Five Steps to Evaluate Social Media for Your Business Without the Hype!


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10 Social Media Dos and Don'ts for online Business Success

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Five Steps to Evaluate Social Media for Your Business Without the Hype!

  1. 1. ==== ====1 Wierd News They Dont You To Know... ====IntroductionThis article is intended to be a very straightforward guide to Social Media and everything thatSocial Media encompasses including blogs, social networks and forums etc. It is intended tointroduce both newcomers and perhaps even some more experienced people to the world ofsocial media.So, what is Social Media?So, what is this social media that has the Internet buzzing with excitement? Well, Wikipedia (aninteresting form of social media in itself) describes it as:"information content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishingtechnologies that is intended to facilitate communications, influence and interaction with peers andwith public audiences, typically via the Internet and mobile communications networks."This can encompass not just text and information based services like blogs etc, it can also containimage and video based services such as Flickr and YouTube for example.Social media instigates a sense of community, making users feel connected with each otherthrough participation and communication via many forms of media. Technorati, a blog submissionservice, has over 133 million blogs indexed, displaying the staggering rise in popularity of peoplewanting to be heard and connect to each other.Social Media and your BusinessSocial media can benefit any type of business and if approached correctly, can help buildrelationships with consumers and other companies through networking and raised awareness ofyour service.With social media you can easily speak directly to your customers, using Twitter to gatherfeedback on customer satisfaction, raising awareness of a recently launched product through Diggor using YouTube to promote your move into a new office location for example.An example of a company using social media in a great way is Starbucks. Starbucks created awhole new website and blog centred around customer suggestions for their service. A user wouldgo onto the website and suggest a way Starbucks could improve, everyone registered on thewebsite would then vote their favorite ideas and then Starbucks would post on their blog regardingwhich ideas they liked and how they would be actually implemented into the Starbucks service.
  2. 2. Companies are always thinking of better ways to run there service, social media gave Starbucks away to connect with millions of existing customers and gave those customers an opportunity tobuild on the Starbucks service in a way only they could know how.Burger King launched a Facebook application which encouraged users to sacrifice 10 of theirfacebook friends in return for a free Whopper burger. It was taken down by Facebook not longafter launch citing privacy concerns, however in the relatively short space of time the applicationwas live, it gathered over 20,000 users and consequently over 200,000 friends were sacrificed inthe name of free burgers. This social media example was well built, was easy to share and gavethe user the incentive to network with friends which made it very popular in the short space of timeit was available.These are only two examples of successful social media solutions by companies on the Internet,companies like Sun, Ford, Dell and IBM are all currently reaping the benefits of using blogs, twitteraccounts, Facebook pages and other social media tools to connect with customers and makethere companies more transparent to consumers. Social media, blogs especially, arent going todisappear overnight. They now act as invaluable customer service methods with the ability toconduct informal discussion with your customers and let them get to know more about you andyour company in an inexpensive way.Establishing a social media presence for your company gives you the ability to reach potentiallymillions of new customers through Facebook, Twitter, Digg etc, many of which may have beenunreachable without a presence on these networks. Having profiles on the various social networksgives you the maximum potential to raise awareness of your brand, gain more visitors to yourwebsite and the capacity to convert those targeted visitors to customers.Social Media in Numbers2,000,000,000searches through the Google search engine every day1,360,652,987tweets on Twitter as of March 2009700,000,000photos added to Facebook every month900,000blog posts every 24 hours38,040diggs the most popular bookmark on Digg has received in the last 12 months
  3. 3. 412.3years it would take to watch all of YouTubes content as of March 200813hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minuteSocial Media FormsAlthough social media can come in many forms, it has its main ones:BlogsThe most well known of obvious social media forms. Blogs act as a frequently updated hub ofcontextual information where users can get involved and give their input through comments.ForumsThe oldest form of social media, in use before the term social media was made popular. Internetforums act as areas for online discussion, usually centered around certain topics.Content CommunitiesContent communities differ from usual forms of social media in that they allow people to share anduse particular kinds of content that blogs and forums dont fully concentrate upon such as images(see Flickr), interesting bookmarks (see Digg and and of course video (see YouTube).Micro-bloggingA relevant newcomer in the social media world. Micro-blogging combines blogging and socialnetworking in that it allows people to update small amounts of content online through web-based,desktop and also mobile clients (see Twitter).Social NetworksSocial networks such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo etc allow the easy creation of personalisedweb page accounts that facilitates communication between users.The Distribution of Social MediaPeople only have a certain amount of time to check their favorite websites, this mightnt eveninclude blogs or social networks. Couple this with the fact that people seem to be working longerhours than ever these days and also using blackberrys and iPhones to work away from the office,and youre faced with a daunting task of attracting people to your blog or website.One remedy to this has been the introduction of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. RSS
  4. 4. feeds allow a user to effectively subscribe to a website or blog, meaning they are notified througha newsreader when new content is available.RSS saves people a lot of time when reading blogs and website updates, meaning communitiescan grow and become more valuable to both the user and author saving both parties time andmoney.Social NetworksJoining a social network usually involves creating your own web page with information aboutyourself, be it personal, professional or otherwise and you then connect with other people on thatnetwork.Although most of these networks are relatively young in their age, a selection of them are verypopular and have changed the shape of the Internet for the near future at the very least.MySpaceAfter launching in August 2003, MySpace became the most popular social networking website inthe United States in mid 2006, attracting well over 100million account holders.MySpace has largely built its popularity based upon its comprehensive music service wherebands can upload tracks directly to their profile for fans to listen to, even launching its own recordlabel to release music from MySpace upon.BeboBebo is a popular social networking tool with more emphasis on the younger user than itscompetitors. It is also geared towards colleges, schools and other educational institutes which iswhere Bebo has found its niche. It was purchased by AOL in early 2008 for over£400million.FacebookFirst available to University students, facebook was opened up to the public (people over the ageof 13) in 2006 and its userbase has skyrocketed ever since.The service allows you to join networks and groups of organisations, sports teams, locationspecific groups etc and also offers developers the chance to write applications for the service at nochargeFacbook currently has over 235million account users.LinkedInLinkedIn has its own niche in the social networking world in that it is targeted solely toward theworking professional.
