One of the perks of working in the field of social media is that you get to pretend that you’re working and learning while watching hilarious videos of a good-looking guy in a shower. You know, the Old Spice guy in the shower, the guy who used to work in shark dental care and rides lions as a hobby?
If you don’t know what I’m talking about (i.e. have been hiding under a rock etc.), Old Spice launched a campaign that combined twitter, YouTube and a bit of facebook that took the web by storm. The campaign included some planned commercials that set the stage for the manly-manliness of Old Spice Man, and then a series of real-time videos made in response to people’s tweets on twitter and comments on facebook and YouTube. Here’s the original video launched in February which attracted 19 million viewers (this video was actually shot in one shot with minimal computer graphics):
A few weeks ago Old Spice Man returned with this commercial:
What’s so great about Old Spice Man?
Old Spice Man – actor Isaiah Mustafa is just amazing. He gets the message across perfectly.
The writing – the lines Isaiah says are brilliant. I mean, how great is a campaign that ends with the line “silver fish hand catch”?
Multiple channels – the campaign is coordinated across multiple social media channels, utilizing each channel’s advantages and cross posting as required. Twitter is used for direct conversation, facebook for posting videos and status updates with longer text and accompanying responses by fans; and YouTube for centralizing the video content.
Appeals to men and women – For example, I can’t stand beer commercials which are obviously targeting men, but this campaign appealed to both sexes which is good for a product like Old Spice body wash, which men use but women often probably buy.
Combines traditional and new media – these videos are commercials, a type of advertising that has been around for decades. But the commercials have evolved to take advantage of social media by using the medium’s potential. Creating new videos in real time is not something you can do with TV; also, the very personal style, and personalized videos (he spoke to his daughter, and helped a guy propose marriage, and even answered his own question), are very social media. But commercials are old media and we’re seeing the two come together here.
Personalization – how fun is it to get a personal video message from Old Spice Man? Thousands sent tweets and comments his way in the hope that he would respond to them, and getting a response was like winning the lottery. In order to create these videos, marketing agency Wieder + Kennedy’s team worked at a furious pace, creating over 180 videos in 24 hours!!
Old Spice Man is a nice guy – many attempts at creating viral media involved tricking people into believing what they were seeing is real, or being mean to others in some way. Old Spice Man is just nice, and cool. He makes us laugh. It’s a refreshing.
This is not the future of social media marketing. These guys created a groundbreaking campaign, but if companies copy this model, it will get stale. No one will enjoy this level of success because no one else can be first. Because when it comes down to it, success in social media is about creativity and originality, breaking out of the box and grabbing our attention. The next roaring success will have to be something else that’s never been done before.
When creating custom FBML tabs for facebook pages, it can often be helpful to use an image map. An image map is a flat image (like a jpeg or a gif) that has been coded with HTML that makes parts of the image into live hyperlinks. A custom FBML tab is a tab on a facebook page that has been coded with FBML and/or HTML to do something unique. Here’s an example of a custom tab on a facebook page on the The Wall Street Journal’s facebook page:
As you can see, the Wall Street Journal greets new visitors with a custom tab called News, which acts like a landing page.
I’m not going to get into how to create a custom tab on a facebook page here since there are tons of tutorials around the web on how to do so. What we are going to discuss here is how to put an image map in your custom fbml page.
Step 1: Get your image
First, find the image that you want to make linkable. Maybe edit it in Photoshop or some other editing program and add text. It’s recommended to underline text you plan to make linkable to make them look like links. Let’s use the following image as an example:
If you mouse over the image, you’ll see that nothing happens, and there are no links. I’m going to make the words Social Icons a link to an icon search engine, and each image will link to a similar icon online that you can download.
Step 2: Upload your image to a server somewhere
In order for your image to appear in your facebook tab, it must be hosted somewhere online. That’s the only way facebook can “call” it in to the tab – it can’t call it from your hard drive on your desktop (unless your hard-drive is a publically accessible server, which is usually not the case). Here are two great places for uploading images for free: Photobucket and Image Shack. I like Image Shack for quick and dirty image uploads since you don’t have to create an account there – it’s optional, which is helpful if you later want to remove an image or have control over your images, but not required.
So let’s use Image Shack as our example. Follow the directions to upload your image, and you will get to a page that looks like this:
We care about the field above called Direct Link (I put a green box around it). Select and copy the whole URL in that field.
Step 3: Create an image map
The image map must be created with CSS. If you use HTML it won’t work in facebook. Lucky for us, there’s a great free tool online for creating CSS image maps: Image Map Tool.
