Archiv der Kategorie ‘Business Blogging‘

 
 

‘The Social Media Question’ – PowerPoint Presentation for download

The Realitus Social Media Question presentation was created in conjunction with a test site (trialzone.co.uk) as a broad overview of the Social Media phenomenon and illustrates the way connectivity, user generated content and viral dynamics operate through social media. You are free to use it with the proviso that it must be credited on any reproduction of the content, verbally in presentation and as a printed credit otherwise.

Download Link (Warning this file is about 62 Mb)

NB: About Trialzone.co.uk

Trialzone.co.uk is a live presentation (and occasional test environment) which we have used as a live site during client presentations. The site itself is largely filled with placeholder content or RSS imported content and has been set up so as to not appear through search engines. In this way any imported content will be viewed as duplicate content anywhere on the web.

The Benefits of Social Media

The benefits of running Social Media are initially ‘soft’ benefits. Accumulated, these benefits build to reinforce you, your company and your ideas as good, strong and worth heeding. Benefits of social media would therefore include:

  • People purchase from a trusted source
  • If you ‘know’ an expert you take their advice. You trust their decisions and you act accordingly.
  • Free Advertising
  • Customers that evangelise your product.
  • Repeated and permanent mentions of your web site and product on the web
  • Free Gigantic Focus Groups
  • Discussing of the pros and cons of your products in
    Blogs
    Forums
    Microblogs
    OnLine Mainstream Press
    Review Sites
  • Detailed Customer Behavior Info:
    Conversion rates from specific campaigns
    Community response to specific campaigns
    Sites where conversations about your product occur
    Sites where traffic to your site originates
    Purchasing behavior in your store
    Products affiliates will group your products with
  • Relevant Ideas:
    New product ideas
    New campaign ideas
    Product improvement ideas
    Packaging ideas
    Partnership ideas
    Sales Channel ideas
    Ideas generation (the more people the more ideas)
  • Credibility:
    Recognition of company and staff as experts
    Recognition of company and staff as people (trustworthy)
  • Naturally Occurring and Unexpected Sales Channels:
    Sales can now flow from anywhere, based on the networks of your new evangelists. (e.g. one of your products is for e.g. a disabled person. One of your followers thinks it is really good. They may well be part of all the disabled groups and users on the social media networks. By leaving a good comment about you on your faceBook page, all their connections see it also. Suddenly you have lots of free exposure to exactly the right people voiced by exactly the right person)

Objective

More business
Targetted visitors
More market information
Better search engine placement against a range of search terms
Brand development online
Credibity of brand and personalisation of the organisation
Elevate Westland above competitors and ‘claim the online gradening space’
Establish Westland as ‘The’ online gardening people

The main benefit is in and around the brand. It establishes your company as the easiest and best resource for expertise. If you are first onlne and you get it right, it creates barriers to competitors. It sets a standard and owns the relationship as contacts are established and become direct marketing contacts.

Social Media for Business

Social Media is problematic for business. Business websites are being circumvented in favour of information available through social media sites. Information given freely through a social network is likely to be trusted while there is a cynicism associated with corporate information. Social Media can make marketing control difficult: It is viral and bad news can travel fast; subject related traffic can create competition in search engines for keywords; more dynamic competitors can steal a march. However, the medium is established. It’s use is growing exponentially.

In 2008 Forester reported that:

Employers are finding the benefits of using social media: 63 percent are using social media to build and promote their brand, 61 percent are using it to improve communication and collaboration, and 58 percent are using it to increase consumer engagement;

75 percent of employees are already using social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn for business purposes, up 15 percent from 2007;

Use of internal-facing communities is on the rise with 6 percent of organizations already reporting they deployed internal-facing communities, while 33 percent indicate their organization plans to implement internal-facing social media initiatives;

Similarly, external-facing communities are increasing: 27 percent of respondents said their companies were planning to deploy external-facing communities while only 13 percent indicated their organisations already have external-facing communities;

Online communities directed at specific interests and groups of people allow for more targeted marketing techniques and better results so for this reason 37 percent of organisations have specific areas of focus for their communities.

