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A recent study on the way youths around the world use mobile devices found that college students use their phones to text and interact over social media much more than any other use, such as surfing the web or gaming. The study, conducted by Prof. Paul Mihailidis of Emerson College in Boston, tracked 800 students of 52 nationalities attending universities in eight countries across three continents for a 24-hour period.

As Susan Moeller reports for Huffington Post, Mihailidis made five key conclusions:

  1. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are the dominant form of communication and new sharing.
  2. The content that is most shared is not thought-provoking articles, but rather viral videos and music.
  3. There is an addiction to mobile phones and these phones are tied in to a student’s identitiy.
  4. Connecting with friends online through a mobile device has become “more real than the real world.”
  5. Students demand a large number of options when it comes to apps, but only utilize a select few.

The upside to the study’s findings is that these mobile devices allow students to comment and share content more readily, making them better informed and feel more a part of issues.

The downside, of course, is the issue of privacy. With so much of a student’s life online, there’s a significant risk that somone other than a friend could collect and use their information.

I’ve written before about the hidden cost of social media marketing. While Facebook, Twitter and the like are all free to use, their is the inherent cost of your time to keep your online presence where you want it.

Heather Clancy, of ZDNet, now reports that managing social media for small or midsize businesses often costs hundreds of dollars per month for tools or for outsourced manpower.

Clancy’s report is based on research done by Duct Tape Marketing, who’s creator, John Jantsch, attributes the findings to business owners’ realization that social media is “an essential element of the marketing mix.”

Despite spending nearly $1000 per month on social media, almost all responding business owners said their online presence has “somewhat helped” or “helped a great deal”.

It appears social media has joined the ranks of print, radio or TV ads. It’s a pay to play system, so you’d better be sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Facebook, Twitter and, perhaps to a lesser extent, other social media platforms have become a public forum where ideas, opinions and news are exchanged. Peter M. Gunn, of Huffington Post, argues that because social media is a essentially a public service, it’s time to take it out of the private sector and into the public one.

Social media companies have, without a doubt, changed the way we communicate. But then, fire stations changed the way we fought fire and they began as private entities. There’s actually a good argument that your privacy would be better protected by a government run social media site than it is on Facebook. For example, when is the last time the Post Office ‘shared’ your personal information with another company? Now, when is the last time Facebook ‘shared’ your email address, demographic stats or browsing habits?

Also, Facebook and Twitter can’t protect First Amendment rights. Thanks to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which says law enforcement can gain access to electronic documents with only a subpoena, they can’t protect Fourth Amendment rights, either.

Perhaps, rather than the broad step of government run socia media, stricter regulations on existing social media could be put into place. Considering the deep pockets of the existing companies, however, and their current investment in lobbying, that seems unlikely to occur.

Certainly, there could exist a public-owned social media alternative that protects your freedoms, while the privately-owned alternatives continue to thrive. Case in point, the US Post Office doesn’t run FedEx or UPS out of business. It comes down to how much protection you want for your online communication.

Would you like the increase in your audience and the thrill that only comes from a retweet? Of course you do. Ann Smarty, of Search Engine Journal, has seven ways for you to get retweeted more.

1. Read Expert Opinions

Reading this article is a good start. Now, go find more opinions on getting retweeted and become an expert yourself.

2. Find Peak Hours

Use available analytic tools to find when your desired demographic uses Twitter. Then, tweet so you’re near the top of your audiences timeline.

3. Use Viral Content Buzz

It’s a free social media platform you should look into. There’s an option to get you more retweets while you retweet other users. Maybe it’s a bit of a cheat, but it gets the job done.

4. Twitter Chats

When you participate in Twitter chats, you gain the ears and eyes of a large audience. Suddenly, you’re a familiar name to many more users.

5. Get the Scoops

Follow news outlets or other streams that break news first. Then, spread the word about breaking stories or tweet about stories you just find interesting. Links get more retweets and links to news no one else has heard makes you a desired follow.

6. Name Drop

Pay attention to those that follow you that boast their own impressive number of followers. Mention them by name in some of your tweets. Hopefully, they’ll retweet you occassionally. If not, at least you may capture part of their audience by showing up in their feed.

7. Repeat Yourself

If you have success with a particular tweet, don’t just forget about it. Use it again, as long as it is still relevant, down the road. It will be new to a big chunk of users.

