Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

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Happy new year everybody! It has been a great decade all around and especially for the growth of social media. We've seen blogs grow exponentially, social networks come into their own, online video and photo sharing sites explode, mobile technology being invented and much, much more.

Have a great time tonight, but beware those texting hands. Try not to use Twitter or Facebook unless you are of sound mind. There are always great examples of what not to do while drinking on textsfromlastnight.com.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Are people less obedient when using social media?

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Stanley Milgram conducted a social psychology experiment about obedience to authority. The experiment aptly came to be known as the "Milgram Experiment." It began as in inquiry into conformity, but turned into much more.

Milgram wondered what would happen if he had participants administer what they thought was a real electric shock to an actor (confederate) pretending to be shocked and be in excrutiating pain. The actor had to answer questions, when right nothing would happen, but when wrong he would be shocked. With each wrong answer the shock would get worse. The participants started by delivering 15-volt shocks. The fake voltage eventually increased to a maximum of 450 volts.

If the participant expressed any reservations about shocking another human being and causing them pain the session was abruptly ended. The actor screamed louder with each new shock, pleaded with the participant to stop and even said he had a heart condition and felt like he was dying.

Amazingly enough, 62.5% of participants delivered the maximum shock possible. People felt pressure from the psychologist in the room with them, as well as a sense of duty to their role, to finish the experiment despite causing potentially serious harm to another human being.

Would the results be different had participants been responding through social media rather than face-to-face contact?

I truly believe that had the participant been deciding to administer a shock or not through social media that percentage of 62.5% would be significantly lower. Social media channels give individuals a stronger sense of authority and less pressure to remain obedient to a situation or role. There is certainly still a sense of groupthink, riot mentality and all the other scary social phenomenons, but people feel more empowered to share their true opinions with the shield of social media.

What do you think?
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What it takes to get a job in social media

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I don't purport to know what every company is looking for in a social media, emerging media or new media expert, but I do know what I am looking for when evaluating resumes that arrive on my desk.

Obviously knowledge of the tools and platforms is important. Since tools like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Ning, Vimeo, discussion boards, blogs and all the rest will be central to the work, having a base of knowledge makes a candidate much more appealing. In addition, knowing things like how to analyze the analytics of a blog, evaluate the content value for a Facebook fan page, create a Ning group, review keyword conversions and more would set a candidate apart from others who know the very basics of online media.

Even more important to the job than knowledge of the tools is an understanding of people, relationships and market tendencies. There is a real aspect of social sciences to new media that needs to be applied with every decision. Demonstrating a comprehension of market and individual behavior on social media platforms puts a candidate on a pedstal for me.

In my mind, this understanding of social nature and new media culture is much harder to learn than the functional side of the tools and is therefore more valued.

Ultimately, when I'm sifting through resumes and cover letters I'm looking a basic understanding of new media tools, but I'm really looking for experience that tells me that candidate can develop relationships with online influencers, understand what drives a response and predict the outcome of a campaign or specific message.

There are obviously a number of other factors like adding to the office culture, work habits, ability to communicate effectively, writing skills, analytical mind and more. These are very important variables to finding the right candidate, but the quality of work that can be produced is usually the first thing I think about.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Twitter's new retweet feature has holes

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The other day I woke up to find Twitter's new retweet feature attached to my home page. Twitter has unveiled this to make retweeting another user's tweets easier while in their web interface. It also allows you to track who retweets that message going forward.


After trying out the feature, I got to talking with ghostlikeswayze, a friend on Twitter, about all the issues we saw with Twitter's retweeter. He and I agreed that it takes a real part of being social out of this social media tool. The retweet feature doesn't let you change the original tweet in any way. You can't add your opinions, praise, disagreement or anything else. All you can do is retweet the exact message to spread the word.

Twitter is designed to share opinions and thoughts with people who are following you and therefore should be interested in what you have to say. Doesn't the rigid copy and paste of the retweet feature go against this very principle?

I'm partial to using Tweetdeck's retweet feature because you do have the ability to alter the message. I would also prefer copying and pasting certain parts into a message if I am using the Twitter web interface.

We decided that if you don't like the new retweet option simply send a message out on Twitter with the hash tag #RTRevolt. I know I already have.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

What are Twitter lists and Why Should You Care?

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Twitter's new feature, which allows for the creation of lists has now been live for about a month. Many Twitter users still don't know what Twitter lists are, how to use them or why they may be important.

What are Twitter lists?

This feature allows you to group any number of users together into a common list. If you want to connect all the funny people you follow or all your coworkers, you simply create a list. Lists can be either public or private, but the default is public. TheNextWeb.com provides a great recap of how to actually create a list.

Anyone can create one or as many lists as they want, which may turn the feature into more of a circus than an organizational tool at some point.

Why should you care?

These lists will enable users to filter the massive number of tweets coming through their stream. The user can follow the lists alone, so they focus on specific people and ignore others.

Lists also allow users to promote or tip their hat to other people on Twitter. Creating a list enhances the likelihood that your other followers will see that person if they're interested in the list title.

As you probably expected, third party applications have already been created around this new component of Twitter. The most prominent thus far is Listorious, which points you in the direction of lists that would interest you. Simply type a list name, user name or tag and you will be directed to a list of lists (haha funny right? no? okay).

Marketers have jumped on the use of lists. They are creating lists to get their companies or clients noticed. The more savvy marketers are even creating lists highlighting their brand's most avid and supportive followers to engender them into the brand even more. This is a great tactic to use while lists are still new, shiny and growing in popularity.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

My wedding is keeping me from social media

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I got engaged a couple months ago. I had been dating my then girlfriend for over six years and knew that it was the right time, right place and absolutely right girl. What I didn't fully grasp was how much time and energy planning the wedding would take.

