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9

Feb 2012

Social media overtakes television – what does this mean in terms of news consumption?

Posted in Blogging, Social Media | 2 Comments »

News Consumption

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.

  • Niche news sites - back in September 2011, the New York Times reported that web giants like Yahoo and AOL are losing traffic to smaller sites that cater to specific audiences. It is all very well reporting all of the news to everyone, but you are less likely to find passionate followers that way. Those who go to niche sites go there because they are interested in a specific topic, and they will keep coming back to learn the news that they are really interested in. These types of sites are numerous on the internet, whereas the news that is broadcast on the television is a lot more mainstream and less likely to capture focused attention.
  • Personalised news - Going to sites with a specific type of news allows consumers to personalise their entertainment and avoid things that do not interest them. They can subscribe to RSS feeds of certain sites, so that the news is brought to them, but only the news that they want to know about.
  • Push-pull strategies - Television ‘pushes’ information to the consumer, with them having no opportunity to interact with it. However, the internet ‘pulls’ consumers towards it, giving them the chance to get involved and demand information, creating interest and increasing popularity.

News sharing

  • This brings us on to the topic of social media and the idea of passive vs active consumption. Passive consumption – information that is ‘pushed’ at us – gives the consumer no opportunity to get involved, however as we have already seen with niche news sites, the internet gives users just that opportunity, and social networking sites allow for even more participation.
  • Moving even further away from traditional methods of news consumption, we have the 75% of people who actually use social networking sites or e-mail to find news. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have revolutionised the way they we share news as trust shifts from news organisations to individuals that we know. You can use Twitter to follow specific news sites, and as a result build your own personalised news stream.
  • Not only that, but friends can also share news by posting specific stories to each other’s Facebook walls. The internet is not only a place to search for news, it is also a place for people to share things that they find interesting, this involving themselves in the actual process of news broadcasting.

Opinion sharing

  • As well as sharing news, social media sites allow users to offer their own opinions on the news of the day. Passive consumption is changing into something else entirely, with active involvement and contribution ranking high among internet users. So users are not only getting niche news, but in some cases they can access opinionated news, and in turn offer their own thoughts.
  • Opinions are growing and we are becoming more than just a consumer society. The internet now offers us the chance to get involved, create blogs and interact with others.

Convenience

  • Yahoo Finance has revealed that the UK has the highest rate of mobile news consumption in the world. Of the traffic to UK newsapaper websites, almost 10 percent comes from non-computer devices, which suggests that many people are now using mobile phones and tablets to access news on-the-go.
  • This is another reason why people are moving to social media, as the internet can be accessed in many places while television-sets are pretty much confined to the home. With more and more people commuting to work everyday and living busy lives, it stands to reason that they would want to move their entertainment out of the home and into the outside world. Public transport and cafés are becoming the new news-consumption areas, and the way to do this is via the internet and often social media.

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.

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8

Feb 2012

Five things I wish people would stop saying about Twitter

Posted in Social Media | 2 Comments »

Picture of a somewhat clueless looking blue bird.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.

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15

Nov 2011

Does Twitter’s feed effect trump traditional media

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

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?

The For

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.

The Against

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.

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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.

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3

Nov 2011

Why companies should tune into the world of social media

Posted in Blogging, Social Media | 0 Comments

 

Why businesses should keep up with the times

 

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.

Online presence

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.

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22

Mar 2011

What we’ve learned.

Posted in Blogging | 3 Comments »

Well, it’s been a big rush, but after a brief chat today, me and Jason have accepted that convincing the many, many people who viewed the video of his proposal to fiancée Stephanie to actually vote for the happy couple to enjoy a free, luxury honeymoon was just too difficult. The three of us made an effort to make this work, but unfortunately there are some people out there who have colossal resources when it comes to click-happy online friends who don’t mind a five-minutes-or-less registration process when voting for someone they care about.

I commented earlier today that it says a lot about people when there’s 4,104 views on the counter, and only 570 votes. Sure, there were quite a lot of people who would’ve viewed it to double check (I probably account for almost a hundred visits to that page, not so sure about views though) but that’s not the point. It’s, if anything, a commentary on how unwilling some people are to spend a few minutes registering or logging in via Facebook to help a friend towards their dream honeymoon.

Am I disappointed that our little Twitter and Facebook campaign failed? Yeah, of course I am, and I feel bad knowing Jason and Stephanie are going to have to work out what they’ll do instead. But it’s taught me that there’s a lot more to social media campaigns than I previously believed. You can’t just say “jump” and expect trampolines. You need to own a few, first. Internet users are like children – if you want something from them, you have to give them an incentive and a means to claim their reward all within a minute or less, or they lose interest.

