Archives for web 2.0

Facebook’s New Platform & Social Signals as Search Engine Ranking

Facebook is the world’s second largest advertising network, second only to Google, in terms of users, scale and global influence. In September, Mark Zuckerberg gave the keynote at F8, an annual conference about all things Facebook. Woven into the many topics, was the announcement of Facebook’s work with the Open Graph protocol and HTML5, a combination which has led to the largest overhaul of Facebook’s user interface to date.

Facebook, the world’s premier social cloud, is ushering in new ways of interaction with the web. The ascension of tablet, smartphones and other mobile web devices, has necessitated a shift towards cloud computing and cloud computing a shift we will likely remain in for the forseeable future.

Open Graph allows for a “frictionless experience”, deeply integrating users’ web activity with their Timelines, creating a more holistic representation of one’s digital self. The system is set up such that users opt-in for a service – Spotify is a popular example, as is Hulu – and once that user opts in, that service then has access to all the information stored on Facebook. These social signals will revolutionize the world of search ranking. The folks at SEOmoz explain:

The data you get from Facebook is available at load time and as such you can use it to tailor the experience directly to the user. You can get quite granular with this approach once you’ve successfully identified key characteristics of your personas. Keep in mind that you’re not limited to just their demographic information but their likes, interests, status updates, etc. And while this is outside of my programming ability there are some very smart people putting together algorithms to that allow you to map this type of data to your user to determine how closely they fit your persona. Google has some machine learning APIs that can aid in these determinations.

Will open graph allow iPhone mobile apps to be built into profile?

Recent updates to Facebook’s mobile application indicate that the changes are unified, tying your mobile activity into the fold. This changes the iPhone application development game, allowing for a window into the consumer’s habits and more accurate record of activity executed on mobile devices.

While the Open Graph protocol is set up to make Facebook the desktop hub of the Internet, it’s hard to say whether the mobile infrastructure will be possible. Changes in mobile web that the new iPhone may usher in, will possibly open new doors to technology that better analyzes web activity in order for marketers to target users within a few standard deviations. In order for Open Graph the have the same role as mobile Internet hub, this thype of application development will have to advance beyond the point it is now, although changes have already been implemented to current versions of Facebook Mobile.

Right now 95% of mobile search goes through Google. How might this change?

Google has overwhelming control over mobile search, something to the tune of 97-percent. If Open Graph integrates web activity into the cohesive framework of Facebook, it may be possible for Facebook to deliver information users search for on the Internet. It’s a long shot, to be sure. Google is number one for a reason. Other companies specializing in Search have had a hard time bucking Google from the Ivory Tower of Search Deities. However, that’s not what Facebook is trying to do.

Facebook is trying to create a local ecosystem, on desktops and mobile web through which people interact with the Internet. Obviously no one is tied to using Facebook for watching Hulu, or playing songs in Spotify, but the more people opt-in for that kind of integration, the more information they are making available for the use of marketers. There will undoubtedly be a move to incentivize this integration and generate the opt-in.

This is all part of the evolution of personal technology. Moves from touch notebooks, to, cloud computing, and the migration from offline to online file storage.

Top 3 Online Tools You Need to Track Your Social Media Growth

Tracking your Social Media

Do you know how to track your social media?

Social media is becoming increasingly important as a way for businesses to connect with buyers, prospects, and the market. As social media grows, it will become critical for businesses to brand themselves and build relationships as part of the sales and marketing process. Social media marketing can be a great way for brands to start conversations with their users, but it can also be a time suck. It’s very important for businesses to understand what it is that they want to track and how social media fits into their overall business strategy.

Facebook Insight

Facebook Insights is an excellent free analytics tool built right into Facebook that allows you to track trends among your fans and see how they are interacting with your page. Insights is split into two main sections: users and interactions.

Users give you lots of basic demographic information about your fans, as well as show top referrers to your page.

Interactions can be a real goldmine, offering deep analytics into the updates you’ve made to your page and how users have interacted with it.

You can see which content has been most popular and which tanked, which helps understand what fans like to see on your page. Site owners with Like buttons on their sites can use Insights to see how many people saw the button, clicked on it, and how they got to the page.

