Don’t Make These Social Media Mistakes

Here are some worthy reminders from Digital Relevance regarding mistakes you should avoid when using social media for your business.

Your tweets or Facebook posts are solely promotional.

Social media can be a good venue to share special sales and promotions, but don’t post these activities too often or your “fans” will drop you. People want to follow your company because you are helpful, informative and have something to offer.

You don’t interact with anyone.

It is called social media for a reason. It seems like a no-brainer, but a big no-no many companies make is not interacting with its followers. You should promptly respond to mentions, replies and retweets and continually check your Twitter feed to respond and reply to your followers. Be sure to answer comments or questions on Facebook as well.

You tweet too much or share too often.

Twitter is a much more continuous, open platform for sharing multiple times each day. You should tweet at least three to five times a day, but what’s more important is the quality and value of your tweets. Low-quality sharing won’t lead to much interaction. On average, top brands posted once per day on Facebook. If you post more than twice per day, you will typically lose engagement.

You only tweet or share posts about your business.

It’s not all about YOU. Your followers want you to be a resource for industry information, trending topics and every now and then they like to know what’s going on in your company, but they don’t always want to know about every single webinar, article or event. It’s good to show you are a real, successful business, but also illustrate your value as a resource that continually interacts with its followers.

You’re commonplace and uninteresting.

Just as writers have a unique style and voice, brands should have a unique voice that their audience understands and relates to. Form your unique voice based on your culture, community and conversation.

You repeat yourself, you’re totally automated and you repeat yourself.

Automation can help productivity and efficiency, but when it comes to social media, it can seem spammy, impersonal and excessive. Don’t tweet or share the same article multiple times a day or even multiple times a week. A helpful article can be shared multiple times for larger exposure, but spread out your coverage dates.

Avoiding these mistakes will help you build a strong online community that believes in your brand, considers you an essential resource and enjoys interacting with you.

How Can One Little #Symbol Go So Wrong?

Okay, I’m going to vent for just a minute about the degradation of my beloved English language.

I gripe every year when a host of new “words” are added to the dictionary. I do not agree that “selfie,” “squee” or “srsly” are actual words. Srsly? SERIOUSLY, Oxford English Dictionary? If only you could see my computer screen right now, you’d see all the little red squiggly lines under these so-called “words.”

As much as I loathe that, there is one thing that drives me crazier than almost anything else (almost anything else: the blanket usage of the Oxford comma is still No. 1 on my list of ridiculous things) – and that’s the misuse of hashtags and the fact that they’re infiltrating our communication.

We’ve all done it – used a hashtag on Twitter or Facebook to not describe or sort news (the reason hashtags were created in the first place), but to instead, make yourself look like you get this whole Internet thing. “Look ma! I can write the pound sign in front of phrases! My friends will think I’m the #bee’sknees!”

As they were originally intended – to sort news or topics and make it easy for readers to follow along with those subjects on Twitter – hashtags can be quite useful. Businesses can make great use of hashtags to promote specific products or events, or news topics that are relevant to the organization’s followers.

But past that, we must draw the line. No more using hashtag phrases in conversations! No more lazy or cutesy writing! Instead of giving me 12 hashtags to try to figure out what in the world you’re talking about, dig down deep and use actual words, phrases and sentences to describe what you are doing and how it makes you feel.

You are not too good for the English language.

Here is a funny little clip from "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and special guest Justin Timberlake that personifies what might happen if we let this kind of nonsense continue.

Social Media Appeal

Social media has become a daily habit or necessity for most people. We feel the need to be plugged into Facebook, Twitter or some other site 24/7 to stay connected with the world around us, but do you trust the social media sites that you use?

You probably answered "no" to that question. A recent study done by E-Score found that people are less likely to trust social media brands and are twice as likely to trust traditional media brands (broadcast, cable and print).

This survey also produced other interesting data, including insights into online dating sites. Two online dating sites, eHarmony and Match.com, were among the highest ranked social media sites in terms of awareness, but they had the lowest appeal. E-Score says that this indicates “consumers’ displeasure with the process of using social media to find a companion.”

