3 Tips That Will Help You Manage Your Social Media Time (by Kim Garst)


1. Determine Your WHY and be disciplined

Establishing goals; both weekly and monthly, is key to all social media campaigns. You need to ask yourself; what do I hope to accomplish on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn? Am I trying to generate sales, more likes to my fan page, higher keyword ranking in LinkedIn? What exactly do you “want” from your efforts? You HAVE to know this up front so you can measure your results and the EFFORT necessary to make those results become reality. Once you determine what you want from your social media efforts, it becomes much easier to focus on specific tasks to accomplish your goals.

I don’t know if you have this problem but I know it is a huge problem for many…chasing a rabbit trail. You  click on a link that catches your attention, which leads you somewhere else and then somewhere else and before you know it; two hours have passed. Sound familiar? That is why social media requires discipline. I have often, laughingly, called Facebook “Crackbook” because it is so addictive. Great resource for keeping up with personal friends and family but before you know it, you are hours into your Facebook session. It will help if you set specific times and timelines for your social media work. For example; morning, noon and evening. Check in, do what needs to be done and get out.

Every business will have different social media needs and the time required will vary so I am hesitant to suggest how long you should spend on social media on a daily basis. I have seen others tout “How to Do Your Social Media in 15 Minutes a Day” and I say that is total hogwash if you are serious about generating results with social media. That doesn’t mean I think you need to spend five hours a day either. You will find your timeline when you focus on your goals.

2. Narrow Your Focus

This tip is very important for anyone who is just getting started. When you first get started with social media, it can be overwhelming so my best advice is start with one or two social media platforms. Learn what you need to learn to achieve your goals and put your social media plan into action. If you are trying to master multiple social media platforms all at the same time, it can be overwhelming and totally ineffective in the long run. Build your presence deep on one or two social media platforms and THEN spread out if you feel it will benefit your business. This will allow you to really monitor your efforts and identify what works and what doesn’t.

Personally, I focus on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn. This allows me to really focus my efforts around building business connections and relationships, which is my ultimate goal.

3. It’s All In The Tools!

Ever hear that line “it’s all in the tools?” Well, this is so true with social media as well. There are tons of GREAT tools in the marketplace that will help you manage your social media platforms from one location. The right tools will also help you organize your social media which will save you TONS of time. Many of these tools are free on a basic level and if you need more, you can pay for an upgraded or professional version for a nominal monthly fee. I would suggest trying out the free version, play with it some and see what you like and don’t like about it. Ultimately choose the one that you like the most.

My personal preference is Hootsuite but I will share others here with you as well. Hootsuite allows me to manage my personal Facebook profile, multiple Facebook Fan Pages, my Twitter account and my LinkedIn account from one central location. When I say central location, Hootsuite is a a web-based application and you do not physically have to login to each individual social media site to “see” what is happening with your account. Hootsuite also has a smart phone app that you can install on your phone so you can literally manage your social media from anywhere!

Other social media management platforms include TweetDeck, Ping.fm, and a relative newcomer; Social Sprout.

Bottom line, like any marketing method, social media is all about identifying what you desire from your marketing efforts, setting up a way to achieve those goals and sticking with it consistently! You may have to refine your process from time to time but consistency is critical in social media.

If you do not have the time to devote to your social media management, I suggest checking out our management packages.

Source: kimgarst.com


Top IT Trends for 2012 and Beyond (by Neil Saward and Deepak Bharathan of PA Consulting Group)

What top trends in IT are in store for 2012?  Well, expect a number of trends that have emerged over the last few years, such as cloud, mobility, enterprise social media, the “Internet of things” and Big Data, to continue to gain traction with IT and business leaders, as well as industry-specific trends such as location shifting and increased adoption of mobile payments.

Here is a quick look at some of these IT trends in more detail and reasons these will be critical in 2012:

Cloud – There will continue to be increasing acceptance of cloud computing as an alternative to more established hosting models. Cloud enables organizations to conveniently access a shared, scalable pool of computing services, which in turn can help the organization be more agile and drive down deployment costs.  However, as organizations experiment with the cloud, careful consideration will need to be given to system integration, data integration and security, particularly between cloud and on-premise solutions.

Given Amazon’s widely reported cloud outage in 2011, organizations will still be cautious and take a risk-based approach to assessing the types of solutions they consider appropriate for the cloud.

Mobility – Mobile will continue to build on its strong 2010/11 with a greater number of organizations considering supporting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and expanding the corporate services available for smartphones and tablets.  BYOD enables an organization’s staff to use their own laptop, smartphone or tablets in the corporate environment rather than rely on ones provided by the IT organization.  This provides greater convenience for employees but can present a security challenge for organizations.

