The Oft-Forgotten Ugly Ducklings of Social Media

When people think social media, the first things that come to mind are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now Instagram. Most of the time, the channels that are neglected in conversation can be the most powerful. Youtube, Pinterest and Vine not only have the fastest growing audiences of all social channels, but they can also be some of the most useful for your marketing strategy.

Technorati claims that most people would be more inclined to buy a product that they saw in a Youtube video than something they saw on Facebook. I can relate to this sentiment because I am a visual person. Even though I am a writer, I respond better when I am being shown something rather than being told. A Facebook post or ad can only do so much to persuade the consumer. If they see the product in action on Youtube, it would convince them that the product works the way it is supposed to, therefore persuading them to invest the money in said product.

And for those more visually-inclined people, implementing Youtube into their social media marketing strategy can only be beneficial. Fast Company says that posting videos of your product on Youtube will increase visibility because Youtube is essentially a search engine. If a consumer is looking for a related product, there is a greater chance that the consumer will take notice of your product from the “related videos” section. Fast Company also says that Youtube is the #2 search engine on the internet, behind Google. The smart marketing strategy involved there is that Google owns Youtube, therefore creating an unstoppable powerhouse in the search engine market. Youtube is also one of the few and most popular search engine apps on iPhone and Android devices. I like being able to access videos right from my home screen on my phone and being able to bypass a few steps to receive the content I want.

One thing I agree with of Search Engine Journal‘s analysis of Pinterest is that users are spending more time on it, 89 minutes per week, than Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. Once I get on Pinterest and Yotube, I won’t stop for a considerable amount of time. Mostly for me it’s just watching funny bloopers of my favorite television shows or looking at pictures of food I will never be able to make. But if I can spend that much time viewing things that are somewhat meaningless to me, imagine what I could do if I paid attention to things that relate to my career.

Vine had one of the fastest growing audiences in the shortest amount of time. Some of the statistics of Vine I find to be very interesting and some I question their validity. I have no doubt that the Boston Marathon bombing brought on thousands of Vine videos. But considering that Vine is an app created by Twitter, I find it strange that most Vine videos are viewed between 10-11am, where as most people log in to Twitter at around 5pm. And I also take issue with the math used to determine the number of Vines compared to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If the trilogy, which is just over 9 hours long, were looped 2,500 times that would result in over 18,000 hours, which is about 9 times more than the over 2,300 hours needed to watch all of the videos on Vine. I also find it hard to grasp the significance of statistics in that infographic, when the most important one to me and to marketers should be the rapid growth in audience.

Do you use Youtube and Pinterest for more than just viewing videos or pictures? How might it fit into your social media marketing plan?

Do you see a significant marketing impact coming from Vine or is it a passing fad?

How to Be Professional and Social at the Same Time

While I’m navigating through this program, each new social media outlet provides more insight than the last. This week studying LinkedIn might just be my most important task yet. I am at the stage in my life now where making professional connections on LinkedIn is much more important than beating the next level in Candy Crush Saga (although that game is really addicting). With these readings I learned how to complete my profile, what not to do on LinkedIn, especially being a journalist, and how to best connect with new job prospects.

Social Media Marketing said that we should all have a great headline that tells our whole story in as few words as possible. Judging by my headline, which reads “Student at University of Florida,” that’s not going to get me any good connections in social media anytime soon. I need to do a major update to my profile that highlights my past work as an editor for my undergraduate literary magazine and a contributing writer for the publication run by my journalism class. The experience and skills I learn in this master’s program will become invaluable to my future career plans if only I could remember to update my profile.

Being relatively new to LinkedIn, I don’t look at my page that often and I definitely have not updated my status. Forbes suggests that is one of the biggest mistakes I could be making. Because it is a professional network, I was afraid that employers and prospects seeing too many status updates from me would turn them off. Now I realize that providing them with links of writing samples and other work (like this blog) gives them the opportunity to see what I’m made of and give them the incentive to seek me out for a position.

I have been waiting six weeks to talk about how being a journalist has a connection to social media. I certainly didn’t think LinkedIn would be my first opportunity to do that. I spent four years at the University of Arizona learning how to be a better journalist. I can honestly say that I never once thought of LinkedIn as a place to find sources for stories. The International Journalists’ Network taught me how to be a much more savvy journalist while searching for headlines as well as jobs.

