Meltwater CEO: 'No strategy, no play' in social media world

Companies need to listen and think before diving head-first into the social media space, according to media monitoring software firm boss

It takes less than five minutes to start a Facebook or Twitter account but businesses need a strategy before jumping head-first into the social media jungle.

That’s the message Meltwater CEO, Jorn Lyseggen, was sharing at the company’s client event in Sydney last week.

Meltwater originated in Norway 10 years ago and specialises in media monitoring software-as-a-service (SaaS) which uses specialised technology, including natural language processing (NLP), to measure public sentiment towards a brand in the news and social media landscape.

It is now one of the biggest media monitoring companies in the world and has 57 offices dotted across the globe. The company counts some of the biggest corporations – even the Vatican – as its clients though its core customer-base consists of SMBs.

While businesses big and small are increasingly embracing social media as an effective marketing tool, Lyseggen understands why some are hesitant to dip their toes in.

There are numerous examples of companies falling on their own social media sword.

Condom manufacturer, Durex, had to issue an apology this week after posting a string of misogynistic jokes on its Twitter account but the brand damage had already been done.

Brand death by 140 characters or less is now a real possibility and companies are all too aware of that.

“Our advice at Meltwater is that you don’t engage with customers in the social media space off-the-bat,” Lyseggen told ARN. “Before you start engaging, it is very important to understand your social media audience.

In other words, listen and analyse the social media environment before joining in on the conversation.

“Listen to start to understand where the online discussions are that are relevant to you – who are the people that talk about you and what topics and agendas they are driving,” Lyseggen said. “Once you have that you can create an engagement strategy.”

So it’s the age old axiom of preparation is key.

“Engaging in social media without thinking about the organisation or without thinking about different scenarios can be detrimental,” Lyseggen said.

This is where a social media strategy comes in. The strategy, according to the Meltwater boss, should include an outline of what a business wants to accomplish, priorities and what to do should a Durex-like social media snafu occur.

“It’s not easy and you need to embrace the fact you will make mistakes, small ones or large ones,” Lyseggen said. “Preparing for crisis big and small is part of the learning process for social media engagement.”

The strategy should be agreed upon by all levels of management – so nobody is left out of the loop – and staff should be properly trained to respond should a social media crisis crop up.

“Social media engagement is like riding a bike – you might get a few bruises along the way but once you learn how to it, it can become a very good tool,” Lyseggen said.

Meltwater is looking to expand its analytics and intelligence-based product range to help businesses gain more insight into customer behaviour in an online environment.