… 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

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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Social Media Marketing by Liana Evans, A Book Review

Social Media Marketing by Liana Evans

Social Media Marketing by Liana Evans was a book that I might have read a little too late in the semester. In all fairness, I read this book toward the end of my first social media class at Quinnipiac (ICM 522).

KD Paine and Liana "Li" Evans Liana Evans
KD Paine and Liana “Li” Evans (Photo credit: wordbiz)

Hence it felt like I already knew a lot of what was being written, but that was likely more a function of timing than anything else.

Sorry, Li.

Been There, Done That

The book is interesting. However, I had just read a ton of other works about very similar work, strategies, and ideas. Therefore, it ended up being maybe one book too many. And it ended up an optional read, anyway. Furthermore, other works seemed to have said it better. And these days, books just do not get published fast enough to take proper advantage of trends and new insights. Blogs, in general (although not always!) end up more current and relevant.

Possibly the best takeaway I got from the book was when Evans talked about online communities, particularly in Chapter 33 – You Get What You Give. And on page 255, she writes –

    • You need to invest your resources
      • Time to research where the conversation is
      • Time and resources to develop a strategy
      • and Time and staff resources to engage community members
      • Time to listen to what they are saying, in the communities
      • Time and resources to measure successes and failures
    • Giving valuable content
    • It is similar to a bank account
    • Don’t bribe the community
    • Rewards come in all fashions
      • Research who your audience is
      • Give your audience something valuable and/or exclusive
      • Don’t expect you’ll know everything
      • Listen to what your audience says
      • Admit when you are wrong
      • Thank your community

Finally, much like we’ve been telling people for years on Able2know – listen before you speak!

Rating

4/5

The Top 10 Positives About Job Seeking

The Top 10 Positives About Job Seeking

Job Seeking. Sigh.

Adventures in Career Changing means job applications.

Job Seeking
Success

Beyond networking, education and research, there are just sometimes some forms to fill out. I have filled out – I have no idea how many. And while there are problems with many of these forms, there is also some good out there, along with other aspects of looking for a job these days.

#10 – Following Twitter to Find Jobs

There are all sorts of Twitter streams which showcase any number of openings. Company streams, in particular, can be a good source of leads. Make sure to watch for perhaps a week or so in order to determine whether the content is being updated frequently.

#9 – LinkedIn, Land of Opportunity

For power users of LinkedIn, there are numerous ways to look for work. One good way is to check their job listings, and apply through the site. Some openings allow you to apply directly via your LinkedIn profile. Others send you to a company’s website. But make no mistake; companies (or at least they should) check the traffic sources for the job applications they receive. And so by going to a job application directly from LinkedIn, you show that, at least in some small way, the biggest online networking site in the world matters.

#8 – LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements

If you’ve got an account on LinkedIn, surely you have seen these by now. So fill in your skills profile! And make sure to endorse other people as well, and a lot of them will reciprocate.

#7 – Scannable Resumes

Gone are the days when most resumes were eyeballed, at least to start. Because your resume is far more likely to be read by a machine before a human. So get your resume loaded up with keywords! Why? Because you’ll make the first cut, that’s why.

#6 – Personal Websites

The good, the bad and the ugly are out there. My own, for instance. Because the site is completely functional. And it comes up quickly, plus you can readily find everything on it. Finally, Google ranks it fairly well.

#5 – Clarity

Job descriptions can become very precise these days, as employers can (in part, in some instances) select software and versions from drop-downs to better communicate their needs to the job seeking public.

#4 – LinkedIn Recommendations

Unlike endorsements, these require a bit of prose. But they can be rather powerful. At the very least, you don’t want to be a job seeker who doesn’t have any. So ask! And not just your boss or former boss – ask your coworkers as well, and offer to reciprocate.

#3 – Blog

Just like this one, a candidate can use a blog to provide more information or get across personality without having to overload a resume. Savvy employers will look candidates up on social media. Why not give them something good to find?

#2 – LinkedIn Functionality

For jobs advertised on LinkedIn, for some of them, you can apply by connecting them directly to your profile. What could be easier?

#1 – Being Able to do this Online

Finally, of course, a lot of the job search still must happen in an old-fashioned manner. Interviews will, for the most part (except, perhaps, for quickie phone screens, particularly where relocation is at issue), be conducted in person. A lot of networking will still happen at events and not on LinkedIn. But a ton of it can happen in cyberspace. It makes the search far easier and faster than it ever has been.

Got any of your own gems you’d like to share?

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Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, An Updated Book Review

Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

This is something of an updated review of Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff as, by the time I got to the ICM 522 Social Media Platforms class at Quinnipiac University, I had already read this seminal work.

Cover of "Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
Cover via Amazon

But no matter. Because this is still a terrific work by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, and it remains more than a little relevant.

And in fact, I think I understand it better than I ever have.

