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  1. #1
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Interview with a Social Media Expert

    Ted S's threads and replies to Social Media posts have been so impressive that I just had to ask him, "How did you get so smart?"

    That was just the first question. I asked him several others that I hope will help all of us to better understand and to keep up with the quick changes we see in Social Media today.

    I just had a very few questions so feel free to post your comments and other questions in this thread.

    The interview:

    Ted: I tend to be rather wordy but hopefully this is useful content for you and fits the need. If you have other questions I'll be around all week.

    Me: The good word is that "words" is what Social Media content is often about so "wordy away!"

    Questions and Answers

    Me: How do you keep up to date with all of the changes in SM?

    Ted: I wish I could say – or even had – some golden answer tool to stay connected to everything happening in the space but the truth is it takes a lot of time not just consuming but participating back and trying things. Time is what social really costs.

    As far as specific tools, these days I mostly start with Twitter where I’m following some very bright, very forward thinking people who share a lot of ideas before they’re huge. Beyond that I also read blogs from local marketers working with the smallest businesses up to major media sites: it’s amazing how much is out there so you have to be looking at every stage or you really will entirely miss the next trend.

    At the same time I’m very big on getting offline both with the industry and end consumers. Talking you get to hear all the little nuisances, the cultural differences that exist in what people use, what are they doing, what’s working, what they like. Conversation gives you the little insights long before there’s enough to really turn it into a formal idea worthy of a write-up.

    Me: What do you see as the future of SM?

    Ted: I think we’re going to see social diverge away from this concept of network based interactions into what it has always really represented – the shift in power between companies and customers..

    Social as an idea goes back to the start of the internet with the BBS boards, forums like Site Point; from there it was blogs and user reviews and then all sorts of other tools: people have been connecting more and more over the last decade. What the networks did was provide massive scale in very short order so now not only is everyone on but we can see everything happening in central places.

    Because of the visibility business has rushed to court people on those networks but fundamentally what we call social is much broader than that. I’m not the first one to say that the relationship between how people and businesses function together has changed. People have always wanted information and to be heard but when you can look up product reviews on your phone in a store and post a comment to the world before you leave the restaurant you’ve got a fundamental shift to the whole equation.

    As we move forward what we call social today and the idea of business are becoming one. Its not how do we get more positive mentions, its how we build a product that people want to mention positively; its not how do we get our employees Tweeting, it’s how do we make sure our employees are known for their expertise. The networks are these massive mediums and while the names may change to a degree, the ideas they represent is only going to grow.
    Communicating with your customers, leveraging their comments, meeting them on their terms, those aren’t tactics – it’s how you do business in this “social” era or as I like to call it, the “age of the consumer”.

    Me: What, in your opinion, are the top SM venues?

    Ted: I don't think it's a matter of what's top; I think it's a matter of what's relevant for your business.

    Take pinterest for example: I remember seeing them for the first time maybe six months ago and then a few months later everyone was talking about it so now there's this rush to get on board but you have yourself: Who is on that site? What are they doing? The answers may indicate that it's not the place for your business [no disrespect to pinterest, that’s the same question we should be asking of all networks and communities we’re on]. There's too much focus on being on what's hot rather than finding mediums that really fit with our customer and model or changing to one that addresses the evolving market.

    At the same time, the big opportunities tends to come when a service is fairly young and you can really become a part of the community’s formation like how Comcast Cares got on Twitter and became the blanket case study. That won't happen if you wait to see what's at the top before you join up. Be decisive and move early – it’s worth a few misses to get the hits.

    Me: How are these venues best used?

    Ted: Every network / community has its own dynamics and rules of the road which you must understand in detail but the basic idea remains pretty consistent: bring value. More often than not value means supporting what influencers & end customers are doing rather than trying to become the creator of the content in the first place. If you turn back to the pinterest example you can see brands starting to showcase their wares on corporate “boards” and that's potentially useful for letting people easily pass along things they like but the serious sharing and conversation is going to come from their fans and the connections of those people.

    Unfortunately there’s a big desire to use social in the traditional ways and push coupons and other sorts of ads through it. Those can have their place at times but really you only get one shot at being meaningful, after that, you’re not social, you’re just a broadcast message on a social platform.

    As a business you need to worry about making a great product, supporting it with great service and creating an accessible presence on the mediums people are using. If the network likes what you’re doing, you’ll see a positive reaction, if not, you have a point to learn, even to shift back perception through your actions, and that’s really the key as I see it – of course we all make some mistakes along the way and frankly as long as they’re not too big, that’s the best way to learn. To make one final bad analogy – there is not playbook on to follow that will make you the winner, you either write a new one or sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else too.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  2. #2
    <title class="lol"> bronze trophy TehYoyo's Avatar
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    Fantastic interview. Very informative and innovative information, I thought. I just discovered a whole new section of the web to explore ...now to find some books on that topic...

    I've got a few questions for @Ted S ; .

    1. Say I make a Facebook page for a youth group (which I'm doing right now). I would presumably want to provide announcements for the YG that could be posted on, say their wall. So how do I stop (obviously, I can't stop people, but...) people from only viewing the FB page and not the actual website (which I'm designing/developing as well)? Or is that even what I want to provide on my FB page at all? Really my question is this: How do I provide relevant and valuable information while still ensuring that the focus is on the webpage?

    Thanks.
    ~TehYoyo
    Last edited by Shyflower; Mar 7, 2012 at 19:05. Reason: sent Ted S a "mention" so he can see your question

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    For the record, I make no claim to the expert title although I really appreciate the very kind introduction.

    Now for the question..

