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Everloop Social Media Site For Tweens, But Will They Use It?


Everloop, a new social network that aims to be a Facebook alternative for tweens, is launching today with schools, brands and investors already on board. The question is, will kids use it?

They might – considering Everloop is COPPA compliant and can be used in the school systems (unlike the more well-known Facebook). But they might not, considering their friends may already be on Facebook – and then who needs another social media site anyway!! I think it will take some serious nudging by parents and teachers alike to make them consider and make the switch. Or maybe just some cool games – considering that’s all my 9-year-old does with Facebook anyway!

Everloop does require parental verification and allows for parent supervision. And unlike Facebook, where a tween can just lie about their birthday and get an account, Everloop goes through an authentication process for the parent account (by a $1 charge on your credit card, or verifying your social security number). Once signed up, parents can choose to restrict certain features, and they can also choose which notifications they’d like to receive. In April, a partnership with Internet safety education program i-Safe will bring the Everloop network into about 56,000 schools.

The site does not allow kids to post information that could identify them to strangers, and prevents bullying and inappropriate behavior. According to the press release, Everloop’s unique, age-appropriate social media experience created by intertwined micro-networks called “loops” is unlike any other social platform on the market today. Loops featured on Everloop include communities of common interest (art, science, culture, reading, sports, current affairs etc.), creative applications for the creation of digital art, music, social games, videos, photos, animation, premium content e-storefront, user-generated content, and other integrated online learning experiences.

I just signed my tween up to test it out – and then we can get a first-hand review of whether or not it’s something she’ll continue to use!

Overheard on #Blogchat: Can Readers Find You? (@thekrg)


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 (or Monday morning), 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: Blog Design

During this week’s #blogchat discussion, we talked about everything from blogrolls to whitespace. One of the subjects that came up again and again was what elements to include on your site (especially on the sidebar) and what elements to leave off. Said one tweeter:

thekrg: Social media contacts are a must for me.

Back in December, I compiled the 12 Days of Blogging mostly by clicking from site to site. I visiting blogs from BlogWorld speakers, blogs that respected IM/blogging bloggers recommended, blogs people were promoting on Twitter, and blogs I just thought might be cool. In the end, I included posts from over 100 bloggers. Of those hundred bloggers, I found Twitter information for all but one or two, and I would estimate that at least 95% were active accounts (i.e., used regularly). I’m willing to bet that almost all of these bloggers are also on Twitter, and many are on LinkedIn and other social networking sites as well.

But not everyone made this information easily available. In fact, I’d say that I had to actively hunt for social networking information from about 25% of the bloggers that were included in the ebook.

That’s way too many people who aren’t making it easy enough for readers to find them.

This isn’t about promoting yourself even more or something. I mean, it can be – having more followers on Twitter, more “likes” on Facebook, and so forth…those are definitely good things. But more importantly, this is about recognizing that not everybody wants to contact you in the same way.

I’m a fan of email, for example. I will freely give my Skype information to anyone wanting a chat or phone call as well, and I reply to comments as needed. As much as I’m a fan of email, though, I’m finding it more and more convenient to reach people on Twitter or Facebook. Twitter is nice because it’s a quick and instant way to contact someone with a single question. It’s almost like chatting via an IM platform, but without the need to have an entire conversation. Perfect for someone who is busy. Facebook is another great tool, since it allows you to connect with someone in a more public way if you want, as well as invite them to events or send private messages. LinkedIn is another awesome social network for communication – if I’ve worked with someone in the past, I can send out a recommendation.

If you don’t include your social network information on your site, people can’t do those things. Frankly, sometimes I’m too lazy to open up my email. If I can’t quickly find someone’s Twitter information, I just thing, “meh, maybe I’ll catch them later” unless the question/comment was really pressing.

That’s not a good thing. The buzzword right now is engage, and you can’t do that if you don’t give your readers options for connecting with you. Not everyone likes the same things you do.

Is it a must to have Twitter/Facebook/etc. information on your sidebar? Although I think that’s the most convenience option, I wouldn’t say it’s a must. If you’re going for a minimalist look, you can also put this information at the bottom of your posts, one your About page or on your Contacts page. I recommend having it several places. Just where you want to place it on your blog depends on your niche and overall design.

