Archives for posts with tag: social media

Thinking about social media in terms of apps and virality goes against what’s best about this technology. The beauty of platforms like Facebook is that brands and people can have a social exchange, not just a business exchange.

But this only happens when you have humans assigned to monitor the web and respond on behalf of your brand. It doesn’t happen through Facebook apps, Twitter contests or YouTube videos. Those things might supplement a campaign, but they are not a social media strategy and they are not a substitute for quality community management.

What Is Community Management?

Community managers maintain a brand’s presence online, sharing content and responding to feedback. This usually includes making posts to the company Facebook page and replying to tweets, but should not leave out monitoring and commenting on blogs, YouTube and other places where your brand is mentioned.

Community managers simultaneously serve the people and the brand, understanding the two aren’t at odds and finding ways to provide value to both.

Why Is Community Management Important?

Community managers allow companies and individuals to relate in a very human way, a connection that is not possible through mass marketing. Think about the love and loyalty people feel toward certain restaurants, salons or cruise lines. People feel stronger about these services than they do about products because of the human difference.

Apple brilliantly created Apple Stores with ‘Geniuses’ to help you find new products and fix your old ones. Forget the “I’m a Mac. I’m a PC” ads; this gives you the clearest idea what type of person Apple is and creates a deeper connection to the brand than someone would get buying a laptop from a general electronics store. A person might have a great experience buying a Dell at Best Buy and return when they need a new computer, but their loyalty is then likely stronger to the store than to Dell.

The point is human interaction does the most to affect how we feel about companies. Social media platforms give all brands the opportunity to have meaningful interactions with people and turn any product into a service. For instance, Kotex uses its Facebook page to answer questions about women’s health.

For now, good community management is something that will set a company apart. Think of the attention Southwest has gotten for their diligence on Twitter. Most people are still surprised and delighted when a company responds to them via social media, but soon it will be an expectation.

All the apps and contests and Facebook ads can’t replace the benefits of human interaction. Companies need to invest in community management.

I wish social media weren’t so cool.

There’s too much hype, too many buzzwords. It makes it seem like a gimmick, a fad, something that’s going to get played out.

Even now I roll my eyes at the endless Mashable posts about “engaging your fanbase” or commercials that end with “join the conversation.” It feels trite already, doesn’t it?

And that’s really not fair because what’s happening is meaningful and real. It’s a movement, a mindset, a rejection of tradition. I hate to see social media reduced to a checklist of websites and cliches.

So what’s the difference between how social media is often presented and how I see it?

The superficial view of social media is that it is:

  • A new channel for brand messages
  • A way to go viral
  • “Community Engagement”
  • A customer service outlet

To me, social media is:

  • An avenue for providing valuable information, entertainment or services
  • An opportunity to multiply impressions on shareworthy content
  • Connecting with many individuals in a true and compelling way
  • A shift toward brands being more responsible to consumers

I believe in what I do, and I look forward to the day social media stops being cool and just starts being the way things are.

The clever images accompanying this post come from Hugh MacLeod, who shares his inspiring thoughts on social media at http://gapingvoid.com and sells original work at http://gapingvoidgallery.com.

Facebook has added a new feature called Questions, which allows users and pages to ask questions in a format that makes polls more social and creates opportunities for brand content to go viral. The tool also makes it easier to get recommendations from friends and has implications for the future of social commerce.

Facebook Questions are easy to answer like polls, but more compelling because people have the option to add their own responses for others to vote upon. When people answer questions, it shows up on their walls and in their friends’ News Feeds, leading more people to participate and so on.

Last year Facebook tested a different version of Questions that asked people to write full text responses to questions a la Q&A site Quora. But Facebook recognized its users were more interested in opinions than facts and that they preferred clicking to writing. The new Questions should have much higher adoption.

For users it’s an easy and organized way to get thoughts and recommendations from friends. For brands, it’s an additional way to engage with and learn about consumers. And since Facebook pages are tagged in the answer options, it’s a new way for people to find and connect with brands.

Now imagine the possibilities for Questions if/when Facebook releases the API. As with the the Like button and the new comments plugin, Questions will blur the lines between on-Facebook and off-Facebook. For instance, at the end of every news article or blog post, the writer could pose a thought-starting or opinion-polling question. When someone answers that question, it would generate a News Feed story, leading more people to discover the content.

More interesting to ponder: what if you were looking at a pair of Nikes online and had the option to answer, “What do you like best about these shoes?” Or maybe you’re at Niketown and the question pops up on your phone when you scan a pair of sneakers. When you check out, you could be served a question about your service that day. The whole time your answers are being shared with friends to whom your opinions and experiences matter.

