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Social Media & the American Elections

Social Media and Politics: Going Where The Crowd Is

Some interesting points on social media have arisen from the American elections, from which Barack Obama has emerged the winner. According to experts, social media has played a major hand in encouraging more people to vote, which is always a positive notion. As in business, if you want to speak to a particular audience, like the younger voter, go where they are. For a business stepping into social media, this requires entering certain key conversations where your clientele are. For political candidates, this can equate to simply having a Twitter presence.

Is Your Use of Social Media Biased?

Looking at my Twitter feed last night, I had the impression that Obama could not lose the election. It seemed to reflect the opinions of many pundits who saw the election as Obama’s to lose. But then Obama is incredibly popular with younger voters, who are the main proponents of social media. Perhaps there’s a reason why the two juggernauts of Facebook and Twitter share the blue of the Democrats….

Maybe this is a little too broad a statement to make. It’s important to consider that anyone’s feed is already skewed by who they follow or are friends with. This effect is seen most strongly on Twitter, which is more of a passive tool used to absorb the opinions of others. At least this is the case when you compare to Facebook which is generally more focused on back-and-forth interaction between friends. If you are a young Republican at university, and your social circle revolves around your fellow society members, then the chances are that you’ll see more in your feed who are pro-Romney (or at least there would be more of a balance).

Limitations of Social Media

There are some limitations to the relationship between social media and politics. While this is changing increasingly, social media tends to be a young person’s playground. Many websites made infographics and maps to plot what Twitter was saying about Obama and Romney in the run-up to yesterday. These are useful but somewhat inaccurate. While The Guardian said that Obama was on the lips or fingertips of everyone on Twitter across America, who says they were all saying good things about him? Let us remember also, that Twitter is only 140 characters; the decision of who to elect to lead a nation should depend on many more factors.

Lessons For the Future

We can take a lesson from this and perhaps be a bit more open as to who we follow. Twitter was an important tool for all political candidates to speak directly to the electorate. But how many individuals followed both? Isn’t it more likely that individuals followed the person they always backed or the candidate who represented the party they voted for in 2008? Why bother with the person you don’t agree with, right? It’s a fair assessment, but unfortunately this slightly taints the statement that social media has allowed candidates to speak directly to the voters; they’ve only been able to speak to voters who would listen. To un-follow someone is just the click of a button; so in the future we ought to at least consider both sides and make our feeds a two-horse race.

Similarly, businesses with a Twitter presence would be wise to follow competitors and critics as well as customers. This allows you to take stock of opinions and strategies from all corners, which can only be good for your bottom line. If you want help in setting up or managing your social media accounts, contact us here for advice.

Barack Obama's Twitter profile

 

 

Free Speech on Twitter: How Should Businesses Use Twitter?

President Obama’s recent defence of free speech and the ongoing discussion about what we can and can not say on Twitter have been rife. After all, it is the internet, which is supposed to give everyone poetic license, surely? There have been stories about people venting and making light of circumstances, and then being charged with inciting criminal activity; the most well known example would be that of the poor man who took to Twitter “threatening” to blow up an airport. Some are a bit more specific and hurtful, such as those tweets directed to Tom Daley which referred to his deceased father.

So where does businesses and Twitter come into this? Well, when a business decides to utilise social media to promote themselves, they have to decide a few things. Will they have a purely business Twitter account? Should they just use their own personal account? What is the best way to serve both if you decide to split your account between the two objectives without alienating lots of followers? Are you in a position to even handle your own Twitter account or realise fully the potential for your business needs?

There is a delicate balance to maintain when you comment on popular, trending topics from a work account. Logistically, there is ensuring you’re using the right account, as well as coordinating your posts across different platforms (what works on Pinterest might not go over so well on Twitter). The timing of posts is also something to consider. However, you must also understand the tone or angle you want to take; or more importantly, that which you want your company to be seen to take. You want to add to conversations and show personality, but don’t want to offend.

This is why many businesses come to us asking to either teach them Twitter from the beginning, or simply manage their Twitter and other social media accounts. Our team has a wealth of experience managing the accounts of various clients, and understand when to interject into a public conversation, which ones to stay away from and how to communicate with those taking part. Of course it’s not simply about making a comment here and there, but building a relationship and converting them to sales for you.

If you are interested in learning about Twitter for your business, beginning with the basics, we are running a free Twitter drop in session where you can learn directly from professionals who use these networks each day for clients (and their own personal use). Get in touch and book your place now before they all get booked up.

