Pinterest for the Holidays!

I am not sure if you have checked out Pinterest, but it is a cool, new, and emerging social network. I love it and finding quite useful this holiday season. I have so many different wish lists on so many different websites. From Amazon.com, BandHPhoto.com, Apple.com, and on and on and on…I wanted to have one place to share Christmas list with my family. Pinterest just made sense.

I started checking out Pinterest about 8 months ago when Sarah was using it for Rose (our little girl). She was using it to store ideas for  the baby room, decorating ideas for showers, and also look through other people’s ideas when thinking of ways to get ready for a new baby. Pinterest is a place for Sarah to visually bookmark or “Pin” a link that she might want to refer to at a later date. Pinterest was also a place to look at other people’s “Pins”…to see their ideas.

You can organize “Pins” in categories or “Boards” grouping based on your idea of themes or content areas. So how does Pinterest define a “Pin”?

What is a pin? A pin is an image added to Pinterest. A pin can be added from a website using the Pin It button, or you can upload images from your computer. Each pin added using the Pin It button links back to the site it came from.

Does this make sense yet? Well this is how Pinterest describe their social network:

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.

So back to how I am using Pinterest this holiday season…to create a board of ideas and wants for Christmas. My “Christmas Gifts” board is a wishlist to share with everyone…everything in one spot. Then I have a link to share with my family and friends. I do not have to send them to four or five different online retailers to see my different ideas. I can just pin each idea here, each link here, a link directly to the item I would like…then share this board with others. I can even share this link on other social outlets like Facebook. Pretty cool?

People are using Pinterest in so many different ways…I would love to hear how you are using it!

Here are a few articles about Pinterest:

Mashable.com – http://mashable.com/2011/11/27/niche-social-marketing/

USAToday.com – http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2011-10-28/pinterest-Ben-Silbermann/50979542/1

Peeling back the layers of the social story…

Each time I meet with a new group, another organization, a different business…I am so encouraged by the opportunity that is in front of them. The social space provides us the most unbelievable opportunity…the ability to truly share our story.

Our story…our perspective is one of the most powerful voices. We now have the tools to share this story in a way that allows our audiences to truly see inside our slice of life, our organization, our company, our institution…through our eyes.

The social space allows us to paint the picture for others to enjoy. We share information, pictures, real time information in way that large traditional outlets could not achieve a few years ago. With the ever increasing audiences using outlets like Tumblr, Blogger, Facebook, YouTube and other social outlets…we create our own social space. We can create a message that allows people to connect on our terms, creating the viral effect that repeats our message.

Storytelling is powerful. Whether if it is the use of video, a blog, a Facebook group, a hashtag chat…our excitement can translate for others to enjoy and share.

We will never be able to measure the social space…NEVER. We can create metrics to measure hits, growth in followers, likes, +1’s, and other bean counter important pieces…but nothing can measure the human effect. We are moved by pictures, stories, and the human elements that drive us to connect.

Just today I noticed Mack Collier’s update on Google+ and it had me thinking…

I have to agree…I like the 2nd lesson learned: “People respond better to ideas and experiences they can relate to”…YES! We are humans and we want to connect, so we are telling our own social story. Now we have the tools to reach so many more people in a shorter amount of time. If we spent less time equating the social space to the technology and more about sharing our story…we could really create some tremendous movements.

We want people to pull back the layers of our story…to see life through our eyes!

The social space is changing our web presence…are we lost at sea?

Traffic…Traffic…Traffic…we want some traffic!

We do not want a bottle neck…we want consistent traffic across our web platforms. Guess what, we have lots of them…lots of web platforms. I think back to 2001 when UXD was centered around how we move the eyes around a page…now it all about moving people around based on how we want them to click. The social space is redefining the way we create our web presence. It is no longer just a website…it is a host of social packages included in this online investment.

It was just the other day I was sitting in a leadership meeting with a medical group talking social media outlets, physician practices, speciality groups, web, and a host of other ideas. Everyone wants a Facebook page, everyone wants to have a social presence, everyone wants control of their message. Individuals inside organizations that have a special touch point to their “customers” want to connect and the “website” isn’t providing that interactive experience.

