Posts Tagged ‘social networks’

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.

 

200 Billion And Counting

Everyday the world of social media grows exponentially. New people get online. More people discover a social network that they love. People upload more and more media. And of course, the flow of content, whether it’s a tweet, an article, a blog post, a status update or a video, never stops.

You may remember that a mere 8 months ago our social media monitoring and analytics software powered by the powerful Sysomos engine indexed its 100 billionth piece of content. Well, if only to highlight to the world the quick and massive growth of social media use, on Tuesday we indexed our 200 billionth piece of content. That’s 200,000,000,000 written out in numbers.

This means that our customers now have access to over 200 billion social media conversations that they can analyze in mere seconds.

To demonstrate how quickly the rate of social media content grows I decided to conduct a little experiment. I took a bunch of common words (it, its, and, the, what, why, I, a, to, too, or, if, you, your) and looked them up in our MAP software to see how many times they appeared yesterday (May 29, 2013), a year ago (May 30, 2012) and the date we hit 100 billion (September 19, 2012).

The results I found were actually quite interesting and help to demonstrate my point quite nicely.

One year ago, I found 125 million conversations between blogs, online news, forums and Twitter containing my list of common words. By the time September 19th rolled around those same words generated 127 million results. That’s an increase of 2 million posts per day in almost 4 months. Then 8 months later, yesterday, those same words appeared in an astounding 139 million posts. That’s a jump in 12 million pieces of content.

May 30, 2012

September 19, 2012

May 29, 2013

Granted, my list of common words is far from covering the full gambit of what’s out there in social media and the use of these specific words could vary from day to day. However, for illustration purposes, it works well.

As time goes on, more social networks and channels will appear and more people will realize the magic of social media and being able to connect with people around the world. And as that happens, we’re going to keep on capturing and indexing all those conversations to give our customers the largest and most complete sets of social media data.

Is Little Monsters Really Necessary?

For those who don’t know, Lady Gaga has launched Little Monsters; a social network for fans to connect and stay up-to-date. Right off the bat, I would answer the question posed in the headline with a big “No”.

I thought Lady Gaga fans already had a very vocal presence throughout social media, and I don’t see a tailored website being all that necessary. At the end of the day, would a Website not have sufficed?

This being said, the network itself seems solid, while not overly impressive for lukewarm fans.

With a heavy emphasis on aspirational images (a la Pinterest) and an active message board, the right elements are definitely in place for some success. It also has an interesting design and layout.

One could say, it is like the perfect digital meat dress.

Lady Gaga seems to be venturing deeper into the digital realm, and the financing to make it happen has been available. It feels like more could be done to leverage her clout than a social network simply devoted to her stardom.

I guess the great fear is whether other pop stars will pick up Lady Gaga’s initiative, and start yet another tailored and branded social network. Fireworks.com by Katy Perry or maybe it’ll be instantmessagememaybe.com by Carly Rae Jespen?

Let’s hope this doesn’t become a trend.

Social media tends to veer between the awe-inspiring and the somewhat generic. LittleMonsters might fall closer to the middle, but yet again, time and users’ discretion will determine its longevity.

Is Not Being on Facebook an Option?

With more than 800 million users, it can be difficult to find someone not on Facebook.

Even if you’re not a big fan of Facebook, its approach to privacy or its ambitions to extend its social graph thorough the Web, it’s almost an evil necessity to be part of Facebook to stay connected with friends and family.

But in a recent article in the New York Times, there was a suggestion that not everyone is enamoured with Facebook:

“….the company is running into a roadblock in this country. Some people, even on the younger end of the age spectrum, just refuse to participate, including people who have given it a try.”

The articles then quotes a couple people who have decided to leave Facebook, and comScore statistics showing that U.S. traffic to Facebook grew 10% in the year ended Oct. 30, compared with 56% the previous year.

It raises the question whether Facebook is, in fact, seeing slower growth or, more interestingly, whether Facebook fatigue is setting in as people look for different ways to connect with friends and family.

As much as it makes for a good story, it is difficult to see the Facebook juggernaut ending any time soon. Facebook has become too big and engrained in the lives of many people to see many people leave. Once people join, it’s hard to walk away. At the same time, brands are getting more active with Facebook Pages, which encourage people to connect with them.

For people not on Facebook, it’s like being on the outside looking in, particularly if many of your friends are on Facebook. This makes it difficult to resist the temptation. It also doesn’t help that there aren’t alternative social networks that offer a different experience, although new players such as Path seem to be gaining some traction.

The other reality is some people don’t need or want to be part of Facebook. It doesn’t fit into their personal or professional needs so not being part of the Facebook empire is not a problem for them.

That said, the New York Times story strikes me as making a mountain out of a molehill.

Time to Climb on the Social Media Express

If you believe in the adage “Numbers don’t lie”, then it would be fair to say that sooner or later everyone is going to be on the social media express.

