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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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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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Pinterest Users: Beware of Copyright Law

Let me start off by saying that I’m not a lawyer, I’ve never studied law nor do I plan to.

However, the things that I’ve been reading online lately have me thinking a lot about copyright law and how it relates to social media. In particular, a lot of articles have been written about the fact that by posting content on the popular social networking site, Pinterest, users could be violating copyright law.

What’s more, a recent article on cbsnews.com points out that users are solely responsible for what they pin.

This has several implications for both users and businesses.

Copyright Law and Social Sharing

If users have to worry about being penalized for sharing something on Pinterest, will this discourage them from using the site?

And, if sharing copyrighted content on Pinterest is a copyright violation, wouldn’t the same hold true for Facebook, Tumblr, or any other site where users can post an image that can be seen without actually having to visit the website where it was originally posted?

Furthermore, will the court ever enforce the law and actually penalize a user for sharing something on the Internet for the sole purpose of letting other people know about it (i.e., not for monetary gain)? I’d hope not.

The foundation of social media is based on users being able to freely share content that they find around the Internet. If that premise is destroyed, then social media is going to change dramatically. Users who are really worried about this issue would be forced to only share their own content, content that is posted with a Creative Commons license, or content that the content creator encourages people to share by placing social sharing buttons on their blog or website.

Businesses Using Social Media to Market Their Products and Services

The copyright issue could potentially get even muddier for businesses that use Pinterest to market their products or services.

If the business posts their own photos of their products or services, then copyright issues won’t be a problem.

However, many businesses that use Pinterest have created pinboards that don’t necessarily feature their own products or services, but are of interest to their customers and potential customers. For example, in addition to pinboards about food, Whole Foods Market has pinboards that feature information about gardening, fitness, technology and books. This is a great way to get consumers to interact with the brand without beating them over the head with marketing messages.

However, here is where the copyright issue comes into play. If a business pins a copyrighted photo on Pinterest, it could very well be interpreted as a way of marketing to customers and potential customers. Therefore, the company is looking to make money, albeit indirectly, from the use of the copyrighted material. In my estimation, this would be the time when copyright law would most likely be enforced. (Again, I’m not a lawyer; I’m just using some common sense.)

Therefore, businesses need to be very sure that they have the right to share content before they post it on Pinterest or any other social networking site.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to keep in mind that when you share something on Pinterest, you might be violating copyright law. This is particularly important for businesses that are using Pinterest to interact with consumers.

However, as anyone who is even remotely interested in social media marketing knows, having your content shared on social media sites is a good thing. In fact, some companies dream that their content will go viral.

Furthermore, as a recent article that was posted on marketingprofs.com points out, even if a company doesn’t like that consumers are sharing its copyrighted content on Pinterest, it may not be the best idea to sue them because of it.

In the end, it will be interesting to see how this issue plays out in the near future, because if the court chooses to enforce copyright law and penalizes users for sharing copyrighted content on Pinterest, it could have ramifications on other social media sites as well.

Photo credit: theilr 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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Pinterest: Tumblr for Grown-ups

Last month, I wrote a blog post that listed my top 10 social networking sites for 2011.

On Sunday, I signed up for a social networking site that I predict will be included on the 2012 version of that list. In fact, by the end of the year, I think that Pinterest will be on almost everyone’s radar.

A Brief Demographic Comparison of Pinterest and Tumblr Users

Tumblr was the last social networking site that I got this excited about.

These two sites are very similar in that both enable users to easily share visually appealing content with their network.

However, they currently appeal to different demographics.

For example, Pinterest users tend to be a little older than Tumblr users.

According to a post on brandwarepr.com, only 3% of Pinterest users are under the age of 18 and about 35% are age 18 to 34. Furthermore, 32% are age 35 to 44 and another 21% are age 45 to 54.

In contrast, quantcast.com reports that 18% of Tumblr users in the U.S. are younger than 18 years old and another 45% are age 18 to 34. (Note: The Quantcast numbers are based on the time period between December 16, 2011 and January 16, 2012.)