Enterprise social media – Enterprise social media are tools that let employees share and connect with coworkers in private enterprise-only social networks.  In 2012, enterprise social media will gain wider acceptance as organizations seek to facilitate collaboration and foster innovation.

Internet of things – Organizations will continue to explore and begin to benefit from the Internet of things (i.e., uniquely identifiable technologies, connected by the internet).  This includes smart meter technology installed in homes or medical devices that connect directly to mobile devices.  For consumers, this will enable individualized services based on real-time data and for businesses, it will provide critical insights on customer behaviors (see Big Data below), which will help drive business growth.

Big Data – Data continues to be a critical source of competitive advantage for organizations, whether to better understand their customers or to better manage their products and services. However, as a result of the increasing volume of data in our everyday lives, created by everything from Internet searches and social media to smart-technologies, Big Data will continue to become increasingly prominent in IT discussions over the next few years.

Huge datasets are challenging to search, store, share, and analyze but they also have the potential to deliver tangible benefits, allowing analysts to identify trends and harvest insights from the data. Companies such as Google were founded on their ability to manage and analyze huge datasets effectively and organizations across many industries are now starting to examine their own data sources more carefully.

Cybersecurity – We’ve seen a growing number of headlines related to digital attacks on both corporations and governments.  Due to increased levels of connectivity, virtually all business assets now vulnerable in cyberspace meaning that the scale, scope of threat and potency are now more significant than ever.  In 2012, we’ll continue to see organizations developing cyber security strategies and focusing their investments on their most valuable asset: information.

Industry specific trends

Saward and Bharathan expect to see a number of industry-specific trends that will cause substantial change in certain industries but have limited impact on others:

Location-shifting of media becomes main stream – In the same way that “time shifting” has become common in households, in 2012 we’ll see “location-shifting” become mainstream. “Location-shifting” means that we’ll be able to watch TV shows and movies where we want to, rather than required to be at a TV or a movie screen.

Where the growth of electronic storage media like DVDs and DVRs enabled time-shifting to become mainstream, the key players in the location-shifting arena are hardware makers, media conglomerates and social networking companies, who all have vested interests in getting this right.

Mobile payments finally start to fulfill promise in U.S./Europe – Residents in many Asian countries have had e-wallets on their cell phones and been using contactless payment systems for a number of years. This gives them the ability to pay for purchases by placing their cellphones in the proximity of a payment terminal and can be used to pay for everything from train fares to groceries.  In the U.S. and Europe, organizations have been slower to adopt near field communication (NFC) or similar enabling technologies, but we expect 2012 will be the year that brings it much closer to consumers.

Source: cioupdate.com

Top technology trends for 2012 (by Maximilian Clarke)

From 3D printers to the continuing spread of the tablet’s dominance to the death of the hard drive, technology analysts at Deloitte have outlined their top predictions for the technology world over the coming months.

Consumer tech demand defies the economic headwinds
Demand for consumer technology will continue to advance in 2012. However, the dollar value of the market may prove to be flat as lower prices and the ‘bang for your buck’ value of technology becomes more paramount. The cost of technology has plummeted over the past three decades and the usage of a tablet and a television, compared to a car, overseas holiday or sporting event, proves that consumer electronics fare well in terms of value. Compared to the cost of buying a car or a house, the traditional rite of passage for families, an investment in consumer electronics could become an alternative status symbol for consumers with constrained budgets. Buyers may even sacrifice holidays in order to upgrade to a new computer and television rather than choosing which device to buy.

It takes two to tablet: the rise of the multi-tablet owner
It took several decades for one household to have more than one car, phone, radio or television and ten years for a similar landmark to be reached in the computing and mobile phone markets. However the tablet market will diversify around size, processing power, price and operating system in 2012, as was the case with smart phones. Corporations are also likely to require tablets with greater security and ruggedness. That presents a challenge for content owners, network operators and retailers that need to prepare to respond to the rise in the multi-tablet household.

Billions and billions: big data is the prelude to better insights
Internet companies have led the way with exploring big data but the sectors that are likely to follow include the public sector, financial services retail, entertainment and media. This could trigger a talent shortage with up to 190,000 skilled professionals needed to cope with demand in the US alone over the next five years. Although managing the increasing volume, variety and velocity of data is critical to the future success of the industry, companies launching initiatives should ensure that their approach remains focused on the insight needed to drive better decision-making and business outcomes not just the data input. Mastery of the sheer expanse and complexity of data is important but it will not be the driver for investment. Instead, the driver will be how the insight derived is used to change the way that organisations compete.

Hard times for the hard drive: solid state storage
Even the data centre market could turn to smaller, cooler, power-sipping solid state drives as an alternative to more traditional hard drives. The technology, which builds storage onto silicon chips, should benefit from more savvy consumer behaviour, people start to pay more attention to how much storage they actually need on specific devices, particularly as more cloud-based storage services become available.