Twitter users have no doubt taken notice of multiple, recent updates to improve user experience. What they may not have noticed is that these updates are mostly geared toward helping advertisers engage consumers, as Romain Dillet writes for TechCrunch.

Recent improvements include a better search function. Finally, right? Well, now it’s much easier to find specific companies and follow them.

There’s also the changes to the look of profile pages. For businesses, the company name is much larger than the @username and a giant logo appears as the header. These changes affect users as well, but were clearly designed with advertisers in mind. Much like the ability to pin a tweet to the top of the timeline, which will most likely serve to let consumers know about current specials.

Certainly, there are still room for improvements to make Twitter a perfect advertising machine. However, in order to remain effective, Twitter also needs to keep normal, product-buying users happy and on-board. That juggling act is no small feat.

Twitter currently boasts millions of users, which makes it an excellent, and free, way to get the word out about your business. But it can be difficult to build and audience and ensure that your tweets are being seen. That’s where hashtags come in, as Tara Horner details on the Jeff Bullas blog.

A hashtag is simply a topic that you put at the end of a tweet with ‘#’ in front of it. For example, “You probably already knew that #obviousinfo”. This allows users to group together all tweets with a specific hashtag, even if they aren’t following the author.

There are actually two ways for you to make the most of your hashtags. First, check out which hashtags are currently trending on Twitter and decide if any of them could be relevant to your business. You probably shouldn’t shoehorn a #Kardashian tag at the end of your tweets, but you may be able to find a topic that fits with your business and ride those coat tails.

Second, create your own hashtags based on what you’re already tweeting about. Think of them like Twitter SEO and use keywords you’d like customer’s to associate with your business. Then, anyone who is interested in those topics can find you later.

If used correctly, hashtags are a great way to get lots of eyeballs on your message. Just be sure it’s a message worth seeing.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project recently released it’s findings from a phone survey of about 1-thousand US adults. As Matt McGee reports for Marketing Land, the survey aimed to discover who exactly is using various social networking sites. Some of the findings you may have already assumed, such as, Pinterest is dominated by women and those with good, higher paying careers are using LinkedIn. All of the information is valuable, however, so you can tailor messages on specific sites to the demographics that are most often found there.

Facebook

66-percent of Internet users are on Facebook, which is by far the highest percentage of users. Users are fairly evenly distributed between men and women, education level and annual income. The biggest advantage Facebook features is the captivation of older Internet users. 56-percent of those age 50-64 have an account, which makes Facebook the clear top choice for marketing to the older crowd, despite the fact that younger users also flock their.

Twitter

Though Twitter does not hold a large market share of Internet users overall, it is almost entirely populated by well-educated men and women under 50. The annual income data is well dispersed across the spectrum, which sets Twitter apart from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn

As I mentioned earlier, LinkedIn is generally used by successful professionals over the age of 30. Its clientele is made up of 36-percent of Internet users with college degrees and 34-percent of Internet users with an annual salary over $75-thousand. With the exception of Facebook, which posted large percentages in every category thanks to their sheer number of users, LinkedIn is by far the leader in those two categories.

Pinterest

19-percent of female Internet users have a Pinterest account and that number is almost certainly still growing. Though their ages tend to skew younger than 65, you can reach nearly every female group through Pinterest.

Instagram and Tumblr

These image based sites returned data that is remarkably similar. Their users are mostly young, 30 or below, with at least some college experience. Oddly, Instagram features a large number of well-off users, 16-percent of those with a salary above $75 thousand. Tumblr is more evenly dispersed and, if anything, tends to attract those with a salary below $50-thousand per year.

 

Social media has exploded over the past five years, especially for the marketing of businesses. Why? The simple answer is because it’s free. But, while it is free to use, in order to be successful on social media, you have to invest a lot of your own time and effort.

There are opportunities for you to get all of those ‘Likes’ and followers you desire overnight though. Ellen Gipko, at Search Engine Journal, discovered multiple freelance job postings in search of, or offering, ‘Likes’ or followers for a price.

While having more ‘Likes’ than the competition may initially draw people in, they aren’t sticking around if your page is a ghost town. And what good are 500 Twitter followers if they don’t interact with you and create an interesting, entertaining forum?

There seems to be no evidence that having a boat-load of “REAL USA LIKES” on your Facebook page improves your SEO rankings either.

