Cyber security and the Centcom Twitter hack

The recent hack of the US Government agency Centcom’s Twitter and YouTube accounts is embarrassing but not a security threat. After all Twitter servers are totally separate from US Government servers and there is no way that a hacker could use their access to Centcom’s Twitter account as a way of accessing Centcom information.

Or is there?

This depends on how access to the Centcom social media accounts was achieved. The danger is that if Centcom executives are using easily hackable passwords on social media accounts they may be using hackable passwords on other accounts.

Worse, they may be using the SAME passwords which means that access to other Centcom accounts could be vulnerable. After all over half of internet users reuse passwords across accounts. Now if that has been the case then the Twitter hack really could represent a security threat.

As a way of seeing how hackable your passwords are, take a look at this password security checker.

The Tory minister, the fake Sophie Wittams profile, & data security

The hilarious-if-it-wasn’t-so-tragic incident of Tory minister Brooks Newmark sending dodgy pictures to a male journalist pretending to be a female party worker raises an interesting data security issue for business.

It would be very easy to build a credible Twitter profile of an important person (say a prospective client), using a photograph of them taken from the web and buying a large number of followers to make the profile look genuine.

This profile could then be used in two ways:

  • to publish misleading information
  • to gain the trust of other people who are happy to communicate via Twitter with the prominent person

In the latter case, the person behind the fake Twitter profile might reference a particular person (the “victim”) in a number of tweets in the hope that the victim would follow the fake profile. Once that connection is established, the fake profile can communicate privately via Direct Message with the victim soliciting information (rather than dodgy pictures). Alternatively the fake profile can simply address public tweets to you by putting your Twitter name at the start of their posts.

Similar scams could take place on LinkedIn and Facebook although in both of those cases it might be more difficult to build up credible profile with lots of connections/friends as connecting on these platforms is a “mutual” action that both parties need to agree to, whereas on Twitter you can follow people without their permission and buy “followers” for a few dollars thus easily building a credible profile.

How can businesses (and politicians) guard themselves against false Twitter profiles? If someone you think you may know engages you in conversation on Twitter about a strategically important issue:

  1. First, check out the number of connections the profile has. If there are only a few then you should check out whether they follow lots of people and whether they are active on Twitter. A profile with only a few connections should be checked out. Call them up and ask if they are messaging you on Twitter. (The fake “Sophie Wittams” profile that brought Brooks Newmark down had 52 followers and had tweeted 172 times, so the journalist responsible had taken care to build a credible profile over a period of time.)
  2. Second, check out the authenticity of the followers the profile has. You can use a service like twitteraudit.com to see how many fake followers a particular account has. Too many (more than 50%) and you should be suspicious.
  3. Third, check out their profile. Does it look genuine: for instance does it contain a recent photograph and perhaps contact details or other personal information? If not, then you are right to be wary.
  4. Fourth check out whether there are any similar profiles on Twitter. Search for their name, and variants of their name, to see if there are other accounts that seem to belong to the same person. If there are several similar accounts all seeming to belong to the same person, you will need to discover which is the genuine profile.
  5. Fifth, check out whether the person with the name on the profile has connected with you before on Twitter, but under a different profile; if they have then something may be up.
  6. Sixth, if you are suspicious use the profile image to search Google. It may indicate that the photo belongs to someone else (but if it doesn’t, don’t take this as proof that the photo is genuine)
  7. Seventh, if it seems too good to be true for any reason, then it almost certainly is! (Politicians take note.)

LinkedIn is slightly more difficult to check out as it isn’t possible to detect fake connections (and depending on the account settings it may be impossible to see them at all). However, it is still possible to check out the number of connections, the extent of the biography and the level of activity. If a profile looks incomplete, unused, and with few connections then you might want to treat it as suspicious. In addition, check whether the profile seems to have connected with you before: if they have then the chances are that one of those profiles is a fake.

Facebook? Well my advice here is to avoid business conversations on Facebook. Connect only with people who are genuine friends, not business acquaintances. And never discuss business on a Facebook page or via any form of Facebook messaging.