Once you’re in the Image Map Tool, enter the image URL you copied from the Image Shack page into the field that says “From a URL”:
Click on Start Mapping Your Image. You’ll come to a page that says that your image was uploaded successfully:
Click on the link “continue to next step.” That’s where the fun begins.
You need to select the parts of your image that you want to make into links. Most parts of the image can be selected with the Rectangle tool, but unusual shapes can be selected with the Custom Shape tool. In our case I’m going to use the Rectangle Tool.
When you click on the Rectangle tool, you get this floating thing that you can move around and resize, and enter the link and link title/alt text:
As you can see above, I moved the floating box thing over the words Social Icons and resized it so it covers both words. I entered a link to an icon search engine Iconfinder, and entered the alt text for the link. Next, click Save.
Click on the Rectangle button again and repeat this process as many times as you need until all hotspots are created. Since I want four links in this image, I repeated this process another three times.
Now, choose the options that you want from the sidebar under Advanced Tool Box. There are some useful and advanced options there, and I recommend you check them out, but take note of the options to Show Text Links and Allow Backlink. If you choose to show text links, text links will appear under your image with links to the places you’ve linked your image to. This could be good for usability since you’ll offer a text version of the links in addition to the image links.
The Allow Backlink option will put a text link under your image map to the Image Map site. If you can, it’s nice to give credit to this site for creating such an awesome free tool. But if you can’t, make sure to deselect that option.
Now click Get Your Code. This takes you to a very confusing page with lots of text and tabs at the top. Click on the CSS Code tab at the top of the page:
You will see a bunch of code. It’s basically ready to copy and paste into your FBML tab, but you need to make one change to it first. Image Map Tool adds a dotted black line that appears when you mouse over any of the links on the image, which is pretty annoying so you probably want to get rid of it. So you need to get rid of lines of code that look like this:
The x above represents a number. The above line of code will appear as many times as links that you created in the image, and the x will be a number. So if there are three links, the above line will appear three times, and the x will be the numbers 1, 2, and 3 in each line.
Once that’s done, paste the code into your FBML tab and you’ve got yourself a working image map in an FBML tab!
Facebook made some drastic changes to its services and features a few weeks ago. First, Fan Pages are a thing of the past. Now, there are just Pages, and you can’t become a Fan of them, but you can Like them. Ok, weird but basically just a semantic change.
Facebook also announced their new “Connections” system, which anyone who has logged into facebook since this was announced had to notice. Connections is a nasty feature that doesn’t allow you to control your profile information anymore. For example, if you want to say that one of your interests is Internet Marketing, your entry for that must link to a new automatically generated Community Page that facebook creates for Internet marketing. You can identify a Community Page by the lovely (not) logo that facebook plops in there automatically:
I’m guessing that at some point facebook will start to automatically enter images that they have deemed relevant to the content in the logo space, but in the meantime this meaningless DNA symbol is what we’ve got.
The pages automatically aggregate content related to the topic and displays it on the page. It places an emphasis on content from Wikipedia, Google Maps, posts from facebook, and content posted off of facebook. It seems to have the potential to become a pretty rich page, if we can judge from the Community Page for Jerusalem, Israel.
From what Facebook wrote in their introductory post on the subject, it seems that the goal is to help us have the things we “Like” appear in our facebook profile. They say that:
Some of you added information about yourself, such as your likes and interests, favorite books, music and movies, when you first joined Facebook. But we’ve noticed that more than three times as many of you have connected to Facebook Pages, such as those for bands, non-profits, universities or anything else you care about, as a way to express yourself. So to make it even easier to display your affiliations, we’ve improved the profile.
So Facebook is saying we’ve been more active Liking pages, than adding our likes to our profile info. So if we “Like” the page of a certain brand or entity, why wouldn’t we want that affinity to appear in our profile information, right? Well, kind of right, but here’s why their implementation of this idea doesn’t make sense:
Pages should be enough
People used to be able to easily see the Pages that we like on our Info tab on our profile. Why wasn’t that good enough? Now the Pages we like appear under Likes and Interests in an obscure link called Show other Pages:
You have to click on that to see all the Pages that person (me) has Liked, as follows:
If facebook really wanted to help us share our interests, why not prominently present the Pages we’ve liked in our Likes and Interests section? If they would do that, there’s no need for Community Pages.
Big brand discrimination
If facebook is trying to make a stronger connection between our profiles and the things we have actively Liked, why not help us link our Interests to existing Pages, rather than force us to link to their Community Pages? For example, I’d much rather have the link in the Employment section of my profile info for illuminea go to our illuminea page, rather than the useless illuminea Community Page that facebook created (see below).