  5. 5. LinkedIn allows you to create your own career profile and network with past and presentworkmates and is mainly used for career-orientated networking and job / project searches.LinkedIn has approximately 40million users.Friends ReunitedFriends reunited is a social network based upon the theme of reuniting and connecting with former(and current) classmates. It is identified as the first social network to achieve prominence inBritain, surviving the dotcom bust.BlogsA blog (standing for web-log) is a type of website maintained by an individual or company that iscommonly updated with news on latest events, opinions, reviews and any other material theauthor deems worth of publishing.With recent developments in blog hosting technology, its possible for anyone with a basicknowledge of the internet to create and run their own blog using platforms such as WordPress andblogger.TopicsThe reason blogs are so popular on the Internet is because they act as a hub of information forany given topic. This can include website design articles (see a list apart), celebrity news (seeTMZ), politics (see Huffington Post) and technology news (see techcrunch).Although some blogs contain posts around a number of topics, the most popular ones have adefined theme and user base.CommentsAlmost all blogs have a comments structure in place allowing readers to submit their views on thatblog or article. Comments act as a networking tool in itself, with many people growing the reader-base of their own blog or website through the clicks they receive from commenting on otherpeoples blogs.ForumsThe Internet forum is the relative grandparent of the social media family, evolving from the bulletinboard style of networking which was popular in the early years of the Internet.Like blogs, forums can be about any number of topics and attract people mainly looking forinformation and discussion around a particular theme or subject. Where the two mediums differare that whereas blogs are usually the views / news from one individual or company, forums act asa discussion venue where many discussions are ongoing at once in different locations calledthreads. Also, a blog has a clear owner, again that may be an individual or company dependingon the blog itself but a forum is effectively ran by its members.
  6. 6. Many forums have been running from the early days of the Internet and have thus gathered ahuge amount of members, Gaia Online has over 16million registered members and is one of themost popular on the Internet.Content CommunitiesContent communities dont particularly adhere to typical social network frameworks, as they arentparticularly intended for networking between people using the usual means. Two examples of thisare Flickr and YouTube.FlickrFlickr is an image and video hosting website where people can create a personal account andupload photos they have taken. Its also used by bloggers and webmasters as an online photostorage system, where they can host all of their images in a searchable database. As of late 2008,it is claimed that Flickr holds more than 3billion images.The social aspect of Flickr comes into play through the creation of various subject-orientatedgroups where users can comment on relevant images that have been uploaded.YouTubeYoutube is the largest video hosting website on the Internet with well over 120million videoscurrently hosted through its service. Youtube members can upload their own footage, createchannels / playlists of their favourite videos and share them with friends.Youtube has quickly become one of the largest websites in the history of the Internet with morethan 6billion videos viewed on the service in January 2009 alone. Before the public launch ofYouTube in 2005, there were very few methods of video-orientated social networking available viathe Internet, YouTube changed this with the ability for its users to dictate its content through theuploading of personal video.MicrobloggingMicroblogging is the latest in the way of social networking, combining blogging, instant messagingand the popular status updates of the Facebook service into one neat package.Popular microblogging services such as Twitter allow a small (in Twitters case, no more than140characters) text based update to be published on your twitter page and to those who arefollowing you.Although it is a web based format, over 90% of tweets published via twitter are by mobile,desktop or instant messaging applications. Twitter is largely used by the web industry as a way ofpassing useful links to one another, as well as a very quick and easy networking tool betweenaccount followers.It has recently began to attract a lot of press attention due to the amount of well known people
  7. 7. using the service. President Obama used Twitter in the run up to the election to keep votersinformed of his campaign, connecting to a completely new audience to previous candidates.ConclusionAlthough Social Media is a relatively new factor on the Internet, the advances we have seen in ashort space of time have been staggering. Two to three years ago MySpace was the serviceeveryone was using to connect with each other, who would have predicted that within 24 monthsthere would have been a service in Facebook that overtook it as the Internets leading socialnetworking tool.The future of social media is an exciting one, and we could see some interesting developmentseven in the short term such as the adoption of the mobile social network. Although a lot of peopleare using Social Media on mobile phones already, this number is expected to increase significantlyin the near future with the development of more and more clients for social networks on mobilephones.Social media is expected to evolve and grow into exciting new services and shows no signs ofdissapearing any time soon. The potential for growth and monetary gain for businesses is toogreat for them to ignore social media, helping spread news of services and offers to hundreds, ifnot thousands, of friends in an instant. Some companies aim for that kind of promotion and neverreach it, some pay millions to get it, with social media, it is in everyones grasp.A company that neglects both social media and the benefits of search engine optimisation isshielding its services away from millions of potential customers.Opening your company up to social media services allows you to connect instantly with newpeople, couple this with a comprehensive search engine optimisation plan and you are in a perfectposition to attract new customers and network inexpensively.Well thats it for our guide to Social Media, grab yourself a cup of tea (or coffee if youre that wayinclined) and relax.web design newcastleArticle Source: