Facebook Doesn’t Need a Facelift…Yet

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

I am writing you on behalf of the Social Media class at Wichita State. I’ve come up with some interesting ideas to improve your product that I think you should take a deep consideration of.

When asked how Facebook could change their product for the better over the next three years, the first thing I thought of was incorporating an email group membership and a similar system to Microsoft Outlook. Outlook allows users to email, set tasks, meetings, and calendar of events.

Facebook already incorporates an email feature and allows users to attach items. By doing this, Facebook is making smaller email accounts like Yahoo! and Hotmail irrelevant to younger users (most of which use the accounts for setting up memberships to other websites like slickdeals, reddit, ect.) and thus use these accounts essentially for spam. It’s my belief Facebook has a chance to market to users with the email application. There is a section on Facebook that allows user to select things they enjoy (a basic about you section). Why not create a new section that holds websites you’re a member of. You can only say you’re a member of this website if you use Facebook’s email to set it up. So let’s say you create an ESPN account to play fantasy football. You sign up for ESPN using a Facebook email account and your profile updates that you belong to ESPN. Instead of just “liking” a page you can have a section that has all your memberships on it. This allows Facebook to take slight control of email from Google.

So what of this Outlook? Outlook already syncs up to Facebook if you chose the option, why create your own? Facebook has a great chance to increase advertising effectiveness here.

Example 1: Suppose you’re at work and you want to schedule a lunch with 15 coworkers. With Outlook you just click on the calendar to create the event on a specific day, type in their email address, and send an invite to go to lunch. What Facebook could do is take Outlook’s calendar model and make one of their own. Users could go to the calendar section, invite other users (much like an event), and select a place (this works out especially well if the place has a Facebook page). The business could see how many people are attending so they could make reservations, and Facebook is used instead of Outlook.

Example 2: You have a crazy semester coming up. Classes and work all week, so you need to set a schedule. You make one in the new Facebook application and you’re able to keep track of your schedule on Facebook. You have the option of letting other select users see your schedule. Facebook could use the information you typed into the computer for advertisers. Suppose you wrote “Trip to Lawrence” on your calendar. Facebook could use that information and shops in Lawrence could display ads on your right column when the trip is near. This creates an even more dynamic approach to advertising and users will use your feature and not a competitor’s.

Facebook could make these simple changes and improve their product.

Now to be critical of Facebook

The new layout is very painful and new layouts come out way too often. I like how things have changed from the original layout, but the changes happened too fast. It’s too much for your users. Every time you make changes there is some idiot who thinks you’ll start charging for services. Then a collective group freaks out. A better communication system would help this. It would be nice if you could message all users on what changes will occur. You post on the news feed, but then there is public interpretation of what you posted. If any of the users message you back, you can have some poor intern categorize all the responses.

Though I’ve tended to agree with most of your changes, you need to make two things back to their original state. 1: Removing any tags of you in photos needs to be easier. Before the most recent update, removing tags was as simple as clicking “remove tag”. Now there is a lengthy process involved, you still are able to remove the tag, but it takes longer to do so. 2: Stop making the most commented story appear on the Facebook feed. By doing this, you make the popular stories even more popular and the less popular ones even less. It creates a sort of hierarchical status.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Use, Social Media

#localnews

When it comes to looking at which local news outlet utilizes Twitter the best, I believe that the reporters are the ones to look at. They make up the content that people are interested in, and can publish almost immediately. They can answer follower’s questions or comments much easier than the overall organization can.

Because of this, I feel the Wichita Eagle utilizes Twitter to its advantage better than any other local news. Their reporters are active on the social networking mechanism, and this platform allows them greater access to sources and immediacy of information publication. I’ve heard stories of Ron Sylvester tweeting up to date happenings in court cases from the courtroom.

If you think about it, Twitter is greater served for newspaper staff. Their information never had any fancy video or cool motion graphic presentation. By eliminating this presentation aspect, you now are stuck with the content. Newspaper staff have been typing away for years, so the transition is much easier. They know how to structure their stories for content, not presentation. In a way, Twitter saved the newspapers by equaling the playing field.

The other local news outlets do a subpar job, in my mind, promoting their reporters. I follow Cornish, Klose, and Schwanke, from KWCH and they only post about some of the top headlines for the upcoming newscast. I understand that television news wants you to come to their medium and watch their programming so they get more ad revenue, but I’m a fickle consumer and I want my news on my time. The better alternative would be to tweet your followers to come to your website. They would get the story from you and feel informed. The alternative is to tell people what is coming up on a medium they don’t care about and watch as other stations pick up your viewers and the ad revenue.

