March 26, 2013
We’re all familiar with the funny image that goes by various names, but is basically “Social media explained with donuts.” As a reminder, here’s the full list:
Companies, including my own, use the “Donut List” to simplify the major social sites to novices. But as these sites add features and move to our mobile devices, the differences aren’t all that clear.
Take YouTube, indisputably the king of internet video. But Facebook also hosts videos; they play right in your timeline. Google Plus, which owns YouTube, easily integrates with its sister company. Pinterest lets users pin videos and even the business-minded LinkedIn allows companies to post videos, if they upgrade to the premium packages. Yes, virtually all the videos being watched on these different sites are coming from YouTube. But does the average user care? And what if you find that your brand’s videos are being watched more through a Facebook timeline than on YouTube.com? Another reason to update the Donut List is that Pinterest has evolved. It started out with a mostly female audience, no brand presence, and a large amount of recipe pins. But now the site has moved away from text and consists almost entirely of images. Brands are showing off their products, couples are building wedding registries, and just about everyone is sharing infographics. So what’s all this about recipes? And then there’s Google Plus. When the Donut List was first published, the social network was seen as a poor attempt to compete with Facebook. The Wall Street Journal called it a “virtual ghost town.” Hence the joke that only Google employees used the site. But Google integrated many of its other products into G+, including YouTube and Gmail, encouraging (some might say demanding) that users create a profile. Less controversial are the popular Google Hangouts, live G+ video chats on with celebrities, thought leaders – even astronauts on the International Space Station. Today, Google Plus is the second-most popular social network in the world, behind Facebook. So now the joke’s on the Donut List.
I have a few other quibbles with the Donut List. For example, Instagram may be known for its “vintage” filters, but people and brands are posting plenty of “unfiltered” images there, making it a competitor to Pinterest. And I’m not sure that image-hosting site Imgur will ever become a true social network, especially as Instagram and Pinterest become more popular. In conclusion, the Donut List is funny and insightful, but is no longer accurate. Social media is always changing and so should the Donut List. How would you describe these social sites? Would you add any? Delete any? Let me know. And if the evolving social landscape has you confused, Brandemix will be happy to help.
Until then, I’m grabbing a donut.
January 28, 2013
I’ve told you about Social Media Superstars and various best practices – but what about worst practices? What are some tactics to completely avoid?
Here are some of my personal pet peeves for each major social network. Think of them as social media don’ts.
Ignoring questions and comments. Twitter, like all social media, is supposed to be a dialogue – that’s the “social” part. Only broadcasting and never replying is almost like shouting continuously. Everyone can see that your Twitter stream has no @mentions or retweets and they’ll know it’s pointless to communicate with you before they even try.
Not using all the features. Believe it or not, some brands post only text and links. The Photos tab is empty, or maybe has their logo as a default. And don’t forget that Facebook allows you post videos, as well. In fact, you can have 10 custom Facebook tabs. Use them! Tabs can be used for posting jobs, holding contests, or creating interactive experiences. Look what Coca-Cola offers, for example.
We make a lot of videos here at Brandemix, so my pet peeves are production-based. Bad lighting and bad sound absolutely ruin videos for me. So are videos that stretch three minutes of content into ten minutes of agony. And some people don’t understand the concept of a second take, stammering their way through a presentation. Take the time to do videos right or else they may go viral for all the wrong reasons.
If you’re in a LinkedIn Group, please add to the conversation and comment on others’ posts before posting a blatant advertisement for your services. Yes, we’re all on LinkedIn for business purposes, but that doesn’t mean civility and etiquette don’t apply.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not a fan of Pinterest accounts that only repin others’ pins. To me, it’s like only retweeting on Twitter and never posting something original. You don’t have to be an artist or designer to have access to some kind of visual collateral. Post photos of your office, or your employees, or your neighborhood. Do you have a pet? One category that never fails for me: dogs wearing sweaters.
Those are the worst offenders for each of the major social networks. Google Plus suffers from the same problem as Facebook, and Instagram abounds with the same poor production quality as YouTube.
What are your social media pet peeves? Have any examples? We’d love to see them.
And, of course, if you’re having trouble achieving social media best practices, we’re happy to help.
May 30, 2012
It’s time for another round-up of the best brands in social media. Along with old favorites Facebook and Twitter, this time I’m looking at Pinterest, now the third-most popular social network in America, and Google+, which is finally gaining traction among brands. Who’s the best – and why? Read on.
With 23 boards and more than 750 pins, Michael Kors’ Pinterest gives his fans a lot to look at. But only about half his boards are about the products themselves, such as watches and shoes. One board is “Style Tips,” a great resource for fashion enthusaists, while others like “Travel Diary” offer a sneak peak into the designer’s glamorous lifestyle. “Michael’s Milestones” feature photos of Michael’s past, including his child-modeling work in the 60s. “On Broadway” presents Michael’s favorite shows, while “Eat Up” presents his favorite foods. It’s clear taht Michael Kors is using Pinterest not just to sell his products but also to connect with fans and give them an inside look at his life.
Twitter – Whole Foods
Named one of the Top Ten Twitter Brands of 2011 by Social Fresh, Whole Foods boasts more than 2.6 million followers. What makes them so popular? Their profile description includes this promise: “Ready to answer you questions Mon-Fri 9am-5pm CST!” I constantly remind clients that social media is a two-way conversation, and Whole Foods has embraced that idea by invitingquestions (and, most likely, complaints). Whole Foods also tweets plenty of cooking tips and recipes, and dozens of images – not only of food but also of branded events, like its “Ring of Fire” ski tour of Pacific Northwest volcanoes. And the chain makes good on its guarantee, responding to comments and questions throughout the day. It’s a fun, enthusiastic, helpful channel, which is what every brand should aim for.
Facebook – Starbucks
Starbucks is one of the brands most engaged with its audience, according to social marketing firm SocialBakers. Their Timeline is filled with responses to fans’ posts, ranging from “Is your decaf coffee decaffeinated through the Swiss Water Process?” to a complaint about a rewards card that hadn’t arrived. In some cases, Starbucks takes a day to reply; in other cases, just minutes. The brand keeps things simple on Facebook, with no apps or games except for a tab that allows fans to send Starbucks Card eGifts to friends. There are plenty of photos and videos, though, featuring employees, music, and Starbucks’ scrumptious products. Best of all, the brand devotes one of its eight tabs to job-seekers, with a job search Facebook app that’s intuitive and easy. The result is more than 30 million likes, making Starbucks the second-biggest brand Facebook Page in the world.
For one thing, BMW has constructed a photo of its new i8 Spyder concept car through a clever use of its four profile images – which some brands are still struggling with. The carmaker post lots of photos and videos of its products in action. Like Whole Foods, the brand is rewarded for engaging fans; its simple question of what rims to put on the new Gran Coupé elicited 433 answers. There are user-submitted photos, too. And while BMW may be a luxury brand, it never talks down to its fans on Google Plus, covering racing along with its high-end cars. Such compelling content and breezy conversations have garnered BMW 491,000 +1’s, and the brand is in 490,000 people’s Circles.
At Brandemix, we use all these social media channels, along with YouTube, LinkedIn, and others, to reach consumers, donors, employees, and job-seekers. If you’d like to learn more from our research into social media best practices, contact us.