Category Archives: Social Networking
It feels like I’ve spent the last few days in the primary school playground. I’m the nerdy, over-enthusiastic kid and I’m begging people to be my friend.
They’re not really interested, but this time it’s not my reputation that’s the problem, it’s the reputation of the social network that’s just come back from the dead: MySpace.
As far as my real life friends (and even my Twitter and Facebook friends) are concerned, I can keep MySpace all to myself. One Internet friend quipped “Stop trying to make Myspace happen. It’s not going to happen!” paraphrasing Mean Girls. A real life friend, being far more tactful, said “How old-fashioned”. Even my boyfriend wants nothing to do with me on what he remembers as a bandwidth-intensive, gif-ridden, mess.
“It’s not the same thing anymore!” I protest. “Look at the Humanist interface! Look at all the new music I’ve found!”
“It was terrible, and I think you’re only trying to justify this to yourself,” is his response. “I just think the whole relaunch is just beating a dead horse, no one goes back to social networks they’ve abandoned. No matter how you dress it up.”
Other than me, it seems.
MySpace’s biggest problem is that it’s had its day. As suave as it may look, the world’s moved on. That’s not its only problem though.
The interface may look good, but it’s complex. There’s a whole new lingo to and even though you can sign in using your old MySpace details, Facebook or Twitter, it doesn’t import any of your old connections. You have to start building up a friends list all over again. Again.
Which is New MySpace’s second biggest problem. Social Networking Fatigue. In plain language: we’re over it. We only have so many hours in a day. We’re already maintaining a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn account, visiting Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr occasionally. We’re also expected to be on FourSquare, Google+ and a chosen niche site like DeviantArt or SoundCloud. It’s just too much work to build up another network all over again from scratch. Looking at that blank MySpace profile asking for all your information all over again is overwhelming.
No matter how awesome it is, it’s unlikely to take off.
And it is pretty awesome. I hate to admit it.
My friends have lost respect for me, my boyfriend thinks I’ve been initiated into some kind of cult (“Should I worry?” he asks with concern when I get excited about a song I’ve discovered) and Twitter isn’t speaking to me. Nevertheless, after three days of muddling around I’ve discovered how to use it.
So, if you’re willing to reserve judgement and make some time for it, here are the three most important things you should know about New MySpace
- 1. Connections
Connections are the same as “friends” or “followers” only you should be less concerned about adding people you know and more concerned with adding music you like or people with similar taste to you. You can connect to a group if you like all of their work, otherwise you can connect to specific songs. Do yourself a favour and run a search for all your favourite songs before you do anything else, it’s important that MySpace knows your taste so you can make the best use of its capabilities.
To connect to a song or artist, click on the infinity-like sign that comes up when you hover over the picture. It will become a circle when you’re connected. You can also just listen to the song by selecting “queue” from the menu that comes up when you hover.
- 2. Affinity
Affinity is a percentage score that reflects how likely you are to like something. The score is based on what other songs you’ve connected to. That’s why it’s important to connect to your favourites before you do anything else. To discover new music you go to “discover” on the bottom of your screen. Unless your taste is very mainstream, you’ll want to select “music” from the sidebar and then go down to “recommended”. Then all the songs that come up are ones that have high affinity with your taste. In my experience, anything with over 60% is usually worth a listen.
You’ll be able to see the affinity of any song or person on the site, including your friends. The more favourites you add, the more accurate the score is likely to be.
- 3. Mixes
Mixes are basically playlists only with added pictures. You can choose an album cover for your mix and illustrate it with additional pics. You can also make your mix public and share it with your friends.
There are many ways of adding songs to a mix, but the best method I’ve found is to add songs to your queue first. Your queue is like your “now playing” and it comes up whenever you hover over the bottom of the screen. Important: don’t worry about the order of the songs, it’s easier to change that later. Once you’re satisfied your queue has all the right songs in it, click on the down-facing arrow on the far left of the queue. If you hover over it, it should say “save queue”. Then you can give your mix a name.