According to a study by Experian Simmons, 91% of online U.S. adults visit a social networking service (social or professional networking sites, photo or video sharing sites, online forums or message boards, social tagging or bookmarking) in the past month. In terms of numbers, that’s 129 million people, or 41.3% of the total population.

That is certainly impressive but what is even more interesting, although not terribly surprising, is that 98% of online 18-to 24 year-olds use social networks each month.

And if you thought social network were just for younger people, consider this: the number of online people over the age of 65-years-old using social networks has jumped to 73% from 49% in the past two years.

So what does this mean for brands, organizations and digital marketers? If you haven’t already embraced social media, it would probably be a good idea to do so quickly. It has become obvious that social media not only not a fad but it has gone from new and interesting to mainstream in about five years, which is astounding.

 

Another interesting part of the Experian Simmons study was a look at where people go after visiting social networking or forum-categorized service. Other social network and forum sites topped the list (19%), followed by search engines (16%), multi-media (9%), shopping and classifieds (7%), email services (6%) and games (5%).

 

Some other interesting facts from the study include that:

- 46% of all online adults use social media to communicate with friends, up from 32% in 2009.
- 27% say they use social media to stay in touch with their siblings, up from 15% in 2009.
- 18% use social media to stay in touch with their children, up from just 6% of online adults in 2009
- 14% of adult children use social media to communicate with their parents, up from 5% in 2009.

 

 

 

No Like for You, Facebook

For most brands on Facebook, it’s all about the “Like”.

The number of “Likes” is a way to quantify the success of a Facebook Page, particularly given the increasing focus on ROI. It explains why brands invest so much time and effort to attract the “Like”, including the use of “Like-Gating”.

But there are lots of people who refuse to “Like”, which could strike you as “anti-establishment” given the pressure to “Like”. These are people who resist the temptation or the offers to climb on the brand bandwagon, even though they may actually like a service or product.

So Why No “Like”?

According to a recent study by ExactTarget, which can be downloaded here, the biggest reason people don’t “Like” a Facebook is they don’t want to be bombarded with messages or ads. This makes sense given how many brands tend to use Facebook as yet another marketing vehicle.

Another leading factor is people don’t want to provide brands with access to their profile information, which is a little surprising to see given how much information people disclose on Facebook. That said, there appears to be more concern about privacy on Facebook so giving companies direct access to personal information may be thrust into the spotlight more often.

Third on the list is people don’t want to push things into their friends’ newsfeeds, which is understandable given it is one thing to want information about a brand yourself but another to spread the word about that brand to your network. This is where Facebook’s new “Subscribe” feature could be useful as a way to quasi-Like a brand.

From a bigger picture perspective, there seems to be growing scrutiny of what consumers get from following or liking a brand. As much as it is great for brands looking to engage directly with consumers, there are questions about consumers get in return.

In a recent blog post, Brian Solis contends that if brands don’t provide some kind of value, it may cause consumers not to follow or like or, worse, un-follow or unlike.

Solis cited an IBM study that looked at what consumers want when they deal with companies via social media, and what brands think consumers want. The contrast is interesting and eye-opening.

What consumers want:

1. Receive discounts (61%)
2. Make purchases (55%)

What brands think consumers want:

1. Learn about new products (73%)
2. To receive general information (71%)

So, what do you want from a brand when you “Like” them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter? And what keeps you from liking or following a brand?

Can MySpace Stop Being a Social Has-Been?

If MySpace hasn’t become irrelevant, there is little doubt the social network has lost its cache as well as millions of users.

MySpace’s status as a social media has-been was front and centre in June when its $35-million sale by News Corp. was big news mostly because one of the buyers was musician and actor Justin Timberlake. It is a long way since MySpace ruled the social media world, which prompted the purchase of its corporate parent, Intermix Media, by News Corp. for $580-million in cash in 2005.

While many people have written off MySpace, it is still has about 70 million unique visitors a month globally, including about 30 million in the U.S. For people still sticking around, MySpace has appeal mostly because of its strong roots as a place to discover music and where musicians to stake a claim within the social media landscape.

The big question is whether MySpace’s new owners can revitalize the social network to not only maintain its user base but, as important, attract new users who have a myriad of social options. While, in theory, hope reigns eternal, momentum is a strange beast. Once things start heading in the wrong direction, it can be hard to reverse the flow.

Nevertheless, MySpace’s new owners are bullish there are better times ahead by giving the social network a much-needed strategic focus. Al Dejewski, MySpace’s senior VP-global marketing told Advertising Age, that music will be the core of new MySpace (aka MySpace 3.0)

“This young adult male needs to be put on a diet, we need to get it on P90X, clean its system and get back to its foundation. And we’ve found that foundation is music. No other music destination online today can claim the breadth of partnership we have with the four major music labels in addition to the tens of millions of independent artists and the libraries of their songs.”

