Back On The Social Media Prowl

For 2 months the Portland Social Media Engager lay asleep in the classrooms of Portland State University. Expanding his knowledge on the theory of Marketing and Advertising or otherwise known as the theory from the 1970’s. The sheer volume of material caused me to step away from my beloved blog and thus the 2 month lay over. As of Friday at 11:47 AM the degree was completed and thus the end of the hibernation!

I’ve come across tons of new tools, sites, case studies, and blogs to talk about in the coming weeks. I’ll be ramping back up and posting new content nearly everyday once again. With my newfound time I took the liberty of creating my own personal Squidoo Page, Jesse Liebman, this evening that I hope you’ll take some time to check out and interact with me on.

I look forward to getting back to the consistent flow many of you had come to expect and enjoy.

Do I know You? Are your Social Media Connections Real?

Sometimes simply getting your message out is all you need with social media. In the past month I’ve noticed a tremendous amount of fake accounts, false connections, and questionable promotion techniques all in an effort to gain more exposure using social media. I’ve harped in past posts, including Social Media Sincerity Is Needed When Promoting, on the importance of building relationships when using social media. I’ll discuss two recent events including my own personal experiment to show you how deceiving everything can be.

It seems that spammers were keeping a close eye on blogs and the media in regards to how how social media, Twitter especially, was going to blow up in 2009. The trends are showing their accuracy as Twitter is blowing up… With spammers.

In the past month I’ve received over 50 notifications coming from people such as Lee Oden with their user name actually being _leeodden_ . That’s right spammers are grabbing popular user name’s like Lee Oden, Rand Fiskin, Guy Kawasaki, and more in hopes you’ll actually go to their site that’s doing some kind of pyramid scheme. These activities are quickly overtaking the Nigerian scam e-mails as the latest and greatest spamming techniques. While Twitter is catching on, these accounts usually become suspended within a day and deleted within a week, they are still getting through. Spammers wouldn’t do this unless their were successful scams.

In a less harmful tactic there is the idea of connecting with anyone that might have something in common with you.


linkedin-email1

Today I received an e-mail from Jonathan Lopossa who stated we were colleague’s at Dick’s Sporting Goods and wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn. The problem was I never worked with Jonathan. Johnathan currently works for Dick’s in Indianapolis and I stopped working in the Portland store back in September! It makes me wonder why people would try such tactics, that is until I tried and was successful myself.

The Law of Impressions states the more people you get a product or article in front of the greater likeilhood you have of it catching fire and becoming mainstream. I realized the incredible promotional power Facebook had and decided to try my own little experiment during the first few months of this blog. I’ve always been someone who valued quality over quantity when it came to using social media tools. I only connected and friended friends who I actually talked to and communicated with. It seems my generation spawned the need to boast about the number of friends they had posting gaudy numbers I simply couldn’t’ conceptualize. My experiment spawned from this very generational defect.

As many people have discovered when your friends sign into their Facebook profile a news feed is displayed showing your friends status and recent activity. Using the Facebook Application for Twitter I was able to change my Facebook status to display my tweets. I also had Twitter setup so that once my blog posts went live Twitter would tweet the title of my post with a link. The result: Displaying every blog post with link to all of my friends via my status.

I decided to go on a friending binge. I friended everyone I went to high school with, everyone I worked with, everyone I thought I knew, and kept friending for a solid week. It was truly amazing to see people that I had never met in my life friend me in an instant. I finally had a pool of 450 friends that I could test with. The results were staggering! My blog’s traffic increased by 125% with one-third of the traffic coming by way of Facebook.

The results the spammers and I have generated prove their are people out there willing to click on just about anything. I believe the more these schemes spawn, the more educated social media users will become, and thus the more reluctant users will be to click on any link. Forging legtimate, sustaining, and personal relationships with individuals will ensure greater success. Afterall it’s not about how much traffic you sustain, but how much value you can truly provide.

Internet & Mobile TV. Interview with theChanner Founder Nina Alastruey

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the Founder of theChanner, a Spain based company, Nina Alastruey. theChanner provides a World TV tuner that allows you to watch Internet TV on your mobile phone and on your PC. The service is currently in beta form and Marketing director Marina Cais was kind enough to give me the opportunity to try out their product. With a very sleek and intuitive product theChanner has a service, that with time, has the opportunity to be widely used. While I personally don’t have a 3G video capable phone I’ve been told from a friend that theChanner’s mobile capabilities is extremely impressive. The channel selection is currently limited, but there is plans for expansion. The thing to keep in mind is this is World TV. You wont find ABC or ESPN or CBS on here. It takes some getting use to, but after a few months of trial I’m already feeling more worldly than I did before.

