What Is Social Media?

What is social media?

I asked that question recently at the Higher Ed Web Association annual conference, and I got a variety of interesting responses. Here’s a look:

Thanks to everyone at #heweb11 for their help with the video.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

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7 Facts About Content Sharing on the Web

It’s no secret that the American Marketing Association hosts great events to educate, support, and connect marketing professionals.  I’m continually blown away by the quality of the content I get at each of the events, and this past week was no exception.  [Disclaimer: I’ve been an AMA member since 2008 and currently serve as VP of Membership for 2011-2012]

Thursday’s event featured Kristin Kovner, Senior Director of Marketing, AOL Advertising.  Kristin’s presentation, “Is Content the Fuel of the Web?” included recent findings from a case study done by AOL and Nielsen on internet users’ habits and attitudes on the major social networks.  In a nutshell, she broke down what types of content people share, with whom they share it, and on which social networks this is all taking place.

Here are my top 7 takeaways from Kristin’s data-filled presentation:

  1. Email is not dead.  Despite what some people will tell you, email is still the most popular place that internet users share content.  66% of internet users share content by email, as compared with only 28% on our beloved social networks.
  2. Industry-specific conversations get the most love.  Research showed that 60% of social media posts (mainly Facebook and Twitter) that are industry specific include an explicit brand mention.  Tweets from industry-specific conversations contain a link to some type of content (usually product information) a remarkable 73% of the time (as compared with only 42% of the time for conversations not related to a specific industry).
  3. 99% of people sharing via social networks are sharing via multiple platforms.
  4. Social network sharers are 17% more likely to be femaleexcept on Google+ (which wasn’t included since this study was done in Q1 of 2011).
  5. People tend to share with their close networks of trusted friends – not publicly (despite Facebook’s continued efforts to make privacy settings so confusing you don’t know who you’re sharing with).  This one may be a little harder for power users on Twitter to understand, since they sometimes tend to broadcast everything to everyone.
  6. Only 4% of shared content links back to a company website.  This one is important.  Businesses have to realize that conversations about their brands are happening in places other than their site and most of it never sends consumers to a company URL.
  7. Marketers can capitalize on people’s sharing habits in two ways.  1). Produce branded, sharable content (think videos with your products in them that are easy for people to share – like the Coca-Cola happiness machine campaign); and 2).  Be present with display advertising when the conversations are taking place away from your website (think display ads on YouTube for viral videos not produced by your company/affiliates, but related to your product or industry).

All in all, it was a great presentation – a flurry of numbers, but great information for those of us looking to “engage” consumers where they interact most.  The full report (along with other great research presentations) can be found on the AOL Advertising site.

Does anything above surprise you about how content is shared on the web?

My Blog: A Year in Review

Last week marked my 1-year anniversary of starting my own personal blog.  Since I’ve actually stuck with it and kept somewhat of a regular schedule, I now have a lot to look back on.  Thanks to all of you who have read, commented, and linked to my blog this year.

My Family at Grand Canyon - Sometime in the 80s

When I started my new blog, I set out with only a couple of specific goals:

  1. Write about subjects that interest me, such as marketing, technology, social media, travel, music
  2. Write at least one post per month.

As for the first goal, this one was easy.  I find a lot of interesting things on the web and I like to stay current on the newest social media trends.  I didn’t write much about music (besides recapping the concerts I’ve attended), but maybe I’ll do more with that in the next 12 months.

With 34 posts under my belt, goal number two was easily met.

So what were my favorite posts?

Ty Webb Has Real Klout

My personal favorite (mainly because it includes a strong reference to the movie Caddyshack) was my short blog on Klout, the new service that measures online “influence.”

My most visited post was written about what we can learn from the Chilean miner rescue from a leadership standpoint.

I also enjoyed writing (and re-reading this week) all my posts about my family and travel.  Honorable mention goes to my posts on marketing and related events I’ve attended.

So where will the next year take me?  Who knows.  I just hope you’re able to come along for the ride.

