Tag: "social media"

Look Up

Drowning in Social Media?

As you’re aware of, the usage of social media has exploded over the last couple of years and there are no indicators saying our usage will decrease. Five years ago platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine didn’t even exist and Facebook had just launched their “Like” button. Today, these platforms are seen everywhere and they are being used both by private users and by businesses for advertising purposes. A recent study states that there are now 1.7 billion social media users in the world and today’s technology allows us to be connected wherever and whenever.

A lot of the discussions and reports about social media usage are about youths and how their online communication can make them less interactive and social outside the world of social media platforms. However, in my opinion there are also other potential problems that could appear, for example: how can parent’s usage of social media affect their young kids?

Let’s take an example. Every morning, Mondays through Thursdays, I get on the same bus, which takes me to Stokefire’s HQ. Since a lot of people are commuting, it’s not unusual that you start to recognize your fellow-passengers. During my trips I’ve noticed a young woman, approximately in her early thirties, who always travels with a young girl, most likely her daughter (they look very much alike). I’m a person who very much enjoys observing my surroundings, and what I’ve noticed over the last couple of months is that the mother almost always looks down on her smart phone when I get on, until she and her daughter get off about fifteen minutes later. I have several times seen how the young girl seeks attention from her mother, for example by pulling the sleeve of the mother’s jacket or by trying to start a conversation, almost always without any positive response.

I have no idea what their interaction looks like during the rest of the day, but I’m curious how this type of behavior from parents can affect their kids in the long-run. I believe it’s very important for every individual to feel like they are being seen already from young age, since it helps build self-confidence and self-esteem. So what can happen when parents and their children are disconnected due to social media? Will these kids grow up and become attention seekers? Are they going to have a hunger for endorsement? Will they seek short-term acknowledge from online connections in the shape of likes and re-tweets?

Don’t get me wrong. I love social media and use it daily, but I’m also aware of how addictive it can be and how disconnected it can make you from the real world. It’s crucial for every user to remind themselves once in a while that there is a real world outside Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

How do you use social media and how does it affect those around you? That’s something worth reflecting about.

With that said, I would also like to share with you that this is my very last post here. I’m heading back to Sweden for my last semester before I earn my Bachelor’s Degree and even though I’m very excited about that, I’m not as happy to leave Stokefire. I’ve had an awesome time here as an intern and I’ve learned so much valuable knowledge which is going to help me in my upcoming career. New adventures await, and I’m looking very much forward to see what the future brings to me.

Thank you for a couple of awesome months, Stokefire!

What Makes People Want To Follow A Brand? An Infographic Explanatory Attempt

Posted by:
Tate Linden

source: http://blog.getsatisfaction.com/2011/06/29/what-makes-people-follow-brands/?view=socialstudies

According to Get Satisfaction if you’re following us it’s probably because of our special offers, an existing client relationship, our sparkling wit and humor, because your friends are doing it, to get news, or the infamous and infuriating “other”. But as cool-looking as the infographic may be, I wonder…

Do the multiple choice responses above really answer the question, “what makes people want to follow a brand?”

I suppose it does if you’re interested in the narrowly defined social media definition of ‘follow’ coupled with the most broad definition of ‘brand’. The largest group of followers identified ‘special offers’ as the reason for clicking the follow button. Thanks to organizations such as Groupon and LivingSocial ‘special offers’ is now nearly synonymous with ‘discounts’. To my mind there’s a huge difference between following a brand and following discounts. Wouldn’t a true brand follower (stepping outside of the limited social media context here) follow a brand irrespective of deals or discounts?

I think perhaps the question actually being answered here is “what makes people want to follow a Twitter account representing an organization.” Once we look at it in that context the vast majority of answers start to make more sense. Being a current customer, looking for discounts, copying your friends, or being entertained are all legitimate reasons to follow a Twitter handle. But which of these actually drives engagement to the point of being a true brand adherent? Only five percent of respondents said they were interested in service, support, or product news – which seems to be the only response that has the hallmark of someone who truly follows a brand in spirit. (Yes, I’m being picky and suggesting that just indicating that you’re a current customer isn’t enough to be considered as anything other than taking a test-drive.)

Counting your social media followers is a fine activity, as is trying to figure out why they’re following you. You’ve gotta have some kind of metrics. But trying to equate a follower on Twitter with a follower of a brand is folly. Even tracking stuff like amplification probability and true reach (as provided by klout) doesn’t measure the one thing that matters in the long term.

