13 August 2013

10 Social Media Myths

The following social media myths are compiled as a result of obstacles that I meet as a social media consultant.  Most of these apply to using social media for business purposes.  Taking these ideas on board should see that you reap greater rewards from your social media strategy.

Myth 1.  Social media contacts grow organically. 
Well yes they could, but it would take way too long to assemble an audience of a decent size who would listen, take note or appreciate your message.  I keep telling people its all about "reach".  In other words you only reach a small crowd, your message will not travel.  You will only every engage a small percentage of your audience anyway.  This has to be borne in mind.  Also make sure your audience is targeted towards your product or service or your engagement will be wasted.
Myth 2.  Social media is all about you.
No.  The best way to promote your message or your brand is to promote others.  They in turn will promote you.  Its reciprocal and the most effective.  For it to work you have to engage people and of course the right kind of people.   Another approach is to have a number of informative posts or every one sales post.  The exact proportion will need some experimentation.
Myth 3.  Social media is all about selling products and services. 
Again, untrue.  Please take the approach that social media is all about people, people who will need products and services.  This is a big difference and cannot be underestimated.   This extends to the photos and videos.  People expect to see photos and videos with people in them.  My experience has been that no one wants to get into the camera's viewfinder.  Business is about people, enough said. 
Myth 4.  Facebook is the be all and end all of social media. 
I meet so many people who tell how wonderful Facebook is and how many thousands of LIKEs their fan pages have.  Facebook is fine for keeping in touch with your customers but it is slow and difficult to grow from the ground up.
Myth 5.  Twitter only works for celebrities and big brands. 
Ironically if you are a start-up business you will have more success with Twitter than Facebook.  It is easier to drive traffic to your website or blog with Twitter than Facebook. 
Myth 6.  Social media runs itself.   
Untrue.  Social media needs monitoring and input.  You can run all your social media platforms from something like Hootesuite or Ezeesocial but you have to reach out. 
Myth 7.  You can just hire someone to run your social media presence for you. 
Yes, you can.  However social media is driven by a fuel called content.  Content can be blog article or links but they all tell a relevant story about your business.  If you ask someone to run their social media and don't provide them with content that only company insiders are privy to, this will end in disaster. 
Myth 8.  Content needs to be viral. 
Those that know about the power of content believe that all content should be viral.  Content only has the opportunity to go viral if it is shared and to share it you need an audience.  Please bare in mind that most content that does actually go viral was never planned to be viral but it had an unexpected component, it got picked up by an industry influencer who shared the link and yes you guessed it, an audience who shared it profusely.
Myth 9.  Social media doesn't work if you have older customers. 
This was originally the case but no more.  The fastest growing demographics on Facebook are the over 50's.
Myth 10.  YouTube is only for teenagers and not for business. 
I constantly meet businesses who shy away from the use of video.  Again many fear the camera but most are unaware of the amount of traffic that a YouTube video can drive to a company's sales page.
I hope I have shattered some of your social media myths for you.  Naturally there are more, but I'd like to think that I have covered the main ones.  Please feel free to post comments below.

4 July 2013

Reasons To Use Sentiment Analysis In Social Media

Have you ever considered the use of sentiment analysis in social media?
Wimbledon fans amongst you would have noticed that the IBM Slamtracker which keeps all the scores at Wimbledon now also gives a sentiment analysis for each player.  This is achieved by monitoring the number of positive or negative tweets and posts on Twitter and Facebook respectively.  Notice the yellow bar graphs below which give the sentiment strength of each player.
Wimbledon Slamtracker also monitors sentiment
The yellow bar graphs gives the sentiment rating for each player 
As the IBM Slamtracker is a predictive tool it seems that an element of the Slamtracker's analytical tools were comparing the sentiment of the crowd for each player against the actual performance of each player.

Why Is Sentiment Analysis Important?

In a day to day situation, sentiment analysis is important because we are more inclined to make a purchase when we are either very sad or very happy.  To change your emotional state we tend buy things.  More often then not we are in a negative state when an impulse purchase is made.  Also be aware that negative sentiment often implies that we need to find and/or buy a solution to an existing problem.  Combining sentiment analysis with keyword search is an ideal way of finding someone who is in need of your services.

How Is This Done?