Back in 1993 the New Yorker magazine published a cartoon with the caption “On the Internet, no one knows you are a dog”. This is still very true, especially in social media. And it is something that anyone with an interest in data security needs to remember.

Could you manage an international social media campaign?

Could you manage an international social media campaign?

Social media campaigns are hard enough at the best of times. Soggy metrics, a lack of control, unexpected reactions…So adding an international dimension can make them even harder.

But if you are faced with managing an international campaign, what are the areas you need to consider?

I have been involved with a good number of international clients over the years and they are never easy to manage. Some of the learnings from international advertising campaigns are easy to apply to social media though.

Global vs local

The problem with international campaigns is knowing how “global” or “local” campaigns should be – to what extent they should be the same around the world and to what extend they should be designed for individual markets. And the answer to this is likely to vary across markets.

In some territories local activity will predominate. While in other territories it may be appropriate to use global assets that are produced by head office. The balance will depend on a number of factors.

Language

The simplest thing to address is language. If a client is headquartered in an English speaking country then running campaigns in English may be a logical solution for other English speaking countries and even in countries (such as Sweden, the Netherlands and India) where large parts of the population speak English.

However, while this is an easy solution, it may not be the best. Cultural differences may mean that campaign messages in one country may not be well received in another. Early UK advertisements for Coca Cola’s Dasani water used the message “Can’t live without spunk”. True possibly, but not something calculated to attract the average UK consumer. Research into whether localisation is needed is essential. And this is true whether or not messaging is being translated from one language to another.

Consumer perceptions

Another very obvious thing to address is the consumer. It is quite possible that the brand you are working with is perceived very differently in certain markets.

The oddest example of this I have come across was a UK cough sweet that was associated in Germany with, er, physical love! Fashion and retail brands often show differences around the world: for instance Levi Jeans have less fashion cachet in the USA than they do in Europe. Fast food too: Millward Brown show how Burger King is a weak brand in Belgium (compared with MacDonalds) but a strong brand in Mexico.

But getting the right message across to consumers isn’t necessarily the hardest part of managing an international social media campaign. There are many other issues.

Local platforms

A “one size fits all” approach to which social media platforms to use is unlikely to work. For instance Twitter penetration in Spain is around three time that of France but only half that of Saudi Arabia. Some markets, notably China and Japan, are very different from Western Europe and North America.

Local strategy implementation will need to take account of the strengths of different social media platforms. For instance if the strategy is to disseminate lots of photographs, then using Instagram to supplement picture posts on Facebook may be wasted effort in markets like Canada and France but worthwhile in Germany and Indonesia.

Local resources

If you are working with local operations in international markets then you will almost always find that resources in individual countries will vary widely, as will skill levels. One market may have a team of half a dozen experienced social media marketers, while in another the intern looks after social media in between doing the filing.

This means that you may need to moderate the amount of global assets you share with some local markets, or at least give territories with less resource the option to pick and choose between which global assets they decide to use.

 Local perceptions of social media

In most countries around the world consumers use a lot of social media. But that doesn’t mean that local marketers take social media seriously. There may be a big education job to be done helping local marketing managers understand why, and how, to use social media.

Where you are dealing with a local market that is sceptical about social media, it will be important to avoid a situation where social media is managed by a junior who may post inappropriately, without any (informed) supervision; social media is global and you won’t always be able to stop people in one country reading damaging posts in another country.

Local independence

Some local marketing operations will be more independent and harder to influence than others. Managers in a large territory such as the USA may well feel that they don’t need (or want) central control.

This may be especially true if the territory concerned has a heritage in effective social media marketing (which you could argue is the case in many English and Spanish speaking markets).

Dealing with resentment aimed at “interference from the centre” is always difficult. Providing reasons to use global strategies and assets (such as cost saving) is likely to be more effective than simply mandating the approach they must take.

Building consensus through joint development of assets and best practice will also help. And with social media, this shouldn’t be too difficult given that accepted knowledge of how best to use social media is still building.

Local laws

And finally do remember that laws vary across the world. For instance a competition that is legal in one country may be illegal in another. And similarly some countries have very stringent rules about endorsements.

