Social Media and It’s Effect on PR and Journalism

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The social media kraken.

Social media is slowly spreading its tentacles in every possible direction and permeating every part of our life. I check Facebook and Twitter several times a day and every time there are posts with news, announcements, or some other information material. Now that the internet has spread to every possible device including refrigerators it is easier than ever to throw something online for others to read. Everybody who has an internet connection can now be heard online. My Statement of Purpose for my application to University of Florida cited cases where news was reported first on Twitter and only then by actual news channels.

The world of journalism is changing and I am sure that journalists are somewhat uneasy about the change. Although I am not a journalist myself I can understand the concerns that some may feel. While just a few years ago news was the domain of TV and print where respectable journalists double checked facts and wrote stories. Now anyone can report on anything, journalist or not, I believe it is called citizen journalism. The term seems a bit silly since an average person is not a journalist, which would be like calling me a citizen doctor because I have access to WebMD.com. Reading about cancer does not make me an oncologist. However the harsh reality is that reliable news sources are no longer our first source of news. People get swept away by rumors on social media such as the Boston Bombing suspect’s identity to the death of Michael Jackson. Rumors are now more powerful than ever since they can be spread in an instant and unverified information can seem like fact. It is hard to say how journalism will combat this or integrate into it, or if it will at all. My hope is that people grow weary of unsubstantiated rumors and pure propaganda and return to reputable news sources for their information. However journalists need to also integrate and adapt to the speed of news. Maybe the time of a full length article has gone by and it is time to report by Tweet.

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Average PR team doing who knows what.

Public relations is another curious aspect that is being amalgamated by social media. Trust me, I am no fan of PR professionals, at one time I wanted to leap across a desk during a meeting and punch the so called “PR expert”. However PR is going to become a bigger and bigger piece of every company’s business as social media grows. Now that any given organization can talk and listen to thousands of people at once through the web the proper tone and message become ever so popular. PR can no longer lock themselves in an office to stew over a press release and emerge a week later with a statement that is supposedly the greatest piece of writing known to mankind. Reponses have to be quick and timely, the turnaround time is less than a day, sometimes less than an hour. It will be an interesting question whether social media and PR will become the one and the same.

Questions to Ponder

  1. Should the offices of PR and social media be rolled into one in a company?
  2. How can journalists keep up with the rapid proliferation of information?
  3. Why are PR people so smug?

Simple Ways to Prove ROI on Social Media

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Why do we care about ROI?

The hardest part of writing anything about calculating Return On Investment (ROI) in social media is coming up with an introduction. What do you say? Proving ROI on anything is complicated; there are very few activities, if any, that you can directly show a percentage. There are books devoted to proving ROI and other performance indicators.Pic 1-1

This is the very basic formula for ROI. I wish you could shake some magical piece of software and some numbers would fall out that could be plugged in a formula that would show how awesome I am doing. Unfortunately the magical software is under development and will not be completed any time soon. In the mean time we have to find other innovative way to measure the success or failure of our social media campaigns and what social media can be used for.

Traditional Media Equivalence

Radio, TV, and print have been around for a long time and most people feel comfortable when they hear that 10,000 people saw an ad or 6,000 people heard a radio spot. These numbers are really no different than reach or views on social media but due to their use over decades have made them commonplace.pic 2

The metrics on many platforms provide great detail about the audience thaviews your content.  Use that information to calculate what is the cost per impression using social media versus cost per impression (or 1000 or some number) using traditional media. A positive number indicates that social media provides better value at reaching your target audience than a traditional channel. A negative number would prove the opposite.

Value Per Prospect

Many businesses attempt to gather prospects or personal information so they can specifically target those people with ads, mail outs, and other promotional material. Over time a business will determine approximately how much each new prospect is worth based on response raters and average spending. The same can be done on social media on a platform by platform basis. I say platform by platform because every single platform will allow access to various information and limit in the ways you can communicate with your prospects.pic 3

The term prospect will also vary from platform. On Facebook a prospect would be a page fane, on Twitter it would be a follower. Keep in mind that this is a metric best used after you have some data already from different social media platforms. It would be difficult to predict a value of a follower before some data is gathered.