Business opportunities through Social Media

There are business opportunities through Social Media. Popular bloggers, like journalists and magazines, have their followers. They might be considered influencers from a commercial perspective and it is worth building a relationship with them. They are however not journalists or magazines and it is not necessarily wise to assume that cosying up to a popular blogger will do anything positive for your products or yoiur brand – the opposite can happen.

More certain is a social media strategy based upon engagement and participation. It is possible to extend the functionality of a WordPress website, publish content to it and have that information automatically appear across a range of social media sites such as FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others. These posts should be complimented with dedicated activity on these media.

Openness and honesty are the watchwords of social media. Companies who have actively ecouraged their stasff to have social media accounts in the their company name and to use them come across as straight, honest companies airing their openness. Others will deliver through a social media persona operating for a company within the ‘social media sphere’. It might be a real person, it might be lots of information being fed through a single persona and it might be ghost written. Some of this does not sound completely truthful of honest, but it is a practical way around getting things written well, put in places where it will count and actually getting created at all after the first initial flush of activity has died down.

Typically (not exclusively) a busines social media campaign might involve :

  • Running a subject based blog
  • Entering subject related debates/forums/user-groups online
  • Seek to achieve positive ‘redistribution’ of the information
  • Posting tagged content on Flickr, YouTube, iTunes etc.
  • Creating Twitter, Facebook and other accounts
  • Linking all this together so that you can post the information in one place and it then distributes itself either automatically, or through others passing the word on.
  • Engaging in the ebb and flo of information online – even if it is not specifically about your subject. This is social media not corporate media

The general objective of a social media presence would be to:

  • Generate a following
  • Branding (as in promoting the correct perception of your company)
  • Have a direct relationship with a highly targetted audience
  • Establish a definitive position on the web
  • Build backlinks
  • Create a networked critical mass of activity and content
  • Become a trusted part of ‘the community’
  • Initiate viral distribution
  • Initiate a response

What is Social Media?

Social Media is a part of what has become known as Web 2.0. Web 1.0 would describe static websites where information flows one-way from website to reader and any dynamic functionality tends to be socially remote (forms, transactional etc.).

Web 2.0 broadly refers to a trend where the reader has turned publisher. Early examples were forums, still popular for Q&A research. An example of a Web 2.0 site would be Wikipedia. A reader can seek encyclopaedic information on a subject. Any reader can amend and add to the definitions on Wikipedia. The body of knowledge is created and maintained by readers not a central authority.

Social networking refers to self-published content and sites where content is contributed by many and read by many. They gravitate around social relationships or topics of common interest. There are platforms such as Facebook and MySpace, but the platform owners do not publish, they simply provide a place for others to publish and functionality to allow subscribers to share their content with others either openly or in defined groups.

Text, Images, Video and Audio

Since the web is easily able to accommodate media such as audio, images and video as well as text, social sites supporting these media have emerged. Well known sites would be Flickr, YouTube and iTunes. YouTube as an example allows you to create and post video, keep multiple videos in personal collections, tag with keywords and make the video available for rating and search by viewers both from within YouTube and through search engines.

Other social media activities have sprung up such as microblogging, primarily Twitter where users will publish small snippets of content. Content is published often frequently, either spuriously about mundane things or as a type of short-hand logging of information around subjects, conferences, projects and so on and as short cuts to more comprehensive articles on websites. Users follow and get followed by other users and in addition users will follow subject based posts and search for posts on a subject within the system.

Blogs

Perhaps most importantly, blogs have formed one of the foundation stones of social media. A blog is a ready-to-run website designed to take diarised content and index it by date and subject. Blogs can be centrally hosted or self-hosted. They are simple to use and platforms such as WordPress are ‘open source’ providing complete access to the code for the site, its underlying system and the way it operates. WordPress therefore allows a designer to turn a blog into a website yet retain all the linking potency of the original blog. Customisation, redesign and functionality extension is relatively simple for a designer. It means that anyone can have a website and easily create content. Part of the dynamic is the ability to link blogs to social media platforms and social media platforms to each other.

