Listening, managing expectations and measuring social media marketing from three Buffalo social media professionals

Social media professionals from three Western New York agencies talked about three areas of social media marketing: listening, expectations and measuring, and how companies are using them effectively, on Tuesday night at The Bijou Grille in downtown Buffalo.

The presentation, “Social Media Marketing,” is part of the Advertising Club of Buffalo’s monthly “AdLab” events – a paneled discussion on all things advertising.  Matt Hames, Social Media Strategist for Eric Mower and Associates;  Kelly Papke, Senior Copywriter for Gelia; and Charlie Riley, Interactive Services Director at the SKM Group, took turns addressing the audience during the two-and-a-half-hour presentation.

Listening using social media

Matt Hames, Social Media Strategist at Eric Mower and Associates, said that marketers are using social media to listen to what people are saying about their brand and also listening during or “for” a crisis situation.

“The values of social networks are not the tool, but the community,” said Hames.

For marketers, the challenge should not be to get 100,000 Facebook fans or Twitter followers, but to get the community excited and interested in their brand and to get their followers engaging with the brand on their Facebook fan page, Twitter stream and more.

Listening using social media lets marketers know who is talking, the top influencers, where they are hanging out and what they are saying. Marketers can also pinpoint sale opportunities during their point of contact simply by listening.

Charlie Riley, Interactive Services Director at the SKM Group, talked about his personal experience as a customer using social media to complain about a product and how that company used social media to engage him in order to address his complaint.

Riley purchased an Audi vehicle and had to have the car serviced several times during the last few months. Riley then used Twitter to tweet about his dissatisfaction with the amount of money and number of times his car needed servicing. Riley said that Audi did several things right in his situation. First, they saw his complaint and addressed it publicly on Twitter by engaging with him directly. The customer service for Audi then researched his service record at the local dealership and, before the day was out, e-mailed him and left him four voice mail messages urging him to get in touch with them to resolve his complaint.

Part of listening is monitoring your social networks, which is where a bit of technology comes into play. There are many tools out there for monitoring social media networks, a few covered during  Tuesday night’s discussion were: Google Custom Search Engine, Yahoo Pipes, Radian 6, Looxii, Hootsuite Dashboard, Quora, LinkedIn Answers and Klout.

“Brands are starting to use these tools to reach out to (top) influencers on a one-to-one basis,” said Riley.

Managing social media expectations

All three speakers agreed that too many businesses are focused on the number of fans and followers and not the quality or level of engagement of those followers.

“Your engagement universe is not 100% of people who buy your product, it’s (going to be) much lower than that,” said Hames.

Kelly Papke, Senior Copywriter at Gelia, an integrated marketing communications agency, said that research helps to map out a brand’s social media strategy and expectations. Papke said clients and businesses need to answer the question, “Why do you want to use social media?”

“I spend a lot of time talking people out of using social media because they are not going to do it right,” said Papke. “You have to be able to react to social media quickly. Also, three million fans isn’t a goal – the “right” fans/followers are the goal. It’s not just about them “liking” a fan page; it’s about them engaging with you.”

Business, marketers and clients also need to be aware of the possible legal ramifications of what they tweet and post about online. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released revised guidelines for advertiser which also covered social media endorsements. Violators could face up to $11,000 per violation, per instance, if the relationship between the endorser and the advertiser is not made clear in the message.

“Clients need to be educated on what they should and shouldn’t do,” said Riley.

“75-79% of FTC complaints are from competition blowing you in, “said Hames, a reminder that businesses are using social media to monitor their competitors as well.

Measuring social media

Website traffic is not the only measurement out there and Google Analytics, although valuable, is not the only measurement tool out there either. Foursquare’s dashboard provides a wealth of information to business owners. Foursquare for Business allows businesses to claim their location, so they can see who is checking in at their business and how often, along with demographical information like their age and gender.

“You can figure out things (for your business) like extending hours and paying for extra customer service because of Foursquare’s dashboard information,” said Riley.

Another measurement tool is AddThis, a content sharing platform which gives users a way to share content across the social web and also allows businesses to track what content of theirs people share and how they shared it. AddThis measures shares, clicks, tweets and likes in real-time.

Using Google Analytics, marketers can set up events on specific actions, such as people clicking a “like this” button.

AdLab events in the future

To view the live tweets from the event, search for the Twitter hastag  #adlab. To view upcoming AdLab talks, check out the Advertising Club of Buffalo’s website.