Thursday, 13 December 2012

Facebook Privacy Changes

Facebook is announcing a handful of privacy-related changes today; a couple that make it simpler for users to access and change their personal settings and another that may make a small percentage of the user base upset (what’s new, right?).
First up, Facebook is adding a privacy shortcut tab that follows users around as they explore the site. The new privacy shortcut will appear on the right of the top header, next to your name, profile picture, “home” button and settings button. The shortcuts menu will feature things like “who can see my stuff,” and “who can contact me.” The shortcut will make is easier for users to quickly choose who gets to see their content.
Facebook is also improving the Activity Log to make it easier for users to interact with all the information that is being shared and what is showing up on their Timelines and friends’ news feeds.
“The updated Activity Log has new navigation, so you can easily review your own activity on Facebook, such as your likes and comments, photos of you, and posts you’ve been tagged in. It also has new ways to sort information, for example: Now you can quickly see public photos you’re tagged in and have hidden from your timeline, but which still appear in other places on Facebook,” says Facebook.
Users also have the ability to manage photo removal requests for large sets of photos they are taged in. The new tool within the Activity Log also lets users untag multiple photos at the same time.

Another big change involves third-party apps. Facebook is turning the single permission into two separate permissions. Now apps must ask users for the ability to grab their personal info separately from asking them to be allowed to post on their behalf. This will go into effect for most apps – but some like games apps on will not require the two-stage app permission.
There’s also been a little bit of a language shift within the permissions. Instead of asking to access a user’s “basic info,” it now asks to access their “public profile and friend list.”

All of these changes will go into effect by year’s end, according to Facebook. Since all of them improve the visibility of privacy controls, most users will probably be ok with them. One change that users may not initially warm to is this: Facebook is getting rid of the ability for users to disallow their name from appearing when users searched it in the serach bar. Here’s what they have to say:
Facebook started as a directory service for college students, and today we offer a whole variety of services, such as news feed, photo uploads and mobile messaging. As our services have evolved, our settings have, too.
Everyone used to have a setting called “Who can look up my timeline by name,” which controlled if someone could be found when other people typed their name into the Facebook search bar. The setting was very limited in scope, and didn’t prevent people from finding others in many other ways across the site.

Because of the limited nature of the setting, we removed it for people who weren’t using it, and have built new, contextual tools, along with education about how to use them. In the coming weeks, we’ll be retiring this setting for the small percentage of people who still have it.
Although Facebook says that they’re nixing this feature because nobody really used it, you can’t help but think about the possibility of Facebook search whenever the company does something to improve their own search results.
This is a pretty significant stir to Facebook’s privacy stew. This big announcement comes on the heels of Facebook’s latest (and last) Site Governance vote, in which the company adopted new proposed policy changes involving the sharing of info with affiliates, as well as the ability for users to vote on future site changes.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Measure the Success of your Community

Measurement in social media is perhaps the biggest and nastiest beast that can cause community managers, like me, heartburn.  How do you prove your efforts in crafting a vibrant community have been successful? The metrics necessary to demonstrate progress will vary based on the goals of your community and the platform you are using. In recognition of the organic nature of communities, you will want to set long-term goals in the six month and year range. Setting expectations with management as they pertain to community growth and health is critical to avoid stopping the effort short. In addition, setting short-term objectives and evaluation methodologies must be done to guide you in your pursuit of long-term goals. It is easy to get off track quickly if you don’t have constant feedback to help you consistently assess and adjust your tactics. Lastly, keep in mind that this type of reporting is at the community management level, not the business value level. To show the business value of the community is a different beast.
Community building is both a science and an art. It should not as a surprise that measuring the health of a community also requires a combination of both.
The Science
Your community platform dictates what quantitative measurements that can be tracked. Here are some common quantitative metrics:
  • Total Members - This is an easy metric to record and demonstrates the overall growth of the community. You should calculate the total members in your community on a monthly basis, at minimum.
  • Active Members - How many different faces are you seeing in discussions? Membership alone is not enough to define your community as 'vibrant'. You need folks to be engaged on a regular basis.
  • Participating Members - The amount of participation in the discussions you launch is a valuable indicator of your success as a community manager. It also reveals whether the content you are posting is resonating with members. You should be frequently evaluating the topics that generate the most participation to help you tailor content to your members’ interests and needs.
  • Contributing Members - This metric (when paired with 'quality of content' discussed below) indicates the vibrancy of a community. One of the biggest milestones for a community manager is reaching the point where the community become self-sustaining, with its members contributing the majority of content and discussions.

