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Charity Runner: The Beginning of a Fundraising Journey

Photo credit: chadjthiele on Instagram.Note: This post deviates from the regular voice of this blog. It is meant to document the beginning of my fundraising efforts for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I am posting it because it will give some context to future posts. It also lets readers know where else they can find me on the Internet.

This year is my fifth year serving on the event planning committee for the Twin Cities Take Steps Walk, a fundraiser that benefits the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

As their website points out, “Take Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis is the Foundation’s largest fundraising event of local community walks dedicated to raising funds to find cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Participants and teams raise funds throughout the year and come together at the Take Steps walk event to celebrate their fundraising achievements!”

As part of the event planning committee, I help plan one of the Take Steps walks to help others raise money for this important cause. However, I never actually took part in the fundraising efforts. That is, until this year.

From Crohn’s Patient to Charity Runner

I chose to help with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation Take Steps Walk because I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1995 while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Without getting into all the details, I can say that I was able to keep the disease in check for nearly two decades with the help of medication.

However, in September of 2013 I was told that I would have to have surgery to remove my colon because of complications that were caused by the disease.

In the months that followed, I decided that it was time to try to increase my fitness to prepare for the surgery.

This is part of the reason that I started running in the summer of 2014.

In fact, at the time, I decided that if I was going to take up running, I would gradually train myself to run the full 26.2 miles to complete a marathon.

The first year I ran several 5k races.

In 2015 I increased the distance to 10 miles and then upped the mileage to 13.1 miles in 2016.

Then, just before my 43rd birthday, I called up the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to say that I was ready to raise money as a Team Challenge charity runner in the 2017 Chicago Marathon. (Team Challenge is similar to Take Steps, but participants run instead of walk.)

Documenting My Team Challenge Run

In an effort to document my training for the marathon, I started a sideblog on Tumblr (charityrunner.tumblr.com) and a YouTube channel (Charity Runner).

You can also connect on mapmyrun.com.

I am also going to be posting on my Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. I am @chadjthiele on all three of these social networking sites. (Note: I try to keep my Twitter focused on marketing, but I post running updates every once in a while.)

And, of course, there is the fundraising page on the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation website.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned, I have helped other people raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation for a few years. However, I didn’t take part in the actual fundraising efforts.

That was, until this year.

At the end of the journey, I plan to document some of the things that I learn along the way. (For example, company matching donations are awesome!)

Until then, please follow me on the social networking sites that I mentioned above and donate!

Thanks in advance.

Chad Thiele (Crohn’s patient since 1995, #nocolonstillrollin since 2014)

Photo credit: chadjthiele on Instagram.

Video credit: Charity Runner on YouTube.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Finding Influenceable Consumers: Is There an App for That?

As I mentioned in a previous post, there are many problems that people encounter when they attempt to measure social influence.

Since writing that post, I’ve been thinking that maybe the method that people are using to find influencers is all wrong.

Or, maybe, I don’t completely understand how Klout is measuring social influence. (But, then again, it doesn’t sound like many people do.)

There is also the possibility that what I am thinking about really isn’t Influencer Marketing at all.

To get to the bottom of it, please give me a moment to explain my thought process, and then you can decide what option is correct, if any.

Influencer Marketing Defined

Wikipedia currently defines Influencer Marketing as, “…a form of marketing that has emerged from a variety of recent practices and studies, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.”

What If You Can’t Change Their Mind?

It occurred to me that some people are set in their ways, and no matter what an influential person told them, there is no way that they are going to change their mind. Let’s call these people the “Unreceptives.”

On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who are willing to try anything. Therefore, they will be easily influenced by almost anyone who has a reasonable product or service to try. For the purpose of this post, let’s call these people the “Receptives.”

I’m guessing that most people fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

Is It Really Influence?

Just because a person who has a lot of connections to people who take a specific action after being encouraged to do so by said person, doesn’t necessarily make that person influential. He or she might just have a lot of followers who fall into the “Receptives” end of the spectrum.

