Welcome to SMBNH: Circles of Influence: Google+ and How Social Media Empowers Users to Unite, Grow and Shape Communities
With a focus on large scale communications and communites as well as small scale, we explore how social media has helped nations topple, companies grow, politics change, local movements get off the ground and more. Whether it’s news regarding Libya’s conflicts or supporting a local talented artist by creating community and communication, these flexible tools help make it happen.
This month we are being hosted by Phillips Exeter Acedemy in Exeter, NH.
From their Mission page:
“Exeter seeks to graduate young people whose creativity and independence of thought sustain their continuing inquiry and reflection, whose interest in others and the world around them surpasses their self concern, and whose passion for learning impels them beyond what they already know.”
Some of our brightest stars have attended Phillips Exeter Academy and benefitted from their philosophy.
This month’s focus brings us a well rounded group of speakers as well.
The morning begins with an address from Phillips Exeter Academy, then seques into our three speakers, starting with
Leslie Poston, Founder of Magnitude Media and co-author of Twitter for Dummies, contributor to the Social Media ProBook and author of the Grande Guide to Social Advertising, as well as (coming in 2012) Social Media Metrics for Dummies, will address some of the privacy concerns faced by educators and others when building communities. Then moving on to
John Herman, Media Literacy Educator and Founder of NH Media Makers, author and polymath as well as a very special guest from Google will talk to you about building community, applying media literacy best practices and other topics related to Google +, and will demonstrate several of the Google + capabilities live during the talk.
We’ll then be closing the morning with our featured speaker:
Grant Sanborn, Director of Interactive Marketing for HCA Healthcare. Grant will speak about the challenges and best practices he’s experienced in building an online community around a 17 hospital group, including Portsmouth Regional Hospital.
There will also be a one hour campus tour of Phillips Exeter Academy immediately following the breakfast as well. We encourage you to take part.
All of us at SMBNH look forward to seeing you all there.
Over on my Facebook wall, I keep seeing the ubiquitous chain-status post about hovering over the subscribe button on someone’s profile to help get them out of the notifications column on the right.
That *is* one thing you can do, but you can also make yourself quieter for everyone. Go to your own profile (looking on the “wall view” that your friends see). Hover over one of the notifications of your comment on someone else’s wall.
Under the pencil icon (new timeline) or gear icon (old timeline) select “Hide this comment from timeline” then select “hide all comment activity from timeline”.
Do the same with a Like notification on your own profile wall.
This will significantly reduce how often you appear on Facebook by muting comments posting to your wall (and to the sidebar Facebook recently introduced), making it so you only appear in a relevant context to folks.
Additionally, it helps to double check your Privacy settings weekly. Set tags to need your approval. Turn off the ability of others to check you in to Places. You get the idea.
Also, be careful what Apps you allow to interact with your profile information. Many allow your friends to share information about you without your knowledge just by playing a game. There is a setting for this also, and a way to turn these notifications off as well. Be as on top of it as you can with each Facebook UI change.
Be proactive. Facebook will continue to throw us all curveballs but there is a lot we can do to make our own experience here better and more private.
For those of you who have struggled to have a personal presence on Facebook that you didn’t want just so you could have the business page you do want, there is a feature being discovered on Facebook as of a few weeks ago that you will love (and thanks to ReadWriteWeb for pointing it out). That feature is the ability to have a Facebook business or place page without attaching it to a personal profile. Fabulous news, right!?
There are a number of ways to achieve this that do not require nuking the personal and business profiles you have, which you can read at RWW. However, if you are a small to medium business who just wants a clean slate, fresh start reboot who has under 50 fans, here are the steps for you:
First, delete your business page now (make sure you have copies of the photos, etc you have on there – you will need to put these back up again). Please note: if you like your vanity URL on Facebook, stop now. Once you lose it you can’t get it back. To keep it you’ll need to go through the more complex process detailed on RWW. If you don’t care or have no idea what I’m talking about, proceed.