And here’s what makes this even worse: if you want to enter a well-known brand or entity as part of your profile information – like Coca Cola, or 30 Rock – Facebook is helpful enough to offer up a link to those brands’ Pages! But if you’re (hypothetically) a tiny little company in Israel, fugetaboutit. Facebook helpfully creates a Community Page for your brand and ignores your existing Page cuz you’s too tiny to really know what’s good for yous.
Reputation management nightmare
In continuation of the above, if your brand is too tiny to matter, your brand now has two homes on facebook: your Page and your Community Page. Check out this example for illuminea. Here’s a screenshot of our Page that we created:
And here’s how the Community Page looks:
You have no control over the Community Page and what shows up there. I’m not just talking about avoiding negative feedback about a brand – at least complaints would be related to the brand. I’m talking about garbage showing up there.
Orli Yakuel from GO2WEB20 posted the following on facebook:
What the heck is that? But it might not seem so bad. I mean, the posts are all from Orli. It’s kind of like a duplication of her facebook profile, another home for her on the web. But if you scroll down on the page you see this beauty:
And that’s not all that Orli has to face. If you do a search for her on facebook, you get this:
You’d think with a unique name like Orli Yakuel she wouldn’t have to compete for her name online. At least she appears first.
But we can’t expect to always be first: Rena Reich recently posted on the Digital Eve Israel mailing list that she knows someone whose facebook Community Page for their brand is appearing higher in search results than their own Page. Yikes.
You want privacy? On our web? Hahaha
People might have interests that they only want to share with selected people. But if your info is linked to Pages, that means you appear in the list of people who like that page:
Keep in mind that Facebook Pages you connect to are public. You can control which friends are able to see connections listed on your profile, but you may still show up on Pages you’re connected to. (Connecting to Everything You Care About, The Facebook Blog)
And you can’t not link, because if you choose not to, the interest or info won’t appear in your profile any longer:
Connecting to Pages is now the main [I think they mean “only” – MS] way to express yourself on your profile. If you didn’t connect to any of the suggestions, the sections of your profile to which those suggestions corresponded will now be empty. If you chose to not connect to Pages during the transition process, there will be the opportunity to connect to the suggested Pages later at the top of the “Info” tab on your profile, and of course, going forward, you will always be able to add new connections by Liking Pages and/or editing your profile. (Facebook Help Center)
Orwell’s 1984 is happening now!! one of the reasons i joined facebook was to connect with people I KNOW!!!! not to share private information about me to people i do not know or for facebook to remember my deleted information and make public sensitive information about me!
Let’s say that the reason facebook is doing this is that also want us to be able to network around general themes, like Internet marketing, and to do that they have offered to create Community Pages for these topics that we can all gather round. That’s a nice idea, but they shouldn’t be forcing us to link to these pages; it should be optional.
Don’t post it if you don’t want Mom to see it
Facebook has been chipping away at our privacy bit by bit over the past few years. Check out this snazzy infographic for a visualization of what information used to be private on facebook, and what is private now (almost nothing). Why is facebook doing this? Pete Cashmore from Mashable sums it up nicely in the title of a recent post:
Basically, Facebook is working hard to avoid the fate of other dead or dying social networks like Friendster and MySpace. They hope to do so by not only interacting with you on facebook.com, but all over the web. That’s why you can now Like pages that are off of facebook.com, for example. I think Pete sums it up well:
It’s in Facebook’s interests to lock up your social graph, and it’s in your best interests that it doesn’t [my bold]. If Twitter, Google or another player were to make your social graph portable, you wouldn’t need to store all of your information on Facebook — you could do whatever you please with it.
I’m not advocating that we all stop using facebook. But like anything in life, consumer responsibility is important here: know where you stand with facebook, and what it can and can’t do for you, and hopefully you can put good use to it. In short, use the Mom Visibility Quotient: don’t post anything on facebook (or anywhere on the web) that you wouldn’t want your mother to see, and you should be ok.
We don’t have a fax machine in our office. From the beginning I decided that we would withstand the pressure and insist that people email documents to us so that we can be a mostly paperless office. Yes, I know that there are fax services that will deliver faxes to your inbox, but in that case why not just use email? And for those that think that there’s no way to get a piece of paper to someone remotely without a fax machine, I’d like to introduce you to a handy device called the scanner.
We have so many ways to communicate online today: email, facebook, twitter…there are even people talking about how communication via social networks will push out email communication. I think that’s an extreme point of view, and email’s not going anywhere, but the point is: get rid of your fax. It deserves to be in the same place as your record player, dot matrix printer, and fluorescent slouch socks (I shudder when I think of how we wore those).
