Archive for “January, 2012”

Dealing with the “Unfriend”, “Unfollow” & “Unlike” Factor

Wangari Kamande is Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

Lately, I have read status updates or heard friends say to me “I am going to ‘unfriend’ all these Facebook friends that I don’t really know or care about” or “I am tired of reading status updates that have no meaning or value for me.” This one was on one of my good friend’s status updates on Friday “…just spent the last 30 minutes “unfriend-ing” people from my Facebook & will continue doing so this weekend…I was getting tired of all the stupid status updates…The line had to be drawn somewhere :) .” This sentiment also holds true with “un-liking” brands.

According to a recent study by NM Incite, the top reason cited for friend-ing someone on Facebook is not surprising – it’s knowing them in real life (82%). The same applies for brands – people “like” Facebook pages of brands they are aware of. On the other hand, offensive comments are the main reason for unfriend-ing (55%). According to the study, here are a few things you might be doing that will leave you wondering if the apocalypse happened and captured all your social media connections: updating too often, updating less frequently, lack of originality, too many salesy posts, irrelevant, posting repetitive and boring content, just to name a few.

The study further indicates that men are more likely to use social media for careers/networking and dating while women use social media as a creative outlet, to get coupons/ promos or to give positive feedback.

 

Source: NM Incite

 

So, this begs the question, how do we manage the number of social media ‘break ups’? I use the word “manage” because, truth be told, not all people will stick with you – in fact, an interesting statistic I recall hearing on TV went something like “25% of the people you meet won´t like you and never will; 25% won´t like you, but could be persuaded to; 25% will like you, but could be persuaded not to; and 25% will like you and stand by you no matter what.” With that in mind, how can we create a positively magnetic relationship and level of engagement with the people we value in social channels?

Whether this is for your personal brand, a.k.a. “YOU”, or a company brand, the following thoughts run true and are useful in getting you plugged in with those in your sphere of interest.

1. Who is your social audience?

While your entire target audience might not be actively engaged in social media, identify what your sub-targets and potentials are and determine their demographics, the social media channels they use and their interests. This can be achieved through a combination of some secondary research and if you want to really get to the core of your audience’s interests in social, performing a conversation scan using social media listening tools will provide you with a good picture of what is going on within your sphere of interest. Well-armed with the “who” you are looking to connect with, you can move on to the next step.

2. What is your brand’s intended social experience?

Determine the purpose that each social media channel will serve in reaching your audience. Along with that comes the underlying values of the brand, your brand’s voice—remember, social media is for sharing and engaging with others. Determine if your brand will be funny, serious or provocative. Overall, the motivations behind your social presence will be evident soon enough. If they serve the interest of your audience you will have a loyal following.

3. Win with your execution

Now that you have your audience and your social experience down pat, the content needs to captivate and match your audience needs. There are many articles that have been written on creating effective content, including on this blog. Do your research and package your brand with interesting content that will set up your social community for success.  A conversation calendar that is reviewed through the lens of the two steps above will help you get organized and ensure that you’re consistent and focused in your communication.

Keep in mind the best listeners make the best conversationalists. If you are looking to create and maintain a growing, fresh community in social media, you need to establish a listening framework to monitor your audience  and hopefully draw insights that would feed back into your social media strategy execution.

 

Webinar Today – How Content Marketing is Changing Everything

Today is the day! Don’t miss out on our free webinar with Maggie Fox on “How Content Marketing is Changing Everything,” at 12 pm EST / 9am PST brought to you by Social Media Group and Social Media Today. She will be joined by C.C. Chapman, co-author of “Content Rules” to explore how you can (and should) think about content creation and how to effectively use great content to earn attention and shift marketing from push to pull in a billion-channel universe.

Register now, click HERE!

 

Make that Social Content Shift… 5 steps to creating social content assets out of what you already have!

Most companies and organizations already lots and lots of content. There are likely some real social content gems in those archives of Powerpoint presentations, pdf files, binders and Web pages that have built up over the years. In mining your existing content archives, the challenge becomes finding the time, energy and motivation to unearth those “gems”.

