Friday, December 30, 2011

Apples + Social Media Marketing = Success

Social media marketing is good for just about anybody who has anything they want to promote.

Because of its global reach, near instantaneous response capability and flexibility of service, social media marketing is perhaps the very best tool for connecting with customers no matter where they are or what you want to sell them.

In the United States, the first apple trees were planted in Massachusetts by the Pilgrims. Over the next few centuries the commercial apple industry flourished, buoyed no doubt by the promotional efforts of people like Johnny Appleseed, and Benjamin Franklin, who said "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Where once apples were at the top of the heap when it came to having a sweet snack, today they must compete with a cornucopia of processed sweet treats, most of which come in bite-sized pieces. To counter this offensive apple producers have turned to social media to promote the wholesome goodness of a Red Delicious, or any of the hundreds of other apple varieties grown here.

And the effort has paid big dividends.

If you want to see a truly effective, near all-encompassing social media marketing effort, check out what your local apple grower-shipper is doing. Everything from videos of apple processing in action, to Tweets to status updates; no base is left uncovered when it comes to the way they are using social media to enhance their market reach.

This effort is helped along by the consumer emphasis today on knowing exactly where their food comes from; who grew, picked, packed and shipped their apples. By capitalizing on this movement apple growers and shippers are filling a niche that already exists. Using social media marketing to make this happen just made perfect sense.

And it's worked perfectly.

Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, Wash., is another shipper that turns to online video.

“Consumers are always interested to see short videos of what’s going on in the apple orchard or packinghouse now, and we’ve got those posted on our YouTube page,” said Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager at Superfresh Growers.

“The goal of our social media program is to help bring consumers closer to the grower so that they know a family farmer in Washington grows their apples. That we’re not some foreign entity or huge conglomerate.”

Grower-shippers are using social media for other purposes as well, integrating with retail partners’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, holding contests or promoting club varieties.

Click here to read more about apples and social media marketing.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Companies Still Trying To Integrate Social Media

It is not too late to start integrating social media into your company marketing plan. In fact, it's never too late to try something new, even if you believe the trend has already passed.

The fact is, it's not the tools you use, but the way you use them that matters the most. Social media is a great example of this. While many companies have adopted social media marketing as a tool for promoting their brand, their product or themselves, not everyone knows how best to do this so they get the best results.

InSites Consulting, in collaboration with Survey Sampling International, recently released a study that surveyed 400 senior marketers—200 from Britain, 200 from America—to assess what companies are doing to make the most of the consumers' adoption of social as a way to interact with each other, as well as with brands. While over 50 percent of respondents say that their organizations have a presence in various social networks, four in 10 of these senior marketers admit that their company has not engaged in, or has only just begun to integrate their social media efforts with existing marketing and service tactics.

It seems evident from this survey, and the number of dormant social media profiles I see on a daily basis, that not everyone truly understands the nature of social media. If they don't understand the nature of social media they likely don't understand how to use it.

Social media is all about building relationships. That means it requires regular interaction; conversations; sharing news and information that is interesting to the people you want to build relationships with.

Social media marketing should be thought of as a direct response tool. It is more likely to benefit you if you think it more as a tool to increase brand awareness. Not everyone has need of your product or services every minute of the day. Therefore, repeatedly posting links to your web site will not work. However, by increasing your brand awareness, keeping your brand fresh in the minds of as many people as possible as often as possible, when they do need a product or service you offer they are much more likely to think of you.

Integrating social media into your existing marketing plan then becomes one more focused on sharing information and gathering an audience. It does not, and can not, replace traditional marketing efforts, but should instead be used to compliment those efforts. It can also be used to judge the effectiveness of those efforts; the quality of your brand and the ability of your company to mobilize resources.

If you fully understand how social media can and does work you are much more likely to reap the benefits an effectively managed social media marketing campaign can bring.

Click here to read more about social media integration at 1to1 Media.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Google+ Use Continues Climbing

Google CEO Larry Page last reported their new social media service Google+ had about 40 million users, but a new report by Google-watcher Paul Allen says the service now has somewhere in the neighborhood of 62 million users.

When Allen and his team extrapolate their numbers they estimate Google+ will have reached 100 million users by February and 200 million users by August.

My question is, so what? I have a Google+ account. It's ok. I can post stuff, share stuff, add people to Circles; it's essentially a clone of my Facebook account only without the reach. It is nice that Google is uniting all their services under the umbrella of Google+, but I simply do not need another social media network.

The other thing I notice on Google+ is the proliferation of marketers who seem hell-bent on dominating the network. And photographers. I think there are more photographers and marketers using Google+ than any other subset of users (just my opinion.)

In the final analysis, Google+ is not going anywhere. It's definitely not a runaway hit, but it can hardly be classified as a loser either. It's a unifying force for all the various Google tools, and because of that, as long as Google exists, it will continue to grow. Fast or slow, no matter. Eventually, everyone who uses a Google tool will one day be a part of the Google+ system, making the number of users a meaningless statistic.

What will matter to marketers is how effective of a tool it will be in communicating a message, and so far, it is sorely lacking in that department.

What about you? How do you feel about the effectiveness of Google+?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

UK Fully Embraces Social Media Marketing

A recent poll of small and medium-sized businesses in the UK shows that nearly all of them (a whopping 90%) plan to continue spending or increase spending on social media marketing in 2012.

This is the surest sign ever of not only the continued interest in social media marketing but its effectiveness. Companies might spend once to try something out but they certainly won't continue spending on it if they don't see the results they are looking for.

It's like the idiom, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

This poll shows that UK businesses are expecting to see even greater things from the world's. They report seeing increased revenue as a result of social media marketing and an improvement in their online reputation.

Despite these numbers there is still no guarantee that your investment in social media marketing will be as effective or successful. In fact, given the deluge of social media options you stand a pretty good chance of making the wrong choices when it comes to social media marketing, totally missing your targeted demographic and seeing little or no revenue as a result of your efforts. It is also quite possible that your social media marketing efforts could backfire and hurt your reputation more than it helps.

Like everything in life, the more precise and exact your efforts the more likely you are to get the results you want. In 2012 the UK might look like a great place for social media marketers to set up shop, but it doesn't mean every one of them will do their job correctly.