Let’s look at the web/social space over the last ten years. Here is part of a great infographic from the Search Engine Journal:

Look at the social growth starting in 2005 with MySpace and then the tremendous surge in 2008. So where does that leave us with our “traditional” website? Did you notice I called the pre-2008 website traditional. Yes…what happen to this space in 2008. Well…it was about this time we started to see a open source movement to create a web presence on platforms like Joomla, Mambo, and other PHP based content management systems. These allowed us to create content dynamically online, moving us away from the “post card” websites.

These content management systems allowed us to integrate Facebook and other social outlets into our website presence. These social outlets forced us to create more dynamic content in a more expedient fashion. Now we have a Twitter, Facebook, Blog, YouTube Channel, Google+, Email Newsletter…on-top of the website. WHY?

We want traffic to flow to our sites, we want our followers to grow, we want more likes, we want more YouTube views, we want more comments on our blog…we want more traffic. We want people to walk around, completely connect to their devices so that they can consume and engage with us online. We are a bit egotistical…aren’t we?

This is a great representation of how much time people spent online in May 2011 via Nielsen’s Social Media 3Q 2011 Report:

Let’s take a hard look at these numbers: US Internet users spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook, 9.1 billion minutes on YouTube, 723 million minutes on Blogger, 623 million minutes on Tumblr, 565 million minutes on Twitter, and 325 million minutes on LinkedIn…all of this in the month of May 2011.

These stats above should tell you about where you should invest a portion of your marketing/pr/new media dollars…but it does go back to audience. If you are connecting with the consumer…enough said. If you are a B2B organization…need to critically think about how you can leverage the social space.

But…is it about traffic, traffic, traffic? A consistent flow of traffic to your web and social properties? Why should you have a Facebook page and how should you communicate differently than your website? I am off the belief, right now in 2011, that the main website presence is still the home base. This is the place you are driving audiences to capture your delivered information. The social outlets are for building community relationships.

Yes…we can create campaigns for the social outlets to build followers and friends, but after the campaigns expire…do you still give those same people a reason to stick around? What are you doing after the give-away, after the chat, after the Facebook event.

The social space has become the biggest marketing tool and community is slowly disappearing. We are spending just as much time hiding and de-friending people as we did actually accepting the invitation. How can we create our online presence in a fashion that builds community instead of segmenting our brand…lots of properties and little purposefule engagement. Or is just a way to have tons of ships out to sea in the hopes we will continue to keep on connecting with many islands of friends.

We race to create a Facebook page, a new Google+ brand page, a Twitter account each time we have a new product, brand, or idea. But are we confusing people to the point they have no idea where to find us…the real us.

***Photo from Photobucket and seraiwallpapers account.

Are social media outlets are loosing the “socialness”, somewhat?

Social media outlets of 2011 are just loosing the “socialness.” Twitter is turning into the AP Newswire for the consumer, Facebook is turning into free websites for businesses, and YouTube is turning into a barrage of content all competing for attention. Yes…48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day.

Google+ gave everyone hope that this new social outlet would provide a closer-nit experience…with less amplification and more connection. But people forgot about Google+ as fast as we ran to jump on board.

The friends I used to connect with via Twitter now do not respond to @replies and emails…so sometimes we connect…maybe?

So here is what I think…the people that drove the Social Media Revolution got jobs. Yes…those people that advocated this social space over two years ago were the same people looking for work and business opportunities. They now have a routine and it is not about connecting online.

More and more people are just broadcasting. Just pushing brand information through their personal social channels. Now we have individual faces that represent brands without the individual conversation the brand is hoping to utilize. Influencers…what is that in the social space. Maybe those who have large numbers of followers are not really influencing the right audiences online…just influencing people that really have no influence at all.

Just chalk much of this social experience to the infiltration of the marketing minds spamming consumers with too much information. For heavens sakes…we are having to re-think how we connect with our families online. Each time we log on to another outlet, we are tracked and recorded as marketing numbers…providing rich information about our purchasing practices. The digital divide is slowly “filling in” with those individuals marginalized based on access to technology now have access with faster connections over the telecom networks.