The App That I’m Looking For

From what I understand, the current measures of influence start with the person and then measure how many people take specific actions online in response to the information that said person posts on the Internet (even if that person did not ask his or her followers to do so.)

From there the person is evaluated and given a score that can be used for many different purposes, including, in theory, Influencer Marketing.

What I’m thinking about is flipping the process around and starting with users, in general.

In other words, measuring how many times a person takes a specific action and rating them based on where they fall on the “Receptive” vs. “Unreceptive” spectrum that I talked about earlier. (Note: For social influence, it would only be whether or not they share a lot of information online, but it could hypothetically be used for other conversions, no matter how they are defined—the person using the app could decide that.)

This data could be combined with other demographic data available to create a lead score, of sorts. (For the purpose of this post, let’s call it a Receptivity Score.)

From there, the app would be able to identify groups of users who are most likely to be receptive to a brand’s product or service and generate a list of people who these people follow.

Users of the app would be able to aggregate the data to find people who have the most followers who meet the desired Receptivity Score threshold.

The Pros and Cons of This Method

As mentioned, an app of this sort would allow people to identify people (let’s call them “Influencers”, although that terminology would now be arguable) who have the most followers who meet the desired Receptivity Score threshold. It would also allow people to target “Influencers” who have many followers who are meeting this Receptivity Score threshold and are not being reached by the other “Influencers” who were previously identified, thus allowing users to fill in the gaps and reach more “Receptives” without too much redundancy.

This method would also help brands target “Influencers” based on the topic, because it would take into account specific characteristics of the target audience, not just the characteristics of the “Influencer.”

The downside is that this type of app would take a lot of computational power. (I think that this would still be the case even if the “Influencers” were identified using a sample of users.)

There is also the problem of getting demographic data. However, this problem can partially be solved by using Facebook data. (Note: This assumes that most people are giving valid demographic data to Facebook, in the first place. But, that is an issue to be looked at some other time.)

And, of course, there are always privacy issues and ethics to consider.

Finally, users of the app would still need to consider whether or not the “Influencer” that the app identified is a good fit for the brand, the product or service, and the message.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this might be a better way to find the “Influencers” that brands target when they include Influencer Marketing in their marketing mix.

It is possible that there is an app out there that already does this.

It might also be the case that this app is still impossible to create.

And, finally, this also brings up the question as to whether or not it would still be called Influencer Marketing if this methodology for finding “Influencers” is used.

Either way, I’m still wondering if it is possible. And, if so, is there currently an app for that?

Photo credit: 401(K) 2013 on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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HubPages, Squidoo and Getting Paid to Use Facebook

Recently, I joined HubPages as a way to help get the word out about my blog and possibly earn a little income by writing.

If you are not familiar with HubPages, it is an online community designed to help writers share their content.

The site allows users (a.k.a. “Hubbers”) to post articles (a.k.a. “Hubs”) on the site.

One of the benefits of using the site to publish Hubs is that it is set up in much the same way as a standard social networking site is.

When you sign up for the site, you can follow other Hubbers and Hubbers can follow you.

To encourage participation within the community, you earn a HubScore and receive accolades for participation (these are similar to the badges that you receive on Foursquare.)

Hubbers can also share another person’s Hubs with their followers, thus making it easier for good content to be spread.

As I alluded to, you can also earn income on HubPages through Google Adsense, the Amazon and eBay affiliate programs, and through the HubPages Ad Program.

It is this aspect of the site that got me thinking.

Monetizing Social Networking Sites

When people talk about monetizing a social networking site, they are talking about finding ways to make money from the site.

As is the case with many social networking sites, HubPages makes money off of display advertising. However, unlike many of those social networking sites, with its Ad Program, HubPages lets the Hubber keep the earnings from 60% of the impressions and HubPages gets the rest. (This encourages Hubbers to post quality content.)

For the record, HubPages is not the only site that lets users earn money. Squidoo, the site that was started by Seth Godin, uses a similar revenue-sharing model.

I wonder if this is something that Facebook could do to earn more money.

