Social Media Platforms: differences and best practices.

From my own experience launching, and managing, both a Facebook page and a Twitter page for a client I got a few good ideas. This client was an online media audio venture so, for us, Facebook posts were a great way to share interesting content and build conversations around the topics that were being discussed in their audio operation. We used plenty of rich media aids in our Facebook posts and the posts with pictures, audio and/or video attached got way more shares and likes than just plain text ones.

Twitter was great to get the “in the moment” feel of the audience and run fast contests with our followers (like guess which movie this song playing live is from), as well as get questions in for audio q&as what were going on live.

We grouped our actions to follow this pattern. Facebook for shares about stuff that happened, to increase the reach of the content and get more eyes, ears and hands involved with it. In other words: build conversations around our pieces and increase their reach like this. Twitter to get fast responses on things that were going on right now and direct people to what was happening in the moment.

Of course we cross posted on both platforms sometimes, but we always went the extra mile to customize the posts to fit in with each platforms strengths. Examples: hashtags, pictures and links in Twitter; pictures, audio and video more on Facebook.

We used Hootsuite to manage both of our accounts and schedule posts so they could happen in hours were people’s timelines were probably less crowded or to coincide with specific content being featured on the audio website live. Tools like this made our lives easier and also allowed us to follow up on our posts and engage with users answering questions and acknowledging comments to keep the conversation going (and take advantage of the “two-way” channel that both these platforms represented.

Time Magazine published a few best practices for Facebook and I’m happy to see that some of the ideas we used with our client hold true. They recommend: 1) Target your Posts (choose audience that will see them), 2) Use photos, but make them original, 3) Post at Odd Hours, 4) Start a Conversation, 4) Be engaging, 5) Cross-promote with other pages, 6) Hop on a trending topic and 7) Buy an ad.

Nimble also suggests a few Facebook strategies. Among their recommendations: 1) Post engaging images, 2) Include a photo album, 3) Post a video, 4) Use short text, 5) Analyze data about your top posts to see why they achieved such great results.

Coca-Cola using "fill in the blanks" riddles to engage users.

Coca-Cola using “fill in the blanks” riddles to engage users.

Mashable also jumped in with a few tips of its own. 1) Embrace images, 2) Make the most of your cover photo, 3) Learn using Facebook insights, 4) Highlight or pin your best posts, 5) Get your apps in a row, 6) Run contests to boost engagement, 7) Drop in those milestones and 8) Embrace your fans. They even highlight a few great ideas they’ve seen brands use on Facebook: Red Bull launching a scavenger hunt game on Facebook, Old Spice doing status updates that are funny and quirky just like their brand image, ESPN’s use of “fill in the blank” posts to engage fans and Coca-Cola encouraging fans to solve riddles on their timeline.

Red Bull - game on Facebook.

Red Bull – game on Facebook.

My own compiled list of Facebook best practices:

1) Groom your page, change your images to reflect your current ideas and content. Be impactful. Also, be respectful.

2) Fill in the information on your page. Have a YouTube page, link it there, have an App link it there, have a homepage link it there, make your relevant information easy to access.

3) Use photo albums, organize your content and tell your story.

4) Be brief, use short phrases and make use of this “brevity” challenge to be great at copyrighting.

5) Use images, audio and video, original ones, great ones, impactful ones.

6) Read up on the Facebook insights (data) about your page, know what works (and what doesn’t) for you. Learn from your successes and from your mistakes.

7) Start debates with a short question and keep things moving on the comments.

8) Ask questions, important ones, fun ones, and turn your comment section into a virtual coffee shop.

9) Post in a timely fashion, not too much and not too little. Use your own team to follow your page and see how your posts fare on their timeline. Don’t overload, but also don’t let cobwebs grow on your timelines (stale content is the worst).

10) Last, but most definitely not least, answer back to people. Don’t leave those that engage with you in a void. If people take the time to talk to you, answer back and keep the ball rolling.

