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Posts Tagged ‘Social networking’

How Small Businesses Can Use Instagram

Posted Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Instagram, the popular mobile app by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, has been gaining a lot of attention, especially since Facebook’s $1 Billion recent acquisition.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a free and fun way to share your life with family and friends through a series of edited photographs. Each picture is taken through your smartphone and then filtered through several custom filters. You can choose to take a photograph through the app or select one from your library. Once your image is captured and enhanced, it is ready to share with the world.

How can it help my small business?

Instagram allows its 14 million users to edit and post digital photographs, and where do they all go?  Mostly to one of their social networks. Join the bandwagon and use Instagram to your advantage. Here are tips on how to enhance your marketing strategies and brand identity…

  •  Connect with your customers. Let’s face it, Instagram is cool. It’s a fun and creative experience for users and has gained a large, loyal following. When you use it, it says the same about your small business, which also makes this a good branding incentive. Use Instagram to reflect your brand identity by using one of its custom filters, whichever your creative direction may be.
  • Increase customer interaction at no cost. Small businesses are on a budget and are always finding marketing strategies at low costs. This application is free. Small businesses have the window to showcase their brand identity, authenticity, and expression without spending a dime. You don’t need fancy photographs, but you do need visually appealing photographs.
  •  Publish fun photographs.  A large part of branding is telling a story without words, and as entrepreneurs, you already have an eye for aesthetics. Claim your brand with Intagram photos and post fun and attractive images of the workplace lifestyle to exemplify the brand’s foundation and gain a following. One away to promote your products/services is by creating albums. This will help you showcase your small business’ individual product/service further.
  • Fill any voids. Storing and sharing photos is important for your social networks, including Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter.  This application is a free way to promote your business, target and extend your niche reach, and gain following. You can do all this with Instagram without stepping out of your comfort zone.

We hope this helps you capture the underlining benefits of Instagram for your small businesses. Perhaps, use Instagram’s success story as a module for your own business strategies. As a final thought, we’d like to enlighten you with one more tidbit—when choosing your Instagram username, use a name that is clear and reflects your company brand. This will increase your Internet marketing (including SEO) and brand identity.

Why are pensioners using social media?

Posted Friday, October 14th, 2011

A recent survey conducted by social media agency Umpf found that 55% of the UK’s pensionable age has an active Facebook page and two-thirds regularly view videos on YouTube.

This is obviously great news for businesses on the social networking sites who are continuing to witness their social media investment reap better rewards as result of increased usage and the continued expansion of the active demographic. More companies are discovering that their target audience are involved in and active on the social networks and therefore can no longer discard social media as a tool used only by the young or people who have ‘nothing better to do with their time’.

But why are pensioners taking to social media?

  • Family updates: It’s a great way to keep track of what the family is up to by viewing status updates and photo uploads
  • Social lives: many have active social lives and therefore communicating and arranging plans is easy to coordinate of Facebook and is to many, easier than having to use a mobile phone
  • Technology: the use of the computers and the internet is far more accessible than it was 10 years ago. What’s more, ‘young’ pensioner’s age have had time to get used to technology like computers and mobiles and therefore using Facebook does necessitate a steep learning curve.

What does this mean for businesses?

  • Whereas only 3 years ago social media data was being uploaded mainly by 19-35 year olds, Facebook users from the 45-and-over category generate 400million plus stories each month, which means they are just as engaged content wise as 19-year-olds. It demonstrates that data is being uploaded and importantly consumed by an older generation.
  • Use of social media for businesses is not only broadening in the demographic they can communicate with. A company may have used previously used social media to communicate with a section of their audience but now they could potentially talk to their entire audience.
  • More companies will be looking to invest in social media who previously thought their audience were not active.

Think about if your business is on the social networks and whether your updates are catering for all demographics. Does your strategy need to be reviewed and your content adjusted accordingly?

Social media has once again proved that it is an indispensible tool to any business-  we shouldn’t be surprised any longer really.



Should employees be allowed to use social media at work?

