Social media in the news today from Gaga to Obama

Just when I started trying to think of something to write about today, I heard all kinds of social media news. More and more often, social media events are becoming mainstream media events. TV and radio news covers a social media topic almost every day.

This morning, as a follow-up to the school shooting in Baltimore County Monday, there was a major surge on twitter. A special needs student, Daniel Borowy, was apparently the random victim of the shooter. We are told that he is a huge fan of Lady Gaga. There has been a push to get Lady Gaga to come to Baltimore and visit this young man as he recuperates from his injuries. At this point, he is still in critical condition.

While students of the school brought painted signs saying “Pray for Daniel” today, the social media side of the story was also coming to life. Over 10,000 people are fans of a Facebook page that asks for prayers for the boy. The hashtag #GagaVisitDaniel was trending on Twitter this morning. I don’t know if Lady Gaga has any interest in visiting this boy or not, but my curiosity is definitely piqued.

Will social media put the pressure on this singer to come visit a sick special needs students? Tune in next time. It just might happen.

I figured that I had my topic today with the Lady Gaga thing and then I saw a post on Facebook where someone said President Obama was on the site Reddit. If you don’t know what Reddit is, it is a site where you can post a page or link you like and make a comment about it. People can give it thumbs up or thumbs down.

I’ve been trying to see what is going on – but guess what? President Obama crashed Reddit! So many people are trying to do exactly what I wanted to do, see what the president has to say on Reddit and they are overwhelmed.

After proofing my post, Reddit is back up and running. I urge you to check it out. There are some funny, serious and thought-provoking comments on there. Here is one from Obama himself, “…this is an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run.”

That’s the power of social media! Don’t you just love it?

Social media “Whoops!” posts

This morning I read an article about Bill Cosby. Yesterday, for the fourth time, there was a rumor that he died. It was all over the internet. False celebrity death notices seem to be the norm on Twitter and Facebook. Remember the false death stories about Jon Bon Jovi a few months ago?

Then there are posts that should never be said at all. A man was arrested in England after making racial slurs against a sports star. Either the poster didn’t think or didn’t care what he was posting.

Whether it is risqué, wrong, racist or just in poor taste, that is no way to get people to like, know and trust you. Those are the people who will want to buy from you or use your services. Your reputation is based on what you say and how you say it. Don’t blow it by making an off the cuff comment that contradicts your message or brand.

How many times have we heard about people accidentally (or on purpose) sending nude photos of themselves or others? How about when Tori Spelling’s husband sent a touching tweet about how beautiful his wife looked playing with their kids first thing in the morning? It accidentally showed his wife’s bare breast! He didn’t look at the photo closely before he posted it.

There are entire websites devoted to inappropriate photos that people have posted. Sometimes it’s a sexy or nude photo with a small child in the background. There are all kinds of examples of what not to do!

If you are an entrepreneur, you need to filter things before you send them. We all know that once it’s out there, it’s out there for good. Even though the Tori Spelling photo was taken off Twitter after a few brief hours, countless people saw it and people downloaded the photo. Once that happens, there is no taking it back.

If you need to do so, type out your posts in a word processing program so you have a chance to proof them. If you run a business, you can type out several messages that you want to send during the day. Proof them all in the morning and then copy and paste them into Twitter at the time you want to post them.

Always look at the links before you share or retweet someone else’s post. Make sure it is not offensive or incorrect information. There might be a message that seems okay, but then when you click on the link or view a photo, you might discover something disturbing.

Checking photos and proofing your posts before you send them should be something everyone knows and does. If you are an entrepreneur, this is vital to the success of your business (unless you are in the business of exploiting these posts). Don’t stop posting – just think before you post!

Breaking news and social media

Today in Baltimore, it was the first day of school. Unfortunately, at Perry Hall High School in Baltimore County, there was also a shooting today. It’s a shame, especially for kids having to remember this happening on their first day of high school. It was the new Baltimore County School Superintendent, Dallas Dance’s first day too. It was not a good one. Social media took on a large role as the events, rumors and facts unfolded.