It’s also interesting to note that over 8 in 10 Pinterest users are female.

Note: It is unclear whether the data from brandwarepr.com is based on users in the U.S. or worldwide.

Reasons to Keep an Eye on Pinterest  

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Pinterest, including how it is helping businesses like Land’s End and Etsy drive traffic to their websites.

It should also be noted that, similar to Tumblr, Pinterest is a very sticky site.

In fact, comScore reported that worldwide users spent an average of 72.1 minutes on the site in October of 2011.

Final Thoughts

I plan to write another blog post about Pinterest after I get more familiar with what people share on the site.

Until then, if you are looking for suggestions about how your business can use Pinterest, you might want to check out a recent post on the 360i Digital Connections blog. It has some interesting observations about the site.

If you are on Pinterest, please feel free to connect with me.

If you are not currently using Pinterest, you might want to give it a try.

Also, if you have any tips about who to follow or ways that you can use the site, please let me know.

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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What Apps Are Currently on Your Smartphone?

As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, comScore reported that for the three-month average period ending in October 2011, 90 million people in the United States owned smartphones. As would be expected, this number continues to increase.

In fact, according to Flurry Analytics, 6.8 million Android and iOS devices were activated on Christmas Day. This is a 353% increase over the average number of activations per day that were observed in the first 20 days of December, 2011.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the number of smartphone app downloads was 125% higher on Christmas Day, when compared to the baseline measurement.

Suggested Smartphone Apps

With all the new smartphone owners out there, it makes sense to suggest some smartphone apps that people might be interested in.

It should be noted that I currently own an Android phone, so most of my suggestion will be based on apps that are available for that operating system. However, most of these apps are also available on other mobile operating systems, as well.

If you are currently using any of the social networking sites out there that have apps available (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Myspace, YouTube, etc.) then it makes sense to download those apps to your phone. There are some other apps that can be used to access these social networks, as well. In fact, there are many apps currently available that allow you to access your Twitter account.

Google Maps is also a very useful app. The Android version of the app eliminates the need for a separate GPS navigation system. It also now includes indoor maps. I haven’t tried this feature… but it sounds really cool.

The CNN app is great for keeping up with the latest news. When the app is installed on your phone, you can choose to have it notify you about breaking news. I also recently installed the CNNMoney app. It is similar, but it focuses on business news.

CNET TV and G4 both have great apps that provide users with the kind of information that satisfies the tech nerd in all of us.

Evernote is included on a lot of favorite app lists, including mine. Among other things, you can use the app to take notes in meetings or write down ideas that you want to remember when you are on the go. As an added bonus, you can also access Evernote from your PC. I use this app a lot for taking notes about topics that I want to blog about in the future.

Foursquare is one of my favorite location-based social networking sites. The app is very easy to use, and businesses sometimes reward you for checking in to their venue. I have written several blog posts about Foursquare in the past. It should also be noted that there are other apps out there that serve a similar purpose, like SCVNGR and Google Latitude. However, I currently tend to use Foursquare the most.

If you are looking for a cool photo sharing app, I’d suggest giving picplz a try. However, I have also heard a lot of good things about Instagram. It was recently announced that Instagram is working on an Android version of the app. Until the Android version of Instagram is available, picplz is a very good alternative. In fact, there are people out there who say that they prefer picplz to Instagram.

GetGlue is a great app that allows you to let others know what you are currently doing (i.e., reading a book, listening to music, watching a television show or movie, playing a video game or just thinking about a topic.) The current version of the app is a little clunky, but I still enjoy using it. And, hopefully, future versions of the app will fix some of the problems that I am currently having with it.

I am also a fan of the Yelp app. It gives you access to user-generated reviews of the local bars, restaurants and stores in your area. Yelp is a great resource for people who have recently relocated to a new city or are visiting a city that they have never been to before. It also has a check-in component similar to Foursquare. And, if you get a chance, check out Yelp’s Monocle. Yelp’s Monocle is an augmented reality feature that among other things allows you to see reviews of the businesses that are nearby.

