Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

August 30, 2012

“These followers are real followers but are not active.”  So much for instant fame from non-active Twitter followers.  Buying X number of followers for Y dollars apparently makes some people feel better about themselves.

June 18, 2012

During a job interview, have you been asked what your Klout score is? For that matter, do YOU know what your Klout score is? The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure:

  • True Reach: How many people you influence
  • Amplification: How much you influence them
  • Network Impact: The influence of your network

June 13, 2012

Which of these six social media personae best describes you?

Twitter: How to add more followers… gradually

April 9, 2012

Twitter dropped the hammer on spammers, filing a lawsuit against five accused proliferators of spam on Thursday, April 5, 2012.  I visited Twitter’s Help Center regarding The Twitter Rules and read the section concerning what Twitter considered spam.  I also visited the websites of the defendants named in the lawsuit, some of which were no longer online.  Twitter made it abundantly clear that they were targeting spammers that:

  • Posted duplicate content repeatedly in a short period of time;
  • Followed or unfollowed a large number of users within a short period of time;
  • Used or promoted third-party sites that claimed to get users more followers (such as follower trains, sites promising “more followers fast,” or any other site that offers to automatically add followers to one’s account).

If you add too many followers in a short period of time, you might get in trouble with Twitter. Here is one way to add more followers on Twitter, gradually.I am in no race to gain as many followers as I can, preferring to take the role of tortoise over hare.  In that regard, I have used the method for adding more followers, which I outline below, for some time.  It requires no third-party tools or sites and is a very gradual method, indeed, but it allows me to engage with my new followers.  After all, the point of social media is to engage, not gain as many followers as you can.  If you take on too many followers at one time, you won’t have time to get to know them and they will be anonymous to you, thereby defeating the purpose of social media.  This is the general outline:

  • Go to the profile of a user whose content is regularly retweeted (RT) by others;
  • Find a tweet from that user with many RTs;
  • Compose a new tweet using RT or “via” (I outlined different ways to retweet in a previous blog), making sure to post the username of the person who originally tweeted the content, followed by two or three usernames who RT’d the tweet.

I will demonstrate with a tweet from @TweetSmarter:

School’s Out: How to Start a Career in Social Media:

A number of users have RT’d the tweet, as expected.  I can construct the retweet as either this:

School’s Out: How to Start a Career in Social Media: RT @TweetSmarter @stephstweets @Jankovitch

or this:

School’s Out: How to Start a Career in Social Media: /via @TweetSmarter @stephstweets @Jankovitch

Why do I go through the trouble of composing retweets?  I do it to RT the content of that person, something I do regularly, anyway, but also to recognize the people who also thought the user’s content was worthy of being shared and duly RT’d.  If I am lucky, those two or three users in the retweet would follow me and, of course, I would follow them back in kind.  Isn’t it a lot easier to get to know two or three new followers at a time this way?

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Francis Unson

Keep Your Guard Up; LulzSec Was Just One Group

June 29, 2011

The hacker group, LulzSec, announced its dissolution on Saturday, June 25, in a Twitter message to 280,000 of its followers.  The publicity-seeking group had successfully hacked the websites of the CIA, the U.S. Senate, Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency, Sony, PBS, and other high-profile targets.  Many do not understand why the group decided to break up or if they really did at all.  There are a few theories as to why they did, at least, publicly, anyway: the law was closing in on them (they had been getting many looming threats of arrest); they were just bored; they picked disastrous fights with rival hacker groups; or they had simply run out of ideas.

The disbanding of one hacker group is no time to put your guard down about Internet security.Although, this hacker group is seemingly no longer around, there are many other, more seasoned groups like this one that can be even more harmful.  The trick to reducing the chances of having your email or social networking profile hacked by such groups is to create a strong password.  Mixing letters and numbers is a good start.  Avoid using simple words or birth dates.  You can use your birth date but mix it into a name.  For example, let’s say you have a sister named Jane and her birthday is on March 22.  Create a password like this: j3a2n2e.  That’s the basic concept but as long as you can remember it, your regularly updated strong password will definitely help keep you more secure.

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Joie Montoya

Post Comments Using Twitter and Facebook (via News)

June 16, 2011

WordPress has made it much easier to post comments from the comfort of Facebook and Twitter.

