Did your mother ever tell you to think before you speak? Have your friends told you to wait a few minutes before sending a heated message to a significant other? How about your teachers telling you to watch what you put on the Internet? You should heed this last piece of advice because our words have a way of coming back to bite us. Once you post something on the Internet, it’s out there for the whole world to see. And unlike the notes you used to pass in school, these words can’t be crumbled up and made to disappear. The concept of social media perpetuating our words is at the center of numerous debates because no one knows how to handle that information. Social networking is still pretty new, and the majority of businesses don’t have policies or rules regarding social media as a business tool, even if it’s already being used in that capacity.
A CNN reporter, Octavia Nasr, used her Twitter account to express her lack of respect for a recently deceased Hezbollah leader. Nasr identified herself as a CNN reporter on her profile, as well as in her username. The public was outraged. Nasr tried to apologize, stating the limited character restrictions (140 characters) led her post to be misinterpreted, but the damage was done and she lost her job. Gilbert Gottfried was the voice of the Aflac duck, but was also publicly fired after he posted offensive tweets in the aftermath of the Japanese Tsunami. While the majority of things Mr. Gottfried says can be construed as offensive, some say he was fired because Aflac was very involved in the aftermath of the tsunami.
These events could have been prevented if there was a social media policy in place for both employers and employees to follow. Businesses can better protect themselves by clearly outlining what material is and is not appropriate to be associated with their brand. A proper policy will also prevent situations where an employee posts something he believes to be harmless, but is considered offensive by his employer.
Finally, businesses should make sure they have a social media policy to comply with the FTC’s guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, as they cover a lot of scenarios in the social media realm. As for mixing personal opinions while representing your company, it’s best to keep them separate, at least until you get your own social media policy.
To read the complete guide from the FTC click here : http://ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf
To read the complete Federal Trade Commission Act, click here: http://www.ftc.gov/ogc/FTC_Act_IncorporatingUS_SAFE_WEB_Act.pdf
Not too long ago we told readers about a new trend of businesses using Internet communities to generate advertising ideas and media, or crowdsourcing, and today we would like to introduce you to crowdfunding, an idea that has been directly inspired by crowdsourcing. What crowdfunding is in essence is the practice of a collective group of people pooling their money together to support or fund ideas, efforts, or businesses started by other people, usually over the Internet. Funded projects range from filmmaking and artistry to helping start-ups and small businesses get off the ground; and while some efforts are strictly fundraising, the majority of crowdfunding projects involve the “investor” getting something back in the end. A well know crowdfunding site, Kickstarter.com, funds creative projects through donations with donors receiving rewards such as products or services. Sites like Cameesa and Catwalk Genuis have fans investing and involving themselves in the creation of a designer’s new line in exchange for a share in the profits. Even sites like Crowdcube enable investors to invest small amounts of money in start-ups in exchange for real equity and a chance to build their investment portfolio. There is a new site for every product and every angle but the up and comer everyone is talking about right now is Wahooly. Wahooly is in the business of helping start-ups gain users by offering stakes in the start-ups. However instead of asking for monetary donations, users are asked to promote the start-ups through their social media sites and platforms. The program is designed to appeal to those who are immersed in social media and consider themselves influencers. The process of dividing up equity between users is competition based, so your stake in the company will increase or decrease depending on how hard and often users work to promote their chosen start-ups. Considering the continuing rise in the already overwhelming amount of people that use social media sites, this seems like a great way for start-ups to gain widespread exposure and a great way for people to make money while doing things they were already doing before. Wahooly is a start-up itself and hopes to officially launch in January with 200 startups. Currently they have 41 start-ups on board and a growing base of 16,000 users.
Cameron Chapman recently wrote an article on instantShift.com explaining why we should focus more on social media and less on search engine optimization (SEO). SEO involves techniques that improve your website’s ranking in organic (i.e. unpaid) search listings for Google, Bing and other popular search engines. Chapman writes, “More often than not, people aren’t using search engines to discover new content online. Rather than using Google or Yahoo! to find information on a topic, users are asking their Facebook friends and groups about whatever information they need.” He further explains how people are using social bookmarking sites, blogs and Twitter to research and find new information.
Social media is undoubtedly important for any business looking for an online presence, but social media and SEO aren’t mutually exclusive. SEO encompasses all unpaid methods for improving a website’s visibility and pagerank in search engines. Social media creates back links for your website (a major part of link building and SEO), drives targeted traffic to your business/site, and is mostly free. So in a way, social media is another facet of SEO.
SEO techniques are often used to promote social media accounts. Say you decide to start a Facebook fan page or Twitter account for your business. How are you going to gain fans and followers? Facebook has over 500 million users. Twitter has 190 million users (via TechCrunch). How are new customers that have never heard of your business going to find you? You may be okay if you have enough contacts on social networks, but what if that’s still not enough? Keyword optimization (a huge part of SEO) can help your social account get found on search engines like Google, which became the largest source of online traffic last year. Greater search engine presence brings more people to your Facebook or Twitter page. Businesses should consider an SEO campaign before undertaking social media, so that your business has a recognizable brand that customers will seek out on social media.
Looking for a clear, comprehensible explanation of Facebook’s new features announced earlier this week? If yes, then this is your guide. Facebook’s three new features include:
- Download Your Information: this enables users to download everything they have ever posted to the site (e.g. photos, status updates, wall posts, etc.)
- Applications You Use: this is the dashboard you keep hearing about. It allows you to monitor what applications you have used, how said apps use your data and what data they use, the last time the data was accessed, and what permissions you’ve granted to these apps. You can also control the information the apps can access and delete them easier.
- Facebook Groups: this allows users to share certain content with select people, rather than share to everyone listed as a friend. For example, if you want to share pictures of your Saturday night with your friends but not necessarily your boss or your parents, you will find this feature invaluable as you can list exactly which people have access to the pics.
Blogs have become an essential part of a company’s PR, but with so many people blogging, how do you make yours standout? It’s important to note that good content is always the key to promoting, well, anything. But a cleverly worded title can give your blog an edge.
Jay Baer wrote an excellent blog explaining what made his top blogs popular. By examining the titles of his top 25 blogs, he found that each one had characteristics similar in other titles. Among them he found:
- Listing and numbers can increase the hits on your blog. Saying “4 Reasons Twitter Can Help Your Business” as opposed to “Why Twitter Can Help Your Business” helps readers digest the content of your blog. They know to concentrate on four different, easier to manage sections of your blog with the first title. The second generic title may overwhelm them since they can’t anticipate your blog’s content. This is especially true when your blogs cover more complex topics.
- The word count of your blog title makes a difference. Only 5 of Baer’s top 25 blogs had 6 words or less, and 17 of the top 25 had between 7 and 8 words in the title. Yes, this is the classic “correlation does not mean causation” scenario; adding more words does not guarantee more blog views. However, it’s possible that a more descript blog title draws more attention than one vaguely titled.
- Consider the words you use in your title. Using imagery or more powerful, emotion-provoking words (Baer used the words dangerous, killing, fallacy, and crushing in some of his top blogs) captures people’s interest. People give the same advice when giving resume advice: don’t be boring. Stand out.