While I haven’t fully thought this through, I’m thinking that if Facebook paid users a portion of the revenue that they received from Facebook Ads when their content was viewed by other users either via the timeline or on their profile, it would encourage users to use the site more often and post more valuable content. (It could also help increase the time that users spend on the site.)

Facebook could use a formula similar to EdgeRank to determine how valuable the content is and how much the user should receive.

This definitely would make me want to use the site more often.

However, more importantly, it might get users to actually notice and interact with the advertising on the page.

You see, since I started using HubPages, I have started noticing display ads more often, at least the ones on HubPages. I know that those ads will possibly make me some money, so I at least look to see what ads are showing up based on the content on the page.

If users know that they are going to be making money based on the ads that run on Facebook, they might start noticing the Facebook ads, too. (This would be a great experiment for a neuromarketer to test.)

And, once you get users to notice the ads, there is a good chance that they will start to click them.

Therefore, even though Facebook would be giving away a small portion of the ad revenue, Facebook would still benefit if the total ad revenue increased substantially.

Why Facebook Should Pay You for Your Personal Info

I’m not the only one to suggest that Facebook pay its users.

In an article posted on money.cnn.com, David Goldman explains that in order for Facebook to increase its revenue, a pair of New York University business school professors are suggesting that Facebook pay users for the privilege of selling their personal information.

As the article mentions, “Here’s the idea: Facebook would pay its users a nominal fee — say $10 a month — for the right to send their relevant personal information to advertisers. Companies looking to advertise their products or brands to a specific group of people would pay Facebook for that data and for the ability to directly market to those individuals.”

As the author of the article explains, Facebook could add a new revenue stream, and increase the company’s transparency and trustworthiness at the same time, by giving users the ability to make money by opting in to such a program.

Potential Drawbacks of Paying Facebook Users

There is definitely the possibility that paying Facebook users could backfire on the company.

Let’s look at both ideas separately, starting with the idea that I suggested.

First, as I pointed out before, paying Facebook users a portion of the ad revenues will likely make users even more aware of the advertising. This could turn some people off.

Furthermore, users wouldn’t really make all the much money unless they post a lot of content, are connected to a lot of people and those connections interact with the content—a lot.

People might also question whether or not the social media giant was giving them their agreed-to ad revenue, particularly if they used a formula that is difficult for users to understand (i.e., one that is similar to EdgeRank.)

There is also the possibility that people would game the system by creating fake accounts, liking and interacting with their own content and clicking ads just to make money.

If Facebook went the route that the New York University business school professors suggest, it could run into similar issues, including having users game the system by creating fake accounts, losing trust and credibility if users question whether their data is worth more than $10 a month, and possibly losing users because they would be even more aware of the site monetization.

Conclusion

Facebook is going to have to find additional ways to make money with the site to increase revenues in order to satisfy their investors.

Paying users to use the site is an interesting idea that could increase revenues. However, there is the possibility that it could backfire.

As I mentioned, I haven’t thought this through completely, but it is an interesting idea.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you think it would be a good idea for Facebook to pay its users?

Photo credit: tellumo on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Facial Recognition Technology and Privacy: Is a Deal Really Worth It?

When you mention facial recognition technology, many people cringe and think of an invasion of privacy that will lead to the government tracking their every move and taking away their civil liberties.

On the other hand, when facial recognition technology is mentioned to other people, they get excited about all the possible cool things that can be done, from improved security systems to marketing opportunities.

Where you stand on this issue is probably going to determine how you feel about a new high-tech loyalty program that is being tested by redpepper, an advertising agency with offices in Atlanta and Nashville.

But, before we get into that further, I want to refresh your memory about another use of facial recognition technology that I talked about in a post last month.

In the post, I mentioned digital signage that is using facial recognition technology that helps identify basic demographics (gender, approximate age, body type, etc.) of the consumers who are looking at the digital sign and then uses that information to deliver relevant ads to them.

Personally, I think that this use of facial recognition technology is harmless because it is only identifying the characteristics of the person, not who the person is. In other words, the consumer’s face is not being matched to a large database to identify their exact identity.

It’s a good thing that I didn’t argue that such a database doesn’t even exist, because only a few days later, I learned that there is a database that I didn’t even think about—Facebook.