Posted Thursday, May 12th, 2011

A recent survey has suggested that half of the UKs employees are banned from using Facebook and other social networking sites. Companies blame the ban on wasted time and also the risk of misrepresenting the company image. So is the ban justifiable and is it beneficial to implement the restriction?

Looking first at the reasons why employees SHOULD be allowed to use the social networking sites, a survey in 2008 concluded that companies which allowed e-time during the working day made workers more productive and boosted morale and thus reduced stress. Goldsmiths College went so far as to suggest that £4 billion pounds a year was being lost by companies who’s employees were not putting enough effort into work. Obviously, it’s questionable how much an employee’s productivity would increase by using Facebook specifically, but certainly the opportunity to relax and take time away from work for 5 minutes, will help the employee. When employees were questioned, 85% suggested that an ebreak made them more productive than stopping for a tea- maybe because they could drink tea and surf the internet at the same time!

On the other hand, using social networking sites can be dangerous. Not only is it difficult to patrol if staff were allowed to tweet or update but who’s to say that they will restrict themselves to 5 minutes every 2 hours for example? Does a bell ring so everyone can stop typing and check their Facebook and then drop their update mid sentence and return to work ‘productively’ when the bell rings 5 minutes later? Is the temptation not going to be too great?

What’s more, what are they going to be saying? Will they be connecting with friends to tell them how bored they are at work, or that the they wish they could hook up with another employee or the boss came in looking hungover? Once these types of updates are being made you’re treading dangerous ground. The BECTU (The Media and Entertainment Union) states ‘If you make disparaging comments on social networking sites about either your employer or third parties, you could be exposing yourself to being sued for defamation by either the employer or the third parties, or both, depending upon the circumstances’. Furthermore, an employee could be accused of harassment or even dismissed if the company feels the employment or hiring contract has been broken.

It is no doubt a minefield- do you prevent your staff from using social media but reduce their productivity OR allow them to make updates and risk negative comments being made about the company? Is it possible that companies could lift the ban during the 12-1 when most people take their lunch break? Could the company control administer a page/profile which allows the employees to interact with each other? It does seem that companies have been taken by surprise with the rise of social media- they don’t have their own strategies and presence arranged, let alone internal policies. It’s time they gave it some thought- it’s not going away any time soon!

Royal Wedding V Osama on the social media

Posted Friday, May 6th, 2011

We witnessed two major global events over the last bank holiday weekend, one rejoicing the start of a new life together with the marriage of William and Kate and the other being the breaking news that Bin Laden had been shot by Navy Seals.

The Royal Wedding attracted an audience of 2 billion people, a third of the world’s population whilst Osama’s death was the most concealed secret in recent history and was watched by a handful of Obama’s closest advisors. Interestingly though, Osama’s death was first revealed on twitter when a person from Abootabad was live tweeting the attack- “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1am (is a rare event),” he went on to document the death of the most wanted man.

But what we’re interested in is how this affected the social media?

Were people still only interested in celebrating the Royal Wedding or was this long forgotten when news broke about Osama? Would it make a difference that the Royal Wedding had been planned long in advance and therefore people were already updating their social networking profiles or would the sudden news of Osama create a sudden reaction and sense that the news needed to be spread?

A few moments after Obama announced the death of Osama, one-fifth of global Tweets contained the word ‘Obama’. In comparison the Royal Wedding only reached one-tenth of all updates. Google saw a one million percent increase in searches for “bin Laden” and Twitter said messages posted between 7:45 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. PT that night were the “highest sustained rates of Tweets ever,” with Twitter averaging 3,000 tweets per second during that time.

Royal Wedding received several mentions during the 6 month lead up but Osama was being paid very little attention.  However on the day of the respective events the outcome was very different- Osama’s death far outweighed the wedding. Was this because it was sudden news or were people actually more interested? There’s no doubt the events are localized- the UK would have paid more attention to the wedding and the US would have been more interested in Osama’s death and therefore it may be that it’s the sheer population that accounts for the difference.