Urbanspoon is another app that can help you find nearby bars and restaurants. The unique thing about this app is that if you can’t decide where you want eat, you can use the Urbanspoon slot machine to get additional suggestions. It’s a very cool app.

Many of the daily-deal sites, such as Groupon and LivingSocial, also have apps. As I mentioned in a post that I wrote this past summer, I think that Scoutmob is the daily-deal site that offers the best value to businesses and consumers. As is the case with most of the daily-deal sites, Scoutmob can only be used in certain markets.

Shopkick is another fun app that allows you to earn kicks by visiting participating brick-and-mortar stores and scanning certain items with your smartphone. The kicks can then be redeemed for merchandise at participating retail stores or donated to certain charities.

I also need to mention the Google Reader and Listen apps. I use these apps a lot for reading blog posts and listening to podcasts, respectively.

And, if you sell things on eBay, you definitely will want to download the eBay app. It has many useful features that help facilitate the buying and selling process.

Finally, there are a few apps that I haven’t used that much, but I want to mention because I think that they could potentially be very useful to some people. These apps include Google Googles, RedLaser, Zaarly and WHERE.

Final Thoughts

Many people received smartphones over the holidays.

That means that many people are now learning about the different ways that smartphones can make life a little easier by simplifying some of our everyday tasks.

However, in order to take full advantage of their smartphones, people need to know what apps to download.

The list that I just provided is a good place to start.

However, with over 500,000 apps in the both the Apple App Store and Google’s Android Market, it’s just the beginning.

For additional suggestions, you might want to check out the lists that are provided by other bloggers. In fact, Nate Riggs just published a list today. Jeff Hilimire also frequently blogs about apps that you might never have heard about before.

Other popular websites also frequently list some of the best apps that are currently available.

However, the only way you can truly know whether or not an app is valuable to you is to actually try it yourself. So, I’d suggest heading over to the Apple App Store or Google’s Android Market and give some of the many apps out there a try.

And, if you have any other apps that you would like to suggest, I’d love to hear about them.

Photo credit: mcclanahoochie 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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1911 Main Street’s Top 10 Social Networking Sites for Business 2011

Photo credit: Montage Communications on Flickr.This is the time of the year for holiday parties, college football bowl games, Santa Claus, and looking back at the year that was.

It is also the time of year for “best of” lists… and lots of them.

So, in keeping with the tradition, I submit to you my list of the top 10 social networking sites for business 2011.

Note: There are many smartphone apps that could be considered social networking sites that I haven’t included on this list. I plan to write a post in the near future dedicated to smartphone apps, so if some of your favorite apps didn’t make this list, check back in the next few weeks.

The Top 10 List

1. Facebook

A “best of” social networking site list would not be credible if it didn’t start off with Facebook. The site was launched in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with the help of some of his roommates and fellow students, including Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. Facebook was initially limited to Harvard students. However, it eventually opened up to the general public and now boasts more than 800 million active users worldwide. With numbers like that, it isn’t hard to see why this site is number one on my “best of” social networking site list.

On its site, Facebook has several resources to help businesses connect with current and potential customers.

2. Twitter

Founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, Twitter enables users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, also known as “tweets”, in real-time. Twitter’s “About” page mentions that, “Businesses use Twitter to quickly share information with people interested in their products and services, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and influential people. From brand lift, to CRM, to direct sales, Twitter offers businesses a chance to reach an engaged audience.”

For more information about using Twitter for business, check out the “Twitter for Business” page.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn was founded in 2002 and launched the following year. It is one of the premier social networking sites for business professionals. According to its website, as of November of 2011, LinkedIn had more than 135 million members in over 200 countries. LinkedIn mentions that all of the 2011 Fortune 500 companies have executives who are members of LinkedIn. Futhermore, LinkedIn’s hiring solutions are used by 75 of the Fortune 100 companies.

