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.
Today I received a curious tweet from Peter Cashmore, Mashable’s founder and CEO, pertaining to an ABC announcement and a somewhat biased story angle about social networking.
What seemed odd was ABC using one medium (the Internet) to solicit information for another medium (TV). As I read the tweet, the obvious irony was not lost on me!
Mashable founded in 2005 is the world’s largest blog focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and Social Networking news. When I hyperlinked from the tweet to the ABC website, it brought me to a “contributor pitch page” entitled: “Enough Already! Sick of Social Networking?”
The pitch read as follows:
Have you had enough of social networks? Are you weary of the constant stream of photos and status updates and friend requests? Do you want your privacy back? Or are you one of the last holdouts? Do you feel pressure to join social networks but don’t want to? Tell ABC News how you really feel. Share your story with us, and a producer may contact you.
Now, doesn’t it seem a little bit incongruous that an organization as large as ABC needs “social networks” like Mashable to get their message out to the masses. And then subsequently soliciting those same masses to ask them to turn on their own “social networks?” And when ABC talks about social networks, they are specifically targeting Twitter and Facebook subscribers.(note: while the ABC pitch speaks generically about “social networks” as a whole, the photo posted on the pitch page graphically depicts the “Twitter” and “Facebook” logos).
While Mashable has presently accumulated over 361,000 followers on Twitter and notes that their website has attracted over 5 million pageviews, I can only imagine how many 1000s of stories ABC will receive. Tales will flow in from the attention-deficit digerati waiting to bite the social networking hand that feeds, so they can move on to the next “shiny thing” that offers more topical “geek cred!”
People like Jeri Cartwright, President of Cartwright Communications might also agree with ABC, as she indicates she is unable to fight off “digital exhaustion” when she is inundated with “friend” requests on Facebook and LinkedIn.
On the flip side, it is very possible that ABC will receive a good number of positive responses that speak favorably about the advantages of social networking. There will be those who commend its ability to break news faster than any mainstream media could shake a stick at (sorry about that ABC!). Others might note that Twitter and Facebook have provided them with the opportunity to conduct business, build a brand image, provide hands-on customer service, and communicate regularly with a truly international melting pot of people, from all walks of life. Still others might shed some light on how social networking breaks down racial, political and religious barriers and how many of us feel we have become members of a global society who appreciate our similarities but can also address our differences, and relish in our diversity.
Or perhaps ABC will receive a humorous anecdote similar to one emailed to me from Lauren Turner, an interactive marketing manager at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, and a member of my LinkedIn network, who when asked the question if she thought social networking was “overexposed,” responded with,”I don’t feel like I am ahead of the curve anymore. My 72 year old grandmother just added me on Facebook!”
Or maybe they will be enlightened similarly to what I learned from Mike Sosin, an associate health & benefits agent in Chicago, who marvels at social networking as a space where “so many people never before connected can share ideas and perspectives with (just) a few keystrokes.”
We also could be just making too much out of this topic. As Corinna Martinez, senior technical project manager at the Department of Fish and Game states: “Cool tools are just tools!” They get us from point A to point B. However, she was also quick to add that “these apps give more power to the people…because they link PCs, mobile phones…and marketing in many exciting new ways.”
It just so happens that even while the “geek cred” of Twitter and Facebook is starting to fade, tens of thousands are still subscribing to Twitter and Facebook daily. At last count, five-year-old Facebook has tallied 175 millions while Twitter, two years its junior is closing in at 7 million!
So “NO,” Mr. ABC journalist, we haven’t had enough! We are just getting started. And if you want to learn more about our breaking social networking stories, all you have to do is tweet us. Not to say you were ‘scooped, but my best bet is as result of this blog and others like it, this topic will be searched, researched, tweeted, retweeted, commented on and discussed ad nauseum, before yours’ hits the airwaves. Social Networking may be a little bit “overexposed,’ and perhaps it doesn’t move at the speed of light, but it sure does move a lot faster than a TV news story!
So in closing, I wouldn’t be so impertinent or worse, “unsocial”… by telling this TV network that they are a little LOST in taking on this misguided story angle…. because I just realized… that’s one of the things ABC does best!
Today’s ‘have to have it’ flavor of the day in the marketing and advertising industry is the need for a social networking strategy.
With the proliferation of sites like Facebook and MySpace and the creation of methods and philosophies to strip the bones clean of all the information therein, it appears that all that is lacking to complete this cycle of the next big thing (after User Generated Content) is a short, but sweet, acronym a la UGC, of course.