Four Things That Turn Off Twitter Followers

 

If you’re trying to get ahead on social media, specifically Twitter, you need followers. To encourage those followers to jump on your bandwagon, there’s a few things you can do to attract them, and have your tweets spread a bit further. However, there are just as many things you shouldn’t do. Without going into too many boring details and giving away our services completely, here are a few to start you off:

1) Re-tweeting Everything

People want to follow you; not YOUR followers, otherwise they would just cut out the middle-man. While it’s always acceptable to re-tweet the occasional good read, consider whether a strong majority of your followers would enjoy it too. What do they want to get from you? If you want to RT something that you personally like, then fine; but accept that not everyone will want their feed constantly cluttered up.

2) Tweeting Too Much

Originally I thought Twitter was just the Facebook status, and that was about it. Well it is to some extent, but I now appreciate it more as a quick chunk of bite-size information or entertainment. Just like on Facebook, tweeting every little detail in your day is incredibly boring. Move on!

3) Bad Hashtags

Hashtags are great for specific events so conversations and comments can be collected and viewed together in one go. However, if you’re in the habit of coming up with really convoluted or overly long hashtags, these can be a bit silly and unnecessary. Hashtags should be phrases that deserve to catch on, a bit like a mantra or ideology. It could be a joke, though only if your followers will ‘get it’ (and even RT it). Be careful to confine hashtags to Twitter, as using them on other platforms reeks of blind posting.

4) Speaking Generally

Saying ‘Hey followers’ is quite formal and general. It puts a barrier between you and your followers. If you have an idea who follows you, like a certain demographic, speak to them in their language. It’s not a bad thing to tweet specifically to them every now and then. It expands your reach and appeal, and shows to those you’re not addressing that you’re a popular Tweeter.

We are currently offering a free Twitter drop-in session for anyone to come along and learn the basics, with professionals who use this daily for work and place. Come along, network, eat biscuits and learn how Twitter can help you; whether as a business owner wanting to improve their publicity in 2012, or simply as an individual wanting to learn something new and show off.

Why an Active Social Media Presence is Important For Businesses

We’ve already discussed on our site the benefits of social media as well as the services we can provide, but the question came up several times recently. Last Friday, Katie and I attended a networking event in Lewes with the First Friday Network to meet local business owners in the East Sussex area and see if anyone was in need of our wonderful services. As usual, though fortunately for us, there were several people who owned their own businesses and yet were not on Facebook and Twitter; or what we like to call, the social biggies.

Most squeezed their shoulders in, cringing as if they were thinking of a big spider crawling onto them while they were asleep. ‘Oh I stay away from that’, or ‘my kids have it, but I just don’t have the time’, were two popular responses when we asked them why they didn’t have an active social media presence. It is perfectly understandable for many traditional individuals, but being surrounded by these networks every day, it still comes as a surprise when we encounter an outsider who consciously avoids Facebook and Twitter to expand their reach. We spoke to Leon Banks of Elbee Services, who informed us many of those he worked with found a majority of their clients through their Facebook, rather than their site.

How Customers Can Find You On Twitter

The other reasons for discounting social media that come up is that they don’t see how their business can be benefited by Facebook, or simply they aren’t good with computers and technology (someone else does that for them). In the case of the former, we explained that with the two biggies, it’s simply about going to where people are, and where they can be exposed to what you offer. For example, if someone posts a rant on Twitter about struggling to find a trustworthy estate agent, we would likely come across that when searching for “#EstateAgents” as part of our daily tasks, and get in contact with them to refer them to our client’s site.

Becoming an Authoritative Source

When people come across your website out of hundreds in the same field, they need some indicator that you know what you’re talking about. Testimonials can work well but if everyone has them, then what’s the point? People will be much more likely to take you up on your services if it’s clear that you’re passionate about your area or niche; that you spend extra hours working or reading about the latest changes and news in that area. If you can prove yourself as to be an authoritative source, people will care about your opinion and that is when you can offer your services. As part of our social media and copy-writing services particularly, we can regularly update both your site and social media accounts so you’re involved in the kinds of conversations where the most eyes are and demonstrate your knowledge and dedication to what you do. Through info-graphics and videos, you can quickly educate amateurs to your field who have no knowledge about your kind of work. If you have especially creative, funny or moving content that appeals to a wider audience, then it can even go viral and spread quickly through forwarding in emails or sharing through social media; and when people view it, they’ll see your logo and how to contact you.

