What’s in a name? Everything! 10 reasons why naming strategy is crucial for your brand.

DownloadedFileI was talking to a client the other day who wanted more visibility. They had a hideously long URL for their company website.

I rolled my eyes. I immediately knew they were doomed to failure unless they changed their name.

I asked: “Is there any way you can find a shorter url?”

My prospective client hemmed and hawed about how attached he was to his ridiculously long company name.

There’s a reason why Google and Yahoo succeeded — and a host of other earlier search engine contenders like NorthernLights and AltaVista bombed.

There’s a reason why YouTube won the video wars and early contenders like, “uh, um, uh, whats their name, I forgot” failed.

Because YouTube is a freakin’ awesome brand. It says what it does. It has attitude. It’s memorable. You can spell it. It rhymes with things. It’s unique. It works in other languages and other cultures.

When I named my business, I spent an entire rainy day on Go Daddy typing things in at random until I found “Visibility Shift.”

Even though it’s not short, it’s memorable, it says exactly what it is.

And it’s relevant to my consulting practice, which is about shifting your visibility to a new level. I was absolutely floored when I discovered such a great website name was even available — and for $7.99.

Here are 10 reasons you want to take time to find a truly memorable stand out URL:
  1. It’s easier to type a short, memorable name – a long or unmemorable or hard to spell url just discourages people
  2. It’s memorable - (One word is best. Two words are ok. Three is just too much. Say it out loud. Can you pronounce it?)
  3. Searchability (SEO) - A name that isn’t unique is going to bring up millions of search results in Google. You want a unique URL so you are the first and only hit in Google, without having to pay $$$$ to Google for adwords.
  4. International localization - remember the web is global and your name has to translate easily into other languages — so it’s better if it’s not a word in any language.  Run your name past some friends who speak other languages and some translation software and make sure it doesn’t translate into something embarrassing. (The Chevy Nova flopped in Mexico because “No Va” means “Won’t Run.”) Say it out loud again. Does it sound like something obscene in Chinese?
  5. Put less words on your site, more pictures. Especially remember that the web is international and words need to be translated.  So the fewer words, the more universal your message is.  Learn from the success of big brands like Apple and Google who take a less is more approach.
  6. It doesn’t have to be a .com — You can be successful with a .us, .tv, etc. For example, Delicio.us. And that’s even shorter.
  7. Groupon is successful in large part because their name rocks. “Group + coupon.” Brilliant. Memorable. Unique. Short. Tells you what it is.
  8. Get your name first before you spend time and money branding it. Changing your name later is very costly and it means you are undoing all the work you did on public relations, marketing and social media outreach.  (Did you know that AirBnB was originally called “Airbed and Breakfast”? Seriously! The airbed rental idea flopped so they shortened it.)
  9. VCs look at your brand and name as a big reason to invest. A great logo, web design, business card, brand and name are almost as important as the product or technology behind the brand.
  10. Think about web branding when you name your products — and your kids, too. I’m grateful that my mother, very ahead of her time, gave me a name that is so unique that I go to the top of Google. Check that name out in Facebook, Twitter and Google and make sure it’s available. (The reverse applies if you want to protect your privacy — then John Doe is the way to go.) Consider adding a unique middle name to your name that describes what you do so you stand out. (ie: David “Avocado” Wolfe is a speaker in the health food field.)
This advice applies to any personal or corporate brand — a musician, band, artist, writer, book title or film. Choose your name carefully and snap up the URL as soon as you can, even if you end up sitting on it for years before you get your project started.
For more information about naming, visit Name Wire a blog about naming.

PR is dead — long live social PR

pr is dead social pr

pr is dead social prPR is dead.

Did you hear me? The career I’ve been in for 18 years — dead. Over. Toast. Done.

It’s evolved into something much more powerful and effective. Social PR.

I think that PR and social media are not separate anymore — and are in fact the same thing.