If you're a community manager for a Jive-powered community, you have the ability to determine total members (users), active, participating, and contributing from the community manager reports.

The Art
Focusing entirely on a quantity approach will overlook the intangibles that go into building a healthy community.  Looking to qualitative metrics is not only desirable but necessary for an accurate picture of the community. Some qualitative metrics to consider:
  • Sentiment – Tracking the positive, neutral or negative nature of the content is core to determining the satisfaction of the community members. Member feedback and tone in the community is critical for the community longevity.
  • Quality of Content - Activity in your community may be skyrocketing, but this metric is insufficient to determine the value of the members’ contributions. For example, if your community is being hit by a systematic spamming effort, the activity level may be quite high, but the quality of content inversely low.
  • Resolution Rate - How quickly is a question answered or an issue resolved when posted in the community? This is another useful way to measure satisfaction of community members.
  • Ideation - What kind of ideas have come from your community? How have those ideas been implemented in your company? If one of your goals for your community is to develop new products and services, then need to be tracking the useful ideas generated and implementation.
  • Advocates - Measuring advocacy dances the line between quantitative and qualitative, depending on whether you are looking at the number of advocates or the quality of advocates’ contributions to the community. Tracking the activity level in helping their peers in the community, posting valuable content, and keeping the discussions alive are ways to measure your brand advocates effectiveness.
These are just a few metrics that you can use to assess your community. Finding the right mix of metrics that provide the most useful feedback will take trial and error. It is best to begin with measuring as many factors possible, then paring back as you identify those measurements that are the most relevant. This approach also provides you with a wide variety of baselines to help track your progress. Some examples of how these community goals can be paired with metrics:
  • (Goal) Increase member satisfaction with the community by 10% in six months = (Metrics) Sentiment + Resolution Rate + Advocates
  • (Goal) Increase membership by 50% in six months = (Metric) Total Members
As you get farther into the measurement process, you will have recorded a robust data set that will help you set more realistic goals in the future. A word of caution: while proving the value of your community is important, it is possible to over-analyze your community. Avoid getting bogged down by measuring minutia, such as the number of "likes" each post receives; otherwise, you will end up wasting valuable time that could have been spent actually building your community. Striking the right balance will take practice. Carefully evaluating your goals and the metrics you are using to determine success will help you conquer the once feared monster of social media measurement.
How do you measure social success in your organization?

Monday, 26 November 2012

U.S. Social Media Ad Revenues To Double By 2016

BIA/Kelsey, a leading media analysis and consultancy firm, forecasts that social media advertising revenue in the U.S. will grow from $4.6 billion to $9.2 billion in the next four years – that equates to a compound annual growth rate of 19.2%.
“The continued development of native ads, such as Facebook’s Sponsored Stories and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, and the acceleration of mobile monetization will be the primary drivers of social advertising growth through 2016”, said Jed Williams of BIA/Kelsey, adding that 2012 was the year of social advertising’s “coming of age”.
According to Dan Greenberg, CEO of Sharethrough, ‘native advertising’ is “a form of media that’s built into the actual visual design and where the ads are part of the content.” The revenue from ‘native advertising’ is predicted to grow from $1.5 billion to $3.9 billion by 2016.
There will also be an increase in the revenue from other forms of social media advertising: the revenue from social display advertising, such as the banners on YouTube, will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 15.2% from $3 billion to $5.4 billion.
Mobile advertising is expected to increase 300% over the next four years, from $500 million to 1.5 billion. Jed Williams admits that they are “clearly placing a bet that mobile ads will perform. Obviously, mobile ad economies are not very good, but as demand goes up, hopefully the prices will go up.”
Are you surprised by BIA/Kelsey’s findings?
Contact us on Twitter or leave your comments below.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Free and Open Campaign

