Category Archives: social media

Speaking Gig – Cool Social Gravity Summit – Nov 8, 2010

I will be speaking Nov 8, 2010 on social media actions for non-brands at the coolsocialgravitysummit.com conference at Brandman University in Irvine.

8 Obscure Interactive Social Tools

Is all the effort you put into your web presence paying off? Social media activation involves reaching beyond your immediate circle to a broader community online. You can measure the influence your actions have to see how big your brand is becoming. The Internet is littered with an innumerable roster of service offerings, so here is a compilation of 8 lesser known tools that are particularly valuable:

Keyword trendsTrendrr tracks and compares the trends of any keyword – brand names, executive officers, and can even compare them to other keywords. Trendrr produces pretty eye candy charts too.

Twitter account age Digimantra offers a free tool that displays when an account profile launched.

Twitter importanceTweetreach assesses how wide an impact an account has. The larger the influence an account has, the more valuable they are to have in your network.

Post to multiple accountsHootsuite is a web based app that is very similar to the popular TweetDeck but does not require the resource sucking Adobe Air. Hootsuite has a feature that allows posting of the same tweet to multiple Twitter accounts, which is especially useful if you facilitate multiple brand identities. Hootsuite also includes analytics that let’s you see who is clicking on your posts, who is retweeting your messages, etc.

Free conference callingCalliflower operates a convenient platform that integrates web and phone applications and offers both USA and other countries local numbers. The web app features live chat on the site. Calliflower can save the call recording as an MP3 file and post it to iTunes for free as a podcast. Other nice features include SMS text, e-mail reminders, and various administrator features.

International VoIP callingTruphone is a mobile VoIP service that is especially useful if your travels take you out of the country and you want to be able to call back to the USA using Wi-Fi rather than setting up your mobile phone with an international dialing plan.

Online ReputationOnline ID Calculator looks at the strength of your online Identity and reputation. When people perform a search by name for someone, they judge the results based on both volume and relevance. Quantity implies that you have something to say. Relevance is of greater important as it assesses what that quantity of posts say about you, do they back up your written and oral claims, and ultimately, are you compelling?

Online VisibilityAddictomatic instantly creates a custom page with the latest on any topic or person. It looks at how you show up across search and social media platforms such as Google, Twitter, Bing, FriendFeed (part of Facebook), Twingly YouTube, Digg, Flickr, Delicious, BlogLines, Truveo, Wikio, Yahoo, Technorati, etc.

Posted via email from David Alpern’s Perspectives

Foursquare For Sure in 2010

A survey this week from 24seven inquired about marketing trends I think will decline or go away in 2010. Among those I cited was phone-a-friend because viral activities are moving so rapidly toward online application domination. A similar question can be asked as to what will be this coming year’s new growth trends, and high on my list is location social, the process of combining location with interactivity and discovery of places, akin to being the Netflix of local recommendations.

foursquare in 2010

Among the Internet’s early adopter set, foursquare is the nearly unanimous designee for the social-media service that will become tech’s next mainstream app. It’s a location-based mobile startup that lets users share locations with friends and also earn badges for checking in at various designated venues. Others players who are competing in the location-based services market include Gowalla, Loopt, Brightkite, Google’s Latitude, as well as Twitter, which has been this year’s poster boy for the new app with all the buzz. In fact, Twitter is actively working on building out its own location-based features.

In marketing it often asked about a new product if it serves a need. In the case of location social, the answer is yes. Here is an example/opportunity from my own recent experiences: I was at a charity function for a local school earlier this month. Several people I know are associated with that school, so I was casually looking around the crowded facility to see if any of them were, by chance, there. Imagine how much easier it would have been to be able to confer with a widely used app that could alert me if they were actually in attendance.

One more trend I expect to see more of in 2010 is app-to-app linkage, and indeed foursquare is already all over this, with Twitter integration already part of its offering.

Posted via email from David Alpern’s Perspectives

Profiling and Understanding Users of Social Networks

If the social networking revolution has you scratching your head wondering about why people are investing time in all of this and how companies can actually benefit from this activity, there is a Harvard Business School study that relays surprising findings about the needs these networks fulfill, how people use these offerings differently, and how Twitter is holistically different.

Most obviously, social networks are an information hub about the activities of those you know. They also serve as a gateway to introductions to new resources and contacts. The HBS study also identified how they enable “under the radar” job searches without giving off the appearance of being proactively engaged in such activity, especially if presently employed.

What are people doing on social networks?

