Exploring and Defining Influence – Relevancy and Complexities

By Perks |

Exploring and Defining Influence: A New Study

  • September 29, 2010

Influence is bliss…

The socialization of media is as transformative as it is empowering. As individuals, we’re tweeting, updating, blogging, commenting, curating, liking and friending our way toward varying levels of stature within our social graphs. With every response and action that results from our engagement, we are slowly introduced to the laws of social physics: for every action there is a reaction – even if that reaction is silence. And, the extent of this resulting activity is measured by levels of influence and other factors such as the size and shape of nicheworks as well as attention aperture and time.

Defining Influence

The word influence as well as the individuals referred to as new influencers are elusive in terms of standard definition. Finding a common understanding and meaning is easier said than done. Influence itself is undergoing reexamination to better understand the diversity in perceived and actual social capital and the effects of conversations across first degree social graphs and across the social graphs of those connected across each degree (friend of friends and so on).

To help, I drafted a working definition to address influence and influencers as slightly modified from its longstanding definition in standard dictionaries.

Influence is the ability to cause desirable and measurable actions and outcomes.

As everyday people flirt with reach and impact, the question becomes, do they hold the same potential to cause effects similar to those of traditional influence and connectedness, for example celebrities, industry or political leaders, media properties and favorite brands? Or does social media represent the equalization of influence? One thing is already clear, influence is not popularity and popularity is not influence. According to research, size does not matter.

The Influencer Poll

Defining influence is just the beginning. Understanding perception and expectations around influence and influencers helps us identify where we need to focus time on education and innovation.  This month, I partnered with Vocus to run a formal study on influence. As a result, 700 business leaders, entrepreneurs, and marketing professionals contributed to the report, which is available now as a free download.

I’ll share some of the observations and insights here…

Demographics

Of those polled via email, Twitter, Facebook and blogs, the genetic makeup of respondents was diverse.

79% of all panelists resided in the United States.

14% work in Europe.

3% practice in Asia.

1% were divided across the Middle East, Australia, and South America.

Of those who participated in the study, marketing represented the largest group at 35% with Public Relations following at 28%. Social Media earned a spot in the top three with 17%

The experience was diverse, with 69% identifying themselves at the director level or above. Perhaps a pleasant surprise or simply just surprising, with 30%, the largest group of individuals who participated were at the executive level, including CMO, CEO or owner. Senior level, directors and program managers followed with 25%. At 19%, mid-career, account supervisors and account managers followed with the third largest group.

For this study, we received a well rounded response of divergent organizations. Corporations accounted for the largest sampling with 33%, which edged slightly ahead of agencies (marketing, PR, advertising, social media) with 32%. Next, self-employed/freelancers accounted for 14% of all responses with non-profit/trade associations checking-in with 12%. Education represented a healthy 7% followed by government with 2%

Participants scattered the business landscape, with a majority (42%) focusing their efforts in businesses that are generating less than $1 million. 19% responded on behalf of companies earning between $1-5 million. 15% work for organizations generating between $6 and $50 million. Businesses with over $1 billion in revenue represented 9%.

Popularity vs. Influence

The debate between influence and popularity is of particular interest. Many believe that one must have earned popularity in order to wield influence. However, as you’ll see in this report, influence and popularity could live in isolation from one another. And, according to participants of this study, 90% believed that influence is indeed different than popularity.

However, the insight is in the commentary. To help convey the perception of each, here are the words of participants for or against the difference in influence and popularity…

Yes

“Popularity is just that people like you. influence is when people listen to you.”

“Popularity is fleeting. Influence lasts”

“Lady GaGa is popular, Bono is influential.”

No

“Usually, the most influential things are the most popular.”

“Maybe they aren’t equal, but there is certainly a strong correlation.”

“But … one definitely bleeds into the other. More popularity = more visibility = more opportunity to influence”

Tweets, Status, Action

When asked if a correlation exists between an influencer’s reach and their ability to drive action, 84% said yes.