Sentiment and Branding

Social media is the greatest listening tool currently available. Just a few years ago companies had to rely on focus groups and questionnaires to ascertain what consumers thought of their product and brand. Active polling suffers from many issues such as bias in questions and that the answer you get is always biased depending on who is asking. By passively listening on social media a company can receive immediate feedback about the positives and negatives that surround their brand.

There is no specific formula since it is hard enough to define what a brand is. However you do get key indicators in the shift in keywords and sentiment about your brand from real time social media monitoring tools. Are the keywords reflecting what you want said about your brand? Is the right audience talking about it? Are there issues that you never knew about? Social media can be great at detecting issues and problems with products before any warning comes from a traditional channel. The ability to avert crisis before any escalation cannot be quantified but this ability can be almost priceless.

Things to ponder:

1. Are my formulas correct? Seriously, are they?

2. Are quantitative methods best at proving ROI?

3. Is ROI always the goal?

SEO, What It Is, How It Works

What is SEO?

Let me shock you right now, there are a lot of websites, blogs, and junk on the world wide web. Anybody can put whatever they want on the web but most of the stuff on the internet is not that great. So there has to be a system of organizing and relating everything on the web. This is what search engines like Google and Yahoo! do for us. They look at every page that they can access and decide what it is about, what it connects to, and then ranks them based on different criteria. The exact criteria and how important each one is differs from search engine to search engine, but there are many that are universal.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of refining a website or blog so that search engines rank it higher on their lists for specific keywords. For example if you sell widgets you would want to be the #1 results for “buy a widget” search term. There are many aspects of a website that can be optimized in order for a search engine to rate your website higher.

 

How SEO Helps.

Think about the last time you were on Google or any other search engine, how often did you go past the first page of results? Probably not very often, if ever. The first page of search results is a gold mine and the first five spots on the page are the gold.  The first page of search results on Google takes up 95% of all traffic for a specific search term. The third page of Google search results barely gets 1% of the traffic.

Given the great disparity of traffic received it can be easy to see how important it is to rank at least on the first page of Google for a search term. However just as we mentioned above there are a lot of people with a lot of websites out there that are trying to get to that prestigious first page. Some of the companies that you are competing may have far more resources than you to develop their websites, but don’t despair, you can still be on the first page.

How SEO Can Work For You

Unless you run a huge company SEO can be a bit tricky. The problem is that search engines take a lot of different factors into consideration. For example Google analyzes everything from HTML, CSS, content, images, videos, and links. The combination of technical and creative capabilities can be a bit much for one or even several people. There are however a number of things that anyone can do to improve their ranking without years of study.

 

  • Choose your keywords. Below is a list of several tools that will help with SEO. One of them is Google AdWords which allows you to look at how frequently certain search terms are used. It will also show other terms that are similar to one another. From there pick your keywords to include in your content. It is optimal that specific keywords are about 2-3% of your written content. Keep in mind that the more searches there are for a term the more competition there is for those keywords. Sometimes it is better to try for less popular keywords.
  • Learn to code or hire a web developer. Google and other engines will penalize websites that are poorly coded and have issues. Web developers may not be cheap but they are worth it in the long term.
  • Use longer keyword phrases. Two word phrases are incredibly competitive.
  • Bulletize, italicize, or bold your keywords.
  • When posting images or videos don’t give them names such as 12f1234.jpg. Instead use a descriptive tag so Google can understand what it is.
  • Share your website or blog on Google +.
  • Unless required, don’t use high resolution images that slow down load times.
  • Get other websites to link to your content. The easiest way to do this is to create great content.
  • Use Google Analytics or other analytical tool to find weak spots on your website. Improve on those points.
  • CREATE GREAT CONTENT. Really, this is probably the most important point.

 

Tools For SEO

There are a number of tools that you can use in the quest for SEO. There are many others out there but this is a basic list that will help you out.

Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a great free tool for analyzing traffic coming to your website and identifying any issues.

Google AdWords – One of the most popular tools to find keywords and keyword ideas. Google also provides great support and How To’s if any part of AdWords confusses you.

Google Webmaster – Google Webmaster tools will allow you to optimize your websites coding and links. It will point out what Google may be penalizing or what coding issues the website has so that you can correct them.

Open Site Explorer– A tool that will help you link opportunities through competitor back link research. Also a great way to snoop on your competition.

Bing Webmaster Tools – Like Google Webmaster tools but for Bing!

PageRank Status – This is a free browser extension that shows your the page rank of every website you visits. It doesn’t mean that one website is better than another, just means it is doing better.