Success in social media shouldn’t be measured in audience size or amplification probability. It should be measured in the same way that success of real brands should be measured – by tracking the brand’s ability to change the behavior of the target audience. A large audience helps increase the spread of your message, but if your message sucks or your brand elements are out of alignment (see: Gandhi’s Pyramid) all it will do is make your inadequacies apparent to more people who you’ll then need to reeducate if you ever invest in getting your brand right, or help you lose the clients you already have.

Two final thoughts:

1) I am very impressed with the research collected by getsatisfaction and this post isn’t meant to disparage their talented team in any way. What they uncovered is true when we limit ourselves to the social media universe. Unfortunately the vocabulary they (and most of us) use to distinguish a follower who defined themselves by clicking a single ‘FOLLOW’ button to receive a coupon from a follower who has spent a lifetime collecting brand memorabilia has a lot of overlap – and it probably shouldn’t. We’re running into this blurring of the two “fan” states more and more these days.

2) If your organization is focused on churn-and-burn tactics that depend on being at the leading edge of a trend and you aren’t needing to build or maintain a long-term client relationship then disregard all of the stuff I wrote above. Get in, get followers, be humorous, offer discounts, make scads of money and get out quick. Just don’t ask me how to do that without also selling your soul, because I don’t know. And, truthfully, if I did (even if I had to sell my soul in the deal, perhaps) chances are good I’d be trying to convince you that the answer was just a click (and three easy payments) away.

Here’s the original infographic-o’-coolness:

The Top 5 Reasons I Hate Your Damn List.

Posted by:
Tate Linden

Yep. I’ve had it. My incoming tweet-stream and my Google Reader are stuffed with “The Top Five Reasons To X” and “The Ten Must-Do Activities If You Want To Be Y”.  They’re shared by re-tweeters and bloggers with such frequency that if there was actual business value in the stream somewhere (and I’m not promising that there is) it scrolls by in a blur of numbers and canned advice before I’ve had a chance to notice it.

But I can’t control the path of the river without first understanding its flow. So with that in mind, I’m plugging my nose, writing my own list, releasing it downstream, and letting the current take it where it may.

And so… Here it is… The Top Five Reasons I Hate Your Damn List.

  1. They’re usually just simplistic link-bait.
    The last time I saw a tip-list not manufactured (effectively or not) to go viral was… Actually, I can’t remember. They all tend to link to famous people known to be active on social media, or talk about whatever seems to capture the day’s zeitgeist, like seven ways to meet Justin Bieber (virtually always) or the three things you didn’t know about Evelyn Lozada (on this particular day.)
  2. They’re self-promotional.
    Like USA Today’s college site telling you the five things you should be doing RIGHT NOW to get into grad school. It’s written by a guy who makes a living helping thousands of people get into grad school. And what’s this? Number five says:Ask for help. There are so many resources out there – websites, books, admissions consultants – and it can be dizzying. […] But you must be willing to reach out and ask for help when you need it.

    Subtle. Especially with that helpful link to the site offering the services in the bio. Hmph. We at Stokefire ensure that our exceptionally talented staff doesn’t stoop so low.

  3.  They’re regurgitated
    While there might be a single gem of an idea that we haven’t seen before, most of the list is made up of stuff available elsewhere. Look at enough lists on similar topics and you end up reading the same stuff everywhere. The the thousands of lists of reasons to tweet, how many actual powerful and new ideas are really there? And are you willing to read through the 25,000+ ideas in those lists of 5 or 10 “reasons to tweet” to find the few crumbs you didn’t know before?
  4. They’re arbitrary
    Especially when you read especially when you consider lists of reasons to engage in some activity or how-to lists that start with the words, “The Top” and are usually followed by a number from three to ten. I’m fairly certain that most of those lists didn’t use a formula of any kind to figure out what order those lists should go in or what bits of information deserve to be shared.
  5. They’re irresponsible
    Using a list removes all responsibility from the list-maker. It’s usually just a random list of bromides from which people seeking help can pick and choose stuff to try. It’s ignorance disguised as expertise. Enough with the suggestions disguised as answers, people! We don’t need lists, we need systems and arguments that work.

That’s it.

It’s time to admit that lists – as effective as they are at getting people to look at your site – are pretty damn ineffective at actually helping people understand topics meaningfully, or improve their situation in any way.

