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September 16, 2008

Social Media: Your Interactive Information Resource

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Found via a shout on Digg

In prior reflections on social media, I've mentioned how services such as Facebook, de.licio.us, Twitter, etc. can be effective marketing tools. Much of this has to do with the fact that they foment two-way communication. When we join these communities and services we participate in a dialogue between our friends and contacts. We make connections based upon common interests and share information accordingly. The fact that we can share things—such as our blogs, Web sites, products or services—that will be of interest to those who follow us is what makes these so useful to us as marketers.

What we don't discuss as often is the fact that these same qualities are what make these tools useful to us as consumers of products, services and information.

We know that success in social media requires us to participate in both sides of the conversation. We must speak, listen and respond online just as we would it a real world conversation. But the point of listening isn't just to abide by the rules of the game; the point of listening is to learn. The ones who do all of the talking are missing out because they don't give themselves the opportunity to learn new ideas or to hear vital feedback about their own ideas.

Imagine a social situation in the real world. Have you ever come home from a party all excited because you spent the night telling 18 different people all about your collection of pressed flowers and the methods you use for preparing them? Neither have I. But I have come home excited that I met interesting people. Usually I find them interesting not just because of the topics they discuss, but because of the way they discuss them. They share their viewpoints, listen to your responses, then respond in kind. In this way the conversation evolves in a way that will be of interest to both parties.

The same thing happens in social media. If you follow a like minded group of people on Pownce, Digg, StumbleUpon (or wherever you hang out online) you soon get a sense of who just talks and who is also listening. This may happen over the course of weeks or months rather than hours, but over time you get a sense of who you should be following.

As you do so you find that they start sharing more and more information that is of value to you. I noticed this in particular today when I forwarded on yet another bit of information I'd found via social media.

Recent tidbits gleaned from social media

Today at lunch I was checking Pownce, Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter I saw that David Bradley had shared a link to an article called, "How ‘Mini-Funnel’ Websites Can Help You Increase Traffic, Generate Leads and Build Exposure." Initially the title of the article sounded like it might be some sort of nefarious black hat SEO strategy. But I followed the link because David, who I know through Wayne, wouldn't condone, let alone link to something dodgy.

When I got to the article I saw that it was written by Maki who I first met on Pownce and now follow on Twitter and Friendfeed. The article demonstrated a fairly clever idea that might work well for some upcoming projects in our department so I forwarded the link to my teammates.

A few days earlier I saw that George Nemeth had posted a link on Pownce about the newly formed Social Media Club - Cleveland network on Ning, so I passed that along via Twitter—just in case there are any Clevelanders following me who aren't already following George. (This seems unlikely because George, of Brewed Fresh Daily, is like the Robert Scoble of Cleveland in that he is online almost everywhere and somehow manages to keep up with it all.)

A few days before that I received a shout on Digg from Kyle James, a fellow bloghighed blogger, linking to an amusing video Butler University produced (shown on this page) in which a Bulldog showcases their athletic facilities whilst trying to find a missing mascot costume. I passed this along to colleagues as well.

Listen and learn

Those are but a few examples of intriguing things I've found through social media. The Internet is rife with information, but when you make the right connections, and listen to their recommendations you'll soon find that the most useful (or amusing) content begins to stand out.

Where have I been hiding?

For those who may be wondering why this blog has been so quiet lately, I've been doing a lot of traveling this summer and have been swamped with other projects in between. I've just returned from the Galápagos—it seemed like a good way to kick off the Year of Darwin and Evolution—so as soon as I catch up on all the email things should be returning to normal.

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Posted by: Heidi Cool September 16, 2008 09:57 PM | Category: Heidi's Entries , Social Networking , Tips and Tricks , marketing , social media

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Well said. The Art of Conversation - listening and sharing both - is what makes social media so great.

Posted by Dave on September 17, 2008 02:01 AM

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Listening and sharing (and I would add) and discarding some of the information - is what makes social media so great.

There are too many sources to listen to...

Posted by Adam on September 17, 2008 07:57 AM

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Galápagos Islands that sounds awesome! It is definitely important to choose your friends on social networks wisely because there are a lot of people out there who will spam you with requests with only self promotion in mind and it can be difficult to fully filter sometimes.

Also don't know if you put it together but the Butler Blue video was one that Brad put together for an interesting campaign. I'll let him fill you in on the interesting details around the campaign.

Posted by Kyle James on September 17, 2008 09:53 AM

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Thanks Dave & Adam.

Kyle, I suspected Brad had something to do with the video. It turned out very well, a nice change from the usual, and thus why I Dugg and Stumbled it.

Very good point about the spam. It's fine to promote one's own stuff. I think we all do that, I for example, Twittered this blog entry. But it has to be part of the mix, preferably the minority part of the mix.

The Galápagos Islands were amazing. It's impossible to describe the abundance of wildlife. Yet I'm going to try. I'll be blogging about it at http://blog.case.edu/hac4/.

Posted by Heidi Cool on September 17, 2008 12:11 PM

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Heidi, glad to see you back! I just watched Master and Commander again. I would love to make it to that island :)

Posted by TomG on September 18, 2008 06:36 PM

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I wouldn't describe the funnel web technique as particularly whitehat, although you're right, I don't deliberately link to anything most people would call dodgy, I think this SEO technique is grayhat, but could be darkened depending on the approach one takes with it. Before I saw this post, I'd created some experimental funnel type pages that have been getting great traffic and since that time my average feedcount has leaped from around 2800 to 3500

Posted by David Bradley on September 21, 2008 06:04 AM

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Tom, If you get the chance, you should go. Someone was watching that movie in our briefing room on the boat so I caught about the last third. It was wild seeing things onscreen that we'd just seen in reality.

David, While one could certainly abuse that technique, I can see it being used in a pretty above board manner. I'm glad to hear it's working for you, that's a pretty big increase!

Posted by Heidi Cool on September 23, 2008 12:48 AM

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Social media and blogging is the direction many business owners are going to network with others around the world. I couldn't agree more with you, it promotes two way communication unlike any other type of media. There are so many social networks out there which can easily overwhelm someone!

Posted by Patricia Beck on November 5, 2008 04:07 PM

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Posted by: hac4 (Heidi Cool) September 16, 2008 09:57 PM | Comments (8) | Trackback