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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

  1. Google+

    July 5, 2011 by superlative

    Lots of people have been writing about Google+ since it launched last week, and I thought I may as well join in with my first thoughts after using it for a few days.

    Overall, I have to say that I really like it. I like the way it looks, and I think it has been quite carefully put together so that it addresses some of the issues people have with other social networks. It is certainly better and hopefully has a better future than Google Buzz and Google Wave, both of which were sort of interesting but ultimately didn’t give people something they actually wanted to use.

    The key to Google+ and its most important feature is its ‘circles’. Circles are a bit like Facebook groups, and allow you to arrange your connections on the site so they reflect your relationships with people in real life. More importantly, they allow you to share things only with certain people, so that you can happily use Google+ for sharing photos of you wasted with your friends without worrying that your boss will see them. That’s assuming of course that it always works correctly and keeps things private when it is supposed to, something which many of us have trouble trusting websites to do.

    It is true that you can do something similar on Facebook with its various privacy settings, but, as other commentators have pointed out, with Google+ deciding who you share a post with is much more straightforward and is made much more obvious and upfront. They seem to have put privacy first and built the network up from there, rather than putting sharing first and adding privacy later in the style of Facebook.

    The other key strength of Google+ is its tight and immediate integration with the rest of the services provided by Google. Clever appropriation of the top bar on all their services means that your notifications from Google+ are always instantly accessible, and the option to share something on Google+ is right there, all the time. This is a stroke of genius, as it drives you back to Google+ rather than counting on you choosing to return. There is still some work to do; for instance, I haven’t seen any way of sharing a post from Google Reader quickly in Google+, but I expect that will come.

    There are definitely things lacking from the network at the moment, and things that could be improved. The circles are great, but many people seem to be asking for more flexibility with them – to be able to arrange them hierarchically, to put circles within circles, and to share things in more complicated ways (eg people at work BUT NOT managers – that sort of thing). The product is still in the development stage, and Google has been actively seeking feedback and suggestions, and has done a very good job so far of responding to them. I am sure therefore that Google+ will continue to evolve.

    The fact that it is in a limited development stage though is its major, major flaw. Hardly anyone is on Google+, and even though the number is growing it is hamstringing the network. I joined last week and thought “wow, this is great”; by Monday I was getting bored. I can’t find any more people to add on it, and I’ve only reached 20. My activity stream hardly changes, and so I just get bored and go back onto Twitter.

    They really need to open it up to more users, and quickly. They launched it with little fanfare and haven’t actively pushed it, but it generated excitement nonetheless and lots of people currently want to get on it and try it. If Google doesn’t seize and utilise that enthusiasm, they’ll be damaging the network’s prospects. It has momentum, but it is already losing it.

    Like many things in life, people want to go where other people are. If you see an empty bar, you choose not to go into it because it’s empty and empty bars are boring. The bar remains empty, and the bar closes with the owner scratching his head wondering where he went wrong. Google is in danger of doing this if it doesn’t pull more punters in and quickly.

    Google+ is good but it needs more bums on seats.


  2. Social media marketing course #3

    July 23, 2010 by superlative

    The third session of my social media marketing course was a bit more useful to me than last week, as it was all about marketing your social media presence in order to grow your audience and achieve whatever your marketing goals are. Essentially this meant how you can build up your followers on Twitter, although we did look briefly at Facebook Pages too and how you set up adverts on Facebook to drive people to you.

    Lots of the general Twitter stuff I was already familiar with, as obviously I use it all the time. So things like building relationships, responding to people and following back were all quite natural to me. We looked at a couple of good listings websites though, such as http://tweepml.org which holds lists of people grouped by category (i.e. their interests or fields of expertise). That might be quite useful, and I’ve already found a few people that I want to follow myself after using it. I’m a bit hesitant about it as a tool though, as often the lists are more than 100 people long, and you can bulk follow them via the TweepML website. On a new Twitter account, that quickly gives you a suspicious ratio of 400+ following to practically zero followers. Whenever I get followed by an account that looks like that, particularly one that has only tweeted a dozen times, I normally just block it as a matter of course. So I think you need to be a bit careful not to over-use list websites like these.

    Other than that, the only stuff that was useful to me in the session was the 10 minutes we spent looking at LinkedIn. I’ve never really used it before, although I registered on it ages ago, and from what our tutor said that’s pretty typical of many of the accounts on there: people register then never go back to it.

    I’ve had a more thorough look at it now, and it certainly does seem to have some potential for professional networking and certainly for job hunting. It is much, much more of a professional environment though, so I certainly won’t be linking my Twitter or this blog to it. I’m not sure either would make me look particularly good to prospective employers, and from what I’ve seen many employers are now looking up job applicants and even head-hunting people via LinkedIn.

    It seems to be more well-used within the private sector than the public sector, and at the moment I’ve found hardly any people I can ‘connect’ with on there, but I have at least filled out my profile properly now. One website I looked at also suggested using LinkedIn when job hunting in the reverse way to what you’d normally expect: yes an employer might look you up on there, but equally you can look up the profile of the manager for a post you’re applying for on there too, find out more about them, and you might even find you’ve got common interests that you can casually exploit at interview.

    This week’s session was partly spoilt for me by a boy I’ll call Yappy Talkerson. As I mentioned after the first session, the group is composed of people who know nothing about social media or computers, and then a couple of people who won’t shut the hell up trying to show off what they do know. It’s probably fairly obvious which group Yappy Talkerson belongs to.

