Response to my previous blog, “Social Media Experts: Your Messages are Getting Through. Sort of.” generated some excellent dialogue and insight from 23 different people on this blog and another one. I asked six specific questions and got some very interesting responses. Here is a summary of what everyone had to say. (I didn’t do the best job of crediting specific thoughts to the specific thinkers, but did acknowledge everyone at the end with their name and Twitter address.) And Justin, thanks for dedicating an entire blog post to this topic!
1. Who exactly are the social media “experts?” What is a typical profile in terms of their experience and education?
– those who have used it and gotten actual results.
– repeated success in using the tools to meet an identified goal or goals.
– look at the length of time people have been involved and what type of results are they getting for themselves and others. Just as in working with any other field, you have to agree with their philosophy and agree with a person’s processes.
– There are none. Social media is evolving at such a rapid pace that anyone who claims to be an “expert” is selling snake oil. The best you can expect is for someone to be is an expert in one field.
– If you’re interacting with an alleged expert, know what YOUR criteria for being an “expert” would be.
– For a social media consultant to be taken seriously, he/she needs to court the attention of the people who can drive up those numbers and help that website stand out. And yet, ironically, social media consultants won’t have jobs if they can’t also explain these geek-friendly processes in layman’s terms.
– People are the ‘social’ in SM. Focus on people w/ POVs that resonate, and you’ll develop your own pool of go-tos that u can trust.
2. Who are the social media consultants directing their advice to?
– Deidre: My favorite client is someone that has heard that social media can help, they have an account or two and they’re not seeing any increased traffic for their business. Also business groups consisting of solo-entrepreneurs, coaches, authors and speakers.
– Social media consultants often get trapped in a conversation loop with their peers.
– Social media experts appear to be tweeting to each other more than those of us who need to understand SM the most.
– Many people don’t understand AND aren’t willing to learn. They don’t read blog posts or comment and therefore the perception is that “the experts are talking to each other.” I can honestly say that when I “tweet tips,” or even post to my blog, I rarely ever get a response from anyone that isn’t “into social media.”
3. Is it possible to measure the demographics of Twitter followers?
– No way to measure demographics and hits per tweet; no analytics; only possible thing to measure is location of each person on Twitter (if they voluntarily post it).
– Steven linked to two interesting studies on the demographics of Twitter users in general at http://www.jmorganmarketing.com/twitter-demographics and http://vip.marcomprofessional.com/posts/ben.matthews/research-on-twitter-demographics-from-hitwise. Interesting to read but since Twitter evolves daily I wonder if this is somewhat outdated?
– Chris points out: if you start aligning tweet hashtags w/ your blog tags, you’ll be amazed to see new followers show up in your target demographics. He discusses this here: http://bit.ly/QPdxQ.
4. Everyone agrees Twitter is a great tool in the marketing toolbox, but it seems like some consultants see it as more than that? If so, why, and how?
– Twitter is a way to develop friendships.
– Twitter can and should be what a business wants it to be.
– It’s about sharing yourself with other people, not pushing your business.
– Twitter is the great connector. I still see it as a tool in my “marketing toolbox”, but every tool has different nuances. I have a different strategy for Twitter than I do for Facebook than I do for LinkedIn. Compare it to traditional marketing. In traditional marketing, you have direct mail, newsletters, and telemarketing (just to name a few) – you’re not going to treat each one the same and each one carries a different weight of importance based on your target market and your industry. This is also true in comparing the different social media platforms.
– Tweets are in the length of soundbites that we think. Because of the 140 character soundbites, we’re more receptive to receiving the messages that we read on Twitter than we are in emails.
– Twitter becomes a mix of water cooler, newspaper, comedy club and self-help resource.
5. What is the proper protocol when it comes to following people and businesses on Twitter?
– Don’t autofollow everyone who follows you.
– If you have a specific audience in mind, only follow people in that niche.
– Have a goal in mind for who you want to reach and then seek out profiles that match your criteria. It will take longer and will require more effort, but in this manner you’ll be much more likely to reach the demographic(s) you have in mind.
– It’s about the people, not the numbers.
– I like to think of Twitter more as my personal newspaper. I follow people that Tweet interesting ideas, thoughts and articles and blog posts that are interesting to me. I would like to think that people follow me for the same reason.
– Is what I am sharing something of VALUE for those following me? That is my personal tentpeg. I am not as concerned about followers (although they do come).
6. Regarding blogs, how important is juxtaposing keywords in a headline just to increase SEO?
– A well-written headline does the job of SEO simply by being interesting and compelling, which brings in traffic — which is what SEO is all about.
– content more important than juxtaposing keywords
– If you skip keywords completely and disregard SEO as a “gimmick”, well, then you’re going to miss out on some opportunities. Big ones.
– Trust your journalism training on headlines to engage and entice; the best content wins readers. That doesn’t mean ignore SEO.
Surprises and interesting facts I’ve learned from this conversation or observed about Social Media:
– Facebook now No. 1 place people share content, over email; however email is still most targeted source of online marketing.
– Regarding differences in usage of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn: you’re not going to treat each one the same and each one carries a different weight of importance based on your target market and your industry. This is also true in comparing the different social media platforms.
– define what the goals are, what methods will be utilized to reach them, and of course, the follow-through after the fact.
– I think in today’s society, while the internet is a vast resource, a wealth of knowledge, the “go-to” if you will for traditional marketing purposes, more and more people are turning to the old-fashioned neighbor-to-neighbor approach to get their message across. Social Media when used effectively can assist them with their efforts.
– Social media is meant to be social. How many times as PR professionals have we heard, “Well, actually, word of mouth has helped us and we really don’t need anything else.” Key phrase there – word of mouth. Social Media helps to engage in that “word of mouth” concept.
– In my experience social media is not a numbers game. Let your own bullshit detector inform you when someone’s trying to sell you a bill of goods.
– Despite all the talk about “joining the conversation,” most businesses still use social media as a megaphone to broadcast their message to the public.
– What strikes me for all the “social media” talk is that when it comes down to it, none of this is really all that new. Faster, yes. More instant, yes. Better tools, yes. But for as long as I can remember, people have been sharing, meeting, talking, connecting each other, spreading things virally – all online. The latest tools are just a more modern outlet for that.
A social media consultant and friend tweeted my new network to help promote it when I launched it a few months ago. This friend has thousands of followers, so I thought I might get some traffic and possibly a new member or two from the tweet. Unfortunately not one member resulted from it, and the next day, after I was able to see my Google Analytics of the day the tweet was posted, I determined that I received NO hits from the tweet to my site. I still greatly appreciated this consultant’s help and professionalism, but my hopes for Twitter’s supposed networking benefits were dashed that day. I’ve learned a lot since then and have found ways to use Twitter more effectively. I confess, this is what launched my doubts about Twitter’s effectiveness.
Okay, shall we call it a wrap? Did these messages get through, or generate more insight? If so, keep it coming!
Insight provided by: Justin Kownacki (@@JustinKownacki), Stephen Peacock (@stephenpeacock), Chris Jones (@sourcepov), Deidre Hughey (@DeidreHughey), Lisa Sullivan (@lisasullivan), HeatherO (@HeatherO), Rob Laughter (@RobLaughter), Angel Lebak (@Angel4tweet), rldparis, Joe Cascio and Pittsburg SEO. Thanks everyone!