At the start of 2012, many internet companies and brands teamed up to fight against web censorship, in the forms of the SOPA (stop online piracy act) and PIPA (protect IP act) bill. It worked very well, but now a new threat looms over the free internet. And it's headed by the UN.
In December, nations around the world will be meeting in Dubai to discuss proposed changes to how the Internet is operated. Currently, much of the Internet is operated by ICANN, a neutral NGO. Some nations in the UN want to transfer its power to the ITU so that member nations in the UN can have more of a say in how the Internet works.
Open Web proponents immediately decried the idea, and the US has been investigating the potential harm such a change would cause. For their part, Google has started another “Take Action” campaign that asks citizens from around the world to demand a free and open Internet.
Going off of precedent alone, Google may very well be successful with its latest campaign. The search giant, along with other Internet companies, were instrumental in mobilizing US citizens against SOPA and PIPA in January.
Of course, there are some key differences between the SOPA blackout and now that could swing the campaign in either direction. For one, trusted brands and companies like Google, Facebook and Wikipedia all came out against the legislation with blackouts and other extreme visual messages. The proposed changes in the UN have had no such campaign yet, and prolific Internet figures like Mark Zuckerberg and Jimmy Wales have yet to issue strong statements against it.
Google’s campaign, however, could make all the difference. The company could inspire the same amount of fervor if it were to lay a doodle over its homepage again. The company hasn’t done that just yet, but we could see more action on the part of Google as we move closer to the UN gathering.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

If you use Facebook as a tool for promoting your business or brand, then you have probably noticed that Facebook has recently updated its EdgeRank, also known as its News Feed Algorithm.
Facebook is not trying to hide the fact that they want businesses to start paying to promote their posts. It is in Facebook's best interests if your posts are not showing up in people's newsfeeds. They want you to pay to have your posts appear there.
You might wonder if there is any hope in getting your posts noticed in Facebook's newsfeeds without having to pay to promote them. While it is not possible to have your posts appear to everyone who has "liked" your page (even if you pay to promote them), it is possible to improve your chances of having your posts noticed by keeping these tips in mind.
Keep Your Fans Coming Back for More
Many people post whatever comes into their head on Facebook, even on their business pages. Before you post, ask yourself if this is something that your fans would really be interested in seeing. The more posts your fans ignore, the less likely it is that your future posts will appear in their newsfeeds. Many people who "like" a page on Facebook never visit the page again. To get people coming back to your page, your content must be truly engaging.
Remember that negative interaction with your fans can actually count against you. If your fans think you are spamming them they can report your posts to Facebook, further reducing your chances of your future posts being seen.
So how do you get your Facebook fans to interact with your business page? First let's look at what Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm is measuring.
Facebook's EdgeRank Algorithm
EdgeRank takes into consideration how much you interact with your fans. The more interaction the better, especially if your fans are actively interacting with you by "liking" and commenting on your posts.
The EdgeRank algorithm also looks at what type of interaction your fans are having with your page. It gives greater weight to comments than "likes", and the more comments the better.
The algorithm looks at how long ago a post was created. The more recent the post, the more weight it is given.
It is important to remember that the more fans you have the better. If you have a big fan base and are showing ongoing interaction with your fans, the EdgeRank algorithm gives more weight to your Facebook updates.
Create Engaging Content
Before you post on your Facebook page, ask yourself what your fans would like to see. It is easy to fill your page with links to your web site or blog, which is not necessarily bad, but if your fans are not interacting with your posts, think about how you can vary or improve your content to generate more interest.
Images have been shown to create more fan engagement than just text links. People like to look at photos, and if you post some interesting pictures that people can relate to, they will be much more likely to leave a comment.
One of the most effective ways to get people to respond is to ask a question. Try to think of questions that many people can relate to. People like to talk about themselves, so ask a question that will get them talking about what is important to them. Their responses may just give you some ideas for new posts or articles.
When people do leave comments on your page, make sure to respond to their comments. Show your fans that you care about their thoughts and that you will respond to their questions and comments.
Contests and giveaways are also effective ways to increase fan engagement on your Facebook page. People always love to win things, and they will keep checking your page to see if they have won.
Time Posts to Increase User Engagement
Remember that most people are not logged into Facebook all day. Try to time your posts to the times of day when people are most likely to be checking their newsfeeds, such as first thing in the morning, at lunch time, and after dinner.
Unfortunately, there is no way to completely understand Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm. Facebook is slowly moving toward a pay-to-play model and business owners will either have to adapt to the new model or find another way to promote their businesses. Don't forget that creating useful, engaging content, however, will go a long way toward getting your posts viewed by more of your Facebook fans. 

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

3 Reasons Your Social Strategy is Failing, and what you can do to Fix it.

This article was originally written by Brad Smith for SocialMediaToday. You can go and read the original article by clicking here.

"Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers", according to Forrester's latest research report.
They analyzed primary sales drivers for eCommerce, and concluded that less than 1% of buyers were from social visitors.
There's a few possible explanations for this.
The first (and most important) is that social aids the buying process indirectly, and is difficult to track -- which leads companies (and research firms) to under-appreciate and under-invest.
The second, is that most corporate social media strategies... simply aren't that good. And their results are mediocre because they're too tactical, and too focused on micro-decisions.
Here are 3 reasons why your social strategy is failing, and what to do instead.

