Thursday, February 11, 2010

Staying Connected

We've talked a lot recently about being interactive and starting a dialogue and using your social media tools in such a way that potential customers and shareholders are interested and involved in your organization.

Part of that effort, obviously, is posting useful and interesting content on various platforms and making sure you're involved in any ongoing discussions stemming from your efforts.  However, as small businesses and non-profit directors, it's likely you have a pretty busy schedule.  You simply don't have time to spend constantly monitoring your updates, retweets, blog comments and Facebook conversations.  I mean, let's face it, you have work to do, right?

Fortunately there are some tools out there that have been designed specifically to help you stay connected, even as you're on the go.  Again, I have to note here that I do not get paid to endorse any product or service.  These are simply tools that I have used that I have found useful and I think you will as well.

I'm also making an assumption that most, if not all, of you are using some sort of smartphone, which allows you to send and receive texts, check your email, go online, use Twitter and either take photos or video or both.  I know I'm constantly checking my email on my iPhone, and I'm betting that many of you do as well.  Besides texts, it's probably the best way to stay updated on your daily activities while on the road or out of the office.

Connectivity Tools:

We've seen some tools designed to enhance connectivity come and go, fairly quickly.  Google Wave is one such tool.  But Google seems to have gotten it right the second time around with their new "Google Buzz" tool, which, so far, has been a very effective mobile platform connectivity program.

Here is an article from Noah Mallin's Social Media blog on "Buzz" that gives you the basic outline of what it does.  For the entire article, click on the link.

Social Media: Is Google Buzz More Than Just Hype?
By: Noah Mallin
Posted: February 9, 2010 10:51 PM 
"What struck me about Buzz is that it is the connective membrane between several Google initiatives. It's geolocation feature which allows users to tag updates with their location ties together Google's push into mobile with mail, and the Buzz overlay brings in Google Maps functionality so you can see, for instance, folks posting about bad traffic ahead. It even ties into Google voice by allowing users to speak updates into their phones rather than typing them (soon to be a menace to drunk updaters and their contacts everywhere if it takes off.)"

I've been using it for about a week now, since it was first released, and so far, it seems to be very effective in terms of keeping me updated not only with my own conversations, but keeps me on top of what others are saying with their posts and links.  G-mail has become one of the most popular e-mail services in the world and continues to grow.  If you don't already have a g-mail account, get one.  It's free, and, unlike most of your other e-mail programs, g-mail tends to be more social media/networking oriented.  Google Buzz enhances this social media presence and is one way to keep connected with a minimal effort.

Another program I've been using is YooNo.  It's an add-on to your web-browser, and in a lot of ways does many of the same things that Google Buzz does, but is primarily focused for desktop use.  I'm online all day, every day.  I'm at my computer probably 10 hours a day.  During that time, I still manage to miss a number of Tweets that are directed at me or my clients.  The same holds true with blog comments and Facebook conversations.

Like Google Buzz, YooNo is a simple download and add on.  I added it to my Firefox browser and so far, I couldn't be happier.  It allows me to connect to nearly all of my social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc. 

Let's say you're on your computer, writing a proposal or editing paperwork.  You can't stop every five minutes to check your updates.  It's distracting, I know, because that's pretty much what I've been doing for a while now.  YooNo gives you two options for getting your updates.  You can open a sidebar on your web browser which is constantly updating so you can keep an eye on it as it goes.  The other feature, which I use more fequently, is the pop up window.  It's a little pop up window at the bottom of my screen that shows me updates.  They come and go fairly quickly, so they're not a distraction at all.

Rest assured, there are other tools out there and there will be more coming in the weeks, months and years to come.  I'll be keeping an eye out for you and let you know which ones work and which ones you probably should avoid.

Here's another quick tidbit I think you'll find interesting.  If you're like most small businesses, you're probably looking to tap into a variety of markets.  There's the ever popular 30-55 year old market, which TV networks and most broadcast media target as their primary audience.  But there's also the elusive "Tweeners" or "Millenials" market; the 15 to 25 market (give or take a couple of years in either direction).  Certainly reaching the 20-something market has proven difficult for even the most experienced pr and social media firms. 

And now comes this little tidbit of news from the Pew Internet Project Survey recently: (again, for the entire story, click on the link)

Study: Teens blog and use Twitter less than young adults

Posted by Leah McBride Mensching on February 3, 2010 at 5:01 PM

"Teens and young adults blog less today than they did in 2006, while older adults are blogging more than ever, according to a Pew Internet Project survey, out today. Teens are also not using Twitter in large numbers, with just 8 percent of Internet users ages 12-17 using the micro-blogging service.

Currently, 14 percent of online teens say they have a blog, while 28 percent said so in 2006. Comments on blogs are down too, with 76 percent of teen social network users saying they commented on friends' blogs in 2006. Today, that number is 52 percent. For adults, 24 percent of those ages 18 to 29 said they blogged in December 2007, while just 7 percent of those age 30 and older did so. By 2009, less users age 18 to 29 blogged - just 15 percent of Internet users - while 11 percent of those age 30 and older have a personal blog."

What does this mean to you?  Well, a few things. 

First, it means that teens and 20-somethings are finding other venues to start conversations.  They're more active on Facebook and participating in what is being called "Macro-blogging".  This is basically just posting short, focused comments about their lives, feelings and activities on their Facebook pages and similar platforms.  This means in order to find out what they're talking about, you really have to follow these "Millenials" where they're posting.  Kind of like trying to figure out what the latest dance music is, you have to go to the most popular dance clubs.  You may not like it, it may not be your "cup of tea" but you have to go where they are.  And right now at least, Millenials just don't seem to be spending a lot of time blogging about their lives.

Second, it means you should continue to actively post on your blog.  This might seem like a contradiction, but it isn't.  The study found that while these "Millenials" aren't posting to their own blogs, they ARE reading other people's blogs and then re-posting the most interesting stuff they see on their Facebook page or similar social media platforms.  If you provide interesting content that "Millenials" find useful or fun, they'll repost it, and that's a great way to gain traction in that market.

Third, it means you need to find other ways to capture the interest of "Millenials" by using the technology that impacts them the most.  This means podcasts and vlogs.  Video is perhaps THE BEST WAY to reach this market and so far, many small businesses and non-profits don't use it effectively. 

Reaching specific markets, such as the "Millenials," the Latino market, the baby boomers, etc., means finding out where they're spending most of their online time, and what they're doing while they're there.  So go ahead, spend some time on that Facebook, find the Digg sites they're talking about, visit Funnyordie, or CollegeHumor.com.  It can only help, plus, you'll probably get a good laugh or two while you're there.  And that's never a bad thing, right?


  1. Thanks for the Yoono mention Chris - glad you are enjoying the product. Have some cool new stuff on the way, stay tuned!

    Todd Pringle
    VP, Product Marketing @yoono

  2. Todd,

    Thank you for taking the time to notice and comment. I do have a question for you. I have found my Yoono to be very effective for me, but I was wondering how much different it was from Google Buzz and if that program is cutting into your market share at all. Again, I enjoy using the program and I look forward to your new products.