If we highlight a quote from the previous question, Lady Gaga and Bono are clearly two very popular people, but in the eyes of one particular panelist, Bono was clearly more influential. To shed a bit of light on the matter, we have to visit the history of Bono’s career. Over the decades, he has cultivated his community to expect personal views, experiences, and requests for help in and around his music and performances. Essentially, he has groomed his “followers” to take action and as a result, he has caused action.

Now, as we see, Lady Gaga is the living example of someone who is attempting to convert popularity into influence…and hopefully action. Recently, she led a charge to help repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” in an effort to stop the military’s gay ban. I believe that the shift from popularity starts with intention and activation.

To help us gain greater insight into the thinking behind the responses, let’s examine some of the commentary around the subject…

Reach Does Not Drive Action

“A person can have only a few contacts and greatly influence just those few.”

“I would say there’s a stronger correlation between an influencer’s depth and their ability to drive action”

Reach Drives Action

“The farther the reach, the greater the ability to drive action.”

“It’s certainly not a perfect correlation, but it definitely exists.”

Causing Measurable Outcomes

If the previous question assumes that reach is necessary in order to influence action, our next question represents a possible reversal in thinking. 57% believe that an individual with a tightly focused network of the 3Fs (friends, followers, and fans) would have a more measurable effect on outcome over someone with a much larger number of loosely connected friends, followers, and fans (36%).

Ranking Influence

Understanding the characteristics of influence is as important as studying influence itself. We asked our participants to rank a set of contributing factors that make a person or brand influential, where each number could only get used once.  As you can see, the numbers appear greatly divided, but also united.  5=best.

60% of respondents said the “quality or focus of the network was most important”

55% forced a tie between “quality of content” AND the “capacity to cause measurable outcomes”

40% ranked “depth of relationship” as their top choice.

If we combine 4′s and 5′s, we see similar results, but with a difference in hierarchy.

90% attribute influence to the quality or focus of a network

85% cited measurable outcomes

85% stated the quality of content was the top attribute of influence

78% equated influence to online reputation

77% believe that the number of RTs and shares establish influence

76% assign the depth of relationship to influence

The ability to drive traffic ranked 7th with 75%.

Why we Follow

Why we follow a person or organization says more about the mechanics for influence than we may imagine. Again, we asked those who participated in the study to rank the reasons they follow a person or company…each number could only appear once. 1=best.

The number one reason people follow others has everything to do with the quality and caliber of the content they share.

37% followed because they post interesting content

32% believe that relationships matter and therefore a personal connection is paramount

If we add 1′s + 2′s together we can see the nuances, the “dots” that define the picture through pointillism.

62% follow because of relevant content

51% considered those they follow as thought leaders

43% focused on the personal connection

Thought leadership enters the top 3 in this perspective and as such, becoming a thought leader and ultimately an influencer, is earned through the creation of valuable content and the cultivation of communities to take action.

Earning Influence, One Way or Another

If you could choose one, single most important action a person or brand could take to increase influence online, what would you choose? In this case, content ranks at the very top. And while content might appear as king, compelling content is defined by context and relevance. Only the content that connects with individuals is worthy of not only consumption, but also sharing.

Causing Measurable Action

In any new landscape, metrics are the waypoints that validate our journey on these uncharted paths. To assess the meaningful actions that equate to success, respondents graded several criteria…each number again could only make one appearance. 1=best.

There’s a sense of irony here in that almost one-third say “an action” is the most important metric, yet just more than one-third also said it’s the least important.

If we add 1′s + 2′s together we gain greater clarity…

Action ranks as a top metric for success with 37%

Page views is second as a success metric with 36%

Tweets surprisingly outranks clickthroughs with 32%

Clickthrough followed with 32%

When we examine the mean average for each, we see a slightly different hierarchy…

An action (purchase, registration, download, request for information, vote) 3.24

Views of a particular piece of content (video, post, landing page, site) 3.1

Mean Clickthrough rates via Bit.ly or website analytics 3.08

Bitmap Tweets, retweets, likes, posts 3.06

When defining success, it’s clear, social media and influence is not governed by a one size fits all approach. Social media experiences are personal and therefore, they’re unique for every organization. We can not measure what we do not value however, and as such, success must be defined upfront and appreciated as it’s realized.

