Tag Archives: social networking

Five unapparent personal benefits of social networking…

The more time you spend on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, the more benefit you derive from the experience. I often find it hard to describe a lot of the personal benefits I get beyond connections and fast access news, but after a little creative thinking I’ve put together five unapparent benefits to social networking:

5. An insatiable thirst for knowledge

I honestly can’t remember if I was like this before and it was amplified, or if it’s a new quality all together, but I’ve definitely noticed that I now crave knowledge. I need to learn more and I need to at least skim Twitter to see what’s happening in my community/country/the entire world. Even on weekends and days off I’m always checking my phone (when appropriate! Not in the rude anti-social way!)

4. A newfound willingness to take risks

Or perhaps I mean the ability to take more calculated risks; when you’re exposed to more, you can make better decisions. For example, if I wanted to start a business helping restaurants with marketing, before I would maybe look up a few web sites, makes some calls and try to get an understanding if there were a need for such a service and if my potential client base would be willing to pay. However, without a lot of money to do proper market research (let’s face it-most entrepreneurs definitely don’t have money for it), I’d have to rely on a very small number of opinions based on my limited time to do said research on my own. However, now I can simply passively research this info through Google and various social networking sites, poll or survey my Twitter followers and Facebook friends and I can get a better glimpse of the risky industry and whether or not my idea will fly. Sure it’s still not as accurate as proper research, but it’s a whole lot better than what I was going to do.

3. A humbled world view

I admit, I’ve often been a “big fish in a small pond” kind of person. I exceeded in school and many hobbies/sports but mostly participated in small communities, as is pretty normal in the offline world. Secondly I’ll admit I’m a bit of a competitive person, not in a malicious kind of way, but in the sense that I’m always looking to benchmark myself against others, so I can work on improving. Well online there are so many more people doing whatever it is you’re trying to do. It’s humbling–which is awesome because it gives you a great sense of how *much* you can improve. And yes, on the flip side this can also be discouraging, but we all know the best out there know how to persevere!

2. A stronger sense of confidence

Especially as a writer (or any creative field) you always practice your craft with a certain level of vulnerability. You’re putting yourself out there. It’s scary. People will judge you. You might make a mistake. To me, it seems like whenever I’ve gone too far and lost my sense of what I’m doing, the community around me chimes up with words of encouragement. Even when things go wrong, there will always be someone backing you up and cheering you on.

1. An optimistic view of the world

OK maybe you’ve caught on that I’m generally an optimistic person… But I’m talking about something bigger. For all the awful things going on in the world, it’s amazing to see people band together for the greater good. There are so many great examples, but most timely is @unmarketing‘s Tweetathon for Tanner (go on, read the whole story and try not to shed a tear!) it ends tomorrow at 9 pm and since earlier today has already raised over $8,000 for a very worthy cause. Also take any natural disaster–even the most recent floods in Pakistan, a simple search shows many tweets urging help and many have been retweeted hundreds of times.

Have you noticed the same? Do you have others I haven’t mentioned here? Please share! (Especially because I’m super excited that I finally have Disqus running on here! Yea, sometimes I’m not such an early adopter–and this blog gets neglected.)

Social media: What's ahead for 2009?

It only makes sense to make the first post of 2009 about what’s ahead this year for social media. Please add your input, as I’m really just providing a few jumping points. Maybe at the end of the year, we can look back and see how well we did.

1. Twitter will hit critical mass

And no, I don’t think it has already because many of my friends still gave me odd looks when I mention my “tweeple” or that I’m heading to a “tweetup.” However, in 2008 Twitter had so much momentum and I think it will just keep growing. Also I think Twitter may start trying to monetize. Not sure how, though, ads? Any other ideas?

2. “Personal branding” will have more clout

I have been telling my friends all year to get online and start building their personal brands. Start a blog, an online portfolio, get on Twitter, ‘professionalize’ your Facebook profile, etc.

Now with words like ‘recession,’ and unemployment at an all-time high, finding a job is much more about marketing yourself. Companies are going to be faced with increased competition for positions, and you can make yourself stand out by showing your ability to change with the times and demonstrated initiative.

