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Social media is still not working for many; how to improve

(Social Media) Many people feel like their social media efforts are failing, even some industry professionals, but there is a fix.

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What’s working in social media?

What’s working in social media is one of the most frustrating questions to answer.

For six months, I’ve been trying to write an adequate answer to this question. You’d think I could move on, but I said I would answer this question. Giving my word is not something I take lightly, I’m sure you know what I mean.

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It’s not frustrating to answer because nothing in social media is working. In my opinion that’s just what people think if they don’t know how to put metrics from social media in the proper context.

Just because you’re not viral doesn’t mean you’re failing

Just because all of your content marketing isn’t going viral on Facebook doesn’t mean the social part of your marketing strategy isn’t working. If it’s spreading in the right places, it doesn’t have to spread in all places.

People try to go viral because they don’t know how to reach just their market, or because they want a burst of links.

No, this question gets hard to answer because

• it’s hard to pretend that social media exists in a vacuum, and
• it’s hard to pretend that is somehow divorced from the rest of the world, then
• it’s treated like an afterthought in marketing or
• it’s treated like it’s only a marketing tool

You could get away with that when social media was Web 2.0 and only a tiny portion of the world used it.

Now you hardly ever meet people who don’t know what YouTube or Facebook is.

And when was the last time you organically – not on a break or vacation!- went through an entire day without
watching a video on YouTube, reading a status update, or checking whatever social app we’ve used to put a graphical interface on our photo sharing or texting habit?

You can’t answer the question of what’s working in social media that way

I could say video.

But what if your goal is to get more people listening to your radio station?

Video could work but if there are ten easier ways that can get your customer to turn on the radio without risking that they’ll decide to watch another screaming goat video instead?

I could say creating infographics.

But what if your target market is full of that small minority of people of which I am a part?

Namely, people who’d rather read than watch, who feel talked-down-to when information is dumbed down into a pretty picture, who only listen to audio or watch video for leisure. Our reason being that you can’t speed read a moving picture?

You get the idea.

Not every social site is for everyone.

Not even the social staples are for everyone. Business blogging can give microbusiness owners and medium companies an edge. But to do that you need people who are, quite frankly, excellent writers and knowledgeable about their field.

It’s not that rare to be both a great writer and have time left in your life to also be a topic matter expert. However, it is increasingly rare for somebody to actually have time for both things, to do them well, and to work for you instead of themselves.

On top of that, there are companies who don’t have the company culture to support a blogging or social strategy. To invite them to blog or use Twitter without prep work is what results in those brand snafus we’re always reading about.

The REAL problem? People are generally clueless about marketing, period

You see, we wouldn’t have these kinds of questions come up if everyone truly understood why we’re doing any type of digital marketing. So much of the time, companies lack enough of an identity to know why they are in business in the first place, never mind who their target audience.

You need both of those things to be able to market yourself. And in the tech and startup space, we’re actively encouraged to push the idea first and the research second.

What’s the mission statement of your company?

What is its vision? What are you best at?

Do you think your company has weaknesses or is your head buried in the sand hoping that the very arrogance you have to say that you don’t have issues, is what will one day make them disappear?

In many ways the web makes it easier to take any skilled technician and make her believe that the excellence in their work is enough to run a business on. Numerous studies and books like the E-myth series have proven that this is just not true.

And yet, we are getting to the point that anyone with more than a half-baked idea believes that the ease in getting started marketing on the web also guarantees success.

Few things are less true in life.

Let’s answer this pesky social media question

You want to know what’s working in social media? I’ll tell you two answers that are really the same if you look at it from a marketing angle.

Answer one: it’s the common thread that every single successful social media “campaign” has had in common for as far back as there were companies doing anything social: a sound marketing strategy, and an understanding of how to move tactically within it.

Remember Old Spice’s initial YouTube hit? You know why that worked?

I bet there isn’t just one answer. I can think of a few dozen reasons why I ended up buying Old Spice on more birthdays than ever before.

But if I had to pick one reason I’d say that it worked with what they were already doing. In the TV commercials, the Old Spice guy was talking to you. A general you, we all understood but still.

On YouTube for a while there, he was talking to You. You had the chance to speak to him personally and if not, enough people were picked for the conversation that he spoke to someone like you.

And how does that happen? When you build social in on top of a marketing foundation that’s already going in the right direction, it simply has to amplify what it already working to be a success.

Answer two: it’s the opposite of what all failed social media efforts have in common.

Before we go down that road, let’s be honest about it. Failure in social is so much more widespread that we don’t even need a famous example anymore. Here’s one I see every day.

A person follows you on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, where ever. Then for months they never say anything – not a favorite or a like. Their occasional activity is the only reason that you know it’s not a bot.

Nothing.

Then one day, out of the blue, with no particular rhyme or reason, usually in the most jarring way possible it comes.

The sloppy, lazy, half-assed, weak, pitiful, bad-breathed, thoughtless, tactless, boring, horrible, and – my favorite- public ASK.
You know what an “ask” is, right?