So what does this demonstrate? That news is best received on the social media when it is broken suddenly, or is it a because the content was more shocking? A previous record was when Michael Jackson suddenly died- Twitter witnessed 456 tweets per second. So what does this say about Twitter? Is it therefore a platform that is used to break sudden news and share it very quickly. The Osama news was the first time Twitter demonstrated that it was more reliable and accurate and the first source of breaking news. Major news stations were reacting to Twitter and behind its coverage. Is this the moment Twitter truly became the first port of any breaking news?

Is Facebook taking over the world?

Posted Thursday, April 21st, 2011

According to Terminator lore Skynet was implemented on April 19, 2011 and will begin its attack against humanity on April 21- today! Skynet is obviously the ‘baddy’ in Terminator when it becomes self-aware and launches an attack on humanity. Laughable fiction obviously? Or is it when we’ve got Facebook around? Facebook is growing as a company, as an entity, as a social platform that has aided revolutions and supported the election of presidents. Is Facebook all that different to Skynet after all?

First of all, we would hope that Facebook isn’t able to infiltrate the MOD and launch nuclear weapons. Nonetheless it seems Facebook is everywhere these days. It wasn’t that long ago that companies were reluctant to join social networking sites in fear it would degrade the image of their company and now suddenly, everyone is diving in as though you’re perceived as ‘behind the times’ if you’re not actively involved.

Fan page links and Twitter icons seem to be everywhere, TV adverts no longer direct people to their website but instead advertise their Facebook and twitter IDs. Almost as though a light has switched, companies have finally accepted the use and benefit of social media and how it is an indispensible tool in modern business. Could we go so far as to say….social media has changed the way we do business?

Take Coca Cola for example who have seen their Facebook fan page reach an incredible 25 million fans. The flip side of this is that websites are becoming ‘old fashioned’. They’re stagnant, often boring and in many occasions have no means to interact. Coke’s website traffic has dropped by 40% in one year! Will the website soon become obsolete? If so, Facebook will become incredibly more powerful than it already is.

Recent research shows that 23% of consumers prefer to receive information from brands via Facebook, with 21% preferring a brand’s website and 3% from a company blog. Ben&Jerry have gone so far to announce that they won’t be emailing customers with newsletters anymore because they feel it is ineffective, (who reads newsletters anymore- don’t they just get flagged and forgotten?) and will be using Facebook instead.

So Facebook is taking over the world then? Whilst it might not be pointing nuclear weapons at your home as Skynet did, it is fast becoming an entity, or a mind, of its own.

Is it time to worry then? Not at all. Facebook has yet to pass the ultimate challenge- the test of time. In terms of a major historical household brand, it’s still in play school. Think friends reunited, where is it now? Nonetheless there’s no denying that Facebook is emerging as a leading brand, but it’s rise to fame could be as easily followed by a slide to obscurity.

Do we need to take shelter and buy up supplies as Facebook gathers momentum?  I like to believe its intentions aren’t as destructive as Skynet’s. However, there’s no denying that Facebook has already ‘changed the world’ but how long until it ‘rules the world’?

Blog inspired by @spreadingjam who tweeted yesterday about the importanc of the date- thanks!

Social networking is now Britain’s favourite pastime

Posted Friday, March 18th, 2011

Facebook and Twitter have overtaken popular sites such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and Sky Sports.com.

Whilst probably not surprising, Experian Hitwise have made it official. At the start of 2011, Facebook consumed 12.46% of all internet activity, compared the entertainment sites which had 12.18%.

The figures are huge considering in 2008 social networking accounted for 8%.

In January 2011 alone, 2.4 billion visits were made to social networking sites. Facebook topped the charts whilst YouTube and Twitter came second and third.

Importantly, users don’t just use Facebook and then log off, in most cases, users then logged on to other social sites such as Twitter and foursquare.

Robin Goad, research director at the online intelligence firm, said businesses need to embrace the move toward social media- and fast!

‘Successful websites will be those that learn to harness the power of social networks, driving traffic to their own websites’.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook named Time’s person of 2010

Posted Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Time magazine has picked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as its annual Person of the Year, the figure it believes had the most influence on events in 2010.

