Social Media and You

Social media is everywhere. Most people have access to the internet whether via cell phone, computer, or other electronic device. Where there is access to the internet, there is access to social media and networking. Social Media is a means for people to get connected to each other whether through common interest, common location, or common backgrounds.

Philippe J. Maarek puts it very simply in his book, Campaign Communication & Political Marketing, when he defines social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Maarek defines these social networking sites as “an Internet variation of personal ads found in newspapers, but where the initial form to fill out when you become a user records personal details of your life (Myspace, Facebook, Twitter) or more professional data (LinkedIn).” This is a tremendous tool for businesses to conduct research because they have access to people’s personal information at their fingertips. Businesses have demographic information readily available and can use the social networking sites to communicate with their public and gain useful feedback about the business’s efforts. Social networking is helpful because it is a means of one-on-one communication with the public without the need to spend money and time travelling to them.

Let me show you a couple of variations of social media sites that can really help your business. We will look at Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, and Social Mention.

Let us start with the most familiar one to most of us Facebook.

Facebook was created in 2004 as a free, public social networking site for college students. To join Facebook one had to have an email address from a college or university. It created an online meeting ground for college students to stay connected with their friends at other schools and their fellow classmates. Since it was created, Facebook has opened to the general public.

Anyone and their mom can, quite literally, have a Facebook account. To create an account, you must enter some personal information, the amount of information and how public that information remains up to the user. A profile can contain pictures, videos, interests, quotes, pages “liked, and much more. Facebook includes advertisements and businesses can create profiles. Facebook allows friends to comment, like, post a message, and send private messages to other people on Facebook which enable people to stay connected.

Yet you are wondering how it can be useful to me as a business? Facebook can be used in a number of ways to reach out to clients. A business can form their own Facebook profiles where supporters can become their “friends” and the business can have an open line of communication with their constituents. This is a great tool because customers can see exactly what the business is up to, where they are, videos, links to blogs, the company page, and can give their input (positive or negative) on what matters most to them. Facebook profiles create a real sense of humanity for the business because they are reaching out and being personal and Facebook can help give the business character. Facebook can also be used by a business in its ability to advertise. A business can also use Facebook profile information in marketing research because essentially all demographic information for an individual is listed in their profile. This concept enables a business to segment their public to more effectively reach their target audiences.

Now what about LinkedIn? LinkedIn was developed in 2002 and up-and-running in 2003. It is the largest professional networking site available on the Internet with more that 175 million members worldwide. LinkedIn is a free, public social networking site that focuses primarily on forming professional connections. LinkedIn is arranged so that a user can create a profile which resembles a resume. The information included in a profile may be educational background, previous and current employment information, and the reason you are a member of the site. LinkedIn functions in several different ways, it serves to reconnect colleagues and classmates, to find connections when looking for employment or business opportunities, and to gain or share advice about business with experts.

LinkedIn provides a backdrop for businesses to interact with an audience of professionals. Members of this social networking resource include executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies.

LinkedIn also contains tools useful for businesses such as LinkedIn Answers. LinkedIn Answers is used to pose questions in different professional groups. This means that the information provided in each profile enables marketers to segment LinkedIn’s population to reach a specific professional group and ask questions. This is like being able to pass out a survey or ask a group of professionals for their opinions on topics, current issues, etcetera, without having to manually seek out the target group, and create and distribute questions. It also provides immediate feedback to questions rather than lagging responses that are associated with mail-outs and email questions. LinkedIn Answers can also pose general questions about business’ performances, character, and choices. This could be an important tool for businesses to see where they are failing and succeeding in their work in the public eye.

What is Ning? Ning is a social network creator which allows people to build private social networks. There is a cost associated with this website building site. Ning offers a wide variety of options for its users such as the option of whether to make their network private or public, require approval for membership, and allows for moderation of actions on the site. This website builder also allows the user to incorporate other social networks into the new one, making the users reach even greater.

Groups can be created within the social network as well which may aid in segmenting the network community into smaller, specific groups. A site designed on Ning meets the specifications of each user; there are a variety of options for displaying information, pictures, and videos, as well as a plethora of theme options. Ning also offers a variety of ways to collect money such as collecting money per site usage, collecting donations, or running the user’s own advertisements. When reviewing the possibilities that Ning presents users, it is easy to see where a business could benefit from utilizing this service.

By using Ning and creating personalized social network it enables a business to interact with public or private communities, collect donations (if you a non-profit and all that), and conduct marketing research all on one site. Ning creates a perfect environment to interact with their consumers and gain feedback on the business’s initiatives. Ning therefore aides in creating sites where a business can gather pertinent information in a controlled group setting which gives an advantage when a business can properly use that information to better a  product.