Post Comments Using Twitter and Facebook Starting today, visitors to your blog can use their Facebook or Twitter account to leave comments. This saves everyone a few steps and gives visitors control over which identity they use.  It’s a win for everyone. As an important touch, we let you stay logged in to multiple services. This means you can stay logged in to Facebook for convenience, but still leave a comment through Twitter or your account. Just click whichever identity … Read More

via News

2 Unique Photos Captured Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Final Flight

May 20, 2011

The Space Shuttle Endeavor took off on its final flight on May 16, 2011, with one more flight left scheduled for the Space Shuttle Atlantis.  As of Monday, Endeavour had logged more than 116 million miles, circled the Earth some 4,500 times, spent 283 days in space and carried 170 people, including the last two people to fly a Space Shuttle for the first time.  Once Atlantis flies, it will be three years, at best, before Americans are launched again from U.S. soil.   This was a once in a lifetime event but even for those who missed the launch, a lucky few managed to take photographs of Endeavor’s flight into space as it happened.

As the Space Shuttle Endeavour embarked on its last mission, two photos captured the first few moments of the launch: one from a helium-filled weather balloon, and another from an airline passenger's iPhone.

STS-134 launch as seen from an iPhone on a Delta flight. Courtesy: Stefanie Gordon

The first picture had been shot with an iPhone.  Stefanie Gordon, a passenger on a Delta flight from New York to Palm Beach, Florida, witnessed the Space Shuttle break through a layer of clouds and continue to soar up into space.  Thinking quickly, she pulled out her iPhone and immediately began taking pictures and video of this amazing sight.  She knew she captured something remarkable when she uploaded her pictures to Twitter and, soon after, her phone “just started going crazy” with notifications for new Twitter followers.  Within a few hours, she was fielding phone calls from ABC, the BBC, and CNBC.

As the Space Shuttle Endeavour embarked on its last mission, two photos captured the first few moments of the launch: one from a helium-filled weather balloon, and another from an airline passenger's iPhone.

STS-134 launch as seen from Senatobia-1 Balloon at 64,000 ft. Courtesy: Quest For Stars

The second picture was planned and taken by a balloon camera. “Senatobia-1” was launched from Bronson Sports Complex in Bronson, Florida at 7:30 am on the morning of the launch by Quest for Stars, an educational non-profit organization promoting Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) studies.  The helium-filled balloon caught Endeavour’s flight path in a series of five pictures as it reached 64,000 feet.  The camera payload ultimately reached over 95,000 feet before the balloon burst, releasing the payload for a parachute landing and recovery by Quest for Stars’ ground crew.

Both of these photographs will go down in history as capturing the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s final flight from two unique perspectives.  With any luck, the Space Shuttle Atlantis will be documented by future scientists, engineers, and astronauts who wish to take part in NASA’s next generation of manned missions to outer space.

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Joie Montoya

Twitter Influence: the Case Study of @TweetSmarter

May 16, 2011

What does it take to generate a strong Twitter influence?  I could create a list of things that would amount to what it takes to become successful in Twitter and, as a whole, social media.  A general list would contain items such as adding followers, following them back, engaging them in conversation without selling to them, and so forth.  I have come across many of these social media “primers” and most of them are a summary of each others’ articles with slightly different perspectives.  Overall, the primers summarize what has worked on Twitter and social media.

My case study on Twitter Influence takes a different approach.  I will discuss @TweetSmarter, a prominent, highly followed, highly listed and highly influential user on Twitter that applies the basic principles of social media and social networking, but doing so in a very distinct manner.  I will present my findings from what I have learned by following them for quite some time as well as example tweets that justify my findings.

What does it take to generate a strong Twitter influence?  By following Dave and Sarah Larson, the husband-and-wife team behind the Twitter user, @TweetSmarter, I learned what it took for them to become a strong influence on Twitter.@TweetSmarter

I would describe TweetSmarter as a reliable source of information for topics ranging from Twitter, social media, and tech news, among other topics.  The manner in which they are a source of information is intriguing, to say the least, but also painstaking and selective, thereby contributing to their trustworthiness.  Dave and Sarah Larson, the husband-and-wife team behind TweetSmarter, are also responsive to people who have questions and concerns about Twitter.

