Social Media Catalyst

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Web Influence

Challenges of Social Network Sites:

Every aspect has two dies, the positive and the negative. Thus there are challenges to social network sites too. We are all getting carried away with the hype and hoopla but we need to have a balanced viewpoint. It’s easy for us to be exuberantly callow.

Difficult to Monetize:
Even Google, the mammoth and innovative organisation finds it difficult to monetize. Members aren’t hunting for information like they do on a search, instead they are communicating with each other, and self-expressing. “Marketers say as few as 4 in 10,000 people who see their ads on social networking sites click on them”

High number of players in the arena:
In the case of the many white label social networks (white label means you can rebrand and thus create your own social networking site), there are too many players in the space. Thus as happens in every industry where the players find it difficult to survive, Consolidation happens. Only the fittest will survive the blood bath in the market.

As Marketers Move In, Users Move Out:
Nothing is new, as communities form, marketers will move in, and in some cases make life difficult for the member and in the process, the customer will leave the network. Influencers too may leave ht e network.

Data security:
In many cases, for lack of security, members fake information and there is no way for the network or site to verify the address and the credentials. As a result, targeting marketing efforts at the right audiences becomes difficult.

Metrics not fool proof:
For many marketers who want to deploy a campaign on a social network, access to metrics isn’t always available and even if it is, the credibility and the process of rating is not good. As a result, they have to often visually monitor the interaction on the site, or measure click throughs to their site.

Privacy Concerns:
Social networks sharing too much information with third party widget developers puts members at risk, and visibly makes them uncomfortable.

Strings Attached to Membership: Difficult to Leave.
Leaving Facebook is difficult, there are hooks, saved accounts, and ways to continue to reconnect to the site, even after you’ve left.

Social Network Fatigue?
Some sources suggest that the usage of social networks are slowing down, if not reducing perhaps it’s from the endless tasks that occur, or the shininess has rubbed off.

Successful Networks have hard time scaling
Facebook and Twitter are suffering from scaling issues, as a result, their sites have a great deal of downtime. The complicated applications will only increase in intricacy as more users are added.

Loss in workplace productivity “Social not-working”
Companies, organizations, and individuals are concerned about the time wasted in managing social network profiles, in many cases; companies have banned Facebook from their employees, often using Firewalls. Thus your interaction with the prospective client is stemmed and you have access to them only at home

Social networking widgets:

For those of you who do not completely understand what a widget is, it is essentially independent objects or an object that can be embedded or downloaded onto another site and can be used as a tool, have automatic content updates, or are or can be interactive. Though they go by the name of “widget”, Facebook calls them “applications” and Google calls them “gadgets.”

Widgets represent a large percent of the total audience. MySpace widgets had the widest audience while Slide ranks. Google.com has the sixth widest widget-viewing audience with more than 19 million viewers.

Widget usage can be computed as eyeballs on the site, which also means that if the widget is cool, you can bet others will go to get the widget. The widget is essentially another form of advertising. If they have your widget, that means they came to your site or heard of your widget from someone else. Word of mouth is it!!

Myspace helps people express themselves and tell stories through personalized photos and videos created on Slide and viewed anywhere on the web or desktop.
Slide’s products — including Slideshows, FunWall and SuperPoke! — are popular on top social networking and blog platforms. Slide is also the leading developer on Facebook with more than 84 million applications installed and the most active users than any other developer.

RockYou is a leading provider of applications and widgets on the web. RockYou widgets include photo slideshows, glitter text, customized Facebook applications and voicemail accessories that are simple to use and enable people to frequently refresh their online style. RockYou servs over 180 million widget views per day in more than 200 countries. RockYou applications are customized for easy integration across all social networks including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Tagged and hi5. RockYou’s cost-effective, results-focused advertising platform is the largest Ad Network on Facebook and the most dynamic method for rapidly acquiring Facebook application users. New applications can reach over 100000 users in 24 hours, spanning a suite of applications across multiple publishing partners

Picassa is the most popular site on the Internet for uploading, sharing, linking and finding photos, videos, and graphics.

