Social Media

Nearly 85% of households in the US have a high speed internet connection, allowing people to use the Internet in increasingly more engaging and richer ways. This ever-evolving use of the web has been labeled as Web 2.0. It is characterized largely by its reliance on user-generated content. Since 1999, the Internet has become increasingly driven by such content and the sites that provide an avenue for its dissemination. Most of these sites have gained worldwide audience through the broad appeal of interacting with the web in a way that allows the user to determine what they want to view.

More than ever, people are engaging with the Internet for eCommerce, entertainment and to stay in touch with family and friends in an interactive and social way. Far from being a niche restricted to teenagers and young adults, nearly every segment of the population has embraced social networking and social media. As of March 2009, the fastest growing age group on Facebook users aged 65 and older.

After one separates the hype from the facts about all that social applications can do, there are true opportunities in this space for advertisers if used effectively. However, it is important to temper this hype with a realistic expectation of what role social networking plays in an overall mix of properly targeted advertising techniques. By engaging these available social applications and creating a presence through them and on them, advertisers can capitalize on their popularity.

Aside from using social marketing tools for creating a direct connection to potential customers, an investment in this arena can also benefit search engine results for an organization’s web presence. Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo include entries from some of these sites as search results. For instance, if a user searches for website development in Queen Creek, Arizona, a YouTube video about that topic might be included in the results the search engine returns which by the way is called the SERP. This is referred to as ‘universal search.’ Integrating all of these elements will bolster a site’s rankings and therefore its visibility on the web. This is part of search engine optimization.

There are a number of technologies and portals that provide a social media interaction, perhaps chief among them Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, which provide a more interactive web experience. But there are many additional sites and ways for users to enjoy the web, some of which support vast networks of registered users. (Facebook currently boasts more than 2.60 Billion members.) Most social media can be categorized into the following areas. Each provides an advertiser with a unique way to reach their audience, and has pros and cons.

Social media can be divided into two categories: professional and personal.

LinkedIn caters to a professional audience, providing users a place for networking and would be a good place for an organization to have a presence.

Facebook is more casual, and provides a place for people to interact with friends and groups of people by sharing what they are doing, photos and videos and any other information they care to post online. The benefits of a Business Facebook page as a profile & branding tool for an organization is key to consumers as it allows an understanding of the business and their offerings without physical contact. Another value of Facebook may lie with targeted advertising techniques that display on individual Facebook Business pages and the ability to drive traffic to the business’s website with more information or a call to action.

Twitter is a form of social network that allows people to ‘follow’ a friend, relative, celebrity or politician with regular updates on a computer or cell phone. The person who is being ‘followed’ sends out ‘tweets’ to broadcast their thoughts or activities. Twitter is primarily used on mobile phones, and is limited to 280 characters.

Pinterest is a visual discovery engine for finding ideas like recipes, home and style inspiration, and more. With billions of Pins on Pinterest, you’ll always find ideas to spark inspiration. When you discover Pins you love, save them to boards to keep your ideas organized and easy to find.

Pros: Ability to reach a large audience of people in your field. Targeted advertising.

Cons: Requires a significant amount of time to maintain and nurture connections.

Recommendations: A presence can be suited to individuals looking to engage people in a casual environment.

A blog, or web log, is similar to an online diary. You’re reading one right now! It must be regularly updated with fresh, unique and interesting content provided by authors well versed in the subject matter to keep it relevant and the reader engaged.

Pros: Can generate excellent search engine results.

Cons: Extremely time consuming to do well and properly.

Recommendations: Start with writing a blog post once a month. As you become familiar with the process it gets easier. You can also hire out blog writing to 3rd party vendors such as Fivver

A podcast is an online audio or video presentation that users can subscribe to. Most podcasts are part of regular series, and users subscribe to them and automatically get the latest updates downloaded.

Pros: Can deliver a refined, polished message on pertinent topics in an audio or visual manner. No distribution costs.

Cons: Take time to produce, need to be serialized for maximum effectiveness.

Recommendations: A powerful way to connect with an audience is

YouTube and Vimeo provide a place for people to post videos of interest to broad or narrow audiences. A ‘channel’ on YouTube can be private, allowing a limited number of users to access the content. However, most are offered for public consumption and can be searched according to titles and keywords that have been assigned to them by the person or organization who posts them. These can also be embedded into other websites.

Pros: Engaging messages can reach a wide audience. No distribution costs.

Cons: Takes time to produce, need for many.

Recommendations: An active presence on these types of sites can be a great way to boost search engine results.

Internet users can use social bookmarking sites such as Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon, and Reddit to organize, share, search and tag bookmarks. Tags associated with bookmarks allow for easy organization into topics that others can view and search. Bookmarks for sites or specific pages can spread virally, or receive high rankings with increased use, increasing the likelihood that others will follow links, leading to more site traffic.

Pros: Makes it easy for users to share sites within networks.

Cons: None

Recommendations: Add these to your websites.

All of these technologies have varying degrees of utility. They play a supporting role in the efforts to gain viewership to an organization and certainly are a large part of an effective strategy. There is high value in using Web 2.0 applications for targeted advertising and branding, but these campaigns must be properly coordinated with more traditional methods to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Rockpoint Media will provide consultative services tailored to an individual organization as part of any retainer agreement, working to determine which of these approaches will be an effective part of your strategy. In addition, Rockpoint Media can provide creative services and produce or implement any of these social media resources on a project basis for those clients wanting to add this to their communications strategy.

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