What they do

  • They scour social media and tech websites as well as tweets linking to noteworthy articles.
  • If they find an article from a website, they produce a shortcut link through or and tweet the article to their followers.
  • If they find an article from a tweet, they click through the original shortcut link for it, produce a shortcut link for the original URL of the article via, and retweet the article to their followers.  Almost all of the time, they remove the user or users of the original (re)tweet so that the headline and link stand out.  This move also helps them retain their position as an information source despite the authorship of the articles.

On an aside, creating their own shortcut links for all of their tweets allows them to track them all.  Data is king, especially for Twitter analytics.

Why this is significant

TweetSmarter does not tweet links haphazardly.  They make sure that each article is reflective of the type and quality of information they set out to provide their followers.  In a sense, they do retweet articles, but gradually and selectively.  Following TweetSmarter would create much added value to your knowledge about Twitter and social media.

Here is a sample of the tweets they post:

As you can see, their tweets use the shortcut link,, and are geared especially towards social media, but not exclusively.  They post occasional tweets about other topics, and the following tweet illustrates two exceptions at once: the subject matter is decidedly not about social media (but it is a worthy cause), and they retain @zaibatsu, the source of the tweet:

Hundreds of thousands of their followers, including myself, are fully aware of the added value that TweetSmarter provides to our knowledge about social media and are quick to retweet their tweets, seemingly as soon as they send it out.  Users like TweetSmarter that do not have to beg their followers to retweet a tweet (e.g. PLS RT) exert a very strong Twitter Influence.

What lessons have I learned about creating a strong Twitter Influence by following TweetSmarter?

  • Be a source of information.
  • Retweet sources of information.
  • Make the topics or subject matters you will likely tweet about very clear, and tweet consistently about them.
  • Engage your followers, and they will return the favor.
  • Recognize the followers who retweet your tweets.

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Francis Unson

The Social Media Evolution – Part 2: The Social Media Plan

July 22, 2010

Why has social media secured a firm hold in our personal and professional lives?  One of the main reasons involves the role that online communication tools had played in the past and the expansion of that role over time.  Online communication tools such as email, messaging services, and social networking sites were originally designed to keep friends and family in touch with one another.  Over time, businesses began using these tools to communicate with customers and peers.  Social media, while offering the immediacy of email, also allowed businesses to maintain a public dialogue with existing customers, new customers, suppliers, and the competition.  For customer-oriented businesses, social media can provide businesses a progressive, proactive edge in developing customer rapport.  The marketing role that social media provides, therefore, must be treated seriously and that a thorough, well-thought out social media plan must be put in place so that businesses make the most of their time and effort.  The previous blog, “The Social Media Evolution – Part 1: Understanding Social Media”,  dealt with understanding social media regardless of technical background.  This blog deals with the concerted effort to design and implement a social media plan once everybody in a business has been educated about social media.  If management or your employees have varying degrees of experience with social media, I highly recommend reading Part 1 first.

"The Social Media Evolution – Part 2: The Social Media Plan", deals with the concerted effort to design and implement a social media plan once everybody in a business has been educated about social media.In order to make the most of social media marketing, companies must create a social media plan, tailor-made to the organizational culture of the company as well as its industry.  Social media marketing plans should look very familiar in language and tone to marketers who write marketing plans for their companies.  When business owners, managers, and employees create a social media plan, they should treat it as an extension of the current marketing plan.  There are 14 things that companies must consider when creating their social media marketing plan:

Identifying the marketing needs the business would like to address with social media

Simply put, businesses exist to make money, so they must consider if investing additional time and money to create a social media campaign would help them generate even more revenue.  They should understand the tangible business goals that social media can help the company achieve, which include:

  • Building brand awareness and reinforcing it
  • Building and strengthening relationships with clients, prospects, and influencers
  • Better understanding of the buyers
  • How to improve customer service
  • Identifying new product ideas
  • Promoting offers
  • Increasing website traffic
  • Improving search engine rankings
  • Driving traffic to trade show displays at events
  • Generating leads
  • Generating sales

Generate a timeline

"The Social Media Evolution – Part 2: The Social Media Plan", deals with the concerted effort to design and implement a social media plan once everybody in a business has been educated about social media.