With the time it takes to select a band, narrow down catering options, pick invitations and all the other components I have to cut time spent elsewhere. For me it was a difficult, but also simple choice.

I wasn't going to be able to cut time from work. Social media growth and brand adoption of social media strategies means more work. I can't cut time with family, dogs and friends because they are simply too important to me. I don't want to cut exercise time because it is important for me to be healthy and I have a marathon scheduled for several weeks from now.

This ultimately means that I have to reduce the amount of time I spend with my personal social networks. I spend less time tweeting, on Facebook, writing blog posts, joining in on discussion boards and posting video/photos.

It got me thinking what additional things happen in people's lives would keep them from participating in online communities as much as they would like? Are other people willing to sacrifice time spent doing other activities for the sake of social media?

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Issues with starting social media in a reluctant company

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I spoke with a client this morning who is the primary advocate for building a corporate social media presence and the only one with any authority in his department. The conversation about strategy and execution turned into an airing of greivances and frustrations with the corporate infrastructure.

This client is a true believer in creating a corporate blog or blog network that can promote thought leadership, share white papers, engage potential consumers and really just generate conversation.

There are two primary issues within his company:
  • Time constraints

  • Executive support

He wants to include other experts in his company in the blogging process. He would love to see guest posts, comments and proliferation of messaging by his valued team members. Unfortunately, they all claim a lack of time as to why they don't want to contribute in any way. He is having a very difficult time convincing them that social media is beneficial for the promotion of the company services, as well as the individual's expertise. These people want immediate rewards, which he can't deliver yet because there isn't enough traffic.

The other issue is a lack of executive support. This client thinks that the experts would be more likely to participate if the other executives pushed them to do so and were vocal about the value of social media.

These are both real issues that people face while trying to start a social media endeavor in a company that has been otherwise reluctant to undetake one. Often times a truly compelling argument isn't enough because people want immediate dividends. Unfortunately if you are out alone on a limb, you may have to stay there until you can deliver the slightest of measuable, positive results. Don't give up on the compelling argument idea though. There are great case studies and results out there for all industries so look for proof of concept before taking on a company.





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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Breaking Down Technorati's 'State of the Blogosphere'

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This year Technorati has rolled out their "State of the Blogosphere" in a five-part series. They'll be posting one part every day throughout this week. Thus far, they have posted "Who Are the Bloggers?" and "The What and Why of Blogging."

These two parts alone have a host of information to digest, critically analyze and apply to your social media knowledge. In an effort to highlight the most important stuff, I'll be breaking down the info and asking a few questions along the way.

Methodology:

Technorati collected data from Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates who conducted a survey of 2,828 bloggers nationwide. They also gathered data from 11,000 active Lijit publishers (bloggers using the Lijit search widget) and 2.5 million blogs connected by link to these Ligit bloggers. This data collection method is somewhat biased because it takes a certain type of blogger to decide to download a Lijit widget. It becomes immediately less likely that casual bloggers or bloggers who see no value in Lijit can contribute their input to the survey. The correction for this of adding blogs who are linked to Lijit users helps a fair amount but still isn't an entirely valid and random representation of the blogoshpere.

Realisticially, it would be an enormous undertaking to get a representative and random sampling of blogs so I can't complain too much about their choice of blogs.

Major Points:

1. The state of the blogosphere is strong

2. There are 4 types of bloggers

  • Hobbyists: 72%- This group blogs for fun and don't make any money from blogging
  • Part-Timers: 15%- They blog to supplement their income, but don't use blogging as a full-time job
  • Self Employeds: 9%- People who blog full-time for their company or organization
  • Pros: 4%- Also listed as blogging full-time for their company or organization, but apparently don't blog as many hours per week

3. Bloggers are educated and in good standing financially:

  • 1/3 of respondents has a household income of over $75K
  • 75% of bloggers have a college degrees
  • 40% have graduate degrees

4. People who have worked in traditional media are migrating towards blogs. 35% of all respondents have worked within the traditional media as a writer, reporter, producer or something else

5. Bloggers are beginning to use mobile devices to blog, but it is still not a common practice:

6. There is a significant increase in professional blogging. This means blogging for the purpose of gaining income, business connections and increased revenue is on the rise.

7. Blogging has been beneficial to individuals careers and work goals. 58% of respondents said they are better-known in their industry solely because of the blog.

8. The volume of blogging is on the rise. 57% said they plan to blog even more moving forward, which included 74% of 18-24 year olds.

My Observations:

1. The growing number of "professional" bloggers is changing the face of blogging as we have known it for the last 10 years. Technorati asserted that only 36% of of professional bloggers discuss the political and social implications of their topics. The topical and neutral stances of professional bloggers have created a trend of less emotional, opinionated posts, which is what blogging was founded upon. I'm a professional in the social media world so I understand the idea of professional blogging, but I would hate to lose the passion and opinions that blogging is synonymous with.

2. Technorati tried to play to the dichotomy between traditional and social media with survey questions lke "are blogs better written then traditional media?" Bloggers didn't fall into the trap. Based on Technorati's data, bloggers were resistant to the notion that trditional media is either failing or decreasing it's content quality. Its important that a mutual respect remains present between the two parties because as each day passes the lines become more blurred.

3. Technorati found that "30% of those who are blogging less say it's because they are devoting more time to microblogging and social networks." In other words, bloggers are writing less because they are networking and having fun on sites like Twitter and Facebook. This is a very important trend. Does this mean that blogging is on the decline? Are other platforms rising up to destroy the blogosphere? I'm pretty sure the answer is "No." Other platforms are actually being tied into the blogosphere to help promote individual blogs. Twitter and Facebook updates are riddled with links to blog posts. Still, the next wave of technology could make blogging a pastime much in the way of chat rooms.