I’ve seen social media evolve over the past 30 years, from CompuServe to the WeLL to AOL to Craigslist to Ryze, then Friendster, MySpace, Tribe.net, blogging, and today, Twitter and Facebook.

Facebook is just another chat room. It’s all just a big virtual cocktail party.

But what has changed — dramatically — is how we influence other influencers today. And who those other influencers are.  They’re not just press anymore.

You cannot separate “PR” and “Social Media.” They must be on the same page. The strategy must be interwoven.

Your social media, PR, marketing, web and advertising teams need to talk to each other.

Your marketing strategy must be a social marketing strategy.

Your PR strategy must be a Social PR strategy. You must evolve from the 1990s idea that “announcing to the media” is any different than “talking to your customer”.

You’re communicating directly to the public.

Your brand isn’t just B2B, or B2C. It’s person to person. Human to human.

It’s not a one way broadcast anymore. It’s a multichannel conversation.

Today you talk to everyone at once.

Your customer is there. Your investors are there. The press are there. All in the same room.

You must take social media seriously as the front line of your brand, pay attention to it, and stop posting lame, idiotic, poorly written, typo-riddled, boring dreck.

Social media is the front line of your brand!

Social media is marketing + branding + advertising + PR + analyst relations + investor relations + customer service rolled into one.

Why is Facebook worth billions — and newsracks are empty?

Today, a single Facebook post can easily reach 1 million people. That’s more than the circulation of most daily newspapers.

A Facebook ad can reach more customers for $5 than any other form of marketing ever devised in the history of mankind.

But you’re blowing thousands of dollars on ad agencies, PR agencies and print ads?

And you’re outsourcing social media to the cheapest possible, lowest level employee you can find?

Get rid of that 1990s idea that a newspaper article is more influential than a Tweet, a post or even your own blog.

You used to have to own a TV network to have influence. Today, a kid in their bedroom could have more viewers on YouTube than Oprah.

A musician or DJ who happens to have 100,000 fans or friends could be much more influential than a columnist or a journalist. (Many magazines don’t even reach 100,000 subscribers.)

Have you taken the train to work lately?

Do you see anyone reading a print publication? I don’t.  This is what the train looks like on a typical morning in San Francisco.  And these guys in t-shirts are your target audience.

Do you see them reading the banners on the bus? Billboards? Newspapers? Do they look like businessmen in stock photos?

And they’re probably not reading your website on that little screen unless it’s mobile-enabled.

Morning commute in San Francisco on the MUNI train, 2014. Do you see anyone reading a newspaper? Most of these people are probably reading Twitter and Facebook.
Morning commute in San Francisco on the MUNI train, 2014. Do you see anyone reading a newspaper? Most of these highly influential business people are reading Twitter and Facebook on their smartphone or tablet.

You need to start taking Social Media seriously as the front line of your communications strategy.

It’s not an afterthought to be delegated to Interns, your receptionist, or “maybe I’ll get to it later”.

Social media is the front line of your brand.

Social media is where you get to tell your own story. Where you generate your own news. Where you build relationships with the media. And where you let your customers know about your press coverage.

But just social media isn’t enough. Because newspapers and magazines are still important. That’s because most readers discover the news on Social Media, and because reporters and publications have influential followings on social media.

Newspapers and magazines are still very influential -- they have high page rank and authority in Google, so getting mentioned in them does wonders for page rank and SEO. They drive traffic to your website — forever.

Social PR blends traditional mainstream print/TV/radio news media Press Relations with “content marketing”. (That’s a fancy word for: “photos with words on them.”

To do viral content marketing effectively, your messages must be created specifically to reach influencers who spread the word further. And you must include those influencers in your community.

This also means, simply, that your “friends” on your social network also happen to be reporters, freelance writers, columnists and editors and they “discover” the story ideas you share on their news feed. (This is kind of like sending out a press release only much faster.)

These days, instead of relying mainly on email pitching and press releases to announce news, I use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to build relationships with press and influencers.

