What Social Media Challenges Do You Face?

Feeling Lost
Many companies who take the big dive into social media can be left feeling a little lost. This is understandable as it can be confusing to organize what to do and who to listen to. If you’re feeling confused, it’s time to do something about it! Many companies and social media resources offer free webinars or white papers for educational use. For example, SEOmoz has resources ranked by difficulty so you don’t have to feel overwhelmed if you’re a beginner. Once you have a better understanding of what you want to accomplish, you can begin looking into social media tactics that can help you pursue this plan. Remember, social media is just another channel where you can extend your reach in the areas of marketing, customer service, partnerships, leads and even hiring.

Spending Too Much/Little Time?

Do you feel like social media helps your brand or hinders it? It depends on how you look at it of course. If you don’t have a plan, things can get messy and you can find yourself spending way too much time on Twitter. Depending on your schedule, you may want to assign yourself a couple minutes (I like 5-10 minute bursts) of time to check your social media profiles. If it gets too overwhelming, ask for help. A big mistake you can make is trying to manage everything on your own, especially if you don’t have the time or understanding. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a Twitter whiz or Facebook specialist.If you don’t know where to look, an internet marketing firm is a great place to start.

Problems with Consistency
Many companies need help and motivation in keeping consistent with participation on social media sites. Think of this task like a project for a client or a personal goal. You need to establish time lines and can start realistically. It might be a long shot to aim to write 10 blogs a week, so why not start with every third day? You can always build yourself up without any pressure. Just like all the good things in life, social media success doesn’t come without hard work and dedication. The misconception is that people get frustrated with their progress because the services are “free”. But remember, you get out what you put in, so plan accordingly. Set aside some time to set targets for your blog, tweets, Facebook Page updates and you’ll be glad you did!

Does the New Facebook Make You Miss the Old MySpace?

Privacy Concerns
Facebook’s privacy shuffle is not quite done as founder Mark Zuckerberg reveals that new settings will be coming very soon. Great, just what we need!
Facebook’s integrity may be unraveling as many users are angered by privacy violations, profile bugs, and Zuckerberg’s pompous behavior. A recent source reveals that Zuckerberg called users “dumb f****” when a friend asked why users would trust a stranger with their information.

Profiles Lacking Personality

Privacy is not the only thing that Facebook user profiles are lacking – what about the personality? Remember when you could make your interests “unique”? Maybe you enjoy ‘music to sleep to’ or some other obscure band or activity. Thanks to the site’s new feature, you can’t even add something you’re interested in to your profile unless it already has a presence on Facebook (via Group, Page, Community etc.) On top of that, adding an interest to your profile instantly connects you to other users who like the same thing, whether you like it or not.

Now everyone is stuck with a boring, generic profile layout and you can’t even add an interest that Facebook doesn’t like. Remember when you could add your favorite song to your MySpace profile or change your background layout to match your mood? No, we aren’t talking about the obnoxious animated gifs. What if you just wanted to simply change the background color and font? Not possible with Facebook. Although my MySpace account has been laid to rest many years ago, the new Facebook makes me miss it sometimes. Facebook’s features seem to be getting more problematic and restricting. That’s not to say that MySpace didn’t have privacy issues of their own… but still.

What’s Next?

Thousands have already pleaded to commit social suicide and quit Facebook by May 31st, will you join? I’m also looking forward to Diaspora, an alternative to Facebook, which is set to launch September of 2010.

Appealing Ideas from Social Media Guides

Lately, I’ve been inundated with newsletters and downloads about a “definitive” guide to social media. Although these are helpful, there is a lot of repetitive info about getting the process started. They explain what Twitter and Facebook is and the different functions, but what about some realistic tips that is helpful for everyone who aren’t newbies? How do I grow? How can I branch out and attract people? Here are some interesting ideas that I’ve come across. I hope it’s more interesting than generic recommendations out there.

  • Presentation and document sharing. .docstoc is one of many document sharing websites that allow businesses and professionals to spread their know-how. If your content is helpful, others will be willing to link to you as a resource!
  • More commenting. Nowadays, a lot of sites and blogs enable comments by signing into your Twitter or Facebook account. I like this feature because you skip the hassle of filling out info fields. It also gets rid of spammers and others who don’t have relevant comments to share. It’s a good way to increase your brand awareness on high traffic blogs like Social Media Examiner.
  • Photosharing on Flickr. As Rohit’s article discusses, photo sharing can be a great way to engage customers. With the right content, this indirect method is exciting and will tie back to your site/blog/business in the end.

I’m always on the look out for interesting tips, so don’t be afraid to share. Feel free to also connect with us on Twitter and Facebook!

Social Media + Innovation: When Is It a Business?