Since people spend lots of time on these sites; what are they actually doing? Answer: Pictures. The killer app of social networks. People love to look at pictures. 70% of observed actions were related to viewing pictures and other people’s profiles. As related in the Robin Williams movie “One Hour Photo”, pictures typically show people at a moment when they are having fun and are happy, a sentiment that we as humans seek for ourselves. Pictures also provide a channel that is a form of voyeurism. While we would not pry into other people’s lives physically, online it does not feel intrusive or objectionable. Many first encounters that happen in the flesh after social networking voyeurism include comments like “you’re that guy that did that internship in (fill in the blank) last year.”

Studying behavior by gender, the biggest grouping was of men looking at women they don’t know, followed by men looking at women they do know. It turns out that women also look at other women they know. Overall, women receive two-thirds of all page views. A lot of guys in relationships are looking at women they don’t know. Similar to how some people use social networks as a cover for subtly pursuing a new job, they also provide an easy channel to see if anyone might be a better relationship match.

Social Media Brands

How Twitter is Different

Did you know that Twitter is used mostly by adults, Facebook was originally the domain of college students exclusively, and LinkedIn is populated by executives and professionals? Twitter, was found to be quite different not just in terms of who uses it but also how it is used. Twitter restricts users to 140-character messages. The HBS study found that 90% of posts were created by just 10% of users. This was attributed to how the service uses just words not pictures, and writing is a difficult skill for many people, whereas pictures can simply be posted without commentary if desired on other social networks. Gender-wise, there are more women then men on Twitter, men imbed links in their tweets more often, whereas women actually say things.

Who’s Hot?

Twitter has the buzz and has grown to 20 million monthly U.S. users, Facebook has 90 million, and MySpace can boast 70 million. So why doesn’t MySpace get the attention it deserves? It may be that it tends to be stronger in smaller cities and communities in the poorer south and central parts of the country like Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and parts of Florida. The authors commented how MySpace users “aren’t in Dallas, but they are in Fort Worth. Not in Miami but in Tampa. They’re in California, but in cities like Fresno…not near the media hubs (except Atlanta) and far away from those elite opinion-makers in coastal urban areas”.

Forming Your Social Strategy

Corporate marketers struggle with how to use social networking to reach potential customers. They treat it as another channel to get people to click through to a site rather than what it truly should be used for, which is to create awareness and to offer up a different perspective. Studies have found that people don’t respond to advertising on social networks. It is analogous to hanging with friends, when an uninvited stranger joins your conversation and tries to sell you something.

That does not work in real life, nor is it a successful social strategy. A good corporate social strategy emulates the reason for social networks in general – solving social failures in the offline world. What could work is approaching that group of friends we discussed above and saying that your product is designed for them and will make them all better friends. This may necessitate product innovation to make them more social by leveraging group dynamics, which we agree is hard, but will be more effective than just using social media as but another channel to talk to people or advertise on. These are good first steps but they are not a social strategy.

Social Marketing Results: Don’t Just Show Up – Execute

Much has been written about staking out a presence in social media and how this marketing platform is not a fad but rather the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution. Many brands have diligently gone out and planted their stake in an attempt to be social. While the strategy is sound and these businesses have the best of intentions, execution leaves a lot to be desired. This divide generally manifests itself in a focus on the “media” rather than the “social”.

Part of this is due to the nature of advertisers to see locations like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter as fresh media outlets; new places to distribute and broadcast their message. As such, it is easy to perceive success when a Twitter follower count reaches a certain level, or a Facebook contest succeeds in sparking some momentary activity. However, as social is not a passive broadcast media, it is not enough to simply have a presence or even to populate that profile with compelling content pointing back to your corporate website.

Results come from interaction. Not the initiation of conversations but rather the practice of responding to existing threads, and preferably hosting some of those conversations on your own site. That said, community gatherings take place organically where a community gathers, and you need to take part in those conversations, at least in part. Do not react to everything. Reply just enough to let the community know that you are part of the conversation, but not to the point where you are saturating the environment, or worse yet, generating the perception that you are present there purely for commercial reasons.

The tactical difficulty is that it is time-consuming to monitor and reply to conversations. It is thus important that employees across the organization be educated in using social sites and are encouraged to interact within the confines of provided corporate guidelines. Postings and more notoriously, comments sections, are going to contain factual errors, be they deliberate or on accident. Your team can use the opportunity to step in and correct errors as a way to take part in the conversation.

Feedback is Social Media

Often, the community is grateful to learn that the business is listening and, even better, attentive. Comments like “it is so rare for someone from the inside to respond” reflect the appreciation these steps generate. This helps a company build a brand and goodwill. Reaching out with a comment on a blog or a post on a social network also can hold the potential of having someone read of your activity and suggest new business leads and contacts.

