If I could see the future of social media 15, 10 or even five years from now, I would see the next set of lottery numbers and become one of those instant millionaires. Just think about it, from 2005 until 2008, Myspace was the most visited social networking in the world. Yes I said the world, and in June of 2006 it surpassed Google as the most visited website in the U.S. However, where is Myspace today?

crystalball
It is ranked in the mid 200s based on website visits. If someone had a crystal and told me that Myspace would be a mere footnote in today’s social media landscape, I would have told them they were crazy.

I’m not sure what the future holds for social media networks, but there are a two trends that brand managers can bet on.

Going Mobile
The future of social networking is on the move. In a recent infographic published by socialtimes.com, the number of Facebook mobile users could equal the 3rd most populated national in the world. Currently, 46% of all social users access via mobile web or mobile apps. With most users breaking the chain of their laptop and desk computers, how can brands continue to engage with customers? Brand managers can drawn on the data to develop localized promotions and personalize engage to strengthen brand loyalty. Another application for mobile is for employers, as the recession ends the competition for qualified applicants will heat up. Recruiters can engage with potential employees on a local level.

Infographic

Consumers Driving Brand Innovations
Marketers have been scouring social media to monitor for trends. This data known as micro-trends have helped companies garner millions of dollars. For example, one pharmaceutical company found that one of its heart medications aided in the re-growth of hair. The company was able to have doctors prescribe the medication for off -label use, thus making an additional 6 million dollars for the company. In addition to micro-trends, brands can test ideas quickly and survey consumers making product quickly and more innovative.

As social media evolves, I can only guess what the future holds.

References

http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240178803/Companies-mine-social-media-to-boost-innovation

http://in.socialtimes.me/articles/2013-03-11/social-media-goes-mobile-infographic

http://www.forbes.com/sites/michelecatalano/2013/01/17/myspace-attempts-to-rise-from-the-ashes/

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sketchesIf publishing a video that successfully goes viral with millions of views were easy, I’m sure we would all be spending our time watching videos and not getting much else done. While there is no exact formula for viral video success, here are three key elements that will help you get the views you are seeking.

Put in the Work
Creating a great video requires more work than videotaping a cute baby, an exciting stunt, captivating speech or hilarious pet. To increase your odds of producing a video that goes viral like the recent Dove. “Real Beauty Sketchers” campaign that has had more than 114 million views or the Evian “Roller Baby”  which recorded more than 111 million views, the work must be done. Behind these efforts are teams of marketing researchers and communications professionals who have done the painstaking work of combing through customer demographics, feedback and psychographics. These teams know what will make their customers respond. They know how tap into the emotions of their target audience by putting in the work to get the results they seek is essential whether it is to create laughter, enlist volunteers, evoke caring or solicit donations.  Do the work to discover what your customers like, what is important to them and understand why they purchase from your business. What do consumers think of your brand? Do you know why repeat customers come back and why one time customers are just that? Find the common thread between your customers. Once the work is done you should have the information to create a video that will connect with your followers and they will be excited to share with everyone they know.

Let the World Know
Once you have done the work, created and published your masterpiece how will followers and fan know that the video exists? This is why both traditional public relation and online promotions are critical. For example, the “Dove Real Beauty Sketch” Campaign was featured on the morning news and entertainment show The Today Show. Be sure to leverage and publish the video across several social networks that are appropriate. Don’t just publish on your YouTube channel, include a link in your blog, post on Facebook and Tweet to the world. Make sure your video can be easily shared by your consumers and friends.

Tell a Story Don’t Sell a Product
People don’t watch videos that feel like they are being sold like a visit to a poorly run used car lot. A good viral video doesn’t even feature the product.  Using the Dove campaign again as an example, the Dove logo is barely seen in the background of video. Viral videos are entertaining, thought provoking or inspiring, so don’t sell features and benefits stay focused on weaving a story.

Watch Dove Real Beauty Sketches Video

Follow these three simple suggestions in creating your next video and you’ll be on your way to going viral.

Developing a successful social media campaign for any company can be pretty tricky. Social media strategists have to consider so many variables like budget, desired results, ROI, frequency and customer relationships and reaction. Even the best company with the best intentions and best content managers can stumble. The biggest brands occasionally miss the mark. In social media, every campaign has the potential to create bad press, aggravate the customer and add unexpected risk. There is a fine line to reaching the right balance of push and pull. In addition, customers often have the upper hand in social media they can respond quickly and control the discussion before a company even relies there is an issue or a problem. In early 2012, McDonald’s, America’s fast food giant and one of the most respected and iconic brands discovered how social media can increase risk and expo the company to negative reactions.

