Brands Get More Space In Social Media

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In social media news today, Mashable reports on two new brand spaces: the Foursquare “Pages Gallery” and the possibility of brand pages on Twitter.  According to InventorSpot, we can see that “cross-pollination amongst social networks has been a trend ever since Facebook tried to replicate Twitter’s tweets into its status updates and Foursquare’s geo-location components into its Facebook Places“, but now the tables have turned and other social media sites are “ripping” the brand page idea straight from Facebook.

According to some, Foursquare’s new feature will “make brand following easy”. Others argue that the new pages would “disturb the flow of Twitter” . There seems to be no doubt, however, that these new ideas could help boost revenue for Twitter and  from the 1323 brands already using Foursquare.

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Checking-In (part 2): So Many Sites, So Little Time

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One of the things I learned quickly while trying to research geolocation and check-in applications is that there are way too many of them to keep track of easily. I am by nature an experiential learner and learn best by actually doing things and trying out new technologies for myself. I downloaded the first couple of applications I found out about- CauseWorld and Foursquare- and enjoyed checking-in at various locations. After adding GetGlue and ShopKick and completely depleting the storage space and battery power of my phone trying to download Foodspotting, Gowalla, and others, I realized there was no way anyone could have a presence on all of these applications, So, I came up with a plan. (For me, at least.) There is really only the need to have 2-3 applications to effectively participate in the check-in trend that is taking place. Here is what I suggest as a way to limit the applications you use.

1. Choose one basic application for geolocation

Choices in this category would be applications such as Foursquare, Gowalla or BrightKite. They will allow you to check-in to your location and learn more about your town, while maybe even getting some sweet deals from local businesses.

My Choice: Foursquare

Reasons: It is simple to use and actually is being used by several businesses in Knoxville to offer deals. I like being able to get a free drink at Hard Knox Pizza (every check-in), a free milkshake at Chick-fil-a (with 3 check-ins) or 20% off at Sweet CeCe’s (for the Mayor). Foursquare also recently unveiled new business analytics pages for it’s service.

2. Choose one gaming application

Choices in this category could include Geocaching, SCVNGR, Tourality, and others

My Choice: SCVNGR

Reasons: Although I haven’t been able to use it yet, I became interested in SCVNGR because it is used by Buffalo Wild Wings here in Knoxville. I am a competitive person by nature and love the idea of getting to complete challenges while waiting for my food.

3. Pick a wild card

Everyone has different tastes, preferences, etc. This applies to social media just as it would any other aspect of your life. For your optional third application, I strongly suggest you choose an application that appeals to your personal interests and hobbies. If you are crazy about food, you might try Foodspotting. Often accused of being a shopaholic? Then you should try out ShopKick for great deals delivered to you as you walk in the door of you favorite stores. There are many other applications out there, and I’m sure you can find one you will love.

My Choice: GetGlue

Reasons: I am a total entertainment addict. I love interacting with other fans about books, movies, music, and celebrities. I also enjoy earning new badges for check-in at box office openings and events such as the Oscars.

Overall, I think one of the most important things is to remember to post responsibly to any of these sites you choose to use. I would strongly suggest that you do not share your personal information (i.e. phone number, date of birth, etc.) with these applications because we know that EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE can see what you are posting. If you can narrow down your applications and post responsible, you will have a long happy relationship with checking-in. To find our more about the wide array of applications and their uses in the professional world check out the short video below.

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Checking-In (part 1): What we’re looking for in our apps

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There’s been a lot of buzz lately about FourSquare, Facebook Places, Google latitude and other check-in applications; however, a recent report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project showed that only 4% of online adults use location-based services. This causes us to wonder who is using these applications, what they are using and how they are choosing which applications to use.

In a recent study by uTest, which surveyed 300 participant in 35 countries, researchers challanged participants to compare BrightKite, FourSquare and Gowalla. These first generation check-in apps have the same basic purposes, and the study allowed users to compare the three services across several important factors.

The results showed that overall, FourSquare is still king of the check-in, followed closely by Gowalla. The study also looked at which of these areas that users found most important when choosing which applications they would use. This can help application developers know what decisions to make about constructing applications to best suit their audience.

The need for ease-of-use was definitely the most important to geolocation application users. This is where Facebook rises to the top of the ladder. They are ranked the highest on ease-of-use which is the most important to application users, which gives them the edge over Gowalla and BrightKite. As geolocation applications undergo changes and begin to incorporate augmented reality and other technologies, it will be interesting to see if ease-of-use still stays at the top of the needs hierarchy.

To find out more about geolocation applications, check out the cool links I found by scanning the QR code below.

 

One Stop Shop or Too Much Information?

