I want to listen, so let me find you!

I've been doing a lot of social media strategy lately. This involves digging around the web looking to see where a client is influential and what the sentiment is around that client, compared to its competitors (among many other things). And, so that I'm comparing like with like, I compare YouTube channels to each other, blogs to each other, Twitter accounts to each other and so on. It's no use comparing, say, the number of group members in Facebook with the number of subscribers in YouTube because they're not the same thing.

One thing I look at is the split between advocate and advertising influence – that is, the influence of what other people are saying about a client, versus what the client is saying about itself. And, again, I do that for the competition. The results can be very interesting when you find that one organisation is doing all the hard work itself, spouting pages and pages of blog posts and tweets, when it could be using its audiences to do that instead. Or, that another organisation has virtually no control over what is being said about it online because it has none of its own sponsored channels and therefore no 'voice' to add.

To do this, you have to hunt. You have to find the advocates and that takes a long time. But – and here's the nub of the rub – I'm also finding that I often have to hunt for what an organisation is saying about itself.

It should be – and sometimes is – as simple as going to its website and looking for the links to Twitter, Facebook etc. But I would say at least 40% of the time I find that an organisation hasn't listed any of its presences or joined them up in any way. So if you're looking at its LinkedIn group you're not told that it has a Twitter account, or if you're looking at Twitter, there's no mention in the background graphic that it's on YouTube too. Etc etc etc.

Read that again: I have to hunt for what an organisation is saying about itself. Sometimes I've missed things. I've searched through Flickr several times and overlooked the Flickr group because the organisation has used some weird title for the group and hasn't tagged anything meaningfully. If it had just told me, loudly and clearly, that it had a Flickr group, somewhere on its website, ideally on the home page, then I'd have found it easily enough anyway.

So what is the point of engaging with people when you make it hard for them to find you? You need to have everything working together, all interlinked, everything doing its own separate yet complementary task of slotting into your overall communications programme. Not separated out little islands that you have to join up yourself.

So, if any community managers are reading this – or anyone at all judging by my sadly declining blog figures – then take this piece of advice: if you want to be heard, then make yourselves easy to find first. List every one of your presences up front, with nice big icons, not piddly little ones at the bottom of the page, and not on a sub-page off the home page under the title 'Beware of the Leopard'. Basically, don't make people have to find you, because they won't bother.

Posted via email from Brendan Cooper – your friendly social media-savvy freelance copywriter and social media consultant.

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