Social Networks Already More Popular Than Search Engines?

Honestly, I was shocked to see in a recent blog entry by Rob Goad, research director for Experian Hitwise, discussing how social networks now receive more visits than search engines in the United Kingdom. The percentages were both just a hair under 12 percent of overall traffic, but this is huge, nonetheless. It simply reinforces the global need for corporations and marketers to embrace the social media space in spite of concerns about negative contributor engagement.  

In further researching the competitive landscape, it was interesting to see the differences regarding what social sites are most popular in the United States vs. the United Kingdom. In the UK study, Facebook accounted for nearly 55 percent of the total visits, with YouTube coming in at a distant second with 16 percent. Surprisingly, Twitter was even further back at just 2 percent. In the United States, Facebook and StumbleUpon have been alternating as to who is generating the most traffic. I was stunned at StumbeUpon’s popularity — it has 10,181,774 members as of today’s post. Make that 10,181,775 …

The most important realization here is that even though we still can’t completely foresee what the future is for these social networks — or even who the biggest players may be a year from now — we have at least identified where consumers are. From a marketing standpoint, this is the best platform to research to understand consumers’ behavior and consumption habits. So, no matter your corporate marketing needs, the cat is out of the bag. You can no longer sit idly by. Whether via Facebook, StubleUpon, YouTube or Twitter, the evidence is there and the time to act is now!

Noticing any new players on the social media horizon we should be following? Let us know and we’ll check them out.

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Future of social media SLAPPs

I think of myself as a good friend. I listen to my friends when they need to vent about bad experiences with a rude restaurant server or business that has wronged them. After all, that’s what friends are for. As a go-to solution, I tell them to write a review on Yelp or tweet about it.

Recently, The New York Times profiled Justin Kurtz, 21, who started a Facebook page called “Kalamazoo Residents against T&J Towing.” Kurtz was angry about his experience with this towing company and shared his negative experience with his Facebook friends. The towing company replied back with a defamation suit, claiming Kurtz’s Facebook page was hurting the business.

Lawsuits like these are known as SLAPPs — or  strategic lawsuits against public participation — and they work to censor and silence consumers with the burden of legal fees.

Kurtz did what I advise my family and friends to do every time they have a not-so-pleasant experience. Some may call it First Amendment rights of free speech, but business owners, who don’t want their livelihoods negatively affected by cyberspace, are responding with defamation suits.

This year another defamation suit was allowed in a California courtroom over Craigslist comments. An attorney filed a defamation suit claiming his business was suffering due to the comments. 

These businesses are fighting for their reputation and name, and in the eyes of the court, these comments or reviews cannot be made with the intention to shut the business down. 

Undoubtedly, the Facebook statuses that get the most comments are the ones that stem from a strong feelings — usually anger. But most people who use cyberspace and social media websites to voice their bad experiences probably don’t want to see these businesses close their doors. Angry customers just need somewhere to vent. They want to make certain others don’t have the same encounter. I believe they’re helping the world.

I’m not sure if scaring people with defamation suits will work. Social media users will still post, tweet and comment — especially the angry ones. Social media was intended to be an open forum. And so far, 26 states have passed anti-SLAPP laws, which will help wrongly-sued defendants recover legal fees. 

We’ll see how many angry consumers and tweeters will be made an example of with SLAPPs. In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to watch what guidelines and privacy rules are instituted for social media sites as more business defamation cases pop up. 

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How Will You Sift Through All That Data?

One of the greatest benefits of the digital age has been all of the amazing information we are able to easily collect. From real-time tracking for online ad campaigns to more cost-efficient consumer behavior studies, the Internet and advent of new technologies have provided marketers with access to more data than ever before. Now, how do we manage all of this information? 

Everyone from the New York Times to smaller research and innovation shops such as PSFK are addressing this industry hot button. Just look at the ever-increasing attention being paid to social media and the value of consumer feedback through this medium. From a marketing perspective, it’s clear that research and analytics companies will become more of a premium in the years ahead.