Second, delete your personal page (I am assuming you still don’t want to have a personal page in the first place, if that has changed, there are many more steps needed to make this change happen, so please stop right here and ask for help in the comments or visit RWW for more detail).
You are now not a Facebook user and your business does not have a page, enabling you to start from a clean slate and take advantage of this new feature.
To continue, you will need an email address that you have not used on Facebook before. Once you have that ready, do these steps:
1) Go to this link http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
2) Click the option for “Local Business or Place”
3) Choose the category that reflects what your business does the best – for some there is no exact match, so pick something close to it
4) Enter your business name, location, and phone number (this is key if you want to use features like “Facebook Place” or “Facebook Deals”
5) Click to select “I agree to Facebook Pages Terms” and then click to select “Get Started”
6) You’ll be taken to another screen. Choose “I do not have a Facebook account” and enter your email address (use one you’ve never used on Facebook before!). Pick a password, enter your D.O.B. and enter the captcha code. Then click “Sign Up Now!”
7) You’ll get an email from a @facebook.com address asking you to verify your account. Once you verify it, you are up and running on Facebook for Business with no personal account
8 ) Optimize your page for search engines
9) Re-add your content if you had a prior page you nuked, add new content to populate the page if you are starting from scratch. (Content is stuff like photos, wall posts, Notes, etc)
10) Go to your Twitter, your Email Newlsetter and your Blog and alert people to the new page, and ask for “Likes”
11) Once you get 25 Likes, name your page – choose wisely: Facebook has become ever more strict on not allowing users to change URLs unless there is a direct trademark violation
12) To name your page, go to http://facebook.com/username
13) To make your new page wall updates post out to your Twitter account, go to http://facebook.com/twitter
14) Happy Facebooking!
See more Business tips from Facebook on their new Facebook for Business help page
It seems Facebook is all over the online news today with some changes geared toward overall safety, and others to working with brands and agencies.
Some of the safety changes have been in the process of being rolled out for a while, with Facebook finally collecting all of the options in one place for user access via this post on user safety education, tools and practices. I think the best part of that post is the first section which deals with user education. Half the battle for internet safety is good education on what safety really means online. By making videos and tutorials available Facebook is taking a late, but good, first step toward making an educated user base. I highly recommend seeking out safety education from other sources as well, since anything by Facebook is going to be in keeping with the usual Facebook MO of serving Facebook’s own best interests before the user’s.
In the last part of the safety post, Facebook mentions their constant HTTPS secure login (which should be internet standard, in my opinion, but too many sites are slow to adopt this practice), as well as their multiple step login process. When out and about I use the firefox plug in HTTPS Everywhere to make sure I’m logged in to every site I visit via HTTPS, so that’s a good thing, having an HTTPS protocol in play. As far as the two step log in (which I’ve dubbed multi step because of my experience with it), I think that will only frustrate users. I’ve been using that process for several weeks now, and mostly? I find it clunky and find that it doesn’t “take” on the first attempt -ever. Toss in the multiple emails I get when I log in on a new device, and I think users may be a bit annoyed by the process and freaked out by the emails.
I’d be interested to find out what others using the new security features over the last few weeks think about them, and to get your opinions on the safety videos and links.
For brands and agencies, Facebook has rolled out something they are calling Facebook Studio. At first glance, I’m not sure what building this layer for agencies and brands will actually do besides create yet another place online to have to track regularly. It purportedly is intended to encourage ideas through example and to help ideas gestate through a community of peers. Frankly, looking at the number of fellow agencies and marketers and brands in my profile friends list on Facebook and at the ease of access to people whose opinion I value on Twitter and via email, I’m not sure more touch points with like-careered folks were needed here. I am going to recommend using this with caution, and waiting until it proves out as useful before investing much of your premium time and attention here.
Brands and agencies, what do you think of having your own playground for ideas and possible test runs on Facebook?
