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.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Games Renew Interest In Social Media Games Marketing

It might seem like virtual lunacy to your; a mega-time waster with no discernible value, but for marketers social media games are the next great frontier.

Still in its infancy, social media games are already a multi-billion dollar industry. In China alone the social media gaming industry generated more than $2 billion last year. The United States is not far behind, logging hundreds of millions in revenue for the first half of this year.

Not only is the social media gaming industry itself a great gamble for social media marketers, but the game mechanics themselves make perfect sense from a promotional perspective. That is to say, the parts of virtual gaming which hold people's attention, the rewards, the benefits, the fun--are what make for a great marketing campaign.

There is also the value of advertising placed with social media games. Free mobile gaming apps now come with built-in advertisements that contain links to websites fully accessible by the same mobile device the game is played on. If your ad was fortunate enough to be a part of the Angry Birds phenomenon, that is what we call a "win."

As the future of social media gaming expands I expect to see more attempts at strategically placing ads within them, or at least using the same technology to promote a product, brand or company. A recent attempt by MIT students to spur recycling efforts on campus by tracking individual recycling efforts, keeping score and awarding prizes has proven so successful the local-only program is being expanded to other cities, with plans to eventually go national.

If it can work for recycling, it can definitely work for your business.

Brands are starting to add game mechanics to all manner of campaigns. For example, user-decided contests or community forums all have aspects inherent in social games. Now, more and more brands are adding these features to their everyday websites. Mashable launched Follow, complete with badges as reward for completing social tasks, as a way to engage its audience and make their voice heard.

The L.A. Kings hockey team recently added game elements to its website. Users gain points for sharing posts on Facebook, watching videos on-site or posting in forums. Users at the top of the leaderboard gain special access to Kings content.

And Rihanna has used gamification to launch her newest album. Users can head to Rihanna UNLOCKED on Rihanna’s official Facebook Page to help unlock exclusive content. Rihanna’s team posts intermittent social challenges which, when completed, reward participants with goodies like the new album’s lyric sheet, new music video and album art.

Click here to read more about social media games and advertising.

Friday, November 18, 2011

In Love? Or In Love With Social Media?

Let's be honest, the most impressive additions to the Internet were made by the porn industry. They pioneered streaming video, photograph data bases and chat rooms.
Not the best pedigree, but it is what it is.

The same can be said for the expansion and growth of social media. It most definitely began as an attempt to help single people meet other single people and get together. Romance was a possibility, sure, but just facilitating the connection was a step in the right direction.

There are an abundance of online dating sites and for the first time more couples report meeting via an online dating site than through a traditional meeting (like a high school dance, party or concert.)

With social media you can meet, flirt, hook-up and more, without ever leaving your apartment (or your parent's basement.) This has changed forever the dynamic of relationships and specifically romance. It is not enough to bring flowers and chocolates. Now you need to connect on Facebook, let them peruse your Friend list and look at your photos and otherwise interact online first.

Romance is hardly recognizable today thanks to social media. Whether or not this is a good thing will only come to light once we see how these relationships evolve, change and grow (or not.) With enough time we will be able to judge whether romance through social media will be a permanent fixture in our lives or just another passing fad.

"Yeah, there's no time for boys. It's sad," said UW-Madison freshman Raven Foulker. So, when she and her friends find a few fleeting minutes for boys, those minutes are spent, where else, on Facebook, Twitter and text message. Just about anything with a screen.

"Started out with MySpace when I was in middle school when I was 12 or 11," said Foulker, "(I've) kind of just grown up with it, and then I switched to Facebook. And so, it's always been there, and it's always been a part of social life."

"I think it provides a great avenue for flirting," said UW junior Max Eichenberger. "And the whole 'poking' thing!"

Even the guys are aware of today's digital dating game. Just ask UW senior Brian Phelps about how he met his girlfriend.

"The first time I found out she was interested, she accidentally sent me a text she meant to send a friend," said Phelps. "(The text) was about me."

Students said you must have text appeal, and cupid's arrow needs at least a 3G connection.

