Average time spend (h:m:s) on social media each month:
- Australia – 6:52:28
- United States -6:09:13
- United Kingdom – 6:07:54
- Italy – 6:00:07
- Spain – 5:30:55
Australians are clearly big users of social media, which is in contrast to the unsophisticated strategies Aussie businesses are using to capitalise on this engagement. We hear more about social media disasters than innovative strategies or deep two-way communication that drives a strong return on investment.
Australians are curious, we love to socialise and connect. We have a culture of mateship and supporting the battlers, shying away from advertising messages. Businesses need to rethink using traditional marketing messages in social media outreach, as they can and often will backfire.
It’s not enough to run a social media ‘campaign’, spruiking a product or service through some half-baked Facebook competition. Marketers need to understand that to be effective in social media, there is a need to let go of reputational inhibitions and engage in a real dialogue. Speaking with the audience on the same level not through a PR spin machine that fails to take into account the rallying power of citizen journalism.
Traditional marketing messages won’t work in social media. The best marketers will be the ones that use effective, long-term relationship building techniques, as opposed to short term PR stunts.
To be a good social media person at a brand, you have to have a background not just in digital or marketing but also in your product.
Too often I’ve seen companies decide they need a social media strategy and go out and hire a crack team of ‘gurus’. What’s missing here is that in order to effectively achieve true two-way communication and bring value to customers, the people running social media need to have an innate understanding of the product itself.
Knowing why Pinterest is an effective social network is good but not enough. It’s important to understand why people are using the product in the first place. A background in public relations is great, but a background in the product’s development is better.
Zappos is an online shoe retailer, but it’s real product is great customer service. The company puts every single employee through four weeks of customer service training before they even begin their role. After the intense training, every employee knows the company product. They just happen to sell shoes, but what Zappos really sells is excellence in the customer experience - and this understanding is baked into the social media plan.
Social media is often lumped in as a marketing function, customer service or digital function. Only sometimes it’s part of the product person’s role.
However, it’s not just one of these team’s responsibilities. The social media person needs to be across all of it.
Doesn’t sound easy, does it? It’s not. Nor should companies pretend it’s easy by creating a Facebook page, hiring an intern to run it and calling it a day for their social media strategy.
Effective social media engagement begins with understanding the product first, and what it’s job to be done is.
In a move that could change the nature of the social networking site forever, companies could be fined or publicly shamed for the comments that appear on their Facebook ”brand” pages.
This is a major ruling that will mean companies are directly responsible for comments posted on their Facebook pages. This includes comments that are not just vulgar or discriminatory, but even factually inaccurate.
Companies could be liable for anything posted on their Facebook pages that can be reasonably proven as false. Brands with a large Facebook presence will need to ensure their activity is adequately resourced, or potentially face a lawsuit.
This is Now is a visual real-time feed of Instagram, using geolocation data to organise photos into streams by city. The tool instantly streams photos as they are taken, giving users a glimpse of what people are seeing and sharing in New York, London, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and my city of Sydney.
Pick one of the cities and you are instantly transported into the daily life and culture of the city. One of the best uses of the Instagram API I’ve seen yet.
The tool was created by Marcio Puga, Mauricio Massaia and Per Thoresson. This is their project description:
The This is Now project is a visual composition which uses real-time updates from the ever popular Instagram application based on users’ geotag locations. The tool streams photos instantly as soon as they are uploaded on Instagram and captures a city’s movement, in a fluid story.
Hot on the heels of Google’s red hot social network Google+, Microsoft has also decided to dip it’s toes with a new product trendily named so.cl.
The first question I asked myself when I read the news was - why?
Microsoft already has a strategic alignment with Facebook to do battle against the forces of Google. They have made a good chunk of change based on Facebook’s IPO. It would make sense to foster this relationship with a strong partner rather than go at it alone with the quiet launch of so.cl.
Speaking of Google, even with their strong online clout with heavily used products like Search, Maps and Gmail, they are finding it difficult to get a foothold into non-geek markets. If you didn’t realise, my opening quip was in sarcasm. A quick browse over there would reveal that it’s a network made up exclusively of social media evangelists and software engineers.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my Xbox and I’m lusting after a Lumia 900. But Microsoft’s own social network just doesn’t feel right, especially with the subpar product they have revealed. It’s just not ok to launch half-heartedly in an already crowded market with well established players, not to mention upstarts like Pinterest. No mobile app is also a big question mark on how serious Microsoft really is with this project.