The 26-year-old billionaire was the subject of a 2010 film, The Social Network, charting Facebook‘s rise.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange earlier won a Time readers’ poll on 2010’s most influential person.

The annual feature has been a fixture since the 1920s, with the winner appearing on the front cover of Time.

The conservative Tea Party political movement was second choice of the magazine’s editors and correspondents, followed by Mr Assange, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the 33 trapped Chilean miners.

In the readers’ poll, more than 382,000 favoured naming Mr Assange as Person of the Year, ahead of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and pop star Lady Gaga.

Mr Zuckerberg only made tenth place in the poll, garnering less than 20,000 votes.

Runaway success

Time managing editor Richard Stengel said Mr Zuckerberg’s social networking service was “transforming the way we live our lives every day”.

Mr Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook while a student at Harvard University in 2004. It now has more than 500 million users worldwide and employs more than 1,700 people.

In a statement, Mr Zuckerberg said the Time award was “a real honour and recognition of how our little team is building something that hundreds of millions of people want to use to make the world more open and connected. I’m happy to be a part of that.”

Mr Zuckerberg, estimated to be worth $6.9bn (£4.4bn), is one of the richest people in the US, and earlier this month he became one of the latest billionaires to pledge to give away the majority of his wealth.

He is one of 17 new people to support a group, founded by Bill Gates and his wife along with Warren Buffett, which encourages America’s wealthiest to publicly promise to donate to charity.

The Person of the Year (formerly Man of the Year) title is awarded by the magazine’s editors to the figure deemed to have had the most influence on world events that year – not necessarily in a positive way.

Both Hitler and Stalin have won in the past.

In recent years, the title has gone to less controversial figures. In 2009 US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke won it, while US President Barack Obama won it the year before.

Facebook ramps up Google rivalry with messaging service

Posted Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Facebook has ramped up competition with AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google with a product to rival their e-mail services.

Facebook Messages aims to tie users more closely to the social networking site at a time when everyone is battling for their attention.

The product will merge texts, online chats, and e-mails into one central hub.

Facebook says traditional e-mail is too slow and cumbersome and needs to step into the modern world of messaging.

“This is not an e-mail killer,” Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg told reporters and analysts at an event in San Francisco.

“Maybe we can help push the way people do messaging more towards this simple, real-time, immediate personal experience. E-mail is still really important to a lot of people. We think this simple messaging is how people will shift their communication.”

‘Killer app’

In a case of bad timing, reports surfaced hours after the Facebook launch that Gmail suffered an outage.

The new service is seen as offering an alternative to Gmail, the fastest growing web service in the past year with over 193 million users according to data tracker ComScore.

The irony was that ahead of the announcement, speculation was rife that Facebook’s new product would be most crippling for Gmail. Mr Zuckerberg said he did not see it that way.

“In reality they have a great product.

“We don’t expect anyone to wake up tomorrow and say, ‘I’m going to shut down my Yahoo Mail or Gmail account’.

“Maybe one day, six months, a year, two years out people will start to say this is how the future should work,” said Mr Zuckerberg.

AOL, which at the weekend previewed changes to its once popular web mail service, disagreed that e-mail was doomed.

“E-mail remains one of the killer apps on the internet,” said Brad Garlinghouse, AOL’s senior vice president of consumer products.

Industry analyst Augie Ray of Forrester agreed.

“Research we have done shows we know that in the US 90% of adults check their mail at least once a month and 59% of adults say they maintain a profile on a social networking site.

“There is a big gap between the reach social media has and the reach e-mail has.”

Ease of use

At the heart of Facebook Messages is an effort to ensure users “see the messages that matter”.

The new feature will simplify how people communicate whether it be via text, instant messages, online chat or e-mail. All these messages will come into one feed known as a social inbox allowing users to reply in any way they want.

Facebook said around 70% of users regularly used it to send messages to friends and that a total of four billion messages passed across the site every day.

“We really want to enable people to have conversations with the people they care about,” Facebook’s director of engineering Andrew Bosworth told BBC News.

“It sounds so simple. We have all this technology that should be enabling that but it’s not. It’s fragmenting that. So I have one conversation on e-mail with my grandfather and another with my cousin on SMS and all these things don’t work the same way.

