Archive for ‘Platforms’

March 7, 2012

Ladies Love Pinterest…87% of users are female [Infographic and eBook]

If you’ve been following social media trends over the past few months, you will have noticed that Pinterest has been something like a phenomenon. Although not a “new” social network (launched in early 2010), users have been joining in the millions since fall of 2011. And if you have recently jumped on the “Pinsanity” bandwagon, you’re probably a woman… at least according to the infographic below – created by mdgadvertising.

Women have traditionally out-participated their male counterparts in social media, with the exception of Google+, so this finding isn’t shocking. I was, however, a little surprised that the gender gap was so big on this network – 87% of users are female.

Even though I’m part of the 13% – I really like Pinterest for a number of reasons:

Pinterest is highly visual. Your main job as a “Pinner” is to share, and re-share, photos and videos.  This creates, often stunning, “pin boards” of content. Pairing the demographic information with the ability to tell a visual story, marketers have done a great job using this newly-popular social network. Most of the top ten brands using Pinterest focus on home design/decorating, beauty tips, and fashion.

It’s a home for different content. Pinterest is not just another place to post the same content you have on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr.  No matter what, your Pinterest content has to have a multimedia component. Though this does make for a very “pretty” user interface, the heavy priority placed on the visual can limit your effectiveness of sharing blog posts, or articles, that don’t have a quality image. In some cases (not many) I have not been able to pin stories because a relevant image wasn’t available.

Solid referral traffic. Pinterest is showing early signs of being a real player in the web traffic referral game. Since starting to use Pinterest, I’ve noticed a modest boost in web traffic on my blog, with a few hundred referrals from Pinterest. This could be due to how active and engaged the users are – It seems like “Pinners” are not being shy about “liking”  or “re-pinning” posts.

But watch out for the copyright cops. If you read the Pinterest terms and conditions closely, you will find that by using the service you declare that you are the lawful copyright owner of all images, and videos, posted. You also grant Pinterest permission to use your content as they please. This has the potential to leave you open to a lawsuit. I don’t think it’s very realistic to think that the average user will be targeted… but you never know. You can learn more about the Pinterest copyright concerns on Social Media Today.

Now for the infographic:

If you are hungry for more information about using Pinterest for yourself, or your business, HubSpot has created a great eBook. The first two chapters are “What is Pinterest & Why it Matters”  and “How to Create a Pinterest Account and Get Followers”. Then it goes on to discuss how to use Pinterest for Marketing and provides some examples of how brands are currently using the platform. If you’re interested in Pinterest, this eBook is a must.

November 8, 2011

5 Tips for dealing with social media burnout

Social Media burnoutWe’ve heard it for years. “There are just too many social networks to keep up with them all.”  It seems like every six weeks there is a new network, or an update to an existing one, that takes time and effort to learn and get used to. Earlier this year, I felt this pain. With personal and professional community management responsibilities for Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Yammer, YouTube, Flickr, Google+, and my blog, I felt overwhelmed (unmotivated, at times) to give my accounts the attention they needed. I was able to work my way out of the rut by finding software that helped me aggregate and automate some of my interactions, taking breaks from social networks, and establishing some personal usage rules.  Here are a few things you can do when dealing with social media burnout.

1. Find a management tool

During the first onset of social media fatigue, I went out and found myself some third-party applications to help me monitor and interact with each of my accounts all in one spot. There are plenty of capable apps out there, ranging from TweetDeck, Seesmic, Co-Tweet, Hootsuite, SocialOomph, Ping.fm, etc. I now find myself using a freemium version of Hootsuite with some added help from Ping.fm. What I really love about these tools is the ability to shorten links, track links, schedule messages, and manage all your networks all from one interface. The strengths and weaknesses are unique to each tool. For example, if I need better push alerts for monitoring, then I open my TweetDeck.  Although I’m usually able to fulfil most of my social media needs using Hootsuite for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, Foursquare, and WordPress.

When choosing your management tool, it’s a good idea to find one that has a solid mobile version so you can take it with you. I like using the individual apps for each network on my smartphone, but the mobile versions of tools such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite definitely offer a more robust, and inclusive, environment.

2. Remember, it’s OK to take a break

The world won’t implode if you walk away from Twitter for a week; so why don’t you give it a try? Stepping away from one of your many social networks gives you time to evaluate what you are really gaining from participating in these communities. I stopped using Facebook for about half a month earlier this year, and noticed that I was getting most of my career-related and time-sensitive social media content from Twitter and Foursquare. With this insight, I decided that I didn’t need to monitor my Facebook profile as closely. Now I use Facebook less, but the content is more focused. Instead of contributing EVERYTHING to EVERY network, I now focus my Facebook content on sharing more personal posts with those closest to me. On Twitter, my posts are more business-focused, and they are less about what is going on in my life.

3. Get back to your original goals

Take a moment and think about why you originally started using each network. Yes, goals evolve over time, and that’s good. The important thing here is to understand what you want to get out of each network experience and be realistic with yourself about what you are actually getting. If you are participating because everybody else is, it may be time to use the network differently, or to stop using it all together if you can’t identify a benefit.  Re-evaluate the social networks you are active in. If you are not getting what you want out of them, take a break. If you see no downside to not using that social network, perhaps it’s time to move on.

4. Shut it down

If you are going to stop using an account, don’t just abandon it. Shut it down. It’s as easy as that. Few things are worse than a corporate, or even personal account, that hasn’t been updated in months.

