Your Weekly Dose of Social Media News

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Ball of confusion, that’s what the world is today. Hey. Hey.”   – The Temptations.

The new health care package, the lady from eBay who wants to be governor, the gravity defying awesomeness that is Justin Bieber’s hair are all things I really do not understand. In fact, at the risk of sounding like Ed Anger or Andy Rooney, there’s a bunch of things I don’t understand.  So thank God for the more

The cat is out of the bag with social media marketing

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Those who have bravely entered and flourished in the vast universe of social media marketing can give themselves a big old pat on the back this week. Dozens of press releases and even a fresh story in the Wall Street Journal  have all dropped in the last two days to confirm what savvy social media marketing pioneers have known for quiet some time- that it works!  The Journal article cites big promotional outlets like Groupon and notes that while more

Riding the Facebook publicity train

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When Tyra Banks’ produces several episodes of her talk show devoted to Facebook, you know that the craze is about to end. After all, how much longer can we collectively go on poking one another, playing Farmville, and designing our own flare? Apparently, forever.  Social networking cynics expected Facebook to have a Myspace-like descent into humility when the nation momentarily went Tweet crazy. After all, this seems to be the Internets version of natural selection: the weak get swallowed up or become extinct while the strong continue to evolve.  Facebook falls into the latter catagory much to the delight of folks like Tyra Banks, Time magazine, and every reporter in the country.  In fact, stories about how Facebook can effect a legal verdict, fuel a feud between coach and athlete, and help the US Embassy connect with Iraquis all surfaced within the last week. Even moviegoers won’t be able to avoid the “F” word when the film The Social Network, which chronicles the lives of Facebook’s founders, heads into theaters this October.  While many of us are experiencing a FB OD (Facebook overdose), there is still no reason not  to use the social networking giant’s never ending publicity to our own advantage.
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Social media connects us in troubled times

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Harrowing firsthand accounts of this weeks earthquake in Haiti weren’t  first delivered by Katie Couric or Anderson Cooper. Instead, locals and visitors like  hotel manager Richard Morse used social media sites to provide a glimpse into the devastation around them. According to CNN.com, Morse described the aftermath of the 7.5 earthquake via Twitter. Other Haitians communicated through text messages, Facebook, video chat, and even a popular local online entertainment program. As the reports began to roll in from the traditional media, social networking sites were already abuzz with information about where to donate and how to contact loved ones. We still rely on the big news outlets to bring us in-depth and hopefully honest coverage of the day’s important stories. Still, the power of average people giving a name and face to worldwide news can no longer be ignored, thanks in large part to social media.

This is not to say that one should substitute Myspace for, say, NPR in their news diet. Mainly, social networking sites stay true to their primary purpose of telling you where P. Diddy is eating a burrito and what bikini your high school class president chose to wear on her vacation.  Undoubtedly, silly tweets from reality stars and dancing hamster videos provide their own sort of escapist relief.  Therefore, the power of the message whether it be for news purposes or for entertainment can’t be ignored.

Harnessing this power for social media marketing is where it gets tricky. On one hand, social media is a quick and easy way to give customers updates on the latest happenings at your company. On the other hand, too many rambling infomercial like posts can quickly cause a “de-friending” epidemic. Using a first-hand style of reporting can be a perfect way to achieve balance.  Stories like Richard Morse’s are powerful because they belong to someone real. Nobody enjoys receiving messages that feel like they’ve been churned out by an anonymous robot. True passion, humor, and information are easier to convey when the person composing the posts has distinct language and unique thoughts. Conversely, an honest dialogue with clients opens the conversation for an equal exchange of ideas rather than just a cold, calculated advertisement. People don’t mind being sold things, but they want to be acknowledged and appreciated.

Social media continues to grow and change. The messages transmitted  by these sites truly run the gamut from poignant to mundane. And there are still many who argue that social media is little more than a creative way to kill time.  However, when sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter are at their best, they are able to connect us to people we might not otherwise know, to give us a front row seat to world events, to make us laugh, and to slowly make our differences seem smaller.

Using social media as a business idea incubator

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Social media has a lot of uses – it can also be a time drain if your not careful. In the past, before the internet came along, if we had a business idea we would run it past our friends and families. Of course many of them would rubbish the idea, others would come up with useless suggestions, and just occasionally, you would win a lot of support and a wealth of positive suggestions.

The internet has extended our circle of family and friends. If you have a business idea you may want to use social media as incubator for your idea.  What can social media do for your idea?

Problem solving – forums can be great places to discuss business ideas. Other business owners never hesitate to offer advice particularly when it comes to the pitfalls that need to be avoided.

Product ideas – sites like Facebook and Myspace can be used to discuss products with a wider audience. People are always willing to provide opinions on what they like and what they dislike. Colors, prices, distribution methods – these can all be discussed. You can even also take advantage of polls to gain feedback.

Blogs – blogs have been around for a long time now and once you have a reasonable flow of traffic you can utilize  opinions of your readers to develop your ideas. But be clear of your expectations; make sure to ask your readers what they think and to respond.

Using social media to incubate ideas prior to a launch can be an effective and affordable way to get market research. Once you have people talking about your business, they will be eager to test the waters once you launch your business, or if it’s a new product, once the product has been launched. Incubating a business idea through social media could be the first step to a successful social media marketing campaign.

Want your video to go viral? Start with great content. Then pour on the elbow grease.