Technorati has been struggling to regain some of the prominence it once had. This report provides great data for all those marketers and social media junkies out there, but is it enough to bring Technorati to the top again? I guess we will have to wait and see what the next three parts of the report have to say.






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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Social Media Doesn't Respond to Dow Breaking 10,000

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The Dow industrials closed above 10,000 for the first time in over a year today, yet there was very little recognition of that milestone by the social media community.

Passing the 10,000 benchmark after being below 7,000 just seven months ago didn't make Twitter's trending topics, the most Digged stories or top blog stories in Google Blog searches.

Why didn't this make any of the lists of top stories in social media? Is this a sign that people aren't aware, are apathetic, don't believe this is significant or something else entirely?





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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Social Media Manifesto

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A spectre is changing communication as we know it. All the powers of old media have migrated to the social media because Generation X, Generation Y and Baby Boomers continue to push forward with social media innovations and ardor.

Is there still opposition to the social media revolution or is it accepted that the new communication channel will continue to evolve into the heavily favored method of human interaction? How is social media being used and how will it be used in the future?

This post will illustrate the growing power of social media and the likelihood of this trend to continue.

Size of Social Media:

Top Social Networking Platform:
  • Facebook had over 370 million visitors in the last month
  • Over 160 billion page views
Top Social Bookmarking Platform:
  • Digg had over 23 million visitors in the last month

  • Over 410 million page views
Top Microblogging Platform:
  • Twitter had over 66 million visitors in the last month

  • Over 4 billion page views
Over 184 million blogs have been created worldwide, while 346 million people read blogs worldwide.

The particularly interesting thing is that all of these technologies have continued their growth in recent years. This doesn't mean that a single technology can't die because it can. Myspace was once the largest social networking tools, but the creation of other options has led to a decline in popularity and traffic. When one technology falls another one rises. Out of the slightly burning embers of Myspace grew Facebook. Out of the ashes of chat rooms grew social networks, discussion boards and blogs.

Research, innovations in technology, business trends and the zeitgeist all indicate that social media's size and power will remain on the incline.


Why is Social Media Appealing?

There are a plethora of reasons social media has grown in rapid fashion over the last decade, but most importantly it is because each individual can have a unique experience depending on their habits, strengths and interests.

A user can be extremely active or they can barely participate. It is the users choice whether to be a member of a Ning group, a discussion board, have a Facebook profile, start a Youtube channel or any other number of things. Users can decide whether or not they simple want to view content or whether they want to participant in the creation of content. Users can chose how they want to be known both visually and with respect to their personality. They can alter their user interface as well as their method of communication.

More importantly than all of the use based choices is the ability to become affiliated with whatever community is desired. A user can become a part of a political discussion board, a Boston Red Sox blog, an accountant's Twitter stream, or a single mother's photo sharing community.

In social media, a user is free to affiliate themselves with whomever they wish, whether like minded or not. It is this freedom of expression and acceptance into groups that makes social media so appealing to people. The rules of proximity and status levels dictating personal relationships are thrown out the window with the advent of social media.

Social media can be the digital embodiment of the "American Dream." Anybody can start a blog, work diligently and become a pseudo celebrity/financial success.

Social Media is also appealing to brands and businesses. It presents a new method of communication for brands. Social media:
  • Is a platform that is significantly lower in cost than traditional marketing and public relations platforms

  • Gives brands greater power of messaging control

  • Allows for interactivity with consumers and potential clients, which can increase brand advocacy

  • Provides near real-time metrics for top-line understanding of ROI
Pitfalls of Social Media

To truly immerse oneself in social media is to engage in a shift of paradigm and lifestyle. Social media requires focus, intelligence, innovation and above all else simply being present on a regular basis.

The positive aspects of social media like interactivity, networking and community building come with certain time requirements. If you want to become a prominent figure in a large social media network, it requires an immense amount of time. Not only that, but the hours dedicated must be dispersed throughout the day in an effort to respond to people around the world.

In addition to the time commitments, there are certain privacy concerns that arise when asserting oneself in the social media landscape. More and more technologies offer status updates, photo sharing, video sharing, live streaming video and 24 hour connection through mobile devices. These advances in technology can make it seem as though Big Brother is watching or we are living in an Orwellian reality.

Not only do thoughts, images and locations become public but they remain public. Social media tools are highly advanced at archiving their content. This is done both for the user experience and to provide metrics proving the value of the tool. The potential issue with these archiving systems is that what a user says publicly now remains public forever. User's opinions may change, they may be caught in a photo that they wish not be shown or any other number of of examples, but ultimately the universal archival of content can pose real problems for some users.

The Future of Social Media

If nothing else, social media has proved to be unpredictable. The ability to truly predict what technologies become popular, what videos become viral and how much people will value the ability to share their opinion in a public forum is difficult to determine. A few trends have emerged that should continue based on human nature and social media culture:
  • Social media will become more manageable. There is already a trend to combine multiple social media platforms in a single interface like Tweetdeck or Google Wave, but the variety of platforms means a need for an all-inclusive management system.

  • Brands and marketers will continue to find ways to automate their social media communications initiatives. Whether consumers agree with this tactic or not, developers will create tools that they can sell to businesses, who will in turn use them to streamline the outreach process.

  • Business and organizations will implement more restrictions. Social media policies are a highly discussed topic amongst anybody dealing with brand reputation. There are a number of social media policies in place and made public. This will undoubtedly continue as social media evolves.

