Friday, November 9, 2012

What is Social Media?

Social media is a category of online applications that allow YOU to do one or more of the following things:

  • Republish content:
    • link to people's stuff from your stuff
    • RSS
    • Share this buttons
    • pulling videos like

  • Collaborate with other people

  • Get to know other people
    • You can follow @BarackObama on twitter (but we all know that's not really him)
    • Friend (in some cases defriend) somebody on facebook
The tools that used to exclusively belong to large organizations are now in the hands of the people, YOU.
Uploaded to flickr by pollyalida

Social Media in Action

Flickr image: GaryHayes
There are many social media tools available.


Before, if you wanted to tell a story you had to submit your work to an editor. They will give you feedback and you will have to do a few rewrites until it is approved to be published. Sometimes it takes years to publish a book and in many cases your work can be rejected. With social media, the means to tell a story has become accessible to the regular person. A few companies have realized the ease of use inherent in these tools that their websites are actually built on them. Self-publishing comes in so many different forms that we'll just list a few examples:


Facebook says that users upload approximately 2.5 billion photos each month. Digital cameras has made taking photos much easier and less expensive. Social media has made sharing of photos much easier and less expensive. Some people just share photos they take, others use it as a portfolio of their work. The range of quality and artistry in shared photos online start from the completely banal to masterpieces. Here are a few of the most popular photo sharing services available:
  • Bad Examples
    • The numerous and ever popular drunk photos


The art of moving pictures can be funny, sad, dramatic, shocking, and heartfelt. With the advent of video sharing services, people can now easily distribute their home videos, independent films, music videos, etc. Companies (some, not all) have to come to the realization that it's better to share their videos than have people distribute them without their consent. Here are just a few of the services that you can use:

Social Networking

Besides email and instant messaging, social networking sites have become another way of keeping in touch with your friends. From uploading photos to leaving short messages to providing status updates, creating your own network of friends and acquaintance, and sharing with them has never been easier. Some sites are very personal while others are for professionals. Here are some of the most popularly used sites:

It's about you, me, and everybody else

A lot of people see the potential in social media such as:



But don't ever forget that it's about PEOPLE. People want to talk to other people, they want to talk to you. Social media allows you to create relationships with other people that you know, people that you don't know, and people who have the same interests as you.
It's about building a community of PEOPLE. Being part of a community also involves giving back and sharing. You follow and get know people because you find them valuable. Give them a reason to find you valuable and they will talk to you. Social media gives you that opportunity to expand your network and be part of multiple communities.

Before Diving In...

Here are a few things think about before swimming into these uncharted waters:
Flickr image: Intersection Consulting
Be Valuable to People
There is only one reason why people will follow you on twitter or become a fan on facebook: you have something valuable to share. Beyond getting them to start following you, people have to have an incentive to keep following.
Never JUST talk about yourself (i.e. advertising). Ads are an interruption to what you are doing (watching TV, looking at the road, etc.). Instead of only pushing things out, you should also try to pull people in with news, resources, and thought provoking discussions. Choose the community/network that you're going to talk to and focus on how you will be part of that community. Have a purpose and distill it in your work.

Listen, Learn, Do
Communications in social media is a conversation: somebody talks and somebody listens. Just like any other conversation, you will listen to both the good and the bad. Do not be afraid of the bad, use it as an opportunity to hear feedback. Be prepared to act and show it. Failure to do so can tarnish your reputation, while success can improve it many times over.

They Can See You
People, guests, or customers love being kept in the loop. If you do decide to use social media, try to be transparent about a lot of things. Let people know how you handle bad feedback, what your organization actually does, how do you go about it, and who works for you.
Not to say that everything should be public but don't make it look like you're hiding something. Be honest.

We are People Too
Here's a little test if you've been listening. What is social media all about? (3 seconds...)
Everybody now....PEOPLE! Speak human. Nobody likes to talk to a company or a corporation. They want to talk to somebody like you. Try to be personal without patronizing. Social media is not a way to distribute a press release but a way to connect people. There's that word again...people...
Some companies are open on who's managing their profiles while others actually let their staff be the entry point into their company.

There is No Formula
'Nuff said.
Nobody really knows what works and what doesn't. No social media strategy is 100% successful. Don't be afraid to try things out but if they don't succeed then move on. Notice that there are millions of videos on youtube and twice as much blogs out there. 1 Yet only a handful ever become famous. See what others are doing and learn from them. Not everything will work but you'll never know until you try.

Customer Service
It's all about it! Creating a culture of customer-focused service.