    “Can you filter out individual people on Twitter so you don’t see their tweets in your timeline?” asks Yappy Talkerson.

    “No,” says tutor, “you can’t do that, but you can set up lists of your followers and limit what you see that way if you want to.”

    “Or you could use a tool like TweetDeck,” replies Yappy smugly.

    So, if he’s familiar enough with Twitter to know about TweetDeck and to know how TweetDeck works, then of course he knows that you can’t filter people on the basic Twitter site. So why the FUCK ask the question? Just to hear the sound of his own voice and show off what he knows about TweetDeck, presumably. Cockhead.

    In the other camp of people who don’t know anything about Twitter or computers or the world in general, I was amused to watch a sweet lady type “Twitter log in” into her address bar, squint at the Bing search results which appeared on the screen for a few moments, then carefully click on ‘Log in’ at the top of page and try to enter her Twitter username and password into the Bing log in screen. Bless.

    So that was my third session. Last one next week, and I’m actually quite pleased as the train journeys to Hastings are really rather long and boring. Will I be applying my new social media marketing knowledge to my work after that? In all likelihood, no. But it’s been interesting nonetheless.


  3. Social media marketing course #2

    July 16, 2010 by superlative

    Yesterday was the second session of my social media marketing course over in Hastings. Once again it was quite good, but I probably found this week a bit less interesting than last.

    In this session we had a look at the practicalities of creating your presence on social media, focusing in particular on setting up a Facebook Page. While it was good to be shown that, I only really needed about five minutes of instruction for it, and could probably have worked even that out for myself. It was relevant for quite a few of the other people though, as they really aren’t very techy and managed to fail abysmally at the task of ‘Find the “Create a Page for your business” link and click on it’. They seemed to need intensive personal coaching for that bit.

    Some of them also had considerable difficulty understanding the distinction between a Profile and a Page, and the fact that yes your profile technically is a webpage but that doesn’t make it a Page with a P. We did get there in the end. Eventually.

    Anyway, one of the more useful parts of the session was looking through some good (and bad) examples of Pages on Facebook, and some of the innovative ideas companies have come up with. One of the ones I like particularly is the Coca Cola Page, and the clever thing they’ve done with their image:

    By matching the background of the image to the page background, the bottle appears to sit seamlessly on the page. It is somewhat disappointing that the alignment is out by about 3 pixels no matter what browser I use, which negates a large part of the effect, but the idea is a good one and I might steal it for my own use in the future.

    Looking at some examples and then creating our own Facebook Pages was pretty much all we did in two hours, so I did feel like I hadn’t learnt a lot, but that’s OK. Next week we’ll focus more on how you start marketing your social media presence once you’ve set it up, so I think that will be more useful.


  4. Social media marketing course #1

    July 9, 2010 by superlative

    I went on the first part of a social media marketing course yesterday, and it was actually quite good. When I asked my boss if I could go on it I wasn’t quite sure how useful it would be, as I feel like I know a fair amount about Facebook and Twitter already. However, I don’t know all that much about marketing, and the course seems to take a very good, practical approach to what social media can do for your organisation. I only really asked to go on it so I could get some time out of the office, as I’ve basically got no work at all to do at the moment, but actually I think it’ll be very useful knowledge for me to have (and you never know, it might even help me to get a better job than this stupid potato-patch one*).

    In the first session we had a short discussion about all the millions of different social media tools there are out there and what they are used for, before returning to the fact that most companies are basically only going to be interested in Facebook and Twitter (and possibly YouTube).

    We then had a look at some case studies on companies that use social media well (e.g. Dell, who give away coupons via Twitter and claim to have generated $3m of sales through it), and those that have had fairly spectacular disasters with it (does anyone remember Habitat hijacking Twitter hashtags about the Iran elections to promote their goods? Very naughty indeed).

    The group of people on the course seem alright, but fall into two broad categories:

    • people who know nothing about social media and who go a bit glassy-eyed when you mention things like hashtags or more niche services like Gowalla
    • people who know a bit about marketing and/or computers and who won’t shut the hell up showing off their knowledge regardless of whether it’s relevant.

    There’s one guy, in the first category, who is into veganism and animal rights campaigning and who I think would be possibly the worst dinner party guest ever. I quite like animals, but they really are very tasty and I don’t want to hear someone banging on about why we shouldn’t chop them up and put them into delicious burgers.

    Another guy made the fairly sweeping statement of “No one with any morals would buy anything made by Nestlé anyway.” I might have to keep an eye on that one, and push my Kitkats down to the bottom of my bag.

    Of course there was no one fit there, despite my hopes that there would be. Why is there never any boy candy at any of the work things I go to? There must be some somewhere, surely? But apparently not.

    There are three more sessions to go on the course, one each Thursday morning. I hope it will be useful. I know of course that I’ll never get to use any of it in this job, because when I suggested we have a Twitter account here I was told in an aghast tone “but we already have a website!” No amount of explaining would convince them they aren’t the same thing, or reassure them that Twitter doesn’t cost any money, so in the end I thought fuck ’em. If they don’t want to be on the ball with new communications media we can just go back to fucking morse code.

    * I refer to it as such because it is rapidly turning me into a vegetable.