… And Facebook for All

… And Facebook for All

At least, that’s what Mark Zuckerberg would want us all to think, wish and feel. I can understand that, a desire to make a website about as universal as possible. Once the site stopped being exclusive to collegians, the inevitable business model was to universalize it. And Facebook, today (although that will probably change), has about the best chance to become a truly universal web experience as any site.

Universality

Facebook for All
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, are you on Facebook? About 1.6 billion users are, as of this writing. But, wait, not so fast. Is that number truly accurate? Absolutely not. After all (and for different reasons), my husband and I each have more than one account. Do you? Even if you don’t, I bet you’ve got at least one friend who does, and probably lots more.

And that is perfectly all right, and is absolutely permitted by Facebook (although they’d like to change that).

Why Facebook?

Facebook’s main purpose (in case you’re just coming into the light after a few years on a desert island), is to sell advertising. Its offshoot purpose is to connect people, of all stripes, for free. But it’s those connections that sell the advertising.

There’s a lot else to it, at least on a general basis. But it’s still a valuable business tool for any Social Media Marketing Campaign.

The Best Parts of Facebook for Social Media Marketing

Facebook’s main virtues, when it comes to your business, can currently be divided into three basic areas:

  • Personal pages and peripheral connections to same
  • Company pages and groups and peripheral connections thereto, and,
  • Offsite connections back to Facebook

By “peripherals”, I mean all the extra stuff that goes along with Facebook, and not computer hardware peripherals.

Next: Your Facebook Profile Page

Facebook for All

Why use a screen name?

Why use a screen name?

Screen name – good idea, or no?

I was inspired by this post in Angela Connor‘s blog. If you don’t know Angela Connor, I urge you to check her out; her blog is extremely insightful and is one of my favorites.

Her ideas make a great deal of sense, and I think some of this is why the Blizzard forum experiment in real names for users was such an immediate and egregious flop.

Masks

The ‘net, like it or not, is for many people a place of masks. You pretend to be younger and thinner than you are. Or you pretend to be unmarried. You pretend to be a Klingon. Or you’re a teenager and pretend to be an adult. Or you pretend to be another gender or richer or lovelier or more conservative or whatever.

And the masks can be freeing to many. Perhaps they were freeing when the ancient Greeks donned them while performing “Oedipus Rex” for the first time. I think there is more of a place for them than perhaps we’d all care to admit. Because there seems to be a value to being able to spread war paint (or lamp black) on one’s face, or wear a Halloween costume.

Unreality

screen name
Halloween Costume Close-up (Photo credit: trustella)

And this is not the same as our reality. It is related but not identical. Maybe the librarian who goes out for Halloween dressed as a dance hall girl wants to be known as someone who takes risks (and maybe foolish ones, at that). But when the morning after rolls around, she’s back in the library helping others do research.

Anonymous Commenting

This kind of anonymous commenting allows for something like this. Because the sympathetic guy who’s really seething inside gets to call people out. He gets to be a bully and be an all-around racist jerk (I have worse names, but don’t wish to besmirch my blog). But then he surfs to a different site where he can chat up the ladies with his sensitive New Age guy demeanor. And then when the time to log off comes, he goes home and kisses his wife and plays with his children. And this is all one guy.

Facebook

To comment openly through a full, correct name (usually) medium like Facebook would be to cut off the dance hall girl. And it would stifle the racist jerk, the ladies’ man, and any number of other secret selves in favor of a drab and ordinary world. Even on a news site, which is pretty much the definition of drab unless there’s some sort of a hot story, the jerk, the dancer and the Romeo all want to be free.

Who’s Real?

But we shouldn’t take their opinions as seriously as the real people. Because, even though those personae live in real people’s skins, it’s the real people who vote, marry, pay taxes, work, make the news and are members of our real society.

The trouble is telling them apart and knowing which one is real.

Can you always tell? I bet you can’t. Not always.

screen name

Social Media Continues its Relentless Pace to Try to Make You Stay Put

Social Media Continues its Relentless Pace to Try to Make You Stay Put

It’s a relentless pace out there. And much like the holidays accelerate the end of the year, and we suddenly look up on January 7th or so and wonder just what the hell just happened, social media is continuing to not so much reap the whirlwind as to be the whirlwind. But at the same time, there’s an effort afoot to slow down and control the whirlwind.

