Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

The Power 150 Real Numbers Revealed

This month, the Power 150 list had to change their ranking system due to being shut out by the PostRank API which scored social engagement on latest posts. They now are only counting Twitter tweets and Facebook likes from the latest five posts in a blog’s feed—comments, stumbles on StumbleUpon, bookmarks on Delicious, Google +1′s, LinkedIn shares, and other pieces of social proof are all out the window. This has hit some blogs hard, taking them from their spots in the top 50 to pages 2 and beyond, and led to distrust in the AdAge system.

The scores you see on the AdAge Power 150 are weighted from 0–50 points (there’s sort of more information about how they rank things in their FAQ, and those weighted scores total a blog’s overall ranking score. This is a snapshot of the top 25 as of September 20th.

But what do those numbers really look like in the raw? Being the statistics junkie I am, I thought I would take a peak into those numbers. Here’s what I found, along with some other stats I like to use to measure the strength of a blog when doing a little competitive analysis (note that Twitter followers, Facebook fans, Klout, and RSS subscribers do not count towards the Power 150 rankings).

Click the above to view a larger image.

What did I learn from my own little analysis of the top 25? There are clearly blogs that should be on the list, or at least higher up the list, and some that really should be further down it. Getting in the top 24 is not necessarily about how often you post or how popular your posts are—if you have built up enough backlinks, you’re probably set for life!  And if you don’t have backlinks, then your posts better get thousands of tweets and likes regularly. And your blog had better not be Mashable, because then you’re just not counted as a marketing blog altogether (that or they are just not in the top 50 and the search box is broken).

So my questions for you are…Do you agree with the scoring system and that these are the best of the best marketing blogs? Do you have suggestions of blogs that should be in that top 50 list but are not? What other factors should they be taking into account when measuring their system?

Be sure to visit the official Power 150 list and check out other great marketing-related blogs. Also, if you have a blog that has at least 50 posts, has been operating for at least 6 months, and has marketing as a topic on 50% of the posts, be sure to use the submit your blog link to get on the list!

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media enthusiast who enjoys photography, tennis, and salsa dancing. Follow her on Twitter.
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Ayloo is the World’s First Conversation Network

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Shaun Swanson, who is a member of the Ayloo team. Post interview, I wrote: “Well, it’s official. You’ve completely have my respect and admiration. This interview will be one for the memory books. Very impressive!”.

Shaun expressed his desire to establish separate voices for his Ayloo team saying “I think allowing for us to have our own individual opinions, separate from Ayloo’s, also cushions us in a necessary way – separates us from the politics a bit – which allows us to be very open with our ideas and beliefs, so that we can effectively communicate them to our users and the blogging community giving us the necessary feedback we need to remain relevant to our users. That’s a pretty Important thing for Ayloo, I think: communicating and listening to our users and peers. And that’s something that I think is missing from current social networks. But I’m sure we’ll get to all that below.”

So let’s get started finally, eh?

Q:  Can you briefly explain what Ayloo is and why people should join?

A: Most succinctly, I would state that Ayloo is a ‘conversation network.’ Since we’re kind of coining that term, though, I’d better go into more detail so people don’t just shrug and walk away! :P

Ayloo is a place to have meaningful conversation with the people you know and the communities you care about. This is the one-sentence spiel we’ve been toting around a lot lately, and it’s quite loaded so I’ll spend this question really breaking it down. The justification for why I believe this sentence is true will be addressed in the following question (as, really, our focus on conversation is what separates us from current social networks and makes us unique).

What do we mean by ‘meaningful?’ Well, I think I can speak for a lot of current social network users when I say that it can be difficult sometimes to find an interaction where people are really digging deep into a subject. Being from a technical background myself, I can recall a lot of times when I’d post a status update on Facebook that would start a technical discussion I was enjoying… and it would be pretty much quelled by the third or fourth comment.