The mega brand created what should have been a fun and basic Twitter campaign. The goal of the campaign was to share with millions of consumers who were the producers of McDonald’s food. With the hashtag #MeetTheFarmers, the world was set to learn about the fresh produce and local farmers who are the partners with McDonald’s. The campaign was moving along when the social strategists decided to add a new hashtag to the campaign. As an extension for the MeetTheFarmers hastag the marketers started tweeting with a new hashtag McDStories. McDonald’s used the hashtag #McDStories to promote video content of their suppliers talking about McDonald’s ingredients.

Unfortunately for MickeyDs the campaign was twitterjacked by consumers complaining about the company’s service and the quality of the food. Thousands of negative stories filled the twitter account of McDonalds. Consumers we complaining about everything from stale food to poor customer service.

Where did McDonald’s go wrong and how did the company respond?

One of the main reason’s the twitter campaign was easily hijacked was because the hashtag #McDStories played off of the company’s name recognition leaving the company easily exposed. In contrast the hashtag #MeetTheFarmers was very generic and not associated with McDonald’s name. In response to the negative tweets, the campaign managers started to delete the posts and ignored the rest. These tactics only fuels more negative posts leading to greater risk. The “groundswell” continued for months.

The iconic brand can navigate print media, but struggled with responding to the new technology. The best way to respond to negative feedback on social technologies is to respond honestly and often with humour when the situation is appropriate. McDonald’s could have responded with self deprecating humour and offered discounts for positive stories.

As McDonald’s discovered being an effective social media communicator takes more than a clever idea. The effective communicator has to fully understand how consumers respond in social media and plan for the best and worst responses. Social media can be powerful and positive technology — but McDonald’s learned the hard way that it also has its risks.

References

Retrieved from http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/11056-the-top-10-social-media-fails-of-2012

Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/hollis-thomases/mcdonalds-mcdstories-twitter-mess.html

Retrieved from http://investorplace.com/2012/01/mcdonalds-mcd-big-twitter-fail-meetthefarmers-mcdstories/

I love social media, I like being connected to family and friends, I like reading funny posts, I’m learning to love pinning and laughing a funny situations. My smiles turned to frowns when my manager asked me to write the social media policy for my company.

This task seemed completely daunting as I started to read through the endless recommendations from legal advisors, human resources professionals and industry consultants. The more I read, the more confused I became. The National Labor Relations Board has made several ruling that have left employers scrambling to understand the rules. Did you know your employer might be able to fire you for ranting about the company on Facebook? Did you know your employer CANNOT fire you for discussing salary and work conditions with other employees on Facebook or any other network? When it comes to talking about workplace activities on your social networks the key word is CAUTION! Here are a few simply guidelines that will likely keep you out of trouble at work.

1. Never discuss proprietary information online. If you feel the need to discuss company secrets go have a physical conversation with one of your co-workers. Disclosing trademarked company information could earn you a pink slip.

2. Don’t talk poorly about your boss or other employees. While you may not be fired, you sure won’t win friends or influence people. Most of the time having success at work, means getting along with others and being a team player.

3. Always disclose. Be transparent. If you are responding to a post or a blog about your company or industry always let the other readers know who you work for and that you are not an official spokesperson for the company.

4. You are responsible for your posts. Remember, defamation and slander laws could apply. You can still be sued.

5. Avoid using company property to Tweet, Facebook or communicate to social networks. The company supplies you a PC, Laptop, MacBook and Blackberry to help you complete your tasks. It is likely your employee can and will monitor your activity. Read your company handbook to completely understand the policy.

6. Don’t call in sick then post your vacation pictures. No explanation required, right?

7. When in doubt, do without.

8. Free speech is free, until it cost you your job.

Most companies recognize that employees, vendors and partners are participating in online conversations. We should all be committed to ensuring that everyone participates the right way. It is important to use common sense and best practices.