Twitter

Social Media Continues its Relentless Pace to Try to Make You Stay Put
English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Case in point: Twitter‘s recent changes are designed to keep people on as long as possible. They do this by embedding media more directly and making it so that you don’t have to leave Twitter’s embrace in order to enjoy a clip or a photograph. So far, so good. But shortened URLs allow for more malware exploits. It’s like one step forward, a step back and another one to the side.

Facebook

Facebook, yet again, looks to change its layout. The profile is going to become richer and provide more information. This may or may not be useful to users but it will certainly keep them on longer. At least, that will happen in the beginning, when it’s a novel concept.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is adding Signal to make it easier to track even more of the social media avalanche – and, of course, to try to keep people on LinkedIn as long as possible.

What these changes have in common, other than, perhaps, novelty for the sake of novelty, is the desire to keep people on site as long as possible. Put some tar down, and have us all stick, at least for a while.

So while the Internet spins ever faster, and social media sites attempt to keep up, their overall strategies seem to try to slow us all down. Will it work? Is it a foolish dream to think you can keep people around with such tricks, such slick bells and whistles?

Lack of Content

What disturbs me is that there’s not a lot of content happening. And it would, could, should make me want to hang around. Instead of hiring writers to improve things, or rewarding good current content providers, each of the big three sites is instead pursuing a software solution. But what’s the sense in hanging around a site if the content isn’t compelling? Or are we, instead, merely getting the sites that we, perhaps, deserve?

Hence here’s what happens if my Facebook friends list is dominated by people I went to High School with over thirty years ago. Their status updates and my wall are dominated by news of their birthdays, their children and their careers. But isn’t that what’s to be expected? And if I instead tip my list in a different direction, and it’s suddenly dominated by the people I work with or diet with or do artwork with, the news is going to be different.

Comparison to Reality TV

One thing about Reality TV is that it’s anything but real if it’s at all successful. Because people just, generally, don’t lead terribly interesting lives (yes, you too, gentle reader). We pick up the dry cleaning. Or we bicker over the remote. We forget to buy sausages and make do with hot dogs. And around and around and around we go. And all three of the big social media sites, when we are not following celebrities and businesses, are really just a big agglomeration of Post-It Notes whereby we tell each other to grab milk on the way home. For “Reality” to be compelling at all, it’s got to be unreal, and scripted. It must be turned into this fight or that rose ceremony or this other weird pancake-making challenge.

The big three social media sites, when you strip away the celebrities and the companies, can be a boatload of errands or a standard-form holiday letter. You know the kind, where you’re told little Suzie has taken up the clarinet. Over and over ad infinitum.

No wonder we need software solutions to keep us there.

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The Best Lengths for Social Media Posts and More

The Best Lengths for Social Media Posts and More

Best Lengths for social posts can seem elusive. What’s right?

The fine folks at Buffer and, in particular, Kevan Lee, have done it again and have everything you always wanted to know about social post lengths but were afraid to ask.

The Best Lengths for Social Media Posts and More
English: Red Pinterest logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my travels online, I have seen blog posts that were under 50 words long. I have seen blog posts that were a good 10,000 words long. Tweets, of course, are limited. But there have been plenty of Pinterest pins with just an image and nothing else. Or they’ve got enough verbiage behind them to seemingly rival War and Peace. So, what’s ideal? Is there any science behind it?

Blogs

How long should blog posts be? Buffer likes blog post titles to be six words long (oops, this blog post’s title is too long). Interestingly enough, the blog post where I got the inspiration for this blog post from also has a title that is too long.

Sometimes, six words is just not long enough.

Thanks to Buffer for this graphic.

The Best Lengths for Social Media Posts and More

Interestingly enough, Buffer says blog posts are best at 1,600 words in length. However, Yoast (the fine makers of an SEO plugin I use for my own blog posting) provides good SEO credit for blog posts that are at least 300 words in length. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but one thing is for sure – those fifty-word blog posts just plain are not long enough.