Edit the order of the songs and the images by going to your profile and clicking “mixes”. From within the mix you can drag the songs around. You can set up mixes for different moods and you’ll see whenever a friend plays them.
That is if any of your friends join New MySpace. I’m still working on mine.
My name is Tallulah and I’m a recovering chat addict.
I’m the girl who used to wake up and stumble straight to the computer before her eyes were even open; who would fall asleep with her phone in her hand, half way through typing a response. I’m a girl who installed eBuddy on her cellphone so she didn’t have to ever be off gtalk, who was one of MXit’s first subscribers and who purchased a phone with a QWERTY keyboard just so she could compose faster replies on the go.
You may well ask, doesn’t that just make me part of Generation-Y? Isn’t it a defining characteristic of the so-called Facebook generation? We want to be constantly connected, from the office to the car, from the car to home. Is this not normal?
As a proud millennial, I always thought it was. Since my first forays into Yahoo Chat as a 12-year-old, chat gave me so much and seemed to ask nothing in return. It is thanks in part to chat that I survived varsity, and it was chat that helped me keep my sanity when I first moved to the big city and was marooned in a not-so-safe bedsit without transport and precious little human contact outside of work. Chat was my drug of choice and it became a way of life. Like a drug, I grew dependent on it, suffered withdrawal when away from it. Like a drug, it carried a price. Just not one I was immediately aware of.
My first encounters with my drug were innocent fun messing around on the Yahoo Chat rooms (anyone else even remember those?). I was a social chatter, that was all. It was only when I moved to university that the true power of the drug took effect. I, an awkward nerdy teen, found solace in like-minded people on the campus chat room.
Having access to that chat room was like having friends constantly available, whenever I wanted them. Friends-on-demand. When I got back from lectures, there were messages waiting for me. When I was staying up all night working on an essay, I was not alone in my plight. When I grew hungry in the middle of the night, there were real people willing to offer food or drive me to the BP for supplies. The regulars on that chat room became like family to me (and some of them still are).
That chat room became an integral part of who I was for three years. And I became dependent on all it offered.
While that particular chat room could not follow me into the adult world, an IRC (internet relay chat) channel could. Independent of the university, some friends of mine had formed a chat room using an old chat server that could be accessed from anywhere.
My first year of being an independent adult was not a happy one and my only salvation was my drug. I would suruptitiously chat during work, sharing my anguish with virtual friends in far off places. As soon as I came home it was onto the phone (before I had Internet access), or onto the PC (when I got myself a dongle) to continue those conversations, to share blow-by-blow reports of what I was doing. (“I have 2 onions and some cheese, what can I make for dinner?” “You can make onion soup, here’s the recipe” or “I hear odd noises outside” “don’t worry, it’s probably the wind, but we’re here if you need someone to call the cops”.)
It was towards the end of that year that the dark side of my addiction became apparant. I started to realise that IRC was not just my crutch – it was everybody’s. Because that’s the nature of online, you see. It can be there when no one else can. The blessing and the curse. Online could be there for me in the middle of the night when no sane person should be awake. Online could be there for me when I was too busy studying to cultivate in the flesh relationships. Online could be there for me when I was in a new city and feeling isolated. And it could be there for the others when they’d been forced to move back home, when they were battling to come to terms with their sexuality, when they were depressed and couldn’t figure out why or find a cure, when the real people in their lives couldn’t understand them. When they were just feeling lonely.
Which in a way is wonderful. Previous generations never had this. Previous generations were forced to cope, were forced to come to terms with their aloneness, were forced to face their issues. They could not hide in the quasi-relationships onilne offers, in the camaraderie of strangers’ comfort, in the echo-chamber of emotion that wells up when so many broken people, with the shield of anonymity, come together in one space. They could not grow dependant on this barest of human touches the way we can.
An article in the May edition of The Atlantic speaks about how Facebook is making us lonely.
“We live in an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are. We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information,” it says.