Next Step

Now what do you do?
  1. Take some time to think and reflect if using social media is right for you.
  2. If you do decide to wade in the waters, plan your strategy well. Avoid being part of the noise.
  3. Have an actual person run the show and give them the power to follow-through with customer requests/complaints
  4. Be prepared for both success and failure.



Social Media Landscape

Did you notice that the “Web 2.0” term was outdated? One can say that after months (years?) of overselling the “2.0”” stuff, it begins to fade. Now, modern marketers talks about “Social Media“. Because with always newer services, always more sophisticated concepts, copycat, mashups of mashups… it really begins to be confusing. This is why it was important to divide this big “ratatouille 2.0” into smaller meta-concepts to ease the understanding (Enterprise 2.0, Social Shopping, Social Medias…).
But have we taken the time to define what social media is? This is my point: to provide you with a definition and give an overview of what it relates to.

Let’s publish, share and sociabilize!

In “Social Media” there is “Media“, which means that social media are digital places for publication.
In “Social Media” there is “Social“, which implies sharing (files, tastes, opinions…) but also social interactions (individuals gathering into groups, individual acquiring notoriety and influence…).
Yes, you get the point: social media are places, tools, services allowing individuals to express themselves (and so to exist) in order to meet, share…

Infinity of tools and services

The main characteristic of social media is audience fragmentation: sources (hundreds of millions of blogs, wikis, forums…) as well as tools.
Those tools can take various forms (more or less sophisticated) and fulfill various needs, previously existing or not (yes, I’m talking about Twitter). The following chart illustrates the richness and diversity of social media:
As you can see, those different tools and services can be grouped into categories:
Wow, that’s a lot of services to try! Now that the frame is set, it is time to analyze this phenomenon and to try to envision what will comes next.

There was a life before Facebook and there will be one after

Online communities didn’t wait for Facebook to gather and sociabilize within online forums. Bear in mind that a tool in itself is not able to create a community, only members can. Or to be more precise: the capacity of members to find new subjects and interaction modes.
So yes, Facebook is (still) hype, but history has shown us that audience can easily move from one service to another (remember Friendster?).

There is no tool to rule them all

Even if audience metrics show supremacy from large platform like MySpace, Facebook or evenCyworld in South Korea, global services which embrace multiple meta-functions (publishing, sharing, social networking…) are exposing their members to information overflow.
So even if audience is dominated by big players, niche players are growing fast.

You cannot hide anymore

Whether you want it or not, conversations occur with or without you. What you have to understand is that it is highly illusionary to think you can control your brand by restricting blog usage from your employee or by avoiding social networks.
Your brand does not belong to you anymore, it only exist in customers’ mind, which are massively present in blogs, forums, wikis, social networks… So you have to choose between suffering and benefiting from online conversations. That is why it is important to name a social media champion within your organization (just choose the right job title: Community planner, Social media manager, Community architect, Social analytics expert…).

Which KPIs?

Getting closer from your customers / prospects is a nice objective, but you first have to figure out which customers / prospects you want to be closer to. So you will quickly be in need toevaluate the real potential of those various nanomedia. This evaluation has to rely on dedicate metrics which are tailored to the constraints and specificity of social media.
Furthermore, if you wish to touch opinion leaders (influencers), you will have to qualify them in order to identify those with the more potential. This is where social metrics are relevant.
Such social metrics already exist and are used on various social platforms:
  • For blogs (age, audience, popularity, RSS feed subscribers, RSS subscribers / visitors, comments per post…)
  • For microblog (total tweets number, average tweets per day, followings / followers…)
  • For social networks (profile richness, age, friends number, friends of friends number…)
And if you wish to go faster and “invest” in social leaders, there are also various KPIs based on influence: pay-per-post, pay-per-tweet, pay-per-acquisition…

This is a long journey (but you still can achieve it)

Do not panic, we are only beginning to observe the rise of social media (and there conquest by marketers). There is stile a lot of territories to conquer for the most audacious of you. Bear in mind that social media consumers are indulgent with creative initiatives.
So let me sum this up:
  1. Test and experiment the richness of social media (remember: Facebook is only the tip of the iceberg)
  2. Try to understand social mechanisms (motivations, fears…)
  3. Name a social media champion in your organization (his first job: set up an observatory to assess your brand ‘s presence in social media)
  4. Define a social translation of your brand’s strategy (positioning, targets, value proposition, differentiation points…)
  5. Identify relevant media (social platform) and the right ambassadors (micro or nanocommunity)
  6. Jump in the water!
This is it. Let me remind you once again that you do not engage too much responsibility by experimenting new social campaigns (except for bugs attack). Bear in mind that social media is all about conversations and guess what: you can / should / have to be part of them.

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