Facebook

How big should a Facebook post be? Buffer says forty characters. Keep it short, snappy, and to the point. According to Lee, Facebook posts that exceed forty characters degrade in engagement as they get longer. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that 700-word screed you wrote? Better make that a blog post instead and just link to it. But if you put the whole thing on Facebook, people will scroll right on by.

Here’s a trick to get around the forty-character wall – links show the title and some text, and you can always change these. Or add an image with some text. But don’t go nuts! It is very, very easy to hit and exceed critical mass.

Google+

How long should a Google+ post be? Buffer puts the figure at sixty characters. After that, you’re hitting a second line of text. How do you get around it? The idea is similar to Facebook – you have a little room to play with images and even a short subtitle.

LinkedIn

How long should a LinkedIn post be? Buffer clocks in at twenty-five words, based upon clickthrough data.

Pinterest

How large should a Pinterest image be? Buffer’s got you covered – 735px x 1102px. These taller pins seem to stand out more, and are therefore shared more often.

Twitter

How long should an effective Tweet be? Buffer says to limit it to 71 – 100 characters, in order to provide some space for people to comment before sending out a modified tweet (MT). Keep hashtags at six characters for maximal impact. Yes, we all know that people sometimes use hashtags as a bit of wry commentary. Tumblr in particular seems to inspire hashtags like #DudeLooksLikeALady (and not just for fans of Aerosmith). Excessive hashtagging is one of the characteristics of Instagram. But the best length hashtag on Twitter has six characters.

Upshot

TL; DR – Check out the chart, and the cited article, for more information. The research is sound, and fascinating, and the article was a hell of a find.

… And Facebook for All — Your Home Page

… And Facebook for All — Your Home Page

Your Home Page. Log into Facebook, and it’s the first thing you see. It’s your Home Page. Here’s what’s in it.

NOTE: Facebook constantly A/B tests. Features move around, change, are renamed and resized, or disappear all the time. These are rolled out in stages; your neighbor may have a different-looking Home Page from yours. And this is 100% normal.

Column One

First of all, column one (left side, top):

Your Home Page
Facebook (Photo credit: Scott Beale)
  • Groups
  • Pages
  • Friends
  • Create Group
  • A small list of your most recently accessed games

Column Two

And column two (center):

  • Status messages on friends’ pages
  • Other friend activities

Column Three

Then column three (right, top):

  • Events
  • Friends’ Birthdays
  • People You May Know
  • Targeted Advertisements
  • A list of friends available on chat

Let’s start with Column One:

Groups

This is a list of the groups you have joined.

Pages

These are pages you are following.

Friends

So pretty obviously, this is a way to access your entire list of friends.

Create Group

You can create groups for any reason. And this includes to support a beloved entertainment figure, promote your business or just complain about people wearing Crocs. I’ll get into the specifics later in this series.

A small list of your most recently accessed games

These will rotate as you access more games, depending upon recency.

Now for Column Two:

Status messages on friends’ pages

This is the actual News Feed itself (also access in Column One). And you can comment on others’ statuses (statii?) or posted links.

Other friend activities

First of all, you are served everyone’s activities. Facebook can be a tsunami of data. However, a lot is aggregated; you are usually shown that six people joined a group, rather than separate messages on all half-dozen.

And Column Three:

Events

A way to see the calendar. So if you’ve got upcoming events and you haven’t RSVP’d, they’ll show up here, but you can jettison them by clicking the x on the right side. Note that you’ll be invited to all sorts of stuff, including sponsored activities and openings by commercial ventures. And RSVP’ing is not strictly necessary. However, as an event organizer, I have to say it’s appreciated so as to at least get a handle on headcount (and know who not to expect). You need not RSVP for commercial store openings or whatnot.

Friends’ Birthdays

Whether they’ve made the year apparent is their own business. But if they’ve got the month and day up on Facebook, birthdays will show up here. And of course you’re under no obligation to wish people a Happy Birthday, but it is kind of nice.

