We all know how social media has exploded to become an essential part of both our personal and professional lives with everything from Facebook profiles to constant feeds of information on Twitter. Well, busy moms on the go and up and coming authors are not the only ones getting in on the media buzz of social marketing, now you can use your social media addictions to follow and befriend a tweetering gorilla in Uganda (and yes I do mean the big hairy primate type, not the rebel fighters in the jungle sort). Latest efforts to save the endangered mountain gorillas of Uganda are employing the great tools of social media to let you connect to your very own gorilla friend with this unique idea.
A recent web site is taking social media to a whole new level by using it to protect endangered mountain gorillas living in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where nearly half of the total population of mountain gorilla’s are living. The hopes of the web site, FriendAGorilla.org, is to raise funds and awareness to save these amazing but endangered animals from becoming the last of their kind.
On the Friend A Gorilla web site you will be able to choose a gorilla to befriend for one dollar. In turn, you can follow your newly chosen gorilla friend via satellite tracking and watch their lives unfold before you through the modern marvels of technology. The basic idea is that not everyone who is concerned about protecting the gorillas can afford to give large donations of money to help protect them; however, with just a simple dollar at a time, everyone can pool those funds and resources that are needed and together they can have a big impact. It is hoped that the site will be able to raise at least $350,000 in its first year of operation.
The mountain gorillas of Uganda, like so many different species of wildlife, have come under threat by hunters and illegal poachers as well as habitat destruction from those who are destroying the areas for illegal logging and agricultural businesses. The funds that the Friend A Gorilla site hopes to raise with this new twist on social media will be used to promote conservation efforts to save the Gorillas and to help local residents find alternative ways of subsistence that will help the community thrive while at the same time protecting the lives of the endangered mountain gorillas. So contributing to this project is a win win situation for both the local wildlife and those in the human community of Uganda. Nothing like helping to save the world and only for a dollar, what could be easier?
While other not for profit groups and campaigns have made use of social media in some ways to get their name out, promote a particular cause, and communicate with their efforts and events to others, this is a very new take on the utilization of social media in the cause of preserving biodiversity and saving an endangered species and it will be quite interesting to see how successful this project will be. It will also be worth watching to see if other not for profit organizations or special interest campaigns will pick up on this idea in the future; if so, it could start to change the way in which we use and think about social media. Such creative ingenuity could breathe new life into social media as we know it.
So can a plan to have people pay for gorilla tweets and the privilege of listing a hefty gorilla, or adorable little infant gorilla, on your facebook as a friend really work? According to their web site they have already had over 11,000 gorillas who have been befriended as of today so it looks like they are getting off to a great start and we will have to watch this project over the coming months to see if they meet their goals of getting $350,000 within their first year or to see if other groups pick up on new twists for using social media to make a real difference in the world whether it be for animal rights, conservation, or social issues.
Looking to get the word out about your business or website? Try social media marketing!
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is the use of social networks and networking websites to advertise websites, products and media. With the internet as big as it is, and with the current popularity of all sorts of social networking communities, the internet is a fantastic tool to promote all sorts of material. Plus, with the internet now easily accessible to almost everyone, it is easy for both large and small businesses alike to use these networks to their advantage.
The first obvious benefit to social media marketing is the wide exposure people can find on the internet. Inserting a well-placed link or using some creative keywords can near-instantly grant your information exposure to thousands and thousands of social networking users who may be interested in your blog, website or store. Because most of the information on the internet can be picked up and spread on its own (for example, how search engines find your website based on keywords and meta tags), less work is required to start giving your information mass exposure.
The internet is a very large place, and has what you might call many different sections — news communities, networking websites like Facebook and Myspace, gaming communities and more. This may seem intimidating at first, but it actually makes things easier. When dealing with advertising online, you are able to easily select what communities and groups you push your social media marketing towards. For example, if your website or company is more geared towards gaming products and services, you would be able to focus on the social gaming communities. This ensures that you don’t invest too much time and possibly money towards advertising your website in places that won’t give your marketing efforts any attention.
Plethora of Advertising Methods
Since there is such a vast number of websites and communities on the internet, finding different ways to advertise is a breeze. The direct social networking sites provide plenty of options, from different groups to clubs and fan sites, but many people have found less orthodox methods to reach viewers. Some marketers turn to YouTube to create viral videos that people begin sharing because of the cool factor, for example. The side-effect they’re looking for is the great exposure their product or service gets while it’s spread with no effort necessary on their part. With the immense user base of YouTube, joining a few groups and plugging your video can be a great way to increase your user base. Another thing you can try is joining communities with similar interests and adding your content there. For example, if you have a website or blog about news, current topics or debate points, you could enter communities such as Digg and Reddit and add your content to gain exposure.