"Mine is usually wherever I can get service. That's my texting strategy," said Eichenberger. "I have a terrible cellphone company, so that really does hurt my game."

Heaven forbid today's tech-savvy suitors meet face to face.

Click here to read more about social media and modern romance.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Welcome To Google+ Biz Pages: Now What?

So, I happily created my Google+ Business pages the moment I was able. The process was relatively easy and they were up and running in no time.

Now, if people would just use them I'd feel alright about it.

The fact is, while Google+ might have more than 50 million users I have the feeling the majority of those users are marketers, Google fans and early adopters; not the regular everyday folks I hope to reach with my social media network. This is a problem.
Google+ is great, don't get me wrong. It is no worse than Facebook, definitely, but not much better either. The fact is, I just don't know how many social media networks we need.

And I don't like the color. White on white with a few primary colors thrown in for good measure--ick.

The Google+ features that most of the early adopters love, Circles and Hangouts, just confuse the heck out of everyday folks. When I talk to people via my Facebook page about what they think of Google+ I inevitably get the response, "too confusing" or "nobody's on there" both of which are valid. Circles are great if you have hundreds of contacts that you need to separate and divide into specific categories. But if all you want is a way to communicate with your friends and family, Circles are too much work for such a simple task.

Hangouts? That's what social media is--a place to hangout and chat with friends. Why did they re-invent the wheel?

Again, I don't personally have a problem with Google+ (except for the horrible color scheme) but I can empathize with the people who do. Google+ needs to appeal to everyone if it hopes to grow beyond a specialty service. Otherwise it will primarily become a tool just for Google features users and marketers. Which means it will be avoided by just about everyone else.

For basis of comparison, 94 percent of the Top 100 brands have a presence on Facebook. BrightEdge says that only 12 percent of the brands that created these pages displayed a link to them on their home page. About 53 percent of the Top 100 brands display a link on their home page to their Facebook page. And brands appear to be having mixed success at building social networks around their Google+ presence. In fact, Google had the largest fan contingent of any brand on Google+, having attracted more than 65,000 fans.

But other consumer brand stalwarts like Coke, McDonalds and Verizon had only dozens of fans (but have millions of Facebook fans). In fact, a review of Facebook and Google+ properties for all 100 brands showed a collective total of almost 300 million Facebook fans for these top brands, compared to approximately 148,000 Google+ followers for these same brands.

Of course, in Google search, Google+ brand pages seem to be performing well. The BrightEdge analysis showed Google+ pages on average appeared in the top 12 Google search results for the corresponding brand, while the brand’s Facebook pages on average appeared in the top 13 or 14 listed results.

Click here to read more about Google+ Business pages.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More Doubt About Klout

The fallout from a changed system of measuring social media influence, combined with complaints of intruding into people's privacy are giving Klout a bad reputation.

The company is still pushing forward, still claiming it now does a better job of measuring social media influence, but a majority still seem just as unhappy as they were when they saw their scores drop 20 points or more.

Klout claims some users saw their scores go up, but I have not heard from any of those people yet. (If your score went up, please let me know.) I have heard from people whose score not only went down immediately after the change but are seeing their scores continue to drop despite a plethora of interactivity on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Here's my take on the whole thing: Klout serves customers. Their customers are unhappy. They are doing nothing to satisfy their customers. Customers are likely to leave.

The only problem with my analysis is that right now there is no competition for Klout. There is Kred, but that site is so confusing (and lacking in any connectivity to anything but Twitter) that it can hardly be considered a competitor. So Klout users who are unhappy have no alternative; no means of doing anything about it, except throwing their hands up in surrender.

That situation is likely not to continue for long, however. Sooner or later (probably sooner) someone will come along and provide a social media measurement tool which works properly and satisfies users. Then Klout will really have a problem on its hands.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Facebook Is Under Attack (But I Didn't Notice)

Unwary Facebook users are finding themselves under attack from unscrupulous spammers hell-bent on spread pornographic and violent images across the world's biggest social media network.