Sources: http://time.com/48358/facebook-marketing-eight-ways-to-get-posts-seen-more/

http://www.nimble.com/blog/posting-and-analyzing-on-facebook/

http://mashable.com/2012/05/17/facebook-timeline-brand-tips/

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How Organizations and Movements use Social Media?

I happen to follow several different organizations on social media websites. Why I follow them? To stay on top of new promotions they provide (reason for following airline companies), to stay on top of news about them (reason for following favorite shows), to get access to content they provide (good for favorite movies/shows and news/blogs) or to be able to access them if I need to say something (products I have).

Companies that know how to use social media do it in a way that doesn’t overpower their followers’ timelines (the case for those in Facebook and Twitter), and I’ll keep following them. If they prove too intrusive (many posts a day, posts I don’t care for), I’ll stop following them.

Harvard Business Review research numbers show companies are flocking to social media.

Harvard Business Review research numbers show companies are flocking to social media.

Chances are if I follow the company I already care for their products and what they have to say to me will be interesting enough for me to keep on following them. But, sometimes, things backfire and seeing stuff I don’t care so much about annoys me. I tend to participate in calls-to-action if they interest me, as in, sending pictures in reply to prompts, commenting on a favorite thing, pitching in with ideas when requested and, of course, contacting them when something is not to my liking.

But most companies still feel they under use the technology.

But most companies still feel they under use the technology.

I’ve found, and many others have too, that complaining through social media is the fastest way to get an answer from a company. I usually try to find chat areas in websites to complain about something and get fast answers, my second tool of choice is email, and my third is social media. Social media is faster, in most cases, but it really puts the issue “out there” so I have to be really angry to use it as a first recourse. From the corporate side of things, monitoring social media for customer problem interactions is a smart way to turn a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate. Resolving something fast and showing proactiveness can really turn the tables on a disgruntled customer.

Social media learning curve is still a big issue.

Social media learning curve is still a big issue.

As far was why social media is important to corporate entities I can say the key word is “two-way” communication and relevance. It allows them to build knowledge about their consumer base, bounce ideas off them, get feedback and position themselves are trusted sources of knowledge. By providing interesting information that is relevant to their customers’ interests they are able to build a relationship that wasn’t there before social media came along.

Raising awareness is still number one reason to use social media.

Raising awareness is still number one reason to use social media.

Harvard Business Review has some interesting insights into social media use by corporations: “Social media has arrived, but companies still aren’t sure what to do with it. Fifty-eight percent of companies are currently engaged in social networks like Facebook, microblogs like Twitter, and sharing multimedia on platforms such as YouTube – but research from the Harvard Business Review Analytics Services report “The New Conversation: Taking Social Media from Talk to Action” finds that much of the investment in social is future-oriented.” Several takes from this research are illustrating this post.

Promotion is still number one reason to use.

Promotion is still number one reason to use.

Social Media activism is also on the rise, cue in the ALS challenge data: “As of Monday, August 18, 2014 the ALS Association has received $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 18); these donations have come from existing donors and 307,598 new donors to The Association.” In fact it’s been important for quite some time (Arab Spring, Kony, Bring Back our Girls, etc), just click on the name inside the brackets to see articles referring to these campaigns and their results.

From the comfort of your own home...

From the comfort of your own home…

Personally I’m a bit skeptical about using social media as the only strategy for an activism campaign, if you are lucky (and smart) you’ll be able to gain traction fact, maybe even raise some money, but will this last. Will it effectively lead to a permanent change in people’s behaviors and minds, will it keep you on the radar or will your fame only last until the next big thing comes along? Online activism has the big plus of people being able to join in from the comfort of their own homes, usually wearing their pajamas and sipping a warm latte. It makes them feel purposeful, like they really accomplished something and “see it wasn’t all that hard”. Activism the old way, running from the cops and being hosed down in front of a presidential palace was way harder, not to mention sitting down without food or a comfortable bed to sleep on for days protesting against the war or someone’s arrest. It was harder but it required a level of commitment to the cause that was sure to last past a wet cold night. Maybe I’m just to old and doubt the ability of clicking my way through true societal change. For me change requires more than clicks and shares, it requires creating the kind of physical unrest that shows commitment.

