Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Did Social Media Betray Michael Brown?

0819_ferguson_social_970-630x420As the story of Michael Brown and the ensuing conflict and mounting tension between citizens and authorities in Ferguson, Missouri continues, it seems social networks have been either flooded with the story or left on the sidelines.

This incident paints a rather vivid image of how people connect and engage with certain networks. Maybe some issues just feel out of place whereas others blend naturally in.

Twitter has seen high activity of people sharing their thoughts, feelings and documentation of the events. While on Facebook, it has received far less attention – an alarming lack of activity in some regards.

This is by no means a reflection of the event itself, but really demonstrates and cements the belief that Twitter is first and foremost a news source and a place for people to gather and discuss world events.

It has been fairly well documented how Facebook seems to be absent of activity regarding Ferguson. Other networks as well seem to have content about everything but Ferguson.

This is a very important lesson for digital marketers everywhere. Each network has it’s own purpose and personality, and not everything will translate well across multiple platforms. 

It’s really up to users to how they want to use a network, and that in turn will define it. Facebook lends itself very well to aggregating the news and opinions but Twitter seems ripe for more debate and sharing of news stories.

A story of this calibre feels like it should be plastered and talked about in every corner of social media. Instead, it was mainly concentrated to one area, which of course just happens to be one of the giants of the industry.

What events like Ferguson prove is that Twitter is the home to important news stories, opinion and discussion. 

Social media is the tool to make build awareness and share stories. Why some work better than others is really just based on the user and perception.

It might be upsetting to some to see what was being shared on other networks while Twitter was full engulfed in the Ferguson situation, but by no means are users responsible  for this in any way. Every big story finds a home somewhere in social media.

The Summer of the Ice Bucket Challenge

dm_140806_headlines_icebucketThe summer of 2014 has been a big one for social media, but nothing has defined it more than the Ice Bucket Challenge; a campaign to help raise awareness and money for ALS research.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has dominated many social networks, especially Facebook where videos of those who accepted the challenge has filled user’s newsfeeds.

The idea is pure gold for digital marketers and PR companies. Best of all, it’s simple and easily went viral because it was for a compelling cause.

All people had to do was turn on a recording device, give a quick message which includes nominating others for the challenge, dump ice water on their head and upload to Facebook and other networks.

Pretty brilliant when you consider the concept and its popularity. The reports suggest that the ALS Association who is credited with the campaign has raised over 70 million dollars whereas normally they raise around 2 million by this time of the year.

Of course, the celebrity involvement didn’t hurt.

The danger now lies with those who plan on imitating the campaign. For other organizations who are looking for a boost in fundraising, copying this challenge might leave you feeling like ice water was poured over your head.

This is a classic example of catching lightning in a bottle. Altering it to fit your cause (since the use of ice water is meant to replicate the feeling ALS has on your muscles in some small way), will only have most people ignoring you altogether.

For digital marketers and PR practitioners, you need to try to get one step ahead and figure out how they can utilize social media and its rabid user base to elicit donations and awareness.

The Ice Bucket Challenge will be a digital marketing case study for quite some time and the desire to imitate will be there. You have to resist or risk having it blow up in your face.

Will the Social Bubble Ever Pop for Investors?

sentiments-435cs110112For the past couple of years, new social networks have emerged, old ones have evolved and several have gone public. During this time, many people have predicted the social media bubble would eventually pop.

Those who cover the tech space and the markets believe we were on the precipice of another 1999 burst.

According to a Mark Cuban interview, there will not be a repeat the dot-com boom/bust that happened more than a decade ago. He suggests that investing in social media and the technology sector is fairly secure.

This comes on the heels of a report from the Federal Reserve, which stated that valuations are stretched for smaller social media companies and some biotech stocks.

The Federal Reserve has a right to be cautious based on history and the volatile nature of the digital world. 

What this really illustrates is that social media isn’t a blip on the radar. It’s trending upwards as it engages more users and becomes part of the overall global fabric.

In fact, the strength and popularity of social media will only convince more networks to go public, following in the footsteps of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

This is a far cry from a few years ago when pundits thought Facebook would crash and burn after hitting the market. In reality, Facebook has monetized quite well and seen its stock hit a record high recently.

For brands, the message is crystal clear: investors are telling you it’s a good idea to invest your time and money in social media because the future looks bright.

If you are waiting for social media to fall off the cliff, it’s not going to happen. In fact, it might continue to climb up the mountain until it reaches a new peak. 

Does Engagement Matter More Than Followers?

Pied_Piper2For social media success, what is more important: engagement or followers?

This question came up recently during a strategic planning session when an organization talked about how the number of Facebook followers surged after a recent contest.

While having more followers looks impressive, the digital marketing team was asking what it really meant. Does having more followers mean their social media efforts are more successful, or does it give them more opportunities to be successful.

It’s a quality versus quantity proposition.

Personally, engagement strikes me as a more important consideration, although size does matter. A vibrant and active community can provide brands and organization with a powerful platform to drive strategic and tactical initiatives.

