Sometimes, when I try to figure out what tool might be the right one to use for any aspect of social media, marketing, content or any and all of the above, I feel like I’m staring at a wall like the above.
Recently, I was tasked with finding a tool to gather & track feedback to a website. A tool less robust than Freshdesk, but more robust than, say, Outlook.
Lots of room there. At some points, I didn’t even know what I was looking for anymore. I asked friends. I Googled. I posted queries in various groups on Facebook. Then I remembered my old friend Daniel Honigman was now at G2Crowd, a site where people post reviews of various tools and platforms. I had liked what I’d seen, and had even reviewed a few platforms. Why not actually use it for its intended purpose?
And whaddya know? It worked. I found some interesting platforms, and also vetted one recommended to me by a friend and found exactly what I was looking for.
So when Dan asked for my thoughts on social media marketing for G2 Crowd’s Spring report on the Best Social Media Management Tools, I was happy to oblige.
Social Media is becoming ever-more integrated with overall marketing, which makes perfect sense. Social media isn’t the solution, just part of the solution. Social media management augments content, public relations, marketing, advertising, and all the rest of it. Having SMM platforms that integrate seamlessly with products across these areas will be vital.
You need to figure out your overall plan and how different tools interact with one another. Just because two tools can work together doesn’t mean their integration is the best. If you love one platform, find out who its preferred partners are, because those tools will have the best integrations.
While the report isn’t perfect, it is based on user reviews – by “not perfect,” I mean that including TweetDeck and Buffer in the same tool category as SproutSocial and Sprinklr is a bit of a mismatch. As awesome as both TweetDeck and Buffer are (I’m an avid user of both!), neither is capable of the same level of social media management as many others in the category. Understand, that’s not a slam; they’re not meant to be full-service social media management platforms.
Jason Falls (who also contributed his thoughts on SMM tools in the G2Crowd report) breaks down the results very well. He also points out what I find most valuable about the report, and G2Crowd in general: All the reviews are by real people. Because G2 Crowd requires you to log in using LinkedIn oAuth, the incidence of spam is low. And you can easily tell if the reviewer is someone who works for the company.
So while not all the tools on the list are exactly what you might need, all the reviews are useful and can help you figure out what you do need.
I especially liked the “Before You Buy” suggestions, which included two things I emphasize a lot – “Social media management tools are often offered in tiered plans based on how many users the account has. Make sure to identify how many users will need access to the platform so you can evaluate costs appropriately.” and “Many social media management tools offer a free option for small businesses or for less sophisticated features. Explore the free options available to see if one meets your needs before committing to a paid tool.”
In other words – make sure you really know how much a product will cost before committing. One that sounded more expensive might end up being cheaper once you take into consideration how many people will need access to the tool. And always, always check out the free option. Even if it doesn’t do everything you need, you will get a feel for whether the paid option is right for you. While not all the functionality will be there, you’ll see how intuitive the tool is and whether it makes sense. Then go for the free trial – almost every tool offers at least 14 days or a month free. Maybe it doesn’t live up to your expectations. That’s OK. That’s why you try it out first.
What do you think of the tools outlined here? What are your favorites?
If you don’t know Danny Brown, you should.
You can read the conversation here, on ReplyAll or on Danny’s blog. Please share your thoughts, too, on what Danny refers to as “pure blogging.”
Note: A version of this post first appeared on LinkedIn.
We’ve all shared something, whether on Facebook or on Twitter or elsewhere, that we later found out was false.
These viral rumors are just so titillating that we can’t help ourselves, especially when it comes from someone we consider a reputable source.
Take Rehana, the female Kurdish freedom fighter. Did she kill 100 ISIS fighters? Was she killed by ISIS? Was she killed by ISIS a second time? Was her name even Rehana?
The answer to all those questions is “no.” Well, maybe her name was Rehana, but no one involved in spreading the story actually knows her name.