Here’s where redpepper enters the story.

Facedeals

As an article on the Los Angeles Times website reports, “A new app is being tested in Nashville, Tenn., that can check in people on Facebook and send them offers using facial-recognition cameras.”

“Called Facedeals, the new service uses cameras installed at businesses’ front doors to read people’s faces as they enter,” the article continues. “If the people who come in are users of the app, they will be checked in, and based on their “like” history, they would receive a customized offer.”

Keep in mind, the idea of getting a deal based on checking in is not new. Businesses around the country are doing the same thing using Foursquare and other location-based social networking sites. In fact, last year I wrote a blog post about Concentrics Restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia. With the help of PlacePunch, Concentrics Restaurants was doing a really great job of offering deals to loyal customers who checked in on Foursquare, Facebook, Gowalla or Yelp.

It appears that the main difference is that Facedeals uses facial recognition technology to check a consumer in every time they enter an establishment that participates in the program. In addition, Facedeals also customizes the deal offered based on the participants “likes” on Facebook.

You can find additional information about Facedeals on the redpepper website.

Privacy Issues

If you search YouTube, you will find that there are people who are letting their opinions be known, both for and against Facedeals.

As you would expect, the normal privacy issues are being brought to the forefront.

Personally, I’m not against using facial recognition technology in this manner. The main reason for my stance is that it is opt in.

However, other people could argue that Facedeals could still track you based on your Facebook profile information even if you don’t opt in and just not tell you. But, let’s face it, the government might already be doing this.

The only problem that I have with Facedeals is that by automatically checking you in on Facebook, all the people who you are connected to on Facebook would know where you are every time you enter a participating establishment. (Without the facial recognition component, you get to choose when to check in and where to share the information.) This could be fixed by having a setting that allows the user to decide not share the check-ins on their Facebook page.

Conclusion

In the future, more technologies are going to be introduced that will push the envelope and challenge both our imagination and how we define our expectations of privacy.

Everyone is aware that facial recognition technologies exist.

However, some people are going to fight to limit its use.

Businesses that plan to use facial recognition technology need to be aware that they serve customers who embrace this type of technology and those who are vehemently against it. Therefore, they need to decide whether or not using a service similar to Facedeals is worth the effort.

Ultimately, though, it is the consumer who gets to decide. If enough people who are against this type of technology voice their opinion to the business owner, the business owner will be forced to listen. On the other hand, if a majority of customers embrace the technology, then its use will become a more common occurrence in businesses all over the world.

Therefore, it is going to be interesting to see how the people of Nashville welcome Facedeals.

My question to you is: If you were given the opportunity to participate in this type of service, would you choose to opt in?

Photo credit: david drexler on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Facebook Ads Can Be Highly Effective

Even before Facebook went public on May 18, 2012, people were questioning what value Facebook offered to the business community.

Since going public, Facebook has been under even more scrutiny.

In particular, people have questioned the effectiveness of Facebook advertising.

While many of the critiques have merit, particularly when you are looking at the revenue potential of Facebook, as a whole, that doesn’t mean that your business should ignore Facebook when you are trying to determine where to invest your adverting dollars.

In fact, when used correctly, Facebook advertising can be highly effective.

The question is: What do you need to do to effectively use Facebook to advertise your products or services?

Killer Facebook Ads

When looking to answer that question, a good place to start is with the CEO of aimClear, Marty Weintraub.

In his book, “Killer Facebook Ads: Master Cutting-Edge Facebook Advertising Techniques,” (affiliate link) Weintraub gives detailed advice that covers everything from setting KPIs to launching Facebook ad campaigns and analyzing the results. Examples are also provided to add clarity.

As he points out in the book, every step of the process is important if you want to set up a successful Facebook ad campaign.

Furthermore, Weintraub addresses some of the criticisms that people have when it comes to Facebook advertising.

For example, Weintraub states, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from people that Facebook ads don’t work…yet their landing page is terrible. If you care about conversion, landing pages can make Facebook ads look either really effective or really terrible.”