Right after the shooting occurred, the school was not able to send any official message to the parents. They needed to fully assess the situation first. Kids in some classes were not allowed to have cell phones turned on, but others did have access to their cell phones. They immediately started texting their parents, letting them know they were okay. Later, as the school had an official statement about what had happened, parents were sent phone and text messages.

Twitter was abuzz with activity about the shooting. Lots of preliminary information and even more speculation and gossip was being generated. Loads of tweets with “Perry Hall shooter” were flowing freely through cyberspace before police even had the school secured. Baltimore County’s Emergency information Twitter page, @BACOemergency, was sending messages including some to the press. The was another rumor that the shooter had tweeted “SO SICK. RIP victims. R-T FOR RESPECT.” People also speculated that he was a victim of bullying.

The shooter is in custody. One student is in critical condition at Shock Trauma. A guidance counselor grabbed the shooter after the first shot and wrestled the shotgun away from him as a second shot went into the ceiling. More teachers joined in and the shooter was forcibly held until police arrived a few minutes later. That takes real guts! Kudos to those brave souls.

There is a rumor that the shooter posted “First day of school, last day alive.” on his Facebook page. The is a Baltimore County Breaking News Facebook page staffed by volunteers that worked diligently all day to keep people updated on events as they were happening.

Social media was all over this event. I’m sure at least one student video or photo exists of this event. The police probably confiscated and/or examined as many phones as they could find in the cafeteria, where the shooting occurred.

Good news or bad, Twitter, Facebook, texting and other social media gets news out to people much faster than the old-fashioned “telephone tree” when people called each other on the phone. While I can feel for the families involved in this tragic and frightening event, I can’t help but appreciate how social media was all over this. As the news becomes an online media event and people become amateur reporters with their smart phones, the news business has never been as instantaneous as it is today. The way we process breaking news has been forever changed, I think it is a change for the better.

Remember the old networking methods

lgw_jobs111As you enter into the realm of the social media, you can’t forget about the old ways. Tweeting, posting and sharing are all great ways to get your brand to a lot of people. However, meeting people in person, networking, making phone calls – those methods all still work.

Today I went to a luncheon for business women and they were quite a hoot. As I generally spend my days hunched over my computer tapping away at the keys, getting out and seeing other humanoids was enriching, if nothing else! Just like giving a polar bear at the zoo a giant ice ball with a fish in the center of it, meeting some people in person was my enrichment for the day.

The women I met were from various fields, only one other spends her entire day alone with a computer. While immersed in cyberspace, we tend to forget about how important it is to do networking in person with other business people to help grow our businesses.

Check your community and find a networking organization. Most allow visitors to attend at least one or two meetings without joining the organization. Get a feel for the group and see if it is a good fit for you. You don’t have to meet everyone at once. I felt a little intimidated at the first one I attended. If you just make a few connections, the next time you go, you will know at least one or two people. Then, it becomes much easier.

Always take a big stack of cards, even if you think you will only give out a few. It’s always best to be prepared. If you don’t have cards – shame on you! Get some. There are reasonably priced places online like vistaprint.com where cards are very inexpensive (some are free, you just pay shipping). Vista Print offers designs already made up for a variety of businesses or generic cards. If you need help, get in touch with me. I can design something for you at a reasonable price.

Take advantage of all the ways to connect with others and grow your business. Don’t limit yourself by relying completely on the internet.

Twitter is like a 140-character message in a bottle

twitter-messages-work-betterSome people don’t get it at all. Other people don’t even try. Twitter has been the focal point of military coups, tragic shootings and more. Users are tracking events with Twitter. Businesses are sending their messages this way too.

You never realize how much you can say in just a few characters until you start using Twitter. What a great way to communicate your message! Sending a message in a bottle doesn’t really get results, but Twitter does. With over 100 million active users, if you are not using Twitter, you are missing out on a huge audience.

Gain lots of followers to ensure your message is going to the most people possible. That takes time, but it is worth the effort. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, put your Twitter link everywhere! Add it to your website, blog and everywhere else you have a web page. Put your twitter handle or link to your page in your email signature. I check out people’s information in their signatures all of the time. I’m not the only one who does that…

With a decent following, or even when you are getting started, you should tweet at least a few times every day. It’s simple to add photos. People love photos, if you have the chance, add them.

