With my crazy day-job and travel schedule these past few weeks, I haven’t been able to post my usual volume of quality content. Here is a quickie until I can get some more fully featured posts up. Nice simple infographic about what sites on the Web are designed for certain business- related tasks. Enjoy.
Every so often, these social media companies come out with a free resource to get you to pay attention to their expertise. That isn’t a bad thing – you can often get some great, free information or, at the least, jumping-off points for more study if so desired. Eloqua is one of those companies that sell revenue generation using new media and the Web and they are savvy enough to turn to some real experts in the social media realm for their very slick, graphically pleasing new tome: The Social Media ProBrook. You can download this eBook and perused at your pleasure. Whether you believe there is such a thing as a “social media expert” or not, there are definitely gems in this book. Check it out and get Social Media – smarter. And check out their blog post introducing the resource here.
Recent news reveals that Facebook interactions / shares may be more valuable than Twitter interactions / shares, at least for top news sites. Not surprising when you have a half a billion people playing around on your site. So a how-to guide to business strategy on Facebook is nothing if not timely. The publication, called Best Practice Guide: Marketing on Facebook, spans fourteen pages, and breaks the topic down by five guiding principles and seven objectives. Those familiar with the ideas that swirl around the question of how to best use social media will find the principles familiar. However, the depth of detail for fourteen pages is not bad at all. Saving the best for last, Facebook includes a list of links to helpful Facebook resources on the back page, which alone is worth a click or two.
If you have ever wanted to delve more into Facebook marketing, this guide is a great place to start – although you may not completely trust Facebook with your privacy, they might know a thing or two about how to use the site to make money.
Less than a year ago, I presented to a group of lawyers at the Boston Bar Association about the nuts and bolts of Social Media and why it makes good sense to get in on it. Part of my presentation was addressed to potential objections that might be raised by attorneys when considering whether to spend any of their most precious asset – time – engaged in networking online. One of those ostensibly reasonable objections was “gee, only the big guys, like Coca Cola, Disney and Best Buy, are hanging out online. My small business clients are still perusing traditional media outlets for their own promotion, information retrieval and vendor vetting efforts.”
Well, if American Express is to be believed, the facts behind this objection are rapidly shifting and making the objection most hollow: American Express Open reports in the Business Wire that results from its semi annual small business survey show that small business use of social media has increased four-fold in the last year. The release does not solely address social media use by small business – the survey generally examined how small business owners are viewing the economy and whether they are poised to take advantage of potential growth opportunities in teh coming year. With respect to social media, the survey results show that:
Business owners are also increasingly tapping into social media to reach customers and prospects. Four-in-ten now indicate they use at least one social media platform; Facebook is by far the most popular platform, with 27% of relevant businesses on board. By comparison, only one-in-ten business owners a year ago were using online social networking to market their businesses.
* * *
The apparent exponential growth in the use of social media by business owners is rooted in the need to drive demand. When asked about the primary benefit of using social media for their businesses, nearly four-in-ten entrepreneurs (39%) said it increases the exposure of their business.
Social media is a lower cost marketing channel through which business owners can talk directly to consumers, who say they’re more than willing to listen when it comes to special promotions and deals. In fact, consumers said they were most interested in hearing about small business loyalty programs (59%), followed by free trials (49%), rewards or incentive programs (44%) and invitations to new product launches or special shopping days (39%).
“For business owners, social media ultimately should be a two way street. It’s about business owners connecting with customers and customers connecting with businesses,” Sobbott added. “More than 10% of consumers we surveyed reported posting a review of a small business through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and of these posts, two-thirds say the reviews have been positive.”
Now, it probably doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if small business owners understand the value of and are implementing social media programs in crazy growth numbers, small business owners also might recognize the value of turning to online resources for finding and connecting with their own vendors and service providers.
Will you, the lawyer or business professional, already be there to welcome such connection possibilities with open arms? Or are you waiting until you represent a one in ten business that hasn’t yet filled out your social media profile?
