Vesta Digital Blog

Archive for March 2010

Social Media IconsIt is no easy task keeping up with social media. This is an ever-evolving world with new websites, technology and terms that appear almost every day. However, there are some words and phrases that will always be useful. Here is a short glossary we have put together. Read it. Print it. Share it. Bookmark it. Of course, there are words we may have omitted or overlooked. Please feel free to include them in the comment section below.

Aggregation – The process of gathering and remixing content from blogs and websites that provide RSS feeds.

Alerts – Specific words, phrases or tags that search engines check and send to you be email.

Badge – An image that is squared and displayed on a blog that signifies a blogger’s participation in an event or contest.

Blog – A type of website that is usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary. The word is a contraction of the term “web log.”

Blogger – A person who writes and updates a blog. The word “blogger” was first used for the name of a website that was launched in 1999 by Pyra Labs.

Blog Post – Content that is published on a blog. This may include pictures or embedded videos and links.

Blogosphere – The totality of blogs and conversations on the Internet.

Blogroll – A list of sites displayed in the sidebar of blog, showing who the blogger reads regularly.

Bookmarking – Saving the address of a website or item of content, either in your brower, or on a social bookmarking site like del.icio.us.

Buzz – or buzz marketing is a term that was formerly used in word-of-mouth marketing and now is being used online. It describes the interaction between consumers about a product or service that amplifies the original marketing message.

Chat – Interaction on a web site with a number of people adding text items one after the other into the same space.

Communities – Groups of people communicating through the Internet.

Community building – The process of recruiting a potential community or network participants and helping them find shared interests and goals.

Content – Text, pictures, video and any other meaningful material that is on the Internet.

Content Management Systems (CMS)
– Software platforms that offer the ability to create and manage web pages, blogs, wikis, and other tools.

Crowdsourcing – Harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of those outside an organization so they may contribute content and solve problems.

Facilitator – Someone who helps people in an online group or forum manage their conversations.

Feeds – The means by which you can read, view or listen to items from blogs and other RSS-enabled sites without visiting the site.

Folksonomy – While taxonomies are centralized ways to classify information – like libraries – folksonomies are the way people or “folks” create less structured ways of classifying information.

Forums – Discussion areas on websites where people can post messages or comment on existing messages.

Groups – Collections of individuals with some sense of unity through their activities, interests or values.

Lurkers – People who read but don’t contribute or add comments to forums.

Mashups – The mixies that “techies” do to combine several tools to create a new web service.

Micro-blogging – A form of blogging where the entries are limited to a certain amount of characters or words, like Twitter.

Newsreader – A website or desktop tool that acts as an aggregator, gathering content from blogs and similar sites using RSS feeds so you can read the content in one place, instead of having to visit different sites.

Open-source software – Any computer software whose source code permits users to study, change, and improve the software for free, and redistribute it in modified or unmodified form.

Photosharing – Uploading your images and sharing them on a website like Flickr.

Platform
– A framework or system within where tools or applications can work.

Podcast – Audio or video content that can be downloaded automatically through a subscription to a website so you can view or listen offline.

Post – An item on a blog or forum.

Profiles – The information you provide about yourself when you sign up for a social networking site.

RSS – This stands for Really Simple Syndication.

Share – Offering people the use of your text, images, video, bookmarks or other content.

Social media – The term for the tools and platforms people use to publish, converse and share content online. These tools include blogs, wikis, podcasts, and sites to share photos and bookmarks.

Social media marketing – The term that describes the use of social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other online collaborative media for marketing, sales, public relations and customer service.

Social networks – Large websites that host multiple communities comprised of people with profiles who have with similar interests. These sites offer a place where people engage with one another online and share content. Example communities include: Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube Flickr and Twitter.

Subscribe – The process of adding an RSS feed to your aggregator or newsreader.

Taxonomy – An organized way of classifying content – as opposed to a folksonomy.

Threads – Strands of conversation.

Tool – A software application for your computer.

User generated content (UGC) – also known as consumer-generated media (CGM) or user-created content (UCC) – The various kinds of media content, publicly available, that are produced by users.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP)
– Using a computer or other Internet device for phone calls without additional charge, including conference calls. The best-known VOIP tool is Skype.

