Sunday, January 31, 2010

Just How Big is Social Media?

It turns out there is a cool app for that

Social Media is so rapidly evolving and the growth has been so fast in the past 12 months that demonstrating just how big social media has gotten can be hard.

But not anymore – thanks to Gary Hayes at
Personalize Media who has put together this very cool Flash App that tracks, in real time, activity on the social web:

I’m hoping you’ll also note that there are “mobile” and “Games” tabs too. This is highly appropriate given how quickly social computing is also coming to dominate both of these areas too.

How useful is this data? In the time it took me to type the preceding words (about 2 minutes $4,000+ was spent on Facebook advertising, 10 times that was spent globally on “virtual goods” and 100 times that was spent on mobile messaging and data.

In the same timeframe 250,000 videos were watched on YouTube, 21,000+ tweets went out on Twitter and more than 2,000 blog posts went live.

For us mere mortals to get our heads around the explosive growth in Social Media, I for one am very glad people such as Gary Hayes are here to help.

Related Posts:
Why Social Media? A Good vs. Evil Debate
Questions Are a Recipe for Social Media Success
7 Ways to Tell How You’re Doing in Social Media

Shorty: You Did Right In the End

How the Twitter awards show online voting redeemed its image
The voting is over and my faith in the fairness of the
The Shorty Awards and Social Media has been restored.

The folks running the awards apparently heard my complaint – that theShortys were being dominated by musicians in inappropriate categories – and the complaints of others so they disallowed hundreds of votes. It turns out that a few fans of these entertainers – notably Ivete Sangalo and Claudia Leitte – had been automating new Twitter accounts just to cast extra votes.

This meant that the category I was in, customerservice, had the two Brazilian singers among its Top 5.

But when the voting ended two days ago – miracle of miracle – I was a finalist.

Am I so shallow that the mere exclusion of the two attractive Brazilian singers from Shorty’s list of favorites can win me over? Yes!

Is Fourth Place the biggest honor on the planet? Maybe not, but I am honored and flattered because it represents the opinion of dozens of people who took the time to vote. And for that I am honored, flattered and humbled. So …

To the Shorty Awards – thank you

To the category winners – congratulations

To the people who took the time to nominate me – thank you, thank you, thank you. You made my day and reinforced my belief that Social Media is an extremely positive force for good.

Related Post
Shorty I Hardly Knew You

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shorty: I hardly knew you

How a brief flirtation with fame ruined my Twitter world forever

I have a confession to make:
The Shorty Awards and I have had a brief (10-day) flirtation. Now it looks as though I was dumped for a couple of Brazilian singers.

I can’t say I blame Shorty. They’re both pretty … and can sing. How can I compete with the likes of them? But there will always be my brief, sweet dethroning of
American Idol’s David Archuletta. Ah, the sweet smell of victory.
But I get ahead of myself.

It all began about 10 days ago when Twitter users @ProROC and AnaRC were kind enough to nominate me for a Shorty Award in the category of customerservice.

I didn’t know what the Shortys were but I learned that they “honor the best people and organizations on Twitter. These unique awards are for the Twitter community, by the Twitter community.”

I was flattered, honored and, well, surprised.

It was time to check this thing out. After a bit of poking around I found that Archuletta, the 2008 American Idol runner-up, was in the same category as me! It turns out he had nominations across many of the Shorty’s 26 official categories.

Two days later I was in sixth place and David was in fourth. I could catch him!

I discreetly asked a couple of close Twitter friends if they would consider nominating me. They did and others spontaneously followed. Others were kind enough to retweet a nomination and cast their vote that way.

Within four days I was in third! David was behind me and we all know what the view from behind looks like.

Shorty and I were really getting along. But I somehow knew that I was destined to always play third fiddle to the two top dogs in my category at the time Neil Gaman and Team McLaren. But then along come Ivete Sangalo and Claudia Leitte - two Brazilian singers who, as of this writing are holding down positions 2 and 4 respectively. I was on my way down.

Just like Archuletta they are nominated across multiple categories. Leaving me to draw an obvious conclusion about you Shorty: You are easily swayed by a singer – especially an attractive female one.

I wish you well Shorty whoever you end up with, but we’ll always have 10 days in January. And … if you ever want me back you know where to find me and nominate me!

Update: Shorty Does the Right Thing

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Be an owl … to succeed in Social Media

I was awakened in the early hours the other morning by a cool sound … an owl’s haunting “Hoo-hoo, hoo-hoo.”

While lying there listening I got to thinking about owls and how they have adapted to the busy, crowded world of birds. It struck me that many of the ways an owl acts to separate itself from the flock, as it were, are things we could all do to be better observers and survivors in the increasingly crowded social media space.

For example, an owl is almost never seen and seldom heard from. They have become almost completely nocturnal hunters and their chief survival skills are watching and listening.