Look for music, video and image sharing widgets to continue to evolve to an extent that perhaps one day they become part of someone’s v-card or email signature, along with the location of their MySpace, FB or Linkedin pages.

Corporate blogging:

Corporate blogs, often by their very own definition, are maintained by senior levelers or any other upper level manager within the company who has a vested company interest and wholly understand the integral importance of effective networking. Since they are ultimately responsible for the content and tone of the blog, it would stand to reason that the blog’s writer or author must have some degree of maturity and responsibility.

If your company maintains a corporate blog, no doubt you have also joined or participated on social networking sites like Linkedin or Twitter. Social networking is an invaluable tool for existing businesses and new startups alike. The benefit that a business or entrepreneur can gain from being an active part of social networking sites can create phenomenal ROI (return on investment) of your time, talents and creativity that you place in your blog.

Seasoned bloggers understand the benefits of networking with their sites and visiting and commenting on other sites. They know that in order to ramp up their blog traffic and connect with other power-bloggers who aspire to high-profile status, they must find and network with other bloggers in their niche industries in business. And in addition to networking with other sites in your field of specialisation, providing solid, valuable content is even more important while networking.

It would be very bad business for your blog if your readers found the content on your blog unsuitable or worst, boring. New bloggers are often jaded by all the hype and buzz that abounds on the internet concerning social networking. Often as loners, new bloggers make the mistake of thinking that they can make a go of it alone and increase their own blog traffic. This most often happens with new bloggers who are new to internet marketing, social networking or the online world altogether. However they fail to realize that nothing could be farther from the truth.

Corporate blogs need traffic to thrive. They need readers in order to have a purpose and an audience with which to share their information. Therefore, if a corporate blog has aspirations of taking their blogs to the next level, they must first realize the inherent benefits of consistently maintaining a valuable, enriched blog that readers refer to over and over again. Hence, the need for social marketing. Here are some advantages of social networking for blogs:

1.) Join sites that complement your business’ purpose. If you sell a specialized product or service, find the social networking site that responds well to it. You don’t want to make the mistake of selling or advertising (perceived) useless products to a third party.

2.) Visit other blogs in your niche area on a daily basis. Read and comment on their blog. This is a sure-fire way to drive traffic to your blog.

3.) Write compelling, crafty content on your blog and website. People want not just content but valuable content. Be sure to update the blog daily (if it is of that compelling nature), but no less than three times a week.

Social Media Best business methods:

Following are the reasons why businessman use social media i.e. do social networks marketing:
• Influence brand reputation
• Increase brand awareness
• Improve search engine rankings
• Increase website traffic
• Generate leads for increasing sales
• Improve internal communications
• Increase online sales

But of these, social media marketing initiatives are effective more at influencing brand reputation, increasing awareness and improving search rankings and site traffic.

Social media was considered less effective, but still good, for internal communications and driving online sales.

The number of companies or web sites that have been able to use social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to generate any kind of online sales are quite less.

Surprisingly there are companies who do not have a Social media policy. It is not essential but becomes one if you are a company who uses all types of media to promote your product/ service. For some companies. Social media policy is not required, some think it is required but some how it isn’t getting the priority that it needs and for some it is in the process of being formulated

A lot of the time, companies will put up a corporate blog or Facebook profile and think that they are doing social media marketing. Unfortunately it isn’t. When you engage customers with you then it becomes social media marketing. And it requires fewer resources.

Usage of back links in SEO:

Focusing on the same keyword, this can be an effective internet marketing technique. This is search engine optimization for social networking websites at its best.

This has also become the major source of back-links. It provides a great way to generate back-links for free. It boosts website visibility at search engines, because each new back-link is a new positive point for website. Generally most of the social networking sites provide the facility of creating forums. These forums are great source to get thousands of back-links. The key benefit of creating a forum signature is that- when an individual clicks on a forum that was indexed by the search engines, they will have a direct link to website from forum signature. The more post we make to different topics, the more back-links we will create to our website.