How Social Media Is Good For Your Brand

Having active social media accounts, whether just Facebook or Twitter, or more cutting-edge platforms such as Pinterest, allows you to show the world that you’re anything but archaic and old-hat. In fact, social media usage can demonstrate that you’re relevant to the changing needs of today’s customers. Sometimes you can just pop in to make a comment about a recent world or sporting event, and to let people know you exist. In this way, social media should not be seen as a fad but a useful device to carry out PR. We can’t comment on where these specific social media platforms will be in 10 years time, but we can say that we’ll be there with the expertise to keep you in the game, whatever that game will be.

We are currently offering a Free Twitter For Business – Beginners Course for anyone who wants to learn how to use Twitter themselves, beginning with the basics, and moving up to more advanced options. This session would be of huge benefit to those who want to take the reins for the social media for their business or organisation themselves and learn from a real person who deals with the accounts for various clients from different fields. Hugely beneficial for your business and a good opportunity to network with others in the area. Plus, it’s completely free!

How We Use Social Media – Meeting the Team Part 1

Recently here in Peacehaven, we have undergone some changes; we have said goodbye to Cat (congrats on the wedding!) and are awaiting the arrival of our new intern and dog (two distinct members, I assure you). In this new series of blogs, I decided that, following this re-structuring, we would get to know each member of the office, looking at how they use social media in their day-to-day lives.

I thought I would begin by interviewing…. myself, so we could ease in to things slowly. So here we go; I promise not to sound too much like Jekyll and Hyde.

Paul

So Paul, what is your role at I Say! Digital?

I began an internship here in May, and have recently been offered a full-time position as a team co-ordinator. I perform quite a range of tasks from content writing which includes proof-reading, corresponding with contributors, managing social media accounts, some PPC, proposals, maintaining our own site, offering ideas to increase business and the odd bit of taking things to the recycling point. Pretty much anything that helps business chug along day-to-day. Going forward I’ll be a project manager on a few things too.

And what social media networks do you use?

Well Paul, I use the biggies like Facebook, Twitter and Google+; though with G+ it has taken me a while to get into and integrate into my routine. It was more when I began my internship here and started to follow those in the SEO and social media industry, that it became a worthwhile pursuit. I’m also a keen Redditor, because it collates everything that appeals to me in one site, and I like the idea of an internet democracy which votes on what is quality content.

Any that you stay away from?

I’ve never really used things like Foursquare because I didn’t have a smartphone until recently so it seemed a bit pointless to just sign in to being at home or work. I’ll probably start using that a bit more especially when going to conferences, like Brighton SEO, in the next few months. I’m not a huge Pinterest fan either as it all seems a bit disorganised and random to me, though I occasionally come across a really great image that becomes my screensaver.

What do you gain most from social media?

I’m a huge television geek, and watch loads of obscure shows from America. I like being able to stay up late when they’re broadcast over there, and see what people on Twitter are saying while a show like Breaking Bad or Community airs. Because I don’t really know anyone who watches the same shows as I do (everyone else has a social life), and don’t have the proverbial water-cooler around which to talk about them, I can bring the water-cooler to me, so to speak. I like the idea of getting instant reactions rather than wait the next day. It’s also really cool to see the variety of places that bands I like are in at that moment. It took me a while to get into the way Tweets were so fragmented and broken up but now it’s plain sailing.

Why did you choose social media to be a part of your career?

I never really considered it because, to be honest, it seemed too good a prospect to even consider a viable option. It was only through being an administrator for a music society at University, where we used social media to plan for events and get discussions going, that I gained my first experience outside of my personal leisure. I had a really terrible experience in my first grad job, which wasn’t media-related, and realised that doing something that you really get a sense of fulfillment and personal satisfaction out of  means so much more and so I looked into it. It’s been hard starting over and learning a lot of background that I didn’t previously in my degree, but it’s been completely worth it and I actually enjoy listening to podcasts about SEO and social media in my free time; on my commute, I can easily go through ten episodes of geeky chatter about relevant updates.

So you use social media during your day?

Pretty much from when I wake up to when I go to sleep, more so now I have my snazzy phone. I can keep in touch with what my friends are up to without sending a long message to each of them with the same questions. What is quite nice is a lot of the tools or sites I use at work are different to those I use in my free time, and with changes occurring every month in this industry, it’s a cat-and-mouse game of grabbing people’s attention. The best part is when you completely forget that not everyone is in tune with social media, especially in our line of work where many business owners don’t realise the potential in having an online presence. Walking clients through the fundamentals of our SEO services is enjoyable, but when you can see how passionate they are about their own business and you show them that they can express this in a way that can actually impact their bottom line, it’s fantastic. Often the perception is that a social media or SEO strategy will be additional work which is completely the wrong mind-frame.

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