I’m not saying that every interaction on Facebook (or any other social network) should be technical, or ‘deep,’ but I do think it’s difficult to have those interactions when you want to using current networks. So I would claim Ayloo is a place (for reasons specified in question 2’s response) where these kinds of deeper interactions can occur… and they can occur as often as you’d like!

Now why ‘people you know,’ and why mention ‘communities?’ Well, we are going for a Facebook-like social graph, in the sense that we would like people to mostly connect with their friends, family, co-workers, etc. Actually, that’s only partially true. From what I’ve seen with our beta community, people mostly connect initially with people they know, but when they start to join in on the communities on Ayloo (which I’ll discuss in a second), they end up getting to know many people they didn’t originally.

So maybe I should refine my previous statement to say that only initially is your graph Facebook-like. But no matter what it evolves into, I believe you can always argue that your contacts are people you ‘know,’ either in real life or through interacting on Ayloo. And we give you the means to interact with self-defined groups of your contacts on your own terms via our ‘contact lists’ feature.

Ayloo hosts local communities, called ‘streams,’ which are connected through our social graph. They are ‘local’ as defined with respect to you (not necessarily geographically). This local nature is Important for what we’re trying to construct with Ayloo – no matter how big Ayloo gets, you’ll mostly join streams that your contacts are in. So at any given moment, you have defined with respect to yourself a social graph of relationships with people in your life and the communities they form online.

A good example of the non-geographic nature of this ‘locality’ is a public stream called ‘World news.’ It’s made up of people who are in each others’ contact lists – so they know each other – but they’re from the U.S., Sweden, etc. And that really allows for the inclusion of many different perspectives in a conversation, which is quite valuable (and is actually something we’re pursuing further through some of our marketing efforts).

Q: How does Ayloo compare to Google+ and Facebook? What makes Ayloo unique?

A: The main difference between Ayloo and other networks is that, rather than focusing on connecting as many users and content as quickly as possible for brief interactions, we aim to improve the quality of the interactions (conversations) on our network through support of relationships formed, interests shared, and communities built between our users.

I’d like to state right off the bat that I don’t think we’re in direct competition with Google+, Facebook, or Twitter (In fact, we just integrated Twitter into our site in a pretty big way just recently). The goals of our ‘competitors’ are way different from our own. Their style of social networking provides a steady stream of content in a certain way, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing… it’s simply not what we’re aiming for.

People are going to use current social networks to stay in touch through status updates and to share content quickly and briefly with their friends for the foreseeable future. We just want to put our service out there for when people want to talk more substantially and consistently about topics they’re passionate about.

Now here’s the part where I justify everything I’ve claimed above! Ready?

Our network empowers users to take control of their identity online, and offers the proper context or interactions so you can feel comfortable and speak your mind. Through the streams that form on Ayloo, people with similar interests gather to discuss topics they’re passionate about. So, through proper context, control, and the ability to find relevant and interesting content, we foster more meaningful conversation.

Let’s go into them in more detail (I hope I’m not boring you to death!).

Context: We are the only network out there right now that gives you complete context for every interaction on the site. Facebook’s new privacy push allows you to see who your friends have shared with (i.e. Friends of Friends) but not the people specifically. Google+ does better in allowing you to see specific people who were shared with, but they cut off the number after about 23 or something.

Context on our site is central and we believe the communication we have on Ayloo is better because people feel comfortable and can be themselves (or whatever version of themselves) around others. This seems natural, and leads to less broad-casting and self-branding and more genuine interaction.

Content and Control: Facebook’s new privacy features have improved the ability of their users to control who they send content to (as we’ve dubbed ‘user output control’), which is basically what Google+ pioneered with circles and what we’ve had on our site in the form of contact lists. Neither network currently has good ‘user input control,’ however – where you can really control what content is coming at you.

We feel there’s an abundance of (often) irrelevant content hitting your eyes every day on traditional social networks and in order to fix this we’ve focused our site around the aforementioned online communities where people can join and find the content that interests them at any given moment. And on top of input and output control, we are also heavily feedback-focused.

