A recent study that was carried out by internet marketing company Click Consult has shown that social media is now more popular among 16-24 year olds than television. Of the 1,300 people surveyed, a total of 65% said that surfing social media sites is their favourite past-time, which significantly outweighs television, at least among this age group. What, then, does this mean for news consumption? There is a big difference between television and the internet, which is why people are moving across to the latter.
Passive consumption – When news is consumed through television, it is experienced passively. The viewer sits back and watches whatever the broadcasters have chosen to show them, and while they do have the freedom to change the channel or turn off the set, the news programs are not catered for their specific needs.
Active consumption – When news is consumed over the internet, the surfer has much more scope for freedom. They can choose what they want to be involved with, and can move away from things that do not interest them.
The fact that young people are moving away from television and towards social media, shows that the prospect of involvement is more attractive than passive entertainment. Opinions are growing and individuality is being nurtured in a way that changes the way we consume news and enables us to share and comment, thus becoming pro-active. Is this better than just watching the news on television? Social networking sites certainly encourage people to develop their own opinions about issues, and to share things that they thing their friends might like. You can avoid the boredom of learning about sports news when you would rather hear about the arts and you can access your personalised news feed pretty much anywhere.
It almost feels like five is too low a limit, but there you go; I’m sticking with it. Without further ado, five things people tend to say about Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks (no point in mentioning them by name, as they’ll all be gone in a year or two) that I wish they wouldn’t.
1. It’s a waste of time. Whether you’re an author, an SEO consultant, or a person who just likes to tweet about their day-to-day existence, social media is not a waste of time. If you’re getting something out of it, it’s not wasting your time, is it? Connecting with people, sharing ideas, learning about the world, following the news – yes, clearly this is all pointless. C’mon!
2. Team follow back! I don’t know who invented this bizarre trend of following someone to gain a single follower back, but let me smash through your preconceptions of how amazing that is, and explain something to you: a non-celebrity with 50,000 followers, and 50,000 friends, is not good at social media. A non-celebrity with 50,000 followers and a hundred friends definitely is. Why? Because lots of people follow that person because they are interesting, or funny, or both, or other cool things. They follow a few people, because to follow 50,000 people means your feed will be utter garbage.
3. Twitter analytics are informative when it comes to potential sales. No, they’re not. Tweeting to your 100,000 followers about a new laptop doesn’t mean you’ll have sold a hundred thousand laptops by the time you leave work. It means that most of the people following you will see it (some don’t check all the tweets gone past in the time since they last checked, some follow too many to keep up with). Social media works similarly to any other kind of advertising. You could have a tweet on the TV screen, half-time at the World Cup. Doesn’t mean everyone watching it thinking “right, off to the shops”.
4. It is only for self-promotion. You know what happens if fifty people shout their thoughts into a room with earplugs in? No one actually hears anyone else, and everybody leaves the room none the wiser. This is what happens when people assume that Twitter is a DIY RSS feed. Talk to people. Respond to people. Don’t plug your stuff all day long – it’s monotonous and makes you look incredibly self-centred. This goes for businesses, too.
5. Automation is fine. No, it’s not. Seeing a clearly automated tweet on my feed, whether it’s from some site charting what game someone’s playing to an announcement by FourSquare that someone’s out of their house (nice job – burglars will be pleased to hear that) drives me up the wall. It’s one thing to have it link to a blog post, and sometimes that … on the end of an automated blog announcement can be intriguing, as I recently found out. But can the rest of it. It makes you sound generic and thoughtless.
That’s just five – I’m glad I didn’t title this list “five things I wish people would stop saying on Twitter”, as five thousand would not be a long-enough list.
We all wish that our businesses was talked about as much as the headline news or the next big election. The key to getting noticed, of course, is to increase publicity – to somehow wangle our brand into the eye of the public. One good way to achieve this is by becoming a popular and trending topic on Twitter. But how can we reach these heady heights?
Running a business often mean being tied to our desks. Our computers house our contacts, work documents and so much more. However, thanks to a wide variety of business apps for the smartphone, we can keep on top of our work, track business and easily contact employees, even if we’re on a mountain side in a snowstorm. Let’s explore the top 10 applications which help to keep us on top of our work load and track business when we’re away from our desk.