But make sure you include it somewhere. If you expect to make money from your readers, give them several contact options!

Thanks, @thekrg, for a great tweet!

Contagious Social Media Sickness


Right now, I am extremely contagious.

That’s not me trying to be witty about a blogging concept or something. I literally am contagious. This past weekend, I traveled to DC for MAGFest, a music and gaming conference (yeah, I know, I’m a geek), and I have post-con plague. Gamers aren’t exactly known for being sanitary. I was actually supposed to drive the four hours home on Monday, but ended up hibernating on a friend’s couch for two and a half days because I was too sick to drive. Yuck.

So right now I’m extremely contagious. And, although you can’t really “catch” anything from me on Twitter or other social media sites, you may have noticed that I’m not really around right now. I highly advocate treating social media like a social gathering when you are sick – only go out when necessarily, since you’re putting others at risk.

Here are some of the problems I commonly see with people who use social media while sick:

  • TMI

I really, really don’t want to know about the discharge from your nose, the number of times you puked today, or other grisly details of your illness. There is such a thing as over-sharing, people!

  • Contagious Bad Mood

When you’re sick, you’re likely not in the best of moods, and rightfully so. Bad moods can spread on social media like wildfire, though, and they can also hurt your brand. You don’t want someone who is a first-time fan or follower to see that your last several updates are complaints.

  • Questionable Work Ethic

You and I both know that updating Twitter while in bed with the flu is perfectly doable…but a boss or client may not. To them, it might seem like you’re not really that sick, or worse, that you’re not sick at all, and you’ve been lying about being unable to work.

Beyond these three points, there’s something else important to remember when it comes to using social media while sick: YOU NEED TO RECOVER!

Do what is absolutely necessary, and then turn off Twitter and go to sleep. We all need a sick day every so often.

Step Away And Step Up: Putting Social Media In Context


Guest post contributed by Cathy Brooks

It’s that time of year.

A crisp chill in the air, the rich scent of fireplaces beginning to crackle and, of course, the ever-present commercialism of the holidays. The truth, though, is that this time of year brings an opportunity for something more important – the opportunity to take stock of things for which we’re thankful, to connect with loved ones and to look ahead to the New Year thinking about how we want to up our game just a little bit more.

Peering through the lens of social media towards this introspective and thought-filled time, I muse on the way in which social technologies have not only enabled us to connect and do good, but also find ways in which to show our gratitude for the things and people in our lives.

The good news is that great advances brought by the social web have galvanized millions to act for social causes and be thankful. From raising money for cancer to digging wells and providing clean water in developing nations, from pushing for an end to malaria to putting smiles on children’s faces and providing relief for victims of disasters – social networks and technologies expand our awareness and streamline the ability to engage.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that in spite of all this connectivity – and actually in many ways because of it – our society teeters precipitously close to dissociation and detachment. “Now Cathy,” I can hear you saying. “That doesn’t make sense. How could we possibly be dissociated and detached when we’re so connected?

The truth is that just because we are digitally connected doesn’t mean that the quality of those connections is any better. In fact, the maelstrom of connectivity makes it very hard to focus and so skating across the top of a connection rather than diving down deeply becomes almost de rigueur. With the sheer volume of people to whom we are connected on all these platforms, it’s impossible to have deeply qualitative relationships with them all. Now consider the younger generation and think about how this is evolving.

This recent article in The New York Times details the increasingly distracted nature of today’s teens. The inexorable march towards digital saturation has rendered the attention span of your average teen – which was never all that great anyway – into something resembling a gnat on a hot brick.

That’s a problem, especially because it’s the up-and-coming generation that will be seizing these platforms more fully and taking them forward. So what of a generation that is so busy skating across the surface and snacking lightly, never really connecting or staying present long enough with a subject to engage? Charitable fatigue, already an issue for social causes leveraging new technologies to reach out, could become even more of an issue when presented to a generation that is almost constitutionally incapable of focusing in the first place.

There is hope, however, and that lies in making sure we don’t forget the most powerful part of the social media equation – the individuals who are using the technology. Instead of looking at the social stream as nothing more than a whoosh of 140 characters, take a step back and think about the person whose keyboard tapping sent the message your way. Any community, any network, any social platform is nothing more than an aggregation of individuals whose voices together create the whole.

