Archives for Social Media

Facebook Frustrations

Facebook has been going through a lot of changes over the past 6 months. Some have been welcome but many have not. When people talk about not liking the changes, what they ate really talking about is not liking the change in usability. Ever heard the phrase “If it’s not broke don’t fix it.” Well they keep breaking it just to fix it, unfortunately they don’t take it back to the model that worked.

Changes People Liked (for the most part):

  • Timeline Profile
  • Photo-strip on profiles and fan pages
  • New Groups
  • Birthday on side bar
  • Changes People are Neutral on (for the most part):

  • Email upgrade
  • Ability to suggest fan page to all friends
  • Subscribing to friends feeds
  • Changes People Dislike (often passionately):

  • Automatically sorting the newsfeed for highlighted posts
  • Lumping all similar posts into on clump
  • Ineffectiveness of mobile app
  • The last list could actually go on for pages. I picked a few of the most recent issues. The biggest one being the sorting issue. When you go onto Facebook it automatically sorts your feed into “Highlighted Posts” these are posts that Facebook has deemed of most interest by you based on your user activity. Of course this means that you don’t see anyone else other than the high liter few. This also means that if you want to see other people you have to manually search them out. So if you actually want to see all your posts you have to change the sort to “Recent Stories First”. Of course you have to do this every time because the default is not the setting you chose but the setting Facebook chooses, which happens to be the highlighted stories.

    The biggest problem with this is that many people don’t know how to change their sort settings, so they either miss a lot of content or they turn away from Facebook in frustration.

    Facebook needs to turn their development attention back to an easy user experience and stop trying to be like Google and attempt to anticipate your thoughts before you think them.

    How to Give your Page an Edge on Google+

    Now that Google+ Pages has launched you might be asking yourself, do you really need another page for your business?  The answer is yes.  Though there is a lot of debate on whether Google+ is going to be a truly competitive social network for Facebook, there is one area that Facebook cannot compete and that is SEO.

    SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the most powerful tools that Google+ has to offer a business.

    1. When you create a page you are instantly indexed
    2. You are creating more backlinks to your website
    3. Direct Connect – Google’s new way to search online

    Direct Connect is one of the more interesting elements of the SEO boost. It is trying to give pages more visibility in the search engines. Now if someone is searching for you page all they have to do is  add “+” before your business name, ie. “+Your Business “, and they will pull up your page.

    Harnessing Pages for Your Business?

    Lets walk through setting up a basic business page and then we will look at how to give your page an edge.

    Google+ Pages Create a Page1 . Sign up: Go to: http://www.google.com/+/business/

    • Click “Create your Goolge+ Page”
    Google+ Page Categories

    Select your category

    3. Category: Select the main category for your page.

    • Local Business or Place- this is for if you are primarily local or have a physical location.
    • Product or Brand- if you are creating a page for one specific product item or for a brand. Tip: Bloggers this is where you want to be!
    • Company, Institution or Organization- this is the general business category
    • Arts, Entertainment or Sports- anything having to do with these categories, though often these are people like artists and musician or groups of people like a sports team.
    • Other- If you just don’t quite fit anywhere, you can assign your own category. Tip: I don’t really recommend this unless you have to because you are missing out on the “category” search benefit of Google+.

    4. Sub-Category: After you select a main category you will be able to select a sub category that best describes you.

    5. Page Name: Enter in your page name. This is what everyone will see as your page name and how people will find you. Do not make it too complicated and keep it to something that is easy to remember.

    • Though vanity URLs are not currently available, they will not be long in coming and you would rather have plus.google.com/mywebsite than plus.google.com/dontyouwishyourwebsitewerecoollikethis as your URL. Keep it clean and keep it simple!

    6. URL: Enter in the URL for your website.

    7. Age Restriction:You can opt to have age restriction on your page. This is good if you talk about mature issues, alcohol or drugs. The ages restrictions available are 13+, 18+ and 21+.

    Google+ Page Profile Photo

    Your profile image has a square aspect ratio, pick a photo that looks good cropped to a square.

    8. Profile Photo: Your profile photo is your face to the world. You may want to put your logo in here, or a picture of you. But whatever you decide make sure that the picture is square. Unlike Facebook, Google+ Pages give limited real estate to your pic.

