Check search.twitter.com for searches about your company, brands, executives, industry or competitors. You'll probably find something insightful, surprising, disturbing or amusing.
Do blogs still matter?
Blogs are still extremely important components of the social-media ecosystem for several reasons. First, they have the audience -- of Quantcast's Top 100 sites, BlogSpot, WordPress and Blogger are all in the top 30, followed by blogs such as Huffington Post and TMZ. Also, bloggers are influential to targeted audiences both broad and niche. Finally, blogs can be useful for establishing direct communication between marketers and consumers, and they can contribute to establishing a larger share of voice in search-engine results.
Has Twitter peaked?
Growth in traffic to Twitter.com may have slowed, and by some measures it has leveled off, but most Twitter access occurs elsewhere, especially through desktop and mobile applications such as TweetDeck and Seesmic. Twitter rarely releases hard numbers.
How do you know if it's growing?
Plenty of others fill the data void. Uptime monitoring company Pingdom reported that people posted over 1.2 billion tweets in January 2010, 16 times as many tweets a year earlier and twice as many as in August 2009. Twitter's user base is also disproportionately vocal and influential, and the platform is so open that it will continue to attract strong interest from marketers.
What's the next Twitter?
What's the next Foursquare?
Are those location-based check-in applications really the next big thing in social media?
They're part of it.
So really, what's next?
Expect a lot of the biggest breakthroughs in social media to include a major mobile component. Facebook has over 100 million mobile users, and as it continues to gain market share around the globe, in time it should have more mobile users than web users. That's true for digital-media consumption overall -- so much of the growth is coming from mobile.
If I only have time to follow one person on Twitter, who should it be?
There's only one Twitter user who coins more words than Seth Godin, responds to about as many people as Comcast, and has appeared in more bad movies than Alec Baldwin: Shaquille O'Neal, aka @TheRealShaq -- the first and still greatest Twitter superuser.
What's the first question I need to answer when developing a social-marketing strategy?
What are your goals? That sets the stage for everything else: what you'll do, what vendors and partners you'll work with, and how you'll measure it.
So wait, you're saying social media is measurable?
Duh. The problem is there are too many ways to measure it. How are you using it? Are you trying to build relationships, raise awareness, improve perceptions, respond to customer-service issues, boost engagement, attract top talent, get people to an online or offline event ... what's your objective? Figure that out, then you can figure out how to measure it.
Can technology measure sentiment?
A lot of the best tools are getting close. English is an idiomatic language, and people have a nasty habit of being sarcastic (except on Gawker). That means you may need to do some manual analysis, especially if you want to be totally accurate. There are lots of great technologies out there that are worth looking at. It depends why you're doing it and how precise you need to be.
Who should "own" social marketing in an organization?
From the marketer perspective, it needs a strong champion and steward in-house regardless of whether you have one or more agencies involved. Whoever it is needs to be able to marshal a lot of teams internally and externally: media planning and buying, PR, web development, creative, customer service and others. Assuming a digitally focused person or agency is leading the social marketing program, they should also be well looped in with the big marketing picture.
How can I best amplify my social marketing?
You can do more than buying Facebook ads and following tons of people on Twitter. The single best thing you can do strategically is include social media as part of the fabric of your overall marketing and brand building, rather than as a detachable add-on.
And what about tactically?
Integrate social marketing with your other marketing online (e-mail, display, your website) and offline (all the traditional media channels, plus in-store/point of sale).
What's the best reason to set up a social-marketing program today, even if I'm not convinced I need one?
Any company or brand can benefit from having a direct connection with their target audiences, whether those are customers, prospects, business partners, local peers, analysts or others. Marketers feel the need the most when they're in a crisis, but it's like learning to swim -- you'll want to pick up the skill before you find yourself stranded in the Atlantic Ocean, or at your boss's pool party. Most conversations about brands are positive, which should be especially motivating.