As a social media company, at Feedback we notice two prevailing sentiments from corporate leadership.
No. 1: “We need to be on Twitter because [competitors’ names] are.”
No. 2: “I want to retire before I have to learn this crap.” Read More
As a social media company, at Feedback we notice two prevailing sentiments from corporate leadership.
No. 1: “We need to be on Twitter because [competitors’ names] are.”
No. 2: “I want to retire before I have to learn this crap.” Read More »
If the newspaper industry could have its way, it'd probably prefer the Internet was never invented, and, if possible, throw Twitter and Facebook into a furnace.
The other day I downloaded some mobile app I was referred to called Ditto. If you haven’t heard of it, all you really need to know is that it’s for groups of people to schedule get-togethers or something like that. For the purposes of understanding where I’m going with this, its specific purpose doesn’t really matter. Read More »
If you’re one of the fortunate folks like myself who have the opportunity to work with social media on a professional basis, you probably spend your days trying to enhance the profile of your company or your clients, pondering new ideas to help create a return on investment.
At a certain point, it’s easy to lose what attracted us to social media in the first place: the opportunity to have a deeper connection with the things we love and are passionate about. But in examining social media from a non-vocational viewpoint, we can uncover concepts that translate into digital success in the business world.
Take sports as an example. Beyond the raving narcissists like Chad Ochocinco (@ochocinco), a number of professional athletes have taken to Twitter and, without a publicist or PR person looking over their shoulder, embraced it like a newfound freedom to express themselves.
While this often proves controversial (@charliesheen, anyone?), it’s also very personal and real. How cool would it be to be retweeted by your favorite basketball player? It happens all the time. Or they’ll announce a meet-up or a charity event they’re involved in that you too can be a part of. But it’s not just the athletes. Coaches get involved too.
Former University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer (@CoachUrbanMeyer) and University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) routinely offer up little nuggets, like announcing honors for players or throw out updates on recruiting.
From the fan perspective, this is fun way to engage with our favorite sports brands and figures. The teams, companies and players become more human to us, we become bigger champions of them, and in return we watch more sports, buy more memorabilia, and buy more tickets. This is social media participation that provides us with an experience, not just a Twitter stream with the latest stats or scores, or a team having an online account for the sake of saying they have one.
NFL PR czar Brian McCarthy (@NFLPRguy) is an active tweeter as well. Some of my favorite feeds to follow are reporters. I logged onto Twitter during the Heat/Knicks game the other night and ESPN.com’s Michael Smith (@mrmichael_smith) was livetweeting the game. All of a sudden, my experience changed and I was now watching the game with one of my favorite sports commentators.
What could be better than that? Actually being a commetator yourself. I looked up my favorite basketball team, the Los Angeles Lakers on Q&A site Quora.com the other day and saw the question, “Why are the Lakers underperforming this season?” So I crafted an answer (if so inclined, find it here) and responded as though I was working for SportsCenter.
Other people can now see and comment and add their own opinions to my post. Thanks to social media, I’m now part of the dialogue. It’s better than boxscores in the morning paper and, sometimes, even catching a game on TV.
When I think about social media for companies and non-profits, I consider the enjoying experiences I have in my personal life online. If we create this for a client, will people use it? If so, how often? How will audiences use it? When?
Don’t just jump onto the latest social media buzzword hoping it’ll help you move more widgets. Instead, consider the ways it can create an enjoyable experience that people will want to come back to again and again. Do it right, and your returns are guaranteed.
- Thomas (@thomasmcdonald)
If you want more responsibility with no extra pay, personal reward mixed with times of borderline mental breakdown, and the obligation to a living thing that would starve without you, have a kid.
Alternatively, you can start a blog.
The dime-a-dozen self-proclaimed social media experts found on every corner in America will suggest that companies dipping into the web for the first time start a blog. “It’ll increase search engine optimization,” they’ll tell you in fancy online terms, motioning for you to reach for your checkbook. They’ll say a blog will keep things fresh, and help establish you as an expert in your field.
