Monthly Archives: November 2011

Social Media Content Types Explained [Infographic]

Content drives everything in social media. It’s where everything within the space starts, comes together and ends up. Seriously, think about it. If nobody was posting anything there would be no conversation or reason for being here.

Many times people misunderstand content and it’s various forms. We tend to think of content in terms of a blog post we share, some news article, a video or photo, but content goes much deeper than that. Social media content comes in numerous forms, from posting what you are eating, to conversation to a quote. It’s plain text, text that drives someone to click a link and/or everything in between.

As I was contemplating content and it’s front and center role within social media marketing, I began to envision a fun social graphic. I wanted to create something that helped people break out of the norms and look at content in different ways. I wanted it to be fun, engaging and thought provoking. Enter Anya Downing of Engage Marketing and Design, my branding and Infographic partner and the queen of branding and story telling.

During our strategy call about social media content, I expressed my ideas related to the project. We discussed the different content types I wanted to cover and the descriptions and details to be used. Passing off the details, Anya did her magic that incorporated something I am well known for… Coffee!

Here is what we created:

Yes, this Infographic is fun, but don’t stop there.

1) Think about these various content types and how you are or are not utilizing them within your social media marketing efforts.

2) Consider where you are missing on providing value and opportunities that can spark conversation and further relationships.

3) How can your social media content efforts be improved through utilizing more content types to connect with your audience?

4) Create a plan to execute these things into your program and closely monitor the results.

5) Use the results from your monitoring to make final changes to your efforts.

Finally, be sure your thinking around social media content and your marketing strategy is human. Be sure your audience can make a human connection and relate to you!

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

Again, I would like to formally thank Engage and @AnyaDowning for their incredible work on the Infographic! We appreciate you guys!

21 Comments

Filed under check-in, Infographic, Monitoring, Social content management, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Strategy, Uncategorized

Just Thankful

As I sit here on Thanksgiving morning sipping my coffee and catching up on Twitter, Facebook and yes, Google Plus, I am reminded of the thousands of social media people I am connected to. There are so many I frequently engage, share calls and skype with, that it IS literally impossible to name everyone. Worse, I am afraid I would totally miss some of you that are so important to me.

The relationships, business customers and friends I enjoy every week through social media, is truly mind blowing. The constant coffee shoutouts, the caring comments, the sharing of my content and just pure friendship is overwhelming my thoughts this morning. Social media and those of you I have been so lucky to connect with has truly impacted my life in so many amazing ways.

So on this Thanksgiving morning, I won’t be listing a ton of people, there are just far too many. But please know, I am:

Just Thankful

for you…

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

11 Comments

Filed under Social Media

Social Media, God and Thanksgiving

It’s November again and I can hardly believe another year is almost in the books. What a year it has been… New business, adjusting to a ton of personal changes and so many new and exciting opportunities in life. I am truly grateful and blessed…

Warning to reader – If you are expecting a normal social media marketing post from me, stop reading now. If you are expecting to read a traditional “Thanksgiving” post where the writer lists all the things they are thankful for, you may want to check Oprah for that. If you were thinking from the title, “uh oh, this guy is going to preach about God or something”, well you should stay, because I am no preacher.

HA! I always wanted to do some kind of reader warning in a blog post. Seemed like a great topic to give it a whirl. *Thinks to myself that I really hope everyone stayed… Ok, back to my regularly scheduled post.

I was thinking a lot last week about Thanksgiving coming, how it will be dramatically different for my kids and I this year. It also had me reflecting on the entire year as I pondered what I could write about regarding social media and the holiday. Something kept coming to mind and I decided to let it roll out.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot to be thankful for. I am blessed by so many of my social media connections that have truly become very near and dear to my heart. I don’t want to diminish that fact in this post. Nor do I want to sound arrogant by not listing a ton of things I am so grateful for. But with this post, I thought it should be even more!