    9. Tag Line: This is where you get to put some quick little tid bit about your business. Think of this as your elevator pitch. You want something that describes your page and essentially draws someone into the page. Tip: Give yourself an SEO boost and use keywords in this tag line.

    Once you are done you will be asked if you want to share your page on your Google+ profile. Go ahead and say yes. This is a great way to share your page with your various circles.

    Give Your Page an Edge

    You may be thinking that the set up process was really easy, and wondering why you did not have to fill out a ton of questionnaires about your business, information, description, contact information, etc.  That is because you don’t have to have any of that information on your page. But trust me, you want all that information on your page.

    Once your page is set up, you will want to go view your page profile and start editing information.

    When you click the edit button (a blue button on the top right of your page profile) it allows you to edit nearly all sections of your page.  All you need to do is click on a section to edit.

    Google+ Page Description

    1. Introduction: Write something descriptive about your business. This is your space to make your first real introduction and tell people what you are all about. Make sure you use key words that are related to your brand to given an even bigger SEO boost.
    2. Contact Info: You can add an email address or phone number. To protect your privacy, I recommend just an email address. You don’t necessarily want anyone who can find your page able to call you.
    3. Website: This is where your website URL will be.

    A note on Privacy: you can set the level of visibility as you set up these fields. You can control whether you only want your circles to be able to see this information or if you want it completely public. If you are worried about privacy you should restrict your visibility to “only circles” or even custom circles.  For your website, I recommend leaving this viewable by anyone.

    Linking Relationship

    Google+ offers another way to build good relations with other websites. Like a blog, where you can share your blogroll, you are able to share your recommended links. This is to the right column next to your information. If you have websites that you particularly like or support, this is a great way to share them with your followers. Plus this is a great way to breed good relationships with those websites. If you link someone, make sure you reach out to them and tell them.

    Photo Strip

    Google+ Page Photo Strip

    The photo strip is one of the most powerful visual aids of your page. You can add any photo that you like on this strip, and unlike in Facebook, you can place them in any order you like. All you have to do is upload the photo directly into the Google+ Page Circlephotostip. Once they are loaded you can drag and drop them into any position you like.

    With a little creative photography you can make your photostrip be an excellent brand ambassador for you page….or you can just have some fun with it and create a really interesting panoramic.

    Get Social!

    The number one power of any social network is the ability to be social. Pages is no different. Similar to Facebook, you can use Google+ as your page. You can go and add other pages to your circles. You can comment on their posts and interact them.  Though people can add your page to their circle, pages cannot add people to their circles.

    On the left column of your page, you will see your profile pic, a button to share your page and then a section showing who is in your circles and who has added you to theirs.  By looking at this section on other pages you will be able to find a lot of relevant and interesting pages to network with.

    The more you network with other pages the more they will network with you. Ultimately the more people who have circled you, the more people who are reading your posts. So get out there and network!

     

    Google+ Pages for business is not hugely different than Facebook Pages. However, the SEO value they add is reason enough to get a page set up for your website. The pages are easy to set up and offer the opportunity for more exposure to your website. So go out there and set up a Page and make sure to tell everyone about it!

    Syndicated on BlogHer.com

     

    Social Media Links

    In today’s constantly-connected world, there’s no escaping social media. Companies are using social media to reach a new audience of consumers, schools are creating Twitter and Facebook accounts to connect with students and their families, and entertainment companies use social media to reward regular views of TV shows and movie fans. Social media is also being used by traditional media to enhance print publications and television shows.

    But does all of this connectivity add up to any real benefit for the user? Does social media integration make a person more inclined to use online services—shopping, education and customer service— in place of more conventional options?  While people make decisions based on a whole host of factors, studies show that social media can influence more than just the way people communicate; social media can have a tangible impact on what people choose to buy, as well as levels of political and social engagement. Social media is affecting the way people communicate, but it’s also affecting the way people live their lives.

    Education

    Colleges and universities were among the first institutions to introduce online elements like e-mail and websites to their students, faculty and staff. But as social media becomes an important tool for students and teachers alike, Facebook and Twitter are enhancing or even replacing some of the messaging and online collaborative programs from just a few years ago. The rise of online education has been both encouraged and supported by social media: most major colleges and universities now offer courses online, and others offer entire programs online for returning adults or students who want to finish a degree without traveling to a campus.

