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Do Blog and New Media Awards Mean Anything?

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The end/beginning of every year is bombarded with awards and lists to recognized the best of the best in an industry. Blogging and new media is no different. For example, Social Media Examiner just announced the 23 finalists for their list of the Top 10 Social Media Blogs of 2010 and everyone on Twitter has been tweeting their nominations for the Shorty Awards, which recognize the best tweeters of the year. But do all these various awards actually mean anything?

I think they do…even to people who don’t make the list and even to people who weren’t even nominated. BUT we perhaps put too much emphasis on awards of any kind because we forget that they are an average opinion.

I don’t mean “average” in terms of average quality. I mean average in the sense that the “best” is chosen by the consensus of the masses. Usually, there are teams of people who judge these types of awards, and their scores are averaged together. Things like traffic, number of comments, and scores (such as Alexa) also come into play. Again, this is an indication that a site is loved by the masses.

That typically does mean that it is an awesome site (or Twitter account or Facebook page or video or whatever). But it doesn’t necesarily mean it is the very best out there for you. In fact, it probably isn’t.

To illustrate this better, let’s say that I ask three different groups of ten people each to rate my website between 1 an 10, with 1 being worst and 10 being best. Here are the results:

Pretend group number one is fairly impressed with my website. All of them agree that the site should be rated a 7, giving it a total score of 70 out of 100. Not bad.

Pretend group number two had a more mixed reaction. Seven of those people absolutely loved my website and rated it 10 out of 10. However, three of the people really hated my website and scored it 0 – worse than even a score of 1! The result, a score of…erm…70. Hm.

Group three probably represents what is most common with sites that score fairly well. Most of the probably like the blog, with some LOVING the blog, but some people disliking the blog. The score? You guessed it. 70. Although the average score for this group would be 7 out of 10, only two people, 20%, actually gave the site that score.

Think on a biggest scale. When you go to a website you “vote” for it essentially, increasing it’s traffic numbers and maybe even having effect on it’s Google rankings for certain keywords, it’s Alexa score, and so forth. But just because you go to a website doesn’t mean that you LOVE it. So these metrics can be misleading. Sure, it’s a good place to start if you’re a reader looking for some new sites to read. If something won an award, that means a lot of people probably like it, at least like it more than average. Some people probably love it. But that doesn’t mean you will.

I want to challenge you to only use “best of” lists as a starting point. Go outside of what that awards program named best to find the site you think is best. And when you do, go back to the post and leave a comment with your opinion – respectful, of course, but telling others about a site that you personally love (other than your own) that is related to the best of list the author posted.

And if you’re a blogger who posts “best of” lists? Keep doing it! Just because any system is flawed, at least a little, doesn’t mean that they don’t have any value. Make your process clear, use multiple judges if you can, and open up the comments section to links like I just mentioned, from people who’ve found sites they would rank a 10 out of 10, even if not everyone agrees.And if you’re on a list or nominated for an award? Be proud! It means you’re doing something right.

The world is a big place. Get out there and explore. We already know that *insert your favorite famous blogger here* is good at what he/she does – but realize there may be something even better out there for your specific needs and interests.

Note: I was inspired to write this post after reading an interesting post about dating preferences at OKCupid. The topic is totally unrelated, but the graphics/stats they use are similar to the concept I’ve shown here and definitely inspired me, so I wanted to give that blog a hat tip!

Why Changing Your Profile Picture Means Nothing

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Over the past few days, I kept seeing my Facebook friends change their profile pictures to cartoon characters. I’m a huge geek, as are many of my friends, so at first, I notice a few Pokemon pictures. I thought it had something to do with a new video game coming out or something. Then Disney princesses and Sponge Bob started showing up. Yet, I had no clue what was going on. Apparently, this was another Facebook trend that you had to be one of the “cool kids” to understand, like when everyone was shouting out their bra colors a few months ago.

Finally, I saw someone post about it. Apparently, everyone on Facebook is supposed to change their profile picture to a cartoon character from their childhood for the weekend to show support for the prevention of child abuse.

Cue me rolling my eyes.