People You May Know

So this is based upon some sort of an algorithm whereby Facebook looks at things like your current friends list, their friends, your location and possibly also your school(s) and workplace(s). However, I don’t believe the latter are included at this time. If you have any mutual friends, Facebook lists them as well. Facebook does not always get this right, or it gets it wrong in interesting ways, e. g. Facebook says I “may know” the spouse of someone I attended High School with. Well, unless I went to High School with the spouse (over 30 years ago), then there isn’t much of a likelihood there.

Targeted Advertisements

Well, they’re as targeted as Facebook can make them. This is apparently based on your click activity, your likes, your friends’ likes and whenever you click on an ad to get rid of it. Again, sometimes Facebook can get this wrong in rather spectacular ways; for example, when I wrote this post originally, it showed me an ad for Toyota. And I have neither owned nor contemplated owning one, ever.

A list of friends available on chat

It should go without saying that you should never click on links from chatters you don’t know well. And you’re under no obligation whatsoever to answer anyone’s instigated chat.

A big part of the Facebook experience is not only playing games but also sharing them with others, or sharing status or links. The way you see and can participate in this sharing is via your Home Page. It is, essentially, a bulletin board between you and your pals.

Next: Your Account Settings

… And Facebook for All Your Account Settings

… And Facebook for All – Your Account Settings Explained

… And Facebook for All – Your Account Settings – in Facebook, how to do you change your account settings? When you pull down on the Account section of Facebook, you currently see a few choices:

Your Account Settings
Your Account Settings

Edit Friends

First of all, you get a list of your friends. And if you have separate friend lists (say, for work or school), those lists are on the left. Facebook does move these sorts of settings around. By the time you read this blog post, this feature could potentially have been moved.

You can add friends to various lists, remove them, or delete them from your list altogether. There are also suggested names to be added to various lists (assuming you’ve selected a list, versus all of your friends). The default here is not only to show the entire list of friends, but to put the ones you’ve interacted with most recently up at the top.

Manage Pages

If you manage pages — and you may very well have that as a task if you are using Facebook for your business — here is a link straight to each page and how to change it. Simply click “Go to Page” and you are transported to the correct page in question. I’ll get into the specifics of what you can do from there later in this series.

Account Settings

This is a part of Facebook that always seems to be changing. It is entirely possible that, by the time you read this blog post, these instructions will be obsolete. I’ll keep everything at a high level and won’t get into too many specifics. It is divided as follows:

  • Settings
  • Networks
  • Notifications
  • Mobile
  • Language
  • Payments

Settings

This section is currently divided as follows:

  • Name – your real name
  • Username
  • Email – self-explanatory
  • Password – self-explanatory
  • Linked Accounts – you can put more than one account together
  • Security Question – self-explanatory
  • Privacy – control the information you put out there. But do keep in mind: if something is truly personal, the Internet is an awfully foolish place to put it in.
  • Account Security – you can add some form of extra protection
  • Download Your Information – save your photos, etc. to a ZIP file
  • Deactivate Account – self-explanatory

Networks

You can join networks, such as identifying yourself with an employer or a school you’ve attended.

Notifications

Control settings for notifications such as when someone tags you in a photo. I think that the default settings are pretty excessive. I like to know if someone wants to add me as a friend, and when I’ve been tagged in a photograph. Other than that, I’ll just check when I’m online. Obviously, my preferences need not be identical to yours.

Mobile

Activate a phone and register for Facebook text messages here.

Language

Set a primary language or translate Facebook into other languages from here. There’s currently a rather extensive list, including some languages not written with a Western alphabet.

Payments

Track your credits balance, credits purchase history, payment methods and preferred currency here.

Privacy Settings

Control some aspects of the sharing experience here, including who can see your photographs, religious and political views, etc.

Help Center

This area is undoubtedly going to continue to evolve as questions come up and the increasingly complicated Facebook system breaks in all sorts of interesting and as-yet unexpected ways. You can even ask a question, and the most common questions are listed. Unsurprisingly, these include topics such as how to delete your account or change your name.

Log Out

Pretty self-explanatory. Click here and you’ll be logged out of Facebook.