And, as to the concern that some marketers have about Facebook ads low click-through rates (CTR), Weintraub mentions, “In reality, not that many FB impressions result in clicks. It’s just that the impression count is so massive that even a very low CTR, as compared to search, can result droves of traffic.”

Conclusion

In an effort to meet the informational needs of investors, analysts have put Facebook under the microscope.

While Facebook advertising, in general, might not be as effective as other advertising techniques when certain KPIs are used to measure the success of the advertising campaign, that doesn’t mean that Facebook ads are a complete waste of time.

It might be the case that businesses haven’t learned how to align the way that their Facebook advertising campaigns are set up to their business goals or that the average business doesn’t take all the steps necessary to create a successful Facebook ad campaign.

If you want to get valuable insights on how to create successful Facebook advertising campaigns, you should start by tapping into the knowledge that Marty Weintraub has to offer.

The recommendations and advice that he gives in his book would take years to learn by yourself.

As I mentioned in the review of the book that I posted on Amazon.com, “Marty Knows Facebook Ads.”

Photo credit: dkalo on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Social Media Marketing Is About Business… And, That’s No B.S.

By now, you have probably heard someone say that your business should be using social media to help market your products or services.

There is no doubt that the other decision-makers in your company have heard that, also.

There is a chance that they have decided to take a wait and see attitude or maybe they even rolled their eyes and decided that they didn’t believe the hype.

On the other hand, they may have decided to take the chance to see what they could accomplish by using social media as a marketing tool. In my opinion, that’s the smart decision.

No Bullshit Social Media

In their book “No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing,” (affiliate link) Jason Falls and Erik Deckers explain that when used correctly, social media can be used to enhance branding and awareness, protect brand reputation, enhance public relations, build community, enhance customer service, facilitate research and development, and drive leads and sales. All of which will have an effect on your bottom line.

As they say, “When you add the word marketing to social media, it’s about business.”

Social Media Marketing Is Not Free

A lot of people think that social media marketing is free. This is not true.

Sure, it might be free to set up a Twitter account for your business and create a Facebook page, but you still have to pay someone to handle your social media marketing efforts, not to mention any other overhead costs that will be incurred (e.g., the costs of computers, electricity, etc.)

In fact, if your business uses social media to enhance customer service, your costs might actually increase.

This is not because it costs more to reach customers using social media. In fact, the opposite is usually true.

However, when you use social media to handle customer complaints, you might actually be able to reach unsatisfied customers who might not have made the effort to call or email your business to complain.

As Falls and Deckers suggest in their book, “Measure the total number of issues your customer service department handles as a whole. That includes phone and online issues. Has the number gone up because of the use of social media? Then that means a lot of those customer complaints were already out there, but you were able to identify them and solve the problem. It might mean you’re handling more issues on the whole, but it also means you’re increasing customer satisfaction.”

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, businesses that are taking a wait and see attitude or dismissing social media marketing altogether are definitely leaving money on the table.

As Jason Falls and Erik Deckers point out in their book, social media marketing can be used to help your business achieve many of its business goals. That is, if your business uses social media correctly.

If you are looking for suggestions on how to use social media for marketing purposes, I’d suggest picking up a copy of the book and giving it a read. It is filled with useful information and valuable case studies that reveal what has and hasn’t worked for other businesses in the past.

And, that’s no bullshit.

Photo credit: Tomas Fano on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Is Twitter Destined to Fail or Did It Find a Creneau?

People are always trying to assess the future of various social networking sites.

For businesses, this type of assessment is needed from time to time, because businesses don’t want to invest heavily in a particular social networking site only to see it close its doors.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that HubSpot is holding a debate about the future of Twitter on Friday, June 22, 2012, at 12 P.M. EST.

The debate will feature Kipp Bodnar, Inbound Marketing Manager at HubSpot and co-author of “The B2B Social Media Book” (affiliate link) and Laura Fitton, Inbound Marketing Evangelist at HubSpot and lead author of “Twitter for Dummies.” (affiliate link)

Mr. Bodnar predicts that “Twitter is slowly coming to an end.” On the other hand, Ms. Fitton “couldn’t disagree more.”

