Tuesday, October 27, 2009
As more people are getting on Social Media, many companies too are not missing the boat. I often get thess questions: "How to I determine the success of Social Media of a company?" or "How do I determine the Social Media Ranking of companies?"
I came across this article which does not answer the above questions, but it is an interesting read.
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There is no doubt that when you engage the public, and as you gain more influence, there will be more blogs and forums talking about your products and services. But how does anyone determine whether you are more successful in Social Media than someone else?
In my opinion, there are very simple rules to follow on how successful a company or someone is, on Social Media.
1) Number of Fans/Followers/Subscribers - This is a very basic information. The more the number is, the more people you can reach. As with the rankings and ratings, this is a numbers game. Whether this truely reflects the quality of the crowd, you need other ways to determine.
2) Number of Comments/Feedback - This reflects on how many people actually liked the post so much that they have to give feedback. The more influential the company, the more the comments there will be. This is often correlated with number of followers and subscribers, but I have seen cases where the audience is so targeted that several hundred fans give more comments than another company with several thousand fans.
I often ask myself, why bother with the numbers game. I guess the reasons I can think of are often, "Ego" and "Justification". Many companies who go into Social Media often like to think that they are doing well by searching rankings and ratings online to please their "Egos" and to justify the time and effort spent.
I strongly feel that the effects of Social Media efforts are very long termed strategies. The information on the Internet will be there for years to come, and if the information is of value, people will appreciate it and companies can treat it as a form of Corporate Social Responsibility, a good way for them to give back to the public and the industry. Good Social Media Strategies provide value and long term sustainability, and eventually, this will help branding of the company more than any short term rankings will.
-- Robin Low
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
• Informational - This is one of the more common blog post types where you simply give information on a topic. It could be a definition post or a longer explanation of some aspect of the niche that you’re writing on. This is the crux of successful sites like Wikipedia
• Reviews - Another highly searched for term on the web is ‘review’ - I know every time I’m considering buying a new product that I head to Google and search for a review on it first. Reviews come in all shapes and sizes and on virtually every product or service you can think of. Give your fair and insightful opinion and ask readers for their opinion - reviews can be highly powerful posts that have a great longevity.
• Lists - One of the easiest ways to write a post is to make a list. Posts with content like ‘The Top Ten ways to….’, ‘7 Reasons why….’ ‘ 5 Favorite ….’, ‘53 mistakes that bloggers make when….’ are not only easy to write but are usually very popular with readers and with getting links from other bloggers. Read my post - 8 Reasons Why Lists are Good for Getting Traffic to your Blog for more on lists. One last tip on lists - if you start with a brief list (each point as a phrase or sentence) and then develop each one into a paragraph or two you might just end up with a series of posts that lasts you a few days. That’s how I started the Bloggers Block series.
• Interviews - Sometimes when you’ve run out of insightful things to say it might be a good idea to let someone else do the talking in an interview (or a guest post). This is a great way to not only give your readers a relevant expert’s opinion but to perhaps even learn something about the topic you’re writing yourself. One tip if you’re approaching people for an interview on your blog - don’t overwhelm them with questions. One of two good questions are more likely to get you a response than a long list of poorly thought through ones.
• Case Studies - Another popular type of post here at ProBlogger have been those where I’ve taken another blog and profiled them and how they use their site to earn money from their blogging (e.g. - one I did on Buzzmachine - the blog of Jeff Jarvis). Sometimes these are more like a review post but on occasion I’ve also added some instructional content to them and made some suggestions on how I’d improve them. Case studies don’t have to be on other websites of course - there are many opportunities to do case studies in different niches.
• Profiles - Profile posts are similar to case studies but focus in on a particular person. Pick an interesting personality in your niche and do a little research on them to present to your readers. Point out how they’ve reached the position they are in and write about the characteristics that they have that others in your niche might like to develop to be successful.
• Link Posts - The good old ‘link post’ is a favorite of many bloggers and is simply a matter of finding a quality post on another site or blog and linking up to it either with an explanation of why you’re linking up, a comment on your take on the topic and/or a quote from the post. Of course adding your own comments makes these posts more original and useful to your readers. The more original content the better but don’t be afraid to bounce off others in this way.
• ‘Problem’ Posts - I can’t remember where I picked this statistic up but another term that is often searched for in Google in conjunction with product names is the word ‘problems’. This is similar to a review post (above) but focuses more upon the negatives of a product or service. Don’t write these pieces just for the sake of them - but if you find a genuine problem with something problem posts can work for you.
• Contrasting two options - Life is full of decisions between two or more options. Write a post contrasting two products, services or approaches that outlines the positives and negatives of each choice. In a sense these are review posts but are a little wider in focus. I find that these posts do very well on some of my product blogs where people actually search for ‘X Product comparison to Y Product’ quite a bit.