We believe our users should have control of the direction of the site itself. Instead of making them feel like our customers, we really want to treat our users as peers — and we believe Ayloo should constantly evolve to keep up with their desires for the network.

To really seal the deal, we also provide the means to evolve conversation organically. Our ‘Sprouts’ feature keeps conversation fresh and gives users the opportunity to explore interesting directions within a conversation that they may have overlooked otherwise.

Q: What are the main selling points of Ayloo?

A: Since I’ve already covered a lot of the selling points, I’ll interpret this question to mean ‘Who would be interested in Ayloo?’

Of the tools available on the internet today, two of our stream types most closely resemble traditional blogs and forums. To the best of my knowledge, no one before us has combined them together with a social graph, however, which I believe actually enhances all three components.

We’ve already covered how adding streams to a social graph benefits the users in terms of input control and content discovery. Ayloo will also appeal strongly to bloggers who have had trouble in the past establishing a steady audience and to forum-goers who wish they could easily integrate people they know into discussions they’re passionate about.

Q: In the “Working With Us” section on your website, it explains how Ayloo can be used for business. Do you have an example of how a business can benefit from using Ayloo and where you envision this going in the future?

A: First and foremost, I want to make it clear that our users always come first in any decisions we’ll make. As a company, Ayloo doesn’t condone the act of gathering our users’ information to sell to third parties. We are currently exploring monetization options that will keep our users’ privacy secure and will actually add a lot of value to their experience.

In my opinion, ads aren’t tremendously effective. We’re getting immune to them. And even if data doesn’t back me up on that, I’d still argue that they lead to pretty weak branding and hardly ever add value to the user’s experience.

Our first step will likely be to move ads out of your personal space online. Private streams and feeds for contact list posts will be completely ad-free. Ads will likely show up in Ayloo’s public streams, but the power will be in the users’ hands – they get to choose what brands to feature for their community based on aesthetics, brand-loyalty, interactions brands may have with these (often) interest-based communities, etc.

But we don’t want to stick with ads forever. We have bigger plans, but we’re not yet ready to reveal much. What we can say is that we’re hoping to give brands the tools they need to create unique social experiences for those public streams that choose to enhance their communities with an interested brand’s presence. Vague enough for you? Haha.

This dedicated branding channel on Ayloo is not yet established, but we will allow interested parties to sign up for a brand invitation during the sign-up process. We’ll be releasing more information concerning these efforts in the near future.

Thanks for the interview! :)

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3 Things We Can Learn From the Google+ Suggested User List Fiasco

By Corina Mackay

The growing community on Google+ has recently been up in arms about Google’s creation of a suggested user list. The list is presented to new users during the sign-up process, encouraging them to ‘supercharge’ their stream by following celebrities and influential users chosen by the Google team. The controversy over the selection of users and Robert Scoble’s public request to be removed from the list brought up three important points for me, which I think we can all
learn from.

1. Values are important
Scoble’s decision to be removed from the suggested users list shows his determination to make choices based on what’s important to him, rather than what other people think. When developing your personal or business brand online, be clear about what your values, standards and goals are, and stick to them. Not only will people respect you, but you’ll attract like-minded people who will help you expand your network. In short, be yourself, and make choices you can live with.

2. No social network is free from politics
Google+ is not the first social network to implement a suggested user list. As Scoble pointed out, Twitter and Instagram did the same thing some time ago. Whether it’s choosing a suggested user list or implementing new features, any social network will draw controversy and politics when it rolls out changes. Remember Facebook’s privacy issues? Google’s privacy problems with Buzz? Getting involved in these dramas for the sake of it
will only diminish the quality of your content and conversations. Using controversy to generate conversations and discuss new ideas, however, will keep your content relevant and your followers engaged.

3. Content will always win out. As Craig Kanalley pointed out, the list is not all-encompassing. Many users were not included, despite having large, engaged followings, or being known to create great content. So long as you’re not using social media to win a popularity contest, this is encouraging, because it shows that growing a list of engaged followers who respect your ideas and contribute to your conversations is related to the quality of content you create, and the discussions you spark.

