Thursday, August 30, 2012

Stay out and stay safe?

The best and worst ways to manage social media risk

By guest blogger Tamera Lang

There's no shortage of examples of social media misfortunes. Is there any wonder companies fear social media and what it could do to corporate reputation? CEOs, legal counsel and risk/compliance officers could arguably be forgiven for driving a "stay out and stay safe" agenda - but are they doing themselves a disservice?

The problem is, staying out of social media is not the answer to staying safe. If your customers, target markets, employees and competitors are on social media, what they do and say can affect you even if you're not there yet. It doesn't make sense to allow your key stakeholders (and competitors) to stake their claim in social media, while you sit back and get left behind.

I'm not advocating a head-first, whizz bang social media campaign - in fact, I think that's dangerous. What most companies and/or brands do without a social media presence or capability need is a measured, risk-management driven approach. The idea is to stay safe and be clean in the online environment.

The first step is to check the basic hygiene factors. Take the temperature of your online presence - what is already out there about your company, brand and products? Register the obvious user names on all major social media platforms, even those which you may not want to use: it's important to secure your presence to fend off imposters. Appoint your online sign-off team, drawing on departments which will potentially benefit from social media as well as those with risk management capabilities (we recommend, at a minimum legal/compliance, operations, PR/corporate affairs, marketing and customer service). Implement some basic social media monitoring and identify (then follow) your key digital influencers. Put in place a social media policy for your staff and train up the C-suite level on the social media basics.

Have you noticed that none of the hygiene factors involve actually posting or interacting on social media? It's deliberate, because this is not about converting your marketing spend, PR activity or customer service functions to social media (at least, not yet). The aim of the hygiene check is two-fold: to undertake a scoping to ascertain your online reputation, as well as to prepare your organisation in case a social media strategy should be (or needs to be) pursued. It's the risk management approach - be prepared and know your battleground. There's a lot of preparatory work that needs to be considered before leaping in to social media.

Using BlueChip's online reputation risk checklist (email us for a free copy), particularly the hygiene factors, is just the first step. Keeping the risks in check is good practice and could save your company a lot of pain.

Tamera Lang is currently undertaking an internship with BlueChip Communication

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

War of the worlds: how to win the social media turf tussle (and why corporate affairs should take the lead)

By guest blogger Holly Clark

There is a turf war breaking out and at the centre of the struggle is social media. The land grab for shrinking marketing budgets has resulted in marketing departments all wanting a piece of the social media action. That is at least, when things are going well. Which brings us to the question of who takes charge when things are going pear-shaped?

Last week Target became the latest social media casualty after a mother with a strong opinion aired her disapproval of some of the store's clothing options for young girls on its Facebook page. Within four days, she found herself starring in a half page article in the SMH. If Corporate Affairs didn't move in to own social media at this point, I'm sure they received a knock on the door from marketing shortly after.

Ultimately this highlights an issue that has been bubbling away since the advent of Facebook, and that is, who owns social media? And no, I'm not missing the point, we all know that the consumer is the true owner of social media, but where should social media sit within a business?

It's not a straightforward issue. The recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Board means companies are responsible for all their content on their Facebook pages, even user comments, as Facebook is deemed to be a marketing tool over which a company has control and which is designed to promote a product. Add to the mix the vexed issue of censorship and we have a virtual minefield.

I'm not going to suggest that every business needs a large social media communications function to verify every comment and carefully develop 'on brand' responses screened for every possible reputational risk. But surely Corporate Affairs departments, which are skilled in producing content, communicating with external audiences and safeguarding their companies' reputations are ideally positioned to take the lead? And training and developing guidelines to ensure there's consistency and leadership from internal teams is a great place to start.

Day to day, the owner of your organisation's social media channels should, ideally, be the person who is best placed to deliver the experience that users are looking for. So it may be that Corporate Affairs manages the Twitter presence where comments might be about the company as a whole, whereas Customer Services may be responsible for Facebook, where things can get more personal. These are of course sweeping generalisations that will vary from business to business. While requirements may vary, there is always a place fora clean plan describing how social media is addressed and resourced.

We know that in years to come, this debate will become redundant - or at least muted - as social media takes its inevitable place as an ingrained part of an organisation's daily operations. But in the meantime Corporate Affairs has a large role to play in safeguarding the reputation of a business as it enters the social media landscape.