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I recently attended the OMMA Video (#ommavideo) event at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. A lot of our customers ask us about viral video, so I hope this post sheds some light on the subject. The panel “The Art of Being Discovered: Is Viral Video a Strategy” was moderated by Bob Heyman, (Managing Director, The Digital Engagement Group) and included the following panelists: Andrew Budkofsky (SVP Sales and Partnerships, Break Media), Benjamin Carlson (Chief Strategy Officer, Bradley and Montgomery), Gregory Markel (Founder/President of Infuse Creative), Matt Martelli (CEO/Creative Director, Mad Media) and Bret Wilson (Co-Founder/CEO of TubeMogul). Here are some of the talking points I walked away with that I found interesting:

“¢Â The best techniques for driving “virality” starts with content. But it doesn’t end there. Then you have to promote your video via SEO, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace etc.), social bookmarking sites (Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon etc) and  getting bloggers to review and talk about your video.  Oh, and it can’t hurt to launch a full PR campaign to get a reaction from appropriate media outlets that are relevant to your audience.

“¢ Getting a video to go viral is getting harder and harder because there is currently a glut of video out there and it’s harder to stand out. Video is following the same trajectory as banner ads; at first everyone clicked on them and thought they were novel. But today, people pay less and less attention to them. The idea of going into a teen chat room and asking them to check out your video and expecting a response is kind of creepy and pretty much over.

“¢Â Want to spread your video effectively? Consider hiring a Weblebrity (a web celebrity that has a following of a million plus fans). Pay them to review your video. Or, even better yet, have them make a video in response to your video. This practice is becoming popular among viral video marketers and weblebrities seem more than willing to participate.

But at the end of the day, it still comes down to the quality of your content and being relevant to your audience. As one of the panelist said, “sites want good content. They’re going to start banning people who flood them with crap.” Woudn’t that be nice.  If you couldn’tt make the OMMA video event, you can see highlights at the MediaPost Raw >> OMMA Video .

Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and now Tagged. Make it stop.

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I don’t know about you, but I am constantly going back and forth trying to decide which gets more of my life units”“Facebook or Twitter? It used to be a question of Facebook or MySpace, but since MySpace has been relegated to music lovers and individuals going through puberty, it doesn’t seem like there’s much there for an old fart like me. .I have to admit, a few years back my MySpace  was one social networking site that I visited frequently; mostly to listen to music and exchange banter with other music lovers. But then Facebook swept me away and I haven’t looked back since. I have looked sideways, though, at that shiny blue object in the corner of my browser that keeps me tweeting at all hours of the day. So now I split my time between Facebook and Twitter. But should I be dedicating that much time? According to a recent post on ReadWriteWeb. There’s reason to make room for a third slice. Check this out,

“Facebook and MySpace beat Twitter out for the top two spots, but you may be surprised to see who came in at #3: Tagged. Yes, Tagged, the social networking site that’s best known for getting busted in an email invite scam is beating out Twitter.”

So now, to make matters worse, Tagged is coming into the scene . Tagged boasts over 80 million subscribers and their numbers are growing. They probably don’t need one more. I just don’t know if I have the energy to add Tagged to the line-up.

Brandcasting. How social networking can increase your brand image. (Part 6 of 7).

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When social networking first came on the scene with sites like Myspace, many people viewed it as technology meant for younger, tech savvy users who want to have a common digital space where they can chat, exchange music, share information and do just like teens do in Europe in their local town squares. This was an ideal solution for towns across America that didn’t have a town square; a digital piazza was the perfect solution. As time went on, it was clear that something more powerful was forming on the horizon. Sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin have soon become “virtual piazzas” for much broader ranges of users that include adults, professionals and now, businesses. As I have written about in a previous micro blogging post, businesses now have the power to broadcast deals and offers to loyal customers via micro-blogging. Think of how Kmart used “blue light specials” in their stores to create a loyal following of shoppers. Now businesses can do the same without the corny spinning blue light and they can reach far beyond the confines of their brick and mortar store space. But don’t think that just because you are tweeting deals to your audience that the dollars will start rolling in. You have to have a strategy. To get started, Twitter does a nice job of explaining how the power of micro blogging can help businesses of all sizes. For the novice, I have written a post detailing how to get started with Twitter here. The subject of using social networking is a huge one, so we will just scratch the surface by offering up a few tips for the novice micro blogger.

Micro Blogging Tips

1. Keep “˜em coming back for more. Offering incentives and special deals on an ongoing basis will keep your audience engaged and willing to follow your micro blog. Also, give-aways and promotions work well in growing your audience and keeping your loyalists happy.

2.  Manage your online reputation. Because micro blogging is a social medium, anyone can have a voice. That means that you may receive negative feedback from your customers in a public format. Always address negative comments and if you can, look for ways to turn those negative comments around in your favor by offering a solution or a “make-good” for that customer. While many will agree that there is no such thing as bad PR, there is such a thing as a bad brand reputation and anything you can do to snub negativity can help in the long run and may even turn a sour situation into a sweet marketing win.

3. Bond with your fans. Social media allows you to have back and forth conversations with your most loyal customers in a public format. Always invite your fans to have a platform and create a healthy exchange with your brand. Who knows, you may discover your version of Subway Jared, Subway’s spokesperson who was one of its most loyal fans.

Again, we are just scratching the surface here. Micro blogging can be time consuming yet rewarding if you do it right. It’s up to you to do research for the best micro blogging techniques that fits your marketing strategy for your business. For a better handle on micro blogging, I recommend looking to other businesses that are similar to yours, how-to books and online resources like Twitter. Be sure to check back for tomorrow’s post, the final part of a seven part series. As they say in the local piazza, ciao.