Fix #1: Create Content, Not Updates

Every status update should have a purpose, and engineered to succeed.
You're not just "telling people what you're up to", but you're creating content with a specific objective, interesting hook, and call-to-action.
So every single status update should bear all the hallmarks of good content.
Research and dig into your prospect's psychology, use copywriting to intrigue and address their pain points, and monitor your analytics to do more of what people like, and less of what they don't.
Every status update should be like it's own advertisement:
  • Objective: At the end of the day, you need engagement or click-throughs. But emphasis one at a time, not both. Because if you want to maximize results, then you typically have to make a choice that will hurt the other option.
  • Headline:The first goal of your headline is to grab attention. The best way is to touch an emotional nerve, or reference a specific "world-view" they might have.
  • Description: The description is where you use copywriting to play on reader's interests and psychology, and get them to take action.
  • Image: Finally, the goal of your image is to produce a desired result. So it doesn't have to be explicitly tied to what you're talking about. Instead, make it sure captures attention and will make an emotional connection.
Here's an example of all those components coming together:
Becoming a social media publisher allows you to set the tone for engagement, and steer the conversation in ways that ultimately benefit you.

Fix #2: Create Assets, Not Followers

If you hope to profit from social media one day, then you need to do more then gain followers. 
Instead, you need to focus your marketing on one-to-many.
For example, partners and good relationships with other brands or influential properties are assets. If you can create enough of these, then you'll never have to worry about growing your followers again. Because they'll help you with promotion and drive awareness for years to come.
The same goes for your own in-house email list or blog.
These are platforms that grow in value, and allow you to freely share messages and instantly reach communities of people.
Invest in marketing assets first, and the social media mentions and friends will follow. 

Fix #3: Create Campaigns, Not Launches

Whenever a company has a new launch, promotion, or sale coming up, they want to start "marketing" on the opening day.
But by then, you've already lost.
Effectively promoting events or launches takes time, and can't happen overnight.
"If you want to succeed in social media, then think in quarters, not days." → [Click here to share this quote]
So tying in to #1 above, if you want to increase sales and engagement over the holidays, don't flood your social media channels with "Buy my widget now!" updates all day.
But start creating holiday content that teases and hints at upcoming promotions. Find partners to cross-promote and help you distribute this content. Then run contests to increase engagement and excitement for the upcoming holiday specials. Finally, use lead nurturing and email marketing to consistently follow-up with people when they do -- or don't -- show intent to buy.
Investing in a single, well planned and executed holiday campaign will always have a higher ROI than spamming people the day before Christmas.
And with one investment, you're getting multiple returns in brand awareness, new traffic, social media mentions & followers, high-quality links for SEO, new email leads, and of course -- more customers.
The key to social media isn't to reinvent the wheel.
The key is to take what's worked for years, and use social channels to distribute those messages farther, faster, and more effectively.

Monday, 29 October 2012

5 Tips for Impactful Content Writing

This article was originally written by Rachel Strella for SocialMediaToday. you can read the original article by clicking here.

There is a saying among social media professionals that “Content is King.” Simply stated, posting valuable content is often what separates social media success from failure.  
This is a challenging step for many, but my rule of thumb is to know that you already have expertise, now you just need to share it in a way that resonates with your audience.
Here are some tips for creating strong social media content:
Shorter and punchier is better. Our attention spans are growing shorter as we are flooded with more and more information. If your Facebook post is longer than your pastor’s Sunday sermon, it probably won’t be effective. However, if you were to take the best quotes from that same Sunday sermon and post them as social media messages on behalf of your church, it would make much more of an impact, especially if the quotes build off one another and are united by a common theme.
Knowledge is power.  As a business professional, you probably know a thing or two that can help your customers/audience improve their quality of life. Leverage this. Post messages that are informative and helpful. It will strengthen your credibility by leaps and bounds.
Engage the audience. The magic of social media is often realized by creating engaging content that generates buzz and reverberates throughout the social media universe. Think of social media as an on-going conversation, and when you want to spur engagement, you’re looking to post conversation starters. This could include asking a thoughtful question or posting a quote from a well-known person (one that’s in line with your personal/business values).
Reveal the human side of your business. Especially for small businesses, the loyalty of customers or clients is often to you and your team – the people – as much as it is to any logo or brand image. For my clients, we’ve shown their human side by revealing fun facts about the owners (playing a game of “Did You Know?” is always fun). Shouting out to valued employee, client or customer is another great way to remind your audience that there are dedicated people behind your brand.
Current events. If something interesting is happening that’s related to your field, or to your audience, don’t be afraid to make a comment about it. But keep in mind the “bar rules” do apply. Don’t get political or religious unless you are prepared to face the potential consequences of doing so.
Also, make sure you observe what others are doing. If you like posts you’re seeing from others, don’t copy what they are doing, but put your own spin on the tactic and begin to use it for your purposes.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Apple Announces Fourth Generation iPad and iPad Mini

This article was originally written by Zach Walton for WebProNews. The original article can be found here.