Try following and befriending every member of the media or influencer crucial for your product. You’ll be surprised how many follow you back.  And they’ll follow what you say — so make it great content, moderated by a professional who is talented in storytelling, community building, customer support, relationship building and conflict resolution. (Hint: they’re probably not even close to entry level.)

They spread the word for you to their networks, which include their Fan pages, Twitter and the blogs and publications they write for.

Some of these influencers are traditional print or TV press.

Others are simply well connected on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — but have influence equivalent to or greater than that of traditional media.

Try discovering who among your followers and friends champions your brand and spreads the word most frequently. Reward them. Thank them. Give them free tickets and favors.

Over time, you create authentic, engaged communities who will be advocates of your brand. Who tell your story. Who spread the word for you.

Do Social PR. Because, social media is the new PR.

Is your Facebook fan page a cocktail party, a barbecue, a conference or a drum circle?

Social media is a virtual party.  Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference or a drum circle?
Social media is a virtual party.  Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference or a drum circle?
Social media is a virtual party. Is your fan page a backyard barbecue, a formal cocktail party, a corporate conference, a yoga class or a drum circle?

The funny thing about social networking is…we often forget that it’s just a virtual party. It’s not about amassing tons of “fans” so you can have the biggest party — it’s about inviting the right people and serving tasty snacks and drinks.

It’s about playful banter, music and laughter.

You know what happens when you talk sex or politics at a party — dead silence.

A cocktail party is NOT the place to pull out a gigantic billboard and say HEY BUY MY PRODUCT! (Unless you are a paid sponsor with a table or booth.)  And imagine if you pulled up your shirt and showed off your appendix scar?

But people do this all the time on Facebook! They forget it’s a party.

A great Fan page is an authentically engaged community where you have a conversation — even better if your tribe cares about what you have to say and shares it with their communities. At a party this is called gossip and word of mouth. On Facebook it’s called sharing and viral marketing.

Remember — a great party is not about QUANTITY it’s about QUALITY. Be selective. Invite the right people. Dress to impress — or stand out in the crowd. Serve good spirits and keep the music upbeat and the conversation as bubbly as champagne.

We are not collecting fans or contacts for Ego — we are collecting real human beings and we should care about them as much as we hope they will care about us.

Think about the real world equivalent of your Fan page. How would you interact in these different real world parties or events?

50 friends or less = backyard barbecue, workshop,  a drum circle.
150 friends or less = a tribe, a retreat, a big party, wedding, etc.
1000 friends or more = a conference
2000 friends or more = industry trade show, music festival
10000 fans or more = sporting event or concert
100,000 fans or more = gigantic stadium event
1 million fans or more = broadcast on television

And here’s a great metaphor for Fan pages from #socialmediamixology:

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15 free tips to boost your “organic” SEO and get more traffic for your website in the new year.

SEO? It's all about storytelling. Today people discover you through your stories. Make yours worth sharing.
Can anyone find your old static website?
Use the right words so people can find your blog in Google.Advertising, as the saying goes, is the awareness you pay for.

Advertising is the awareness you pay for. And PR is the awareness you pray for.

Today, “PR” includes social media and “content marketing” — and that means “the visual stuff with words on it.”  But to make people aware of your content, they need to be able to find it in Google. And this is why “organic” reach or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is so important.

Great traffic means a lower Alexa rank. The lower your Alexa score, the more people are visiting your site, and the more “relevance” it has in the search engines like Google. (Alexa.com is the site that ranks other websites according to their popularity.) My Alexa rank continues to soar, and has surged from the top 12 million sites in the world, to the top 4 million.  (I started the blog about two years ago.)

This is pretty amazing considering the fact that I am not specifically trying to drive traffic to this site, which is primarily a personal blog to promote my consulting practice.

My traffic is 100% “organic” reach — that means I get these visitors without paying for for advertising, Google Ad Words, Facebook ads, banners or link exchanges.

Here’s what I do to boost my SEO — and how you can use these techniques to boost traffic on your own site.