Well, attack isn't exactly the right word. It's really more akin to someone leaving a flaming paper bag full of dog poo on your front door step: If you're dumb enough to stomp on it you get what you deserve.

What's happening is what has been happening on Facebook for years. Hackers are getting into user accounts and sending out links to violent images, pornographic videos and the like. Other users see their friend has shared something, and click on it.

You know what I mean. The stuff that says "Hey look at this video I just found of you!" or "Wow! Is that really you in this picture?"

This hardly amounts to an attack in my opinion. Seems more like a bunch of bored computer nerds got it in their head to have some fun with Facebook devotees and started spreading malicious links. The hacker group Anonymous had said it would "bring down Facebook" on November 5, but that attack never came. If the group had unanimously decided to attack then Facebook might indeed have been brought down, at least temporarily.

What is clearly apparent is the lack of tech savvy of many Facebook users, especially given the way these spam attacks are spreading: weak passwords. Clearly many Facebook users do not take adequate precautions when it comes to account security. The same way people once did little to protect their email passwords resulting in numerous spam attacks via email.

If you are really concerned about protecting your Facebook stream from spam attacks do your part and enhance your own security. That means no "1234ABC" passwords, and don't click links that look suspicious.

Easy enough, right?

Graham Cluley, a consultant with Web security firm Sophos, said Tuesday that "explicit and violent" images had been flooding the News Feeds of Facebook users for the past 24 hours or so.

Cluley wrote on the Sophos blog that the images have included hardcore porn; photoshopped images of celebrities, including teen pop star Justin Bieber, in sexual positions; "extreme violence;" and at least one image of an abused dog.

The researcher said it wasn't clear Tuesday how the images were spreading.

One possibility: "Clickjacking," when clicking on a friend's image shares it in your own feed.

Hackers also may have compromised the accounts of users with weak passwords or tricked people into installing malicious code.

"What's clear," Cluley wrote, "is that mischief-makers are upsetting many Facebook users and making the social networking site far from a family-friendly place."

Click here to read more about the latest Facebook fiasco.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Social Media Local Advertising On The Rise

It makes sense that local advertising on social media is increasing, especially when you consider that social media marketing is all about relationship marketing.

As humans we tend to build relationships first within our own communities. We reach out to our neighbors because they are the people we see every day and the ones most likely to visit our store.

Local advertising on social media means connecting with the most relevant (to you) people first. You can use targeted advertising on Facebook to reach people of a specific demographic, or geographic zone. Just people between 30-35, within the city limits, let's say. Or, you can reach across state lines, across the country or across the world.

But who is most likely to walk into your shop today? Someone from Spain, or someone from Washington Street?

Local advertising on social media is the fastest growing segment of social media marketing because it makes the most sense. Don't miss you opportunity to take advantage of what are so far, surprisingly low advertising rates on social media. Or, simply create and expand your own social media network with the help of a social media professional you can trust.

Locally focused advertising in social media is expected to grow at annual rate of 33% from $400 million in 2010 to $2.3 billion by 2015, according to a new forecast from BIA/Kelsey. That would make local advertising roughly a third of the total of $8.1 billion in U.S. social media ad revenue that the research firm projects in four years.

Social media ad sales this year will reach $3.7 billion, of which $700 million will be local ad dollars.

BIA/Kelsey released the local social advertising forecast as part of the fall update to its U.S. local media forecast released in April. The firm defines local advertising broadly as spending by national, regional and small and medium-sized businesses on any form of targeted messaging specific to a geographic market.

Within social media, it defines local advertising as money spent on geotargeted ad formats across social networks, but excluding virtual goods and rewards, social gaming, social commerce or social marketing. Think paid media, not earned or owned media.

Click here to read more about local advertising on social media.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Twitter Tool Analyzes Its Own Impact

The social media analytics business is hardly booming. In fact, recent changes to the way Klout measures influence have left thousands of users angry and confused, and they were the best thing going when it came to measuring your impact with sites like Twitter and Facebook.