As Emergent founder Craig Silverman explained in his study of how content online rumors and misinformation get spread (and occasionally debunked) by news websites, “Lies, Damn Lies and Viral Content”, there was a simple reason this rumor exploded as it did:
What a compelling narrative: A woman in a traditionally male role (soldier) in a part of the world where women often don’t have the same rights as men, killing dozens upon dozens of evil terrorists.
Who wouldn’t want to believe that? And here’s this photo of this woman in fatigues, holding a gun. The Twitter bio of the person who tweeted it says “journalist” (among other things). It must be true!
The story of “Rehana” is well-detailed in Silverman’s post about the event on Digg, but this post is not solely about that.
And journalists see these stories and feel as if they have to share, too, even if they don’t know whether it’s true. Toss in a “reportedly” or “is being talked about on social media” and all’s good, right?
Except the problem is that most people don’t pay as much attention to the caveats. And they don’t share the debunking nearly as much as they share the original incorrect story.
So Silverman’s startup, Emergent, tracked more than 1,600 articles about 100 rumors that ran between August and December last year. There was the one about the Florida woman who had surgery to get a third breast (a la “Total Recall”).
While more sources wrote articles saying it was fake (20) than wrote it was true (18), the ones that got it wrong got shared a lot more. In fact, if you do a Google search for “woman with three breasts,” the top result is still one of the stories where it’s treated as true, though the Snopes & TMZ versions debunking it come shortly after.
Problem is, sometimes even the sources that didn’t purport it to be true had headlines that were provocative enough that people may have left with the impression it was true.
That’s where there’s a “headline-body dissonance,” Silverman explained – of those 1,600+ articles, 213 had a headline that wasn’t backed up by the body of the story. The headlines were grabby, to get you to click through. Pure clickbait. That’s 13% of the articles.
Even recently, I shared a very interesting article where the headline said millions of people don’t know Facebook is on the Internet. It was completely true, because it was about areas of the world where Internet connectivity is quite limited and there often are mobile plans (on “feature” phones) that include Facebook, but not a traditional data/internet plan. The latter is more expensive, so many people take the plan that just includes Facebook.
The problem is, someone in the United States reading the headline might think the article was about folks here. And many did, after I retweeted it. While the headline wasn’t inaccurate and was actually backed up by the article itself, it still was slightly misleading, something that didn’t really occur to me until a couple of people pointed that out – and even though I myself had assumed the same thing before clicking through.
The fact is, the truth is nuanced. The headline is simple. That’s the way headlines are and always have been. If you convey too much of the information in the headline, no one’s going to bother with it. They need to be short and catchy.
But they need to be honest, too. With the ability to spread an unconfirmed rumor far easier than it’s ever been – and the speed with which we can spread it far faster than it’s ever been – the danger is greater now that we won’t be able to overtake the falsehood with the truth.
We need to be precise and accurate when we share information. And when we update and correct a story on the Internet, we need to make sure that headline gets updated so people clicking by will actually SEE the change.
Silverman’s report is a wakeup call for all in the media, but also for those who consume media. Everyone should read this report and recognize we all are responsible for learning the truth.
That said, the gatekeepers of information really need to make sure they’re giving the truth a fighting chance.
Take a look:
There is a danger in asking the wrong question – you’re very likely to get the wrong answer. I mean, you’ll probably get the right answer for the question you’re asking, but it’s not going to be the right answer for the question you really needed to ask.
The problem when we ask those wrong questions of data is that there’s no chance the data’s going to realize and tell you you’re asking the wrong question. It’s just going to add together those numbers, do some division, and maybe overlay that with a fancy algorithm – and then spit out a spreadsheet with your answer.
So it is with social media analytics, as it is with most types of data. Facebook can tell you how many likes, comments and shares you had, but it can’t tell you what those mean. Twitter can tell you how many retweets (as long as they’re the kind of retweets that Twitter counts), favorites and replies, but it can’t tell you what those mean. Thing is, that’s too often the question that’s asked of the data.
Before you even look at your analytics, you need to figure out why you’re measuring. You can’t figure out what you’re measuring until you know why. And you can’t figure out how until you know what.