Pushing business owners or employees to create a social media plan should not take an indeterminate amount of time.  Management will let everybody know that.  In order for a business to achieve measurable results with their social media plan within a reasonable amount of time, they should create a timeline of activities that will give management a better idea of what activities will be done and when.  This timeline should include how much time it will take to:

  • Define goals, objectives, and strategies
  • Train the company on social media
  • Determine if either an internal social media team, external social media consultant, or both, are necessary
  • Setup accounts on social media websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.  Depending on the size of the company or purpose of the account, more than one Twitter account maybe necessary.
  • Find existing communities of clients, prospects, and influencers on the aforementioned social media websites, niche social media sites, and established industry blogger sites.
  • Setup the company blog
  • Listen to each online community
  • Develop a following
  • Create content, such as an ongoing blog, videos, articles, podcasts, and others
  • Learn time-saving tools such as RSS feeds, Technorati, HootSuite,, and others

Regular, pre-scheduled progress reports will inform management that the company is staying on track or, at least, help them better understand what is involved.  Progress reports should explain any or all of the following:

  • How much of the social media plan is completed
  • What part of the plan is currently in progress
  • What work remains to be done
  • What problems or unexpected things have arisen, if any
  • How the plan is going overall

Plan the resource requirements

"The Social Media Evolution – Part 2: The Social Media Plan", deals with the concerted effort to design and implement a social media plan once everybody in a business has been educated about social media.Social media marketing is an extension of the company’s current marketing plan, so the company must be prepared to invest additional resources such as time and money.  They must address the following issues:

  • How much time can the company afford to dedicate to building a social media presence?
  • How will the company respond to feedback, whether it is positive, negative, or just an enquiry?
  • What tools can the business use to monitor their presence effectively?

Companies should realize that social media marketing is dynamic, communicative, and, often times, visual in nature, so they may require a host of additional resources such as:

  • Additional help such as training, people’s time, or a budget to pay for consultants
  • Additional tools such as web hosting, a digital camera, video camera or webcam, or web applications
  • Additional communications tools such as a laptop with broadband access or a smart phone with an unlimited web access plan

A word to the wise: If possible, a company should do a casual inventory of its own resources (as opposed to doing full-fledged inventory) before making any social media-related purchases.  Businesses may save hundreds or even thousands of dollars if they already have some of the requested resources on hand.  Additionally, asking management to share their buy-in with a proposed social media plan can help gain more cooperation from the rest of the company.

Who should be involved in coordinating the social media plan for the company?

"The Social Media Evolution – Part 2: The Social Media Plan", deals with the concerted effort to design and implement a social media plan once everybody in a business has been educated about social media.As stated previously, companies must decide whether to deploy an internal social media team, hire an external social media consultant, or both.  If companies have not engaged in the activities to introduce social media to its employees as described in Part 1, social media consultants may help straighten the learning curve by training the company’s employees and help identify online communities where potential clients already gather.  However, I would recommend that the business owners, management, and employees engage in social media activities as described in my previous blog so that everybody in the company who has learned about social media together can create the social media plan together and give the company’s online presence an authentic voice.

Understanding the customers’ needs and how social media can address them

Beyond the purchase of merchandise or services rendered, companies can reach out to their customers with social media and provide added value to the overall service they received.  For example, customers may need easier access to product information or better after-sales service.  Companies need to determine what their customers find interesting about them and engage in conversation with them, steering clear from broadcasting sales pitches.  Customers contact a company because they have questions about a product or service and social media gives companies the chance to become an interactive knowledge base.  Some products or services may produce more discussion than others, so companies must act accordingly and add more specialists about the subject or expand the company’s knowledge base as needed.

Where can companies find their customers in social media?

Companies must spend the time researching where they can find new and existing customers by going to social networking sites.  Consumers and business customers probably use different platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, respectively.  Successful businesses invest in social media platforms that actually reach their customers.

Is the competition using social media to market their business?

Business owners and managers should evaluate their competitors, especially those who are using social media as part of their marketing, and determine whether or not they are doing so successfully.  A lot can be learned by studying the businesses that used social media marketing and succeeded — and failed.

