Tag Archives: facebook

It’s 3:00 AM. Do you know where your content is?

There was a time, not too terribly long ago, when you could just put some information on your website, people would visit, find it (usually after sitting through a two-minute Flash intro), and then go on with their browsing.

Boy how times have changed.

These days, if you want your content to be found, not only should your website be optimized for search, but you should make it as easy as possible for people to find and share your content.

How, you might ask?

It could be that you publish news, insights and other information via a blog platform, and allow that content to be syndicated via an RSS feed.  Visitors could then subscribe to that feed, and receive any future updates in a form that is most convenient to them — whether that’s through their feed reader of choice, via BlackBerry or other mobile device, Outlook and more.

It could be that you’ve created a Facebook Page for your business, and share your news and other relevant information there.

Or, it could be that you’ve established a personal, or professional presence on Twitter or other microblogging services, and share updates with your followers throughout the course of conversation over time.

No matter how you choose to do it, the fact is that you can no longer simply expect people to come to your website to find information about you and your company.  There are too many other avenues through which they can find what they’re looking for, and in many cases they can bypass your website entirely to do it.

The communications landscape, particularly online, has changed dramatically in the past few years.  What are you doing to keep up?

The Power of Social Media is NOT What You May Think

For the past few years, and this year in particular, social media has been the darling of the marketing and advertising world. The promise of reaching the customer where they already are online, coupled with meteoric rises in traffic to sites such as Facebook and Twitter have made this realm an incredibly attractive realm for marketers and advertisers.

But the real power of social media does not lie in the tools themselves.  Nor does it lie in the fact that this activity is taking place online.

The internet is an inherently social medium.  Always has been, always will be.  Even in the early days of email, IRC, chat rooms, bulletin board systems and such, the internet provided the medium through which communication could take place online.  It continues to do so to this day.

The communication tools have changed, but the process has not.

So, what is the power of social media?

The power of social media lies in what it allows you to do.  For businesses, that could be how it helps to improve customer service.  Or, how it helps to drive sales, generate demand, or increase brand awareness.

Recently, a group of colleagues and I met for lunch.  During the course of the conversation, the question was asked, “What is the future of social media?”  An off-hand comment was made that “this” is the future of social media — the face-to-face conversation taking place around the table between six people.  In a way, that’s the truest  answer possible.  However, that’s not all.  Social media helps to enable that conversation.  It allows those around the table to stay connected beyond the 60-90 minutes of lunch conversation.  It allows the conversation to extend as long and as far as necessary, through a variety of communication channels.

It helps to remove the limitations of time and space from communication.

Social media in and of itself is a tool — a means to and end — much like a hammer, a car, or Adobe Photoshop.  The real magic happens when the tools are matched with a skilled operator with a specific purpose.  Just as you have a blueprint for the house in place before you start whacking away with a hammer, a good plan and solid strategy should be developed before any social media efforts are implemented.

Otherwise, you may just be driving around in circles.

Thoughts on Facebook’s Terms of Service

Last week, much was made of the changes to Facebook’s Terms of Service.  It was sparked by a story on The Consumerist’s website, which led to a flurry of activity in all corners of the online world.

It even prompted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to post a statement on Facebook’s blog clarifying their stance.

The end result? Facebook has reversed their decision, and reverted to their old Terms of Service.

So, now that the frenzy has died down a little, let’s take a look at what this change was really about.

In a word: Money.

In practical terms — Facebook needs to be able to demonstrate its platform (yes platform – its so much more than just a website)  to potential advertisers, partners, investors, and other interested parties.  The best way to demonstrate that platform is to see it in action.  And the real power of the platform is the interaction that takes place amongst all of the registered users – 175 Million and counting around the world.

Let’s say the folks at Facebook wanted to partner with another cable broadcaster, as they did during the Presidential Inauguration with CNN.  Under their old TOS, if someone who had participated in the live online event, but canceled their account prior to a demonstration by Facebook, the company could not, by their own terms, use that former user’s content in their demonstration.  Their presentation isn’t as effective, and they find themselves working much harder to make the sale, the partnership, or the agreement.

Another angle — if Facebook did end up using that former Facebook user’s content anyways, they could, in theory, be at risk for a lawsuit for violating their own Terms of Service.  Facebook could make an attractive target for a lawsuit, as companies with deep pockets often do.

While much of the hoopla over the past week centered around privacy, in all reality it seems to be all about money.  The fact of the matter is that privacy in the online world is largely a myth.  A little common sense goes a long way.  Everything gets archived in some form or another — if you don’t want it to come back and bite you in the future, if you second guess whether to post it or not, you’re probably better off trusting your instincts.

Content. Community. Action.

ContentCommunityAction.  In that order.

Those three words may not seem like much, but they are the key ingredients to any new media, social marketing, or other web 2.0 activity.

Here’s what I mean:

It’s been said over and over (and over and over): Content is king.  Always has been, always will be.  But that’s nothing new.  When you look at it in terms of any new media activity, however, it puts a whole new spin on things.

Content is the foundation for everything else that you do in the new media space.  Thinking about starting a blog or a podcast?  The first step is to have a grasp on what you’d like to talk about.  This can be either original content or collected content (or a combination of both).  However you come about it, the content absolutely must be there.  Otherwise, the rest is wasted effort.

But good content cannot exist in a bubble.  That’s where community comes in.

Whether you call it a community, an audience, friends, fans or followers, the second piece of the puzzle is to build a community around that content.  This could be the audience that subscribes to your podcast or blog.  The friends and fans that interact on your Facebook group or discussion board.  Those who are following your updates on Twitter.

That community, however it happens to take shape, has an interest in your content.  How, here’s where things get turned upside down.

It’s not about you and your content.  It’s about them.  The community.

The community has expressed an interest in your content.  They’ve volunteered information about themselves and their interests.  They’ve taken the first step in establishing a relationship with you and your content.  But, like any good relationship, it requires action from both sides.  You, in turn, have an obligation to the community to continue providing that content that the community is interested in.  Think of it this way: Mass marketing is a numbers game – a game of reach and frequency.  The goal is to reach as many people as possible, as often as possible, in hopes that your message will resonate with a percentage of that audience who is interested in the message.  Looking at the situation from a new media standpoint, the “interested audience” steps forward and identifies themselves from the get-go.  Instead of talking to 10,000 to try and reach 100, those same 100 can come forward on their own accord and say, “Hi, I’m interested. I want to know more.”

Now, here’s another consideration.  In virtually all cases, your community doesn’t need the content that you’re providing.  They want the content that you’re providing.  Your responsibility, then, is making sure that the community gets more of what it wants.

Again, the key idea to keep in mind is that a community must be built around the content, and from a relationship point of view, it’s all about the community and continuing to meet their wants.

Once the foundation has been laid with the content, and the community has been established, then – and only then – can you take some sort of action.  Try to take action without first establishing a community and your efforts will be wasted.  Try to take action without good, quality content and the community will see that there’s no value in the content, therefore the content doesn’t meet their wants, and your efforts will be wasted.

However, with good content and an active, receptive community, you have the ability to take any number of measurable actions.  This could be asking something specific of the audience, such as providing feedback or completing a survey.  It could be an offer or incentive available exclusively to your community.  From a business standpoint, this is the key to success in the new media world.

Now, there are those who might think that I’ve simplified this concept entirely too much, and they could be right.  In the abstract world that is new media and web 2.0, I tend to believe that the simple explanation is usually the best, not to mention the easiest to understand.

Questions? Comments? Please, feel free to let me know.