One of the hardest things for me to do not only professionally but personally is open up and let people in. Copy Blogger says that is one of the best chances you have at successfully getting a job through LinkedIn. Letting employers not only see my credentials, but my personality will put me a huge step ahead of my competition. And giving them a way to contact me, other than through LinkedIn will make them more likely to reach out. I also have trouble with this, because like in any other social network, I may not know who exactly I’m talking to. What I have to realize is that this is a professional network and it’s a rarity that someone would create a fake LinkedIn profile just to obtain personal information about me.

With these new tips I am ready to use my skills and background to my advantage and take the social media world by storm

The Epic Social Battle (Part Two)

Earlier this semester I was asked to compare and choose between Facebook and Google+ for another class. Now, I won’t give away my bias so quickly, but there was a clear winner and it hasn’t changed a month later. But the readings for this week made that decision just a little bit tougher for me. The content algorithms and engagement levels made the social networks we all know and love into a math equation that I kind of like.

Forbes once again started their article like The New York Times did last week and I got scared that this was going to be another Facebook bashing article, and I was gladly proved wrong. I feel like a quote from this article best sums up the argument that I can make in this debate; “Facebook knows more about our relationships today than anyone, while Google knows more about what we are looking for.” Facebook ads and suggestions, at least in my experience, know who I am as a person and provide me with things before I even know I’m looking for them, while Google only provides suggestions based on search terms. What this author and I don’t agree on however is that Facebook needs to become less privatized. While putting personal information on Facebook can provide you with some personalized suggestions, if that information falls into the wrong hands it can be very dangerous. I think people need to be able to choose how private they want certain information to be, not have it all out there for everyone to see.

Do you agree or disagree with Forbes that Facebook needs to tear down the “walled garden” and become less private?

Now for the math that didn’t make my head hurt. The Facebook algorithm, as explained by Broadsword Communications, basically states that a post on Facebook will appear on your news feed based on two criteria, type of content and level of engagement. Sure we all love the old way where we see things based on the time it was posted. But if I’m posting a link to this blog post on Sunday night, which I always do, then I need something other than a time algorithm to make sure this blog post is seen by my Facebook friends. The only way something becomes viral on Facebook is if the greatest number of people see it as possible and that doesn’t happen if it gets buried in a news feed after a few hours. I like to think of this as the message board formula. Every year my dad and I play fantasy baseball and somehow we are always looking for new owners. After about an hour or so, we need to reply to that post in order to bring it back to the top of the page. That is exactly what this new formula does. Every like, comment and share moves it a little bit further up the page and lets the content have the potential to become viral.

Copyblogger‘s article on Google+, in spite of the pretentious reference to The Matrix, was actually my favorite article to read this week. Coming from a journalism background where news writers tell you to be unbiased and tell the whole story, I really enjoyed the argument he made for and against Google+. I liked thinking that he was against Google+ despite the title of the article telling me differently. He reiterated some common themes about audience and branding. He stated that it didn’t matter that the audience was smaller or slower to show up because they would be loyal to the brand. I like how everything that Google has to offer is all going to be in the same place and that it circulates around Google+. Does that mean I’m going to abandon Facebook when I’ve been an active user since 2008, no way. It’s nice to know that I have another easy option if I ever need it. I also like that Google+ is rebelling against Facebook and Twitter and being the black sheep of the social media family. I am never one to go with the status quo if it wasn’t something I truly believed in.

The Moz Blog brought these readings full circle this week, showing that Google+ is doing everything in its power to surpass Facebook in every way possible. Google+ is paying more attention to the content and engagement rather than keywords (SEO) in links. That’s another point in Google+’s favor, showing that they are willing to put the fans and customers first by giving them what they want to see. As I revealed a little prematurely, I still think Facebook is the best and cannot be beaten, but I can’t deny the abilities of Google+ for trying to take down the heavyweight.

Which format do you like better, search engine optimization (SEO) or social media optimization (SMO)?

Twitter Is Simple Yet Deceptively Complex

I’m going to be completely honest right out of the gate and say that when I first heard about and started using Twitter, I thought it was pointless. Even in my web-based journalism class where using Twitter was a part of the grade I didn’t do much with my account. Then what I realized was that I was doing almost everything wrong and it only took a few simple steps to correct those problems.

I would like to assign the biggest tips on how to use Twitter properly as the Three R’s; relevance, response and retweet. According to Forbes, the reason Notebook of Love is the most engaged brand on Twitter is because they tweet what people want to hear. It is also why I believe Blake Shelton is one of the most popular and talked about country artists on Twitter; he tweets about real life. People also want to know they are being heard. The reason why I think Lay’s Potato Chips is sometimes effective on Twitter, as I talk about in my other blog, is because they seemingly respond to every tweet they receive. And retweeting is simple, it makes people feel good that you enjoy their content. I’ve been retweeted four times since joining this master’s program and it feels awesome!

