Chats and Ads

Posted October 2nd, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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There are two best uses of social media for business: to attract new leads and to keep customers over the long term. These uses are indirectly related to your profits, in that they bring the market to you but, like the proverbial horse, you can’t make them drink. Many will, nonetheless, if your offer is solid. But social media value is usually measured in terms of new and returning traffic, rather than sales.

On the other hand, thousands of businesses make millions of dollars in online sales, often using social media channels as part of their campaigns. Because they use the internet to make sales, they approach social channels as advertisers. It’s a one-way conversation, and it can be wildly successful if the hook catches on. Who cares if it bears no relation to authentic social interaction? It works, right?

I think the personal dialogues and the obvious ads can coexist. SM channels struggle mightily to present them to us cleanly. I just hope we won’t lose interest in social media as a place for interpersonal interaction. If we stop chatting, we regress, forfeiting the enormous gains for individual expression that the web has promised these many years.



Facebook’s Our Friend

Posted September 14th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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I didn’t hear it, but I understand Mark Zuckerberg’s speech this week at TechCrunch was to-the-point  and powerful, emphasizing the social mission at the heart of his Facebook enterprise.

The social network’s experienced some serious business this year – with an IPO and all. The fact that their shares are significantly de-valued at the moment doesn’t help. Nonetheless there’s little question that FB remains an indispensable part of the lives of millions, and it’s intensifying while competitors (G+) flounder.

As administrator of Business Pages for several companies, I’m at times frustrated by FB’s interface, which can be infuriating, stuck, or stupid. On the other hand, the social network brings my clients phenomenal business growth. It’s exciting to watch them assimilate the culture and become skillful communicators there. The communities they’re building are supportive, rich sources of inspiration as well as revenue.

But the main motivation for this post is my recent sense that FB has become truly, deeply meaningful to my own emotional life. I’m not yet addicted, and would survive separation. The time will come, though, I bet.

I’ve renewed acquaintances, made new ones, learned, explored, shared, and often been touched by FB. It has become my trusted Friend.



Growing Pains in Social Media

Posted September 10th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest: the requisite vehicles to bring you success in internet marketing efforts.

Interesting how the first two have been leading the social media scene for well over five years; the third was recently purchased by the first; and the fourth burst on the scene only last year, gaining popularity faster than any before.

Note the trend towards graphics. No question that people love pictures.

Also note (once again) Zuckerberg’s prescience in purchasing Instagram. He didn’t just know how important images are; he also knew that the social media times they are a-changin’.

Because it seems obvious that right now there’s dwindling innovation on the social media scene. We’ve been sitting with the giants for several years now without major upheaval (Google+ is cool, but no contender). And the newcomers are decorative rather than substantial.

The reason for this slowdown is, I suspect, providential. We need time to assimilate. A large percent  of people in business are not connected yet online. And those who are – who have Facebook pages and/or websites – have a long way to go before they’re gunslingers. Social media is a complex, learned technique and we have a way to go yet.



What Do You Want?

Posted August 20th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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In my virtual assistant business, I find it is most satisfying to work with business owners/managers or entrepreneurs who know what they want, and can articulate it clearly. People who haven’t defined their needs do not know what to ask for, and we often end up at an impasse.

It’s the same with social media. If you don’t know what you want from it, the results are likely to be unsatisfactory.

Though it may seem contradictory, I suggest this: forget about social media and think about what you need to make your business more efficient and profitable.

• What tools would help? I bet there’s software you can find that will fill the bill.

• What market share are you missing out on? You can tap into it online.

• What skills do you need in partners to advance the scope of your business? Find perfect matches on the internet.

Surely ‘social media’ is an inadequate label for the manifold uses of internet resources in commerce. There are traditional ads (Google AdWords, banners, and the like) and social networks; but also tools, inspiration, education, guidance, and a host of other opportunities.

When planning internet strategies, consider what you want before you seek solutions.



How Attractive Are Your Updates?

Posted July 30th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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As social media matures, it becomes more generic and predictable. Which is not necessarily a good thing.

It’s natural for any system to level out to a low-key commonality eventually. But predictability is the enemy of marketing. In that split second of recognition that tells me I’ve seen this before, I tune your message out.

How many of the updates on your Facebook stream do you gloss over because they fit a recognizable formula? How many posts from given people or organizations do you generally ignore because you know what they’ll say? How many tweets do you skip because they’re from certain people or they follow a formula?

I have noticed that tweets without links tend to pull my attention. If there’s no link, it must be an original statement of some kind. This is refreshing and welcome. Your referrals are great, but I love reading your thoughts.

The increasingly sophisticated world of social media suggests that messages must become more attractive in one way or another. It’s not good enough to suggest cool sites and link to your own. You must devise an overarching strategy that builds a compelling ubër message with every post.

And every post must tantalize.



Is the Party Over?

Posted July 11th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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The whirling universe of social media seems to have slowed down lately. With Facebook gone public, Google+ creeping toward rigor mortis, and Twitter degrading to a boring barrage of promotions, the old excitement just isn’t there.