I don’t know if I’ll ever do a Twitter campaign of this kind again, but I will say that it was definitely nice to use a few tools to help someone and make them happy. I think you can offer a lot to someone in today’s economy – vouchers for HMV could be domain-name registrations, if you’re geeky enough. But a nice wedding present would’ve been the honeymoon. For anyone who’s been following the progress on this blog, don’t lose heart, because it is possible for these things to work. You’ve just got to really take it on as a full-time job, and that’s something neither myself nor the happy couple were able to do.

Until the next time, and once again – congratulations to a happy couple who may not have won, but are still happily planning a wedding and the rest of their lives together, because the latter is really the thing that matters.

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8

Mar 2011

The Jason-Stephanie campaign – update #3.

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

Okay, so, this could be going better.

It’s week four of the campaign (no update last week due to the huge interview with Michael Chorost which resulted in four posts over the regular three), and Jason’s video is just out of qualifying for a holiday by sitting in fourth place. However, this is not the end of the world, as an interesting opportunity is arising.

With three and a bit weeks to go before the competition ends, there are two videos each with just over 500 votes taking first and second place. However, there is also a video in third that only has 400 votes. Jason has around 370. The gap has closed once again, and if we can take it now, we’re fine. The main strategy would be to get to 1,000 votes, so far in the lead that it’s tough to usurp him, let alone have him finish outside the winning trio of happy honeymoon couples.

A lot of tactics have been discussed, and unfortunately it’s come to light that due to the lack of any campaigns on behalf of some of the other videos, we may be competing against people that are either manufacturing votes, or simply using their Facebook and a rather unique community angle. The angle is simply a stronger sense of community than ours – namely, that two of the top three video posters are devout and active members of the American Christian community, and out of them and Jason and my journalist circle, we’d wager the former are more likely to go the distance for someone who has their respect. This, in itself, is really quite sweet and I wish I had this behind me, but I don’t, because I’m not introducing God to universities campuses across the American Northwest.

But how do you manufacture that kind of popularity? Jason’s Facebook and Twitter have been ablaze with requests for votes, and I’ve done a fair bit of work with Twuffer and the MoreDigital Twitter, in addition to my own and retweeting his. The hash-tagging does help, but do hash-tags sometimes make it seem a tad less inviting, and more like spam? I’m not sure. But I will have to approach the people I know who have the pull to really draw some attention to this, and ensure that he stays in the running.

It’s not about the fact that the blog’s been following this, because if we didn’t succeed, I’ll write about what we may have done wrong, what we did right, and I’ll still have a blogpost. But this is also Jason’s honeymoon, something that won’t happen again in his or his fiancée’s lives. We need to crush the opposition, and I only have to say it once:

Battle stations.

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28

Jan 2011

Is Egypt blocking of social media a cause for revolution?

Posted in News, Online PR, Social Media | 0 Comments

It would seem that as of this morning, all social media websites, and even Blackberry services, have had their access from within Egypt completely blocked. Seemingly responding to a slew of protests on Twitter and, presumably, the other social media sites too, the Egyptian government has blacked out all informal means of communication that could be used to criticise the President.

For the President’s PR team it’s a horrifying solution to a problem. But it indicates that, without a doubt, the new form of nationwide consciousness raising comes in the form of tweets, status updates, the odd email and blogging. In terms of online, polls, forums and emailing into news networks are, for the most part, dead.

There’s a revolution coming in your country – there always is, beneath the surface, a multitude of the angry, the broken and the betrayed – and when the wave breaks against the shore, it’ll be hash-tagged to high heaven.

Do you wonder where the big reactions to news are, why there are no longer spiels of LiveJournal entries and forum threads about the raising of a terror alert to orange? Because it’s all flooding through Twitter at breakneck speed, everyone shouting into the void at once. Blogs are singular entities. Seeing an endlessly-updating feed of people hating your governance of an entire nation is going to hit you fifty times as hard, because you’re looking at the digital equivalent of people protesting outside your house, rather than just sending a strongly worded letter to your office.

The pictures, as I speak, are beginning to flood in, and things do not look great. Thousands of protesters and seemingly almost as many riot police are clashing in nonviolent and very violent ways. Mostly it seems to be an offensive – photographs would have us believe, at least – on the part of the police. And tying this in with the lack of social media access seems a little too sinister to be unlikely. It’s sad that this is spreading across Twitter’s non-Egyptian contingent, and definitely showcases how much modern governments fear the internet’s capacity to allot their citizens (with access to the web) “free speech”.

I’d love to say it actually was, but realistically, it’s not as free as we’d like to believe. Sarah Palin’s facebook page is evidence enough – say anything negative, it vanishes in minutes. Say something positive, it stays permanently. With the Egypt stuff, it’s likely they’re monitoring internet usage pretty firmly, and evidently people are smart enough to be using proxies and other work-arounds to get the word out. But it’s clear evidence of our over-reliance on social media – when it’s gone, we flop around like fish on the dockside, the hook of the ban firmly embedded in our cheek, looking into the eyes of the fisherman as we desperately reach for keyboards that are drifting down to the sea bed.

