What we are covering today is the last section of The Online Sunshine Plan book, where the social media are explored.
But only partially. So this will start bringing you up to date on practical applications.
Social media is a catch-phrase for sites which people don't much understand. They operate more on word-of-mouth than anything else. And are taken to just mean "popularity contest".
Better is to think of them as a modernized "good old boy network". The word Network is key here. It's who you know and who you follow (trust) and who follows (trusts) you.
These sites mainly survive by selling advertising, which is mostly ignored by their users. However, there are enough click-through's in general to support those businesses who are addicted enough to buying advertising that they won't really check their bottom line. (It's a government-sponsored activity, BTW - tax credits for spending in this area abound.)
And those social media which can't get people to click-through on advertising ultimately implode due to lack of support.
Many of the older social media sites have moved to a different model, or were bought up by a larger corporation as a loss-leader (or like Google's Blogger and YouTube, are used to aggregate information about viewer habits - so they can sell more advertising)
The (False) Legends of BacklinkingWhy social media is important these days is that Google is monitoring social media in order to see what people consider is valuable. So they can deliver the most appropriate content in their searches.
Spammers follow Google, and have jumped into social media to get their product in the top rankings. (Since the top five get about 85% of the clicks.)
And so the game continues, as Google then changes values for these. Search Engine Whack-a-Mole.
Most SEO guru's out there don't really get social media. They will tell you what you need to do is to get a lot of high-quality backlinks to your site. And they're stuck on this concept to the point where there have been some major "Google slaps" (devaluations) where some foolhardy entrepreneurs have cobbled together sets of "older" domains and addresses which they then allow people to link back to under the guise of "social media" - which is so apparently worthless that Google catches on to their game, then overnight devalues all the rankings based on those artificial creations. (Hope they invested their fast profits in real estate..)
We've covered this before. Google follows the people it services. If you are consistently producing fresh, high-quality content that is useful and considered valuable - then Google will reward you with high-rankings.
If you are after high-rankings just so you can get click-through's to your site and hopefully convert that traffic to sales - Google is going to sooner or later send your pages down to plus-100 rankings, if not outright eliminate you from their rankings completely.
Social media isn't for backlinks, although these sometimes happen. However, Google and others use it for analyzing whether other people think your content is any good - to determine its relative value compared to other material out there.
Social media means Community
And that is the basic approach which starts making sense of this scene.
We've covered community. It's what creates business models. People have a need or want and someone recognizes this, and creates a solution which people are willing to exchange something valuable for. And until someone does, there will be all this talk and whining and so on about the problem area.
This has given rise to forums, wiki's, blogs, and social networking sites like Facebook and anything that has "groups" in it.
Another need is to be able to share what you are doing, pictures of your kids and pets, and really stupid moves and all sorts of things. And this is served by Facebook and a few other sites, where you can find all about the details of their dog's diet (both ends - TMI) and who said what to whom. This is the old backyard gossip fence or neighborhood barbecue, converted to Internet versions.
The general advice I've encountered on this (and I wasted enough time in these social media sites to generally prove their consensus as workable...) - is that you pick only 2 or 3 good communities to do all your interacting with. This is where you keep your ear to the ground to find out what you need to know in order to deliver what people consider valuable. There are as many communities out there as there are scratches to itch. And more are splitting off and joining with each other every day. So you find our niche and you'll find a community there (or one will form around you pretty quick.)
And corporations have found that when they have people who simply park on Twitter and their Facebook page to deal with upsets their customers have, they can turn bad PR scenes over faulty products or service situations into a "hero riding out of the dawn to save the day" scene.
All this fiction about corporate "branding" is just that. And is why Facebook and most social media never convert in terms of "Return on Investment". Businesses already have communities around their product - they just have to join in on the conversation which they are already part of. But buying ads in these areas is really just paying for someone to run an online service for them to help the community.
When General Motors and others pull their ads because they don't see any return in terms of improved customer consumption - they simply don't get it. Ford has a single person who is engaged all the time in just taking the pulse of various communities which Ford services with their products. Name is Scott Monty. Great guy. Look him up and follow him. He's figured this stuff out, even if Ford still hasn't. But they are closer than the other car manufacturers internationally (IMHO.) But that discussion takes us away from where we want to keep focused on...
3 types of social media
- Status Updates
Others may disagree, saying that social media can also be categorized by type of content and how its shared. True enough.
Our focus has come in through creative content and SEO in order to figure out how to earn extra income online. So through that tunnel-vision, we can see that all these other forms of content are just that - and we can publish our vision and inspiration a thousand different ways through the Internet. But it won't change the fact that the top five spots on Google will always get the lion's share of clicks. Even the fact that Google is now tracking and presenting more than a half-dozen different ways people can produce and share their content.
And while I can (and will) continue with more of this explanation, it next goes into how to apply it.
So we'll leave you today with more freebies so you can start figuring this out on your own, testing what I say above (and as always) before/if you adopt it for your own use.
(These freebies are also your assignment today - yes, it's way more reading than you even had to do in college. But that's the way it is on this site - a data dump.)
1. This online course from SiteBuildIt! is ostensibly about writing, but says a lot about what we are talking about here. Cherry-pick it and then come back to study it thoroughly. NetwritingMasters.pdf
2. Brian Solis has been writing about the online world for years, with a few bestselling books. This is a simple article of his: Redefining the Echo Chamber.
3. As much as I recommend Marketing Samurai, there is also the fact that they deal in a great deal of education, even if its around their own product for examples. Market Samurai BlackBook.pdf
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OK, now I've pushed you over the edge. Absorb what you can. It might or might not get easier in the next few days. Because I only want to do this once, and get it as right as I can - since my next project takes me into territory which I won't have any reason to come back and refine this. So I trust you to help me make sure we build this bridge correctly so that not only you, but all you help can make this transition simply and safely as well.