But kidding aside, one need only to look at who is actually using these social networking sites to realize how deep the impact may run. Obviously there are high school and college kids, but the users go on to include their parents, teachers and the business community. While these communities have come to encompass nearly all of us, perhaps we have too quickly developed a case of social tunnel vision.
These social platforms gained their popularity because they were sites of the people; often very smart, observant people. The masses have noticed these networks being taken over pixel by pixel by ad space and drop-downs and they are being vocal in their disapproval.
The social networking phenomena popped up rather suddenly and, if marketers and advertisers aren’t careful, can disappear just as quickly. Part of the allure of these sites is the ease and quickness with which they can be inhabited. It is with the same ease and quickness that they can be left and created elsewhere.
It is true that brand loyalty is not completely dead and once enough people have joined the brand it will not disappear overnight. But the heartbeat that marketers and advertisers want to tap into is not something that can be walled off and contained. This is why, with the rise of all of the agencies aimed specifically at social networking sites, there is very little action in way of effective execution and insights.
The key, in this creative’s humble opinion, is not to approach this field with the media planner’s arsenal of banners, drop-downs and sky scrapers, but to focus instead on the account planner with their ears to the ground listening to the drums telling of what’s to come in order to create for that.
This afternoon, I had the privilege of interviewing Charles Darling, the president and COO of ABD3. Charles was very excited about YellowPin, which he wants users to know is not another new social networking site, but a new social networking application.
So what exactly is YellowPin? It is a way of turning your social network into a real world experience. Of course, social networks are offering real-time information all the time, especially since Facebook’s new format got Twitter-pated.
However, YellowPin makes it easy to link to your social network by using SMS. For example, if you want to let a group of friends know exactly where you are and what you are doing, all you need to do is leave a text message at 555-8888 and tell them. You are not required to have a smartphone for this application, as any old version of a cellular phone with SMS texting capability can be used.
A user’s privacy is valued greatly on YellowPin. There is no GPS following you at any time in the process. The only people that will know where you are will be your YellowPin friends, and they will only know if you send them the update. There are other updates that YellowPin will give you, such as entering in pop will let you know where all your yellow friends are hanging out. This is an excellent way to invite and be invited to places. YellowPin will let others know the exact activity you are doing, not just their the longitude and latitude of a GPS location.
Telling your friends your location can also be done at a Wi-Fi connected laptop as well. YellowPin is designed as a Facebook application, and it is designed to work for other social networking groups as well. The first month is free, and then it is $0.99 after that.
So, is YellowPin going to be the wave of the future when it comes to social networking? It is possible. I mean, I heard that Jennifer Aniston broke up with John Mayer because he twittered too much. I suppose we are at a point where social networking is sort of like Big Brother, without all the threat and invasion of privacy issues that were talked about in 1984.
No, YellowPin is helping usher in the era where social networking keeps tabs on us, because that is the way that we want it! Yes, it is a kinder, gentler Big Brother. Let’s just call it Little Brother. So, thank you, YellowPin, for setting us up for a good relationship with Little Brother. I suppose that more is to come in the future of social networking.
Dr. Aric Sigman, a respected biologist from the UK, has suggested in his latest article for The Biologist, a peer review magazine, that the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace could be linked to a decline in our immune systems and could lead to an increased instance of Heart Disease and Cancer. Remarkably Dr. Sigman claims that the replacement of face to face contact that these sort of sites are engendering with the younger generations could lead to a reduction in the levels of hormones such as oxytocin, the so called cuddle hormone that decreases when we are not in close contact with others. Dr. Sigman states …(there are) 309 socially regulated genes…including ones involved in the immune system, cell replication and responses to stress… and suggests that the more isolated one becomes the more adversely affected the genes become.
Biology and Society
Many biologists including the eponymous Richard Dawkins have long suggested that our genetic makeup is predisposed to social interaction and now are going even further and suggesting that these genetic dispositions are dependent on face to face social interaction for optimum operating efficiency. Put simply, the more time we spend isolated from each other physically the worse these genes operate. As these genetic markers are related to our physiology, specifically to our immune systems, we are more susceptible to serious illnesses. Could Facebook leave an entire generation of children with weakened immune systems?