Even when you’re not at you’re desk, Pages makes it easy to keep on top of your work load. This portable word processor has been specially designed for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. The clever application allows you to create spread sheets, annotate PDFs and create word documents, as well as letting you access important files on your corporate network. If you have an iPhone 4s, you don’t even need to type, thanks to the dictation software. Pages costs just £6.99 and is available from the iTunes store. Viisit http://tinyurl.com/43dg2rd
2.WebEx for iPad
This handy iPad application keeps you connected with your business even when you are away from your desk, by allowing you to access documents on your work PC or Mac. You can even keep a track of your colleagues by setting up online meetings via VoIP. WebEx is a free application which is available for download from the iTunes store. Visit http://tinyurl.com/7sj9lm6
Do you ever have moments when you think of a brilliant idea but there is no one to pitch it to because you are not in the office? Popplet is a platform for all your inventive and creative ideas, no matter where you are. The app lets you to fill various sized boxes with text, sketches, notes and photos, in any order you desire. This makes it easier to remember the next day, allowing you to pitch your idea without forgetting anything. Popplet costs £2.99 and can be downloaded from the iTunes store at http://tinyurl.com/72v3f7f
4. E*TRADE Mobile Pro
If you run a trading business, this app keeps you on top of the ever-changing figures in the market. Its integrated live stream informs you of real-time stock updates, news and quotes. You can watch the prices rise and fall, as well as keeping an eye on your online watch-lists. It is free to download from http://tinyurl.com/7aozpp3
5. Employee Tracker
What better way to keep on top of all your employees when you are out of the office, than to connect to your very own employee behaviour database. This application stores information about your team, such as days they were late to work, to how they have been using the internet. Simply add their name to your employee list and add their behaviour habits when necessary. You can also add positive comments about your team, such as the date they were awarded employee of the month, or if they stayed extra hours. It costs just £3.99 to download and is available from the iTunes store. Visit http://tinyurl.com/7ckaudk
Linkedin, the virtual business card site, is pretty much the networking site for businesses. This app is perfect for when you are out and about and need to contact one of your clients. It allows you to keep in touch with people you have met through business meetings or conferences, by letting you send them messages and keep track of who’s doing what. So rather than letting your wallet become full of old business cards, why not find them on Linkedin and save their details online. Your contacts can also be transferred to your iPhone’s contacts list, so even when you are away from your desk, you can contact them easily. Linkedin is a free application which is available from the iTunes store. Visit http://tinyurl.com/7bgnldl
7. Roambi Analytics App
This app is essential for small businesses. Google Analytics is the eyes and ears of any online business worth its salt. You don’t have to be at your desk to check the stats, simply open the app and have a look any time. Becoming a true Analytics Maven might take rather longer however. It if free to download from http://tinyurl.com/7bu764f
8. Order Manager
This online application handles your orders and records. So even when you are not in the office and you need to check an order or a price, this app simply brings up your inventory history in an organised database. It costs £0,69 and available to download from the iTunes shop at http://tinyurl.com/7b555gv
If you are advertising vacancies, or you are interested in a supplier or a business partner, it is important to know as much as you can about them before recruiting them. This application allows you to conduct a background check in a matter of seconds from the iPhone. You no longer have to sit at your desk for hours, researching for a person or a company because this app collects information from public records and displays it for you instantly. It is free to download from http://tinyurl.com/7l2md78
10. Shoeboxed Receipt Tracker and Reader
Whether you want to claim expenses or warranties, this useful application stores your receipts on an online database, available to access at any time. It is perfect for when you are on the go; simply take a photo of the receipt and let the app extract the data, organise and store it on an online archive. This handy application is free to download and available from the iTunes store at http://tinyurl.com/72bvqcn
It’s arguable that in recent years, the “buzz” has overtaken traditional channels of promotion. But what about news, and journalism? Is it faster to glean the headlines from your feeds, or from the front pages of whatever eclectic mish-mash of physical and digital content providers you’ve gone to, regular as clockwork, for years?
If you look at the hashtags for anything from Libya to The X-Factor, it’s clear as day that people are happy to inform each other and keep everyone up to speed, because what they’d tell five people around the water-cooler is now something they can tell hundreds of millions by tweeting – and both take less than a minute. In an astonishing turn around, journalism – a discipline that champions brevity and concise description above all else – has, in some aspects, been usurped by the popularity of a big old chat. Or has it?
News has become stale. That’s not because it’s badly written, but because news, in its infancy, was about bringing people the facts as soon as possible. There’s an age-old saying in print journalism that your first paragraph should contain everything someone needs to know. Not only is this common sense, but it also means that if your article gets chopped down during the editing process, it doesn’t “break”.