It was rumored that the iPad Mini would be the major highlight of the Apple event. I don’t think anybody expected them to announce a new iPad, but he we are with the fourth generation iPad with a faster processor and graphics. Oh, and the iPad Mini is real.
Phil Schiller announced a fourth generation iPad only a little over half a year since the launch of the new third generation iPad. Schiller says that the new fourth generation iPad will feature an A6X processor that’s much faster than the previous generation. It will also feature a faster graphics processor than the previous generation for even better games. It will also feature the new lighting connector.
The fourth generation iPad will cost the same as the current third generation iPad. That means the base model will only run you about $499.
The true star of the show, however, is the iPad Mini. Schiller busted out the iPad Mini (that’s the actual name) and confirmed pretty much everything the rumors have suggested thus far. The iPad Mini is only 7.2 mm thin and weighs only 0.68 lbs. The display is 7.9 inches diagonally with a resolution of 1024×768.
The iPad Mini is powered by most of the specs that you’ll find in the iPad Mini. It sports an A5 processor and an HD Facetime camera. It also has a 5MP iSight backside camera. The Wi-Fi if faster with b/g/n connectivity and a lighting connector that’s now standard among Apple’s products.
Schiller stressed the point that the iPad Mini is a much better choice than other Android tablets. He used Google’s Nexus 7 as a comparison. The screen size is technically larger than that of the Nexus 7 which means that there’s more screen real estate for Web browsing. All the iPad specific apps on the App Store will run natively on the iPad Mini as well.
The base model iPad Mini will come with 16GB of memory for $329. Pre-orders for the Wi-Fi iPad Mini will start this Friday and begin shipping on November 2. The cellular versions will begin shipping two weeks later.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Online Business for Starters

As a business owner, you plan to take your business into another level. You always dream of having several branches to reach more people, expansion is a bright idea but the cost may be too expensive. Now you can expand and share your service and product into a bigger market, why not take your business globally? 

Having an online business allows you to reach your target audience easily, communicating is faster and there is a great possibility to catch more clients. This is a cheaper way of expanding your business, hassle free and no need to build a new office. Sounds easy but how will you start? 

A business owner must know how to do internet marketing. If you are a busy person who doesn’t have time to take a short course regarding online business and internet marketing, you can simply take online coaching and training product which means you can learn in your own free time. It basically teaches how to leverage the internet marketing. It’s about making things easier and simpler, you do more and more with less and less. More profits, more income with less effort, less investment and less time. With this type of technique, a business owner can be rich in no time. 

Once you have an online business, it is important that you keep in touch with your visitors and turn them into a client. Follow - ups is necessary, through emails you can tell them directly about your service, it’s advantages and why they need it. Who knows, they might be interested with what you offer or refer you to other people. Why emails? Because millions of people go online and check their emails everyday. For starters, this can be complicated, there are a lot of things that need to be done and sending emails everyday can be tiring. No worries because there are companies that help starters in managing their business. 

Although some of them may be strict, not everyone can be accepted, they do this to protect their integrity. Applicants must be qualified or referred. Once accepted, they provide virtual office, complete with business tools, training and technical support. There are also business coaches who have a wide experience and vast knowledge when it comes to business. They will lead you to the road of success. This is specially designed to guide and help those who have an online business to become successful regardless of their education and background in business.

Monday, 10 September 2012

How to use Twitter Hashtags for your Business

This article was originally written by Stephanie Buck, for American Express Open Forums. Click here to read the original post.