“In a world consumed by ever more novel modes of socializing, we have less and less actual society. “
There’s been a bit of a backlash to that article, accusing it of offering people a scapegoat for their own social inadequacies. A friend and fellow blogger, Zoe, commented: “This article is one of those that cashes in on the isolation everyone feels when they just couldn’t be arsed to go outside. “
Personally I think it’s a bit more complicated than that.
You see, being connected online is so beautiful because it’s so easy. It’s convenient and it’s available whenever you want it. You can mold this kind of relationship to suit your life, no matter how busy or strange. It comes without the usual complications of real flesh-and-blood encounters: no awkward silences, no judgement based on looks or past actions. You can be who you want to be, when you want to be it, as often as you like.
It’s no wonder we get sucked in.
The trouble is online isn’t only there when real is absent. Online, by its very nature, is always there. Even when the people who populate that world log off, we’ve grown used to the time-space distanciation that allows us to send messages in our time and receive responses in theirs.
With the rise of social media, we’re being encouraged more and more to form online connections. Online connections require time and energy like physical ones do. They require emotional investment. The danger is that as we pour more and more of ourselves into these online relationships we have less left over for the real deal. We also get less out.
True, in some ways the global highway gives us more than we’ve ever had before: direct contact with those we respect and admire, a running commentary on all the people we know, access to communities of like-minded individuals. It oils the cogs of real-life friendships and social interaction. It gives us chances at love with people we never would have known otherwise. Tiny, insignificant, people become giants in the virtual reality of their social networks. I am the last person in the world to deny this.
When used in moderation, the Internet is one of the most amazing things to ever happen in the history of man.
But when it becomes your life, when your virtual friends become your only ones, when you only have contact with your real world connections over Facebook comments and tweets, when you put every ounce of yourself into inane conversations you won’t even remember in a few day’s time… to the detriment of any kind of hobby, or self-betterment in your free time… I think it’s a problem.
We can’t blame the technology, no. If it’s guilty of anything it’s of being too awesome. Blaming Facebook for the way people use it is like blaming alcohol for alcoholism. There are plenty of people who use it just to have a bit of fun or to enhance their lifestyles. I know though that at some stage I crossed the line and instead of enhancing my lifestyle, being connected became my lifestyle. I was a zombie wired up to the grid with no purpose but to feed it.
I watch kids on BBM, WhatsApp and MXit, and a part of me worries. It’s that part of me my friends call “Mommy Tally”. It’s not my place to worry, I know that. At the same time I can’t help but think: if you are surgically attached to your phone, how will you ever learn to play the piano? Or knit? Or fly a kite? Ride a bike? Bake a cake? Build a model airplane? Climb a tree?
The image of those humans from the movie Wall-E floats in front of my eyes in answer to this question. They won’t.
And perhaps their lives are okay without those things, I don’t know. It’s not for me to judge.
All I know is that mine wasn’t.
It’s been over a year since I last logged on to IRC. Now, instead of filling my free hours with inconsequential talk, I’ve been concentrating on my hobbies and improving my skills. That’s not to say that I don’t still engage in the odd inane conversation – I’m still an active tweeter – but it’s no longer my life. And because of that, I now have a life.
Besides, if I tweeted as much as I used to chat, I wouldn’t have a single follower, which kind of negates the purpose of the exercise, don’t you agree?
The Woolworths social media campaigns are often used as case studies, as examples of excellence for the rest of the social media world to work towards. It therefore came as quite a shock to me to see such a disaster unfolding on Tuesday evening.
I follow Woolworths on Facebook and usually in the late afternoons while waiting to leave work I have a browse through my newsfeeds. Yesterday this is what I saw staring up at me like something out of a horror movie:
Checking the comments it seemed like all Woolies’ other fans felt the exact same way I did:
“Absolutely shocking!! And we wonder why so many beautiful young girls are making themselves sick and starving themselves.. This should not be allowed!! I think it is shocking!!”