Let me say right now that I 100% support an end to child abuse. I used to work at a day care and saw first hand how horrible the effects of abuse can be. Most of the cause-related memes that hit social media are for issues that I fully support.

But how exactly does changing my profile picture change anything.

The “Raise Awareness” Argument

Whenever I bitch about these types of social media campaigns, the most common angry response I get is this: It raises awareness. Even if you aren’t out there stopping predators from abusing children, you’re reminding people that this is an issue.

Ok, I agree with this in some cases, but most of the time it just makes me roll my eyes a second time. Is it an issue that isn’t widely known? Then, that makes sense. Child abuse? Breast cancer? The extinction of *insert your favorite cute animal here*? I already know that these are huge problems in the world! I don’t need you to remind me.

If your cause is for something that most people do not know about, then by all means, start some kind of Facebook craze to raise awareness. As you’re changing your picture, ask yourself this: is doing so actually going to inform someone who had no idea that the problem exists?

Where’s Your Call To Action?

The “raise awareness” bull is only enhanced by the fact that people aren’t voicing their concerns over the issue. It took me THREE DAYS to figure out why everyone was changing their profile pictures to cartoon characters. If you honestly want to raise awareness, why aren’t you using the weekend to post often about why you changed your picture? Talk about the issue if it is important to you!

One of the silliest things I saw was a few months ago on Twitter when people were refusing to tweet for the day – I believe that was in support of autism. It makes no sense to me to refuse to talk about a cause in order to show your support of the cause. Instead, it should been a campaign where if you want to support autism, for the day you’re going to do nothing by tweet about autism – stats, links to how to donate, etc.

Most of all, what I hate about these cause memes is that there’s no actual call to action to help most of the time. Raising awareness is great – but who cares if every single person in the world is aware that child abuse exists? If no one actually does anything, it doesn’t matter. If you change your profile picture, give your friends/followers/fans a link where they can go to donate. In looking on Facebook for an answer as to why people were changing their profile pictures, I saw ONE link to a child abuse charity where I could donate.

And it was from someone who basically said, “Changing your picture is stupid. Here’s a link to donate instead.”

You can even get creative with it! For example, I think the “social media death” campaign that’s going on with a bunch of celebrities right now makes a ton of sense. Until fans donate however much money to a cause, you won’t be on Twitter/Facebook. Now that’s a call to action. You can even support if you don’t have the means to donate by passing around the link for others to do so. But just changing your picture doesn’t actually get anything done.

Abuse is not Trendy

While trying to figure out why avatar pictures were changing, I asked a few people what was going on. Three of them – THREE – said, “I don’t know. I just saw that people were changing their pictures, so I decided to do it too.”

Ok, I understand that showcasing your favorite cartoon character is cute, but child abuse should not be trendy! That’s the risk you run when you have no explanation or call to action. People just jump on the bandwagon because they want to be one of the cool kids, but at that point you’re not raising awareness at all!

I especially resent the thought that people are somehow going to think I’m a bad person if I don’t change my picture too. It’s not that I don’t support the prevention of child abuse. I just don’t like changing my profile picture. Beyond that, crap like this is going on constantly. It becomes white noise if I’m constantly asking people to donate to this cause or that cause. So, I’ve chosen the issue that is extremely important to me, and I focus on that.

A Final Thought

If you want to change your picture, awesome. Just tell me why, and give me something I can do to actually make a difference.

Right now, people are talking about child abuse, but the issue that is most important in my life is suicide prevention. So, to end this post, my call to action is this: Please consider learning more about my favorite charity, To Write Love On Her Arms, and consider making a donation to this or another charity this holiday season.

Do Statistics Really Matter?

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Wake up. Check my Feedburner numbers. Check my traffic stats for the day so far. Check my traffic stats with a second tracking service for comparison. Check my Klout score. Check my Twitter follower numbers. Check my Aweber subscription numbers. Check ebook sales. Check. Check. Check…

I’m not kidding. Every morning I wake up and check roughly 53,083 different statistics involving my various blogs. And because I’m curious, I check some of them two or three times throughout the day. This is in stark opposition to some of my blogging friends, who only check their stats once or twice a week – or even once or twice a month. Heck, I know people who don’t check their stats at all unless an advertiser asks for numbers.