• Rant - get passionate, stir yourself up, say what’s on your mind and tell it like it is. Rants are great for starting discussion and causing a little controversy - they can also be quite fun if you do it in the right spirit. Just be aware that they can also be the beginnings of a flaming comment thread and often it’s in the heat of the moment when we say things that we later regret and that can impact our reputation the most.
• Inspirational - On the flip side to the angry rant (and not all rants have to be angry) are inspirational and motivational pieces. Tell a story of success or paint a picture of ‘what could be’. People like to hear good news stories in their niche as it motivates them to persist with what they are doing. Find examples of success in your own experience or that of others and spread the word.
• Research - In the early days I wrote quite a few research oriented posts - looking at different aspects of blogging - often doing mind numbing counting jobs. I remember once surfing through 500 blogs over a few days to look at a number of different features. Research posts can take a lot of time but they can also be well worth it if you come up with interesting conclusions that inspire people to link up to you.
• Collation Posts - These are a strange combination of research and link posts. In them you pick a topic that you think your readers will find helpful and then research what others have said about it. Once you’ve found their opinion you bring together everyone’s ideas (often with short quotes) and tie them together with a few of your own comments to draw out the common themes that you see.
• Prediction and Review Posts - We see a lot of these at the end and start of the year where people do their ‘year in review’ posts and look at the year ahead and predict what developments might happen in their niche in the coming months.
• Critique Posts - ‘Attack posts’ have always been a part of blogging (I’ve done a few in my time) but these days I tend to prefer to critique rather than attack. Perhaps it’s a fine line but unless I get really worked up I generally like to find positives in what others do and to suggest some constructive alternatives to the things that I don’t like about what they do. I don’t really see the point in attacking others for the sake of it, but as I’ve said before this more a reflection of my own personality than much else I suspect and some people make a name for themselves very well by attacking others.
• Debate - I used to love a good debate in high school - there was something about preparing a case either for or against something that I quite enjoyed. Debates do well on blogs and can either in an organized fashion between two people, between a blogger and ‘all comers’ or even between a blogger and… themselves (try it - argue both for and against a topic in one post - you can end up with a pretty balanced post).
• Hypothetical Posts - I haven’t done one of these for a while but a ‘what if’ or hypothetical post can be quite fun. Pick a something that ‘could’ happen down the track in your industry and begin to unpack what the implications of it would be. ‘What if….Google and Yahoo merged?’ ‘What if …’
• Satirical - One of the reasons I got into blogging was that I stumbled across a couple of bloggers who were writing in a satirical form and taking pot shots at politicians (I can’t seem to find the blog to link to). Well written satire or parody can be incredibly powerful and is brilliant for generating links for your blog.
• Memes and Projects - write a post that somehow involves your readers and gets them to replicate it in some way. Start a poll, an award, ask your readers to submit a post/link or run a survey or quiz. Read more on memes.
Feel free to add some comments to discuss further!
-- Robin Low
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Aitken Spence in Sri Lanka was very much into Social Media and giving great customer service, converting customers into agents to spread word of mouth. And to do this effectively, they have contacted Digital Media Academy to provide training at their premises.
They have a very informative Facebook Fan Page (http://www.facebook.com/ASHSriLanka)
I was very impressed in their eagerness to help in spreading the information on the interesting travelling locations and tips for Sri Lanka and other places where their hotels are located, and I find their passion in the travel industry and their willingness to share information on travelling, to help the travel industry very encouraging,
Aitken Spence Social Media team is trained on leveraging Facebook, Twitter and Blogs to provide their company as a thought leader and create more awareness on their products and services. By leveraging on their satisfied customers, Aitken Spence hopes to better engage their customers with their accessible channels on Social Media to stay in touch with their customers and provide a more engaging relationship, and hopefully leveraging them for word of mouth.
This strategy has been proven very successful by many leading brands and companies, and being the first to enter fully into the Digital Media Space to engage their customers in a large scale is seldom seen in Asia. I would say that they are probably leaders in the Social Media for the traveling industry, and it would take some time for other companies to catch up with the system.
I'm sure the progress they make in Social Media realm would become a success story and used as a case study for many to follow, and I would love to learn from them their stories of customer satisfaction and engagement which is not seen in any other Hotels in South Asia.
The training was completed and there are many strategies in place to enhance the company's image and branding through the use of Social Media. Though they lost the Cake Challenge in class, for getting less fans than Singapore's favorite cat, they progress a lot since the start of the class and I wish them all the best for their Social Media Endeavors.
Class of Oct 09, at Aitken Spence Hotels in Sri Lanka.
