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‘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.

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

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