This Saturday, we attended the Cal Tech/MIT Enterprise forum about social media and innovation. The stand out speakers had to be Oliver Starr of Clean Green Guy and http://www.cleangreenguy.com and Oded Noy of Social Approach. A nice turn out for a sunny Saturday morning – we even spotted a frog at the Cal Tech lily pond!

Oliver is all about the people and not the numbers. As a long-time successful blogger, Oliver has had a history of providing engaging conversations. We must admit that his’ was the most interesting presentation we’ve seen in awhile! (You can try out this tool for free at Prezi). Some takeaways from his talk:

  • Focus on the individual
  • Expand your method of reaching out. Don’t just comment on the big blogs to self-promote, reply to other commenters and even visit their blogs
  • How can you use Twitter to add a personal touch? Comment, announce interesting events, give info and provide value

Eventually, Oliver would like to see more research about the new data gathered about social media. He predicts that location based social networks will expand and help people in their collaborative efforts. With more efficient tools, Oliver would like to see more spontaneous and integrated social gatherings. He likened it to going to a large venue and identifying the people with your interests. This way, you’ll be able to convene with them to have a more effective conference. Sounds like what we would all want and need, right?

Oded shared a similar point with Oliver as they both stressed the importance of a community of like-minded people. Oded brought us back to the days before technology when people would meet and talk over a campfire. Old school, I know.

  • Before: face to face interactions
  • Next: those with money (corporations) can buy a bigger platform to reach more people
  • Now: the internet has reduced the cost of self-publishing

The biggest question remains – how do you utilize social media to make money? Social media sites are a place for individuals to share in these conversations and seek out areas of their interest. It’s hard to say how and when you can convert this into $$$. All of the speakers on the panel agree that as much as it is cliche to say, “It really depends”, it really does depend on your individual situation. The sure thing is that once your social activity urges consumers to search and find your product/service, that’s when you acquire customers. That’s where business begins.

The Evolution of Blogging and SEO

The History of Blogging
Web + log = Blog. According to Wikipedia, early-blogging dates back to around 1983. What evolved from a personal online diary has become a helpful tool that can be as powerful (or more powerful) than a website. Let’s take a quick look at some interesting tidbits:

  • Cameron Barrett compiled the first of blog sites in 1998
  • Peter Merholz coined the term “blog” in 1999
  • Pyra creates Blogger in 1999
  • Twitter introduces the world to microblogging in 2006

What’s Changed?
LiveJournal, Open Diary, Xanga, Blogger. The dot-com bubble paved the way for companies and individuals who wanted to make a name for themselves via blogging. Nowadays, blogggers are more dynamic and it’s more than just detailing the mundane facts of your everyday life. From online marketers to large corporations, blogs are now considered to be a serious for of entertainment, news, and information.

Business Blogging Webinar

This morning’s webinar with Chris Baggot and Duane Forrester was about business blogging and how to apply SEO. They distinguish the difference between how personal blogging has evolved into a more sophisticated form of corporate blogging. Chris shared insight about organizing several different blogs dedicated to specific topics, while Duane talk about the importance of tracking your success. Here are some things to keep in mind as you establish your own blogging strategy and best practices:

  • 66% of blog traffic comes from search engines
  • Companies that utilize blogs generally get more traffic
  • Frequent and recent – successful blogs are updated regularly and contain relevant information

Email’s Not Dead

The topic of yesterday’s webinar was social media and email marketing presented by Peggy Hatch with Blaine Mathieu. With the emerging world of social media, email marketing efforts can easily get left behind. While there are problems with email marketing, the solution may lie in combining it with social media efforts.

The Problem with Email
My favorite point that Blaine brought up was the email is the first form of social media. Remember how excited the world was when email peaked? Who could forget the classic, You’ve Got Mail? After all, when we want to share something with friends or family, a majority of us jump to email. According to marketing studies, only 22% of internet users use social media sites to share, while a majority still rely on email. When utilizing email for marketing campaigns, marketers have problems knowing where to start and how to properly integrate email into their overall efforts.

Social Media Sharing is the Answer
According to researchers, social media is not slowing. the growth of social media is not slowing. In fact, 8 out of 10 marketers agree that these sites are a great place to extend their reach. Why not create a dynamic duo of social media and email marketing? In a simple but effective example, Mabel & Zora sees sharing opportunities in their email campaigns. In all their emails, they provide social sharing opportunities where users can share with their friends. Maybe this means posting a coupon deal on their Facebook. In turn, their friends can share with their own network via Twitter, blogs, etc. As this webinar showed, the reach of email is wide reaching. Marketers can benefit from incorporating social media efforts in their emails and users will get an enhanced experience.