    1. Say I make a Facebook page for a youth group (which I'm doing right now). I would presumably want to provide announcements for the YG that could be posted on, say their wall. So how do I stop (obviously, I can't stop people, but...) people from only viewing the FB page and not the actual website (which I'm designing/developing as well)? Or is that even what I want to provide on my FB page at all? Really my question is this: How do I provide relevant and valuable information while still ensuring that the focus is on the webpage?
    What you're trying to do is force control in the medium uses and that's rarely successful, even less so when we're talking about social as the platform. Instead it's really a matter of asking yourself what value you can provide that would make people want to go to the website on a regular basis. Provide a reason and they'll go as often as it makes sense.

    But even that makes a big assumption [that the website is where they should be going]. The reality is that people are on social networks all day with their laptops, desktops, phones, tablets, even gaming systems so if you can give them something they're interested in enough to connect with you there, take it and run. Youth is especially fidgety and now you've got a place to post and let them respond back to you and each other -- that's one heck of an opportunity, even if it means changing from what you're use to.

    So really I'd ask you what your goal is first. If it's to get kids [pardon the expression] participating in local events, what does it mean to have them go to your website? Why that objective? If there's some sort of monetization model that your site has like ads, then again, you need to figure out how your social involvement can create more conversation that gets people to want to visit, or even better share [and then visit] the site.

    Lastly don't just think of facebook as a place to be telling people what you want them to know, think of it as a way to have a dialogue and post to achieve that. In a relevant way of course.
    - Ted S

  4. #4
    <title class="lol"> bronze trophy TehYoyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted S View Post
    Lastly don't just think of facebook as a place to be telling people what you want them to know, think of it as a way to have a dialogue and post to achieve that. In a relevant way of course.
    Ahhhh. Truly ingenious.

    I want them to go to the website because it's hard to create/post an entire informational card about an event on Facebook. I suppose it's like any news site, i.e. CNN or ESPN, etc. I need them to go to the website so that they can get all the information. Should I ask a question that elicits a response in all of my posts? Does that grow old/is that too obvious?

    Thanks for the answer!
    ~TehYoyo

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by TehYoyo View Post
    I want them to go to the website because it's hard to create/post an entire informational card about an event on Facebook. I suppose it's like any news site, i.e. CNN or ESPN, etc. I need them to go to the website so that they can get all the information. Should I ask a question that elicits a response in all of my posts? Does that grow old/is that too obvious?
    I'd argue that you can fit everything you should need in with a Facebook event [and with the added benefit of having people able to RSVP and socially interact] but let's move on

    So instead let's look at your media examples. CNN and the like are providing snippets of information which link back to a longer explanation -- there's value in clicking that link for people who are interested so some do. Of course at the same time they can't publish everything to social and it can't just be about saying "read this" so while posting nothing but open-ended questions is probably not the best idea, bringing dialogue into posts is good.

    Think about your posts as variety. Sometimes you have an event which people can chime in on, sometimes you have an article which people can discuss and sometimes there's a question or an album or a video that's really just about connecting without a click to anywhere.

    At the same time social shouldn't just live on a network. You can bring features into your site to make the same discussion carry over, to let people share there, heck, you can add an RSVP function to a facebook event right from a static article. Building the community up at your site with the help of a platform people already use, well that's just a win-win.
    - Ted S

  6. #6
    <title class="lol"> bronze trophy TehYoyo's Avatar
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    So you think that we, as developers and designers, should try to integrate both our websites and your Facebook pages so that they mutually interact with each other, thus cultivating the interest of our clients?

    ~TehYoyo

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by TehYoyo View Post
    So you think that we, as developers and designers, should try to integrate both our websites and your Facebook pages so that they mutually interact with each other, thus cultivating the interest of our clients?
    I'm not sure I'd suggest that to someone who offered services as a developer -- there's a very clear line between building features and deciding what to build -- but if your role extends to driving marketing / sales results then yes, you should be highly focused on how you can integrate social features both in tools and as a concept into your client's sites rather than limiting engagement to something done on another site.
    - Ted S

  8. #8
    <title class="lol"> bronze trophy TehYoyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted S View Post
    I'm not sure I'd suggest that to someone who offered services as a developer -- there's a very clear line between building features and deciding what to build -- but if your role extends to driving marketing / sales results then yes, you should be highly focused on how you can integrate social features both in tools and as a concept into your client's sites rather than limiting engagement to something done on another site.
    Do you think we should integrate at every opportunity?

    ~TehYoyo

    Edit: Wewt. 200 posts = custom member title.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by TehYoyo View Post
    Do you think we should integrate at every opportunity?
    Not necessarily. Every business has to think about social as a concept but not every business necessarily needs a facebook/twitter/google+/linkedin/etc page.
    - Ted S

  10. #10
    <title class="lol"> bronze trophy TehYoyo's Avatar
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    My website caters to a mainly teenage audience...it'd be pretty smart to integrate, wouldn't it? (As they're a younger generation than, say, people looking to buy a walker)

    ~TehYoyo

    Note: No offnese to anyone buying walkers.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by jnomanh View Post
    should try to integrate both our websites and your Facebook pages so that they mutually interact with each other, thus cultivating the interest of our clients?
    Integrating social can be as simple as a like button but truly bringing the idea into your site... That requires having both a benefit to the user as well as a commitment to meaningfully engage by the business. Just having the features in place does not make the site socially connected any more than having a Facebook page where the only posts are your daily specials.
    - Ted S

  12. #12
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    Hi guys,

    The reality is that people are on social networks all day with their laptops, desktops, phones, tablets, even gaming systems so if you can give them something they're interested in enough to connect with you there, take it and run in today era.


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