It’s also time to admit that, as with almost every list out there, this one is simplistic, self-promotional, regurgitated, arbitrary and irresponsible. And other than instinctual Google searches performed as I wrote this I didn’t research a single bit of it.

If I’ve done the math right I’ll get a billion hits by tomorrow. And a comment or two from Guy Kawasaki, natch.

But definitely not Justin Bieber, nude. Because that wouldn’t be cool.

Want more? Because I rant about other stuff, too. Like strategic designacronymsbrand naming, creative evaluation, name generators, ranting with a purpose, pre-made brands, and political branding to name a slew.

My Social Media Prediction/Rant

Here it is: Unless the signal-to-noise ratio improves dramatically (and soon) this period in marketing will be mocked for its complete lack of focus and ability to get any lasting results.

Of course, my only real experience thus far has been with blogging and Twitter. I do believe that Twitter is incredibly powerful, but to my thinking it seems to follow the same logic that does The Joker in the latest Batman film. 

The Joker:
[to Dent/Two-Face]
Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog
chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it. You
know, I just… do things. The mob has plans, the cops have plans,
Gordon’s got plans. You know, they’re schemers. Schemers trying to
control their little worlds. I’m not a schemer. I try to show the
schemers how, pathetic, their attempts to control things really are.

Twitter has no plan when it comes to our brands.  There’s no guarantee how anything you present there will turn out.  It’s just a bunch of people doing things – like dogs chasing cars.  To be fair, it’s hugely powerful, but whose to say that any brand that attempts to capitalize on the dogs here won’t be bitten to death? 

I’m all for letting the brand message develop in the hands of the populace, but the Twitterverse isn’t the populace.  It’s people distilled into indistinguishable bits.  (Just check the last few brand-based Tweets you’ve received.  Take away the link, name, and photo – can you tell who sent them?)

And to close the loop on the quote above… Is the Joker powerful?  Absolutely!  But I wouldn’t trust him to develop my brand. (Unless my brand *was* social media – in which case it might make perfect sense to pay him big bucks.)

Just to show there’s no hard feelings, though…  You can follow me @Thingnamer.

Addendum (after a good night’s sleep and a few confused responses via email):
I’m not suggesting that Twitter isn’t useful – I’m suggesting that Twitter can’t be responsible for building your brand for you.  If you take the time to develop your brand independently and then use Twitter as a channel with which to communicate that message it might work – and as Chuck Westbrook pointed out – we’ve seen Ford, Comcast, and Zappos do pretty well with this.  But note that all of them invested heavily in their brands before they ever attempted anything via social media. 

So I’m not comparing Twitter to other channels, I’m comparing it to other ways you can develop your brand.  I’m, of course, partial to hiring a pro to develop it and then choosing the channels for distribution.  I’m seeing a lot of people who are bypassing the brand development altogether and just taking their raw message to the universe in 120 character blocks.  It results in stuff like “Please check out my website” and “I just posted an awesome blog – go read it!” and “Vote for me in the #shortyawards! Now!”

No brand.  No strategy.  Just dogs chasing cars.

Just because a media channel is free doesn’t mean that you don’t need to invest before you use it. 

It’s just dogs chasing cars…

Tweet Me?

I’ve hesitantly stuck my toe in the waters of social media.  Yup.  I can now be followed “@Thingnamer“.  Sadly I’m not really sure what this means. 

So far I’m finding the experience to be interesting, though I’m noting a trend that isn’t particularly useful.  You see, most of the people tweeting for businesses are busily telling everyone how you really shouldn’t overtly market your business using twitter.  A whole industry has been created within Social Media – selling advice and strategy for better using the very tool that everyone is busy using.  It’s a bit like having people shout at you while you’re listening to the car radio.  Some people want you to have it louder, others say you need a different channel… and then there are those who try to sell you a new radio while you’re still admiring your new one.  The sheer number of twitter tools that are hawked (free or otherwise) every hour is astounding. 

The real purpose of this post is to notify those of you who are regular readers of my blog posts about the new way to access my innermost external thoughts, and to make me look more popular by having you join my twitter feed (@thingnamer.)  I’m ready to begin dominating the social marketing space with my strategery. 

Please note that I’m not fond of the “followers” name used to denote that people are reading a feed.  Instead I will refer to you as minions.  Better for my ego.

Any branders out there finding Twitter to be a useful tool for something other than selling social media advice?

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