Engagement on Twitter is key to success. Having followers is great, but if none of them engage with your content by replying or retweeting, it has no impact. Aaron Lee thinks starting early is an important factor in the process and I would have to agree. Followers will come eventually, as I’m seeing more come now, but giving them the content to follow is even more important. People that already follow you can spread word of mouth for others to join if you give them the incentive to by producing valuable content. Lee also gives some pointers on how to produce good content, such as using images and hashtags. I have very love/hate relationship with hashtags. They are convenient in grouping tweets together and good ones allow people easier access to your tweet. On the other hand, some hashtags are so random and people wouldn’t use them in a real conversation unless you’re Honda. Mashable says the best ways to engage are to be authentic and don’t act as a push marketer. I know I respond better to people that are using their own voice instead of what the company wants me to hear. And in a recent question that was posed to my Facebook friends, most are likely to rebel against push marketing and not buy from that brand.

Now we have to talk about what not to do on Twitter. I’ve already talked about marketing, not replying and not tweeting period. Kim Garst also suggests that you should be as transparent of a brand as possible, with imagery, content and the name of your brand openly visible to the public. On the other hand, the New York Times suggests that too much time engaging will leave you dependent on Twitter for basic needs, which I think is a bit far-fetched. The article felt to me like the author was above using Twitter with the vocabulary he was using, some of which I didn’t understand. There can be a middle ground between using your brain and becoming a machine and I resent the fact that he is telling me that’s where my life is headed if I continue to use social media.

One final point I want to touch on was something I mentioned in my intro about using Twitter in a classroom setting. Obviously, in my case it failed miserably, but that’s not to say it can’t work. Part of the reason why it never worked for my class is because student journalists either weren’t on Twitter or didn’t know how to use it to it’s full potential. If my class had devoted some time to teaching us how to tweet engaging content, although hopefully not like Cal State-San Marcos did, we may have fulfilled the required number of tweets for full credit in the course.

What mistakes are you making on Twitter and how can you improve them?

Do you feel your tweets accurately represent you as a brand?

All About Audience

For this week’s readings, it was all about how to make your audience happy enough to influence the spreading of your content. Pam Moore tells us that we have to be human and interact with them on a personal level so it doesn’t feel like we are just a mouthpiece trying to sell something. We want our audiences to feel like we understand them and gain their trust so they will share our content without having to beg or incentivize them. The well-known mantra “the customer is always right” certainly applies here. Where I think many companies go wrong with their social media content is that it’s all about their brand or their latest promotion and they don’t take the time to engage with the audience and make them feel important. What companies do you think do or don’t do a good job engaging with their audience? Just because a company might not make a sale one day doesn’t mean they can’t obtain a dedicated audience that will help their business thrive for a long time to come. It’s about winning the war, not just the battle. Guy Kawasaki emphasized finding the right image and putting the right content on your social media channel to engage the audience the right way. People can only see so many flyers for sales or promotions of new products. If a company shares a video from another company or something that might be unrelated to what they are selling at the time, it creates a persona that they are human. This creates more interest when they post about a promotion because fans of the page are not sick of hearing about it. You can share other people’s content, just make sure that you give them credit and not pass it off as your own. What kind of content do you see from your favorite pages that is unrelated to current promotions? When I was the social media manager for Persona Magazine, I had a difficult time knowing when to post and when not to post. I felt that if I was sending out a tweet or Facebook status when there was nothing relevant to report I would annoy our followers. Now I realize that posting frequently or about off topic content is necessary to maintain a presence and a sense of trust between you and followers. Mari Smith‘s article is where I lost faith in what I was reading. As a journalist, this article may have given me some decent tips on creating pieces for a magazine or newspaper. But, for someone who calls herself a “Social Media Leader” and “Facebook Marketing Expert,” she didn’t really gear this advice to posting content on Facebook. In my opinion, if a company is posting content that is as long or longer than this blog post, they are doing something seriously wrong. If you need to have meetings or spend time editing the content that is to be posted on your social media channel, people are not going to take the time and read what you have to say. Going back to what Pam Moore had to say, focus on the audience to push your content through to a larger audience using simple, eye-catching content and you will hopefully find success in marketing your new or already established business.