And since Dilbert agrees with me, we know that what I say is Truth:
Ikea Sweden got some goodcoverage yesterday for a facebook campaign it ran to promote the opening of a new store in Malmo, Sweden. The company wanted to promote the opening of the new branch, but their budget was limited. They hired an advertising agency called Forsman and Bodenfors, who came up with the idea of using Facebook’s photo tagging feature to create a viral effect that would spread word of the new branch opening.
Forsman and Bodenfors opened a facebook profile for the branch’s manager, Gordon Gustavsson. The profile was to be used for business purposes only, as is evidenced by the vanity URL chosen for Gustavsson’s profile: http://www.facebook.com/ikeagordon – note that his vanity URL is ikeagordon, and not gordongustavsson. Better hope he works at Ikea forever…
Over a two week period, the agency uploaded pictures from Ikea showrooms to Gustavsson’s facebook photo album, and then made the announcement that changed this from run-of-the-mill social media activity to a raging campaign: they announced that whoever was the first person to tag a product in the pictures with their name would win it. And boy did people rush to tag the photos:
Check out this video overview of the campaign and how it was set up:
Why this campaign worked
The coverage of this campaign focused on the agency’s ingenious use of facebook’s photo tagging feature. It definitely was an original and unique use of this feature of the world’s largest social network. However, in my opinion that usage is just technical, and the reason this campaign was so successful is because it delivered what consumers want when engaging online with brands: exclusive deals or offers.
Digital marketing company Razorfish recently released its third annual FEED study which charts how technology is changing the way consumers engage with brands. Among the other interesting pieces of info gleaned from their study is the reasoning behind people’s choice to follow a brand on twitter and facebook. In the cases of both networks, the majority of people cited that they follow brands in order to get “exclusive deals or offers.”
It makes sense. Unless your brand is Apple or something that makes people feel all warm and fuzzy, consumers don’t want to be your brand’s “friend.” They may like your product and use it on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean they want to create an ongoing and public relationship with you…unless there’s something really worthwhile that’s in it for them. In the case of this Ikea campaign, people were more than happy to tag and share photos of Ikea showrooms if it meant that they would get to take a couch home for free.
Another example of success through rewarding consumers is br.st. br.st is a new web-based twitter client that became one of the top trending topics on twitter yesterday as well:
While I’m sure this new twitter client is nice, it didn’t get this level of exposure because of their great features. They got it because they are handing out 4 MacBook Pros and 21 Nintendo Wiis to people who tweet about br.st. As br.st CEO Jared Stauffer says on the site’s home page:
Instead of spending money on advertising we decided to give it to you in the form of prizes. So help spread the word by telling your friends and enter to win some cool prizes.
In fact, most of their home page is dedicated to the contest, as opposed to reasons why you should use br.st. Take a look at the following screen shot of their home page – out of all the screen real estate, only the grey box on the right refers to why you should give br.st a try:
While br.st may have gone to the extreme with their prize campaign, it did succeed in getting them a lot of viral exposure for a new product.
Recipe for social media success: viral + free stuff
Many social media evangelists talk about how the social networks can help you and your brand create warm and fuzzy relationships with your consumers. It’s not true. Consumers don’t want a warm and fuzzy relationship with most businesses or products. But they will help you spread the word if you offer them something really worthwhile in return, like a free couch or Ninento Wii. So by combining the features on the social networks that have the potential to make your brand or campaign viral with consumers’ base interest in free stuff, you’ve got a great recipe for social media success.
For the second year running I had the opportunity to be on a panel at Affilicon, the Affiliate Marketing Conference & Exhibition that took place last week in Israel. Like last year, this year I was on the social media panel, and I decided to take a devil’s advocate approach to my presentation: to talk about what social media marketing is NOT.
The reason I took this approach is that you can find lots of information out there about how fabulous social media marketing is for promoting your business, organization, or other goals. However, with all this hype I fear that people are a) overestimating what social media can do for them and b) unaware of the challenges involved in using social media for marketing.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m a big fan of social media marketing. We’ve had good results with it here in our own company, and for clients. My point here is to provide a social media “chill pill” – some facts and realities about becoming active on the social web.
So here’s my presentation. I hope you find it useful, and as always would love to get your feedback and questions:
This past Thursday I was privileged to speak to the Tel Aviv Writer’s Cafe about how they can use blogs and social media to promote themselves and win more (paid) writing gigs.
Here are the seven tips. For more info about the Tel Aviv Writer’s Cafe, please scroll to the end of this post.