Holly Clark is BlueChip Communication's Account Director

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gold, gold, gold for social media strategy? How the IOC blew the heats, missed the final

By guest blogger Valentina Ciampi

Dubbed the first 'social media Olympics', it appears that it was understood, at least in theory, that London 2012 would not be immune to the popularity of social media. Social media was seen as a whole new way to hard wire the world direct to the happenings on the court, field and pool.

In spite of this, I don't think anyone was prepared for the huge role social media would play during the Games. Least of all, the International Olympic Committee (IOC)!

It was evident within the first few days of the Games that the IOC had failed to 'get' social media, how it is used and its growing importance in feeding the conversation in both on- and off-line worlds.

From fantastic ... to fail

To put it frankly, the IOC did a terrible job of managing the Olympic brand in social media. As a result, the concept of combining the social media and the Olympics quickly turned from fantastic to fail.

The wave of complaints and uproar saturated the social sphere quicker than you could click a mouse. The repercussions were not just (immediately) evident for the 500 million people on Twitter but rapidly filtered through to traditional media, too.

The online disaster ensured that social media was still a significant feature of the Games, but in a way most brands / organisations would prefer to avoid.

From the restrictions made on the athletes that prevented them from promoting sponsors on their social media platforms to the blame game that was put on fans for jamming networks because of excessive tweeting and posting about the Games (Mark Adams of the IOC even suggested, "perhaps they [spectators] might consider only sending urgent updates [on Twitter]." Hmmm... ). It was painfully obvious the IOC had little-to-no understanding of social media platforms and how their audiences engage with them - and each other.

If we think of the Olympics as an organisation and the athletes and spectators as its brand ambassadors and advocates respectively, then you can start to see how the IOC actually did itself a disservice by trying to stifle their voices. Asking them to limit usage and placing restrictions on what they post about, is not only disenfranchising them from the brand / event (and making them irritated in the process). It's also saying no to exposure that is not only highly effective but also free.

Where did it all go wrong?

The IOC's lack of understanding about how social media works led to a failure to produce a workable social media strategy. Note here the operative word is 'workable', because the fact that the London 2012 social media guidelines and rules ran to a hefty number of pages has been widely publicised.

The lesson here is that creating a workable social media strategy requires a deeper understanding of social media than just applying rigid and 'old school' media and sponsorship conventions, which appears to be what the IOC did.

Whether you're thinking about dipping your toe or jumping head first into the big online universe, it pays to do some work upfront. Audit, test, look at case studies and consult with experts about what social media is, how the platforms differ and align and, importantly, feeds into conventional media. Ask for expert help in facilitating some training if you need it.

From there, you'll be well placed to develop a WORKABLE strategy. It doesn't have to be complicated. It's about understanding what you're trying to achieve (goals and objectives), who you're trying to talk to (audience) and how to reach them (channels / platforms). Not having a strategy means you are perpetually running in crisis management mode and can mean the difference between protecting and promoting your brand reputation and damaging it.

In short - between claiming the gold - or not even making it into the finals.

Valentina Ciampi is a Senior Account Executive for BlueChip Communication

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What goes online, stays online. So how are you safeguarding your company's reputation?

By guest blogger Nicola Michel

The recent ruling by the Advertising Standards Board that advertisers are responsible for third party posts on their Facebook page has, not surprisingly, been labelled "a challenge" by the body that represents the $30 billion a year marketing industry. "Challenging" barely begins to address the ramifications of the decision, which goes to the heart of whether social media campaigns are even viable in a world where marketers are held responsible for the ill-judged comments of followers.

A number of examples ignited the fire under the ABS, but chief among them were some of the comments posted on the Facebook page of Carlton & United Breweries (CUB's) 'VB' beer brand, when followers were asked a supposedly innocuous question: "Besides VB, what's the next essential needed for a great Australia Day BBQ?"

Whether or not you consider the question innocuous (the phrase 'asking for trouble' springs to mind), the majority of the answers certainly weren't. Of those that actually made sense, they ranged from the vaguely moronic to the downright distasteful, spanning the gamut of sexist, racist and homophobic.

The North Korean Solution?

The basis of the ABS decision was that it deemed the Facebook page of an advertiser to be a marketing communication tool over which the advertiser 'has a reasonable degree of control'. As such, the Code that applies to all advertising also applies to the page in its entirety, including comments posted by third parties.