Social Media Things to Keep in Mind

Going Overboard

Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. Blogger. Tumblr. WordPress. Vimeo. MySpace. People can tend to go a little overboard when it comes to social media nowadays. It’s not a bad thing to be everywhere, but you may be spreading yourself thin. Instead, examine the right platforms for your campaign. Having a Twitter or WordPress is pretty useless you’re active. No one said it was easy, but it does take time and effort.

Overlooking Google Profiles

With all the profiles you currently have, who as the time to consider their Google Profile? It is always worthwhile to take advantage of free resources to make sure that your latest info is updated. While Google may have failed with Orkut, they have many social innovations that have grand potential. Google Wave is a favorite among web designers and other busy professionals, while Google’s What’s Popular is looking to rival Digg. There are new social media sites coming out all the time, but it’s especially worth it to keep your eye out on Google products.

Someone’s Always Watching

A little creepy? But yes, we should all be a little more careful with our personal information on all these social media sites. It’s common sense and yet, it can’t be reiterated enough! Facebook’s founder recently claimed that we’re no longer in the age of privacy. According to Zuckerburg, he would make all private info public, if he launched Facebook today. Although many oppose his remarks and Facebook’s recent privacy changes, the best we can do is guard our online identity. Another sketchy source came out saying that Facebook knows who you stalk. Not sure how you guys feel about all this, but I just like to be aware of what’s going on.

5 Link Building Tips

Link building is an effective way to bring traffic to your website. The more traffic and quality interactions you get, the better your Page Rank will be. Instead of quantity, it’s time to reevaluate the quality of your links. Here are some methods that you can utilize to benefit your business:

  1. Submit a press release. The purpose of a press release is to announce your new website or upcoming events. PR websites will distribute your release to different online news outlets, while allowing a greater control of what demographics to target.
  2. Embrace social media profiles. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. There are so many social communities where you can insert a link to your website.
  3. Protect your online reputation. When you get requests for link exchanges, make sure you carefully research the site. You don’t have to accept every request – it’s okay to say no.
  4. Share useful content. People will always appreciate info on a relevant or interesting topic. Whether it’s just random blogging or a more serious subject, be an expert in your field.
  5. Stay relevant. Don’t forget to demonstrate your knowledge and submit to relevant websites and blogs. It’s easy to get distracted, so stay on track!

Who Uses Facebook’s Marketplace?

New and Improved

Earlier this year in March, Facebook re-launched its Marketplace that is now powered by Oodle. If you haven’t heard of it, the Marketplace is a classified ads section where users can list and respond to advertisements. The Marketplace gives users the ability to buy, sell, and trade all their goods with other Facebook users.

Marketplace Features

So, who really uses the Facebook Marketplace? You may have seen friends trying to sell their used chemistry books or their extra phone. But, did you know that there’s also a section for housing and free stuff? That’s what’s so great about this application. Originally created in 2007, the new Marketplace is revamped with a user friendly interface. While it is like Craigslist in its free listing of classified ads, but it also integrates an important social factor that Craigslist lacks. Wouldn’t you rather buy something from a friend or a friend of a friend than a complete stranger?

Seeing the Potential in the Marketplace

Marketers are warming up to the market place as they see ease and convenience of its features. With every listing, you can promote the sale of your goods and services by adding pictures, putting it in an appropriate category and even sending out personalized messages. Such custom settings make it easier for those looking to buy and sell real estate. Because Facebook thrives on the social thread, word of mouth will still be important. If your friends have had a successful transaction with a certain seller, they’re likely to spread the word. Before you brush it off, not everything on Facebook is a time-waster. In the past, Apple has even posted a listing looking for iPhone engineers on there!

5 Social Media Tips for 2010 Webinar with Sally Falkow

Just attended a great webinar moderated by Sally Falkow. Here’s an overview of some great tips she focused on:

1) Use news feeds to push and pull your content.
Make use of RSS (really simple syndication) to push info on your site. From blogs to content pages, search engines look favorably on your links when they show up in news feeds. On the plus side, news feeds can expose your content to new audiences and give your site more traffic.

2) Monitor what’s said about your company.
Whether it’s using Google Trends or a service like NetVibes, it’s important to stay updated on who’s saying what about your company.

3) Measure the effectiveness your social media efforts.
Using Google Analytics, you can track where your traffic is coming from. If your bounce rate is fairly high, you might need to update your content and make it more user-friendly. Make the most out of these tools to measure all your social media and marketing efforts.

4) Use a branded video player.
Video views on YouTube are exploding as users are rushing over to the site over Google for their search needs. By using a service like Veeple, you can track real-time analytics of viewers watching your videos.

5) Integrate a social media newsroom into your website.
It’s a great place for bloggers, journalists, and readers alike. With a newsroom, it’s convenient to organize all your press releases, videos, pictures, and testimonials. Having ‘connect this’ buttons (like Digg and Twitter), makes it easier for readers to share your content.

Stay tuned for the next webinar in January!