At a very basic level you can tap into the use of the Twitter Advanced Search Operators.
Typing your keyword(s) into twitter search along with :) , yes that's right, a smiley face, will give positive tweets related to a topic.
:( followed by your keyword will list negative tweets.
In my case I use specialised software to scan my clients tweets for negative sentiment as part of brand monitoring and customer service exercises.  I can also identify worthwhile retweets based on keywords and sentiment analysis.  As ridiculous as it seems, negative retweets get a considerably higher reaction.  The power of emotion I hear you say.

 What Will The Future Hold?

I am told that the CIA already uses sentiment analysis on the video feeds of airport travellers to identify who is a security risk.  I can see sentiment analysis creeping into the images on Facebook.  Who knows this might lead to auto-emoticons.

You might be thinking social media just got a whole lot more involved but hopefully you will consider the use of sentiment analysis in social media.

26 June 2013


Using people power to generate start-up funding
Are you a start-up company looking for seed capital?  Rather than turning to venture capitalists, many start-ups are now turning to crowdfunding platforms.  Artists, filmmakers, would be writers and musicians  all apply for crowdfunding in order to roll out that first commercial project.  Crowdfunding is an ideal way to fund a creative project.  Creators do keep 100% ownership of their work but naturally there is a fee taken of the money raised, typically 5%.

Kickstarter was the first of the crowdfunding platforms and appeared about 3 years ago.  Since then it has funded over 95,000 projects.  The most famous of these was the Pebble watch project which raised over $10 million when in fact they were only looking for $100,000.
Today there are scores of crowdfunding platforms each covering a different crowdfunding niche.
Here's a link to the alternative platforms.

How Does It Work?
The trick is to set a funding level that you realistically wish to achieve.  If you don't get enough interest to reach 100% of your funding you receive no funding at all. 
So how do you put forward your case?  You do this via a video of the proposed project, through graphics, informative text and FAQs.  The trick is to set up a stepped reward system for your backers.  Ideally the higher the investment in you, the more the backer receives in return.  You can see that it makes an ideal platform through which to generate advance orders.
Typically the fundraising takes place over a 30 day period.  The number of days remaining is displayed on the project page along with the number of backers to date and the amount of money pledged to the goal amount.

Things I have Noticed
  • Filling out your Kickstarter project page reminds me a lot of LinkedIn, that the correct content is vital to tell your story and promote your project. 
  • Remember its all about your "orientation" to the donor. 
  • The donors need to be able to identify themselves in the project that you are promoting.
  • Sell the benefits not the features.
  • People donate for emotional reasons.  Typically this will be the reason why or how your project came about.  This makes for a good opening paragraph
  • You need to promote this like hell using social media.  I noticed that the project videos received a lot of Facebook shares but very few tweets.  Personally I would rather see this the other way around.
  • I would suggest having a well built up social network before the clock starts ticking on your crowdfunding project.
  • Bring your offline contacts online and your online community offline.  Create a live event based around the project to raise awareness.  I would highly recommend a group photo of all of the participants, who can then be tagged on Facebook, so that your project Facebook page will get into the newsfeeds of all of their friends.

Cody Rauh, a colleague has launched a crowdfunding project to produce a series of children's therapy puzzles.  The purpose of these puzzles is to aid in the development of children with autism, patients with head injury, stroke victims and the recovery of war veterans.
Please give your support at  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/codyrauh/zoobits

PS I just came across someone crowd funding for a new kidney.

3 June 2013

4 SEO Tips For Bloggers

SEO for bloggers
Below are 4 main aspects of SEO for bloggers to keep an eye on.  I only recently learnt of the importance of  semantic keywords and hope you find the LSI keyword tool interesting.

I have always known about search engine optimisation (SEO) however I have always written for people, not search engines.  As a blogger, you do your level best to deliver value to your reader by giving the best possible content on the subject matter.  You cannot do this if you keyword stuff your articles for the apparent benefit of search engines, all in the vain hope of gaining more organic search. At this stage we are all aware of the Google Panda and Penguin updates that constantly change the SEO playing field.  All the more reason to write for people. 