I am hardly a programmer, nor am I tech-savvy beyond the commercial uses of social media, but I fail to understand why no one has stepped up to the plate to design a decent social media analytics tools.

Twitter has decided they don't want to wait for someone else to tell them how effective a Tweet is. Their new Twitter Web Analytics tool will track Tweets, clicks from Tweets and traffic derived from Tweets. This is handy information if you are using Twitter to drive customers any where. The fact Twitter is providing this information itself makes perfect sense. Who better to analyze their traffic?

Facebook could use a similar, sensible tool. You can check the Insights for your Fan Page but this information is hardly useful. You get a generalized view of your shared information, but nothing very specific to your page except how many "Likes" and "Shares" you've received.

The Twitter Web Analytics tool intends to show you exactly what, if any, impact you get from every Tweet you post. This is definitely a step in the right direction for Twitter users. Hopefully other social media sites will follow their lead rather than waiting for someone else to do it for them.

Part of the problem is that “Web analytics software hasn’t evolved as quickly as online sharing and social signals,” Twitter’s Christopher Golda wrote in a blog post. This tool will help businesses to understand how much traffic they receive from Twitter and the effectiveness of Twitter integrations on their sites.

Previously, it was feasible for anyone to monitor web traffic coming through blogs and larger websites. Twitter has been described as a 140-character blog. The blog itself, so to speak, might be small, but visits to the blog can be massive, as the day Michael Jackson died, when Twitter sites crashed.

This new tool is a sophisticated one as it does more than just count heads. It helps users understand how much website content is being shared across the Twitter network, how much traffic Twitter sends to a site, and how effectively a site’s Tweet Button is being integrated.

Earlier, businesses have had difficulty to accurately measuring the amount of traffic Twitter is sending to their websites, in part because web analytics software hasn’t evolved as quickly as online sharing and social signals.

Click here to read more about the new Twitter Web Analytics tool.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Is @AplusK Tweeting His Own Tweets?


That was the sentiment express by Ashton Kutcher not long after he seemed to question the decision to fire Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

In case you were unaware, Paterno was fired for failing to follow-up on charges that an assistant coach was molesting young boys in the locker room. That assistant coach was later arrested. Paterno did report the allegations to school authorities, but when nothing was done by them, Paterno carried on with business as usual.

fast forward to last night when word came down that Paterno had been fired from his job at Penn State. Kutcher chimed in via Twitter with this gem: “How do you fire Joe Pa?”

That brought on the "whoops" moment, when Kutcher later Tweeted that he felt "awful about this error" and would "stop tweeting until I find a way to properly manage this feed."

This Tweet would seem to imply someone else (clearly a Joe Paterno fan) has been managing his uber popular Twitter feed. With 8 million Followers, Kutcher is by far one of the most popular celebrities on Twitter. This is due in no small part to the fact that Kutcher seemed to be genuine in his Tweets; interacting directly with his multitude of fans.

Now it seems the cat is out of the bag and he may have joined the ranks of those who use the work of someone else to keep their Twitter feed current and relevant.

How about you? Who runs your Twitter feed?

For someone who has over 8 million followers and a reputation to uphold, this blunder was titanic.

But this case of overreacting on social media, without knowing all the facts, is not unique to this event. Social Media has changed our society and culture as it allows for instant communication. But this instantaneous medium is a double-edged sword. While allowing us to share ideas in real-time and around the globe, it also prompts instant reactions which are not constructive to the conversation. No longer do we take the time to think on an issue and do a little bit of research to figure out the context and all the facts surrounding it. Instead, when we see something that we disagree with on the surface, we respond immediately and sometimes forcefully; then move on to the next, never having taken the time to study the issue. This makes us look foolish and ignorant and contributes nothing productive to the conversation.

While social media presents a unique opportunity to communicate more effectively with each other, we should take the time to study the facts of an issue before succumbing to the temptation to tweet out a knee-jerk reaction.

Click here to read more about the social media impact of the Paterno firing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Steve Jobs Was Right: Say Goodbye To "Adobe Flash"

Somewhere, right now, Steve Jobs is smiling.