Here is a quick and cheerful set of five steps, to undertake the task:

Step 1: Go through a “back of the envelope” upfront analysis of your goals for social content creation. Some questions to get you started include:

• What social networks do are important to post content to?
• Who is the target audience?
• What action will the user take they’ve consumed your content? Visit your website? Share it to their social networks? Determine your main Calls to Action.
• Consider time and budget. What format and quantity of assets can you afford to create?

social media groupCreative Commons License

Step 2: Conduct a content audit to determine what do you already have? If you’re like most organizations, you’re going to be looking for…

• PowerPoint presentations (they may contain some graphs and diagrams)
• PDF’s, Case studies, sell sheets…
• Webinars, tutorials
• Your own Web site – is there could be some great material that could be refreshed in a new format?
• Expertise from employees – think interviews, profiles, quotes… lots of possibility!

Step 3: Pick your content themes, and create a short list of content ideas. Some hints:

• Where does it make the most sense to focus time and money? The area of focus should be strategic.
• Creating content takes time, so start by picking 3 or 4 key areas that are popular with the target audience to highlight via social networks.
• Determine what “success” looks like. What metrics will make the most sense for your business? Do you want to build your brand awareness? Generate new leads? Create the appropriate metric for your social content project, and make sure your content can support it.

Step 4: Brainstorm some content formats for each identified idea, and create a brief for the person or team who will be producing the content.

• Keep your mind open, and don’t be shy about exploring new and different formats. Consider slide shows, info-graphics, animations, video… there are lots of options!
• Determine the budget available for each format. Costs will increase as you consider new graphics, copy, animation, video, interactivity etc.
• Talk to the team who currently manages the organization’s social channels about any input they may have into this process. They will be able to provide some valuable insights into what resonates with your audience.
• Write the brief, which should include some basic information such as:

  • Objective of content asset
  • Target audience
  • Content format
  • Call to action
  • Brand guidelines
  • Your timeline
  • Requirements- e.g. do you need copy developed? Graphics? Animation? Be specific about what you envision for the asset, and what you need!
  • Budget range

Step 5: Once you have your brief, you have to figure out who is going to produce your content, and do a reality check on budget, feasibility etc. Some pointers:

• Determine if you have the skill set to produce the content asset internally. You can likely handle a blog post, but many organizations do not have in house graphic designers or video production crews.
• Determine if your agencies are familiar with creating content for the social Web – you may be pleasantly surprised, or not…
• Do consider talking to an agency with a strong track record in the social media marketing space.

I’ll write next time on what to do with all that content once you produce it. Content marketing has the potential to generate results, but it is tricky to do, without great content!

Social Media and Politics – 49Pixels Recap

The following post was submitted by Patrick Gladney, Director of Research and Insights at SMG.

I enjoyed being a guest on the 49pixels podcast on on Wednesday night.   Together with National Post columnist and twitter king Jonathan Goldsbie, we rehashed the details of 2010′s Toronto Municipal Election, the composition of twitter and pondered the future of technology and politics.

If you are intersted in hearing the podcast, simply click here.

I believe there is still so much opportunity for politicians and political organizations to use social media effectively.  There are some new models being showcased today in the US, where the GOP is using social media in new and intersting ways, such as Newt Gingrich’s adaptation of phone banking which incents loyalists to contact others via skype to ask for their support.


This ain’t social media, but it speaks volumes

One of the questions that came up was the Obama adminstrations use of Instragram.  Goldsbie asked why instragram?  As my colleague Brandon Smith said the next morning, there are 12 million reasons why, and they are all on Instagram.  Also, it just so happened that Obama (the administration, not the man)  tweeted during the State of the Union Address, suggesting that those attending SOTU watching parties take photographs of the gatherings and post them online.  Kind of a cool way to build community, I’d say.

 

 

Social Media Roundup for January 27

Kirsten McNeill is a Co-ordinator on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @kirstenmcne.

McDonald’s Social Media Disaster

Last week McDonald’s launched a Twitter campaign to increase awareness around their use of fresh produce in their food, using the unique hashtag #MeetTheFarmers, which they used in paid-for tweets which were inserted into the streams of Twitter users. This campaign appeared to have a positive start but things took a turn when McDonald’s decided to change the hashtag to #McDStories. This new hashtag was meant to be used to tweet about positive stories customers had with the fast food chain but it was quickly hijacked with tweets of the opposite – very negative and unpleasant tales!