1. Brand yourself as if you were a brand name
If you are trying to market yourself as a freelance writer, or freelance anything, it’s important to start to look at yourself as the product that you, the business owner, is trying to sell. Yeah, that’s a lot of hats to wear, and that doesn’t include the fact that you, the freelancer, are also the accountant, administrator, and coffee-fetcher. Anyways, in order to accomplish this, you need to create “Brand You.”
Why should I brand myself?
The brilliant Gary Vaynerchuk has the answer for you (bonus: guess who’s apparently a MOT (Member of the Tribe)…note how he says Alav Hashalom about Paul Newman passing away!):
Another reason you want to do this is because Google has a long memory, and you need to control what prospective employers and others see about you on the web. You have a chance at doing this if you have a personal site built on your own domain. To see what I’m talking about, read this post from Lifehacker: Geek to Live: Have a say in what Google says about you.
So how do I do this?
At the very least, buy your name domain name now (we recommend using www.name.com – and we have no affiliation with them, they just don’t suck like some other registrars we won’t name). If you’re name is Joe Shmoe, buy www.joeshmoe.com. If that domain name is taken, add your middle initial and buy www.joezshmoe.com. If you don’t have a middle name, pretend you do and choose a middle initial to use from this point forwards in all your professional correspondence so that people will Google your name that way and actually find you. If you think it’s weird to add a fake middle initial, ask Michael J. Fox, if he regrets it. (To see why he didn’t just use “A,” the initial of his real middle name, read about his Early Life in Wikipedia. Hint – it may have to do with the fact that he’s Canadian, eh?)
If you’re not up to it, you don’t have to actually do anything with your shiny new domain name right now. So why are you buying your domain name now if you’re not going to use it? Because it can get snatched up between now and when you do want to use it by someone else, which would suck for you.
If you are up to it, I strongly recommend starting a blog that appears under your name-domain name.
But I don’t have thousands to spend on that kind of thing right now!
That’s alright, I say. Here are instructions on starting a personalized blog on a shoestring. The reason this method is good is because if your blog becomes a real success and needs to grow, you can relatively easily move over to your own self-hosted WordPress blog, like all the pros.
Starting a Personalized Blog on a Shoestring:
Sign up for a blog on WordPress.com. Try to choose a name that represents you, but remember that you will be putting your new name-domain on your blog in a few steps.
Choose a WordPress theme that best suits your needs. You can find them under Appearance > Themes in the sidebar of your new blog’s admin section. I recommend choosing a pretty plain theme with a header area that allows you to upload your own personalized image. My sister Deena has done a good job with that on her blog, which runs on WordPress.com and you can see here: http://deenascreations.com.
You should go through all the other settings and choose what best suits you. To do this, go to Settings, and go through the sub-pages and modify as you see fit.
Map your domain name onto your new blog. First, you need to change your DNS settings for your domain name. DNS tells your domain where it should be point to, i.e. where the site that will be using this domain is sitting. First, log into your account on your domain registrar. Try to find where the DNS info is managed. It may be under Manage Domains or Manage DNS, depending on your registrar. When you do find where you manage the DNS, remove any existing nameservers and add the following:
Now, go back to your site and click on Upgrades, and then click on the Domains tab.
Then, enter your domain name in the Add a Domain field:
At that point it should ask you to buy 10 credits in order to use your own custom domain on WordPress.com. This costs $10 per year.
Once it’s set up, create an About and Contact page (crucial), and start blogging your head off.
Here are some examples of people who have really succeeded in creating a brand around themselves:
Oh, and more Gary Vaynerchuk just cuz he’s so awesome, inspiring and in your face (and did I mention he’s an MOT? What naches.)
2. Don’t forget about social media
Since blogs run on RSS feeds, it means you can promote your blog content elsewhere. This is good because it increases the likelihood that people will come across your content, which is the most important thing here. You can set up your facebook and twitter profiles to automatically pull in your blog content, and post it for all your network friends to see.
In order to do any of this automatic republishing, you need to know where your feed is. On WordPress.com, it’s at http://myblog.wordpress.com/feed, where myblog is your WordPress.com blog name, or at http://myblog.com/feed, if you’ve mapped your own domain on to your WordPress.com blog.
To automatically post to twitter, first create a user account on twitter. Then, go to EasyTweets, sign up, and add your twitter account to your profile. Then, click on the RSS icon at the right-hand side of your dashboard:
Enter the feed URL (see above for info on how to find it), entry frequency that EasyTweets will check for new posts (every hour is fine), any text to add before each tweet (I don’t recommend adding any text because then it looks automated), and whether you want to post the current new item in your feed, or only start updating from new items. Press Add RSS Feed, and you’re done.