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Too many profile, too many sites, too many amazing social media tools to choose from . . .

This is definitely a quandary that has faced all tech-savvy students who realize that social media is made up of much more than just Twitter, Facebook and Myspace. While most of us probably have a profile on the 4 primary sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & YouTube), most of us have also probably dabbled in a large number of other social media outlets. I for one am guilty of being on Tumblr, Meebo (which I never really use), StumbleUpon (which I haven’t figured out yet), FourSquare (which may or may not be safe) and GetGlue (which only feeds my media addictions), as well as many other sites I can’t even recall at the moment.

In an ideal world, it would be perfect if you could have a one-stop-shop where you could check and update all of the sites from one main page. While applications such as TweetDeck, Hootsuite and others allow us to post to quite a wide variety of sites, they don’t really allow us to view a wide variety of the content posted there.

Enter the Social Media Headquarters sites . . .

Paid services such as GizaPage allow companies and individuals a way to access all of their social media profile from one central “social media hub”. Other pages such as Power.com are “basically blurring the boundaries that separate one network from the other and allowing to use them all from one interface and exchange information and images from any of them and to all of them” (ThoughtPick) . DandyID suggests that you “Collect Yourself”.

Ever the curious one when it comes to social media, I tried out a few of the free sites. Retaggr allowed me to sign up for free and connect with every account I had and offered options for all sorts of random accounts I never thought about. Surely you want everyone to associate your Facebook, Amazon wishlist, Pandora channels and Meebo accounts with one another. Right? And, while using the site is free it costs to update the theme of your sight from the obnoxious blue color it is.  The other sight I signed up for was DandyID. The layout was a bit more Blogger-ish in style with rounded edges and a bit more of a bubbly design. There were so many account linking options on this site that they offer you the option of searching the sites or viewing the top 30, in addition to the default alphabetical list. To prevent you from having to experiment on your own, I will leave the profiles I made posted until next week (3/5)–Retggr & DandyID. One Retaggr feature I preferred was the way it actually pulled the RSS feeds for blogs and such so you could see a broad view of what your overall social media profile looked like. DandyID seemed to offer a simpler overall profile with better navigation options and analytics options (with a paid upgrade of course).

After experimenting with creating these sites, I began to worry though that these sites provide WAY TOO MUCH information about any person. With one click of a mouse, a stalker or anyone who was researching you could know what you have been blogging about, tweeting about, where you work, what you want to listen to, what you are buying, and so on. The idea of it even creeps me out. People who are concerned about simple Facebook privacy issues should be HORRIFIED!!! These sites even ask about your home address and phone number, and I promise you there are people out there dumb enough to share.

While the simple solution seems to be a one stop shop for all our social media obsessions, the simpler, safer and better solution might just be a social media purge. Is it really necessary that I have so many accounts, when all I really take time to use is a select few? I think not. Over the next week as I asses my personal online brand, I fully intend to eliminate some of the social media profiles I created months ago and have only used twice (including the two new ones I just built!). Will you do the same?

ROE & Social Media

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While advertisers and companies alike are often struggling how to measure Return-on-investnment, our guest speaker in class this morning, @laurabower , pointed out that return-on-engagement is actually a quite reliable and measurable way for people to judge their social media influence.

In my Twitter feed this morning, I ran across this story by Casey Hibbard in the Social Media Examiner (via Michael Stelzner ). It showed great usage of social media to encourage attendance and participation at races at the Del Mar Racetrack (horses not cars) in California.

With virtually no other marketing changes, social media boosted attendance this past season by 4.2 percent.

“That’s an increase of 27,000 bodies,” said Craig Dado, senior vice president of marketing at Del Mar Racetrack. “In this economy, I’ve got to be honest, it was a little bit surprising.”

The story goes on to explain how their social media usage came about. It shows a great deal of success and ROE (Return-on-Engagement) for their social media efforts. The company has two websites, as well as a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare & YouTube. The information and conversation on these sites is not one-way promotion, but interactive conversations and sharing with followers, friends, etc.

If you are curious about ways to measure return-on-engagement, visit Sarah Evans insightful blog and read her post on 15 Ways to Measure ROE .

Return-on-engagement will also play a part in the many conversations about Super Bowl ads. This year, several companies are opting to either involve social media in their campaign (Audi’s hashtag inclusion)  or abandoned traditional 30-second spots for more innovative campaigns (Papa John’s No-Overtime Campaign). Other companies are allowing leaking of information and/or parts of their commercials to generate buzz, as with the Vader Volkswagon ad which is a Trending Topic on Twitter today as “Volkswagon Commercial”.

As Super Bowl time nears, I am interested to watch how these new campaign strategies work and what type of ROE they receive!

