Gathering the latest social media business intelligence for your company
by Alan Zisman (c) 2011
published in Business in Vancouver April 5-11, 2011 issue #1119 High
When we last checked in with social media marketing guru Shane Gibson,
he offered suggestions to maximize your social media return on
investment (“Five steps to
maximize your business’ social media ROI” – issue 1113; February
Gibson, author of books Sociable, Closing Bigger and Guerilla Social
Media Marketing, with Anthony Caridi is hosting a series of monthly
“Socialized Lunch” discussions; the March event looked at how social
media (Facebook, Twitter, et al.) have redefined business intelligence.
Once upon a time, Gibson suggested, companies owned their brands.
Today, however, blogs, YouTube videos (and comments), Facebook, Twitter
and more give customers the power to influence how your brand is
perceived. As a result, marketing has evolved from a series of press
releases to more of a conversation between your company and its
And back in the day, finding out what the public thought of your brand
or your company meant commissioning a survey, waiting for the results
to be analyzed, printed, circulated and discussed. Now a series of
tools – many of them free – let businesses find out what people are
saying in real time.
Gibson noted that analysis of online comments can even be used to
predict the future, pointing out a study that found Twitter comments
about movies, prior to release, anticipated the films’ eventual box
A suggestion: replace your old-style suggestion box for customers or
employees with an online one, perhaps using www.suggestionbox.com
($495/year; $50/year for non-profit/educational accounts).
Among the free tools Gibson recommends to listen in on what is being
said in the diverse online sources:
As the URLs suggest, each of these tools provides information on a
specific piece of the social media puzzle: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,
blogs and the web. Worth noting: you use localized searches within some
of these tools to find what is being said in and around Vancouver. The
advanced page of Twitter’s search tool, for instance, lets you
optionally limit your search to things said within a desired radius
(the default is 15 miles, but it can be easily changed) of a location.
Also potentially of use, “dashboard” products like Sysomos Heartbeat (www.sysomos.com),
which combines one-stop monitoring and analysis of multiple sources of
information with a way to quickly follow up with the people talking
about your company online. A worthy alternative – the locally produced HootSuite. These
tools can access multiple sources of information, organize information
into graphs and (very handy!) let you save the results – something
generally missing in the free, site-specific tools.
Gibson notes that in addition to seeing what is being said (right now!)
about your company and its products, it can be worthwhile to track what
is being said about the competition – and to follow up with people
whose comments about your competitors were not entirely satisfactory.
(Part of the power of analyzing social media comments is the ability to
easily contact the people who make the comments.)
His example: a company that imports custom-tailored suits from Asia
following up on what’s being said by customers of a large Vancouver
Technology publisher Tim O’Reilly has said that we’re on a cusp between
Web 2.0 – an era when individuals and organizations are increasingly
making use of interactive online tools – and Web 3.0 – a time when we
take these tools for granted.
Gibson suggests that to successfully prepare for Web 3.0, businesses
should recognize that they have to engage their customers in a
conversation, monitor and respond to comments in real time, organize to
make use of free or more sophisticated monitoring tools and build
awareness of social media marketing across the entire business.
Next month’s Socialized Lunch will look at steps to ensure a business
is social media ready; you can connect on Twitter at #SocializedYVR or