Monday, March 23, 2009

The Social Networking Social Phenomenon

The current economic climate has transformed social networking into a ballooning industry of interest. 50% of all marketing is now being targeted towards social networking strategy. Why? Because social networking involves a progressive phenomenon that is catching on quickly throughout the world. We are embracing our natural instinct to form ourselves into social groups for survival.

To better understand this we would have to discover who is using social networking, how and in what groups. Here are a few examples to get an idea of how to reach your target market or demographic to market your business.

First of all, although I have stated before that baby boomers world wide are gaining interest in social networking, it is important to know in what way. Current research suggests that the Generation Y social networking group interest, although higher in usage, has plateaued and in some cases decreased. While Baby Boomer usage is skyrocketing by as much as 35-45% annually. Needless to say, our older population is catching on and they are something to watch.

If you would like to read something FASCINATING check out the Nielsen Rating data on social networking across the globe. It backs up what I've already said about aging demographics and also what I have mentioned before about the obvious rise of Facebook over Myspace.

Also, what you will find is that countries like Germany and Switzerland are greatly on the rise in internet social networking. But what is more important and noted in the Saudi Gazette is that social networking is shifting the way the Middle East think. It notes, "Blogging and Facebook and so many other things have opened up avenues for political participation in various forms, for personal participation, for the creation and construction of new identifies, and for the ability of people to form new relationships which in the past wouldn’t have been possible".

It can be ascertained that this fact is more important than physical numbers.

That said, and I'm just throwing this in for grins, it is now suggested by a anthropologist at Oxford that genetically primates are only able to handle a capacity of 150 members in any one given close knit group. There is a law of diminishing returns after this figure which serves us negatively. So, online social networking works at it's very finest with groups of this general size. Beyond that, it becomes something close to television static.

But there are endless groups that one can belong to of various types, don't be worried. Like, for instance, the tree hugger group that advocates for green living. And there is the Indian group that collects, yes, all people who share a general interest in the country of India.

As you can see there really is no end in sight.

Buckle up tight.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Social Networking, Say What?

The Austin Business Journal and about 20 other news sources in the blog-o-sphere are reporting that social networks are now more popular than emailing on the Internet. Between FaceBook and LinkedIn, the interest in communicating with friends, family and collegues is now in social networking direct mailing services. The reason for this is the ease of mobile internet access in cell phones.

China is continually outpacing the U.S. in the social networking revenues. The U.S. just hasn't quite yet found a way to make it profitable, even though the phenomenon is wildly popular. China's corporation QQ achieves this through digital items and casual game revenue, two concepts that the U.S. is slow to grab a hold of. Second Life or a virtual pair of Chanel sun glasses for your avatar anyone?

Pro Blogger considers what is a better social networking tool, Twitter or Blogging. The final tally is that they are inherently different and therefore cannot by chosen between. The services
support each other. Twitter drives traffic in a fun way to the blog. And blog content is achieved through browsing Twitter. Makes sense.

SEO Scoop is very much in the thinking that blogs are the replacement solution to the idea of a formal website. The problem that the blog solves over the conventional static website is that it can be constantly updated with content and is interactive. Also, information can be categorized for easy access. It is less expensive for these purposes.

Top Ten Blogging advocates that when a business takes a blog live, it should reflect the orginal website in theme and content. Even with a basic Word Press it is relatively simple to integrate a background that reflects the business's overall design. If a business is going to have a static website and a blog, they need to synch in style and content.

But remember, there are content rules.

One Spot Blogger states that there are three basic rules for business blogging that make it useful and successful.

1) Focus on your customer, not your wares.
2) Give them something useful.
3) Have a unique perspective.

The whole point about a business blog is that it educates and connects. And plus, it's inexpensive. And we all like that addition to our profit margin.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What's the Big Deal About Social Networking?

Ever wonder what happens when the Google search on yourself or your company reflects negative PR? Fear no more, a tarnished past can be rectified by what we call in the business, a scrubber. These hired professionals make a living by cleaning up an image online by providing positive content and also asking sites (and sometimes paying them) to remove comments that are not in your best light.

So, you can see that your online image is important. But what does that mean?

