all those small spaces to fill the bucket.

So too with publishing material. The best way to fill a program is to start with big stones (your own blog posts, photos and videos) and then allow the smaller pieces (retweets of fan comments, links to reviews on industry news sites) to fill in the holes.

That’s not to say any of this is easy. It may seem quite a bit simpler to retweet a bunch of other people’s updates than to write a whole new blog post but it really isn’t. There are serious considerations that need to go into every single bit of material that’s published, every interaction and more. While the level of difficulty is similar, though, the payoffs are much different in terms of how it connects the organization doing the talking with the people who have opted in to listen.

The reality of the current media world is that we rely on filters. That’s always been the case, even when the dominant media was radio since people ultimately decided one station (or filter) was better than the other, but now it’s been heightened because of the sheer volume of potential inputs. Some of those filters will likely be corporate-based since it’s easier than ever to connect and interact with the companies and brands we have chosen to align ourselves with publicly.

Curation is a means to an end, and that end is reaching the audience with a meaningful story. Ultimately that should in some way lead to a conversion of some sort (there are a plethora of potentials to choose from here) but they don’t mean a thing if the story isn’t working at reaching that audience. Which means it comes back to simple, solid storytelling and the tools and tactics put in place to achieve those goals.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs

May 30th, 2012

Bit.ly Makes a Play for Publisher’s Attention

If you’re a user of bit.ly then you were likely taken aback at some point yesterday when the site refreshed and presented you with a brand new interface. The site, which is extraordinarily useful for shrinking links for use on status networks and then tracking the analytics of those links, made some significant changes to the user experience as it looks to expand beyond that initial functionality. But while there’s some good stuff in the redesign there are also some changes that are going to be quite jarring to current users.

First off, though, the goal of the redesign is that bit.ly wants to do more than shorten links. It wants to become a destination brand and so the way the changes are being positioned are around the ideas of saving, searching and sharing links.

So to aid those actions the top real estate of the page is no longer a big field inviting you to shorten a link. That’s now relegated to the top right of the page. Now the main action you’re invited to take is “Search” and just above that are prompts to view your Bundles, Profile and more.

There’s also a new section at the top titled “Your Network,” which shows you the public links – bitmarks in the new terminology – of your Facebook and Twitter friends who are using bit.ly. So there’s an immediate social networking component baked in that requires no effort. Sure, there may be some privacy concerns here but these are all public links anyway so those are minimal.

With that network in place one of the primary new actions that can be taken is to Save a link that someone else has created. This, it seems, is meant to act like saving a link to Delicious in that you’re not only putting that under and ancillary arm of your own social curation platform but also adding to the meta-data around the aggregate link, giving the original saver some insights as to how popular his material is.

What’s also been emphasized is the sharing of those links to Twitter and Facebook. There’s now a big megaphone button that invites you to share the links you save to those networks.

But all this new functionality has come at the expense of some basic usability. Shrinking and then copying a link was formerly a two-step process but is now four since you have to find the “Copy” prompt somewhere in the Information section. And stats for each link are now only found when you look at your overall Stats.

So if bit.ly wants to be a publishing platform how does it stack up? That’s still to be determined. It’s great if you’re sharing the link you’ve just shortened/saved at that moment but it lacks the scheduling features that most enterprise-level tools do. And there’s no engagement aspect to it that would allow you to participate in any conversations. So while it’s interesting and certainly has some useful features it is, right now, one of those “in the middle” situations where the core functionality is still very cool but where the added-on features don’t create, at least not yet, a compelling alternative to some.

There was quite a bit of backlash upon the initial announcement but, I think, a lot of that was overstated. There are certainly some things that could use a little tweaking but that’s true of a lot of platforms. It’s certainly a big change, which can be off-putting to a lot of people but it’s nothing that you can’t get used to with some usage and exposure.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs, Social Networks

May 3rd, 2012

Google+ Gets a Real “Share” Button

The question that needs to be asked in the wake of Google announcing last week the rollout of a new “Share” button for Google+ that’s more about curation and less about endorsement (which was the primary purpose of the existing “+1″ button) has to be this: Does this fill an existing gap in my publishing program?

There’s nothing monumentally different between this Google+ Share button and similar buttons from Twitter or Facebook. Except for the big one, which is that it has the potential to expose your content to the audience on a whole new network.

Now it’s true that the real size of the Google+ is fuzzy at best. Various studies will tell you various things about adoption rates, engaged user bases and so on. And there’s more than a little overlap likely between the audiences on those three networks. But even with those considerations in mind it can still be a solid idea to make sharing on Google+ as easy a process as possible since there’s little harm in whatever extra attention might be garnered there.