We cannot stop the racing river, but we can step back from the banks and take a breath before diving in.

About Cathy Brooks
For most of her career Cathy Brooks told other people’s stories for them. Today through her Story Navigation workshops she helps companies and individuals navigate the story-telling process for themselves, turning business-speak into powerful narrative. She also advises companies on influencer outreach, crafting narrative to build relationships. A prolific writer, Cathy writes for myriad blogs including: Dot429, BrianSolis.com, and her own blog, Other Than That. She also hosts a weekly Internet radio show, – Social Media Hour. You can also connect with Cathy via email or on Twitter.

Turning Customers Into Passionate Brand Fans


Entertainers have always known that fans long for a personal connection with them. The more an artist can provide a behind the curtain experience the more people will become passionate fans who attend movies, watch TV shows, see concerts, download music and tell their friends. The other secret artists intuitively understand is that people like to share experiences with others who have the same interests.

Social media provides unique opportunities for brands to emulate the arts. Social platforms provide ways to connect employees, who are the heart of the brand, with their audiences. It also allows for the creation of digital events and communities that bring customers together to tell their unique stories about your brands.

On the surface, social media appears fairly simple. Drop a tweet, write a status update, post a video on YouTube. How hard can that be if middle school kids are doing it? Don’t let the ease of the technology fool you into the illusion using social media as a business tactic is child’s play. Incorporating social media into your master plan requires a sophisticated approach that is integrated, monitored and flexible to respond to market opportunities.

The digital brand experience frequently opens the door to a world where our customers collide with business units that have long been silo-ed within organizations (customer service to marketing, public relations, sales and beyond). To succeed a social marketing strategy must begin with aligning the enterprise. The first step takes into account the concerns and social interaction of the people who have contact (both actively and passively) with your customers.

Experience has taught us that while a step into the social web may initially increase awareness, the challenge of consistently extending and maintaining the goodwill of an organization’s online reputation through digital conversations is based on how well the details are managed.

  • Identify your target audience/s
  • Understand your target audience’s social media expectations
  • Understand the culture of each platform where your customers participate
  • Take into consideration how social media will impact resources: people, time, money and internal processes
  • Ensure social media tactics are integrated and supportive of business goals/objectives, as well as, current marketing, branding.
  • Determine measurements of success which may be quantitative or qualitative
  • Develop an outreach initiative for each social media initiative because they will not come unless you tell them.
  • Approach all social media initiatives from the point of view of social media ethics and values: Honesty, Authenticity, Transparency and Passion.

The corporate path may be more complex than the artist’s, but when the house lights go out success remains the same .. did we turn our customers into passionate brand fans?

Toby Bloomberg is recognized for her expertise in combining social media with traditional marketing values such as strategy, customer insights, segmentation, etc. You can find her at Diva Marketing and @tobydiva.

Keeping Up With Community


Social media is an ever-shifting industry. There are always new headlines in the news, tools that solve a problem we didn’t know existed, case studies developing everyday and new interest community platforms forming daily. As a community manager it is your job to keep up with not only your community, but all communities as a whole.

Participation in all Forms
Every good community manager should know how to engage and participate across all mediums of social media. While it’s not necessarily a requirement that community managers be an expert in both Slideshare and Facebook, an understanding of the various platforms and its uses will help a community manager engage more thoughtfully within their respected communities.

While still remaining authentic to their current interests, a community manager should join communities so that they can understand how the community functions as a whole, what mannerisms the communities exhibit and how the community platform ethically behaves. In order to truly gain an understanding for each community platform, a community manager should interact with these communities regularly.

Keep up with Facebook and Twitter Brands

In the same vein as actively participating in communities online, it is a good idea to watch what other community managers and brands are doing in the social space. Usually the largest social media successes will show up on sites like Mashable, but it tends to be the unnoticed status updates that teach us the most about a community.

For Twitter, browse through the Who to Follow directory by interest to find companies and brands that are currently using Twitter as a social media outlet. Once you have selected a few accounts that are doing it right (or wrong) compile them into a private Twitter list that you can reference throughout the day. Referencing these accounts to see how users react to content, how brands respond to customer service requests and how often a company updates can effect how you operate within your own community.