Another useful tool for businesses that are on any form of social media is Social Mention. According to the website, “Social Mention is a social media search platform that aggregates user generated content from across the web into a single stream of information.” This means that Social Mention is a means of searching the web for keywords or names, the frequency they appear, where they appear, and whether or not their appearance has a positive or negative connotation. Social Mention also provides an immediate analysis of searches. This enables a business to gather information immediately; Social Mention provides an excellent basis for constant data collection.

Businesses can utilize Social Mention for marketing research. Understanding how this tool can be used requires knowing what information can be gleaned from keyword searches on the internet. A business can search their name and find how much it is mentioned, where, and whether it is positive or negative in nature. A search for a business marketing campaign can give an idea of how the public is reacting to the marketing. Social Mention is useful to a business because it can assess how a business and its opponent are ranking among internet users.

There you have it a few ideas for the business that just is not quite sure where to go on social media and really even what options are out there. If you are going to be on-line and available to the world (or even if you are not) it is always a good idea to know what people are saying about you even if it is nothing. Social Mention is only one of many tools that can be used to find this information. This enables you to stop wasting you hard earned marketing dollars and put it into a location that just might earn you a better return on your investment and a better return is something everyone at the company can enjoy.

I hope that helps you get a better grasp of possibilities from a few different types of social sites and how each of them provides different options.

Social Networking Etiquette? We don’t need no stinking rules….

Okay, you are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of other sites, or even just one of those but what are some basic guidelines to follow for using one of those social sites. Let’s face it people only use social networks for a couple of reasons. 1) You are keeping in touch with friends and family or 2) you are networking. Many of us may even use it for both those reasons. Yet many people do not think about what they do online can help, hurt, or even potentially destroy their reputation. The company you keep on social media says a lot about the person you are, so let us look at some guidelines for using the social media that you are one.

Decide on your friend strategy (the earlier the better)

Full disclosure here I was not always the best with this one. I work with a wise lady who said, “one day we should be friends on Facebook, but not until one of us quits, retires, or is fired.” I though well that is curious, so like a good student I wanted to know why. It was simple. If you are going to use a site determine if it is going to be professional or personal. If personal well keep it personal, and if you wouldn’t want your boss to see it well best to not have them try to join your personal site. If you are stuck in the tricky situation of your coworker or boss want to join (how do you tell your boss no) you can always say hey join my LinkedIn page, and explain that the other is for close personnel friends and family. If that doesn’t suit your needs well friend them give them a few days and then de-friend them and if they ask plead ignorance.

Clean up those photos and watch who or what you follow

This one feels like a no brainier, but I love to see people trying to get a job and a simple search of their Facebook page shows then doing keg stands or some other unscrupulous act. It just means sorry I’ll find someone else. Remember your profiles are and extension of who you are, or at least that is how people will see you (first impression and all). Those sites and groups you like that are controversial do not expect to win over any friends or network to well with those on there either (professional people tend to keep that stuff personal). Maybe this is another time to test out the mom test and see if she would approve of your social networking site and if not you have some work to do.

Respect people and never post in anger

If you cannot get away with saying it face to face then do not think that you can get away with it online either (people are not that hard to track down). Posting should be done just like writing a letter if you are upset. Write it walk away, come back, trash it, and then write it again, walk away, reread it, and then send. I know I added an extra step but with a letter you have to put it in the mail box and you still have time to retrieve it (hopefully if needed). When the information goes online it is out there forever… Yes, forever..

Okay so we have done all the above  so we have a neat and presentable personal and hopefully a professional page as well and now you want to try and network (you are social right?) and meet some new people maybe open some doors who knows what can happen. Well what do you do?

First and foremost do not go out asking for jobs. People are just going to trash your message and most likely de-friend you for it and well do you think asking someone for a job out of the blue got a person a job anyway? Next never recommend strangers. I think the golden rule here is if you have never been to their house, or them to yours, you do not know them that well. Friends hang out and know a good bit about each other. I have some coworkers I would recommend on the basis that I have known them for nearly a decade but I can assure you that group is pretty small and the longer I work the smaller the group gets. Your reputation is riding on how well they do. If you recommend someone who is a terrible employee it will look bad on them, but hey you recommended them so do not think the other person has forgotten about your recommendation.

In reality you build friends online like you would offline. You have to build a relationship and talk to people. Do not bombard them with messages, information, or newsletters (only send newsletters if they ask). Find a common bond between you and work from there, but be realistic Lady Gaga does not really want to be your close personal friend nor do half the CEOs of fortune 500 companies (unless you know most of them, then maybe).

What do you think; did I miss any social media etiquette faux pas? Have an example of a faux pas for us.

Give Your Site a French Manicure

I thought this was a good post and worthy of re sharing.

Boomer Blog Blunders

Hello again!