Next: Company Pages

Your Account Settings

… And Facebook for All — Your Profile Page, Part II

… And Facebook for All — Your Profile Page, Part II

Your Profile Page, Part II.

First of all, Facebook members have seen it dozens, if not hundreds, of times – your Profile Page.

... And Facebook for All -- Your Profile Page, Part II

Let’s talk some more about your Profile. Here’s mine.

In addition to the basic tabs at the top, it also contains:

  • A space for your profile picture
  • Information on any mutual friends you might share with anyone peeking at your profile
  • A small subgroup of your friends
  • Your Likes
  • and Your Photos
  • Your Links
  • A share button, and,
  • On the right side, there are advertisements

NOTE: Facebook continually A/B tests, and so buttons and features move, change, are resized, added, or can disappear altogether. Your neighbor can sometimes see a rather different version of Facebook versus yours. And this is normal.

Let’s look at these in order.

A space for your profile picture

No one is stopping you from putting up a picture that is not, actually, of you. And I’ve seen dogs on Facebook, scenery, people’s children and cartoon characters. Hence it’s a place to be somewhat expressive. However, recognize that, if you’re using Facebook at all for your business (or if you’re simply looking for work), you’ll need to tone this down. If you want to go fairly conservative (which I personally think is best but opinions differ), go with a headshot or a head and shoulders shot that’s fairly recent. And, do make sure you’re smiling.

Mutual Friends

If someone surfs in and finds your Profile Page, they’ll probably be drawn to whether you’re really the person they’re looking for, and whether you have any acquaintances in common. If you’ve got a somewhat common name (e. g. Gregory Cole), then it’s really going to help out people if they see anyone who you know is in common with whoever they know.

One way I’ve used this information has been in locating High School friends, as we tend to have the same mutual friends. If I see that Jane Smith is also friends with John Jones and Dave Brown (names are made up, of course), then I realize, aha! Chances are good that Jane and I attended High School together. However, sometimes it just means that Jane is a local (if John and Dave stayed in the area after graduation). Or it might mean she’s a younger or older sibling of my classmates. Hence it’s an imperfect system.

A small subgroup of friends

So this is six friends (fewer, if you have fewer than six friends, of course). And it used to be you had control over this, but not anymore.

Your Likes

Whenever you click “Like” on a group or page, it can show up here. A few show up at a time, and they rotate. To take something out of rotation, un-“Like” it. Much older and inactive pages and groups show up less, as Facebook follows social signals in this area, too. E. g. pages and groups that appear inactive or even downright abandoned will lose precious visibility time and space to groups and pages that are up to date and lively.

Your Photos

So note here is where your profile picture shows up in all its glory, and bigger than on your Home Page. Therefore, make sure it looks good here as well as on your Home Page. If you’re going to use Facebook for business (or if you’re looking for work), make sure this is a flattering photograph that clearly shows your face. It need not be full-length (and, if it is, it’ll be smaller on the Home Page, but here it’s all visible) and, for God’s sake, smile!

Plus, photographs also show up on your wall if you upload them and agree to publish them to your wall.

And Your Links

So put a link in your status, or post it to your wall, and it will convert to something clickable. And if it comes from Youtube, it’ll even embed the video. And like most things on Facebook, any link can get comments or “Likes”.

A Share Button

Actually, there are several of these. Pretty much everything on Facebook can be shared in one manner or another, and even off Facebook.

Bottom line: your Profile Page is your face to the world. It is clickable, shareable and somewhat searchable. Don’t want people to know something about you? Don’t put it on your Profile Page.

Next: Your Home Page

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… And Facebook for All — Your Profile Page, Part I

… And Facebook for All — Your Profile Page, Part I

Your Profile Page, Part 1.

If you’re a member of Facebook, you’ve seen it dozens, if not hundreds, of times — it’s your Profile Page.

And Facebook for All -- Your Profile Page, Part I
Profile shown on Thefacebook in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is also a Home Page, but I’ll cover that in the next segment. Right now, let’s just concentrate on your Profile. Here’s mine.