You see, in pondering Thanksgiving and social media, it came to me that there is a parallel, something even Biblical if you can believe it. Regardless of our beliefs, many of us have heard “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, which is found in Luke 6:31. Oddly enough, this encapsulates social media marketing, a true spirit of Thanksgiving and what I wanted to get across to my readers today.

Social media marketing is selfless. It is about helping others and giving of one’s self in ways business has never really appreciated before now. The most amazing thing about this fact is that as you continue to do so within the social graph, the blessing that returns to you is immeasurable!

So I will leave you with this… If you really want to be effective with your social media marketing program this coming year, make Thanksgiving the center of that effort today. Display a grateful heart to your fans and followers, truly treating them the way you want to be treated and realize abundance beyond what you thought this medium could be.

I truly do appreciate you and am thankful beyond measure for the relationships I have experienced, all while doing social media marketing for our company.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

24 Comments

Filed under Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Strategy, Uncategorized

How To Grow A Targeted Social Media Following

There are many smaller brands and individual marketers on Twitter that are doing an exceptional job building relationships, engaging and providing some real value to their target audience. I am continually coming across twitter accounts of companies that really seem to get it, which appears to be a dramatic improvement over the last few years.

Many of these brands are still struggling with building a targeted community of followers that is large enough to provide significant value and deliver returns. As a matter of fact, it is one of the more frequent questions I get surrounding this issue. I tend to hear that they need a highly targeted community, yet also need it to be sizable. This is something I completely agree with.

eMarketer recently came out with a report detailing that “Firms need more tools and technology“. Though the report is specific to BtoB companies, all social media marketers and brands should be listening. This is something I speak about frequently. There is only so much time in the day, therefore with proper tools you are able to do much more with far less.

For those of you that are now starting to squirm in your seats in hopes I don’t use the “A” word, you are about to get uncomfortable. Automated tools are a necessity in effective social media marketing, but lets clarify this a little bit. I am referring to anything that can improve your efficiency and effectiveness that does NOT automatically post, follow or engage with others in the social graph. Tools that help monitor, find and manage is imperative!

If you are going to be effective and achieve an ROI on your social media marketing efforts, efficiency is paramount. You need to ensure your have the time to engage and build relationships, all while providing value and helping your target audience. Oh and don’t forget you still need to grow that audience also…

So here are two things to help you quickly build a highly targeted following:

1) Tweetspinner - This is a micro-targeting tool for twitter. It helps you find your target audience based on geographic, demographic and keyword information. This is NOT an automated find/follow tool, but rather an incredibly complex targeting application for finding audience and manually queuing them to be followed by your twitter account. The software has a free version, but nothing short of the upgraded version is worthwhile.

Before using such software, be sure that you can clearly describe your target audience and have developed a strategy for content. Not delivering value in your stream will make growing a targeted audience difficult and useless.

2) Linkedin - Often overlooked as a community building tool, Linkedin is similar to Twitter in that unlike Facebook, you can search and find people by interest, location and other key indicators. But rather than making a connection with them on Linkedin, look through their profile to find their Twitter account and follow them.

I am amazed how often some Linkedin users will ignore someone on that platform, yet readily engage on Twitter. Use Linkedin to find your targeted audience and follow that person’s account to start a relationship. B to B companies can especially be effective following this suggestion.

If you want to build a highly engaged and effective following on social media you must provide selfless value to that audience and then use tools and applications that help you. Shovels and picks were invented so we don’t have to dig with our hands and can be much more effective. Don’t dig with your hands when there are picks available that will not cross the boundaries of authenticity, but will aid your social media marketing efforts.

*Update* – I got so many questions about Tweetspinner, I decided to create a quick set up and use tutorial to help you. It’s on our YourTube Channel Here

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

8 Comments

Filed under Followers, Social Media, social media automation, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy, Twitter, Uncategorized

New Fanpage Capability Delivers Huge Win for Social Media Agencies And Marketers

Many of us social media marketing consultants, agencies and individuals are all pretty aware of Facebook fanpages and some of the functionality that can be added to customize, brand and improve the functionality, branding and results a page can achieve alone. The process of this customization can be time consuming and end up cluttering the navigation bar on the left side of a fanpage with a bunch of application tabs that ultimately offer limited value to the user -or- the brand.