We are striving to find closed spaces that we can connect with friends, yet not share who/how/when we are connecting and building relationships.

The one thing that gives me hope is the world of blogging. It is still a place to share our thoughts and minds in a potentially low profile situation..even though it is a public space. It is a lot easier to manage an anonymous blog than an anonymous Facebook or Twitter account.

Another place that gives me hope are practices and communities created through hashtags on Twitter. This allows individuals to join a conversation surrounding a simple word/phrase instead of having to follow a particular brand or person. There is still levels of influence built into digital conversations similar to those using hashtag communities, but this movement is still growing.

Word of mouth is still king in the world of marketing and the world of print is starting to find value again. Maybe we will see a swing…not sure. Well, privacy settings are supporting these offline movements like traditional outlets and word-of-mouth. The leaders in the industry like Facebook are creating more and more privacy settings. What does that mean…people are demanding to be more and more private. The larger the audience…the more people can see your socialness…the more people want to protect their information.

We marketers are taking the social out of the media…and making it just another measurable outlet.

Why are we doing “Like” campaigns? Why?

I have one question…why must we do “Like” campaigns? Why?

Maybe I am little skeptical of this practice….but I have found more and more organizations creating “Like” campaigns for Facebook and that is it. So here is my next question…what happens after the people “Like” your page? Do you spend the same, if not more, time invested in the longterm conversation as you did trying to get them to click the button.

So many gimmicks,  so many ploys, so many promises, so many give aways…but what are people going to “Like” after the “Like” button is clicked? Are you going to push your marketing campaign, your consistent updates that bring no value you the feed? Or do you disappear once they do “Like” your page?

We work so hard on numbers…let’s get those numbers up. But what about the community and the long-term conversation. This is a social space right? Do you overload people with your updates that as soon as they “Like” they click “Hide” the next day?

“Like” campaigns are the same Opt-In campaigns for newsletters and blogs. Get people to give information or commit to receiving content.  But is your content “King” or do you build online relationships that lead to digital word-of-mouth?

Do you have a monthly or quarterly newsletter. How did you get the email addresses? So how many people open your newsletter emails? 30%, 20%, 10%, or even 5%? So why are you not getting a larger percentage. Why are the other 70% – 95% not reading? Are you just delivering content or are you engaging a conversation? The “Like” campaign is the same thing…we do everything possible to get people to “Like” our page but have a hard time keeping people engaged?

Yeah…Yeah…Yeah…I know there is case-study after case-study showing the success of “Like” campaigns. Just get them to “Like” your page and all is solved. But what happens after the “Like”? Do they hide you or forget about you? Or did they just “Like” you to get that 10% off coupon they might remember to use?

***Image from VerticalMeasures.com

Legacy Day at Clemson University – Series of Short Films

One of my favorite projects to work on over the years is the Legacy Day Project at Clemson University. Legacy Day is an event dedicated to sharing Thomas Green Clemson’s legacy. It started a few years ago when Clemson released the new book “Thomas Green Clemson” exploring many aspects of the life of Clemson University’s founder.

The book was released in 2009 and shared for the first time during the first Legacy Day in November that same year. Many special donors were invited to the lawn of Fort Hill Mansion to interact with students, faculty, staff, and general public as an opportunity to share the life long legacy of Mr. Clemson.

Clemson’s Marketing Department wanted to create a video campaign to attract students to the event in November 2009. So we tried to capture and share the spirit of Thomas Green Clemson in these short films, showing Mr. Clemson helping students around campus. The theme was to represent Mr. Clemson’s determined spirit, how it was and still is all around us. Each short film was produced with student… and delivered via Facebook by students across campus. Each week, a new film was released showcasing the many ways Mr. Clemson is all around us.

This year, Clemson Marketing Department wanted to produce another series of short films to continue this storyline. The first film released shows Mr. Clemson helping Tanner Smith, a Clemson Basketball player, struggling during a weight lifting exercise. At the end, you will see Tanner getting excited giving Mr. Clemson a hug after being spotted during his bench press routine. Mr. Clemson stepped in to help.