Ambient Radio Frequency Power Harvesting: A Drop in the Bucket
Wireless power transmission – where TV towers and mobile phone masts could be used to create a sea of ambient Radio Frequency (RF) energy to power devices – has been a dream since the age of Nikola Tesla. However power harvesting products based on RF will remain a niche market during 2012 due to significant technical challenges. One issue is the scarcity of ambient RF energy with solar a much more plentiful resource. Another problem is that the amount of power density from a RF source varies dramatically depending on the distance and location of the user. Interference from other environmental factors and the conversion process also add hurdles. Charging a tablet in this manner would be like filling a swimming pool with a shot glass. There are a few applications – such as ceiling sensors and remote controls – that may be tuned to RF but the sector will remain niche with moderate growth potential in 2012.

3D printing is here – but the factory in every home isn’t here yet!
3D printing has caught the attention of the public but the hype around the technology does not recognise the severe limitations of the concept. The ability to download designs for anything imaginable and create the product on the spot will become a viable segment in several niche markets over the coming years such as the £14 billion global power tools market, the biomedical sector and the after-sales service industries such as auto repair. It is likely that several ‘do-it-yourself’ enthusiasts to invest in 3D printers as prices drop below £650 in 2012 but the cost of the materials needed to create a product as prosaic as a running shoe remains specialised and expensive. Sales in 2012 will likely remain below £134 million and anyone expecting the era of the Star Trek “replicator” may have to wait awhile yet.

Source: freshbusinessthinking.com

Cloud Collaboration for Business Needs: Advantages, Challenges (by David Roe)

At a technology level, there seems little to stop widely dispersed workers from collaborating in real time on many projects. But there are problems. According to a recent white paper from the Sand Hill Group and Citrix, the key to collaborative work is communications skills and supportive tools.

While technology can do little to improve communication skills, it is the core technology that enables dispersed teams to operate, without which the whole concept of business collaboration and social business is just a lot of hot air. But many enterprises are not sure what tools they should be using.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the most effective collaboration tools are currently in the cloud, which has enabled small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to lead the charge on this, but it is a move that is being followed in large enterprises, particularly at departmental level.

Cloud Collaboration Is Catching

Current cloud-based applications that enable collaboration include things such as high-definition video built around high-bandwidth Internet networks, while most applications at this point are accessible almost anywhere through mobile devices, and are nearly instantaneously scalable.

The white paper, entitled Business Collaboration in the Cloud, argues that a perfect storm is forming to push cloud computing forward. There are three elements to this:

  1. Technologies such as virtualization, open-source, massive-scale automation, and multi-tenancy have enabled mass adoption.
  2. Positive experiences of the cloud have far outnumbered negative experiences and stories around this are filtering across the marketplace.
  3. The recession is pushing many CIOs to look for other ways to save money.

A study by the Sand Hill Group across 511 technology decision makers — the findings of which were published in their Leaders in the Cloud report — showed that already, at that stage, 60% of participants had implemented cloud solutions, with a notable portion of SMBs running over 80% of their business from the cloud.

Cloud Collaboration Challenges

If it were that easy, then why isn’t everyone going there? The answer is also simple: There are a number of challenges, which Citrix and Sand Hill have broken down into three elements:

1. Poor Meeting Management and Collaboration

Distributed environments need some investment. It is often the case that, to get a collaborative environment running, it needs support from a number of different departments around the enterprise.

Common communication tools such as email, telephone and instant messaging only go so far and they don’t provide the rich communication medium required by people to work collaboratively on presentations, documents or designs.

The cost behind complex collaboration products and low employee adoption, according to the paper, has put many firms off investing.

Lacking effective solutions, companies just throw the towel in and pay for their employees to travel.

2. Lost Productivity Due to Downtime

IT teams in distributed environments are obliged to provide support to all employees distributed across the globe. The paper argues that it can take up to 45 minutes with a technician to regulate even the simplest problem when the worker is remote.

When the technicians are unable to get physical access to the machine in question, it can take an average of 40% to 50% longer. Moreover, remote workers have a wide collection of routers and firewalls that require more work to troubleshoot. This challenge has a ripple effect on productivity:

  • Increased travel and shipping costs
  • Lower customer satisfaction
  • Multiple calls to resolve the issue
  • Increased overall incident-handling times

3. Lack of Timely Access to Information

When workers can only contact thier colleagues and clients from their desktop, there are a number of business implications:

  • Lost business opportunities
  • Reduced customer satisfaction
  • Lowered productivity

It is on the back of this, Citrix says, that enterprises are turning to the cloud. Companies are turning to cloud solutions to overcome the productivity and continuity challenges of distributed workforces.
In particular, SaaS applications that are hosted by the vendor and provided as a service to the end user have made the virtual workplace a reality.

