Tagged instagram

Social Media Sommeliers – Choosing perfect pairs of social networks

by Jonathan Barrick

A well maintained social media presence is like a fine wine; it develops more character as it ages. As you invest more time in to social media, joining additional networks and using new tools, your presence gains different characteristics that it did not have before. However, just as certain wine characteristics mesh well together, others simply do not. Certain wines will pair well with certain foods and enhance the experience, while others conflict and compete. So it is with different social networks. Some are natural fits, enhancing each other and creating synergy. Others are so vastly different in scope and purpose that using them together can actually weaken the total effort.

So how do you know which networks jive well together, and which just don’t? Well, I reached out to several brilliant professionals whose experiences in social media give them a unique perspective on which networks work great together. They are, for all intents and purposes, Social Media Sommeliers, pairing different networks together to create an experience greater than the sum of its parts. So, what networks do they believe hold the greatest power for synergy?

Here’s what Ric Dragon http://twitter.com/ricdragon had to say:

image“I’m of the mind that the Twitter/G+ combo is killer.  G+ is more open than FB, and it’s easier to share blog-type posts publicly. Twitter, of course, is the place for garnering those weak-link connections – those people with whom you share an affinity. So Twitter makes the connection, and G+ allows you to share deeper content with those new connections.”

Smart stuff, to be sure. And after speaking with multiple other professionals, and with so many different networks out there to choose from, it became quite clear that everyone would have a different approach tailored to their individual style, fitting with their unique approach to their industry.

I asked this extremely savvy group of Marketing/PR/Social pros to look at this concept from two different angles:

1) Which two social networks do you feel are most complementary, and why?



2) Which two social networks do you feel have the biggest disconnect, and why?

Here’s what they had to say:

Mark Schaeferhttp://twitter.com/markwschaefer
image“The biggest synergy that I see is between Blogging and Twitter. Building a Twitter audience is an effective way to build an audience for your blog. A tweet is like the movie trailer for the movie! They fit like a hand in a glove.

As I see it, the biggest disconnect in social networks right now is between Google + and everything else. Google is not making the sharing easy so it is probably the least integrated network.”

Peg Fitzpatrickhttp://twitter.com/pegfitzpatrick
image“I feel that Google+ and Pinterest are a powerful combination. They are both very visual networks with savvy users. Photographers are really killing it on both platforms such as Trey Ratcliff, with 4.5 million Google+ followers and 4.7 million followers on Pinterest, that’s an enviable social media network! Google+ and Pinterest, more than other platforms, really reward their power users with engagement and activity with their content. You can save your Google+ posts on Pinterest boards or find interesting things to post on Google+ from Pinterest. Both platforms support hashtag usage and using keywords is a benefit.  Google+ and Pinterest complement each other and add mutual value without distracting or overwhelming the other.

I feel like LinkedIn and every other network are disconnected. LinkedIn doesn’t seem to fit naturally with any of the other networks although they have taken strides towards improvement. The endorsement feature made LinkedIn spammy to me and weakened the recommendations, which I felt was their most valuable asset. I feel that LinkedIn has its place for job seekers and networking but I don’t see how it blends with Pinterest, Facebook or any other site. I think that this was their intention but they shot themselves in the foot with that plan. You need to have a presence on more than one social media platform so if you are on multiple platforms, you’d like to work them seamlessly together.”

Don Powerhttp://twitter.com/donpower
image“LinkedIn and Twitter work beautifully together for me. I use LinkedIn to get comprehensive background info and details about individuals and their histories and companies before connecting with them on Twitter. Or, you may be connected with a person at Company X on Twitter – you can use LinkedIn to find more people at Company X to connect with (including their Twitter backgrounds). I use them in tandem quite a bit but for me – all roads ultimately lead to Twitter – if I make a connection on LinkedIn, I’m always suggesting that we continue the conversation on Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter – two almost completely exclusive sets of users (in my opinion and personal experience). For example, almost all of my high school friends are on Facebook (I graduated high school in ‘86) but NONE of them are on Twitter. Most of the people I’m connected with on Facebook are not active on Twitter. I only use Facebook to respond to people who find me or reach out to me there. I don’t start conversations on Facebook and 99.9% of my posts on Facebook (unless I’m responding to a specific tagged post) are simply copies of what I post to Twitter (and no – I don’t care that my Facebook posts are often marked up with @ symbols and hashtags)

As I see it, albeit an oversimplification, Facebook is made up of 90% of the people who want to be social 90% of the time. Twitter is made up of 90% of social people who want to do social business communication (in a no sales-y way) 90% of the time. Facebook is 90% wasting time and sharing crap, Twitter is 90% time connecting with people and building networks where the underlying assumption is – how might I be able to leverage this connection, now or in the future, for a business purpose? Because those networks have two completely different modus operandi, they are a total disconnect for me.”

