Digital agency takes on ‘social media gurus’ with monitoring tool

Travel PR and digital marketing specialist Shorthouse Russell is pioneering new social media listening technology in the UK claiming it is unique in having gained professional accreditation.

The Norwich-based firm has become the first agency in the UK to be certified to use social media listening technology developed in the US by Alterian.

As a result it has invested £50,000 to create Delve, a social media specialist arm, saying it wants to offer a more professional and robust approach to managing reputations online.

Mark Harvey, managing director of Shorthouse Russell,said it is time for firms to stop listening to self-appointed social media gurus and put their strategies on a firmer footing.

“Social media is game-changing in terms of the way it allows companies to speak to and engage with customers in a way they have never been able to do before.
“This is especially true in the travel space, an industry that’s very digitised. We are where we were 10 to 15 years ago when people started to embrace the internet.

“In the same way as it’s no good just having a website, you have to have a social media presence, but you have to also need to know how to use it.”

The Alterian technology will give Delve clients the ability to monitor online chatter about their brand, assess whether it is negative or positive and identify who is talking about them.

Harvey said it is also opening up clients’ understanding of how to deal with comments made about them, where they should be engaging and to react better to potential crises.

Work already done with the technology found that camping and caravanning was a big topic on Mumsnet and money saving-style sites.

Harvey said: “I read something recently about how you should be aware of the self-styled social media guru. This is a more robust approach anchored in getting good results and outcomes rather than being at the slightly fluffier end of the sector in which we work.”

Shorthouse Russell will be heavily promoting Delve and its other services to the UK travel trade, with initiatives including a session at this year’s Travel Convention.

The agency believes its technological know-how aligned to its expertise in the travel sector gives it an edge.

“We are trying to talk to as many businesses and organisations as we can about what we are doing. They do not necessarily want to wait for 12-18 months as other marketing agencies catch up,” Harvey said.

“We have the ability to do this right now – most businesses have left addressing this too late already.”

Delve incorporates the listening technology to existing social media services already offered by Shorthouse Russell.

It will produce detailed reports for clients based on ‘listens’ to posts dating back to 2007 and from over 200 websites, blogs, forums and social media sites.

The technology assesses what was said, including picking up on local colloquialisms. Delve then bases a full social media and marketing strategy around that data.

To help launch the services locally Delve did a ‘listen’ on Norwich City, its local football club, following its return to the Premier League, the results of which are shown in the infographic.

Delve also ran a test for Travolution, listening in on the Thomas Cook brand after it announced its latest profit warning. Results showed the issue was being talked about in the business and travel press but had not bled into the consumer space.

Norwich City social media infographic, created by Delve

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