So while you may be jealous that your main competitor’s profile boasts more ‘Likes’ than yours, remember that old saying: C.R.E.A.M. or Content Rules Everything Around Me. If you put in the leg, er finger work, you’ll get the ‘Likes’ and followers and have a reputation to grow on your success.

While infographics are often a great way to attract attention, there are times when they are not the proper solution for a client. Here are six instances where infographics don’t provide a good return of investment for the client and shouldn’t be used.

  1. Sites with Questionable Links – All SEO experts know about the huge shift created by Google’s Penguin and Penguin algorithms. Owners of penalized sites will often ask if infographics can solve their problems. Infographics can assist in varying backlinks, but it can’t solve all of the issues. Before recommending an infographic, you need to know about the specific penalties.  Also, many sites with “grey links” haven’t been penalized. Infographics can cause these sites to be identified and then get hit by penalties. Investing money for an infographic (which can cost thousands of dollars if independent research and design is needed) is not a wise recommendation when a website may be already on the edge of penalties.
  2. Under-developed Sites – So, you have a brand new website. Wouldn’t an infographic be a great and easy way to advertise your site to the world? Probably not. They don’t just bring links. They also help place your brand in front of the proper audience. By publishing on an under-developed site, clients may get the impression that you are sloppy or lack experience. Also, like is commonly found in SEO, the ROI relies on how you leverage the assets you already have. Infographics may help leverage your Social Media status and RSS subscribers, but you’ll want to make sure that these are all up to date beforehand.
  3. Lack of Social Media Plan – A real social media plan is not just having a Facebook or Twitter. Infographics are designed to be viral and attract tons of social-media savvy people to your website. If your social media accounts aren’t updated or lack content, these visitors are unlikely to become an audience. Before you use an infographic you need to update your content frequently, court a number of followers and have a stategy for identifying members of your demographic.
  4. Lack of Mailing List – Using an infographic without a mailing list means missing out on a massive opportunity. Having 10,000 unique visitors sounds wonderful initially, but is not likely to provide a long term audience. However, having just 50 people sign up for your company’s mailing list is an essential part of converting visitors to leads.
  5. No Budget – While numerous places offer infographics for relatively cheap, they don’t allow you to rise above the clutter of the internet. According to Topsy, in 2012 17,000 tweets included the word “infographic”. That means a mediocre infographic will not capture the attention of the biggest markets. Making an infographic requires a skilled team and usually costs over $1,000. If you can’t afford that much, you’re more likely to see a return on your investment with link bait articles or guest postings.
  6. You Don’t Understand Infographs – Infographs are for good content but that content may not always be what you personally enjoy. It is aimed at your demographic and the online sources that focus on that market. Trying to squish a long detailed report may seem like a great idea, but it is unlikely to go viral. It may be visually appealing, but it won’t convert potential customers.

To see the original article by Danny Ashton:
When NOT to use an Infographic: 6 Examples

Google Buzz is the latest update from Google.  Went live yesterday, looks to be Google’s effort to break into the social media market.  I personally tried it out a bit, it ties directly to Gmail.

It does do updates regularly, and appears to share the information with anyone who follows you.  A lot of people have commented that it looks to be an imitation of Twitter.  The nice thing is that you can connect to other sites, to reduce all the different social machines that need maintenance.

Google Buzz options

The default for me was to activate sharing with Picasa and Google Reader (I didn’t select either of these).  The other options available are visible in the image above.  The blurred domain is a site I set up on BlogSpot/Blogger through the same account.  With Twitter, it will read your Tweets, but from what I can tell it only reads to Buzz, not vice versa.

Looks like Google’s still ironing out the kinks on this, I’m sure plenty of people will be giving feedback for it.  For now I find it nice since I don’t have the mass of content that is dealt out on Twitter, and so far it appears to still stay within actual social connections (and hasn’t spread into the marketing machine yet).  So every “buzz” I’ve gotten so far has been from a friend, making an actual comment on life instead of a business telling me how good their merchandise is.

I don’t know if it’s automatic for all Gmail users, but from the amount of people I’ve seen pop on with it, I’m guessing it is.  It’s just another option underneath the Inbox, and it will show updates for some “buzz”es (but not all) within the Inbox.  It appears it will post the updates for anything you have contributed to to your Inbox, with the little Buzz logo next to it.

We’ll see if it’s something that gets used a lot or not, should be able to tell within a few weeks how well it’ll work.