Many of the apps available tend to offer little value to the user, resulting in little activity and use by them on the page. Many of us have heard of Involver and their fanpage apps that can be added to a page’s tabs one at a time. I find this distracting from the page itself and requires setting up each app one at a time and doing advertising for Involver instead of the brand. This is one of the main things I did not like about the app solutions.

Last week I was fortunate to make a connection on Twitter that ended up being something I believe will give social media agencies and marketers huge opportunities for additional revenue, robust functionality and improved results. I thought it was new and important enough to spend some time investigating and writing about it.

Introducing Social Stage. During my review of what they have developed and subsequent conversations with them directly, I am convinced that their technology delivers an incredible option that can help your fanpages achieve improved results and be at the core of a new additional revenue stream for social media agencies.

At the core of the Social Stage application is a platform based on iFrame technology, designed for fanpage micro website creation and hosting system that can easily be customized within a single tab on a Facebook page. Yes, I said a SINGLE tab. What’s more, small social media agencies, marketers and even brands, will no longer need to hire out the detailed customization functions to developers. The intuitive application gives you options with a non-programming required interface that helps a socially savvy manager to plug and play a very high end, custom micro website. Are you or your firm more into coding and programming deeper customization and functionality? No worries, they give you that option too!

The solution comes with an intuitive administration interface that provides full editing functions right inside of the Facebook page application. The company says that average development time is less than 2 hours for new users. That figure includes customizing inbound marketing and lead capture forms, thank you email messages and any downloadable deliverables such as PDF’s or coupon pages. I was especially interested in the lead generation forms and response pages that can capture customer information, becoming an active sales tool for your business. Furthermore the admin system lets you easily edit all form fields to make it exactly what you want for your client.

Social media agencies have an option for a White Label program that can be branded with your logo and link. Add to that an opportunity for charging your clients additional set up and monthly maintenance fees for your social media package and you are delivering additional value and income. The company says many agency users charge their clients $399-$999 for the micro website set up and $49+ per month for “hosting, maintenance and additional marketing support”. I think the value is there for the client.

Additional features of the Social Stage Platform Include:

1) Embedded video

2) Editable navigation tabs

3) External web URL links

4) Force “like” page options

5) Deals & Specials functionality

6) Numerous app plug ins for Blog,  integration

7) Pre-packaged app suites for vertical markets like restaurants, real estate, finance and sales companies, come with standard functionality and design choices.

8) Build your own from scratch option

Pricing:

Social Stage prices their solution as a subscription model, which is based on your pages total likes. The prices range from a Free program that is ad supported to enterprise options at $50+ per month. White Label agency options give you multiple fanpage support with price breaks that are worth looking into.

Since I focus my efforts and writing directed toward social media marketers, consultants, agencies and internal brand departments, I determined their new product something that would be very valuable to my readers. I am planning on getting the Social Stage application implemented on our Bundle Post fanpage myself. I really like the unique features and value it delivers and think it’s worth looking into for you as well.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

Disclosure:

I was not approached by Social Stage or asked to write this article. I came across their Twitter account and started engaging and asking questions. I got them on the phone and determined they are a startup and that we have the identical target market without any competing offerings. I am not yet a customer of Social Stage, but intend on being one very soon.

4 Comments

Filed under Facebook, Social Media, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Uncategorized

Business Is About Market Share – Google Plus Brand Pages

In business, especially related to internet sites, social media platforms or even electronics, it is all about market share. This is something very tough for a lot of people to understand, and often breaks into arguments about which product or site is better, more slick or has a better interface.

