Business

Georgina Bowes talks professional social media analysis, ahead of Measurement.ie

Georgina Bowes
Georgina Bowes
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On February 15th the people behind some of the country’s most popular and influential digital brands will be brought together as part of DoneDeal’s Measurement.ie conference (@measurementconf | #donedealsocial). Founded by Damien Mulley (@damienmulley), the conference will show businesses and start-ups how to use the social web more effectively.

Georgina Bowes
Georgina Bowes

Over the next week we’ll be chatting with some of the speakers to get their insights into modern professional social media use. Today we’re talking to Georgina Bowes (@GinaBo | LinkedIn | Posterous), who is the Digital Communications Manager at Glanbia, having previously held the role of Head of Social Media for eircom & Meteor.

Next week Gina will be speaking about how to use social media monitoring tools as part of your business as well as sharing her own experiences of creating, delivering and managing professional social media campaigns.

We started by asking Gina if there is a significant difference in managing digital communications for new media companies, such as Meteor, and more established firms like Glanbia.

While they are completely different industries my core objectives have not changed too much. As technology evolves so does our way of communicating, I am effectively helping brands develop a digital strategy, monitor industry trends, devise internal processes and apply best practice skills, techniques and tools to achieve real engagement with consumers.

I am currently working with an incredibly talented team on some of Ireland’s best known brands Avonmore, Kilmeaden and Yoplait. We want to build stronger relationships between consumers and our brands, listen and engage in the online conversations, gather insights and create positive customer experiences by enhancing our use of social media.

From grass to glass, farms to food, Glanbia has a rich Irish history with passionate employees, farmers to marketers. Social media is a great way of communicating our story and opening up meaningful conversations.

So while Gina’s role remains the same, is social media measurement only for IT companies, or can a careful parsing of the analytics and the social web deliver results for all industries?

The average Irish person spends 18 hours and 7 minutes online each month, with smartphone penetration at 37% in the country.

Your business may not be online but your customers, and potential customers, are.

The evolution of technology has led to democratisation of information; how we consume our news, who we trust and how we behave has altered. Businesses need to, at a minimum, listen to the online conversations and understand the social landscape.

Gina says that the challenge in listening to your audience is to understand which social networks they are using and then to develop strong messages for these groups. Doing this research before you sign your company up to a social networking account will save you time and money in the future. Gina advises that while it is tempting to think of the social web as a free promotional tool there is a time-cost in maintaining and growing your social profile. So choose your networks carefully and expand your selection of social profiles as and when you can afford to.

The business objectives coupled with consumer insight will influence the selection of social channels. Ask yourself; who is your target audience? what are your core messages? what do you want to achieve? Once you’ve answered these questions select the social platform and develop your content plan.

Facebook is an obvious choice given its size, popularity and potential reach for businesses but every brand is now there so what makes you stand out from the crowd? YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine with video content increasingly driving engagement. Twitter, Google+, Instagram and LinkedIn are all widely used platforms but again your customers & business objectives should guide your selection process.

For some businesses hosting a customer forum on their own website is the most important platform for building a brand community. A key point to remember; although the platforms themselves are ‘free’ they do require an investment of time, resources, quality content & budget. Investing in one or two key platforms and getting it right is far better than going into multiple platforms just to have a presence.

Gina advises that the social web is not just about publishing updates – it needs to be integrated into a company’s business strategy and in order to be effective it needs to be measured and analysed properly. This measurement shouldn’t just look at what your company is saying but what your audience is saying about your brand.

Everything you do in social media and digital should be measured and prioritised by the business goals you have set. There can be a rush to seek out information outside your own organisation but the most valuable insights can come from within, so start there.

Know your customers; understand what they want, how they behave offline and on, and what really matters to them. Also harness and get information from your most important ambassadors – your employees. If you are a business using social media then you will need continuous data on the emerging trends and technologies, as well as regular refresher courses on existing platforms and their rules of engagement.

There are a multitude of free tools to measure social media activity, Facebook insights, various Twitter tools such as Tweetstats, Google analytics and YouTube reports. This data will give you a measurement of your social activity across the various platforms. There are also paid for social media monitoring tools that gather data on the multiple conversations referencing the main brands and sub-brands and specific keyword searches across blogs, forums, news publications, video sites, and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube & forums.

Perhaps most importantly Gina advises that social data should not be viewed in isolation. Information the social web produces should be viewed holistically with the company’s other data sources.

The raw data alone is not enough; real insight comes from applying all of this data to your existing information, marketing activity, consumer intelligence, employee feedback and CRM systems.

You can learn more about the speakers and the line up on the Measurementi.ie website.

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).