Collaboration Requirements

Among users, there are a number of things that are being used on a consistent basis to make virtual collaboration a reality. While there are clearly many more than the following list of three, these ones, according to the paper, have proved to be the most popular:

  • Technologies that enable workers to conduct face-to-face meetings in real time and collaborate on those projects, also in real time. This often involves video, but not necessarily. They should also offer access to documents or other content remotely.
  • Users can gain access to their PCs, Macs, documents, presentations and spreadsheets remotely from any location.
  • Technologies that allow IT services can remotely investigate with user’s laptops, desktops and mobile devices remotely.

SaaS Collaboration

There is evidence that the move to the cloud for many companies, especially larger companies, will be a slow process. In the intervening period, to provide the functionality outlined, many are turning to SaaS models, which provide considerably more agility and cost savings than the on-premise model.

Advantages of SaaS business problems can include:

  • Capital costs: The capital costs can be considerably less as companies don’t have to invest in a large amount of hardware. Neither do they generally have to pay considerable upfront license fees or maintenance fees for software. Typically, enterprises pay for what they use and on a per-user license fee.
  • Accessibility: Generally, access anywhere and at any time can be used by individual or geographically dispersed teams.
  • Maintenance: SaaS applications are ready to use. SaaS vendors develop applications that are cheaper, easier-to-use, easy to configure, and can be integrated generally with legacy systems.
  • Secure: Although many companies are still concerned about security, many of them have already deployed applications that range from email and collaboration products to business systems and Web 2.0 products. Multi-tenant technologies have enabled economies of scale, the segmentation of customers and other operational efficiencies.
  • Upgrades: SaaS applications provide easy upgrades with additional features with no extra costs.

Vendor Checklist

For all this to work, enterprises need to consider a number of things before going with one vendor or another. The first thing in all IT investment is planning. Different vendors will provide different lists of priorities, but according to the paper, there is a functionality list that all should be able to provide. For those looking for collaboration capabilities, these include:

  • Virtual meetings: Obviously easy communication is essential, but in an ideal world they should also be able to provide document sharing during those meetings, whether those documents are simple documents or complex presentations.
  • Downtime: Enterprises need to be shown that downtime is at an absolute minimum. This should be accompanied with guaranteed IT assistance in the event of a “down” event.
  • Information access: Companies need to enable remote workers to securely and quickly connect with desktops, data silos and any IT resource needed to make enable workers accomplish tasks remotely.

This is only an outline, but covers the main points. However, the key to all IT is planning and without that all IT projects are bound to failure.

Source: cmswire.com

Are You Prepared For Your Digital Death? (by William Eve)

There is a good reason the topic of ‘digital death’ has become so prevalent in the last year. Did you know that Facebook alone has nearly 2 million users that are deceased?
They’re gone but their profiles remain in cyberspace, available to hackers, spammers and all the while causing emotional pain to friends and family who have to see it regularly because the user never took the time or had the information to create a digital legacy, or leave instructions on what should be done with their digital selves.

When you stop and think about it, the reality is that most of us have virtually our entire lives somewhere on the Internet/computer.  Our banking is done electronically, our written words and letters remain in emails and word documents.

Our friends and family connections are accomplished through a social networking site, and most of our photos and personal mementos are either on a photo website, or tucked neatly away on our computers.

It’s a depressing thought but do you know what would happen to all of your online data if you were to pass away?

What embarrassing little tidbits would be found by family members, or much more importantly, how would they gain access to important and much needed information?

What if they needed to reach close friends to inform them– and all of your close friends are in your contact list on your computer, or worse in your email account (by no means an easy task).

In December of 2004 the father of a U.S Marine killed while serving in Iraq was denied access to his sons Yahoo email account. The father wished to obtain access to the account so it may serve as a reminder of his sons life but was denied as Yahoo upheld its user privacy policy. It certainly raises the question of how these services should balance their users privacy against the special wishes of their family.

As of recent, most of these email account providers have established a ‘death’ policy, but do you know what your service provider requires?

What about your social media accounts? Blogger Noah Kravitz – was recently sued by his former employer over ownership of a Twitter account because Noah took his Twitter account with him when he left the company.
While it may be a depressing concept to consider, there are some key steps that can be taken to ensure that your online data remains safe and that you are remembered by your loved ones in the right way.

Create a list:

First things first, you have to know exactly where you have profiles set up, what sites you follow or are a member of, where you do your banking, investing and where you have personal information stored.

Making a list in a word document can be as easy as visiting the sites you have used in the past year, and copying that link to a document.  This doc should contain all pertinent information about the site, your user ID, and password.

