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The news yesterday that Microsoft won the bidding war for an ownership slice in Facebook included a widely reported line:
The two companies said on Wednesday that Microsoft would pay $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook. The investment values Facebook, which is three and a half years old and will bring in about $150 million in revenue this year, at $15 billion.
But, the $15 billion valuation line is wrong because it over-simplifies what Microsoft actually purchased. In addition to the sliver of equity, they received exclusive rights to manage FacebookÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s international ad network. That nicely complements the deal Redmond already has to serve up FacebookÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s domestic ads. Microsoft was willing to pay a significant premium for control and cooperation with FacebookÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ad network, and to block Google from the same. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s economic value behind the deal, and its fairly unique to MicrosoftÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s strategic business plan. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s silly for the media to extend the $240 million Microsoft paid for a 1.6% share in a linear way to $15 billion. Facebook is worth an awful lot of money, but it probably isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t anywhere near $15 billion. At least not yet.Ã‚Â
If you've spent any time at all working in social media, you've heard the aphorism "Content is King". Every social media "guru" I've ever read or heard has devoted a corner of their web page and at least one presentation talk on why your social media platform will become a wasteland of electronic tumbleweeds and the mournful howl of coyotes, unless you pack it full of content often.
The advice is sound. You do need content -- pictures, posts, videos and funny GIFs -- and you do need to post that content on a regular schedule. You have to be diligent. You have to work hard. You have to shop your stuff around to your friends and associates for them to share, tweet out your links, or send them to your Facebook timeline. What happens, though, when you've spend countless hours over a couple or three years for King Content and you find yourself without much to show for it? What happens when your site traffic has barely moved for months (or years), despite all the content you've created? (tweetable)
Discouragement, that's what. You slack off posting, maybe from daily to weekly. You "mail in" a post here or there. You grab a stock photo off Google to head up your posts or maybe you don't even bother with a picture. Does that sound familiar? Hey, that's where I was not all that long ago. I spent years diligently posting every day -- sometimes several times a day. Then I'd get tired or something else would come up and I'd miss a couple days but I'd get right back to it because Content is King and who can build a strong online kingdom without the King?
Despite all that, though, my traffic numbers stunk. I don't mean they were a little bit short of where I thought they should be. I mean they were a solid order of magnitude worse than they should have been. I had churned out a lot of content, but I hadn't taken a lot of care to make sure the content was good.
What is good content? That's the question asked in a tweet from Sean Hackbarth.
Most important thing to know about being successful on Twitter: Produce good content. But that's the rub. What's good/compelling?
I've thought about that same question for a few months and have come up with three qualities by which I'd call a piece of content "good". Take a look and tell me what you think.
1) Is it different? Not everything you create will be a unique and special snowflake but your work shouldn't look like everyone else's. (tweetable) I touched on this briefly in this post last week, but let's go just a bit farther. Say you want to write a story about the manifold failures of your state's health care exchange. You could write a basic ranty post with a link to a news article, a quote from the article, and a paragraph that's a variant on "Obamacare LOL". Of course, that's exactly the same sort of article a couple or few dozen other bloggers will write too. What will distinguish your work from theirs? A better angle might be to use that news article as a springboard to find quotes from the person who headed up the exchange over time. You could show how the promise that the exchange would work well has slowly slipped to where it is today. You could do a little math and figure out how much money per uninsured person in your state was spent on the site or advertising for the site. You have plenty of choices to give your readers something they won't find anywhere else. That's the trick: give people content they won't get from all the other sites.
2) Is it easy to share? Your blog post may be the greatest thing to hit the blogosphere but if it's not easy to share, no one will care. (tweetable) Make sure you have plenty of "handles" for folks to grab so they can share your good work with their friends and family. Make sure your "impact" sentences are short enough to tweet (and set up a tweetable for them, to make sharing even easier). Write a lede that people can easily quote in blog posts of their own. Pick images (or better, create your own) for your post that'll work on Facebook or Pinterest. Give your readers as many ways to share your post as you can. Yes, you'll have to spend more than a few minutes on your content, but the rewards will be worth the effort.