This week, let’s explore the secret world of web design.  Do you prefer a French manicure or glitter?  Often underutilized, “whitespace” can bring a sophisticated, polished, elegant feel to a web page.  Top brands know this and use whitespace liberally to visually position themselves as an upscale brand. 

Unlike its name implies, whitespace does not have to be white.  “Whitespace is simply the empty space between and around the elements of a design or page layout. This can include: space around graphics and images, margins and gutters, space between columns, and even the space between lines of type.” 

Consider the following examples: 

     

As you glance at these web pages, which portrays a higher quality?  Notice the difference in the amount of whitespace in the menu bar and between the photographs.  Also, look at the space incorporated into the company names.  One feels sophisticated, confident, and luxurious…

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I need social media now what???

Okay so I got an email this week (someone read my blog and sent me an email and no comment go figure) and well I’ll paraphrase. I’m old and I have a business and I see I need some of the social media stuff, but having not grown up with it where do I start? Well that is a great question might I add and the simple answer it depends on where your clients are? I know right, if only we all knew that we would make millions.

Well if you a small business and you want know your customers then ask them. Your a mediums sized business randomly selects some customers and ask them and same goes with bigger businesses. Sample sizes can be smaller than you think to get a good feel for your customers. I know it just doesn’t seem that easy but it really is. Your saying you want to make it easier to communicate and do you think they will say no I don not like the free flow of communication. By the way there is no point in being on Twitter if your customers are on Facebook, or any other social site it just would not be a good investment or time and resources. Remember it may be free but your time and energy are never free, so don’t get sucked into the lie that social media is free marketing (I hear that a lot). If someone says that ask them to do it for you for free and see what kind of look you get. Also lets not forget that it may take you longer than you think to get you audience involved in your social media and that does not mean you are doing something wrong.

That said it doesn’t matter if you end up on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumbler, WordPress, or well any of the however many of the other sites out there (one sure there are at least hundreds more) a company must do it well. I will offer up my guidelines for how to conduct social media.

  1. Have a purpose in what you plan to achieve in the social sphere. You wouldn’t talk about your mom to a customer so don’t share that on your social media site.Think of it as your spending you money on this work to get the best return possible. This will take some (okay a lot) of your time up. Social Media is not small undertaking or build it and they will come you have to give them a reason to come back and better yet a reason to talk about you.
  2. Now that I said “best return possible” do not use social media as a sales tool. I am willing to bet it will not work. Would you want to be sold to on-line? Think of it as the friendly neighbor chat and in the neighbor chat you don’t try to sell you build a relationship and then they well hopefully (if your a good neighbor) they will want to bring you their business.
  3. Stay in your area of expertise. Oh and that said unless your a controversial company try and stay out of the controversy no point in loosing a potential customer just because you keep talking about something they do not agree with.
  4. Keep it fresh. If you going to do social media a post once a week might work for blogging, but you better be monitoring it all week and replying to people who ask you questions. However, once a week will not work for most other forms of social media. Facebook or Twitter at least a few times a day surely you can think of something.
  5. Monitor, monitor, monitor. I hope the old rule of three times means it is important. With new technology come new ways to monitor that technology and well social media is no exception. Some are free and some are pay (pay may not necessarily be better here I personally do not know). With that monitoring keep up with what people are saying if they are negative find out what is wrong and make it right (accept responsibility), but get in the conversation but no need to get all jumpy over it.
  6. Sorry I tried to keep it to 5 (5 just seems easier to remember), but I couldn’t. Do not replace your other marketing forms with social media. If you doing direct mail and it is working well keep it up (I mean I hope you are monitoring it at least). Social media is not the end all to marketing it is a piece of the newly enlarged marketing pie and use it as such.

There you go six rules (or guidelines for those who hate rules) to help you in your social media journey. Remember this you can do it even if you are as the email said “old”. It is something to have fun with (hope work is fun) and it can give your brand some added personality. That personality should help reinforce who you are as a company. If your fun loving your social media had better be fun loving as well, if you’re a strait laced financial firm well you need not be (even they can have fun).

Websites and Design

When many of us think emerging media we do not really think of websites since they have been around for quite some time now, but in 2010 almost 50% of small businesses did not have a website. That is mind blowing to me. I am not sure the last time I opened a phone book to find a business (or well anything for that matter). Okay I’ll admit, most likely not everyone needs a website to be successful, but most companies do and if you even have and inkling that you should have one you probably need one.

The first problem is where do you go to get your domain name to even start your own website? Well if you have ever wondered what those Go Daddy commercials were selling look no farther, but there are a variety of companies that also provide domain names for you. Some of those others are: Register, Network Solutions, 1&1, and Yahoo Domains. Okay now that that is settled and you know where to get your domain name and you paid to officially have a link to your site (hopefully you got your company name).

