I read an insightful blog post a couple of weeks ago about collaborative brands on the modern web. The whole point of the story was that corporations no longer own brands, the people using them do. Corporations who want to have any say about their own brand should be able to work in collaboration with the users of the brand. The big question is whether or not corporations dare to let their brands go.
In this post I aim to apply the thoughts about collaborative brand building so that some of you get a bit of a better picture of what this really means. This post will not give you the insightful/philosophical view. If you want that, read the other post. This will take a practical approach. As usual.
(I am therefore sorry if this post do not do it’s original ANY justice whatsoever…)
How to build a Collaborative Brand through Social Media
Well it is easy. You know your brand today consists of several components.
My thoughts have been spinning around KPIs and Social media the past few weeks. Today however, I saw this TED-talk which put the dot over the i when talking about the true importance and difference in the shift between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Social media, as a child to Web 2.0 is really all about LINKED DATA.
Applying Linked Data When talking about applying linked data, Tim Berners-Lee says that you should make your data available. Corporations have done this for years, but they have done it in formats that are not very good. Usually it is the quarterly reports that are posted to the website in excel-format so that any analyst in the world can download them and do their funky stuff with the numbers to come up with their analysis. So this is nothing new for corporations. (or is it..?)
What you have to do is 1. make that same data available in a database, 2. open the database so that people can extract data from it, 3. tag your data, or even better, let your users tag your data so that it naturally relates to other data in other databases.
This way, you will not only get the good juicy visibility that you so much strive for. People will actually make use of your data and other people will like both you and those people making use of your data a little bit longer.
What kind of data?
For those of you without imagination think that I am still talking about the quarterly reports when I’m talking about the data. Your thoughts are now circling around why the fuck anyone who is not an analyst would like to look at your data. You might even be repelled or scared of these unknown interested people. Well, there are 9 billion people in the world, and a lot of them have way sicker interests than digging through data, so I believe that you will even have a normal crowd playing with your quarterly reports.
Irrational economic decisions are made all the time in order to get something now, that will really cost us more in the long run than the value it gives us right away. Theories on irrational economic decisions are quite interesting when discussing social media KPIs as the basis of recommendation, word-of-mouth marketing, which is the basis of social media marketing, is really quite irrational in itself.
It is all about creating an artificial value that is placed on top of an actual value. I feel I need an example for this one.
The example of the Red ball
Imagine a red ball. It is spherical and red. Now imagine another red ball. It is spherical and red. Which ball is worth the most?
A Key Performance Indicator is a measure of how good or bad you are performing on some measurements that are key to your business success. Generally a KPI is constructed as the sum or regression of some specific success events that you have pre-determined to be good for your company’s performance. Ie. a KPI should produce an indicator whether or not you will be successfull in reaching your goals.
For an e-commerce website these KPIs and success events are quite easy to determine and measure as anything that leads to a sale, or is in fact a sale, makes up the core of your existance. Hence, any kind of event that leads the user to commit the most profitable choice for you should also count as success events in your KPI.
With regards to corporate communication, events such as downloads of quarterly reports or whitepapers can be crucial for your corporate communication and should hence be defined and measured as success events leading to your aggregated KPI.
Social media and KPIs
With the introduction of social media in the toolbox for analyzing web success the regular model has to be extended. Problems in defining what actually determines your success has appeared on the skyline. What are the success events of social media? What can you as a company measure to know whether or not you are successful in what you do in social media?
There is a misconception that is widespread about what a social media newsroom really is all about. Essentially most discussions are about making news publication techniques more similar to blogging. Now, I dislike this idea (allthough I fully respect the initiatives), as I believe that a corporation will never be able to maintain the personal touch that a blogger will be able to. No one should fool anyone that a social media newsroom – if only a blog tool/publishing tool – will solve ANY of your communication problems in social media.