Digital Will:

This document should be at the top of your priority list.  A digital will is roughly the same as a Living Will or Trust document that contains all of your digital life possessions as well as the physical ones and can be added as an addendum to your existing will, or created separately.

There are places online that will help you do this, such as LegacyLocker.com, or find someone that can help you get organized in finding your digital life, and passing it on such as TheDigitalUndertakers.com.

It should be noted that in your digital will, you should not give passwords because those passwords could become obsolete or changed over time.

Use a service such Ziggur.org that stores all of your information in one place where family or friends can gain access using only one password.

Guardian or Executor:

Assigning someone to handle your digital life is crucial.  This person should be someone that isn’t too close, so that they won’t hesitate deleting things upon your request out of emotional hardship, however, they should be someone trustworthy.

A legal representative is a good choice, or you can assign a guardian at Entrustet.com to help organize and follow through on your demands.

Power of Attorney:

This little document can mean a world of good to your digital self, should something happen unexpectedly.  It allows another trusted person to act on your behalf in not only personal matters, but in business as well.

This legal document can be created and handled by legal representatives and should be given to someone who will not abuse these rights.

Establish your digital legacy:

Giving some thought to how you want to be remembered online is what creating a digital legacy is all about.  What emails, profiles and posts do you want to have remain or deleted… and this can all be done prior to death, to leave a lasting legacy for those you love.

A newer website, comically titled “I Croak.com” allows you to create a digital legacy that you and your loved ones will be proud of – with their help, and in some instances you can appoint a guardian to keep information updated or to execute your wishes after death.

Postgeist.com also offers a similar service.

Further Legacy:

There is a site that recently came to life, LifeNaut.com and surprisingly they can create a virtual you, via an avatar of you, so that your family and friends can have a living diary of your personality, characteristics and personal messages you choose to leave behind.

They create two different aspects of you – a mindfile and biofile.  These files contain in-depth information about who you are and what makes you tick.

See LifeNaut for further information, because eventually, a virtual you could actually become a robot if you so choose!

Blogs and Websites:

These are priceless gems to those who treasure you and would want a part of you to remain.  Make sure that you consider their stance after you are gone, and leave family and friends with decisions whether to continue them, or remove them.

But by all means, leave a roadmap!

Death policies:
It is vital that you know the Death Policy of your email service providers and social networking sites so that you may properly determine who exactly has access to your personal information after you pass away.

Some sites need proof of death, and will then delete your account, leaving your family with nothing, and some, such as Facebook will ‘memorialize’ your profile at your family’s request. Hotmail will actually send a copy of all of your email messages and contact list to your family before closing the account at their request…begs the question, what emails would you prefer to keep out of your mother’s hands?

These should be investigated by your guardian, executor or yourself and be listed prior to death.

Major clean up:

This is something that should be done on a regular basis.  Going in to email accounts and deleting contacts you no longer need, emails that are questionable or shouldn’t fall onto the wrong eyes – profiles from dating sites that are outdated – all should be deleted and cleared out.

Any information that you no longer use should be thrown into the trashcan.  Not only are servers using precious energy storing all of this stuff – it will be easier on your family to access information that is needed quickly – without having to swim through an ocean of data.

Taking your digital life and legacy seriously can create immense peace of mind for the loved ones you leave behind.  As well as leave a lasting impression of who you were, and what your life entailed.  As you are cleaning up your digital self, keep this in mind and you should have peace of mind as well, that your family will be rewarded with the ease of access to your virtual life and be proud of who you were.

Source: socialmediatoday.com

There Were More Than 2.4M Tweets About SOPA Today (techcrunch.com)


Today was the internet’s big protest day against SOPA and PIPA, and not surprisingly, there was plenty of discussion about the issue on Twitter. Specifically, the company tweeted that that there were more than 2.4 million SOPA-related tweets between midnight and 4pm Eastern time.

The top terms were SOPA, Stop SOPA, PIPA, Tell Congress, and the hashtag #factswithoutwikipedia (referring to Wikipedia’s anti-SOPA blackout, natch).

So how impressive was the Twitter turnout? Well, the company likes to release “tweets per second” stats for events that spur the most activity, but a company spokesperson told me Twitter doesn’t have those numbers for SOPA. Still,, Twitter says it saw 8,868 tweets per second, for example, during the MTV Music Awards, which adds up to more than 2 million tweets in four minutes. It’s an apples-and-oranges comparison, but suggests that anti-SOPA tweets weren’t quite at that level.

Speaking of Twitter and SOPA, the company seems to be protesting the bill in a manner similar to Facebook — rather than blacking out or otherwise altering the Twitter service to show opposition, executives posted anti-SOPA messages on their personal accounts. CEO Dick Costolo wrote: “Please join me in urging Senators @SenatorReid & @ChuckSchumer not to rush #PIPA vote.”