Marketing has been around for as long as we have had goods to trade. Not all of those efforts have been successful, however, and this is obvious to anyone who follows business trends. The history of marketing is filled with failed campaigns. Magazine ads which turned off more readers than it was expected too; television commercials that caused viewers to change the channel and avoid the advertiser and on and on.

Social media marketing is a tool. As a tool it is only as effective as the person who wields it. UK businesses might have seen unprecedented success with social media marketing but that has as much to do with the social media marketing professionals they hired as it does with the effectiveness of the tools they used.

If you are looking for a similar degree of social media marketing success don't just look at the tools, but the people who you want to use them on your behalf.

Medium to large-sized business in the U.K. are ready to spend at least as much money next year as they did this year on their social media strategy, according to a report from the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Nearly nine out of 10 corporations spoken to said that they would maintain the budget or spend more on social media in 2012 in the survey of more than 200 finance directors, COOs, CFOs, CEOs and treasurers polled in between Oct. 11-26.

The results came out this week and showed that companies in the U.K. that have revenue above $40 million considered social media a cost-effective communication tool and 39% even stated that it helped improve the company reputation.

Click here to read more of the survey from Royal Bank of Scotland.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What Is Pinterest And Why Should You Care?

According to Hitwise, during the week ending December 17, a new website called Pinterest, which so far is available by invitation only, saw more than 11 million visitors securing it a place in the top 10 most popular sites on the web.

Not bad for a one-year-old upstart social media network which is not much more than a digital pin board.

Users create an account then proceed to stick images and messages to their "board" with links back to the original content. If it sounds simplistic, that's because it is. Which might also explain its huge popularity.

If there is one lesson to be learned from the first few years of social media networking, it's that simple is good. This explains the popularity of Twitter, and the public outcry every time Facebook adds a new feature.

People want to interact via social networking, but they don't want the service to be overly complicated. They want to share some specific pieces of information, but not their entire life. They want to communicate with people, but not everyone in the entire world. And above all else, they want it to be easy to use.

Did I say that twice? It's worth repeating.

The popularity of Pinterest seems to be growing even though the site is strictly limiting the number of invitations. Once it opens to the public I can imagine their site traffic will jump even higher. If their stock goes public, well, who knows what might happen.

Of course the success of Pinterest is built upon its simplicity. We have seen several examples just this year of companies taking a simple idea and over complicating it to the point where users began to leave (Netflix, I'm talking to you.)
If Pinterest can maintain its simplicity, yet also further develop its network, possibly integrating it with other social media service, then I think it stands a pretty god chance of continued success.

For those without an invite (you can get one from a friend), Pinterest lets users virtually “pin” products and items they find across the web to their own themed pin boards. It’s a way to collect recipes, home decorating ideas or share your personal style with friends. It’s inherently social in nature, so you can browse friends’ pins and boards, and re-pin your favorite items to your own pin boards.

The site is most popular with females and arts and crafts enthusiasts between the ages of 25 and 44, and its user base is anything but typical — at least for a social network. “Pinterest over-indexes on visits from the states in the Northwest and Southeast,” said Heather Dougherty, research director at Hitwise. “This data indicates that Pinterest visitors have a different profile versus their counterparts visiting other social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube.”

Click here to read more about Pinterest from SocialBeat.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Important Is Social Media Advertising?

I have a client who believes the best way to get the word out about his web site is through the use of SEO; press releases and blogs.
I have another client who feels the right path for his brand is using a well-managed social media marketing plan.

Who's right?

The fact is, social media marketing, whether through an interactive social media network or through the use of well-placed advertising on social media networks, is only as good as the management team responsible for it. With SEO everything is mostly automated; search engines find certain sites based on specific keywords, but the articles themselves may be poorly written or filled with factual errors creating a high bounce rate and an ineffectual web presence no matter how your page ranks.

Everything you do online is subject to this disclaimer: Quality is the first priority.

Information is the currency of the Internet, and the better quality information you provide the more effective your efforts at spreading your message.

That means your social media network will become popular if there is something there for people to read that is of interest to them. The same goes for the advertisements you place on the social networks. An ad that says "Earn Big Money-Click Here!" will likely be judged as spam by a good many web surfers who have long since learned not click anything they are the least bit wary of.
On the other side of the coin, all the SEO in the world will not lead to higher conversion rates if your product or your message is not a quality offering.

There is much to be gained from using both SEO and an effective social media marketing campaign. A two-pronged spear is likely to catch more fish, but in the hands of a professional, it might just catch three at a time.

A decade ago, enterprises had few options to advertise their product. Now, they have plenty of innovative advertising platforms where they can launch, promote their products/service with little or no investment. There is tremendous increase in the number of Internet users all around the world and this has led to remarkable increase in a user’s online social networking activity.

How innovative is your Marketing?
I believe there will be hardly anyone who uses the Internet and is not aware about social networking websites like Facebook, Myspace, Orkut, Google+, Linkedin etc. Social media, a word-of-mouth marketing from the online communities has become the cheapest medium to promote a product or service as it is available for free to everyone. It would not be wrong to say that today almost all Internet users have an active profile on at least one social networking site. These people can spend hours on these websites. These social networking websites are witnessing millions of hits each day and enable people to post any kinds of content like blogs, text, comments and videos etc.

Click here to read more of this article at

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not Everyone Is Having Success With Social Media

Of the more than 400 financial advisers recently surveyed about the effectiveness of their social media marketing less than 20 percent reported it was successful for reaching new customers.

Even more suggestive is the fact this is a 50 percent decline from two years ago.

In my opinion this has more to do with the social media systems and tools they are suing rather than an indictment against social media marketing as a whole. For instance, although most saw their overall use of social media as ineffective, the use on LinkedIn as an effective social media marketing tool saw an increase.

Of course it did. LinkedIn is a social media tool for use by business professional. I'm no genius, but even I understand this group is among the most likely to have need of financial advise. You can use Facebook to reach a much wider audience, of course, but when you are targeting such a niche market it makes more sense (to me) to focus your efforts as close to this group as possible.

LinkedIn is meant to help business professionals. If you are targeting business professionals, then LinkedIn is the social media marketing tool for you.

With this in mind I think the recent survey says more about the effectiveness of their social media managers in identifying the best resources to get their message out, rather than the effectiveness of social media in general.