Social media marketing is an incredibly valuable tool for website owners. It provides you with new marketing methods and makes spreading the word much easier than ever before. If used correctly, your website can gain plenty of exposure through various media, and generate interest in their own products and services. Your strategic marketing could reach thousands of internet users in the same way many large companies have been able to do, for a fraction of the price.
When Twitter was first created many people couldn’t understand the point and proclaimed, Twitter sucks!. Many still don’t see the point of it. It’s ridiculed as lazy blogging, pointless drivel, a waste of time, and the end of the world as we know it. With things like potted plants and grocery stores tweeting, the derision of Twitter grows.
Many things that break new ground are often misunderstood or greeted with skepticism. Twitter has begun to evolve into a huge part of the web, and more and more people are using it for all kinds of things. The skeptics just haven’t found their niche yet, or are too stubborn to open their eyes and see what’s evolving. They’re distracted by the noise, spam and useless information; All common problems across the Internet. There have been polls that suggest 40% of all Twitter traffic is basically useless information. Is this out of character for the Internet? Look at all your emails for a day; how many of them are spam, newsletters you never read, and forwarded chain letters? Poke into any random forum post about any topic and you’ll likely find 40% of it is just reiterating what’s already said, unrelated tangents, and one line agreements with the the original post. If you just take a quick glance at a couple of twitter pages and don’t find the information to your liking doesn’t mean that there is no value there. Tweets are fleeting, and they reflect present time much more than they provide any archival value.
Even what’s deemed useless information or a waste of time might be helpful to someone. Maybe checking out what others are having for lunch will help you make your own decision about what to eat. Maybe you’re in a basement somewhere but noticing tweets from people you know are nearby about the crazy thunderstorm that just rolled in reminds you to bring an umbrella when you go out. Other people’s meaningless tweets could serve as restaurant reviews, traffic alerts, or a note about a nice sale at the mall. Twitter is by no means the be all and end all of social media. However it’s an important first step in what will eventually be one big integrated redevelopment of how we use the web.
Twitter reflects the stream of consciousness of the Internet, and sometimes the Internet contains noise, spam, and junk. There is also value if you know where to look. If you are tuned into Twitter, news will come to you without having to search it out. Once you build a solid group of followers with a diverse subset of interests stories and news and information that is actually pertinent to you will come across your Twitter screen. Instead of having to hunt down information, often when you don’t even know that something has happened, you check Twitter and everything is there for you. Rather than have to listen to news reports or radio stations, news and events that may be relevant to you or your day can be accessed via Twitter.
Twitter is just like what you would discuss at the water cooler in the office, except you’re discussing it with everyone, at every water cooler, at every office, in every part of the world. If a major sporting story, such as a no-hitter in baseball or a player getting traded, chances are you’ll first hear about it on Twitter. If a celebrity dies, a new movie trailer comes out, or a band adds a tour date to their schedule it makes it’s way around the world via Twitter and everyone that’s interested finds out about it. For those further interested, a simple search on Twitter will reveal all sorts of chatter and discussion around the topic. You can here anything anyone has to say about it, instantly. You’ll see statistics mentioned, highlight plays, discussion on the player’s attitude, and just about anything anyone has to say. On a broader scope, you could follow big events like the NFL draft, a presidential press conference, or the World Series of Poker as they are happening. This is what’s called trending topics, which are basically the hot news of the hour. If you search for these trends you’ll see a continually updated stream of people weighing in on the topic. Some of it will be from experts or authorities on the topic, and others will just be the thoughts and word of mouth of other people that are interested in what’s happening. Instead of tuning to a news channel or going to one news website, you’ll be tuned into the stream of consciousness from interested parties around the world. If someone 3000 miles away happens to hear a tidbit of information in his own corner of the world, he can instantly tweet that data and suddenly everyone knows it. This information gets propagated and retweeted throughout Twitter until the insight of one individual is carried across the globe.
From a marketing standpoint, Twitter can provide some instant feedback on your product. You can conduct surveys and interview people and find out what people are thinking, or you can type in your product’s name into Twitter and find out what people are saying. One quick search can tell you what people think about a new movie release, a new commercial, or a new piece of software. Faster than any RSS reader Twitter can alert followers to a new post on a blog.