According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s
All About Birds site the owl I heard was a Great Horned Owl. It’s a very common owl.

It has adapted to life, according to the site “from the Arctic tundra to the tropical rainforest, from the desert to suburban backyards.”

So how does being more owl-like help in Social Media? Let me list the ways:

Owls have spectacular vision. Their eyes are nearly the same size as humans and they can discern the smallest details in the lowest of light. We could all use better eyesight when it comes to observing what is happening in Social Media and learning from it.

Owls have great flexibility. Their eyes do not move in their heads, so they must move their heads to see better – they can swivel their heads through 270 degrees or the equivalent of from 12 to 9 on the face of a clock! Just try that sometime. This flexibility means they are constantly changing their perspective or way of looking at things … surely a useful skill in Social Media observation.

Owls have superb hearing. They have one ear slightly higher than the other so that by twisting and tilting its head an owl can determine the direction, distance and height of a sound. Again by constantly changing the way we listen to others we will be exposed to a deeper understanding of what is being said and where its coming from.

Owls are patient observers. They sit high in trees watching and listening. They pick the moment to strike very carefully for maximum likelihood of success. How often do we jump too quickly into a conversation and miss an opportunity that may have come had we just been a little more patient?

Owls ”talk” infrequently … and then only out of necessity. Their calls help a mate find them or find food. If only all observers in social media would communicate only when they had something essential to say.

Owls are very smart consumers. At least the Great Northern is. This species is known to kill larger animals (raccoons for example) that even its strong wings and talons could not carry away. So in winter they will let the dead animal freeze and then later use body heat to thaw small sections for consumption. Being a smart consumer and only taking what you need is a survival lesson (social media or otherwise) for all of us.

Information for this blog post on owl behavior was gleaned from – and thanks are offered to – the Great Horned Owl Wiki and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Great Horned Owl Pages.

Related posts:
10 Commandments for Social Media
7 Ways to Tell How You’re Doing in Social Media

Monday, January 4, 2010

4 Steps to Social Media Success

What’s the secret to a successful foray into Social Media?

It’s likely there is no one over-arching secret, but I do believe that there is a pyramid (or order of doing things) that likely improves anyone’s chances of being successful in their Social Media efforts, whatever those may be.
The pyramid is designed to show the steps to a peak with the width of each step indicating the frequency or commitment of time and energy at each level. Ideally you will spend at least twice as much time engaged in Step 1 as you do in Step 2 and so on.
Here there are my 4 Steps to Social Media Success:

This is what Social Media is for … no really. It’s the thing that’s hardest for newbies to grasp: That just by paying attention to what others are saying, sharing and asking you can learn so much.
Do this well and your future success in Social Media (however you define it) is assured.
How to do it: Follow, fan or connect with a few key people on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn – people important to your industry, your business and/or your interests. Start following a few blogs on topics you care about. And then read, read, read. You might even want to start making note of who seems to have the “best stuff” in the areas you care about and when they are active on their particular Social Media platform.

It’s not enough to just be a “spy in the room” – sooner or later you will need to engage with people. Start by saying Hello. No, really. Imagine your time in Social Media were a cocktail party. Would you simply sit in a chair against the wall listening in? Of course you wouldn’t.
How to do it: When people accept your offer to connect, become a fan or follow – thank them. When they ask you a question, answer it. I’m serious. You don’t think this needs to be said? Just hang around in Social Media long enough and you will see that the “Faux Followers” far outnumber the “Real Followers.” If you liked or appreciated something in a blog, leave a comment saying so. By being human at this stage your credibility begins to build.

If you thought Social Media was all about what’s in it for you, you’ve really grabbed the stick at the wrong end: It’s all about what your time in it means for everyone else. Your reputation (and therefore your trust and influence) are directly related to how human you are and at this level that means being helpful and giving.
How to do it: Start slowly by answering a few questions that you are able to as they pop up. Share links to really good stuff you’ve found on the web. Introduce two people who don’t know each other but who could help each other. Connect the dots for others. In the karmatic way of Social Media this help will be repaid with much interest.

Yes, you do get to ask for help once in a while and you can ask others if you may offer them a solution to a problem that just happens to be related to your business. BUT, you do this rarely and with great care.
How to do it: First you need to know your audience (your followers, fans or connections) and you need to pay attention to how they react when others make “offers.” If you have established a relationship and you believe your audience really wants/needs what you have you can make the offer. BUT (again with emphasis), be sure to make the offer at the right time and only once. Handled incorrectly this last level of the pyramid can easily destroy the other three. You have been warned.

If this all seems like too much work, perhaps Social Media is not for you. The real trick is to keep Social Media “social” and to build relationships.

Related links:
10 Commandments for Social Media
10 Social Media No-Nos
7 Ways to Tell How You’re Doing in Social Media