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/blog/2012/10/nlrb-social-media-policy-ruling-sets.html

http://www.nlrb.gov/news/acting-general-counsel-releases-report-social-media-cases

You have almost certainly come across people who use abbreviations, initials and acronyms
in their interactions. They often use initials as shorthand which works well when everyone
understands what those initials stand for. But often not everyone does, which means that
either time needs to be taken to explain the meaning or someone is not going to completely understand what is said. My employer seems to be hooked on acronyms or initialism. We all use them regularly such as, BU (Business Unit), KPI (Key Performance Indicators), PTC (Project Team Contract), PSG (Program Steering Group) and many of our business units are referred to by initials DMSG (Digital Mixed-Signal Group), APG (Automotive  and Power Group), CCPG (Computing and Consumer Products Group)  and SPG (Standard Products Group).  While many of the acronyms we use are general business terminology like GAAP (Generally Accounted Accounting Principles) or technical terms such as ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), many are terms used solely at my place of business. Acronyms are so embedded in the culture of this company that we have a link to a glossary of terms on the home page of our intranet with more than 1000 acronym terminologies. As case in point, if you search the glossary by acronyms starting with the letters P you will find 208 entries.

With the advent of social networking and smartphones and the need to limit the number of keystrokes when posting a comments, status updates, tweeting and texting. Initialism is everywhere. We all know the standard social networking acronyms like LOL (laugh out loud), IMO (in my opinion), and SMH (shake my head). There are so many “Internet” acronyms, you can search for a meaning on the InternetSlang.com.

You probably use acronyms too. They have a place when you are sure that everyone knows the meaning. This would be the case if you were talking to a group of people attending the EIEIO conference, where you’d expect that all the people would know what the letters stand for. However, if you use acronyms in less homogeneous situations, you are liable to create confusion in your communication.

Why do people do it? According to Communication Resource Center, “language is shorthand, but there is a human tendency to make it even shorter hand. We tire of saying certain phrases over and over again, and almost automatically make them shorter or refer to them with initials. But we forget that not everyone shares the same understanding — we just assume.” Kids using acronyms while communicating is an attempt to hide their activities from their parents have developed a complex system of acronyms like, KPC (keep parent clueless) or PAW (parent are watching).

In short, to be an effective communicator in person and while social networking and to use acronyms effectively know your audience. Make an assessment of the group you are speaking to taking into account business function, geographical location and language when using abbreviations. Effective communicators should use initials sparingly and make the adjustment, ; IMS (I’m just saying).

Reference

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/initialisms-and-acronyms/

http://www.internetslang.com/

From apples to zebras, social media (SM) gives everyone a voice and an opinion. Last week a friend of mine posted a status update on Facebook (FB) asking which smartphone she should buy. She had narrowed her choice between the new Apple iPhone5 and the new Samsung Galaxy S III. I was surprised that her two line status garnered more than 700 comments and spurred a lively debate. As I was paging through the comments, I started to wonder if any of these people were industry experts. Do they understand any of the technical specifications of each of the devices? Do they know which processor (the brain of the phone), A6 for the iPhone5 or iOS for the Galaxy S III is more robust? None of the posts touched on these points or any other technical aspects of the phone. All of comments were from the user experience or about the most recent Galaxy S III commercial poking fun at iPhone users.

 
Samsung Galaxy S III

In SM, our ability to give commentary on anything and everything has created unintended consequence, a society of know it alls. Recently, author Steve Tobak of CBS’ Money Watch posted a commentary titled, Social Network and the Narcissism Epidemic. There he outlines a compelling argument that social networks sites (SNS) like Twitter and Facebook compel users to share too much information which feeds our narcissistic tendencies. And, no one wants to be labels a narcissist. Of course, this is his opinion.

On the other hand, author Erik Qualman writes in Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business documents how SM has given the little guys power over big business. He understands the power of commentary, product reviews and complaints.  In Qualman’s opinion, SM has no negatives only positives when it comes to empowering individuals.

Since I’m a communicator, in both my professional and personal life, I think SM has led to more sharing of ideas and information and this is a good thing. Now the quality of the ideas and information being shared is another story. Quantity, like the more than 700 comments my friend received about her phone dilemma, does not equate to quality. I’m arguing that when making a significant decisions (I’m not saying the phone decision was a significant decision) following the opinions of your Facebook friends is likely not the best option.  I’m not expert, however in my opinion (and the narcissist in me thinks that my opinion is the only one that counts) my friend would have been better served by doing an Internet search for a technical comparison of the two phones. But, where’s the fun in that?

Right or wrong, in the social media opinion is everything.

References

http://www.tuaw.com/2012/09/12/apple-introduces-a6-processor-for-the-iphone-5/

http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/apple-iphone-5-vs-samsung-galaxy-s3-spec-showdown/2/

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57502035/social-networks-and-the-narcissism-epidemic/

http://books.google.com/books/about/Socialnomics.html?id=yAqD19i2U0UC