E-Score also found that the use of Twitter and Facebook seemed to be more out of habit or necessity since they are highly recognized and have a high number of monthly unique visitors, but have low appeal.

With people losing appeal for social media sites, could we be seeing the downfall of social media? Or will a new player come into the mix to keep social media from dying?

Reporting Truth is More Important Than Speed

When you work as a reporter at a small community newspaper, you learn early on that making a mistake – grammatical, factual or otherwise – will typically earn you a public flogging by way of scathing letter to the editor. So, you double- and triple-check your facts before printing.

But, something has happened in this 24/7 news cycle and Twitter-as-news cycle. Accuracy and truth in reporting has become less important than being the first to break a story.

I was shocked to observe it happening during the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. For example: The name of the shooter most news outlets had been using all day was the wrong name (it was the shooter’s brother). The first victim – the shooter’s mother – wasn’t, in fact, a teacher at that school. At one point there was a second shooter, and then there wasn’t.

Bad information. Just plain wrong. But it was out there and people were repeating it. Re-tweeting it.

It seems history is repeating itself with the Boston Marathon attack.

Shortly after the blasts, one news outlet said 17 people were killed. We all know that the actual number is three. Another outlet reported that a Saudi national was in custody and being guarded at a local hospital as a suspect. It turns out the innocent man was held down by frantic people in the crowd who thought he’d had something to do with it. He was never in police custody as a suspect; just recovering at a local hospital, like so many others.

Then, two days after the bombings, news outlets and social media erupted that a suspect had been arrested. An hour later: No arrests. It wasn’t until the Boston Police Department and FBI confirmed there had been no arrest made in the attack that the claims died down.

It dawned on me during the early moments of the Boston Marathon attack that as news consumers, we’re all part of the problem. We all want the information as quickly as possible. We re-tweet and share on Facebook the moment things are announced, whether or not stories contain a credible source. An “unnamed” or “unofficial” source does not count as credible, people.

Like so many Americans, Sandy Hook will always be on my heart. As a journalist, my mind will also linger on the shooter’s brother, who not only lost his family and has to live with the pain his brother caused, but whose name was vilified for the better part of a day, despite his innocence.

In the future, do your own fact-checking and wait for a named source. Contact the news outlet to let them know you value accuracy over rapidity.

It’s time to demand better.

‘Suit Up’ for IT Job Interviews

Sometimes it’s best not to imitate what you see on TV and the Internet (great advice, I know), especially when it comes to fashion choices for the workplace.

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is well-known for promoting his social media juggernaut while sporting hoodies or dark grey t-shirts. And those young technology creators in the new Samsung commercials are dressed down in jeans and t-shirts while discussing their “Unicorn Apocalypse” phone application.

While Facebook has been wildly successful and those creative geniuses look like they are having a blast deciding whether or not the unicorn zombies should have glitter in their manes (I couldn’t even make this stuff up if I wanted to) – it’s best not to expect a relaxed atmosphere when interviewing for IT jobs.

In fact, a recent survey from Robert Half Technology says IT professionals seeking a new job in Indianapolis should interview in a suit if they expect to be taken seriously. Almost half of Indianapolis chief information officers (49%, over the national average of 46%) cited a formal business suit as the appropriate interview attire.

If you don’t have a suit, khakis and a collared shirt were preferred with 34% of respondents; tailored separates were then preferred by 14% of the CIOs interviewed nationally. Only 4% of CIOs expected anyone to show up wearing jeans and a polo shirt.

Of course, the point is to let your skills and experience shine – so don’t overdo or try to be ironic by showing up in a tuxedo with tails or ball gown, either.

Mashable Asks Facebook to Face 2012 Mistakes

Mashable takes Facebook to task for some of its mistakes in 2012. Granted, we all made mistakes in 2012 … remember (that embarrassing event) and/or (person I dated)? 