Now ask yourself: Who manages YOUR social media? Are they targeting the right group of people and are they using the right tool to do it?

Financial advisers in the United States are seeing fewer benefits from their use of social media, a survey by Aite Group showed on Tuesday.

Out of the 437 advisers surveyed, only 19 percent said social media was useful for reaching new prospective clients -- roughly half the number from two years ago, when it was considered a leading benefit.

"Social media has been over-hyped and the benefits just aren't there for a lot of advisers," said Aite senior analyst Ron Shevlin in an interview.

Click here to read more of this report from Reuters.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Does Facebook Timeline Really Matter?

Lots of talk recently about the roll-out of the new Facebook Timeline. I've seen it and I can't help wondering, what's all the fuss about?

Ok, it looks different. I understand that sometimes change is good, especially when it comes to our personal space. That's why we tend to re-arrange our furniture, move from house to house (or city to city) or simply enjoy getting away from it for a while. A change of scenery makes us feel better about where we are.

Timeline also does a nifty trick with our photos. It brings the old photos we posted months, or years ago, and brings them back up front so we can be reminded of the things we did in the past. This is nice. People like to reminisce. They enjoy looking back (usually) and remembering things that happened in the past. It's fun. It's what we do when we get together with old friends or family we haven't seen in a while.

What Timeline doesn't do, however, is anything that doesn't involve a change of scenery. It looks different. That's it.

I suppose this is great news for folks who spend hours on their Facebook page and have grown tired of the same old thing. Or those with a memory disorder that need reminding of what they have done in the past.

I will say this: It's not too difficult to use, and that's a good thing. There are no tricky privacy settings to maneuver or apps to install. Just click, and it's done. Who knows, you might even like it; find it the best thing since sliced bread.

Me, I'm decidedly less than impressed. They can dress it up however they like, but it's still the same old Facebook. Not that that is a bad thing.

Click here to learn more about and get the new Facebook feature, "Timeline."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Use Twitter, But Keep It Simple

Twitter was imagined as a way for people to communicate in the simplest possible way. Hence the 140-character limit of each Tweet.

So why do so many people offer lengthy rules, lists and guidelines for using what is perhaps the world's simplest communication method?

Using Twitter is not rocket science. In fact, if you try to turn it into rocket science you are clearly missing the point. Like all those people who thought (and some still think) it a good idea to automate their Twitter stream or link it to their Facebook Page. They end up driving away more Followers/Fans than if they simply Tweeted their thoughts every now and again.

Twitter is like a soapbox or a megaphone. It allows you to send out your message into the ether for people who want to hear it. If you stand there shouting at the top of your lungs about how great you are, however, you are likely to turn a lot of people off. They will simply UnFollow you--tune you out.

You can add a Twitter Background to promote your other online properties, that's fine. But don't overload your background with an abundance of complicated images, fancy video or anything which will bombard every visitor with media. Not everyone using the Internet today has a high-speed connection, remember.

Don't get me wrong, there certainly are a number of Twitter tools you can use to make the process a little less time consuming, but beware -- too much of a good thing can be bad.

The reorganized and refashioned is a markedly different beast than it was just 48 hours ago. Now millions of users who call Twitter’s web destination home are looking for help. Perhaps just 25 soupcons of it. If so, look no further than this list of 25 new Twitter tips.

Click here to read the '25 Twitter Tips'.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Social Media Participation And Your Next Paycheck

So, you're looking for a way to earn a little money to pay for your Farmville addicition. Have you considered using your social media network?

That's right--all that work you do expanding your social media network, making connections, gaining Friends and Followers and being added to Circles, can actually earn you a little money. If you don't mind sharing your personal space with a particular company or brand, you can earn money by promoting particular services, products or businesses.

There are a number of web sites devoted to helping social media users make a little cash. They work by matching advertisers with social media networks that properly reflect their demographic. You shouldn't expect to get rich quick doing this, however. Most advertisers will only pay a few bucks for a promotional Tweet (if that) or a review.

If you have a popular blog it is possible you might earn a few dollars more, but again, this means handing over a portion of your space, even if its just writing a dedicated post. You must also be careful about properly disclosing the fact you are a paid sponsor. You are forbidden by law to be paid for promoting something (anything) through your social network, blogs included, without a disclaimer that says you are being paid to do so.

With all this in mind, if you feel you'd like to give it a try, check out the following story from and let us know how you do!

1. Be Social: In the 2011 Social Media Sponsorship Survey, IZEA found that leading advertisers evaluate top blogs by the quality of the conversation, industry relevance and level of reader engagement and comments. Raw traffic and number of followers were number four on the list. Effective users of social media engage with their blog readers and twitter followers. A blog or twitter feed with few updates or limited audience engagement has reduced monetary value.

2. Start a Sponsored Conversation: Current bloggers can make money through sponsored blog posts and display advertising by connecting with top brands. Networks like make it easy to submit a blog, assess its value and begin accepting advertiser opportunities.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

SocialFolders Make Sharing Easier

If you do a lot of work online you likely use DropBox to store files and folders in the Cloud and easily transfer them between team members and work stations. DropBox is not the only cloud-based storage platform but it seems to be the most popular.

SocialFolders has taken this cloud-based storage approach and applied it to social media. It works much the same way as DropBox, allowing you to store folders and files online and share them between platforms. Only in this case the platforms you link are your social media network ad the stuff you are sharing are your photos, videos and links.

Almost all of us are currently maintaining multiple social media accounts and likely juggle our posts so we can share the information we post on one (say Facebook) with the people who we socialize with on another network (say, Twitter.) So far, SocialFolders works with Twitter, Instagram, SmugMug, Facebook, Flickr, Picassa, Google Docs and YouTube

SocialFolders offers to make this whole process a little easier. It automatically syncs all your content between your various social networks. If you load a photo to one service SocialFolders automatically loads it to all your other services. This automatic sharing feature is what makes SocialFolder a boon for some and a curse for others. Once again we have a service which promises to make our lives easier but only if we are interested in duplicating our messages across our entire social media network.

Surely many people will find this tool handy--including me. But I will bet you that at least a few people will turn away because they simply do not want to share this information across all their platforms. I can imagine however that as SocialFolders grows it will begin to recognize the needs of these users and offer a selective sharing functions. For now users can choose not to link all their networks to keep some from being included in the cross-sharing.