And they are right. Blogging is, truly, a great way to do all of those things.
Blogging, however, is also one of the last recommendations I’d make to an organization desiring to move into interactive media (still, many companies will insist that they “must” have one). I’ve seen very few companies blog with success, and keep up with it over time. At most (and I have no statistics, just personal observation) a company blog has a life expectancy of between 1 year and 2.5 years, at most, before a precipitous decline in postings. Check out any small or mid-sized business’ website that has a blog, and you’re probably going to see posts that publish either once or twice every month, or ended publishing sometime in early 2010. It’s a digital law, much how the online comments section of a news site will almost always contain a reference to Hitler.
Blogs are also insanely hard to make popular. At this stage in the game, the major blogs have their followings (Mashable, TechCrunch), and whipping up a popular one has the same barrier to entry as starting up a new airline. It’ll take a lot of money, time, and maybe even some jet engines.
For a company (or person) that wants to start a successful blog, it is important to think – to really, really think – about what they are doing. A blog, in essence, is an electronic monster that will always be hungry for more content. And good content. And if the content well runs dry, the blog begins to starve and shed readers who likely won’t come back and find another blog that offers similar stuff.
Content is essential. As a matter of fact, the term “content” isn’t being stressed enough these days, as the industry focuses on platforms or social network advertising or mobility. None of this stuff can work without good content that people want. Everyone can draw, write, or take pictures, but not everyone is an artist, writer, or photographer. You must have these types of creative-minded people to manage a blog.
So how does an organization blog with success? Two tips. I’d offer more, but, well, I can’t give away all of my trade secrets.
1. Divvy up the responsibility. If you create an editorial calendar and divide posts among employees or managers, you have created something with multiple authors who only have to blog once a month, possibly less. You also create a chorus of different voices with unique perspectives and knowledge.
2. Build a content engine. If the organization has what I call a content engine, then a blog – or a website’s news section – is a great choice. One client we work with, a trade association, receives multiple press releases every day from its members, which are then turned into blog blurbs. That blog is now one of the leading sources of news in its industry, simply because news is being fed to it on a constant basis.
We’ve been hearing about the end of blogging for years. That’s likely because blogs are always dying, their owners simply running out of coal to shovel into the furnace. I’d imagine, though, that this time is different, as the rise of social networking and mobility has given way to content creation in a variety of different places, in real-time, and in shorter bursts of byte-size information. From Crain’s Chicago Business:
Some [bloggers] have simply switched to another blog-like medium, say, Twitter or Facebook. Others have faced unpleasant facts about blogging. It’s cheap to do but usually doesn’t pay. Having a platform may be fun at first, but building a following takes much more work than simply typing and posting.
And millions of them go virtually unnoticed, despite the occasional breakout sensation like the humorous “Stuff White People Like” and the Julia Child-inspired “The Julie/Julia Project.”
When “people see these, they say, ‘I can do that—it will be easy,’ “ says Raanan Bar-Cohen, vice-president of media services at San Francisco-based WordPress, which hosts 16.5 million blogs. “If you’re looking for fame and fortune, blogging has as good a chance as any medium,” he adds.
Well, perhaps it’s a better chance than winning the lottery.
I’m a proponent of curiosity. Here at Feedback, I do a lot of research. It’s is the key ingredient in any strategic plan, providing the foundation for what is to come and how best to proceed. Without it you’re like a castaway on a makeshift raft in shark-infested waters with no compass. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Why curiosity? What does it have to lend to all of this research stuff?
Curiosity is what makes people seek out information. It comes in many forms, but usually begins like this: “I wonder…” or “What if…” and then insert who, what, where, when, or how. I ask myself these questions all the time when doing research for clients. It ensures that the information they receive ends up as thorough and detailed as possible. Plus, it leads to some interesting analysis and insight on the lay of the land in the social media world – and in the physical world.