While on the topic of improper uses of Twitter, KAKEnews does a decent job at trying to detract viewers from their Twitter site. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much red and false sense of urgency.  Broadcast news is often ridiculed for showing stories about how you and your family will die three times before the weather segment. KAKE does little to differentiate themselves with their page. It makes everything look like it’s so urgent.

We’ve learned much about interactivity this year. Kansasdotcom interacts with its viewers. Denise Neil is talking about 10/3/11 being national sandwich day. It’s not just a broadcast message. She wants to know who serves the best sandwiches in town. In other words, she’s asking her followers a question. KNSS could take a number from this. Look at their tweets. It’s a broadcast message with no interactivity at all. Maybe some more interaction would increase their viewership.

So where does KFDI fit in comparison to the Eagle? KFDI has a cool logo for their avatar space; the background is clean and well presented, unlike KAKE’s. The encourage interaction on the page. Posting 11/2/11 asking if anyone has done Christmas shopping yet. So if they’re on par with the Eagle, why do I not think they are good. Content, or the lack there of. Why would people want to go to KFDI’s twitter if they put anything up there? Viewers assume they won’t find anything on the story they are interested in. KFDI went a whole month posting only three tweets. In a content driven system like twitter, that is completely unacceptable.

KSN is a mix of KFDI and KNSS. KSN’s twitter page is not distracting and doesn’t appear as jarring as KAKE’s. They update their content often, but they don’t invoke interaction. They just broadcast a message about what is going on.

The Wichita Eagle uses Twitter better than any of the other local news organizations. They have a sufficient amount of content, nice background and avatar use on their page, and interact with their viewers. KAKE could take some lessons with their layout, KWCH anchors could do more than tell me what is coming up on the news block, KNSS could do more than broadcast a message out and avoid interaction, and KFDI needs to post more. None of the local news outlets are atrociously bad when it comes to Twitter efficiency, but many need small improvements. The Eagle reporters do a good job.

One thing I like about KSN’s webpage, is they encourage you to follow them on Twitter. The section is towards the bottom, and kind of hard to find, but no other news outlet specified space for this on their website. KSN is a little similar to KNSS in their lack of interaction, but at least they are devoting outside resources to bring people to their Twitter.

3 Comments

Filed under Business Use, Social Media, Wichita Businesses

Socialnomics and it’s uses Today

I had my own thoughts on social media before reading this book. The book was published in 2009 and covers a lot of aspects of social media. I will say though, that a published book about social media in sort defeats the message. This is not an updatable source, and it is very traditional. Yet the content is critical of traditional methods. The books gives some great examples of successful social media and web 2.0 business operations. The ones made up by the author are a little disappointing and far-reaching in my mind.

Going in I held this belief- Social Media is not a new concept. It’s a new medium, that’s all. Everything we’ve done before social media, on a basic level, is being transferred to the social media medium. The difference doesn’t lie in what we do, but how we do it. The Internet allows us to do more things in a faster way, and social media helps us in that process. After reading, I still retain my belief.

Avoiding Information Indigestion:

It’s in the news and

Coined in the book “Socialnomics,” the term refers to receiving so much information that you can’t keep it all down. So with access to vast amounts of information at a whim, how do we not experience this? The answer is actually simple; we don’t care about the stuff we’re not interested in. Are you going to read every article on MSNBC or FOX news? Probably not. You’ll ingest the information you care about. Carry that idea over to social media

it’s what we watch so

The model of broadcast television is to bring 1 show to millions of people. You can watch all the Spin City reruns or Madmen you want, as long as you watch it when it’s being broadcasted on the television. DVDs bring many shows to 1 or more people whenever they want to watch it together. Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo, and any other video site brings unlimited amounts of videos to you at any point you chose. The model went from 1 show to millions at a specific time, to multiple shows at any time, to Millions of shows to any 1.

what does this do to us?

Think of the things you like. If you say you like everything, that’s a lie and you just don’t know what you like. So because we have a vast amount of information we can access at a whim, what are you going to look into? Something you like. Then, because you like that thing, you will probably like things that are similar to it. Without knowing it, you’re making a niche for yourself. This niche is how web 2.0’s interactivity works. Your Pandora station won’t play hard rock if you don’t “like” hard rock songs. We are unknowingly limiting ourselves to information that we have free and vast access to.

