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This is a cross-post from my company blog. 

CNN has released the results of what I deem a very powerful study, making the connection between all  of the news-sharing madness happening across the social space, and how advertisers benefit. The global research study into the power of news and recommendation, called POWNAR, was pretty high-tech. According to CNN, it included: “a thorough semiotic analysis, neuro-marketing techniques, news tracking and an ad effectiveness survey to demonstrate that shared news drives global uplifts in brand metrics.”

Having worked at six news organizations, most recently WRAL, I am very familiar with the conversations surrounding the popularity of news sharing and the perplexities that have come with properly defining exactly how the news organizations, which create the content being shared, can capitalize on it all.

At first, the main area of concern was the fact that the content was moving beyond the news website to social networking sites. (“What, they’re taking our content and posting it on Facebook? My word!”)

News managers were finally able to move past that once everyone adopted the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality, which brought in a flurry of “share this” widgets on pretty much every news story on mainstream news website.  These tools encourage sharing and have reduced it to a single click.

I sat in a number of meetings trying to convince the higher-ups that this sharing was a good thing and if the news organization actually got involved in these social networks and started communicating with viewers and readers directly, it would be a testament to the company’s ability to adapt in the new media space.  It would also further humanize the brand.

Another hurdle successfully cleared. I say this because I’m sure you’ve seen the hundreds of journalists on Twitter, heard the pleas from news anchors to “friend us on Facebook” and read the crawls underneath Larry King and Anderson Cooper’s  introductions to their  shows telling you to follow them on Twitter. I don’t need to convince you that news organizations have embraced the power their information yields across social media platforms.

But back to the point….

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Have you ever wondered how some members of your online community (or any community for that matter) can get so overwhelmingly caught up in online drama with people they hardly know?  I know I have. Well, there could be a real, clinical reason behind it, according to a new study, that goes beyond them needing to “get a life.”

Psychologists from Leeds University say they’ve found “striking” evidence that some avid internet users develop compulsive  habits in which they replace real-life social interaction with online chat rooms and social networking sites.

The lead author of the study wrote in the the journal of Psychopathology that the study “reinforces the public speculation that over-engaging in websites that serve to replace normal social function might be linked to psychological disorders like depression and addiction.”

WOW, THAT EXPLAINS A LOT.

What the study didn’t glean is which comes first: excessive internet use or depression. In other words… are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?”

Here is one more interesting quote I just have to share:

“While many of us use the internet to pay bills, shop and send emails, there is a small subset of the population who find it hard to control how much time they spend online, to the point where it interferes with their daily activities.”

This is a really interesting study. Read more about it here in Science Daily, and come back and tell me what you think.Oh, you can also read the complete abstract with methodology and other pertinent information at Psychopathology.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed updating your Facebook status, making connections on LinkedIn, tweeting for the masses and watching YouTube videos from the comfort of your employer’s keyboard, but I think that will change for many in the next year.

I shared my thoughts on this over on SiliconAngle, where I am a contributing writer and decided to cross-post for you. So, have a read and tell me what you think.


I don’t have a list of ten predictions. I don’t even have five. But I do have one and I feel rather strongly about it.

Okay, a great number of people are predicting that social media will be even bigger next year and businesses will continue to latch on and make use of the space. They’ve learned that it is an important strategy and that social media must become a huge part of their overall marketing and PR efforts.

Great.

However, I believe that many employees (state workers, for sure) will find themselves blockedfrom Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and maybe even LinkedIn entirely next year.

I’ve written quite a bit about social media guidelines and even led the charge in developing them for my current company, which supports employee involvement.  We want people to get involved and become brand advocates. But that’s us.  That may not be the case where you work and you could soon find out the hard way.

For many companies there is nothing to gain but a loss of productivity for allowing this access and they’ve known it for a while.  Therefore, I maintain that many will soon pull the plug.

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Here’s something you can do to jump start your year, clear out your inbox and make better use of your time in the social space next year.

Start opting-out.

Take a few minutes to assess every piece of email you receive that comes from someone who promised to teach you how to become an internet marketing genius, double your number of Facebook fans, guarantee that you’ll get 15 retweets per day by following 8 simple rules or any other claim that simply did not deliver.

You’ve waited and waited for that one email that would give you the idea of a lifetime but it didn’t come. It probably isn’t coming. Perhaps you’ve received one valuable e-mail blast and the other 11 were crap. Why continue to reward this person with a personal invitation into your world? They wanted your email address for their own gain, not yours.  You gave them a chance and they didn’t meet your needs, so let them go. This is YOUR time we’re talking about here.