On the other hand...

On the other hand…

Social media is a great complimentary strategy to activism but if it’s its only arena of expression I’m sure whatever is achieved will not guarantee continued involvement with the cause. Having said this, the money ALS received is bound to make a difference for them, and if it doesn’t happen again next year it still is money in the bank for them today.

Sources: http://hbr.org/web/slideshows/social-media-what-most-companies-dont-know/1-slide

http://www.alsa.org/news/media/press-releases/ice-bucket-challenge-0818.html

What is social media?

What is the difference between social media and other forms of media, or online environment platforms. That’s the interesting question we have been proposed to answer for class this week.

My first instinct was to say that social media is where content is shared with others on the web, hence the “social” part on the name. From my advertising days I know that media, and its singular form medium, refers to channels of communications were information is transmitted, stored and delivered. It’s close enough to the definition you can find for media at a business dictionary, which also emphasizes the role media as a mean to disseminate content to others.

Building on that social media would be a way to share information with others in a social environment, as in one where people spend time interacting with each other.

What makes something “social media?”

I really liked this definition that social media is a canvas upon which we paint our content by Brian Dodson. It is a platform that we can use to share content we produce or find so that others may be able to access it. Much in the same way I’m doing in this blog. Social media is then the platform, a noun as Dodson says, for you to publish content enabling it to be found by others (social networking is the verb, the action of engagement that happens when people interact with the information and talk about it or talk back to the source). Something can be considered a social media when it enables content to be accessed and shared by others. Examples of social media websites are: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Digg and so on so forth as this nice picture below by Innovision shows.

social-media

Expanding on the knowledge I gained so far about this subject I would say that what makes something social media is its ability to allow a two-way conversation between the content provider and the audience, as well as conversations among the audience members themselves.

How is “social media” different from other forms of media?

Social Media is different from other traditional channels that can be used to disseminate information (like television, radio, print, etc) precisely because it allows this two-way communication to happen. It creates a sense of community, as Angela Hausman says, were the communication is unstructured, user generated and open. Traditional media provides content that is curated by several people, is supported by paid advertisers that rely on audience numbers to decide were they will advertise, it is a one-way channel (even though people can send letters, phone into programs and share content from these channels in social media websites), communications is more controlled, formal and content is polished (by the aforementioned curating).

What are some online examples of “clearly social” media?

I liked this definition by Jamie Turner that groups social media into categories according to what they can help you do. I’ll share it here:

Social Media Platforms that help you network (connect) with others: Facebook, Google+, Friendster, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter, Xing, etc.

Social Media Platforms that help you promote: YouTube, Blogs Platforms (like Blogger, WordPress, etc), Vimeo, Flicker, Picasa, etc.

Social Media Platforms that help you share: Instagram, Digg, Buffer, Pinterest, Reddit, Stumbleupon, Wikipedia, etc.

What are some online examples of “clearly not” social media? Why?

I would say TV, Newspaper and Radio websites are not social media, even if their content can be shared in social media and used in social networking efforts. Some newspaper websites even allow you to sign into the comment sections with your social media website credentials but I still wouldn’t call them social media websites on their own right.

Much in the same way, store-shopping websites are not social media. But I must admit I’m confused about Amazon, since they have discussion forums too, I’m confused about where I would classify them. I guess most people would not consider them a social media site since no content is being produced to be shared there (other than reviews, forum posts and books that people can self-publish there).

What constitutes social media is an interesting question to analyze and I learned a lot about this subject just by trying to answer questions for this blog post (including my own).