Ty Webb Has Real Klout

Ty Webb Has Real Klout

While watching the 1980 cult classic Caddyshack this past weekend, I noticed an interesting parallel to social media.  Ty Webb was on to something when he told Judge Smails he didn’t keep score.  I think the conversation went something like this:

Smails: Ty, what did you shoot today?
Webb:  Oh, Judge, I don’t keep score.
Smails: Then how do you measure yourself with other golfers?
Webb:  By height.

I feel like a lot of people on Twitter are concerned too much with “measuring themselves with others,” rather than creating quality content, genuinely connecting with others, and providing value to their followers.  Metrics, ROI, Klout scores, and the like all have their place, but probably shouldn’t be the focus for most people on Twitter.  Find ways to create real conversations and lasting engagement, and the metrics will follow.

I wrote in March about my own personal experience with Twitter, responding to the question “Is Twitter a True Social Network?”.  Thanks again to those who follow my randomness and to those who continue to positively influence me.

Let’s all try to be a bit more like Ty Webb… I’ll go first.

Crowdsourcing: Teaching Social Media for Business

I’ve recently been asked by a University of San Diego marketing professor to guest lecture on social media for business in her MBA class.  While other institutions dedicate an entire semester to teaching social media, I’ll be working with a little less time than that:  I’ve got one hour.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

I could probably start by showing Erik Qualman’s “Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh),” but I think they may have already seen that.  I could start with some mind-blowing statistics about the growth of social media.  I could “borrow” some great ideas from presentations from notable gurus, ninjas, authors, and experts I’ve seen over the past three years.  I could even dig up some Harvard Business School case studies on social media for business.  I could do a lot of things, but I have only one hour.

So I thought I’d reach out to you, my regular readers and random guests who stumble upon my humble offerings for some help.

Crowdsourcing:  a term that Wikipedia claims came about in 2006.  A term so new that WordPress throws the spell-check flag (am I spelling it right?).  A term that means asking all of you what I should do with my one hour in front of MBA students who perhaps know more about social media than I assume.

So what do you think?  What should I cover in a marketing class with MBA students in one short hour on social media for business?  Who knows, my best responses might even get a mention in class.

I’d like to be able to point to this blog post as an example of building a social network (that has been cultivated online, as well as in person), asking said network for a little help, and receiving tons of thoughtful, engaging and inspiring feedback.  Is that so much to ask?

Three Books I Hope to Finish Before 2011

I’ll admit it.  I don’t read as many books as I’d like to these days, but I’m able to plow through about one a month.  Because of my graduate school experience at USD and my professional interests, the books I choose to read have changed a bit over the past few years – but I’m still interested in variety.  Lately, I’ve been reading books on marketing,  social media, and technology to keep up with trends, and to help me process what I find daily in my Google Reader.  Here are a few of my recent favorites:

Googled:  The end of the world as we know it, by Ken Auletta
I’m only about halfway through this one, so I’m still getting to some of the good stuff.  Basically, Auletta opens up the hood on one of the most powerful and fascinating companies in the world and the result is an easy, fast read that provides lots of history on how and why Google is such a force in business.

Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business, by Erik Qualman
Again, I’m only part of the way through this one (noticing a trend here?), but it’s clear that this is a great book for marketers and non-marketers alike.  Using recent (2010) case studies and relevant examples, Qualman does a great job of explaining why businesses should embrace social media (just in case there are any holdouts left these days).  One item that jumped out at me was the subtitle; notice he says “transforms,” as in, it’s constantly changing.  Read it now before this is all old news.  In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a powerful video that was created along with the book.

Of course, I still like a good biography now and then, especially if it involves musicians.  Since I’ve seen CSN in concert twice now, I figured I’d give this one a go:

Crosby, Stills, & Nash: The biography, by Dave Zimmer and Henry Diltz
If you like old stories about old rockers, which I do – this one’s for you.  Endorsed in the preface by Graham Nash himself, this seems to be a pretty accurate, raw, and real version of the CSN story.  Again, only halfway through, so don’t tell me how it ends.

Photo credit: Robert Altman