15 Minute Social Media for Business

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I spoke today with the Slippery Rock Business Association about social media and how they could use it to build business. Here’s the slideshow I used as a framework:

Key questions you might ask

1. Where can social media make the greatest impact for your business?

2. How can you blend social media into your existing communications and operations?

3. What social media and networks are your customers, stakeholders, employees, and competitors using?

What’s the value of social media?

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Today I spoke on a panel* on the topic of Media, for the current Leadership Butler County class. On the panel with me were Joe Taylor of ARMSTRONG, Scott Briggs of the Butler County Radio Network, and Keith Graham of the Butler Eagle, each representing their business and, to some extent, their media (television, radio, and print news respectively).

My brief was to represent “New Media” — kind of a big area. I decided to focus on three questions that people often ask me about social media and online networks:

  • Who has time for social media?
  • Which should my company/organization be on: Facebook or Twitter?
  • What is the ROI of social media?

Here are the slides that accompanied my talk.

* Yes, another one! This month has been crazy with panel presentations. (back)

Follow Me: How to Use Social Networks to Build Visibility & Drive Sales

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Today I’ll be speaking on a panel at the 5th Annual Business Technology Conference, organized by the Small Business Development Center at Duquesne University. Our moderator will be Betsy Benson, Publisher and Vice President of Pittsburgh Magazine, and sharing the panel with me will be the delightful Victoria Dilliott, owner of Affogato Coffee Bar.

Our session title: “Follow Me: How to Use Social Networks to Build Visibility & Drive Sales.”

Follow Me: How to Use Social Networks to Build Visibility & Drive Sales



View more presentations from Big Big Design.

My portion of the session will be an evolution of a session I gave at PodCamp Pittsburgh 5, “Blogging for Business.” I wanted to expand on the ideas I’d discussed at PodCamp, going beyond blogging to a more comprehensive social media communications strategy (and actually beyond social media to online communication as a general thing).

The slideshow includes lots of neat visuals from Flickr and elsewhere (all Creative Commons attributed), but there’s one particular visual I’d like to highlight: the “Killer Blog Strategy Mind-Map” diagram by Johnny Haydon. Communications — and social media/online communications in particular — act much like a loop system, and this diagram does a great job of visualizing the loops of causes and effects. A full diagram of the system would be much more complex, but sometimes the complete complexity obscures the core of what’s going on. If you’re trying to set out your plan to build communications (and community) online, this diagram is the place to start.

More notes to come after the presentation.

FOLLOW-UP:

Thanks to everyone who attended our session. What a fine discussion we had! Very big thanks to Victoria for sharing her story, and to Betsy for moderating the session.

Here is more information for some examples I mentioned during the talk:

Cooks Source controversy: Thorough summary write-up here, the main post by the blogger who first discovered her material had been reprinted without permission.

A sample of how Paper.li shows interesting content from a Twitter account and the users it follows: my Paper.li

Eat’n'Park using social media for last-minute promotions during the Stanley Cup playoffs: coverage in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (6/21/2009)

Privacy, social networks, and our online selves

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Two interesting discussions of personal privacy and online social networks.

First, this article about the permanence of online information and its implications for an individual’s reputation: “The Web Means the End of Forgetting,” by Jeffrey Rosen, New York Times Magazine.

We’ve known for years that the Web allows for unprecedented voyeurism, exhibitionism and inadvertent indiscretion, but we are only beginning to understand the costs of an age in which so much of what we say, and of what others say about us, goes into our permanent – and public – digital files. The fact that the Internet never seems to forget is threatening, at an almost existential level, our ability to control our identities; to preserve the option of reinventing ourselves and starting anew; to overcome our checkered pasts.

Second, a presentation about designing online networks: “The Real Life Social Network v2,” by Paul Adams. This is intended for designers of web properties, but I believe there’s value here for any organization that’s working to create an online community, including for customer interactions or referrals.

How to simplify your privacy on Facebook (and everywhere else on the web)

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How to navigate Facebook Privacy Settings, from the New York Times

How to navigate Facebook Privacy Settings, from the New York Times

Yesterday the New York Times made a noble attempt to map Facebook’s new, super-complicated privacy settings, via a few well-designed graphics and an accompanying article (“The Price of Facebook Privacy? Start Clicking,” by Nick Bilton, 5/12/2010).

The new opt-out settings certainly are complex. Facebook users who hope to make their personal information private should be prepared to spend a lot of time pressing a lot of buttons. To opt out of full disclosure of most information, it is necessary to click through more than 50 privacy buttons, which then require choosing among a total of more than 170 options.

Users must decide if they want only friends, friends of friends, everyone on Facebook, or a customized list of people to see things like their birthdays or their most recent photos. To keep information as private as possible, users must select “only friends” or “only me” from the pull-down options for all the choices in the privacy settings, and must uncheck boxes that say information will be shared across the Web.

If you have a Facebook account, it’s worth taking a few minutes to understand what information is being shared with other members of the site, whether they’re your friends or the general public.

But the most important rule about privacy online still stands: If you have information that you want to keep private, do not put it online.

This applies to explicit information like data, photos, and video, and also to implicit data like your connections — who you know or have worked for, for example. It applies to your thoughts and opinions, including likes and dislikes.

Keep in mind that sending an email is a means of putting information online. Once it’s sent, you have no control over where it ends up.

Results versus hype: can small businesses realize value from social media?

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An article in the Wall Street Journal last week (“Entrepreneurs Question Value of Social Media,” Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ 3/15/2010) said that a recent study showed that small firms were having mixed results in their use of social media.