Personally, I agree with Ms. Fitton, but it will be interesting to hear what they both have to say during the debate.

Finding a Creneau

I’m currently reading, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind,” (affiliate link) by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

In the book, the authors point out that the French have a rather useful marketing expression, “Cherchez le creneau.” The English translation: “Look for the hole.”

The authors suggest that it is difficult (if not impossible) for a brand with a small share of the market to take on the established leader by competing head-to-head.

Instead, they suggest, “Cherchez le creneau and then fill it.”

Facebook Vs. Twitter

In the social media world, with over 900 million monthly active users, Facebook is clearly the established leader.

Using the logic put forth by Ries and Trout in their book, it doesn’t make sense for another social network to try to take on Facebook by offering a similar product. However, in my opinion, that is exactly what Google+ is trying to do.

Twitter, on the other hand, with its approximately 100 million users, offers users a social network that is very different from Facebook. Instead of using a complicated formula similar to Facebook’s EdgeRank to determine who sees a post, pages and a timeline that are filled with a lot of other distractions, and a plethora of other features, Twitter focuses on speed, simplicity, and brevity.

In fact, what makes Twitter unique is brevity. That is, given the fact that posts can only be 140 characters long, it forces the person who posts the message to get to the point.

Furthermore, Twitter is great for skimming through a lot of posts quickly to see if there is something that you might want to learn more about by clicking on the link, if there is one. This is not as easy to do with Facebook.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that according to a MarketingVox study, 40% of active Twitter users don’t actually tweet. They are using Twitter as a resource for information.

And, as Tom Webster points out in his blog post, titled “Why Twitter Is Bigger Than You Think,” the way that Twitter is set up makes it easy for traditional media outlets to use the site as a source for their news stories.

Bigger Is Not Always Better

The HubSpot blog post that introduces Friday’s debate points out that while Twitter came out only two years after Facebook, it hasn’t grown as fast.

I’d argue that this might not be a bad thing.

Often when a site gets so big that everyone is using it, it loses its appeal to a certain subset of the population. Twitter offers people an alternative to Facebook.

Furthermore, while users might use Facebook to connect with certain people, they might choose to also use Twitter to connect with a different subset of their network. This allows them to post things without sharing everything with everyone in their network. (I know that you can accomplish this by changing the post settings in Facebook, but sometimes it’s just easier to post to another network and not have to worry about it.)

Twitter for Business

Twitter is not going to be useful for every business.

As with all social networking sites, Twitter is going to be the most beneficial to your business if your customers and prospects are using it. Therefore, the future of Twitter might not matter to you if your customers and prospects don’t use the site.

Keep in mind, however, what you tweet does have a chance of showing up when your customers and prospects do a search on Google or any other search engine. This is just something to think about.

Final Thoughts

It is important for businesses that use social media for marketing purposes to keep up with trends and assess the health of each social networking site that they use to connect with customers and prospects.

Therefore, it might helpful to watch the debate that is being held by HubSpot on Friday.

Going into the debate, my feeling is that Twitter will be around for a long time, even if it only serves a small subset of the population.

Social networking sites can’t be everything to everyone.

As I pointed out in this post, I think that the fact that not everyone is using Twitter can actually work to its advantage.

In other words, I definitely think that Twitter has found a creneau and filled it.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Social Networking Sites Should Not Replace Your Website or Blog

On Friday, picplz announced that on July 3, 2012, it will shut down permanently.

This is not surprising, given the fact that Instagram recently released an Android version of the Instagram app. Prior to the release of Instagram’s Android app, picplz was one of the best alternatives available to people with Android phones.

What is more noteworthy is that all the photos picplz users have posted on the service will be deleted.

This is a good reminder that many of the services that we use could do the same thing, and all the time and effort that we spent posting photos and other content and building human connections could be for naught.

Home Bases, Passports, and Outposts

Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, and others have been blogging about the concept of home bases, passports, and outposts for years.