“Is Woolworth’s promoting anorexia. Its ad campaigns like this that make young girls feel inferior and starve themselves. This is not a good image to be putting out there. I’m absolutely shocked.”
“I agree with the comments below this campaign is off putting to not only the range but the brand as well”
Now one would think with such a strong outpouring of rage from one’s target market, Woolworth’s would remove the campaign and issue an apology? Right? I mean that’s social media 101. First you respond to consumers and tell them you understand, and then you take action.
Woolworth’s responded to the concerns by explaining:
WOOLWORTHS SA Hi all, please note that this is not the first time we have received this response to this particular campaign. All related feedback has been noted and will be passed on to the relevant teams to be taken into consideration for future Woolies campaigns. We appreciate your concern and your taking the time to get in touch.
So what you’re saying is
1. People have already reacted badly to this campaign and yet you’re still running it
2. You’re only going to take feedback into consideration for future campaigns, not this one.
In a comment a little further on the feed, Woolworth’s added that the complaints had been received a week ago. A WEEK?
So let me stop for a second to ponder something. Mistakes happen. We know this. Perhaps no one of sound mind looked at the proofs before you posted. By telling your followers you received complaints a week ago you are basically saying “Yes, we heard you. We don’t really care. It wasn’t a mistake. We like the campaign. We’re keeping it.”
Which is of course the way you had to do things in the old days. I mean when you’ve sent ads into magazines weeks or months in advance or booked time on TV and already spent a fortune producing an advert to run during prime time. Perhaps it still has to be the case in the stores – they can’t very well rip down posters, can they?
But social media is different. Every single person who comments about this campaign has the power to alert other people about it and about the fact that you are supporting eating disorders. Which means that every hour this campaign is up, more people are finding out about it. Online, reaction time is everything. It could very easily turn into a disaster for your brand in a matter of hours – as we saw with DurexSA earlier this week when its Twitter account was spewing sexist jokes.
The nice thing about social media is that you do have the power to halt a campaign half-way through. You do have the ability to pull the content. Which is why I’m incredibly confused as to why instead of doing so with this campaign that was receiving such strong negative feedback, Woolworth’s instead decided to REPOST IT. That’s right – screw the customer.
The customer who has a voice, and it is saying:
“From what I can see, the pics from this campaign were posted only 4 hours ago. If there was negative reaction previously to this campaign then why post it? Do you really think the money paid for this campaign is worth more than the negative publicity? Arrogance to the extreme!!!”
“WW are trying to milk this ad campaign using all channels, came out in print last week, now in social media, same reaction, the models are bad role “models” for the WW brand, what next?”
“WOOLWORTHS SA, your response indicates that you couldn’t care less what the consumer wants; you’ve bought into an abusive ad campaign and your’e going to run it till it’s over. Great way to send customers elsewhere. Great marketing.”
Oh dear, oh dear Woolworths. What on Earth are you thinking?
Reading between the lines, it seems that while your customer has a voice, your social media people don’t. They’ve been appointed to mop up the mess, but are not able to do anything to prevent it from getting worse and worse.
Someone there really misunderstands social media.
Which is ironic considering Woolworth’s head of online goes to many social media events talking about strategy. Perhaps she should spend more time teaching her own company?
Social media is wonderful because it lets your brand get direct feedback, in real time, from your consumer base. The whole reason behind having someone monitoring the account is that you can effect change when something goes wrong. Immediately.
The idea that these poor social media sods have to wait until long after the poo has hit the fan and then do a post-campaign debriefing strikes me as completely crazy.
So, while the Woolworth’s brand is suffering a gigantic blow it has the power to stop, instead it’s got its social media people gagged and bound behind their desks?
Not a good look, Woolies.
Let that be a warning to all of us in the social media biz – have policies in place for disaster management. And if the higher-ups don’t understand? Print out this example for them.
I guess Woolworth’s continues to be a good case study for us, ironically.
Google made news headlines a few weeks ago by launching their long-awaited Brand Pages. However, it seems in their enthusiasm they went off less than half-cocked.