Because the message is short and sweet, you can post multiple times every day without getting anyone too angry about it. Make an offer for your business. Tell people a fun or interesting fact. You can say things that have nothing to do with your business. Just tweet for fun. The message goes out to an ocean of millions, the ripple effect can help you grow your business.

Using hashtags (the # symbol) helps people find your tweets. If you own a garage, for example, using the hashtag #oilchange might help you get the message that you are having a special on oil changes today. The hashtag makes the word searchable. You could search #oilchange and see all of the recent tweets that used that hashtag. That is how people follow a dramatic play, get up to the second sports info, keep up on a natural disaster, military coup or war.

People also use the hashtags for chats. Knitters meet weekly to discuss a knitting topic. Athletes “guest tweet” for NBA’s twitter page and answer questions on occasion. It is a wonderful forum and no one ever gets long winded.

If you are sending a message for your business in a tweet, try to say something that evokes a response from the reader, a call to action. Something like: When was your last #oilchange? Come in today, we’re having a special! ABCMechanics.com (By the way, I just made up that web address. It is not real).

By using automated tweeting software, your oil change message can go out ten or more times in a day. The more you send the message, the more people will see it. You can also tweet variations on a theme. Send multiple messages in a day, each one talking about the sale on oil changes, but giving a different fun fact or silly comment with each. Make your message stand out from the others. Watch what your competition does and do it better.

Sometimes people forget they can make the tweets entertaining and interesting as well as sending their company message. Even if you don’t have anything funny to say, you can always retweet something you find funny that someone else posted. Retweeting posts can assist in gaining new followers.

If you use the @ symbol before someone’s user name, that will change who is able to see the tweet. Only people in your stream and their stream will see it. If you add a period before the @, as in .@, everyone can see it. I just learned that one myself. I’ll have to try it soon.

Unlike the message in a bottle, you are sure people are reading your message. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you should give it a try. It’s a fun way to use social media. If you’re not following me yet, visit me on Twitter (@snakecharmed).

Social media: worth the trouble, or not so much?

social media marketing networkingThere has been a lot of talk lately about whether or not social media actually works as a method of marketing. Some large companies have over 100 social media accounts. Each division or section of the business has its own complement of social media sites. Obviously, large companies find value in social media.

Are you using LinkedIn? According to SocialMedia B2B, “LinkedIn generates more leads for B2B companies than Facebook, Twitter or blogs. Yet only 47% of B2B marketers say they are actively using LinkedIn vs. 90% on Facebook.”

In other words, if you are not using LinkedIn, you should start! Don’t wait for an engraved invitation. The groups on LinkedIn work wonders in networking. Join as many as you feel are relevant to start networking right away.

Nonprofit organizations and colleges are some of the biggest users of social media. They take advantage because they are always looking for inexpensive ways to do their marketing. Other businesses make the mistake of always they have to spend a lot on marketing in order to get a good return on investment. Entrepreneurs and every business should use social media to the max. Other forms of marketing can be combined with social media to bring the right mix for your business.

A You Tube channel with videos, even if you only have a few, is really helpful in this visual world. Your clients begin to build a bond with you through videos. As they learn more about you and your business, they will begin to like and trust you. Then, hopefully, they will buy from you too.

Keep active and post often or you will be wasting the effort. Posting every now and then does nothing to help promote your brand. The more you post, the more friends, follows and likes you will get and that means you are reaching more people. So, get cracking! Start building your brand and growing your business.

Take advantage of Google+

Did we really need another social network that, at least on the surface, appears to be Facebook’s less attractive little brother? Actually, the answer is a resounding yes. Google+ is not trying to be Facebook. It wants to be its own entity and has charms that are all its own.

While Facebook gives users the ability to decide who sees what posts, people rarely use this option. Mostly, people just like to relate to each other, discuss their day, share interesting stories and/or photos and let people into their lives. Whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, that seems to be the way people use this social medium. Companies get in on the action, posting their information, setting up business pages. That is works great for a lot of people.