  • Start with the Google Keyword Tool.  This gives the number of searches for your keyword phrase and how competitive that keyword is.  The Google Keyword Tool is a must use on blog titles.  Ideally you want a title with a high monthly global search of 30,000, if you can get it.  Along with this you want a medium keyword competition.  Its a good idea to use this for titles to boost traffic to your blog.  But just remember Wordpress alone has 63 million blogs.
  • Another important element to a blog post's SEO is the use of your post's keywords in the "tags" section. My blog contains a "tag cloud" which shows more frequently used tags in larger text and also gives access to posts with these tags.
  •  Don't forget the use of a good search description to support the blog title.  Make sure this is different to the blog title.  Here you can use more keywords to describe what the article is about.
  • One thing that I recently stumbled upon to increase my blog posts' SEO was the LSI keyword tool.  This is a free tool that checks the latent semantic index (LSI for short) of your keywords.  What this simply means is that it lists keywords that are related to each other.  The reason for this is that Google expects to see certain keywords about the subject matter in an article of authority.  The LSI keyword tool lists words, two word and three word phrases that Google expects around a keyword that you have entered.  Make a note of the top 5 keyword phrases from each column and use these to structure your post.
These are the basics of SEO for bloggers.  I will add to this with another article shortly.

4 May 2013

How To Write For Viral Marketing

Mention the work "viral" and we all think of a YouTube video such as "Gangnam Style". However blog posts can also be crafted to go viral, provided you capture the interests of your audience.
Below is a list of 10 things based on extensive research that will help your blog posts become more viral.

Capture Your Audience's Attention
Capture Your Audience's Interest

  • Make use of social trends.  Your article or post must cover a hot topic.  If it is yesterday's news, you will have little interest.  So the question is how do you make your post more newsworthy?  Consider using "Google Trends" or "Twitter Trends" to find a choice subject matter.  I had used Google Trends in the past to identify how current some products where and which products were up and coming, but I had never considered using "Google Trends" for article writing.  Likewise many of us use "Twitter Trends" without thinking to see which hashtag keywords are trending on Twitter but never consider applying this to article writing.  Now you know better.  But I will admit it is tricky mixing what you would like to cover with what is currently in the news.  Sometimes timing is everything.
  • Write about universal problems as an alternative to being on trend.  As a counter-pose this strategy is more slow burning but longer burning.  There are no rules to say that you can't mix these two approaches within a blog on a particular subject matter.
  • Spend time with your title. Article titles make or break the number of views your post will get.  In my early days of blogging, I used to change the title several times after publication and observe the reaction.  This is an exercise I would highly recommend.  Sure keywords are important here but so are they in they are arranged and how they are presented.  I guess the issue here is that you, the writer, has one view but your audience may have another.  So get into the mind of your audience. 
  • Write longer articles.  There is a perception that longer articles are more worth sharing, as if the length of an article is social proof of its gravity.  That's the psychology and I respect this but struggle with its implementation at the same time.  Personally I have difficulty waffling. 
  • Use emotion.  In the world of social media there is little room for emotion.  But do your best to build it in where appropriate.  One way to do this is illustrating when small changes bring big results and how these result effect people in a positive way. 
  • Readers skim content in today's world.  Its a fact.  So organise your content with paragraph headlines or key points so that readers get an overview of what you have written.  Only 20% of readers will ever read an article in full, life is too busy. 
  • Write for people and not search engines.  The viral effect is brought about by people not by search engines.  Ok, get your title found by search engines but it is people who will share your article provided it strikes a chord.  Grab their attention and interest, don't exhaust them by saying the same thing over again with different keywords.   Let the article flow naturally. 
  • Have at least one photograph or image at the top of the article.  This image should graphically represent the contents of the article and add interest.  This image is vital if the article/post is to be shared with LinkedIn or Facebook.  The image gives a "flavour" to the text.
  • Make sure your blog has social media share buttons to allow your article to be distributed.  One important point here is make sure the share bar is below the article or post title.  Only 20% of any blogs' audience ever read to the end of an article.  So if you have share button at the article's end they wouldn't get used.  The big point here is that people will  share an article without reading the post in full, provided the headline is good enough or the subject matter topical enough.
  • Always ask for feedback on your article or if the readers would like to add anything to your list of "how-to's" or "to-do's".  Your readers may have a view on the subject matter that adds to your post and gives a better understanding.  Engagement leads to share-ability.
So if I have missed anything or you disagree with any of the above, please leave a comment below.
Regards, Chris.