Make no mistake about it, better doesn’t always win. Market share does. When I heard Monday that Google Plus had launched Brand Pages, I tweeted the following… “If your ship is taking on water, does it matter that you introduce new lounge chairs for the top deck? G+ Brand Pages = So what“.

Rather than getting into a big tirade about the new Google Plus brand pages and how it really doesn’t matter much, I have decided to cover it lightly and get this main market share concept across. I have written extensively about my views on the too little and FAR too late phenomena that is Google and social media. I’m not sure anything in the situation changes at all just because months later they give brands something that is a pittance of what pages in Facebook are. I might add, Facebook pages already have traction and (ahem), market share, or better said, total market dominance.

“But Google plus is better.” – “Circles are so easy.” – “I love the lack of useless noise in Google Plus!” – “The search integration and SEO value of the G+ Brand Pages is incredible.”

Yep, I have heard all this and you may be right, however there is something your emotion and geekery is again forgetting…  Market share.

There is only one question to be asked. Can Google gain a number one, or a least a number two market share of social media users?

If you answered Yes, you may be drinking your koolaid with a chaser of wishful thinking. Many articles have repeatedly reported the decline of growth and more importantly existing user base inactivity within the platform.

Again, if you answered yes, ask yourself this…

Will your parents, non social media marketing friends and average Facebook users REALLY switch to anything, let alone Google Plus?   Their small friend networks, limited pictures, technical savvy and online life all reside on Facebook. They aren’t going to move.

Some of you older readers might remember Sony Beta video format. Way higher quality than VHS tapes. They lost and lost big. Why? Market share.

Is this horse dead yet? I’m done beating it… :-)

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

P.S. – Here is today’s SocialGraphics Blog’s, social media image for the day. Too funny! Click image to view full size.

Google Plus Cartoon


18 Comments

Filed under Facebook, Google, Google Plus, Social Media, Uncategorized

A Real Example of Effective Social Media Monitoring and Engagement

Last week I was watching TV with my baby boy (@Sprout TV) and saw an interesting commercial for something called the Total Bib. It kind of made me chuckle, which caused me to tweet something like “Total Bib reminds me of something out of a Saturday Night Live sketch”. The tweet received a few laughs and comments, but viral twitter post it wasn’t.

A few hours later, I received a reply tweet from @TotalBib thanking me for the mention and engaging me in conversation. I was pretty amazed since I was not following them previously, they were simply monitoring the stream. They simply took the time and made the effort to do some simple monitoring of the Twitter stream to identify opportunity.

They then took it a step further by taking the time to review my bio to recognize I am a single father, as well as someone with a little bit of influence in the social graph (despite what Klout says :-) ). Putting two and two together, these bright folks then engaged with me in a DM conversation that lead to them sending me one of their Bibs for my two and a half year old.

I am not writing this post to promote Total Bib, nor am I returning the favor for their gracious free gift, however it certainly has achieved some exposure and social media cheer leading.  My motivation for this post is to show other businesses the power of social media monitoring within your marketing program and how to capitalize on that monitoring after it identifies target market.

There are two main points to take from this:

1) Listen/Monitor: Whether using high-end Social Media Monitoring and Analytics tools such as Mantis Pulse Analytics or Twitter Lists, Google Alerts or simple Twitter searches, small through large brands should constantly be monitoring for mentions and opportunities to find and engage with their target market. Many opportunities are missed by companies that fail in this area, so planning is required.

2) Take Action: Once you identify your brand or product being discussed in the social graph, take the time to follow the person, engage them in conversation and evaluate the opportunities. Partnerships, special deals or straight forward relationship building should be your focus. We all want to feel important. Make them feel so and it will benefit your social media marketing tremendously!