The social media platforms that address your customers’ needs

"The Social Media Evolution – Part 2: The Social Media Plan", deals with the concerted effort to design and implement a social media plan once everybody in a business has been educated about social media.Once companies develop an understanding of their customers’ needs that social media can address, they must determine the most appropriate social media platform to reach them.  The social networking culture is developed by none other than its users (e.g. professionals or business owners on LinkedIn vs. a virtual gathering of one’s social life on Facebook), so companies should take the time to understand the culture first and develop a plan accordingly.  Even though social media marketing uses a wide range of communication tools to promote a business, management must decide which types of social media would work best for the company.  Some trial-and-error maybe necessary to determine what works best for the company and whether or not the communication tools used helps the company address their customer’s needs.  There are five types of social media to choose from:


Twitter, a very popular microblogging website, allows businesses to broadcast instant, public, and succinct 140-character messages (or “Tweets”) with links to websites, pictures, or videos.  Due to the public nature of this form of social media, people who receive the Tweet have the chance to respond publicly as well, thereby, engaging in a dialogue with the business or even joining an online conversation with other people who also received the Tweet.


Writing a blog is similar to writing a diary or journal entry.  An extension of microblogging, writing blogs allows a business to write longer entries and for specific, business-related reasons.  The CEO, for example, may write one blog entry at the end of the month to discuss how well the company performed during the month.  A manager, on the other hand, may focus their blogs on customer service and write one or two blogs per week.  Readers are particularly responsive to blogs that have a personal touch and offer compelling opinions.  The ROI of management’s time to write a thoughtful blog is high: many blog websites are free.  The freedom to write longer, however, does not mean that a company’s blog writers should write long.  Bloggers within a community should grab the target reader’s attention and keep them interested with short blog entries.

Social networking sites

There are many social networking websites online.  Some were created for a particular country, professionals, or demographic.  As I noted in the previous blog, Facebook is, by far, the most popular social networking site with about 500 million users.  Even though Facebook started out as a social networking site for consumers, businesses have created successful social media campaigns on the site, as well.  The previous blog also noted LinkedIn, a social networking website geared towards white collared professionals, and has over 70 million users.  The choice of social networking sites that a business joins depends largely on whether their target audience or business contacts is present on those sites.

Discussion forums

Internet forums, or message boards, are online discussion sites.  They provide people a place to give feedback about a business’ products or services.  Well-structured and controlled forums allow businesses the opportunity to reach out to their customers and encourage them to use the forum to ask questions, make comments, or voice complains.  Forum moderators well versed in customer service can direct a company’s forum towards generating positive word-of-mouth recommendations for the business.  They must steer clear from using the forums for advertising or overt sales pitches or else, forum users will turn against the business.

Bookmarking and information-sharing tools

If a business needs to create a “buzz” about a new product or service launch, social bookmarking and information-sharing tools, such StumbleUpon or Reddit, can help.  These services allow users to mark web pages that they consider “interesting” and would like to recommend to others.  The number of recommendations is aggregated by the service in real time, allowing users of the service to see what their peers considering noteworthy at any given moment.  While company websites by themselves should not be promoted with these services, companies can announce new products or services with these tools.

Social media’s immediacy and flexibility allows companies to use it for a variety of marketing purposes such as:

  • Promoting time-limited special offers, especially through microblogging sites such as Twitter.
  • Carrying out market research by inviting and encouraging feedback, especially through blogs.
  • Providing direct access for customers to the company’s PR, particularly through microblogging sites.
  • Establishing a reputation as a customer-focused business, committed to service and/or communication with customers, using a forum to accomplish this goal.
  • Taking a proactive and vocal role in the company’s industry, participating in profile-raising, industry-wide debates and initiatives, by posting regularly on industry-wide forums or blogs with constructive suggestions.
  • Cementing relationships with existing suppliers, creating referrals for those who earned your goodwill, and reading other business’ referrals to build relationships with new suppliers.

Companies must understand that the medium and message go hand-in-hand.  Effective marketing starts not only with sending the right message to the target market, but using the correct channel to reach them, as well.  For example, the use of Twitter in a target market that does not use it would render the marketing campaign ineffective.  On the other hand, companies that aim to make connections with other companies should take their marketing campaign to professional-oriented social networking sites such as LinkedIn.  Successful businesses take the time to learn which demographics use which social networking sites and create marketing campaigns geared towards each target audience.