But I also know that a lot of you out there are like me, checking your stats daily or even several times a day. So the question I want to  ask is this: Does it matter? Do statistics really matter to you as you’re trying to build a better blog?

Today, I’d like to make an argument for stats. I know a lot of bloggers out there are telling you to forget stats, to not get so bogged down by them, and although I think that advice can be useful, I’d like to talk about the opposite perspective.

Tracking Goals

I’m somebody who sets a ton of goals in life. I’m also someone who has action steps written out so I can actually reach those goals, because it bothers me when I set a goal but don’t follow through. When it comes to career-related goals, statistics can actually come in quite handy. If my goal is to increase my readership numbers, how can I know that what I’m doing is working if I don’t look at stats? The concept of “write great content and they will come” is wrong; many awesome blog have closed simply because they didn’t have readers. You can’t just take a cue from other blogs in your niche either. What works for them to build numbers may not work for you.

Without stats, you basically have to try everything – and then continue doing everything. You have to be on every social network. You have to bookmark every post with every site. You have to reply to comments and send out newsletters and guest post and do all those other things that experts recommend for building traffic. What’s working? You don’t know – so you have to keep doing it all. If you track your stats, you can stop doing the things that do not work. If I only get three visitors a month from digg, and I going to continue using that site? Not if I’m getting 3,000 a day from Twitter.

So it follows that tracking stats helps you save time. You not only get to see the progress you’re making toward your ultimate goals, but you’re able to see what’s working and focus your time there.

Content Creation

One of the ways I like to use my stats is for brainstorming content ideas. Check out the search terms people are using to find your site. Those are the topics that they are most interested in, so you may consider writing posts relating to these topics. Which emails had really high open and click rates? Again, that indicates which topics people found most interesting. Did people unfollow you on Twitter in masses following a link to one of your posts? It might have offended people or was otherwise pretty far off base in terms of interest.

Content is the driving force of any blog, so if there are tools that can help me create content better tailored to my readers, you can bet I’m going to use them.

Advertising

How much are you charging for advertising right now? Let’s say you get around 50,000 visitors per month to your site and you charge $50 for a small banner ad on the sidebar. Awesome. If you don’t check your stats, how will you know when to raise advertising rates?

If your traffic spikes, it might not be kosher to ask for a higher advertising price, but if you consistently raise your numbers, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not raising advertising fees too. Maybe by the end of the year, you’re getting 500,000 visitors per month. Charging that same $50 per banner ad is a little silly if that’s the case. However, if you only check your stats once or twice a year, when you do see that they’ve gone up, your ad price will have to jump drastically. Advertisers don’t like being told that that prices are jumping from $50 per month to $500 per month, even if you have the traffic to back it up. Checking your traffic regularly allows you to raise prices incrementally.

You can also send out notes to advertisers when you see significant spikes, even if you aren’t raising prices. Right now, I’m not working with a ton of advertisers, but in the past (when I was), I would send out quarterly updates, and I got a lot of good feedback from them about doing this. Even when there’s a slow month, they appreciate seeing the numbers and hearing what I’m doing to draw in traffic.

I will say this about stats: it can be an addiction. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I don’t need to check them every day, and I certainly don’t need to check them several times per day. You can waste a lot of time looking at your stats, and if you’re just starting out, it can be discouraging to see small numbers. Heck, when I first started, there were days when my site had ZERO people visiting (other than me). So, take my recommendation to check stats with a grain of salt. Don’t be too lackadaisical about them – but don’t become obsessed either.

Is Social Networking Killing Search Engines?

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Last week, one of the top stories from SmartBrief on Social Media was an article from the New York Times called “Search Takes a Social Turn.” The theory is that social networking sites, like Twitter, are taking traffic away from search engines because users can instead quickly poll their friends when they have a question, rather than turning to searching Google for the answer. Could we see a huge drop in search engine usage as social networking becomes more and more popular?

The Trust Factor

You can’t trust Google.