But Google+ takes a little different stand on things. The circles allow users to promote one thing to one group of people and another thing to another group. People get involved with their interests on Google+. Many times they find new people, businesses and organizations to follow that they do not interact with on Facebook. When using this social media platform you categorize each friend. You can follow them, classify them as a friend, family, acquaintance, sports or fun & interesting. You can address everyone or just one segment of the people in your circles.

Unique to Google+ are the hangouts. A hangout is where you can webchat live with multiple people. Not only that, but you can save the entire conversation to be replayed on You Tube. Today there was a recorded hangout with Conan O’Brian, a host and five fans. They were able to talk with Conan and ask questions live and watch/listen to his answers. People had posted questions earlier on You Tube and the five fans were picked from among those people.

There was a similar Q&A with President Obama. Everyday citizens, including some who did not vote for him, had posted questions on You Tube in advance as well and were picked for a live interview with the president. That’s awesome! While a limited number of people can be directly involved, millions can watch it live or the recorded version later.

The possibilities for your business taking advantage of the hangouts are limitless. A nonprofit could arrange to have public meeting online. Musicians could have fans hang out with them. Small businesses could ask their customers what they can do to make their experience better. An animal behaviorist could promote his business by answering questions from people with problem pets. A jewelry store could teach a people how to tell the quality of a diamond and they could give feedback. A car dealership salesman could talk about the great new features of the 2013 model of a car. You can promote a hangout in your newsletter, ezine or blog.

The best part is that the hangouts are interactive. There is give and take, questions and answers. People become engaged in your business. They learn to know and trust you. You are helping them for free, so the idea is that when they are ready to spend money, they’ll go to the place where they got the free help.

Step right up… have we got a deal for you!

special offer on social mediaHurry! Hurry! The contest is about to begin. This is what many businesses say on their social media pages. Offers, contests and special drawings are often featured on pages to attract people to either sign up for a newsletter or get on a mailing list.

As entrepreneurs, we are always thinking up new ways to bring in business. You do not have to re-invent the wheel. There are some tried and true methods that have worked. Of course, you can add your own spin to an old idea and make it your own. When I was in graduate school, I had a professor who said that there is no such thing as a new idea. You just need to take an existing idea and improve it or change it to suit your needs.

Instead of paying a marketing person to get new business, you can put an offer on your Facebook page to entice new people. Offering a free product is one way to attract new clients. Everyone loves something for free. But, you must make sure you are giving them something that has value. You cannot just give people a 10 page ad for your company and call it a book. People see right through that. But, if you give them something worthwhile, they might just become a happy customer.

Businesses often offer contests if people sign up for a newsletter or mailing list. Instead of giving away a lot of small things, they offer one big one. People love contests, and I have come to discover that people love filling out online forms.

For 14 years, I ran an animal rescue with an online adoption form. I often received forms from people who had no intentions of adopting an animal. But, as a result, I had their name, snail mail address and email address. That information came in handy when it was time to promote an event or ask for donations. I took advantage of it many times over the years.

Use your imagination. If you think about it, you know there is something that you can offer to entice people to visit your page, sign up and even become a client for your business. Then, once you have attracted new people, it is up to you to wow them.

Online reviews

wmf_biznes-017-9-04Every business tries to get listed on the first page of the search. One of the many criteria in ranking companies is not as obvious as most, and that is to have a lot of reviews for the business. Even if there are a few not-so-great reviews mixed in, it still helps. The more people talk about your business, the better.

Every time you complete a sale or finish a service you should send something to your client. Whether they bought a publication, took a class, purchased some of your inventory or used your service, it is important to thank them. Non-profits use this technique all of the time. When you thank someone for a donation, they are more likely to donate again. The same holds true with your business. When you thank someone, they are more likely to buy again.

When you send the thank you, include a request for a review. This is especially important for your favorite clients or customers. When using Google Places and Yahoo Local, you can write a review for a business. Yelp is a site specifically for writing reviews. If you think people will have a hard time finding out where to put their review – find it for them. They may be willing to write a review, but they are not going to spend a lot of time searching around for the place to do it. Give it to them and make their life easier. All they have to do is click a link and they are right at the review page.

The length of reviews really does not matter. I usually only read the first paragraph or two. Usually after that, I’ve lost interest and it’s on to the next review. You can tell your clients that a brief review is fine. They do not have to write a complete essay about your business.