In addition a series of social media support functions have appeared. It has its own search and referencing sites, both as a central resource in the form of Technorati and also in the form of sites such as Digg and Delicious where readers inform these platforms about ‘good’ content. Links created on these sites are becoming trusted reference points and there is some suggestion that Google reflects this in its algorithms

Web 2.0: In case you wondered what it was all about

Most people have lives. they are interested in real things and every now and then a computer generated buzz phrase rises without trace and everyone expects you to know what it’s all about. One of the recent ones is ‘Web 2.0′ (pronounced “web two point oh”

Web 2.0 is a techie joke for and by techies. If you’ve ever tried to hold a conversation with a computer programmer, you’ll realise what an oxymoron the term ‘techie joke is’. The side splittingly funny thing is that when you release a piece of software it is called ‘software 1.0′ minor patches and upgrades will be given the suffix 1.1, 1.2, 1.2.1, etc., etc. When a major change, overhaul and shift in the product is released it will be called software 2.o. So there we have it web 2.0 means a major change, overhaul and shift has happened on the web. But we have apparently overhauled and upgraded ourselves as much as anything else, because web 2.0 describes both new types of web sites and recognises that people are using the web in a different way. Now take some time to breathe deeply and get over the uncontrollable laughter.

Back in the day you could have a web site and tell the world to buy your stuff. You could sell from it and make lots of other things happen, including inviting two way dialogue with customers and others.

Then sites which specialised in two way dialogue appeared. You have probably heard about FaceBook and MySpace. But other sites were also doing it – forums and wikis. These days if you want to find out about something, you will often look it up on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. If you disagree with the definition, you can change it, add to it or create a new entry for the world to see. If you want to find out if a product is any good, you don’t go t their website – that is just propaganda. You do a search and look on a  series of forums or blogs and find out exactly what is being said then make your purchasing decision.

This new generation of websites that enable conversation and content sharing both underpins and is web 2.0.

And there are lots of these things. Twitter to microblog, from your Flickr for pictures, Vimeo, Delicious. You really Digg it if you want to. So how do you work out what is relevant for your business?

Building an effective presence for your brand online these days requires far more than a brochure-style website. Yoiu need a web strategy – a series of activities designed to achieve something beyond workds and pictures on a screen. When you consider that the web is built on technology primarily designed for communication, it makes sense that the exchange of information should be two-way  i.e  what web 2.0 does.

David Yates, the MD and founder of Realitus, has found such tools invaluable. “I use all these tools to build up my personal brand and move my message beyond my own website and onto places where people I want to communicate are likely to be.”

Finding the right medium

Video might be very useful for some people but her style is more “wordy”, he explains. It’s important to find a channel which you’re comfortable with. It’s perhaps no co-incidence that David Cameron appears far more often on the Conservative party’s YouTube page than Gordon Brown does on the Labour party one.

Whether one person in your business is involved or many, a blog is a great way of communicating with your customers, potential customers and peers, and getting feedback from them. Remember: communication is a two-way thing. There’s no point in having a blog if you don’t allow people to comment on what you’ve said, or (almost as bad) don’t reply to some of those comments.

Talking about Twitter

Twitter is a fascinating tool that takes some getting used to, but has a large and growing group of fans who swear by it. It works rather like a very large, open version of an instant messenger programme. You can build up a list of interesting Twitterers to follow and some will start following you. You can post questions and interesting links, or give advice and discuss topical issues (in 140 characters or fewer. Brevity is crucial in the Twitterverse).

Twitter has around six million users, and there are hundreds of brands using the service including WholeFoods, JetBlue and Dell. Just as with blogging, Twitter provides a platform for you to talk to people with the same interests as you and build credibility for you and your work.

Keegan has found that the service is a lifeline if you work at home or in a small office – it can act as a virtual water cooler so you can chat with like-minded people about the issues of the day. “There are musicians, researchers, consultants and journalists using Twitter – it would be churlish to dismiss it as a geek tool,” she says. “We all have technology as a big part of what we do now.”