Maybe I should have said tabular, but still, this free report from Experian Simmons, entitled the 2010 Social Networking Report contains lots of data on recent increases in social media usage, confirming suspicions that social media networking is indeed on the steep rise. The entire report can be downloaded after filling out some basic information or you can view it online (link here). I thought it worthwhile to quote the follownig two paragraphs from the introduction to give a flavor for the findings:
The 2010 Social Networking Report provides the hard data behind this consumer revolution, including the fact that fully 66% of online Americans use social networking sites today, up from just 20% in 2007. Social networking is an increasingly addictive activity, with nearly half of those who access such sites (43%) reporting that they visit them multiple times per day. While users of social networking sites may have initially signed up to better keep in touch with friends, a growing number say they now use sites like Facebook to connect with family members. An astounding 70% of social networkers keep in touch with family via their various online networks, up from 61% a year ago.
Fully two-thirds of all online adults today have visited a social networking site in the last 30 days, up from 53% in 2008 and 20% in 2007. Social networks have most thoroughly penetrated the young adult market, as nearly 9-in-10 online 18-to 34-year-olds visit such sites today. But even older Americans are tapping into social networks, with 41% of online adults age 50 and older making monthly visits to sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
Back in April (link here), I breathed a sigh of relief as the AP announced it was now permissible to write website, instead of web site. I am back to tell you that the 2010 AP Stylebook Online (link here) is now out in all its glory, with more help for other modern terms. Some history on the Stylebook:
The Stylebook was first produced in 1953 as a stapled collection of rules totaling 60 pages, and has grown to a publication of more than 450 pages today. The book’s creation was prompted in part by a technical change in the way the AP transmitted news as well as a need for consistency among a worldwide editorial staff that produced stories for newspapers with a variety of style preferences. There have been major periodic revisions over the past few decades, the last in 2008, and the print edition is now updated annually.
The new guidelines include many entries pertaining to social media usage. Many will come as no surprise (new ways to use the terms “fan”, “friend”, “trending”, “retweet”, “unfriend” and “follow”). Others make me scratch my head a bit (separating out smartphone into smart phone and hyphenating e-reader). Thankfully, the AP guidelines discuss some common sense rules for journalists as to how to use (and not use) social media in their research and reporting. As well as a healthy dose of acronyms generated by the texting generation. Go figure. From the site:
The new Social Media Guidelines section includes information and policies on using tools like Facebook and Twitter, how journalists can apply them to their work and how to verify sources found through them. Also included are 42 separate entries on such terms as app, blogs, click-throughs, friend and unfriend, metadata, RSS, search engine optimization, smart phone, trending, widget and wiki.
Just so you know, Web is capitalized when it is used as the shortened form of World Wide Web and e-mail is still hyphenated. You can buy the Stylebook here (link).
Anyone who is anyone (o.k., anyone who follows @advocatesstudio or @constructionlaw on Twitter or subscribes to Advocate’s Studio and Construction Law Musings) probably saw our dueling guest posts this past Friday. Chris and I had a lot of fun doing it, from planning and sharing posts over Google Wave, to hyping the big event on Twitter and then following the feedback, RTs and comments throughout the day on Friday.
Chris’ My Journey Into Social Media post was the very first guest post in the Studio’s two-year history. I am asking myself “why did I wait so long?” Readers LOVED Chris’ post – what is not to love about a heartfelt, personal accounting of the trials and tribulations over the same tools we webizens are all struggling to master every day. I feel honored that Chris chose the Studio to share this story and hope that readers enjoyed it as much as I did.
Guest blogging feels like a breath of fresh air. Sure, you make your cozy little WordPress (or Blogger or Typepad) home and deck it all out the way you like it. You get to know your neighbors, maybe share a pie and some coffee. But sometimes, it is good to get out on the town, visit someone else’s house, play with someone else’s friends and, maybe, learn something new. Or gain some new friends of your own. Share your song with a different audience, as it were. Strike up a duet.
I am now motivated to seek out and share some more social media stories from other friends and peers. With some luck, maybe I can persuade a few other social connections to open their book for Studio readers to view. Maybe it can become the start of a Social Media Mentors series, or some other less daunting title.
In any event, thanks for everyone who read, commented, shared, participated, and pushed our posts like paper boats in a current on Friday! Looking forward to more sharing and collaboration in the future.