3. 2009 will be the year of meaningful metrics

With budgets tightened and staff skimped, many companies will turn to social media to maximize ROI–this is nothing new, but the tools to measure success need improvements. I track the traffic to Web2dotwhat.com using three tools- Google Analytics, Feedburner and Clicky. Sadly all three report different numbers (not sure which is correct, but I think Clicky is most accurate). Those who have a really good understanding of metrics and analytics will be in a great position to help others. I for one hope to see an easy-to-understand/use tool aimed at PR/marketing folk for blog tracking.

4. Content quality will become the crucial element

Right now, if you are publishing any sort of content, if it’s not blatantly terrible you’ll probably get traffic, comments, new subscribers, conversions, etc. However this year I think quality will trump quantity as the noise ratio out there is just getting too high. When hiring someone to produce content, make sure he/she has solid communication and writing skills, as well as an expert understanding of the medium.

5. It’s all about you, forget about me

I don’t mean literally! But there’s still a lot of “me, me, me” content out there, when it should be “you, you, you.” While this concept is certainly nothing new, it desperately needs to be put in practice. If you’re not sure what I mean, find a site you like and read through it, is it speaking to YOU, or is it talking about ME (or we)? Chances are, if you like it, it’s probably speaking to you. If you think the content comes across as cocky or arrogant, it’s probably speaking about itself. As competition steepens and budgets deplete this will be more important than ever.

So what do you think? Am I accurate? Do you have other predictions to add?

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Social Media: Wal-Mart finally gets it!

Wal-Mart has been in the news a few times with PR firm Edelman for its social media disasters. First it was Wal-marting across America, next it attempted to create its own MySpace-ish social network, which was embarrassingly shut down only 10 weeks later. Next, it smarted up and tried using Facebook to reach its younger audiences, though that failed too.

Now, I for one would like to see Wal-Mart do well. Yes, they’ve got a bad rap in the past for mistreating associates and participating in child/slave labor, but honestly I think they’ve learned their lesson for the most part, now as the world’s largest retailer they are doing good stuff for charities, promoting local and ethical products, etc. I also worked at Wal-Mart at 18, and as a job to have while in high school/college, it was great. I was promoted to customer service manager in a few months, and I was making more than most of my friends working min. wage jobs. A far cry from perfect, for the biggest retailer in the world, they are at least doing some things right.

That’s why I was happy to hear they’ve finally got the right idea with social media. Which in this case, it is starting small and building long-term strategy into its approach. User-generated reviews are a fantastic and natural fit for retailers, and Wal-Mart was even smart enough to cross promote online reviews on in-store receipts. It goes a step further and even encourages shoppers to go online and read reviews on shelf fact tags before making a purchase decision.

Essentially what Wal-Mart is doing–which is key to social media and which many retailers miss– is that it is giving up control to consumers and providing avenues to make informed purchasing decision. Yes, telling people to go online and read reviews BEFORE buying while in-store seems like a backwards strategy–that is, the customer will leave the store without buying–it’s actually genius, because that person will probably be more loyal, and buy even more, long term.

I hope Wal-Mart tracks its success well, and that the results are publicly available. For smaller retail outlets this move might seem like a risk, but Wal-Mart continues to be the leading retailer, despite its epic social media failures, so they can afford to try virtually anything. I’ll be staying tuned…

PS-Thanks to @giggey on Twitter for tipping me off to this story…

Social Networking: What's your niche?

While Facebook still dominates social networking, and LinkedIn/Plaxo for the professional world, as the excitement of social networking peters off (which may not be for a while) we’ll see Facebook slowly fade out, and niche sites slowly take over (though not as noticeably)

If you look closely, a lot of niche sites are already established. However these sites are driven by interests, not mass appeal, so unless you stumble across one, or hear about it from someone else, you may never find them.

One I found today that I’m already in love with is Group Recipes. It’s social networking for foodies and I love it for a few reasons:

  1. It’s all about sharing recipes – something foodies love to do!
  2. It allows you to not only share, but tag, rate and post your own recipes for a killer online recipe database.
  3. When you sign up, you rate a bunch of different ingredients/food types to determine your tastes, that way the content you see is relevant to you.

I think Group Recipes will do well in the ‘foodie’ space. What niche SN sites do you love??