Social Media Marketing – My Experience

Learning social media marketing improved my career and life

It’s been a little over a year since my last post, so this will be a bit of a departure from my previous entries. The past year has been one of personal and professional growth for me. I took on a six month social media management contract for a friend. Shortly after I wrapped up the contract, I landed my first full-time marketing gig from a Facebook group. This was nothing short of poetic justice. I say that because I’ve been working my ass off in my spare time since early 2008 to learn everything I can about social media marketing. I’ve done a ton of volunteer, pro bono work, etc, and read countless blogs, feeds, gone to conferences on my own dime, that allowed me to form friendships with notable marketing professionals locally and around the world.

Gary Vaynerchuk‘s new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World speaks to me on many levels. Gary preaches you must first offer value to your audience and be willing to give it away by jabbing at least three times before you hit your audience with a right hook when you ask them to buy what you’re selling. I jabbed from 2008 until 2012 when I stopped giving away content and started getting paid for my contributions.

I owe a lot of it to Estes because he gave me my first shot on a professional level back in 2011. I linked up with Estes after I came across talklaun.ch on tumblr one night.  I wrote a few blog entries until Estes tapped me to handle a national account in April 2012. Estes even invited me to fly out to Denver to attend the Talklaunch kick off party at Dazzle Jazz.

In February of 2012, I managed to snag my first paid contract locally, after a job interview turned into what can you do for our company to improve our reach in the social media space. From there I felt like the sky was the limit. Preceding my experience with the aforementioned, I took it upon myself to establish the digital footprint for my father’s business. My father is an old school guy who just recently bought his first smart phone, an iPhone 4S. I can only imagine what the conversation between the cell phone rep and my father must have been like. When the economic downturn happened, his calls dried up. His idea of advertising in 2008 was a half page phone book ad and word of mouth. I took it upon myself to change that for him. I also set out to learn the social media channels while doing it. My father’s business did pick up but he could never tell me where his calls originated from. I didn’t opt to set up analytics for the accounts I managed. I didn’t feel it was necessary because my goal was simply to get his company name out in the digital space along with the specialty and his phone number in order to generate phone calls. I was never chasing followers and customer interaction.

I have learned a great deal about the ups and down of social media marketing. I’ve managed to apply everything I’ve learned to how I do things now.

Have an individual voice on each social media channel you manage. Refrain from pushing the same content to each channel.

Contests are tricky and can be better managed using a service like rafflecopter.com

Do not project the car salesman vibe, and allow interaction with your fans to be organic.

I feel my experiences have made me into a well rounded social media marketer. I’m excited for the future and what 2014 holds.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Facebook

It has all come down to this – (NASDAQFB) – the ticker symbol for Facebook that made its debut this morning. Today marks the initial public offering (IPO) for Facebook that was started by Mark Zuckerberg back in February 4, 2004, with his Harvard buddies Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. At first, only Harvard students could access Facebook. Eventually,  colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University gained access. Facebook was not open to the general public until September 26, 2006, to everyone of age 13 and older with a valid email address.

 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been a fan of Facebook. However, I’m not a hater, I do have an account but I only created it to keep in touch with my family that I don’t see very often. Facebook allows me to share moments of my life that otherwise my family would never know about. They’ve been able to watch my five year old daughter grow and see pictures of our first home.

 

The biggest downside to Facebook would have to be the privacy concerns. My account is pretty locked down and I intend to keep it that way. I don’t play Farmville or any of the crazy time consuming games that I used to get invites to. I’m one of those people that post in their timeline to not send me anything game related. Anything third party related that requests access to any part of your account is only trying to data mine you. Simple and plain, I don’t allow anything access to my account outside of say the iPhone Facebook app access, which by the way sucks terribly and their designers need to take design cues from the newly updated Google + app. Facebook settled FTC charges that it deceived consumers by failing to keep privacy promises which occurred on November 29, 2011. Mashable just announced that Facebook was hit With $15 Billion user tracking lawsuit. That’s not a good way to start life as a publicly traded company.

 

Facebook seriously needs to work hard on improving their stance on privacy concerns or it could tarnish the company for years to come. I’d be quite nervous if I was one of the people who was buying Facebook stocks today. The social connectivity comes with a price and that seems to be our individual privacy. Mark Zuckerberg was famously quoted as  saying The Age of Privacy is Over which didn’t sit well with many. I don’t feel like we should have to trade our anonymity on the internet to be tracking by the likes of Facebook or Twitter. At the end of the day it’s big business for them to data mine all of us to know our shopping habits and how to target advertising which is the primary source of income for their sites. I’d honestly pay to use Twitter as long as they promised me 100% that my activities weren’t being tracked. I could never see Facebook owning up to such a promise.

 

I’m curious to what direction Facebook will take now that they’re a publicly traded company. They now have to answer to shareholders and don’t have as much rope to hang themselves with as they did before. The overall public internet view of Facebook has seemed to shift a great deal to a more negative stance. With competitors such as Google + hanging around and gaining traction, Facebook should tread lightly with the public because all it takes is one big blow up on the internet and the next thing Facebook will be Myspace.