After my book was published earlier this year, I opted in to all kinds of emails from experts who knew how to get me super publicity. I dialed in to a few teleseminars and even participated in a webinar or two. It was all junk. Regurgitated junk and empty promises, week after week.  There was one gem though. A woman who offers great practical advice on book marketing. I was so impressed with her that I paid for one of her information products on how to get your book in libraries.  It cost $19 and I am happy to say that after following her advice to the letter, I did get my book in a few libraries and learned how to navigate the bureaucracy. That was worth it,

But back to the topic at hand….

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A new survey conducted by Junior Achievement and Deloitte finds that teens fully expect to access social networking sites on-the-job. Will they get a rude awakening, or will this be the status quo by the time they enter the workforce?

I think we have yet to determine the answer to this one, and it will likely depend on what happens in the next few years. Employers need to realize that policies will have to be created and they need to really figure out their stance sooner than later. I’ve been an advocate of social media guidelines, and those who haven’t may be after reading the results of this poll.

I’ve included the entire press release for your reading pleasure:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ — Online social networks have become so central to teens’ lifestyles that they would consider their ability to access them during working hours when weighing a job offer. This is according to the seventh annual Junior Achievement/Deloitte Teen Ethics Survey, which focused on the ethical implications of the popularity of social networking.

Nearly nine-in-10 (88 percent) teens surveyed use social networks every day, with 70 percent saying they participate in social networking an hour or more daily. More than half (58 percent) said they would consider their ability to access social networks at work when considering a job offer from a potential employer. This comes as many organizations have begun implementing policies that limit access to social networks during the workday due to concerns about unethical usages, such as time theft, spreading rumors about co-workers or managers and leaking proprietary information, among other reasons.

Most of the teens surveyed feel prepared to make ethical decisions at work (82 percent) and a significant majority of teens say they do not behave unethically while using social networks (83 percent). Yet, despite this confidence in the integrity of their online behavior, significant numbers of teens do not consider the reactions of specific groups of influencers in their lives when posting content on social networks. Specifically, 40 percent do not consider the potential reactions of college admissions officers, 38 percent do not consider the reactions of present or future employers, and 30 percent do not consider their parents’ reactions. Moreover, 16 percent readily admitted to behavior that included posting content embarrassing to others, spreading rumors and pretending to be someone other than themselves. Ultimately, more than half of those who did admit to posting this type of content about others (54 percent) said they later regretted doing so.

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The results of a new study are pretty telling in regards to the  influence that brands engaging customers through social media platforms are actually having on customers. Women in particular.

Information gleaned from the study, “Women & Brands Online: ‘The Digital Disconnect’ indicates that 75% of 1,000 women queried are uninfluenced by social networking channels when it comes to making purchases.

And this snippet is even more telling:

While exceptionally engaged, they are overwhelmingly uninfluenced, and often “turned off,” by brands in this space.

Wow. So you could be highly engaging with your nice offers, coupons, info on upcoming sales and information about the product and still have little to no influence on what is purchased. So what’s a brand to do?

Here’s a quote from Matt Wise, President of Q Interactive:

“There lives a growing impetus for marketers – especially those working with Fortune 500 CPG brands who enjoy a majority female customer base, to build a better connection with women in the dynamic social media landscape. “We know women are social creatures and highly active in mediums like Facebook, where they now outnumber men.”

Here are some additional results of the study:

  • 75 percent of women are “more active” in social networking than last year
  • More than half (54 percent) visit social networking sites at least once per day
  • Yet 75 percent share that social networking sites “not really” or “not at all” influence what they buy

They are being engaged, however and to me that is a good thing because a connection is being made based on a conscious decision to associate with the brand in that particular space.  The preferred results could come later, and I wonder what kinds of ideas will emerge to build that better connection Mr. Wise suggests.

The complete study findings are being presented today at Ad:Tech Chicago.  I wish I was there. If you come across any video or presentations related to this study, please share.

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Don’t you think for a New York minute that the new crackdown on social networking by ESPN is all about control. It may have something to do with it, but it likely has more to do with fear.

Don’t we often look to control that which we fear? Think about an obsessive or abusive boyfriend or jealous spouse who won’t allow their significant other to hang out with their friends. It may not be that they don’t want them to have a good time. They just don’t want others to see what a gem they are and possibly try to steal them away. They don’t have enough confidence in what they bring to the relationship to believe that this person won’t look elsewhere to have their needs met in a better fashion. They are afraid so they block the action that could lead them down this road.