Social Mention

Social Mention is a real-time search engine for social media. It’s a great tool for tracking buzz about your firm, product, or launch through Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs, and other social media sites. A widget shows statistics over time like number of retweets, unique authors, as well as twists like the relative passion of the sentiment about your brand. Social media stats are broken down by content type, so you can see where the most attention is coming from. You can also sign up for emails to alert you whenever a keyword comes up in social content.

Bit.ly

Not only is bit.ly the world’s most popular url shortening tool, it is also an excellent way to use analytics to track link clicks and user behavior. This kind of information would usually not be available if the link were to a social site or to one on which you didn’t have access to the analytics software. However, creating a bit.ly account gives you access to its full-fledged analytics suite, showing top referrers, historical data, and more. You can use their shortening service without having an account, but then you’d be missing out on all that analytical goodness.

 

Social media tracking is important. This list is only to get you thinking about how your business uses social media and how you can begin to track all those tweets and blog mentions. It’s important to analyze the data once you’ve gotten it. If social media isn’t directly helping your bottom line, it may be time to re-think your strategy. Above all, use your analytics to better engage and interact with your audience.


Ashyia Hill is a social media advocate at the small business credit cards comparison website, CreditDonkey.  Do you have any social media analytics tools that have helped you grow your business? Let us know in the comments!

The Serendipitous Nature of Social Media

Twitter bird with glasses, top hat and magic wand

No matter how targeted your efforts might be, serendipity is sprinkled over the web like magic pixie dust

How did we connect with people around the globe before the creation of social media networks? Perhaps all the technological advances today have a lot to do with the struggling airline industry. People don’t have to hop a plane to meet business prospects or get deals done. The Internet has increased productivity and the speed at which we do business, decreasing overhead for all types of companies.

It seems like a lifetime ago, but back in 1997, my outlook on the Internet was, “Why would I need that?” How life changes! Now I can’t envision successfully operating my business without Facebook updates, tweets or a blog.

Could this be magic?

Social media is more than broadcasting business announcements in 140 characters or less, tracking your Friends’ movements moment by moment, or surfing YouTube for the best wedding day bloopers. With no geographical limitations, social media gives you the ability to connect with people whose virtual lives cross paths with yours, whether by design or something beyond your control.

No matter how targeted your efforts might be, serendipity is sprinkled over the web like magic pixie dust, creating the most unexpected, but often lucrative connections, by a common thread — the social network.  “…one of the most wonderful things about blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, or (fill in the blank)-ing is that unpredictable and unanticipated connections happen. Strategy meets serendipity.”  It’s exciting!

Summoning serendipity

Is there a way to orchestrate serendipity? After all, if it is supposed to be and unexpected surprise, how could you possibly control or manage it? You cannot force serendipity any more than you can sit around just hoping for good things to happen.  You have to be open and available to it by taking strategic, if perhaps indirect, action:

  • Avoid falling into ruts or complacency in your business. As the saying goes, you cannot continue to do the same things over and over, hoping for different outcomes. Meet new people, share innovative ideas, try new things and expand your horizons.
  • Stop, look and listen. It’s so easy to let the pace and noise of business drown out everything else that is going on around you. Take time to look up and outside your little corner of the world and see what’s happening, so you don’t miss something great.

Social media has removed barriers and vastly expanded the horizons of business owners who leverage its networking power. It will never be a replacement for face-to-face interaction, but it can open doors of opportunity that traditional networking doesn’t. “You can’t count on serendipity happening to you…” Serendipitous events occur for those who take charge of their future, while remaining open to the unexpected. So get out there and embrace the surprises that await you.

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Dr. Shannon Reece - DrShannonReece - Women's Business Advisor Dr. Shannon Reece is a Women’s Business Adviser – Training women entrepreneurs how to leverage their unique strengths to create successful and competitive businesses.


Learn more: www.DrShannonReece.com on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER

Dr. Shannon Reece has a wonderful business program for women designed to educate and reinvigorate women in business.  If you are a small business, a solopreneur or thinking about starting your own business, take a look at the Refresh-Her Challenge.