5. Set some personal guidelines

After you’ve taken the time to review your social media goals and re-evaluate what you want to get out of your social experience, it’s time to make some changes and stick to them.  The nice thing about this step is that there are no right or wrong answers here. It’s largely a trial-and-error process to get your guidelines just right, but you have to start somewhere. For each network, consider setting:

  • Time spent on site limits
  • Number of posts per day/week  limits
  • Number of times a day you check your messages/replies/mentions limits
  • Content parameters/guidelines (Do you really need to share that video of your cat on ALL of your social networks?)

All these can be quite flexible and can change based on network. If you are feeling burnt-out and just go back to the same way you were doing things, you will just burn out again. If you are feeling overwhelmed by social media, try a few of these tips for a month and see how you feel after 31 days – You just may get a breath of fresh air.

September 28, 2011

New Facebook timeline: Love it or hate it? [screenshots]

Substantive changes have been made to Facebook, and at first glance it looks like an improvement. I’ve spent the last week or so experimenting with the developers’ release of Facebook timeline to get a sense of what’s new, and what works. With this update going Facebook-wide at the end of this week (September 30, 2011), here are a few things that caught my eye.

Unbalanced three-column view: Before, we were faced with a three-column view, each column given roughly one third of the page, that featured left-navigation with your content in the middle and advertisements on the right. Your content, and daily interactions were concentrated in the centre and only given about 40% of the screen. The new timeline layout expands the content section and drastically reduces the emphasis given to navigation and advertisements.

Old:

New timeline:

When I first saw the layout I thought “Where are the ads?” and it took me a little while to notice they are now much smaller and tucked away in the bottom corner on the right-side of the page.

The timeline: A logical design move, with a long memory. Not only can you interact with latest and popular news from others, but you can also easily “creep” your own content by scrolling back through your timeline. You won’t just see the posts and friends you have made over the years; the timeline uses much of the other information you have trusted to Facebook to extend your timeline back to the day you were born. It’s fun to see what you were up to a few years ago, what music you were listening to, and how disappointed you were when the Toronto Maple Leafs lost.

I also like the “featured post option” in the timeline. You can now give certain items greater visual prominence while hiding others. Just click that little star in the corner of one of your posts and you can feature the items you think will be of most interest to your friends.

The cover: This spot for a large photo at the top of your profile is the first thing you will notice. My initial reaction to seeing this big, open area, was “this is great!” Then I quickly thought…”what the heck am I going to put there?” You can choose to display a photo that is currently in one of your albums, or you can upload a new one.

Be careful what photos you choose to include as your cover. If you use one of the previously uploaded photos you have shared with just friends, the privacy settings are automatically changed to public. If you are designing something custom for this space, 1030px  x 380px is your best bet for sizing.

Surrender more personal information: Now with a couple of clicks you can easily share many more personal details.  They are now asking for information about when a loved one died, when you got your driver’s licence, when you bought a home, when you broke your arm, when you had surgery, when you completed your military service, etc.

I chuckle each time I see these fields come into play, but knowing this type of information is important for Facebook. With these details, advertisers can now display better ads that are most likely to be of interest to you. Improving the success of these ads helps to keep Facebook free. Before I surrender any information to my social networks, I always ask myself “How does sharing this information enhance my experience?” If I don’t have a good answer, I often pass.

Facebook gets my  for this update, but what do you think?

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September 22, 2011

Do you STILL hate the new Facebook? [Video]

I’ve written this post before, at the end of 2010, the last time Facebook made a significant update. Every time Facebook unveils their new innovations, users get up in arms and turn to Facebook itself to vent their frustration. I can understand the shock that some people feel when the login to see that their photos, news, friends, and lists are not in same place. Facebook has updated their service a lot over the past few months, including new subscriptions, news feeds, mobile versions, games, photos, lists, and more. Change is good.

Here’s what I see:

News ticker: It’s that little box on the top-right side of the page that follows you as you navigate around the page. It keeps me posted on the minute-by-minute updates from friends and I don’t have to click back to the main news feed to see the updates. I like it.

Better lists: We have Google+ Circles to thank for this upgrade. Facebook has gone one step further and has started to suggest how to categorize our friends. Though, they can’t get it 100% right with their suggestions, I like to have a place to start from.

Subscribe button: This is another page out of the Google+ (and Twitter) playbook. You can now follow anybody on Facebook, without having to be their friend, as long as they have enabled their subscribe feature. I’m still experimenting with this and don’t know if I’ll keep it.

Privacy: They claim to have added a “new suite of safety tools” to the network, including advanced security settings, and tools for families. Before you go any further with the new Facebook, it’s a good idea to revisit your privacy settings to make sure nothing has been unknowingly changed. I do this after every Facebook upgrade.

User backlash: It happened in 2008, it happened in 2010, it happened in February of 2011 with the photo viewer update, and now it’s happening again. People are freaking out about the upgrades. I would encourage those who are upset to take a breath, give the new features a try, and then decide if they work for you. If you don’t like them, don’t use them – that sends a message to Facebook.

Remember, this type of upgrading is essential. If we were faced today with Facebook as it existed in 2006, surely we wouldn’t be satisfied. Yes, they are “keeping up with the Jones'” in some respects (Google+ and Twitter), but that’s a good thing. The more pressure these companies put on each other the faster they are forced to innovate and improve their services. At the end of the day, it’s the user who benefits most from these perpetual upgrades. You may not love them all, but we’re definitely better off today then we were way back in 2006.

What do you think about the new Facebook? Love it? Hate it? or meh? I would love some thoughts on this one.

Here’s a quick video from Facebook explaining some of their new features:

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