Web 2.0 – A term that describes blogs, wikis, social networking sites and other Internet-based services that emphasize collaboration and sharing.

Widgets – Stand-alone applications that you can embed in other applications like a website or a desktop.

Wiki – Web pages used to collect content about a topic. Anyone with access to the pages can edit or modify the information.

You can find more definitions in “The Ultimate Internet Marketing Guide” that appeared in an earlier Vesta Digital blog.

Powerful StrategyWe all know that social media marketing is a powerful strategy. But how can you make it work better for you? Vesta Digital will show you how to achieve incredible results at a webinar Thursday, April 1. The webcast is a short presentation about the many benefits of IntelBuilder 2.1 social media platform.

“This is no April Fool’s joke,” says Artem Gassan, CEO of Vesta Digital. “You need to see for yourself how easy and powerful IntelBuilder is. This software makes social media marketing more dynamic for everyone….with just the touch of a button. “

IntelBuilder is a content management system and social media platform that publishes content on the web. It is also a web application framework. IntelBuilder is designed for easy control and maintenance and allows everybody to effortlessly add content pages, edit existing content and remove outdated material from their websites.

One of IntelBuilder’s best features is its’ measuring and monitoring tools. Previously, a user had to manually submit articles and measure results by counting comments and responses, or by hiring an outside source to monitor it. Now – a user can do this automatically – with the touch of a button.

Vesta Digital is a full service web development company providing dynamic communication tools and services for public relations firms, advertising agencies and small and large companies alike since 2004. Some of Vesta Digital clients include World Market Media, Omni Advertising, Broward County School Systems and many others.

“This is going to be a very informative webinar,” Artem Gassan concludes. “Now – with IntelBuilder – you can harness the power of social media marketing and make it work better for you.”

The IntelBuilder webinar is this Thursday, April 1, 2010 from 1 PM to 2 PM EST. It is free and it is easy to sign up.

Burson-Marsteller StudyBurson-Marsteller – one of the largest public relations and communication firms in world – conducted a recent study about social media at the top Fortune Global 100 companies. They reported that these companies are following in the footsteps of consumers and are now becoming active participants in social media. The study found that 79 percent of the largest 100 companies in the Fortune Global 500 index are using at least one of the popular social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or corporate blogs. Here are the results:

  • Twitter is the social media platform of choice among the Fortune Global 100.
  • 65 percent of the largest 100 international companies have active accounts on Twitter, 54 percent have a Facebook fan page, 50 percent have a YouTube channel, and 33 percent have corporate blogs.
  • Only 20 percent of the major international companies are using all four platforms to engage with stakeholders.
  • The international corporation’s preferences differed among regions. Companies based in the United States and Europe are more likely to use Twitter or Facebook. Companies from Asia were are more likely to use corporate blogs. However, Asian companies will use Twitter or Facebook to communicate with Western audiences (Toshiba).

Some companies are becoming more comfortable using social media and they are interacting and engaging more – and not just broadcasting corporate messages. Companies using Twitter are following an average of 731 people each and 38 percent of companies are responding to people’s tweets (Vodafone UK). Thirty-two percent have also “re-tweeted” or reposted user comments (Verizon Careers).

This seems to be further proof that social media is being embraced by consumers – and by big and small businesses as well. Here are the details of the Burson-Marsteller study.

Facebook MarriageEver since the internet became a regular part of the human experience, it has been implicated for breaking up marriages. Now Facebook is being met with these kind of charges. It is the most popular gathering place in the world today, but it doesn’t have to be a threat to your marriage.

Marriages are vulnerable to all kinds of real-life and online threats. This is partly because couples fail to set up proper boundaries of protection and accountability. If you follow the guidelines on the list below and keep an open line of communication and honesty with your spouse, you can enjoy Facebook and your marriage as well.

First, here are some warning signs:

Too Much Time – If you prefer staying up at night with Facebook instead of going to bed with your spouse, it is going to be a problem.

Flirting – You may think flirting is innocent, but your spouse may not. Consider your partner’s feelings and there will be no room for jealousy.

Airing Grievances – Many people complain about their spouse on their status updates. Your spouse might see this and so may your mutual friends.