Your social media marketing strategy must include monitoring along with all the other required components. Finding and capitalizing on opportunities through this added piece of your social media management will certainly pay dividends.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

14 Comments

Filed under Monitoring, Social Media, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Strategy, Twitter, Uncategorized

My Klout Experiment And The Disturbing Results

In my professional, humble social media opinion, it is about value, engagement and relationships that lead to ROI, not what someone or something says about how influential you are. Having said that, many of you that read my blogs on social media marketing and Klout know that I have been fairly supportive of the company, it’s business model and their perceived desire to provide a reliable, yet imperfect overall influence score.

Fast forward to just after the recent substantial changes Klout introduced a week ago yesterday and the firestorm of unrest that ensued, I wrote a post that supported the changes and tried to put everything in perspective.  In my article titled “Klout Changes Affect Millions” I state “It’s NOT the number increase or decrease that is important here. What’s important with the score is what that number can tell you and how you can make changes to your activity”. As I watched my score and others in the industry continue to decline for no apparent reason, I also began to watch and compare my Klout data with some major brands to try to gain some insight to share to all of you. I noticed only three significant differences between my @fondalo account and some of these brands, celebrities and industry experts:

1) Number of followers – most had thousands more than I do.

2) Following percentage – most don’t follow more than 10-20% of their followers. I follow folks that aren’t spammers and that are my target market. (as should all social media marketers)

3) Engagement – most do not respond and engage with their fans/followers at any significant rate.

At this point there has been so many posts and articles about the substantial changes Klout made and the anger toward the lack of explanation and transparency or any semblance of sense around what has resulted. So I don’t want to add to that. I did however begin to have a hunch regarding the algorithm when comparing my score to some brands.

I know I influence thousands on a daily basis, based on conversations, mentions and RT’s, let alone the significant number of comments, likes and shares I experience. We see significant ROI with our social media efforts as well, which in my opinion is a huge indication of our influence. One rule I have within social media is that I respond to every single mention, comment and RT. Whether it is furthering conversation or a polite thank you, I firmly believe this is important. Most of the larger brands out there do not. I also know that as a social media marketing software company, our target market and therefore friend, fan and follower base is mostly made up of peers with similar or lower scores than myself.

*Note – the time between Klout’s change and the start of my experiment, I wrote a blog post that received the highest traffic, views and comments, as well as being shared more on Twitter and Facebook than any other article I have written. Furthermore, that same period included a Friday, where my twitter account receives literally thousands of mentions in a single day. All the while my score continued a steady decline. Is that possible if influence is truly being measure?

All of these things got me thinking, then asking myself some questions…

1) Does Klout now determine you are more influential if you DO NOT engage/respond to everything?

2) Does Klout now determine you are LESS influential if the folks/brands that mention engage with you have less influence than you do?

I embarked on experiment that was very painful. My hunch regarding number one above was combined with a change in activity to see if anything interesting resulted. Over three days I only responded and engaged when someone directly asked me a question or their mention or comment really required it. All other likes, comments and RT’s were ignored. (I want to note this was so hard for me. I pride myself on not being like the other arrogant social mediaexpertsby always responding and helping others, etc.) It was incredibly difficult to stay firm with my activity pattern change to ensure these 3 days resulted in accurate findings.

Results:

My hunch related to number one above was completely wrong, but I noticed something that is even more disturbing. Based on my reduction in engagement and response to my friends and followers as well as blog comments, you would expect that the rate my score is declining would substantially increase. This did NOT occur. As you see in the image, it maintained the approximately the same level of decrease during the experiment.

Why is that important? It says that according to Klout’s new algorithm, responding and engaging with your friends, followers, fans and Blog “commenters” (which I might add builds relationships and therefore increases opportunity for ROI) has little to do with your influence in the social graph. Disturbing doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about this discovery.

What’s more, the data in the image shows two additional frightening discoveries that should be pointed out:

1) Amplification Stabilized – Even though I stopped conversing at usual levels, my amplification stopped declining at the previous steady pace since the Klout changes. Seriously? How does that remotely make sense or be in anyway possible? So by not engaging and thanking people, how much I influence them increases? Disturbing to say the least.