This is, though, simply a next step and there are plenty more to be taken. Recommendations in the form of +1 were find and now full throated sharing of content is possible. The next necessary steps to making Google+ a platform that gets serious business investment (stories of big trials have fallen sharply since launch) involve off-domain publishing tools. Google+ needs to be integrated into third-party suites that allow for both publishing and moderation/interaction.

The question then comes back to whether or not adding this – or any other – button serves the audience and the program. Does that extra button increase visual clutter? Are there so many “share” options that users are feeling overwhelmed and opting not to take any action? Those are just a few of the considerations to keep in mind whenever you’re thinking of adding yet another appeal for interaction to what’s being published.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs

May 1st, 2012

Market Research with Social Media: “Beyond the Echo Chamber”

This past week, I attended Social Media Breakfast 27 in Boston; its theme was “Beyond the Echo Chamber” with an emphasis on conducting market research using social media channels.

The #SMB27 Speakers Q&A

Realizing this focus, I recalled the early days of what we now call “social media” – before Twitter and Facebook – when blogging almost exclusively ruled our thinking.

Monitoring solutions (like Cymfony- now Visible Technologies- a client where I worked at the time) focused on mining blog comments in particular to glean market insights. Having recently spent time at a market research company, I was intrigued by the prospect of a ready-made group of research subjects; people who were not only easier to acquire than the typical research panel (probably one of the most difficult and expensive aspects of research), but had already expressed their opinions. One need only find, collect and analyze them.

Right?

Of course, it’s not that easy. The slow, uneasy evolution of social media monitoring tools is testament to the real challenges behind this difficult science (If I’m not misusing that word).

At the breakfast, speakers picked apart some for the challenges and dangers, along with the opportunities, in using social media for research.

They Called the Event “Beyond the Echo Chamber” for a reason

It is vital to any market research to keep in mind the potential biases of your sample, whether they be used for qualitative research (such as focus groups) or quantitative (such as surveys). Jeffrey Henning of Affinova pointed out that one must account for the tendencies inherent of the users of any platform. Surveying Twitter users? No matter their background, you are likely selecting a group skewed toward early technology adoption- certainly, they have access to the Internet via PCs or mobile devices that many on the planet still cannot access or choose not to use. This may or may not be important to your results, but no matter how many people use online social networks, they are not representative of the entire population; more importantly, they may not represent YOUR entire audience. Twitter itself? Still (according to Henning) only about 7% of the online population, and even less of the overall population. Again, a fragment that may or may not represent the well-rounded sample you need.

The best quote (paraphrased) I pulled from Henning: “For best results you need to tie social media research into other results from outside social media.”

Online Personae May Not be True

Manila Austin of Communispace (the event’s host) pointed out that the opinions and emotions people express online may not be representative of their true selves. People censor themselves online, especially in public forums. I find that easy to believe, as anyone who belongs to private online forums with me know that I express myself much differently in those groups than I do in the public social streams (in which I try not to swear, and might pull critical punches a bit more than I do elsewhere). That “built-in focus group” I savored seven years ago? You may have to throw away those opinions as valuable feedback and capture these folks in a private setting, where they might be more honest and provide much more valuable feedback.

Don’t Let Your Expectations Limit Your Findings

Natasha Stevens  and Michelle Bernardini  of Visible Technologies (the program sponsor) brought up expectations. First, don’t go into research with preconceived notions of what the results will be because you will skew the results to fit your preconceptions. That sounds like basic market research practice but if social media is opening the doors to more companies conducting some sort of research, it bears repeating. Also, they brought up demographics; again, the social media world is not necessarily the whole world and the demographics that are present may not be the ones you need; their dominance does not necessarily mean others are not there. Take “Mom Bloggers.” They are a well-established, prolific and vocal group of people. They have built up such buzz that I found it necessary to capitalize “Mom-Bloggers” and put it in quotes (I’m not sure if that feeling influenced my hyphenation). Surely there are dads? Of course there are, but you still have to go find them if you are marketing to dads, rather than polling moms simply because you know you can find them.

It was refreshing to see the social media community get its claws into a meaty topic like research, as social media presents enormous opportunity to gain profitable insights, but also enormous opportunity to screw it up if you pursue it with the wrong frame of mind and expectations.

 

Photo credit: Derek Peplau on Flickr

For more from this event by other participants and attendees, most content will contain the “smb27″ tag.

About the Author
Doug Haslam is a Supervisor on the Voce Connect Client Services team, managing client programs and developing strategy. In addition to Voce Nation, Doug writes his own personal blog and you can find him on Twitter as @dough.

Filed in Events

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