    And online education is also becoming a useful tool for K-12 teachers and students— programs like Skype that connect students from different areas of the country or the world, online apps like Google Earth that gives students tours of far-flung locations, and programs like Grockit that help kids study for tests are all changing the educational landscape.

    Social awareness and consumers

    You might not think that shopping is an important part of life, but social media is helping consumers make informed decisions about what they buy and why. Whether it’s learning about the latest smartphone or how buying local can affect your town’s economy, social media sites are encouraging people to learn more about what and how they consume products.

    Of course, marketing firms and companies have recognized that social media can influence buying decisions, but activists and non-profit organizations have also realized that providing consumers with information can affect how people view their regular purchases. And sites like Facebook have made it possible for people to learn more about various causes, and how they can contribute to improving society. Organizations like Feeding America and the Red Cross are using social media to make it easy for people to donate and offer other types of support. By making it easy for regular people to contribute to charities and other causes, people are becoming more politically and socially active—and small actions by millions of people can combine to create a larger impact.

    The links that social media have helped create go far beyond messages to friends, family and classmates. The benefits to users can range from the minor to the miraculous—and as social media becomes a part of everyday life, it will change the way we interact with the world.

    Branding the Sales Funnel

    What does your brand say about you? Or does anyone even know your brand?

    Something that you hear a lot of in social media is the idea of branding.  We also hear about branding in exclusion to sales. But is branding just a marketers excuse for not delivering the sale? What part of the sales funnel incorporates branding?

    Branding

    When a marketer isn’t deliver the sale you will often hear them say:

    “We are building your brand recognition”

    “Creating a strong brand”

    “Getting your brand out there”

    What does that mean? What is the value of branding? It might sound like a bucket of horse apples, but there might be more to it than you think.

    A brand is a name you know, like and trust. So branding is the art of becoming knowable, likeable and trustworth.  Not sure you are fully seeing the value?  Lets look at some of the ultimate branding successes:

    Kleenex – Your nose is runny to you ask for a facial tissue or a kleenex?

    Coke- Have you ever said you wanted a coke and then were asked what kind?

    Xerox– how often do you make photo-stats or do you make a xerox

    Even Google has become one- “Let me google that” instead of “let me search for that”

    These are words that have become a part of our vocabulary and encompass everyone in their category. Of course most people won’t achieve this level of brand recognition, but it doesn’t mean that branding doesn’t play a valuable roll in your business marketing.

    Brand recognition is what separates you from the pack. Your name becomes synonymous with your reputation. If that reputation is good then your name carries its own capital value. If your reputation is good and your name is synonymous with your reputation, then you will breed trust with your brand. That trust then also becomes a part of the brand reputation.

    Does branding get you the sale?

    Not in the short run. But it will in the long run. When you are building your brand you need to focus on establishing your reputation. People don’t yet know you so they don’t yet trust you. If they don’t trust you why are they going to click your link and buy from you?  However, once you have brand recognition they will buy from you because they do trust you. Not only will they buy from you but you will have better loyalty and be able to command a higher price than your unbranded competition. People are willing to pay for reputation.

    In some cases your reputation becomes a status symbol, like Bently or Rolex. There are plenty of other diamond encrusted watches that are good. But you know Rolex is good and that they stand behind their product. So you are willing to pay a premium for what you know to be a quality product with good customer service and a high retained equity value. That is another place where branding comes into play. The value of your brand also extends to its long term equity. If you are known for excellence in your products, that can generate a higher resale value, which intern makes buying your product an investment.

    Social Branding

    Branding is not the end all be all of marketing. You still need to go out and farm the lead and work the sale. Though it will great help you in the long run, you still have to get the sale in the short run.  This is why social media is so effective to accomplish both. With a good strategy you can generate leads while you simultaneously work your branding. As your branding improves, so will your sales.

    Using the social networks to get in front of your audience and participate in topic relevant conversations are a great way to get your brand in front of your potential customers. By thoughtfully participating you can begin to boost your reputation by establishing yourself as educated and informed. This is the first step to being trustworthy.