Things you didn’t care about

Who cares about Fantasy Football it’s

So we’ve established that we only care about a certain perception of things. Now, it’s important to realize that there is something outside of what we care about that exists. Not only that it exists, but the advancements being used there translate over to what we care about. Two ESPN anchors realized that fantasy football was becoming a huge success in the mid 2000s. So much of a success that they talked to ESPN about running more segments for it. ESPN noted the phenomenon, but did not want to incorporate any more airtime to the subject. Instead, the network gave the two anchors free reign to create side content, as long as it continued the ESPN standards. They came out with weekly podcasts and the number of downloads and listens increased as they continued their broadcasts. The great things about this were, consumers were able to receive the content they cared about, when they could access it, and move on whenever they wanted to. ESPN was not the first to create podcasts for their content, but by using podcasts, they gave their audience the access to the content they wanted. This is a good example of businesses properly using the tools available to increase value of their product. Even if you don’t care about fantasy football or sports, what ESPN did was more than-

just a bunch of guys talking about stuff I don’t care about.

Traditional Mediums are Taking their Advertising Methods Down with Them

An example of approaches to Past Philosophies in Marketing

1.         It’s all about the message and brand of imagery
2.         We know what the customer wants because they don’t know
3.         We develop messages in house and send those to the public

compared to Marketers Philosophy Today

1.         It’s important to listen and respond to customer needs
2.         We don’t know what is exactly right for the customer so we adjust the message accordingly
3.         Our customers send out messages about us more effectively than we do

in two different podcasts.

BestBuy bought advertising rights to the CNET’s technology podcast Buzz Out Loud. BestBuy took a past philosophy to advertising this message to its consumers. The podcast played commercials at the beginning, middle and end of it’s content. BestBuy did not update their advertisement for seven months wanting to maintain a consistent message. What BestBuy found was their ads were 1: Disruptive to the flow of podcast content 2: Not innovative 3: A traditional approach to a nontraditional medium

Two different companies (Charles Schwab stock brokers and marketers behind the film Eagle Eye) were interested in advertising during the ESPN podcast. So how would ESPN and the two companies handle this? Well, they were much more innovative than BestBuy. Instead of traditional blocks of advertising, the two anchors incorporated the advertisements into their show. Charles Schwab was incorporated in the segments by the anchors telling the audience which players Chuck (Charles) had for the week as definite starters. This works well for the stock aspects as brokers are picking stocks to do well much like fantasy football partakers are picking players to do well.  One question asked on the show was a direct metaphor for stocks. An emailer asked if they should a certain player. The anchors responded by saying Chuck knows when to sell high and buy low, and encouraged the trade. Eagle Eye was mentioned in the podcast in a similar fashion. Anchors would talk about specific games or players and say they had their Eagle Eye them. The companies found this to be 1: In tune with the flow of the podcast 2: Innovative 3: A nontraditional approach to a nontraditional medium.

Traditional Marketing is not the only thing Outdated in the Marketing Department

Companies spend a lot of time in small focus groups asking

Imagine you’re asked to participate in a focus group for a company. The company will compensate you for your time. You will be in a room with a group leader who directs the conversation. It’s a small room full of strangers and you’re supposed to talk about this company in depth. This approach is outdated. Marketers don’t need focus groups to tell them about the public’s appearance of the functionality of a product anymore. The Internet is full of this material.

questions that can be found on social media sites.

Sites like Twitter, Blogs, and Facebook allow users to talk about their consumer experiences when they want. Marketing researchers may not get the same responses from people in the focus groups as they would from an online forum.

Mike likes this product from this brand and I want it because he likes it

Sixty-Seven Percent of 1977 Purchases derived from word of mouth advertising compared

It’s true that we listen to what other people say about a product and make our judgments about this product based on what this person said. We don’t trust companies, they have a motive. They want you to buy their product and they will do everything they can to convince you their product is best. Since we have this predisposition, how can we be sure their product is the best for me? This is where word of mouth advertising, and social media, comes in to play.

to 92% in 2009.

You can ask any of the friends on your network about a specific purchase they made. Their judgment of the product’s value will be the determining aspect of your view of the product. Suppose you are interested in the best hotel in New York. You’ve had some friends who went there and can tell you about their experience. So, you could listen to your friend’s testimony, which you will believe is as credible as your friend, or you could check online reviews from strangers, some of whom could be rival hotels bashing on the site.

Interestingly enough, while I’ve been working at KHS, we’ve noticed our Spay/Neuter services receive more customers who know we offer the service because of word of mouth than anything else. I’ve only been entering the survey results for nine months now, but it is a huge portion.

So because you’ve listened to your friend’s testimony and bought the product, that’s all that the company wants from you. Wrong. You will undoubtedly talk about the investment you made in a positive or negative light. In a positive light, and you continue the cycle that you were on the purchasing end of. In a negative light, and companies can use your feedback to properly alter their product. An example would be a hotel stay. Let’s say you had a good stay and blogged/tweeted about it, you may have other friends who now can see that you’ve had a good stay and this may increase their interest. On the flipside, you could blog or tweet about it, and the hotel can 1: Contact you to see if they can repair their damaged reputation 2: Fix the problem, and thus provide a better product.

