Assuming the backlash I alluded to in my previous blog post doesn't occur, I think the next frontier for social media engagement involves scaling up without messing up.
Today, most brands have a solid baseline social media program that likely includes both ongoing presences that touch the major platforms, as well as some creative peaks in the form of campaigns that deepen social media investment and integrate it across offline channels. As more complex digital programs are rolled out and intertwined in a company's overall marketing mix, more sophisticated tools are required to manage these programs effectively.
Some really exciting business-to-business technology startups are emerging to fill this social media management void, and I'm pleased to report that two of them are based here in New York: CMP.LY and Tid.al. While I happen to know the founders, they're not clients. I offer them to you by way of a hot tip, PR pro to PR pro.
CMP.LY - “best intentions vs. best practices”
I cribbed that headline directly from the CMP.LY website, because I think it speaks so accurately to the way many brands and agencies have approached the new(-ish) FTC social media disclosure guidelines. While I have never encountered anyone on the agency or brand side dismissing the importance of following these standards, there are still questions about how to properly articulate the agency-client, spokesperson-client, and evangelist-client relationships (to name a few) online.
Tom Chernaik and his team at CMP.LY have taken the mystery – and pain – out of all of these questions through an elegant combination of icons, shortened URLs, and workflow tools that assure all those with paid relationships to brands are informed on how to disclose and monitored to make sure they do. If you are contemplating a large-scale product-review campaign, or could just use a catch-up on the disclosure mandates, both in the US and globally, it's worth touching base with CMP.LY. And to refresh your memory on some of the most recent pay-per-post snafus, this CNET post details the Google Chrome/Unruly Media debacle. And check out this round-up of the Snickers sponsored tweet story on UK marketing website The Drum.
Tid.al – “Passionate voices made louder”
As social media has matured, large brands and media companies have found it more difficult to cultivate a dedicated brand evangelist community. This may seem counter-intuitive at first – more people creating content online should mean more opportunities for brands to engage, right? But the magic of having a brand invite you into an elite group, in a world where you know you can tweet them at any time and get a response, feels less special than it did just a few years ago. And bloggers and other homespun content generators are getting savvier about the value of their output and the choices they have on how to leverage it. If you're on the web team at a media company or even at a large brand that is tasked with creating a dedicated community, you have probably thought, “There's so much user-generated content on this topic already. Why can't we just use what's already out there?”
Cue Tid.al. The company has a really interesting b-to-c-to-b business model with a consumer-facing interface that recruits, screens, and maintains great bloggers representing all content areas, and a business-facing dashboard and workflow tool that allows brands and media companies to moderate that content as hands-on or -off as they require. By greasing the interaction between bloggers and brands, Tid.al makes it easy and worthwhile for both parties to benefit; the former, through publicity, extended reach and traffic, and the latter, through content that can be brought into their domain, branded, and easily monetized. And the time-to-market from concept to live site is incredibly short – literally a matter of hours, not weeks or months. (At the risk of shooting myself in the foot, you could probably come up with a branded content idea for a new business pitch and have it on a staging server in time for the meeting.)
It's exciting to be able to highlight two startups that have chosen to focus on solving problems that matter to PR and social media professionals. I'd love to hear about other companies you've discovered who are developing tools that you'd recommend or are curious to hear if others have tried. I'm a sucker for beta invites, so send away!
Leslie Campisi is US managing director of Hotwire. For more of Hotwire's take on the issues that impact marketing and PR professionals, check out Hotwire's 2012 Digital Trends Report.