One of the key points from their posts that I want to focus on is the fact that while social networking sites (passports and outposts) are great for connecting to your customers and prospects, they should not replace your blog or website (home base).

To build on that further, if your blog or website is being used for your business, you should spend the money and find a web hosting service for your blog or website. After all, while Tumblr or even WordPress.com might be around for a long time, they could choose to shut down at any time. If that happened, all the posts and relationships that you spent time and effort creating would be gone… forever.

Futhermore, while social networking sites should be a part of your online marketing strategy, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only post on one social networking site, you are completely at the mercy of that site. For a business, that is not really a good position to be in.

Final Thoughts

Even with all the free social networking sites that are available, you should still invest in a self-hosted blog or website. This will give you complete control over the design, layout and content that you make available to your customers and prospects. And, the site will never go away, unless you want it to.

Don’t get me wrong, you definitely should be using social networking sites to connect to your customers and prospects. The point is, social networking sites (yep, that even includes Facebook) should not replace you website or blog. They should be used in addition to your blog or website. And, whenever possible, you should be using these social networking sites to drive customers and prospects to your blog or website.

Finally, if you have the resources, you should be connecting to customers and prospects on more than one social networking site for two reasons. First, people are fickle (i.e., they might choose to start using another social networking site more frequently.) And second, because social networking sites are run by third parties, there is always the possibility that they could decide to shut the site down.

When a social networking site does choose to shut down, all the content and connections that you spent precious time and effort creating will be lost, unless you find a way to bring your customers and prospects to your website or blog, where you are in control of what they see and how they connect to your business.

With that said, I have to go download a few photos…

Photo credit: odysseygate on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Some Things to Consider When Choosing Where to Post Content

Many businesses have dedicated a lot of resources to try to figure out why content gets shared on the Internet.

While many factors play a role in influencing what gets shared and what doesn’t, most experts agree that posting great content is essential. After all, why would people share something if it isn’t interesting in the first place?

Once you have great content, getting it in front of the right people (key influencers) is also important. Getting these key influencers to share your content is going to go a long way in increasing the reach of your message.

The question then is: Where should you post your content?

Choosing the Right Social Networking Sites

The best advice that I can give you about where you should post content is to post it where your customers and potential customers hang out.

That sounds easy enough… All you have to do is conduct a survey to find out what social networking sites your customers and prospects currently use, examine what social networking sites are currently driving traffic to your website, and/or look at the demographics of the users of each social networking site.

Say that you find out that most of your customers and prospects are on Facebook and Twitter, but don’t use Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, or any other social networking site. That means that you can focus on these two social networking sites and call it a day, right?

Not exactly.

You see, if you use this logic, you are forgetting the role that key influencers play in social media.

Let’s say that a lot the key influencers in your particular field use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Given all the potential noise that’s out there on Facebook and Twitter, it might be easier to get your message in front of key influencers if you post on Google+ or Pinterest. If the content is good enough, the key influencers will hopefully post it on the other social networking sites that they use. In this case, if they share it on Facebook and Twitter, it would put your content right in front of your customers and prospects, with the added benefit that it is being shared by people that your customers and prospects know and respect. That’s priceless.

The Role of Traditional Media

To complicate the matter even further, traditional media can also play a role in spreading your message.

As Tom Webster points out in a blog post, titled “Why Twitter Is Bigger Than You Think,” when you post something on Twitter, it has the potential to be talked about in the traditional media. In fact, according to research conducted jointly by Arbitron and Edison Research, 44% of all Americans age 12 or older report that they see tweets in other media (e.g., radio, television, newspapers, or other websites) “almost every day.”

Now, before you go running to your coworkers to tell them that your business should be posting on Twitter in order to help get your content shared in other media, you need to keep in mind that the research is only saying that it is possible that your content will be mentioned by traditional media outlets if it is posted on Twitter. However, is it likely? Probably not.

You will need to post some really remarkable content for it to be shared by the traditional media outlets. But, it could happen.