The most famous form of testimony almost did not exist. The Subway campaign featuring Jared was originally paid for by an ad agency. They knew the story was great and could help the Subway image. Jared appealed to customers as a person, not a corporation. Social Media allows so many success stories to be heard and shared now. Jared’s successes vastly improved the image of Subway, and this testimony is being done every day now. Status like “mmmm…I’m eating Chipotle now.” are great for businesses because they aren’t the ones sending the messages.

BAAAAAAAAAAAA

Social Media is a new world that we are just experiencing, but it is helping to improve our everyday lives.

The book provides an analogy for social media. The consumers are sheep and the shepherd looking over them are the companies. The fence holding the sheep in breaks and some sheep are now in a new, never before explored pasture (social media). The Shepherd has 2 options: 1: Chase after the sheep 2: Ignore the sheep that wandered off. If the shepherd choses option 2, the sheep will be either lost/confused and not return or be picked up by another herder (the book says wolf, but this feels more apt), one that isn’t afraid to venture into an unknown world. If the herder choses option 1, the sheep, and herder will engage in a process of communication that benefits both parties. The shepherd can talk and observe each sheep directly, and the sheep can provide feedback on the products. This constant communication is efficient because you no longer have “experts” talking about what consumers want or need, rather you have the consumer telling you. Having said this, there are a number of companies that did not chase after their sheep.

For Every Poison there is an Antidote

I got that above line from a really bad movie I watched called Spider 2.

What are the downsides of this perceived positivity? There are two major ones: 1: Social Media puts it’s users in a preventative behavior type mode 2: Social Media removes physical experience. In case number one, a bad Facebook post or tweet can and will be seen by lots of people on an immediate basis. This forces us to watch what we say and, in a way, the mass media engages censorships. Compromising pictures, videos, status, or opinions can be viewed by mostly anyone and thus are subject to scrutiny. Think about Anthony Wiener… In case number 2, we see little value in experiencing things in a physical sense because we can just have someone tell us about it. Why waste the money going to New York if you can just view pictures of it online? Not only that, but we decrease our interpersonal communication skills because we are communicating behind a monitor. And we’re communicating with other’s presentation of themselves. We all boast a little and extend the truth, how certain can we be of the validity of the person we’re talking to (unless we’ve known them before of course). I’m going to leave on one last note. Think about Australia. What do you imagine? You probably think of something you’ve seen online that someone posted. Your subjectivity is completely dependent on what that person framed. You do not have the experience of going to Australia, but you have another person’s experience. Social media is a great tool for accessing and spreading information, but we need to be careful no to remain subjective based on our experiences on a matter, not just recycle another person’s words. Who knows, maybe Spider 2 wasn’t a bad movie and I was just saying that so you would question your own belief and see for yourself?

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Use, Recreational, Social Media

This is a General Statement About a General Phenomenon

  Do people actually believe what fortune cookies tell them? I’m not saying that the cookies are not filled with wise quotes or decent general advice for life. What I’m saying is, do these generalities actually apply? Let’s say you’re at a restaurant with some friends and you get a cookie saying, “clean your room and your mind will be clean for success.”  The cookie is not part of your life, it doesn’t know if your room is actually messy, or if you are all ready successful. To add to this, what if one of your friends gets that cookie and you had another. You would switch messages. In essence, you’re getting a premade statement that may or may not apply to you, but contains enough general advice that it should be able to connect with you. …and, in sum, that’s how I feel about predicting the future of news.

Let me elaborate my summed message. We know very little about the future. In the ’50s, people thought we’d have flying cars and cyborgs by now. WRONG! Predicting the future of such a dynamic entity is a near impossible task. Honestly, you might not even be able to predict what you’ll have for lunch tomorrow, much less the future of the entire news media.

There are 5 things we can say about news that is true for right now:

1, news online is instantaneous and accessible once the story breaks. No longer do we wait for the paper or the 6 o’clock broadcast. The reason television news successfully outperformed print had little to do with images and more to do with immediacy of news. Rather than wait until the next morning to read about what happened, people could hear about it at 5, 6, 10, 1030, and in the morning. Turner Broadcasting changed the understanding of television news blocks when they created CNN. CNN was the first 24 hour news programming and viewers could now watch when it fit their schedule, instead of when the news broadcast or was print. This translated easily to the internet where news happens immediately and is reported right after the event. Only, instead of being broadcast to a mass, the internet made news more interactive. Comments on stories, and blogs took off making news more interactive.