Assuming you have a Twitteraccount dedicated to your small business, you should also be investing in hashtags as part of your social media strategy.
But let's back up a bit, in case you're unsure what a hashtag is. Designated by a number sign (#), the hashtag is paired with a word or phrase to perform a variety of functions. Twitter users attach hashtags to tweets as search mechanisms, categorizing tools and marketing tactics.
In your small business' case, you may choose to attach a hashtag, such as #smallbiz, or even your brand's name itself, as #nike might do. This improves the chance that other Twitter users will find your tweet in targeted Twitter searches. But hashtags also streamline your own processes. For instance, you may ask users to include a unique hashtag in their own tweets as part of your newest Twitter marketing campaign. Throughout your campaign, the hashtag files tweets for easy search and organization within
Now that you're familiar with the basic hashtag concept, let's apply principles specific to small businesses. Follow these five tips to improve your brand's hashtag strategy.
1. Seek business-specific conversations. If you use Twitter for nothing else, use it to learn from others. Head to hashtags like #SMB or#smallbiz for advice, resources and current news of the small business variety (also follow along during Twitter chats). Although broad hashtags like these can generate an overwhelming number of tweets every day, tune in every so often for a quick update. A couple of scrolls down the feed could inspire your next blog post, marketing tactic or bestseller.
If you seek a more specific conversation, narrow hashtags down by topic. The #marketinghashtag contains a ton of small business-related content, as does #sales. Or take a peek in the#startups or #entrepreneurs hashtag for inspirational profiles in the space. Finally, if you're looking for tips on meeting like-minded businesspeople, try the #networking hashtag.
2. Keep it simple and consistent. When crafting hashtags for your own tweets, it's important to keep a couple rules of thumb in mind. First, keep your tags simple and direct. In a tweet about your latest blog post, which explains your company's use of finance apps, don't create a long, complex hashtag. Pair the tweet with hashtags like #apps and #SmallBiz, versus #SmallBusinessAppsandTools. Overly complicated hashtags like these are neither search-friendly nor commonly used, so your tweet will get buried quickly.
Secondly, don't weigh your tweets down with excessive hashtags. If your intention is to be thorough, a thoughtful, precise selection of 1-2 hashtags per tweet works. Seven hashtags reads like desperate marketing, and is a sure way to lose followers quickly.
3. Create your own hashtag. Hashtags are a great way to generate buzz around a marketing campaign. Domino's Pizza encouraged followers to tweet with #letsdolunch. Once the number of tweets reached 85,000, Domino's dropped prices by more than half during the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. that day.
Turn to Twitter when launching a contest, another great marketing tactic for your brand. Simply ask people to tweet with a specific hashtag when they submit ideas, jokes or photos. That way, when the entry period is over, you'll be able to easily locate submissions in one place.
Events are great opportunities for creating conversation around hashtags. Award your event a unique hashtag well before the actual date; you'll be able to generate content and discussion about the event before it even begins. (For example, Mashable created the hashtag #MashBash for one of our largest events ever, at CES 2012.) Then during the event, encourage participants to tweet with that hashtag with signage and other hashtagged swag. People in attendance both physically and via the web then will be able to follow interesting activities and discussion.
Finally, get creative. Use hashtags for Twitter chats and invite an industry expert to answer tweeted questions from your brand's followers. Or begin a game on Twitter using hashtags. For instance, ask people to tweet #PastTenseSitcoms, like "Family Mattered." It's a clever way to get people excited to connect with your hip, entertaining brand (we'd be remiss to not mention our own #Mashtags fun here).
4. Organize social dashboards by hashtag. One of the most convenient ways to stay on top of relevant hashtags is to designate easily accessible columns within your social dashboard. Whether you use HootSuite or TweetDeck, you can establish columns by social network, search term, Twitter list or hashtag.
Consider adding a small business-themed hashtag column to check whenever you have a moment. Add further columns as they become relevant, for example, when you launch a hashtag marketing campaign or contest. Then delete the column when the hashtag has run its course.
5. Take advantage of follow friday. In January 2009, Micah Baldwin announced on Twitter that he would suggest people to follow every week from then on. The Follow Friday trend soon took off with the hashtag #FollowFriday, but is now more commonly shortened to #FF.
You can craft a #FF of your own tweet in one of two ways. Create a list of people to follow and squeeze as many Twitter handles as you can into one tweet, with the hashtag #FF, of course. Make sure this list has a theme: are these the best foodies to follow? Political analysts? Activists? Comedians? Narrow down the type of people you're suggesting and indicate that in the tweet.
Some people choose to support only one or two people per #FF tweet, which is a more personal approach. You may consider crafting a tweet for a single person if you wish to compliment or communicate with that person, be it a journalist, executive or potential business partner.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Best of All Words; Upcoming Invite-only network

One of the pioneering figures of social media, the little known Swedish Count Erik Wachtmesiter, is back to launch his latest creation, Best of All Worlds.