Social Media for Social Good

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     At this year’s Winter X Games, veiwers will be able to check-in to their Foursquare accounts and help raise money for breast cancer through the Boarding for Breast Cancer campaign. For each person who checks in from the games, Sports Authority has agreed to donate $1 (up to a total of $1000 per day). The story was on Mashable today.

While this is a new campaign for Sports Authority, Foursquare and the Winter X Games, it isn’t the first campaign of it’s kind. As I mentioned last week, geolocation app CauseWorld is based on a giving model. For each check-in, user earn “karma” points. Users can then use these karma points to support causes of their choice. A comment on the story (above) by Caitlin Fader brought this to the attention of other reading the article. While I am excited that Foursquare is being used to help this great cause, there are many other ways we can support charities and causes via social media.

My SocialVibe widget for charity:water raises money for building deep wells in countries clean, fresh water isn’t easily accesible. SocialVibe also allows users to choose from many other charities/causes to support. I personally chose charity:water because it is one of the causes I actively promote. If you are interested in other causes, such as saving endangered species, there is a cause widget for you too! In a 2009 list of  “10 Ways to Support Charity on Social Media”, widgets were mentioned as number six and the author even provided information on where you can build your own custom widgets (if you’re more tech savvy than I am! lol!).

SixDegrees.org is another useful site for social media do-good-ers. It allows you to buy “good cards” to use for SixDegrees widgets, create your own widgets complete with your own videos, make donations or find ways to volunteer. Kevin Bacon, of Footloose fame, did a Pepsi Refresh Grant video describing SixDegrees.com.

A recent article in Social Media Today,  describes 5 top ways that charities will be involved with social media. No shock to Twitter addicts that Twibbons and Tweet-a-thons made the list. Media attention and buzz surrounding charity and social media must have been at a high point in late 2008 through 2009, as there are several articles available online regarding the subject–like this one in The New York Observer .

In more recent cases, social media has served as a platform for allowing fan groups and other comon interest groups to band together and create their own social good campaigns. Two of my favorite charity groups were recently started based on a multitude of Twitter conversations between fans and the celebrity responsible for the initial funding.

  • Misha Collins (actor on Supernatural) is the leader of a charity called Random Acts, which is the result of fan-support after he jokingly tweeted that his fans should apply for government stmulus funds and then use them for a good cause.  
  • Ian Somerhalder of  The Vampire Diaries,  recently started his own charity foundation, The IS Foundation, primarily because of the immense support of his fans in response to the idea of starting a charity as his Birthday Project.

Another of my favorite charity causes, Charity:Water, allows celebrities to “donate” thier birthdays to the organization. Instead of sending money or gifts to the celebrity, devoted fans donate money to charity:water. The suggested donation amount is the same numbers as the celebrities age. For instance, if it’s your 12th birthday fans should donate $12 (or $1.20 if they’re a broke college student). Two celebrities who have recently donated their birthdays are Allysa Milano & Adam Lambert. Also, Jayden Smith recently gave Ellen a charity:water well for her birthday on the Ellen show.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to use your social media involvement for social good. Will you choose to check-in for charity, add a Twibbon to your profile pic, or add a cause widget to your blog? Either way, there are many cool ways to make a big difference through a small donation and/or time commitment!

Is Foursquare worth the share?

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Several months ago, while still at the University of Georgia, I was taking a class on Advertising and Society. One of the things that the class liked to talk about while we were waiting on the teacher to set up her powerpoint was social media. The majority of the students in the class were upperclassmen who were much more tech savvy than I am.

They all seemed to be fascinated with what they thought would be the Next Big Thing in social media – Foursquare. In an attempt to better figure out what they were talking about, I dutifully created my own account on the Foursquare website. If found that, since I didn’t have a Smartphone, the only time I could really update the site was from school or at home. This discouraged any dreams I had of being the Mayor of the local Kroger. 🙂 In general, it didn’t seem very useful and I just didn’t get it.

In May, I upgraded to an Android powered Smartphone and have become quickly addicted to the many free apps available. My Foursquare app, however, still isn’t my go-to app for geolocation tagging. If I only have a few minutes to log in, I prefer to log in to CauseWorld – an app that allows my check-ins to raise “karmas” that lead to donations to a good cause of my choice.

In addition, very few of my friends use Foursquare (although a few do make check-ins on Facebook). This leads me back to my original question– Is Foursquare really worth taking the time to share my location?

While Foursquare recently surpassed 3 million users, I can’t help but wonder how many of these users are like myself and after months of Foursquare membership have only checked in at a few locations.

If there are any addicted Foursquare users out there, we would love to hear your input!

Checking Out now 🙂

Beka