Even with this advantage, the question still remains why someone would need to backup all of their social media files in the first place. Isn’t the whole point of storing files in the cloud that they are accessible from everywhere and not lost when your computer gets stolen? And when is the last time that Facebook accidentally deleted its users’ content?

“People want to have their content in their hands,” Honigman argues. They upload it through mobile applications or its tucked somewhere in a web service that they don’t want to use anymore, and they want to get it back.”

Not only do they want to get it back, SocialFlow’s business model predicts, they want to get all of it back. The paid version allows users to connect 5,000 files instead of 500 and sync with all available services instead of just three.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Corporate Social Media: What's Your Policy?

When it comes to large corporations (and some small ones) one hand often doesn't know what the other is doing.
So it is when it comes to the use of social media.

Your company might have a social media presence and welcome any and all attention, sharing, ReTweeting, or whatever, while the company policy strictly forbids the use of social media by its employees.

You might have an entire team devoted to the use of social media marketing to promote your corporate brand, but the boss does know a Tweet from a Twerp and has never once set foot on Facebook, or even LinkedIn.

The fact is, social media is not going away. With billions of people actively using social media every month to exchange information, learn new skills and get involved in their communities a company policy preventing employees from taking part this exchange is beyond comprehension.

When a law form says it is avoiding the use of social media because they don't want to risk client confidentiality, I can almost understand it. Almost. But the fact is, even they could be using social media to promote their brand without risking the trust of their clients.

Trust. That's the key here. If you trust your employees to do the right, and surely you do or you wouldn't have hired them in the first place, then it is only logical you allow them to use social media. You trust them handling the cash drawer, handling your inventory; you trust them to steal from you, endanger their lives or the lives of their co-workers and generally not do anything which might harm your business. Why don't you trust them to use social media properly?

Some say the problem with social media is that it is too easy to make a mistake, or allow a message to go out that is not "approved by corporate." I always ask, what is stopping your employee from writing disparaging remarks about your customers on the bathroom wall? Or swearing at your customers? Or stealing inventory, cash or office supplies?

The sooner your company wakes up to the benefits of using social media and learns to overcome their fear of it, the sooner it can begin reaping the rewards that come with it.

True story: Recently, a large public company sent an email to over 20,000 employees asking them to "Like" the new corporate Facebook page. Over 5,000 employees respond almost immediately. Two weeks later, a different department of the same company sent an email with this warning: "No employee of our company is allowed to use Facebook."

Welcome to the confused state of social media in the corporation as we move into 2012. Most companies are either doing nothing to learn more about social media or they are like the example above -- the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. Social media is not taken seriously and there is no strategy in place that maps social business back to core business objectives.

Why? IBM conducted a study of over 2,000 companies and asked them about the top inhibitors to adopting social media.

The study found that security, adoption, culture, and compliance are the key barriers companies are worried about. Understandable.

Click here to read more of this Huffington Post story on corporate social media.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Biggest (Social Media) Blunders Of 2011

If not for our failures what would we have learned? -Jerry Battiste

The fact is we all learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. When we succeed at something it all seems so easy. But when we fail at something we wake up to the reality of our own imperfection.

Social media often gets a bad rap as being too problematic; too much of a risk for companies interested in protecting their reputations, their clients or their CEO. This partially explains why many law firms have turned their noses up at social media: The risks far outweigh the rewards.

There certainly is some truth in the belief that social media is a risky endeavor. One poorly worded Tweet; one overly enthusiastic employee with too much to say and too little time to think; one over-thought ad campaign aimed at the wrong crowd at the wrong time and your company could walk away with a shiny black eye in the public relations department.

However, by looking at our failures, and the failures of those who have gone before us we stand a decent chance of avoiding the mistakes of the past and can focus on making brand new ones for next year!

Besides, in my opinion, the rewards of effective social media marketing (like reaching an audience in excess of ONE BILLION people) far, far outweigh the fall-out from a public relations faux-pas. (Unless you're Anthony Weiner.)

When a photo of his nether regions was tweeted from his account to a Seattle woman in May, Anthony Weiner insisted that he had been hacked. But the scrutiny continued, and the powerful New York congressman -- who had been considered the front-runner in the 2013 New York City mayoral election -- was forced to admit that he had sent the photo himself. He resigned from the House of Representatives after 12 years in office.

Dissing Detroit Drivers
A New Media Strategies employee dropped the F-bomb in a March tweet from @ChryslerAutos ("I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive"). Chrysler had just launched an "Imported from Detroit" campaign along with a Super Bowl ad. The staffer was fired, but Chrysler announced it wouldn't renew the agency's contract.

Kenneth Cole Puts Shoe in Mouth
The retailer stirred up trouble when he tried to ride the coattails of the Arab Spring social-media phenomenon with this February tweet: "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online." Tone-deafness, or a calculated move by a company known for sometimes-controversial advertising?

Click here for "Marketing's Biggest Social-Media Blunders of 2011."

Monday, December 12, 2011

FACT: Social Media Can be GREAT For Your Business

Now that we have a few years of data to review, the results of social media marketing on small business revenue can be accurately gauged.
And the news is even better than many people have guessed it would be.

Many small and medium businesses have already begun embracing social media marketing techniques. Through the effective use of Facebook Businesses Pages, Twitter feeds and YouTube channel,s small business owners have been able to increase their visibility online, drive traffic and promote their brand, product and even their brick and mortar store front.

Social media marketing is only as effective as the social media manager employed to direct it, however, so results are not always guaranteed. In fact, we have seen several examples of misplaced Tweets and status updates driving away business just this year alone.

Despite these occasional mis-steps, the positive impact of social media marketing cannot be overlooked. Sure, a viral video hit can bring in huge numbers and generate advertising dollars, but just day-to-day social media management also has a definite long term positive impact.

As the use of social media across businesses is gradually being adopted SME's have seen an increase in the effectiveness of social media to help market their business.

According to a 2011 study of nearly 2,000 businesses by Constant Contact, an online marketing company for SMEs, results showed that companies had increased opinion that using social media was easy and not time consuming.

The study saw an increase of 24% of businesses reporting social media was easy to navigate and a 45% increase of businesses saying it worked well with customers. In the survey of UK and US businesses, 81% reported that they dedicate a significant amount of time to social media, which is up 8% from last year.