We all have clients who, at one time or another, are not happy with us and post angry reviews. Do not try to counterbalance that and trick the search engines by writing your own reviews! They can tell where the website’s ISP address is registered. In other words, they know it is you. Spooky, isn’t it? You can however, with most search engines, respond to reviews.

Your blog is a whole different ballgame. You can do whatever you want there, and that includes deleting comments you dislike. Some people may get a glimpse of the comment before you delete it. When logged into the blog, it too knows when you are commenting so be careful what you post.

On Facebook, you can remove unwanted comments, but when they are posted, they go out to everyone who likes the page. While it doesn’t stay on the page once you take it down, it has been sent and most likely seen by some people.

Obviously, the idea is to make all of your customers happy. Remember to always thank them. The happiest will tell their friends. If you can get people to post their favorable reviews on social media as well as write a review for one of the search engines, that is the best result you can imagine.

Affiliate marketing with blog and websites

What is affiliate marketing?

Have you ever seen ads on the side of someone’s blog? Or, ads on someone’s website? That is usually not paid advertising, but affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is when you put ads on your site and are paid a commission if someone clicks on the ad, goes to the site and then buys something. Much less often, you get paid per click or site visit. If you get paid per click, it is usually pennies rather than dollars.

If you use affiliate marketing on your site, you now have a way to generate income, hopefully at least enough to pay for the site. Most social media, especially Facebook, frowns upon affiliate marketing because they don’t make any money from it – you do!

Here are a couple sites that I recently started with affiliate marketing:

www.PetSaver.info

www.ExtremeCuteness.com

I started them on a whim, just for fun really. I purchased the domains from Namecheap.com, which is – you guessed it – really cheap! Most sites are about $3-10 a year. I know I used to pay at least $35 for each site before I transferred all my names to them. Namecheap also does hosting.

Once I set up the sites, I wanted to get some affiliate marketing on them. ChaCha’s affiliate program offers lots of links, quizzes and other fun things. They pay per click, between 1.5¢ to about 4¢ per click. It depends on what the topic is how much they pay. ChaCha is a website where you type in a question and a real person answers you, like a human Google. You will not get rich with this type of affiliate program unless you get a crazy amount of hits per day on your site. ChaCha’s affiliate program adds several new links every day, so you have to check it on a regular basis. There are links in a lot of different topics.

Amazon is another company that has a really popular affiliate program. They have a variety of ads you can use. Some of them even have a search feature so people can look for what they want to buy. You cannot change the size of their ads, which is one reason they have so many versions available.

Many companies have affiliate programs, but if you want to have several ads from different companies on your blog or site, you should go with a company that serves many affiliates. I went with Commission Junction. There are tons of affiliates listed on this site. There are credit card companies, cell phone companies, dog food, magazines – anything that might interest you. Most of them make you apply to them if you want to put their ads on your site. Some accept right away, others might take a week or two to give you an answer.

The reason that I originally discovered Commission Junction was that I wanted to use Vista Print, the popular online printing company, on my site. When I looked on their site, they sent me to Commission Junction. Unfortunately, they turned me down. But I found a lot of other companies that wanted to work with me. The database is very sophisticated on their site. Each advertiser has lots of ads that are in a bunch of different sizes to fit on just about any website. Most of the time, you have to accept the ad the way it is, although some can be sized to fit.

When someone clicks on the ad, you can set it up so that it opens in a new tab on the user’s browser, which I recommend because that way the browser still has your page on display too. You can also have it just go to the advertiser’s page without opening a new tab.

Clickbank is another affiliate marketing program. They give you a QR code that can be used as a link to the ad. We’ll save QR codes for another day, but they come in very handy as you can scan it into your smart phone and avoid typing the web address.

With all of the affiliate programs, they hold on to your cash until you reach a certain threshold. For most it is $50. Then you can withdraw the money and have it go to your PayPal account.

Is this totally over your head? If you are not well versed in web design, you might want to pass along the affiliate marketing information to your designer. You need to cut and paste code and that can be confusing for some people who are used to the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) type of designing – where there is no code knowledge needed.