When Martha asked me to do this blog switch, and to describe my social media experience, I was flattered and excited. To have such a tech maven ask me, a relative luddite, to post here at the Studio was quite an invitation! I hope the readers of the Studio find this informative and hopefully at least a little bit entertaining.
I basically got into social media a couple of years ago on a whim. I heard about LinkedIn and various other tools to get my name out there. I posted profiles at JDSupra, and other business “networking” sites and didn’t see much return, or even communication. I had a Twitter account (@constructionlaw) and was occasionally posting but found no followers until, at the urging of @copelandcasati (aka @greenmodernkits) I just started talking. I quickly found several folks to follow and things just took off.
I really had no idea what I was doing and, frankly, decided that a blog would be fun so I experimented with Tumblr and Posterous (the Posterous account is still active), and finally landed at Blogger. After about 6 months there, I decided to join the WordPress brigade and thus was born the present incarnation of Construction Law Musings. Too many people have helped (and continue to help) me along the way for me to thank here, but you know who you are. Once I got Musings up and running, the rest, as they say, is history.
For some reason, there are people out there who like to read about construction law and, despite some initial frustration, I kept plugging along and posting what I hoped was good content. The real breakthrough came when I read about guest posts. The idea sounded great, so I started Guest Post Fridays. For one, I didn’t have to write something (always good for the readers!) and secondly, and most importantly, I get other perspectives on construction, social media, and business that I feel both help the readers connect with Musings and gain some insight into construction marketing and other non-legal issues.
I can’t thank those who contribute every week enough and hope that they got a marketing boost and had as much fun posting at Musings as I do.
The advantages of all of this Web 2.0 stuff? I have met some great folks that I never would have known without it and formed some real life relationships that I never would have had (including with Martha). Also, the viral nature of the internet allows me to get information out to numerous sources using Musings, Posterous and other tools (such as Twitterfeed and Friendfeed) to get my message and thoughts across in an efficient manner. Coupled with real life, handshake, non-web marketing, I have grown my practice a lot in the last year or two and attribute much of this success to my social media efforts.
Most of all though, I found that this is fun! For this reason alone, I recommend social media as an add on to any legal practice (or other professional practice). Just dive in. I had no clue how to do this “properly,” but have learned that no one way works for everyone. Do what feels right and your personality will come through. Blogging and other social media allow a less formal style and a way to show your true colors in a way that your static web bio (or a court pleading for that matter) does not.
Try out different tools. I have no idea how many I’ve tried, bookmarked, installed and uninstalled, or just plain forgotten about. Use whatever you feel lets others know who you are in a professional manner. For instance, Martha and I occasionally get on a binge of last.fm music sharing. On the other hand, you will not likely find out what I’m having for dinner tonight from my twitter stream while others I follow regularly make such tweets interesting. Figure out what works for you, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Reader sharing, or a desktop tool like Tweetdeck or IPhone app (check with the Advocate for some great ones) that allows you to connect on the go.
Most of all, start. Fumble around. Make mistakes (lord knows I did!), don’t quit and have fun. Don’t get frustrated or worry about SEO and all of the other things that you’ll hear out there about the “right” way to do this. Frankly, you’ll learn more from the errors than from any blogger out there (though there are many that have helpful tips). The best advice I can give you (and take it for what it’s worth) is to write what you care about, engage others (whether through guest posts, comments, Twitter or even, yes, the telephone), and show your personality. If you do all of this the frustration will ebb and the interest level of your audience will grow.
Do I have a metric of time to dollars? Not that I could figure out. I do know that I have gotten more out of state inquiries after the dawn of Musings than before. Between this and the relationships, I can say this has been more than worth it.
So jump right in and join all of us tweeps, bloggers and other professionals in the social media pool, we’d love to hear from you and promise not to bite.
Christopher G. Hill, LEED AP, is a construction lawyer in Richmond, VA and has been elected to the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law in each of the last three years. You can reach him on Twitter (@constructionlaw) or contact him through his Construction Law Musings blog.
Remember this video from last year? Check out this year’s numbers. And be wowed.
Thanks to Eric Qualman and Socialnomics (link here).