Here is the interview I conducted with Founder Nina Alastruey:

Jesse: Earlier this year Nielsen reported US Internet users watched video for and average of 2 hours and 19 minutes per month while mobile users watched video on their cell phones for an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes per month. How do Internet / Mobile TV providers like thechanner.com plan to compete in the US market when American’s are watching more TV than ever before viewing an average of 127 hours and 15 minutes per month?

Nina: This is a good trend. Mobile screens allow people to watch TV wherever they are. It means an easy access to News, Music… anytime.

Jesse: Mobile TV has been in use internationally since 2005 when South Korea became the first country to offer the service. With the current progress of telecommunications networks where do you see the trend of mobile TV progressing? When do you predict it will become widely used globally?

Nina: South Korea started with new mobile TV digital networks. Several countries followed them with analog systems. Now, it is not necessary to have a cellular with that kind of antenna if your mobile network offers you a wide mobile broadband or your phone is able to connect to the Internet through a DSL connection. This will help new users to come. Smartphone’s decreasing prize will also be a key issue.

Jesse: YouTube currently generates 70 million users a month according to Quantcast.com. Network TV stations such as ABC and ESPN currently offer Internet programming while services like Hulu, Joost, Miro, and Zattoo offer steaming Internet TV. What do service providers like theChanner.com need to provide to be a main competitor in the Internet TV industry?

Nina: theChanner aims to promote WorldTV. It is not about premium TV or the home TV we are used to watch. It is about TV channels from wherever they  are talking about any info, sport, entertainment that may interest to people: pop music from Japan, a weather report from Europe or your local news.

Social Media: It Will Be There For You

Over the past two days, from work and the holiday, my social media interaction has been pushed to the back burner. While I’m typically a daily Twitter user with the help of Tweetdeck I haven’t used Twitter or any of my social media tools for the past few days. As I mentioned previously, I typically use Twitter to help find relevant blog posts I should be reading during the day. So what has my lack of tweeting done? It has caused my blog reading to come to a halt as well as prevented me from writing about current topics on this blog. While experts would agree that producing a blog requires constant attention I’m here to tell you missing a few days isn’t career damaging on your social media interactions.

If we truly sit down and rationalize our social media use I think we can all agree it should be an enhancement not a dependent tool. You may have been able to generate a portion of your customers via your social media use, but maintaining these customers must come first. Unless you are a social media expert or social media is your specific niche daily use may not be needed for you. A perfect analogy would be interactions with your family and friends.

We all have different categories of people we interact with. Those we talk with every day, once a week, and once in a blue moon. The relationships that are most important to you, your family and close friends, will be there for you regardless of what type of interaction schedule you have. The same goes for your social media network. There are people that will stop reading this blog entirely if I don’t make a post everyday, but they typically aren’t the people I interact with on a daily basis. I must be sensitive with this situation for the blogs that I personally read. Things come up and a blog post or Twitter conversation may not be possible. That doesn’t mean these social media relationships are any less valuable.

Look at the big picture when analyzing your social media use and interaction. High quality blog posts and relationships will always be more beneficial than just writing or interacting for the sake of doing it. In the end those that truly value your opinion and viewpoints will always be there to lend an ear. Which will lead to the highest quality social media interaction possible.

Social Media Interaction Beyond the Web

In a continuing theme for this week I’ll be focusing on interacting beyond the web with social media. I’ve currently discussed proper social media engagement and proper social media interaction. Today will be the almighty connection between social media interaction and real world interaction.

While a face-to-face interaction may not be necessary, having a visual reference point is. Video in general is a growing commodity I believe will become a more and more accepted form of communication. International organizations currently engage in the use of web cameras which gives a sense of the individual actually being there. There is something to be said for visually making the connection with the voice you hear. The same goes for your social media interaction.

While podcasts are popular I believe video is a more successful form of media. When connecting with contacts through social media it’s difficult to feel like they’re real. Using podcasts and especially video has the ability to make that “real” connection.

Look for a further research specifically on podcasts and video’s success later in the week. In the mean time what’s your thoughts on social media interaction? What do you believe makes the connect feel like you’re talking to a “real” person instead of a mystery?

Social Media Sincerity Is Needed When Promoting

At some point you’ve had a great idea you wanted to promote. You wanted it to become mainstream and draw the eyes of major publications. You wanted Fortune 500 executives to hear your voice and match your ideas with brilliance. How can you possibly catch the attention of all these media channels? There is two ways: A right way and a wrong way.

As I’ve harped on in past posts providing value to your readers is of the utmost importance when you hope to pass along your ideas. The fact is true. At some point you’re going to have to connect with more prominent figures to help promote your work. As much as everyone would like organic promotion to occur it simply doesn’t happen until you have established credibility. Credibility is established via the recognition that your ideas provide value.

