How quickly we forget that which does not directly effect us. Haiti, Phuket, Japan and thousands of near misses that we global face daily. Our hearts go out to those in need with thoughts, prayers and perhaps even donation. What do so say? How do you heal? Where do you go? Is your family alive? We can only be thankful for the human spirit that powers us to above all – survive.
Having become a father some three plus years ago, the fear I felt in watching this thinking about my own family was nothing short of nightmarish. I can only hope that in moments like these that we in some slight way drop our defenses about race, creed, political, religion and just see one another as people, nothing more and nothing less.
Here's a first hand representation of what it is like to face the wrath of this disaster. SFW.
Google Crisis Response – 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami hub
Facebook’s Global Disaster Relief page
It’s all you hear about, “social media” this and Facebook that, and what’s being said on Twitter. But what does that really mean to a business? Well there’s a lot of different ways one can look at it. But first and foremost, social media is not a trend and savvy businesses and professionals, large or small, are using it to improve their messaging, customer service and brand loyalty.
(PLEASE NOTE: There’s far too much to cover in this one article to answer all your potential questions, therefore we’ve inserted an array of links that will give you greater clarification to some of these technologies.)
Understanding the foundational landscape:
“Social Graph” – is the term that comes from all of your social networks connecting to each other. The more you can have followers of a given social network be able to connect to other networks, and ultimately your website, the more effective you will be. This is no different than traditional “integrated” marketing approaches. Think of it as television, radio, outdoor and print advertising all telling your customer to go to your store. Your social graph comes from the same integrated directive.
Your Website (with Newsletter) – All roads lead to Rome and your website should act as your hub for your social graph. Here you will market yourself, your product and your service. Remember that it’s incredibly important that if you change directions with your website that you retroactively make the same messaging changes to all your social networks as well. You wouldn’t want your radio spot selling a widget for $10 dollars and your television spot saying it’s $12 would you? The same applies to social media.
A Blog (with RSS feed & Sharing) – A blog (a term that comes from an older term ‘web log’ or journal) is a unique opportunity to speak, share and communicate with your customers. The difference between a blog and standard marketing speak however is that a blog should feel “human”, have opinion and allow for speculation. The first rule in blogging (as is the same in all your social communications) is be honest, authentic, consistent and professional. Blogging gives you the opportunity to reach around your primary directives and talk about your industry, your opinions and (within reason) diversification of subject matter.
Facebook – What’s important to understand about Facebook is there are “profiles” that are personal accounts that share photos, posts, connections and what are called “LIKES.” Likes are how Facebook targets and profiles you to get you information and content that is relevant and interesting. Secondarily for business there are Facebook “pages” and “groups.” These are different from your profiles, as they are directed at creating interest out of a business, service, person or directive. Groups are created to harness interest within defined topics. If you have a profile you can create a page or a group.
Twitter – Twitter is a tool that is considered a “Microblogging” platform. It allows you to post messages (called “tweets”) to your account and creates the ability for people to “follow” you. By creating a following, every time you tweet, your message is pushed to your Twitter collective and gives people the opportunity to respond and interact with you. It’s important (as with all your social graph) to respond in a timely manner.
Linkedin – This is the professional’s social network. Here you can find millions of professional people, groups and businesses to connect with. Not only does it serve as a place to hang your resume, but it gives your a forum for groups, a place to ask and answer business questions and post/look for employment. For businesses it also provides you yet one more “touch point” on your social grid to tell people about what you do.
YouTube Channel – This is not always an essential tool to your social graph, but more often than not is added into the fold. This channel allows user to upload, like, share and embed videos with one another. And while any one of these technologies could take several articles to define perfectly, it’s fair to say that the future will be deeply entrenched in what is called “User Generate Content” (UGC). With every smart phone in the future giving people the ability to shoot video in HD, the world is fastly becoming bound by its media. That being said, it’s jump in or get left behind.
Social Photo/Video Network (e.i. Flickr or Picasa) – Lastly, much like a YouTube channel, it might be in your best interest to also have a social photo network as well. Much like other accounts, businesses use social photo accounts to show new product, document events and tell needed stories to accentuate demand for their product or service.
What I outlined for you is the concrete to a social media platform. There are literally thousands of social sites that get more and more granular to specific products, topics and interests. This article has been meant to scratch the fertile surface of what’s available to you online. I hope it serves you well.
Have you used any of these tools for business? Are they working? Share your comments and questions with us!
iGoogle – http://www.google.com/ig
First let me begin by telling you that I [have] to use an RSS or Feed reader like iGoogle to keep on top of so much data. There's simply not enough time in the day to go and look at each website that I think has value and try to pass these nuggets onto you. Therefore, I would go a look at what RSS feed reader/aggregator makes the most sense to you. Oh, and if you have an iPhone or an iPad, you must use Pulse -- it's a beautiful intuitive aggregator.
Aardvark – http://www.Vark.com
I stumbled on this site after reading what former Google executives were doing with their winnings. I'm what you would call a "helper." I like to help. I think it feeds my co-dependant nature to nurture beyond necessary reason. That being said, Aarvark is a profiled Q&A site. You set up a profile and answer questions and ask questions to people that match your topics. It's fun and fast and you can get or give as much as you would like.