If you’re worth your salt in any profession, at some point people suddenly start to ask you for way more stuff than they used to:

• read a chapter of my book,
• blog about my project,
• retweet this link,
• share this on Facebook,
• take me to the airport,
• run this press release….

Oh, what, you wouldn’t take someone you just met to the airport? Me either. Which is why I don’t get why people screw up “the ask” so badly or so often. What is the point of:

• asking someone you don’t know
• to endorse something they haven’t used before
• in a way that amounts to spam?

There is none. This is by far the most common mistake after not leveraging social to build contacts outside the given platform. (You build an audience WITH Facebook, not ON Facebook. But that’s another article.)

To spell it out- the ask is everything.

It is Everything.

It. Is EV-er-Y-thing.

If you only have room for a single concept in your head for the remainder of the year, let it be this:

The ASK is Everything. And either you’re asking, the right way, at all times, or that’s your problem.

If you want to get down and dirty, stay tuned.

Tinu Abayomi-Paul is the CEO of Leveraged Promotion and a member of Network Solutions Social web Advisory Board. Her website promotion company specializes in reputation management, and engineering demand generation system for businesses, integrating search, expertise marketing and social media.

Social Media

Facebook pays $52M to content mods with PTSD, proving major flaw in their business

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook will pay out up to millions to former content moderators suffering PTSD to settle the 2018 class action lawsuit.

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Facebook’s traumatized former content moderators are finally receiving their settlement for the psychological damage caused by having to view extremely disturbing content to keep it off of Facebook.

The settlement is costing the company $52 million, distributed as a one time payment of $1,000 to each of the 10,000+ content moderators in four states. If any of these workers seek psychological help and are diagnosed with psychological conditions related to their jobs, Facebook also has to pay for that medical treatment. They pay up to $50,000 per moderator in additional damages (on a case-by-case basis).

Facebook also will offer psychological counseling going forward, and will attempt to create a type of screening for future candidates to determine a candidate’s emotional resiliency, and will make one-on-one mental health counseling available to content moderators going forward. They will also give moderators the ability to stop seeing specific types of reported content.

According to NPR, Steve Williams, a lawyer for the content moderators, said, “We are so pleased that Facebook worked with us to create an unprecedented program to help people performing work that was unimaginable even a few years ago. The harm that can be suffered from this work is real and severe.”

Honestly, this job is not for the faint of heart, to say the least. Like the hard-working, yet not unfazeable police officers on Law & Order SVU, seeing the worst of humanity takes a toll on one’s psyche. Facebook’s content moderators are only human, after all. These workers moderated every conceivable–and inconceivable–type of disturbing content people posted on the 2 billion-users-strong social media platform for a living. Some for $28,800 a year.

I wouldn’t last five minutes in this role. It is painful to even read about what these content moderators witnessed for eight hours a day, five days a week. While Facebook refuses to admit any wrongdoing, as part of the agreement, come on, man. Graphic and disturbing content that upset someone enough to report to Facebook is what these people viewed all day every day. It sounds almost like a blueprint for creating trauma.

This settlement surely sets the precedent for more class action lawsuits to come from traumatized content moderators on other social media platforms. The settlement also shows this business model for what it is: flawed. This isn’t sustainable. It’s disgusting to think there are people out there posting heinous acts, and I am grateful the platform removes them.

However, they have to come up with a better way. Facebook employs thousands upon thousands of really smart people who are brilliant at computer technology. Twitter and YouTube and similar platforms do, too. They need to come up with a better plan going forward, instead of traumatizing these unfortunate souls. I don’t know what that will look like. But with Facebook’s sky-high piles of money and access to so many brilliant minds, they can figure it out. Something’s got to give. Please figure it out.

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Social Media

Twitter will give users a warning before a harmful tweet is sent

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter is rolling out a new warning giving users a chance to edit their tweet before they post “harmful” language, and we aren’t sure how to feel about it.

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Twitter is testing out a new warning system for potentially offensive tweets. If a tweet contains language Twitter deems “harmful,” Twitter will pop up with a warning and opportunity to revise the potentially offensive tweet before posting. The warning mentions that language in the tweet is similar to previously reported tweets.

If internal alarms are going off in your head, congratulations, you are wary of any censorship! However, if you read a tweet spewing with bile, racism, or threatening violence against a person or institution, do you report it? Do you want Twitter to take it down? If you said yes, then congratulations, you want to protect the vulnerable and fight hatred.

If you are wary of censorship, yet want to fight hatred and protect the vulnerable, welcome to the interwebs! It’s a crazy and precarious place where almost anything can happen. Despite decades of use, we’re still navigating our way through the gauntlet of tough decisions the proliferation of platforms and ease of use have given us.

