Category Archives: Social Platforms

Third-Party Apps: Do you really need them?

If you’re a small business owner or running a personal site or blog, it can be tempting to buy into the marketing copy of third-party apps that promise to ease the confusion of the mighty Interwebs. There certainly are a lot of social platforms out there right now, but you don’t need to be on all of them.

twitter iconsFigure out which platforms are relevant to the content you’re producing (are getting you the most traffic, conversation, sales, whatever is important to you), and get rid of the others. Focus your energies on outposts that will benefit you. There shouldn’t be more than a few.

To keep your social media outposts updated and relevant, you can either post updates manually by visiting your desired platforms or integrate updates via third-party apps. It’s really up to you and how you want to run your updates. Just make the decision in an informed way. Here are some pros and cons. It’s the best way to make decisions, right? Right.

third-Party Apps

  • Fewer clicks – You don’t have to visit each different platform and sign into them all (if you’re not automatically remembered). You can update all of your social media from one convenient location.
  • More room for error - If you’ve got a few different platforms to update and you’re using an app to make it go faster, it’s much easier to accidentally post an update to the wrong platform, for the wrong day, too many times, to the wrong person, etc.
  • Automation – A big feature of many third-party apps is automation, or the ability to schedule social media updates ahead of time. It’s a very handy way to grab the reins of what would otherwise be a very overwhelming job.
  • Third party stamp – Many third-party apps include a small stamp or indicator that you’re using their service. Some feel this looks unprofessional, some don’t mind at all.third party platform stamp
  • Decreased relevance – Sometimes *gasp* third-party apps automating updates can lower the priority of updates from third-party apps. This is just how some social platforms’ algorithms (like Facebook) are written; Social platforms would prefer that people engage with them directly rather than via some other website.
  • Lose touch - Unless you’re very careful, being able to update all of your platforms quickly without even visiting them can lead to you doing a lot more sharing and a lot less listening. Just be vigilant, yo.

Updates by hand

  • Takes longer - Ok, we’re not talking very much longer, maybe a couple of minutes, but some people just don’t have those few minutes to spare every day. In my opinion, those people need to reassess their direction in life (but that’s a whole different blog post for when I’m social media guru that’s starting to stray from concrete marketing advice into lofty spiritual guidance.)
  • Absolutely free – When you’re using your social platform directly you don’t have to worry about paying for a fancy service. Sure, there are a lot of free third-party apps (or free versions without full  functionality of pro-versions), but many find ways to monetize their best software.
  • Simple – If the whole point of all of this is to simplify your social updates, why on earth would you add the complexity of learning a whole new platform? If the sound of this just turns you off, third-party app updates might not be for you.
  • Working as intended -  Why mess with a good thing? If a social platform is written to work in a certain way, why trust a third-party platform that doesn’t necessarily have access to those algorithms?

So where do you fall? There’s a whole industry around managing social media which I don’t especially buy into. Sure, I use some platforms to automate some things, but I’m honestly not as big a believer as some. If you’re interested in learning more about some third-party apps, check out this very detailed slide show from InformationWeek’s social business section, the Brain Yard: Top 20 Apps for Managing Social Media.

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

Scared of Facebook Timeline? Please.

Facebook Timeline

When it comes to interacting with the web, people fall into two groups: Those who resist new technology and those who grab it with both hands and shake it around. Which are you?

Facebook Timeline is coming whether you’d like it to or not and there’s no use complaining about it (Facebook is an entirely free service that you can stop using at any time–they will make changes all the time as they see fit.) While you still have the opportunity to set up and edit your profile in Timeline before publishing it for public view, take a little time to get used to the layout. Right now it might not make much sense to you, but when you see your own information converted to Timeline format, you’ll start to understand it much better. It’s actually gives a fantastically efficient overview of someone’s Facebook history. There’s no need to be scared of Facebook Timeline.

Still doubtful? No worries.

  • Profile – Unlike the original Facebook page, you now have the opportunity to pick a banner photo. This gives you a lot more choice in personalizing your page and can make it feel more like home. Mine is a screenshot from my favorite computer game. Most people select a banner that will give some sort of nice contrast with their profile photo.Cricky Facebook Timeline banner
  • Photos – Facebook Timeline has a bigger emphasis on photos. Photos aren’t buried in albums but used as ways to mark time. Take the time to go back and edit which photos are emphasized within certain albums, and alter the privacy settings on others that you don’t want people to see.
  • Milestones – Another very cool feature of Facebook Timeline! Milestone banners break up the two-column format. They can be used for anything. Facebook automatically adds Milestones for graduations, starting certain jobs, and your birthday. Add some photos to these, they look really cool and make it easier to chart time at a glance. Facebook Timeline Milestone Cricky Cicchetti graduates from Yale
  • Buttons – If you’re starting to feel a little more comfortable with Timeline you can work on your buttons. Located just below the banner on the right hand side, these are gateways to more about you. Manage the things you’ve ‘liked’ on Facebook, your subscriptions, photos, friends, videos, etc. You can even add custom pages by adding apps to your account. You can only display four though, so choose wisely! Here’s an example of a brand page’s buttons. Notice that the last two are custom buttons. Click the image to visit Coca Cola’s page and see what their other buttons are (just click the small down arrow next to the rightmost button.)Coca Cola Facebook Timeline Brand Page

What questions do you have? Are you still scared of Facebook Timeline? The forced switch is coming at the end of March 2012 so start getting comfy now. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t, just be aware that your information may display a little differently than before so be sure to take the time to review it when Timeline goes live.