Ensuring that local market operations are aware of the rules of what they can and cannot do on social media is important if you don’t want the humiliation of having your campaigns being deemed illegal or noncompliant by local regulators.

All in all

Setting up and managing an international social media campaign isn’t easy. As well as understanding how consumers differ across markets there are many practical issues around the nature and relative strengths of local marketing partners.

The safest way forward is to develop a global strategy with input from local markets and then allow local markets to tweak the global strategy, localise global assets and, if appropriate, add their own local content. Developing appropriate best practice guidelines to help less experienced local partners will also be important.

 

Social media risks: are you tooled up?

Angry customers dissing your brand; employees who give away trade secrets in their Facebook posts, chief execs whose Twitter accounts get hacked: The risks from social media are not always easy to manage. Even the well known risk of negative PR can be hard to manage if you don’t have the right social listening tools in place. The tools available to help manage social media risks go a long way beyond social listening, but let’s start with that.

Social listening tools

There are dozens of social listening tools available. Some of these are free. Some of them cost a modest amount, a few hundred dollars a year. And some can cost thousands. But they all do the same thing: identify what people are saying about your brand or company on social media platforms. So why pay, when there are so many free tools? Well, it depends on resources of course, and the importance of social media listening to your organisation. Some things to consider (beyond cost) when choosing a tool are:

  • Which platforms are monitored? There are a lot of tools that just focus on Twitter for instance
  • How much data can you get? Some tools will only give you results for a limited number of posts or a limited time frame
  • Is anything beyond a list of posts included? Some tools include analysis of sentiment (are the posts positive, negative or neutral) or potential reach; others enable you to filter the results by language, influence, demographics or region
  • Is the tool primarily a listening tool or does it double up as a content management tool?

Free multi-platform tools worth considering include Social Mention, Ice Rocket (especially good for blogs) and Google Alerts (you set up an email alerts so that  Google tells you whenever anyone uses your brand name, strapline or url).

Point of presence tools

Tools that can identify brand “points of presence” are similar to social listening tools although they perform a slightly different function. By a point of presence we mean a site on the internet that is, or purports to be, associated with your brand. Many social listening tools just listen for conversations and won’t be able to pick up sites that are using your brand assets such as your brand name, logo or strapline. If someone is using your brand assets this may be because they are a fan. But it may also be because they want to say unpleasant things about you, or to sell fake products. Having a tool that will identify when your brand name, logos and straplines are being used can be an important safeguard. Some tools can help you identify when your logo is being used while others will look for “strings” of text to find brands in URLs or social media profile pages. For a free way to identify places where your logo is being used, paste its image into Google images. To find your brand name in a URL, go to Google Advanced Search and select “in the URL”, within the “terms appearing” option. And to find mentions in particular social media platforms simply type in the platform name (e.g. Twitter.com) into the “site or domain” option of Google Advanced Search. Free tools have their limitations and a much more powerful paid solution that is worth investigating is provided by Brandle.

Moderation

If you are serious about posting to social media platforms the chances are that you already have a moderation tool. But if you don’t, then should you consider it? Moderation tools can help you prevent inappropriate posts by employees – for instance posts containing particular words can be flagged up for authorisation by a more senior person. This is a risk for companies that don’t have content marketing management tools in place, simply because without them it is easy for an enthusiastic employee to forget whether they are posting on their personal account or the company’s account. Moderation tools can also manage the risks that exist if your site accepts content from the general public, e.g. reviews or forums. It can be expensive to use a human to moderate all the posts that come in so automating the process to delete or quarantine any posts with unsuitable language can be a sensible investment. One company in this space is Discussit although if human moderation (which provides better risk management)  is also necessary, then a specialist firm like eModeration, which can moderate posts in many different languages, is also worth investigating.

Productivity

One of the big risks from social media is the potential loss of productivity that can occur when employees spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter. As preventing their use totally is likely to be counter productive, one strategy can be to manage their use possibly by limiting the times when access is available to social media platforms although tools like Websense provide more sophisticated management such as letting people use LinkedIn but disallowing job searches or letting people post on Facebook but not chat.