  • There will be an increase in group and community development. Social media users are now finding that a path to social media happiness or success can be best achieved by uniting with others. Groups like SB Nation, eMarketing association and wefollow tags are prime examples of people uniting to bolster their own efforts while connecting with interested/interesting people.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Be comfortable talking about the uncomfortable

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The relationships you build in social media follow some of the same basic principles your in-person relationships adhere to. You should communicate regularly and effectively, show interest and share parts of your personality if you want to make a true connection.

Many people have a very difficult time discussing less than positive things about themselves with anybody, let alone acquaintances that they've never met face-to-face. It is difficult for people who are proud of their lives to share the negative aspects such as the possibility of losing a job, health issues or relationship troubles. More often than not, it is the people who you share these details with that become your closest relationships and your biggest supporters.

The same is true in social media. Addressing negative aspects of your brand with interested people with breed brand advocacy in the long run. People will respect you for being open and honest about potential faults in your services, business model, communication strategy or anything else.

If you work for a large corporation or brand, I know there will be a great deal of pushback from the conservative members of the organization, the legal team and traditional processes that have been in place for years. Hiding the negative is a thing of the past though. If there is a small issue that won't bring down the brand, I would strongly suggest admitting to it, addressing it with your interested consumers/key audiences and moving forward with them at your side.

A prime example of a brand making a minor mistake, hearing about it from consumers, addressing it publicly, gaining respect for doing so and moving forward with more brand advocates is ESPN. Earlier this year, ESPN released their new social media policy, which received a great deal of negative attention from social media users. ESPN listened and rather than sweeping it under the rug they responded on air.



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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Social Media Strategy

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Strategy is an integral part to the success of a campaign that involves social media. I've said it on this blog before and I say it all the time in my work, but there has to be a strategy behind social media efforts. You shouldn't dive right in and hope it all works out. "Guess and check" isn't a good system when trying to build a positive reputation for your brand.

With that said, you have to be extremely careful about who you talk to and what advice you get when building a social media strategy. Here are a few key points to remember:

1. The strategy should be your own

Don't settle for the application of basic social media best practices to your brand. Your brand, products, services, target audience, resources, leadership buy-in, and much more make your campaign unique.The campaign you create should be tailor made to give you the greatest chance of success after factoring all of these key variables.

2. Social media won't succeed alone

Though social media is a great communication platform, it won't win the battle for brand awareness and advocacy alone. Social media is best used if integrated into a cross-platform marketing/PR strategy.

3. Don't obsess over a single tool

Make sure you don't focus all your time and effort on a single tool like Facebook or Twitter. You need a proper cross-pollination of messaging on multiple tools. What if you focused your social media efforts solely on Twitter and it went under because it couldn't procure $100 million in funding? Where your brand be now? Make sure there are at least 2-3 landing pages for consumers to visit.


4. Content continues to be king

What you put on your blog, in your profile, in your tweets or wherever else you are is vital to the success of your campaign. The content should be engaging and relevant to what you are trying to achieve. It should also be published on a regular basis. You shouldn't have long lapses in time between posts.


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Friday, September 25, 2009

What New Technology Means To Your Brand

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This is a great video about the evolution of technology, the growth in communication platforms and what it all means. It's a long video, so sit back, relax and enjoy what Martin Czerwinski created:

social media from martin czerwinski on Vimeo.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

5 Twitter Applications You Should Know

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Twitter can be daunting when first getting started, or when you start significantly growing community. Here are 5 applications that will help you during your Twitter journey:

**WARNING: This post is geared more toward Twitter novices

1. Tweetdeck
Tweetdeck is a browser that allows you to stay attune to what the people you are following have to say, create groups of specific people to follow closely and run real-time searches for exact terms. You can also create shortened URLs and operate your Facebook and Myspace statuses easily.

2. Twitter AnalyzerTwitter Analyzer claims to be the "most advanced Twitter analytic system in the world," and I haven't seen another application that would disprove this claim. It provides metrics on your tweets, conversation, the growth of followers, the subjects you discuss and more.

3. TwitpicTwitpic is extremely popular. It allows you to post photos to Twitter and receive subsequent comments on those photos in an organized fashion.

4. Twtpoll
Twtpoll allows you to ask questions of your following in survey format. Twtpoll will keep track of responses and even graph the data.

5. Wefollow
We follow is a great tool to locate and connect with people in your target audiences. You can search by any identifier and be shown a list of people matching your criteria. For instance, you can search for real estate agents, people from Seattle, Orioles fans and more.

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Are There Any Professions That Shouldn't Adopt Social Meida?

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Earlier this year we heard from CNN and other media outlets that surgeons were tweeting from the operating room. Surgeons decided to use Twitter to inform a larger community about the details of certain procedures and the safety precautions that are taken.

Though I find a play-by-play of a surgery extremely interesting, I would be livid if I woke up to find out that my surgeon was distracted by Twitter, Facebook updates or any other social media platform. I've been through a couple major surgeries in my life. I wasn't at all nervous for them, but that was because I knew my surgeon would be focused entirely on me.

I spend my life educating people about the pros of social media. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in talking about the positive impact social media can have on life, marketing campaigns, awarness and more that I neglect to share that social media isn't for everybody.

In the example above I don't think tweeting during surgery is a good fit, but I would encourage the hospital to create a Twitter account and share details about it's staff and procedures.

What do you think, are there any professions that shouldn't be adopting social media for one reason or another? Police? Teachers? IRS auditors?...
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did the Recession Help Social Media Grow?

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In 2008 the United States began a terrible economic downturn, which eventually was titled a recession. The economic struggles certainly aren't over, but there are signs of improvement.