That's because Adobe announced today that it was ending support for its (so far) vey popular Flash Player plug-in for mobile browsers and supporting HTML5 instead.

Jobs predicted as much when he announced the release of the Apple iPad which did not support Flash. Many users were confused because HTML5 was no where to be found and Flash was everywhere, meaning they didn't have access to a plethora of websites (like YouTube) which offered Flash and not HTML5.

Jobs assured them that it was just a matter of time until developers switched to HTML5 because it offered more flexibility, more benefits for the end users and was the future of online video.

It took a few years, and much resisting from Adobe, but Jobs has been proven right.

It will take time for Adobe to make the switch, and more time for developers to catch up, but the end result will be a better mobile surfing experience for everyone, especially iPad users.

"Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores," the quoted e-mail says.

In the past, Adobe has released software tools for mobile developers that create a single platform programmers can use to make applications that work across three major mobile platforms: Android, iOS and the BlackBerry OS. While it's seemingly easier than learning all of the native languages for each operating system, some developers have claimed a loss in app performance when coding in a non-native language that then gets translated into other languages.

The move indicates a massive backpedaling on Adobe's part, a company who championed its Flash platform in the face of years of naysaying about its use on mobile devices. Despite Flash's near ubiquity across desktop PCs, many in the greater computing industry, including, famously, Apple Computer, have denounced the platform as fundamentally unstable on mobile browsers, and an intense battery drain. In effect, Flash's drawbacks outweigh the benefits on mobile devices.

Click here to read more about Adobe's recent announcement about Flash.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Social Media Buyers Aplenty In China

Calls of rampant Internet censorship aside, savvy social media marketers are looking toward China as the next online advertising Boom Town. And for good reason.

While China boasts the world's fastest growing Middle Class, it also boasts more technologically astute users who are not only adapting well to social media, but embracing it in huge numbers.

Not only are Chinese citizens to the Internet, they are also growing more trusting of the information they are receiving via social media. Namely, advertisements.

In fact, the numbers show that Chinese Internet users, specifically those using the Twitter-like service Sina Weibo, have tripled in the past year. Surveys show that the Chinese are a little hesitant about recommending products via social media but they are definitely more trusting of the advertisements they find there. This is a marked departure from their level of trust in traditional online advertising which has always trailed the United States.

This bodes very well for social media marketers looking to set up shop in the world's most populous nation. They stand a much greater chance of success in China than every before, provided they can work within the guidelines set down by the Chinese censors.

Only 20 per cent of the internet population in China use social media to share information about products with other consumers, compared with 37 per cent in the US, says McKinsey. But that number will doubtless grow, given the rise in willingness of social media users to believe what they hear from other people.

That means companies need to learn how to project their brand image, not just on television, in print and online, as in the old days, but increasingly on social media, according to Mark de Swaan Arons of Effective Brands, the global marketing consultancy.

Durex, the condom brand, is a model for how to do that in China, says Darius Karbassioun of BBH, the advertising agency, in Shanghai. At last count, Durex had 241,023 followers on Weibo, the leading Chinese microblog.

Click here to read the entire article and learn more about social media in China.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Who Manages Your Company Social Media?

If you are in business today the chances are that you are using at least some form of social media to help promote your brand. this might be anything from a daily blog post to an hourly Tweet; a Facebook Fan page or a Flickr account.

It's great that you are using social media to promote your brand, but you need to ask yourself, who is managing your social media and do they understand your corporate message?

In many cases the best people to manage your social media network at your employees. However, social media management is very time consuming, meaning an employee who is responsible for managing and monitoring your social media is likely not able to handle any other tasks. This makes hiring a professional social media management company a good idea.

However, you still need to make certain they have a clear road map to follow with a very specific call-to-action. A social media manager, whether they are someone within your organization or an outside firm needs a clear plan to follow. They also need to know what rules you need them to follow. If there are terms you want them to use, or things you do not want them to say, they need that information in writing.

In this way you can be confident that your social media is working for your best interests and not against them.