The Brand Pages look nice on the surface. Promises of delightful features like hangouts and separate circles dangle from the virtual branches like candy before the hungry children that are the world’s digital marketers. However, like the gingerbread cottage in the tale of Hansel and Gretel, something nasty lurks just inside the doorway.
Firstly, you need to be a person to start a brand page. You can’t start a page without a Google+ account and you can’t have a Google+ account without signing up for an email address or some such. There’s already been quite a furore regarding Google+ and the fact that you have to use your real name. Some people want to remain anonymous online. Google seems to believe that anonymity breeds trolling – or perhaps your data is just harder to sell if you’re blinky184 or sexylegs300.
Having to attach a Google+ Brand Page to a personal profile is less of a problem for small companies where the boss runs the account, or companies that have an internal social media person who doesn’t mind running the account as part of a greater portfolio. The real problem comes in with companies that outsource this task to PR firms or external digital marketing agencies. What are these specialists supposed to do? Tell their customers they’re not allowed Google+ Pages until Google changes the Ts&Cs? Fat chance. Customer will take business elsewhere, gladly.
Facebook initially had the same problem. When I first created a Brand Page on there, I had to link it to my own Facebook account. But – and here’s the issue – I could add other admins, and give them rights equal to my own, so that if I ever left, or was moved to another position, someone else could take over and even remove me. Google offers no such ability.
Which means… if I leave I take the company’s circles with me. The only way that they could ever get back their data is if I export it before I go, delete the page and they start an entirely new page with the same name and import it all again. And start their circles from scratch.
I discovered this quite by accident – all I was trying to do was change my email address. Surely it should be possible for someone to change which email address is associated with Google+? You can change your email address on Facebook. You can change your entire username on Twitter. Why, Google, would you not let me change my email address? You can add an additional email address to Google+, but it can’t be a Google one. I’m sorry, Google, did you just tell me that I can’t use your product over numerous competitors?
Google, what the hell?
So then the only way of me changing my email address in Google+ is surely to start an entirely new Google+ account. Oh, but you can’t do that either. Not if you manage a Brand Page.
You really don’t get this social networking thing, do you Google?
I live in hope that this is just a temporary inconvenience and that they’ll role out an update tomorrow that makes it go away. Rumour has it they might roll out said update… in Q1 2012. So if I were to quit my job over December… hmm. It’s still stupid, imho, to roll out without that already in place!
It’s heritage day in South Africa, which means that it’s also “Braai” (Barbecue) day. In their excitement South Africans spent all of yesterday tweeting about it. Some of the trending topics in the country: #jamesbondbraaimovies and #braaimovies. These were some of my favourite tweets.
"Live and Let Braai" based on the youtube video here: http://bit.ly/qAh4V6 (by @JamesBraai0027) "Braai another day" (@bigpappaglen) "From Russians with Love" (@WTFamIsaying1) "The braai who loved me" (@allanboyle) "License to Grill" "The Wors is not enough" (@PierreduPreez) "A view to a Grill" (@GeraldDhunrajah) "Quantum of Sausage" (@JessKipling) "Live and let's braai!" (@Buckyboy7) "No Mr Bond, I expect you to BRAAI!" (@ezettemallin) "the coals are hot enough" "on her marinade's secret service" (@followthebounce) My own contribution was "The living firelights"
Tjop [chop] Gun; Grillers in the Mist; Dead Poets Sosatie.(@gussilber) There's something about marinade (@gavdavis) Enemy of the Steak (@AnnaMartFourie) Message in a Skottel (@carlwastie) Braai, the Beloved Country (@food24) The Silence of the Lambchops (@Louis_the_fly) Pap fiction (@RoanSong) Steaks on the plane (@1man_band)
Can I just say, I love my country!
Sometimes I think that Facebook really oversimplifies the human condition, and underestimates the complications of our daily relationships.
I don’t want to be a hater. I really don’t. But looking at my “mini-twitter” this morning, on the right-hand side of my Facebook page, the following list just popped into my head.
