Learnings From 1 Billion Online Mentions
On this episode, my guest Alex Manthei, Community Manager at Mention, discusses findings from a recently published white paper titled: The When, Where, Who and How of Communicating Online to Get More Mentions.
Mention is a two year old media monitoring application focused on small businesses and startups. It’s an easy app to set up and use. I have the Mention app on my iPhone and track several keywords to monitor mentions around my personal brand and my agency.
My conversation with Alex touches on two of the five social business pillars: use of social technology and being data driven.
1 Billion Mentions Across 200K Alerts
The Mention team conducted an analysis of more than 1 Billion company mentions delivered to 200,000 alerts over two years. First, they created an infographic summarizing the key findings. Then, they collected their thoughts and defined best practice recommendations and summarized them in the white paper to help companies get more mentions online and to strengthen their online presence.
I was surprised by some of the findings in this report. It turns out that the majority of company mentions online – 76.58% – are neutral. Most people are asking questions or asking for advice about a product. This implies that customer service has gone social. It bucks the myth that most people go online to bash brands. Rather, people are engaging with brands with simple questions and providing feedback. In fact, only 6% of the mentions tracked were negative and 17% of the mentions were overtly positive about a brand. The Mention team refers to this as the Pac-Man effect because of the visual resemblance to the popular video game in the chart below.
The Glass is 94% Full
One of most common concerns expressed by brands holding back their communication and engagement in social channels is the fear of negative comments. This report suggests that a small percentage of people are negative when engaging with a brand online. This implies that we’ve settled into a human tone of communication online between brands and consumers.
Even with only 6% of mentions negative, it’s still serious for brands who are on the receiving end. Brands who actively engage in online communication have learned that social media customer support is not a single reply. Rather it’s a long term relationship with people that require an ongoing conversation.
Brands are monitoring more than just their brand name or the name of their CEO. Many brands are monitoring topics as a way of doing content discovery to learn the interests of their community. This strategy is very wise to find and engage in conversations with their community. Brands are setting up alerts for a wide range of interests in recognition that people are not single interest beings. Alex shared a fun example on the podcast.
When to Communicate Online
Company mentions in the report refer to a brand mention. The data shows that the most company mentions occur on Thursdays. The biggest decrease of mentions is on the weekends. Therefore, the recommended best practice is to spend more time communicating with your community on Saturdays and Sundays when it’s less crowded and easier to stand out. This advice applies to B2C and B2B because it’s all P2P (person-to-person).
Where to Communicate Online
The next logical decision point for brands is to decide where to communicate and engage online. In the analysis 67% of all company mentions takes place on Twitter. Therefore, brands should not neglect Twitter. However, the folks at Mention recommend having a strategy to engage on multiple channels (and I agree). Get creative to present content that will display well on Twitter, as well as other channels like Facebook, Tumblr, etc. The content needs to be optimized for each platform. Determine where your community spends their time and what content interests them. This helps to amplify your voice in ways that resonate with your community. For example, B2B brands should experiment with spending time communicating and engaging on LinkedIn on the weekends.
Who to Communicate With Online
Brands often desire to engage with influencers in attempt to get positive mentions from them. Mention recommends distinguishing influencers from brand ambassadors. Only about 9% of people online are influencers characterized as people with more than 500 Twitter followers or Klout scores above 50. The recommended best practice is to not put all your eggs in the influencer basket. Delight all your users, not just influencers. Don’t assume that someone with just 90 followers on Twitter is not someone who can influence brand perception. When someone authentically engages with a brand, that’s all that matters.
“Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
This quote embodies what brands are doing to engage with all people who engage with them. These brands recognize that thoughtful and delightful engagement with anyone can turn people into brand evangelists, and they can create other brand evangelists simply by engaging with them authentically. This means answering their questions, saying “thank you” when they say something positive and generally showing that you’re listening and responding to them. This is more about “social friendships” than customer service. Those who practice this are well on their social business journey.
How to Communicate Online
Alex points out the importance of leveraging the unique voice of many people in your company. Get every department involved in responding to questions. Assign questions to people in different roles in your company. For example, get your CTO to answer technical questions. Get your CEO to answer questions in another language because she is multi-lingual. It’s important for the voice of your company to be diversified to give your brand a human touch. In the connected age, this is precisely what our customers expect. A brand with a sterile, single voice is at risk of being left behind by competitors with a thoughtful, human approach to online communication and engagement.
Alex’s answer to my “one thing” question is to acknowledge that people are not a single-interest being. Rather than pigeonhole people into brand demographics such as golf enthusiasts, or IT specialists, or whatever demographic fits your brand, Alex wants to see a mindset that engages people in conversation in a friendly way concerning other interests. This may involve taking some risk for some brands depending on their industry. Alex’s point, with which I agree, is to invest in the longer term relationship. Alex shared a tool called CrowdRiff that he likes because it helps brands learn more about people with whom they engage. It’s an extension that gives you more information about the people you interact with on Twitter.