Tabs

So at minimum, the Profile page consists of the following tabs (you can add more tabs):

  • Wall
  • Info and,
  • Photos

And it also contains:

  • A space for your profile picture
  • Information on any mutual friends you might share with anyone peeking at your profile
  • A small subgroup of your friends
  • Your Likes
  • and Your Photos
  • Your Links
  • A share button, and,
  • On the right side, there are advertisements

NOTE: Facebook is the biggest A/B tester on the planet. They constantly move things around in order to try for an improved user experience. Hence this means you may see buttons moved, resized, renamed, or even eliminated. And it also means your neighbor might see an entirely different configuration.

Let’s start with the tabs.

Wall

Up at the top, you can put in your status. There doesn’t seem to be a true limit to how long a status message can be, but after a few lines, it’s excessive. People put all sorts of nonsense in here — including not only statements of their adoration for celebrities but also mundane minutiae such as the scintillating fact that they’re about to go pick up the dry cleaning. If you want to use Facebook at all for your business, your status messages should really be short, somewhat on point and inoffensive (this is also true if you are looking for work and are not using Facebook for any of that — potential employers are watching!).

Below is the wall itself, where friends can post replies to your status (they can also reply directly to the status), send you greetings, send you game requests, etc. You can always delete or hide these messages, which can be a good idea if they are becoming something you’d rather not share with others. People routinely answer all sorts of dumb questions about me (e. g. Do you think Janet Gershen-Siegel has kissed a boy? Gee, I’ve been married since 1992. You make the call.) and I usually just hide or delete those.

You can also hide notifications from various applications so, if everyone you know is playing Farmville, and you don’t care about it, right-click on any Farmville notification and select the hide Farmville notifications button. However, be aware that there are any number of similar or satellite applications (gifts, new gifts or whatever), so you may be doing a rather similar task more than once. Still, understand that you don’t need to ask people to stop sending you requests. Just block the app.

Info

You can add any number of tidbits here. At minimum, you should at least list your marital/dating status, your birth date (the year is optional) and your current city and/or home town. This will draw people in and make it easier for them to find you, particularly if you have a rather common name. You want friends and business associates to figure out that they want you, the Mary Lou in Hicksville, New York, versus the Mary Lou in Mars, Pennsylvania.

Marital status isn’t strictly necessary (and I’ve found it doesn’t stop guys from sometimes hitting on me — eek), but I personally think it’s a nice thing to include. However, of course, no one can force you to do this and naturally it is illegal in the United States for a potential employer to demand this information.

Birth date is kind of nice to have, partly as an identifier and partly to give another piece of information out that’s just pleasant to see. It’s a minor revelation (particularly if you only give out the month and day) and is essentially harmless. And an American employer cannot legally ask for the year. However, employees do have to be of a certain age in order to work full-time at all. Still, if you get that far along in a job application, an employer won’t use Facebook to confirm your age — the employer will instead use official governmental records like your birth certificate for that.

Adding your birth date also means the inevitable onslaught of Facebook birthday greetings.

Biography

Biography is optional and, if you use Facebook for business, keep it short, on point and inoffensive. Work history is also not necessary but it can be helpful if you need for people to find you (are you the Mary Lou in Hicksville who worked at AIG, or at the Dairy Queen?). Plus that can add to the networking vibe but keep in mind that Facebook for networking remains a poor substitute for LinkedIn.

Educational information also helps to identify you. Graduation years are not necessary. Likes and interests will show up in part by your typing in here and also by you “liking” various pages. Keep in mind that this can be found, so “liking” a page with a profane name is going to be something that can be picked up by potential employers and clients.

Photos

These are pretty self-explanatory. Any photographs that you’re tagged in them will show up here. You can collect photos into albums, of course. Also, if a photograph is unflattering, compromising or just plain not of you, you can always untag yourself. Before my parents were not on Facebook, I was sometimes tagged on my mother’s photos so I would be able to find them. I don’t mind this. My profile has enough photographs of me that it’s obvious I’m not her. But you might. So, if this happens, talk to whoever’s doing this. There are other ways of sharing photographs and albums which might suit your needs better.