Archiving

Saving social media conversations in case of future legal actions is a sensible precaution if budgets allow (or if you work in a regulated industry where this is required). There are many archiving tools available and things to consider include:

  • Is the archive easily searchable and rapidly available?
  • Are actions (e.g. retweets) and metadata (e.g. tags) archived as well as original content?
  • Are “conversations” (forum threads, series of tweets etc) archived as conversations or individual posts?
  • Does all content get archived or can posts that are subsequently deleted become lost?

Archiving can be expensive and choosing the right tool isn’t easy. There is a comprehensive (probably over-comprehensive) list of options at USA’s National Archives; companies worth looking at include Smarsh, Hanzo Archive, and  Archive Social.

Security

One of the big risks associated with social media is inadequate security: having the corporate Twitter account hacked can be embarrassing but could also result in real reputational damage. Protection requires secure passwords – and yet according to SplashData the most common password is “123456”. Any social media account using that (or “password”, the second most common password) is ignoring some massive risks. Some content management platforms such as Crowd Control HQ can force certain password protocols on users of corporate social media platforms, making them more secure while at the same time providing an easier way to manage complex passwords.

Testing and practising

You can take a lot of time and effort developing ways of reducing social media risk. And you can invest in the best tools to help you with this. But unless you test your systems then you can still be wrong footed. To that end various tools are available that enable you to practise managing a social media crisis. These use a combination of software, content templates and real people to simulate a PR crisis over a number of hours or days which you can then respond to. As well as giving your social media team experience of what it is like to handle a crisis, your processes (any template content, together with management and escalation processes) will be stress tested and any weaknesses should be uncovered. A number of PR companies have developed services here. Check out Polpeo for an excellent example.

Disclaimer

We don’t have any formal connection with any of the tools and services mentioned in this post. They are all well thought of but there are many more out there, and the right tool for you will depend on your budget, your corporate and social media goals, and your particular circumstances. If you want some advice about what is right for you then call us on 07855 341 589 or email jeremy@socialmediarisk.co.uk: we would be happy to explore your options.

Managing the corporate risks of social media

So you think you are safe with social media?Digital risks include many risks from social media

It’s true that using social media is now an established part of the marketing armoury of most organisations. But how safe is it really?

In fact social media present some potentially massive risks and it is important to be aware of these risks and to have processes for dealing with them. It may well be that these risks are covered off in your corporate digital risk management system. But if you don’t have one of these, or if (as is generally the case) it doesn’t cover off social media risks, then you will need to think carefully  about how to identify and mitigate the very real risks that stem from your company and its employees using social media.

But the first thing I want to say is: posting on Twitter or Facebook is the same as taking out an advert in a newspaper and publishing it there. IT IS NOT PRIVATE (sorry for shouting). So if you think someone might be upset by what you say on Twitter, be prepared for the consequences.

 So what about those risks?

Internal risks

It is not unknown for employees to use social media accounts to post inappropriate content about your competitors, or your suppliers. This is obviously not desirable.

It is even more common for salacious or unflattering content relating to a social event, to be posted, and this can be a problem whether or not the event has been formally sponsored by your organisation. For instance photographs of staff members behaving ‘indecorously’ at a party could have a negative effect on your company if the people involved are identified as working for it, say in a caption, or even if they are just tagged.

In addition, personal opinions that do not reflect the organisation’s position can be expressed on a social media account. This can cause confusion or, worse, affect the way people feel about your brand.

These problems are particularly great when the social media account used is owned (or appears to be owned) by your organisation. But even when employees use personal accounts problems can occur, especially where people can be identified as working for your organisation.

At least part of the answer is to develop a social media policy and then train all your staff in its use.

Social media policies

Your social media policy needs to warn people that they are responsible for anything they post online. Not everyone knows that it is possible to libel people, steal Intellectual Property (IP), and even commit criminal offences by using Twitter or Facebook. So tell them this.