 

Things To Think About

1. What are some other simple things that anyone can do for SEO?

2. Are there any other great tools for SEO?

3. What is more important great content or SEO?

A Quick Guide to Social Media Analytics

Social Media Analytics and Proving That Social Works

Cheesy Image? Yes. Good example? Kind of.

There is a lot of buzz out there about social media analytics, big data, and providing ROI from social media. With all this hype it is easy to get carried away in fancy buzzwords, certifications, and expensive software. Most people treat social media like some incredibly unique beast that requires some yet unknown methods to be tamed. Surprisingly this is not true. In reality social media is an extension of the same people that you would see on the street. The same people retain the same interests, purchasing habits, fears, and likes online just as in real life.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by all the available data from social media because there really is a lot of it. Facebook Page Insights will produce over a thousand different metrics for a single business page. However most of this data is not required or applicable. As long as you structure your goals, analytics, and key indicators, social media analytics is a breeze. There is doctrinal way to structure your analytics but the below method is the one that has worked for me time and time again.

Identify goal

This sounds like a given but you will be surprised how many times people and businesses dive into social media with no clear goal. Just like an advertising campaign or the business itself you have to set yourself a goal. You should really try to narrow down what you want to do on social media to one goal, although I have seen two or three at a time. If you choose more than one purpose for your social media campaign try to keep them relevant to one another. Your goals can vary but some examples are:

–          Raise brand awareness by reaching a targeted audience

–          Increase the effect of your traditional marketing campaign

–          Sell more widgets (or whatever you are selling)

–          Grow a particular target audience

–          Retain existing customer

There are also some bad social media goals:

–          Be on social media (a common and terrible goal)

–          Get more views, likes, shares (unless you are in a very specific business this is not a goal)

–          Raise brand awareness through shotgun blast to any audience

Create a Baseline

Before you start anything you have to gather baseline information on what is happening now. If you don’t have a social media presence then you should see if anyone is talking about you. You can do this utilizing a variety of paid and free tools, but more about that in a bit. Create a document that shows:

–          Online mentions

–          Sentiment on the mentions

–          Online conversions and sales

–          Conversation about your competitors

–          What audience you are targeting and their presence on social media

–          The social media platforms that your audience is on

–          What websites, blogs, and platforms you would expect to mentioned on and why

–          Anything else that you may find pertinent to your business

Identify Metrics

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Basic Social Media Metrics

Based on your goal identify what success would look like. Is it an increase in sales? More people reading your blog? Increased foot traffic in your store? Brain storm the possible metrics that need to be tracked to prove success of your social media campaign and how they can be related. The metrics will change or be amalgamated in the future since there is no way to predict everything ahead of time. You do need something to track as you begin to post online and these initial metrics will provide a starting point. Incorporate your baseline metrics here to see the change from the zero.

Choose tool, not hundreds of tool

There are literally hundreds and probably thousands of different consumer response, analytics, and media management tools. Each includes various set of capabilities and various prices. Many people just want to use every possible available tool and combine all their metrics into the worlds largest and most colorful PowerPoint presentation. This however is not a good idea. Each tool utilizes different techniques for collecting data which will not mach with other tools. Additionally the same metrics may be defined differently by each tool. This will lead to overall confusion. Pick tools that can monitor your already identified metrics and ask the tool provider to give you a demo first. I suggest utilizing one social media management tool like HootSuite to manage all your channels and one metric tool such as Sysmos or Radian6 for analytics. What you use is up to you and the size of your business. If Sysmos and Radian6 are to cost prohibitive then there are other cheaper solutions.

Understand What You Are Looking At

The tools and certain social media metrics may not make sense at first. The difference between weekly and monthly visitors, total reach vs post reach, or some of the other thousand metrics out there are important to understand. If you don’t understand them, don’t despair. There are plenty of resources online available that will explain every facet of social media of metrics. Also make sure that the pay tools you are using provide support and training for their tools, there are often features that you would have never found yourself. If all else fails feel free to shoot me a message and I will try to help as I can.