Social media networking has become one of the easiest methods to connect and pass along your work. We all have the ability to connect with individuals we otherwise might never meet. The important thing to keep in mind is how you connect with these individuals. Generic content placed in mass e-mails or invites not only appears insincere it sounds insincere. As a reader I would want to feel like each and every writer has a vested interest in me. If you find value in the material you’re more likely to pass it along.

The best way to ensure you’re providing value to your contacts is to do some research prior to distribution. In an earlier post I asked my readership if they focused on quality or quantity for a social media strategy. The overwhelming majority said quality. If you truly are focusing on quality then you need to research your contacts before providing them with material.

What is your contacts position, what are their interests, what types of work are they currently focusing on, and what can they provide you?

Can mass blanketed insincere e-mails help gain readership and exposure? Yes, but is it the type of readership and exposure you’re looking for? I’ve found through personal experience that connecting with a few credible individuals has led to a far more successful, and higher quality, promotion than a generic e-mail to hundreds of contacts.

We all have different viewpoints and strategies. I’m interested to hear what techniques you’ve tried. What is your expereince with social media promotion? What techniques do you use? Have you tried mass generic promotion and if so what technique did you use to make it successful?

Engagement is Only Second Base in Social Media

The idea of using social media marketing has begun to spread beyond Internet sector. When mainstream marketers like Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki are blogging about using social media tools for business leverage, the general public begins to listen. The problem is buying into social media tools use isn’t the final step in increasing brand exposure. In fact engagement is really only second base.

As explained in my earlier post, 2009: The Year of the Conversation, engaging in social media at this point would still put you in the category of an early adopter. Social media is still on the cusp of becoming mainstream for businesses. Trends are shifting and businesses must adapt to remain relevant. Which is why like any business endeavor it requires significant research and an implementation strategy. Experts can beat their drum as long or loud as they want, but until you as an organization physically sit down and hash out your plan for social media it’s as prevalent as gymnastics is in a non Olympic year.

Getting over that hump and physically going through the restructuring period takes time and should be applauded. It’s not easy for some companies to shift their thinking, time, and dollars into a new form of communication and interaction. That applause should not be a standing ovation though, it should be a good firm pat on the back. Engagement is truly only the second step towards a successful social media plan. We must move beyond simply signing our businesses up for social media services.

“Execution will be the one must of 2009.” – Valeria Maltoni

In a recent discussion with one of Crocs Inc. social media specialist, George Smith, George talked about prior to Crocs social media engagement plan. Prior to physically distributing their content Crocs and would be listening to their target market channels. What better way to understand what your market desires than engaging in social media and then providing the fly on the wall theory? Listening is what I would consider third base in social media engagement. Too often we see businesses supplementing social media tools for cheap promotion. engaging tools and immediately go on the promotion attack. While promotion is to be expected is that truly what your current or future customers want to hear? Sometimes all your customers will want from you, is someone to listen and respond.

Whether your like their product or not you have to be impressed with the efforts Frank Elison is making with Comcast. Frank’s Twitter feed, comcastcares, is entirely comprised of responses to troubled Comcast users. Frank uses various search tools to find customers that are complaining or frustrated with their service and provides them with real time assistance. This is what I would consider the Home Run of social media engagement. Providing value to those your engage with is what will separate the winners from the losers. As Karl Long stated in his blog:

“Everyone wants to join when it’s [social media] still growing . . . Your company needs to shift it’s focus from growth to providing real value.”

Again engagement should be implemented, but listening and then responding with value, not simply promotion, will be key as social media becomes mainstream. For examples of how to implement these techniques take a look at the darling of 2008: Zappos. If you’re looking to become an innovator of social media too how about hitting a home run with value?

Classic Rock Gaming Gone Social

Music sales were plummeting. The Recording Industry Association of America pegged its U.S. members’ sales at $10.4 billion in 2007, down 11.8 percent from the year before. Sales were expected in decrease even further in 2008. Enter Activision Blizzard Inc. & Harmonix Music Systems.

In the past 12 months the NPD Group reported $1.9 billion in music video game sales. All thanks in part to the Guitar Hero and Rock Band gaming craze. The Guitar Hero franchise since 2005 has sold over 22 million units while Rock Band was distributed 5 million units since 2007. Besides generating revenue and sales music video games are bringing people together.

Multi player games have become dynamically social since the counsels became Internet equipped. XBox Live and Wii’s Mii channel are two of the largest online gaming communities that currently network gamers together. Gaming competitions have spawned from these types of communities brining gamers face to face instead of screen to screen. The 1989 movie “The Wizard” was the first depiction of gaming competitions. Since then sports series like NBA Jam, Madden, NCAA College Football, and more have transcended the social connection video games can make. Sports gaming competitions has risen to the level that ESPN has their own website page and competitions dedicated entirely to these gaming series. While sports may not bring the entire family, or world, together music video games do have that power.