    Brand your Sales Funnel

    You do not have to have a million dollar marketing budget to work on branding. You need to get the sales.  But your branding should not be separate from your sales, it should be integrated.  While you are finding your leads and closing your sales, keep in mind that your brand will be helping you along the way. So help it back. Hop onto your networks and jump into the conversations. Offer your knowledge and contribute.  You will be surprised at how many leads you can generate by simply participating.

     

    Do you Understand your Klout?

    Klout has been the leading source for ranking your social media, and specifically Twitter, influence. Essentially is calculates your influence by how often you tweet, retweet, mention people and how often people retweet and mention you. It takes into consideration the level of influence of the people you interact with when calculating your influence. But many people have argued that Klout is not a great gauge for actual influence. They argue that it does not accurately gauge who is influential for you, the quality of your engagement or the quality of your retweets. It is basing your influence off of the numbers. The problem with this is that you can make an argument that your score is then based on the influence of popularity.

    Those that argue that Klout is arbitrary are not wrong. But it is hard to gauge your influence, and the Klout measuring system is the best empirical analysis that we have. Some of the great measures of Klout are amplification and true reach. This tells you how many people you are actually reaching and through viral marketing, how many people are seeing your tweets. The viral marketing element being your tweet gets retweeted which gets retweeted and so on.

    Much of this data has seemed obscure or in a bubble. They were numbers that were not tied to anything. You could see who your influential followers were, but the feedback was purely numbers without interpretation. Klout is changing this. They are now offering a level of interpretation to their analytics.

    Now if you have a jump in your amplification it will tell you which influencer is responsible. They are trying to create a higher standard for measuring influence to create a more accurate representation of what influence means. Their new algorithm is not just taking into account your tweets to mentions to retweet to follower ratios. They are now taking those numbers and analyzing them in context of your Twitter behavior. For instance, say you have a lot of followers. Many of those people are influential, but you do not interact with them very much. When you chose to retweet someones content, that will have a bigger impact than the person who blindly retweets everything.

    Though the arbitrary argument can still be made, the changes to give more clout to Klout.

     

    Jobs Loss for Social Media

    The recent death of Steve Jobs reminds us that, while he didn’t have a direct impact on current social media, Jobs did help create the environment for social media to flourish. With products like iTunes and the rise of podcasts in the early 2000’s, Apple put an emphasis on sharing and creating original content before social media sites became popular. And with the iPhone and the iPad, Apple made mobile computing easy and encouraged users to share more of their lives through social media.

    Apple—and the world of technology at large—finds itself at a crossroads. Will the loss of Apple’s leader impede their ability to offer more and better products? And, if there is a slowdown in innovation at Apple, will this have a similar affect in how people use social media?

    The Medium is the Message

    Apple has yet to create a social media platform of their own, but that’s because they don’t have to. Their hardware and other products were built to inspire creativity in the individual and to allow users to take control of their computer experience. Apple’s focus on their products has meant that their message—thinking differently—is carried to every Apple user.

    For areas like education, this means that iPods, Macbooks and iPads used in the classroom can inspire new techniques and resources for teaching and learning. From podcasting to interactive iPad apps, Apple gives both teachers and students a chance to explore collaborative learning, online school programs, and interactive educational technology. Social media is becoming a larger influence in education right now—and Apple helped facilitate that new relationship.

    The Next Steve Jobs

    Steve Jobs influenced more than just Apple: with Pixar, he helped create a new genre of animation, and with the short-lived NeXT, Jobs and his company produced the first web servers. It’shard to imagine that there will be another innovator with talents as diverse as Jobs’.

    Still, if something has to carry on Jobs’ legacy of innovation, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook come close: with more than 800 million users, Facebook is by far the world’s largest social media network. What Jobs did with hardware, Zuckerberg is doing with the Internet: giving millions of users a chance to connect to each other, to share activities and to exchange ideas. Facebook’s latest developments include the integration of apps that allow users to do everything from help each other with homework to find and share new recipes. By creating an open online environment that pushes people to share more, Facebook is changing the nature of the Internet. And with just five years online, the potential for Facebook is boundless.