One thing that came up during our session, and often comes up, is people’s confusion as to what usefulness twitter provides. Here are some links that may help you better understand why all these people get to excited about twitter:
3. Get people to stay in touch with you via RSS feeds and email subscriptions
If someone comes to your site, you want to get them to subscribe in some way to stay in touch before they leave. If you do, you can start to create a long-term connection where they consistently receive content you create, and trust grows between you. If you don’t, chances are they’ll leave, forget that you exist, and never come back.
So, make sure to prominently display the options for subscribing. Here’s a screenshot from Natan Sharansky’s new site for an example on how to do this – note how the subscription info appears very close to the top of every page:
4. Focus – so that people know what they’re getting
People subscribe to certain content because they are interested in the general topic being covered. Imagine if you were an avid car fan, and you bought Cars magazine only to find a spread about the latest hairstyles (or whatever they write about in fashion magazines). And imagine if you were an avid fashion fan and you opened the latest edition of Elle only to find a spread about axel grease (or whatever they write about in car magazines). You’d be pretty disappointed because you are paying to read those magazines because of their focus.
Same with your blog: people subscribe to it because you are writing about something they are interested in, whether it be politics, celebrities, iPhones, or cats. So stick to that 99% of the time, and your readers will stick with you.
5. Optimize for search engines
Yes, even you can optimize your blog for search engines. SEO may be perceived as a magical talent only bestowed upon special fairy beings, but there are some basic things you can do to help your blog rank better in the search engines. Here is a quick rundown:
Make a quick list of keywords you think people are using to find people like you. You can use all sorts of fancy keyword tools if you want, but you can also just use your brain since you know your industry. Take this list, and write it down on a piece of paper. Make a note of which terms are the most targeted, and which are less focused. You have more of a chance of ranking high for “Jerusalem car fans” than for “car fans.” You see what I mean? So while you’d probably like to rank high for car fans, it’s best to aim for Jerusalem car fans. But even so, don’t lose sight of the big vision of ranking for “car fans” because you may get there.
Once you’ve got your keywords, make sure to use them whenever possible in your blog titles, and in your first paragraph. However, when in doubt, make sure you are ultimately writing for humans. What I mean is, don’t stuff your title and paragraph with keywords that don’t make sense, because while you may make Google happy, you won’t make people happy, and that’s not good.
Tag your posts with tags related to your keywords, but also to other stuff you mention so that you may rank for those words as well.
Pay attention to meta keywords and particularly to your meta description, because that’s what appears under the title of your post in the Google search results.
Link internally. When you mention an event, term or phrase that you’ve mentioned before, link to that other post, or category if it exists on your blog.
6. Promote offsite
Aside from trying to get traffic via the web, make sure to promote your blog in other places as well, like in your email signature and on your business cards. And tell people about it whenever relevant, without being annoying.
7. Track your success
Like anything in life, if you are trying to achieve something in life, you need to track if you are getting there. As the saying goes “if you can measure it, you can manage it.” So track your site stats and feed stats. Don’t worry about seeing huge leaps in growth, but you do want to make sure there is a steady incline at the very least. You don’t want to plateau or start to shrink – that’s bad news, and if you see that you need to work to reverse it, generally by creating more content, and commenting on more blogs.
8. Bonus – accessing the awesomeness that is called humanity
“But you said 7 tips,” you say.
That’s right, I say, but I added a bonus. The bonus is about all the people you get to connect with via your blog and online activity, particularly when those people are…extraordinary (in every sense of the word).
Recently I got the following comment on this blog, and it makes it all worth it. Note the author’s name:
Author : moshe rabeynu Comment:
I am a former male exotic dancer and am interested in establishing a “Chippendales” type establishment in Israel. What type of assistance and tax benefits does the Israeli government provide to new businesses of olim chadashim? Are there many such entertainment facilities in Israel? I would like some idea as to how stiff the competition would be. Do Israeli women, as a rule, like to look at males dancing in skimpy G-strings? Are they generous tippers? Would they put a shekel to the shmeckel? If I hire other olim chadashim as dancers, would they have to pay any taxes on their tips? Can I employ dancers who have not had a briss ? I might want to hire one or two to add variety to the show lineup. Is a liquor license hard to obtain in Israel. Do I have to bribe any officials to receive one? To whom is it customary to pay proteksia money to start a business and keep it going and approximately how much to they ask for? Thank you for your help.
If there were commenting Olympics, this one would bag a super-gold.
That’s it – 7 tips + 1 on how to market yourself using blogs and social media. Thanks to those who came to my session – it was great meeting you!