Check out the video below to see some more of these negative tales:

The brave McDonald’s decided to give it another go with another new hashtag campaign on Wednesday, #LittleThings. This change was meant to be used to tweet the little things that bring joy. They kicked it off by tweeting, “No line at the bank, a large tax refund, & those extra fries at the bottom of the bag. What are some #LittleThings that bring you joy?” Even though this seems to be a very open-ended hashtag for the campaign, so far it hasn’t been used to bad-mouth the brand. Let’s hope they have this one under control.

Timothy’s Social Media Backlash

Here we have another social media fail. Timothy’s Coffees of the World ran a promotion on Facebook in December. Just for “Liking” their Facebook Page, the company promised to send fans four free 24-pack boxes of single-serve coffee. Because boxes of these retail for about $17.95, the deal ended up on contest-aggregating websites and an overwhelming number of customers jumped on the promotion. The company underestimated how many people would sign up and their stock was depleted within three days, but they had already sent an email to all of the entrants letting them know that the coffee was on its way. Once they realized that they couldn’t fulfill their promise, they fell silent.  At the beginning of January, Timothy’s tried to cover themselves by claiming that the promotion was “first come, first serve” and those that were unable to get samples would be sent a “great email offer.” Only now, a month later, has the company put out an apology video. This was one of their biggest mistakes because when it comes to social media, you need to respond as soon as possible; a month is far too long.

Increase Click-Through Rates for your Tweets

Dan Zarella, HubSpot’s social media scientist, has put together a really insightful infographic on how to get the highest number of click-throughs for you tweets. Some of the more obvious findings were that tweets between 120 and 130 characters get retweeted more than those that are longer or shorter than that. He also found that tweets on the weekend and later in the day have a higher click-through rate than those on weekdays and in the morning. But an interesting finding is that the phrase “daily is out,” indicating that the tweet is using online newspaper tool paper.li, had the greatest positive effect on click-through rates. Take a look at the rest of his findings:

 

Facebook Introduces Clicks to Action

We have already started seeing some of the new applications that Facebook’s Open Graph platform enables, such as seeing what your friends are reading or listening to. Coming soon, Facebook will be increasing these apps and going live with over 60 Timeline App partners. These apps will combine in-network sharing with your interaction on outside sites so that Facebook users can not only see what their friends are “Liking” on Facebook but also what actions they are taking on other sites. In order to share these external actions, a range of new buttons will be showing up on the partnered external sites. Recipe Box, one of Facebook’s partnering sites, will have “Cooked” and “Want” action buttons so that when you see a recipe that you have cooked or want to try, you can click the appropriate button, which then distributes that action to your Timeline, News Feed and Ticker.

 

The idea is to increase sharing, strengthen relationships through interests and foster conversations. What do you think? Will you be sharing some of your actions from outside sites onto your Timeline?

Google Services Unified

Google will be rolling out a major change on March 1 – unifying their privacy policies and creating a set of integrated products. The change will work towards integrating all of your Google uses and account such as search, Gmail, YouTube, social (Google+) and work so that users can have one continuous Google experience. In order to allow for this unified experience, Google is overhauling of all of its privacy policies into one aims to be a lot shorter and easier to read. The new policy will allow Google to gather information from one of their services and deliver it to you via another. This will make your experience more customized because Google will have more of your personal information – it can know your location, what’s on your calendar for the day, spelling suggestions based on words you’ve used before or names from your address book, etc. This additional information will also make it easier for marketers to reach their target market and provide personalized messaging.

Check out Google’s video explaining this change:

What do you think of this upcoming change? Do you think that this will be helpful or do you feel that Google is invading your privacy?

How Content Marketing is Changing Everything, and How Social Media Group Can Help

In today’s billion-channel universe, the traditional ‘interrupt and repeat’ approach to advertising is in serious trouble (thank goodness!). After years of intrusive pop-ups and pre-roll ads, brands are realizing that they not only must compete with entertainment-quality content, but earn their consumers’ attention by delivering relevant, valuable, and remarkable information. Enter Content Marketing.

SMG Content Marketing

What is Content Marketing?

Content Marketing is about changing your approach from push to pull. It’s about designing quality, aligned content that is highly targeted to an interested audience that is already in ‘content consumption mode’. It’s about being the right thing, in the right place, at the right time. Ultimately, it’s about cutting through the clutter.

Today, after years of paving the way with content marketing beta programs on platforms like Outbrain, Digg, and Twitter, SMG is pleased to formally announce Content Marketing as part of our full service integrated digital offering.