But regarding Facebook, the "hidden inbox" was the really frustrating one. Looked like I’d missed messages from people and they probably think I’m a jerk for not responding, when the fact is I’m a nice guy — and I’ll be the first to tell you that. Mashable relays:

3. Instagram vs. Twitter and the Rising Garden Walls
In a move that has gone largely unexplained, Instagram disabled support for Twitter cards in early December. Instagram links no longer propagate as photos in Twitter streams, and users who’ve married the two in their social media lives are frustrated.

It’s clear Facebook still views Twitter as an existential threat, and perhaps rightfully so. The two networks keep adopting each other’s features (Twitter incorporating media, Facebook becoming a real-time news feed). But killing Instagram’s Twitter integration is a classic "walled garden" move by Facebook, and a sign that if you still want to use Instagram, you’ll have to play by Facebook’s rules.

Who loses in this battle of APIs? Users, according to Mashable’s deputy editor Chris Taylor. I have to agree.

4. Facebook Messaging Gets Weird
We’ve had email since the ’70s. It’s not that hard to implement.

Yet baffling quirks in Facebook’s messaging system came to light in 2012.

The first was a "hidden inbox" that stored messages Facebook deemed unimportant. Users in late 2011 and early 2012 were surprised to find outdated communications from friends and family buried there. While this "Other" inbox was not a new feature, it became black mark on Facebook’s user experience in 2012.

Remember kids: Users, not algorithms, should determine what is and isn’t important.

Another bizarre feature that bubbled up this summer was "Message Seen" notifications — essentially, a read receipt that indicates when users see your messages, chats and group posts. You can no longer hide from unwanted Facebook communications. Your friend will know as soon as you’ve read (and ignored) that request to attend her poetry slam next Thursday.

Oh, and you can’t turn it off (not without some fancy browser extensions, anyway).

If that’s not enough, Facebook just rolled out a dandy new feature that lets strangers send you a message for $1. Get ready for spam, unsolicited pitches and long-lost stalkers.

Report: Facebook Worked to Get Out the Vote — Possibly Helped Dems

The Atlantic offers an interesting article about Facebook’s Election Day activities, and how the social media giant’s non-partisan efforts possibly helped Democrats by turning out more young and female voters.

Assuming you are over the age of 18 and were using a computer in the United States, you probably saw at the top of your Facebook page advising you that, surprise, it was Election Day. There was a link where you could find your polling place, a button that said either "I’m voting" or I’m a voter," and pictures of the faces of friends who had already declared they had voted, which also appeared in your News Feed. If you saw something like that, you were in good company: 96 percent of 18-and-older U.S. Facebook users got that treatment, assigned randomly, of course. Though it’s not yet known how many people that is, in a similar experiment performed in 2010, the number was *60 million*. Presumably it was even more on Tuesday, as Facebook has grown substantially in the past two years.

But here’s the catch: four percent of people didn’t get the intervention. Two percent saw nothing — no message, no button, no news stories. One percent saw the message but no stories of friends’ voting behavior populated their feeds, and one percent saw only the social content but no message at the top. By splitting up the population into these experimental and control groups, researchers will be able to see if the messages had any effect on voting behavior when they begin matching the Facebook users to the voter rolls (whom a person voted for is private information, but whether they voted is public). If those who got the experimental treatment voted in greater numbers, as is expected, Fowler and his team will be able to have a pretty good sense of just how many votes in the 2012 election came directly as a result of Facebook.

In a country where elections can turn on just a couple hundred votes, it’s not far-fetched to say that Facebook’s efforts to improve voter participation could swing an election, if they haven’t already. They’ve done a very similar experiment before, and the results were significant. In a paper published earlier this year in Nature, Fowler and his colleagues announced that a Facebook message and behavior-sharing communication increased the probability that a person votes by slightly more than 2 percent. That may not seem like a huge effect, but when you have a huge population, as Facebook does, a small uptick in probability means substantial changes in voting behavior.

"Our results suggest," the team wrote, "that the Facebook social message increased turnout directly by about 60,000 voters and indirectly through social contagion by another 280,000 voters, for a total of 340,000 additional votes." This finding — remarkable and novel as it may be — is in concert with earlier research that has shown that voting is strongly influenced by social pressure, such as in this 2008 study which found that people were significantly more likely to vote if they received mailings promising to later report neighborhood-wide who had voted and who had stayed at home.