Mitch Wagner of Information Week equates social networking for business online to that of business conference hall chatter. Often what people talk in the hallways at conference centers is far more interesting than what happens in the formal sessions. People have a tendency to believe and value what they hear from people that they trust.

Just to make that conversation interesting let's start a little hall chatter of our own here.

The big news this week is that FaceBook has decided to not only rescind it's stance on changing the terms agreement for it's users but is actually trying out a social networking form of democracy. Users now have 30 days to contribute content and debate about what terms they are willing to agree with. FaceBook has stated publically that they greatly underestimated the sense of ownership that users felt about their profiles and content.

Google is moving more and more towards integrating social networking into their system by adding Friend Connect. Blogger, also owned by Google, can now be integrated into your social network by a log of "followers". What makes this service particularly interesting is that the service also allows it's users to follow the blog interests of others.

Also, Google is the latest to jump onto Twitter. Hurrah!

Other interesting news on the social networking front is that MySpace is moving towards offering their own e-mail service. And a new social networking tool Ginx is now offering the beginnings of a database for choosing from catagories of interest on Twitter. It's the little gadgety things that make life interesting as well as functional. Rock on!

You think this is all very impressive? Think BIGGER. China now sports a social networking service, QZone, that is significanlty larger than FaceBook (and steadily growing).

It's getting crazy out there and we love it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Keeping Up With The Buzz

There is good news out there for businesses (here) who are thinking about using social media to reach the Baby Boomer demographic. Folks between the ages of 43-63 may not be plainly visible on social networking sites in droves but the good news is that they are lurking. Yes, that's right, Baby Boomers like to read blogs to inform themselves on topics that are of interest to them. And they use Google Blog search to find them (here).

The blog-o-phere was all a buzz this past week with the news (here) and (here) that Face Book would be changing their user agreement to reflect some alarming details. They originally stated that they would retain ownership now, here and forever of their users content of any kind. Since then, due to public outcry, that change has been revoked and we can all rest easy. Thank you Face Book! You were looking scary there for minute...

Twitter has been gaining ranks in Web 2.0 at a record pace this past year. This trend will likely increase with the addition of the "Twitter Search" (here) where one can scan tweets for content to liking. Obviously, a very useful tool. The infectiousness of Twitter is gaining momentum with every tweet and retweet across the service.

And lastly, You Tube added a new application called "annotations" (here) which allow views to comment not only on the page below the video but actually on the video as it plays - to the side. The word on the street is that the application is "interesting" but likely will be more "useful" as time wears on and folks come up with creative ideas to make it work for them. By the way, if you think it is distracting you can just turn it off in the account settings. *Poof* no more.

LinkedIn is the new resume. Don't get side tracked. You can't exist effectively in social networking without it. It is your credibility statement (here). Read just how to leverage Facebook and LinkedIn together (here).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Truth About Trendy In Social Networking

Lastest news is that Facebook has now outpaced Blogger as being the most highly used social networking tool (here). Even though Twitter is running at considerably lower numbers as a beginner, the general consensus is that it will soon dominate all forms of networking for business. Conversely, Facebook will remain the choice of many for networking among friends and family. But don't forget about Blogger. It will still remain strong in the general niche category, appealing to the broad public as a news source.

The truth of the matter is that folks will use social media as a combination (here) in different ways to create different social effects. The beauty of it is that you can become heard over night and in some respects virtually famous instantaneously (here). Or, just talk to yourself.

There is certainly a youthful demographic age bracket that uses social networking (here) but that is ever widening and in time will not be an issue at all. Let's face it, not everyone is completely sure how to use it (here) but the most important thing is that we are ALL learning, rapidly, and making it out own.

Digital social networking is not going anywhere.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bold Social Networking Trends for 2009

USA Today writes about the trending nature in social networking (here) towards "being viral". It appears that similar to viral e-mails and viral videos there are aspects of social networking that have an even greater ability to be so, specifically Facebook and Twitter.

Often times you will hear people comment on social media as a place where no money can be made. This may have been true in the beginning at inception but as it stands now there are plenty of folk using the viral nature of social networking sights to promote their businesses and create sales leads. Even Facebook themselves have found a way (here) to gain a profit through interactive ad placement.