My attention was called to a news story out of Nashua, NH today about 50 instances of breaking and entering, some simple robberies and some home invasions where the people were present. Why call my attention to it? Because the robber had used Facebook status updates to find empty homes, it was a story ripe for a social media panic attack. My guess? All 50+ profiles were set to completely public settings, not to friend-only viewing, and the robbers didn’t have to be friends with the people to see what they were doing online.
This is not the first time “stranger danger” and a fear of the internet has been in the news. PleaseRobMe.com, a site that calls attention to issues surrounding Foursquare checkins, has been featured more than once. Stories of parents fearing for their teen’s safety online also feature repeatedly, including a multi part series on Dateline featuring protective parents and their teens.
There is a perception of stranger issues with your job as well, even getting one teacher fired for making comments about her community and job on her personal profile – she didn’t pay attention to her privacy settings and her updates were public. Were her thoughts particularly revolutionary, or any different than any venting people may do about work? Not really.
In the end, it’s not often strangers you have to fear online, it’s yourself. Realistically, why are we still talking about the need for monitoring our own privacy in a proactive way at this stage of the internet’s development? I’ve said this at many speaking gigs and teaching gigs, but it bears repeating: everything you need to know about internet safety you learned in kindergarten. Don’t cross the street without looking both ways. Don’t take candy from strangers. The list goes on, but swap out a few words and you have your personal internet safety guideline written right there on your Star Wars lunch pail.
Every site gives you some kind of privacy controls. Every user of every site is going to use that site in their own way, the way they see fit – not always in a way you may see fit. Take time to learn how users interact where you work and play online. Take time to find and use the privacy settings. If you can’t find them, ask someone for help (chances are you know someone tech savvy enough to call). If a site doesn’t offer you enough privacy control to feel comfortable, there are hundreds of other sites you can find on which to have a presence – you don’t have to have a presence on a popular site just because other people like it. Do what feels right for you, be considerate of others, check your privacy settings weekly, don’t check in to location based services at your house, don’t check in to location based services if your house is left unattended – the common sense list goes on and on.
It takes about 5 minutes a day to check your settings around the internet and do your best to avoid being part of a preventable news story like this one. Aren’t you worth it?
I started offering a la carte services this week. Well, I’ve always offered them, but haven’t had them published in an accessible fashion before. Why try to (what some may consider) ‘down sell’ a potential client? It’s pretty simple: business under a certain size need help and need to accelerate their learning curve, but they don’t always need a long term consultant – that’s for larger business, longer films, bigger bands, larger wineries (which I also do). This? This is for you.
The a la carte things I offer are designed to help the average one or two person endeavor break the learning barrier, get a road map to both online and offline efforts and tools, learn how to think about adaptive media and integration for themselves, and generally find their way in such a way that they can be responsible for their own growth without being scared or intimidated or feeling lost.
One word of caution: I dump a lot of information on folks in these a la carte sessions. This is not “sit in a room and listen to me talk”. This is “please bring your laptop to the table and your business plan and let’s both get our hands dirty helping you out for the day.” I require that the people who take the immersion course already have dipped their toes in to social media, because this is about so much more than just how to set up social profiles. If that’s a fit for you, click the a la carte link in the sidebar ->
Did you watch Betty White on SNL (Saturday Night Live) this past weekend? I bet you are one of the many who did. I’d be willing to bet that, like me, it was a) the first time you’d watched in years and b) you heard about it on Facebook or Twitter or through a friend or family member who uses Facebook or Twitter. I thought this episode would be a great teaching tool about some of the themes I discuss often when I educate people on social media as part of their overall business consult with me.
First a quick overview for those of you who may not have heard what happened. In December 2009 the Facebook fan page Betty White To Host SNL (please)? was created. It caught my eye fairly quickly as a consultant, for two reasons: it was an obvious, genuine fan page of an actor/comedian and it asked a simple, genuine, easy to remember question. The only thing I wondered about was whether enough people still loved and remembered Betty White enough to join. Well, join they did. Currently the page has well over 500,000 members after only a few short months. In a display of integrated on and offline marketing, fan numbers got a decided boost after the Snickers commercial starring White from the SuperBowl started airing.
