We've had a number of posts on our blog speak to the importance of social media monitoring in strategy creation, including a recent addition that highlights the need for improvements to technological platforms to better inform those strategies. Now, it appears as if some of those much-needed improvements are making their way into the world of social media monitoring tools, and via the wine industry no less.

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Mashable writes about the rising success of Cruvee, a social media monitoring platform that specializes in identifying, decoding, and understanding online interactions in the wine industry. Currently, about 27% of all wineries in the US are using the service to inform them of their brand's conversations online, among other cool features the program has incorporated into their service such as monetizing Facebook pages by giving the user the ability to turn their page into a virtual storefront, complete with a "buy now" button.

But the most interesting aspect of Cruvee's service is that it addresses a number of issues currently facing users of other social media monitoring platforms. Cruvee has built-in solutions that aim to minimize the "clutter" associated with finding where your brand lives in online conversations. Think of it as a platform that allows your brand to focus on the strategy that results from conversation analysis, rather than the time-consuming process of receiving those results. Here are a few of the things the Cruvee model offers that should be incorporated into other platforms:

1. Comprehension of industry "jargon". By focusing on one industry, the platform has built-in identifiers for language that other platforms often do not pick up. For example, someone tweeting the about the great "cab sauv" they enjoyed is picked up by the platform and shows up in the conversation dashboard results, where in many instances they may not. By searching for language that influencers within industry actually use (including shorthand, as in the above reference), the result is a clearer picture of what is actually being said.

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Originally Published PR Week, June 30, 2011 (subscription access only)

I've noticed that many companies that instinctively know they should be active in social media are moving forward tentatively and would like to move faster.

These organizations have grasped the importance of social media to their communications strategy. But whether it's because they're nervous about diving into the online conversation, or caught up in internal bickering over who "owns" it, or lack confidence in their strategy, their tentative pace is denying them the benefits of a more robust online engagement. They know they should be moving faster, but they're not sure how to do it.

Last week, while I was participating in an excellent Arthur W. Page Society "Future Leaders Experience," the group addressed this problem. Three success factors for accelerating successful online engagement emerged from the discussion:

1. Pique their competitive nature with a "best practices" assessment

Companies are often risk averse and don't like to be too far out front in using new technologies. Reviews of "best practices" often provide a level of comfort that comes from knowing what their peers are doing, learning from the mistakes of others, and benchmarking their own progress against leaders both outside and from within their own industries.

But "best practices" reviews have another motivating effect: they fire up people's competitive instincts. Nothing concentrates management's attention so much, or motivates them to action, as learning that a competitor is stealing the lead on them, and the race to benefit from engagement in social media is no exception.

2. Identify the key digital influencers in your space, and the hidden successes in your company

Sometimes, organizations don't move forward because they don't know where to start. In social media, management may be aware of platforms like Twitter and Facebook as factors in their personal lives, yet have no idea how those two platforms - and the much larger online ecosystem - influences their customers, employees and other stakeholders. Without knowing where to target their attention or their resources, they end up doing nothing.

They may also be relatively unaware of the small, experimental efforts already underway within their organization.

The fix? Do a thorough audit of the "digital ecosystem" in which your company operates, together with a careful look inside the company to see where social media activity already is (or isn't) underway. Find opportunities to create small success stories, and make the people who have achieved them champions (and trainers) who can help bring other, less adventurous, units up to speed.

Don't be surprised if some of your best success stories come from tired, mainstay brands that are willing to take some risks to rejuvenate their image. Think about how P&G stalwart "Old Spice" shook up its category with the "I'm on a horse" video that went viral.

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