Get SMART and create a measurement plan

In order for businesses to measure the success of their social media plan or return on investment, they must create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) objectives and make sure that any marketing activity is tied to at least one of these objectives, separating hard targets (e.g. sales) from soft targets (e.g. creating new relationships).  Companies should setup tools such as web analytics, customer service, or call centers, in order to help measure the success of each criterion on each social media platform.

Create an integrated communication plan

"The Social Media Evolution – Part 2: The Social Media Plan", deals with the concerted effort to design and implement a social media plan once everybody in a business has been educated about social media.Companies must come to an understanding that social media marketing is not meant to replace existing, traditional marketing plans.  In fact, social media may encourage businesses to reevaluate existing market channels.  When businesses use social media, they should determine how they can promote conversation and sales-oriented messages through their existing marketing channels.  A company’s social media presence may complement existing marketing channels and conflict with others.  It maybe tempting to think that social media marketing can replace existing marketing activities completely, but companies that do so could miss out on targeting a demographic that chooses not to use social media at all.  However, social media marketing can replace existing marketing activities if and only if the business targeted just social media users.

Create a strong profile on the chosen social media platform

Creating a strong social media platform includes conveying essential information about the business as well as an image that they want to promote, particularly any existing visual branding.  Brand ambassadors and key contributors can add to a company’s profile significantly.  Businesses that identify these types of users early should engage with them, one-on-one if necessary, talk to them, get to know them, and encourage them to promote the company’s brand, providing them with tools to share the company’s content across their networks.

Content is king

"The Social Media Evolution – Part 2: The Social Media Plan", deals with the concerted effort to design and implement a social media plan once everybody in a business has been educated about social media.The Internet’s commercialization and the number of companies that do business online means that companies must have some kind of online presence in order to survive.  However, websites cannot be treated like a washer or dryer, where a person sets it and forgets it.  Businesses should include in their social media plan a schedule for providing relevant website or blog content that is updated regularly.  Websites such as affiliate or e-commerce sites, or graphics intensive sites, require fresh content periodically.  On the other hand, the content from public discussion forums, news sites, and blogs is generated by its users or writers.  Companies should integrate the content with their website so that both traditional and social media-oriented customers can benefit from it, taking great care to apply search engine optimization (SEO) practices to maximize the visibility of the website in organic search engine results.  Since the content sells the company and its products and services, the company must make sure that the marketing messages delivered to their customers are informative, engaging, and relevant.  If businesses share their knowledge and expertise outright, they can avoid making persistent, unsolicited broadcasts or hard, pressing sales messages.

Respond to all feedback

Despite following the best business practices and receiving an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, companies should realize that some critical, negative, or even controversial feedback is likely from some customers.  A company’s social media plan should outline how to deal with any and all types of feedback from its customers.  Companies that respond promptly give them the chance to build their profile and credibility.  On the other hand, companies that respond slowly or just as critically, brush aside or suppress a complaint, or worse, edit or delete a negative or controversial comment, can damage the company’s profile significantly.

Monitor, evaluate, respond, adapt, and evolve

Social media has been and will always remain dynamic.  Companies must keep that in mind as they roll out their social media plan, so they must monitor their social media use, measure their progress, and make changes to their approach if it proves ineffective.  Communities and the people in them evolve every day according to their needs and desires, so companies must keep in touch with them.  A target audience may move from one social media site to another, so companies must be willing to move with them.  Companies should perform a progress report every month, quarter, or semiannually and evaluate the performance of the social media plan against the objectives and goals set before the plan’s implementation.  With the use of available measuring tools, keeping an open ear to customer feedback, and using all sources of information available to them, companies should be able to identify ways to improve their engagement.  Most importantly, the company must monitor their brand and act when there is conversation happening that they can add value to and influence.