Kami Huyse brilliantly outlines the three things you can do with a good social media measurement program (note: her post is from 2012, but it’s timeless in its practicality):
Diagnose: Figure out what works and what doesn’t and use that information to adjust your strategies.
Prioritize: What goes where? Use the information to plan your strategies.
Evaluate: Use the information to demonstrate your ROI.
On top of this, you need to remember that email is social, texting is social – there are so many platforms and apps and ways people participate in whatever “social” media is. Don’t get stuck in the thinking that you need to pay attention to Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and you’re done.
I was asked to speak at New York University’s School of Professional Studies’ first Digital Analytics Conference this weekend, on the topic of social media analytics. Here’s my presentation – let me know what you think I missed.
As I was headed to bed a couple of Thursdays ago, I checked my email one last time. A new message had just come through, and the subject line simply read, “White House SOTU Social invitation”.
I stopped in my tracks and opened the email, and sure enough, it was from Jenna Brayton. A quick Google search showed she was Associate Director of Digital Content in the White House Office of Digital Strategy. Her email address was a White House email address. The invitation didn’t look all fancy or anything, but I preferred to believe that no one could spoof an official White House email address than to think someone was putting me on.
Besides, I started hearing from other folks who had gotten invitations, and they’d all applied. And they, too, were a bit surprised at the unofficial-appearing nature of the invitation. It was legitimate. We needed to RSVP by 5 p.m. the next day, and over the weekend, we received an Excel spreadsheet to fill out with our information for background checks, including our Social Security numbers.
We were to show up at the Guest Entrance to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building by 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20. I arrived promptly at 6:30 p.m. with my good friend Ananda Leeke, a D.C. resident who’s been invited to a few social media events at the White House before and knew the drill (check out her site – she’s an artist, an author, a social media power user and a certified yoga and reiki, among other things).
Ananda was my guru for the night. She urged me to wear comfy shoes and brought a nice cloth bag for me to keep my sassy shoes in. “Don’t put them on until we’re inside and sitting down,” she urged me, more than once. Was she ever right.
“Keep your driver’s license out. You’re going to have to show it at least twice,” she advised me. Yep. Lots of security ensued, but finally through the metal detector and we were in! Finally we stepped foot inside the actual Eisenhower Executive Office Building – the old one, right next to the White House.
There we caught up with a whole bunch of folks I’d known online but hadn’t met in person.
I got to get my photo taken as if I were reporting from the White House.
I also caught up with my friend Holly Ojalvo, founder of Kicker, a terrific news site that catches you up on everything that’s important to know. We ended up looking like an American flag, standing next to one another.
I’ll admit, it was a bit surreal. No one really told us what was going on. Suddenly, it was time to sit down and pay attention, as the President was arriving in The Capitol and the lights went down in the room we were in.
The tweeting commenced. The room was filled primarily with supporters of the President, as one would imagine, so there were many moments of applause in the room. (A full transcript of the State of the Union was posted just ahead of the speech, on the White House Medium account.)
The speech began with the President outlining some of his administration’s major achievements of the past few years – job creation at its fastest pace since 1999; more people insured than ever before; high school dropout rate at all-time low; only 15,000 American troops remaining in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He segued into the “Jack and Diane” segment of the speech, where he highlighted a couple with children who’d come through the hard economic times, stronger than ever.
The first of his #dropsmic moments happened shortly after, when he noted that “the middle class economy works”. Soon after, as he admonished Congress for not raising the minimum wage, “If you really believe that you can work full time and raise a family with less than $15,000 dollars, go and try it,” the feeling in the room was that we were watching a president who no longer worried about politics, but was going to spend his last two years in office pursuing the issues he cared most strongly about.
The room solidly applauded as he brought up his plan for free community college education for all who qualified – after pointing out that America thrived in the 20th Century after making high school free and sending thousands of GIs to college for free.
As the speech went on, we saw a President Obama who basically said he wanted to send man to Mars, cure cancer and send everyone to college.
