What Is Your Social Media BFF? 42% Of Adults Now Use Multiple Social Sites

The term Best friends forever (BFF) is a close friendship developed by teenagers and young people. We may be friends with a few or a lot of social media sites, but I bet you have your favorite.

The Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update gives us a look into how social media use is evolving. As of 2013, 73% of online adults used social networking sites. Facebook was many people’s BFF in terms of number of users. But Pew Center Research also found that a striking number of users are now diversifying onto other platforms.

Results of the survey indicate that some 42% of online adults now use multiple social networking sites. What’s more, Instagram users are nearly as likely as Facebook users to check in to the site on a daily basis. Have you starting exploring personal, career, or business relationships beyond Facebook?SocialMediaSitesBut even this information from the Pew Center Research study can be limiting. It only looked at Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. We know there is a lot more out there. It seems that every month another social media star is rising. Lately you may have been hearing about SnapChat or Quora, and Digg reinventing itself and gaining ground. Plus, you can never count out Google+, which keeps adding features to gain users. Let’s face it, social media can be overwhelming.

The key to success is realizing you don’t have to be in every social media channel to see real results. How do you choose? Start by organizing them into categories. You probably have high school and college BFFs, family BFFs, Work BFFs and neighborhood BFFs. They are all your friends, but you do different things with each. Below are the main categories of social media that I have developed with a list of the main players in each

Social Media Categories:

Social Networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+

Blogging and Forums – WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr

Microblogging  – Twitter, Pinterest

Media Sharing – YouTube, Flikr, Instagram

Geo-location – Foursquare, Facebook Places, Google+ Locations

Ratings and Reviews – Yelp, Citysearch, Google+ Local

Social Bookmarking – Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg

Wikis and Social Knowledge – Wikipedia, Yahoo! Answers, Quora

Podcasts – RSS, iTunes

For personal, business, or career, you have to decide who you want to talk to and what you to say and how you want to say it. Wikipedia says BFFs are common when you are young, but you may grow out of them as you get older. Perhaps it is time you grew out of your social media BFF and start exploring some of these other options.

Has PR Become An Unsustainable 24/7 Profession: Do We Really Need Social Media Mission Control Centers?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how social media affects our professional lives. One particular development has been in the back of my mind since I saw a keynote presentation at the WVU IMC INTEGRATE conference that has particular relevance to the Public Relations profession. Fred Cook, CEO, of PR firm GolinHarris spoke about the many changes in the industry and how his firm has adjusted to the digital revolution. In particular, he talked about a new 24 hour, 7 days a week social media monitoring lab they built to listen and respond to live consumer chat on behalf of their clients. I’ve kept thinking about how they staff the room. Like marketing and advertising, PR has not traditionally been an hourly, shift working profession. And GolinHarris is not alone in reacting this way to the 24 hour news cycle and 24 hour consumer chatter. London based Chapel PR  recently launched their own 24/7 rapid response social media listening lab for client Thomas Cook to monitor their 60+ global brands.

How is this changing the human side of the profession? In a Social Media Today interview, PR pro Bernice Burnside of Bvisible says, “The ‘Golden 24 hours’ within which a company needed and was expected to respond to issues has become the ‘Golden Hour.’” This 24/7, 1 hour response time expectation does raise the issue of possible overwork. Occasional all nighters is one thing, but marketing and communications departments and firms are not built like a customer service or operations department used to functioning at this level. An extreme case is the death of a 24-year-old Ogilvy PR employee in Beijing, who died of a heart attack at his desk. Ad Age reports there are rumors that the cause was overwork, but nothing has been confirmed.