Check out the LinkedIn “About Us” page for additional information.

4. Google+

Launched in June of this year, Google+ has grown rather quickly. (A recent Mashable article stated that it has an estimated 40 million users.) With the recent launch of Google+ Brand pages, Google+ should definitely be on your radar.

For more information about Pages for Google+, visit the Google.com website.

5. Myspace

Launched in 2003, this once dominant social networking site has experienced a massive exodus in recent years. However, according to comScore, Myspace still had over 28.4 million unique visitors in October of 2011. This is a sizable number. Furthermore, Myspace was recently purchased by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake. They plan to relaunch the site in 2012. Will this be enough to revive Myspace? I don’t know. However, it might be a good place to buy ads in the short-term, as people will most likely revisit the site to see what changes are made.

6. Tumblr

As I mentioned in a recent blog post, businesses, particularly those that are targeting consumers age 18 to 34, should keep an eye on Tumblr. According to a recent Nielsen study, titled “State of the Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011,” Tumblr nearly tripled its audience in the last year. In fact, it has become the 8th largest site in the U.S. Social Networks and Blogs category.

For more information, check out my blog post about Tumblr.

7. Foursquare

Around 15 million people worldwide are using Foursquare. Therefore, it’s not surprising that over 500,000 businesses are using the Merchant Platform. While other sites have tried to compete, Foursquare is currently the most successful location-based social networking site. Will it ever gain widespread acceptance? Probably not. However, there are a lot of cool things that can be done with location-based social networking sites. Furthermore, as a recent Adweek article points out, the early adopters of location-based social networking sites tend to be influential and young. The article also mentions that these early adopters are more likely to share product information, promotional coupons or discount codes than average online U.S. adults. This is definitely something that businesses should think about.

8. YouTube

The YouTube website states that more than 3 billion videos are viewed per day on the site. It also states that 98 of AdAge’s Top 100 advertisers have run campaigns on YouTube and the Google Display Network. Furthermore, the number of advertisers using display ads on YouTube increased 10 fold in the last year. If your business is already creating engaging video content, you might want to consider sharing it on YouTube. You might also want to consider video podcasting as a way to get the word out about your business. But remember, don’t just talk about your business. Instead, focus on a topic that is related to your business and deliver content that your customers and potential customers will be interested in.

9. Yelp

According comScore, Yelp had 31.3 million unique visitors in October of 2011. This alone should give businesses a reason to make sure that they have a presence on the site. Good reviews will help drive Yelp users to your business. And, keep in mind, Yelp reviews can also show up in Google Search Engine Results Pages. Therefore, it pays to monitor what people are saying about your business on Yelp and other user-generated review sites and respond to your customers concerns.

This summer, I wrote a blog post about how user-generated online reviews can influence sales. You might want to check it out.

10. Flickr

According to Wikipedia, Flickr was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and acquired by Yahoo! in 2005. Flickr is a site that allows users to post photos and videos. The Yahoo! website states that Flickr has 20 million unique U.S. visitors (nearly 80 million worldwide) that spend an average of 2.7 minutes per visit on the site. Therefore, it might be a good idea for your business to upload visually appealing photographs and videos that highlight its products and services. As an added bonus, many people use Flickr to find great content to share on other social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Flickr is also a great source to find photos for blog posts.

Note: You might want to give the content that you post on Flickr a Creative Commons license to encourage sharing.

Final Thoughts

This is my list of the Top 10 social networking sites for 2011.

Are there any social networking sites that I should have included? And, if so, what sites would you take off the list?

Photo credit: Montage Communications 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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In the Spotlight: Tumblr

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.In order to compete, it is becoming more important for brands to have a presence on social networking sites.

When it comes to social media, a lot of focus has been placed on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more recently, Google+.

However, brands, particularly those that are targeting consumers age 18 to 34, should keep an eye on Tumblr.

According to a recent Nielsen study, titled “State of the Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011,” Tumblr nearly tripled its audience in the last year. In fact, it has become the 8th largest site in the U.S. Social Networks and Blogs category.