Currently social networking in a broad business sense is the best and most effective way of drawing potential clients and interest to websites. Playing its role in search engine optimization process for any website, it can increase the number of meaningful hits to website. Using this form of social marketing is more effective because it draws customers in a more ethical way. Website promotion through social networking is more like a fun and one won’t have to wait for the result for weeks or months.

Role of Social Networking in SEO:

In recent times, social networking has become a necessity rather than an option. It is an activity to achieve long term success for your promotional endeavour especially through the Internet. Almost everyone nowadays has his/ her presence on social networking sites. People of every age group are using numerous networking sites and creating their profile. In fact, over the past few years social networking have become more popular in the general public. It has become one of the best ways to meet people in different parts of the world. It has helped many business owners grew or promote their business and even act as best platform to share information and generate business leads.

With respect to India, on a broader scale, the rapid growth in number of broadband connections and online users this new concept have become a dominant marketing device that in turn helped in driving business to any website and translate into sales. It has emerged as one of the least expensive and most helpful ways to boost the website ranking opportunities and attract the attention of target audience.

Indeed it is playing a big role in website promotion and SEO process.
When an individual creates a presence o the internet for professional use through website or for personal use through blog, it is not always easy to get visibility and the amount of traffic. But with the social networking, this task can be achieved in better way. Besides this, these days there are millions of websites that are easily accessible but the problem occurs when we try to get high rankings with the search engines for the same keywords. Thus, the best thing we can do is publish good articles in social networking sites after selecting some relevant topic related with the theme of the website.

Social networking fundamentals in the present scenario:

Social networking was started on the premise that ‘like-minded’ people would come together to talk about a particular thing. So if you happen to just surf on the internet, you would be sure of knowing about social networking and how it helps everyone. It is quite transparent due to the nature of its platforms and its associated tools. If you hang yourself out on the internet far enough, your personality starts to show. Take Twitter for example. If you Tweet long enough, patterns start to form. Just like in grade school, high school and college and at your work. You start to see the personalities of the people that you “hang with” every day. This was the essence of social networking.

Here is the thing though. In this uber networked world we now live in. You really don’t want to be stereotyped. If you are one of those type of nerds and show it on your account, no one wants to work with those types of people, no one wants to hand with those types of people and no one certainly wants to hire that kind of person then it might cause you a lot of problem although you are not directly related to it.

It isn’t about trying to please everyone and it is not about being hard. You don’t have to. It’s about being real and being a realist. We are all scratching and clawing for the same things here.

We all want that people think of us with the highest respect and intellectual level. This nowadays though depends on the type of communities and friends we have in our friend list. The best case scenario would mean that our offline persona mirrors the online persona but this isn’t always possible. People may have different tastes offline and different online. It is like comparing apples with oranges.

In social media, it is easily decipherable about your persona without even seeing or meeting you in person. And if you have a special and unique community i.e. unique taste regarding a certain aspect, then you can expect fireworks.

Social media measurement: basics

Return on investment is of most importance for any activity. Be it a new plant, a new machine, a new products Research and development or an intangible team as advertisement. Quantification makes it easy to convince a client. For a marketing team within a larger organisation or a client-facing agency, being able to quantify growth or returns on a campaign is of course of vital importance when presenting results to upper management or clients – not to mention important to yourself or your team in order to determine whether your campaigns are actually working.

Problems with Measuring Social Media ROI

The point about social media is that it doesn’t cost much. In fact it doesn’t need to cost anything. Just open an account on Facebook or twitter or Orkut or linkedin to name a few and start getting people to know about you online. A successful social media campaign can be something started by you for zero money and expanded upon by your users/customers, or it can be something implemented and maintained by an existing member of staff taking up just minutes of their work day. Just like what I do for my company.

Social media is a marketing tool. Some people believe that social media is not a channel to sell things but it is something that should be used purely to engage with your customers. An extension of ethics – something so core to your business that you should be just “doing it” and not thinking about what you get back from it.