I don’t mean that you can’t trust the company or any other search engine for that matter. However, at the end of the day, your results are still automated and you have to weed out the most relevant sites. Let’s say you’re searching for “best restaurants in New Mexico,” for example. The results you get will most likely contain ads, restaurants near New Mexico, restaurants that are new and in Mexico, and other irrelevant sites. Even the top sites may not actually lead you the best restaurants as voted by fans or ranked by some kind of expert. Instead, they could very well be sites that have spent a lot of money optimizing themselves for the search term.

Your friends are going to give you their honest opinions on the best restaurants in New Mexico. They essentially act as a search engine result filter, and you can trust that what they give you is going to match your “search term” so to speak. Your friends are humans. Google’s search engines are not. This is not The Matrix. Yet. Humans – 1, Machines – 0.

The Conversation Factor

When you “search” for something via your friends/followers, you have the chance to hold a conversation about the topic. For example, let’s say that you need to know the definition of a word. Instead of using a search engine, you ask your Twitter friends and someone replies to you with the answer. If you need further clarification, you can just ask. With a search engine, there’s no conversation with their results. If you need further clarification, you have to reword your search term and try to find it yourself.

The best part on a social networking site is that you have the ability to talk to multiple people at once about the topic. The conversation isn’t a one-way street, like on a search engine, nor is it even a two-way street. It’s a whole network of streets. Again, a win for the human race. Humans – 2, Machines – 0

The Results Factor

There is one clear problem with using social networking to replace search engines, and it’s why search engines will never die. When you poll your friends, there’s a good chance, even if you have a million Twitter followers, that you won’t see any results. If no one knows how to answer your question or even has an opinion, you’ll hear crickets chirping and be stuck high and dry. On a search engine, that doesn’t really happen. Sure, you may occasionally type in something obscure that gives you no results, but in general, you’re going to get a list of relevant websites.

Plus, I’m guessing that most of you don’t have a million friends on any one social networking site. If you’re brand new, you might still be working on building up a following. The fewer people you have to poll, the less likely it will be that you get results. Unfortunately, it just takes time to build up your social networking sites. If you need an answer today, it doesn’t help you to wait a month until you have more connections. A search engine will give you results even if it is your first day using the Internet.

Even for easy-to-answer or opinion questions, you might not get a reply via social networking if you’re asking at an off hour when most of your friends are sleeping. Search engines don’t sleep. So, I have to give this round to the machines. Humans – 2, Machines – 1

Overall, humans do still come out on top, but the last factor probably needs to be more heavily weighted. Social networking may take away some search engine traffic, but we aren’t going to see Google or other search engines up and disappear because of this.

Still, the article is a good reminder – don’t forget to use the real people in your life when you’d normally type something into a search engine. If someone can give you a result, it’s likely to be better than the results list you’d receive via a search engine.

Check out the other top stories last week from SmartBrief on Social Media:

  1. 5 lessons from the best social-media campaigns
  2. How much is a follower really worth?
  3. Are you better off targeting Twitter or Facebook users?
  4. How Cisco keeps its social-media teams on target
  5. How big brands learned to love “like”
  6. Twitter 2.0 offers new tools for advertisers
  7. Why social marketers must learn to think local
  8. Search engines are dead, long live social search
  9. Foursquare campaign boosts McDonald’s foot traffic
  10. Why social media is the new standard for small businesses

65% Of Marketers Surveyed Say They Do Not Use Twitter

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For five years now I have been saying Social Media (I still prefer to call it New Media) is still in it’s infancy. Here is the latest proof. In SmartBlog’s most recent weekly reader poll they asked:

What do you think of Twitter’s new home page design?

Surprisingly for some more than 65% of their readers said they don’t even use Twitter.

  • I don’t use Twitter, 65.10%
  • Love it, 22.15%
  • Complaining about it now, but I’ll probably get used to it, 10.07%
  • Can’t stand it, 2.68%

Now when you think about this response for a moment its even more significant. This is a reader poll by a site that has a very social media savvy readership. That tells me the real number of marketers who aren’t using Twitter is even greater.

Just keep reminding yourself every time you think New Media has finally really blown up and hit the big time you have not seen anything yet. Am I crazy?

