16 Nov

Role of Design and Social Media

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A frequent question I’ve been asked lately is what is the value (beyond visual design) that designers offer to social media in terms of management. With the challenge for many companies remains knowing how to innovate, designers can offer a unique perspective to identifying and solving problems that might normally be overlooked. Designers typically translate and communicate what they understand and use that knowledge to create solutions that provide value to the business and consumer. Designers have an ability to empathize on a level that positions their solutions inline with customer needs. They are able to sift through complexity and synthesize what looks good with what works well. This means designers can inspire the business side while also connecting with customers.

Sounds to me like skills a social media manager would need.

The ability to multi-task while remaining connected to consumer needs and supporting corporate initiatives has design all over it. Finding meaning and value by analyzing the implications of their development on the path to implementation. This enables the individual to be responsive and forward-thinking, much like an entrepreneur.

This is just a brief thought that I’ll elaborate on in another post. Until then…. What do you think?

11 Feb

Social media for business and college students

There appears to be the impression among some business owners that the way to add social media to their marketing mix is to hire a college student. There’s an assumption that college students, because they’ve grown up with social media, possess the knowledge and understanding of how to use it and therefore offer a cheap alternative to working on something that is thought to be a pretty easy job.

As an adjunct professor, I can tell you that this couldn’t be further from reality.

Last month, I was introduced to a man at an event by a client of mine who mentioned the social media work I’d done for the company in the introduction. The man I was bring introduced to quickly and proudly shared that several months ago he hired a college student to “do his Facebook”. I instantly pulled out my iPhone and searched for his Facebook page (this in itself was a challenge as it was hard to find) to see how his brilliant student has done. He had 153 likes, no one was commenting on the page and the last post was a week prior.

While this was certainly nothing to be proud of and I went on to explain why what struck me as our conversation ended was the fact the he had such blind faith in the ability of his college student to manage something that could truly be an effective tool for his business. If I felt his view was unique I would not have decided to write this post- it’s not.

My students (the class is Social Media: PR and branding at Canisius College) are knowledgeable in using Facebook (some Twitter) and yes they did grow up with the digital world but most of them are by no means ready to manage social tools for a business without guidance. Here are a few reasons why:

1. For the most part, these students learn in a traditional environment. Meaning, they read, take notes, do assignments and participate in class. They do group assignments however, much of the kind of work they do does not teach the kind of accountability necessary for creating, coordinating and managing a social media campaign on multiple platforms.

2. Their knowledge in using social media is limited. My students come from the business, marketing and communications departments but many if them did not have Twitter accounts much less Google+ and YouTube.

3. They use Facebook and Twitter to talk to friends so their understanding is null as to how to use it for a business and they’ll likely default to posting push messages (unless they take a class like mine if course :))

4. They’ll likely have no idea about analytics so don’t expect to garner many stats.

I’m not putting down the students or finishing their value or potential contributions, but here’s my suggestion. If you want to save money, at least have a professional develop a strategy for you and make sure the student you have can manage the program. The professional can train your student and work in an advisory capacity to oversee the project to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Whatever you do, don’t assume the generation that grew up on technology can run your social media campaign properly or effectively.

24 Jul

Google+ and the evolution of social media

If you haven’t heard about Google+ yet, you must either be on vacation or not in marketing.

Otherwise known as G+, the newest social media toy to play with has certainly caught my attention. I know, you’re thinking…not another social media tool to sign up for!…right? Wrong. While I realize G+ is a virtual infant and too early to announce the impact it might have on other platforms, I will say it’s blend of Facebook and Twitter make social networking more collaborative. In short, I like it and can see the potential uses for business, consumers and recreation alike.

Imagine that you could create groups of friends based on your interests or life experiences on Facebook that would enable you to communicate with just those groups so that your posts wouldn’t have to be viewed by everyone. On G+ these groups are called “circles” and you can post to one or all of your circles and beyond if you so choose. You can also choose do what’s called a “huddle” or a group text conversation. You can attend a “hangout” where you can invite your circles to a video chat. There’s a stream where you can post links or comments and create conversations (similar to wall updates). Lastly, you can search for content by topic in what G+ calls “sparks”.

While business pages are not yet allowed, people are biting at the chomps to use this tool for their companies. Personally, I can see the potential for great collaborative opportunities.

What Google essentially did was identify the key features of existing social media platforms and try to create one finely tuned social media engine. This did not happen without previous flops. Their effort This go-round was right on. From the initial launch (only by invite initially to heavy social media users who in turn created buzz and excitement about it) to a killer feedback/comment system.

An example to all businesses to keep watching your competition…what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. There are always opportunities to improve, to add more value or service. It’s critical to thoroughly plan your strategy, your launch and to anticipate response- regardless of your product or industry. Like Google, you may not be successful on first attempt, but it you’re listening to your market and your target audience, you’ll significantly increase your chances for success. Planning is key!

While Google+ might be great for now or in the near future… If they don’t continue to listen and further improve and develop- something new will eventually come along that might be even better.

30 Mar

More Auto DM Smackdown

I know I see things differently than say a new Twitter user might. Perhaps I’m jaded by what I see now as insincere and disingenuous but as a new Twitter user could be perceived as thoughtful or kind.

I started thinking more about my (and most of the #usguys crew I roll with) strong dislike for Auto DMs as several of us have posted recently on this topic. Then it dawned on me… when a baby is born it doesn’t really matter who the baby is being held by, as long as it’s in the warm arms of someone. That sense of being cared for and feeling love and comfort is what’s important. A nurse vs. the mother or a relative. In those early days, a baby wants to feel the connection to someone.