When a company decides that they can reap from the benefits of integrating a social media marketing plan into their daily operations, they must not lose sight of why they are around.  Companies exist to do business with other companies and consumers.  Their success is due in part to following sound business practices and sticking to carefully laid-out plans that brought the company prosperity over the years.  Even though social media has been around, integrating it into a company’s daily operations is relatively new and, as such, fraught with peril.  Business owners, managers, and employees most likely have different levels of casual experience with social media and its communication tools, so putting them on the same page about social media (vis-à-vis , Part 1: Understanding Social Media) was necessary before setting out to create a formal social media plan.  Everyone in the company would play a part in creating the plan: managers, creating a timeline of activities that must be done; marketers, identifying the marketing needs that social media can address; employees, proposing resource upgrades that can help the company follow through with the plan successfully.  The customers whom they are serving can tell the company what they are doing right or wrong and make changes accordingly.  The company can turn their most ardent or vocal supporters into brand ambassadors and push forward the company brand.  In order for a company to experience continued success with social media, they must be willing to move with the ebb and flow of its customers.  Successful social media plans are not set in stone; they never stop listening to the customers or the company that created it.

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Francis M. Unson

The Social Media Evolution – Part 1: Understanding Social Media

July 8, 2010

Social media has shifted how businesses interact with their customers as well as each other.  The number of people on social networking websites are staggering: Twitter, for example, boasts nearly 200 million users while the number of users on Facebook totals half a billion.  Despite the large numbers of users on these two social networking websites alone (the thousands of other such websites notwithstanding), many owners and managers of small businesses do not know how social media can help their business, and precious few have anything resembling an effective and well-thought out social media plan (the subsequent blog, The Social Media Evolution – Part 2: The Social Media Plan, covers this).  The blog focuses on how business owners, managers, and employees can gain a better understanding of social media, and how it can help expand existing business practices.

Social media has shifted how businesses interact with their customers as well as each other.  The blog focuses on how business owners, managers, and employees can gain a better understanding of social media, how it can help expand existing business practices, and the marketing activities that social media allows businesses to carry out.Why should business owners and managers even bother to look into social media for their business?  For starters, if they do not create a social media presence in the networks where their existing customers are located, they miss out not only on positive feedback that those customers may provide unsolicited and publicly, but they also miss out on gaining potential customers who observe the interactions and feel as though they can trust the business even before the first transaction.  In Facebook or Twitter, where the interactions between business owners or managers and their customers are posted or Tweeted for the world to see, brand-building, brand marketing and great customer service are some of the many social media building blocks for businesses to build a lasting foundation with customers or other businesses.

Given the vast number of social media tools and social networking websites to choose from, making the jump into social media may seem overwhelming for some business owners.  However, if they have a Facebook or Twitter account for personal reasons, they have already taken the first step.  Therefore, business owners who have unwittingly taken this first step just need to apply what they already know from personal experience to their business.

Social media has shifted how businesses interact with their customers as well as each other.  The blog focuses on how business owners, managers, and employees can gain a better understanding of social media, how it can help expand existing business practices, and the marketing activities that social media allows businesses to carry out.However, what if business owners have never used social media, even for themselves?  Of course, the move towards social media would be more intimidating at any level.  In order to help business owners understand what social media can do for their business, we must put aside any technical discussion and, instead, highlight how social media extends existing business practicesHector Jarquin notes five of these extensions.

Extended business relationship

Traditional customer service involves interaction between store employees and the customer, where the customer makes inquiries about special offers or has questions or comments about the good or services.  Social media allows business owners and managers to join the conversation, building relationships with new or existing patrons.

Extended way of communication

The two-way nature of social media helps people create a better understanding about the business.

Extended way of referrals

Even if business owners have not created an online presence for their company, business referrals on websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp have probably created the online presence of the business but to a smaller degree.  These websites help people share their opinions about the business with friends and strangers, with tools available to business owners who wish to manage comments and opinions about the business.

Extended brand awareness

Social media offers business owners more control over their brand, giving customers greater insight into their business over the competition.

Extended way of sharing an opinion

Hector summed it up best: interact, participate, share, discover.  Engage with the people in your industry.

