Social Media

Social Media and Business – 50

Posted by | Social Media | No Comments

Social Platforms

The first and most recognisable of social platforms are networking websites such as Facebook.com. Facebook has more than 750 million active users and is a huge interactive environment of people from all walks of life, ages and interests.

There are other similar platforms such as MySpace (www.myspace.com – over 19.7 million active users) with a common theme, that is, people can create a space that is their own but which is dynamically interactive with other people which they accept as their friends.

These friends live vicariously in each other’s lives.
They share often private and discreet moments as well as the moments of excitement and joy. To a certain extent, it is even more intimate than the chat you have with the popular guy at the party.

At a party you will eventually leave until the next function. With these social networking platforms life goes on 24 hours a day. You learn to share the highs and lows of many of these people mixed, inevitably, with a large helping of trivia.

Social platforms extend further than Facebook and MySpace on which the public view recognizable and utilisable facilities. The popular social networking platform LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a place where businesses and entities tend to communicate and fraternise.

And then you have the White Label groups which have been specifically designed by companies in order to connect a group of like minded people ready to discuss and share experiences in a specific niche.

We have already mentioned wikis. Wikis are a social platform where users generate much of the content. Although, typically, the majority of the content is decided upon and generated by an individual or a company, the end users can edit it as necessary. The end result is often a conglomeration of views and experiences which, surprisingly, mirrors real life.

The underlying characteristic of all these platforms is that they are not maintained or fed by one single group or entity. Both customers and businesses interact to create an amalgamated whole.

The picture is one of a conversation rather than a statement. Along the way there is a struggle for mutual benefit. If both parties can win, then any outcome will include satisfied customers and increased profits (or other important measurable parameters).

It is relevant here to mention something about the advertising methods and promotional activities on social platforms.

If you look at Facebook you will see a number of advertisements and banners. These are paid advertisements and do not represent what we are talking about here. They more closely represent the type of offline advertising that this book has been downplaying. Traditional marketing methods such as this, although they may have a place to play in social media, are not our focus.

What is our focus, however, is the type of integrated promotional activities that the social networking sites can carry. Here, think applications. An application is a piece of software which can be added to a social networking platform in order to engage the visitor in some specific way or other.

This might be in the form of the game, a quiz or any other form of interactive process but which at the same time can promote a brand, product or service. These can be entertaining, novel and sometimes addicting. And there are many thousands of applications such as this which can be individually characterised and branded for businesses and companies.

These applications provide a way for businesses to develop interaction with customers. Think of the applications (often called “apps”) that you see on the iPhone and iPad.

Whilst these third party social platforms provide a facility for potential interaction between businesses and their potential clients they, only form part of the possible social experience. For companies with the budget and time, there is the possibility of developing White Label sites.

These have a lot of the functionality and characteristics of third party social media sites but can be specifically organized and developed to fit in with the aims and objectives of the particular business running it.

Social Media and Business – 49

Posted by | Social Media | No Comments

As time goes on you will be looking for more parameters that might signify a greater involvement with your brands. Some will see a greater volume of conversations whilst others may detect videos, audios and images concerning your products being distributed and shared more and more. Is the vibe about you and your products positive or negative? If the former, enhance it, if the latter, reverse it.

The flavor of the conversations that your customers will be having will vary, partly dependent upon their experiences. Many of them will have questions. They may wish to know how to use or enhance the use of a product you have provided. They may wish to have a problem related to a product sorted out.

If it is a potential customer then they may have a range of queries that they need attending to before they will commit to a purchase.

In all of these situations, and with all of the questions, you should be there to provide the answers. Your evangelists will help you without you even asking but there is no substitute for you being aware.

Channels

There are important decisions for you to make. You are already aware that there are not only a multitude of social media websites and facilities available but that there is a huge range of modalities available too. Which one(s) to choose?

You need to make some good decisions lest you waste precious time and valuable resources. It can get expensive if not done correctly. Simply ploughing in without proper thought is ineffectual and doomed to failure. In order to progress further we need to think more about the social platforms themselves.

Social Media and Business – 48

Posted by | Social Media | No Comments

You will need to start the measurement process to develop the awareness of your social media productivity. Luckily, there are solid and robust ways to accomplish this. Used wisely, you should be able to develop methods that will help you decide the demographics of your audience (who is actually interacting and what their characteristics are).

You should be able to determine what is happening over a period of time (whether the audience is connecting more). You should be able to determine a change in the depth and quality of the conversations and interactions that are being had (whether the engagement is at a more specialised level rather than generic chat).

Finally you should be able to detect a softening of any free floating resistance to your products, services or company stance (showing your involvement creates trust and positivity).

You are looking for all manner of statistics. Who is interacting with what you are sharing and what exactly is being read, listened to and watched? What are these people saying about you and how interactive are they with you? How sticky are these people – will they stay with you?

There are certain things that you would be wise to at least consider. After all, social media demands that you are seen (remember the popular guy at the party?). Your products and services may already be being used by consumers but now is the time to rack up the degree of exposure.

Product Pulse (www.productpulse.com) allows you to add your product to a large database of other products whilst users give it the thumbs up or thumbs down. The social media world is not only vast but fast. Messages spread quickly and adding additional exposure will only enhance this process. Product Pulse recognizes this feature of the web and begins to take full advantage of it.

Your ultimate aim is to get people talking about you and your products more – and you know what that means in the social media environment.

Social Media and Business – 44

Posted by | Social Media | No Comments

The conversations of people in the social media universe give evidential credence as a source of information. The mixture of positive and negative affirmations serve far greater than any advert that you could have ever devised.

But how do you go about finding what is being said about you? It may seem that you need to be there all the time in order to wait for somebody to flag up a reference to you or your products and services. This is clearly unworkable.

Luckily there are ways in which you can determine whether people are speaking about or not. I mentioned Blogpulse before. You can use this in order to search the blogs on the internet to detect the mention of your brand or product.

What you can also do is to determine who is mentioning your competitors and this can be useful information for you in developing your own strategy. I have already told you how you can search YouTube but you can search many other social media platforms as well.

For example you can search the microblogging platform Twitter and you can search the image hosting platform Flickr.com. Search for references about your company. Are there any? What do they show?

Social Media and Business – 43

Posted by | Social Media | No Comments

Many companies do, of course, survey their customers on regular basis. The outcomes as to how well people think you are doing needs to be taken into account. A social media campaign based on an already poor performance is not likely to be effective. If your customers think that you are already good and they recommend your products or services to other people then you might be ready for a social media campaign.

You cannot simply guess what people are thinking about you. Traditional advertising, as we have seen, means that you are in charge. You develop the message that you wish to give to your customers or potential customers. You decide on what you think the messages are that they are getting.

The modern world does the opposite. Instead of you deciding what message you are going to give your customers, social media messages tell it as it is. There is little leeway for guessing. People either like you or they don’t. The only thing you can do is to decide why they don’t like you and try to change.

Social media is the reality of the advertising world. People are advertising your worth without you being involved. You ignore this at your peril.

The other main difference between traditional advertising and social media networking is the fact that social media users are happy to talk about the negative side of your products or services whereas traditional advertising only talks about the positive. After all, who would commission an advert that reflectively denigrates their very own products?

Social media users are not so worried about the look of things. They are fuelled by the reality of what you provide rather than the utopia in your mind.

People are talking in the first person. They say “I did this” or “I did that.” They might say “I used this” or “I used that.” Unfortunately they also say what they are not going to use ever again and if it is your product or service, this is to your detriment.

Make contact Make contact