unified communications: What it means with Twitter, Friendfeed, StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/05/02 · 1 comment 1 views

in c micro-blogging Twitter,d business Fortune 500

    Unified communications – for Microsoft and Nokia this term likely implies the integration of different communication technologies (e.g., software, hardware and vendor head aches) and streams of communication (e.g., e-mail, SMS, voice over IP and video).
    Unified communications – strategy - deciding what and how social media such as Twitter or Friendfeed can be used to achieve marketing results with little or ZERO budget.
    Unified communications analyst >- must be either a software/hardware specialist or the strategically focused person designing the enterprise’s approach to social media.

So why should the term unified communications matter?

Well that is an important question to ask but extremely difficult to answer because it all depends on whom you ask (see above). As well, while this might be an issue for a global company, for me running a micro enterprise or a small business I do not worry about such issues. Instead, I am proud of having met my payroll for April 2008 (an accomplishment of some sorts).

In addition, while the more technical interpretation of the term is important, we are focusing on the strategic interpretation here. This is of great concern to a micro enterprise. As such, my resources including human capital and cash are extremely limited. Accordingly, making a mistake could break the camel’s back very quickly.

Why does an entrepreneur need to have a unified communication strategy for social media?

We have defined the term social media. However, to limit the risk for wasting our scarce resources we approached this as outlined below.

1 my.ComMetrics.com

For your product my.ComMetrics.com we needed a blog to sharpen our own thoughts, keep abreast new developments and, as importantly, figure out practical and easy to use solutions to some tough problems.

We have been running a successful newsboard with e-mailed postings and a newsletter since 2000 that we switched over using blogging software during 2006. However, the audience is very different between our IT security and privacy expert’s crowd and our social media experts visiting our blog on ComMetrics.com.

In addition, we also needed a place to allow people to find the information needed to fine-tune their my.ComMetrics.com subscription. Hence, we installed, HowTo.ComMetrics.com

All this started in mid-January with 104 unique visitors for that month. Now we are up to 1550 unique visitors for April (not much). Besides our alpha testers subscribing to our e-mail or RSS feed, beta testers are also following us. As importantly, our current customers and potential ones read and write comments on our blog. Therefore, we got the conversation started and the target audience is slowly but surely getting involved.

Naturally, this works as long as we keep our posts focused on our target audience (what is it what they need, which tools help them ….).

2 Twitter feed

The micro-blogging has become a bit more popular in recent months than it was previously so we have also established an account.

a) ComMetrics on Twitter

This feed keeps you posted about blog posts, interesting URLs we find regarding benchmarking software and social media activities including measurement and metrics.

Again, we keep the number of tweets limited to about three every day max. This helps us and our followers save time and, instead, focus on making money. We are not always succeeding with our Twitter feeds.

By the way, if your employees use Twitter, you have some legal matters to take care off or else be sorry:

EU-ReguStand trend spotting – Twitter – e-discovery requires managing your risk exposure smartly

b) Product

One can always install a feed just for a product. We have chosen not to do this for reasons that go beyond this post.

Nevertheless, upcoming conferences are a good example on how one can use something like Twitter to keep delegates abreast developments. The feed can start a few months before the conference happens and continue a bit thereafter. Naturally, these must be low volume and very relevant to the people who are coming to the conference.

Learning from Going Solo on how to do it right – thanks Stephanie

Therefore, we signed up for Going Solo, a conference that we are attending 2008-05-17 in Lausanne and launched a feed for another conference:

Twitter feed for Social Media Influence Conference – June 4 – 2008 – London

3 Friendfeed

To make it easy for people to find all our social bookmarks and other things in one place, I opened an account with Friendfeed

However, only time will tell if this succeeds.

4) Digg-alikes

We have addressed this before and said:

Why Digg-alike traffic may not do you much good

Therefore, we are not trying to focus too much on this kind of traffic.

also of interest:
SocioTwitting – developing metrics for Twitter volume vs. Twitter influence The ComMetrics Index
MySpace ruling – myspace.co.uk domain stays with Total Web Solutions methodology – how we measure social media efforts

CONCLUSION or what is the bottom line

Neither have we a unified communications analyst, nor do we have money for advertising. However, what we have learnt leads us to recommend to you two things:

ADo not spend money on advertising

Instead, focus on public relations using social media as a possible channel. If you try hard enough, any new product or service can get some coverage. Public Relations or PR is cheaper and, more importantly, editorial atttention also has more impact.

B – best unified communication strategy for social media = don’t spread yourself too thin

As a micro enterprise, your limited resources require that you channel your efforts effectively. You have to grasp the particular social media’s usefulness for your business in order to use it properly.

As well, to sustain your competitive edge it is necessary to limit the social media tools you use – using a blog and Twitter well is better than doing Facebook, MySpace, blogging, and Twitter – it just fritters away your time.

As importantly, those social media tools or services that you decide to have a presence in or with, you must give a sign of life regularly. Sending tweets every other week might not be so helpful. Posting every other month an entry on the enterprise’s blog does not do much good either.

Do the little things but do them well. Moreover, the number of unique visitors may mean little. In turn, 10 customers reading your blog and developing more trust in your expertise may be critical.

TIDBIT

Recently internet-based video has been used for reaching small, influential audiences such as institutional investors or analysts. Unfortunately, the medium’s main drawback is that it is slow. Accordingly, a webclip casting a couple of minutes may contain about 200 spoken words.

To compare, your analyst can read 1,000 words of text in the same time. The online video can show you what sort of person a CEO is, nonetheless, for assessing what he or she has done, you need the full report and accounts, plus the press cuttings.

Nonetheless, videos can be a real success, especially, if you own a global brand:

The YouTube Top 10 Brands Part II

Addendum 2008-05-06

Because of Going Solo and its organizer Stephanie Booth quoting this story in one of her own posts, I had to write a comment on her blog:

using the social media channels that reach those people you need to reach

Meaning, I had to expand upon my reasoning provided in the above post. In short, as a small company you have to channel the few resources you have carefully to get the biggest bank for the buck when using social media. However, you may have to use a few more channels when trying to get people to pay for and attend a conference. Whatever you do, make sure that your customers (delegates) or potential ones use the social media channels you chose for getting your message out.
And yes, check out Going Solo’s program (2008-05-16 – Lausanne), great case study for illustrating what difference you can make if you know how to use social media most effectively to spread the word.

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