Archive for December, 2008

Social marketing – the new search engine optimisation

The internet is full of voices evangelising about the potential of social marketing these days.  One is Todd Malicoat, an internet marketing consultant based in San Francisco.

Malicoat specialises in search-engine optimisation, and thinks that social media is rapidly changing the way that rankings work. Gone are the days when businesses could artificially boost their rankings by buying a whole series of links. Now, he says, you need lots of people coming to your site, staying on it and bookmarking it for later to prove that you deserve to be on top of the search results.

Malicoat concludes:

‘Social media marketing is the grass roots, word of mouth wonder of the web. Social media is building future communication empires at the moment with the likes of facebook, digg, reddit, digg, delicious, as the distribution points for web communication. They are the portals that every dot-bust era strived to be. Social media is separating the old guard from the new, and rewarding those that are quick to embrace the technology.’

In a recent post on his blog Stuntdubl, Malicoat also offers some handy tips for marketers trying to flag up the importance of social media to their colleagues. Read more here.

What a dead singer can tell us about the power of social media

The biggest social media story of this week is the extraordinary to get Jeff Buckley’s version of the Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah to the Christmas number one spot in the singles chart.

“Extraordinary” because it’s a fair bet that most people haven’t even heard of Buckley, who died in 1997, made only one studio album, Grace, and whose cover of Hallelujah was recorded fourteen years ago. 

Yet there is every sign that the Buckley version, which has had thousands of downloads since Monday, will reach at least number 2 by Christmas.

The Facebook campaign, which has been covered extensively in the media, was launched after the X Factor winner, Alexandra Burke, released her crowd-pleasing  version of Hallelujah – on the face of it a shoo-in for the Christmas number one spot. In a spirit of protest against the manufactured nature of the X Factor single, a few people banded together to launch the Facebook group, arguing that the Buckley version has greater integrity. As the group now has 90,000 members, most of whom have joined in the last five days, it seems a lot of people agree.

So what can we learn from this? Simply that by harnessing the power of social media, it is possible to mobilise vast numbers of people very quickly in a common cause. Even three years ago, there would have been no chance at all of a campaign like this working – while a few solitary individuals might have had a grumble about the X Factor, the idea that they could, in a few days, find, let alone organise, 90,000 others who thought the same way, would have been laughable. 

This week, when we saw massive tv, radio and newspaper coverage of a Facebook campaign launched by a handful of previously unknown people, we can pause and reflect that social media really is changing the world.

Social media – a guide to etiquette

It seems as if we’ve only just got the hang of the protocol for writing emails, when along comes social  media with a whole new range of
tricky etiquette problems: if someone follows me  on Twitter, is it rude not to follow them back? If someone  I hated at school wants to be my Facebook friend,  is it OK to decline? And  should I ask permission from my friends  before I post their picture on my blog?

Luckily, Tamar Weinberg has come along to answer some of the difficult questions with The Ultimate Social Media Handbook.

Tamar helpfully provides a list of the worst sins you can commit in Facebook (“Adding users as friends without proper introductions”), Twitter (“Following a user and then unfollowing them before they have a chance to follow back”) and blogging (“Turning a blog into a flame war against someone you don’t like.”)

Tamar concludes by saying: “Remember that social media communities are real relationships, real conversations, and as such, they should be treated like they  are real.”

It’s advice we’d all do well to heed.

The power of business networking

Social media started as a youth thing, which businesses can take advantage of. But social networks are also used by business executives, viz LinkedIn and Ecademy.

Ecademy’s co-founder Penny Power recently came first in a competition to reach the most people using social media tools. She signed up to give a presentation at a conference on webcasting only two days beforehand, and got invitations out to 5,000 people by twittering, blogging and posting on the Ecademy network – a real-life example of the strength of social networks.

Click here for the press report.

The Public Sector Takes to Social Media

It’s not just private companies that want to harness the power of social networking. Local authorities are also recognising its value as a means to provide easy and accessible information about policies and services.

The Local Government Information Unit is encouraging local councils to use social networking sites as a means to increase young people’s participation in the democratic process. It sees this as an ideal way for citizens to be directly involved in the creation of new policies and participate in debates about issues that affect them.

The Unit has called on councils to work with service providers to develop this further. One authority that has responded to the challenge is Glasgow City Council, which has commissioned its very own technology platform. Called Huzu, it has been built by social media company DA group.

Read more about this project here.


Social media and the London Olympics


The Beijing Olympics was special for lots of reasons, but the application of modern information channels was not among them – thanks to the Chinese regime’s deep suspicion of free expression. 

But social media will play a big part in the run up to the London Olympics in 2012. So says Alex Balfour, a regular Twitter poster and  head of new media for London 2012. Balfour has interesting plans to involve the public, using social media tools.

His message to everyone involved in organizing the Games:

“Join in – get involved in the conversations and use the tools that are already out there – and try to do it in a way that is considered and credible, not clumsy. Not a small challenge for an institution as complex and traditional as the Games… Inspire more conversations -people are already using social media to talk about the Games in their own way and our role should be to introduce them to our values and vision, steer them, encourage them and inspire them – but never tell them what to do… Identify the positive voices, the supporters, turn them into advocates and ask them to help us and help us enlarge the conversation.”

You can read the full text of Balfour’s talk here. It includes some useful stats on the popularity of social media, and examples of people, like Barack Obama, who have successfully exploited it.

Social media: the end of traditional journalism?

The Mumbai terrorist attack offers an example of just how powerful social media is becoming. People who were plugged into social networks like Facebook and Twitter were able to follow the events minute by minute, thanks to bloggers on the scene who were relaying the events practically as they occurred. Reuters, CNN and other traditional news agencies were way behind.

Could this spell the end for traditional journalism? Kalena Jordan thinks it could. Read her thinking here.


You have customers

Firms to invest in social media

Indications that businesses are tuning into social media come thick and fast. Here’s a report that sees interest growing in blogging, community sites and user-generated content as a means to engage consumers.

The report found that only 45% of companies have a defined customer engagement strategy in place. But those that do plan to invest in areas such as user ratings and feedback, user-generated content and blogging, it says.

More than a third say they are going to invest in building a presence on social networks, and improve their customer engagement through Twitter and other micro-blogging tools.

Click here for more details.

Companies woo investors via social websites

Companies are increasingly using social media to communicate with investors, according to a new report from Hallvarsson&Halvarsson, a Swedish financial consultancy.

The report, by Robin Olenius, underlines that shareholders and analysts are going beyond investor-relations sites to user-generated content for news and opinions about their companies.

Companies are using social networking sites to reach a wider audience of existing or potential investors which they could not engage with through their site alone. Social networks also enable companies to exchange ideas and to deal with criticism.

H&H found in a survey of business journalists, analysts and investors that 91 per cent looked for information on listed companies beyond their corporate sites.

Conservative companies who refuse to embrace social media are likely to become culturally irrelevant to these developments if they do not wake up to these changes in investor relations behaviours. They might spend ages polishing up investor statements by committee and putting them on their corporate web sites but chances are these will not be read with as much attention as news/views and comments on social media sites.