When we think of social networking sites, Facebook and MySpace usually leap to mind. They’re a great way of sharing photos, videos, links and news with your friends and family, but many people have found it tricky to juggle personal and professional identities on them. You never know who might see those drunken pictures of you with the crazy face paint at that music festival last summer. LinkedIn is a safer option, as it is structured specifically for the business community. It enables you to present your CV well and build up some useful contacts. It also comes with some handy recruitment tools – the site has seen one new member sign up every two seconds since the economic downturn began.

Keegan has overcome the reluctance many feel when dipping their toes into the social networking world: “I think women, in particular, can be more reluctant to reveal details of their personal lives online, though I gave up trying to keep a separation between work and home a long time ago. But it is becoming essential to have a LinkedIn profile … I’ve made between 50 and 100 contacts through the site.”

Don’t fake it

It is hard to generate any direct revenue from social media tools. What they do do, says Keegan, “is create a brand that is front of mind in people’s heads” and cut marketing budgets to a fraction. Above all, many web 2.0 tools are designed for one-to-one interaction, which is why the best examples of their deployment in the corporate world are from articulate, energetic individuals with the skills to write, engage and inspire interest. Hiding behind a brand name just doesn’t work.

There are some other pitfalls to avoid. Andy McLoughlin, the co-founder of Huddle.net, itself a web 2.0 service that provides a web-based collaborative tool for businesses, says: “Don’t do [the online equivalent of] a Gerald Ratner – go on TV and say your customers are bloody idiots.”

Keegan also has some words of warning: “Common mistakes on Facebook and Twitter are people being too pushy – only sending out links to their blog posts and not joining in the conversation.”

It’s also hugely important not to fake it. Don’t pretend to be something, or someone, you’re not. Some very large and (apparently) sophisticated companies have had their fingers burnt trying to fool the online community.

But McLoughlin is adamant that there are few firms who would not benefit from exploring these tools: “Take a long hard look at your business – you are probably spending a lot of time and resources trying to do all these things in a different way. It’s easy to be cynical, but if you’re a very small brand, social media is all you’ve got. Like anything, you will start to see the benefit once you’ve used it for a while.”

It takes skill, patience and no small amount of bravery, but putting yourself out there in the digital space could be the best thing you ever did. Just keep an open mind and enjoy the conversations. You’ll be amazed at what you learn about your industry and your brand.

 

Based on an excellent article in The Guardian 22 January 2009

Corporate Blogs are for PageRank not ChitChat

So you have got yourself a brand new shiny social media consultant. They jump right in talking about corporate blogging as meaningful connection with “the community”. Here’s what you now do: Fire that consultant.

Your corporate blog is wood warpingly, paint dryingly banal and boring to most people, probably including yourself. If not you are wasting your time, because as interesting and concise and readable as you make it, it still won’t be read.

A corporate blog has one main job: distribution. This is not corporate marketing brand distribution through dedicated followers of your worthy blog. No one else finds it interesting – I’ll let you into a secret it is really boring. Take a look at the Google blog now …I bet your back in ten seconds. Its all about ‘Me” as in Google talk about themselves, their products and their greatness. They try to be relaxed and chatty. They come across a anal and a bit boring.  

So if a blog = distribution but not branding? How does that work? PageRank. Use your blog for link-building and SEO.

Take a look at Mint.com’s blog. Mint is a finance tool – software for bookkeeping. Mint publishes massive articles about personal finance to their blog, and have legion readers. Not a bad trick, but the main thing is that their content is useful. It’s a mag about personal finance without the advertisements. Social media channels cannot help but find picks Mint’s content, there is lots of it, mush of it useful and it gets refreshed frequently so it receives lots of inbound links.

Mint milk these inbound links. That’s the trick. At the bottom of every blog post is a list of key words which link to internal pages containing high level snippets about the topic

Mint is maximising their PageRank with the popularity of the blog. If you’re a personal finance website, you will want to optimise around some of these keywords. And it’s really working for them.