“I shouldn’t have to worry about the technology. I should just have to worry about the person and the message. Everything else is just getting in the way,” added Mr Bosworth.

The new system will be modelled more on chat than traditional e-mail which means there will be no subject lines, cc or bcc fields.

Liz Gannes of technology blog AllThingsD said she believed users would have a bit of a learning curve on their hands.

“I think the product is just different enough from what people are used to that it will feel really weird to users for a while.

“The lack of subject lines will get people upset at first and then of course they will probably realise they never wanted them anyway.”

‘Game over?’

Other features include being able to store conversations so users can have a complete archive of communications with friends and family. Mr Bosworth likened this to a modern-day treasure trove of letters stored in a box.

Incoming message will be placed in one of three folders – one for friends, another for things like bank statements and a junk folder for messages people do not want to see.

The product will also represent a challenge to Yahoo, with over 273 million users, and Microsoft, which has nearly 362 million.

“For me today represents the day when Facebook truly becomes a portal on the level of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL,” Charlene Li, social media analyst with the Altimeter Group, told BBC News.

“They now have to start making their inboxes more social. Friends are the new priority as opposed to the conversation. This makes Facebook so much more functional.”

Robert Scoble, technology writer and founder of Scobleizer.com, said this product gave everyone something to aim for.

“This is a new kind of communications system but it’s not game over for Yahoo and Gmail and all the others because it will take decades to get people to stop doing traditional e-mails.

“However this is something new and very powerful because Facebook can tap into my social graph and ensure that only my friends are there and I won’t get spammed.”

Facebook said this product was the biggest the social networking giant had worked on to date.

The company will also offer an @facebook.com e-mail address to every one of its more than 500 million users.

Did Facebook Popularity Predict Election Results?

Posted Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Tuesday’s election in the U.S. was a huge event online, and now Facebook is taking a look at the results of some of its efforts and politicians’ use of the social networking site in their campaigns.

For starters, Facebook says that more than 12 million people clicked the “I Voted” button that sat atop the news feed Tuesday — that’s more than double the number that did the same during the 2008 election. Of course, Facebook is several orders of magnitude bigger now than it was then, so that number’s not especially surprising.

More interesting, however, is that Facebook says that Page popularity was a good predictor of election night victory. Writing on the U.S. Politics on Facebook Page, the company says: “The Facebook political team’s initial snapshot of 98 House races shows that 74% of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests. In the Senate, our initial snapshot of 19 races shows that 81% of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests.”

To be sure, there’s likely a strong correlation between candidates’ overall campaign strategy and likability and the number of Facebook fans they’re able to accumulate leading up to the election. Nonetheless, there’s also much to be said about the ability to communicate and interact with those fans during a campaign — not to mention the “endorsements” from friends that come by way of “likes” — a trend we think will only continue to gain importance in future elections.

Facebook Buys $40 Million Worth of Social Networking Patents

Posted Monday, August 9th, 2010

Facebook has acquired a broad set of patents on social networking covering the basic functions of just aboutany social app, ranging from friend lists to the news feed.

The patents were acquired from Friendster, which has been awarded a wide array of social networking patents over the last decade. According to VentureBeat, there are 18 patents in all; GigaOm reports the price of the portfolio was $40 million.

As with many technology patents, the Facebook patents are rather broad (some might say ridiculously obvious, too). For example, one of the patents, as we wrote back in 2006, covers “a system, method, and apparatus for connecting users in an online computer system based on their relationships within social networks.” Another covers the slightly more innovative concept of photo tagging.

For its part, Friendster didn’t do much in the way of enforcing its patent portfolio, even as it fell from prominence in the U.S. It remains to be seen what Facebook’s intentions are for its newly acquired IP, but the patents will certainly make it more challenging for others to go after the world’s biggest social networking site with claims of infringement –- at least on the core features of the product.

With numerous cases (and a movie) exploring the origins of Facebook, owning the basic patents that make social networking possible undoubtedly strengthens the company’s position.

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