The first meme of the night came about that time, as the President told astronaut Scott Kelly to Instagram space during his year off Earth, preparing for the first manned mission to Mars.
Applause came as the President talked about tax credits, about global warming, about discrimination.
And then the moment of his speech, the mic drop heard around the world.
“I have no more campaigns to run.”
Snarky applause from Republicans in the Capitol.
“I know, because I won both of them.”
— shauna (@goldengateblond) January 21, 2015
Twitter exploded. The room exploded.
And then the President complimented many on Capitol Hill, pointing out there were good people “on both sides of the aisle,” and perhaps they could start working together to help the nation rather than automatically demonizing each other.
“We are still more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are the United States of America.”
That, my friends, is really how it should be. We all have our beliefs, and being American means we are legally entitled to have those beliefs and also express them. The trick is to be respectful of one another as we do that.
I have friends who have beliefs different than mine. Some of them we can easily discuss and respect each other’s viewpoint. Other things we might avoid because our friendship matters more than getting into an argument.
After the State of the Union Address, we were treated to a live question-and-answer session between the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein and Dan Pfeiffer, Senior Advisor to the President for Strategy and Communications. After Stein’s questions, they pulled live questions from Twitter.
A panel discussion followed with Pfeiffer, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and others. Questions were taken from the live audience in the room, and from social media.
I’ve never been at an event where so many hands shot up so quickly to ask questions. Questions touched on mental health, police brutality, sexual assault on college campuses, and what actually will be done to close the wage gap.
Ending paycheck secrecy will go a long way toward solving that problem, Perez suggested. And while there may be laws that address some of these issues, “Laws are only as good as the people enforcing them,” he said. And those enforcing them need to hear from their bosses that these laws need to be enforced, as well.
That’s when I got notification from Who Trended It that #SOTUchat was trending on Twitter, and my Twitter account and a little account named @WhiteHouse had caused it to start trending. I have to admit, I was feeling a bit proud of myself.
Finally, it was all over, we all said our good-byes to one another and hugged. We took a few photos in the hallways on the way out.
I couldn’t help but take some photos of Secret Service office doors.
As we left the building, all was quiet in our nation’s capital. And there before us was the White House, all snug and locked up for the night.
I welcome any comments, even if you have opinions to express that differ from mine. Just stay civil. I’ll delete comments if they turn personal and disrespectful – against myself, the President or any other commenter.
This week’s problem is a really difficult one. I wish I had a better answer or could help more. What happens when you have left your abusive spouse, who does not know where you live, and you have a restraining order – then the school play is posted on YouTube and your child is in it?
We forget, sometimes, in the rush to put our entire lives online, that there are some people who have very good reason not to be quite as open.
Thanks for the questions, and keep them coming!
A friend of mine has an issue she shared privately with a small group of us: she found a video on YouTube of a school play from last year. One of the other parents had posted it. Her child was visible in the video many times. This friend has an order of protection against her ex, and all her records are sealed so he cannot find out where she and the children are.
While it’s unlikely he would randomly stumble upon this video of all videos while messing around on YouTube, there is still a chance he could if he had some vague notion of where she might be. If someone they both knew saw it and told him, he’d now know what school the children go to, and it wouldn’t be too hard to track them down from there.
Is it even legal to do this? Does she have any recourse? She’s not mad at the parent – I mean, she knows it was done because this parent was proud of his children, and rightfully so. But how do we balance what we want to share with everyone with the rights of others in a video?
Sincerely, Fearful Mom’s Friend
For my readers – I changed minor details here to further protect those involved, though the main points – the order of protection, sealed records and the video on YouTube – are 100% true.
This is a really rough topic. Recourse is extremely limited without sharing the reason why with the other parent, who still might not be willing to take the video down. And then things will get really rough. But there is one route that this friend might be able to take.
Most schools ask all parents at the beginning of the year to sign forms regarding publicity around their children. Our school district allows us to say what level we’d be comfortable with – whether or not photos or video can be taken of our children, if they can be identified in those images, and if those images can be shared with the media or put on the school’s website. We can designate the level we’re comfortable with, saying photos of our children can be posted online, but not with their names, for example.