Source techcrunch.com

Learning From Big Social Media Blunders (by Stanford Smith)

Dropping the “F” Bomb

The Blunder: New Media Strategies employee mistakenly skewers Detroit drivers from the @ChryslerAutos twitter account. Although the tweet was caught and deleted within minutes, the damage to a career and a high-prestige social media account was done.  New Media Strategies fired the employee and Chrysler Fired New Media Strategies.

Why It Happened: The scuttlebutt is that this employee managed his personal and client accounts with the same Twitter management tool. A small lapse in attention easily took his personal tweet and broadcasted it to the world.


Set a firm policy that personal tweeting should not happen from a company sponsored and administered tool like Hootsuite. Since a mis-tweet could be dire, companies should also consider restricting tweeting from company computers.

Kenneth Cole and the Arab Spring

The Blunder: Kenneth Cole jumped on the Arab Spring news story with a less than elegant tweet:

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo, Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online”

Why It Happened: Creativity got in the way of common sense. Politics, religion, and um… revolution are incendiary topic that should be handled with care.


The same conversation rules that work at the bar and family dinners should be applied here. Provocative advertising can get you attention but ultimately it can backfire. Since the risk is often disproportionate to the benefit, it’s better to dig a little deeper for a social play that has more legs and less risk.

Quantas and #QuantasLuxury

The Blunder: Bad luck and horrible timing led to the launch of Twitter Contest that asked followers to detail their dream luxury in flight experience. The problem was that the day before union talks had broken down and customers were still upset about a fleet shutdown that disrupted travel plans for thousands.

Why It Happened:
Operations, Customer Service, Marketing, and Social Media weren’t talking. A open-eyed review of social sentiment and actual conversations would have given the social team a heads-up that they were poking a hornet’s nest.


Invest in a social media monitoring tool that gives real-time and accurate reports on what your community is saying about your brand. Any major social initiative should have a go, no-go, checkoff that polls customer service and operation.

A Face Full of Tomato Sauce

The Blunder: The folks at Ragu stepped in it when they tried to joke about dads lack of kitchen expertise. Ragu’s mistake was creating a video with moms spouting off about their kitchen-illiterate husbands. Not-funny and the Dads blogged en-masse about Ragu’s faux-pas.

Why It Happened: The problem is that Ragu missed a growing movement of dads who are kitchen, diaper, laundry, and bed-time story ninjas. The social web is packed with these interest and lifestyle based interest groups. A simple search would have uncovered the CC Chapman’s of the world and averted the PR misstep.

Use social networks to monitor the pulse of your customers. A simple poll on Facebook can offer clues to how a marketing campaign, new product launch or price change could be perceived. Which leads to…

Netflix and Qwikster

The Blunder: Netflix decided to raise its prices without talking to their customers first. Next they confused everyone by spinning off their DVD rental into another brand, Qwikster, but failed to secure the Twitter username @Qwikster. The Twitter handle was scooped up by a loser who had a talent for bashing Netflix. The cost of this particular blunder was 800,000 lost subscribers or $192 million in $20/month subscriber fees.

Why It Happened:
Netflix is a savvy online player. On this one they forgot that they had an open channel to poll their most fanatic subscribers. Simply asking them how they would react to the changes would have revealed the gaping holes in their strategy. Ignoring these people created a firestorm that couldn’t be contained.

Remember that “dialogue” is a competitive weapon. Facebook, Twitter are free to use and incredibly valuable for gathering opinons and soliciting support for company initiatives. It’s a good idea to add “social focus groups” to the traditional customer research done before the roll-out of any new product or service.

Source: businessesgrow.com

Some Key Social Media Trends To Look For In 2012 (by Joseph Puopolo)

In 2011, social media had its share of growing pains. Large brands and corporations took to social media in force to try to find footing in this expanding medium. Some brands found success, while others found peril and new PR nightmares. One person who has helped brands navigate the proverbial social media minefield is Amy Jo Martin. She is the founder of Digital Royalty, a social media firm that has set itself apart by helping A-listers find their social media voice.

Amy works with people like Dana White of the UFC, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of acting/WWE fame and brands like Nike and Fox Sports (and now Joel Stein). Her specialty is working with organizations or individuals and making them look good online. Since the online world is in perpetual flux, I wanted to get Amy’s take on the social media landscape for 2012.

Here were a few key trends Amy said we should look out for in 2012:

1. Social TV Integration

Many shows have already begun to integrate social TV, either through polling or integrating social elements within the show. See my example of how both the UFC and WWE are integrating social media into their programming. Social media played a pivotal role in the last presidential election, and it will likely be more integrated into political broadcasts.

As each news channel fights hard to keep their viewers engaged, networks like CNN and Fox have made significant strides to engage their audience, although some would argue that this social media integration has come at the expense of hard-hitting journalism and analysis.