More short films will be released over the next two weeks leading up to Legacy Day on November 11, 2011. The best part of this project, students were involved in the creation and execution. They are also a major part of the distribution of these short films using Facebook and YouTube as a way to distribute these videos across their network of friends.

Here is a link to the Facebook Event: CLICK HERE

Here is a link to read more about the “Thomas Green Clemson” book: CLICK HERE

Blending Television Ads and Social Media Promotions

One of the best ads on television that I feel does a pretty job of promoting their social outlets is “Ask Me” ads from Tempur-Pedic. The whole idea behind this television ad, do not take Tempur-Pedic’s word for it…ask the community about their products. As you watch, you will see the ad challenging you to ask your friends on Facebook and Twitter about their products…encouraging the community to speak.

As we look around on television, we are starting to see more and more organizations promote their social outlets. Even during the MLB Postseason play, you can see a Twitter hashtag in the background (#POSTSEASON)…encouaging people to use this hashtag when on Twitter talking about postseason play.

We are also seeing many television ads adding the social icons at the end of the spot. If you see below, ESPN’s College Gameday is promoting their website, Twitter, and Facebook channels.

So I have a few questions about this trend…I will use this College Gameday television spot as a part of this analysis. So if you look at this add, this is the last 5 seconds of the 30 second spot. It is asking you to do a few things:

1) Tune in on Saturday’s at 9am
2) Visit the CollegeGameday.com website
3) “Like” their Facebook Page
4) “Follow” their Twitter account

So, let me ask this…how do I find the Facebook page or Twitter account for College Gameday? I guess I can go to the website CollegeGameday.com and it will give me a place to click the link to the Facebook and Twitter accounts. But, we are forcing people to search to find this information…don’t we want to make this as easy as possible.  Why can’t they give me the exact URL to these accounts so I can find these outlets faster?

But here is my bigger question…these are a lot of options to choose from in the last five seconds: tune in, visit the website, Like, and Follow. Ok, which one do I do? I guess I pick the one that is right for me, maybe? This is the same as having all those social outlet buttons on a blog post, so many to choose and not sure which one?

Back to my question, a lot of options to choose from in a short amount of time (5 seconds to be exact). I am sorry, we live in a DVR/YouTube age to rewind. But, as a user or social consumer of information, which outlet is going to give me what? Plainly put, what is difference between each outlet? What is different from the Facebook page that is any better/less important that the Twitter account. Also, why should I go to the website? Which one should I choose and why?

As I look through each online outlet (website, Facebook, and Twitter), I am starting to see some interesting things.

1) The website basically informs the audience where College Gameday will be hosting their show each week during the football season. They also are pulling in their Facebook and Twitter feeds into one spot halfway down the page, below a lot of video content.

2) The Twitter account is a social outlet just for the ESPN Analyst. ESPN is not engaging with their community, they are sharing/chatting/updating between their own sponsored Twitter accounts, yet not engaging with the college football fan community. ESPN is pushing their community as a marketing engine, informing the public of their thoughts and opinions. The @CollegeGameday Twitter account has close to 138,000 followers.

3) The Facebook page is a place to share rich media, specifically video and photos from the weekly stops along with top college football news. Each Facebook post has LOTS of comments from the fans, engaging in conversation about the posted topic. The College Gameday Fan Page has close to 714,000 “Likes” or fans.

So, why am I addressing this issue.

1) Why are we burying social outlets in the last five seconds of a television spot?
2) Why are we not providing direct URL’s for the audience to find these social outlets?
3) Why are we sharing to many outlets to choose from…instead of focusing out marketing efforts on one outlet and what the community will get from this specific outlet?

I want to see these ads explaining to me why should I go find your Facebook page or Twitter account. Why should I take the time and what will I get from this social experience. ESPN does a good job of coming up with creative television spots promoting a topic, show, or initiative. You would think they could show us why to engage in their Facebook page or Twitter account.

We can do so much more than just bury a bunch of social outlet logos at the end of a television spot . We can give our audiences a reason to engage with a community, this might give them more of a reason to search for our social outlet and join our/their conversations.

Here is one of the ESPN College Gameday spots for your enjoyment:

Do you have any examples that you have seen where television ads are putting social channel icons at the end of the spots? I would love to know what you have found or noticed!