The new site, which is expected to launch on the 27th August, will be highly exclusive and cater to the more elite levels of society. Naturally the site is invite-only at the moment, claiming around 25,000 members through the 5,000 invitations Wachtmeister initially issued. It is expected to continue in this vain as the network revolves around this exclusivity and seeks to unite the wealthy community pinpointed by Wachtmeister, providing a service that can really support their needs.

Speaking about the network, Wachtmesiter has claimed that Best of All Worlds will “deliver clever filters, cut through the mess and get information that’s relevant and we can trust”. The ‘About’ section of the site continues this view by stating the purpose of the site to be; to ‘discover people, common passions, and compelling information… in worlds of shared interests and friends’. Subsequently, Best of All Worlds will most certainly appeal to high-end marketers delivering such products as ‘yachts, watches, wine and liquor’.

Another potential selling point of the network is Wachtmeisters aim to allow users increased control over their data. In a move which appears to try and draw people away from LinkedIn and Facebook, Best of All Worlds offers the user ‘five modes to switch between’. These modes are entitled private, professional, family, social and party. After the user has picked their preferred mode, each one then provides its own set of photos, links, recommendations and suggestions. The idea is that this will enable like-minded people to connect in a ‘trusted environment’ and be able to discuss what really interests them. The categories of these discussions include ‘business, food and wine, health or a better world’, but this is expected to soon expand. 

A Small World

Back in 2004 Erik Wachtmesiter launched his first social network A Small World. Sharing many similarities with his latest creation, A Small World is an ‘invitation-only website that catered to a wealthy crowd where users could meet other world travellers, make business connections and find services’. After selling a significant stake of the business in 2009 and quitting his post, it seems Wachtmeister is fully focused on Best of All Worlds now. It appears that the Count has picked and streamlined the most successful elements of A Small World and can utilise the near 800,000 user base to promote his new venture. Reports have viewed this as an attempt to ‘poach’ users and this was extended when the two sites shared their mobile app launch on the 27th July. According to Wachtmeister this was a “total coincidence”, but these events do suggest the Count should be careful In the future. 

The potential competition between the two sites will be interesting to observe in the coming months and also whether Best of All Worlds can tempt the so-called ‘jet-setters and well-heeled away from Facebook Inc. and LinkedIn’. This should indicate whether the demand is actually present among these elite groups. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Social Media takes on role of 'Church' during times of need.

Social media takes on ‘church’ role in times of need

Research has recently come to light underlining the pivotal role social media played during, and after, the Christchurch earthquakes.

Ekant Veer, a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Canterbury, has discovered that social media unexpectedly became the communal meeting place during the quakes. Veer has noted that the people affected increasingly took to social networks for help, to provide information and lend support. With the city undergoing such turbulent times - many buildings became unsafe for occupation and transport links were damaged - social media took on the role traditionally held by the community halls and churches.

The lecturer, who has revealed his findings in the lead-up to the Australasian Natural Hazards Management Conference, monitored a variety of social networks after the quakes and noted his findings. Overwhelmingly, it was found that people utilised social media for ‘immediate and timely updates’. In addition to providing practical information, such as where to find fresh water and food, social media was important in supporting those who were badly affected and created a great sense of community.

Some significant players during the quakes included Geonet and Civil Defence who tweeted regular and useful updates. The hashtag #eqnz also came into play, helping boost the informative element that became so significant. News channels, whilst maintaining importance in informing the public as a whole, could not keep up with the instant updates boasted by social media. Subsequently, the quakes have led to heavier use of the platforms and claimed many more users.

Positive reports

In a time when social media is continuously cropping up in negative news articles, this is something that reaffirms the importance it can play.

The Christchurch earthquakes cannot be viewed in isolation as social media has played a significant role in other natural disasters. The disasters in Japan, for example, saw a huge spike in social media usage, with users relaying their support under such hashtags as #prayforJapan and posting ways in which others could help or donate. Similarly, in Australia, a Facebook page was created when it was announced that the Cyclone Yasi would hit Queensland. The page provided key updates, information and a place for users to connect. Studies have further shown that social media usage ‘during natural disasters is comforting, empowering and can limit psychological damage’. Clearly, it helps fulfil a number of functions in these times of need.

Two sides

Although social media was cited as one of the catalysts behind the London riots, it was proved in the aftermath how the good side overcame the evil. Initially, social media helped gauge public opinion, showing how unpopular the riots were, and united people and communities in combatting the situation at hand. Facebook pages and Twitter accounts were created, along with the hashtag #riotcleanup, sparking people into action to help their cities. In turn, this gained many ‘likes’ and retweets, as well as receiving further exposure with inspirational images of communities cleaning up their cities. A similar movement occurred in Vancouver following the riots there in June 2011.

