Tip Sheet: Get a Grip on Conversations: Map a Social Graph

PR professionals are familiar with the concept of identifying and building relationships with stakeholders—defined as anyone who might have a material impact on your business. The Internet and social media have extended the reach and influence of your stakeholders so it’s become imperative to know who they are, where they’re active online and who they’re connected to.

Your stakeholders are sharing information and having conversations online about your brand. Journalists and bloggers are talking to customers. Customers are talking to one another. Journalists have Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, where they ask questions openly and directly. And they’re getting answers.

â–¶ The Value of a Fan, Friend or Follower: As people become more connected and able to share information easily, reliance on a friend’s opinion has only increased. We’re social creatures. We like to share and discuss our ideas and get feedback from people “just like us.”

The social graph allows us to create a social context for our actions. What are my friends “liking”? Who went to this movie? What did they think? And it applies just as much to a brand as to an individual.

This is, of course, not a new phenomenon. What is new is how connected your stakeholders are and how fast the information moves along the social graph.

For example, fashion houses are making it possible for a much wider audience to see their collections online and, in the six months between runway show and availability in stores, they tap into the social graph and adapt their offering based on how their followers respond.

Some companies have put a monetary value on their fans and followers: McDonald’s ’ Facebook fans spend $159.79 more per year than non-fans; Nokia fans spend $107.32 more than non-fans. (Source: Syncapse, 2010)

â–¶ The 800-Pound Gorilla— Facebook: The peer influence trend is currently dominated by Facebook. On average, each of your Facebook fans has 130 friends, and when they click that “like” button your content shows up in their news stream and is visible to their friends. The “like” statistics are staggering:

• Media sites that adopt the like button average a greater than 300% increase in referral traffic from Facebook. (Source: Facebook, 2011)

• Three-quarters of Facebook users have liked a brand. (Source: AdAge/Ipsos, 2011)

• Over 50 million users like brands every day. (Source: BrandRepublic, 2011)

When you add the like button to a site or a blog, you have the option to click “show faces,” so that when someone likes your page they will immediately see their friends who also liked that page.

Using this “show faces” option typically has a two- to three-times higher click-through rate than the simple like button with no faces. They also convert at a higher rate when they come to the landing page in Facebook.

And don’t discount Twitter. A recent Forrester study challenged the conventional wisdom by stating that Twitter followers may have the potential to be more valuable than Facebook fans in the future. The study confirmed that Twitter followers are more likely to buy from brands they follow (37% vs. 21%), and recommend brands to friends (33% vs. 21%).

And now there’s Google+, which many social media experts regard as a better and more effective social network. And since it is Google, the content is showing up in search queries.

â–¶ How does all this sharing and conversation affect your PR activity? Your content is filtering into the social graph across many platforms and nodes. One customer likes a video you post and adds it to their Facebook page. One of her friends tweets the link. A colleague of his sees it and adds your video to StumbleUpon and a follower there posts it to Digg. As it travels across the graph people add comments.

Mapping your social graph allows you to locate and build relationships with the influencers and brand advocates. Tools like Rapportive and Nimble can help you with this task. Once you know where they are, tap into the conversations and listen to what they’re saying about your brand and what they need and want. PRN

[Sally Falkow will be leading PR News’ SEO Workshop on Feb. 15 and presenting at the Digital PR Summit on Feb. 16 in San Francisco. To register, go to prnewsonline.com/conferences/seo_workshop-2012.html.]


Sally Falkow is president of Social Ally, and the author of an upcoming book, Social Media Intelligence (Que Publishing, available June 2012). She can be reached at sally@press-feed.com.