Money Can’t Buy Happiness, But Can it Buy Influence?

A truly fascinating question often begets unexpected answers. Of those polled, 57% claimed that they would pay an influencer to help drive actions or outcomes.

To get a better understanding of who would pay for the leverage of influence, we broke out the question by industry…

Search/SEO contributed to the top category for “yes” but they also represented the smaller category of participants overall. As advertising pays its way to prominence as a matter of practice, it’s no surprise to see it rank among the top with 78% yes vs. 22% no. Although, in advertising, we’re seeing a dramatic rise in the fusion of paid and earned media or what I refer to as Hybrid Theory.  Marketing followed with 61% yes vs. 39% no. Social Media and PR tied for 5th, behind “other” with 52% yes as opposed to 48% no.

For those champions looking to either seek advice or approval from decision makers within your organization, look no further than the CEO or upper management. Each accounted for 63% and 60% respectively in their willingness to pay for influence.

Apparently it’s true, while money doesn’t grow on trees, it does grow on tweets.

Redefining Influence

In conclusion, we asked panelists to submit their working definition of influence in 140 characters or less. A word cloud was then generated to amplify the most common ingredients.

Let’s revisit the definition I proposed at the beginning of the discussion…Influence is the ability to cause desirable and measurable actions and outcomes

The first word that seems to have everyone’s focus is “ability” followed by “action” and the new 5th P of Marketing, “People.” Examining the other words reveals that we have before us, the recipe for influence and it might look a bit like this…

Ability/Power

Action

People

Affect/Drive

Opinions/Thoughts

Behavior

Now try to string together a working definition of your own based on this research.

In the end, it’s our job to become “the influencer.” We owe it to our communities of customers, prospects and the people who affect their decisions to lead by example. Then and only then, can we master the ability to influence the influencer.

Download the full study from Vocus.

via briansolis.com

A new study was recently released by Brian Solis about exploring and defining influence. As a marketing agency who fully functions in social media this is a topic near and dear to our hearts. Influence is relative. Our Media & Marketing Director Damien Basile has previously written two articles for Brian on the subject of influence, Social Media Influencers Are Not Traditional Influencers and more recently The Problem With Influence.

Upon reading both of Damien’s previous articles you will find out why identifying influence is a nebulous art at best. While a lot of it is based on ‘I’ll know it when I see it’, there are actionable ways to measure the value of someone’s influence to your engagement. You need to make sure that your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) are clearly defined so that your methods of deducing traction (number of interactions, time period, amount of actual reach etc) will result in a measurable definitive ROI (Return On Investment). How you figure out the value of someone’s influence is up to you. How you figure out their influential value for your engagement is up to them.


50 Most Prominent Custom Facebook Pages

By Perks |

50 Most Prominent Custom Facebook Pages

Still don’t have a custom FaceBook page for your business? Well it’s time to inspire you to make one. The showcase below is a collection of 50 custom Facebook pages of top brands & celebrities. Some of them are just pictures, some use Flash or Javascript, but mainly they are plain HTML pages. The only thing you need to keep in mind while designing a Facebook page is that tomorrow (August 23rd) Facebook is going to shrink page width to 520px.

World’s Best Brands

Those are the guys with enormous budgets, that can afford to hire the best designers and Social Media Marketers. Some of their pages really impress, while some of them could really come up with something more exciting.

Coca-Cola

Intel

Nokia

Toyota

Disney

McDonald’s

Mercedes-Benz

BMW

Gilette

Louis Vuitton

Honda

Samsung

Pepsi

Nescafe

Dell

Sony

Budweiser

Nike

Ikea

Harley Davidson

eBay

MTV

KFC

Nestle

Pizza Hut

Motorola

Adidas

Smirnoff

Bulgary

Levi’s

Celebrities

Celebrities are known to use every opportunity to make people speak about them. However when I checked the Forbes 100 list of celebrities it appeared that most of them do not have a decent page on Facebook, so what I collected here is mainly musicians. In addition you can check a showcase of Facebook pages of Top DJs.