Affairs – It is very easy to have an affair on Facebook. You can reconnect with old flames and make new friends. If you discuss your problems on Facebook instead of with your spouse, it is going to be a problem.

Here are five ways to prevent a Facebook marriage break-up. These were written in an excellent article entitled “Is Facebook a Cyber Threat to Your Marriage?” by K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky.

1) Set Safeguards With Your Partner

What Facebook friends and groups are off limits? How much information about yourself and family is too much information? Are either of you uncomfortable with potential Facebook friends? A little bit of prevention can go a long way in safeguarding your relationship.

2) Don’t Post Negative Things About Your Spouse

It is common for people to talk about the weather, joke about work or report something new in their life. But it is always uncomfortable when someone complains about their spouse or kids. While it may not seem like a big deal to the one posting, the majority of the readers don’t have enough information to know if something is a simple tease or an exasperated gripe.

3) Choose Your Friends Wisely

Finding friends and accepting friend requests can be very exciting because you’re reconnecting with people from your past. One question to ask when requesting or accepting a new friend is – “Will my spouse be comfortable with this person?” Listen to your heart and if you’re still not sure, ask your spouse.

4) Play It Smart

A common pattern arises when you read stories about internet affairs. A spouse starts chatting with someone of the opposite sex about their relationship woes. Over time, the live chats turn to emails that turn to phone calls that turn to face-to-face meetings that turn to…you get the picture.

Learn from other people’s mistakes. Avoid discussing your relationship difficulties with people of the opposite sex and be careful of developing too close of a confidant online.

5) If In Doubt, Unfriend Them

You may have regrets becoming a friend with someone on Facebook. Their posts might be offensive or uncomfortable to you. Maybe the friend sparks feelings in you. You may be chatting with them or flirting with them. Or your spouse may be uncomfortable with your being friends with a past love interest. The best thing to do is unfriend them. Any relationship with someone else that may jeopardize your marriage is not worth keeping.

We hope this helps you and your spouse enjoy all the advantages of Facebook and none of the disadvantages.

FacebookThe pressure for a business to gain a bigger a Facebook audience is reaching a fever pitch. Brands are trying everything to increase their communities short of giving away the store. This trend will not only continue, it will increase. And why not? As a marketing channel, Facebook represents a tremendous opportunity for brands to distribute information and content more cost effectively than paid media.

Yesterday, we discussed how Mircosoft’s Bing gained 400,000 new fans in 24 hours. If you don’t have Microsoft’s money or muscle – and who does – there are other ways to get results. Scott Meldrum – head of integrated marketing at Tivo – points out a few of them in this excellent article below:

If you have struggled to connect your customer base to your official page at Facebook, you’re not alone. Many brands are finding it difficult to turn customers into fans. Last week, I defined the 4 Cs of scaling your social media efforts (customer support, communication, content, count). While most brands want to scale social media responsibly, there is constant pressure from senior management to grow social media as a marketing channel. This pressure can sometimes lead to hasty decisions and bad investments as brands desperately try to get their numbers up on Facebook.

The good news is that there are several ways to grow your audience at Facebook without spending a ton of money. Depending on the size of your customer base and website traffic, it may not be necessary to spend any money on paid media to bring more customers into your Facebook. Regardless of the size of your fan base, you can experience exponential growth if you can follow most, if not all, of these highly effective habits of brands that have been successful at Facebook:

1) Give them a reason
 Include a compelling call-to-action on your Facebook page and give them an incentive for your customers to join your Facebook community. Offering an incentive is an important component in this process. Remember — you are building a community here and the audience will scale much faster if you can provide a clear benefit for your audience to join your community. Effective incentives include discounts, special offers, exclusive content, product giveaways, and/or anything else your customers might find valuable.

2) Invite interaction
 Another way to activate your customer base to interact with you at Facebook is to invite them to join the conversation. I’ve seen this work particularly well with broadcast news and talk radio. A celebrity gossip show like “Entertainment Tonight” will post a topic to its Facebook wall and invite fans to comment. It will also integrate that topic into the show on air. This brings fans and non-fans alike into the channel to interact. Consider doing this with your regular email communications and blog posts. Post one or two topics at Facebook that are central to your email communication; then, in the email or blog post, invite your subscribers to comment.