Facebook is another excellent venue for monitoring competitors and like-minded social brands. Currently, there are 355 brands on Facebook that I have “liked”.  These brands range anywhere from from Barbie to Duck Tape. All of these brands are sorted in a private list within my Facebook profile. It’s here that I see social media examples and case studies developing in realtime.

Try the Tools
Tools are meant to be your friend, your best friend in fact. They are there to help you, support you and make your daily activities easier. By keeping up with the latest tools available, you can use your time efficiently. Sites like OneForty (an application and tool directory for Twitter) can help community managers find tools to manage followers, archive conversations and even provide in-depth analytics. A general awareness of the tools that are currently available can come in handy when the brand you manage asks for lists of all of the Twitter followers with “beanie babies” in the bio (Refollow is a tool that does this exact task).

Keeping up with the fast paced world of social media is a job in itself, but immersing yourself in a few select areas in addition to your community can be beneficial in the long run. As a community manager, how do you stay up on current trends, tools and social programs?

— Suzanne Marlatt

As the Community Manager for Edelman Digital Suzanne re-launched the Edelman Digital website in March 2010. Since then she has established a presence on 5 large social communities and manages the EdelmanDigital.com community and content daily. Prior to Edelman, Suzanne worked for Sittercity.com, a website for connecting care providers to care seekers, as their Social Media and Marketing Manager. When she’s not tweeting or Facebooking you can usually find Suzanne with her two dogs, Hannity and Opie. You can find her on Twitter @edelmandigital

Image Credit: Nerea Marta

How Social Media hasn’t changed the World


“to see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events… to see things thousands of miles away… to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed… to see, and to show…”
— Henry Luce, Publisher of Life Magazine

This afternoon I ran across “Today in History” and found a very interesting mention that today is the 74th Anniversary of the first issue of Life Magazine, originally published on this day in 1936.

It really got me to thinking how things have changed in 74 years in so many ways; but really has that much changed or are we simply delivering things in new ways? The highly successful publisher Henry Luce, who also was also the publisher of Time, created in Life Magazine a picture-based periodical with the specific focus of showing the world what other magazines and newspapers only described in words. Life did exactly that with its first issue with a stunning cover photograph by Margaret Bourke-White of the Fort Peck Dam, one of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” public works projects completed in the 1930’s. Life Magazine was an overwhelming success in its first year of publication, its concept changed the way people perceived the world and the events there in. At its peak, Life Magazine had a weekly circulation of over 8 Million; or an average of more than 400,000,000 magazines a year. Life Magazine defined an era; it shaped minds and opinions; but like its name sake, Life wasn’t endless and ceased its run as a weekly publication in 1972 citing the growth of Television as a cause. In 2004 it resumed weekly publication as a supplement in numerous U.S. newspapers its combined circulation was once again in the millions.

That’s the quick history lesson on Life Magazine – The parallels in what we now refer to as the “Media Dinosaurs” are actually pretty remarkable. The vision that Henry Luce laid out 74 years ago still rings true, just in ways he and the world could never have imagined.

Facebook says that more than 3 billion photos are being uploaded every month – 3 billion a month; that is close to the combined results of other content (defined as “web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, etc.”). If we had to describe it in 1936 terms it would be like every person has their own printing press and personalized magazine – all 500,000,000+ of them. The parallels don’t necessarily end there either,
there are plenty more examples of how Social Media is really just a continuation of what was started on walls with pictograms when we were just able to also make a fire… and like pictograms — this too shall have its time.

I’m frequently asked if Social Media is “worth the time”, well of course it is – for the first time in history we the story makers are also the story tellers. My mother, who was around for the first issue of Life, recently joined Facebook. She was amazed at how many “friends” she had in mere days; and now has the ability to follow (and unfortunately comment) on the daily life of her children. She’s an interesting demographic because she’s lived through the invention of television (and color television in case you didn’t know they were two different things), the moon landing, bellbottoms, fax machines, cell phones, satellite dishes and now Social Media. As we sit on the “bleeding edge” of technology one has to wonder what will be the thing we’re amazed by in 74 years, just how much smaller can our world get?

Its worth pointing out it’s also the 47th anniversary of the BBC’s SciFi television show Doctor Who. The Doctor travels in time — so he already knew about Facebook, and what’s next… cheater.