Next: More of Your Profile Page

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Four Important Social Media Stats

Four Important Social Media Stats

Four Important Social Media Stats for you! This post is, in part, a riff on Four Great Free Tools and Four Important Stats. And I like the important stats. As for the four free tools, I’ll reserve judgment for another day.

Four Important Social Media Stats
Twitter Logo (Photo credit: Jon Gosier)

STAT 1

    • 53% of people on Twitter recommend companies and/or products in their Tweets, with 48% of them delivering on their intention to buy the product. (ROI Research for Performance, June 2010) – However does this takes into account what essentially looks like spamming (e. g. buy this stuff!) versus what seems to be more sincere mentions of products, e. g. someone says I love this new Gatorade or I think my New Balance sneakers really make me faster? I know it can be difficult for a large-scale survey of tweets to tell the difference between the two. However, if there is that much of a return, then I figure, the people either know or, perhaps, they just don’t care.

STAT 2

    • The average consumer mentions specific brands over 90 times per week in conversations with friends, family, and co-workers. (Keller Fay, WOMMA, 2010) – Just what  does this mean? I mention products all the time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m touting them. Ugh, I hate what they did to my conditioner! Why did John Frieda have to change it? And that is a far cry from I want some more of that Amy’s Low-Salt Marinara Sauce with Basil – sooo good. Since the stat doesn’t mention whether the mentions went positive or negative, I suppose it’s a corollary to the old saw, that any press is good press. Note: sentiment analysis is better than it used to be, but still has a ways to go.

STAT 3

    • Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted — nearly 12 times more — than descriptions that come from manufacturers, according to a survey of US mom Internet users by online video review site EXPO. (eMarketer, February 2010) – This is how viral marketing works, kids. Because if a company can send out its minions to tout a product, even if not 100% positively (and it’s more believable that way, as it doesn’t look like mere puffery), then folks eat that up. Astroturfing Nation, here we come.

STAT 4

    • In a study conducted by social networking site myYearbook, 81 percent of respondents said they’d received advice from friends and followers relating to a product purchase through a social site; 74 percent of those who received such advice found it to be influential in their decision. (Click Z, January 2010) – However, this may be more of a function of the pervasiveness of social sites versus their influence. E. g. I truly only hear from some of my cousins through Facebook. Do I give their opinions more credence than I do passing acquaintances’? Sometimes. But do I get this Facebook-based advice from them because we don’t pick up the phone or send snail mail or meet in person (we’re too far away to do this, anyway). To my mind, this is almost like giving the phone company credit for marketing strategy if we chat on the phone. We don’t. Instead, we use Facebook. I think this is a potential confusion of medium versus message.

So, are social sites really that important? Is Twitter really that targeted? Do consumers really trust their pals more than they do slick, conventional marketers? Probably maybe, not really and yes. And it’s up to the Social Media Marketer to separate the wheat from the chaff with these kinds of stories, and see what’s really going on.

What do you think?

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Five Ways for Charities to use Social Media

5 Ways for Charities to use Social Media

First of all, here are 5 Ways for Charities to embrace the modern and use social media to help them. Because I still love an older great blog post on five possible uses for social media for charities.

5 Ways for Charities to use Social Media
English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While I think these were good ideas (the Twitter Twibbon was one of them), I suspect that charities could go further. After all, much of social media is free. And free is one of charities’ favorite words (along with cure, and donation, I suppose).

Some Ideas

First of all, how about using Facebook and LinkedIn to promote charitable events? While these RSVPs are often unreliable (a yes often really means maybe, a maybe means “I might get to it if nothing better comes along” but at least no still means no), this could serve as a way to get the word out.

Or what about keeping donors informed of totals by tweeting them? Hence if a $1,000,000 donation total is desired, how ’bout keeping donors informed on how it’s going by using Twitter? And this would be in place of an old thermometer bar.

So could volunteers check in with foursquare and get badges? Uh, why not? In addition, I’d love a blood donation badge. So long as it wouldn’t be an emergency, well, why not?

How About Another 5 Ways?

Maybe.

I’m sure there are plenty more where that came from. Got any ideas of how charities could use social media? Toss ’em here, if you like.

For more information, see the December 30, 2010 blog post on Social Media Today.

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