And how much does all this around the clock listening cost anyway? PR Newswire did some calculations in this area. They estimated that is takes a typical PR Pro 8 hours a day to manually monitor social media and compile a clipbook including scanning sites, collecting clips, generating a data spreadsheet, plus analyzing and reporting. With the average PR Pro wage, this could cost $80,000 a year just for one employee for 1/3 of the day. Dave Folkens from TopRank Blog observes that when one upset customer on Facebook or an angry blogger can send a brand into a crisis mode, PR is in an “always on” mode. Certainly, PR has always had to deal with “on call” issues, but social media has expanded the potential complaints and the public visibility of these issues. Has it gone so far that “on call” has now become 24/7 shift work at the office?

Of course, not all of these 24 hour listening labs are being built-in PR firms. Some marketers have chosen to invest in their own internal social media monitoring centers with branded design and important names like “Mission Central.” For example, Gatorade has built a Mission Control room in the middle of their marketing department to monitor the brand in real-time across social media. Gatorade has used it to leverage a popular song in one of their commercials that was getting a lot of buzz, optimize landing pages to increase engagement and host live events such as a nutritionist answering consumer questions.

Still, does all this activity justify an elaborate, branded lab that is staffed 24/7? Gatorade admits that all the real-time data reported in Mission Control is also available to employees on their laptops. Perhaps deep down inside all of us, there is a childhood dream to work on something as critical as Mission Control at NASA. Or perhaps we all have seen Apollo 13 way too many times.

There Are No Top 10 Best Rules for Social Media Marketing

The other day I was working in my home office when the FedEx Ground guy pulled up. I noticed on his dashboard was a box of Milk Bone dog biscuits. When I asked him about it, he said he keeps them in case of wild homeowners dogs. I thought that was a very smart strategy that is probably not in the official FedEx employee rules. It was something he learned from unique experience between him and his customers.

This led me to thinking about all those self proclaimed “Top Strategies for Social Media Success” lists that we see everywhere online and off. Bloggers and journalists love lists and we are told top 10 lists generate top traffic, so we write them. A simple Google search returns 135 million various forms of “top tips for social media marketing.” But if we are honest with ourselves (I’ve written plenty of these myself) there really is no one-list-fits-all social media strategy. What worked for Comcast Cable and Best Buy and Universal Studios latest movie launch probably will not work exactly for your local bank, tech start up or package good.

The problem with posts and articles like The Best Social Media Tells A Story, and Top 6 Social Media Marketing Tips, or  Social Media Marketing: How Do Top Brands Use Social Platforms is you can’t really build a social media plan out of them. Just because 80% of top brands are using Pinterest, does not mean that you should. Even if you did, how would you use it, what would you post there and how would that tie into what you’re doing on Facebook? Is it a good idea to tell a story in Social Media? Sure. But what story do you tell and where?

These are answers that can not be found in a blog post or article about the latest social media platform, technique, tip or survey result. Like my FedEx delivery guy, you need a strategy unique to your experience and customers. So how do you find your Milk Bone solution? Despite saying that lists don’t work, I suggest this basic social media strategy framework:

  1. Identify your business goals, marketing strategy and key performance indicators (KPIs).
  2. Determine your target audience, discover where they’re talking online and what they’re saying.
  3. Engage the target on their social platforms with meaningful branded content in a way that leverages each platform’s key capabilities.

Even this list is woefully incomplete, but at least it starts in a place rooted in your unique situation and starts to drive a strategy of choosing social platforms and creating content based on your business objectives, marketing strategy and target audience. Otherwise you are left to chase 135 million different people’s top tips that may or may not be good suggestions for your business.

Perhaps this explains why in a recent AMA survey only 9.9% of CMOs believe their social marketing is “very integrated” to the firm’s strategy and a full 15.2% admit that it is not integrated at all. This despite the same CMOs all planning to increase social media spending more than two folds in the next five years. If you want to really integrate social media into the rest of your marketing and business operations, you need to go beyond the tips and lists. Dig deeper with a good social media strategy book and/or workbook or enlist the help of a consultant who can take you through a more complete social media strategic planning process. And a white paper report such as “How to Integrate Social Media Into Your Marketing Strategy,” will help get you a lot further down the road towards true social media integration. The result will be a treat for you and your customers.