Herewith: 10 small ways Facebook’s live stream could cause big issues (in no particular order).
But what if you’re already with the person? And you see them being all sweet and nice to someone else? If you are a calm and level-headed individual you might be able to completely ignore this behaviour, but if you have even a single jealous bone in your body… drama.
It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you’re cheating, this new interface is going to get you found out. Your SO can see everything you post to other people, including the other girlfriend who she doesn’t know. Be warned.
Human relationships are complicated. Sometimes you break up with a lover or a friend. Your best friends must of course at least pretend to be totally on your side. It’s part of their duty. But with the live stream you’ll be able to see every time they interact with your ex. They’d better not offer any words of comfort if they know what’s good for them!
It’s known fondly as WABbing, that time of the day when you know you have work to do but you just can’t face it and so engage in work avoiding behaviour such as, say, blogging. Or going on Facebook. But do you have colleagues on Facebook? Is your boss on Facebook? Is a friend of yours friends with one of your colleagues?
You can see how this could get messy.
Our friendships are usually also quite diverse. I, for example, have everything from staunch atheists to the dedicated religious people on my feed. I have communists, democrats and republicans. What happens when one group sees what I comment to the other? You don’t need much imagination to see how this could spiral out of control.*
You’d better not try to plan any kind of surprise via Facebook. Chances were you wouldn’t do so intentionally. But you might slip with something along the lines of “See you Saturday” to someone who would be at a surprise party, or “I got Kyle’s present when I was at Incredible Corruption yesterday,” without thinking. Better be careful, Kyle is watching.
8. We don’t like you anymore
Now you also get to see just how little you’re needed in your group of friends. You can bare witness to every little discussion or private joke they have with each other. Again, if you’re not the jealous type I’m sure you’ll be perfectly fine with this. I’m sure.
9. Facebook envy
Next time you’re alone at home on Friday night, you get to be tortured in real time by all the marvelous fun everyone else is having. Sure, you could just not open Facebook. So why don’t you? Go on, ignore it. I challenge you.
10. The world is watching, and judging
The flip side of all of the above is that you, personally, have to be very aware of what you get up to on Facebook. Have friends that don’t approve of your wild ways? Have aspects of yourself you’re not proud of? Better make sure you stop being yourself on Facebook at once. Because they’re going to see when you comment on Bieber’s Fan Page with how much you love him, and when you join the group of local Twilight fans.
Of course you could see all these things before, but it would require checking hundreds of individual profile pages and honestly, who ever visits a profile page anymore?
I’m sure I haven’t covered everything. Please comment with any more you can think of!
*Thanks go to Richard (@Hyldrian) for this suggestion
Some time last week I saw this tweet:
I thought it looked like fun so I gave it a re-tweet.
Proof that Twitter is influential?
Maybe. This tweet went viral, but probably because this tweet appealed to many of us personally. All of us who have been stared at blankly across the boardroom table, who have been berated because of lack of ROI associated with this “tweeting thing”, who have been served click-through percentages like an innocent bride being handed divorce papers.
Those of us who make a living out of social media have all met Daniels’ boss in some form or another – the person who does not believe in what we do, who sees it as a fad, a disruption, a bandwagon.
Other professions can give some kind of proof of future return. In social media there are very few studies, there are very few examples. There are no experts. We’re all learning together. My small media company is on par with the New York Times, my brand is on par with Ford Motors. My job didn’t even exist when I left high school. So when it comes to defending my position, it’s difficult.
I can’t speak for other industries, but I know in the media business social media is not only regarded with suspicion, it’s seen as an active threat. Our Twitter account having 3K followers is not necessarily a good thing – for why are those people following us on Twitter and not on our news site? Why aren’t they clicking through to all the stories we post? Why are we seeing a drop in web hits since this social media thing started?
Why shouldn’t we scrap the whole thing all together?