1. Content, content, content.

That is, just write interesting stuff. Write well. Be opinionated. Be a little controversial. Controversial, emotional, engaging content will get read and spread.

2. Teach and inform. Don’t just talk about yourself.

Create “how to” articles that teach others how to do what you do. Share information and don’t just promote yourself all the time. In fact, don’t promote yourself, ever, except in your bio and “about” section. Tell, don’t sell.

3. Use WordPress.

Build your website on WordPress — not a static website. If you already invested in a static website, add a WordPress blog tab to your site.  Why? Because WordPress is very well optimized for search engines.  WordPress also automatically syndicates your stories to other WordPress sites, and it also makes it very easy to tag your stories, videos and photos with juicy keywords.

4. Use lots of words on WordPress.

I know the current fad is towards “visual” websites and not a lot of words — but the fact is, Google and other search engines search for words, so use lots of them, and use the right ones.

Also make sure to write captions and search-worthy tags for every photo you use, so these photos can be found in search engines.

5. Think like a search engine.

What phrases do people search for? What questions do they ask that apply to your field or product? Answer those questions with your content.

7. Syndicate to all of your social media pages.

You can set this up in WordPress to syndicate your posts automatically when they are published so your posts go to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Services like Networked Blogs also help amplify your reach. A new service, Thunderclap can dramatically amp up posts for cause-related content and non profits.

8. Feed your social media pages into your site.

Syndicate the content into your page — and out of it. The more it flows, the more traffic you might get.  There are free widgets that make this simple to add a fan page, Instagram or Pinterest

feed to your blog.

9. Add easy to find “share this” buttons to make it simple for others to share your content.

Sounds obvious, but you would not believe how many businesses bury these icons on the bottom of their website. Bring them to the top and make them big, easy to see and find if people are reading on a small screen mobile device.

10. Comment on other people’s blogs, especially major news sites.

Once a week or so, while reading the news, make relevant comments as an authority in your field on other blogs and news sites — particularly if they are comments on topical news of the day. This brings curious people to your page and builds links to your site.  Share these stories with #hashtags that refer to the Trending Topics and news of the day.

11. Discipline yourself to post at least once a week.

The more you write, the more you post, the more you share — the higher your Google rank and relevance and the more traffic you get.

12. Send out press releases

Press releases are the most amazing traffic generator, period. Ever. You can use free press release sites if you can’t afford a professional news wire, but I recommend paying for PR Web which is highly SEO optimized.

13. Get mentioned in “real” media. (That is, do PR.)

One fantastic article in a major newspaper like the New York Times can permanently shift your business to a new level, boost page rank — and generate traffic to your website forever.  Yes you will need to hire a professional PR agency (like me) to get this kind of coverage. Be patient as it can take many months, and be prepared to pay through the nose. It’s worth it.

Or try this yourself — some people naturally have a gift for PR and can do it themselves.

14. Use Pinterest to generate permanent links back to your site.

Publish your WordPress photos from your WordPress articles as Pinterest posts — and then go back in and “tag” the posts with keyword-rich phrases and URLs so the pins show up in Google. Tremendous traffic builder.

15. Make your website worth coming back to.

I know this sounds obvious, but why are you wasting your time driving traffic to a website unless it’s going to close the deal and make the sale once people arrive? Make sure you have a way to sign up subscribers to your newsletter, capture visitors’ emails and lead them to follow your Social Media pages so you can bring them back again and again.

SEO? It's all about storytelling. Today people discover you through your stories. Make yours worth sharing.
SEO? It’s all about storytelling. Today people discover you through your stories. Make yours worth sharing.

Why I’m not excited about the #Twitter IPO. (I’ll wait for @Pinterest.)

Pinterest is now used by 1/3 of the women in the USA! I recommend that all clients get a toe hold on Pinterest now by reserving their name and starting with at least 9 boards so they begin their following.
English: Red Pinterest logo
Twitter IPO hysteria? No thanks. I’ll wait for Pinterest.