It is also generally sensible to tell employees that, unless they are formal spokespeople for your organisations, any content they submit on any site where they are identified as being an employee (e.g. LinkedIn) should be tagged as being their personal opinion and not that of their employer.

But perhaps the most important part of a social media policy is to lay down some rules about what people can say about colleagues and your organisation – whether or not they are posting content at work or on work-related websites. Simple courtesy would dictate that they should not ridicule colleagues or clients. Self-preservation should indicate that they should not be unkind about their employer! Common sense? Then why are there so many ‘accidents’? A social media policy, developed for your particular circumstances, and then shared with your staff will be your first line of defence here.

Board members

Senior employees such as board members should take particular care with social media. Comments about their working day or events in their industry could have unforeseen negative effects, for instance on share price, sales or recruitment, that could in some cases even be deemed illegal.

This will obviously be the case on company-owned accounts. But for anyone remotely in the public eye, comments on private social media accounts can also have unwanted effects. Politicians seem particularly prone to this type of gaffe, perhaps because they are so closely monitored by rivals.

Malicious content

Spoof sites

Spoof and hate accounts can also be a problem for organisations. For instance disaffected employees may create accounts that focus on unflattering descriptions of an organisation.

Negative opinions expressed on a personal account must be endured, although you can choose to ignore, acknowledge or rebut them. Anyone telling lies or setting up an account falsely purporting to be an official account may well be opening themselves up to civil or legal redress although it is often a good idea for large organisations to keep the lawyers at arms length for fear of making the damage worse.

Hacking

A big risk relates to organisation social media accounts being “hacked”.

While there isn’t necessarily much that you can do against a determined and skilled hacker, care can be taken to ensure that company accounts have adequately secure passwords. Without secure passwords it can be easy for company social media accounts to be hijacked as Burger King found out in February 2013.

Image of Burger King's Twitter profile after it was hacked

Weak passwords can result in social media accounts being hijacked

Ownership risks

Who owns your company Facebook page? Is it a member of the IT team? Or has it been set up in such a way that the company owns and controls it?

Google+ and Facebook procedures mean that business “Pages” are set up from personal accounts, rather than directly by the organisation involved. If a social media enthusiast in your organisation has set up an “official” Facebook page linked to their personal Facebook account you are exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.  After all what happens if they leave?

To guard against this risk, make sure you employ an appropriate strategy when setting up these pages: get a senior trusted employee to set up the business page without using their own personal account; implement appropriate security protocols such as having strong passwords; and ensure you have  back up processes (for instance make sure the password can be found by other people) if key employees are absent.

Managing a PR crisis

Another type of external threat is that of consumers reacting badly about a product or brand and causing a PR crisis.

While this doesn’t happen that often, it is important to be aware of the potential for a PR crisis and to have plans for mitigating them. Listen, prepare and practice.

Listen

Monitoring social media is a very effective way (indeed the only way) of identifying an approaching crisis so that action can be taken before it happens. Ideally you will be monitoring social media constantly – especially if you are providing a constant service such as an airline.

Monitoring social media can be time consuming (there are a lot of conversations going on around the world after all) and difficult. It can be done in a variety of ways and, depending on the goals defined in your strategy, can cost very little or a substantial amount. It is however important to ensure that someone in your team has responsibility for monitoring any mentions of your organisation in social media. They will need the authority to respond and/or  a process for bringing significant conversations to the attention of appropriate decision makers.

There are many free social media monitoring tools, such as socialmention.com. These are fine if you don’t want to extract a lot of data. For instance it will normally be quickly apparent when a crisis is growing as the number of negative mentions of your organisation or brand will be rising rapidly. However, using a paid service is likely to be easier and safer if your brand is of any size.

Be prepared

It is important to have plans in place to enable appropriate actions to be taken in the event of a crisis. Getting a quick press release out is no longer sufficient. You need to be able to respond, rapidly, in the places where the crisis is building. This is likely to be on Twitter, Facebook or YouTube.

How to prepare? Well, the first thing to do is to imagine the most likely types of crisis. Is it a faulty product, a rogue employee comment, a marketing campaigns that has gone wrong? Identify these potential crises and then create a set of template communications that you can use.