    The death of Steve Jobs has already had an impact on the tech world, but the innovation of other minds—both at the helm of companies and everyday end users—will continue to find new and original ways to advance technology. Jobs’ legacy is that he helped give each person with a computer the power to make a mark on the world. With Apple’s products and the inspiration of its users, that power will continue to grow.

    Nay-Sayers to Yay-Sayers: How to Convert the Anti-Social Media

    Dead Twitter BirdDespite the high usage of social media by a huge portion of the population there are still people out there who are not on board the social wagon. So how do you convert the social nay-sayers into yay-sayers? How do you get the anti-social networkers on the social networks?

    Lets look at the types of nay-sayers

    1. Too Techy– There are many people who think that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are just too technical for them. They get on and get lost. No on likes the feeling of being confused. No one likes feeling overwhelmed. Telling them that it is simple once they get the hang of it will only make them feel even less capable and push them farther away.

    2. Its just a fad – There are people who still think that social media is going to fall to the wayside. That it is a big fad that can’t last much longer. They have been burned by previous networks (Friendster, MySpace) and don’t want to put the energy into yet another network that will just fail in a year.

    3. No Time – It simply takes too much time. They barely have time to answer their email, how can they possibly make time for Facebook much less Twitter?

    4. Uninterested – The uninterested are the people who will give you all of the above reasons and any other that will come to mind. They are the ones who latch on to every negative about social media. But ultimately they are simply uninterested.

    Convert the Nay-Sayers

    The Too-Techy are the easiest to convert, though time consuming. They fact that they are overwhelmed by it says they are interested but that they don’t know how to use it. Often when we get overwhelmed, we can’t even see how to start. So instead of taking the first step and starting the learning process, they often shun the whole thing. To lead them out of confusion you will need to do a lot of the leg work. Help them set up a profile, show them how to use it. Walk them through step by step and teach them. You will often have to keep coming back to show them more, or go over what you have already shown them. But if you take the time to really teach them, you can help move them beyond overwhelmed and get them online and social.

    The Fad people are a little harder. Many of these are people who were involved early on. They were creating profiles on Friendster and MySpace. They were some of the early users. After creating profiles on network after network, only to have them get shut down by the next greatest thing, they have hung up their social network hat. It is like being in a series of bad relationships, at some point you don’t want to try again.  Ultimately time is the biggest cure. They see that the big 3 (Facebook, Twitter and Linked) are here for the long haul, and many of them trepidatiously create a profile. Though you might not be able to get them to create a profile, if you engage with them when they do, they will get right back into the swing of it.

    No-Time is another word for uninterested, though with less conviction. Many are interested but legitimately feel they do not have the time to do it right so why bother doing it at all. Well, from a business point of view they are not wrong. However, if they are doing it for personal there is not time commitment. Though yes, some people spend hours on Facebook and Twitter, there are plenty who only spend minutes. You do not have to have 500 friends. You do not have to talk to everyone. You do not have to play games. In short, you do not have to do anything you don’t want to do. If you help show them the value, like show them their friends who are on the networks. Show them the great things their friends are posting and show them how quickly it can be done, they will be more inclined to hop on for a couple minutes a day.

    The Uninterested are the worst. Unfortunately there is not much you can do about these ones. You can tell them all the interesting things going on, explain the business value, show them how the networks are here for the long haul. They can have every family and friend every to enter their life be online waiting for them to join. The ultimate problem is that the networks seemingly offer them no value. They want to keep up with their friends? They call them. They want to use it for business? It is hired out. If you can find a way to show them how it is valuable to them, you might be able to generate interest. But otherwise, they are likely to stay out of the social pool.

    Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

    There will always be people who will not join the networks. There will always be people who do not see value in them. However, these people are not your audience. This is why marketing needs to be spread out over a few different channels. Your audience will never reside in only one house. So the people who remain nay-sayers, you can let them be. They will find their reasons and you will always have your own to argue with them. But ultimately you are trying to reach the people who are the yay-sayers. So don’t sweat the people who say no and reach out to those who say yes.

     

    Hotzone Gets Social!