2. TV Is Going Online in a Big Way

2012 will be the first time that the Super Bowl will be streamed live to the world. Since the Super Bowl is generally viewed as the mother of all advertising spectacles, it will add a new dynamic into the digital component to advertising and social media integration.

3. Facebook Credits Take Center stage

Facebook in 2012 has the potential to project its power and truly take Facebook credits into a viable currency. Amy puts it quite well when she says “they’re building an online destination we’ll never need to leave, and my guess is they’re only about 8% of the way through their product roadmap.”

4. Big Business Has Woken Up

The way corporate entities approach social media is shifting. Many companies realize that setting up Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts is not going to cut it as their social media strategy. Brands will need to seriously shift their perspective by treating social channels more like communication channels and less like an advertising channels in order to make a difference. From my perspective this transition has already occurred, judging by the extent to which brands’ Twitter accounts are now used as channels for CRM and customer support, managing pissed off or happy customers in near realtime.

5. ROI Is Still Huge

ROI will remain a key metric to any social media strategy. The concept of engagement is now becoming more and more an excepted metric. CEO adoption of social media is improving, and more CEOs are recognizing the benefits of humanizing their brand by taking to Twitter.

Customer service, research and image branding could all be considered social media intangibles, yet all three are obviously important in business. Social channels impact every single aspect of business from human relations to finance, sales, operations and legal. It’s important for everyone to understand how social media affects their role and responsibilities. Opposite of television, social media is a dialogue vs. a monologue and if a brand is able to collect opinions real-time in high volume via social channels like Facebook polls, they can save a great deal of money on formal research studies.

There have been a lot of discussions about social media fatigue and whether brands refuse to play for that reason. With over a billion people on social media it’s irresponsible for any brand not to have some sort of presence. 2012 will be the year for brands to go beyond cookie cutter campaigns and really determine how it not only adds value to their company, but how it adds value for their customers. 2012 will be crucial for companies and social media. For those who don’t see a direct correlation between social media and sales consider:

“Social media is an ideal tool for moving people up the fan ladder, from being a casual fan of a brand to a loyalist, because the communication channels allow people to build stronger emotional connections with brands.”

So in 2012, the question is, how will your brand use effective strategy to move people up the fan ladder from interested to foaming at the mouth brand zealots?

Source: techcrunch.com

What’s new for business and social media in 2012? (by Digital Fire)

2011 was a substantially important year in the evolution of social media. What started out as a simple way to socialise online has manifested itself in whole new way to communicate on all levels, especially in that of advertising and marketing? Here is what Digital Fire sees for the future of social media and what to pay attention to when upgrading your social media marketing strategy.

1. Convergence and Simplification

Sounds like an oxymoron but it seems to be what is to come in the world of interaction on social networks. Many sites have converged so that you may access them using Facebook or Twitter. This is great in a way because it ultimately means less passwords to remember and easy access across multiple websites and even easier avenues to share information. Users of social networks can now multitask from sharing to socialising, uploading and downloading to consuming and selling by plugging into one of their avatars and acting out across the board.

So while convergence was the name of the game in 2011, 2012 may see users looking for something a little less overwhelming in terms of being bombarded with information options. Instead, more niche and function selective attributes will become desirable in social networks. Focusing attention from users, an attention that is already deemed to increase substantially in how many weekly hours users spend online will become important. A fractured attention spans in less likely to bring in more consumers and hold their interest so simplifying the process is predicted to combat this issue.

2. Security is going up its game

Due to all the convergence of various websites through the common denomination of the social media network, hackers are focussing more than ever of phishing a scamming as it is easier to access vast amount information with minimal passwords to get in the way. The threat has extended to smart phones now too, a major vessel for ecommerce. According to security firm, Trusteer, they estimate that “mobile users accessing phishing websites are three times more likely to submit their login info than desktop users,” due to mobile users being unaware of the risk. Now more than ever, gaining trust and consistency from your clientele is going to be a predominant factor in how your business holds up in the world of ecommerce.

3. Ecommerce goes full force

That being said with regards to security and privacy issues, it is thought that 2012 will be the year for a serious comeback in ecommerce. Companies looking to expand their audience and ultimately increase their revenue should pay heed to these technological advancements as a means to online sales success. More and more businesses are setting up online shops for Facebook users to access their products and services from the social network itself. Monitoring shares from users that indicate preferences and purchases gives powerful insight into the market. An increase in participation from your online clientele will be the result of savvy social media strategies that take your brand further.

Source: bizcommunity.com

5 Resolutions for Your Social Media Marketing Campaigns in 2012 (by Kristin Miller)

It is estimated that 23% of Americans who make a New Years resolution actually keep it for the entire year. Reasons for losing sight of resolutions include aspiring for too much, setting too many goals, attempting to do it all right away or simply losing persistence and giving up.