Overheard on #Blogchat: Stat Discouragement (@tsudo)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Understanding your blog’s analytics and using that info to grow your blog’s readership

As I’ve already said once tonight, stats are not my favorite. I don’t like analyzing them. Heck, I don’t even like checking them. I think one tweeter tonight especially touched on why stats are hard for me:

@tsudo: Measuring audience is important but don’t allow it to be a discouragement to creating useful content.

No matter how well my blogs are doing, I always have higher aspirations. I’m one of those annoying people who is never satisfied, even when I reach my goals. So, stats always seem like a bit of a let down to me. The doubt starts to creep in.

I’m not growing fast enough.

My reader bounce rate is super high. I must not be writing engaging content that encourages people to stick around.

Most of my referrals are from Google. I’m not doing enough to promote by blog through social networking sites, and no one feels compelled to retweet my links.

I had a bad stats day. All is lost.

I know in my heart that even a horrible stats day doesn’t mean that all is lost, yet it if easy to look at stats and wonder why you aren’t doing better. I bet some of the most popular bloggers in the world look at their stats some days and feel discouraged that they only have one million readers instead of two million readers.

The key is to be productive when you look at your stats, rather than letting it paralyze you and prevent you from creating good content.

Take a good look at your last two weeks of posts. Are they high quality? Are they original? Are they focused to be relevant for your target market? Are they consistent? If you truly believe in what you’re doing, keep doing it. Don’t stop just because you see a day of bad stats or aren’t growing as quickly as you wish you could be.

Of course, on the flip side, it is also important to not ignore bad stats. If your readership hasn’t grown for months, you have to ask yourself: why? Maybe you need to reevaluate your niche, your market focus, or your style approach. Don’t blindly continue to post for months or even years if you have no readers. Figure out why.

The point is, take any stat number with a grain of salt. It’s easy to get down on yourself if you think you could be doing better, but rather than simply not posting, continue producing high-quality content and take steps to discover why you aren’t doing as well as you’d like to be doing.

Check out “Overheard on #Blogchat” here every Sunday to read about some of the most interesting tweets from participating bloggers.

Justin Bieber Takes Up 3% Of Twitter Servers?

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It seems that Justin Bieber uses 3% of Twitter infrastructure at any given moment. Yep, that’s right – the teen pop sensation, who landed at the top of the music charts via social media, is now king of Twitter too!

Yesterday Dustin Curtis tweeted the details: “At any moment, Justin Bieber uses 3% of our infrastructure. Racks of servers are dedicated to him. – A guy who works at Twitter”

Mashable looked into it further and a spokesperson for Twitter told them, “While we don’t break out metrics like this, everything around and about Justin Bieber is consistently popular on Twitter.

It makes sense if you think about it. Bieber has almost 5.1 million followers, so every time he tweets (which is at least 20 times a day) his message gets sent to those followers and they retweet it endlessly.

Curtis says, “Apparently, his account receives more than 60 @-replies per second for a while after he tweets, which is something Twitter wasn’t originally designed to handle.” And he indicated that “most of the popular users on Twitter have dedicated servers for their accounts.

Kind of makes me want to ramp up to 5 million followers so I can say I have my own dedicated server with Twitter. Or maybe not.

Image Credit: Amazon

Is Email Taking Over Your Life?

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The first thing I do every morning is answer my email. During the day, I check my email multiple times. Before I go to bed? Yep, email. One more time. Just in case.

Answering emails is a part of the territory if you’re a professional blogger, or really any kind of online professional. Sometime, though, I think I overdo it. Do I really need to check my email so often.

I started thinking about how often I check my email because I read an article on Mashable called “The Truth About Email” and was surprised at the one of the stats they posted – 19% of people surveyed check their emails while in bed. That number jumps to 31% among 18- to 34-year-olds.

I was surprised…but I’ve done it. There are nights when I’ll work while sitting in bed before I go to sleep and mornings when I’ll do some work from bed while having a cup of coffee.

My theory is that this number is so high because so many people are starting their own blogs. Even before quitting their day jobs, many are publishing content online, either as a hobby or side job to make a little extra money. It would be interesting to do another poll, this time just with bloggers, both full and part time. I’m willing to bet that email in bed is even more common among bloggers!