And now, a bit about the Tel Aviv Writer’s Cafe:
It was started 3 years ago by Stephanie Freid, a freelance writer and journalist, as a way of grouping Tel Aviv area writers together for networking and topical discussions on everything from how and where to look for jobs to tips on approaching editors to discussing what makes good journalism to deciding on filing taxes in Israel and abroad. Attendees come from a variety of writing backgrounds including technical, journalism, marketing, book writing & blogging.
Writer Forum guests have included NBC New bureau chief/author Martin Fletcher who spoke about his experiences covering world conflict and his acclaimed first book “Breaking News”, successful book author Matt Beynon Rees on taking a journalism career to the realm of fiction novel writing, NY Times writer Dina Kraft on covering conflict in Israel and why it seems to hit a nerve among so many, Pajamas Media editor Alison Kaplan Sommer on how to slot into the new era of blog writing, Israel Project Executive Director Marcus Sheff on keeping the foreign media informed and celeb blogger Lisa Goldman on how her blog propelled her into the limelight.
For more info, please contact Stephanie at [stefanella.stef at gmail.com].
Almost a year ago, I met with representatives from one of Israel’s leading television and media networks, who had the backing of a prominent philanthropist to implement a social media strategy for Israel’s 60th birthday. Someone had recommended that they meet me, and I prepared a comprehensive presentation about what I called “Israel 2.0,” where we would create and implement a strategy that would celebrating Israel’s accomplishments with a diverse, wide-reaching web presence.
Notice I call it a “web presence”; that is because the web is no longer about just creating a website. It is about using the web and all its potential to promote your business, organization, or ideas with the greatest results possible. It is no longer sufficient to depend on your website alone, particularly since
“a recent Universal McCann report stating that content consumption outside of websites has increased 153% in the last 9 months. Overall, 53% of online users are consuming content outside of a publisher’s site – through the use of widgets, RSS readers, social networks and mobile devices” (from ReadWriteWeb)
Anyway, there was one guy in the room listening to my presentation who actually knew some of the terms I was using, like RSS feeds and the like, and I guess this made him feel like a social media expert. So when I finished my presentation, he said “Why do I need all that? I’ll just create a facebook group.”
I made a facebook group; so why am I all alone here?
What? Is he kidding me? I tried to explain until I was blue in the face that creating a facebook group is not a social media strategy, but it’s really difficult to explain concepts to people who have no knowledge of the field you are talking about, so they all believed the facebook-group guy, and that was that.
Needless to say, no all-encompassing web presence was created in honor of Israel’s birthday, and I don’t know what happened to that philanthropist’s offer.
A real social media strategy starts with goals, not tools
To create a serious web strategy, you should not start with the tools. “I’m going to create a blog,” or “I’ll join twitter” is not a strategy, since these may not be the right tools to use to achieve your goals.
I would like to build a house. These look like good tools to use.
Here’s an outline of the general steps needed to create a successful web presence:
Identify your goals: what do we want to achieve? Who are we trying to target?
Part of this stage is benchmarking: analyzing current statistics; identifying what you hope will be different as a result of your social media efforts; defining parameters that you want to change most and least.
Next, work out the strategy: how are we going to achieve these goals? Where do we need to be to reach our target audience, i.e. based on their demographics, where are they hanging out on the web? What type of content will they like? What manpower considerations do we need to be aware of (i.e. the need to hire a Community Manager, etc.)? Do we have legal considerations?
Once all of that has been prepared, then and only then can you choose tools and technologies. A facebook group may not be the best strategy for your goals, or it may be appropriate, but maybe it won’t work on its own. Tools and technologies are just the medium, not the message (sorry McLuhan). For example, in the world of print marketing, you know a rollup is exactly what you need to get your message across at the upcoming trade show, but you’d look mighty strange schlepping it to pitch a new client at their office.
Implementation. Now you get to have fun with your shiny tools, because they’re the right ones.
Like most things in life and business, you need to know what you want to achieve before you decide how you are going to achieve them. And that is why a facebook group is most definitely not a strategy.
Bill Gateshas just joined LinkedIn, and I can see why. I just visited LinkedIn and was pleasantly surprised to see their amazing new interface. The modifications to the interface, and the addition of new options and features has made it into a serious business networking tool that I could see myself visiting on a regular basis.
Before the changes were made, having a LinkedIn profile was like being at a party where everyone was deaf and mute. You could wave at people and/or shake hands (i.e. create and view connections), but aside from moderate signing (“I recommend you,” “Will you be my friend?”), nothing much happened. You couldn’t see your friends’ activity, the groups feature was weak-to-non-existent, and communication was sparse. The open bar (free membership) could only keep people interested for so long.