2, reporters and news agencies use Twitter for the right reasons. What a useful tool Twitter is for spreading news. Reporters and news agencies found this out when they started using the service. We found out Osama Bin Laden was dead before the news broke on TV (*ahem* immediate access to news). ESPN covered the Phillies and Mets at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia the night Bin Laden died. No televised messages reached the people in the ballpark, but they knew what was going on because of Twitter.

3, only old people consistently read the newspaper or watch televised news broadcasts. Okay, so that’s a generalization, but not too much of one. Ask any tv news reporter what their viewer’s age demographic is. They’ll tell you that their consistent audience is older adults. Kind of hard to retain an audience that the grim reaper will be taking.

4, news websites are an outdated method for news. Whoa! The internet is now out of date? Yes, it is. Widgets and apps are becoming a huge source of news. Your desktop computer, laptop or smartphone brings the news to you right when it’s published. Websites are not a dead media, but apps and widgets are becoming more and more prevalent in news consumption.

5, news organizations are branching off into areas they are not known for. Radio stations and newspapers are starting to hire people who know how to edit video. Television stations are hiring people who know how to write stories for online publications. Convergence is creating similarities between the major media outlets, rather than extrapolating the differences. Look at the Eagle’s and KSN’s website. As of right now, 4;12 CST on 10/19/2011 they have the same story about slot machines arriving in for the new casino in the Mulvane area. Not only do they have the same story,they have the same style. Picture and print, no video.

So, let’s grab the check and crack open that fortune cookie. “The future of news mediums will continue to be unpredictable because of the dynamic forces behind the changes.” Huh, good job fortune cookie.

Okay, so that’s the general view of news media changes, but what about comparing how people have consumed news in the past to attempt to dictate the direction of news?
People like information immediately, or at least immediately at their disposal. No longer are we basing our lives on when news is reported. We are consuming the news: at  a rate we want to, with the stories we want to, from the sources we want, whenever we want to. In the next block I will give an example of how broadcast news changed. The traditional local broadcast model goes something like this (first segment):

1. Graphic crime story
2. Quick VO/SOT of crime story with a concerned citizen
2. Different ways you or your family could die
3. A look at the Weather (which I still believe is right outside  the window)
4. Followup on a national story about something bad that happened or political event (can be switched to first block if bad enough or with local connection)
5. Local Charity or School did something
6. Back to the Weather
7. Tease of a playful kitten that got stuck in a tree (the story doesn’t actually broadcast until the end of the news)

Okay, so the first segment of the local news has 5 different stories you are forced to engage in. Well if you went online, you wouldn’t have to sit through all the death and ways your family could die just to see the cat stuck in a tree. You could just click on it. And…if you had a computer or smartphone with widgets or apps installed you could just watch the story whenever you want without even going on the website. The traditional broadcast method makes viewers sit through things they are not interested in, but news media has all the stories laid out in a buffet style (the 2-year-old General’s Chicken is even out there). Not only can you pick from the stories that you are interested in, the news outlets show you other stories you may be interested in because of the one you selected. This is just comparing TV to online. There were changes between Print and Radio, Radio and TV, TV and Internet, and now Internet and Widgets/Apps.

I hate writing a piece about the future of news without stating a piercing belief I have about the future of news. But that would be contradictory with the message I’m writing about. I am writing about the future of news, but what I’m saying is we don’t know what the future is. General statements like changes will happen are of course accurate. It’s when you attempt to describe the changes that you become wrong. People in the ’50s said we’d have flying cars and cyborgs by now. Well we don’t, but their prediction, while wrong, indicated that we’d have more advanced technology than at current time. That is correct. So I’m going to say a general fortune cookie style statement about the future of news. It consists of two parts:

1. The future of news mediums will continue to be unpredictable because of the dynamic forces behind the changes.
There will be changes in our news mediums, but, because one change often leads to another, predicting all the changes is nearly impossible.

2. People will continue to consume the news: they are interested in, when it fits into their schedule and from various sources.
This isn’t a new trend. It started with television and carried over the internet, now it is transferring to apps and widgets. We’ll encounter new mediums along the way and the cycle will continue.

So maybe the fortune cookie is right.

1 Comment

Filed under Social Media, Things With Cats in it, Wichita Businesses

searchengineoptimization_and_you_/

Do I see myself doing something similar to Brandi Koskie?

No and yes. I don’t see myself writing, updating, and optimizing diet websites. I do see myself writing, updating, and optimizing other sites.

Search engine optimization is hard to pinpoint. In order for Googlebot to find your site, then rate it based on keywords typed in the search bar is a hard algorithm to understand. Koskie’s site dropped from first page search results to second page right after Google updated their algorithm.

The advantage of being on the first page? More web traffic. The advantage of more web traffic? More advertising money you generate.