3) Fans recruiting fans
 Whether you have 300 or 300,000 fans at Facebook, two things are certain: 1) You want more fans and 2) you should be leveraging the fans you already have to get them. Facebook fan drives are becoming more popular than ever. Some of the best examples include “everyone benefits” promotions, where the fan base is activated to recruit their friends to join the page at Facebook. Once the fan base reaches a certain number, the brand unlocks a special “members only” benefit for all. Don’t underestimate your fans’ willingness to bring their friends into the fold — the entire Facebook platform was built on just such a notion.

4) Content, content, content
 By far, the most effective method of building your audience at Facebook is by delivering regular content that is truly engaging to your fan base. Every time fans interact with your content at Facebook — be it a wall post, a video or link, poll, or app — they have the opportunity to share that experience with their own networks. The more content you deliver, the more sharing opportunity you create. This sharing opportunity is the Holy Grail of Facebook marketing. Your wall posts need to engage fans to not only read your message, but to interact with it by responding with a “like”, a share, or a comment. In addition to your wall, you should be very focused on creating tabs that motivate consumption and sharing of content. Facebook tabs are your rich media banners. You should absolutely be taking advantage of them with more than text or a single HTML graphic.

5) Make it Visible As I pointed out last week, turning customers into fans can be as easy as making them aware of your presence at Facebook. It’s important to merchandise the connection to your Facebook page everywhere a customer might interact with your brand online. This certainly includes your website(s), newsletters, purchase confirmation emails, and other email communications. Be sure to make your links, buttons, and banners highly visible. Where possible, make sure to use the “one-click” fan button feature offered by Facebook. And, do not hesitate to cross-promote your Facebook page via other social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, or your online forums.

Any business can put up a Facebook fan page. Not every business can create a page that excites users, encourages them to share the page with friends, creates a viral buzz and adds thousands of new fans. Here are a few of the best new social media marketing campaigns on Facebook that we have seen this year:

Bing

Bing LogoMicrosoft’s Bing ran a campaign on Zynga’s hit game FarmVille recently. If a user became a fan of Bing’s Facebook Page by clicking on a Bing ad, they would receive Farmville cash. The Bing ad was located on the bottom of the Farmville landing page. It was a good harvest – Bing’s Facebook page went from 100,000 to 500.000 users – 400,000 new fans – in only one day.

Integrating a Facebook social game into a marketing strategy is a great idea. FarmVille has 83 million monthly users and 28 million daily active users. Only about 1% of all FarmVille users participated in the 24 hour event. This engagement number is awesome, especially if you are a new search engine like Bing who is trying to promote an alternative to Google.

Target LogoTarget

Target Retail Stores had an innovative and altruistic Facebook campaign on Valentine’s Day. They gave away $1 million to a charity that their Facebook fans could choose. The fans chose the charity with a Facebook app called a “Super Love Sender.” The charities Target supported were: Kids in Need Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, The Salvation Army, United Through Reading Military Program, and the United Way. There was a real-time graph to see how the charities competed with each another. The winning charity? The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Digicel – Jamaica
Digicel LogoDigicel – the biggest cellular phone company in Jamaica – just announced that its’ Facebook fan page has over 100,000 users since the launch of their “Giveaway” campaign. The giveaways include free handsets, phone credit and “Fast Finger Giveaways” – where they put a code on their Facebook page and the first person who dials the code wins free phone credit. Over the last 30 days, there was a 298 percent increase in the number of participants. Digicel also posts videos, advertisements, news releases, photos and a social event calendar on their Facebook page.

Red Bull LogoRed Bull

What does Red Bull have up its’ sleeve these days? Their Facebook page is loaded with skateboarding and extreme sport events, races, parties and a thing called the Red Bull Stash – an adventure where you search for cases of Red Bull that have been hidden all over the country. All you do is enter your zip code to get clues for your city and your Red Bull scavenger hunt begins. After you find one stash you will be on the way to the final stash – an unmentioned grand prize.