3) Does it provoke action? I want to be careful here because "action" can mean a lot of things. I'm not talking about the sort of action provoked by trolls and cheap mob rousers. Does your content provoke a positive and constructive reaction from your audience? What that reaction is depends on what call to action you put into it. Sometimes you'll only get likes or retweets. Sometimes you'll get comments on your blog post that advance and enrich the conversation you started. Sometimes you'll get signatures on a petition or phone calls to the office of a legislator or business. You have a whole world of possible actions as your disposal. As a creator of good content, your job is to provoke the right ones. (tweetable)
It's not enough to merely produce content. Anyone can churn out boring, same-as-everyone-else stuff all day long. You're better than that. (tweetable) You can produce good content, content that is different, sharable, and provokes action. Right? Right! Now get to creating!
(Photo Credit: skittledog on Flickr)
If you've spent any time at all working in social media, you've heard the aphorism "Content is King".
The world of social media is packed to the gills with places you can hang your shingle. You can probably think of a dozen different platforms right now off the top of your head and another half-dozen with just a couple Google searches. Each of those platforms has its strengths and weaknesses and a small horde of people who want you to use them. Indeed, you can read over the agendas of the various social media conferences and find panels on Twitter; Facebook; blogs; podcasts; YouTube, Vimeo, and Vine; picture-based platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat; and a few you'd probably never heard of until you read about them on the agenda.
Of course, these conference panels say, you need to be on all of them. How else will you grow your organization? How will you spread your message to the millions who are eager to hear if you're not plugged in online? Some answers are coming, in bullet-point form (because BuzzFeed told me bullet points are TEH HAWTNESS and goodness knows, we all want to be on the cutting edge, don't we?) but first let's tackle one big point. I like to be as positive as I can, but I need to start with one very large negative.You don't have to be everywhere.
Some social media experts, like Gary Vaynerchuk, teach that you need to have a presence on as many platforms as you can. As much as I love what Gary V. does, and how he does it, this isn't a great idea for most of us. Too many people (and organizations) stretch themselves too thin because they believe they have to have a blog, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page, a Pinterest account, an Instagram account, hang out on Reddit, a podcast, a videocast, and a newsletter all at the same time. Do you have the time to keep up on all of those accounts in a way that's anything but cursory and fake? I sure don't, and unless an organization is willing to invest heavily in the staff and resources to properly manage these platforms, they won't be able to keep up either.
If you spread yourself too thin, you trade authenticity for visibility, which is a bad deal. If links are the currency of social media, authenticity is the vault full of gold that underpins their worth. (tweetable) It is far better to have a real presence on just a couple or three platforms than an automated, broadcast-only, talk to people every few weeks presence on five or six.
So how do you pick those platforms? Here are three guidelines you can use to establish where you ought to be in social media to get your message out the best way possible.
1) Go where your people are. Who are "your people"? They are the folks to whom you want to converse with the most. Depending on what you want to do, you may want to go where you can find fellow-travelers or you may want to introduce yourself to strangers. Your message may be best-suited for a younger audience or an older one, which will help determine where you want to be. Did you know that older users are swarming to Facebook and Twitter and younger users are discovering Tumblr? Regardless, you need to identify who those folks are and where they are, then get there.
2) Give them what they want. Everyone has expectations for what they want from the people they follow on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or what have you. Often times those expectations are built by the strengths and weaknesses of the platforms themselves. Very few people follow a Tumblr account to get long posts, like you'd find on a more conventional blog. Pinterest users are there for the photos that link to cool and useful things while Instagrammers are there for the pictures themselves. Tweeters dig short and pithy. Get my point? You can get clues about what people want by where they are and who they follow. Once you know that, give them what they want. Simple, right? You'd be surprised. Read through the Twitter timelines of a few political organizations and see how many folks truly don't get what people want.