In and among the survey results, the article gives several examples of companies seeing a positive ROI on their social media investment. There’s a common thread among them: Each successful firm has been consistent in using the tools over time, and patient in waiting for results.

Some entrepreneurs say they’ve found early indicators that their
social-media efforts are paying off.

“The people coming from social media have been buying,” says Stephen
Bailey, who oversees social-media and other marketing initiatives for
John Fluevog Boots & Shoes Ltd., a footwear and accessories retailer
in Vancouver with about 100 employees.

As evidence, Mr. Bailey points to a 40% increase in online sales in
2009, the first full year the company engaged consistently in
social-media marketing, compared with 2008 when it was just getting
started. He says he can draw a correlation between those figures and
social media by looking at traffic to the company’s Web site from
Twitter using Hootsuite, a free Twitter-management service from Invoke
Media Inc. Other free services that track Web traffic from social-media
sites include Google Analytics, CoTweet and Lodgy.

“The second we started using social media, it became one of the
biggest drivers of traffic outside of search engines,” says Mr. Bailey,
adding that his research shows these visitors spend as much time on
Fluevog.com as those who come from other online destinations. The
company doesn’t invest in paid advertising on social media, he adds.

John Fluevog Boots & Shoes is one of the companies I give as an example in our workshops on social media, particularly for their use of their Facebook page. Their social media interaction extends beyond Facebook though. On their website they solicit customer feedback, hold contests, and find myriad ways to entertain and engage customers. As Mr. Bailey of Fluevog says, social media complements these other efforts. It’s a useful example of a firm using online networking as part of a larger strategy.

FAQ: Should my organization create a Facebook Page or Facebook Group?

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Q: I’m on the leadership team of a nonprofit, and we want to use Facebook to connect with potential donors and volunteers. Should we create a Page or a Group?

A: If you’re creating the official presence of an entity on Facebook — whether an organization or a business — you should create a Page.

Here’s how Facebook describes the difference between Pages and Groups:

Like a friend’s profile, Facebook Pages enable public figures, businesses, organizations and other entities to create an authentic and public presence on Facebook. Unlike your profile, Facebook Pages are visible to everyone on the internet by default. You, and every person on Facebook, can connect with these Pages by becoming a fan and then receive their updates in your News Feed and interact with them.


Authenticity is at the core of Facebook. Just as profiles should represent real people and real names, so too should Pages for entities. Only the official representatives of a public figure, business or organization should create a Facebook Page. …

While Pages were designed to be the official profiles for entities, such as celebrities, brands or businesses, Facebook Groups are the place for small group communication and for people to share their common interests and express their opinion. Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, issue or activity to organize, express objectives, discuss issues, post photos and share related content. …

(Thanks to @broganmedia for tweeting about this explanation.)

Pages have several features that Groups don’t. They can import an RSS feed into their Notes, so any blog posts your organization’s site generates could automatically be posted on your Facebook Page; they display visit, interaction, and fan demographic stats to Page administrators; and they have more flexibility in adding apps (including fundraising apps and store apps) and displaying information.

The next question we often hear is, “What if we already have a Group and want to switch to a Page?” There’s no easy way to make the transition. But you should transition anyway, to get the benefits of Pages. The sooner you make the change, the better.

Here’s what to do: Create your new Page, add information like your logo, photos, blog feed, and other content, then send a message to all the members of your Group that you are switching to a Page and the Group will be deleted. Invite the Group members to join you at the new Page; include a link to the Page so they find it easily. Send a second reminder about the switch a week later, and after two weeks send a final notice and delete the Group.

Then, work on creating great content and inviting participation on your new Page, so fans have a reason to visit often and interact with your organization and with each other.

Social media, diversity, and human resources: a lively mix

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Day 20.06 _ Diversity and Unity

Yesterday I was a panelist for two sessions on social media at the WPDI Diversity and Inclusiveness Conference. The focal point of our discussion was human resources issues: how can social media tools can help recruit and engage great employees, and what issues social media creates regarding HR management.

But as always, we also spent a lot of time talking about what social media are, how to think about and deal with them, and how they are changing corporate and organizational cultures. Continue reading

The 6 Types of Social Media Sites

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Postvakjes ("Pigeonholes") by Photocapy

Postvakjes ("Pigeonholes") by Photocapy

In introducing social media sites and tools to business people, I’ve found it helpful to group sites into categories based on what they do best and how a business or organization might find them useful.

Here are the categories I use, and the strengths I see in each:

Blogs and podcasts primarily value passion and interestingness. For business, they are most useful for thought leadership, feedback, site quality/search result ranking.

Group networks (like BlogHer) primarily value community and discussion. For business, they are most useful for understanding or targeting a community or market segment.

Social networks (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn) primarily value connections and newness/freshness of information. For business, they are most useful for targeting and cultivating community, and for conveying humanness.

Media networks (YouTube, Flickr, Picasa) primarily value popularity, interestingness, and availability of content. For business, they are most useful for distributing content to an interested audience.

Bookmarking sites (Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon) value popularity/change in popularity and archiving. For business they are most useful for trend-spotting and news-spotting, curation/edition/thoughtleadership, and knowledge-sharing within a group or organization.

Twitter (which I put in its own category) values freshness/speed and linking over depth. For business, it is most useful for capturing and responding to feedback, and for communicating one-to-one.

Categories are useful but also controversial: Each person sees things in different ways and places emphasis according to his personal world view. I’m pretty sure that categories are second only to ranked lists in creating flame wars.

But a little controversy keeps things lively, don’t you think?

Do these groupings match how you see the social media landscape? What groups have I missed? What strengths or weakness did I leave out? How do you explain this online world?