Some of these will probably be holding statements along the lines of “We are urgently looking into this”. Others will be tactical responses such as “We are withdrawing this product line”. They won’t be appropriate if and when a crisis does strike. But they will help you rapidly develop a set of communications designed to manage the crisis.

In addition you will need to set up a triage and escalation process. You will need to define what counts as a crisis (if you are a large brand a handful of unhappy customers probably doesn’t – although insights from these people should be passed to appropriate teams) and you will need to put in place appropriate roles and responsibilities so that predefined people have the authority to react in certain ways. An escalation process for a large crisis is also needed.

Practice makes perfect

It is great having a set of template responses and an emergency team in place. But practising those responses will be invaluable. Social media crises can move very rapidly and this can take people by surprise. They can be very stressful. And the messages you have to deal with can be personal and hurtful.

Setting up a pretend crisis, flooding your response team, with messages from ‘angry’ consumers and giving them the opportunity to practice their responses is the only way to prepare them for a real crisis. In addition it is an essential way of testing whether your template responses and your escalation processes are robust.

A stitch in time…

Social media risk isn’t the same as “digital risk”; so even if you have a digital risk management process in place your organisation may well still be open to considerable social media risk. And managing that social media risk will not be simple. But it can be done, even if you can never avoid any risk completely. 

So if you are worried that your organisation may be exposed to social media risk, or if you would like to know more about how to listen to social media buzz, how to plan for social media emergencies, or how to practice your response,  then call mosoco on 07855 341 589 or email us on hello@mosoco.co.uk. We would love to chat.

The real value of Twitter OTS

How many people will actually see my Tweet? It’s a question I am asked a lot. And it is a very hard one to answer.

It’s easy with TV. You measure how many people are watching an advert – or at least are  in the room with the TV on playing the relevant channel – and that’s your OTS (opportunity to see).

But measuring OTS  is more difficult with online media, especially with social media. With Twitter for instance, OTS is often equated to the “reach” of a tweet: in other words the number of people who could potentially have seen the tweet when it was posted, which is made up of  the followers of the tweeter together with the followers of anyone who re-tweeted it.

But is that a fair assumption? Does a tweet that delivered  10,000 OTS really deserve to be equated to a TV ad that delivered 10,000 OTS?

It is true I could potentially see any Tweet posted by someone I follow. But I could also switch on the TV in the daytime and watch the Duke on Bargain Hunt. However, TV doesn’t count me as having had an Opportunity To See an advert just because I was in the room with the TV off when it was aired!

Should Twitter be measured by its reach? I don’t think so. It simply isn’t true that having the opportunity to see a tweet when I am off line, or online but elsewhere, is the same as having the opportunity to see it when I am on Twitter.

So what is the real value of a tweet? I can’t find any research here. Presumably Twitter must know how often individual tweets are downloaded to people’s browsers. But without that data there is a need to make some assumptions. So here goes:

Using data I found at http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/march-2013-by-the-numbers-a-few-amazing-twitter-stats and http://www.beevolve.com/twitter-statistics/#b2 (approximated for convenience of this calculation):

IF the “average” user is on Twitter for 5 minutes a day (170 minutes a month), and

IF the average user tweets around 5 times a day, and

IF it I assume it takes 30 seconds to write a tweet (a total of 2.5 minutes a day for 5 tweets)

THEN the average twitter user has 2.5 minutes (or 150 seconds) a day available to read tweets.

IF the average twitter user follows 100 people,  and

IF the average user tweets around 5 times a day

THEN the average Twitter user will receive 500 tweets a day

IF it takes an average of 3 seconds to read a tweet (no evidence for that at all!)

THEN the average Twitter user is in a position to read 50 tweets a day, out of the 500 they receive

So that indicates the “real” OTS on Twitter is 10% of the reach.

Lots of assumptions in there, so is it rubbish, or a useful rule of thumb? And how similar is it for Facebook, LinkedIn etc? It would be nice to have some real research to prove this one way or another. But in the meantime I think I am going to carry on using my “divide reach by 10” rule. Unless you have a better idea!

