11 Timely Social Media Takeaways

Thanks very much for your support of Convince & Convert while I was on vacation in Denmark and Norway.

11 social media takeawaysI really appreciate the readership, tweets, and comments about the fantastic guest posts that ran during my absence. Great job by the excellent team of guest bloggers. It just goes to show, Convince & Convert isn’t about me, it’s about us. We’re all teachers, and we’re all students here. If you’d like to write something for C&C, let me know.

Meanwhile, I accumulated quite a collection of interesting social media tidbits while I was gone. I spent many hours over the weekend catching up on my reading. A couple weeks away can seem like a lifetime in this business, as evidenced by these 11 social media takeaways. All of these happened (or were reported) either while I was gone, or just before I left.

1. Wall Street Journal Building “Linkedin Killer”

Not sure if they’ll be able to pull it off, but there’s no question Linkedin is vulnerable. They’ve played the “serious social network” card well, but with their members enjoying FAR greater functionality on Facebook, Ning, and many other communities, Linkedin must continue to evolve. If it doesn’t, somebody is going to knock them off their perch, and soon. Meanwhile, LInkedin remains a valuable, and underutilized social media opportunity, especially in B2B. (see my 22 Ways to Dominate Linkedin post).

Takeaway: Evolve, or Die

2. Taco Bell to Embrace Social Media

It’s about time. Given the Taco Bell demographic, you’d think they would have gotten serious about social media a while ago. Now, they’ve retained R/GA as their digital agency of record. The plan is to revamp the Web site for the rest of 2009 (yawn), with new social outreach efforts next year. I’m all for having a social media strategy before jumping in the river, but Taco Bell and other companies that have natural social media strength need to get with the program, pronto. They have 500,000+ fans on their Facebook page, but the content is mostly unilateral photo and video regurgitation. They can, and should do better.

Takeaway: The Clock is Ticking

3. Baja Fresh Botches Social Promotion

In other failed Mexican restaurant news, Baja Fresh massively underestimated the power of social couponing, having to redeem 50,000+ free burrito offers for a promotion intended to reach the chain’s 1,800 Facebook fans. If you’re going to put a strong offer into the social media universe, you must plan for it to go viral. Communicate to your field operations, determine your customer communication protocol, etc. In short, follow the guidelines for social media crisis preparedness.

Takeaway: A Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail

4. OneUpWeb Releases Social Search Eyetracking Report (PDF)

This excellent study about how social networkers’ eyes move will be delightful for data hounds. For the data averse, the summary is that sponsored ads on Facebook and YouTube are effective because the ads are viewed with the same gaze sweep as the top of the unpaid search results. On Google, the right hand paid search ads are often ignored. This is not as true on Facebook and YouTube. Possibly due to layout, possibly due to fewer overall ads. Have you experimented with Facebook or YouTube ads? I have, with good results.

Takeaway: Targeted Social Media Ads Have Potential, Despite Media Reports to the Contrary

5. 10 Ways New Hampshire Businesses are Using Social Media

I like this article from the New Hampshire Union Leader, because it illustrates how small businesses of all types and descriptions can use social media for a variety of relevant purposes. One size does definitely not fit all in social media, and this reinforces that perspective.

Takeaway: Social Media is What You Make of It

6. Spiral 16 Compares iphone and Palm Pre Social Mentions

Very interesting report from social media monitoring company Spiral 16 (one of the companies I recommend in that industry). The study shows how social reaction to the iphone and Palm Pre launches differ, and narrowly gives iphone the “win”.

Best part of the report is the demo of the Spiral 16 data visualization tool, which is my favorite component of their service. (check out the visualization for iphone mentions – give it a little time to load)

Takeaway: “Victory” Can be Difficult to Define in Social Media

7. Lane Bryant Launches Plus-Sized Community

Great example by Lane Bryant of understanding their “one thing” and building a social media strategy around it. More than 5,000 registered members are already signed up for the Inside Curve community, which isn’t as much about Lane Bryant, as it is about how Lane Bryant’s products make plus-sized women feel. Bravo.

Takeaway: Making Your Customers the Star is Almost Always a Good Strategy

8. Discovery Channel Launches Shark Week Promo using Facebook Connect

Strategized by the guys at The Advance Guard (I interviewed principal CC Chapman on Twitter here), this interactive promo for Shark Week is a great example of what can be done using Facebook Connect. Namely, personal, relevant, interactive, engaging content that makes a difference.

Check it out for yourself. Click on the floating bottle that says “My Story”.

Takeaway: Social Graph Portability Will Drive Enhanced Relevancy

9. Cattlemen Using Social Media for Outreach

Short piece, but very interesting about how industry groups (in this case cattlemen) can use Twitter to monitor the conversation and contextually outreach to the public.

Takeaway: There’s a Lot of Potential for Social Media in the Public Affairs Arena

10. JetBlue and United Give Fare Specials to Twitter Followers

Excellent example of activating your fans/followers, rather than just collecting them like baseball cards. Only problem I have with this initiative is that it might be better as an SMS alert. That way, you’d have tracking data, a customer database, and other elements that would give this program longer term potential.

Takeaway: Activate, Don’t Collect. But, Consider Tying Social Media to Other Initiatives

11. Businesses Turn to Facebook for Word-of-Mouth

I love this piece in the USA Today, because it codifies an important element of social media – tying online and offline together. The best example is the bar Baja Sharkeez in California, where the bartender updates his Facebook friends on nightly specials, driving significant drop-in business. Relevant. Helpful. Timely. Personal. Easy.

Takeaway: Word-of-Mouth Happens Offline More than Online. Even Now.

(photo by Me and the Sysop)

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