As time went on, the number of fans on the page and how vocal they were about wanting Betty White to host SNL (and yes, I was one of the fans, of course – who doesn’t love Betty White!?) grew at a rapid clip. NBC couldn’t help but notice as the campaign grew, and the question became when to have her on, not if. NBC chose Mother’s Day and invited back some SNL alumna that are moms like Tina Fey, added rapper Jay-Z to the mix, and sat back to watch the reaction from the viewers. The consensus seems to be that it was the best overall SNL since perhaps 1980, and as you can see from the link above, the ratings went through the roof and the topic remained in the top five trending hashtags on Twitter all weekend as #snl and #bettywhite. So what can we learn from this?
1) Authenticity: Authenticity can’t be faked – it’s too hard to sustain if it isn’t real. This page was started by genuine fans with a good idea, offered a simple plea and a simple call to action, and made it easy for other genuine fans to spread the word like wild fire. You can see the page started by someone else for Carol Burnett to be on SNL after the success of the Betty White campaign is struggling a bit. You can see why it might be in the vast difference in page title (Burnett’s page is much more shout-y) and in how the Burnett fans are now spamming the Betty White page – people don’t respond well to that kind of stream spamming on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if the Burnett fans realize this and change tactics and grow their page.
2) Cross Pollination: By creating a shareable page on a social network and keeping the message short and simple, the Betty White SNL campaign got some nice, willing, cross pollination across other networks like Twitter and across personal profiles on Facebook.
3) Social Media Arcs, or Curves: This campaign had a clear, simple, achievable and above all, finite, goal which followed the 3 month (fan base growth) and 6 month (goal achieved) arc I so often tell people to expect from a well run effort online.
4) Social Listening: This was a great example of the point we often drive home: you need to be online and listening, at least minimally if not in full force, no matter who you are or how big or small you are. The chances that an audience, whether it is one person or thousands, are already engaging with your brand online are great. You need to be seeking out your audience, fans and customers who are already talking about you, good or bad, and make yourself available for interaction. Period.
5) Audience: A great audience can’t be manufactured by follower schemes and software programs. A great audience will grow around a brand if it is worth growing around, especially if it is making itself available for that kind of engagement. Then that audience will be a powerful force behind you and your brand and give you the gift of social leverage to get things done. If your movie, album, song, personal presence, company, etc is worth rallying around and gives people a reason to do so – they will. Conversely, they will be just as vocal if it isn’t. Focus more on giving value than on getting numbers in a box online and you will do just fine.
Last night in a Twitter chat (#smcnhchat), several people mentioned a lack of restaurants adopting various online platforms in the area. That inspired this post.
Restaurant owners know something much of the general public doesn’t: being in that business means you lose huge chunks of your time. It is truly a life choice, much more than a career. For this reason above all others, restaurants have a hard time adopting social media effectively. What little time they have that isn’t already bound up in the day to day of running a restaurant (one of the hardest jobs out there, folks), social media can eat alive.
You see, something interesting happens when a restaurant gets into social media. The customers who find it there want to own their presence and direct how it is used on an individual level. In any other industry this isn’t a big deal – you have more time, more brain space and more energy to be flexible with how the customers and potential customers want to interact with your social presences. In a restaurant it can be a huge headache.
Let’s take Twitter as a simple example (it’s one of the hardest platforms for a restaurant to be on, even though it is technically easy to use). There is a high drop rate for restaurants on Twitter. They simply get overwhelmed. Customers see a restaurant on Twitter and want to interact with it in so many different ways: as a customer service channel, a review channel, a reservation channel, a suggestion channel, a conversation channel, a recipe exchange, a recommendation engine, and more.
