You can easily become overwhelmed when you try to stem the flow of information from the ‘fire hose‘, and might consider having only one ‘corporate‘ presence on the web. There are great advantages to having corporate level social destinations, such as DellOutlet, MarksandSpencer and Google, who are a credible voice for interacting with the consumer, and a great push news channel for the company. But this often detracts from the benefits gained from the interaction with the ‘human voice‘ of the company. These social destinations can play a key proactive role in producing major announcements and could be considered as part of an overall social media marketing plan. Having a centralised blog or Twitter feed makes it easy for consumers to check news when information gets out to the web, but this does have the potential to become just another sanitised news feed for the PR team‘which detracts from the concept of direct engagement with the customer.

The chief marketing officer of Novell, John Dragoon, has his own blog and is also a key contributor to the Novell News blog. With eight other contributors, this blog is a single place to go to for news and opinions across the company from senior leaders. This doesn’t seem to be a new PR initiative as John has been blogging for 4 years now and also occasionally updates his Twitter stream. Carefully managed, this approach can work well.

Blogs from company bloggers could be aggregated into one centralised RSS feed so that journalists can follow the corporate master feed. Mary Jo Foley, who has followed Microsoft for over 20 years, follows the main feed from every blogger in the company. She uses Google Reader to categorise the news makers, the key influencers and the interesting people, and scans through the rest of the feed when she has the time.

There is also the option to use an RSS feed to populate a master corporate Twitter feed which customers can follow too. My gut feeling is that this feed would need to be filtered so that duplicate information was removed, and irrelevant posts excluded. This would take a large investment of time for larger companies which would need to fully understand every product, brand and marketing strategy across the whole company, and it would be a huge undertaking for the team involved. I feel this would take away the personality from the interaction with the customer—moving this closer to a PR message than the voice of the individual influencer.

With the huge variety of channels to communicate through, and the vast amount of information flowing through each channel, the potential to become overwhelmed can be huge.

It’s therefore a good idea to get teams working together and contributing to the channel, which can give a balanced perspective to the feed and introduce individual personalities to communications. To track who is communicating on a channel such as Twitter, tools like Co-Tweet, TweetFunnel and HootSuite have the facility to have multiple authors contributing to the feed and allow the user name to be appended to the outbound message.

Applying filters is another good idea to manage the flow. Grouping search results enables you to track campaigns and customer queries. Analytics tools can track sentiment and guide you towards areas that you need to focus on first. If you are aware of the amount of information you need to work through then you can manage the flow appropriately with the correct tools and measurements.

Our social media strategy is going well. We’re on track to be successful, but we’re struggling with how we can scale. Now let’s let the crowd work for us and get them to amplify our message.

  • Use Twitter to connect with your customers and engage them in dialogue.

  • Listen first and sell second.

  • Case studies are a key indicator of success and sentiment.

  • Encourage your online influencers to become your brand champions.

  • Use filters to reduce the amount of information you receive and make sure you only see the kinds of information that are relevant to your business.