#SuperSocialBowl

 

Over the past few years I’ve observed more usage of social media to enhance Super Bowl commercials. This year it seems like every commercial had it’s own #hashtag. I saw a tweet from someone who noticed the lack of Facebook links as a whole. I believe this is happening because hashtags are far easier to remember than a url to a Facebook page. A lot of people watched the Super Bowl this year mainly for the commercials. Mashable.com for instance did a live blog to document all of the commercials. Overall I felt this year’s batch of commercials lacked the comedy and punch of those of years past. The Doritos spot with the guy and the dog was hands down my favorite commercial this year. The ownership of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets has seen quite a lot of growth. This makes internet apps such as Twitter and Facebook much easily accessible while you’re watching tv so people are more likely to visit the company’s site right after the $3.5 million commercial airs.

I’d like to see stats of how many people actually scanned the QR code on the Go Daddy.com commercial, I bet it was hardly anyone. I honestly think using a QR code in a commercial is a terrible idea. It makes about as much sense as using a QR code on a billboard that you see while you’re driving down the street. QR codes take some time to focus and scan properly so this is why I say this. Depending on the smart phone you own the scanner requires the user to accurately fit the QR code within the screen to scan. I previously had a Blackberry 9650 and it was quite difficult to scan a QR code. My iPhone 4S scans within five seconds or less.

It seemed Anheuser-Busch was more focused on the Kanye West “Runaway” backed commercial for it’s “new” 6.0% ABV Bud Light Platinum than to run more funny commercials for regular Bud Light that have been so hilarious in years past. I read tweets regarding Anheuser-Busch’s weak commercial showing from people in PR / social media who were watching each commercial closely to critique and analyze it.

The smartest marketing strategy award goes to Coca-Cola and their multiple tie in using the lovable polar bears. If you visited CokePolarBowl.com (which now redirect to their official You Tube page) throughout the game you could observe the real-time reactions of the polar bears to the events as they unfolded. The three commercial spots for Coca-Cola of course featured the polar bears that even worked in tandem with the Coke Polar Bowl live online stream. On Twitter, you could follow the comments of polar bears labeled NY_Bear and NE_Bear from the official Coca-Cola Twitter account. Ad agencies need to take notice of the Coca-Cola campaign and see how they executed flawlessly. This shows that Super Bowl commercials will continue to push people from their tv ad to the internet in order to get the most bang for their advertising buck. This makes it easier to get potential customers to go ahead and make that impulse buy.

Klout

How influential are you on the internet? That is the question Klout is trying to answer. I joined Klout when I was invited to their Beta after discovering their site through a start up list blog I read. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the site at first since you could only link your Twitter and Facebook accounts to it. I’m not a big fan of Facebook so I hardly use my account. On the other hand, Twitter is where it’s at for me. I’ve been a heavy user of Twitter since 2008 under various handles but jason_. I’ve watched Klout grow and the media attention increase as the months go by. As your Klout score increases you unlock perks made available through certain advertisers. So far I’ve grabbed the perk for the TNT show Falling Skies, where I received a cool survival package of a army compass, army canteen, army field nap satchel, and army style cap and this stuff isn’t cheaply made either. The other perk I snagged was an invite to the U.S. release of Spotify. I’ve enjoyed this perk quite a bit and I was even able to earn a full month of the premium service when I got five people to sign up under my referral link.
Klout now allows  you to link your Klout account to your Twitter, Facebook,LinkedInFoursquareYou TubeInstagramtumblr.BloggerLast.fm, andFlickr accounts. I’ve seen where connections to Google +Quorayelp,posterous, and WordPress are coming soon. Each connection you make to your Klout account will increase your influence therefore increasing your overall Klout score. As you see I’ve got each one tied to my Klout account with the exception of Instagram because I don’t own an iPhone yet, which will change soon. Recently,  I’ve read where Klout is being used by hiring managers to find talent to gauge the applicant’s social media influence.

Your Klout account is broken down into the following:
Score Analysis – Your Score – The Klout Score measures influence on a scale of 1 to 100.
Network Influence – Network indicates the influence of the people in your True Reach.
Amplification Probability – Amplification indicates how much you influence people.
True Reach – True Reach is the number of people you influence.

Klout also provides the user with the following information:

Topics – these are the topics that Klout feels you’re influential about to your connections.
Influencers – shows who you influence and who influences you.
Lists – You can build a list of people on Klout – for example I havehttp://klout.com/#/JoeFernandez – who is the CEO and Cofounder of Klout on my list that I just started yesterday,
Klout Style – You are a Specialist – You may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience.
Achievements – So far I’ve managed to earn the Klout OG – “You’ve been around the block with us and then some. Thanks for being there in the early days and sticking it out. Just kick it a while longer and see how far we go. Or else…” and

Summer of Klout – “Way to go! Your Klout Score braved the dog days of summer and still came out on top! Maybe it’s time for  a vacation?”

 If you wish to display your Klout score on your blog or website you can grab a widget from here http://widgets.klout.com/

 


Currently my Klout style is…

 

Your Klout style will vary as your Klout score goes up or in some cases down. I use a handy Klout extension for Google Chrome that displays the Klout score for each person / company in your Twitter feed as shown in the screen shot below.

