On the average, I’m on Facebook one hour each day and slightly longer on weekends. I think this puts me in the category of "Moderate" user of this popular social networking site. Most mornings while sipping my coffee or waiting for my bus ride, I will hit the FB app on my Blackberry with a set agenda — that is to skim through my friends’ latest status and news feeds, to see birthday alerts and greet, and yes, to view friends’ comments on my last status update. The last bit is somewhat vain, yes, but it is part of my FB routine. In my professional world, Public Relations, I deal with brands. In my Facebook, I am my brand. So in it, I watch, listen, and with a certain degree of discretion, participate and engage people in conversations. It’s not perfect – I use Facebook to rant and vent frustrations at times. I would have wall posts and comments that sometimes are better off sent via private messages than public walls although for the most part, I can say I use Facebook responsibly. My use of social media takes a different form as I step into the office. I discipline myself to use Facebook during my coffee and lunch breaks and mostly after office hours or in the evenings. In between, I would be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogger/WordPress and YouTube, and use social media as PR tools for EASTWEST marketing and for our clients. Simply put, our goals for using the abovementioned social media tools for our company and for the brands that we represent are (1) to network; (2) to inform and be informed; and (3) to influence. These objectives are probably universal. At EASTWEST, our clients are in different stages of using social media – some of them have been in social media for about a year now, while some are just starting it. It is interesting how this nascent practice will shape and later impact brand success. As social media are new PR tools that constantly being updated, I would not be ashamed to put myself in the “Learner” category. Every day, I am learning. I am fortunate to be surrounded with colleagues that are in a more “Advanced” level of knowledge and use of social media. In my ‘learning journey’, watching and listening plays a big role. I believe social media monitoring is a very basic and crucial assignment before anyone can inform, much more, influence. Like watching television or film, part of the decision one has to make is choosing the channels and the genre of interest. From a myriad of social media available, we select a few that have been tried and tested, are simple to use and more importantly, are being used by two sets of key ‘targets’: the people our clients are trying to reach out to, and the bunch we call “influencers”. Right now, we use the English channels I mentioned earlier and their Chinese counterparts – LinkedIn and Ushi for professional networking, Twitter and Weibo for microblogging, YouTube and Youku for video sharing, Blogger/WordPress and Sina Blogs for blogging, among others. In terms of the current number of client’s social media accounts that we have built and are managing, manual tracking is still very much doable. We complement manual tracking with a free tool called socialmentions.com. Social media tracking tools from companies like JamiQ, Brandtology and Metwater Buzz are also available and being evaluated for future needs. In China, EASTWEST uses SinoTech’s tracking tool, SinoBuzz which has the capability to read and track Chinese language social media mentions. During EASTWEST’s most recent roundtable discussion held last December 2, we had the opportunity to have with us lecturers from the Singapore Polytechnic and representative from Meltwater Buzz. We shared our common interests, thoughts and questions about the use of social media and the importance of social media tracking within our respective organisations. Topics covered during the roundtable discussion include:
- Use of social media – personal and business,
- Why social media tracking is important,
- Resources companies allocate for social media, and
- Guidelines to put in place when using social media and when tracking social media activities.
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