2) Network Impact Increase – After a steep immediate decline at the beginning of my experiment, my Network Impact began to show a pattern of slow steady rise.

So while my overall Klout score continued its steady decline, my overall amplification influence and network influence became more stable or even started to rise.

As a previous proponent of Klout and someone that consistently saw their system as one with proper focus, leadership and focus on accurate depiction of the social graph, I am dismayed. As a heavy social media user, consultant and someone that has driven ROI and strategy for many businesses large and small, I am now almost speechless at what I have found.

Based on my experiment, it appears that Klout’s algorithm changes are not focused on improving their social measurement system, but a clueless attempt to prop up larger brands and celebrities anti-social behavior and stifle effective relationship building that leads to ROI for those that do it right. -OR- even worse, tech geeks and scientific formulas that have no real understanding of social media and it’s proper use in business.

Being a social media technology company, you would have thought Klout would have better managed their decision to release this new tech as well as get in front of this story with better answers that made some kind of sense. Instead, they decided to let social media do what it does and react to it, albeit poorly. This entire thing is an incredible example to other brands on how NOT to manage a crisis and to tech companies on how NOT to let your head get too big. Your customers and users should have a lot to say about the game, not just you.

I am not upset at all that my score lost 11+ Points. I am pissed that a company I trusted, upheld and cheered for has fumbled in such a horrific way. The only way Klout could save face with me at this point is to do what Bank of America is doing in the banking sector. Roll back to previous algorithm and make small incremental changes that are accurate and thoughtful.

*note – I did not add or remove any social media platforms during my experiment. I only altered my engagement pattern. Nothing more, nothing less.

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

112 Comments

Filed under Facebook, Klout, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy, Twitter, Uncategorized

Boiled Down To Its Simplest Elements, Social Media Is…

There are so many factors, elements and activity that are required to conduct an effective social media marketing program. When I consult or speak about social media, I often try to boil things down to simple components that help people understand this new and rapidly changing medium we call social media.

Imagine that we are back in science class. (I know it sucks, but bare with me here) Let’s imagine that we have a large beaker set upon a slow, constant flame. In it we begin placing all of the components of an effective social media program. Content, engagement, the different platforms, strategy and so on. Once all those “elements” have been poured into the beaker we then cover it and connect two tubes through the lid, allowing the substance to condense and extrude the two basic elements from the solution. We would end up with just two things…

Boiled Down To It’s Simplest Elements, Social Media Is: Value and Human

Now that our little chemistry experiment has resulted in some data, let’s break these down with some detail. A good understanding of the most basic elements of social media marketing is crucial to your success.

Value: Providing value in social media is core to effectiveness. I always define it as providing selfless, relevant value to your target market. This can materialize many ways, including; sharing relevant content your audience will deem valuable -or- helping others regardless of cost or time requirements. Selfless value requires thinking of others and not yourself or your brand. It means you understand it is about relationships and not about you or what you do.

Take the time and effort to ask yourself, what selfless value are we providing our social community. Make this concept the core of what you do and you will reap significant benefits.

Human: We call this social media, right? Can a logo be social? Can a company name have a conversation? Can you talk to a building? Keep in mind that we are human beings. Humans connect and build relationships with other humans. Making yourself approachable within social media by sharing YOU is imperative.

What do I mean sharing you? I mean, be real not a robot. Incorporate your personality, your life and your non-business interests into your social media marketing. We know that people hang around people like them, relate to people like them and most importantly, do business with people they feel they know and like. Having an overly stuffy, professional or impersonal communication style within the social graph prevents your target marketing from making a human connection with you and your brand.

Whether your social media marketing involves Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or any number of other platforms, incorporate value and the human element into your efforts. If you are an individual marketer or a large brand, be sure to remember it’s not about YOU, but your audience. Being approachable at the human level is a must!

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

2 Comments

Filed under Facebook, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Strategy, Twitter, Uncategorized