Advertising Age – http://www.AdAge.com
This is the part of the awards ceremony that the guy says "and this person needs no introduction"; that holds true with Ad Age as well to members of our business. Ad Age also has an iPhone/iPad app that I would also put my seal of approval on. A great industry overview, very current and topical. Be sure that you get your office to pay for a subscription.
Ad Freak – http://www.AdFreak.com
This website is as fun as it is insightful. A myriad of great writers look to find the most bizarre and innovative advertising and poke fun at it. Frankly, there's so much advertising out there that we never see, so it's nice to see Ad Freak give attention to all sorts of campaigns, not just the larger brands. There's plenty to enjoy here.
Advergirl – http://www.Advergirl.com
Leigh Householder is a Digital Brand Strategist at GSW Worldwide and author of this blog. Householder is incredbily insightful, not simply from an industry perspective but from a female perspective. Her thinking ranges broadly and there's not a post that I haven't learned from. I highly recommend keeping an eye on her content.
Brand Freak – http://www.BrandFreak.com
As you would expect, much like AdFreak, BrandFreak does a great job in serving interesting and often humorous perspectives on the world of brand. While not as snarky as AdFreak, it is still great content and should go on your list.
Cool Hunting – http://www.CoolHunting.com
Among my many interests are things that I and others find "cool" and thus my preoccupation with cool/trend hunting. Mind you, it's not easy to do in a city like Orlando where Asian men can pull off wearing a hot orange hunting jacket in the middle of summer and every other dude thinks "mandles" are in. With that said I like to see where the trends are actually taking place, not simply taking vacation.
Cool Hunter – http://www.thecoolhunter.net/
Fast Company – http://www.FastCompany.com
If you're worth your salt, this should be on your list. Fast Company is globally recognized as staying progressive when it comes to the entrepreneurial spirit, among other things. It has also fully embraced the design community and, as a whole, has great information. It, along with soon to be outlined "Inc.," are in a class by themselves of making our world quickly digestible from a business sense.
Gizmodo – http://www.Gizmodo.com
To say that I'm into gadgets is like asking Anthony Bourdain if he's into wine. The only real thing that revents me from buying, playing with and testing every cool new gadget that comes out is the lack of funds and the firm understanding that I would be doing it as a single father if I was to choose such a path.
Inc. – http://www.inc.com
As I said above about Fast Company, Inc. is a great magazine with outrageously good content. Admittedly, at times it's a bit more business than I think I savvy, but that's why I read it. It pushes me to think more like a business. I'm sorry to say that the dream of sitting around and coming up with "pretty pictures" is also tied to the ruthless reality that you'd better be prettier than everyone else or you will be assisting janitorial at a truck stop.
Jalopnik – http://www.Jalopnik.com
There are many great things that I love when it comes to design: fonts, logos, layouts, great concepts -- that carries further over into industrial design and interior design as well for me. With that comes a long time love addiction with the worst fiscal hobby ever – automobiles. There was once a day that I (and my wife respectively) was "fast and furious" and with that came a extrinsic love, not only for all things fast, but a deep appreciation for the design of transportation as a whole. This site's a great read and hits a lot of hot spots.
Linkedin "Answers" – http://www.linkedin.com/answers/
Much like Aarvark's website, Linkedin "Answers" are a bit more custom tailored to your particular interests. All you need to do is search topics or drive down a bit into an applicable category that you contain expertise in and away you go. Believe it or not, it can be a great place to meet like-minded companies, create leads and get answers published as content. I've seen many a reporter/writer aggregating content for their materials there.
Mashable – http://www.mashable.com
I should call this site "the Mothership." It's like one-stop shopping for all things current and topical in multiple industries and hits my interested square in the head with a hammer! From Social Media to viral to development and mobile, they have great writers that are very aggressive. It's no wonder this site is at the top of the heap and will stay their if they don't get greedy or lazy.
MediaPost – http://www.mediapost.com
From the mothership to the Costco of content – Media Post has a ton of stuff. But like Costco, I don't always need a 5 gallon drum of peanut butter or a barrel of rice. With that said, if you take the time to sort all of Media Post's RSS feeds and make them their own page, you can drink from the firehose with a great amount of success.
Smashing Magazine – http://www.smashingmagazine.com/
For the designer/developer, this is very much your Mashable.com. It's an awesome accumulation of great inspirationally-driven posts with long lists of visual examples to not only talk and discuss design and developmental trends, but show them in practical application. This site is a must -- even if you're not a designer, it's a great read.
The Social Path – http://www.thesocialpath.com/
I was fortunate in my career to work for an agency named Luckie & Co. in Birmingham Alabama. Among their richly talented staff was a small but able social department headed up by David Griner. David and the team at Luckie have had enormous success in their social campaigns and between he and David Stutts at http://luckierethinktank.com/, they can provide a great deal of valuable FREE insight. Additionally, they're both a big fans of plagerism of their work, so I would highly advocate you copy and paste anything they have to say and claim it as your own.
Wired – http://www.wired.com/
If you've never picked up a Wired magazine, then you're either totally uninterested in the technology/scientific culture or you're just a hater of all things nerdy and cool. That being said, Wired, as we all know, has on the forefront of technology content since its first publish date in March of '93.