How to represent your brand on social media

One of the most commonly debated questions when brands enter social media is ‘how should we represent ourselves?’ With so many options to choose from it’s important to remember what your brand stands for and how you want to be perceived on the social web, because there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to setting up your profiles.

Do you want to ‘humanise’ the brand by getting employees to tweet from personal accounts, giving insight into their lives? Or does your brand need to retain its mystery and glamour by not presenting itself as overly ‘humanised’? Here are some guidelines, which are by no means factual but simply my perception of what different account structures suggest about a brand

Click here to read more about managing your brand on social media.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Restaurants Slow To Integrate Social Media

It surprises me that restaurants, known for their ability to build real-world social networks ("Let's all meet at Joe's for dinner!"), are having a hard time leveraging the power of social media.

Effective social media management is all about relationship building. We interact via social media as a way of building relationships, strong, lasting relationships, with people we might not ordinarily see in our day-to-day business. We want to use social media as a big neon sign that reads: "Try us out--you'll like us!'

In the past restaurants have relied upon word-of-mouth advertising. I was a restaurant manager for nearly a dozen years. If there was one hard and fast rule it was that a diner who had a good experience might tell a close friend, but a diner who had a bad experience would tell everyone they knew.

With the advent of social media this process is even easier. Just one click and they have told their entire network about the experience they had at your restaurant. If you are online and monitoring your social media network you can address these problems instantly rather than letting it fester by looking unconcerned.

You can also use your social media network to promote unique menu items, lunch or dinner specials or even a change in the decor. You can also use the Fan interaction to show you care about your diners, offering them special deals on their birthday or during special events.

In my opinion the worst thing you can do, whether you own a fine dining restaurant or a hot dog stand, is to avoid using social media. Unfortunately, not many restaurants CEO's are getting it...

Why should restaurant executives jump into the Twitter stream?

Jessica Miller-Merrell, chief executive at Xceptional HR and widely known tweeter @blogging4jobs, said executives can and should use Twitter to communicate with both customers and employees.

At her workshop on Nov. 1, “Blogging & Tweeting From the Corner Office: Social Media for Executives,” at the People Report/Black Box Intelligence Best Practices Conference in Dallas, Miller-Merrell said executives can use Twitter as a tool to communicate with employees and provide from-the-top information, instead of “smoke-break rumors.”

Click here to read more about restaurant executives and social media.

Does your favorite restaurant use social media? Tell me how:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What The Hell Is Google+?

It says something when tech-savvy folks are wondering, months after its launch, just what Google+ is supposed to be.

This has more to do with the way Google has been releasing the service than it does with users interpretation. Google has slowly been expanding the Google+ service; adding features, connecting it to other products and essentially expanding its reach across the entire landscape of Google services.

Interest in Google+ has certainly waned. it's not quite as hot as it was and people are gradually beginning to notice if they want to connect with the majority of their friends, Facebook is still the best option. This might change as time goes on and Google+ expands. It might change as soon as they add pages for businesses; it might change as they continue to improve the existing social aspect of their service.

Or it might not change at all if they simply make it a better way to integrate all the existing Google services under one umbrella. Gmail has been around for a decade, but I don't use it. I don't like Google Docs, either. I have a Google Voice number, but I don't use it. I have a Google+ account, but I haven't used it much either. I don't think I will use it more if they interconnect it with other Google services simply because I don't use that many of their other products.

All of which leads me to wonder: Who else is in the same boat as me? Leave me a comment.

Bradley Horowitz sits, in an office on the Google campus in Mountain View, the vista isn’t nearly so dire.

“I don’t blame the pundits,” he says, “they’re not privy to our long-term strategies.”

The comment may seem snide or passive-aggressive; it’s also true to some extent. To understand Google’s plans for Plus, Horowitz says, you need to listen less and watch more.

“Six months from now, it will become increasingly apparent what we’re doing with Google+,” he says with a measure of opacity. “It will be revealed less in what we say and more in the product launches we reveal week by week.”