The musically challenged and gifted alike are bonding together one song at a time. Gamers often host guitar hero/rock band parties engaging and crossing between friend groups. For those less social they have the ability to connect, with the help of an Ethernet cord, with other fellow rockers online and team up for a rock’in good time. But it goes further than that. In fact it moves off the screen and into bars across the country and world. That’s right, just like the infamous Tweetup music videos games are connecting digital relationships off screen. When searching for “rock band meetups” Google kicked back 213,000 results in the US. Music video games main target market is 35 and under, but more importantly age is the only defining attribute their target market has.

Woodstock, Bonaroo, SXSW, and the World Peace One (WP1) concert have brought millions of music lovers together. Music video games will look to have the same impact on social communities as their popularity rises one shred at a time.

4 Sweet Blogs for the Strategist in You

Though it’s only been a week since my last post on blogs, 6 social media blogs worth visiting, I felt with it being Christmas I’d share a few more.

It’s been a tremendous week for making new connections on Twitter which has led me to the following blogs:

Experience Curve : Karl Long of Nokia has really opened my mind, eyes, and ears to social media. His perspective is a refreshing blend of technology, current events, and outside the box thinking. His tremendous blog looks at social media strategy and engagement marketing.

Conversation Agent : Valeria Maltoni wrote probably the best post of the year in The Future is Now. Fortunately for me this was the first post I ever read of Valeria’s. Valeria has the writer’s touch to change the perspective on marketing with simply one post.

Conversation Marketing : I had the privilege of seeing Ian Lurie speak at one of the SEMpdx events on Google Analytics. His ability to take complex technologies and concepts and put them into beginners terms was simply breathtaking. His simplicity of concepts is a confidence builder as each of his posts opens a new door in Internet marketing.

China IWOM Blog : This blog was past along to me by Intel’s own blog father Bryan Rhoads who stated it was, “Hands down the best Chinese business blog.” I couldn’t agree more. With a white paper that could teach even Robert Scoble something, The Internet is THE community should be mandatory for anyone in the Internet field.

The Night of Strategy

‘Twas the night of strategy, when all through the web

Not a blogger was stirring, not even Deb;

The posts were uploaded on the site with speed,

In hopes that Charlie Moran would soon visit and read;

Mr. CEO was slaving away at his desk,

While the scene in February at Yahoo was quite burlesque;

Windows with another update while Bill Gates gained some lighter pockets,

Yes, Microsoft had just seen a record €899 million fine placed on the docket,

When out of no where a game changer came,

Everyone was engaging, things would never be the same.

Away to our companies we flew like birds,

The impact we could have, not able to put into words.

These applications, what’s the impact? Who knows

Gave us the thought we could be more popular than Kevin Rose,

When, what to our wondering eyes began,

But the ultimate social media plan,

With infinite applications, so dynamic and rich,

Installation would be simple with just the flip of a switch.

Visions of your company never being the same,

You said out loud these tools by name:

“Now, Twitter! now, Facebook! now, YouTube and Delicious!

On, Digg! on LinkedIn! on, StumbleUpon and Flickr!

To the top of the rankings! not using them is your call!

But you better use them! use them! use them all!”

The competition still doesn’t have a sense of things,

While your company’s already spread their wings,

So to the front page of Wikipedia you flew,

With your website full of applications, and a killer blog too.

And then, in a twinkling, you saw the sales lead data,

It was only your first month of engagement, your practically still a beta!

Excitement drew over you, you’ve almost hit it big,

The traffic is flowing in steady, so you do an Irish Jig.

You went against the grain from the start

Mocked, yet innovative, in hindsight your company was actually smart,

For you envisioned these trends ahead of time,

Everything wasn’t easy, it involved quite a climb.

A restructure of your thinking needed to be done!

Smoking the competition is always a lot of fun!

Time is your main cost through all this,

Don’t understand? You should read the article from yesterday that you missed;

Through trial and error you determined the best tools,

Those who don’t use social media are simply just fools;

From niche, to mainstream you’ve tried it all,

Testing and testing until you hit the stone wall.

With great excitement your users found,

Your profiles and accounts showing you were always around;

For a question or suggestion, whatever it may be,

Responding in a timely manner is the key;

So your ready, your set, for the new wave to begin,

You’ve got the right strategy that would make anyone grin,

An expert you are not, but sound logic you can use,

To predict what’s ahead next so in 2009 you can cruise;

Tool synchronization and content distribution are on the prowl

Engagement in these will surely force your competition to throw in the towel.

We’ll look back at the end of the year to see if I was right,

On Christmas eve during a social media strategy night!