 

Questions to consider

1.  Are there any other imperative steps to the analysis process?

2. Why does social media have a bad track record of proving effectiveness?

3. What metrics do you find the most important?

The quick explanation of how to be viral

How do things go viral? It is hard to say, the internet is big (like really big) and there is are a lot of people competing for the little bit of time and attention that we all have. Almost everyone that has any presence online dreams that some of their content will go “viral”. Although this is not a bad dream some reality needs to be injected into it. Considering that we already discussed that the internet is a big place it is difficult in the least to make anything go viral, let alone be shared a couple of times.

There is no magic solution or formula for viral content. Even the meaning of viral will depend on what it is that you do online. Many people jump to the idea of virality meaning that millions of people share and watch your YouTube clip or share your article. This however is not applicable to every business or venture, you have to be realistic about the size of your audience and what it is that you are presenting. Think of virality in the terms of the people you want to reach. If you are a small business owner that paves driveways then the audience you may want to reach may be only in the few thousands.

There are overall trends that make some content more or less prone to become viral. We all know that an average piece of writing or content is not going to go viral. Sometimes things go viral because of how terrible they are but that is rarely the type of fame that people want. Keep in mind a few general rules when creating your content and something of yours just might go viral.

Know Your Audience

As mentioned above, virality is dependent on what you do. If you pave driveways in a smaller city, virality might look different than a viral campaign for Coca-Cola. Look at the number of people who may be looking for a service like yours within the city and around it. If there are 10,000 possible customers and you reach 20% of them instead of the usual 5% then high-fives are due all around. Consider your content viral, you reached 4X more audience than usual and gained more exposure. Keep it up! If you only reached the regular 5% again, don’t despair, you reached 5% and that’s not bad.

Think about the most basic questions when creating your material. Do they know about you? Do they know about your competitors? Are you trying to contact them? Are your campaigns targeted or general? What is it that is most important to your customer? These may sound like simple questions but they are the foundation of any good piece of popular material. Think about your audience and what they want. Don’t create what you think is great, it is not about you. Think about what your customer would like to see.

Be Different

old-spice-commercial-adBe different. Try something other than what is the norm, stand out from your competition. After all if you do the same thing as everyone else you can’t expect to stand out. There is no secret to being different, if you look at your product or campaign and go “I have seen that” then it is not new. Don’t get me wrong, being innovative is incredibly difficult. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every piece of content, but throw out something whacky and different sometimes, it just may take off.

Be Emotional

Unless you are in a field such as saving baby seals or nature photography it is often hard to evoke emotion. Going back to the concrete laying business example, it may be hard to evoke emotion about a well paved driveway that won’t crack. Very few people get excited about everyday things but that is a large part of creating content. According to some research such emotions as awe, anger, anxiety, fear, joy and surprise are key factors to creating viral content. One of the most appealing and common aspect of viral content is humor. To inject emotion into your content jump back to the Be Different aspect and try something different. The Dollar Shave Club was a successful viral campaign that made a mundane activity such as shaving humorous and joyful. Take example from others success and see if any elements can be infused into your content.

Keep It to the Point and Make It Long

Is this point a Catch-22? Not really. As mentioned most people today have a short attention span. We are bombarded with information from every possible angle and absorbing all of it is difficult. If you are creating a video or a visual piece of content, keep it to the point. If a person does not have a lot of time allow them to skim whatever it is that you created for the nuggets of information and let them move on. They can always come back later and admire your work in its full glory.

Make your written content longer. Long, in depth posts are usually more apt to go viral than short and to the point. If your content is not based on visuals you can expand and go in depth. After all somebody committed to reading it, they might as well get as much as they can from it. Just remember to highlight the most important points or at least make them easy to notice.

 Fail

That’s right, fail. I fail, you fail, we all fail at some point. The fact is that the so called “virality guru’s” fail all the time. If making something viral does not work the 1st,2nd,34th time, don’t despair, just keep at it. Over time and with experience you and I will get there, and the reward will your own piece of internet history in the form of a nifty viral campaign.

Share

How can anything go viral if you don’t share? Seriously, throw some Share, Like, Tweet, and other social media buttons on to your content. Otherwise how are people supposed to share with the world the greatness that you created?

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Questions to Consider

  1. Are there are important aspects to viral content?
  2. Is viral content really that important or is consistent good content better?
  3. Is virality really that valuable, does it bring in more business?