The Rise of Social Networking
A quarter of children in the UK have a laptop in their rooms by the age of five, and it is a similar amount in the US. Many of them have access to social networking sites aimed at their age group. As they grow there are social sites aimed at each phase of development, from pre-teen to teenage to adult sites such as MySpace and Facebook, and this has all emerged within a five year time frame. It is an example of how the Internet has fundamentally changed the way we live with frightening speed. In the past, great social changes, especially to the way we communicate with each other, have happened over a much longer time frame, and the effects have been studied by professionals in the fields of biology, psychology and medicine. With the advent of the Internet social change happens simply too fast for any meaningful analysis of the wider medical and social effects to be undertaken. Dr. Sigman’s claims are worrying, as a generation of children grow up becoming more isolated by the use of social networking (which is a real contradiction in terms) and could have underdeveloped immune systems because of it.
Health not the only concern
Much has been made of the changes the technological revolution has engendered in the way in which we communicate, from the rise of TXT Speak (R U All right M8) used on SMS messaging and in chatrooms and online messaging, to the reduction in the ability to read faces and body language because of lack of face to face communication. Many experts in the fields of human communication have suggested that the lack of face to face communication poses a real worry to the development of empathy by youngsters. Empathy is the ability for an individual to recognize and understand the emotions of others around them, and the lack of empathy in subjects has worryingly been linked to a marked increase in violent tendencies. Many so called socio or psychopaths demonstrate a serious lack of ‘social skills’ and empathy, and the rise of the serial killer as defined by the FBI (a killer who kills for pleasure or recreation rather than a motive of advantage) has been attributed by some psychologists to the increasing isolation experienced by large sections of society. Will these changes we are experiencing due to the increasing use of the Internet as a means of communication mean that we will also see a rise in the instances of serial killers? Whilst this may be alarmist it would not be contrary to the currently held scientific view.
What is the future of social interaction?
The future seems set on a course which is inevitable, and the Internet has changed all of the ways in which we communicate, work and live our lives; from using chatrooms to making friends, to ordering the latest gadget online. Our generation may be the last one that remembers the good old days when you had a chat with the guy at the shop whilst you were buying a new bike (or even a computer) or perhaps bumped into a friend on your way there and stopped for a chat. Communication, even with our peers, is going to be over the Internet in some form or other. The increase in the number of people working in a virtual office from home, connected to their employer over the Internet, is increasing, and the trend seems certain to increase exponentially. Will we become a world of people who lose all sense of communicating with the next door neighbour whilst chatting to someone on the other side of the world? What do we stand to lose by doing so? The future holds great changes, most of them to come in our lifetimes, and whatever emerges from the chrysalis of the Internet revolution will be remarkably different from the caterpillar which entered it only a few years ago.
The online animation community MyToons.com recently released MyToons Live, a plugin that extends the site’s features to Google Earth.
MyToons Live uses Google Earth to graphically represent the location of MyToons.com members, contributers and fans all over the world.
By pin-pointing each user’s location with a beam of light on the Google Earth map, MyToons Live allows anyone with the plugin to click on any entry and check out what sort of animations are being done in any region of the world.
The MyToons Live plugin expands on the community and social networking features of MyToons.com. MyToons.com, started in the Spring of 2007, is a free-to-join community of a animators and animation enthusiasts both professional and amateur where anyone can share their creations with other animation fans, make friends, and tag favourite videos.
MyToons.com is also designed to allow HD formatted animations to be uploaded and played. This makes it the first site to offer HD animation uploads, making it one of the most versatile platforms for uploading, sharing and viewing animations from around the globe.
I’ve only taken a quick browse through some of the animations on MyToons, but some pretty neat stuff can be found right away. I have no idea what Mama Luchetti is, but if the commercials for it are any indicator, I love it. MyToons has some very entertaining, well-crafted animations on it, so whether or not you plan on becoming the next Walt Disney in the near future, you can always check it out for some quick fun.
Signing up for a MyToons account is free, and you can check it out here.
Ziibii fuses a number of social networking sites in one stylish iPhone application. It’s RSS meets communication.
Ziibii combines Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, RSS, Twitter and more into one convenient and pretty application. We almost depend on social networking sites to stay in touch with many of our friends today, and this little app helps you stay close to them no matter where you go. You are teased with status updates, brief news feeds, newly uploaded pictures, and videos that float down a river on your iPhone (Ziibii is a term for “river” Native Americans according to Zumobi, the creators of the app).
Floating headline snippets stream across your iPhone, full of all the information you have subscribed to and customized. You control the pace at which these travel and can pause it whenever you like. Clicking on one of the floating selections will bring you to an extended view where you can choose to see the full version on the web.