Lady Gaga

David Guetta

Rihanna

Britney Spears

Snoop Dogg

Ozzy Osbourne

Tokio Hotel

Even more pages

The number of beautiful custom pages is growing every day. Lots of web designers are now offering custom Facebook page design jobs as well as ready-made FBML templates. There are even some Facebook applications which let you build a custom page for your business. If your page does not look like the ones below – it’s time to do something :)

Livescribe

StarBurst

Disneyland

Avatar

Step Up

Hollister

TopShop

NHL

Visa

Marlo Schalesky

Zéphyr

CharityHappenings

Salisburghese

Take note on how some are giving visitors a ‘Like’ call to action. This can serve as a great inspiration for what brands can do in a limited environment. For both fans and brands the new website of 2010 is a Facebook page. People are inherently lazy. You as the brand need to bring the information to them not expect them to come to you.


Google – Coming To Theatres Near You

By Perks |

In the battle for Internet glory, Google and Facebook have been neck-and-neck throughout 2010. And the rivalry to outdo each other has branched off from new product and service offerings to…..movies.

In October, The Social Network, the story of Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg, will hit theatres. Just two months before Facebook’s big movie launch, Groundswell Productions and producer Michael London announced they have bought the film rights for the 2009 book Googled: The End of the Internet As We Know It, by Ken Auletta. The book is to be used as a blueprint for the feature film, which, according to a Deadline interview with London is about “two young guys [Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin] who created a company that changed the world, and how the world in turn changed them.” Sound familiar?

Reading the Deadline interview is like reading the exact story behind The Social Network. Just change a few details here and there, and voila! There you have a brand new movie.

Much of the current talk about the movie is questioning how a movie about a company with the tagline “Do No Evil” can amount to a blockbuster. You can at least admit that part of The Social Network’s allure (although I have to say that it still hasn’t made my list of movies to see in 2010) is that it has a very boundary-pushing story behind it. I’m not sure that Google’s story has that same sexiness about it.

Overall, it seems that the main aim of seeing the Do No Evil story in neon lights is simply an effort to keep up with the Johnsons. I’m not sure that a movie with motives like this could ever become a raging success.


Insights: Comparison of Old and New Social Network Maps (XKCD vs Flowtown)

By Perks |

XKCD created a map of online communities in 2007. Fast forward to 2010, Flowtown created a followup called The 2010 Social Networking Map. The following is a breakdown of the changes as well as some general insights for now and the future.

 

OLD (2007):

 

NEW (2010):

 