Click here to read more of this study.

Friday, December 9, 2011

How Do You Use Twitter?

I have been listening to discussions about Twitter and feel the time has come for me to chime in.

If you use Twitter correctly it is a fantastic tool for directing people to your online properties. Assuming of course there is some reason for people to visit your site. Don't think you can repeatedly post links to your shopping cart and people will go there and buy your product. That's not a good use of Twitter.
If you use Flickr and regularly post new photographs, that is something people will likely enjoy visiting. If you publish a daily blog (like this one) Twitter is an effective a tool for directing people to your latest post.

The key to using Twitter correctly is to be certain you have fresh content for your Followers to visit.

Twitter is a megaphone (or sideshow barker) that lets people know what is new and different for them to see. If they go inside the tent (because I like the sideshow barker analogy) and see the same thing they saw yesterday, they are unlikely to return.

Remember, Twitter is a social media marketing tool and social media marketing is all about building relationships, not selling products. Selling products comes under the heading of "Conversion" and conversion happens only after relationships have been carefully cultivated.

If you sell insurance it is possible you might be able to turn your friends into paying clients, but that doesn't mean you should be passing out business cards every time you get together at a neighborhood barbecue.

Relationships are precious. Long term relationships are even more precious and only come with repeated trust-falls. If you drop the person who trusts you to catch them, either by directing them to a scam, promotional web site or shopping cart, don't expect them to trust you again.

So in essence, if all you do is affiliate marketing and try to use Twitter to grow your network, don't expect to see good results. In fact, your efforts will actually work against you, likely causing your Follower count to decline.

I have had excellent results using Twitter to promote my online content, but then again I think I am using it correctly. Before you fault the tool (Twitter) take a good long look at how you are using it. The problem may not be Twitter, but what you are trying to do with it.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Stand Corrected On Virgin Airlines Social Media

I have never been above admitting my mistakes. I don't like it, but I do it because I pride myself on providing the facts as objectively as possible.

(I guess it's the journalist in me.)

Anyway, I received an interesting email from Abby Lunardini, Vice President of Corporate Communications at Virgin America. She was nice enough to read my post (Thanks!) and offered some insight into the ways her company DID INDEED endeavor to use social media to prepare guests for the changes in the way her company handles airline reservations.

First, a disclaimer: Lunardini did not threaten me or even suggest I make alterations to my original post. She offered me a direct line of communication to her for any further information about the way her office used social media during this difficult transition. A very generous offer which I plan to take advantage of as this whole thing plays out.

Here's her email to me:

Hi Jerry,

Saw your post and wanted to reach out informally in case you wanted to get more information on what we did on our social media channels to prepare for the cutover and how we communicated to guests in advance (multiple advance emails and social posts, proactively thinning our flight schedule, additionally staffing our teams across the operation including social, giving guests the option to change flights with no fees if they wished to avoid the period, etc). Our social team has been working 24/7 to assist guests since prior to the cutover and on a positive note within such a tough and unusual situation, the channels have been a real way for us to assist those having issues. As an example, we’ve sent over 11000 DMs on Twitter alone since this started to help resolve guest issues – for those travelers unable to get through to our call center.

On background: My quotes were specifically about the scope of airline reservations cutovers – which by their nature require extensive planning and advance notice to guests -- for further background: We are undoubtedly the first airline to go through such a major transition however in an era where social is a real channel for guests. I also wanted to note that none of our flights have been delayed as a result of this – the issues continue to be web errors certain guests are unfortunately encountering (with services like change/cancel online etc) and then the resulting long call hold times.

She closed by saying what a fantastic writer, blogger and all around nice guy I was. Not to mention handsome. I am pretty sure her exact words were something to the effect of "Brad Pitt looks like a chimpanzee next to you"...ok, I made those last parts up.
I am impressed that she and her team are not only doing their jobs, using social media to keep guests from experiencing too much turmoil during this transition, but also monitoring the social media landscape for posts like mine which might not tell the entire story.

I tip my hat to them. That is what social media is all about: Communication. And Lunardini is doing it well.

I hope I can glean more information from her about the way they are using social media going forward and pass that info along to my readers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Next Frontier: Crawling The Social Web

We are all familiar with the World Wide Web. In fact, we are all familiar with the 'Social Web' although we might not realize it.

The 'Social Web' is the network of social media sites, completely independent from the greater World Wide Web, that many of us spend a good portion of day visiting. We update our status, post links to other web sites, news stories and blogs; photos videos and music playlists. All that is missing from this new 'Social Web' experience is a good search function.

Sites like Yahoo!, Bing and Google has slowly been increasing the relevance of there search results to social media, incorporating more social media returns with every query, but the results of those searches when compared with the abundance of information that is posted on an hourly basis is sorely lacking.

Flipboard, the super popular iPad app which turns your social media network into a magazine format, aims to change all that by crawling social media sites for information relevant to you.

Seems to me this is a direct attack on the BIG THREE search engines and bodes well for the future of search on the 'Social Web.' Now, if only Flipboard was available on more hardware, the rest of us could be enjoying these new functions.

In that time, the company has been slowly and deliberately focusing on the newly designed iPhone app. The iPhone version of Flipboard is smaller and leaner -- not a shrunken version of the iPad app but a phone-sized social media digest, meant to be literally thumbed through while on the go. Its "Cover Stories" feature distills a custom selection of elegantly laid out social and real-world news that readers can get in screen-sized bites.

We sat down with McCue to try out the newly released app (see above video), and to hear about the company's ambitious plans to move beyond its roots as a magazine app for the iPad and iPhone. Building on Flipboard's deep links to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, McCue wants to harness the huge amount of data being generated by users of these major services to build a kind of social media nerve center -- a digital brain that listens to all your social networks and picks the most important and interesting stories, presenting them to you in a simple and organized way.

Question: That sounds ambitious. Can you say what it is you'd be trying to do?

Answer: Well, the Web as we've known it for a long time has been pages linking and pointing to other pages. But there's a new Web that's being created -- some people are calling it the social Web.

People are posting a huge amount of data, and there are more social networks being created all the time -- Path, Google+, 500 Pixels and many others.