Social media has shifted how businesses interact with their customers as well as each other.  The blog focuses on how business owners, managers, and employees can gain a better understanding of social media, how it can help expand existing business practices, and the marketing activities that social media allows businesses to carry out.While business owners and managers slowly warm up to the idea of social media for the business, their diverse employees have probably used social media in equally varying degrees.  Not surprisingly, older employees may have limited exposure to social media while younger employees are probably glued to Facebook and Twitter on their cell phones during break or lunch time.  Business owners and managers who become aware of their younger employees’ social media savviness may turn to them to introduce social media to the rest of their, otherwise, social media-mute colleagues.  Jessica Stillman lists seven creative suggestions to get employees involved in social media without being technical.

Start an education campaign

Knowledge is power, especially if trade publications the business subscribes to feature articles about social media and how it is used in business or for entertainment.  Print these articles and leave them for the employees to read with a note saying, “Thought you would find this interesting.”  Follow up personally a day or two later and field any questions or comments the employees may have.

Team up with internal and external social media users

Starting a dialogue with other social media-savvy employees allows the like-minded group to engage in thoughtful conversation about how the use of social media tools could impact the business, making it easier to have similar conversations with the rest of the not-so-savvy employees.

Suggest social media solutions

Look for opportunities to add a social media component when discussing solutions to meet training needs.

Help stretch the budget by using a “free” option

Most social media tools available today are free.  Yes, free!  Nothing sounds sweeter to budget-conscious business owners and managers than the sound of that word.  Zero or near-zero cost of any new program implemented by a business is almost unheard of, but social media is a rare exception.

Take a look at the market relationship of your competitors

The public nature of social media allows business owners and managers to take a glimpse at the competition and see what people are saying about them, thereby extending their business relationship with their customers.  Business owners and managers must realize that introducing a social media plan for their own business will yield similar benefits.

Invite your co-workers to your social networks

Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn but your employees or co-workers are not?  Invite them!  You will be one of their first contacts.  Once they sign up, give them a personal tour of the social networking sites.

Give the gift of social media

If your company has strict rules limiting the number of photocopies you’re allowed to make (see “Start an education campaign”), giving books about social media to your boss, co-workers, or employees, especially during Christmas and the Holiday season, may help nudge them towards optimizing the business with social media.

Finally, after months of internal campaigns about social media with the business owners, managers, and employees, the business can move forward and apply social media marketing tools, confident that those within the organization are more or less on the same page.  The social media-savvy in the company have made everybody else social media-conscious at the very least.  Business owners and managers can now begin to create an effective social media plan.

Social media has shifted how businesses interact with their customers as well as each other.  The blog focuses on how business owners, managers, and employees can gain a better understanding of social media, how it can help expand existing business practices, and the marketing activities that social media allows businesses to carry out.Before business owners and managers join a social networking site, let’s explore the three most viable options available to them from a business standpoint.  Facebook, by and large, is the most popular social networking website with over 500 million users worldwide.  A potential customer base of half a billion people can really help a business take off if business owners and managers put together a successful social media campaign.  Twitter comes in second with nearly 200 million users worldwide.  Used properly, the microblobbing site can generate buzz about upcoming events, limited time offers, and special deals, often available only to customers who follow the company’s Twitter account.  LinkedIn, with over 70 million users, helps users hunt for jobs and recruit new employees, as well as carry out tasks such as researching companies and prospecting for deals.  The social networking website provides a place where white-collar professionals can communicate with one another.

Meanwhile, the wide range of marketing activities that social media allows businesses to carry out include but are not limited to:

  • Reaching customers and prospects online
  • Raising the company profile and enhancing the business’ brand reputation
  • Strengthening customer relationships
  • Demonstrating the business owner’s expertise, commitment, and passion
  • Improving business owner’s understanding of industry issues and trends
  • Meeting people who can help develop the business
  • Enhancing customer service
  • Boosting traffic to the website
  • Testing new ideas and finding out what people think about the business
  • Seeing what competitors are up to
  • Improving sales

Social media is a dynamic field.  While the tools change over time and the social media plan of one company should not be followed, verbatim, by another company, the basic understanding of social media in regards to how it extends existing business practices remains the same.  Given the varying degrees of familiarity that employees, management, or business owners may have with social media, non-technical campaigns maybe necessary at first to get the company on the same page.  Once everyone in the company is sufficiently versed in social media, business owners and management can team up with their employees and set out to create a social media plan tailor-made for and by the company itself.

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Francis M. Unson