INSIGHTS

Changes from Spring 2007 to Summer 2010

  • Yahoo has changed substantially. Yahoo has moved a step down to now being comprised of defunct social networks (Mash, 360, Kickstart) as well as a step up to having it’s own sizeable area just north of Facebook. Flickr (a property of Yahoo) is now it’s own area. Noticeably missing Delicious.
  • AOL isn’t it’s own area anymore. It’s predicted that AOL & Windows Live will join Yahoo (see: Receding Glaciers of AOL & Windows Live). Bebo has been defined as a sizeable area, while AIM has been relegated to the tundra.
  • Facebook & Myspace have switched places. Facebook has grown from being on the subcontinent of Myspace to being the main nation. Myspace is now the Former Kingdom of Myspace with the Lake of Myspace Bands & a note that says ‘Not all users are active’.
  • Youtube emerges. The Gulf of Youtube has emerged as a fully formed separate island, which is a part of the Empire of Google.
  • Google expands drastically. Google’s Volcano Fortress has grown to be the Empire of Google and the Rising Island of Google Buzz. They have seemingly come out of nowhere to have information gathering outposts everywhere. It makes me think what are they doing with all the information they’re gathering.
    • Their many Information Gathering Outposts are off of: Youtube, Twitter, Orkut, between Facebook & Yahoo, Bebo, Wikipedia
  • Livejournal is still around and relatively the same size.
  • Orkut, Friendster sustain size. Orkut and Friendster are still around and possibly a little bit larger, but nothing in comparison to how large their subcontinent mate Facebook has grown
  • Digg & Stumbleupon grow, become relative. Digg has grown and separated from other islands to be on it’s own, off of the Stumbleupon Sea (which was previously a small island). Interesting that they’re near Twitter since sharing of both services’ links are done largely through Twitter.
  • Wikis explode onto the scene. The Wikipedia Project has grown to become the United Territories of Wikimedia. Gone are Engadget & MIT in place of all “Wiki” named properties (Wikisource, Wikileaks, Marvel wiki, Reference wiki, Science wiki, Wiktionary, Wikicity, En.Wikipedia, Fr.Wikipedia, Pl.Wikipedia) & Citizendium.
  • Flickr grows. It’s not surprising that Flickr has grown in size as it has revamped it’s interface, added integrated sharing to Twitter & Facebook, has a custom URL shortener and is considered the default photo sharing social network by most. Not really too sure why Flickr is in between the social games and blogging area, as Flickr has no sort of social gaming aspect.
  • Tools as social networks? I wouldn’t have necessarily included Tweetdeck as it’s a tool that doesn’t sign up users separately unlike fellow 3rd party app Twitpic, which provides a photo platform. If that were the case I would have included Hootsuite, Seesmic and Cotweet as well.

GONE:

  • WOW (World of Warcraft), Second Life, Classmates.com, Reunion.com, Faceparty, Cyworld, OK Cupid, Piczo, Broadcaster, Lineage, Runescape, Deviant Art, Reddit, Fark, Spaaarta, IRC isles, Sulawesi, Boing Boing, Technorati, Xanga, Huffington Post, Delicious, Something Awful, 2channel, 4chan, Your Base, Yahoo Games, Engadget, MIT

NEW:

  • Twitter (along with it’s own subnations – Foursquare, Twitpic, Tweetdeck, Digsby), Ebay, Habbo, Hi5, LinkedIn, Xing, Live Jasmin, Adult Friendfinder, Youporn, Chemistry, Match, Blogster, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogspot, Bing, Pandora, Imeem, LOL Cats

REORGANIZED:

  • Music
    • Pandora, Last.fm, Imeem.  
    • Noticeably missing: Blip.fm
  • Blogging (formerly The Blogipelago)
    • Tumblr, WordPress, Livejournal, Blogspot, Flixster, Blogster.
    • Noticably missing: Blogger, Typepad
  • Dating (new)
    • Match, Eharmony, Chemistry.
    • Noticeably missing: OK Cupid (gone) – Eharmony was moved.
  • Porn (new)
    • Live Jasmin, Adult Friendfinder, Youporn.
    • Noticeably missing: Xtube

NOTICEABLY MISSING:

  • Mixx, Tagged, Gowalla, Google Chat, Skype, Posterous, 12seconds, Twitvideo, XBOX Live, Plaxo, Blip.fm, Blogger, Typepad, Xtube

PAY ATTENTION TO:

  • Apple. Volcanic Island of Iphone Apps. Remember, Google started as a volcanic island and now they’re an Empire with many outposts, a large island of Youtube & a rising island of Google Buzz. Next to come?: Empire of Apple, Island of LaLa, Sea of iTunes, etc
  • Social Gaming. Habbo & Hi5 came out of nowhere. I would have put Farmville Valley closer to Habbo & Hi5 as they’re all social games networks. I figure Zynga would have warranted it’s own area (possibly inside & outside of Facebook separated by a dashed line) considering it’s properties of Farmville, Mafia Wars etc are extremely popular and used often.
  • Google. They have grown in social to become an empire with many outposts. Google Me (Google’s potential social network) will be coming in some form as Google continues to buy up web properties to enhance their empire – gaming companies, shopping companies etc.
  • Foursquare / LBS. Not Foursquare specifically but Location Based Services. Facebook Places has just launched which will definitely normalize these new services to the general masses and cause adoption rate to climb substantially.