Kellogg’s Cereal

Kellogg's LogoKellogg’s Cereal created an altruistic campaign on their Facebook page called “Kellogg’s Cares” where they donate food, educate young people about proper nutrition and work to reduce global malnutrition. They have a partnership with Feeding America – the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. Kellogg’s produced a series of videos about hunger that are posted on Facebook. They had 200,000 new fans in less than a month, and the vast majority were women over 25. That is the audience they wanted to reach. The impact could not be directly measured but it had interactivity and got people involved and emotionally invested in the campaign.

Domino’s Pizza

Domino's Pizza LogoDomino’s has taken off their cooking gloves and they have come out swinging – and they’re doing it on Facebook. It all revolves around “The Pizza Turnaround” where they listen to customer complaints and then act upon them. They have a “Celebrate” page promoting a taste test where they beat Papa John’s and Pizza Hut. They have a “Stop Puffery” campaign (also on Twitter) that makes fun of Papa John’s. They also have coupons for their fans and commercials with “focus groups” – groups of people who tell Domino’s how to improve their pizza and then how Domino’s improves it.

It is only the beginning of the year. We will post more good Facebook social media marketing campaigns as soon as we see them.

Business Budget For many businesses, the question about social media is no longer “if” but “how.” Many companies have already begun budgeting for social media marketing positions. In September 2009, Monster.com listed more than 500 jobs with “social media” in the title. It is time to spend money for social media whether you like it or not. Paul Gillin explains how you can budget for it:

Friend or Foe

Media companies struggle with social media because the trend is both friend and foe. The urge to look at new tools and practices with suspicion may prompt some businesses to sweep social media into a corner and brand it as a specialty discipline. Staff members may grumble about having to add blogs to their already busy schedules, but this is a mistake.

Social media requires media organizations to fundamentally rethink the way they work. Every single person in the company must understand and embrace the value of this or risk becoming irrelevant. This is not just an organizational initiative, it is a survival tactic. Staff members who refuse to learn the tools of new media will probably be unemployable in a few years.

Social media budgeting separately is a tricky process. While there are costs associated with the adoption of new technologies and tactics, they should be folded into the way you do business. The best way to minimize cost and disruption is to spread responsibility among existing staff, designate centers of expertise and adopt popular, off-the-shelf tools that have big and competitive markets around them.

Delegate and Train

It shouldn’t cost you much time or money to add this to your existing budget. This includes giving readers, viewers or listeners the chance to respond to information you’ve already published as well as promoting your product through channels like Facebook and Twitter. Your staff should not only be expected to perform these tasks, they should want to perform them. Applying new tools to their work is part of preparing themselves for the future.

Assign one person to become your expert on social networking tools, another to master podcasting and a third to understand the nuances of Facebook. These people then become experts in your internal network. They not only serve as resources to the staff but evangelize the use of these tools while raising their personal visibility in the company.

Tech Investment

If your website needs significant technical overhaul in order to support social media technologies, plan accordingly. Content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal cost nothing to license but may cost a lot in implementation. Fortunately, the community of systems integrators who specialize in these platforms is growing, which means prices are coming down. When negotiating contracts, look for satisfaction guarantees and a minimum of escalator charges. Get first-year support built into the contract. If you avoid extensive customization, you will lower your maintenance costs. Whether you choose to manage your web servers internally or outsource the whole deal, make sure you have the wherewithal to be up and running quickly after a major outage. Media sites cannot afford downtime.

For media organizations that produce a significant amount of audio and video content, plan on budgeting between one half-time and one full-time position to reformat and post this content on your website. You should not need to hire senior people to do this; most college students can perform this work with little difficulty. The costs should be easily covered by incremental advertising revenue gains from Web distribution of your content. If your audience lends itself to an online community, consider using software.

Should you have a social media line item in your budget? For now, it’s probably not a bad idea, if only to create an ROI model. But over time, social media should be so embedded in all communication with your audience that it should be invisible from both an organizational and a budget perspective. After all, customer conversations are no longer a matter of choice.

You can read more of Paul Gillin’s work by visiting this website.

If you are looking for a social media software to make your marketing simpler and more affordable, you can review information about Vesta Digital’s IntelBuilder Social Media Platform.