3) Listen, listen, listen, talk, listen. Connections forged from conversation are the key to every successful social media account. (tweetable) Even if you're just posting pictures to Pinterest or Instagram, listen to what people there are saying and talk back to them. Let them know you value their time and attention by sharing some of yours with them directly. Conversations don't take up much time, at least not compared to a blizzard of broadcast posts, and they carry a lot of weight later. Listen a lot to what your audience tells you, then talk back with them. Share some of their content to draw them into conversations with others. Feature some of the best conversations on your platform (Look! Free content for you!). Listen a lot and talk "strategically".
We live in an age of wonders, when one person with an internet connection and hustle can reach more people than a giant newspaper company. That doesn't mean, though, that you have to use every tool in the online arsenal. Do online outreach the right way, on the the platforms that are right for you, and you'll get the audience you want without sacrificing an ounce of authenticity. That's a win.
The world of social media is packed to the gills with places you can hang your shingle. You can probably think of a dozen different platforms right now off the top of your head and another half-dozen with just a couple Google searches. Each of those platforms has its strengths and weaknesses and a small horde of people who want you to use them.
I sent my first “tweet” a few days ago, and must admit, that at first I didn’t “get it”. But now I see the value in this Social Media platform; I guess one must always experience something to really understand it. The value of Twitter is this: Tweets are faster than Facebook, and for high profile, fast moving, and fluid events i.e. elections, Twitter is the platform required to get information out there. So where does the Tea Party movement stand when it comes to this new Social Media platform?
I would argue that the Tea Party and for that matter, the Republican Party has come pretty close to mastering Social Media; I saw this at CPAC 2011. I also believe the Tea Party/Republican mastering of Social Media and their comfort with it, was a direct cause for our 2010 November win, but November was a very long time ago, and already things have changed; the world moves fast, we must stay in the fight.
The Democrat Party has lifted its head out of their fox hole long enough to catch a glimpse of our recent success with Social Media and has responded with a full force training campaign. In a recent blog, Daniel Halper from the Weekly Standard, observes that “Democratic leaders have stepped up their efforts to ensure that their staffers are taking full advantage of social media. They have hosted three staff briefings this year on the issue: The first was on Google ads and YouTube, the second was on Facebook, and the third was last week on Twitter.” He goes on to write: “Rank-and-file Democrats aren’t the only ones pushing for expanded use of social media. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) participated in last week’s town hall, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) held a first-ever “speed geeking” session — like speed dating, but for technology, aides said — for Members last week. During the session, Democrats rotated around the room for quick briefings on how Facebook and Twitter work and why they are key tools for reaching their constituents....”
Tea Party activists are, in general a bit older than the average activists, and this has been a strength for us, but if we are not careful and if we do not always remain in a training mode, it will work to our defeat. All Tea Party groups, large and small from across the nation should hold Social Media training sessions, and must develop a Social Media/Twitter plan of attack; a detailed operation order, a road map for how their organization will master and execute political action on/with these new technologies.
Here at Freedomworks we have embraced New Media and have pushed the envelope even further, by creating our own Social Media platform called Freedomconnector. This piece of technology is geo located and allows Tea Party activists to connect to other activists and events in their area; think Meet Up, or Facebook specifically designed for Tea Party folks. Recently our staff visited many Western States and held “Freedomconnector” training sessions for our members and Tea Party Activists in the area; training is key.
The Democrat Party knows that they must also master Social Media in order to achieve victory in 2012, and they have begun aggressive training in order to do just that; we must march ahead of them in our efforts. We must poise ourselves uncomfortably at the very edge of this new frontier, and possess the flexibility, and bravery to advance into the unknown; we must be ready to take risks.
I sent my first “tweet” a few days ago, and must admit, that at first I didn’t “get it”. But now I see the value in this Social Media platform; I guess one must always experience something to really understand it. The value of Twitter is this: Tweets are faster than Facebook, and for high profile, fast moving, and fluid events i.e.
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