The Nielsen study also states that, “An analysis of online buzz by NM Incite shows that Tumblr is also a popular conversation topic, generating an average of 21,280 messages and links per day to the site during May 2011, spreading critical word-of-mouth fueling its viral growth.”

What is Tumblr?

The Tumblr “About us” page answers that question like this: “Millions of people sharing the things they do, find, love, think, or create.”

The Nielsen study that I mentioned above describes Tumblr by saying that it combines elements of blogging and Twitter and allows users to post and customize everything from pictures and videos to links and quotes.

A recent blog post on socialmediaexaminer.com, titled “Should You Be on Tumblr? Seven Business Case Examples,” has a pretty good explanation of Tumblr. You might want to check it out.

Who’s on Tumblr?

My last two posts put forth ideas that were supported by Gary Vaynerchuk’s work. Therefore, I feel it’s necessary to mention that he is a big Tumblr fan. In fact, his main site, garyvaynerchuk.com, is powered by Tumblr.

Many celebrities have also taken a liking to Tumblr, including Katy Perry, John Mayer, Josh Groban, John Legend, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to name a few.

However, celebrities are not the only ones who are using Tumblr.

Your customers are as well… and lots of them.

As I mentioned earlier, according Nielsen, Tumblr is the 8th largest site in the U.S. Social Networks and Blogs category.

This makes Tumblr a site to watch and be on if you want to reach your customers where they hang out.

This is particularly true if you are selling products or services to consumers age 18 to 34.

In fact, according the Nielsen study that I mentioned earlier, 44.4% of Tumblr’s U.S. audience is age 18 to 34 and an additional 12.9% are age 2 to 17.

What might be even more important is the fact that Tumblr is gaining users, not losing them.

Brands Currently on Tumblr

The blog post on socialmediaexaminer.com that I mentioned earlier points out that Oscar De La Renta, Ann Taylor, Rolling Stone Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Huggies, Milkmade Ice Cream, Somebody’s Mother’s, IBM, The Museum of Useful Things, Doctors Without Borders and Newsweek are all on Tumblr.

A post of socialfresh.com, titled “60 Brands Using Tumblr,” also has a list that you can use to see what other brands are doing with Tumblr.

My Thoughts on Tumblr

I started using Tumblr in September, 2010, for a 365 photoblog, titled “A Year of Yesterdays.”

The concept was to publish one photograph each day that was taken the previous day, thus “A Year of Yesterdays.”

In the process of posting photos, mostly of buildings in Atlanta, and later Central Wisconsin and Minnesota, I noticed that photos of certain buildings and restaurants were frequently getting reblogged.

Nothing viral, mind you, but enough to get me thinking that beloved local bars and restaurants, like The Varsity in Atlanta, Georgia, should definitely have a presence on Tumblr.

The same holds true for popular brands.

People are already sharing photos of products and brand logos on Tumblr.

Why not give them additional photos to help get your message out?

I think that the author of the post on socialmediaexaminer.com is correct when he says that, “short, highly visual blog posts tend to do much better than text-intensive posts.”

If your brand does choose to use Tumblr, remember to keep in mind the audience who uses the site.

The fact that Tumblr tends to attract a younger audience may be a result of this age group’s willingness to try out new sites. However, it might also be an indication that they are looking for a social networking site that their parents are not on. In other words, Tumblr users may be looking for an alternative to Facebook.

With this in mind, in addition to having visually appealing posts, I’d also suggest trying to keep your content cool, youthful and fun with the hopes that it will get shared by the Gen Y audience.

Conclusion

As Nielsen states, “Tumblr is an emerging player in social media, nearly tripling its audience from a year ago.”

That alone should make brands take note, and at least consider establishing a presence on the site.

Tumblr makes it easy to share content, and many of your customers are already doing so.

So, why not make it easier for them to let others know about your product or service by giving them great content that they can easily share on Tumblr?

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.

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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