Outrage over the decision has been fast and furious, with some calling it the "North Korean version of social media" and others questioning whether, if brands are required to censor offensive or misleading comments, how long will it be before they censor negative comments about their brand (which is not to say that the latter has not already been happening...)

Most comments centred on the fact that the decision changes the very essence of social media as a two way conversation that reflects the rough and tumble of real-time, spontaneous social interaction itself.

Some of the comments on the CUB VB Facebook page were described as akin to those you might hear in a dodgy pub late on a Friday night. This may hardly make them what you yearn to hear, but does that also mean they shouldn't be posted online? If social media is an extension of the conversations we have in life, is there a place for censorship?

One essential difference between Facebook and the pub is, of course, that a hazy conversation on a Friday night is said and done, whereas what goes online, stays online. And in the case of the VB Facebook page it really did stay online, with some comments left posted for over a year. It's likely that the situation would have been very different if the comments were removed quickly.

Regulation: guaranteed to fail?

Although regulation seems to fly in the face of the nature of social media, this and numerous other examples lead some to the conclusion that some form of legislated (attempted at least) censorship or control is inevitable.

Many major social innovations have required evolving regulation. Few would argue that the laws covering driving, for example, after the advent of the car, should never have been enacted.

However, I would argue that increased and, in particular, blanket regulation usually ends in unintended consequences - which often defeat or make a mockery of the purpose of the regulation in the first place.

And even if you accept that most people would find at least some of the comments on the VB Facebook page offensive, (and that therefore some regulation is required) who decides which of the other comments are offensive and which aren't - or which move from the grey realm of offensive to discriminatory and inciting of hatred? And how on earth do you police it? Some brands get thousands of comments per week on their Facebook pages. Do they need to employ an army to monitor them?

An army of social media monitors?

The answer regarding monitoring is probably "yes". But you probably won't need an army.

So what is required to manage and moderate a company's social media activity?

The conventional wisdom has been that the essence of social media is that it comes straight from the horse's mouth, and that employing a PR company or other 'mouthpiece' to communicate for you on social media is somehow cheating and depriving the medium of its immediacy and relevance. That's absolutely fair enough. But equally, the evolution of social media has been so rapid that a company now demonstrably needs to address the issue of protection and reputation and, bottom line, staying out of court.

The good news is that there is middle ground: the space between having any social media so stage managed as to lose its meaning (think, London 2012), and stepping to the abyss and subjecting your brand and business to a damaging free-fall.

That middle ground involves a combination of using the new and evolving tools available, and having a solid, workable and well understood social media policy in place.

Facebook, for example, provides some ready-made tools. The recently updated Timeline for brands gives page administrators the ability to pre-moderate comments, to restrict access to underage Facebook users, to restrict the kinds of posts users can share and to set "page visibility", so administrators are required to approve all posts that appear. Critics say that not only does this pre-moderation substantially increase the workload for page administrators, it seriously affects the brand's ability to have the types of real-time conversations with followers that are what Facebook is all about. Nonetheless, it does exist and is an option.

Social media policy: the latest must-have accessory for corporates

When it comes to social media policy, a good start is to review the excellent McKinsey framework for companies engaged in social media. According to that framework, the very first step is to monitor. The next is to respond to consumers' comments. Few would believe, for example, that CUB really wanted to encourage racist and sexist comments or to have those comments associated with their brand. If they had been monitoring, they would have been able to respond, potentially by taking the comments down. So, while some marketing executives are screaming about the difficulties and costs associated with monitoring, surely monitoring is a necessary cost associated with using social media and needs to be weighed against the benefits it provides as well as, significantly, the risks of not engaging in the conversation at all?

The fact is, that if well done, it really isn't that hard. Not only are the tools already out there (and improving all the time), most brands using social media effectively are monitoring their social media presence already (and if they're not, they should be).

Ultimately, the whole debate over the ASB decision highlights the fact that companies need to engage with their social media presence in the way they hope consumers will engage with their brand in the offline world.

That means, just as a company has guidelines around what it says and does in real life, it needs guidelines around social media that, among other things, removes the doubt and grey areas around what's offensive or illegal (and should be removed) and what constitutes robust, vitriolic and hard-to-hear criticism of their brand - and should stay online and be responded to.

If you don't have the skills or the resources to effectively monitor your social media presence, or don't know where to start, seeking expert help to get set up and potentially monitor responses down the track can be a good move.

The latter seems to be the move that CUB has taken: it was 'managing' its Facebook page itself and has now given the responsibility to an external agency.