-- Robin Low
Saturday, October 3, 2009
A podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication. The mode of delivery is what differentiates podcasts from other ways of accessing media files over the Internet, such as simple download or streamed webcasts: special client software applications known as podcatchers (like iTunes, Zune, Juice, and Winamp) are used to automatically identify and download new files in the series when they are released by accessing a centrally-maintained web feed that lists all files associated with the series. New files can thus be downloaded automatically by the podcatcher and stored locally on the user's computer or other device for offline use, giving simpler access to episodic content.
Most dictionary definitions of a podcast fall into one of two camps as of September 2009. One set focuses on the "on-demand" nature of podcasts. Another set requires the automatic or syndication posting. There are problems with both definitions. The first is too open. Under such a definition, a paid music download could technically be a podcast. Most audiences would disagree. The second is too limiting. It does not allow for manual downloads. Researchers at the Center for Journalism and Mass Communication Research at the University of Texas at Austin are proposing a three-part definition of a podcast: first, that it is episodic; second, that it is downloadable; and third, that it is program-driven, mainly with a host and/or theme.Podcasting benefits
Tutorials for customers to listen to (and watch) podcasts about your products and services. Customer support podcast available for customers to listen to, in which frequently asked questions about a certain service or product are asked and answered are very helpful.
Press releases contain new information about a happening, a product design podcast or a new business situation that the world needs to know about, as quickly as possible. Publicity is the key to the success of many business ventures and spreading the word in as many ways as possible is all important. Podcasting has now been discovered as one of the ways with which a press release can be spread successfully. A feed for a press release can be added to an online directory, included with news feeds and can be put up on a business website for interested customers.
Product Development and Launch
In this case news and knowledge about a new product that is released on to the market is given in a podcast. This feed could be listed in a special podcasting directory for new products or can be passed on to users in shows. Emails with a link to a podcasting feed about a new product can be sent out to magazines and newspapers and will be put up in a special section of a business website to focus the users' attention on the new release.
Industry News and Updates
Industry professionals and customers like to be kept informed. With podcasting there is a possibility to be kept informed with automatically refreshing news feeds.
Branding a podcast is one of the most important things to do before a podcasting show can be marketed and promoted on the Internet. Effectively branding a podcast will help establish a brand and its image and purpose.
Other benefits of Podcasting.
Podcasting is Asynchronous
Unlike normal radio, with which you have to tune in at a specific time to hear a show, you can listen to a podcast whenever it's convenient for you.
People are Tired of Existing Options
Especially when it comes to commercials and branding of products people tend to switch off when a promotion is broadcasted on the radio or television.
Podcasting Requires Little Effort
There is no need to check your favorite sites each day to see if they've posted a new MP3. Pocasting technology allows you to automatically find your favorite sites, and tools allow you to automate the process of downloading the MP3s. You just hook up a MP3 player and load it with the most recent downloads.
How to sound like a pro
Have a script
Planning topics to discuss, possible guest interviews, and your show's length in advance will go a long way when producing a professional sounding podcast.
Editing your podcast
Your finished podcast should flow seamlessly from one sentence to the next. If your editing has caused abrupt interruptions, or simply doesn’t make sense, then perhaps you should reconsider your editing style or seek help from a professional to fine tune your production.
Room Tone - Natural Sound Temperature
A location’s room tone is its auditory fingerprint. These are non-specific sounds generated by the natural acoustics of the room. Editing may also be required when sounds overlap. If they occur while you or another individual in your podcast are speaking your editing can be more challenging. To preserve the original performance, try to find another take of the word(s) in
question and edit or splice the word in to replace the unusable take.
Production Techniques - Mixing in your show intro, imaging, and musical transitions. Then announce the name of your podcast and the episode number. It is most effective if this is the voice of an announcer, distinct from your own. Try fading your background music in when a new segment beings. Lower the volume level of the music when you are speaking so that your listeners can hear every work you say. At the end of the segment, fade your background music out. Use musical transitions between the various segments of your podcast. These musical transitions are known as bumpers, stages or sweepers.
Key Points About Mixing
Balance the volume levels of the voice-over, music and sound effects. You are now ready to export your podcast recording into an MP3.
List of sites that accept podcast submissions.
Podbean - submit podcasts
iTunes - submit your iTune podcasts
PodSubmitter - submit podcasts
Dailysplice - submit podcasts
Podcastalley - submit podcasts
Podanza - Submit a audio or video podcast feed
Podcastblaster - A searchable podcast and video podcast directory
After you have added your podcast
Just like having your videos on YouTube, when you have your podcast, you want to drive traffic to your podcast by telling your friends on Facebook, Twitter and adding links from your blog.
You will frequently receive comments about your podcasts. Reply to the comments respectfully. Except for the comment spam that you will inevitable receive, almost all of the comments you receive will be useful to you.
Plan your next podcast, have a feel of what works and what doesn’t and make your podcast a regular one for your audience!
-- Robin Low