Feedback recently undertook a project that monitored how international social media users interact with one other and how they use mobile and web applications during company events. Examining the social media use and presence of four countries – the United States, France, Germany and Spain – I came back with a few of the points that I wanted to share:
Some of the studies that informed our research in this area are available at the following sites:
Let me start off by saying that I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks, if not months. I first heard of Groupon while visiting family in the Hampton Roads area and looked it up to see if there was something similar for Richmond. It had yet to launch in either location, but at least the publicity had started in Tidewater. It’s such a simple concept at its foundation: Buy with friends, everyone saves. My first thought was pooling money in college to rent a van for a weekend trip to the beach or camping. But clearly, Groupon has always been about something bigger. By the time it launched in Richmond, I had begun to see and hear about it everywhere. Daily emails from Advertising Age, articles in USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, even the TV news magazine Nightline (embedded below) were all doing features on the group buying phenomenon. For those of you who don’t follow along with those resources, here’s the story.
Groupon was founded by Andrew Mason, now 29, a musician by trade, who was doing web design work with a Chicago serial entrepreneur by the name of Eric Lefkofsky before accepting a scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in public policy from the prestigious Harris School at the University of Chicago. The engine behind Groupon was developed as part of a fundraising site called The Point, where people could pledge donations to a cause, but not be charged until the pre-established goal was met. The site attracted a wide range of non-profits, but ultimately, Mason’s desire to monetize the project lead him away from charity and towards collective buying. And thus, Groupon was born in November 2008.
The ‘cult of Groupon’, as detractors have called it, developed rapidly. Mason told Nightline that they started with just seven employees, but has since grown into the old Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago’s River North district, with a workforce of several hundreds. The product seems so obvious: One great deal, every day, in your inbox. Like The Point, when a pre-determined sales figure is reached, the deal is on. Groupon and the deal-offering business split the proceeds.
Naturally, with such stunning success and an easily replicated concept, Groupon has inspired myriad imitators. In Richmond, in particular, LivingSocial seemed to launch at the exact same time. Established sites like Yelp have gotten in on the act, while one-time Internet titan AOL has also set aside a URL for a similar project at Wow.com. Even the largest retailer in the world, Walmart, is looking for a piece of the action: it debuted a feature called Crowdsaver on its Facebook page that offers a low-priced offering based on consumer demand as demonstrated by the amount of “Likes” a deal receives. Facebook itself will surely get in on the action soon.
With two years of dizzying success under their belts, as well as a boatload of revenue and investment cash, Groupon seems adamant to maintain its position, aggressively buying up clones around both the country and the world. A nationwide offering from the Gap that broadened the otherwise locally-focused business model attracted almost a half million individual sales. You can expect similar deals to follow. Meanwhile, the imitators who don’t sell out will seek to distinguish themselves, perhaps with added gaming elements or rewards for repeat buyers. For many consumers still fighting the effects of the economic downturn, the prevalence of such deal sites is a breath of fresh air.
As always, I appreciate your comments and questions. Find me on Twitter or feel free to email me: Thomas AT feedbackagency DOT com
Note: This is the first of many posts by the newest Feedbacker, Jeff Kelley.
Will Facebook die? It’s a question I get a lot. Perhaps because I’m a blogger and have a Twitter account and know cool techy tricks like how to turn off Google SafeSearch and I work for a company that makes its living doing work online, and therefore I’m supposed to know these things. Quite honestly, you’d be better off asking me if I’d one day like to own a grenade launcher, as I could give you a definitive answer: “Absolutely.”
But I do not possess such a weapon yet, and regarding Facebook’s death, all I have is an opinion. And my opinion is that Facebook will go away, and probably sometime in the next few years. But what will be left behind are the communities, concepts and connections that Facebook has created (all FarmVille farms will perish, though, hopefully by plague).
The problem for Facebook is that its best features – the features that are most widely used – are being copied and made better by other developers. You can go to places besides Facebook to talk to old friends, meet new ones, find upcoming events, discover new links, look at photos of folks, and – most importantly – stalk people you think are attractive. You just have to use multiple services to do it. Facebook is really the only place that people are going to do all that stuff in one place.