The school might be the best recourse in this. Perhaps there’s a guidance counselor or social worker this friend could approach to discuss the issue. The school abides by whatever the parents’ requests are. If someone cannot be shown in a video, they will shoot a video in that class in such a way that the child does not show up. They’ll make sure children are not in certain photos. I’ve seen teachers be very specific with photographers and others about certain children who could not be photographed.
These rules don’t apply to parents, however, and can’t be told they need to take it down. But a guidance counselor or social worker might be able to approach the parent who posted the video and explain the situation without mentioning which student is involved. She or her could explain why the school has the policies it does, and perhaps get the parent to password-protect the video, even. The parent probably posted it more for family and friends than anything else.
If the video is password-protected, those family and friends would still be able to view it. No one is asking this parent to destroy the video. It’s very possible that upon learning of the situation that this parent might even take the video down.
This issue, however, brings up something I’ve mentioned many times before. In fact, my very first #SMEtiquette post ever was related to this topic.
Don’t post photos (or videos) of other people’s children without asking. You don’t know everyone’s story. You don’t know if the parents just don’t want photos of their children online. Maybe they’re in a situation like Fearful Mom and have fled an abusive husband. Put yourself in other parents’ shoes. What if you didn’t want photos of your child online?
It’s terrific we can share what we and our families are doing so easily with others, particularly with family and friends. But that also doesn’t mean we have to share it with strangers all the time.
So if you find you’ve worn the shoes of the parent who posted the video – go back and think about it. Is it really important that the video is online? Maybe you can password-protect it and give the password to friends and family who still want it. Have you posted photos of your children that include others in it? Can you take those photos down and fuzz out other people’s children?
Think before you post. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And remember that while you have the right to post about your children, you don’t really have the moral right to post things of or about other people’s children.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
I’ve never been big on making New Year’s resolutions.
Part of it was a bit of hubris – if I wanted to do something, I wouldn’t need to make a vow at the start of the year to make it happen. Part of it was realism – if I needed to do something, making a promise to myself about it at the start of the new year wasn’t going to make it happen.
If I wanted to make a change, I would have to truly want to make the change, and the time of year wasn’t going to make much of a difference.
It’s no surprise that most resolutions, right after the overindulgent holiday period, involve getting fit, taking care of oneself, or otherwise bettering yourself.
A study by the University of Scranton in an edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychology last year listed these as the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions:
Note that some of these – such as “Fall in Love” – aren’t things you can really “resolve” to do. And most of the rest sound like things that you do after the chaos and indulgence of the holiday season. I read one article that pointed out that resolutions have more to do with procrastination than motivation, and that rang true for me, Queen of Procrastination.
“I won’t eat any more of the kids’ candy after New Year’s,” I told myself last week. But, of course, they’re out of school until Monday, the 5th, so that kind of became the default deadline. I mean, the holiday was sort of still going on, with New Year’s on a Thursday, the world quiet on Friday and though the weekend.
I always tell people that if they don’t give me a deadline, I’m just not gonna get it done. I’m not proud of myself for that; it’s just the truth. I know myself.
So, this year, I vow to only make promises to myself that I know I’ll keep. Or will at least try to keep. That’s about the closest I’m gonna come to a New Year’s Resolution.
How about you?
If you’re a frequent Instagram user, you likely saw a giant notice in your notifications panel starting two or three weeks ago that informed you that your user count would possibly be changing. Like most adults, you probably clicked through to find out why, so you already know that CEO Kevin Systrom explained why they would be deleting spam accounts, thus potentially lowering follower counts.