“Social Media Return On Investment” – The Mobile Device Industry

With the iPhone4S to be released tomorrow for millions of Americans…we cannot wait to tap into this new device. As we look through the specs of this new, faster mobile device…we see that has the HSDPA technology built in stating that it can leverage up to 14.4Mbps download speeds. Now, there are many that have tested this feature in large, metro areas stating that these speeds in reality are not half this speed. But there are Android phones like the Droid Bionic that are tapping into the Verizon 4G LTE network with faster download speeds.

Yes…our mobile devices can access the network faster and faster and faster. Reading through the OnQ blog by Qualcomm as they address this explosion of social media technologies:

“With all this expansion, one lingering question on everybody’s mind is ‘will the wireless networks be able to keep up with this growth?’ The obvious answer is a resounding YES. As I have explained in these blogs, 3G/4G networks are well equipped now, and evolving in the future, to address the massive increase in the sheer volume of data growth.”

Nielsen release their 3rd Quarter 2011 Social Media Report with some interesting stats on mobile device usage: “The ability to access social media is a commonly used feature among mobile owners. According to a recent study by NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey Company, nearly 2 in 5 social media users access these services from their mobile phones.”

Here is how social media access ranks against other features offered on their mobile devices (from Nielsen’s 3rd Quarter 2011 Social Media Report):

The above statistics suggest we are access social media outlets on our mobile devices more than access the web. WOW!

In Steven Van Belleghem presentation “Social Media Around the World” on slide 140 states, “56% of smart phone users follow a brand on social media.”

What does all this mean…people are accessing information via smart phones. People are heavily using social media outlets on their smart phones, creating data transfer which demands more bandwidth. The more the usage, the more the demand. This demand is fueling the growth of the mobile network. You think you see a lot of advertisements between the major carriers talking about 4G, 4G LTE, unlimited data, throttling…you need to start researching this information. We are data transfer hogs and connecting to others via our smart phones. This is fueling the growth in our networks, which is leading to large investments in the mobile infrastructure and mobile gadgets like iPhones and Droids.

Prakash Sangam, Senior Manager, Technical Marketing at Qualcomm, continues his explanation on the OnQ blog post:

“As has been very well established by now, smartphones are the key drivers for this increase in data demand. When you take a close look under the hood, interesting facts emerge about smartphone usage behavior and the corresponding network resource utilization.

Unlike the connected laptop or computer, smart phones connect intermittently to the network, and generate very small amounts of extremely bursty traffic. For example, when you check for updates from email programs or from social media apps (e.g., Facebook, Twitter), check weather, use location based services, send presence updates for IMs… and many more activites — often described as “chatty apps.”

Every time these apps get updates, the smartphone has to establish the connection, do the data transfer and tear down the connection, which means lot of signaling. Often that means more signaling than actual data transfers. There have been many studies on this, validating the fact that smartphone-generated signaling overwhelms wireless networks. The trend of vastly popular social media going mobile will only further amplify this effect.”

Our smart phone usage combine with our social media usage via these devices is fueling the growth of these data networks. These major carriers are banking on social media usage, connectivity, and ultimately our desire to continue to want to purchase the newest gadget for the faster speeds.

So, why did Apple release the iPhone 4S instead of the big jump to the iPhone 5? Well, many speculate…but here is an interesting perspective from Business Insider:

“If Apple had launched a radically new iPhone 5, more of the folks who currently own iPhone 4 would have upgraded, so Apple would have sold some more 4S units. As it is, the iPhone 4S is likely to appeal primarily to iPhone 3G and 3GS owners, non-smartphone owners, and non-iPhone owners, most of whom (like me) are presumably stoked to buy the iPhone 4S.”

Here is the game…get more people on faster networks, faster infrastructure, and newer technology. These mobile devices, their speed, their apps, and their access  to faster networks fuels consumers to access social outlets like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social applications. The real social media return on investment is the mobile technology and infrastructure that supports the connectivity.

*Blog header image from Yugatech.com.

The best long term blogging SEO solution is YouTube!