Susie Parkerhttp://twitter.com/susie_parker
image“I often see how well Facebook and YouTube can work well together. Facebook being the largest social network and YouTube being the second largest search engine makes it easy to share a powerful, compelling, funny, or moving video with a large network of people with one click.

There is so much potential with Foursquare and Twitter. But there is too much disconnect and not enough businesses have claimed their locations to maximize the benefit to their businesses. When sharing where you are on Foursquare it would be great to have better Twitter integration to connect better with a potential new place to experience.”

David Christopherhttp://twitter.com/davidchris
image“Twitter I find great as a tool to build new relationships and to start conversations that continue on other platforms. It also allows you to connect with your network and keep those important relationships alive in just 140 characters when in today’s busy business world you don’t have time for much more.

Google+ for is the opposite. It’s where conversations continue and evolve (especially with the recent release of Google+ Communities) and for those where the need for much deeper level relationships are important. What I find interesting is that of the Twitter users in my network, very few of them use Google+. For this reason I find they complement each other as they don’t compete against each other for market share.

As for networks that have major disconnects, I’m going to give you a response that maybe you weren’t expecting here. External Social Networks and Enterprise Social Networks. There is a big disconnect between the Enterprise Social Network (behind the firewall) and the External Social Network (beyond the firewall). This isn’t a technology response, but a cultural response. Employees are your companies Brand ambassadors and should be leveraged as such but fear of what they might say prevents this. This is creating a disconnect in consistent messaging and preventing engagement opportunities with your customers.”

Sam Fiorella – http://twitter.com/samfiorella
image“Google+ and YouTube are natural partners and work together for the brand’s benefit on many levels. Google+ Hangouts upload directly to a YouTube channel for one-click cross-network sharing. Further, with Google Authorship, the combo packs a great SEO/SEM punch. There’s little-to-no expertise required to create conversational videos with customers, vendors, the  media or others and best of all, the platforms are free!

When talking about disconnected networks, I believe those are Pinterest and YouTube. Each are successful in their own right and each is a visual medium. Pinterest is great at sharing with Facebook but doesn’t accept other forms of visual content from other networks well. I see great opportunities for individuals and business if Pinterest would allow the inclusion of videos onto their boards, it would make for a richer experience.”

As for me? I believe that Facebook and Instagram are a very powerful combination. The ease with which you can insert creative, timely images in to your Facebook timeline, and the ease with which users can interact, share, and comment on this activity make them a natural fit for both personal use and for showcasing the personality of a brand.

Where I fail to see much synergy is between Pinterest and Twitter. Much in the same way that the absence of Instagram image support within Twitter has hurt the synergy between them, I feel that it is a crucial missing element that Pinterest should be working towards achieving. Being able to see a pin from within Twitter without the need to click would add a lot of utility, enabling users to view and re-share Tweeted content from Pinterest in one step instead of multiple steps in two different apps.

As you can clearly see, there is no definitive, all-encompassing answer to the question, which appears to be the general nature of social media to begin with. Everyone does it differently, and that’s ok. Ultimately it comes down to your personal ‘taste’ when choosing the social networks that work best for you.

What do you think? Are there two networks that consistently create business magic for you? Or are there two that don’t jive for you at all? Let’s hear!

Why More Businesses Should Be Using Instagram

by Jonathan Barrick

An Instagram picture is worth way more than a thousand words. Why not let them speak for your business?

Instagram is a ridiculously easy to use photo sharing service. If you’re not familiar with the app, it essentially allows you to snap a photo using your iPhone camera (or choose one from your existing photo library), crop it, tilt-shift it (fancy word for ‘blur’), and ‘stylize’ it using a variety of pre-set photo filters. You can then publish your creation directly to your choice of sites including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and a few other social networks.

image
Before and After shots of a baseball diamond, taken with Instagram

Instagram has grown to over 7 million users in the short time it’s been in existence, and it continues to grow due to it’s simplicity, and how easy it is for anyone with an iPhone to become instantly artistic with any photo.

You might be wondering just what this might have to do with business. Well, images are a crucial piece of your business’ story. No matter the product, no matter the service, without pictures all you’re left with is a giant block of text that no one wants to read.

It’s been proven that photos and video are some of the most shared kinds of content on social networks, and it’s easy to understand why. We gravitate towards images naturally. it’s much easier and faster for us to process the message in a picture, and it’s also much easier to evoke emotion through images.

image
Picture frames, taken at a local art supply store, and Copper tubes, taken at Home Depot

One of the main reasons I’m suggesting using Instagram for your business photo sharing instead of, say, Flickr, is that Instagram allows you to give otherwise bland photos a bit of personality. It allows you to transform the ‘feel’ of a picture in order to convey the desired emotions. But, enough of the touchy-feely stuff. I’m sure you’d like to hear some examples of how businesses can use this service in the real-world.