Unless you’ve been under a rock you know the @Twitter IPO is soaring into the stratosphere right now — “from the Moon to Mars” says the Mercury News.

Yes, Twitter has triple digit growth — but no profit. Just like the good old days of the 1990s dot com boom.

It is very exciting for to watch the Twitter IPO soar to over $75 (now it’s settled down to $60).

But I’ll wait for the #Pinterest IPO–and the apps that will capitalize on that. Because Pinterest is the future of social media. Twitter is the past.

Watching the construction cranes and the building frenzy in San Francisco next to Twitter HQ and Silicon Valley where a boring little 3 bedroom house in Palo Alto just sold for $3.3 million  — we are officially seeing the beginning of “Web 3.0 — the next Internet boom.

Web 3.0 is going to be the combination of mobile devices, touch screens, social media, big data, cloud applications and wearable computing. Some call this the “Internet of things.” It’s really the Internet of everything — music, commerce, shopping, maps, flight and hotel reservations, coupons, banking, film, literature, news — it’s all been replaced with a little device you can fit in your hand.

The new computer is a telephone — a touchscreen device built for two way communication with both voice and video with a GPS built into it.

And what is built from the ground up to take advantage of the mobile touch screen device with a video camera in it? Pinterest.

1. Pinterest is tactile. The other social networks all require a keyboard. Pinterest is made for touch screen devices. Facebook and Twitter are both stunted on a touchscreen interface and LinkedIn is almost impossible to use on a phone.

2. Pinterest is elegant, simple and MUCH easier to use–which is why women in particular love it. One third of all women in the US are on Pinterest now. That is a stunning statistic. And women do two things more than men — communicating and shopping.

3. Pinterest respects your privacy. (Facebook totally disrespects the privacy needs of its customers.) Twitter is somewhat more respectful, but it knows your phone number, and that’s not very private.

4. Pinterest encourages commerce. (It is still impossible to directly sell anything on Facebook–a huge missed revenue opportunity. Who sells stuff on Twitter?)

5. Pinterest is visual. When Facebook and Twitter started, the Internet and devices could not handle the rich media content they now are capable of. Twitter required special apps to use photos and just recently got photos that show up in the feeds.

6. Pinterest encourages ubiquitous sharing and search beyond your friend list. You can only share content to people you know in Facebook. You can only communicate with people who follow you on Twitter. LinkedIn is a totally closed network.

7. Pinterest is very searchable. (Even with Graph search, search still sucks in Facebook. It only works with #hashtags in Twitter)

8. Pinterest lets your content be shared to other social networks, blogs, websites. You can only do that in Facebook if you use an app. Twitter is somewhat more sharable, but really, it’s primitive compared to Pinterest.

9. Pinterest is creative, inspiring, positive and uplifting. Facebook … people get clinically depressed when they use it. Twitter…um, does it ever inspire you, emotionally? LinkedIn? Zzzzzzzz.

10. Pinterest recognizes and respects that your content is yours and ties it back to your website url. Forever, as a Pin is repinned, it virally drives people back to your site. Brilliant!  Facebook tries to “own” your content. Twitter can only point back at a url if you add the @ symbol as a courtesy. LinkedIn: Content? What content? We’re pretending to be professional here and afraid of anything creative or expressive.

11. Pinterest is built from the ground up to handle rich content and video–this is the future of social media.

The future of social media is television. As investor and film angel Sheridan Tatsuno of the Silicon Valley Global Network group on Facebook says:

“All social media bloggers and group admins are like TV network producers since social media already incorporates audio, video, photos, etc. Remember the million-channel Interactive Television that people talked about? We now have it. Soon, the advertisers and marketers will cherrypick the top social media producers and turn them into full-service Amazon-like lifestyle e-commerce sites. User attention is the scarcest resource so top social media creatives will be worth a fortune, sort of like rock stars and top athletes.”