While it's easy to say in hindsight, it looks like CUB could have saved a lot of pain by getting some help setting up a policy that involved monitoring and response in the first instance - and in the absence of the in house resources or skills to continue to do so, engaging a social media partner to do it for them.

It really is Reputation Management 101.

Nicola Michel is a writer for BlueChip Communication

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stop the imposters!

By guest blogger, Tamera Lang

The Internet is full of scams and imposters - some obvious, others not so - and as social media booms, it's the next frontier for spoofers and cheats. So how can you be confident that the Twitter account you are following is legitimate? If you are a prominent person or business, how can you fend off impersonators and protect your reputation in social media?

There's plenty of tongue-in-cheek spoof accounts out there; @Queen_UK, @BPGlobalPR and @FakeQantasPR to name a few. However, in all seriousness, a fake account could be damaging for you or your business. It could result in your customers being deceived or spammed, or humiliation and ridicule.

Twitter has a verification program which proactively authenticates the identity of account holders, and identifies verified accounts with a blue badge. The program is focused on very high-profile Twitter users in the areas of "music, acting, fashion, government, religion, journalism, media, advertising, business and other key interest area", and that's the extent of the criteria. You can not request verification from Twitter, and verification has been known to fail.

Australian organisations and people who have verified accounts include NAB, Qantas, ATO, Julia Gillard and Joe Hockey. However, there are a number of high profile accounts that are not verified: Westpac, St George, AMP, ANZ, Financial Review and Tony Abbott. With some of the biggest brands in financial services remaining unverified, you can start to appreciate how high the "high-profile" bar has been set.

While you wait in hope that Twitter will seek you out for verification, what can you do to protect your online identity?

The best advice is to ensure your social media presence is strongly tied to the channels you control - your website, email communication, advertising and products. If your genuine social media presence is strong and prominent, there will be less opportunity for the spoofers to hijack it and leave you playing catch-up. Another way to be proactive is to register the Twitter handles that could most easily be used to impersonate you, and leave them dormant.

If you are subject to a spoof account, you can report it to Twitter (like Qantas did). Twitter will close accounts that impersonate others in a way that is intended to "mislead, confuse or deceive", violate copyright/trademarks or infringe any other Twitter rules. However, some spoof accounts are tolerated, so long as they skirt the rules by making their satirical nature obvious.

All in all, fighting the counterfeiters requires action by you - keep your social media presence strong, frequent and engaged, and the imposters will have less opportunity to take hold.

Tamera Lang is currently undertaking an internship with BlueChip Communication

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Winds of change: are you prepared?

By guest blogger, Aideen McDonald

As BlueChip took its place at last week's FSC Conference, there was a feeling in the air that made me sit up and take notice. Something was markedly different. There was a freshness whipping through the rooms, circling attendees and entwining itself in the presentations. And, as quickly as a cold wind slaps you in the face, it hit me: the financial services industry is finally getting involved in the online conversation and embracing social media.

The twittersphere was the strongest, most consistent breeze. Personalities such as Conference MC Tracey Spicer (@spicertracey), Liberal member for Bradfield Paul Fletcher (@paulwfletcher) and media representatives including The @Australian's national affairs correspondent David Crowe (@CroweDM) and trade media Money Management (@moneymanage) exchanging thought-provoking comments throughout the three day event. Conversations were abuzz with even the FSC's own mascot @RegTheFSCMascot, christened by BlueChip's own Bruce Madden (@madd_23n), getting involved in the action.

The conference included not one, but two, sessions on social media - unheard of for an Australian financial services conference up until now. However, the appetite for such discussion was such that both sessions attracted big crowds.

The first, "Social media - fad or the future" had Bravura Solutions' (@BravuraFinTech) Roland Slee (@Rslee) and BlueChip Communication's (@bluechip_comm) own Carden Calder (@Carden) present practical ways #financialservices businesses can add social media to the marketing mix to reach an attentive and targeted audience.

The second #socialmedia event at #fscac took place centre stage with Rohan Lund (@Rohanlund) of Yahoo!7 highlighting the overall importance of financial services coming to meet the rest of the world in the digital world. Lund also focused intently on the real advantage wealth management businesses have in this space given their access to relevant data and customer bases.

The chatter on Twitter, discussions at the social media presentations and even the conversations that followed, highlighted that, while the financial services industry is still lagging behind most in Australia, interest is certainly building.