Read Write Web touches on these very issues (here) while citing the top 10 trends for social networking in 2009. They go on to mention the above, making money from it, and also finding more distinct demographic niches with which to target that make complete useful sense to the consumer.

Government trends in this new administration are leaning towards social networking (here) as a method to remain transparent.

The point is that there are trends out there towards integrating the social networking world with our need to stay afloat in our own commerical lives. I think the difference this time is that the business networking is going to make sense and be purposeful, not intrusive and more open.

We are going to be able to bring this around full circle and make it work for us meaningfully.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Voice of the Blog

The arts blog Lies Like Truth references the "pitfalls of institutional blogging" (here) which I think is relevant to the conversation of blogging for promotional purposes.

The point they are trying to make and that I agree with is that it is important to be positive, educational and productive when posting. It's the best and really the only way. Otherwise, you are wasting your own time and the time of your client.

Thou Shall Blog takes that a step further (here) by stating that you only have about ten seconds to interest your reader. So make it succinct and worth reading.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Truth in Blogging

Check out this brief video clip.

How did that make you feel? Do you believe him? Do you think he is STILL trying to sell you a bill of goods.

If you are anything like me, you are feeling just a little bit "icky".

When I represent a business or an entity on the front lines or behind the scenes I want to make sure that I am as genuine and real as possible because I think truth sells.

And I know for my own integrity I need to represent what is the clearest version of the truth I can possibly come up with. And it has to come from a place that I personally believe in. Otherwise, it's just not going to work.

Check out this one as a comparison:

Blogging has a great deal in common with video advertising. When representing yourself or a client it is essential to be to the point, upfront and transparent.

Otherwise, you can pretty much just hand over your integrity, because you've just lost it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Twitter Over Digg -The Debate

Several sources around the web (Tech Crunch and Mash Up particularly) are stating that Digg is in the middle of a downsizing crisis.

These sources contend that not only is this a product of an ecomomic crisis but that Twitter this year is outpacing Digg in immediacy and social networking capabilities. The reasoning is that Digg broadcasts to an infinite crowd where Twitter broadcasts URLS to a very specific target market of willing listeners.

So, Twitter is the way to go in social networking and internet marketing right now. Here are a few tips outlined by Atherton Bartelby at Mash Up that will help you get more followers. Or better yet, help you better understand why you have very few followers.


Social networking is the way to go.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bound Social Networking vs E-Mail Blasting / Wordle

Wordle: bounded social networking vs blast emailing
(click here for larger wordle view)

Developing relationships within groups of like people or buck shotting out to strangers? Consider how you would like to represent yourself and your company. Do you honestly want to build integrity and sustainability - a name? Or are you satisfied with random connections or sales that retain no loyalty?

What is the best method to network socially? Something you can manage.

For me, it's blogging, Linked In and Facebook together as a team.

Let me know what your methods are. How do you manage your time around it?


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blogging For Profit

Wired Epicenter recently blogged (here) about how the record industry is getting into the business of blogging to drive traffic to their website and increase sales.

"Filling (the blog) with as much interesting stuff, non-musical as well as musical...has doubled our website traffic in the past year and vastly increased business on our webstore. It is also a highly effective method of syndicating promo content."

Further it states, "The blog draws traffic, increases sales and gives the label a way to talk about its releases the same way other people are talking about them. What's not to like?"

Wanna Blog?


Monday, January 26, 2009

Social Networking Like You Mean It

As social networking becomes a necessary tool in the future of business marketing and public relations, we will find more articles written to reflect this and feed our need to stay in the loop.

Larry Brauner of the e-zine Online Social Networking suggests (here) that Twitter is the easiest and most efficient tool to networking in a target group.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Brave New World of Networking

Beckett Gilchrist of Pixel Voice LLC was recently published in the online magazine Digital AppleJuice.

The article (here) outlines the difference between old world style networking versus the bold new world of digital networking.

Check it out.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blogging is Now

The breaking news on inauguration day was that the White House created a new public relations website for the people. Included in this unveiling is a blog. Check out the complete story (here).

This presidency will go down in history as not only the first African American to reside in the office but also that first presidency (and campaign leading to) that was largely driven by blogging and social networking.

Feel free to follow the White House blog for presidential updates and public relations.

Could this system work for your business as well?

Consider it.