Although months of door knocking, phone calls, and other traditional campaign tactics surely bring more people to the polls, those measures are expensive labor-intensive. Nothing seems to come even close a Facebook message’s efficacy in increasing voter turnout. "When we were trying to get published," Fowler told me, "We had reviewers who said, ‘These results are so small that they’re meaningless,’ and other reviewers who said, ‘These results are implausibly large. There’s no way this can be true.’ " In a country where elections can turn on just a couple hundred votes, it’s not far-fetched to say that, down the road, Facebook’s efforts to improve voter participation could swing an election, if they haven’t already.

Now it must be said that of course Facebook is not trying to elect Democrats. Facebook has an admirable civic virtue and has long tried to increase democratic participation in a strictly nonpartisan way. "Facebook," Fowler said to me, "wants everyone to be more likely to vote. Facebook wants everyone to participate in the fact of democracy."

But that doesn’t mean the effects of Facebook’s efforts are not lopsided. Outside of Facebook’s demographic particularities, there are reasons to believe that improved voter turnout in general helps Democrats, though there is a debate about this within political science.

In practice, though, there is no such thing as pure a get-out-the-vote, one whose tide raises all votes, and Facebook is no exception. It skews toward both women and younger voters, two groups which tended to prefer Democrats on Tuesday. Eighteen-to-29-year-olds voted 60 percent for Obama, compared with 37 percent for Romney. The next-older age group, 30-44-year-olds, gave Obama 52 percent of their support. Among Americans older than 45, Romney won. The implication is clear: If Facebook provides a cheap and effective way to get more people to the polls, and it seems that it does, that is good news for Democrats. For Republicans, well, it’s an uncomfortable situation when increasing voter participation is a losing strategy.
 

CEOs Just Saying No to Social Media

Social media may be taking much of the rest of the world by storm, but Fortune 500 CEOs are not quite ready to take the personal plunge in most cases. Bulldog Reporter has the story:

The 2012 Fortune 500 Social CEO Index was created (by Domo and CEO.com) to investigate the social media habits of leading CEOs. It found that while CEOs lagged far behind the general population in terms of overall social media participation, they are more active on one social network — LinkedIn — than the general public. When it comes to specific social networks, LinkedIn was by far the most popular among Fortune 500 CEOs, with 26 percent on the network, compared to just 20.15 percent of the U.S. general public.

But on other major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, the presence of Fortune 500 CEOs was minimal at best, with only 7.6 percent on Facebook, 4 percent on Twitter, and less than 1 percent on Google Plus. By contrast, more than 50 percent of the U.S. population uses Facebook and 34 percent uses Twitter.

"The results came as a surprise considering that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are part of the daily fabric of life," said Josh James, Domo founder and CEO, in a news release. "We really expected to see more social engagement from CEOs, especially since the benefits of social media are no longer just wishful thinking."

Others findings from the study:

  • 70 percent of CEOs have no presence on social networks

  • Among the 20 Fortune 500 CEOs who have opened Twitter accounts, five have never tweeted

  • Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, with 249,00 followers, is now the most-followed Fortune 500 CEO, surpassing HP’s Meg Whitman who was in the number one spot when the survey was taken

  • 10 Fortune 500 CEOs have more than 500 LinkedIn connections, while 36 CEOs have 1 LinkedIn connection or none

  • Six Fortune 500 CEOs contribute to blogs, and only one of the six CEOs, John Mackey of Whole Foods, maintains his own blog

5 Social Media Lessons for Small Businesses

The popular site, Mashable, offers five lessons for small businesses to consider while trying to navigate the tricky waters of social media.

1. Social Isn’t the Place for the Hard Sell
This might be the most difficult lesson for the small business owner. After all, we don’t have large marketing budgets to waste. Every dollar must count and we’ve been trained to close every potential sale. However, the social universe requires a subtler approach. This means no BUY ME buttons or blatant promotional copy.