First, how does Twitter gauge a potentially harmful tweet? According to Twitter, the app responds to language similar to prior tweets that people have reported. Twitter, like Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms, already has hateful conduct rules in place. In fact, Twitter has a host of rules and policies intended to protect users from fraud, graphic violence, or explicitly sexual images.

Their rationale is detailed, but explains, “Our role is to serve the public conversation, which requires representation of a diverse range of perspectives.” However, they “recognise that if people experience abuse on Twitter, it can jeopardize their ability to express themselves.”

We’ve heard stories of teenagers–or even younger children–killing themselves after relentless bullying online. The feeling of anonymity when insulting a living, breathing being from behind a computer screen often causes a nasty pile-on effect. We’ve seen people use social media to bully, sexually harass, and threaten others.

Twitter cites research showing women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and other vulnerable populations are more likely to stop expressing themselves freely when someone abuses them on social media. Even Kelly Marie Tran, who played Resistance fighter Rose Tico in Star Wars, took down her Instagram photos before taking a stand against haters. And she had Jedis in her corner. Imagine your average person’s response to such cruel tactics?

We’ve seen hate groups and terrorist organizations use social media to recruit supporters and plan evil acts. We see false information springing up like weeds. Sometimes this information can be dangerous, especially when Joe Blow is out there sharing unresearched and inaccurate medical advice. Go to sleep, Blow, you’re drunk.

As an English major, and an open-minded person, I have a problem with censorship. Banned books are some of my favorites of all time. However, Twitter is a privately owned platform. Twitter has no obligation to amplify messages of hate. They feel, and I personally agree, that they have some responsibility to keep hateful words inciting violence off of their platform. This is a warning, not a ban, and one they’re only rolling out to iOS users for now.

I mean, in the history of angry rants, when was the last time a “Hey, calm down, you shouldn’t say that” ever made the person less angry or less ranty? Almost never. In which case, the person will make their post anyway, leaving it up to masses to report it. At that time, Twitter can make the decision to suspend the account and tell the user to delete it, add a warning, or otherwise take action.

Every once in a while, though, someone may appreciate the note. If you’ve ever had a colleague read an email for “tone” in a thorny work situation, you know heeding a yellow flag is often the wisest decision. This warning notice gives users a chance to edit themselves. As a writer, I always appreciate a chance to edit myself. If they flag every damn curse word, though, that will get real annoying real fast. You’re not my mom, Twitter. You’re not the boss of me.

This isn’t your great granddaddies’ book burning. This is 2020. The internet giveth; the internet taketh away. It’s a crying shame that evil creeps in when we’re not looking. Speech has consequences. Users can’t edit tweets, so once it’s out there, it’s out there. Even if they delete a tweet within moments of posting, anyone can screenshot that baby and share it with the world. Part of me says, “Good, let the haters out themselves.”

Twitter has shown itself to be open to differences in opinion, encouraging freedom of expression, and has opened up a whole new line of communication for traditionally underrepresented populations. They are a private company, and their rules and policies are posted. What, you didn’t read the terms of use? Gasp!

It’s Twitter’s rodeo, after all. This warning gives users a quick, added heads up to posting something that will likely be reported/removed anyway. For better or worse, Twitter’s still leaving it up to users to post what they want and deal with the potential fallout. Hey, I have a great idea! How about we all be respectful of each other on the internet, and Twitter won’t have to come up with this kind of thing.

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Social Media

Yelp adds virtual services classification to help during COVID

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Yelp constantly adds new classifications for how to find a business to meet your needs, now because of COVID they have added virtual services.

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Yelp is making efforts to accommodate businesses whose operations are adapting in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Several new features will help businesses display updated services.

The company has added an information category titled virtual service offerings. Business can display service option such as classes, virtual consultations, performances, and tours. Yelpers can search for businesses based upon those offerings.

Yelp has already noticed trends where users are incorporating virtual services into their business profiles. In an report by TechCrunch, Yelp’s head of consumer product Akhil Kuduvalli said “With these new product updates, businesses of all types that are adapting and changing the way they operate will be able to better connect with their customers and potentially find new ones.”

Virtual services in categories like fitness, gyms, home services, real estate, and health are already increasing in popularity. Yelp intends to showcase businesses that are providing those services by creating new Collections.

Once business owners update their virtual service offerings on their Yelp for Business profiles, we will surface those updates to consumers through new call-to-action buttons, by updating the home screen and search results with links to groups of businesses offering these new virtual services, as well as surfacing them in other formats like Collections,” said Kudvalli.

Also in the works is a curbside pickup category for restaurants. Additionally, Yelp introduced a free customized banner for businesses to post updates on their profiles. About 224,000 businesses have used the banner so far.

Yelp hasn’t stopped there. It’s made its Connect feature (which allows businesses to share important updates to all Yelpers on their profile and their email subscribers) free to eligible local businesses as part of the Yelp’s commitment to waive $25 million in fees to support businesses in need during the COVID-19 crisis.

During COVID-19 businesses and consumers need all the help they can get, and thankfully Yelp is there to – help.

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