The terrible thing is, it can’t be scrapped. It’s gone too far. Sure, the bubble may eventually burst, something else may come along, Facebook may be involved in some scandal that kills it, Twitter may be abandoned when the creators get bored of waiting to turn a profit… but for now, in 2011, we are powerless to stop it. The ship has sailed, the wave has become a tsunami, it’s sink or swim.
Businesses can no longer choose whether they do social media or not, they can only choose how they do it.
And often the very nature of the beast is so misunderstood that it seems far easier to bury one’s head in the sand… or renegade against the threat head-on. A perfect example is one of our South African politicians, Julius Malema. When he found out that people were tweeting under his name he declared that he would get Twitter shut down. The world laughed. The world has decided, you see, to hang around on social media. If you want to appeal to the world then you’d better be there. If you’re not there, your audience is not going to go looking for you… they’re going to deal with your competitors instead.
It sounds bleak if you choose to look at it through the old world paradigm of how business worked. It sounds bleak if you look at click through rates and ROI in the traditional sense. But that’s not how we look at it – those of us who are passionate about it.
This is how we see it:
1. For the first time, companies can actually listen to their customers
For so long companies have been guessing what their customers want. They have had to hire market researchers and conduct expensive studies.
Now all they need is a Twitter account.
Start up a Facebook Page, open a Hootsuite account, check HelloPeter and you have all the data that money can buy. There are even free programs available to help you keep track of all the nattering about you on social media.
It’s win-win: great for your customers (because they get what they want), great for you because you understand who they are and can use that data to drive innovation.
How much money can you save on doing it this way? How much money will it make you in the long run?
Perhaps it’s not quantifiable in the traditional sense, perhaps it requires more patience than usual, but there’s no argument that it’s useful.
Many consumer companies are even using social media for customer service and relationship management. Getting a response from South African telecoms companies for example has become much easier via Twitter than through a call center because they’re so aware that everyone is watching!
2. Word of mouth is more powerful than ever before
Word of mouth is often hailed as the most effective marketing tool. Why then, now that the entire world is connected by digital mouth, would you not make use of it?
And that’s really what Twitter is… even the name suggests lots of little birds having their say.
If you’re on social media you have a chance to influence what that say is. As the old marketing adage goes: “If you don’t define your brand, someone else will.”
3. Knowledge is free and easy to consume
I have a TV but I never watch it. I listen to radio, but only on the way to and from the office. I used to buy the paper – but only on weekends. The rest of the time? There’s Twitter.
Used to be that if someone approached me during the day to discuss the news I’d have to nod and smile and pretend I knew what was going on until I heard the nine o’ clock news. Now I have a little Twitter dialogue open at all times and I follow people with news relevant to me.
This may not be good news for media companies, but it is a reality. I am going to get my information from Twitter and if I don’t get it from you, I’ll get it from someone else.
On the other hand, many of the accounts I follow on Twitter are media companies and journalists. Twitter has become their first phase of release – when they’re on a story, when something’s just breaking… and when the story is published.
I haven’t used the refresh button on a news website in years because I no longer go looking for the news… it finds me. I click through to the stories because I’ve been following their development on Twitter.
It’s not a case of either or. It’s a case of both.
4. Advertising is free and easy to produce
It’s not just about how many people click through to your website using a link you tweet at the moment you tweet it – it’s about making that person aware that you exist. So your brand is the first that comes to mind when next they want to visit a website like yours.
The digital age has made us obsessed about click-throughs… but what of traditional branding and marketing in days of yore? Of signposts and billboards? You still had ROI but it wasn’t as measurable and you could analyse how it influenced your bottom line using various metrics, but it would never be accurate. That was fine because you believed that getting your brand out there was the most important thing.
Now you can do that for free.
5. Join the conversation
Finally, I think it’s important to realise that the way that we communicate has changed. We’re no longer willing to be passive receivers of information – we want to discuss it.
Whether we’re dealing with Nike or the daily news… we are interested in going beyond the story. The number of tweets I receive giving opinions or asking for more info on any of our stories is asstounding.