In fact, if your social media strategy is just about marketing or sales, then you’re not approaching it right. Yes, you can use social media for marketing and you can increase your sales figures from it, but it can’t be your focus 100% of the time. As a general rule of thumb, only 5% to 10% of your social media activity (i.e. status updates or tweets) should be self-promotional.

Social media is all about building relationships and growing trust. This means answering questions, providing helpful information, and serving as a trusted resource. These activities should grow your bottom line, but it can be a slower, more nuanced, and potentially more fruitful journey than you’be come to expect. For this reason, it’s important to realize that social media shouldn’t replace all your other traditional marketing practices. It’s okay to ask for the sale, just not in social channels.

2. Social Isn’t About Self-Promotion
You know how painful it is to be stuck at a cocktail party, talking to that self-absorbed person who only talks about him or herself. Small businesses need to treat social media like a cocktail party among friends. To be liked, you’ve got to be gracious, genuinely interested in others, and not dominate the conversation.

What does this mean? Make it easy for people to leave comments on your blog. Engage with everyone who posts on your wall (within reason). Share great content from others in the industry. Ask questions and encourage participation. And most importantly, recognize that sometimes it’s better to talk less and listen more.

3. You Don’t Have to be Everywhere
There are two facts to keep in mind when it comes to social media and small business. First, there will always be a new network to get involved with. Secondly, a small business owner has a limited amount of time and money to devote to social media.

Fortunately, doing social media well doesn’t mean you need to be anywhere and everywhere. Instead, it’s about choosing one or two of the most relevant and effective channels for reaching your customers and focusing on them.

Remember that a neglected social media presence will reflect poorly on your business. It’s actually better to not have an account if you don’t have the time and resources to actively manage it and participate.

4. You Don’t Have to Keep up With the Big Brands
If you’re running a small business, you know there’s a big difference between your budget and that of Virgin America or Starbucks. That’s OK. Your small business doesn’t need to try to keep up with these big brands — particularly when it comes to contests and campaigns.

Creating giveaways and contests is one of the most effective ways to generate new likes and improve overall engagement. But small businesses often feel the pressure to offer flashy prizes that are well beyond their budget.

For example, for your small business, don’t give away a bunch of iPads if that’s not what you can afford. Instead, consider giving away one of your company’s services. It’s definitely not the sexiest prize and won’t generate widespread interest, but it’s more budget friendly and everyone who participates is sure to be interested in what your company does.

5. Social Media isn’t “Free”
Sure, you don’t have to spend a dime to join Facebook, create a Twitter account, or start a blog. That’s great news for the small business. However, social media is far from free once you factor in the blood, sweat, and tears it demands. Social media requires constant commitment, from keeping fresh content on your accounts to engaging your community.

Unless you consider your time (or the time of your employees) worthless, then there’s a significant cost involved with social media. For example, if it takes one employee approximately ten hours a week to manage social media accounts, you can assign a hard cost to the effort. The key takeaway is any small business owner needs to understand the numbers behind every campaign, and that means factoring in everyone’s time and effort.
 

Facebook News: Growing, But Slowing

Maybe this example will help determine if you’re the "glass half full or glass half empty" type. The subject is Facebook and its ability to attract more users.

A recent item from the Bulldog Reporter noted the following:

Facebook’s growth appears to be slowing, particularly in the U.S. Unique U.S. visitors to the wildly popular social media site rose 5 percent in April to 158 million, according to data attributed to comScore, the slowest growth rate since comScore started tracking data in 2008. Users spent more than six hours a month on the site in April, up 16 percent from the prior year. Still, that’s a slower growth rate than the 23 percent increase in 2011.

Investors are concerned about Facebook’s ability to keep increasing revenue and make money from its growing mobile audience. But many analysts hold positive long-term ratings on the stock as the company has been rolling out new offerings for mobile users, including apps for taking photos, messaging and for managing business brand pages. It is also unveiling an app center to allow users to find Facebook-related games and other applications more easily, an AP news release reports.

So, the question is not whether you’re a Facebook fan, but whether you think it will continue to grow and prove to a success for investors. Your thoughts?