It’s also clear that small and large agencies alike must better assist their clients in this space. If it’s not a current competency, making sense of data needs to become one, whether internally or via trusted partner relationships. Marketers must figure out how to be better listeners in the form of delving through the immense clutter of information and data that is now available. The challenge is upon us to efficiently organize and make sense of all the noise, and then provide our clients with the information that’s truly important to them and their future success.

Sharing this type of research and analytics BEFORE we start client campaigns will make us smarter in our client media spend recommendations, website refreshes and social media platform selections. This type of proactive data mining and discovery process will also pave the way for more efficient metrics analysis once a campaign is completed. If we’re lucky … and I do believe in making your own luck … that sometimes-difficult client postmortems and “learnings and findings” sit-downs might go better than hoped!

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How to Get Good Blog Ideas

As I was trying to decide what to write about for my next post, I found myself on Google typing in “how to get good blog ideas.” God bless Google. I was able to get some great ideas, which triggered more ideas and ultimately … a blog post.

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced blogger, you will most likely find a day where you’ve simply blanked on ideas. In fact, most people find that coming up with good blog content is rather difficult. Stuck in a blogging rut? Here are a few steps for finding inspiration for upcoming blog posts.

  • First and foremost, remember the KISS motto, and try to keep it simple! The nature of a blog post is to be informative and entertaining so don’t attempt to write about things that are too complicated. Even when writing about a complex subject, try to keep the focus your post on something simple and direct. Do not try to cram too many ideas into one blog post. Try splitting them up into individualized posts for different subjects.
  • Have “role model” blogs to get ideas from. Make a list of the top blogs that you find interesting and that are relevant to you. Read them regularly, and when you see a blog post that catches your attention, write a follow up post with your interpretation. It is OK to poach story ideas. Just make sure to add your own (more interesting) spin on the subject.
  • Visit blog aggregating sites such as Junta42.com, Customerthink.com and SocialMediaToday.com. Here you can find a wide variety of blog posts by several different authors. Ideas are never in short supply at such sites.
  • Understand your blog’s purpose. Know what you want readers to get out of your blog. If your blog’s purpose is to express expertise and insight into the banking industry then blogging about music would probably confuse your readers. However, if you are using music to help people better understand a banking subject- and thus making it more interesting- then it would become relevant and useful.   It’s OK to stray once in a while and show your personality as long as it for the good of the overall purpose. 
  • Challenge yourself. Try answering your own questions. Just like I did with this blog, try writing a blog about things you would like to know for yourself. Obviously, this requires a bit more research, but if you are interested in knowing about he subject, then chances are other people are too.
  • Be present and learn from others. A great way to get ideas for blog posts is by participating in webinars and webcasts. Webinars are usually places where new ideas and approaches are expressed. Not only can you become more knowledgeable on a  subject, but you also can also see what others are asking. Most webinars and podcasts have a Q & A period. Take note of what people’s concerns are about. A good blog post could include your feedback or analysis.
  • Finally, try to ask your readers what they want to know. Make a contest out of it using the help of Twitter and see what kind of ideas come back. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Posted in About Wax Custom Communications, Blogging, Creativity, Interactive, Public Relations, SEO, Social Media | Tagged , | 2 Comments

How to Network and Market Yourself Online

Sure, networking at events and social settings is essential for business. But networking online is in many cases better than a business card exchange and it’s no less critical to your marketing success. Here are the basics of online networking. 

1. Blogs are the new websites. Traditional websites are meant for one way conversations where consumers are fed information. Blogs are two-way conversations where engagement and personal connections are possible. Your blog should be personable and informative. People enjoy hearing opinions just as much as they do facts, so don’t hesitate to express thoughts, theories, speculations, and doubt. If there is an area in which you are particularly knowledgeable or interested, then identify that niche and run with it. Also, don’t be scared to get ideas from other bloggers. See what bloggers in your community are talking about and provide your own interpretation.

If you already have a traditional website, add a blog  and open the conversation between your company and potential customers (and existing ones, too). Not only does it give a voice to your brand, it can educate your customers, build relationships and market your services and expertise.

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Posted in Blogging, Branding, Interactive, Marketing, Online marketing, SEO, Social Media | Tagged , , | 1 Comment