Pete Housley has been a featured panelist and speaker at a number of social media conferences including the Twitter 140 Conference and BlogWorld Expo. With more than 15 years of Fortune 50 business consulting and analysis experience Mr. Housley now focuses on implementation and integration of Social Media. A coder and innovator Pete developed the Candid Tweet Twitter aggregation engine which is the framework for sites including pornstartweet.com, comedytweet.com and vegasstartweet.com. Contact Pete by email at phousley@vegas411.com or on Twitter @petehousley

What is Your Super Hero Social Networking Identity?


Social networking allows us to be anyone we want to be. You can setup a Twitter account within seconds, and connect with millions of users and never have to display who you actually are. Whether it be for business or pleasure, would an alter ego identity help your business or brand?

Let’s take a look at how some of my friends and well known people within industry have managed to build out their brand, while using their business name in the process. I am referring to either using a logo, their company name or even their blog title.

Real Names vs. Online Branded Names

I’m personally good friends with the following three individuals, and despite knowing them on a first name basis, I still always want to refer to them as their online brand names and the identity they have built. It’s almost like having a super hero identity!

Each of these users also have Twitter accounts under their ‘branded names’, each with over 50,000 followers. Are you one of them?

– Super Hero Name: ShoeMoney
(Secret Identity: Jeremy Schoemaker)

– Super Hero Name: ProBlogger
(Secret Identity: Darren Rowse)

– Super Hero Name: CopyBlogger
(Secret Identity: Brian Clark)

This just goes to show the power of branding and marketing in the internet and social media world. Just try and establish yourself in the world without using the internet, and you will find it’s nearly impossible or would cost millions of dollars to get any type of name recognition and branding.

Mention Shoemoney, Problogger or Copyblogger at any conference or event, and there’s a good chance people will know who you are talking about, yet I’m sure none of them have done any offline or branded advertising.

Whether a brand name is created by mistake or meant to stick, it all depends on your blog readers, twitter follows and how others see you as an individual and business. Having a real person behind every brand, helps determines that company or person’s success. You are the brand you represent.

What other recognizable ‘real names vs. branded names’ can you think of in the internet marketing and blogging space?

This post has been written by Zac Johnson, an internet marketing veteran with nearly 15 years of experience and enjoys helping others learn how to make money and succeed at ZacJohnson.com. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

The Step Between Friends and Customers


When it comes to social media, we have friends whom we know personally and we have customers who we can always count on to buy our products. But how does that jump from friends to customers happen? Declan Dunn presented “How To Turn Friends Into Fans And Customers” at BlogWorld 2010, and he made some super important points about how we categorize our interactions with others. This is the new media game.

“Fans are people who raise their hands and say ‘I want more.'” – Declan Dunn

When you meet someone new using social networking, it is easy to become fast friends. “Oooo, he replied to me on Twitter!” “Wow, someone liked something I said on Facebook!” “Yay, he wants to connect on LinkedIn!”

The problem is that often, people don’t foster that relationship and instead hit people with a hard sell. Woah there, buddy. I just met you. I don’t want to buy your product yet. Relationships take time.

This is where Declan has come in with the concept that you have to move friends into the “fans” relationship level before they can become customers. Fans are people who are opting in to support you. This might mean a literal opt-in by signing up for your mailing list, but it could also be another kind of opt-in.

  • Friends who refer you to others are opting to become fans.
  • Friends who become a part of your blog community through comments, forum posts, etc. are opting to become fans.
  • Friends who promote your stuff on social media, without prompt, are opting to become fans.

That still doesn’t mean that they’ll buy something from you – but what it does mean is that you can approach them without worrying so much about offending them. Defining your fans means a lot less work to chase down those dollars. If you try to sell something to friends, few will make the purchase. They aren’t emotionally invested in supporting you or in need of the information you’re selling. They just like interacting with you. Fans, on the other hand, do want to support you, which often grows from a strong need for the information you’re selling.

The bottom line is this: If you try to sell your products to friends, you’re going to do a lot of work for little reward and possibly even offend a few people. If you try to sell to fans instead, you’ll see much better results.

Thanks, Declan, for a great BlogWorld presentation. His session covered a number of other topics, of course, and if you missed it or opted not to attend BlogWorld this year, consider picking up a virtual ticket to see his session.

Is Social Networking Killing Search Engines?


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

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