This post is acting as the materials for my session being held on Sunday, October 16 in Cincinnati, Ohio. I will be speaking to members of NALS…the association for legal professionals.
Okay…I know I have worn out the “Join the Conversation” title but hopefully I have changed it up enough to keep you engaged and interested. This will be the last one. I will come up with something new for the next one, I promise!
If you have been to one of my other presentations (Join the Conversation & Personal Branding Using Social Media) I generally start out with some ridiculous stats to prove to you that social media is making an impact around the world and probably in your life as well. I do not think that is necessary any more. We all know that Facebook is large enough to be its own country and that Twitter is growing and being seen more and more in the main stream. We all watch YouTube videos, most of us are signed up for LinkedIn and there are a few of you out there that are checking in on FourSquare or something similar. You get it right? Social media outlets are everywhere and we are all probably starting to use them more and more. I would go out on a limb and say that many of you utilize them more than some traditional media/communication outlets of the past. I for one, use Twitter as my main breaking-news source. I use Facebook to message friends more than I call them on the phone and I get my coupons from Groupon and FourSquare. Unlike my father who still reads three papers per day, I pick up my iPad and see what is flying around online and I use blogs and RSS feeds to gather that news. Times aren’t changing…they have already changed.
So with all that said how do you better harness the power of social media outlets and all that they have to offer? Well that is what we are going to talk about.
TweetDeck is my preferred tool of choice for managing my social media outlets. It gives you a one-stop resource to watch your Twitter feed, follow your Facebook friends updates, find out what is trending and update both Twitter and Facebook at the same time if you want. TweetDeck can also be used for LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace and Google Buzz. You can customize the look and feel of the program and can organize it the way that works best for you. It also has a built-in URL shortener to keep those long URLs from stealing your characters. You can post pictures and record video from your webcam all from this user-friendly application that serves as a hub of all things social media.
Hootsuite would be my number two in the world of management tools and it is very similar to TweetDeck. It also has the same capabilities as TweetDeck but offers some additional features that are loved by many professional users. They have the capability to give you analytics on you accounts and can be linked to Google Analytics to put your website traffic in front of you along with your social media updates. You can also add your favorite RSS feeds to your Hootsuite settings so that they all are in one location. Unlike TweetDeck, Hootsuite does not have a native desktop application. It functions within a web browser rather than in its own application.
Seesmic is my third choice when it comes to social media tools. It was one of the first on the scene but did little to separate itself the way that TweetDeck and Hootsuite have. It is still a solid choice that includes most of the features of the other two in a little bit of a different layout. You can still manage your social accounts in one place and it can be used as either a browser based option or as a desktop application much like TweetDeck. Where Seesmic has separated itself is in the business world. With more than 90 third-party integrations you can set up Seesmic to connect with Salesforce, Yammer and even Stocktwits which are all corporate and business oriented options.
There are additional options out there to help you manage your digital presence. It is a matter of trying them out and finding the one that works the best for you. By the way, these are all free to use! Start downloading and play with them until you find the one you like the best.
Google+ sprang onto the scene a couple of months ago with the usual Google buzz and hype. I, like many of you probably, got an invite and joined. To this day I am not sure why to use it. It is a repetition of things we are already using. It is a repeat of Facebook and Twitter as far as the information you post and receive from your friends or followers. It is yet another venue to visit and check with the people you are already checking with on your other social networks. It is backed by Google so it will stick around for a while but as they did with some of their other attempts to break into this game they are too late. Facebook is at 750 million users and growing…it is going to be hard to get them to switch to a new platform even though Facebook’s recent changes have made many of their users second guess this. The one cool aspect of Google+ is that you can group your friends into “circles” showing you your own clicks of friends so that you can keep topics and trends separated between your different circles.
Pinterest. My wife’s new obsession, narrowly taking over from Angry Birds! This new player in the game of social media is nailing a need straight on the head. This platform allows users to “Pin” things that they like while surfing the internet. It can be an article, blog post, picture…pretty much anything you can find online. Like all other social platforms users pick and choose who they follow and what their interests are. As my wife likes to say it is like you have thousands of people surfing the web for you…and you don’t have to waste the time looking for things yourself. While I have resisted the urge to join Pinterest so far it does look to be a great way to learn more about your interests and utilize the power of the people to find new things online.