Dejewski’s optimism is admirable but the jury is still out on whether MySpace can pull off a comeback. The social media world is competitive, consumers are notoriously fickle, and the rise of Google+ has provided another viable option for people who want an alternative to Facebook.

For MySpace to revitalize itself, focus will be important but it will also be crucial – and likely an expensive proposition – for it to drive home the message the new MySpace is a different beast that can meet the needs of music lovers better than the competition. Perhaps this is where Timberlake can play a key role in changing MySpace’s brand image.

There is no doubt resuscitating MySpace is going to be a huge challenge, which is one of the reasons why Timberlake and Specific Media were able to acquire the company for a bargain-basement price. If anything, it will be interesting to see whether MySpace can bounce back or continue its downward Friendster-like spiral.

Social Media and Older Demographics

Not that long ago, social media was seen as a young person’s game – a notion perpetuated by Facebook’s emergence into the mainstream from its roots as a social network used by university students.

The new reality, however, is that social is no longer a young person’s game. In fact, it’s becoming a landscape dominated by older users. According to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 52% of social networking users are 35+, compared with 34% in 2008.

Users in the 50-to- 65-year-old demographic jumped to 20% from 9%, while users who are more than 65-years-old (aka grandparents) tripled to 6% from 2%. (The chart below shows the breakdown between 2010 and 2008)

So what does this mean to social media?

The biggest impact will be on social media marketing because older people have more disposable income than younger people. We’re talking about Baby Boomers in the latter stages of their careers whose incomes have risen along their experience. As well, Baby Boomers in the U.S. are slated to inherit $8.4-trillion.

For marketers, this is a huge market with lots of money to spend on real estate, travel, electronics, luxury goods, clothing, dining, etc. For companies looking to drive sales, the target audience should be people who are more than 50-years-old because they have lots of dough to spend.

For social media, it should mean that marketing and advertising dollars will star to flow into places with a lot of older users such as Facebook. For anyone looking to get a better handle on Facebook’s revenue growth and its IPO prospects, Pew’s study offers a lot of food for thought.

In many respects, the demographic shift that people have been talking about in the last couple of years will start assume more importance as advertisers move more of their overall spending online and, in the process, allocate more to social networks.

Money talks, and so do demographics. The Pew study thrusts both issues into the spotlight and, as important, sets the stage for some serious financial and economic consequences.

Introducing Our New Resource Center

Our goal here at Sysomos is to continuously help you and your company make the most of social media. Be it by constantly updating our product line to better suit the ever-changing needs of our customers, providing interesting and relevant blog posts and by constantly educating our community through webinars and speaking engagements.

With that in mind, we are proud to announce the launch of our new Resources Center on our website. In this section of our website you will be able to find information that can help you and your brand make the most out of using social media. This section will be continuously updated with new content designed for people just starting out with social media all the way to the more advanced social media professionals.

Our first addition to the Resource Center is the presentation Different Types of Social Media Channels. Inside you will find introductions to some of the most popular social media channels; blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, forums and message boards. As well, the presentation points out different ways in which each of these channels can be used along with some real life examples of how existing companies are using them.

In the blogs section we explore different kinds of blogs and how they can be used. For example, will your blog be done to shed insight on what is happening within your company? Will it be insight from someone like your CEO? Will it focus on your industry? Will it show that your brand is a thought leader in your industry? Or, will your blog be used internally for your employees only? Will you have one or many blogs? With explanations and examples of each style you will be more informed to make the right decision for how your company will approach social media.

Please take a look at our new Social Media Resource Center and keep checking back for new and updated content. Also, please leave your comments on the content and what you would like to see in this section in the future.

Exploring the Value of Social Niches

The Huffington Post published a story looking at the 19 “strangest” social networks – a theme that we’ve have previously highlighted.

While these out-of-the-ordinary social networks could easily be dismissed, it would be a mistake to not explore their potential value and viability.

When it comes to social networks, we tend to think mass market, which is why Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn get so much attention. People and companies want to socialize where there are lots of people, which makes a lot of sense.

On the other hand, there are lots of opportunities within social niches. Rather than compete for attention within Facebook, focusing on a niche can provide a company with a specific target audience with far less competition and noise.

For example, if you’re selling imported beer, it might make sense to reach out people who are members of CheckSwing, a baseball social network.

For yarn makers, it could make sense to focus on Ravelry, a free social network for knitters and crocheters.

As social networks become increasingly popular and crowded, it would not be a surprise to see off-the-beaten-path social networks start to get more attention to reach consumers in different ways.

This isn’t to suggest the world will start beating down the doors of niche social networks but they could become more attractive targets as companies and marketers look for new ways to reach target audiences.