Is buying Twitter followers the answer?

A piggy bank with a coin with the twitter bird being deposited

Are your followers really real, or are they bought? Can they be both?

You created a Twitter account. You learned to tweet. You started following people, and some started to follow you back. But you see other tweeps who have thousands of followers compared to your hundred. The green-eyed monster rears its big green head and you want that many followers too. So what do you do? Many people go out and buy them.

Buying followers is not the answer.

There are many services out there that will let you buy followers.  I say to people, a little tongue-in-cheek, that for $100 I could have 10,000 followers tomorrow.  Ok, it would be a bit more than $100 and it might take a week, but I could still get them.  The problem with buying Twitter followers is that it is like an infomercial kitchen gadget. It looks good on TV but is actually useless, breaks when you use it and you’ll never get your money back. Metaphorically speaking, looking like you have 10,000 fans overnight is great, on the surface. Instant popularity. The reality is that it is hollow (warning, here comes another metaphor); it is like a bad one night stand.  Not only is it meaningless, there is no satisfaction.

  • Bought followers do not read your tweets.
  • They do not retweet you.
  • Bought followers do not know who you are.
  • They are not necessarily even people!
  • Bought followers will never be clients or customers.
  • And they will not click your links.

    Bought followers may make your numbers look good but in all probability they will  not benefit your long-term objectives. If you want real engagement, click-throughs, retweets, people who help grow your network, read your tweets and possibly give you business, you have to do it organically. It is slower, but the payoff is much bigger.

    This said, I will admit here that not all the follower buying sites out there are useless, some of the better ones offer to connect you with targeted followers and users, which is not the same as buying randomly in bulk.  Ultimately Twitter is about engagement. Sure, you can purchase as many followers as you can afford, but if you are not participating in the discussion you will not receive any authentic benefits.

    Using the Best Buy way to sell on Twitter

    In a previous life, (okay, maybe a year ago) I’d help sales people build relationships for their business through Twitter. As a former sales rep for the Albuquerque Journal, Clovis News Journal, and Best Buy, I modeled my sales process after one of the best businesses using Social Media and Technology.

    Thank you, Best Buy and the Blue Shirt Crew.

    To share a couple of thoughts from a presentation I called “How to Close the Sale Through Twitter,” here are some pointers about executing a good sales strategy while incorporating Twitter into the process.

    Stage One: CONTACT

    When first initiating a conversation through social media, topics related to business are discouraged while getting to know a prospective customer. However, within due time, find a way to open up the opportunity to present your product or service. I recommend opening up that gateway privately (Direct Messages or Replies) so you can protect your reputation as a strategic sales person – not a desperate one.

    Stage Two: ASK

    Through responses and tweets, ask general questions or ask about an appointment. If your product or service requires an explanation of 140 or more characters, which it most likely does, ask for an appointment. By doing this, or asking questions, you’re producing interest and intrigue through Twitter.

    Stage Three: RECOMMEND AND EXPLORE

    You’d obviously close your sales presentation by recommending your products and asking for the sale. However, I caution those selling high-dollar investments to think carefully about trying to complete the sale through Twitter. As much as Twitter can be a relationship building tool, it is easier for someone to tell you “no” in front of a computer than in person.

    Don’t forget – when you’re face to face or behind TweetDeck, be polite, look good (looks go a long way in this business), and be passionate and confident about your product.

    Good luck my fellow sales people. I bid you good Tweeting.


    Profile picture of Kristelle SiarzaKristelle Siarza is a marketing professional in the Albuquerque area, currently working for the Associated General Contractors – New Mexico Building Branch.  As one of the youngest marketing professionals at the age of 24, she has much experience with networking, social media, and advertising. You can find Kristelle and read about her shennanegans here.

     

    * This blog post was also posted on Kristelle’s blog.

    New Schweppes App: Fun with Photos on Facebook!

    Schweppes just made fun with photos on Facebook a little easier and yes the alliteration of that sentence was also fun. When the new profile layout was released, it did not take people very long to figure out that you could get inventive with the photo layout.  People have been taking advantage of the tagged photos bar and profile pic’s proximity to one another through artistic and marketing expressions.  Many people have come up with some pretty creative designs.