Whether used this way or in its simplest form, Facebook Questions is undoubtedly part of the movement toward an economy where our decisions are more influenced by our social networks than traditional advertising. Keep an eye on this.

My friend Michael Marantz and I collaborated cross-country Thursday night to create this video about how and why Egypt forced its people offline. Now, more than 70,000 people have watched it on YouTube and Vimeo.

When news broke that Egypt had shut down all Internet access, we decided the best thing we could do was help educate people about the situation and encourage them to spread awareness. We wanted to take advantage of the access to information and communications that Egypt was stripped of but we still had.

Since I live in LA and Michael lives in New York, we used Google Docs and Skype to collaborate on the piece. We gathered our information exclusively from online sources, checking Twitter for updates through the night. After the video was uploaded to YouTube at 6 a.m., L.A. time, we shared it with our networks and submitted it to Reddit. Since then we’ve watched it spread across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs and other social media.

The whole exercise has proven the power of the Internet, especially in the age of social media. Without it, the video could not have been made, let alone had the impact is has so far. Thank you to everyone who watched and shared it. The Internet is a great tool, but one that ultimately has power because of individuals.

As the year comes to a close and I reflect on the work I’ve done, I can’t help but think about how different Facebook was at the start of 2010.

Facebook’s own timeline isn’t very helpful, except to show that Facebook gained 200 million users since December 2009.  Even Flowtown, maker of many great infographics, failed to show just how much Facebook did this year. That’s why I put together this comprehensive, but probably still not complete, timeline of Facebook in 2010.

Some changes helped marketers, others seemed to be direct attacks against us. The introduction of the Open Graph Protocol and social plugins like the Like Button have, in only a few months, begun to reshape the face of the web. With Places and Deals, we have major new features to incorporate in our campaigns. We have more analytics about the Pages we manage and the apps we implement. We can share larger photos and Like our fans’ comments. And Facebook ad targeting is becoming increasingly more effective.

There were many other additions, tweaks and redesigns that have changed the way we all consume and interact with Facebook. It’s mind-blowing to think of what next year could hold.

But I’m excited to find out.

Facebook Timeline 2010

January

February

March

April

May

  • Added ability to create Events from the homepage
  • Launched 0.facebook.com, a simplified mobile version of the site that can be accessed free to international users with certain carriers
  • Changed the privacy settings dashboard in wake of controversy from the Open Graph and Instant Personalization announcements (Facebook claims to have simplified the process for controlling privacy, but the interface still needs work)

June

July

August

September

October

November

  • Announced Single Sign-On, which is like Facebook Connect for mobile apps
  • Introduced Deals, an addition that lets businesses offer coupons or other deals to people checking in with Facebook Places
  • Announced new Messages product, which combines text, chat and email to make communication more seamless. This feature has not been released to all users.

December

I wish I had a Facebook fan for every person who told me they didn’t understand Twitter.

Twitter has gotten a lot of attention because of its early adopters: food trucks, celebrities, polical activists and other news-makers. Now brands are all over the service.

The only people who don’t use Twitter are people I know.

The few friends of mine who use it regularly are people I know from journalism school (more on this later). No one else seems to see the point. ‘What?’ you say. The first users of Facebook aren’t hip to the new social network?

No — because Twitter isn’t a social network.

Sure, you can use it to connect with friends, but it’s a pretty awful platform for it. (Conversations aren’t threaded; profile info is limited to your name, location and 140 characters; direct messages notoriously become public, etc.)

In reality, Twitter is a microblogging platform.

This, of course, only makes sense if you understand blogging. Blogs are for people passionate about a particular subject — food, parenting, tech, politics, advertising, celebrity gossip, knitting, you name it. The popular misconception about blogs is that they are online accounts of one’s life. This is a problem on Twitter as well.

It is usually more rewarding to read a stranger’s blog about a topic you care about than to read a personal blog written by someone you know, unless your friend is a brilliant or hilarious writer. Same with Twitter.

Unfortunately, most people I know would describe Twitter as ‘like your Facebook status but it has to be 140 characters.’ Hard to see the appeal in that. My friends from journalism school, however, seem to understand Twitter as the microblogging service it is, and they are drawn to it because they are avid consumers and sharers of information.

In short, I don’t see Twitter ever reaching a billion users like its founder thinks it will. Twitter is currently an important part of what I do as a social media coordinator and community manager for brands, but it is much harder to find value in and and is much more easily replaced than Facebook.

And I’m not just saying that because I love Mark Zuckerberg.