So how does Koskie interpret the Google algorithm, then act on it?

Google gives great SEO tips

How did SEO take off

The “Spiders” are little feelers that go out and determine, based on Google’s algorithm, how credible your site is. Some of the categories include:

Content: Content is king on websites. Static content is like the stagnant water in your ditch. It looks worse each time you go by it. Blogs are great tools that can be incorporated into your website to increase content. By updating your website’s content, you’re updating your readers with any new information.

Metatags: This data is hidden within the categorization of your web pages. You have a home page and then pages that feed from there. If you title these pages, page2 or page_2_100432, the spiders will not assess this a decent structure. Besides, what good does this do to people interested in clicking on the link? The user just sees numbers that feed back to somewhere. While the numbers may feed back to a credible source, page_2_all_about_diets looks better and spiders pick up on that much more.

Linking: So you have this cool site that everyone wants to see. Do they? What other sites are you linking to and from, and how credible are those websites? This moves your webpage up and down along the Google algorithm based on your content, the content you chose to place from other sites, and how other sites (and their credibility) use your content.

These are all really great things that will help you improve your website as a whole anyways, but now that Google is requiring it for improved search engine results, it went from an aesthetic to an utmost necessity.

One of the things about rules and algorithms, people try to find ways around them. So what does Google do to combat this? Google doesn’t have someone sit down and observe your webpage and click every square inch of it. Rather, the spiders are “trained” to look for shortcuts or loopholes people may use in order to boost their site’s search rankings:

Hidden text: Some sites will link to other sites using white text on a white background, or by placing the text behind a picture. This allows websites to link to other sites without the user seeing the links. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s deceptive for someone to blast their page with hidden links. You’re not using the source, rather you’re using the rank from having it on your page.

How Google handles some malusers

Other examples of shortcuts or loopholes include but are not limited to: spam, duplicate content, and broken links.

In sum of the question asked, I do see myself doing something like what Brandi Koskie does. I will not be updating a dieting website, however, I will be updating a site I chose. Using the tools Koskie talked about, and some of the resources around,  I feel as though I have a good base understanding of SEO. One thing about SEO though, is a lot of it occurs on the programming level. In order to manipulate things around in your website, you need to understand how the website works. Yes, having a blog link into your site will add to your content, but you have to have a place to put it. You have to program the metatags on your web pages. Websites are becoming easier to manage, especially considering we can create a basic one from a blog, but incorporating these changes into a bigger site requires knowledge, or someone else who knows, on how to make these changes. I completely agree with everything Koskie said, and I think the improvements on the website not only help you in search engine location, but help your website function better overall. I just think that we need to have an understanding of how to set all this up as well. We can say we need to change this page’s tag to make our content more worthy in SEO, but the actual practice of it takes an understand in website building.

On a side note for an appropriate ending: Is us changing our content/structure to fit Google’s search engine a good thing?  I say this because people are not changing their content to be more appealing to their customers, but to fit higher in the search engine rankings. We could say that rankings in the search engine location and appeal to customers go hand in hand, but are we changing how we want to do something just so we won’t fall behind in a governing system’s ranking or for the readers?

1 Comment

Filed under Business Use, Recreational, Social Media

Better Business Practices

How would you use Social Media in your business? Promotion? Interaction? Advertising? Any way you can?

I’m going to preface this story by telling you Mike Beaucham from The Golf Warehouse, and Will Scroggin from Cox Communications came to our social media class on 9/14/11.

Okay, so before they came I was wondering how businesses around the Wichita area communicated using social media. Well, it was interesting to see them use it in such a conversational and proactive way with their customers. I honestly cannot tell you how many times I have complained about Cox Communications internet services before on the internet. So if I were to use my twitter account to complain, I would be shocked to see a response from Will. I think using Twitter to find people who are having problems with your service, and helping those people out with this service is one of the best uses of Twitter for businesses. I used to feel that businesses are a nonbreathing entity, and the only communication from this conglomerate will be by low-level employees asking you to swim through red tape, or by the accounting department.

Businesses only responded when a customer told the business there was a problem. This meant the customer had to go through the experience, contact the business, and then explain the problem. That process is a lot of work. People generally just complain about what happened, going through the process takes time and having to find the right person to complain to. Now, anyone can just hop on Twitter and complain, and, something that would surprise me, a person from the company is there to get feedback from the person. What Will does at Cox allows him to communicate to people on their terms, not the business’s, and this gets feedback to the business it otherwise would not have received. Yes the feedback is negative, but it helps them improve their product and their image by being proactive.