In 2011, it’s possible to go one better, and present someone with an entire article’s worth of information in 140 characters, which trumps content several times the length. It’s said often during technological discussion, but we’re becoming an extremely impatient people, and seeing “Libya liberated, Gaddafi dead” flood my feed, rather than it hitting me once at six ‘o’ clock – rather than taking time out to read the news during the day – is what matters, to me.
If you’re a business, it also means that you’re able to reach into a space you couldn’t before – consumer’s personal information spheres. By doing so (tweeting at them, talking to them, and generally not being an old-fashioned “we only tweet promo content and never retweet or reply) you enable yourself to impress them directly, rather than through the love-hate filter of the press.
Twitter, Facebook – they’re far from perfect, and what’s worse is that they’re like blogs and their impact on online journalism – suddenly, everyone’s an journalist, and with Twitter, everyone’s an informant. As most people are a) prone to gossip, and b) not trained journalists, and will therefore proceed to repeatedly provide their followers with hearsay cast as fact, and hashtag relentlessly in order to flood key searches with irrelevant statements.
It can also be used alongside traditional journalism, or online – simply by delving into it and using it as a promotional tool, and if your business happens to deal in information, news, reviews and other media, there is no platform more prone to content going viral than social media. But to replace long-form content entirely would be a horrendous miss-step, especially given the long-established place in the media that journalism has, in comparison to the fly-by-night nature of social media – even Facebook’s losing members.
It’s certainly a tough topic, and I think a mix of the two is best – read your long-form stuff, but grab your water-cooler headlines from Twitter or other mediums, such as Reddit. But for those businesses who are wondering whether their product press releases are going to be required reading for anyone in the near future when we’re social to a fault online, I’d keep your cards close to your chest until we see where Twitter and the like end up in 2021. Time will tell.
Developing a new products can be difficult especially if you are trying to gear it towards a specific market, which most companies are. There is one area that some people overlook, and this is the growing world of social media. We would do well not to overlook it as most of our customers use it on a daily basis.
As customers become better versed in Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and the rest, they will expect companies to be doing the same. In 10 to 15 years’ time, most customers will be within the ‘Facebook generation’, and have grown up with social media as a prominent part of their lives. These sites are where they will share experiences, socialise with friends and most importantly they will talk about products and services, and recommending them too. If businesses want to get ahead of the game, then infiltrating that world and building an online presence is essential. Keeping in touch with customers in a more personal way, providing them with useful updates and facts to keep them interested is invaluable. Adaptability is key to keeping a business successful in this day and age.
Know your market
Social media is really useful not only for keeping in touch with customers, but for conducting product research and development. If businesses keep track of conversations and comments on social media sites, then they can gain an impression of the way that their customers think and plan accordingly. The Social Media Examiner expands upon this idea with some great tips for ways to use social media can help make a business seem more accessible to customers and if they feel able to communicate with it on a more personal level, then they are more likely to remain loyal.
Getting your recruiting right
If a company is looking for new additions to their team, chances are they will want to find people who are in touch with the modern age of technology and the web, who can move with the times and bring something fresh to the company. Where do you find these people? Well, chances are they are all using social media sites already. If you are looking for a certain type of person, one who is proficient in internet use and social media language, then look for them in this way as well. If the company uses their Twitter page of LinkedIn to advertise a vacancy, then the only people who will apply will be those who know how to use these sites already. This raises the chances of finding the right person for the job.
At the end of the day, everyone should be aware of the rising interest and use of social media. Recent research has suggested that a surprising number of CEOs do not use social networking sites and as this article on CNET shows, “the most admired CEOs had a greater online presence…than those who were less admired.” Social media is not going anywhere and those who keep up with it will be able to keep up with the marketplace.
On Monday, socialmediatoday’s Debra Ellis posted an article that argued that social media metrics are useless, for a wide variety of reasons. It’s reassuring to know that there are those working and/or writing in the field who think the same as I do. These statistics, as a concept, will always be flawed, and rarely useful for making assumptions that rely on precise data. Social media metrics are essentially statistics based around attention-seeking and numerical fetishes. Let’s take a closer look at Ellis’ points.
She states that “the only real numbers that matter to your company are the ones generated from your marketing activities.” This is true, but a little unclear. What Ellis may mean is that the real number, at the end of the day, that matters more than all the others comes under the title of ‘sales’. The end product of a marketing campaign is either more, less, or equal sales to the figure that came before it, and everything else, from numbers of followers to your Klout rating, is somewhat irrelevant.