    Facebook profile where profile photo extends across tagged photo strip to create the illusion of a single photo

    Creative photo layouts can be used to create artistic expressions or marketing campaigns.

    This looks easy, but figuring it out is not as straightforward as it seems.  Unless you want to spend a fair amount of time figuring out the exact dimension you need to size and puzzle piece your photo, you are probably not going to want to try this at home. Nothing is ever as simple as just tagging.

    • Size
    • Position
    • Order

    All of these things come into play when you create this photo layout.  But now that the artists have been doing it for a month, it is time that an app is released to allow all of us to do it without having to figure out the golden ratio.

    Schweppes (yes the beverage firm) has designed an application that will easily help you create your own photo composition, and yes you have to like their fan page in order to use the app. Once you do that, it is elementary as 1..2..3.  Well, the hardest part for me was finding an image I wanted to use. Otherwise, easy as pie.

    So get out there and get creative with your own presentation!

    Paper.li is it the new Follow Friday?

    guy laying backwards on a chair reading a newspaper

    How do you get your news? Is Twitter your primary source for breaking news? The Paper.li Twitter newspapers are getting so good at aggregating info, they might become the new Follow Friday.

    Paper.li is a service that collects Twitter and Facebook posts and puts them in the format of a newspaper. The increase in popularity has me wondering a few things about the next evolution of Twitter.  These papers seem to establish a level of credibility and authority.  Will this be the new Follow Friday?  Will this be the new way to determine who to follow?

    As a news aggregator, Paper.li essentially forms an online newspaper whose content is determined by the parameters you set. You can essentially create any type of paper you want and share it with your followers.

    Your Paper

    • From a twitter name
    • A list you have created
    • A hashtag
    • Create your own- you can completely define the parameters of the paper you want to create.

    Frequency

    • daily
    • weekly
    • even morning and evening editions

    Lately I have been listed in a number of Paper.li papers by several individuals.  It gets tweeted out that I have a featured post, and then I retweet that to my followers. The goal for me is to get more people to read my posts and gain more exposure.  The goal for the Paper is to acquire more readers and subscribers.  Oh yes, you can subscribe to these papers too.

    The papers are an interesting assemblage of Twitter news.  If you are busy this is a nice way to gather information and see what happened that day on Twitter without having to pour through hundreds or even thousands of tweets.

    Lately I have noticed an increase in popularity of these papers. More and more people are publishing them.  So the question that I have is: will Paper.li become the new #FollowFriday? Will the papers be the new way to vet a person as a real source of information, news and expertise on Twitter?

    10 reasons why I won’t follow you

    A drawing of a sheep with a caption that says, don't follow me I haven't got a clueYesterday I talked about who I follow on Twitter. But a more important question might be, who don’t I follow?  Why wouldn’t I follow you?

    Once a week I look at my new followers. This is when I make my decision about whether or not I am going to follow them.

    10 Reasons I won’t follow back:

    1. Your account is obviously Spam
      If you follow hundreds, or thousands of people and only have 2 tweets.  Yeah…spam.
    2. Zero engagement
      If all your tweets are about spreadng your message and there are no interactions with other people, then I am not interested in following you.
    3. Inappropriate content
      If your content is not suitable for my network.
    4. All you do is sell
      Even if you engage with people, but all you try to do is sell, that tells me you are not here for the relationships.
    5. Your tweets are abrasive
      If your tweets are aggressive or generally rude….not following
    6. Not interesting
      If your profile is not in my field and is not a topic that interests me, or if your tweets are really boring. I have followed many people who do not tweet about topics I am interested in, but because their tweets are engaging or funny, I will follow.
    7. You generally make no sense
      If your tweets don’t make sense, i.e. the sentence structure is really badly worded, for example: you dun not cuz we R friends. No, we’re not.
    8. I don’t speak your language
      If I don’t speak your language I am not going to follow you.  In case you are wondering, there are three languages I will follow. 🙂
    9. Advertisements
      I don’t like it when people advertise on their Twitter. If I see that you do a lot of paid tweets, I won’t follow you.
    10. Bad Bio
      If your bio is bad, off-putting or not engaging this can be a deciding factor.