Social media newsroom – the lack of socializing
Without a monitoring add on to the newsroom, it is worthless. A social media newsroom should be about dialogue. Without knowing what people are saying about you, you have nothing to publish. Period! If you are just going to publish your news releases with some rich media add ons, you can do what you’ve allways done. By doing what GM or Electrolux are doing, you are NOT socializing. You are posting.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE these companies as they actually try. Posting is excellent for distribution purposes but posting is not in itself social. However, if you are posting you should really think of the following:
Search Engine Optimization is crucial
Domainstructure is essential – steal as many hits in the SERP as possible
Cross-linking and semantic keyword-linking such as co-citation is a must
Use a strong platform to post news – PRWeb, PRNewswire etc.
..or use another strong domain that you own – to cover several SERP hits you need to publish unique content on different places
Investigate what keywords people use – USE these keywords – NO company slogans in titles
Social media newsroom – the monitoring solution Now I don’t opinionize in this blog. (who am I fooling…) I give advice and write “how-to” posts. Hence, here we go! I am about to reveal one of my big secrets that everyone should allready know about as it is TOO obvious not to notice.
As you might allready know, it is sometimes quite difficult to find things to talk about with people. Generally, it is not a good idea to talk about the weather all the time. It might be especially difficult, for a corperation to find things to talk about with potential customers and ambassadors for their cause.
My general advice when it comes to starting a dialogue is – patience. Social media is not a phenomenon that makes everyone super social, allthough some evangelists try to make this point. Wait untill people talk about you untill you start talking to them. This is especially important if you want to use social media to promote your brand or some of your products.
Acting with a Social Pressrelease
As most social media depends upon dialogue, some kind of interaction between two or more people has to take place. In most cases this kind of interaction takes place with one person takes an action which is followed by a reaction, which can then be followed by another reaction etc. This chain of actions and reactions constitutes the social aspects of communicative exchange we use the internet and its social technologies to achieve.
This blogpost will focus on a good way of taking the first action in this chain of dialogue, namely through a Social Pressrelease.
What you need in order to release your social pressrelease
There are some props you should acquire before getting started. All of the listed accounts and services are free of charge, eventhough the work it takes to assemble them all, and optimize them might come with some kind of consultancy fee if you are lazy or just don’t have the time. (More on how to hire Jesper Åström hehe…)
Accounts you need:
Three blog accounts on three different platforms, such as WordPress, Typepad or Blogger
One account at a listed press service such as Cision, PR Newswire, PR Web or Newsdesk (this might actually cost you a buck or twohundred)
Four neatly written, highly keyword dense and semantically related press releases (one main release with the really important piece of information that you would like to spread)
Accounts on digg and stumbleupon
An account on friendfeed
An account on Bloggy, Twitter, Jaiku or any other microblog out there
A keyword site-map should be created for any web project you engage in and that you aim to launch through the search engines. Not to confuse with the Google XML sitemap that should enlist all your web pages contained in your website, the keyword sitemap should contain:
all your used keywords
on what page your keywords are located
how different pages are interlinked
what external links you look to attain for each page
what internal links should point towards this page
it should also show what co-citation cluster you want to put your page
You should start out by listing your most important keywords. Then find their semantic neighbours by using Google Sets or Google KeywordTool. Each main page which a designated keyword needs to contain three sections:
Some information that changes regularly because you want users and the search engine spider to like this page, return to it often and think of it as relevant and important
Extending keywords is a practice where you extend the concept of viewing your keyword as a theme. As it is meant to define your page, you should really try to include whatever words can complete your theme. If your main keyword or theme for the page is car insurance for example, you should think of whatever other words are related to car insurance.
Such words can be found in either Google KeywordTool or by using Google Sets. You can also search for you page keyword and look at what pages end up on top in the search engines. What other words, related to the word you are working with, are included in the top three results. I generally use SEO Quake to find what words have the highest density on top ranking webpages for the keyword I am pushing for.
What is a keyword?
It is debatable whether or not a keyword is one word or if it is a theme. What we know is that a keyword defines the content of a page. There is a misconception that you can have several keywords on one page. Each page should be optimized around its own keyword. No other pages on a website should be optimized for the same word.