And now for my new obsession…Instagram. Unfortunately it is an iPhone only application and network that uses pictures to express where people are and what they are doing. The basic gist of Instagram is that it is Twitter with pictures. It even has some cool filters that you can apply to your images giving them unique looks. You can also set it up to post directly to Facebook and Twitter as well so that you can share your pictures with your networks. If you have an iPhone this is a fun past time and can be habit forming. There are rumors of Instagram coming to Android soon but it has yet to come true.
Geo-based applications are coming on strong and the leader of the pack so far is Foursquare. Foursquare uses check-ins to tell your network of followers where you are or where you have been. You can recommend restaurants or other locations that you think your followers might enjoy. You earn points for checkins and earn badges for various accomplishments and you can compete with friends to spice things up if you wish. Businesses are starting to jump on the bandwagon offering coupons and incentives for your checkins. For instance if you checkin at Chili’s you will get free chips and salsa. The other big player in the geo-based world is Gowalla. It is very similar to Foursquare and the one that works best for you is likely based on the city you live in. Some have taken to one more than the other and you want to pick the one that will offer you the most deals!
I have preached the benefits of social media marketing to the association world for the past 5 years and now the rest of the marketing world is jumping in head first. If you have watched much television these days you have probably noticed the inclusion of screen graphics giving viewers the hashtag to use when they tweet about certain shows. Competition shows are even assigning tags to specific contestants so that they can judge the like or dislike of their performance. They will be able to track every comment made on Twitter using the tags and that will give them invaluable amounts of data regarding their viewers. If any of you watched the Voice last year you may have noticed that the judges were posting to Twitter as they watched the show and during the live shows they were posting as it happened. They even interacted with fans directly. This engages the viewers on a whole other level never before available.
Beyond Twitter businesses are starting to use YouTube as an advertising medium right along with television, radio and newspapers. Volkswagen took this to another level last year during the Super Bowl. They purchased one 30 second spot during the Super Bowl. They also made a 60 second version of the same spot that was posted to YouTube the week before. The 60 second version was seen by more than 10 million people in the first three days and today boasts more than 42 million views. By posting the 60 second version rather than buying that amount of airtime during the Super Bowl they saved millions of dollars. Thanks to the power of social media they did not lose out on their impact at all. In fact they also have interviews and even a making of the spot online with more that 3 million additional views.
The advertising agency that I work for did an entire campaign based on one 3-minute YouTube video and a website re-design for a small-town car dealership in Oklahoma. We produced a piece focusing on this family-owned business, made it fun and gave it catchy music. We then utilized online link and banner placements to drive traffic to both the video on YouTube and their website. In a little over 4 months the video only has 1,000 or so views but the impact on their website traffic has accounted for a 30% sales increase and they have had so much traffic they had to change their current sales process to speed things up for customers.
Another of our clients, a car-dealership in Wichita, Kansas, embraced social phenomena and wanted to have some fun with them and interact with their customers through their Facebook page. We developed a campaign called Socially Acceptable and built several commercials for them to air on local television as well as online. The first spot to run is about planking and the commercial takes it to a whole new level with sales people and customers planking throughout the commercial. The dealership is offering a one-year lease of a car to the person who posts a planking picture to their Facebook page and gets the most likes. They are also offering $200 cash back for anyone that planks at the dealership when buying a new car. It is meant to be fun and it is meant to meet their customers on their level. There is no more talking at customers. You now have to talk with them.
I have talked in the past about what you should and shouldn’t post to social media. They have not changed. The easy way to look at it is that if you would not shout it out or show it to a room full of friends and strangers then don’t post it. This is growing more and more true as businesses start to utilize social media tools as a way of vetting employees. They are looking at your digital presence more and more and the way that you present yourself on these platforms is critical. You also need to know that your current employers are probably following you and keeping up with what you are doing online through social media outlets. Do not post anything that can can be viewed as critical on your profiles or you may have to pay the consequences. Remember that whether it be Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn they are meant to be resources for you and meant to be fun. So use them as that…something for fun and a place to gather information.