I am already seeing the most engaged folks on my Facebook friend list getting TV shows and book deals. They are the ones who know how to get a conversation started and moderate it, kind of like a talk show host with a live, interactive audience. They know how to create moving content that gets shared. And they know how to monetize this audience with conferences, events, festivals. ebooks, products, consulting services or seminars that bring in revenue.

As we move into this next wave, it will be obvious why Pinterest is the future of social media.

I predict that someday, not far away, interacting in social media is going to be a lot more social — like talking at the front of a room, to an audience. We will do this with a device, like an iPhone, that recognizes speech. It will be mobile, and it will both send and receive video.

Basically, you will be live streaming, in two way conversation, to millions of people, who participate on their devices — kind of like a talk radio show, but it’s television, and it’s interactive. This will be the future of everything — music, learning, seminars, sermons, conferences, communication, film, theatre.

I know is sounds a little scary now — but it will not replace the live experience which will only become more valuable and prestigious.

It will continue to accelerate the information sharing and consciousness raising enabled by the Internet and free, ubiquitous shared social media.

We will still have live events, but these will be more like the live audiences that watch the Academy Awards or the the Tonight Show — much smaller than the televised audiences.

Which social network is most poised for the future of interactive media, at least today? Pinterest.

PS — there are rumors on the street that #Yahoo will buy Pinterest. It certainly fits in with Yahoo’s role as a content provider and media empire, rather than search engine.

You’re not just building a fan page — you’re building a community.

You're not building a "fan page"  -- those are real people. Real human beings. Treat them like people, not like a target market.  This is the audience we built for Wisdom 2.0 Summit -- it is also the fan page community. Same thing.

cropped-socialmediabanner.jpg

I just designed a new banner for my Facebook, Google + and WordPress blog today — it’s a collage of photos of some of the conferences, festivals and events I’ve promoted with social media marketing.

The audiences are now the real world manifestation of the online communities we create to promote an event. The social media and the event are the same thing!

When you bring an audience together today, you are creating a community of customers and you need to maintain communication with them year round. It’s a huge commitment.

In other words, your fan page represents exactly what your product or event is — a community of real people. It can tell you their demographics, age, sex, education, where they live and even what time they are online. You can dig deeper and learn just about everything about them, personally and professionally.

This is a lot deeper than email. Think about it. “olive007@yahoo.com”  is about all you know a about someone on your email list. But on social media we know intimate personal details about each customer and what they look like.

With this unprecedented access to our customers comes a commitment to treat them with respect, humility and to pay attention to them. It’s not a one way message anymore, it’s a conversation.

With social media, you’re making the news, and telling your own story

folded-newspaper1

folded-newspaper1

Everyone loves it when they make the “news” and the local paper writes about their business.

Now, with Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and other online communities, or your blog, you’re making the news  and telling your own story.

And your fans and customers respond in a conversation.

I call it “Social PR.”

Instead of filtering your message through reporters and “experts” — you’re communicating directly to a community.

It’s like PR in warp speed.

Instead of a cycle of a days or weeks — your news gets spread in seconds. It’s like sending out a press release five times a day, each one just 140 characters.

This massive, global, two-way conversation is called Social Media. It’s here to stay, my friend. And it’s turning the world upside down.

Facebook now reaches 1 billion of the most influential, affluent and connected people on Earth — in 70 languages. And 70% of Facebook users are outside the US. (Today it’s estimated that 2 billion people, more or less 1/3 of the planet, have access to the Internet.)

Now the numbers are so massive that social media can no longer be ignored.

Hey, social media is the media.

Social media is now also the best way to reach and influence the “mainstream” media.

Social media now gives you unprecedented, direct and immediate access to celebrities, Venture Capitalists, investors, reporters, CEOs, politicians and influential people of all kinds.

If you’re not using Social Media to promote your business, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to find new customers, fans and relationships.

Social media is the most effective marketing and web traffic building tool – ever. It is increasingly the most important, customer facing marketing tool in your arsenal.

WHO READS THE NEWSPAPER?