5 steps to an effective social media strategy

Why are we investing in social media? What’s our strategy here? It’s an important question, and all too often one that isn’t adequately explored.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to develop an effective social media strategy. But it does take some structured thinking. Which is why we have created a simple 5 step process for developing a social media strategy.

5 step social media strategy process

5 step social media strategy process

Step 1: Understand what strategy really is

Understanding strategy is important for any organisation. But it is easy to get confused about what a strategy is, and what it isn’t. A strategy isn’t a marketing plan or a project to develop a new product. Strategy isn’t tactical.

At the business level, strategies are about identifying organisational goals, and long term (typically 2 to 5 years) planning to meet those goals by allocating appropriate resources.

But strategies can also be developed at an operational or functional level. So businesses can have social media strategies that define the purpose of social media activities and plan (typically over a period of 1 to 2 years) how to meet them. Two main elements to social media strategies then: what the goals are; and how we are going to achieve them.

So far, so theoretical. In step one there has to be senior level agreement as to how the project needs to be defined. This means appointing a senior project leader,  supported by a board level social media champion.

Step 2. Establish the scope of social media

The next step is to define the scope of  social media within the organisation. This must be done by the project leader leader and the social media champion. They will need to do this in order to agree exactly who should be included in the project team.

This is because social media means different things to different people. Does it include paid advertising on Facebook; does it include wikis; does it include reviews on Amazon; does it include social news and social book marking?

Depending on the organisation, there is a need to establish and agree precisely what fits into the social media space. Failing to do this may lead to confusions and disagreements at a later stage. More importantly it may result in important goals being left out of the project.

Step 3. Agree the goals for social media

What are the reasons for investing in social media? It could be many things. For one of Mosoco’s clients it is purely about CRM. For another, it is about establishing thought leadership.

There is no right or wrong answer. The reasons for spending time with social media can include a variety of marketing goals including:

• Marketing intelligence
• Brand promotion
• Brand positioning

But it doesn’t just have to be focussed on marketing. There can be sales goals too such as:

• Lead generation
• CRM
• Loyalty building

There might even be a need to influence stakeholders who are not customers such as:

• Employees
• Suppliers
• Investors
• Legislators

It’s complicated. So the social media team needs to take some time establishing social media goals, and agreeing how these fit with wider organisational goals.

Step 4. Agree on objectives and how to achieve them

This is where it gets busy! Goals are fairly broad but objectives need to be narrow and precise: they need to define:

• The current position
• The desired position
• The methods and resources that will be employed to achieve the desired position

Objectives need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time based). So if one of our social media goals is lead generation we need to define:

• How many (and what sort of) leads are currently generated via social media
• How many we want to generate in the future
• What methods we will use to achieve this
• Who will be responsible for implementing the methods
• What resources they will have, and
• How long they will be given

In practical terms some of the issues that need to be addressed are:

• Which platforms do our target audience use
• Of those platforms, which will be best for achieving our goals
• How will we achieve our goals on each platform, for instance:

  • Will we be proactive or reactive (e.g. engage with prospects directly on Facebook but use Twitter to understand customer concerns)
  • Will we use different platforms at different times to achieve different things (e.g. promote an event on Google+and a competition on Facebook
  • Will we have a different tone of voice on different platforms (e.g. more formal on LinkedIn and more approachable on Pinterest)

• What tools do we need (e.g. planning tools like Hashtagify, measurement tools like TweetReach, an editorial calendar, a tool for scheduling posts like buffer app, a budget for creating images and info-graphics)

Step 5. Lather, rinse and repeat

It isn’t easy to get social media activities right first time. Being able to measure the effect of our investment is key to any strategy. If we have considered our goals carefully and agreed SMART objectives we should know what success looks like.

And it may not look much like what we have achieved initially! If that’s the case, don’t panic. In any hard-to-predict activity like social media it is important to be confident and flexible, and to have an iterative approach to activities.

Measure, analyse, learn and improve.

If you would like to know more about developing your social media strategy then drop us a line at hello@mosoco.co.uk or call us on 07855 341 589.