The New Social Medium of Visual

Social media is now more saturated than ever. If you do anything related to social media you understand how much time it takes to schedule the tweets, update the statuses, refine the pictures, analyze the statistics. There are more platforms now than ever, each has millions of users, and every single one can benefit your business somehow. If you are feeling overwhelmed I have some bad news, let me throw in a couple more platforms. I don’t know whether any of these should be added to an already mix of social media platforms, but there are good reasons to do so.

YouTube, Pinterest, and Vine. See anything in common about the three? Apart from being increasingly popular all three are visual based platforms. YouTube and Vine are specifically video based while Pinterest allows for any image, article, or video to be “pinned” on it for other users to view. Their growth in popularity echoes the already known fact that visual social media posts do much better than text only ones. This is a fact across all the platform.

YOUTUBE

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YouTube has been around since 2005, or what can be described as an eternity in internet years. YouTube has evolved from a platform for sharing smaller videos to now hosting full length movies. YouTube is available on almost every mobile device, gaming station, and now even on TV. The combination of accessibility and ability to keep audiences engaged makes YouTube one of the platforms to make a presence on. The simple ability to demonstrate a product and earn a consumers trust makes YouTube Invaluable.

PINTEREST

pinterest-traffic1Pinterest is a fascinating new platform. It is unlike any of the other major platforms that allows users to create “boards” to which users “pin” or attach images, articles, videos, or younger female audience, however more and more men are joining the platform. anything else that can be found on the internet. Users then can browse each other’s boards or simply search by tags or categories. The visual nature of Pinterest and the focus on sharing pins allows Pinterest to have much higher interaction between brands and users, almost double that of Facebook. Pinterest also beats out Facebook and other platforms on engagement, and referral traffic. The one downfall is the demographic of Pinterest consisting of mainly

VINE

Vine is a newcomer, a new video sharing app for Twitter. Although a recent newcomer it has been extraordinarily popular. The app focuses on short video clips shared by users that can be directly embedded into Twitter and Facebook. Whether Vine becomes one of the mainstays or gets beat by Instagram video remains unknown. Due to the short length of Vine videos it can never hurt to jump in early and build a name on a fast growing platform.

Things To Think About

1. Will Vine become a prominent platform or is it just a fad?

2. How can Pinterest evolve to draw a wider demographic?

3. Will YouTube be the permanent leader in video sharing?

LinkedIn: The World’s Biggest Rolodex

Let us be honest, a lot of the time when looking for a new job it isn’t what you know, it is who you know. After a few recent conversation with friends who struggled to find jobs for months only to be set up by a long forgotten acquaintance or friend in the end. One of the main reasons to network is to ask someone for job recommendations at some point. The infamous desk Rolodex at one point served as a monument to how many people someone knew and who they could reach out to.

The Rolodex is so last decade, welcome to the age of social media. Taking place of the round ball of paper on your desk is the now infamous LinkedIn. The social networking site is taking job hunting, recruiting, and self-promotion to a whole new level. LinkedIn is basically your resume, education, interests, hobbies, and achievements all wrapped up and packaged for your friends and recruiters to see. LinkedIn houses your resume for anyone to see (if you let them) 24/7.

The issue that plagues social media hits LinkedIn just as much. The issue is the wrong information. Too many recruiters today can Google a potential employees name only to find alcohol, drug, and profanity laced posts and images. While before an employee may have looked great on his resume, social media has allowed recruiters to see another part of every person. The issue on LinkedIn is slightly different and it is too little information.

Everybody who has a LinkedIn account browses around other profiles to check out what they have posted and why. Too often you and I go to a profile only to be met with a few lines of nondescript text with the world’s most boring headline. To be honest that was me at some point, and I am still slowly working on improving my profile. I realized that in the age of social media not representing myself properly online would be like sending in a resume written on a Post-It note, a pink one.

Want to avoid the mistakes I and many others made on LinkedIn? Follow these few steps and you will be well on your way to looking the hirable and motivated hero that you are.

1. The Headline

If I could scream through the computer screen I would scream headline. This has to be catchy and descriptive since this is the first piece of text that anyone sees on your profile.

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2. The Summary

Right after being done screaming about the headline I would yell a bit about the summary. You include a summary on your resume, why omit it on LinkedIn?

3. Include all experiences

On LinkedIn you can include almost everything you have done in your life. You shouldn’t include everything but you can add much more than usual. Did you take some relevant classes in college, have a applicable hobby, wrote a paper or an article? Include everything that a recruiter or someone else may find interesting.