We are fast approaching an era when people will be able to customize their online experience with a variety of social networking services instead of just one big one. To put it one way: You can shop at Walmart for everything, or take an extra few minutes and visit a bunch of cooler, smaller shops.
At Feedback, we’re already seeing signs of Facebook’s great unraveling. Know when bands become “too” popular? Even the original fans start to pull away. We’re looking at you, Dave Matthews Band.
If you cut past the movie reviews and privacy issues and research what’s being said about Facebook on a grassroots level, you’ll hear from serious web users who balk at Facebook for being too mainstream. That there are too many people on it. That there are an array of better services to use to network online. That there’s too much noise on Facebook. Complaints about grammar. About too much information. And enough with the baby pictures or photos of that giant new engagement ring.
Many people, while still keeping their Facebook accounts as a sort of abandoned online home (think MySpace three years ago), are turning to less-mainstream networking services such as Twitter, Tumblr or a mix of other apps and tools found on iPhones or Droids or BlackBerrys. Games made popular on Facebook because of the social aspects can now also be played on increasingly faster and better mobile devices, and with other people. Facebook’s Events feature (which has largely become an annoyance: “Come to my DJ party 12 states away!”) are made more personal and less obnoxious through Eventbrite or RSVPHere.com, the latter of which essentially allows you to create, for free, a little microblog for your event. People can RSVP through the site, and events stay a bit more private than they would on Facebook. Plus, it’s easy to use.
You can share links and articles through a cool newspaper-like service called Paper.Li. A neat photo-sharing app for iPhone called Instagram is basically Twitter with pictures. Tumblr is the latest social media media darling. You can even add the location where you took the photo.
There are hundreds of these types of services. Many will fail. Some will not. And those are the ones that you will combine together as you desire, eventually bringing Facebook to its knees. That sentence was way too overly dramatic.
Facebook is already failing in some of its offerings. It may be too soon to call its Places location feature a dud, but Foursquare is doing a much better job of alerting burglars to empty homes.
Now, enough hate on Facebook. Let’s be real: It’s a great thing. It’s fun. It has enormous use in the business world. It connects people to companies and brands to the masses. It’s a lead generator for everything to music to movies to news articles or those neat-o things on the Internet. Facebook has a long time to go before it’s gone, even by technology standards.
Whether Facebook is here to stay depends on how well it can respond to the growing market of individual services that can do the same things it does, and how people will use those services to create their own experiences. If that’s the case, Facebook may be to social media to what the Model-T was for the automobile.
“The (social media) blackout isn’t really that bad. Anyone with a 3G phone can still view these sites on campus.” – Harrisburg University Student
I think it’s safe to say that we aren’t surprised at the results of Harrisburg University’s social media blackout experiment. Reports are trickling in that the number of students who actually went cold turkey without any social media for the week averaged between 10% – 15%. Students were found hiking to a local hotel to log into Facebook through the hotel lobby’s wifi. And of course, anyone with a 3G phone could access social media sites.
As listed on the Harrisburg’s website, the goal of the social media blackout was:
“To get students, staff and faculty to think about social media when they are not available.”
Many are reporting that this experiment failed. The most obvious observation is because trying to block social media in this day and age is nearly impossible. And with only 10% – 15% of the campus “playing by the rules,” is this a true assessment of how the university’s population is affected? Perhaps the university should have researched the campus first, as Feedback EVP, Dean Browell stated:
If the statement they want to make is that the students should re-evaluate their communication methods and the effect such methods have on their life, it would do great justice to their cause that they understand the lesson before it is taught.
Like we mentioned before, there were a lot of assumptions made without any research or in depth understanding of how/why certain audiences on Harrisburg’s campus communicate. How was communication and productivity measured beforehand in order to reach a true assessment of this experiment?
Perhaps it was a public relations stunt. If so, brilliant for getting your name out there! Even if Jimmy Fallon did say on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,
We all have smartphones, dumb ass.
- Heather (@hmillar13)