 


Facebook Places Puts The Pressure On Foursquare, Google Maps

By Perks |

2010 has been a big year for Facebook. Thanks to the introduction of an open graphAPI and the ability to “Like” almost anything on the web (not to mention a new movie coming out this fall), the social media giant has proved that it has the drive and the capacity to rule the digital landscape as we know it. And this week, Facebook launched a new location-based service that challenges the niche markets of startups like Foursquare, as well as the Maps arm of corporations like Google.

Facebook Places is a service that allows users to “check in” to restaurants, bars, retail stores and other local hotspots to share their location with friends. There are three main goals behind the introduction of Places, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg:

1. Share where you are in a social way
2. See who is around you
3. Discover cool new places to visit in the future

When a user checks in to a specific location, the update appears on the Place page for that venue, and is posted to the person’s own wall. One interesting aspect of the service, which we haven’t seen in other location-based offerings, is that Places allows you to check your friends in to the location you’re at, as well. However, if you aren’t into the idea of other people checking in for you, you can tweak your privacy settings to opt out of this entirely. Facebook put up a post on it’s blog with more details on the service.

Now that the service is live, the big question is how this is going to impact brands that exist on the platform of social location-based offerings. As opposed to the small niche services, the advantage for Facebook is that it maintains a database of more than 500 million loyal users who are familiar with the brand and how it works. Will people who check into Facebook Places still feel the need to check into Foursquare, as well?

And as a challenger of Google Maps, Facebook’s social component has the draw that no stand-alone map can live up to. While Google Maps aims to provide as much information about a place as possible, it doesn’t have the capability of also telling users who is there.

The verdict is out as to whether Facebook Places means the end of Foursquare and Gowalla as we know them, or if it will simply force these startups to look at other options to differentiate their product. Regardless, the introduction of Places is just one more way that Facebook is proving its place as leader in the social web.


Group Shopping Equals Big Deals

By Perks |

Living in an expensive city can be a strain on the wallet. There are so many things to do, see and explore that require you to break out the big dough to participate. However, new digital coupon services are helping many people score fantastic deals at places they normally wouldn’t be able to afford.

A few of our favorites places to find those deep discounts are listed here:

Groupon: Groupon is one of the most widely used daily deal websites, active in a large handful of cities in the U.S., Canada and Europe. In May 2010, the site was valued at more than $1 billion and has been noted as maintaining “the most successful [coupon website] execution to date.” Every day, Groupon features a different product or service available at a deep discount. Log on to the site and click “BUY” if you’re interested in the deal. If the minimum number of people sign up, your card will be charged and you’ll receive a link to print the Groupon. Otherwise, the deal is canceled and you aren’t charged.

PROS: Groupon’s reach and popularity has given it the ability to secure bigger and better deals than some of the smaller sites. The site just launched Personalized Deals, so that the deals that you see are tailored to include your special interests.

CONS: If the minimum number of buyers isn’t reached, there will be no groupon for you.

Yipit: Yipit is another website that is available to deal seekers across the U.S. (with a European arm coming soon). The site takes on the bargain-searching legwork for you by scouring the web for discounts and deals that are specific to your interests and location. You can even connect your Yipit account to Foursquare so that the service sorts out deals by the proximity to places you’ve visited on the mobile check-in app. How cool is that?

PROS: Yipit has placed itself as the leader in completely personalizing the information it provides to you.

CONS: A new company, Yipit isn’t yet available in as many cities as some competitor coupon sites.

LivingSocial: LivingSocial stakes its platform on helping small businesses utilize social media to keep in touch with their customers. And it’s not a bad pitch for those mom-and-pop shops that don’t have the marketing budget to advertise to the local community. The site currently operates in more than 50 U.S. markets and has recently introduced its London site. To get a deal, you simply have to visit the website and select “Buy Now.” No minimum number of buyers is required.