My question is did the recession speed up the growth of social media and increase the likelihood of corporate adoption of this communication platform?
If we take a look at Google Insight's analysis of the search terms "social media" and "recession" we can see that there is a positive correlation between the growth of conversation for both topics. For those that don't know, Google Insights tracks the volume of searches through Google for a set time period. I analyzed the search terms from 2004 to the present:


As you can see, the amount of searches for "social media" increases as searches for "recession" spike in late 2008 and early 2009. Clearly there can be a number of lurking variables here, but it is a good indicator that the economic issues faced by people and brands helped with the explosion of social media.

Brands had to find cheaper methods of marketing their products, which led them directly to social media. It is a low cost, potentially huge return on investment method of marketing products and services. Not just brands, but people turned to social media. Companies had to downsize and make their hiring practices more stringent. The difficulty people had finding jobs led many of them to create and build social media profiles/landing pages to market their skills and network with as many people as possible.

The widespread purchasing of iPhones, the creation of new social media technology and more have also contributed greatly to the growth of social media. I just don't think it can be ignored that America and the world's economic struggles have sped up the velocity and momentum of social media growth.




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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Twitter Trends Younger

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The Pew Internet and American Life Project asserted in a recent study that Twitter has younger users than the rest of the internet. In fact, 40% of Twitter users are under the age of 18 and 59% are under 24.

This is especially big news when we consider that Facebook is trending older. It is obviously important for markets and public relations professionals to know which demographics are populating which social media platforms, but it is also important for the users. If a 16-year-old is deciding whether to sign up for Facebook or Twitter, knowledge of these statistics might factor into his/her decision.

Pew also found:

"The use of Twitter is highly intertwined with the use of other social media; both blogging and social network use increase the likelihood than an individual also uses Twitter. Twitter users and status updaters are also a mobile bunch; as a group they are much more likely to be using wireless technologies -- laptops, handhelds and cell phones -- for internet access, or cell phones for text messaging. "

This is a fact that can't be ingnored. Many Twitter users have cross-polinated themselves across the social media landscape. Twitter is a great community to be a part of if it fits your goals, but you can still interact with many Twitter users on various other platforms.

Though Twitter is popular, it certainly isn't the end-all-be-all of social media.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Don't Let Your Social Media be a Frozen Meal

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Social media is truly what you make it. You can join whatever community you want on whatever platform. You can participate on a regular basis or you can almost never participate. You can listen and read or you can put your opinions forward.

For brands and companies, social media is what you make is as well. It can either be as good as a four course meal in a five-star restaurant, or it can be a frozen meal that takes a couple minutes to heat up.


The five-star meal comes from people that have worked behind the scenes to strategize about the best combination of flavors. It is also a meal that they have tested time and again before offering it up on their menu.

The frozen meal is essentially a quick fix for you hunger needs. It may satisfy your hunger temporarily, but it has it's problems. First, if you are like me, a frozen meal doesn't fill you up. It doesn't do enough to compare the five-star meal. Second, more often than not it is unhealthy. Eating that frozen meal may actually hurt you in the long run because of added calories and unhealthy ingredients.
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Incorporating Social Media Into Internal Communications

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Internal communications are an integral part of the efficiency of a large or small company. Internal communications can include e-mail, an intranet, office newsletters and much more. The wave of social media has brought with it a host of tools specifically designed for internal communications.

One of the most popular social media tools for internal communications purposes is Yammer. Yammer is essentially Twitter for the office. The benefit of Yammer is that it's a private communications channel for employees to share quick messages about what they're working on, get questions answered or blast out news. According to the site, Xerox and Cisco are among the over 200-plus companies using the service.


Robert Scoble recently wrote in his e-book "The Conversational Corporation" that Accenture has an internal community that looks a lot like Facebook, except that its private. Rather than talk about personal stories and opinions, the employees use it to discuss business related subjects and share eachothers experiences and knowledge.

If the top companies are incorporating social media tools into their internal communications, don't you think other companies should evaluate if it is a good fit for them as well?
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Creating a Social Media Policy

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Now that more and more companies are adopting social media for their communications needs, they are also coming to the realization that their employees are using social media for personal use. This realization has led many companies and will lead many more to construct social media policies and guidelines.

There are a number of questions companies should ask when building a social media policy:
  • What is your company trying to achieve through social media?
  • How much internal manpower and resources are available for social media needs?
  • What legal restrictions are there regarding messaging?
  • Are there social media advocates present in your employee base already?
  • What content will you be producing?
  • Where are your target audiences most prevalent?
Most companies I have spoken with are quick to go the conservative route. They create policies that say employees can't use social media to talk about work and can't use social media during work hours.

Before you fall in line with the conservative mindset, I would urge you to consider the power of your employee base. Your employees present an army of company advocates that can spread messaging in a rapid fashion. Each employee has their own personality; therefore they will have their own network of social media friends on varying platforms with which to promote your company's initiatives.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Impressions Really Matter

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It's an accepted belief that a first impression can dictate the course of a relationship between two people. Both psychological and sociological studies have provided scientific data to support this idea.

Earlier this year, another study was done that compared the effects of first impressions during a face-to-face interaction to the effects of first impressions from a digital interaction. The study focused around online gaming, but certain lessons can be learned and applied to the social media world.

When a person makes a bad first impression, the negative feelings are harder to overcome than a betrayal that occurs after ties are established.

"First impressions matter when you want to build a lasting trust," said study researcher Robert Lount of Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business. "If you get off on the wrong foot, the relationship may never be completely right again. It's easier to rebuild trust after a breach if you already have a strong relationship."