Twitter is a part of the future of the Web. Even people that don’t tweet are affected by Twitter because it’s become a concept more than any one site. It’s about the propagation of information, and that propagation continues beyond the website when users repost what they’ve learned into IM away messages, email, IRC chat rooms, Facebook, or by word of mouth to the person sitting next to them. This concept has been there all along, and Twitter just streamlined it. As more and more people and companies start using Twitter it’s only going to continue to redefine how we use the web.
From the start of his campaign, Barack Obama has distinguished himself as the articulate, tech-savvy candidate who utilized social networking to his advantage. As a direct result, he generated wide support from the online digerati, who collectively comment on the state of the union daily via social media outlets. Euphemistically described as the “wisdom of the crowds” it’s a common belief that there is a certain zeitgeist that emanates when millions of people are reacting to the same topic at the same time. Whether or not there is disagreement along the way, what ends up bubbling to the surface is a certain level of consensus.
Now, it appears that Obama is going to the source. In an unprecedented move, our Commander in Chief, who has been known to be an out-of-the box thinker, is turning to the CEO and co-founder of Twitter for advice on the economy. Yes, Mr. “Evan Williams goes to Washington” is Obama’s latest chess move in our financial game of woe. On March 6, 2009, Evan Williams and 20 other entrepreneurs met with the president.
However, judging from William’s White House tweet, the Twitter co-founder was perplexed by Obama’s invitation and was not quite sure what he could contribute when he arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. It began in March 2006 as a research and development project inside San Francisco’s podcasting company Odeo, and officially rolled out as Twitter in April, 2007. Twitter’s evolution and growth during that time span is comparable to Obama’s meteoric rise in popularity and historical electoral victory.
On February 27, 2009, Williams appeared at the Ted 2009 Conference in Long Beach California to discuss Twitter’s explosive growth.
Actually much of Twitter’s recent street cred can probably be attributed to its role as a new-age electioneering tool used by Barack Obama. Once Obama won and the news media started analyzing his success, Twitter and its world of microblogging experienced heightened media attention, and the twitterati started lining up in droves.
Marking Twitter as a mainstay in today’s culture, the microblogging phenomenon was legitimized when it was satirized by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. In his typical mock-news banter he allowed one of his faux-correspondents to eviscerate this new trend as a self-indulgent obsession.
There are countless other examples of Twitter’s popularity going mainstream. The Chicago Tribune ran an article on Twitter’s increasing popularity among lawmakers in Congress.They noted that Louisiana Governor Jindal tweeted Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer during the recent Presidential Address to the nation.The website “OhMyGov.com” lists the Twitter addresses of a good number of our elected officials. On an MSNBC broadcast, even John McCain touted the benefits of tweeting daily and the opportunity it gave him to critique all the earmarks he found in the recent bailout bill.
As Williams told Charlie Rose on a recent broadcast, Twitter is still undecided about the best path to monetization, but what Twitter has embraced closely parallels the themes that surfaced during Obama’s campaign. Obama and Williams seem to have struck a similar chord when they talk about the ability to tap into man’s basic desire for communication and socialization. Transparency and authenticity were components that Obama reinforced as the essential needs of the American people. Evans illustrates how his social network embraces these core elements of our human nature.
While Twitter is lambasted regularly by critics for being supported by venture capital and having no real revenue model, with over 6 million registered users and 700% plus growth, Twitter is definitely on to something. But what?
Monetizing Twitter is especially interesting because of its size and structure. One can assume, when there is excessive user adoption, a revenue stream should follow. Conjecture however abounds as to how Twitter can become fiscally sound. Some indicate it will be acquired by Google. Others say that banner ads and keyword ad sales will become its cash cow. Currently, however, the consensus of opinion seems to be that Twitter will eventually monetize itself through the value of its real time search capabilities. But nothing is jumping off the page just yet as the next BIG IDEA, or one worthy of the president tapping into this resource as a potential cure for the economy.
Unless Barack Obama has determined that the best decision for the country is to base that decison on the “wisdom of the crowds!” While Bill Clinton favored polling as a decion-making barometer, this type of metric may not have elicited the most accurate results. Avoiding the filter of sample surveys, and by going direct to the people, the President can gain insight from not only those that put him in office, but also from those that voted for other guy. Perhaps the Obama plan is to examine the collective zeitgeist at this moment in time, so that his next chess move is in consort with general opinion. And perhaps the Twitterverse is the first stage in the mining process for that opinion.