People in general don’t always take time for reading fine print, so even if a restaurant follows advice and makes it clear in their bio what kind of interaction to expect from them, and how often, and from who – you still have people who ignore that. And trying to deal with it in a way that promotes great customer service can totally eat your time. So unless a restaurant has a huge staff and can divide the workload, or is part of a hotel or other established organization and being rolled into a larger social media plan – Twitter is not always the place for them.
If a restaurant uses Facebook, it’s a little easier. It’s more controlled, and a bit easier to manage – but you still get people who make the type of interactions you have there into what they need to them be. This is not always what the restaurant wants them to be! Add in Open Table (which integrates with Facebook and other platforms) and other new tools and you need to have a fully trained staff to monitor this combination of very cool services. You also have to take into account the time it takes to keep up with these interactions – one person is simply not going to be able to do it alone.
Another issue is season and consistency. A local restaurant owner may have plenty of time to start listing daily specials on Facebook and Twitter or on a blog or in an email blast in the slow season, but when tourist seasons ramp up, these programs – which customers come to expect – often fall by the wayside, forgotten. This has a negative impact on the engagement you started online – it’s important to only start what you plan to maintain.
Restaurants who blog are very popular – people love hearing what makes the chef or restaurant owner tick, getting recipes, and hearing future plans and events first hand. The blog comes with several more layers of things to keep up with: comments, trolls, sploggers, and more. Toss in the fact that FriendFeed, Google Buzz, Delicious, Google Reader, Facebook sharing, Facebook Liking and more can toss your content anywhere on the web, where entire conversations could be happening around it that it would be beneficial to find and monitor, as well as participate in on occasion… well, you can see where the average restaurant owner would be completely intimidated to be online.
If you are reading this as a restaurant owner, are now freaking out but still want to be online, and can’t hire someone like me to help you, here are a few tips to get you started:
1) You need at least three people to manage your social media engagement. More would be helpful, but one is definitely not enough. They all need to follow at least basic guidelines you set out for social engagement – this will prevent someone from promising something you can’t deliver in a fit of being helpful, legal issues, etc.
2) Choose only two platforms to start yourself off, and add a third in a few months once you get the hang of it. There is nothing wrong with starting slow. I recommend Facebook Fan Pages as one of these platforms. It’s a little easier to set up and manage than others. The second depends on you: YouTube or Viddler if you want quick video blogging are nice, Twitter is easy (but can be time consuming – be careful), and there are hundreds more. Nose around and find one you like.
3) Learn to brand your business. You need a person’s face as your little avatar (picture) on Twitter and Facebook and other places, and then your logo, etc should be on the page background or in the sidebar. That way people feel like they are talking to a person when you engage, but it’s easy to see it’s a business, too.
4) Find tools to manage your time. I recommend Seesmic Desktop or CoTweet for managing business Twitter accounts, Tweetie or Tweetdeck on iPhones, PocketTwit on Windows Mobile Phone, Uber Twitter on Blackberry, Seesmic on Droids. Many of these tools also let you update Facebook, and many phones have a Facebook app as well. Do some searching on Google and on Twitter and see what other restaurant owners use and like. There are hundreds to choose from.
5) Be strict about your interaction routine. Make it clear in every bio who is managing the account, what their cotags are (they need to sign every status update everywhere with their initials, like this: ^LP – that’s a cotag that discloses who people are talking to) and when they check the account – and then hold to it. Make it part of your day, several times a day, for about ten minutes at a time. That’s manageable. You may find you need to increase your time as you get more popular, but that’s a good start.
6) Take a deep breath. It’s tempting to feel like you have to follow every person back and engage with everyone who talks to you, but that can be overwhelming as the weeks go by and you get more popular. Do follow many back, but don’t get obsessed with equal following ratios. Do engage people, but learn which engagements will have the most value to you (this will take practice).
I could keep giving tips, but that’s enough to get any restaurant started, I think. Good luck, and have fun!