Social is Seriously Serious Business

I received an IM from a friend a couple days ago that got me thinking. He was asking for my advice because his friend’s 15-year-old son wants to start a social media marketing business. I asked my friend to send me this young man’s business plan, so that I could review and make recommendations. The response: “Um, he doesn’t have a business plan.”

WHAT?

Don’t get me wrong – there are teens who are capable of being businesspeople. Take Brooke Martin, for example, who created icpooch when she was just 12. This kind of magic can and does happen. But I can just see how this kiddo’s plan evolved… I want extra money > I like social networks > Local businesses use social networks > I could post for these businesses and charge them for it > I’ll start a social media marketing business! So easy, right? WRONG.

Clearly the first step would be to develop a business plan. But what that plan entails can really vary depending on the business. Creating and managing a business’ social media marketing could mean so many different things. A few examples? OK… a Facebook page, LinkedIn groups, a LinkedIn corporate page, a Twitter profile, a Google+ page, Tumblr, Reddit, Yelp. What about content driven social? Oh, how about… Pinterest, Instagram, a YouTube channel, Meerkat and/or Periscope and/or Vine, blogs. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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Google: Creepy Stalker or Super Assistant?

Of course you already know this, but in case you’ve had a momentary brain lapse, let me remind you that Google is a MASSIVE enterprise. Google is the largest search engine by a long shot. By early 2014, Google had 67.6% of the global search market share with Bing coming in second at 18.7% and Yahoo third with only 10%. As of the 4th quarter of 2013, Google’s Android mobile operating system had a firm hold on more than 77% of the global market share. Google’s email client, aptly named “Gmail,” has more than 500 million users. More than 1 billion unique users visit Google’s YouTube video network each month, and there are more than 100 hours of video uploaded to the site each MINUTE. Google+ surpassed Twitter in 2013 as the second most popular social network with 540 million monthly active users. Google also has the second most used web browser, with Chrome claiming 20% of the global market share behind Microsoft’s Internet Explorer’s 58% and Firefox sitting in third place with 15%.

googleusers

The Social Media Hat, 2014

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Social Channel Selection & the Content Sandwich

Back when the social media revolution began, there were few options available to businesses – blogs, forums and MySpace were the highlights. Shortly thereafter, Facebook, which began as a platform for college students became available to the masses and Twitter launched… fast-forward to today. Social media now takes the form of networks (Facebook, Google+, LinkedInMySpace), videos (YouTube, Vimeo, Vine), images (Instagram, Flickr), blogs (Blogger, WordPress), microblogs (Twitter, Tumblr), chats and video chats (SnapChat, WhatsApp, Skype), bookmarking/content-sharing sites (Pinterest, Digg, StumbleUpon, SlideShare), communities (reddit), music (Spotify, Last.FM, SoundCloud), Q&A forums (Quora, Ask.FM), location-based platforms (Foursquare, Swarm, Yelp), review sites (Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor), and shopping (Amazon, eBay).

Online social opportunities for each and every business are endless. Unfortunately, time and money are not. Think you can just choose your favorite platform and dive-in head first? Probably not a good idea. It’s unlikely that your entire target audience will be devoted to one social site (see below). In fact, they most likely use several different social platforms at different times for different reasons. So try to be everywhere, right? NO. You’ll spread yourself too thin.

Social Media Matrix

Pew Research Center, 2013

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Can’t Buy Me Love! Wait, Yes You Can. But DON’T.

Have you ever been following someone on Twitter or Instagram (who is NOT a celebrity) and noticed a huge spike in their number of followers from one day to the next?  I have.  It’s weird. Does such an increase make me, the follower, think that what you have to say suddenly got more interesting or credible?  Nope.  Do I suddenly find you to be more important?  Nope.  Especially when a quick check of who the influx of followers are provides all the evidence I need to see that most (if not all) of this newly found flock are fake accounts rather than real people.

Here’s a look at the follower numbers for an account that buys followers periodically.  You can clearly see the days that purchases were made and days that Twitter does massive fake account deletions.

Followers for Twitter account that purchases followers

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Let’s Get Visual! Let Me See Your Content Talk!

There’s a reason that popularity of social sites like Instagram and Pinterest have skyrocketed recently.  It is the same reason that you used to be drawn to the stories in the newspaper that had images associated with them (hey! remember when you actually held a newspaper in your hand and read it?).  By design, we’re visual beings.  We’re built to see a wide spectrum of colors, depth and texture.

But the reason we’re drawn to imagery goes beyond that – when we view imagery, we each see something unique and we connect emotionally to the visual by creating our meaning for it.  Visuals make more lasting impressions because we process them differently than we do text.  According to a recent LinkedIn blog post, when we process imagery we are using 75% of our sensory neurons.  Imagery has become the new headline.  In this new fast-paced world where we’re dealing with a barrage of messages and continuous noise via every social channel, imagery is what we (marketers) need to use to capture the attention of our audience.

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