Although it is a task that we have to do is we want any kind of success, email can easily take up way too much time. I’m a guilty part when it comes to this, since I easily click on my email to check it 20+ times a day. More if I’m doing a project I find boring, unfortunately.

Confessional: The other day, I was answering a rather long email, and in the middle of doing it, I opened a new window to check my email. That’s right; I checked my email while I was answering an email.

I know some people limit the number of times per day they check their email. I’ve found that it doesn’t work for me to do that to myself. I just get panic-y that I’m going to miss an important email or an email that will make my job easier. If it works for you to say, “I will only check my email at 8 AM and 5 PM every day, more power to you. If that doesn’t work for you like it doesn’t work for me, here are a few tips you can use:

  • Create a folder called “need to answer.” If something isn’t pressing but does demand a reply, put it in folder and set aside time at the end of the day (preferably before you get into bed!) to answer these emails. It’s more efficient than answering emails one at a time as you receive them during the day and also helps you keep need-to-answer emails separate from other emails you want to save, like email newsletters.
  • Forward all emails to a single address. You might have different emails for different blogs, a personal email for friends, etc. I know I do. Forward them all to a single address that you can check during the day. Just make sure you answer emails from the correct account!
  • Set up your cell to make a noise when you get an email, if you have a net-friendly phone. I think there are some desktop clients that do the same thing, essentially – ping when you have a new email. Of course, if you get hundreds every day, that’s not going to work, but if you get more like a dozen every day, this saves you from going through the log in process even though you don’t have any new messages.

My last bit of advice? Use a separate email for signing up for things like contests and newsletters and such – anything that might put you on a spam list. That way, you aren’t checking non-necessary crap during the day – you can just sort through that when you have time to pull out the legitimate emails. Keep a separate email address for your blog or work, because those are the emails that really matter and need the quickest answers.

Ok, I gave my email tips – your turn! How do you keep email from taking over your life?

Foursquare Check-In Campaigns: Worthwhile for Consumers?

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Earlier this month, ClickZ published “The Best and Worst Campaign Deals on Foursquare’s Turf,” featuring some of the perks of using the service to announce where you’re shopping/eating/etc. It became one of the top-clicked SmartBrief on Social Media stories last week.

I’ve been a resistant Foursquare user. At first, I thought the idea was not only lame, but dangerous. I agree with Nikki’s post last week, in which she noted that she doesn’t exactly want the world to know where she and her kids are at all time.

But now, more and more companies are jumping on board with check-in campaigns, like the ones featured in the ClickZ article, and I’m not only warming up to the idea of using a location-based service, but I’m actually falling in love with the way it’s helping businesses.

Some of the best campaigns, as noted in the article, include those being run by Paul Frank, Ann Taylor, and Gap. At all of these locations, you’ll receive a percentage off your total purchase if you check in a certain number of times. You could receive even more if you become mayor at the location in some cases. Other stores are running similar promotions, and restaurants are giving free food.

Shoppers as Advertising Tools

Let’s say I’m on vacation and do some shopping. If I see something I want at Gap, I’d be more likely to wait until I get home to make the purchase, since I’ve already checked in there a number of times and qualify for their discount. Or, if I’m doing some shopping online, I’m more willing to get my lazy tush to the store to make the purchase, just so I could check in get the discount.

Face value, that doesn’t mean much for the company. Ok, so you’re going to buy a dress at one Gap location instead of the other. Big deal, the money still goes to Gap. That may be true, but the point is that you’re checking in and announcing to others that you’re shopping at a Gap store. You just did a mini advertisement for the company.

Impulse Shopping

Does that make me want to shop at the store more than I already do? Actually, I’m surprised to say it, but yes. And I’m not an impulse shopper, usually!

I’m more likely to stop by a store just so I can check in, even if I don’t have plans to make a purchase, so that I can be the mayor and qualify for discounts or free stuff. While there, I might just be browsing, but we all know that window shopping often leads to purchases. By offering me an incentive to check in, they’re getting me in the door, and that’s half the battle.