When the dust had finally settled, social media also took on an important role in discerning those who had been a part of the riots. The authorities were made aware of images portraying individuals involved and those who had utilised social networks to incite trouble. In addition, users were urged to come forward with any information they had concerning the rioters.

Despite not being a natural disaster, these riots similarly show the role social media can play as becoming the ‘church’. It is evident that it helps promote the community and allows people with no prior connections to work together for the greater good. Furthermore, social media promotes support for individuals affected by the events. The informative element must also not be forgotten as users can be instantly kept up to date with significant changes and information.

It is all too easy to criticise social media at present, but perhaps people should look back to these events to realise the important roles it has played. Were it not for these social networks the essential help, information and support may have been far less than what it was, and in no way as swift. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Twitter Founders to Launch Two New Social Networks

Twitter founders create new social networks

With Twitter now firmly cemented as one of the key players in the social media world, it would be understandable if its founders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, were to take a back seat and simply revel in the success of their creation. This is evidently not the case though, as the duos forward thinking nature has seen them launch two new social networks.


The first of these creations, Branch, sees the removal of the constraints present on Twitter by allowing users to partake in more in-depth discussions. Twitter users can sign in using their account and are then free to join in with whatever topics of discussion they so feel. One can even set up their own ‘branch’ to spark a dialogue on their desired subject. As a complimentary element to Twitter, users could move between the micro-blogging platform and Branch to expand their discussions and focus on certain issues that really matter to them. The Head of Product at Branch, Josh Miller, has noted that the network is designed to combine “the intimacy of a dinner table conversation with the power of the internet”. Subsequently, the network is expected to improve the quality of conversations and create an online dialogue, which is seen by Miller to be largely lost due to the domination of internet “monologues”.


Medium is a completely different type of publishing platform. Similar to Pinterest, Medium is a highly visual network which is built around ‘collections’.  Users can upload images and text, if they so wish, and then have their work viewed and voted on by others. Those that choose not to upload content can instead give authors feedback on their work. The collections that gain the highest ratings are then more likely to be viewed by others as they will feature prominently on the site. Users can choose to make their collections private though, in which case only designated people can view their work. Conversely, collections can even be left ‘open for more collaborative efforts’. Plainly, the level of contribution on Medium is entirely up to the user.

On the Medium site, Evan Williams goes into some depth on the vision behind it. Essentially the aim is to evolve the online publishing world. Williams notes that ‘in many ways, the web is still mimicking print concepts, while not even catching up to it in terms of layout, design, and clarity of experience’. Hence Medium will seek to address this by offering a quality and innovative publishing platform. He does admit that the site will be experimental for a time, expecting it to ‘evolve rapidly’ as they learn more about how the site is being used.

Is this anything new?
Criticism has been levelled at both sites for their seemingly strong likeness to other platforms. Whilst Medium has been called a ‘higher-brow version of Pinterest’, Branch has been compared to Menshn and Google+ Hangouts. It appears these new networks have most definitely borrowed many elements from successful social networks - it would be detrimental not to - but have put a new twist on things.

Through the Obvious Corporation, Williams and Stone have made a conscious effort to further existing aspects of social media. In the case of Branch, the dialogue element of social media has been refined. The site represents a destination to engage in and discover interesting conversations, which can branch over numerous posts. The aim is to spark quality conversation, ridding idle chat and petit arguments, although this is yet to be seen. There is even the possibility for Branch to be ‘embedded on any website’, expanding the possible audience and opening the discussion out to others.

Medium has been mostly put side by side with Pinterest but the difference being it is a publishing platform. It does appear at this early stage, with no disrespect to Pinterest, to signify a more intellectual social network. Whilst Pinterest does showcase some great and original work, there is also a fair amount which is rather vapid. Medium looks to only showcase the best work through featuring the highest rated posts and collections. Nevertheless, it seems a comparison between the two is worthless as they fulfil two different functions and attract varied audiences. The future of Medium is yet to be seen but, once open for use, it will be expected to gain many contributors with its elegant and easy to use format.

Credit must be given to Williams and Stone for their roles in looking to evolve the world of social media. They have certainly recognised some social network niches that require development and worked hard to improve them. Their philosophy that ‘quality begets quality’ will hopefully come to fruition as the less desirable elements of social media are ridded of in these new networks.