There are a million reasons for this. The channels themselves are limited. While large followings are admired, the more updates in your stream, the less likely you are to see any particular person’s messages. How can relationships take root? All of us in the sandbox together does not mean we’re actually relating. Maybe we’re just getting in one another’s way.

Each social network asks for the whole story: bio, contact info, picture, work history, and all your lists of friends. The more we upload to one site, the less we’re likely to want to move all that data to another site. I may not adore Facebook, but that doesn’t mean I’d be quick to replace it with a competitor.

Twitter’s my favorite, and yet it’s far from realizing its full potential. Why are relatively few people using this marvelous tool for inter-connectivity? It could be connecting citizens, and instead it’s become merely a revolving billboard.

Has social media failed us? Have we failed it?



Gamification

Posted June 12th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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What’s the infatuation with gamification? In an otherwise stupendous presentation by Charlene Li today, she proclaimed gamification to be a major wave of the future in the working world. Briefly, the term refers to awards programs, in which badges, points, testimonials and such accumulate to the individual’s credit. These “games” are located on a company’s proprietary social network, and involve employees in what is labeled “social” ways.

That’s where I get stuck. Why are the words competition and social taken to mean the same thing? Gamification reminds me of Girl Scouts, where she who dies with the most badges wins.

The internet is awesomely amazing to me because it allows us to transcend competition. There’s room for every individual to build their unique brand, and thereby attract a market. You find customers through affinity, not through brute strength.

They’ll send me a link to Li’s webcast transcript*, and I’ll post it as an addendum here. It’s absolutely on the edge. It includes Li’s visions of how smart phones will get smarter; the assertion that Watson will fit in our pockets within the decade; and a look at how social will come to be the driver of business at all levels.

_____________________________

Here’s the re-play. Strongly recommended!



Speakers and Listeners

Posted May 30th, 2012 by admin and filed in Communications, social media
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After returning from a trip last weekend, I posted some photos to Facebook. The last time I uploaded any photos there was many moons ago, so it’s a notable event. Similarly, though I often post links on Facebook, you won’t see many simply chatty updates from me.

Why not?

Ah, well, you caught me. I must confess I just wasn’t born that way. Talking about me is definitely not one of my skills. Ask me a question and I’ll respond enthusiastically; but lacking a direct query I’m not likely to pipe up about my life.

Thank goodness so many people do like to share their impulses and off-the-cuffness. Social media would be dull indeed without it!

Before you bust me for a deadbeat, let me point out that being spontaneous and freely sharing is a breeze for me when it comes to commenting on other people’s updates. It’s completely natural for me to participate in discussions that others start. I’m a player and supporter as much as anyone.

Every show requires an audience. There are the extroverted types who lead online, and the introverted types who arbitrate between those leaders. The internet is made up of both speakers and listeners.



Tweeting Town

Posted May 21st, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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Ran across a post today that reinforced my deepest faith in Twitter.  How a Tweeting Town Can Revive a Community, by Brittany Botti,  described in thrilling detail how the author set up and monitors a hometown-based twitter account.

You can probably picture it easily:  a stream of tweets tracking the real time  life of your town. What could be more natural?

Botti suggests using Twitter searches to discover what peeps are tweeting about your town, being helpful, posting tons of photos, and a few other tremendously useful tips.

From my point of view, this is what it’s really all about: a community of people in constant real-time communication; an improved system of messaging so that community is continuously reinforced. When the community is defined geographically, I believe the results can be awesome.

For example, I live in a rural location in the south. To say I disagree politically with the majority of my fellow county residents would be to put it mildly. But surely we have a great deal in common nonetheless, as residents of the same area. Sharing based on our common location could lead to breakthroughs in cooperative understanding.

Twitter’s a no-brainer, one would think, for communities everywhere.



Tech Bubble or New World?

Posted May 10th, 2012 by admin and filed in social media
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The debut of Facebook on Wall Street, with its imminent IPO, is attracting a ton of analysis from every quarter about the social network’s true worth. Everyone from Spin Sucks to  Jason Falls to CNN.com has an idea about whether or not we should take seriously FB’s supposed sky-high valuation.

To be honest, the valuation of just about anything these days shocks this old lady. Gee, we used to buy gas for 65 cents a gallon.

It’s funny how, in a way, as inflation soars, money becomes increasingly irrelevant. Getting what you want becomes a matter of leverage, involving many assets besides money. Assets like content and contacts, systems and apps.

I spent an hour this evening on Facebook, as I’m often wont to do. It was entirely enjoyable.

Google+  lets me lounge in video hangouts enjoying my friends and family of an evening as if we’re in the same room. Will that overshadow the use of FB? In some ways at least, I bet it will.

But the breathtaking leap that Facebook has allowed us will never lose its worth. Being able to communicate so casually and yet so meaningfully with friends, family, and whoever else re-defines our humanity.