Over the past couple of weeks, we have, in fact, been seeing Google+’s social features creep into other Google web products, including Reader and Blogger.

We were clued into the real scope of Google’s plans by Louis Gray, a relatively new employee of the company who is a product marketing manager for Google+. A few weeks ago, Gray gave us a glimpse at the long view: Plus isn’t a social network; it’s Google’s new way of getting you to use all its web products.

Now, Horowitz confirms that conception. As I explain to him the vision that Gray explained earlier to me, he says, “Directionally, the world you’re describing is the world we aspire to. And it will be much better than the current state for our users.”

Click here to read more about the Google+ long term plan.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How Useful Is 'Klout'?

Klout was the first site to come along and try to gauge a users social media reach and quantify it with a score. The algorithm they used was a secret (of course0 and often the numbers didn't always seem to jive with what people felt their reach actually was, but they still used it.

Recently they made a change to their 'secret algorithm' which caused most users scores to plummet. Klout said they made the change to reflect a more accurate gauge of a users social media reach, but users have so far been unimpressed.

My personal Klout score dropped just nine points, but I have friends, social media professionals who are very active in their network; whose updates, Tweets and blog posts are traded around regularly, and yet their scores dropped 20 points or more.

I have been working hard to increase my Klout score by interacting with more people across more of the networks they monitor. I added and began using a Flickr account and an account at My score actually went down.

I understand the importance of keeping their algorithm a secret. Google does the same thing. However, Google's algorithm actually works. When I search for something on Google I find it. When I try to increase my Klout score, nothing happens.

I am beginning to think Klout is just another one of those social media analytics tools which promises to deliver useable results but really just wants to gather more users and make itself seem relevant when it's actually not.

What do YOU think? Leave me a comment below.

As Sherilynn Macale wrote on

Quantity over quality

“My Twitter stream this morning seemed to consist of nothing but negative reactions to the recently rolled out Klout score changes. Friends of mine . . . reported score drops as high as 20 points. Others, disturbed by the sudden score nosedive, were quick to dismiss Klout’s supposedly ‘more accurate’ scoring model.”

Accurate in what sense? As pollster Brian Singh of Zinc Research told me recently, Klout’s main flaw is it measures quantity of publishing versus quality then uses that as a proxy for influence.

“Klout’s notion of influence values breadth of topics and nature of interaction,” says Singh. “It does not capture the important dimension of quality – the quality of the network nor the quality and richness of a personal connection.”

It all comes down to what you think influence is, and whether an algorithm can capture that.

Click here to read more about the fallout from the changes at Klout or leave a comment below.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Social Media Users More Likely To Vote

As the number of social media users continues to grow, a more distinct portrait of who they are and what they do is beginning to appear. Among the most surprisingly discoveries about social media savvy folks is that more than 80% of them are registered voters, making social media a key element of any political campaign.

Surely this factored into the success of the Obama Campaign in the 2008 election, and has everything to do with why today's political candidates all have an active social media profile.

But it also tells me something else: Social media spurs action.

In my opinion, if you are willing to spend the time setting up and managing an active social media profile then you are also more likely to devote your time to more worthwhile efforts. Like cleaning up a nearby stream, working at the local food bank or voting for effective leadership.

What we are learning about social media is that although it might seem to be full of frivolous activities like virtual farms and gangsters, it is also a great way to stay informed, get involved and make a difference is your own life.

Listen up 2012 candidates. According to Digitas 82% of US adults use social media, and 88% of those are registered voters.

Furthermore, almost two-thirds (61%) expect candidates to have a presence on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Such is the power and reach of social media that Digitas expects that, just as JFK was considered the first television President, 2012's winner could sway their victory via social media.

"In at least the last two election cycles, digital media has taken a profound a role in determining our next president as TV did in earlier generations," said Jordan Bitterman, SVP and Social Marketing Practice Director, Digitas. "But the results of this new research show that the extraordinary power of social networks to connect us and build relationships may have even greater impact on who wins in 2012."

Click here to read more about social media and politics.