As noted by Financial Standard (@FinStd) via Twitter during the conference, people were not raising hands for social media a few years ago, but industry leaders now seem to understand that it is not a fad, but the future of your business. How could it not be? It's the fastest and surest way of connecting with your audiences whether they be advisers, HNW investors or consumers. And if the FSC conference is anything to go by, the social media storm is brewing fast and ready to hit. The question is: will you be ready?

Aideen McDonald is an Account Manager for BlueChip Communication

Friday, August 03, 2012

Day Three of the FSC Annual Conference: Yahoo!7's crystal ball

What does the future of digital hold?

Day three of the Financial Services conference saw Reg the Goldfish (@RegTheFSCMascot) having an aspro and a quiet lie down on the bottom of the tank - as the plenary volume was cranked up.

After a robust political debate between MPs Deborah O'Neill (@deborah_oneill) and Paul Fletcher (@paulwfletcher) and a pacy plenary from CBA economist Craig James (@craigjamesoz) delegates heard from Rohan Lund of Yahoo!7

Lund's predictions for the decade include the following:

  • Data geeks will become rock stars
  • Mobile will become the dominant platform - already more searches are done on mobile devices than computers
  • Advertising that's more relevant to users (contextual) will increasingly be seen as content, not advertising
At the same time ivory towers may have their foundations shaken by the three things driving structural change.

Top 3 trends

  • Internet speed - every second equals revenue. Why are people transacting online? Because it's faster.
  • The social graph - Facebook knows more about us than we do ourselves. If it can predict that pet owners are better at repaying their debt...what else can the social graph tell marketers about us?
  • Proliferation of mobile devices - as a replacement, ultimately, even for our wallets and house keys.

How to be sustainable as a business to the financial services industry?

A few tips from Lund include:
  • Using the power of the big data we have as financial services institutions
  • Work out how to make the consumer trend towards collaborative consumption work for your business
  • Look for opportunities to make life easier, faster for consumers...where, how and when they want it.

The bottom line?

Deliver more utility to consumers, says Lund. Not more "stuff". We just don't need it.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Day Two at the FSC Annual Conference: a call for higher retirement age

Will we outlive our money?

As Reg the goldfish (@RegTheFSCMascot) headed for a quiet corner of the tank this morning (too many bubbles last night) John Brogden, Financial Services Council CEO, called for a higher preservation age.

With no magic policy wand to wave in order to make our national savings gap disappear, what are the practical opportunities available to us? 

Increase the preservation age, argued Brogden, on the basis of Rice Warner research. And consider other reforms: putting GST back on the agenda (to be broadened or increased) and reform of state taxes - cited as the most distortionary in the Australian economy.

Economic reform to support financial services and superannuation

Tax reform decreases pressure on Government to use superannuation as a honey pot for funding, argued Brogden. Such reforms, such as the abolition of state taxes, promise direct and indirect benefits to the financial services industry, said the FSC chief.

Arguing that the economic power of superannuation will eclipse that of banking, Brogden called for economic reform that will support a stronger industry.

Marking his third year as FSC CEO he also referred to the industry's greater ability to influence the economy in which we invest - and the likelihood that superannuation as a sector will become more significant to the economy and individuals than banking.

The Johnson report featured in Brogden's remarks - increasing withholding tax creates sovereign risk he argued, and government must look to the Johnson review as a priority.

Longevity risk - aka how to pay for us all living longer?

Brogden told assembled financial services industry delegates that Australian life expectancy has increased from 55 to well over 80, while the age pension age has only moved two years - from 65 to 67. 

There is, as a result, a huge savings gap as people live longer.

So increasing the preservation age in Australia to 62 (from 60) would increase retirement savings by $400bn. Expect more policy development and research as the FSC mulls impact of increasing preservation age.

Cited as the single most effective way to address the longevity risk, Brogden advocated increased work place participation by older workers - ensure older workers stay in the workforce. And thus reduce longevity risk - the very real danger of outliving our retirement savings.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Day One of the Financial Services Council Annual Conference

When MC Tracey Spicer took to the stage to introduce the regulators panel the conference mascot, Reg(ulator?) the goldfish headed for the exit. After all how could he compete with APRA and ASIC representatives?

I'm not sure if Reg (much discussed on Twitter #fscmascot) felt unloved or in fear of a looming lack of oxygen as the four regulatory representatives filled the air with warnings to the audience of wealth management and financial services executives.