Social is a conversation, and conversations by definition involve multiple speakers and listeners. It is not enough to just show up and broadcast your advertisement. You need to dive in, listen, and respond robustly.

Email Marketing is Alive and Kicking

Email marketing has gotten a little beat up over the last few years, most notably in the WSJ – Why Email No Longer Rules. People have labeled it as insignificant, or at the very least, as taking a back seat to social media. So it’s nice to see some positive press for this still vital online marketing tactic for sending campaign information, lead gen offers, and newsletters:

· Email Use Increasing, Despite What WSJ Says

· How I Use Email Newsletters to Drive Traffic and Make Money – details this marketers use of e-mail and auto-responders to drive traffic, build community, reinforce brand, and promote:

Email Cycle

In fact, even social media relies on tried and true e-mail with these networks offering up weekly updates that are sent to members’ inboxes listing various activities group members have taken over the past week.

In August 2009, 277 million people used email across the USA, Europe, Australia and Brazil, according to Nielsen Co., a nice increase of 21% from the 229 million reported a year prior.

Adam Engst, the publisher of TidBITS wrote last month on why email continues to rule despite all the competing platforms that have been introduced online: “It all comes down to two simple facts: email is based on open standards, and it’s the lowest common denominator for Internet communication. Any communication system that wishes to supplant email will need to offer both openness and ubiquity, and nothing available today comes even close.”

Ultimately, there are 1:1 communication approaches that can trump the use of e-mail, such as when you’re looking for a quick answer to a question and a phone call (not a voice-mail chase but rather an actual live conversation with the person on the other end) yields an immediate response. An email could languish unread in an inbox or the exchange could involve several back-and-forths, amounting to days’ worth of emails that could be avoided with a five-minute call.

5 Significant Recent Social Media Marketing Studies

#1: 26 Million (1 in 7) U.S. Adults Will Use Twitter Monthly by 2010

Social Media Usage Growing Among US Adults

A recent September eMarketer study found that “In 2009, there will be 18 million adults in the USA who access Twitter on any platform at least monthly (+200% YOY). Usage will reach 26 million adults in 2010 (+44.4% YOY)”.

This is a change from an earlier assessment that had stated there were indications of large numbers of users abandoning the site shortly after signing up, and many others using it just sporadically. They have now revised their estimates because “recent data shows healthy—and growing—percentages of U.S. Internet users adopting the popular microblogging platform”.

Record usage numbers are also being reported by Facebook which in September hit the 300 million-user mark (roughly the size of the USA’s population).

#2: Americans Spend 17% of Online Time on Social Media Sites

As social media platforms continue to grow in popularity and utilization a recent study by The Nielson Company has found that 17% of time spent online was at social networking sites (up from just 6% one year prior – August 2008). Advertisers are responding. Online ad spend increased by 119% YOY to $108 million in August 2009.

#3: More Than 50% of Marketers Will Be Using Social Media in 2010

Social media marketing is becoming a key component of media planning according to the “2010 Media Planning Intelligence Study” by the Center for Media Research. 56.3% of marketers stated that social media would “realistically” be included in their 2010 marketing plan. The top 5 most popular media buys planned for 2010:

* Email (57%)

* Social media (56%)

* Search (50%)

* Radio (42%)

* Magazines (42%)

Of note, 57% reported they will buy non-traditional media, including online, display video, mobile and event sponsorships. 43% reported they will remain with the more traditional media, such as TV, print and radio.

#4: 51% of Businesses See Blogs as the Most Useful Social Media Tool

McKinsey Quarterly’s “Global Survey” addressed perceptions of different social media technologies. eMarketer reported that “when it came to customer-related benefits, blogs were the most useful tool, bringing measurable benefits to 51% of responding companies worldwide. That was followed by video-sharing and social networking at 48% each, and RSS feeds at 45%.”

The top three benefits of Web 2.0 marketing were reported as:

* Increased marketing effectiveness (52%)

* Higher customer satisfaction (43%)

* Reduced marketing costs (38%)

#5: 75% of Marketers Plan to Increase Social Media Use in 2010

A recent survey by Unisfair found that marketers plan to focus this next year on attracting and retaining customers – with social media viewed as a key tool. The 3 top marketing priorities will be:

* New customer acquisition (60%)

* Customer retention and engagement (48%)

* Thought leadership (45%)

The top 5 marketing tactics targeted for increases in next year’s marketing mix:

* Social media (75%)

* Web search/SEO (51%)

* Email campaigns (49%)

* Virtual events (48%)

* Online advertising (28%)

The top 3 social media platforms:

* LinkedIn (26%)

* Facebook (23%)

* Twitter (17%)

Sources: SM Examiner, Nielsen, Twitter, eMarketer