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

4 Reasons Personal Branding is Dangerous for Corporations

With the rise of personal branding comes a new relationship between corporations and their employees. The public is increasingly relating to and responding to individuals rather than faceless brands which is–many believe–a great development.

personal branding dangerous for corporationsCorporations reap the benefits of having dynamic and influential social media and content managers (just think of Mashable’s Pete Cashmore or Problogger’s Darren Rowse) but despite the numerous exciting benefits, this trend ultimately points to a shift in the power dynamic for brands…

  • Recruiting a following - Companies will begin to recruiting individuals with developed and wide-reaching personal followings. Major brands will essentially buy personal social networks and the trusted personality to funnel brand messaging through to potential customers.
  • Losing an audience – When you mix a personal brand with a company (setting up a Twitter account for your company that is also your own primary account) you create a massive conflict for a company. Remember the mess with Noah Kravits and his PhoneDog Twitter account, @PhoneDog_Noah?
  • Lack of control – As soon as a brand calls upon individuals to use their style and voice to carry the banner for corporate marketing initiatives, they lose control. Allowing individuals to take on personal ownership of brand messaging gives them a significant degree of power. Developing a strict code of rules for all employees will lessen, but not eradicate, the possibility of embarrassing mistakes or leaks.
  • Overshadowing – If an employee curates a certain sized audience or develops a sizable enough influence, you could have your very own hostage situation on your hands as one person becomes increasingly equated with everything your company name stands for. Allowing individuals the opportunity to take personal ownership could translate into an influence-based hierarchy that could be threaten for an unprepared company’s personel structure.

These are some of the hurdles that corporations have to consider before embracing a full-blown social media campaign. With careful planning, preparation, and monitoring they are easily cleared, but the field will continue to change as social media evolves.

How else is personal branding dangerous for corporations?

Post by Cricky Cicchetti

Inbound Traffic on a Budget: The Secret is Out

It used to be the case that whichever large brand had the most money to throw at advertising would get the best minds to create the best campaigns that would get them the most sales. Now that the playing field has been somewhat leveled by social media, engagement and content can travel further than ever before. For the first time, you don’t need thousands of dollars to bring in fantastic business for your company.

Of course, having a little extra money to spend can’t hurt… you could buy fancy fancy SEO consultancy services and programs, hire someone to redesign your website, and commission new research to create beautiful infographics, but what  can you do with literally no budget?  Continue reading

Ride the Google Wave: Set up your G+ brand page!

All the cool kids are doing it, and in this case, you should be too.

Google plus brand page

As Google continues to hone its search algorithms and platform assimilation (oh hey, YouTube) we all get closer to a full integrated Internet that doesn’t have so many doors and gateways. A scary thought? Perhaps. An incredible opportunity for brands? You bet.

Plenty of cautionary tales have shown us that it never pays to try and trick Google. Now, Google is getting so good that it really pays to work with the search giant! By voluntarily giving your brand’s information to Google you allow Google to help you get your information to the people who are looking for it (if you’re a local business, you should definitely fill out your Google Places profile ASAP!) Set up your Google+ brand page, link your social platforms, website, and blog, and let Google do what Google does best: help connect people with the information they seek.  Continue reading

Man-Up: Be an Early Adopter

You can’t afford to be afraid of the unknown anymore.

 

Things are changing too quickly to find just one marketing strategy to rely on. It’s not enough to be smart–you have to be adaptable. When a new tool surfaces, it’s those who jump in first that get the joy of discovering and the benefits of being an early adopter.

Shockingly, people still resist updates and new features even when they know they’ll ultimately be forced to change. *cough* Facebook Timeline *cough* Pardon me, I have a sore throat.
Continue reading

Simplify Your Inbound Strategy

The problem: Before you can even get to marketing, you’ve got to simplify your inbound strategy! There are so many freestanding social platforms available that managing all of your accounts is becoming a bit of a headache. A whole industry has grown around the need to manage many distinct accounts. Many are leaping to social media management software or social media consultancy companies just to put off dealing with the confusion.

The solution: Don’t panic. Just de-clutter and re-organize so you can start fresh. Continue reading