Reg may have been followed by delegates were it not for some quite frank comments from the panel.

For anyone who missed it, here are a few of the things on the regulatory hit list this year.

For insurers, APRA's list includes governance in group life schemes, disability and mortality claims experiences, and direct life business - for the latter, concerns around the quality of risk and marketing. Specifics included poor data in pricing and poor tendering processes in group life. In direct life, the spotlight is on discontinuance rates and the potential for reputational damage. Boards of direct businesses are well advised to take note.

ASIC talked about FoFA and a continued focus on consumer protections.

So what advice did the regulators give the industry?

  1. Start at the top - governance has to come right from leadership down. Perhaps, if we go back to Reg the goldfish, we'd paraphrase as "fish rots from the head". The suggestion was that regulators will be sniffing around management teams in insurance as a result.
  2. There's an enormous amount of change, and regulators don't underestimate its impact. So talk to the supervisors, understand what they want and provide feedback about their guidance based on your own experience - don't lose the opportunity to have input.
  3. Think about the long term outcome we want from the changes we're making. By all means implement change but don't lose sight of the longer term outcomes the regulatory channels aim to achieve for all stakeholders.
  4. Engage with the regulator - either directly or through your industry association - it will improve the guidance you get back.
  5. Finally, while we're going through change stop perhaps to have a closer look at what you think is "business as usual" or standard practice. Otherwise you may get a regulatory wake-up call.
And finally? Watch what happened to the reputation of the banking industry in the UK. We haven't seen that in Australia. Expect a touch time ahead in terms of reputation if we don't support regulatory change.

Social media for B2B? Why it's the content that counts

By guest blogger, Tamera Lang

In a recent article in the Australian Financial Review, Agnes King asks what a social media campaign could possibly offer to clients of an accounting firm. Her claim is that Facebook and Twitter are effective business-to-consumer (B2C) communication tools, but that they have no place in a business-to-business (B2B) strategy.

Reading the article, I was struck by Ms King's narrow view of social media. Sure, if you're using Twitter to distribute a press release to journalists - or reporting what you ate for breakfast - no one would deny that your presence has limited value. However, there is so much more to Twitter and other social media tools than distributing your own content.

B2B communication may be about business, but it's still an interaction between people. And in an ever more digitised world, people think, feel, talk, network and listen online and through social media. The fact is that accounting firms and other B2B providers often have well-established brand identities in the so-called offline world. So why not online - especially given its growing prevalence? For them, the social media space is about enhancing that existing brand and reputation in a new form of conversation.

Ms King is correct when she says that you need to have something interesting and relevant to say and that this can be a challenge for all businesses on social channels, not just those communicating B2B. However, from the point of view of their clients, accounting firms have a wealth of interesting business content to impart. In fact, many such businesses have a staggering volume of material on their websites. The question is: why wouldn't clients in search of information simply visit the website, or even Google?

True, a great deal of content is available using these channels. But finding it relies on active searches and knowing what to search for. When, to put it simply, you don't know what you don't know, how are you going to find it? And then you get to the question of which clients want to know what information? Because they have many different interests.

That's where social media can really come into its own.

It enables a business to reach out and understand audiences, and to direct them to in-depth material that interests them. It also has the added benefit of being a two-way conversation, with content responding to and, in some instances, even guiding the mood and needs of the audience. That is something that a website and Google certainly can't give you.

The upshot? The key to success for B2B communicators is delivering engaging content. Content needs to be timely, relevant, thought-provoking and straight to the point. Accounting firms (and their spokespeople) on Twitter are engaging right now in conversation about policy, regulatory reform and business strategy, in ways that enhance their brand and establish them as leaders in their field. They are not afraid to lead the pack and show some personality.

Then comes another big question. Even if your content is great, does social media really work to spread the brand, establish leadership and ultimately, to promote the business? For many businesses, even those that have embraced social media, the question of reach, impact and how they can tell if they are achieving their aims remains. 

It's a question that need no longer remain unanswered - or wildly stabbed at - thanks to the range of ever more sophisticated analytical tools available. Businesses can now actively monitor and evaluate, tweet-by-tweet if they like, the response to their social media initiatives.

Ultimately, what businesses say to other businesses through social media channels does matter. It can engage, build brands and relationships, establish businesses as leaders and experts: in short, add to business performance and reputation. But that will only ever happen if they remember that it's the content that counts.

Tamera Lang is currently undertaking an internship with BlueChip Communication