My conclusion?Find your niche. Create great content. Connect with others who do the same, and develop a community through conversation, sharing and collaboration. And don’t bother with the popularity game.

Photo credit: By Róséttá
Corina is a freelance social media manager and writer.

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How to Nurture Your Twitter Community

@scottporad on tweeting in the context of community at the 140 Characters Conference

“I nod to a passing stranger, and the stranger nods back, and two human beings go off, feeling a little less anonymous.” —Robert Brault

This feature film stars Robert. He captures the potential for human beings to connect in a paradoxical world, where we have increasingly broad ways to connect with our fellow men and women, yet many of us feel disconnected in the online world. We yearn for ways to engage with our tweeple, bloggers and customers.

Freeze frame, in comes @letsconnect. She is following 4,500 people, with 3,550 following her. She wonders who to create a dialogue with and how to shed the veil of anonymity.

Cut to a scene starring @socialmediautopia, our protagonist. He carefully selects those people who form the background of his Twitter community. Flowers are pollinated and birds chirp incessantly. Welcome to the land of retweets, @ mentions, plus ones and blog comments.

Who you choose to nurture will vary from person-to-person depending on your product / service and goals, whether personal or professional. I give extra attention to my fellow Triberrs and people I interact with on Third Tribe Marketing and retweet at least one of a batch of my new follower’s tweets.

Next scene, @cynic. He is our antagonist. He wonders who has enough time to fly around Twitter sprinkling fairy dust on their tweeple when corporate strategies need to be developed and two year old Mary has needs her diaper changed.

How will this story end? Will followers trip over each other, trying to unfollow aggressive sellers that push out guerrilla sales tactics right before their horse has left his gate? Whoa horsey. Create value for your Twitter community. Some days “value” will translate into a 30-second investment, other days 20 minutes will be spent sharing the love. The point is that there are options.

Lets toss out the no brainers right from the get go, so we can broaden your knowledge and flex your higher brain functions.

1. Retweet, retweet, retweet. You expand your followers reach and give their post your personal stamp of approval.

2. Thank people who follow you and retweet their tweets. There are different school of thought considering Twitter etiquette here. How responsive have you been to said tweets? Get a feel for what works for you. You are letting your new followers know that they are on your radar.

Okay, lets kick things up a notch.

3. Use Klout to +K someone in their area of expertise. You’re allowed five +K’s per day, so choose them wisely. It only takes a second and improve their Klout score. For example, you could type @socialmouths in the search box and +K Francisco for his social media prowess.

4. Let others know why you are following certain key folk. This may inspire others to follow said folk, thus broadening his or her reach. For example, “I follow @lorirtaylor for her entertaining, quality and informed tweets. She is a thought leader in social media and could be your secret weapon.” Done.

5. Let others know something specific you have learned from them. Again, this promotes your tweeple and gives their voice a larger audience. Such a declaration can take this form: “Awesome post about relationship marketing: URL from @monmorong.

6. If they have a blog, take time to comment on their blog. Don’t shy away from promoting your product if it helps others meet their needs.

7. Share their blog posts / website(s). If you only have time to use one social bookmarking site, choose StumbleUpon. This will likely bring the most amount of traffic to their site. I also use Digg and Reddit on occasion. Promote the blog article on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media tools / sites, such as BizSugar where appropriate.

8. Think outside the box. I run a monthly “10 Awesome Tweets From My Followers in [insert month]” and more recently, “10 Awesome Tweets From People I Follow in [insert month]” on my blog. This results in a win-win situation. Your blog gets lots of traffic and tweeple get recognition / greater bang for their tweet bucks, meaning access to a larger audience. Use Refynr to sift through tweets using keywords, which will save you loads of time.

9. Add tweeple to your Circles. This says ‘your important to me’. Enough said.

10. Offer to give something they value. For example, you can ask your tweeple to tweet you key links that they want to promote (do you have any you want me to promote?). Offer early access to invite-only sites, such as Google+. Btw, if you need an invite to join Google+, give me a shout at llwalker@gmail.com.