Today, with the rapid disappearance and shrinking of “mainstream” media, (like newspapers and magazines) you can’t rely on press coverage and ad campaigns to announce your product or ideas anymore.  Most millennials do not read newspapers — the audience for print is not just aging, it’s dying. The new generation cut it’s teeth on cellphones and computers.

WHO WATCHES TV?

Nobody under 70 it seems to me–they watch shows on social media, like YouTube, Vimeo or pay per view like Netflix.  And they discover what to watch from friends on social media.

WHO READS EMAIL NEWSLETTERS?

Most people are too overloaded and ignore them.  Email gets stuck in the spam filter. If you get a 2% response rate you’re lucky. Why bother? If you’re customer is over 50, I recommend email marketing. If you want to stay in touch with your existing customers, email is a good adjunct to a social media Fan page or group. Otherwise it’s a waste of time.

JUNK MAIL AKA SNAIL MAIL?

Paper is almost obsolete. The majority of our shopping and commerce now happens online. When’s the last time you learned about something new in the postal mail?

BILLBOARDS, POSTCARDS, BROCHURES?

Face to face, personal “social networking” is more effective than ever as a way to cut through the clutter. And it’s an excellent way to drive your customers to your website, Facebook fan page or sign up for your email newsletter to stay in touch. Billboards, trade shows, festivals,  speaking enagagements, events — all great ways to get photographed, video taped and then spread around on the social media.

TRENDSETTERS AND EARLY ADOPTERS ARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

In order to influence and seed consumers and “early adopters” who will be the first to sign on to a beta programs, try a new product or embrace revolutionary ideas, it’s critical to reach them through, and be seen and heard on the “emerging media” or “social media”.

This is where the trendsetters, hipsters, cutting edge early adopters and most technologically agile people have historically hung out, talk about what’s new, and spread ideas to their friends and colleagues. This isn’t new — it’s been going on since the eighties when “chat rooms” like the Well pioneered what evolved into today’s Internet and social media.

Social media is where the mainstream media get their story ideas and learn what’s new.

These social communities are now as important as newspaper, TV or radio coverage and can be highly targeted.

“Social media” includes:

- Your website (hopefully a blog loaded with “Social Share” buttons, links and automated, syndicated feeds to Twitter and Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube — and not an old, 1990s-style, static website) is the hub of this integrated social media strategy.

- social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Google +, WhatsApp, Instagram.)

- social bookmarking sites (like Digg and StumbleUpon.)

- blogging  sites (Like Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger.)

- e commerce – Etsy, Ebay, Amazon — these are also social networks.

- group buying/discount sites (like Groupon, LivingSocial, BuyWithMe.)

- customer review sites (like Yelp, TripAdvisor.)

- video sharing sites (You Tube, Vimeo, Twitter Vine and Viddy.)

- photo sharing sites (Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram.)

- radio talk show networks (“podcasts” like Personal Life Media, Progressive News Network, Visionary Culture Radio and Blogtalk Radio.)

- Internet music and radio (Pandora, Spotify, SOMA-FM.)

- event networks (Eventful, We Know, Daily Candy, Upcoming, Zvents, Eventbrite, Craigslist, Meetup, Going., Plancast, Socializr. Evite.)

- professional networks (LinkedIn, Ryze, Thumbtack, Labor Fair, TaskRabbit, MeetUp.)

vertical, niche social networks for your market (ie for LOHAS they include: Architects of a New Dawn, Waccobb.net, Children of the Light, WiserEarth.)

- Yahoo Groups, Google Groups (these closed email lists can spread your product, workshop, event or idea to highly targeted niches. They are powerful for music festivals, conferences, events, yoga, dance and workshop promotion.)

- Facebook and LinkedIn groups – in high tech, these groups of early adopters and enthusiasts are critical to the success of a new product. For other businesses, such as Fashion, Design or Green, specific networking groups are highly influential, and often have their own social pages.Related articles

What makes you influential on social media? (It’s not what you think.)

images

What makes you influential on social media?