I think that for the newcomers to Twitter, Auto DM’s are kind of the same. A newbie is so excited when someone they’ve followed sends them a reply (an Auto DM) perhaps not even realizing that the message was sent to every other person who follows that person. Since they don’t know that it’s not genuine – they do think it’s personal and might even think – wow, how nice of that person to DM me. In essence, they feel loved and connected.

Eventually, the baby wises up and wants only mommy (or daddy). When another caregiver tries to step in, of course, things can get hairy because baby is smart enough to know better.

Like the Auto DM… once the newbie is no longer new to Twitter, he realizes that all these sweet replies are really a pile of crap and that the sender could care less who he is anyway. Then bitter-ness creeps in and a jaded attitude shifts into gear…soon you’re like the rest of us rolling your eyes at each Auto DM. So unless you can specifically target newbie Twitter users, Auto DM’s are not recommended.

Another Auto DM-related thing I’ve been raging about lately are these ridiculous people who feel it’s ok to take my information (since I’ve decided to follow them) and interpret that as to mean that I want to receive there silly little emails, newsletters and announcements…I don’t. I have found this happening especially on LinkedIn a lot lately. It’s not a good thing to do. When I choose to follow you, it doesn’t mean I’m ready to take our relationship to the next level…assuming that is a huge mistake and frankly is best tactic used for getting people to unfollow you.

21 Mar

Trade show promotional items at SxSW ’11

There’s no doubt that trade show promotional items can help create a buzz and draw traffic to your booth as well as increase recall after the show. At SxSW, loads of promotional items could be found, with some appearing to get more bang for the buck. I collected a small sample of t-shirts and have compiled my stash here for your review. Also worth noting…I limited my t-shirt finds to only those that did not require filling out a form. I’ve also included my children’s favorite swag item – the Angry Bird keychain. By the way, the Klout shirt is my favorite…too bad they only had a small – I can’t even wear it!!

What do you think? Which would you remember?

16 Mar

A SxSW Interactive Review

SxSW

Just returned from SxSW and I’m seriously tired, all that walking around and socializing is really exhausting :)

This was my first SxSW experience and I’m still processing everything, but I can say that it was quite different than I expected. I’ve attended other conferences (BlogWorld and BlogHer) and I can tell you SxSW did not meet my expectations in terms of the actual conference.

 

The Negatives:

  1. Too crowded. Rumor was that last year there were 4,500 registrants for the interactive portion of SxSW and that this year the number jumped to somewhere between 11,000 – 14,000+ attendees.
  2. Too spread out (location). Of course, when the additional bodies, additional space was required to host the conference. It was often difficult to coordinate getting from one place to another in time for the next session, let alone finding a seat.
  3. Too tightly scheduled (time-wise). I encountered several times when I was at either the Hyatt or at the AT&T Center and wanted to attend the next session, but was unable to make it in enough time.
  4. At first glance, the sessions appeared to be ranked according to some level of difficulty or level. In my experience, they actually were more basic than I expected. I can’t say I came away with a great take-away from many of the sessions I attended.
  5. The exhibit didn’t start until Monday, while meanwhile, the conference started on Friday. That seems really short-sighted to me as many people left on Monday (including me – but I left in the afternoon so I was still able to drop into the exhibit hall/trade show). Many other people missed it altogether. Not to mention that I didn’t see some of the businesses there I had expected to see.
  6. Video/taping. As far as I understand, not all sessions were taped. I believe that all sessions with the Olgivy logo on the schedule were, but it was unclear which other were and how we will find out about it. If I had known which sessions were going to be taped in advanced, I might have modified where I went.
  7. Inconsistent level of preparation on the part of panelists and presenters. While one session might have a nicely prepared and focused presentation another may have been completely “off the cuff” with little to no focus.
  8. I overheard volunteers complaining about their experience enough to give me a bad taste about about how well-organized it was.

Klout Krib

The Positives:

I’m not trying to be Miss Negativity, as there were several great things that came out of my experience, including:

  1. My roommate (the entire stay with @windycitysocial and one night when @sarahkayhoffman joined us) was terrific. @windycitysocial and I are good roomies together and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime throughout the weekend. Thanks @kellyolexa for connecting us at #blogworld10.
  2. Meeting several of the #usguys friends I’ve made online – IRL (in real life) was a wonderful experience. While Skype does help, it’s no replacement for IRL face-to-face communication. @9INCHmarketing @josef @littlewys @missdestructo @carybranscum @keithtweets @jackinessity @manywebdesign @nickkellet @qstreet @aldsauer @solete @amoyal – I’m sorry if I forgot anyone!
  3. I reconnected with a few people I met in the past and made some wonderful new friends and connections as well.
  4. When you go to these conferences, you go looking for what’s new, bringing yourself up-to-date and learning more. I can safely say that I felt mostly up-to-date and probably the biggest take-away for me was a feeling of “damn girl, you know your stuff!” – which always makes you feel good.
  5. It’s worth noting that the reinforcement of important information learned in sessions is really motivating. It caused me to feel invigorated when I returned and take a second look at a few personal projects that I’ve put aside.
  6. Location baby! We stayed at the Hampton Inn and it was incredibly convenient, clean and I loved the 2nd floor balcony. The free breakfast was a bonus too, as it made it easier to quickly grab something before heading out for sessions.
  7. My new SxSW t-shirt collection is amazing! Check back on Friday for a virtual tour of my stellar grabs.
  8. Loved the Klout Krib
  9. Getting away to warm weather was uplifting and much needed.
  10. Sitting with @jasonfalls and @windyciysocial on the flight home was an added bonus.
  11. Austin is a terrific city!

In the end, the jury is still out on whether or not I would go next year. Some people I spoke with said they would prefer to return without buying a pass for the panels, as for me, I’m not sure. At this point, overall I’m glad I attended and I’m likely to return next year if I hear that they make some changes that will have a positive impact on the negatives I mentioned above.