How do you nurture you Twitter community?

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What a Runway Model Taught Me About Social Media

When it comes to the world of modeling, internet models often get a bad name. However, there are plenty of highly successful models who managed to get runway work, makeup expos, and even print work through use of social media. Some may consider it a form of internet modeling, while others consider it to be a simply internet-savvy way of networking with people in the fashion world. Whatever the name for these women and men may be, they have some very good approaches that just about every business owner should try to incorporate in their own social media campaign.

Here are some tips for using social media like a model. Models are not only known for their looks, but their personalities as well. What makes businesses any different? Everyone associates businesses with certain characteristics, so why not emphasize them in your social media campaign. Think of Groupon’s goofy articles that they add to the bottom of every page, or even Apple’s sleek and edgy social media appeal. Use your company’s personality to speak for you.
A smart model knows when to drum up some drama, and when to keep quiet. One of the best examples of this that I have ever seen in social media was when a friend who owned a local business had a shoplifter come in to his store and steal a several hundred dollar coat. The community which he catered to was exceptionally tight knit. After a very quick description of the shoplifter, along with a very well-worded tirade about how violated he felt after being a victim of theft for the first time, the thief was found by a regular of the store and apprehended. The coat was returned, and all was well. On the other hand, a model who was cheated out of a magazine tearsheet let out a rant, and the community that she belonged to immediately shot her down, calling her a “crybaby.” The bottom line is to pick your battles wisely in the realm of social media. It can serious harm your company if you choose the wrong time to strike at someone who cheated you out of money.

In the world of modeling, especially alternative modeling, there is a very often repeated phrase that is said to newcomers, “Don’t let anyone take a shot that you wouldn’t want someone to see.” Believe it or not, this is very sound advice for a lot of things, including social media. Don’t ever post something that will put you in a bad light with customers. You will end up regretting it sooner or later.

More often than not, people check into models’ updates to find out their shoot schedules, where they are appearing, and whether or not they kept their hair the same length or color. Businesses which are constantly changing, such as nightclubs, restaurants, bars, and theaters should use a lot of their social media work as a way to keep people in the loop about the latest happenings.

Similarly, aspiring models and actresses use the Internet to connect with people, and to talk them into shooting with them. It’s in their best interest to reach out to others and network with anyone that they can find. Not enough businesses take this very important cue. Instead of being the passive, content-churning social media monster that rarely gets the leads and results you want, get people involved. Reply to their comments, and also make an effort to engage them in chats. You want a community, not a zombie horde.

If there is anything that models are known for, it’s images. Models are extremely smart when it comes to advertising using beautiful layouts, photographs, and just about everything else. In a world where everyone is judged on their looks, their hair color, their weight, and their clothes, it makes all the sense in the world to advertise by showing yourself at your very best. Strangely enough, some businesses don’t think about things this way. The bottom line is that if you make your social media campaign pretty, or at least wrap it in a nice package, people will be more likely to be interested in it.
Believe it or not, most of the models you’ll ever speak to are actually very smart. When it comes to networking, people skills, and also social media, the most successful models you’ll meet could often double as gurus in these very fields. So, if you want your business to flourish, it might be time to start posing as a model when it comes to your social networking decisions.

Guest blogger: Osyen Black. Photo credit from Flickr.

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Worst Social Media Marketer of The Year Award

Meet Jim. He works for Badhire Pharmaceuticals.

Full disclosure upfront: Jim is a figment of my imagination. He is also a near perfect example of what not to do as a social media marketer. Perhaps you’ve met Jim. He may even be sitting a few cubicles down from you. He is your company’s Chief Social Media Ninja Guru Super Hero Rock Star.

Jim believes that he has just won an award for his stellar social media marketing prowess (you’re in on the joke) and has been asked to talk about social media best practices for the benefit of his audience —that’s you!