This year, make some reasonable resolutions for your social media marketing strategy. Below are the top 5 resolutions people in the U.S. make at the beginning of the new year and how they relate to your social media marketing. Whether these are drastic changes you’ll need to make or just friendly reminders, resolve to keep them in 2012!

1. Get In Shape

To continue to have fans and followers, you’re going to have to stay ahead of the crowd. You might need to get your profile or page in shape to compete. Don’t simply rely on the tactics that made you popular for the past few years. It’s an ever-changing playing field and your competitors can catch up quickly with one innovative idea.

Is your page falling behind? Are you losing fans because you can’t keep up? If you have fans and followers now, you need to ensure they’ll continue to follow you. It is all about engagement. Ask questions, reply to questions and take a discerning look at your posting schedule and quality of posts. For larger social communities, it can be a challenge to keep up. Resolve to try your best and remain the leader of your page or profile!

2. Eat Better

Remember this in 2012: your followers are “picky eaters”. Although the expanse of online information is readily available, consumers are still “watching what they eat” when it comes to buying decisions and are relying on peer validation. Peer validation is simple: if my friend likes it, there is a good chance I will. If the gadget did not malfunction for my friend, it probably won’t malfunction for me. Peer validation comes in the form of social shares, comments, reviews and even face to face conversations.

Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have all incorporated the use use of peer validation for users to suggest fan pages, news articles, products and even to encourage them to connect to other users they may know. Spotify is a terrific example of a successful peer validation initiative. Out of the hundreds of music discovery and library managers available on and offline, Spotify began a significant movement through social proof and sharing in 2011. How can you apply this strategy to your social media campaigns?

In order to reach “picky eaters” you must build — and continue to build — an open social space where fans and followers are encouraged to share your content in a positive light…without you requesting they do. It’s not easy to accomplish, but it can be done. A simple reminder that your products are eco-friendly, on sale or helpful for “x, y, and z” can encourage your followers to share the information with their friends. Simple tips relating to your products work well too. Constantly be thinking, “How can I help my followers do _____ today?”

3. Spend Less, Save More

This is a very popular resolution. We all want to spend less and save more, no matter how much we have! This year, strive to take a long look at your Facebook advertising campaigns on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Is the CPC acceptable to you? Why not create a goal (or resolution in this case) to keep the CPC lower, decrease your budget and increase your connection rate? Make the ads you create work harder for you! Make your ads so compelling, people will click the like button right away without investigating further. How? Firstly, target, target, target. The Precise Interests” section is key — utilize it to the fullest! Invest some of your time into researching what your target audience is interested in on Facebook.

With precise targeting may also come ad fatigue. There is a finite amount of people you can reach with Facebook ads. Keep an eye on your reach and the number of times your ads are being shown to individuals to ward off ad fatigue. Change up your ad creative or your targeted interests.

If you end up spending a large percentage of your budget on clicks, regard those fans as valuable assets — retain them by extending a warm welcome and continuing to engage them in creative ways.

4. Quit the Bad Habit

We’ve all done it. We’ve started a social profile and, as a brand representative, become complete robots. Do you think your customers want to read a constant stream of pro-brand this and pro-brand that? Well, they don’t.

A pair of studies from the Chief Marketing Officer Council and social technology firm Lithium show a large discrepancy between what customers want from interactions on social media platforms and what marketers believe they want. 72% of people use social media to stay engaged with brands — is your brand interested in the same?

Marketers have a tendency to stand up on a platform and simply announce product launches, specials and news. Too often we list the benefits of our products over and over again. The better strategy is to get down off the pedestal and mingle with the crowd.

If you are not experiencing any engagement, it may be time to change your tone of voice. People who use social media want to feel they are talking to a “real person.” After all, they have come to a place where they can talk to the person behind your brand. Speak to them as a person — let loose a little, be natural and get them talking!

5. Volunteer

There are a multitude of celebrities, companies and groups who have found social media gold by coordinating with non-profit organizations, aiming to give back to their communities while also growing and improving their own social communities. Could your brand support a cause that aligns with your company values? 2012 is the time to raise awareness – for you and a non-profit! Let your followers see your company’s interest in playing an active role in their community.

Instead of giving your marketing spend to advertising again this month, why not pledge a donation amount and encourage people to follow you in return for hitting a goal? It’s an admirable way to start the new year off and a great accomplishment!

Trying to keep your resolutions? Don’t do all of it at once. Ease yourself into a different perspective toward your social media marketing by focusing on one of these five goals per month. Share your goals with your marketing team to keep each other accountable. Most importantly, congratulate yourself when you’ve achieved these goals or any major success on your social media platforms!

Source: webpagefx.com