Alternatively, we could put it bluntly and without the excessive maritime metaphor – the Egyptian government just took the step many governments would love to, and they’ll suffer for it more severely than they seem to think.

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13

Jan 2011

Can small businesses trust their social media-using staff?

Posted in Business tactics, Social Media | 0 Comments

Today, Small Business UK reported that more than two in five business owners do not trust their employees with company secrets. Putting aside the gardening leave scenario, and the issue of less-than-watertight contracts when it came to copyrights, patents and design documents, there must be something else making them nervous.

The answer? Social media.

If you’re working at the White House and feel like changing your status or posting that photo of Obama eating a bagel, then think twice, because they were one of the first well-known work environments to ban the site. Social media, when you’re working with multiple accounts, is a serious risk. Tweet from the White House Twitter account, and your job becomes ash and the press have a field day at your career’s expense. But from the perspective of your boss, it’s even more difficult.

If you’re running a small business, chances are your work environment might be far more familial and informal than the majority of larger organisations. However, the problem this carries with it is that issues like internet usage rules within the workplace tend to be infinitely more lax, as do contracts. Establishing a business based on trust and word-of-mouth may work well in the beginning, but as your private company information begins to build up as time goes on and you expand, you’re going to have to face facts and grow up a little.

Contracts are extremely important, and the sooner social media is included in an NDA specifically, the better. Even now, there are people being legally hit for libel via Twitter, such as the Scottish Football Association’s move to enforce new rules preventing the ridicule of referees on player’s social networking accounts. Personally, I think it’s best just to chat with your staff about their use of social media, and think smart.

For example, I use multiple Twitter accounts, each attached to a different project. Now, you can use software that allows you to run multiple accounts, but if you want to be absolutely safe (and we all make mistakes, sometimes), why not use the program for one, and a browser for the other? It’s not infallible, but it does help, and it should calm your boss down. The old version of this issue was plugging in your personal and work email addresses into the same email client, then firing over last year’s numbers to your boss from bob@ilovebodeansbbq.com and wondering why their eyes are now trying to pin you to the wall.

It all refers back to the Wikileaks issue, and how an organisation protecting sensitive data needs to watch who they trust. That a 23-year-old had access to this much data is nothing short of ridiculous. It doesn’t matter how talented someone is, or how fast they rise up the career ladder, their access to data should expand with seniority of age, not the shift upwards in the organisational food-chain. Had the American government not played fast and loose with Rebellious Boy Wonder over there, they wouldn’t be in this mess, though you’d be hard-pressed to find WikiLeaks or Assange in the news now.

I’m young yet, and I’ve an interesting career ahead of me, I’m sure. But in today’s climate, the stress that can stem from tweeting to the right account is enough to make you second-guess the worth of multiple accounts, even for business purposes. It’s a tough gig, being a social media rep and a blogger, because you’re ensuring that you’re always keeping everything up to date whilst constantly providing commentary of a timeless nature. Can you balance that against keeping your company’s secrets safe? Of course you can – just keep work talk at work, and play talk everywhere else, because all talk and no confidentiality puts Jack on the dole queue.

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9

Dec 2010

Are companies using social media to listen, or just to talk?

Posted in Business tactics, Social Media | 0 Comments

I love seeing articles pop up in my browser window that make me think. There’s a particularly good one out of New Media Age that’s been picked up by Equimedia that talks about the fact that companies using social media should be listening to their consumers. Honestly, I can’t agree more.

Every time I tweet, I make a real effort to see if, instead of tweeting solely about MD or a new blog post, I can respond to someone or join in on an ongoing discussion. If you’re the social media face of a company, or one of a number of faces, it’s your job to actually use the ears on that face to listen. The mouth’s great – you can promote, demote, lecture and explain, but you can’t listen, understand, accept or develop consumer-led ideas.

The main problem with a lot of companies is they’re all too willing to give out information but not, in fact, receive any at all. All too often companies will endlessly tweet about themselves, or retweet about the successes of others, but when was the last time you saw a major corporation’s Twitter show nothing but questions to members of the public? Social media is based around the twin concepts of discussion and community, and to shun these is to shun the purpose of the platform you may even have employed someone specifically to write for.

A lot of it is also syntax and the way tweets come across. Of course, it’s all well and good to use the “but we’ve only got 140 characters!” argument, but realistically we all know that’s not true. If anything, it takes less characters to ask a question than it does to answer one, or shout needlessly into the void that is someone else’s heavily-laden stream of incoming tweets. If you wake up to something like this:

@company – are you guys gonna release new software in 2011?

