The key objectives of Social Media are to listen, answer consumer's questions, embrace the thoughts and respond.
Respond to convert the negative sentiment into positive. React fast enough to negate any crisis like the McAfee anti-virus situation, a few days ago. McAfee reacted really fast by apologizing for the issue that helped control a negative impact on their brand. Do not wait like Dell, a few years ago when the battery explosion issue was out in social networks. Dell responded by saying it is a single isolated incident but then in a few days, the entire internet was full of complaints.
Embrace your user's opinions and then present it to the world, like Microsoft. Microsoft is utilizing this strategy in the "Windows 7 was my idea" campaign.
Each of the above mentioned tactic probably needs to use a different platform – Facebook, Twitter, Consumer forums, Review sites etc.
How to measure the impact of social media activities?
Some of the key metrics (monitored over time) that can be used to measure the impact of social media are:
- Brand mentions vs. competitors
- Brand attribute mentions with the brand
- Correlate the changes in mentions or brand attributes to media/PR efforts
There are a few tools in the industry which can help gather the above metrics like Radian6, Nielsen Buzz. These tools might have additional widgets, reports which can provide additional insights about your brand.