Instagram has now followed through on their promise, and the #instapurge has upset the masses (and by masses, we mean throngs of Bieber fans). Behold:
Your follower counts are now correct. If you saw a change today, check out our news from last week to learn more: http://t.co/b9V6qUgdFF
— Instagram (@instagram) December 18, 2014
— Wesley Verhoeve (@wesleyverhoeve) December 18, 2014
It’s not just teens that are offended by losing their fake followers, no, they’re just the ones that are taking to the airwaves to publicize their heartbreak. The truth is that there are many who are quietly lamenting in embarrassment, having spent money buying followers are part of their social media marketing strategy. They can’t exactly gripe on Twitter when they acted like their large following was earned. That’s just bad business.
People like Justin Bieber lost 3.5 million followers overnight, but Instagram stood to lose the most, shedding nearly 19 million followers of their own instantly. You can see an interactive and entertaining chart that shows who the biggest losers were.
Alas, no one should feel badly for Instagram for teens abusing them in public or their own loss of millions of followers – Citi just valued the company at $35 billion after being bought for only $1 billion (a number mocked by the masses as over the top) just two years ago. They’ll sleep just fine tonight, even if all of those cussing teens bail.
Holiday time can be stressful having to spend time with family and friends who are difficult to deal with. Add to it the relationships we have online, and it can be positively mind-blowing.
I put together this deck of some of my most popular #SMEtiquette tips, linking to the original posts if you want a more in-depth response. I wish for you all an unstressful holiday season.
If you’ve been online as long as I have, you probably have a strong sense of skepticism, and an even stronger sense of fatigue from the hollow copycat mentality and the seas of “me toos,” with every idiot with a Twitter handle calling themselves a social media expert, and every dude with a website calling himself an SEO expert.
I was recently asked why I have this mentality, and it isn’t because I’ve been online since I was a teen (and now I have my own teen daughter and adult son, so that dates me and gives you an idea of my web life tenure). The real reason is because I’ve always been an independent thinker. Sure, every teen girl with an Instagram filter can share a regurgitated quote and feel like an independent thinker (eye roll), but in thinking about my fatigue regarding the “me too” folks, I realized that most people suffering this same fatigue share my sentiment.
In my first job with an upward trajectory, I was very, very young, and I had a regional manager at the nation’s largest retailer who not only gave me several of my own stores as a general manager, but gave me a tremendous amount of autonomy. I was fostered as an independent thinker, and my RM took a very hands-off approach with me, while other GMs were micromanaged within an inch of their existence.
What my boss saw in me and made a point to foster was that I was extremely detail-oriented and saw things as a consumer sees them.
For example, back then, when a pallet of product was delivered, stores simply stacked them around the store, but I was allowed to experiment with taking a third of the pallet off the stack to generate more sales (it did, leading to other stores and competitors rolling out the same practice), or moving cash registers to improve consumption of high dollar items (it did, again, leading to industry practice changes over the years), or installing floor-to-ceiling glass in front of the store to showcase products to be seen from the street and increase sales (it did, and more changes came).
I’m not patting myself on the back. No, I’m pointing out how a massive corporation allowed a young pup to experiment, because I was obsessed with the tiniest of details, and I refused to do cookie-cutter things. I believe in a cookie-cutter template for franchises and corporate stores, but every demographic and every market is different – I can see when a store is merchandised from behind a desk in Portland to attempt to improve sales in Oklahoma City (it won’t).
In the marketing industry, too many copycatters are hired on, because they’ve duped a boss into thinking they know what they’re doing because they’ve used a string of buzzwords they heard at a tech conference. This is why so many social media marketing campaigns have flopped, and will continue to do so – hiring someone that thinks they are great because they can replicate others’ success guarantees failure.
Hiring a contractor or staffer who is a true independent thinker obsessed with details and can see through the eyes of a consumer is key, but letting that person experiment is golden. What works in one market or with one demographic may not succeed with others.
While giving someone carte blanche with your brand is never a good idea, what my RM did was empower me, and that is not a word I am fatigued by. Empower your team to experiment after they’ve asked trillions of “why is this done this way, can’t we do it this way?” questions. It may take a few campaigns to strike gold, but let them dig instead of flailing above ground like the copycatters.
I remain fatigued at the copycatters and refuse to hire them, as should you. I’m living proof that if your brand takes this view, the cash will come.