Now, LinkedIn has added a lot of the features that people look for in social networking sites, thanks to the innovations made by facebook in this area. As a result, LinkedIn is now a full-fledged social networking site, with all the goodies that can make it fun…I mean a good tool for developing productive business relationships.
Here’s an overview of the new features and design:
A more usable interface
With two simple menu bars, one horizontal and one vertical, the LinkedIn user can now reach all the information and participate in all the social activities with ease. You can find people, jobs, ask and answer questions, and find and recommend service providers on the top menu bar. On the sidebar, you can manage your profile, contacts, Inbox – which has many more features (see below), and groups.
This page is under Contacts on the vertical sidebar, and gives you an overview of your network. You can see your first degree, second degree and third degree connections, where your network is located, which networks you have access to, and more. This information is cute, but not really useful. For example, my Network Statistics page told me that my connections are in 23 industries, but my network gives me access to 147 additional industries, such as…Ranching. If I ever buy a farm, I’ll know where to turn.
Better organized Inbox
Your Inbox is now organized according to sub-topics. The most interesting and useful ones in my opinion are Introductions, Invitations, Profiles, Q&A and Recommendations. Introductions is a way for people to get introduced to people they’re not connected to on LinkedIn via that person’s direct connections. Invitations is where requests to connect appear. Profiles enables people to send other people profiles of people they think they’d be interested in. Q&A allows you to organize and track your questions and answers, and Recommendations is a place to see who has recommended you, and easily recommend them in return.
Network Updates let you see what your network is up to
The new Network Updates that appear on your home page allow you to see what your network has been doing lately, like who has added new contacts, joined new groups, changed their profile picture, etc. This is very similar to the facebook news feed that we all love.
You can now have a status in LinkedIn! This is like the facebook status, and is a way for all your connections to see what you’re up to. This can be a very powerful way to passively announce new business developments, requests for meetings, and other notifications. I just hope there’s some way to eventually import my twitter updates automatically like I do for facebook so that I can update everything at the same time. Also, it’s pretty annoying now that every status automatically starts with the user’s first name, not even “Miriam is,” so the status doesn’t make sense unless you make sure your status starts with a verb like “is” or “thinks.”
LinkedIn emerges as the true business networking site
Until now, I and many other people were using facebook for business. Thanks to facebook’s news feed, events, status, posts, and more facebook is a great way to communicate and connect with business associates. The drawback to using facebook for business is that it’s not intended for business. On facebook, my “friends” include family (even my Dad is on facebook), old school friends, and other friends, along with business connections. That means that it’s hard to strike the balance between a profile that is both professional and personal. For example, I’ve hesitated to post photos and news about my kids and family on facebook because I don’t want my non-personal “friends” to see that kind of stuff.
In short, LinkedIn has just moved up a notch in the social networking world. Based on what I find useful in facebook for business, I’d like to see LinkedIn eventually add the following features:
Importing blog posts and other feeds - my blogs are an important parts of my business communications, and I’m sure that’s the case with many other people. I would want my connections to be able to see my new posts as they are published, as well as my activity on other social media sites. Plaxo Pulse got this right with their ability to add unlimited feeds of your activity around the web. With our web identities becoming increasingly fragmented as we participate in myriads of sites, the ability to unify it all in one place for business could be very useful.
Events - The option to add business events, and RSVP so that others can see if you’re attending could help people publicize events to a broad audience, and connect to people they’re interested in meeting. If done properly, LinkedIn could potentially take over all business events from Meetup.com.
Photos and videos - I love seeing pictures from events, whether I’ve attended them or not. Videos from events, as well as business related videos could provide useful content to my network.
Documents - Here’s where LinkedIn could stand out in the business networking world: documents are an integral part of running a business. If there was a document sharing area of LinkedIn, people could share and recommend templates for contracts, MOUs, NDA, letters, emails, invoices, work orders, and more. In addition, authors could share their e-books or articles on business topics.
LinkedIn has come a long way, but it has a lot of potential beyond adapting facebook’s features in a business setting. facebook succeeded by thinking outside of the box, and I’m sure there are ways that LinkedIn could become a leading business networking site in ways beyond copying facebook.
Oh wait, is that a question for me from Bill Gates? Bill, I’m flattered, really.
Running a small business involves wearing many hats. illuminea blog aims to encourage a lively discussion on the challenges and rewards of running and marketing a small business in general, and in Israel in particular. Written by Miriam Schwab, Friendly CEO of illuminea.
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