This post was inspired by a conversation that was raised on Twitter with @correlationist (aka Prince) when I was contemplating a new topic for my next post. I was also inspired by reading a post by Jeff Sayer entitled Flocking the Stream. The conversation was about the new streaming platforms emerging like mushrooms – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and recently Google Buzz. Where does it end? Who wins the social media war? Who takes over the world?
I’m reminded of Pinky & The Brain (Emmy-winning animated television series) – starring two genetically enhanced laboratory mice who reside in a cage in the Acme Labs research facility. In each episode, Brain devises a new plan to take over the world, which ultimately ends in failure, usually due to Pinky’s idiocy or the impossibility of Brain’s plan. So who’s the “Brain” in the social media world?
In this worldwide war, who are your allies and who’s the enemy? Who should you side with to win the war of online domination? If you would like to see a matrix comparing these strategic platforms, I suggest you read the post written by Jeremiah Owyang. In my post however, I will relay my personal experience and try to shed some light on why to use some of the aforementioned platforms and why!
Before getting the gist of social media, I hopped onto Facebook and connected with my friends. I never really knew why, but everybody I knew was talking about it, so I didn’t want to feel left out. I uploaded my best picture and soon had albums posted and tags added … So Facebook was purely sharing the fun with my friends – the latter term is a key in our comparison. In Facebook, you add friends. People you already know, or met! After all, you don’t expect to invite just anyone to your private life. I declined a lot of invites to preserve my privacy!
Then I learned about Facebook fan pages and started understanding the business benefits of this platform. I remember having this conversation with one of my professors – she could never make the link between business and Facebook. I can name at least one!
When you fill up your profile, you are asked all sorts of questions, age, gender, marital status, location, like and dislikes, hobbies, favorite books, education, religion … and the list goes on. Can you imagine how vital this info is to any marketer – I personally think it’s priceless. Facebook indirectly gives you access to this information to target your advertisement. With over 400 million users on Facebook, you are bound to reach your target audience!
What Facebook does not offer is the “free” opportunity of viral marketing. Unless you decide to opt for paid advertisement, all your announcements are limited to the circle of your friends (and maybe their friends). This is where the other platforms like Twitter and Google Buzz come in handy.
I joined twitter on November 14, 2009 (if you would like to find out when you did just click here). At first, I had trouble understanding what the hell was going on. I even thought of deactivating my account up until I learned the benefits of this gold mine. I blogged about my experience with Twitter in an earlier post, entitled Twitter & I – The Love Story.
Unlike Facebook, I have only met around 10 people in total out of my 444 followers and 457 people I’m following. So who are these people and why are they following me and more importantly, why am I following them. The answer is simple – we share common interests, regardless of their nature. Twitter allows you to connect with people like minded people that can enrich you and you in turn can enrich them. But how do you find these people, it’s only by “listening”.
There is an infinite number of tools out there that allow you to filter the conversation on Twitter. If you are interested in Personal Branding for example, just log onto Twitter Search and type away. You’ll find a stream of conversation about the subject. You can then select a couple of people who have posted interested tweets about the subject and look further into their profile and decide if you’d like to follow them. It’s that easy!
Furthermore, Twitter has also incorporated hash tags # that you can use to follow certain conversation about a particular topic. Just add it to the Twitter application that you’re using, be it Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, or any other, et voila – you’re set to go!
What’s even more interesting is Twitter’s search capability. If you want to know what the world is talking about, all you need to do is look it up on Twitter. You want to know the latest news about Tiger Woods, don’t turn to Google; use Twitter. It’s streaming live! You want to know what people are saying about you or your brand, just tweet it up! So for those companies that are still afraid of getting on board the social media platforms, I have news for you – people are already talking about you, so you might as well join the conversation and reap the benefits.
I have been using GMAIL since forever! Recently Google released its latest craze Google Buzz, after its flop with Google Wave. I’m not even sure it was an option whether or not I wanted to join; I just found it in below my inbox one day! The meter of buzzes compounded by the second with noise! Twitter and Buzz are very similar in their viral effect, however, the latter goes beyond the 140 character restriction by Twitter, and provides you with enough space to cover the whole screen with text, images, videos and more … so can you imagine the level of noise one can inflict on his follower! Let’s just say it’s unquantifiable.
Another drawback of Buzz is its ability to incorporate other platforms like Twitter, Google Reader, Picasa, etc … Ironically this was intended as a plus, but have you seen your sent messages on GMAIL. Every time I post a tweet, it actually goes through my sent mail. I actually found that out today. A client of mine claimed that I didn’t send him an email as promised two days ago, so I did the logical thing and looked at my sent history, and there it was … I had a full page of tweets that I had posted on Twitter – if I allowed profanity on my blog, I’d be cursing right now! The worst thing is, I don’t know how or where to turn it off! I think Buzz needs to work on its privacy a lot more if it plans to compete.
I guess we will never know which team is bound to win the war of online domination but personally, I still favor the combination of Twitter & Facebook as a traffic driver to my blog. You need to find your own mix. I believe that whatever social media platform you choose to join, make sure you know why you’re doing so and to what avail. Understand where your clients are and what they want before going on a social media frenzy. Think About It!