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5 Social Media Gifts I Want From Santa

Matt Singley and Santa Clause Christmas 2010

All I want for Christmas (besides this creepy photo) is on my Social Media wish list

The holidays are upon us! Some celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Solstice, some celebrate Christmas. No matter your preference, I think we can all agree it’s a great time to reflect on the year behind us, be thankful for what we have today, and look to next year with hope and expectations.  Given the spirit of the season, I’ve put together a little list of things that I’ve asked Santa Clause for this year…in social media.  It’s a crazy list for sure, but if my 5 year old son can ask for a trip to the moon (and expect it to happen) I can dream big too!  I’m going to put out a plate of extra-special cookies and hope that ol’ Saint Nick brings me…

  • Hyperlinks within Tweets. Can you imagine having an extra 20 spaces or so (that’s what a typical bit.ly link takes up) to say whatever you want? Instead of a tweet looking like this: “Check out this post I wrote about the upcoming Facebook Page Admin Controls and let me know what you are looking fwd to http://bit.ly/g7B3Zc” (exactly 140 characters) it would look like this: “Check out this post I wrote about the upcoming Facebook Page Admin Controls and let me know what you are looking fwd to the very most y’all!” (still 140 characters but with more room to chat!)
  • Robust Admin Controls for Facebook Pages. I saw a sneak peak of them a while back when Facebook accidentally rolled out some new changes (you can see what I saw here) and it was definitely a step in the right direction.  Still, I would like better Insights (analytics) and the ability to ban users from a page without just flagging them.  I don’t want to wait for somebody at Facebook to *maybe* get around to it at some point. I get REALLY tired of the “first” and “gay” comments that go up on large pages all the time, but I have no tolerance for users that use hate language, attack individuals, constantly swear or link to porn
  • Overlay for YouTube videos. No, not just annotations, I want to be able to overlay the videos with graphic images.  You know…put a floating logo in the bottom corner (clickable of course), insert a graphic in the background…neat things like that. Sure, I can do this in a video editor then upload, but I would like to use full controls within YouTube proper so I can make cool SWF commands happen
  • Lists for friends in Foursquare. I treat Foursquare in a similar way as Twitter but with slightly tighter control.  Knowing that, I have a lot of “friends” on Foursquare that I would like to break into smaller groups so I can check on them in a more controlled and manageable way.  Kind of like Twitter Lists, but for Foursquare.  Foursquare Lists, anyone?
  • Dynamic backgrounds on Twitter. Everything else with Twitter has advanced over time…why not the backgrounds? Since the redesign, putting together a nice background (within the whopping 40 pixels on the left for people that view the page on a 1024×768 screen) has been a challenge to say the least.  Instead of outdated CSS and a static image I would love some basic HTML function so I could put up links to my other pages

We’ll see if I’ve been naughty or nice, I’m hoping to get these simple gifts under the virtual Christmas tree this year.  As you head into the weekend (hopefully with loved ones), I will leave you with a paraphrase of a famous work:

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And wrote up the meta tags, then turned with a jerk,

And laying his mouse aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his keyboard, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all coded like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he uploaded out of sight,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

You’ve Got The Numbers…Now What? Working With Social Media Analytics

Almost every client I’ve worked with in social media wants data tracked and reported for practically every post, tweet, comment and sweepstakes that they participate in online, and rightfully so.  From a business perspective, Key Performance Indicators (K.P.I.s) are important to help guide decisions and craft strategy. The problem that so many companies have with this process is that they don’t see it through to the most important part: the analysis and interpretation.

Data, without insightful interpretation, is worthless.  It’s like staring at the instruments of an airplane, but not knowing how to use them to get you where you want to go.

So you have 200,000 Facebook fans…so what? How many of them engage on a regular basis? What countries are primarily represented, and is it important to your business? What time of day is best for you to post so that you get the most exposure?  These are questions that should be asked, but often are not.

I think that so many people and organizations are in the habit of asking for reports that they just do it automatically, and assume that the process is over.  The way I see it, the process is just beginning at that point, and data can be used to make important business decisions, particular as they related to social media, looking forward.