After the computer partner made two defector moves, it would follow with 30 rounds of pure cooperation. Turned out that cooperation wasn't enough to gain back a participant's trust. Those who experienced a breach of trust at the game's start were the least likely to cooperate at the end of the game, cooperating less than 70 percent of the final 10 rounds.

"I think we would find this to be even more pervasive in real life, because you're going to be less likely to give these people second opportunities to interact with in the first place. In the game we forced them to interact," Lount told LiveScience.

"Often, a lot of times people end up writing people off. And if they can avoid future interactions with them, they would prefer to."

He suggests a person forms a first impression and sticks to it, looking for future cues that are consistent with this first impression.


Clearly, first impressions have a major effect on relationships both in real life and digital life. It is important to remember this lesson when networking in the social media space. Your profile, picture, account name and initial messaging will ultimately play a major role in future interactions with people. Remember to portray yourself as you want to be seen in every facet.

If you don't make a great first impression, there is hope because people will be more forgiving in the digital space than in real life, but make sure that second impression is stellar.


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Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Fun With Widgets IV-Simon

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Tweeting on the toilet

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Have we come to far in technology when a person can sit on a toilet, take care of the business nature intended and tweet to 10,000 followers?

Doesn't that image just make you think of King Henry VIII or Louis XIV yelling at their plebeians to listen while they do their duty?

I'm connected to my social networks all the time, but I refuse to send text messages, type e-mail, post a comment and especially tweet during bathroom time. That might just be me though.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Top 10 Social Media Blogs

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Friends, clients, strangers and other interested parties often ask me where they should go if they want to learn about social media. There is no single answer to this question because there are so many good minds out there and the landscape changes so quickly. In an effort to organize the places to go and learn from the best, I wanted to share the best social media spots on several different platforms. This will come in a series of posts, but I'll start with my top 10 social media blogs.

I came to these numbers factoring in both quantitative data like page rank, alexa rank, compete unique visitors and others, as well as qualitative data like quality of posts and activity level of communities.

1. Mashable : Simply the powerhouse of social media news. Mashable attracts more visitors in one day than some blogs can even dream of getting in their active life. Great writers, great ease of use. It is simply the best right now.
2. Seth Godin's Blog: If you want some great insight into life while learning social media both directly and through osmosis than Seth is your man. Don't let his shiny scalp scare you away. He truly knows what hes talking about and has been the mentor to many social media minds.
3. ChrisBrogan: Chris is an expert in social media and isn't afraid to show it. That doesn't mean that he isn't humble because he most certainly is. He lives and breathes social media, which is evident in every post about his daily experiences or his major insights.
4. Marketing Pilgrim: There are a few primary bloggers whose primary goal is to flood you with industry news that can be of help to you. Go, read, download and emerge a smarter person.
5. Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang: Up until a couple of days ago Jeremiah was working with and providing intensely helpful information from the comfort of the Forrester offices. He has now teamed with Charlene Li, which should make for a powerful force in the social media world.
6. Scobleizer: Robert made his name while working at Microsoft, but his innovation and expertise goes beyond the world of Microsoft.
7. Duct Tape Marketing: Focused mostly on small businesses and small budgets. DTM is a great source for those just getting into social media marketing as a part of overall marketing strategies.
8. How To Change The World: Guy Kawasaki is a name that most if not all social media people know. He is really pushing Alltop, but continues to guide us through his blog. You can also find Guy's thought leadership at his other home on OPEN Forum.
9. PR 2.0: Brian Solis writes PR 2.0, while contributing at TechCrunch and Brandweek. He's a great strategist that knows the best technologies to use along the way.10. Logic + Emotion: David Armano is stretched a little thin these days because he is in such high demand though his work with Dachis Group, but he still manages to write posts about the contemporary issues and industry-specific news for social media.
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

What if Twitter fails?!?

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I was recently speaking on a social media panel in Georgia. The room was filled with marketers from large brands like Napa Auto Parts, Coca Cola, Best Western and Aarons. Even though these were marketers, they almost all fell closer to social media novices on the spectrum.

As is usually the case when speaking with people that aren't extremely knowledgeable about social media, the conversation became focused on the most popular tools and in particular Twitter and Facebook.

After discussing the benefits of these technologies to the marketing process, a very fair question was asked...

"What if Twitter fails?"

It really is a great question. Brands have a legitimate concern of a social media platform like Twitter going under after they spend significant time and resources building of a valueable presence.

The core of the answer is very simple: SOCIAL MEDIA IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEOPLE

If marketers approach this communication realm in that way, they will be able to transfer the conversations they're having on Twitter to any other social media platform when needed. If people/consumers trust you, enjoy your content and feel like they are a part of something real they will follow the conversation from Twitter to Facebook to Ning to a discussion board on the brand website. It is truly about the strength of the relationship with readers and consumers.

While building a community on a specific platform, be sure to cross-polinate your messaging on at least 2-3 platforms total. For instance, if your primary communication spot is Twitter you may also want to have a Facebook fan page and a blog. Send your followers to all of these locations throughout your entire communication process. This will train your readers to visit your other platforms if one of these technologies fail overnight.
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Monday, August 31, 2009

Can you really build relationships through social media?

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Many people believe that social media is a cool, new thing. They think its a great way of reviewing products and sharing photos with people they already know, but it is not a good way of meeting new people and forging lasting relationships. If you are one of these people, don't worry you're not alone.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that meeting new people and developing long-term relationships with them is easy, but it is absolutely possible and happens on a regular basis. Most relationships in social media are short-lived, but people do develop business connections that lead to jobs, forge friendships and even meet a significant other.

It's easiest to develop the relationship beyond just casual conversation if you combine discussion in the social media realm with meeting in person. You can engage in a tweet-up, connect with people at a convention, or just agree to meet for a drink.

If you're pensive about meeting in person for one reason or another, you can still develop strong relationships with online social media conversation alone. You just have to make an effort and consistently participate in the conversation.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why is monitoring important?

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There are more and more companies sprouting up every year dedicated solely to monitoring online media. These companies are improving their products as the digital media world evolves.

Nowadays the best tools will capture all online mentions, both social and traditional media, which in effect replaces a clipping service while adding new services. After harvesting the data from traditional media outlets with an online presence, social networks, blogs, discussion boards and video and photo sharing sites the monitoring tools will analyze the posts/articles.

Not every monitoring product will capture posts from all these locations, so make sure you ask the salesperson or analyst that is demoing their product for you what sources they monitor.

The top products will provide trends in conversation, sentiment breakdowns, tag clouds, gleaned insights for marketing and public relations purposes, opportunities for engagement and much more.


These products can range from $1,000 at the low end to $100,000 at the high end. Even if you don't have any money for monitoring services, you should be manually monitoring your brand. There are plenty of free tools to search by tag/key term. Google alerts, Google News, Google Blogs, Twitter search, Ice Rocket, Twendz, Technorati, etc. are a good place to start.

No matter what, make sure you are listening.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Fun With Widgets III-Make Yourself a Simpsons Character

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Social Media Stats

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A video called "Social Media Revolution" has made its way around the social media landscape quite rapidly. Socialnomics created the video, pulling stats on social media from a number of sources. The video is well done and provides value for social media novices. Those of you who have been in social media for a while have probably seen these stats and statements a hundred times, but this video is a great tool to get more power players into the online space:


video
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Harry Potter is like Social Media

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After some thought and admittedly a marathon of Harry Potter movies, I came to the conclusion that there are quite a few parallels between the social media realm and the world of Hogwarts.

For starters, there are four major houses at Hogwarts and each has their own unique identity. Griffyndor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff compete throughout the school year to determine which school is the best.

The Gryffindor house is the home of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger so it is without question the most prolific house in the series. With that said, it is only logical that this house is representative of social networking sites. Facebook is the Harry Potter of this storry, MySpace is Ron and Twitter (yes, I lumped a microblogging site into social networking) is Hermione.

Hufflepuff's house values are "hard work, loyalty, tolerance, and fair play." When thinking about what these values represent, I can't stop thinking about the blogosphere. Blogs work together, develop networks and ensure a proper "hat-tipping" of shared content.

Ravenclaw is the least discussed of the four houses. For this reason, it seems most like photo sharing sites in the social media landscape. Photo sharing sites like Flickr, Snapfish, PhotoBucket and others are certainly power houses in social media, but are often left out of the conversation as a valuable marketing tool.

Finally, we are left with Slytherin, which is the house of Malfoy, Severus Snape and ofcoarse Valdemort. Given the crafty nature of these characters and the constant struggle for power that they endure, I can think of no better comparison than video sharing sites. Going to YouTube is like entering into a steele cage match for viewers. You can find the exact same video posted by five different people because they all want the viewers to visit their profile. There is no common courtesy of "hat-tipping" and no request to share content that isn't proprietary.

Just to recap, in my uber-nerdy mind I have drawn strong parallels between the social media world and Hogwarts--a mythical wizard school created by J.K. Rowling. The parallels are as follows:

  • Gryffindor--social networks
  • Hufflepuff--blogs
  • Ravenclaw--photo sharing sites
  • Slytherin--video sharing sites
There will certainly be more thoughts to come, but what do you think about all this nonsense?
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Social Media Serves as Hope for Small Business

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The state of the economy is still hotly debated. Are we still in a recession or have we come out of it? Are we at the bottom or are we slowly building? These questions and more are being argued every day on CNN, NPR, Fox and every other news outlet.

The state of the economy, no matter what it is, doesn't mean that people can stop living their lives. People change jobs, move to a new house, pay their child's college tuition and proceed whether they are truly able to or not. There are even some Americans that are continuing to start their own small businesses in this down economy. Just think about trying to raise the capital for a business right now. It must seem like an insurmountable task. Social media has helped and will continue to help in this area. Imagine going to angel investors, venture capitalists or just friends with some extra dough and saying "we don't need any money for marketing. It's going to be free aside from man hours." That would surely help, right?

Social media affords small business owners with this opportunity. Social media can be low-cost or even free if you aren't counting the hours you personally invest. Don't get me wrong it is not an ideal situation to rely solely on social media for your business' marketing efforts, but it can be done if need be. You can begin to build a community of support and potential customers simply by strategically building a social media presence for your brand.

If nothing else social media provides hope to small business owners who have very little budget, and hope is a premium when starting a new business in a downtrodden environment.
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Top 100 Best Social Media Books, Ever

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When somebody takes the time to put together such an exhaustive list, it is time to defer to their research and wisdom and share the link:

Jurgen Appelo's Top 100 Social Media Books, Ever
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Social Media Optimization Can Lead To Monetiziation

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I stumbled upon a post about "Social Media Optimization Rules" over at the Open Circle Blog, who drew their inspiration from the Online Marketing Blog. There are some very, very good points about how to build community in the social media realm. I highly recommend reading the post if you want brief pointers on increasing traffic and entrenching yourself in established online communities. With that said, I think we can take it a step further and talk about monetizing social media efforts after they've been optimized.