PROS: When a user purchases a deal and three of his friends make the same purchase, the user gets the deal for free.

CONS: The deals that you receive in your Inbox aren’t personalized to your specific interests.

8Coupons: Rather than focusing on the single best deal of the day, 8Coupons provides users with the top eight deals in their neighborhood. Steering away from the group buying approach, this site focuses on providing you with a variety of amazing offers for a wide variety of products and services. This is a great place to find the best deals from major chains to specialty stores. Less like a group buying platform, 8coupons is more of a deal aggregator that offers up a handful of discounts and delivers them directly to your inbox.

PROS: Wide variety in the number and breadth of deals that you can view or purchase at any given time. Participating is also simple; 8coupons directs you right to the provider’s website where you can print out the coupon.

CONS: Again, this site does not send you deals that are specifically in line with your hobbies or interests, so you may be getting a bunch of offers that you aren’t really interested in.


Optimizing Your Twitter Presence

By Perks |

As the world continues its transition to the digital space, the majority of companies have realized that social media is an essential piece of the marketing puzzle, Twitter being a key player. The site has experienced exponential growth over the past couple years, with 23.5 million unique visitors per month being reported in February 2010. While Twitter still has a long way to go to catch up to Facebook, it has proven itself as a powerful force in the world of real-time communications.

In order to take advantage of all it has to offer, we’ve come up with a key list of tools below:

Personalizing Your Presence

  • In addition to maintaining a wide database of pre-made Twitter wallpapers that you can simply select to install on your account, Twitbacks also allows you to customize a background of your own. This website specializes in helping you create backgrounds featuring a left-hand column that may include your social networks, links, photos, an extended bio, phone number and more.
  • MyTweetSpace is a user-friendly site that offers badges, fancy graphics and themes to help you personalize your Twitter presence. The standard backgrounds with badges are available for $5. In addition, the site offers backgrounds specifically customized for your business for a $79 fee.

Growing Your Account

  • Known as the “Twitter Yellow Pages,” Twellow allows you to search for people on Twitter in specific categories, such as: Real Estate, Green, Football, Teachers, Fashion Design, etc. You can also register yourself on the site and select the category, or categories, that you fit in best.
  • Nearby Tweets is a fun application that enables you to plug in your city, and see who is tweeting in your geographical area. While the standard public Twitter stream is bombarded with up to 12 million tweets per minute, Nearby Tweets gives you a microscopic view of who is saying what in your own community.

Platforms

Tweetdeck for desktop

  • Tweetdeck is a popular Twitter publishing application that is available in both desktop and mobile versions. Having just topped 15 million downloads as of July 2010, theservice sends out approximately 4 million tweets and status updates every day. The value in Tweetdeck comes in the ability to customize your personal Twitter experience by creating different columns, groups, scheduled tweets and searches.
  • Formerly Tweetlater.com, Social Oomph is a desktop-based application that is preferred by many due to the extensive number of features that it offers. The free version includes: scheduled tweets, keyword tracking, direct message inbox purging, extended Twitter profiles and the ability to save and reuse message drafts.

Analytics

  • Twitalyzer is a free service that provides a high-level overview of where you fall in the Twitter-scape and how you are making an impact. When you sign in using your Twitter account information, the site generates a report that shows you your impact, engagement, clout, retweet ratio, follower statistics, personality and more. Twitalyzer also provides a section with recommendations for you to create a bigger impact on the site.
  • TweetStats is a tool that allows you to take a broad look at how many tweets you are sending out monthly, daily and hourly, going back to the first tweet you sent during your first month on Twitter. Once you plug in your username, you will be provided with graphs and tweet clouds that offer an inside look into how you are using Twitter.

Leveraging Your LinkedIn Profile

By Perks |

Did you know that a new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second?

LinkedIn is a popular social networking site for those seeking to learn about new job opportunities, to connect with co-workers, to research companies in their industry and to find the right people who can help advance their business goals. A LinkedIn profile is based around your resume and the platform of the network is concentrated on the magnitude of professional relationships. LinkedIn offers an advanced view of how your network is laid out and the breadth it carries, making it easy to find people who are connected to you by only two or three degrees of separation.