A large community, however, that is inactive or not terribly engaged delivers far less value.

In an ideal world, it would be great to have engagement and big numbers but this is probably a luxury that few brands get to enjoy.

In a recent blog post in Marketing Magazine (U.K.), Matthew Burns talked about how brands such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull are taking a close look at the effectiveness of Facebook as an engagement platform.

“The brands that are huge on the social site are the ones that were fastest to appreciate Facebook’s strengths, but are now also first to be wary of its limitations: why pay Facebook to reach and engage fans if we can achieve similar objectives, mostly for free, on other networks?”

Burns discovered, for example, that Red Bull’s main Facebook page has 44 million fans but it generated only 330,000 interactions in July. This is less than one monthly interaction for every 100 fans.

As brands look to drive more engagement to extract value from their social media activity, Burns suggests brands will start to explore other platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

The focus on quality versus quality reflects the fluid and dynamic of social media. As brands looking to drive return on investment, they are constantly tweaking the dials and looking for competitive advantages.

The interest in engagement suggests there may be too much of an investment happening to build bigger and bigger audiences. It could be that some brands will start to redeploy their social media efforts to get more people actively involved.

If engagement gains more momentum as a social media “must-have”, it could do two things: force existing players such as Facebook to adopt, or open the door for new engagement-friendly players to seize a golden opportunity.

What do you think? Is social engagement gaining more momentum?

Sharing — It’s Based On Emotions

positive_realismTo truly understand social media, we need to keep delving into the emotional underpinnings of what and why people share.

A recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison examines the outlets used by people based on the emotional content of the message.

Researchers found people were most likely to share positive events via texting and Twitter.

These mediums are easy to access via smartphones when they are happening, and are non-intrusive — recipients can reply whenever they like.

About 70% of the events that people experienced and shared were conveyed via new technologies.

Study subjects — 300 university students who kept track of their communications via a daily diary — revealed that sharing using new technologies enhanced the emotional impact of these events.

So much for the good news, literally.

When experiencing negative events, people were more likely to pick up the phone and interrupt friends or family to share.

Add this tidbit to what Facebook recently discovered in its (debatably unethical) study that found a lot of negative information in a person’s newsfeed can inspire them to be negative themselves — and on the flipside good news triggers positivity.

Again and again, positive energy is demonstrating considerable social media power.

While research keeps fine-tuning our understanding of just how emotions work online, in the meantime the message is clear: good news travels fast online.

 

 

Social media’s balance sheet

5_10_2013_15_08_38_bhnmo6cd32g63tp1nrb8i69n07_zpliyujvtzSocial media sites suffer from the ultimate business conundrum: they have customers, but they don’t always make money. The path to monetization is still long, convoluted and the experts are still drafting and debating best practices.

This week’s earnings report from Twitter reveals that one of the web’s biggest success stories still has untapped financial potential. Yet, Twitter is on a tear, setting up local offices around the world and hiring like mad. Its ever-growing staff is innovating like crazy, testing out a hashtag “translator” that explains some hashtag short-forms and debuting monetizing features such as organic tweet analytics.

While the business side of a social media site and its content interface seem like separate entities, in truth every online moment is deeply influenced by the money piles (or lack thereof) in the background.

Facebook may be ahead of other sites in achieving financial stability, but the experience for businesses and end users has gone through an often rough ride as the site has tried and tested dozens of ideas. Sites such as Foursquare, once a hopeful mainstream player that many small businesses got involved in, keeps pivoting and rebranding as it struggles to find an audience and income. Following the money on potential booms and busts helps you know who to invest in (and how much they’ll be asking for), and who to write-off. But since every monetization milestone on these sites not only costs you money, but often results in a surge of user complaints, you can’t keep your eye off the ROI for a second.

The bottom line is, businesses ARE the bottom line for social media sites. Few sites expect to make money off users, but they fully plan to dig deep into the pockets of B2B clients. Keep your eye on their finances, because they will be impacting your budget soon.

 

Automation has its limits

robot2-225x300If you’re running a comprehensive social media strategy on numerous platforms, you have to automate. Using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite, Dlvr.it or any of the many others available, becomes essential for keeping track of your posts, having post do double-duty between different networks and scheduling content evenly through the day, and even for evenings and weekends.

But a well-organized automated system is not all joy. Too much automation can make your social media content feel, well, automatic. By definition, social media is social, with real people behind electronically transmitted words and images. Here are some best practices for keeping your automated tools well in line.

Always customize. Automation tools make it easy to send out the same content between multiple platforms. Too easy. Not only is Twitter different from the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn in terms of tone, but your audience and followers are different. And if they’re not, and some clients, customers or fans follow you on multiple sites, they’ll end up seeing the exact same content again and again.

Follow up. While you might automate your posts, you can’t automate your conversations. After scheduling your content, stick around to get involved in the conversation.

Don’t go crazy. Overscheduling your social media channels just tires your followers out. (And turns them into non-followers.) Again, it’s too easy to schedule content, but resist piling on too many posts or tweets in a day.