Just as in mainstream journalism, great content is key. Great headlines grab the reader. Posting frequently and regularly and being the first to break the news is key.

And just as magazines have long known, pass along readership is key to great circulation.

But the main thing that sets social media influencers apart (and sets social media apart from traditional “journalism”) is that they are followed by people who they themselves have strong networks.

An influencer might reach only 1000 people — but those 1000 people also reach 1000 highly connected and active people and so on and so on…which means within seconds, they can reach millions. Which is how revolutions like the Occupy movement and #Egypt managed to spread like viral wildfire.  And why your boring: “I just announced a new product” or “Please like my business” plea is often ignored.

As Haydn Shaughnessy wrote yesterday in Forbes:

“What behaviors make the key difference for people who want to elevate their status online?”  He breaks it down to:

  • Being active in a sufficient number of channels
  • Creating and maintaining a high quality network
  • Frequency of participation
But there’s more.

Social Media is interactive. To have real influence you need to be “social” — and that’s where 99.7% of businesses go wrong.

Social media not a press release or an advertisement — it’s an interactive conversation.  If your content is so engaging and interesting that followers feel compelled to repeat it–you will be retweeted and shared, and quickly reach tens of thousands or even millions of people.

Don’t ignore social media. It won’t go away.

8732_164696916792_628241792_3196283_6332174_s.jpgQ: “What’s the worst thing you can do with social media?”

A: “Ignore it.”

And that’s what most corporations (and small businesses) did in 2009 and 2010. They ignored social media, or they barely paid lip service to it. Business tried to co-opt social media and failed miserably. Businesses tried to ignore social media and it didn’t go away. It turned around and bit them in the…well you know.

They made many of the same “penny wise, pound foolish” mistakes with Social Media that businesses make with PR.

If you ignore the media, they won’t go away. Well, if you ignore the people (the social media) they won’t go away either. Better to act than react.

1. Outsource your social media monitoring and blogging to India. (Watch the TV show “Outsourced” for some hilarious examples of why the culture of India might not relate to your purely American brand they’ve never used before.)

2. Equating something new with “young” and take a misguided trendy approach to social media hiring. (“He has a shaggy haircut like Chad Hurley and cool eyeglass frames! That must mean he knows something about social media and our target Gen Y audience!”)  While sometimes you can luck out and get a very sharp intern who will do your social media for free (for a while) why would you trust your most visible communications to someone who doesn’t even sit at a desk inside your company?

3. Assuming that the audience for Social Media is Gen Y. (The average age of a Facebook user is Gen X, 38, with half the users firmly in the Baby Boom Generation.)

4. Pay a fortune for boring, self serving fake “user generated” videos that never went “viral” on You Tube. (The Hollywood film “2012” with it’s fake user news coverage on You Tube was particularly transparent.)

5. Build a visually tricked out Fan page that nobody ever “likes” and then spam Twitter with advertisements, contests and coupons.

6. Tweet or post as an impersonal logo or “the brand”, instead of an engaging personality. (Do I really want to be a Fan of Victoria’s Secret Corp.? No. But I might want to be friends with a Victoria’s Secret Super Model.) Do I want to be a Twitter friend with a fertilizer company? No. But I might want to get Tweets from a funky, clever cartoon cow who talks about composting and gives me organic gardening tips. Do you really want to be friends with GE? But you might want to learn more or ask questions about about a specific GE product you own.

7. Tweet or post positive comments as a fake employee or fake customer.  This can be a good tactic if you hire someone outside the company to do the posting.  A little positive news can help turn a negative tide around. Just don’t post from a computer that can be traced to an email address or ID inside your company!

8. Lump Social Media in with SEO/SEM and online marketing. Search Engine Optimization, (SEO) is about generating hits to your website in Google. SEO has absolutely nothing to do with managing your company’s brand reputation or responding to media inquiries when a problem suddenly goes viral. This is why so much early Social Media seemed as intrusive and spammy as a direct mail campaign. And why so many social campaigns were ignored until they erupted into viral PR disasters.