I didn’t plan on blogging about this, (only commenting elsewhere) but after posting a comment on Mashable’s  ESPN responds to Criticism and Publishes Social Media Policy, I realized that I had an opinion worth sharing with those who read my blog. So here it is, my post on that story with a few words added for clarity: 

“On-air talent already have a personal brand. It is actually what serves news organizations in the social media space and why many are exploiting it in the first place. They are already well known and people will follow them.

I don’t like what this means for writers and those who are not on-air talent and their ability to build their own personal brands and express their interests outside of the corporate walls. There are lots of opportunities that they will likely miss and that’s too bad.

As journalists, we all sign some sort of code of ethics agreement. It comes with the territory. I’ve signed one at every TV station and newspaper I’ve worked. It just needs to be applied to social media efforts as well. I have written social media guidelines for my news organization, and the key is to embrace social networking and the myriad possibilities and potential it brings and most importantly to state your expectations.

Don’t just say what *not* to do. Tell the staff what they CAN do, and encourage that.”

Those are my thoughts.  Well, some of them. We must remember that there are other news organization embracing social networking and encouraging staff to try new things. There may be a bit of risk, but someone has to figure it out and that’s exactly what’s happening.  They’re trying to figure it out… just like the rest of us.

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I just ran across a quick interview with author and marketing expert Seth Godin over on Kipp Bodnar’s blog and the very last sentence stopped me in my tracks, and made me think.

Here it is:

“What I really don’t like online is this superficial networking…all the thousands of people who show up friend-ing everybody else. Why? Right. It doesn’t count for anything it’s just a waste of time.”

Wow.

Now I can see how having thousands of friends on Facebook can be a bit unwieldy and there has been a lot of chatter about all of the “noise” on twitter. And yes, I do have several friends on various platforms who I may never actually contact. AND, some people are on social media sites simply to rack up friend counts and followers.

I get that, and it could very well be a waste of their time.

But there is nothing superficial about the way I use the social web to network, and I’m sure that many of you can make that claim as well.

I’ve already shared that I landed a publishing contract thanks to Twitter and Bryan Person. I did a great podcast with Dick Carlson, just launched the inaugural Social Media Breakfast Raleigh with Kipp Bodnar and had the most amazing conversation with Maren Hogan a few days ago that resulted in a new chapter for my book.

I am calling Connie Bensen this Friday to brainstorm a few ideas and recently gave this Facebook friend a guest post on my blog that will hopefully help him land a job or at least get his great ideas read by some real decision makers in the newspaper industry. (My stats show that folks at newspapers from Ft. Wayne to London England have read his post)

But this was the best comment of all in the 1:18 interview:

“The networking that matters is helping people achieve their goals. Doing it reliably and repeatedly so that over time people have an interest in helping you achieve your goals if they have a stake in it”

Be sure to listen to it in its entirety.

Now tell me about some of your non-superficial networking and give an example or two of how it has helped you, or how you have helped others along the way.

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Have you given any thought to the prospect of losing your job next year?
How about next week, or even tomorrow?
What is your plan of attack should this be your fate?

I don’t mean to bring you down or create an unnecessary panic. But think about it for a minute.
You’re reading this blog so you do spend some time reading blogs and it’s highly likely that you also spend time interacting on social media sites.

You likely have a twitter account, a blog of your own, a Facebook account and may very well have a FriendFeed account. You’re probably on LinkedIn as well.

That’s all good. It really is.
Now answer this: Do you think it will help you find a job?
Do you use any of the platforms in a way that will help you find a job?
Do you follow successful entrepreneurs who can influence you to bring your “A” game and provide tips on starting your own business or collaborating with like-minded people?

If you answered no to any of those questions, make a few changes over the next week or so that will allow you to answer yes to them all.

2009 is going to be tough.
Let’s get ahead of the problem and be prepared.

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After taking MAJOR HEAT from bloggers and other news organizations, for twittering the funeral of a 3-year-old (myself included) the Rocky Mountain News has decided to cease and desist, at least for now. Editors had apparently planned to have a reporter twitter a second funeral, but a staffer spoke up and the decision was reversed, according to this article.

I firmly believe that there are innumerable ways to engage users and as a community manager, I am game for trying almost anything.

But as I said before, not everything is meant to be twittered.

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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