    Lauren MacEwen Social Media Strategist at the HotZone EPA conferenceThis weekend I will be giving a presentation on social media and emergency management at the EPA’s Hotzone conference in Houston, TX. The conference is for emergency responders to train them on how to respond in emergency situations. Last April I gave a talk at the the local emergency management conference in Albuquerque. This time the presentation will be much more in depth.

    Social media and emergency management is a hot topic. It is a powerful tool for more than just communication. Social media can be used to verify events, find people, give real time reports, calm panic, answer questions and give the community an opportunity to participate in managing the emergency.

    Since Michael Jackson died, Twitter has been breaking news faster and more consistently than any other news source. If something is happening, there is likely someone talking about it. Look at the Osama Bin Ladin raid and the tweeter who unwittingly reported it as it was happening.

    Now there are channels, hashtags, twitter accounts and entire pathways devoted to reporting emergency situations. There are everyday people who monitor the hashtags using #wx in order to keep an eye, and help spread the word, on any weather watch activity.

    Social medias integration into emergency management is saving lives and improving and facilitating communication. I am excited to give this presentation for the EPA.

    Why do I have to wait for Facebooks new features?

    This is an excellent question. Many people are getting the releases of the Facebook updates well in advance of the general public. So what makes us so special? Well not much really. If you want to be the first to get the new updates, use the new features, play with the new timeline profile, then you need to be a developer.

    This sounds much more complicated that it is. All you have to do is create an app.  Now that sounds much more complicated than it is. I found a great guide that will walk you through the steps of creating an app. This does not mean you have to put something out there for the world to use. You can just create something simple that no one ever sees. The simple act of creating it makes you a developer.

    So if you want to get these updates early with all of us tech geeks, the go create an app and get your developer street cred.

    iCloud OS: Good for Business?

    Apple has finally released their new operating system, iOS5, complete with the highly anticipated iCloud. Drawing on principles of cloud computing, iCloud gives you access to all of your information but doesn’t rely on any one machine, whether it be a computer or dedicated server, to store or access information.

    With documents, information, calendar dates, contacts and automatic backups now stored in the cloud, how we can we expect to see businesses utilize and thrive with these new resources? Or, can we expect a change at all?

     Paperless? Or Close To It?

     Whether to cut down on cost or become more eco-friendly, many businesses have been taking steps towards becoming paperless for a while. Though it’s difficult to completely leave paper behind, iCloud eliminates much of the need for paper.

    With documents stored in the cloud, there’s no need to print. And, as you continue to re-draft your business model, there’s no need to print updates or make changes in every document. Any changes you make in sixth draft will be applied all across the cloud. All of your iOS devices will be kept up-to-date with changes.

    Faster Pace?

     With many apps designed for iCloud and mobile use, the loading time will be significantly less. Not only will your apps and documents load faster, but the ability to work on the go and around the clock could mean people will do so. While we once had to stop working for the thirty minutes we rode the subway, or drove to a meeting or the hour we spent eating lunch, we could soon work straight through all that down time.

     

    Sharing in the cloud means instant access to information, which means faster responses, which adds up to more business at the end of the day.

    Will We Ever Have An Excuse Not to Work?

     iCloud allows you to access any document in the cloud from any iCloud enabled device. It boils down to you needing to find a new excuse for “I’m out of the office” or “I don’t have my computer.” With iCloud, your office, computer and information follow you wherever you go. As long as you have an iCloud-enabled device, you have access to your material. Start searching for new cop-outs.

     Never Lose Documents Again?

     iCloud automatically backs up all of the priceless information on your iGadget. Your music, TV shows, applications, books, photos, app data, organization, messages and ringtones will be backed up daily. When disaster strikes, your business plan or entertainment items won’t be casualties.

    Could Staying Connected Be Any Easier?

     Your calendars, appointments and contacts will be with you all times now thanks to iCloud. If you wish you could remember Jeff’s email address, now you won’t have to. If you saved it on your computer, it’s now on your phone too. The iOS5 notification center will remind you of any date set in your calendar, any alarms set on your phone or upcoming deadlines.

    More fun at Work?

     Lastly, with the ease of sharing photos, videos, sites and documents could we maybe all have a little fun too? If you stumbled across a great comic during work, why not share it? Businesses can certainly change with iCloud, so why not for the better?