A recent Content Marketing campaign developed and launched by SMG generated:

  • 375 million impressions
  • 700,000 clicks (0.22% CTR)
  • 6,000 content downloads (conversions)
  • Average Cost Per Click (CPC) of $0.16 and Average Cost Per Thousand (CPM) of $0.48 (98% lower than historical Search PPC costs)

Head over to our Resources page to get the latest SMG Content Marketing Case Study.

Want to learn more?

Register for our free webinar, “How Content Marketing is Changing Everything”, where I’ll be joined by C.C. Chapman, co-author of “Content Rules“, on January 31st, 2012 @ 12PM EST. Presented by Social Media Group and Social Media Today.

Or, if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area during Social Media Week, come by SAP’s Palo Alto offices, where I’ll be delivering a session all about content marketing and how it’s truly changing everything.

Want to find out how SMG can help your content marketing efforts? Click here!

Best Thinkers Webinar Series Today – Defining and Measuring Influence

Don’t forget to join Maggie Fox today at 12 pm EST / 9 am PST for an exclusive, live webinar from Social Media Today on Defining and Measuring Influence. A great discussion to be had with Maggie and panelists, Peter Auditore – the Principal Researcher at Asterias Research, and Pam Moore – the CEO & Co-Founder of ZoomFactor, as they examine what is or is not influence and how such a fuzzy concept can be measured.

It’s not too late to register, click HERE!

How Content Marketing is Changing Everything – Upcoming Webinar

Join Maggie Fox, next Tuesday January 31st at 12pm EST / 9am PST, as she hosts an exclusive, live webinar from Social Media Today and Social Media Group on How Content Marketing is Changing Everything.

Forget about “interrupt and repeat”! The promise of Content Marketing is the ability to deliver the right thing, in the right place, at the right time, in order to earn your customers’ attention. But it’s not only about the tools and platforms – it’s also about making the right stuff – an enormous challenge for many marketers. In this webinar, Maggie and C.C. Chapman co-author of Content Rules, will explore how you can (and should) think about content creation and how to effectively use great content to earn attention and shift marketing from push to pull in a billion-channel universe.

You won’t want to miss this one! Register now, click HERE!

 

5 Reasons You Should Use a Conversation Calendar

James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @jamescooper

social media group conversation calendar

With so many social media accounts, all hungry for engaging content that offers value, you might be asking yourself, “How will I ever manage all of this?”

Have no fear. You can manage it. All you need is the right tool – a conversation calendar to help you take control.

What exactly is a  “conversation calendar”, you might be wondering?

In essence, it’s an editorial calendar specific to social media. Bloggers, publishers and companies use conversation calendars to control publication of content across their blogs and social media channels. Utilizing a conversation calendar is an extremely efficient way to control multi-channel postings over time.

In this post, I’m not going to focus on how to develop a conversation calendar (I think Debbie Williams does a great job of explaining this in her post Develop a Social Media Conversation Calendar). Rather, I’m going to tell you why you should use one.

1. Ensure consistency in the timing and voice of your communications

Using a conversation calendar lays out all of your pending posts in a single document. Being able to see all of your content in this consolidated format will help you maintain a consistent company voice in your communications across all social channels. It will also make it easier to ensure that you post at optimal times and avoid duplicating content on social properties.

2. Create accountability within your team

In a conversation calendar, you can assign actions to your content creators and community managers, creating accountability among them. At Social Media Group we set up a conversation calendar for our blog using a Google Spreadsheet which is shared among our team. The calendar is always updated at least a month in advance, giving everyone plenty of time to write our blog posts.

As an added advantage, being able to see what topics our colleagues are working on, we’re able to lend one another a helping hand and provide relevant insights into other reports and articles we may have seen that could add value to a post.

3. Be proactive and stay ahead of the content curve

Because so much changes so quickly in social media, you might find it difficult to fill out a conversation calendar several months in advance. But making your best effort to do so will help you think about and identify the important hurdles and milestones that you could face in the coming months. You can also plan to theme your content according to seasonal and special occasions, like Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Your conversation calendar should be an evolving document. Don’t hesitate to make adjustments to it as opportunities arise or when tactics are proving unsuccessful.

4. Identify opportunities to repurpose existing content

Further to my previous point about being proactive, a conversation calendar enables you to reach out across your organization to find existing and planned content that could be re-purposed for use on your social channels. It also helps you make plans to track down relevant content from outside of your company, such as posts from industry bloggers and communities, that could be curated and shared in your company’s networks.