Here is an extract from his speech:

“The best way to deal with negative Facebook and Twitter comments is to delete the ones you catch as soon as possible. If your schedule is too busy to monitor social media feedback, just ignoring criticisms will suffice. Ignorance is bliss, so deny any mistakes your company makes. Use malicious software to access and exploit private information. Another great way to invade customer’s privacy is via non-targeted spam marketing. If a customer tries to interact with you, anger is an appropriate response. If a customer keeps nagging you, dropping the F-bomb should get your point across. The recipe for getting on the first page of Google is simple: use hidden text or links, cross-link sites to inflate its perceived value, use keyword stuffing, excessive outbound links and duplicate content. Pretend to be a customer and endorse your own products and services to effectively build brand loyalty. Some of you are numbers people, so lets talk about the best way to allocate your budget: 50% should be spent on buying Facebook fans and the remaining 50% on getting false testimonials, and remember talk is cheap, so over promise and under deliver.”

—Jim Blackhat, Chief Social Media Ninja Guru Super Hero Rock Star

Photo credit: Hubspot

Help Jim out by suggesting some additional social media marketing activities.

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Is CherryCard The Answer to Gaining Customer Loyalty?

Okay, here is the scenario: you walk into your favourite restaurant, get seated, order a killer entree—I recommend the smoke sable fish with peashoots. Alright, I veered of track. I’m back. The bill comes to the table and is accompanied by a red card courtesy of a relationship between your restaurant and CharityCard. The card states that you have earned $0.25 to give to the charities of your choice.

In summary, you collect CherryCards at your business of choice, cash in your CherryCards online, and donate money to the cause of your choice.

Now on to the business side of things, two things are happening here: (1) You are creating goodwill / customer loyalty, and (2) your customer feels a sort of warm cozy feeling knowing that they have contributed money to a charity they’re excited about. Can you part with $0.25 per transaction? What about $0.10? How will this effect your brand image?

There is a 21st solution to giving that has the potential to give this program sticking powers beyond the obvious reasons. Well, it relates to a relationship between the virtual and social media worlds. You can sign-in with Facebook and engage your friends on the website. There is a modest gaming component—when you compete against your friends—that makes donating  fun.

What potential could a program like this have relating to giving in the future? Will the benefits of goodwill and customers loyalty outweigh the costs involved in doles out a fixed amount of change per transaction? Has anyone given this site a whirl? Any thoughts?

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Guide to Optimizing Your Blog’s Reach

Today, I ventured over to Rich DeMatteo’s neck of the blogosphere as his guest blogger on Bad Rhino—a Philadelphia based Social Media agency—for a change of scenery, namely Rhinos instead of birds, there I answered the much-lamented question: how do I get more people to read my blog?

Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital

3 Tools That Will Revolutionize the Way You Tweet

Twitter Profile

Twitter is hardly an oasis of perfection, hence the burgeoning bounty of tools designed to improve your Twitter experience. It’s hard to write this without sounding a bit dramatic, but the following tools may change the way you tweet… forever… meaning at least for a few months before some genius one-ups the effectiveness of these tools:

  • Refynr acts as a filter for your twitterstream so you can target tweets that only contain the keywords you’re interested in reading about, such as ‘social media’ or ‘google plus’ or ‘catnip’. You get the idea. This helps you break through the noise and save time finding the tweets that matter to you the most. What next?
  • Tweriod delivers that optimal times for you to tweet, that is times that increase the likelihood of reaching your followers. You can have upto 5,000 followers data analysed for free that will let you know that best times to tweet on Mondays and weekends. Fork out a few bucks to analyze 10,ooo or 15,000 followers with results that deliver an analysis for seven days of the week.
  • BufferApp lets you schedule tweets in advance, spread out over time. Sounds a bit like Hootsuite? Look a bit closer. You can use BufferApp to easily top up or bank your tweets to create a steady supply of tweets 24/7.

What have your experiences been with these tools so far? What other tools will enhance the effectiveness / efficiency of how you tweet?

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