There is no doubt that the more traffic and reach you have in social media, the more likely it is that you are to be able to monetize your efforts. It isn't as simple as getting increasing traffic though. Optimization is the process of leveraging that community and traffic. There are a number of ways to do this:
  • Ad Sense: This is the simplest form of monetization. Google has enabled this program to be embedded in any website. More clicks on that advertisment by your community means more money for you.
  • Sponsors: Companies both large and small are always looking for ways to reach their target audiences. There is no doubt that your social media niche will appeal to at least one company if not more. Either they will find you, or you can proposition them to buy banner space on your site, write a sponsored tweet, evaluate a product/service and much more.
  • Events and Contests: Being the trusted source that you are for your community, you can create and promote an online contest that will benefit your readers and you at the same time. Raffling off a MacBook Pro, t-shirt design contests, organizing an online marathon and many other options allow you to provide engaging content for you readers while potentially making some money for you.
Social media should be what you want it to be. If you want to develop a community to share and build relationships, by all means stick with that. If you want to monetize your social media efforts, just don't forget that you are absolutely able to do so in a number of ways.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Healthcare Reform Broadcast Through Social Media

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It is well documented that President Obama used social throughout his campaign to develop an army of active, highly engaged individuals. Now that President Obama is in office, he hasn't forgotten the communication tools that helped garner him so much support. As the Los Angeles Times reported,

The White House blasted links to the package out to more than 300,000 fans on Facebook and more than 900,000 on Twitter today. It also sent an e-mail acknowledging "scare tactics" being used to bash the programs. A few hours later, users of the social news site Digg voted Reality Check to the site's homepage. That potentially exposes Reality Check to millions of eyeballs.
I don't think that this is a major landmark for social media. This isn't the first political message mass-communicated through social media, nor is it the Obama administrations first foray into social media, but it is for the first time being used consistently as a tool to educate the masses.

What the current political administration understands is that social media reaches an audience that might otherwise be uneducated or uninterested in healthcare reform. They also understand that by asserting facts, preaching opinions and generally opening the discussion, they can rally support and find true citizen advocates for their programs.

Combining President Obama's notoriety with his willingness to take a stance and his administration's understanding of communication methods like social media could potentially lead to the greatest revolution in mass education for Americans since FDR and the radio.
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Fun With Widgets II-Mario and Luigi

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Social Media Is About Individuality

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When trying to market your brand and increase communications through social media, you have to remember that each person and each community is unique.

Social media communications can't be mass produced. Every social media technology has a plethora communities within it. All of these communities have their own interests, ways of sharing opinions, languages and code of ethics. Within that, the individuals of the communities have to be treated as such. Sure, you can send a message to a blog, discussion board, Facebook group and get some pick-up or engagement, but your brand with grow much stronger and with greater affinity if you seek out individuals or go through the community administrators who are trusted by the community. The notion that your brand is connecting on a one-one level with consumers will hopefully spread like wildfire.

The key in social media is to be human, show some personality and ultimately so your brand is tangible rather than mechanical. You have to remember that no matter how easy it is, mass communication techniques are often tabbed as spam in the social media world.
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Once You Start, You Can't Stop

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I've had several borderline arguments with marketing directors and traditional advertisers about the need to stay involved in social media once the process is underway. Some of these more traditional communications professionals think that social media can serve as just another venue to share press releases, which means deliver a message and then disappear until the next release.

I tell them that social media can't work in that way. Social media by nature is social. It is about conversations, relationships, building rapport and trust between two parties. That relationship and trust that you've built with your audience becomes null and void if you suddenly drop of the social media map. Not only do you have to start over the next time you want to use social media, but the inability to remain connected may ultimately detract from your company or brand's respect.

You can liken this to meeting somebody at a party. Imagine you hit it off with a person, friend or otherwise, had a great conversation and decided to exchange numbers to hang out again. Lets give you the benefit of the doubt and say you hung out together again about a week later, had another really good time and said you would call them to do it again. All of the sudden you don't call for a couple of months, but you try calling after that two-month break. What kind of response do you think you would get from the person on the other side of the relationship? I can bet that 9 times out of 10 you would something like "Where have you been? Why are you calling me now? No that's okay, I don't think I want to hang out with you anymore."

The point is that if you're going to begin to build a social media presence for yourself or your brand, you have to continue it. Your social media activity can't be started and stopped based on your promotional needs.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Social Media Strategies Aren't Uniform

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I had yet another conversation today where I heard a statement like "shouldn't we be building out or Facebook page? I know one of our competitors has a big Facebook presence." This type of statement should sound of an alarm in your social media mind.

Every time I hear something like this I want to yell, "YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!" Social media isn't about doing what works for other people or brands, its about finding the right communication strategy for your specific goals and resources. Listening to best practices is good because it will provide you a road map and ideas to discuss, but ultimately you should determine a completely unique strategy.

Some factors to weigh while determining you social media strategy include:
  • Products and Services offered
  • Target Audience
  • Resources
  • Man power
  • Goals (whether to mass message or engage highly active individuals)
  • Personalities of people communicating on your brand's behalf
A brand shouldn't just jump onto Twitter because they think they're supposed to. Again, each brand/individual is different and your social media strategy has to reflect that.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Funny Social Media Videos

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There are thousands of videos out there about social media, some very serious and some very funny. If you interested in learning about social media through video the resources are definitely available, but here are a couple of the more comedic videos about social media for your viewing pleasure.


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video
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Who? Why?

Social media often becomes a rat race. Who has the newest technology? Who has the most friends or followers? This blog is designed to slow it down a little and remind people that at its core, social media is about relationships and conversations.

Jake Rosen
Managing Supervisor, Fleishman-Hillard
jake.a.rosen@gmail.com

The content on this site reflects my own opinions and not necessarily those of my employer.

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