Friday, April 12, 2013

4 Ways Brands Can Make Social Search Happen

Facebook launched a couple of changes in its user interface last month, starting with Graph Search and then the new timeline format. Arguably, the Graph Search function is Facebook's answer to Google's local search, but is it at par with Google search approach? Brands are now putting a premium on community management through their social media assets. The challenge right now is how brands can leverage on Facebook Graph Search to increase positive sentiments through social search. In the meantime, brands should have their hands full on how to use community management to usher the age of social search.
Here are 4 ways businesses can use community management to pave the way for social search:
1.) Capitalize on the Social Customer
Social media gave everyone a voice. Customers can make or break any brand with single tweet. This is the risk brands take when they start establishing themselves on Facebook or Twitter. Brands should understand that people own brands once they engage with them on social platforms. They now enter the age of the social customer where every sentiment on social media should be tracked and monitored.
If brands care about their customers then they care about their reputation. Mentions, retweets, comments, and shares are some actionable social functions that brands can come in and engage with customers using a personal approach. Shrug off the salesman approach and don't sound like a bot. Online conversations mean alot to people. As long as you chat with customers, social search optimization will sure to follow. Always remember that fans are your most valuable asset.
2.) Crowdsource Ideas
Stimulus paves the way for interaction. Social sentiments won't surface without a stimulus. It's a given that user-generated content fuels Facebook pages, but you can only merit UGC when you make an emotional connection with fans. Don't enter a conversation like a salesman, let people talk about their favorite brand. Instead of asking them to like or share a post, why not ask them open-ended questions to start a thread? The role of a community manager becomes significant in these situations, why? The community manager should shape the tone and frame the direction of the conversation to transform it into a trend.
It doesn't matter if you're Starbucks or a local cafe, ask your fans some suggestions to make their coffee, service, or promos to establish an personal connection with them. 
When you make your customers feel that they're part of the team, you're not only improving your product development and CRM outreach, you also merit positive mentions on their social networks. Check out how Lays successfully crowdsourced its latest flavor. Frito-Lay crowdsource their latest flavors via Facebook and invited fans to submit their ideas for a new batch of Lay’s flavors. Among the 3.8 million entries, fans voted for their favourite flavors on Twitter.
3.) Creative Real-Time Marketing
Oreo's social media team made the most out of the SuperBowl incident. It's proof that they were watching the event and monitoring online sentiments that day. Furthermore, it's obvious that their social media team isn't just doing social media per se, they're a bunch of digital creatives who know their way around social media. Oreo's social media team is clever enough to align brand messaging with relevant news and trends (You can still dunk in the dark.).
Real-time marketing is a great approach to jump in on a trend and engage with customers like a...real person. Arguably, Old Spice has mastered how this works, they have conveyed their brand message through Isaiah Mustafa who replies to tweets via YouTube vids. Seamless cross-platform strategy coupled with a personal approach, what have you got?  A brilliant real-time marketing to increase social search.
4.) Combine Thought Leadership and Newsjacking
First, let's define what "newsjacking" is. According to one of my favorite authors, David Meerman Scott, newsjacking is the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business. With that said, it's clear that newsjacking requires more than joining the bandwagon of trending news.
For brands, it's a perfect opportunity to give people their 2 cents to a trending issue, arguably, it's also a chance for CEOs to display thought leadership. Coca-Cola even incorporated an opinions page in their flagship website in order for contributors and employees to write and tackle trending news. Aligning your brand message with breaking relevant news is an approach that can earn mentions from journalists.


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