Mack Collier, social media strategist, reinforces this when he explains that having 22,000 Twitter followers doesn’t mean that 22,000 people are going to click a link you post – in most cases. There are exceptions, and author Neil Gaiman has an ability to – in his own words – “Neil web fail” any site by bringing the attention of his huge follower crowd onto a small site that isn’t prepared. But Collier states that there needs to be a better way to explain the shortcomings of these statistics to clients.
This makes sense – a client is going to see 22k followers, and only 200 clicks, and ask what the problem with your campaign is. The realistic answer is that there isn’t a problem with your campaign – 200 clicks is a great number considering that most people are not following less than a hundred people, and reading every tweet becomes difficult, let alone clicking every link. To quote a protester shown during Bowling for Columbine: “does everyone who watches a Lexus ad go out and buy a Lexus? No, but a few do.”
Discussing things with Jon (as one is wont to do quite often at MoreDigital – the man has a Wikipedia cache installed in his brain), we agreed that looking at follower numbers and Twitter graphs serves little purpose when it comes to measuring your social media reach, and this is true – an advert during the Superbowl could reach tens of millions of people, but it doesn’t mean anyone is actually watching with interest, given that it’s not the scheduled entertainment causing them to look toward the screen in the first place.
“The numbers that matter from social media participation are sales, costs, and satisfaction,” says Ellis. “If sales don’t increase, costs decrease, and/or satisfaction improves, your online activity is a waste of time.” It’s a tough pill to swallow if you’ve been working on a campaign non-stop only to realise that 75% of your followers are spam bots. At the same time, you can’t ditch the spam bots, because if they’ve given you a 300% increase in follower numbers, you’ll know that having 20k followers over 5k increases a user’s chance of following you.
Social media metrics have a long way to go, and there’s nothing wrong with keeping an eye on how you’re doing. But assuming that you can judge company performance using this sort of data is ludicrous, because it’s not actually relevant to company performance. Shouting about fresh fruit and vegetables while working at the market sells you four oranges. It doesn’t matter how many people heard you hawking your wares – those four oranges are your clue to whether or not you should be in the vitamin C game at all.
Facebook has to be the biggest success-story business of the last ten years. It comes as something of an eyebrow-raiser, then, that six million US users have left the site in the last month, according to PCMag‘s Peter Pachal. However, Pachal also highlights that it’s not just the USA where users have been leaving. Canada has lost a significantly larger portion of its userbase in proportion to the USA, as 1.52 million users departed Facebook’s Canadian user-base, a loss of almost ten percent. This is in addition to other countries, as well, and even with almost 700 million global users, that’s a significant sum.
But is this just a random drop, or the sign of a public that are beginning to realise that “likes” and photo-tagging are no longer actually necessary? Twitter is a format I believe meets the need of a constantly evolving target market, as it’s inevitable that as technology progresses, those using the same hardware, software or websites will begin to perceive their current set-up as too slow, due to the ever-increasing need for digital immediacy.
Twitter provides immediacy better than Facebook does – one long feed of instant bursts of information, without the web-surfing experience. There’s no long profile page to go through, no personal information beyond a short bio section, and best of all, it has succeeded in bringing microblogging to an audience that previously never even considered a conventional blog. Even the conventional blog is being rapidly matched in appeal by Tumblr, a more social approach to the well-established method of simply commenting on someone’s work. Quotes within quotes, tweets within retweets.
Pachal suggests a number of reasons behind the Facebook exodus, and all of them are logical and well-argued. Seasonal changes, a “blip” in user statistics, Facebook’s recent disregard for user privacy, and of course, the elephant in Zuckerberg’s conference room – that Facebook’s time may indeed have come. It’s a social network, and although it’s become bigger than MySpace ever was, that doesn’t mean it can’t go the same way – struggling ever onward and reinventing itself as a platform for advertisers, musicians and the like in order to survive.
For Pachal the major downside to Facebook disappearing off the map is the removal of the 40 % increase in the web-surfing by Facebook users. This is true for most social networks – I certainly read a lot more web pages due to Twitter and an Android app by the name of ReadItLater (offline viewing of webpages as plain text-and-images, almost like a digital magazine article), and I wouldn’t do if I wasn’t tapped into the network.
This will hurt those not only marketing through Facebook, but relying on the world-of-mouth traffic it can generate. We are now able to draw more people towards a site than ever before, and that number is only going to rise. But if one of the main methods of communicating concepts, ideas, and most importantly, links to one another is removed, it damages a company’s ability to reach users, and damages, say, my ability to reach all of you. Facebook may be something of a privacy-invading social behemoth, but like everything else on the web people claim to dislike and yet can’t stop using, we’ll miss it if it goes.