Be in real time, sometimes. When big news in your industry hits, or you truly have something fresh or spontaneous to say, say it.

 

Does Social Media Belong in the Classroom?

social_media_classroomSince 2010, digital technology has been implemented and featured in many classrooms across North America. Sometimes in small ways but more so in grand ways evolving how students learn.

Now is the time for social media to take a seat at he front of the class.

We live in innovative times with social media at the forefront, and the potential advantages to our education system is remarkable.

Blogging, Google+, Twitter and Facebook have become essential learning tools and it seems like they are not going away anytime soon.

Not only is the knowledge of how to use these social networks key, but ensuring that young people understand how to use them safely needs to be taught.

Social networks are great tools to learn and connect. Google+ and Twitter can allow you to bring different perspectives into your classroom from all over the world. It fits the budget of every school since it is essentially free.

If you are discussing certain current events, why not bring in an expert or someone experiencing it without having to fly them in. 

Allowing students access to the world and different viewpoints that they just can’t get from textbooks is a game changer. Consider the authors, CEOs or historians who would be willing to join in for an hour or do a Twitter Ask session.

The same can be said for having students learn about different industries and companies. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Social media can be powerful tools for collaboration, opening doors for students and teachers to work with peers to share and learn. Social media expands the classroom in so many ways.

Herein lies a great opportunity for brands to connect with young users, but the opportunity isn’t to sell. It’s to brand and communicate and also to learn. Incredibly valuable as you can imagine. It doesn’t just have to be on career day either.

No one is hindered by time and geography anymore because. Learning should not the last stone left unturned by social media or the digital world, and all indications are that it will not be.

What Goes Viral?

stock-partyThis past weekend, a teen from Mississauga did what lots of teens have done in the past: announced a get-together on Facebook. Somehow, this innocent announcement of a small, private event spiralled out of control. The word spread via social media, the party eventually developed its own hashtag, and even a paper flyer went out (put together by persons unknown).

The teen’s parents ended up calling the police when droves started arriving at their home. For four hours, if you can believe it, police stationed themselves at the house and turned prospective partygoers away. The cops even sent out their own social media messages, warning visitors that they’d be met with a police cruiser upon their arrival. They claimed their word prevented even more visitors. But still.

This party gone wild is yet another example of a social media message inexplicably going viral and having real-world consequences. There are other viral instances no one wants: the politician saying something sexist, the athlete caught on video, drunk at a party. Marketers, meanwhile, would love to know just how to command an audience in the millions for their story, video or image.

So academics and social media groups have put their minds to studying the phenomenon; trying to crack the viral code so those who want to go big can do so. Here’s what the research says:

-Positive material spreads faster than negative, according to one study. Rage has the most velocity, according to another.

-Evoke emotions: shock, awe, pity, alarm. Further to the above, really — emotional content is what people want to share.

-Be practical. Service-style information gets traction. Makes sense: we all want to know how to do stuff like get healthier, live better and make more money.

-People share what they think others want to know or hear about. This really puts the social in social media.

-Studies are showing that long posts attract the most links. Meanwhile, multimedia content is more likely to go viral than text-based material.

-Be funny. Humour has been working in traditional advertising for decades. In online content, it’s key for everything but the most serious content.

If that seems like a lot of bases to cover, that’s because it is. In truth, we don’t yet fully understand what turns a get-together into the biggest party in town. But we’re getting closer to understanding the odd modern phenomenon that is viral content.

 

Avoid Trendjacking at all Costs

XHK0Kyo-360Every day in social media there is a topic that grabs the attention of users across all platforms. For the past month it’s been the World Cup along with strife in the Middle East.

Last Friday though, the topic of Lebron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers was all the rage. Users from all over the world and many popular platforms were discussing it and its implications as the story continued to break.

For brands who wants to build their social media presence, it’s always a good idea to get involved in these conversations where appropriate.

What you always want to avoid is what is commonly referred to as “trendjacking”. This is where a user or brand elbows their way into an online conversation and tries to take over. It never feels natural and organic and has the potential to do more harm then good.

This doesn’t mean you have to get involved in every conversation and it is sometimes best to stay away from the serious stuff unless it directly correlates. When entering into more serious territory it’s best to not promote in any way.

If you are a digital manager or managing the social media account of a brand, than by all means get involved in big stories of sports, culture or community. The idea is to be part of the conversation without hijacking it.

Your content or posts need to be original and relevant, and the ultimate goal is to get involved without turning other users off.

The Lebron James signing is a great example because many brands on Twitter kicked into creative overdrive in order to take advantage of the increased activity. Some brands prospered from it and saw their clever posts retweeted, and others had to delete their tweets before the digital ink dried.

One of these brands was Tide, who came up with a funny tweet about how their product can “wash away the last four years”. It is believed they removed it because by using an image of Lebron’s jersey they could have encountered from legal trouble.

Just remember, it’s okay to get involved but as a brand you have no ownership over a conversation.