Take a look at Google’s Keyword Tool and look at the traffic for these keywords. Then put them into a Google Search and see where Mint appear in the return. Then multiply keyword traffic by the distribution of clicks for the top results in Google, you’ll see that Mint is getting at least 100,000 uniques per month from Google for these keywords.

If you hire a copywriter to post on your own corporate blog, you could achieve the same result. You need a writer whose words are worth reading. A decent freelancer churning a blog post of 1,000 words, at least once per week. 5 posts like this per month will cost £1000 – £2000.

You could buy the traffic from Google by bidding on these keywords. A generous estimate of a bid price for keywords like this is 10p  (if you are lucky). To buy 100,000 uniques would therefore cost you £10,000 per month, and you will not get the PageRank.

Of course, the success of this strategy isn’t as quantifiable as buying ads, but it will get you traffic. Any decent writer will be able to garner attention via social media sites like Digg and Reddit, generating backlinks. All you need to do is find out what keywords to optimise for, and put them in the blog template.

This Article is based on a brilliant article by Ted Dziuba on January 19, 2009

Corporate Blogs: It’s The PageRank, Stupid

Social Notworking (2009 a [My]Space Odyssey)

You know how sometimes you’re out walking the dog when a bunch of alien interlopers abducts you. Before you know it, you’re warped off to the planet Q’Zog in the Fourth Quadrant, your brains picked clean en route, only to have other vile experiments visited upon your person on arrival.

Yeah I know, it happens all the time. So what’s new? Well this week, during one of these otherworldly episodes, my alien hosts subjected me to experiments based on research into web-based social media patterns on Earth. It turns out that a few millennia back they went through the same thing themselves and were interested to see if we were making a mess of it all yet.

Eventually, I cracked under pressure and told them about spontaneous uptake, web 2.0, multi-channel integration, SEO benefits, corporate blogging, Mobile blah, micro blah, digital blah and so on. They rubbed their chins, nodded sagely and did that thing with the sides of their mouths that universally means “If only they’d bothered to ask us, we’d have told them how to avoid getting everything wrong”.

So I did ask them. “Where did social media go wrong for you guys?” Quickly followed by “…and do you mind if I pick your brains for a change ask your advice”. It seemed to do the trick. The big alien, the one who usually does all the cross-species sexual experimentation (but that’s another story) picked up his MacBook Core DecaQuadro, running OSMXM Sabretooth and fired it up. He pressed a few keys and Hey Presto! They launched qzogblog.com and clicked onto the category entitled ‘Social Notworking’.

And they talked me through the tale of woe that once passed for social media on Q’Zog.

Once upon a time the ordinary aliens of QZog found it fun to keep in touch and cement friendships through social media sites. A load of them sprang up – TrouserBook (they use a different body-part for speech and visual recognition), Twaddle (like us, there are lots of them with nothing important to say and they like to say it a lot), Flockr (they like pictures of sheep) and so on. Eventually people thought they could make money out of these sites with PPC and other propositions. In time, corporates started to notice that they were being cut out of the loop. No one was going to their websites to find out about their products. The alien masses were asking each other and liberating their buying habits. So the corporates moved in to try and find a place in this great new SpaceBook. And for a while all was well on QZog. But it didn’t stay that way.

The first problem was all about money; isn’t it always? Social networking, it seems, was just too difficult to monetize. 
Strangely, back on Earth, this dynamic is now beginning to show its face also. Google has begun to make less than optimistic noises about it. Google Chief Financial Officer George Reyes has said. “We have found that social-networking inventory is not monetizing as well as expected”. Which is Earth-speak for “Oh Shit”.