Here are those examples:

  1. Salons – Allows you to share stylized photos of hairstyles, manicure/pedicure nail art, makeup, and even shots of the salon itself. This will allow you to showcase your skills, as well as the decor and environment in your salon to reinforce your brand.
  2. Automotive Collision Repair Shop – Great for showcasing custom paint jobs, or illustrating ‘Before’ and ‘After’ shots of mangled cars. Also would allow your customers a behind-the-scenes look at body repair, painting, and detailing. Convey the level of skill that is required to turn a wrecked car back in to a thing of beauty.
  3. Coffee House – This one is easy. Pics of people laughing, chatting, working in your shop. Showcase your funky ‘latte foam art’ or displays of mugs and beans. Show your customers the kind of friendly environment they can expect when they walk in to your shop.

    image
    Pics taken at a local coffee shop with Instagram

  4. Golf Course – If you don’t see the inherent beauty in a golf course, I don’t know what to tell you. You can post great shots of the landscaping, sunrises and sunsets over the greens, actions shots of golfers on the tee, and highlight tournaments and other events. Any kind of recreational business is a prime candidate for creative photo sharing.

This list could go on, and on, and on, but I think you get the point. It doesn’t matter what business you have, there is always SOMETHING artistic in it somewhere. Allowing other people to see what is already there can give them a completely different perspective on what it is you do. Something that is seemingly mundane and commonplace can instantly be given a totally different ‘feel’ through creative imaging. It never hurts to infuse your business with a little more personality, and Instagram makes it easy for anyone to do so.

*This entry was originally posted on Crowdshifter.com

Measuring Online Influence – Ridiculously Subjective, Subjectively Ridiculous

Influential? Maybe. But influential about WHAT exactly?

Yes, once again we’re talking about the ultimate divisive topic: Measuring Online Influence. Now, up until just today you’d be very hard pressed to get me to agree that the commonly referenced ‘influence scores’ are anything but arbitrary numbers that depict nothing more than the level of activity observed across the social landscape.

However, my opinion of the logic behind the approach of various influence measurements is now in a state of flux, and it’s the result of the least likely (at least, from my point of view) person who would ever influence me about anything: Justin Bieber.

Personally, I think the ‘manufactured celebrity’ that is ‘the Biebs’ is ridiculous in all forms. And one would assume that his actual ‘influence’ would be negligible to anyone over the age of 15. However, influence is a very subjective term, and can really only be used when talking about influence over a particular topic or action. It needs to be placed in to context, or it just doesn’t make any sense.

Bieber has a perfect Klout score of 100, theoretically making him one of the most influential people online. But influential about what, exactly? What’s the context?

The context for this particular example? Instagram

Bieber posted his first Instagram photo (a shot of a Los Angeles freeway during rush hour) a couple of days ago, and within hours had gained over 1700 followers. Currenty, he sits at over 5300 followers, making him one of the most followed users on the photo sharing service.

According to this article:

http://musically.com/blog/2011/07/22/justin-bieber-joins-instagram-and-sparks-traffic-surge/

“Bieber was picking up 50 Instagram followers a minute in the hours after joining, with one comment every 10 seconds – unprecedented numbers for Instagram, which has seven million users.”

It’s also easy to rationalize that of the 11 million followers he has on Twitter, a portion of them likely ‘discovered’ Instagram as a result and proceeded to download the app and begin using it. He’s essentially increased the speed of adoption of Instagram among a certain demographic (ie: that of his followers).


So, we can safely assume the following course of events:

  1. JB uses Instagram
  2. JB gains thousands of followers on his Instagram account
  3. Instagram gains users from his pool of followers on Twitter
  4. Instagram’s user base increases as more of JB’s followers join
  5. Perceived value of Instagram goes up incrementally as user base grows

It sounds completely ridiculous that one single user can drive such adoption of a photo sharing service, but the proof is there. Justin Bieber has influence over his followers to adopt a new social photo sharing service.

But as you can see, this is one very specific instance of how someone with ‘celebrity’ status can influence a large group of people to adopt a service that doesn’t cost anything to use, and has no barriers to adoption other than simply owning an iPhone. His influence over his followers in other areas is likely insignificant. For example, I don’t imagine he’s influencing people to vote for one particular party, or to choose a specific college, or to choose one brand of car over another.

In addition, the current influence measurement systems have no way to actually distinguish between a topic of actual influence, and one that just generates activity. The two are often mutually exclusive. For example, if you make a mention of ‘elephants’ in a funny tweet that gets spread around, and all of a sudden the current metric systems believe you’re influential about elephants. Hardly an accurate measure of your real online presence, however.
I think that when put in to context, a person’s Klout score, PeerIndex number, or TweetGrader level may actually have an accurate correlation. The problem is identifying that context, and determining if it was simply a one-shot instance, or realistically representative of that persons actual expertise.

What’s my point? Your Klout score or PeerIndex number is fun to see, but should NEVER be used as an actual measure of someones influential value. They simply measure activity, and at best, the likelihood that in a specific instance their endorsement may possibly encourage adoption of certain things. Bottom line: It’s just not possible to measure someone’s influence based solely on activity. There are far too many other factors that come in to play.