Mike at The Golf Warehouse uses Facebook to create conversation with his customers and promote products. The deals he posts on the page receive good responses; you can track that with Facebook page traffic and in house sales. Aside from using Facebook to promote products, I felt as though using it to interact with customers on a personal and fun level was a great idea. I especially liked the poll for what to do to the boss’s office after he left early. That creates traffic to your Facebook, lets customers take part in your business, and creates a reason for people to go to your page, which also happens to show off products. It’s using interactivity to get people to a webpage, creating a perception of fun on the page, all while exposing them to ads you placed.

So what about businesses not using social media right now? How should they implement this into their marketing? Creating a Facebook, Twitter and blogs = free. Having someone update, follow, and interact = hourly wage. The cost of creating social media is not the problem, rather the problem lies with having someone manning it. Social media is a great way for businesses to talk to other businesses, customers, or both.

So your company has decided to use social media now! That’s great! How are you going to use it? What plans do you have? What sites will you use to talk about what? What strategies do you have? …hmmm. This is a little more complicated now huh. Specific social channels have specific roles. Blasting the same message across two different channels will not get the same result either way, in fact people will realize you’ve done this. You will want to know what your target audience uses as their social channel, and go from there. Lets go make an example-

Bertrand’s company, Bertrand’s Bottoms, sells shoes. His company employed 15 people, now 16 (the social media guru). As the social media guru how do you approach getting his business more interactivity on the web while increasing sales and staying within budget? You are told that during certain sporting seasons certain products, sporting shoes, move faster than others, and this cycle continues throughout the year. Bertrand is a stickler too, he doesn’t want to spend any more money than he has to, yet he wants a quality message out there.

You want to set the expectation for your customers. I would suggest using the Twitter account to find people looking for shoes. Say you get on there and you search #running. People are saying their feet hurt from their shoes, well post to #running and talk directly to these people to let them know @BertrandsBottoms has a great shoes that will help them with their running and won’t hurt their feet. Using Will’s model Twitter can also be used to find negatives about your business. Say someone mentions how the shoes fell apart after purchase. Talk directly to them to see if you can help. This improves your image, and your product (you might not have known any problems arose with this specific shoe until now). Use Facebook to promote deals and interact with your customers. Create a flow of customers who will visit your page and see your product. Make a weekly deal that will help sell those out-of-season shoes and get interactivity on your page. Tweet your followers to check out your Facebook for sweet deals coming up.

There is no definite equation to get you more interaction from social media. F + T = More interaction and better sales does not always work. However, when used effectively F + T + Interaction + Updates can= More Visitation.

Social media moment of the week right here –

This taxidermist had a video made for his business. I’m not sure where he posted it at, but it was so ridiculous that Reddit and Digg communities loved it and his video has had tons of hits and parodies. While tons of hits does not necessarily mean more product, or in this case animals, moved, it does mean that people know of his business.

1 Comment

Filed under Business Use, Social Media, Wichita Businesses

Changes within Social Media and the Internet

Engage! explained marketing strategies in corporations and how the amount of money spent in marketing for the companies changed. Businesses are spending more and more money each year in online advertising. However, not all businesses are spending this money correctly. Simply putting more money into a social media campaign will not result in higher return on investments. There needs to be direction, a goal, a way to improve your marketing with social media, not using social media as the improvement. Too many businesses misuse social media, and it bites them back for doing so. A proper use can, when needed, effectively broadcast your message to thousands if not millions of people. I experienced the benefits first hand of proper social media use. This past summer, we had a lot of kittens at the Kansas Humane Society. We knew we had too many to give proper care to all, but we needed to find a way to get people in the door to adopt them. We decided to create a two-hour long free cat and kitten adoption event. Because we had little time to prepare for this, the only means we could express this message with were social media, and two television spots. I created a Youtube video, which we posted to our blog and facebook. Two days after posting the video, we had our adoption event and all of our cats and kittens were adopted. Using a nontraditional style of marketing, we were able to effectively reach our audience and reap the benefits. We continue to use blogs, social media and other nontraditional methods of marketing. Though, adopting all of our felines in two hours using mostly nontraditional marketing created that week is a remarkable achievement.

Social media is a cheaper, faster, and more efficient alternative to traditional marketing. This works as a double-edged sword however. Social media sites are free to join and many of the users engage with the community members. This means more money can be spent on the message and improving its quality rather than on its broadcast. Users can instantly see the message, and the message will remain on the site, and your profile for as long as you wish to keep it there. Broadcast spots, radio and print ads all cost exorbitant sums of money. Your ad on radio and television will only be broadcast for anywhere from fifteen seconds to one minute. Print ads show up in side columns and back pages of editorials. These costly ads are generated towards a group of people rather than one person, and deal with and act as a distraction towards listeners and readers. A detraction of social media comes from one of its positive aspects. Sure users can instantaneously view, share and critic other’s posts, blogs or statuses, but what happens when it’s not intended for release. Recently we saw the case of Anthony Weiner posting a picture that he vehemently denied being him, or his private region. With the immediacy of our media intake, Weiner’s followers were able to see this photo before he knew he posted it and he fell under scrutiny.