Also, keep in mind, the study only looked at Twitter. (At least, that’s the only site that was mentioned in the blog post.) The same thing could happen if you post on any social networking site. And, as mentioned, if it is good enough, your content will probably find its way to Twitter even if you don’t post it there. (If it is content posted on your blog or website, having social sharing buttons helps make this easier.)

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of things to consider when deciding where you should be posting your content.

Before you write off a social networking site because you don’t think that many of your customers and prospects use the site, you need to consider where it will be easiest to get the attention of key influencers in your field. In some cases, this might not be the same social networking site that most of your customers and prospects use. With this in mind, it might make sense to maintain a presence on this social networking site, anyway.

Furthermore, by posting your content on various social networking sites, it makes it possible for your message to be spread in other media, as well.

In the end, though, you still need to post content that people find interesting. Otherwise, why would they share it?

Photo credit: Rosaura Ochoa on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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How Businesses Can Get More Followers or “Likes” on Social Networking Sites*

Do you want to know what the secret is to quickly gaining a lot of followers or “likes” on social networking sites?

Well, here it is: Create a brand that is loved by people all over the world or become famous in some other area of your life.

I say that somewhat tongue in cheek, but the reality is that this statement is actually pretty accurate.

If you look at the top 100 accounts on Twitter, you find that most of them are owned by celebrities. Furthermore, most of the top 100 Facebook pages are owned by major brands, celebrities and a few movies and television shows.

Ways for Small Businesses to Gain Followers and “Likes”

Although major brands and celebrities top the lists of accounts with the most “likes” on Facebook and followers on Twitter, that doesn’t mean that small businesses or businesses that are still trying to make a name for themselves should write off social media as a way to acquire new customers or retain existing ones. In fact, social media is perfect for small businesses. It just takes more time and effort.

Most experts suggest that businesses should post great content and interact with fans and followers to increase the number of followers and “likes” that the business has on social networking sites. For additional suggestions, you might want to check out this article that was posted on the HubSpot blog, titled “8 Guaranteed Ways to Increase Social Media Reach.”

More “Likes” or Followers Isn’t Necessarily Better

Having a lot of followers or “likes” on social networking sites doesn’t always translate into increased sales.

For example, say you own a business in Honolulu, Hawaii, and have a lot of “likes” on your Facebook page from people who visited your establishment when they were on vacation, but not a lot of locals connected to your business on Facebook. If you have a product that can be mailed to customers when they get back to the mainland, having the out-of-town customers connected to your business on Facebook or any other social networking site could be a good thing. However, if your product or service can only be enjoyed when your customers are in town (e.g., if you own a bar, surfboard rental shop, etc.) then these connections will only lead to increased sales if these customers visit Hawaii on a regular basis or recommend your business to people in their network who might be planning to visit your city in the near future.

In this scenario, if you use your Facebook page to push out messages to your customers and potential customers, it’s not going to do a lot of good for your business, unless you can build connections to locals who might be able to use your services more often.

Furthermore, as JD Rucker points out in a post on socialmediatoday.com, titled “Why Local Businesses Should Stop Focusing On Their Facebook Page,” just because a lot of people “like” your Facebook page or follow you on any other social networking site, doesn’t guarantee that these people will see your posts. And, if they do, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be motivated to use your products or services.

What you are really going to want to do to get the most out of your social media marketing efforts is to get your customers and potential customers talking about your business online. In the post, Rucker offers some suggestions about how you might get these conversations started.

Final thoughts

Although it’s clearly easier for a well-known brand or celebrity to get users to connect to them on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking site, social media can still be a valuable marketing tool for small businesses. It just takes more work.

There are steps that businesses can take to increase the number of users who “like” or follow their business on any of the many social networking sites out there.

Posting great content and interacting with the people who have connected to the business on these social networking sites should be a part of the business’s social media marketing strategy.

However, the real magic happens when a business can get its customers talking about and recommending the business to their friends, family and other people in their social graph.

* Note: There is an asterisk in the title of this post, because after reading this you should now realize that getting more “likes” or followers shouldn’t be your only goal. In fact, the most important goal should be to do things that make your customers happy and then encourage them to share their love of your business with their friends and family online.

Photo credit: warrenski on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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