As with all types of promotions, social media benefits are qualitative in nature.
There are many qualitative benefits: among them being
Trust
Brand awareness
Interaction
Passion
Loyalty

Integrated social media communication:

We are into the second quarter of 2009 and witnessing some of the highest adoption of social media tools ever. For companies, it is time to start looking if social media is panning out like expected and should we be in it. This could be a blog post on metrics and results, but I’m thinking that it may be time to look at how easy it is to manage social media across the vast number of tools and properties. After all, isn’t it a part of marketing effectiveness and efficiency?

There are a variety of tools and properties which can be utilized to connect with you: blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog communities, and a variety of analytic tools to track progress. Isnt it a lot of work to manage all these tools. No single venue provides everything and each offers a different twist on reaching and connecting with others. The best way for me to manage everything is a big toolbar folder on my browser where we all keep bookmarks for all the social media tools and communities we participate in. Then we have other ways to manage content and connections within each community. It seems so much inefficient.

CRM was the buzzword not too long ago (proabbaly about 3-5 years back). Today CRM is an obvious thing evry business hsoudl have. It isnt a diferentiaiton facotr but a necessity. It is ironic that a solution that is all about managing customer relationships is now almost obsolete in terms of differentiaiton. CRM allowed marketers to share program and campaign assets, communications and results with each other. The biggest frustration is that after standardizing on CRM, it is of little use for traditional marketing which is becoming less and less.

We need to aggregate our social media marketing efforts. Where it created efficiency in process, cataloguing, and communication, it can do the same to streamline our social media activities. Salesforce has already integrated Twitter into its customer service platform. Having the same ability to push blogs, microblogs, and participate in community discussions and forums would be a great next step. Having the ability to also post interactive content like presentations and podcasts from a single point would also be better than having to go to YouTube, iTunes, and Slideshare as well as posting to my own website and corporate social network.

Branding in Social Media vs. Traditional Media

Integrating social media plan into your promotion and branding strategy has moved from being an option to becoming a necessity for survival in today’s fast moving marketplace. Gone are the days of doing business in a conservative manner and without the aid of technology. If you are not visible in the virtual world i.e. the internet, it would seem you are resistant to change. The new fight for customers will be online and if you lose out on social media, you have already lost half the battle. Online media is the most effective way for reach and power in order to drive returns.

With that shift in strategic direction in mind, we will consider the ways that social media differs from traditional media described below.

Source

Social media is produced through self-publishing and user-generated content vs. the professional media outlets such as television, radio, newspapers and magazines used in traditional media. E.g.: the good reviews on blogs or Orkut, Facebook gives the equivalent publicity as online “word-of-mouth”, no other thing can give the review as strong credibility.

Marketing

Social media leverages pull marketing while traditional media relies on push marketing strategies.

Cost

Social media requires a far smaller monetary investment than traditional media usually does. The increasing cost of print media, electronic media and the stratospheric levels to which advertising rates have reached on television force marketers to look at other options

Market/Audience

Social media typically reaches and influences a highly targeted or niche market vs. traditional media which often reaches a broader audience. This is advantageous since there is focused approach on that market and efforts are concentrated on those we know rather than anyone who comes across the media.

Messages

Social media messages come directly from individual consumers while traditional media messages most often come from the company behind them. This as I have mentioned is about viral marketing through grapevine techniques.

Interactivity

Social media is highly interactive generating ongoing conversations between multiple individuals while traditional media provides one-sided messages in a passive format. This is the reason why markets are turning towards online; it gives them real time feedback about their product or service.

Based on the differences listed above, it should come as no surprise that well-executed social media marketing campaigns can be highly influential. On the other hand, a negative buzz that spreads throughout the social web can be very harmful to a brand. The lesson to learn is that social media is here to stay. While the recipe for success in leveraging the social web to build brands has yet to be determined and quantified, the point is ignore at your own peril.

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