4. Add Skills

LinkedIn has the ability for you to add up to 50 skills that you believe describe your capabilities the best and then others can endorse you for those that they believe are the best for you.

 

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5. Proof Read

Proof read everything you wrote and then proof read it again. Nothing looks worse than a resume, online or not, that is full or grammatical errors and improper language.

6. Have a picture

LinkedIn gives you the advantage of adding a picture. A profile with a picture is much more likely to be viewed than one without. Keep in mind that this is a professional picture of you, not your dog, cat, spouse, or dream vacation spot. Be an egotist and just put up your most recent, best looking picture.

7. Add Contact Info

What is the point of a resume if no one can contact you? Add your social media accounts, website, and any other way that you want people to follow or contact you.

 

Things to Think About

1. Is there another point that is crucial to your LinkedIn account?

2. Does LinkedIn really help that much in a job search?

3. What is the best way to network on LinkedIn?

Google + and Facebook and How They Are Growing More Alike

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How can you compare the search giant Google to the search titan Facebook? If you asked me a year or two ago I would say that you could not. There were two separate and rather unique companies and platforms. Facebook was purely a social media to share break up photos and Google was a search engine used to complete last minute papers and find funny cat pictures. However it is 2013 and the answer is completely different. Both of the giants are moving closer and closer to one another in terms of features and functionality. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a closer look at both then.

Facebook and the Social Graph

Facebook has been the leader in the social networking medium for a long time (in internet time) and will continue to be the leader for the foreseeable future. Every so often Facebook innovates and adds function and changes the way it functions. The latest and most interesting is the Social Graph concept. What the social graph really is social network analysis applied to a social medium and utilized to make decisions. Although social network analysis can be a complex subject EdgeRank does a great job of summarizing how it affects Facebook and how Facebook ranks stories in its news feed.

On a very base level Facebook’s Social Graph puts you at the center and then draws lines to everything you have liked, Imageshared, commented or interacted with. Facebook even tracks whether you hovered your mouse over a post. Using this information Facebook ranks and stacks your Facebook feed depending on what you have interacted with recently. This allows you to see everything you want while dropping what you don’t down to the bottom of your feed. Kurt Wagner has a great summary on exactly how your news feed is ranked.

Social Graph and the Future

There are long term implications of Social Graph as Facebook constantly moves towards becoming a search engine. As long as Facebook remains a purely social media platform it can be supplanted just like My Space. Shel Israel points out Facebook’s partnership with Microsoft’s Bing. By partnering with a search engine Facebook will be able to combine the relationship information with search engine knowledge of what people look for to bring together everything that you would want online in a single package cutting the need for Google and other search engines.

Google and Google +

Google has tried to enter into the social realm before with Buzz. The previous experiment did not work out so well but Google’s new venture Google + is seeing success. Although Facebook is still ahead in the social realm Google is making every attempt to change that. Since Google is coming from behind in the social game they are fully leveraging their search engine capabilities.

ImageGoogle has fully implemented an authorship component where authors can identify their sites or blogs and link them to their Google + profiles for improved SEO. If you search on Google now you will see that some of the top results are websites identified by the authors personal profiles on Google +. This is giving many authors and other businesses on the web the reason to be on Google + and promote it everywhere on the web in turn growing the social media network.

 Google +, Facebook and the Future

Google is attempting to do the same thing as Facebook but working from the opposite corner. As Facebook attempts to grow into the search engine business, Google is attempting to get into the social medium. Who will be the first to succeed is hard to tell. Facebook has far more active social media members but Google has a large edge in profit that they can use to leverage. What it means for the rest of us is that we need to be active on both Google + and Facebook to reach the widest audience. Each platform presents a different opportunity and advantage for now, but that may change soon.

Questions

1. Who is doing the better job of expanding, Google or Facebook?

2. Do you see the future of search social driven or search engine driven?

3. Do you trust search results more if you see suggestions from your friends?

The Beginners List to Using Twitter

There are a number (a large number, like really large number) of articles, infograhics, and lists online that tout tips the proper use of Twitter. So whose list is the right one? I don’t know, but the correct answer is somewhere in the middle. Personally I am a believer in analysis and statistical methods so if we look at a number of the lists and combine the most commonly mentioned points then we should have the list of all lists. Below is a compiled list of some of the common pointers about Twitter slightly altered from personal experience.