5. Make tracking and reporting (and impressing your boss) easier

A conversation calendar is not only useful for planning for the future, it also plays an integral role when reviewing insights and analytics. For example, when you see spikes in activity on a social channel, you can easily refer back to your conversation calendar to see what content was the trigger. Since the calendar consolidates all of your posts from across your networks, it simplifies the task of doing a year in review, which will likely make your boss happy.

What are your thoughts? Do you use a conversation calendar? If not, do you plan to start using one?

Social Media Round Up for Jan 20th

Facebook Event Takeaway

During the Facebook Launch Event this Wednesday in San Francisco, Carl Sjogreen, Facebook’s Director of Platform Products, announced the improvements to their new Open Graph and Gestures platforms it introduced during the f8 Developer Conference last September.  With the new Open Graph, developers are able to create apps that allow users to add anything they want directly to their Timeline. Later on, they introduced 60 new now live apps that are tightly integrated to the new platform including some by well-known companies such as eBay, Foursquare, Airbnb, Foodily and LivingSocial.

Not familiar with the new Open Graph concept? Take a look at the video below:

SOPA and PIPA Outrage

Wikipedia, the most respected free encyclopedia website on the Internet, blocked their service  for 24 hours on Wednesday to raise awareness, for those outside of the technology community they claimed, of two proposed legislations regarding Internet censorship – Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Internet Property Act (PIPA).

For those of you who are not yet familiar with the proposed legislations, here are the descriptions, as described by Wikipedia:

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a law (bill) of the United States of America proposed in 2011 to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Proposals include barring advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with allegedly infringing websites, barring search engines from linking to the sites, and requiring Internet service providers (ISP) to block access to the sites. The bill would criminalize streaming of content, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The Protect IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 or PIPA), also known as Senate Bill 968 or S. 968, is a proposed law with the stated goal of giving the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods”, especially those registered outside the U.S. The bill was introduced on May 12, 2011, by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 11 bipartisan co-sponsors. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that implementation of the bill would cost the federal government $47 million through 2016, to cover enforcement costs and the hiring and training of 22 new special agents and 26 support staff. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill, but Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) placed a hold on.

Many tech companies like Google, Wikipedia, etc. state that the two bills, if passed by the United States Congress, would fundamentally hurt the Internet Industry.  For example, websites like Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr all seem likely to shut down if the bill becomes law, not to mention the developments of many emerging Internet and social media websites would be forced to stop, which would push technological innovations into the Dark Age according to one Mashable article published on Wednesday.

Content sharing website Reddit, as well as the famous tech blog Boing Boing, also joined forces and shut down their services for 24 hours. Many other websites added banner links, protest pages and published articles on the front page regarding the issue. One of the notable changes was Google covered its logo with a giant black ‘censor’ bar and wrote ‘Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web!” below with a link to its online petition.

Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, also commented on this issue by tweeting (for the first time in three years) and posted a longer statement on his Facebook page calling the bills “poorly thought out laws” that “get in the way of the internet’s development”.

Watch this infographic video (originally created by Fight for the Future and posted to their Vimeo Channel. Reddit put it up during the service shut down) regarding the SOPA and PIPA bills and the effect they would have on the Internet Industry.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

The Effect of the Joint Force

The joint actions of the big players seem to work. The issue soon dominated the Internet and social media world. SOPA and PIPA related discussions exploded on Twitter, generating 2.4 million tweets in merely 16 hours on Wednesday according to Mashable. Around 1,500 protesters gathered outside the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (senators who support SOPA and PIPA)  for the rally in NYC.

The official SOPA protest website, sopastrike.com, called the protest ‘The Largest Online Protest in History’ with an infograph showing the overall effect to date, and listed all the participating companies and organizations.

Click the image to view the entire infograph

The protest results that were reported on Thursday were quite amazing. According to PC World, more than 162 million people saw the protest message on Wikipedia asking ‘ if you could imagine a world without free knowledge’,  4.5 million people signed a petition,18 representatives have backed away from the proposed legislation, 25 senators now oppose PIPA (the Senate version of SOPA), two SOPA co-sponsors and several others dropped support for the House bill

Still think internet and social media aren’t that of a big deal in legislation? It might be time to reconsider more seriously.