The app is fun to use, but improvements can be made. The current release has problems with twitter, and it feels like you do not have enough control over choosing the Flickr photos and Youtube videos you want to access. I would also like to see more social networks supported by the app, including MySpace, Vimeo, Hulu, Vox, and Bebo.
Ziibii is a fun time waster and great for taking a peek at what your friends and family are up to while you’re on the go. The version from the initial release is a little clunky, but a few minor improvements could make this app a must have for any iPhone owner.
What are your thoughts?
Microsoft’s new Free Your Avatar site lets you pop your custom Xbox Live avatar into a picture.
Ever since Xbox Live’s new format went online, people have been clamoring for the chance to put their custom avatars into little postcard pictures with firework backgrounds. Well, now that dream has become a reality.
The Free Your Avatar tool allows you to enter an Xbox Live username, and then allows you to drag an image of the account’s avatar into a picture frame, where you can position it and add different backgrounds and text.
One interesting aspect of this web-tool is that you can enter any gamer tag you know and make a photo out of it. This means you can finally make that family Christmas photo of all your friends’ avatars that you always wanted. Or you can always just deface the avatar of someone you don’t like.
Once you’re done with your masterpiece you can either download it, email it to your friends, or export it to various social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo, or MySpace.
Even if you don’t have an Xbox Live account, the site gives a catalogue of a few preset avatars for you to play around with, so that non-gamers aren’t left out of the exciting avatar-framing action.
All sarcasm aside, this little tool is actually kind of neat. It would be nice to see some more entertaining options than just backgrounds and text, like props or different poses, but for a quick distraction it’s pretty fun.
AOL has launched an updated design for its social networking site Bebo. This update comes jam packed with new features, including new techniques for marketers trying to reach specific audiences.
Bebo users now have access to aggregated social feeds from multiple websites including: digg, AIM, YouTube, gmail, Twitter, Flickr, and more. This is thanks to the incorporation of Socialthing, which is an application that AOL purchased back in August, which tracks your friends across multiple websites.
AOL’s update of Bebo comes with the need to increase its user base and compete with popular social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. AOL also updated its advertising to target users with specific ads based on that person’s history of activity. The advertising is covered by using the same user-history targeting to recommend content to the users. AOL says that they have built their recommendation software from the ground up. The hope is that the new design and marketing techniques will boost AOL’s revenue before Time Warner, AOL’s parent company, decides to give AOL the boot.
Bebo is one of the larger social networking sites, but it has not become popular in America and falls behind the larger social networking companies. AOL is hoping that by focusing on Bebo’s powerful media capabilities, they will be able to set Bebo apart from the other social networking sites and attract an audience that finds these specialties appealing. The following is more specific info from the AOL press release.
Social feed aggregation: Based on technology from newly acquired SocialThing, Bebo’s feed aggregation area enables quick and easy access to photo uploads, status updates and multiple online activities from key social networking destinations such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, AIM and Del.icio.us on top of Bebo’s existing social feeds. Bebo’s Social Inbox allows social feeds to be organized in chronological order and grouped by person. A localized RSS feed reader also delivers the latest news and updates from around the globe including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and the Netherlands.
E-mail aggregation: The Social Inbox gives consumers one-click access to the most popular e-mail services, including AOL and AIM Mail, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail. Users will be able to preview their e-mail from multiple accounts without having to go from site to site.
Media Favorites: A new recommendations engine built on the foundations of Bebo’s Open Media Platform delivers the most relevant online entertainment (including video, music, groups and games) into one place. Media Favorites are based on users’ stated preferences and aggregated data such as: what their friends are watching and listening to and what people like them like, subject to appropriate privacy settings. This feed pulls in current Bebo content and group subscriptions, making it easy to get a quick snapshot of all personalized content. Bebo already boasts one of the most extensive online media offerings available, with programming from over 500 media companies including MTV, ESPN, CBS and the BBC.
Many of these features are unique to the new Bebo and may be able to attract a new crowd. The depth of the additions made is astonishing, but is it too much? Choices and extra features are great, but it is possible to overwhelm your users as well. People have complained about the enormous amount of applications bombarding you on Facebook, and we all know of the comparison between the simplistic growth of the Google homepage versus the complex and messy growth of the Yahoo homepage.
AOL’s redesign is in attempt to gain more users by establishing a unique social networking atmosphere, and garnering more revenue with its user history targeted advertising software. Is this a successful move? Does the new Bebo interest you? Let me know.