Click here to read more about Flipboard.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Social Media Marketing Success Is No Accident

I enjoy using social media to keep in touch with friends and family who are separated from by distance. I like seeing pictures of their photos of their children; hearing about their life and what they have been doing lately; and I am always participating in their conversations.

This is NOT social media marketing, however.

Firstly, I have no need to market myself to people who already love me. In fact, they might become offended if I suddenly started acting as if I needed their approval to access their lives.

Second, just because I'm active on social media doesn't mean I am marketing. Social media marketing is all about trying to convince and convert friends into customers. Depending on your call-to-action that conversion might entail closing a sale, signing up for a service or joining a newsletter. Your social media participation is geared toward directing people to that call-to-action. Your social media interaction, in this case, is social media marketing.

So while it is important you recognize that social media marketing requires participation in the conversation; daily updating and posting of new and fresh information and insights, that is not the same as simply being a member of the growing social media users network. There is a big difference between being popular on social media and using it as an effective marketing tool.

Make certain you know which you are doing before you spend time doing it.

Myth #1: Social media outreach is all about joining the conversation.

It’s not. It’s time to draw the line between social media and social media marketing. When you check Facebook to communicate with your friends and family, or vent about your blind date frustrations on Twitter, or post links to articles you enjoy on Google+, you’re using social media. However, when you channel energy and resources through those same mediums for business purposes, we’re talking about social media marketing, and your goal should be either to raise the visibility of your company, generate leads, or make sales.

Does being a part of the conversation enable this? In part, yes. Social media platforms enable business-to-consumer interactivity, which can have a great impact on brand loyalty, a variable that shouldn’t be understated. But if you get lost in the “fun” of social media and fail to link your actions back to a measurable goal, you’re going to lose opportunities to increase your revenue.

Click here for more social media marketing myths.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Virgin Airlines Learns A Valuable (Social Media) lesson

Dear Virgin Airlines, Welcome to the 21st Century.

You might think the unofficial airline of the ultra-tech savvy would understand the power of social media to communicate both positive and negative messages.
Up until recently Virgin has benefited from an outpouring of positive social media messages spread by its army of loyal supporters. Lately, however, the coin has flipped and they are on the receiving end of a deluge of negative press brought on by the implementation of a new reservation system which has led to delayed flights, problems with their customer service system and problems with their web site.

What I found most interesting about this debacle is the response from their spokesperson: "Virgin spokeswoman Abby Lunardini said, “It’s a once in a lifetime cutover for an airline. If you look at the past history of cutovers [to new reservations systems], they never are easy for airlines. Every airline has tended to see issues for weeks, if not months afterward.”

Am I to infer from this statement they knew how bad it was going to be and did nothing to mitigate the problems they anticipated? That seems, 20th century.

All of this negativity could have been avoided with the proper use of their huge social media network.

1. Communicate what's coming so guests can be prepared. Nobody likes surprises, especially surprises that work against them or inconveniences them in ANY way. Don't assume things will work themselves out eventually. This is a recipe for social media disaster. (see the recent example set by Netflix.)

2. Increase your social media diligence and be ready to handle the questions, complaints or suggestions which are likely to start rolling in within MINUTES of the changes. Don't wait until the problems start popping on as a feature story at CNN. Be ready to address every problem that comes in IMMEDIATELY.

3. Review your plan again. If you believe the plan you are about implement is going to cause problems for your customers ask yourself if it is really worth the trouble you are going to cause. If it is, if there truly is no way around the changes you are about to implement, let your customers know as soon as possible. Tell them what problems you anticipate this will cause for them. Solicit their feedback BEFORE you implement the changes. It is possible will someone will make a suggestion or piece of advice which might help you improve your plan. It at least shows you care enough to make the transition as painless as possible.

These are three simple steps Virgin Airlines could have taken to make this less of a disaster and more of a seamless integration of new technology. Instead it has cast a shadow on their (until now) spotless record of flawless customer relations and made them yet another example of What Not To Do.

Lunardini said that a major deployment that went in on Friday should fix many of the issues that customers are experiencing. She hopes that any remaining issues will be fixed with another deployment schedules for Dec. 8.

Once the bugs are worked out, the Sabre system will allow Virgin to offer new capabilities such as codesharing with V Australia and Virgin Atlantic, an elite program for very frequent fliers and mobile tools.

“We are hoping that when we get on the other side of these last errors that guests will still enjoy the experience with us and stay with us,” Lunardini said.

In the meantime, frustrated passengers continue to use social media to vent. To its credit, Virgin America is leaving negative comments up on its Facebook page, where it could easily remove them.

“Arrrgffhggh. – based in silicon valley – high tech airline that can not get it’s website working for weeks – wrong. Hold time on phone over 47 minutes !!,” wrote commenter Winston Vaughan.

Click here to read more about the Virgin Airlines debacle.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Take Social Media Marketing To The Next Level

Many social media marketers have barely scratched the surface when it comes to leveraging the full power of social media. They are adept at designing Facebook Fan Pages, adding people to their Google+ Biz Page Circles or designing awesome Twitter backgrounds, but when it comes to turning these efforts into concrete returns they tend to become less effective.

I see this every day as I peruse social media sites, checking out competitors; watching how major brands promote their products, services or brands; helping businesses monitor and manage their social media networks.

People still don't seem to understand the importance of relationship and what that means exactly. It is more than simply generating "Likes" and "+1" on your account. Once you gather thousands of Fans, then what? How do you mobilize them into action which translates into revenue for your company?

Taking the next step in social media has become more of a stumble for many marketers because they didn't start out with the end in mind, nor did they fully understand the purpose and strengths of social media. Relationship marketing is perhaps the most difficult marketing skill to master or even understand. It requires nurturing (something many people do not understand) communicating and grooming. It also requires that you start out with the end in mind. All the nurturing, grooming and coddling in the world won't do you any good if you don't know what you want (or need) fans of your social media network to do.

If you are a social media manager curious about taking your networks to the next level, start by examining some successful social media networks and see what works for them that you might not be doing. The results of even a simple change might just surprise you.