Privacy remains a barrier in the control of our social media platforms. Danah Boyd explains much of her interpretations of it in her speech Open Privacy. We perceive an illusion of control of our profiles because we can control the privacy settings. While controlling the privacy settings is important in filtering the information to sources, it will not completely filter it. It takes one slip-up and you’re Hannah Montana talking trash on other celebrities on Youtube because you thought the video was set on private. Besides, what is stopping one of the people who can see the material from publishing it? Further more, what stops someone from posting bad mouth or uploading a controversial about you? There are no privacy settings that exist to stop that.

Combining the topic of privacy settings and marketing, we end up with the idea of a new style, nontraditional marketing schematic. Using Facebook as an example, when you post your interests, activities, favorite foods, and other personal information, your intent is to post about yourself for others to see. However, what Facebook sees is demographic and psychographic analysis that can be sold to marketers. The sidebars on your profile page are not ads generated randomly and to an unspecified mass like a broadcast or print ad. These ads can not only be categorized based on demographics such as age, sex and location, but as well as psychographics like favorite food, favorite activity, and general interests. An example of a dynamic ad- Do you have a boyfriend, girlfriend or significant other? If your profile says yes, then you will receive ads based on this relationship. Popular ones that show up on my account are track your girlfriend’s location, where to go with your girlfriend, and what your baby would look like. However, if it says no, you will receive ads like where to meet girls/guys, top things guys/girls like, and so on. This dynamic shift in marketing is taking place throughout the world. Companies will be sending more messages tailored to you rather than a group. Another example of this comes from the online music station Pandora. When you create a station, you are telling Pandora a specific genre of music you listen to. By participating in the thumbs up and thumbs down filter selections, you are not only selecting certain songs to be heard, but you are selecting certain ads. If you’re listening to a station and Cage the Elephant comes on, but you click the thumbs down button, chances are you won’t hear the Cage the Elephant ad for their new cd.

Along with this change in marketing the public’s power in business to consumer communications changed. Jay Rosen highlighted certain truths and changes with this in his article The People Formerly Known as the Audience. The material is true; the consumer is now garnering more control from corporations. No longer is the corporation sending out messages with little to no feedback, but instead we can comment, like or retweet a message to spread the word and give appropriate feedback to the speaker.

Blogs enabled people to become their own printing press, Youtube allowed people to become their own broadcast stations, and podcast changed radio. The more subtle changes occurred with the addition of apps and widgets. The Internet we know now may very well be transformed from a free roam environment into an app happy, condensed, mobile world. Wired posted an article about this very thing

The Internet is not going to die or go away, but a lot of the ways we access it will change. Our Facebooks, Twitters, and Youtubes are all apps now. We don’t need to sign into browsers and go to the webpage, we can immediately find the information we want right there. This will change the future of marketing. It’s becoming more apparent that businesses need a website, a Facebook, and a Twitter, and maybe now an app to continue to flourish in the markets (I do realize that not every business needs a social media presence, and I feel that some are in it just to be in it). How cool would it be if QuikTrip posted an app that synched with the maps app on your phone to give you the nearest directions? Websites are transforming from bigger landscapes of information to condensed and mobile friendly. We log onto our accounts on our phones and ipads. These apps are not going to go away. It is my belief that the future of our social media lives and Internet consumption will evolve to this app friendly world.

It is apparent the marketing and social world around us is changing. Whether it is by company’s strategies, social networking updates and innovations, or a whole new way to access the web; changes, not only the ones we are experiencing now, are on the horizon. It is very interesting to think that fifteen years ago an entirely different beast dominated our media world. Television held a tight grip on the news world with 24-hour news, but now Facebook and Twitter allow us to instantaneously see what is happening at any given point to any given person. The articles we read for this class hit the nail on the head and defined a change that is currently occurring in our society. Brian Solis explained how businesses need, or don’t need to spend their time on social media marketing ventures. Jay Rosen wrote on the changes in media and the control the people now have. Yes it is true a handful of media conglomerates control most of the market, but blogging and other networking sites gave people a large chunk control. Danah Boyd explained the privacy issues within social media, and the illusion we see as control. Finally, Wired spawned a new thought into the idea of an ever-changing web and how we may no longer at a free roam Internet the same. Maybe apps are a fad, but a lot of the things we use now had the same stigma?

1 Comment

Filed under Business Use, Recreational, Social Media