So here is a video that has been trending on YouTube for a while…right now it has over 8 million views…WOW! There is a lot of Google/YouTube traffic surrounding this video. Imagine leveraging that traffic for your blog. Now you would have to create a video that generates that type of excitement, but the point being…their is a lot of rich opportunities when integrating great video content from YouTube into a blog.

I am fascinated why more people do not talk about the value in integrating video into your blogging routine. It has and always will be a no brainer for me. So much conversation talks about the tremendous leverage you get when you share your blog posts via Twitter, Facebook, RSS Readers, Subscribe, and any other distribution platform. But no one is talking about why integrating video from outlets like YouTube really creates long term digital success for blogging.

So let’s take YouTube for a second…here are some stats from YouTube:

Traffic

  • Over 3 billion videos are viewed a day
  • YouTube is localized in 25 countries across 43 languages
  • YouTube’s demographic is broad: 18-54 years old
  • YouTube reached over 700 billion playbacks in 2010

Metrics

  • YouTube mobile gets over 400M views a day (up 3x year/year), representing 13% of our daily views
  • The YouTube player is embedded across tens of millions of websites

Social

  • Nearly 17 million people have connected their YouTube account to at least one social service (Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, Buzz, etc)
  • Over 12 million people are connected and auto-sharing to at least one social network
  • 150 years of YouTube video are watched every day on Facebook (up 2.5x year/year) and every minute more than 500 tweets contain YouTube links (up 3x y/y)
  • 100 million people take a social action on YouTube (likes, shares, comments, etc) every week
  • An auto-shared tweet results in 6 new youtube.com sessions on average, and we see more than 500 tweets per minute containing a YouTube link

So…how does this help your blog when you combine video from YouTube?

YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world with over 3 billion searches per day. So of course you want to have an optimized YouTube presence. By that, I mean you want to have a well branded YouTube channel with optimized videos,” via SEOinc.com.

Well…let’s get down to the basics.

When you begin creating a blogging strategy over a period of time, you begin mapping out the content you might want to write about. At the same tokin, you can begin thinking about a YouTube strategy. Specifically, mapping out video content you can create that can pair and supplement your written blog posts. As you write each post, you produce each coordinating video. That video is uploaded to your YouTube channel. Your YouTube channel needs to have your information and information about your blog in the about area.

For each video you create, you need to have the following:

  1. Great title that includes the keywords you would use to search for the video.
  2. Great description with keys words about the content of the video. This description should also include a link to your blog, maybe even the actual blog post.
  3. Tags that can be used to search for this video.

Once you write the post, use the embed code from YouTube to embed within your blog post. You have officially linked a specific YouTube video to a specific blog post on your blog. The YouTube video has it’s own unique URL inside your YouTube channel and it is embedded in a blog post with a specific URL inside your blog. You have just connected your blog to the largest search engine inside the Internet. By the way, here is a great post about how to optimize each YouTube video for great SEO…CLICK HERE.

Connecting the DOTS!
Now, think about the stats above. Every time you Tweet, share on Facebook, include this blog post on a newsletter…you have shared two distinct links to two pieces of rich content. This not only helps your audience fing your video via your blog, but also via Google since YouTube is owned by Google. Each time you share, you are sharing exponentially two pieces of rich media creating lots of linkages between your blog, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and any other online outlets. This linkage system begins to rank higher in Google’s algorithm, placing your content in a much more likely position to be found.

Why Connecting YouTube to your blog works!
So, if you can write a blog post, included a specific YouTube video from your channel, and share across all the social outlets…then you are much more likely to be found than just writing a blog post. You have connected the rich descriptions and tags from both the blog post and the embedded YouTube video in world of search engines by simpley sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or any other social media sharing outlet. For every share, you are broadcasting two pieces of media (blog and YouTube video) rather than one. And since YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine, and since Google and YouTube are on in the same, you have immediately connected a Google searching opportunity with your blog…merely by posting a video.

Below is a GREAT infographic surrounding the world of video sharing!

One nation under video
Infographic by: Wistia

Also…here is a great presentation below, how to optimize YouTube videos for rich SEO. If you cannot see the presentation below, CLICK HERE to go directly to the website.

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