Changing the Way You Think about Online Marketing for Good

For Li and Bernoff, the online world is a rich and diversified community. And in that large umbrella community, there are several smaller communities. But unlike Matryoshka (Russian nesting dolls), there is an enormous amount of overlap.

Above all, they put forward the idea of a system called POST.

  • Personae – who are your potential buyers? Who are your readers? And who makes up your audience?
  • Objectives – what do you expect to get out of going online, and continuing online, or going in a different direction online?
  • Strategies – how will you implement your ideas? What comes first? In addition, what must wait?
  • Technologies – which platforms will you use? How will you use these differently as your strategy begins to click into place?

So the last time I read Groundswell, I suspect that I didn’t really understand POST.

And now I know never to start a social media campaign without it. So thanks to Charlene Li and John Bernoff! This work is a classic for a damned fine reason. It really is that good. Because you need this book in your social media library.

Rating

5/5 

InMaps – Visualize Your Network on LinkedIn

InMaps – Visualize Your Network on LinkedIn

Let’s say you’ve got a nice, growing network on LinkedIn.

InMaps - Visualize Your Network on LinkedIn
Linkedin Chocolates (Photo credit: nan palmero)

Hurray! Now let’s say that it’s gotten large enough that you’re unsure of how it’s all trending. After all, what if your network is dominated by people who used to work at Fidelity but you want to get into Prudential instead? How can you see how things are shaking out? Or maybe you want to get a handle on job titles that you’re seeing — what if most of your network consists of tradespeople in your area, rather than people who might actually be able to find you something? If you’re an accountant, a network full of hairdressers and landscape contractors is lovely but it might not be really doing it for you, eh?

Here’s where InMaps comes in.

Essentially, what LinkedIn is doing is, instead of geographically mapping your connections, they are mapping other meaningful relationships among all of those people. So instead you can see things like job titles that are frequently coming up, and other connections, like who used to work where. If you’ve worked in several places (like I have) you may see one former employer dominate, particularly if you’ve just left a particular role. After all, when Hachette Book Group and I parted ways, suddenly I made connections with the other seventeen or so people who were being outsourced. There was a bit of urgency to getting connected, and there was a desire to maintain friendships. I’ve had to dig a bit in order to find former colleagues further back in my career (and, by the way, FYI, this does behoove one to try to make connections both during employment and to reach back to older connections as the natural push to connect might not come about if you’re thinking about a job you held twenty years ago, long before LinkedIn existed).

One thing that should be noted is that it takes a while for an InMap to be generated, particularly if you’ve got a lot of connections. This is a feature that is still in Beta, so that should be totally understandable.

But here is the InMap for a woman named Leslie Gotch Zarelli, which should give something of an idea about how the overall pattern looks. Her InMap (I would post mine, but LinkedIn is still churning away) is dominated by general areas like Legal, what is probably a former employer or two, and what appear to be some job duties.

More information is here. Get mappin’!

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Wattpad gets into the Digital Publishing Game

Wattpad gets into the Digital Publishing Game

GoodEReader reports in 2014 that Wattpad, the giant free stories platform, is entering the digital publishing business.

Wattpad gets into the Digital Publishing Game

In early May of 2014, it was reported that Wattpad had decided to e-publish two of its most famous stories. My Wattpad Love has over 19 million reads. A Proscriptive Relationship has over 30 million reads on Wattpad.

To provide some perspective, it should be noted that Stephen King has sold a total of 350 million books, but this is spread over 49 works, giving him an average of a little over 7 million sales apiece. Of course sales and free reads on a website aren’t the same thing, but these sheer numbers are still rather impressive.

But can free readers be converted to paying customers? Just as importantly, Wattpad is a social site. People click, visit, vote up and add stories to their virtual libraries. But how much of that is due to the quality of the prose? Is some of it due to the writer’s personality and following on the site?

Of course that is the case, but the question is, how much? Context, as Avinash Kaushik wrote, is queen. But how can context be accurately (at least as accurately as possible) determined here?

Millions of clicks are difficult to ignore, but what is the best way to weed out sympathy clicks, friendly clicks, clicks made in error and the like? And that does not take into consideration whether any of these people will convert to a paying model. Why buy these cows, when the milk has been provided for free (and in an easy to digest package, too, I might add) for so long?

But even a one percent conversion rate will turn heads.

Move over traditional publishers. The shelf just got more crowded.

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Avoiding Common Legal Mistakes in Social Media Contests and Sweepstakes

Avoiding Common Legal Mistakes in Social Media Contests and Sweepstakes

In Maximize Social Business, Kyle-Beth Hilfer has put together a thoughtful rundown of certain things that can just go wrong with online contests and other sweepstakes-style promotions.

We often can get caught up in the excitement of the moment and create a contest without truly thinking through the ramifications. Don’t simply grab your rules from someone else’s site (how do you know they’re vetted or enforceable at all?). Don’t do this cheaply. Don’t do it without forethought. Keep your head.

Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commis...
Seal of the United States Federal Trade Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember, the Federal Trade Commission is watching.

Hilfer outlines eight mistakes that social media managers can and do make.

  1. Forgetting the Rules.  All contest creators should work directly with their company’s Legal Department to draft a vetted set of rules, and not simply lift them from other contests. In fact, involving the Legal Department from the very beginning is always a good idea.
  2. Running an illegal lottery.  When games or contests change from judging of skill, and instead become ruled and decided by chance, they can essentially be converted to lotteries. This was evidently one of the FTC’s biggest complaints in 2012 and so is at issue. Beyond lotteries, know where gambling is illegal. Even if it’s perfectly legal where your company is, you might still have trouble if the game can’t fly where your contestant lives (see #6, below).
  3. Trading “likes” or “tweets” for sweepstakes entries. As Hilfer writes, “(t)he FTC has made it clear that offering sweepstakes entries in exchange for mentions in social media creates a material connection between the promotion sponsor and the consumer. The onus falls on the brand, and to some extent its agencies, to ensure that consumer’s testimonials disclose that such a material connection exists.”
  4. Choosing winners without performing adequate (or any) background checks. Do YOU want the Westboro Baptist Church to claim your prize? And for the Twitterati to know that? I didn’t think so.
  5. Ignoring intellectual property and other third party rights.  Brands need to remember to obtain releases before posting photographs and videos. Those releases need to be obtained not only from the artist, but also from anybody in those videos and photos. Check licenses and permissions. Not all Creative Commons licenses are created equal.
  6. Ignoring global risk. You do realize that, even if your widget store is only in Vermont, that some of your contestants might be in Istanbul, right? Laws differ. Make sure you’re covered. The Legal Department is your best friend in this area. Remember them? Yes, keep them involved from start to finish and you can avoid some of these headaches. You can, potentially, avoid some of these issues by requiring that all contestants be American or from Vermont, etc. Even so, it pays to have the Legal Department look into it, at least to assure that your hypothetical Vermonter contestants really are from there.
  7. Attaching to a poorly managed charity or cause.  Brands may have an altruistic desire to help out after a disaster, and that is laudable. But regulators are watching, and caution is always advised, even before the dust settles. The NY Attorney General’s Office offers best practices. For example, in the case of the Boston Marathon bombing, a number of charities sprung up, seemingly overnight. Plus there were victims with Kickstarters and the like, who needed cash on hand to pay medical expenses. Mayor Thomas Menino‘s office had the foresight to create the One Fund, which was a place for funds to go. That charity took responsibility and that means it could (and probably is, potentially) a target for lawsuits. But better that than a fly by night operation where you can’t contact anyone to get your money back.
  8. Forgetting to clear trade promotions. Can your contestants come from inside your organization? What happens if they trash your reputation with their contest entry? Set clear and well-defined rules, as challenges to those rules can give you one massive headache.

One last thing – no contest! Follow Hilfer; she knows her stuff.

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Responding to Facebook’s Organic Reach Decline

Responding to Facebook’s Organic Reach Decline

Responding to Facebook’s Organic Reach Decline – Facebook’s organic reach is going down. That is, fewer people are seeing your posts (unless you cough up some dough). What to do?

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...
Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social Media Today’s Pam Dyer has the scoop on how to respond.

In 2012, Facebook restricted brand content reach to around 16%. In 2014, the figure plummeted to just about a dismal 6%.

According to Dyer, “No one really knows for sure how Facebook decides what appears in news feeds, but some elements are well known as weighting factors:

  • Post types that receive the most user interaction
  • Posts that users hide or report as spam
  • How a user interacts with Facebook ads
  • The device that is used to access Facebook and the speed of its connection”

EdgeRank has less importance than it had, but it’s not quite gone from the mix. It consists of –

  • “Affinity: The closeness of the relationship between the user and the content/source
  • Weight: The action that was taken on the content
  • Decay: The freshness of the content”

Dyer lays out four steps.

  1. Optimize Facebook content. Test what’s working, and what isn’t.  What are people clicking on? And are they clicking through to your site? Look at Google Analytics for your site, and determine which content is the source for your Facebook-generated traffic.
  2. Create incentives for sharing content. Whether that’s offers, contents, or just can-you-believe-this types of posts, create the kind of content that people want to spread to their peers.
  3. Work a multi-network campaign strategy. Use hashtags; they show up in all sorts of places, and not necessarily on Facebook.  Put your hashtag in all of your promotions, e. g. blogs, television commercials, literature, etc.
  4. Track data, and act on it accordingly! What’s happening with your links? Where is your audience coming from? Dovetailing with step #1, be the company that knows where your traffic is really coming from. Know where your audience is clicking.

Knowledge is power.

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