Comments on a website are all very well and good, but they appeal to an established audience. What about adding new members to that audience? What about targeting those who don’t know about your website and teaching them?
It’s possible, it’s free, and more importantly it’s encouraged. In fact I’d go so far as to say it’s necessary. Not just for damage control, not just for advertising, not just for any single one reason I’ve mentioned here… but because, in the simple words of Peter Drucker: “The object of business is not to make a profit, it’s to create a customer.”
And social media lets you do that.
Even if you’re not getting click-throughs and you can’t comfort yourself with solid numbers.
It’s a big ask, I know. And it’s frightening, I know. But social media is not a monster, neither is it a speck of dirt easily swept under the rug. What it is is a movement. One day it will end, but it will leave us, our businesses and our way of life changed. We have to embrace that change or be left behind.
I am addicted to hits.
It’s horrifying but true.
I’ve only just started blogging again and I find myself a victim of the refresh button. I caught myself just now clicking on the “view all” under my statistics graph so I could see the total number of hits my new blog has.
And then I hit refresh.
And then I hated myself.
But I hit refresh again.
Make it stop!
It shouldn’t matter. I shouldn’t care. Whether you read this or not should mean nothing to me. Generations of journalists and authors got by perfectly well without the little grey graph slowly rising, so why am I waiting to hit 100 like a character from Requiem for a Dream waiting for heroine?
I blame myDigitalLife. They trained me in the art of blogging, and the paid me per hit – 10c for my opinion, 30c if it was something tech-related. I grew used to watching the hit-counter rising. I got so used to that rising number meaning rising money that I cultivated a Pavlovian response: hits = happy.
I explained this to my friend Zoe (The Paper Ninja), hoping that it at least sounded believable to her.
What she said astounded me with its simplicity
it’s a myDL hangover
I’m used to getting paid per hit
Now the hits are hugs
They are like hugs of support
omg new blog post!
What Zoe put so nicely is that in the digital age… hits have come to mean love.
Every time someone clicks through to what you have to say is a show of support, a show of interest, a sign that your voice is getting heard above all the chaos out there.
We are all obsessed with eyeballs.
…which sounds less weird when you’ve had some kind of encounter with a person who believes in online advertising. The theory is that if you can get people to look at a page, you’re half way towards getting money from them. That’s how banner adds work. I use the term “work” loosely, as recently studies have shown that average click through is at about 0.3% – but that’s a discussion for another time, perhaps another place.
The point is that since the Dot Com Boom, we have all equated views with money… not necessarily just with money, but with all good things. Take Justin Bieber for example. I’m not implying that he’s a good thing… I’m just saying that if his original YouTube video had not been so popular, he wouldn’t be producing his own autobiographical movie at 16 years old.
It’s not just me and my myDigitalLife conditioning, it’s all of us.
We’re a living in an era obsessed with views.
We run around on the Internet practically screaming, “Look at me!”
We tally our Twitter followers, our Facebook friends, our LinkedIn connections. We keep a constant eye on our Klout score, our Page likes, our website stats.
And yes, our blog hits.
It ties into something primal… being liked by the tribe is good. It means survival. Just like being a homecoming queen means that you’re unlikely to be bullied, being a YouTube sensation means you have a place in the world. And all of a sudden the world literally means the world. The Internet has made our tribe tremendously huge… so no wonder people put so much effort into making a mark. For the first time the human race is aware of how tiny each individual member really is.
Why else has social networking taken off the way it has?
Companies blatantly put adds in traditional media and on billboards saying “Like us on Facebook and win”. People get into a tizz over who did (or didn’t) Follow Friday them on Twitter. And employers looking to fill my current position… check how many Twitter followers applicants have. It’s not just about popularity… it’s about having some kind of footprint out there in the incredibly huge chaos of cyberspace, where personalities (and companies) live and die in a day.
So thank you Zoe. Suddenly I don’t feel so bad.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and check that little graph again.