Friday, December 11, 2009

Using RSS to Monitor Your Social Media Campaign

Image by damien_nissa

It is likely that today's vibrant and growing social Web would not exist without RSS. RSS (short for "Really Simple Syndication" or alternatively "Rich Site Summary") gives you the ability to selectively subscribe to automatic updates from a staggering number of sources, including more than million blogs, microblogs, social networks, video and  file sharing sites, news sources, and so on. Without RSS (or a similar service), it would be necessary to manually visit each of these sites to discover and read new content, thus, vastly restricting the possible scope and magnitude of the social Web.

RSS has been called the modern day "Online Paperboy." RSS lets site owners syndicate and, hence, distribute content automatically. It enables the delivery of updated RSS documents, often called feeds or channels. These feeds notify you about everything from new blog posts to recent music releases. As a consequence, most high traffic Web sites offer an RSS feed to their sites. Typically, the feed appears as a button labeled "XML," "RSS," or "Subscribe To." Since you must click this button to subscribe to an RSS feed, chances are good that the content you receive will satisfy your needs and tastes. So why should a business use RSS to monitor a social media marketing campaign? The most obvious answer is to track progress in achieving campaign goals. By using RSS to subscribe to the sites where you have concentrated your efforts, you can observe the results with an RSS Reader (also called a News Aggregator or News Reader). An RSS Reader usually displays the titles and brief descriptions of fresh content, making it simple to skim the list, find and click a relevant item, displaying the entire article, post, or video. Popular RSS Readers include Google Reader, Bloglines, and My Yahoo!--as well as built-in RSS Readers in products like Microsoft Internet Explorer.

In addition to watching for positive feedback, you can use RSS to spot negative comments that can quickly snowball into a consumer uprising. In this day and age, companies simply cannot afford to ignore what is being said about them on the social Web. Just ask the folks at Kryptonite Bike Lock Company. In the classic Kryptonite saga, where someone on the forum posted how to open a Kryptonite lock with a Bic pen. Then came a video showing how to pick the lock with a pen. The story of this flaw quickly spread to other social media sites, until it was picked up and published in The New York Times! The Associated Press syndicated the story, spreading it to dozens of other media outlets. Imagine the cost to the Kryptonite Bike Lock Company in terms of lost sales and bad PR.

If the company had been monitoring the social Web, it might well have been able to respond to this flaw early on and stem or even prevent the tide of bad press. The moral of this tale is that it is critical for marketers and public relations professionals to listen to the social Web, looking for mentions of their company, brand, product, or service. This is no longer an optional activity.

The following resources provide great insights about how to use RSS to track your social media marketing campaign progress:

Monday, November 16, 2009

History of the Social Web

Social Web
Image Credit: ocean.flynn
Just when did social media begin? Some would argue with the telephone, but(even with the advent of three-way calling) vocal conversations remain primarily a one-to-one medium, while social media is fueled by many-to-many communications. In the late 1970s, Bulletin Board Services (BBSs) came into existence, allowing users to exchange messages by connecting to standalone computers.

However, it was not until the emergence of the Internet that a common means became available to access a social platform. In 1979, UseNet became a popular way for Internet users to post articles and respond in hierarchically-organized newsgroups. BBSs, such as CompuServe and Prodigy, grew into important social media platforms. In the 80s, the number and type of social  media on the Internet continued to expand, such as discussion forums and dating services, but it wasn't until the first decade of the third millennium that real explosion of social media hit.

The following resources detail the amazing journey of how social media became the phenomenon it is today:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Using Wikis to Promote Your Business

A Wiki is software that enables people collaborate on creating interrelated topical documents.The best known instance of a Wiki is Wikipedia -- a popular online encyclopedia built through community participation. Business can also benefit from Wikis, by facilitating and encouraging the collaborative production and sharing of company documents, files, and knowledge among management, employees, customers, and suppliers. Product documentation, teamwork, and project management are ripe areas where Wikis can make immediate and substantial contributions to improving collaboration, knowledge sharing, and positive outcomes.The resources below offer insightful advice in effectively putting Wikis to work in your business:

Monday, October 19, 2009

What is Social Media Marketing?

Image by marttj

Social media marketing (SMM) uses social media platforms to positively influence consumers toward a company’s brands, products or services. In other words, the goal of social media marketing is to create a “buzz” online, so that complementary content about a brand, product or service goes “viral,” with consumer-generated media endorsements spreading like wildfire across the Internet (--think of a highly watched YouTube video extolling the virtues of a product or service).

It is not hyperbole to say that social media marketing is fundamentally changing the way businesses communicate with consumers. In fact, social media marketing has become so powerful it is now driving search engine results. Today, people are using highly accessible social media tools to find, create, and share content online. Social media enables people to collaborate and form consensus opinions, connecting and forming relationships in ways never before possible. This presents a new challenge and opportunity for business—to positively influence this ongoing conversation about the company’s offerings.

Think of it this way, social media marketing is the 21st Century digital “word-of-mouth” advertising. However, instead of discussing a company’s offering in person or over the phone, Internet users have turned to social media platforms to express their opinions. Popular social media platforms include blogs, (which can be found using blog search engines such as Technorati and BlogPulse), micro-blogs (e.g., Twitter and Jaiku), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook and LinkedIn), video and image sharing sites (e.g., YouTube and Flickr), podcasts, bookmarking (e.g., and StumbleUpon), wikis (e.g., Wikipedia), and social network aggregators (e.g., Mybloglog and Plaxo).

Some useful resources for defining and better understanding social media

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Measuring Social Media Marketing Success!

Image by Tresijas

At some point, the decision to use social media marketing or convincing someone else to do so eventually comes down to justifying the expenditure of resources and time. This typically involves measuring the success of the effort. Measuring the effectiveness of using social media to promote a business can be done both qualitatively and quantitatively. Most people feel more confident and comfortable with numbers, so social media metrics dominate, such as Return on Investment (ROI), Web analytics, and other similar quantitative assessments.

The following resources provide a variety of useful methods and tools for measuring the success of social media marketing campaigns:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Social Media Marketing Training Needed Now!

Image by Say It Social

As the global recession wears on—cash-strapped companies continue to slash marketing, advertising, and public relations budgets and positions—with one highly notable exception—businesses spending on social media marketing has skyrocketed and continues to escalate at an unprecedented rate. The movement to social media has quite simply become a stampede, with social networks such as Facebook recently topping 300 million users, LinkedIn surpassing 40 million users, and Twitter, with 23.6 million users, grew by 900% over the last year!

According to the 2009 Digital Readiness Report, “…most organizations are considering hiring social media specialists.” However, despite the urgent, massive and growing need by business for social media marketing specialists, the number of people being educated in social media marketing falls far short of demand. Unfortunately, universities and community colleges have been slow to create social media marketing courses to meet this seemingly recession-proof career, leaving a vast educational vacuum and incredible opportunity for a forward thinking institutions to fill this gaping hole.