5 steps to get started in social media
By Chris Moraff for SmartBlogs

Navigating social media can be daunting at times, with the challenge of creating content worth sharing leaving many brands intimidated and overwhelmed. Don’t despair. After spending years studying social media, the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) has published their six-part report on social media success. Writes Moraff:

“According to Michael Sansolo, research director at CCRRC of North America, rather than getting hung up on the technological complexities of the medium, companies looking to broaden their social media horizons simply need to apply the same community outreach principles they always have, just with a much bigger community in mind.”

While full of useful statistics and case studies, the report can be distilled into a few simple steps:

  1. Know your brand.
  2. Know your audience.
  3. Choose the right platform.
  4. Engage your audience.
  5. Assess and evolve.

The first two seem obvious, but having a solid foundation is necessary to build a successful social media presence. You can’t share your message until you know what it is and who you want to reach. Choosing your primary platform should be easier if you’re thorough in defining your brand and understanding your audience.

Before you can interact in social media, you have to really listen. Though positive feedback is the nicest to receive, management of negative feedback is your chance to shine. Be sincere and genuine. Use analytic tools to track your reputation and chatter about your brand. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments as needed.

Downy Uses Facebook and Twitter to Inform Digital Out-of-Home Campaign
By Christopher Heine for Adweek

Downy’s latest campaign takes an interesting approach to paid media buys, making creative decisions based on social validation. The brand posts potential ads on social media, themed around “bringing out the #Softside” of things like looking good and the world.

Using social cues like likes and retweets, Downy learns what works and what doesn’t from its community – in order to plan its digital out-of-home billboards, which are updated regularly. Learning from Downy’s audience lets the brand spend more efficiently, says Heine: The brand spent $248,000 on display during 2013’s first quarter, down from $401,000 in the same period last year.

What I admire about this campaign is how Downy doesn’t waste valuable time or resources on content that isn’t resonating with its audience. The ads that generate the most engagement are the ones that appear in offline advertising. That’s a cost-effective way to make analytics work for your brand.

The pitfalls of pursuing measurement perfection
By Jonathan Farb for SmartBlogs

Though Downy has avoided falling victim to “perfection paralysis”, it’s a common issue. The need for perfection and overabundance of data has a crippling effect on many brands. These brands waste time trying to formulate the perfect message, the perfect media distribution, etc. Notes Farb:

“They spend months trying to create flawless benchmarks and KPIs, putting together complex multivariable analyses and tweaking (and retweaking) their methodologies to account for every possible scenario. When they eventually run an analysis, or try to utilize their ‘perfect’ algorithm, these brands often find that the results either don’t spit out a succinct story or tell no story at all. Their months of work have added up to nothing.”

Instead, try something, use it as a benchmark, measure the social response (validation), and tweak to improve – in the time you would’ve spent fruitlessly trying to create a crystal ball. The ability to evaluate results, refine your methods, and provide better insights is an invaluable one. In an intensely competitive market the importance of agility can’t be overstated. Brands that move nimbly can capitalize on real time events and conversations, staying relevant with comparatively less effort than those who wait for the perfect solution.

Customer Central: Why User-Generated Content is so Important
By EyeforTravel for 4Hoteliers

One in six mobile travel bookings are made for same-day stays – making mobile perfect for last-minute deals, if companies make everything a traveler needs to make a decision immediately available. But preparing for every single travel buyer’s unique needs is impossible for copywriters. Once again, social tells travel brands what to say – and for brands like Travelocity that invite reviews, customers actually say it for them better than the brand could.

That’s because reviews are filled with the natural language consumers use when conducting a search – increasing search rankings and site traffic. And visitors who interact with this content (written in their own language) have a 103% higher conversion rate. So inviting this feedback draws travelers in, and helps them book confidently – while providing insights on how to improve the buying experience. In an industry full of last-second decisions, feedback helps travel brands keep up.