Now it is down to the actually design of the site. I suggest a few things one if you do not know what you are doing you might want to actually pay someone to create it for you (I would be going the route of paying someone for sure). Before you hop in your car and run off to the tech savvy high school kid down the street to build your website; sit down and take some time and think how you would want to see your website (you may need some paper and a pencil to do some simple layouts). We have all looked at websites that we liked and here is what I see these websites have in common.

Good websites are written in easy to understand language none of those pretentious words like we were supposed to know for those standardized tests in high school.  Key word there we were apparently supposed to know them. Guess what I still do not know them. Why, well because I do not use them to talk or to get you to understand what I am saying. That said if your clients are pretentious well maybe you do need big pretentious words otherwise speak like the people you hope to be drawing to your site. The way your content should be written is what Steph Hay calls the mom test. That is if your mom does not understand what you are trying to say then well how do you expect others to understand? This is where you give your website some personality and character (just like your business has a personality with consumers make it one voice).

Good websites have easy navigation paths. Nothing will turn an on-line customer away faster than not being able to click through your website to find what they are looking for. That said your contact information should be clear and easy to find on every page and give the customer every opportunity to reach out to you. This may require that you have links on the top and bottom of the page to help navigate (I personally do hate reading something just to scroll back to the top to move to another page).

Good websites clean and clear page layout. That is words are large enough and have enough contrast from the background to be easily read. Pictures are well organized and placed orderly on the page. Remember all ages may be looking at your website. You do not need lots of motion, music, or glitz and glitter to keep people, quite contrary you actually want some white space. This serves as a resting place for your eyes. No need to try and give people a headache as punishment for looking at your site.

Lastly a good website is capable of being used on multiple platforms. It is predicted that by 2015 more people will access the internet through a mobile device (phone or tablet) than by a computer, so make sure you website displays properly across the device divide. Not only that but do you use Internet Explorer (maybe even an old version), what about Apple’s Safari, or Firefox, or Google Chrome, or maybe even a Lenox device. That is a lot of choice and guess what your website might not display properly if it is not coded properly. That is why I suggest a professional make your website, but they do not have to be expensive to do a great job.

Good websites solicit feedback. That is right they get feedback on their site and work to make it better and easier to use. That means they care what others think about their site and want you to keep coming back to visit. That is the ultimate goal right to have people come back and spend their time on your website and not somewhere else.

With all this it can easily overwhelm a small company or even a stuck in the old way of doing things fortune 1000 company. You are not alone and there is plenty of help out there you just have to look. Plus you know what business people really do what to help you. I suggest you find a business person you respect and see what they can do to help. Plus if you have a website that violates these ideas well maybe you need to find out what you can to improve your website. If you learn nothing else that you read remember this: every aspect of your business is a marketing tool, forget that and well you miss a whole heap of potential.

Emergent Media

Hello and welcome to my first ever blog and I’m glad you could be part of this magical experience, or at least hopefully you will come back.

A little about myself I am not a marketer by trade, instead I am much more of a technical person my nature. However one must be able to understand the other side of the coin to help converge the technical and the artistic side of business. Plus I hear writing help keep the brain sharp, so maybe I’ll sharpen up a bit as well.

I hope you enjoy this nine part mini-series on emerging media and let us get started shall we.

Part I

What is emerging media?

Em Emerging Media defines emerging media is the evolution of utilizing technology to share information in new and innovative ways. Current trends in marketing include an explosion in digital media with the development and expansion of social networks, blogs, forums, instant messaging, mobile marketing, e-mail marketing, rich media and paid and organic search all the way to offline trends in discovering the power of word of mouth marketing (WOM) techniques and strategies that become a part of integrated media and marketing campaigns.

Okay so that is a lot of information in a little space so what does it all mean. Well to me emerging media is constantly changing, because you can only be emerging for so long before you become just another plain old media outlet. How long does it take to no longer be emerging I have no clue, I mean is Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube new. Facebook was founded in 2004, Youtube in 2005, and Twitter in 2006 they are some of the old guys on the block as far as the internet is concerned. However, they have done what the printing press did for spreading ideas. Emerging media is a website, podcasts, video ads, in gaming advertising, blogs, chat rooms, social networks, mobile applications, etc.  Essentially if you can see it on the internet or on your phone and especially if you can have a discussion or virtual discussion on it you are in emerging media’s domain.

Lets look as some examples of what emerging media is from an emerging media source.

Okay so that was some emerging media showing about other emerging media being brought to you on yet another source of emerging media. Man who knew how crazy this blog could already get. I though it would be a great stopping place for this weeks installment to show some statistics on emerging media and its use.

Hope to see you all next week.