1. Define Who You Are

Don’t be on Twitter just because your competitors are on Twitter. Think about what you do, what it is what you want to do, and how Twitter can help you accomplish your goals. Think of how you want to come across as a brand, whether it is humorous or serious.

2. Define Your Purpose and Goals

Many different companies use Twitter for different reasons from customer support to sales. All the successful companies however know the purpose behind their Twitter handle. Your business has goals also and Twitter can help accomplish them. Figure out what how Twitter will help you achieve them.

3. Identify Who Will Tweet

One of the main problems that a number companies suffer from is inconsistent voice and tweets. You may have one person in charge of your social media ortwitter-cartoon-2 an entire team. Whatever the case may be decide on the rules of interaction and how they will do it. Focus on what your social media team should do instead of what they shouldn’t do. Social media and Twitter is a flexible medium, don’t restrict it by placing to many rules.

4. Research the Communities and Your Target Audience

Twitter is one of the most open social media platforms available. Only about 5% of Twitter accounts have some privacy restrictions. Use the Twitter search bar, available Twitter research tools, or look to other brands to online to identify your target audience and the communities within which their reside. There is no need to guess what you should say or how you should engage, you can research it beforehand.

5. Create Great Content

This is probably the most repeated point when it comes to social media. With the entry barrier to social media so low it is becoming harder and harder to attract customers. What people look for online is original, creative content. Much like the old axiom “Build it and they will come”.

6. Respond, Interact, and Follow

This is social media, the word social says it all. Be social and respond, interact, and follow with your consumers on Twitter. You should respond to everyone who engages you on Twitter.

7. 80/20 Rule (Called the Pareto Principle)

This is the second most repeated point when it comes to social media. 80% of your posts/content should be for your followers while only 20% of your posts should be self-advertising.

Questions:

1. What should be added to this list? What should be removed?

2. How closely should you follow the 80/20 rule?

3. What is the best way to research your audience?

Sharing, caring, and staying focused.

Let me start off with asking a blunt question. Is it possible for a person or company to truly just talk and listen to its customers? I know, there are tons of articles out there that say you should be providing content that matters to your audience just to help and engage them. Let us be honest with ourselves, when we create or share content that an audience wants we are doing to move towards a goal of building an audience and generating influence.

Pam Moore put together a fantastic list of tips about how to engage and grow your social media following. Her best advice came from her introduction instead of the 50 tips she provides in the blog post. She stated that “with every post, tweet, status update and blog post you should be thinking about what positive impact it will have on your community”. Even if you are writing an article just to provide advice to your readers or posting some jokes for everyone to laugh at it has to drive towards a purpose. If it is to build an audience write and share things that attract people, or write to engage, or write to entertain. Whatever it may be, have a purpose behind it.

If you have ever created any plan at all you must know that goals are incredibly important in achieving success. The best goal for every piece that you create would be that it is shared, retweeted, and goes completely viral making you rich. These are great goals but most likely a bit to lofty to be achieved. Be reasonable about what you want to achieve, look at what you are about to post and think about what it was designed for and what you can achieve with it. If it is a funny cat video, then see if you can get is shared an X amount of times. Or if it is the health advice of the day then try to get it retweeted an X amount of times. Just remember to keep your content relevant to your overall goals.

It is touted over and over that content is king, but if you are anything like me it may be a struggle sometimes to figure out how to find and create your own content. When I am at stand still I try this age old trick, look at what other people are doing. Guy Kawasaki, a former Apple evangelist, wrote and summarized 10 easy steps for building social media influence. The steps themselves may seem simple but I don’t know how many times I have myself skipped over them. Lately I have become a huge fan of lists to create a process for myself. Lists like Guys remind me what is essential every single time. I have one for info graphics courtesy of Mari Smith. Actually, one of my lists is an info graphic of all the prominent social media platforms out there. As far as content goes, info graphics are one of my favorite things. They provide a colorful image with quick to read information and images to give that data an extra dimension.  Is there a list that you use to help you stay focused?

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The lists, info graphics, and engagement all do lead to one thing, and that is whatever you need it to. Remember that your connection to your audience, your brand, and everything that you do leads to a goal. Set an objective, make a list, and execute. Whether you use eye catching info graphics or write make sure that you try and creative a positive impact on your audience.