I actually find myself doing this even for places that don’t offer incentives. I want to be the mayor at my local Red Robin, so when we’re trying to decide where to eat, I’m more likely to suggest Red Robin to my friends. Why? I have no idea! It’s just tapping into some primal human urge.

If I knew that a restaurant I like in my area was doing some kind of Foursquare promotion, though? Game over. That’s where I’d be more likely eat. It’s a point of pride to be the mayor somewhere, but if you get a discount or free stuff on top of that? Yeah, like I said, game over.

Supporting Local Businesses

The reason I love Foursquare campaigns the most, though, is that it seems to be helping out local businesses. For the vast majority of people, most of your check-ins are going to be local to where you live. I’ve mentioned before that Foursquare is making me more likely to wait until I’m back from vacation or get off the Internet to make a purchase. It’s still money into the corporation’s pocket, right?

Yes, but a company isn’t going to keep a location in your area open if it’s not making any money. You’re still supporting a local business that is employing local people. In some cases, there’s even a local owner, not just a location manager. And when one local business is thriving, others in the area will as well. If I go to Gap to check in, there’s a good chance that I’ll grab dinner while I’m out and stop by some other stores as well. Foursquare is definitely helping out the local economy.

I guess, the point of this post is to encourage you to sign up for Foursquare if you aren’t already. If you’re resistant to the idea, don’t worry; you are not alone. But give it a chance before you dismiss the service. There are not only perks in it for you, but you’re also helping your neighbor businesses thrive.

Here’s the full list of last week’s top 10 Stories from SmartBrief on Social Media:

  1. How to use Facebook to poach your rivals’ biggest fans
  2. Twitter unleashes a torrent of new revenue streams
  3. 7 ways to produce actionable content marketing
  4. Social-media marketing is child’s play
  5. Is social-media marketing an art or a science?
  6. Can marketers combine social media and e-mail?
  7. 5 successful location campaigns — and 5 big losers
  8. The 9 traits of a successful social-media manager
  9. Why you should think about scrapping your Facebook strategy
  10. 6 basic tactics every social-media marketer needs

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. This post is part of BlogWorld’s weekly partnership with SmartBrief on Social Media to bring you the most popular stories in social media.

Fast Company Begins Search for Most Influential Person Online – But is That What They'll Get?

Author:

“Influence” is a favorite buzzword for social media personalities. Online influencers can convince us to buy a product or give to a favorite charity, and though I believe that influence is in the eye of the beholder, I also feel that there’s no denying that the social media world yields some extremely influential people.

Fast Company is looking to find the most influential people online. Their method of measuring influence is through links. Each person who signs up, gets a link. After that, they will monitor each link to see who influenced the most people to click on their links. They will also see how many people who were influenced to sign up via a link, will influence others to sign up, also indirectly leading to the original person’s influence.

From the site:

“Influence is not only about having the most friends or followers. Real influence is about being able to affect the behavior of those you interact with, to get others in your social network to act on a suggestion or recommendation. When you post a link or recommend a site, how many people actually bother to check it out? And what’s the likelihood of those people then forwarding it on? How far does your influence spread? This is the type of influence we’re looking for.”

Here’s where I see problems though. As someone who has been in enough “Top Blogger” contests to know that sometimes it’s a matter of being popular – which is a whole different story. Will the Fast Company project be just another online popularity contest? Can popular people be influential? Can unpopular people be influential?

Personally, what I feel is even more important than knowing a person followed a link, is knowing WHY a person followed a link. Curiosity? They want to support a friend? Everyone else is doing it? They believe in the click? For me, it’s all ego. I’m intrigued. I want to know if I will send anyone to sign up. Certainly I won’t be considered a top influence, but will I be at the very bottom of the barrel?

The Fast Company Influential Person contest runs through August 15th and it’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out. Will the winner be a household name, or someone we know little about?

This is my link to the Fast Company project. Did I influence you to check it out and perhaps sign up? If so, why? If I didn’t inspire you to take action, please let me know that as well.

It’s not enough to measure a person’s reach. If we truly want to know why influence matters, we have to know why people react to particular people, while others, who link to the same thing sit ignored. What causes you to take action?

Deb Ng is the Conference Director for BlogWorld and blogs about social media and blogging at Kommein. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.

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