Would you respond with this…

We can’t wait for New Year’s! New stuff all around!

…or this?

@consumer – we’re certainly hoping to! What software did you have in mind?

To me, there’s nothing more insulting than knowing someone’s tweet meant they read yours, but then decided that, rather than replying to it, they would simply say something vaguely relevant and directed at no one in particular. Take inspiration for your discussions, by all means! That’s why this blog post exists! But link back to people, show that your ideas came from your consumers and your consumers will realise you’re using them for ideas. That’s not plagiarism, that’s bridge-building, and if you can get past the lawsuit paranoia, you might just benefit.

Some companies rely on updates, and as a result responding to people is going to ruin that. That’s fine, and fair. If you’re a global news network, tweeting away on your main account is a bad idea if it’s mixing responses with links to news articles. But why do you have to have one account? Surely you’ve had networked accounts on other sites, so why not Twitter? Or Facebook? By creating a mini-network of constantly streaming updates on Twitter, aren’t you allowing people not only to pick and choose, but  to feel like they’re being offered the choice in the first place?

Try it out. If you’re always tweeting things like “latest patch out 01/30/2011″, mix it up. Watch your feeds – it’s quite easy to find out when you’ve been mentioned, and of course, searching causes no harm! Take a peek around, because not everyone’s on-the-ball enough to stick an @ symbol in front of your company name. Find that person, and tweet. “Are you happy with our latest suite of tools?” You never know, you might find your new programmer, or someone who’s going to endlessly tell their mates about the time a company asked them how things were going.

Just remember – hearing someone and listening to them are not the same thing.

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27

Oct 2010

Keeping it social

Posted in Social Media | 0 Comments

In a world driven by social media where nearly half a billion people use those networks to stay connected, it is becoming increasingly important to keep abreast of trends and developments. In particular for those of you who are small business owners, understanding the direction of social media will help you get one step closer to understanding your customer.

Two important pieces of research emerged in the last week, both of which are highly relevant for business owners. The first is a rather surprising one. Facebook and social media seem to be a great current obsession, second only to the obsession with celebrity. You might have thought that celebrities would be the most popular thing on social media, especially as we are always hearing how many people follow Stephen Fry and Lady GaGa on Twitter.

Gaga's twitter page today

Gaga's twitter page today

But no. According to a study carried out by The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), 20.3 % of people follow or ‘like’ a brand, whichever social network they use. That’s compared to just 13.4 who do the same for celebrities.

But what do they do with the rest of their time spent on social networks? The study says that the most common use for social networks is to view photographs. A staggering 55.9% of our time is spent doing just that. After that, we spend 34.8% of our time making social plans or finding out about events.

So, this is good news for brands. It shows that people are indeed interested in finding out about them via social networks. This should stand as a lesson for all social media Doubting Thomases, who wonder whether using social media actually works business. Knowing that people will like or follow you should provide encouragement to join a social network, if you have not already, or provide an incentive to keep providing great tweets or status updates.

It has been proven that people really do enjoy the social part of social networks, so perhaps the next step is to try and introduce a more sociable way for your customer to interact with you. The opportunity to upload your own photos, with the added incentive of a prize to a social event, such as a gig, keeps your customer happy and in communication with you.

A great example is the relatively small Fair Trade cola company Ubuntu, who ran a competition via their Facebook page to win tickets to the Lovebox weekend music festival. All the customer had to do was take a picture of themselves with a can of Ubtunu cola and upload it to the page. The best picture won the tickets. This has all the elements of great social media, the pictures, the interaction and the reward.

The Ubuntu cola facebook page

The Ubuntu cola facebook page

The second interesting thing discovered in the survey is that although people are following or liking brands, they are not necessarily connecting with them. Just over 12% asked, had given feedback and only 7% had made a complaint via social networks.

What this tells us isn’t clear. We know that not everyone will make complaints anyway or give their feedback on something offline, so they are unlikely to start doing it online. However, there are always hardcore complainers, who will find fault with most things and moan to whoever will listen.

The problem with social media is that you can’t help but listen, if you see someone’s status being rude about a brand, you see it. You can’t just pretend you haven’t. When someone makes a complaint on Facebook or Twitter, it isn’t just seen by one person but hundreds, thousands and even millions sometimes.

The study also revealed that out of those who had complained via social networks, only 40% had received a quick response. Small businesses need to learn a lesson from this. If you are putting time and money into your social networks, you have to make sure it is working with military precision and you can spend the right amount of time spent on it. If a complaint is responded to quickly, the damage to the name of your brand can be spared – even improved upon. Leave it a while and you could be ruined by the rumblings on social networks.

So, to round up, keep your social networks social, even if they aren’t communicating with you yet, people are watching. And be quick to the mark and respond to any complaints, don’t leave your customer stewing, show them what they can get from their social network interaction with you.

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