There are many tools that LinkedIn offers far beyond simply signing up and adding your job title. If you haven’t recently taken the time to explore LinkedIn, below are some additional ways that you can leverage your presence on this growing social network:

  • Take time to thoroughly fill out your profile

A LinkedIn profile that is 100% complete will vastly improve your personal SEO. For many people, a LinkedIn profile is the first result that pops up when you Google their name, leading this to be the first impression that anyone researching you will see. A complete profile includes a photo, professional summary, education, three of your most recent positions and three recommendations from your contacts.

  • Join relevant Groups

There are hundreds of Groups on LinkedIn for every interest, industry, hobby and expertise. Some Groups are open to the public, while others require an administrator to approve you to be a member. Explore the options on the Groups Directory to find those that are relevant to you. If you can’t find a Group that is just the right fit, you can even start your own and invite other contacts to join.

  • Participate in Group discussions to stay engaged

LinkedIn Groups feature a discussion tab in which you are invited to pose questions to fellow members, advise fellow professionals and even learn about new business opportunities. This is also an outlet for you to ask questions of your own, interact with others in your industry and expand your network. If you come across someone in a Group who could be an asset to your work or your business, don’t be afraid to reach out and add them as a connection. Send a personal message with your invitation and pat yourself on the back for being proactive in expanding your network.

  • Don’t automatically delete the weekly update emails

All profile and status updates are automatically aggregated into a weekly update email that’s sent to all your connections. These emails provide an inside look into what your network is doing, what groups they’re joining, who they’ve added as contacts and what new positions they may have taken on. Gain valuable face-time in front of your LinkedIn contacts by updating your profile on a regular basis and answering questions posed by connections or Groups.

  • Share content and news

We often look to our connections on Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader for news and updates. LinkedIn should be considered among these as a resource for business news and highlights from people in your network. Share blog posts, industry news articles, job queries, and upcoming events you’re planning to attend. You can also link your Twitter or Facebook updates to automatically update LinkedIn, but be wary of oversharing information that may be seen as spam on this professional network.


Should Interns Run Social Media Campaigns?

By Perks |

Incorporating social media into your marketing efforts is essential in this digital world. While some businesses have decided to embark on this on their own, by assigning the task to their marketing department, others have turned to what they consider to be the most cost-effective solution – hiring a summer intern.

From the perspective of the Gen Y population, a “deep understanding of social media” or “experience launching viral digital campaigns” is what they do on a daily basis – updating their Twitter statuses every 5 minutes or creating new groups on Facebook.

Source: Business Insider

Image: Business Insider

Sure, these students may claim they are “Social Media Experts” because they know how to upload a YouTube video or follow a Twitter hashtag. But, they may not possess the essential communication skills and strategy experience that are required to move your social media efforts forward.

Below we have listed some of the pros and cons of hiring a college intern or relying on rather than sticking with an external agency.

Pros

· If you are looking to bring on talent at the end of the summer, a summer intern is a great excuse to give someone a trial run before handing over a contract

· Summer interns can provide valuable insight if you are launching a campaign or your company target market is the 18-24 age group

· Low budget

Cons

· College students know how to chat with their friends on Twitter, but they often forget the purposes of managing this for a company rather than for fun

· Students may not be committed to your company the same way that an agency is, especially if they are not getting paid or receiving minimal compensation

· Agencies have worked with numerous companies with various needs, therefore they have familiar with best practices and understand what works better than someone who has only played with social media for personal purposes

· Summer interns require quite a bit of training to educate them on your company’s messages and core values

Interns are great assets for any business, but after you have spent numerous hours, endless effort, and invested valuable resources on building your brand online, it can be risky to leave a public media channel open to someone who is unfamiliar of the foundation of your company. Social media is your company’s face to the world. Make sure you know this face, and most importantly, that the face knows you and your company.