A few guidelines and suggestions for how to use the data you capture:

  • Flash reports are okay, but real strength from data comes by looking at a broad range.  The more time you have to collect data, the more solid your numbers will be and the variance of peaks and valleys shouldn’t affect the bottom line as much
  • Sentiment is quite subjective, and I have yet to find a tool that auto-scores and does it well.  For example, if somebody tweets “Good Lord, my [brand] car is giving me a headache”, it’s typically scored as positive or neutral because of the inclusion of “good”.  A human looking at that would usually score it as negative.  I would rather hand-score a small number of data points than let a computer auto-score a massive amount
  • Consistency with time and services are important.  If possible, try to pull data from the same source and at regular time intervals. For example, it’s much easier to analyze data from a single source that you pull every Monday, than to compare data from many sources that you pull when you “want to get a good look at things”.  Consistency is key
  • I’m sure you are tempted to look at numbers each week as wins and losses, but it’s more important to look at data over a longer period of time.  For example, when we presented numbers to clients after the 4th of July Holiday weekend, tweets, comments and likes were down almost across the board.  It has to be taken into consideration that people were off of their computers and outside enjoying life, otherwise it seems like something went terribly wrong during that period.

I spend a lot of time looking over data that has been scraped from all around the internet, and an equal amount of time interpreting what it means so that we can help our clients make important strategic and tactical decisions.  What I’ve learned from all of this is that, no matter where you are pulling it from, data that stands by itself without good interpretation is at best worthless, at worst dangerous.

Social Media And A Generation Of Passive Aggressive Users

I’m very fortunate; I have a job that allows me to work with some amazing brands. As such, I get to see a side of social media that many people probably don’t spend a lot of time looking at; comments from other users. A lot of comments for a lot of users. One of the great things M80 does so well is page moderation, and since we handle a lot of accounts that have hundreds of thousands…even millions…of fans on their Facebook pages, we are pretty good at quickly assessing spam, trolling, flaming and all sorts of online behavior.

As much as I dislike the general nastiness that can occur on a brand wall or in comment threads, I have to admit that it really gets to me more than just about anything when it’s done by younger kids. Although it’s aggravating to have to delete or defend against a minor (they even have an acronym…ATYO which stands for “annoying twelve year old”), as a father myself I’m more incensed by the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any parental monitoring.

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Facebook Rolls Out More Robust Insights

Facebook announced at F8 They Will Roll Out More Robust Insights and AnalyticsI’m not at the F8 conference today, but I have been reading the news and keeping up with the announcements.  So far, the most exciting stories I have read have to do with Facebook Insights, the dashboard for page admins. If you run a fan page (now called a “like” page, I suppose) for a brand, agency or just for yourself, this is important information.

To date, the Insights have been underwhelming.  They have covered only the most basic information, and as somebody who works with big brands to engage and guide the community, I’ve got to say they have been less than helpful.  It seems that all of that changes today, however.  Facebook has announced “Facebook for Web Sites” and have already published full documentation about it.  The insight to user behavior should be interesting, as Facebook says:

“Once your app is up-and-running, you can get detailed analytics about the demographics of your users and how users are sharing from your application with Insights.

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Working With Influencers and Enthusiasts For Your Brand

As somebody that develops strategy for large corporate brands, I often work with different types of brand advocates in various social media channels.  A common tactic of many marketers and PR professionals is to try to go after “influencers” to get them to talk about their product.  Sometimes these influencers are individuals, sometimes they are communities, but a common denominator is that they have substantial audience sizes. The typical way of approaching these people or groups is to ship them a sample of your product and include a note that says something like, “Hope you enjoy this, please blog about it”.  I think this is a good shotgun approach to communities, it’s a good step up from a press release and it gets your product information out to a lot of people very quickly.  For individuals, I think we have to look at a more measured and personal approach.

Influencers and Enthusiasts in Social MediaTo truly be effective in social media with influencers, I think you need to build a relationship, not ship a press package. You also have to recognize and understand the different groups that exist in social media, so you know how to develop and target brand programs and exposure.  In case you fear that I’m starting to sound a little too professional and polished in this approach, I submit for your approval a hand drawn diagram in the picture to the left.  Fancy, isn’t it? I put this beauty up on our office white board this morning while talking through the concept with a client.

Before we discuss what to do with these various groups, let’s start by defining them.

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Renewing The Line Between Public And Private

When Is Public Info TOO Public?I’ve been thinking about the ever-increasing blurry line between public and private lives now that social media is mainstream.  I’ve personally been opening myself up to the world for about a decade; I started blogging by developing my own (very basic) blogging platform before the term “blog” was popular…and I haven’t looked back since then.

There have been a couple of times that I was alarmed by what people are capable of thinking or doing.  A few years ago I started getting anonymous comments on various videos of my children, asking me to pose them in certain ways or have them do certain things.  Naturally I deleted all traces of the videos online (yes it is possible) and became very aware of what I was posting after that.  Although I was always careful to never name them or reveal the location of my children even before this incident, I became very protective after that and have been quite conscious of what I would and would not publish.  Over the years I have become more widely known because of my marketing and social media work, and although I’m certainly a small fish in a big pond, I do have a lot of connections with people that I’ve never met face to face.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade my social media life.  I’ve turned so many of my digital-first relationships into real-life relationships, and I love social media and the way it connects the world. But, and there is always a but…

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Social Media Responsibility, Fact Checking (and Racism!)