I can see how companies can easily utilize Klout to market new products via Klout perks to those who are more influential across the internet. It’s quite entertaining to see just how much what you say and do on the internet can determine your Klout score in either direction. Klout has made me think much more about the content I post and how I go about doing it as well. I suppose only time will tell if Klout will continue to be a benchmark for social media influence.

Google +

 

Google +

* Disclaimer – I didn’t receive any compensation to endorse Google or Google + I only wanted to give my insight and honest opinion.*

Not long ago critics were giving Google a fits about the social media flops of Google Buzz and Google Wave. I purchased my first desktop in February of 2002 and ever since I’ve been been a Google user. I remember grabbing a Gmail invite off ebay back in July of 2004 and I was hooked. When Google Wave launched September 2009 I received an invite and the next I know I got everyone I work signed up on it. We used Wave as an internal collaborative tool for new server launches and upgrades so we were all bummed to see Google say good-bye to Wave. When Google Buzz launched in February of last year I thought that Google had overcome their social media jinx and were on their way. I was totally wrong especially when things fell apart so early for Google when the privacy issue arose and people abandoned ship immediately.

Fast forward to July 2011 and Google + is the craze for many on the web. I’ve watched the news feeds as the total number of users climbed to 20 million. After the news of the number of Google + users reaching 18 million a report came back saying the traffic measured last week was only 1.5 million. Google had a huge advantage over Twitter and Facebook because they already had such a large database of Google account users already. The growth numbers are impressive to a point yet they don’t prove anything other than Google + is the new cool kid on the social media block.

I was never a fan of Facebook even though I have an account. I only signed up to be able to keep in contact with family in other states. When I first gained access to Google + I was pleased to see the clean not clutter user interface. Facebook is absolutely miserable with all the garbage they throw at you. I’ve probably blocked just about every non-essential part of Facebook. I know millions of people love to waste their day on Facebook but I never once logged in with the intention of playing Farmville. I’ve read where it leaked out that Google intends to insert some games into Google +. I really hope Google keeps it low key and doesn’t flood the user’s account and gives them the chance to block it all.

Google + Circles are great because I enjoy being able to lump my contacts from both online and in the real world in their own little … well circles, lol. One example of my online contacts circled is I already followed Lee Williams of Hoptopia fame on Twitter so I linked up with him on Google +. The number of people ( Google + users of course ) I’ve been able to converse with about craft beer through Lee’s connection is amazing. I’ve been using Facebook for a few years and I’ve never once had that type of interaction with a specific group of users. My family circle on the other hand, which are all Facebook users have been quite slow to adapt to Google +. I honestly believe that majority of them have just started to figure the whole Facebook thing out and they aren’t particularly in a hurry to have to learn something else.

I recently experimented with the Google + Hangout with my friend and we had a great time using it. We both have Kindergarten age daughters and they particularly enjoyed using the Hangout function of Google +. Like everyone else I’ve used Skype plenty of times but I enjoyed that I could easily access Hangout right inside of Google + without having to go log into another program. I will admit the day I tested Hangout an update was apparently released that required a plug-in and it annoyed the heck out of me because it seemed no matter how many times I installed the plug-in that Hangout didn’t want to display my video on my Windows 7 (64bit) machine. I eventually had to fire up my Windows XP netbook and log into Hangout. I learned that Google has since resolved the issue because I tested Hangout tonight and it worked just fine. I recently read about where someone has a Google + Hangout marathon going on and there’s no idea how long they intend to keep it running for. I intend to keep up on their progress and keep tabs on them via their Livestream feed.

So far I’ve enjoyed Google + Photos and how I can click on photos from my circles, photos from my phone, photos of me, and my albums. The recent release of Facebook’s facial recognition software seemed to creep a lot of users out. Google + Photos is easy to use and does essentially the same things Facebook’s Photos does but I like the way it manages them much better. Like Facebook, you can tag people in your photos and manipulate your photos how you want to. I have a friend who informed me this past Friday that he was able to purge every photo/album he’s ever posted on Facebook and put them all on his Google + account. I’ve not yet learned this trick but I intend to check it out very soon.

Google + users all have a messy long profile url so I discovered Google + Nick (they’re not associated with Google) to resolve this little issue. The site manages to chop your Google + profile down from https://plus.google.com/u/0/108503230261783742377/posts to http://gplus.to/jasonr so it’s a lot easier to share.

Google is receiving a fair amount of criticism over their account deletions of corporate accounts. This is due to Google wanting all user based accounts to display your real name and not your internet handle. Complaints are being reported around the web. Google is working quickly to roll out the corporate accounts and Ford Motor Company appeared as a test account recently.

Only time will tell whether the Google + user base will totally abandon Facebook for good or use both platforms. If I can convince at least 90% of my contacts to join and use Google + I would delete my Facebook account. Given the amount of products Google already has I can easily see the continued growth of Google + to skyrocket so Facebook should something way more than Skype integration to entice their user base to stay around. I see a battle of the giants shaping up between Facebook vs. Google + and it will only benefit the end users after it’s all said and done.