My alien hosts went on to talk about too many players flooding the market. Particularly white labeled channels (i.e. a site full of pre made functions which can be branded so that people can create their own versions of e.g. Facebook). The more this happens, the more dispersed and fractured the user base becomes. And sure enough, free, open source and plentiful white label options have also made it to earth

It was noticeable that my extraterran hosts were pretty ticked off with corporate intervention in social media. Over commercialization was clearly a killer in the Fourth Quadrant. What started out as a one to many tool, became a corporation to consumer tool and all the people got fed up with being sold at and went somewhere else. I thought about this for a while. Surely as social communities form, Earth’s marketers would not dream of piling in, taking over and crapping all over the experience. Would we?

There was a problem as well with inaccurate member data on sites. This is less important to socialization so users didn’t care. Additionally, identity fraud in the fourth quadrant led to users purposely loading inaccurate data. From a commercial perspective, this began to create problems; CRM is only as good as the data validity. All that effort aimed at the wrong people! Strangely, on earth this seems to be happening. Some say as many as 33% of users load duff info into their profile.

Another issue over in the Fourth Quadrant was the difficulty in measuring the effectiveness of these social media strategies. As with earthly hosting, if you want to deploy a campaign via a social network, you can’t access the host’s server data and logs by automatic right. You can manually monitor the interaction on the site, or measure click through, but it is almost akin to redeploying slate and chalk as a core technology.

Data privacy also started to unravel the network. You may think that this could not happen on Earth, what with all the regulatory concern and cautionary tales. But then again,Facebook had already been caught tracking and releasing user habits back to developers and others involved in advertising initiatives. And what if your average Joe Alien wants to leave. Well have you noticed that no matter how often you opt out or don’t opt in, the level of spam keeps going up? You have to think that the data options are being somehow abused. Surely not on Earth? Well think again, it’s a bit like a religious cult. Once you’re in, they don’t let you leave. These are the very things that eventually dissuaded Q’Zogians from joining social media sites and led to their abandonment followed by collapse of the network platforms.

Here’s a new phrase for all of us on Earth: “Social Network Fatigue”. It started on QZog with people getting fed up with maintaining multiple spaces on multiple platforms. It further manifested itself with people just falling out of love with the whole thing because, like nostalgia, it just wasn’t what it used to be. It might not sound like we have that problem down here, but on closer inspection, there are people writing PhD theses about it.

The QZogians also started to experience a slow-down in the use of social media platforms. It peaked over a few years and then declined. Perhaps because of the tedium of the operation, or something else happened, but it stopped being the next best greatest thing.  And, you guessed it …Earth is seeing the same pattern.

The Q’Zogian saga continued to get played to me out like a Greek tragedy. Networks had inconsistent performance, companies got fed up with employees cyber-sciving, so they started locking social media sites outside firewalls. The sites variously suffered: scaling issues; user overload leading to downtime; hacking and scandal. The social media moguls largely fiddled with their Geek-Up PowerPoint presentations while their empires burned.

“So”, I asked. “If you had your time again, how would you make sure that this didn’t happen?”

“Easy” they answered “We could have kept it all together, increased the marketing value to business, re-enfranchised the users and made a packet on the way.  We’ll drop by next week, pick you up and tell you how you get this entire social media gig right.”

“Oh and by the way…” they said as they dropped me back by my still walking dog, “…  Has anyone talked to HP about their pay-per-post digital camera social media campaign on YouTube. It really sucks”

BtoB Marketers finally beginning to find ways to monetize feeds and measure results

RSS could be relevant to BtoB marketers – more relevant to their audiences than other feeds might be for consumers. BtoB marketers could send product updates and announcements, staffing changes-all without inundating their customers and prospects and with 100% guaranteed delivery.

From: http://www.press-feed.com/results/news/news.xml
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RSS as an SEO Strategy

RSS and SEO panel at SES Chicago will be about how to syndicate web content – news, updates, tips etc – to increase search visibility

From: http://www.press-feed.com/results/news/news.xml
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What’s the difference between PRESSfeed and a blog?

Blogs have exploded on the Internet in the past two years. What started out as a personal journal online has evolved into a sophisticated marketing tool. But an online newsroom is just as important. News content in an RSS feed can give you many of the benefits of blogging without the constraints.

From: http://www.press-feed.com/results/news/news.xml
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