    Do you have a Twitter follow strategy?

    tights with "Follow Me written on them Every week I go through my new Twitter follows.  I look at who started following me and decide who I am going to follow back. Lets look at the rhyme and reason behind choosing who to follow.

    Auto-Follow: Let me start by saying I do not believe in automatically following back just because someone follows me. However, I do believe in being generous in your follows.  They do not cost anything, so there are few reasons not to respond in kind.

    Strategic Following: I believe in strategic following for growing your targeted network. It is important to make sure that the majority of your Twitter follows are people in your industry or who may be beneficial to your network growth.

    If I were to break it down to a percentage I would say 80/20, with 80 percent being people who are industry or network related. The other 20% can be fun people, other interesting tweeters and general random information.

    The reason strategic following is important is because the people you follow are the ones you are going to engage with.  You want to make sure you are engaging with people who are positioned to help you meet your goal.  If they retweet your posts, is their audience a potential networking market for you? If you engage with them, and their followers see your conversation, does this work towards meeting your goals? Do your interactions with them help any of your followers?

    Listing: Lists are one of your most important tools.  Essentially, these are the followers that people really pay attention too.  I look at my Twitter newsfeed.  But I am following nearly 1000 people. There is no way I can keep up with everything that is being said on my feed. To keep track of people, I create lists. I divide them up by content and if I find someone that I really want to pay attention to, I list them.

    This is also why being listed is so important; it means the person who listed you is really paying attention to what you are tweeting.

    Ultimately I follow most people back. If you want to know why I wouldn’t follow someone, check out tomorrow’s post!

    3 Ways Investors Use Social Media (and how it will help raise $$$)

    Birds nest with rolled up money inside and teh Twitter bird sitting on the edge of the nestAny entrepreneur would agree that social media has changed the way business is done. It has broken down barriers between businesses and their customers, and provided organizations a new forum for presenting their brand. Social media has allowed businesses to develop their voice, and build and cultivate a strong relationship with their market (vs. simply trying to sell to them).

    Often overlooked is the fact that it has also changed the way potential investors go about the due diligence process, network and make their investment decisions. By understanding how investors use social media, you will help improve your chances of securing funding.

    If you are in need of capital pay attention….. As you read through the points below, ask yourself – is your current social media situation going to help or hinder?

    1) Evaluate the 3C’s: culture, compatibility and credibility; all three of these are important variables an investor considers, when deciding whether or not to fund a company. Social media allows an intimate view of the status and viability of the company, their brand and the way they interact with consumers.

    2) Relationship Building: The investor is able to engage in casual conversations with the company (and its leaders) to start developing a relationship and evaluate personal chemistry. Looking at a founder’s (or team members) tweets can give a strong sense of who they really are and how they conduct themselves. An investor can gather a sense of their personality as well as their skills (which should serve to further support the 3C’s). Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow investors to look up the entrepreneur’s profiles, figure out if they already know them in some capacity, or if they have a common connection that can give them the real scoop about who they are and what they do.

    3) Deal Flow: Deal flow refers to a pipeline of opportunities. Because of the ease of entry and low cost, social media is often the first place new startups go to further their business development goals. This gives investors a platform from which to observe emerging businesses, evaluate their potential and monitor their growth (often before the company has emerged on the general radar).

    The good news is……… investors are watching.

    The bad news is……… investors are watching.

    So, make sure you’re transparent and provide them the information they need in order to see what a great investment your company is!


    Photo of Laura K. PetrolinoLaura Petrolino is Managing Director of Flying Pig Communications, a communications and business consulting firm which focuses on the needs of startups, small business and non-profits. She also serves as Chief Communications Officer at Ignite Venture Partners, which brings together consulting, capital and concept incubation to build value in businesses of all sizes and in all stages, and across industries. Find her on twitter @lkpetrolino and @365startups

     

    Laura is a great writer and a great advisor.  Be sure to check out her blog!