Microsoft, like Google, obviously understands the importance of socially infusing your products. They recently added social recommendations to Bing search results. This seemed like a great move as they use various social networks as a source, in comparison to Google Search which detrimentally emphasizes Google+ results, fueling strong criticism.
Perhaps if Microsoft had a strong product at launch it could make some sense. However so.cl seems confusing at best, and infuriating at worst - with your search query being posted straight to your profile.
In context, the following tweet could be seen as an insult to the WNBA.
Yet another micro-social-sharing-mobile app has been released, it’s called Everyme.
When I first read about it I had to groan. A Path clone? A copy of Google+ circles? Why do I need this when it’s already hard enough to get friends to join those networks. Even their websites look the same.
But then I started using it, and I realised it’s a little different.
A little useful, even.
What’s very clever is that it actually solves a real problem in a logical way - sharing with your close friends, even if they don’t use that social network. All without having to manually create friend groups, or as the app interestingly calls them - circles.
Everyme scans your address book, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and auto-magically creates circles based on your social graph. You can then tinker with them and add other circles to your heart’s desire.
The beautiful thing is that when you share to a circle, it will send the update to your friends’ email address or to their phone number as a text message. The emails look beautiful, and may encourage your friends to join the network without you having to nag. Amazing.
The visual similarities to Path are hard to ignore. In some views it looks like they took Path and tinted it a shade of aqua blue. Missing are some of the fun visual elements such as Path’s bouncy input ball and the spinning clock as you scroll through your timelines. This makes me a little sad.
However it makes up for the one infuriating problem with Path, in that in order for it to be fun and useful your friends need to be active there.
There are no Path-like photo filters in Everyme. Nor are there emoticons. You can’t share songs or post your Nike+ runs. In fact, Everyme doesn’t really feel like a social network at all, but rather a sleek group messaging app.
So even though at first tap it looks like a Path clone, after using it for a while you realise it’s something else. It’s an address book.
If anything, it’s more of an iMessage replacement.
iMessage seeks to replace SMS, sending a text through the iMessage protocol whenever an iOS 5 device is detected.
But not everyone has an iPhone.
Path also doesn’t work unless you are in a clique of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs or your name is Robert Scoble.
Everyme allows you to easily send a message or a photo to a group of people, regardless of what network or phone they are using. You just send an update to a circle, a real friend circle not a Google+ nerdcircle, and know that it will reach everyone via the app, an email or a text message.
It will be interesting to see if the service takes off. For once though, I don’t have to beg all my friends to join yet another social network - it has value right from the start.
The way I have consumed news and kept up-to-date has changed significantly over the past five years. Instead of checking individual sites on the desktop, I now primarily use social reading services on mobile to consume news. My physical location has changed, the device has changed, the services have changed and my habits have completely changed.
I used to visit individual sites to read news through bookmarks. This was viable a few years ago when there were fewer great websites with good content. I then started to use RSS through Google Reader as I wanted to follow more niche blogs that weren’t updated so often.
Over time, I kept adding more and more feeds to my RSS reader to the point where if I didn’t go through my feeds and mark as read I would have hundreds of unread stories in a single day.
At the same time, I was using social media more and more to consume news. Quickly scanning my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I could filter out what’s important, and what’s current. I started enjoying reading news this way, curated by the friends and followers I value.
However, I felt like I was missing out on more niche content that I used to consume back in the days of RSS and actually visiting websites through bookmarks.
I’ve returned to RSS in conjunction with social media, but I have less and less patience going through the feeds to skim articles that just aren’t interesting to me.
I’ve also started to consume news through mobile. In fact, I consume news through mobile more than I do traditionally on desktop. Enter, social media news filters. Mobile apps like Flipboard and Zite, and web aggregators like Google News, Techmeme, Summify and Percolate. These are the new ways I consume news.
I still use RSS, but now only for niche blogs that I otherwise may miss through socially curated news.
The combination of RSS, social media and social news curation services allow me to stay up to date with the most popular stories in my areas of interest but also allow me to drill down into niche stories fairly easily.