Today we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., and as such I intended to not post anything about social media, instead choosing to focus on the hope and vision that Dr. King believed in. That has changed after reading today’s blog post by Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist; I have now decided to write about both social media and racism.  After reading her inflammatory post about what she considers to be a “racist rodeo” I got to the kicker…her very last line incites her users to publicly lambaste the McDonald’s corporation on Twitter, telling them that we won’t put up with racism and hate. The obvious inference here is that McDonald’s does indeed support both racism and hate by supporting the All-Star Rodeo, and event that Ms. Trunk determined to be full of racist clowns and cowgirls that are only interested in threesomes. My big problem with all of this? She didn’t bother to fact check before calling up an angry mob. I brought this to her attention in the comments section, but she seemed to shrugs it off as if facts had nothing to do with it.

In this day and age of social media people can, and do, often write and publish opinion as if it were fact. As I write this, I still do not know if McDonald’s does officially sponsor the rodeo or not, but I have reached out to them for comment. Taking a step back, to so broadly describe the rodeo as racist because of one person’s obviously emotional blog post is, in my opinion, a mistake. Social Media allows anybody to publish anything at anytime. Most people that do this have small audiences, but some, like Ms. Trunk, actually get a pretty big following. I don’t know where the breaking point is, but certainly it must be acknowledged that at a certain point a person does have a certain amount of social responsibility when they have such a large audience.

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6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: Yourself

This is part 6 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here, part 3 “Your Audiences” is here ,part 4 “The Channels” is here and part 5 “Other Professionals” is here.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know Yourself

I bet you weren’t expecting that one, were you? Let me explain what I mean by this: simply put, you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses, and you need to know your work flow and financial needs; this is especially true if you are consulting. Since most of us actually do know our strengths and weaknesses, maybe a better way to word this is be honest with yourself.  I saw a quote online recently that really rang true with me. Unfortunately I haven’t always followed it.

Work for full price or work for free, but don’t work for cheap.

As I applied that to many situations in the past that I have had to deal with, I see how true this is.  I could probably write an entire series of posts about why this is so important, but for now I’ll just let you ponder it and apply it to your own situation. In knowing yourself, you need to be honest with what your needs (or those of your organization) are, because sometimes…no matter how much you need the work…it’s better to say no to a project.  

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6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: The Channels

This is part 4 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here, part 3 “Your Audiences” is here.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know The Channels

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Ustream, blogs, forums and all of the other communities in social media each have a different feel, and as such have different rules and therefore different results should be expected.  I’m going to go on record as saying that, in my opinion, trying to target all areas is a big mistake unless you have an incredibly well resourced team.  For most of the Fortune 500 companies that I work with we target a handful of channels based upon the brand needs and expectations…I don’t think there is such a thing as a cookie cutter social media program.  Why?  Because the need of every client is different (remember that part I wrote about knowing your customer?)  That said, there are a few basics that should be covered, but once you have established those you’ll want to match specific needs with specific communities.  If you try to be all things to all people you’re going to get spread too thin.

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6 Things You Need To Know About Running A Social Media Program: The Audience

2306001896_7e0ce6e0f5This is part 3 of 6 in the series “6 Things You Need to Know About Running A Social Media Program”. You can read part 1 “The Client” here, it has a full introduction. Part 2 “The Product” is here.

I’ve created this list of “things you must know” mostly based upon very positive experiences I’ve had, but also from negative ones…things that I’ve either experienced myself or seen others do.  This isn’t a tactical post, I think I write plenty of those.  Instead, this is my advice to those that are going to lend their expertise to others, and hopefully by checking these off you will avoid some common mistakes that often result in unmet expectations, from one side or the other…or both.

Know Your Audience

Your audience is not “everybody” unless you are selling oxygen or religion…and even then there are plenty of people that don’t want either.  If you really think you can reach everybody, you are sorely mistaken.  You’re also going to be working 24/7 and going broke, because you cannot target everybody.  Now that we have established that, this is another great conversation to have with your client.  They probably have a pretty good idea of who their target audience is; make sure you understand who they are going after.  If you’ve done your homework (by knowing the product) then you can and should add to this conversation.  Once you understand the person that you are trying to reach you can start developing a strategy that will include some social media channels but not others.  Your strategy should also tell you when you should be active online (based upon when the target audience is), how often to engage them  and what sort of external resources you should link to that will add value to the community. If your client has no idea who they are targeting, I would suggest that you consider working this out with them before you start, it will prevent a lot of frustration from both sides.

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