In an October eMarketer report, Lauren Fisher, an analyst with the company, offered a few reasons why providing relevant content to your audience is a good strategy:

It builds trust. By providing information, you are helping potential customers mitigate risk. If the information checks out, you have given them reason to trust you.
It will propel your brand into a customer’s consideration set. As Brian Kardon, CMO of Eloqua, told eMarketer: “When you help prospects learn things and are generally helpful when they’re in a buying cycle, they’ll think about you first”

A good example of a company following this strategy is Indium Corp., a company specializing in solder products and solder paste. As Solis notes, “Indium’s blog posts now feature buyer oriented keywords likely to be searched. Headlines reflect search strings to appear in search and market through value, insight, and direction… “Wave Solder Flux Deactivation Temperatures Explained” and “Using Integrated Preforms for Solder Fortification.”

Solis says six months after Indium started blogging, lead generation increased 600%.

Click here to read more about improving customer acquisition with social media.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Posterous 'Spaces' Exceeding Expectations

Can I get a round of applause for Posterous? Please.

Posterous is micro-blogging site that provides a bit more information than Twitter. It allows users to post to their blog via email, adding just about any file attachment they want: photos, videos, mp3, documents; whatever you want to add, Posterous makes it easy.

I must admit, I have a Posterous, but haven't done much with it. I can see how it would be very useful to folks who do most of the posting on-the-go and need a simple interface to reduce the time it takes to keep updating.

But, what has prompted this blog post is the way Posterous has responded to user needs by creating anew social media network called "Spaces" and just how successful that new site has become.

Posterous Spaces is all about protecting the privacy of the user accounts. It was created as a direct response to users who asked for more privacy; more control over who can read their posts and a more secure environment is what they asked for and that's what Posterous hoped to give them with Spaces.

Before they introduced Spaces Posterous was doing pretty well, after they introduced Spaces their user count began to climb. And it's still climbing. In fact, they tripled their user rate.

I would like to think the success Posterous has had catering to their users needs would be a signal to other social media platform to stop working against their users, but that seems unlikely. Sites like Facebook and Google+ already has a built-in system that works for them, which is to say it is making money. Changing now just to be good to their users might end up costing them money, which makes it seem very unlikely they will.

However, this does bode well for the future of social media. New social media sites are popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain. Perhaps they will emulate the success of Posterous and cater to their users needs instead of forcing them to accept whatever they get.

In September, San Francisco startup Posterous introduced Spaces, an updated take on blogging that emphasizes privacy and controlled sharing. The company had noticed that private blogs were growing much faster on its network than public ones, and decided to emphasize privacy features as the core of the service.

Two months later, Posterous executives say they like what they see. The service, which has 3.9 million members, says it is adding users at a rate of 15,000 every day - up from 5,000 a day before they switched to Spaces. They also say that users are engaging with their site more, with private spaces four times more active than public ones, according to founder Sachin Agarwal.

"We've really seen both our existing users and new users latch on to the idea of controlled sharing," Agarwal said from the company's Mission Street offices.

Posterous also commissioned a study on "the state of online private sharing." Its findings support the idea that people want more options for sharing online. Among the results of the company's online Harris Interactive poll, which interviewed 2,014 social-network users in the United States:

Click here to read the results of their poll.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Governor Brownback, a Teenage Girl and #heblowsalot

It all would have gone away, quietly, without notice and without causing even a ripple in the Internet. Now it's become a media circus, making a teenage girl the poster child for freedom of speech online and portraying the Governor of Kansas as an evil ogre out to trample the Constitution.

It started when 18-year-old Emma Sullivan, as part of her school's Youth In Government program, visited the Kansas state Capitol with about 100 other students. While there, boredom prompted her to Tweet to her 65 Followers "Just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot".

Ha ha, just a jab at The Man for the sake of making her friends laugh. No harm. No foul.

The problem began when someone on the staff of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback took it upon themselves to track down Sullivan, contact her school principal and make a big kerfuffle of the whole thing. The principal in turn called Sullivan into her office and demanded the student write an apology to Brownback, lecturing her for an hour about how embarrassing the entire incident was for the school, the community, America and apple pie. (Ok, I added the last two things.)

Since all of this came to light Sullivan's Twitter Following spiked to more than 15,500 in a few short days. The story has been picked up by every major news agency around the globe; repeated ad nauseam on every news program, been the fodder for late night talk show hosts and generally spread about as far and wide as it is possible for a story to spread.

Look, when it comes to social media, not every message you receive will be positive. Even Mother Theresa had her detractors. The important thing is NOT to make a list of names and try to silence them all. It is to recognize they are unhappy, find out why and try to convert them to your team. Kill them with kindness, so to speak.

Everything you do on social media is transparent, visible to the world. It is also true you are more likely to be judged by your actions toward your enemies than your friends.

So do yourself a favor and review your policy for handling social media negatives with your social media manager before you become a punchline for The Daily Show.

Realizing their snafu, school officials backed down Monday, stating that Sullivan would not be punished for her refusal to write the apology letter. That same day, Governor Brownback issued an apology for his staff's overreaction.

Nonetheless, social networkers and mainstream press alike continue to blast the governor's office for reporting Sullivan's lese-majesty. The situation is reminiscent of a public controversy the grocery chain Price Chopper experienced over a year ago when one of its employees tried to get a customer fired from his job after the customer criticized Price Chopper on Twitter.

The best thing Brownback's staffers could have done was note but otherwise ignore Sullivan's tweet. Sullivan, after all, was but a teenage girl with a small following, tweeting trite teenage-girl things like "Dear edward and jacob, this is the best night of my life. I want u. Love, ur future wife #breakingdawn." Even the political tweet that gave such offense was rather bland and immature. Sullivan's was hardly a comment most Kansas voters would have taken seriously had government officials left well enough alone.

Click here to read more about the "Sullivan/Brownback Incident".

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Learn From (Others) Failures

The best part about watching someone else fail is learning what you yourself should avoid to do in the future.

If you're walking down the sidewalk and the man in front of you steps in dog poo you are unlikely to follow in his footsteps. And for good reason.

There is a wealth of knowledge in every failure if you know what to look for. It is one thing to revel in the failure of a competitor; make light of their dismay and gloat over how much smarter and better your company is than theirs. But how do you know you won't make a similar mistake in the future? have you dissected their failure, found its root cause, tracked the system break down that allowed the process to spiral our of control?

More importantly, have you taken all the steps required to help your company avoid a similar fate?

In the realm of social media marketing there are a number of cases studies involving what you should NOT do: everything from failing to respond to a customer complaint on Facebook to mounting a social media campaign against your striking workers has been tried, and each time a valuable lesson was learned.
These mistakes may not have been made by a competitor to your business, or even within your own industry, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lesson to be learned.

My best advice to you is to study every social media marketing failure, look for a similar set of circumstances within your own industry and apply the corrections right now to your company.

The only true failure is failing to listen, learn and apply what you know. Everything else is just feedback.

The fault doesn’t lie with the liberal working of social media but the lack of clarity and foresight in those who are trying to communicate a brand’s message. Making a social media campaign people-centric and helping it engage positive interaction also needs some degree of planning, adept handling and crisis management. Basically, it needs to be handled in conformity with the benchmarks set for any other type of advertising campaign.

In fact, social media marketing needs more management since this niche is still being explored. There are no set benchmarks and the trends seem to change every week. The liberty of expression on social media means that a brand can be clobbered to its nemesis if its communicative strategy on social media mediums is flawed.

The other issue with social media promotion lies in the inability of popular social media forums, including Twitter, to curb falsely-pumped opinions that are an attempt to bad-mouth a brand. There have been complaints about guests who have threatened some hotels with horrible reviews on popular travel sites like TripAdvisor unless they weren’t promised freebies or better services.

Click here to read more about social media marketing failure.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Social Media Holiday Safety

We've all heard the stories of the people who posted on their Facebook page they were going on vacation, then returned home to find their house had been burglarized.
True stories, all, and a valuable lesson for everyone to consider this holiday season.

Not that your Friends list might be hiding a burglar, but that what you post on your social media network matters. A lot.

For instance, if you own a jewelry store, you'd likely want to post photos of new jewelry pieces. That's a great idea! It's also a great idea to make certain your security system is up to snuff. The same way you would if you ran a newspaper ad about that same jewelry.

Obviously, announcing to the world via social media that you are going to be away from your house on vacation is not a good idea, but that doesn't make social media a bad thing. Social media is a tool, and it's all in how you use it. Responsible social media marketers understand the far reaching aspect of social media is what makes it beneficial and what males some people afraid to use it.

However, much like the way you control the words that come out of your mouth in public, you need to exert control over what you post via social media. Social media is the greatest, most comprehensive communication tool ever created by humankind. This makes it a simple thing to broadcast a message to the entire world with just a few mouse clicks. It also makes it possible to send the WRONG message to the world at large. Something which can easily be avoided by using common sense and well thought-out social media marketing plan.

People who post on social media sites are warned to be especially careful during the holiday season about revealing when they are not at home.

Here are some tips from Allstate about social media precautions you should take:

-- Turn off automatic locating functions. Most social media sites with geo-location and tracking functionalities have options to turn them off.

-- Review your privacy settings. Make sure you understand who you are broadcasting your information to each time you post. If you are not comfortable with what people can see about you, change your settings.

-- Delay uploading pictures until returning home. Thieves may be able to view details about smart phone pictures, such as where the picture was taken and at what time. Posting pictures in real time lets others know you're not at home.

Click here for more social media safety tips.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Get Serious About Customer Service On Social Media

Social Media is like a double-edged sword--used incorrectly it can cut you.

Social media is a fantastic communication tool. Using a few free tools you now have the ability to reach ONE BILLION people with a click of the mouse. This is great! However, it also means that those ONE BILLION people can reach you with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Are you ready for that? Are you ready respond within a moment's notice?

Leaving your social media network unmonitored, unwatched; being unwilling or unable to respond immediately to a question, comment or complaint from someone in your social media network is the absolute worst thing you can do. As fast as they can post a comment on your social media network they can post a comment on their friend's page talking about how you ignored them. That's the type of stuff that goes viral--rudeness, ignoring customers, unresolved complaints and poor service. Nothing gets customers more riled than being ignored.

If you own your own business you likely already know that. I'll bet every customer or client that walks through your door or calls on the phone gets the royal treatment. You better plan on doing the same thing with your social media network.

Dealing with customers on social sites reveals "a fundamental shift in customer service," March says. Complaints used to be viewed as a nuisance, but ignoring dissatisfaction on Facebook and Twitter can go viral and trigger a steady exodus of customers. "Companies can't afford to ignore people," he says.

When an irate customer notified Sears (SHLD) on its Facebook site in 2011 that despite having a warranty, her refrigerator repair had been taking too long, a Sears representative replied that it was doing everything it could to end her frustration. The customer responded that she had called, sent e-mails, wrote on Facebook, and she still waited a week to receive the part and then had to arrange an appointment. "The last thing you want to do is foster negative feedback against your poor service," March says.

Conversely, companies like Safeway that excel at online customer service can reap significant business benefits; that is, of course, if they stay on top of their social game.

Click here to read more about proper customer service through social media.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

End Your Facebook Confusion

Don't just complain about the difficulties of using Facebook. Do something about it.

While it is true that Facebook is challenging to use for some people, especially when it comes to navigating your privacy settings. It is also true that there are a plethora of bloggers and social media professionals who make it their business to understand the rules and controls and then share that information with others.

You can be forgiven for not always being able to run your business, have a personal life and constantly update your intimate knowledge of every social media network you use. That's why that social media managers are for.

If you are having a problem with some aspect of social media, whether it is for personal or professional use, my first suggestion is to do a web search. Given the ubiquitous nature of social media it is very likely you are not the first personal to have a problem. Once someone solves a problem they are very likely to share that information, either at their web site, or a blog or through their own social media network.

In the Age of the Internet knowledge is more or less free to anyone who is looking for it. That makes the Internet one of the only tools which can explain how it is best used.

How cool is that?

Facebook’s privacy settings are extremely detailed, giving you the ability to fine-tune the privacy aspects of almost every little part of your Facebook account. Unfortunately, for most users, this level of micromanagement makes Facebook’s privacy settings a convoluted mess.

Even worse, these settings change often; you may think you know everything there is about them, only to be greeted with a completely different layout and a bunch of new options the next time you visit the dreaded Facebook Privacy Settings page.

So, what do you do when you’ve got over 170 options to choose from? You focus on the most important ones. We’ve entered Facebook’s maze of privacy options and came out on the other side bruised, battered, but with 10 essential settings in our hands. Disregard them at your own peril!

Click here for more tips from Mashable.