And as promised, here are a few slides from my talk on social media.

Did it take a few days? Yes, it took a few days. But now they’ve arrived in blog format. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! A few slides from my talk on social media at TechAmerica’s 2012 Winter SGA meeting.

I was asked to give a “state of the union” style chat on social. And here’s some of the pretty pictures I presented.

Back in August, a 5.9 earthquake hit Virginia. Within one minute, 40,000 earthquake-related tweets went out. New Yorkers were able to read about the shock waves nearly 30 seconds before they hit.

Social media is faster than an earthquake. It’s also faster than anything your communications/PR team can whip up in response to a scandal.

And why does speed matter to you? Isn’t it better to take time crafting an answer?

Not really. (How could you expect any other answer to a set-up, patronizing question like that?) Social media lets you immediately put context around what people are hearing and saying – it’s like interrupting an increasingly confused game of telephone.

My co-presenter John Earnhardt (Corporate PR and Social Media Communications for Cisco) added some vital wisdom to this scenario: To effectively counter misinformation, you need to have already built up your social media presence and connections with influencers before a storm hits. Managing these relationships means more people will listen to you and amplify your message when you need to be heard.

occupy protesters in Oakland

The Internet is an Interest Group. Repeat and memorize that. It’s more powerful than AARP nowadays. Anyone with a complaint – and empowered by the anonymity of the Web – can shoot off their grievances and have them retweeted, reposted, blogged about, and commented on infinitely.

Social media is your direct line to this very powerful group. You’ve likely heard pundits commending social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, as a force that helped push the Arab Spring into life. It allowed users to quickly spread information to groups of people they knew or who were in the same geographic area or who had similar political interests.

This isn’t the first or the last example of people using social media to affect change. I’m sure you’ve all heard stories of horrible customer experiences that get aired online. Many companies now fear what gets tweeted about because complaints can quickly snowball into a brutal PR mess.

Let’s take the recent GoDaddy/#SOPA/Reddit blow up.

This boycott absolutely blew up on social media, particularly on Twitter, and thousands of domains were switched. Within a few days GoDaddy reversed its stance on SOPA.

GoDaddy has millions of domains. They advertise in the Super Bowl. They’re a filthy rich company, and one hastily put together online boycott forced their hand.

Now you know why your organization should give a rat’s hiney about social media.

So here are a few trends to watch out for this year:

relay race with money

Trend 1: Knowing Who’s in Charge

One of the common questions people ask me is “Who in our office should run social media? Is it PR, marketing? The summer intern? The CEO?”

We’ve seen a great deal of experimentation with who is in charge of your daily tweets and blog posts. But it’s safe to say that the “communications” team (PR/marketing/community management) is unquestionably the home of it now. We’ll see more “social media specialists” hired this year than ever before, and more certainty on who should be the leader of social efforts. Although the title will differ company to company, this person will have a few standard qualities:

  • A good editorial nose
  • Common sense
  • Immediate access to decision makers

This last point is vital: When a problem dusts up, they need to speak to someone quickly who can make the official call on what’s okay to say.

Trend 2: Social Media Spasms Increase

If you give a mouse a cookie… The Internet really has become a strange sort of interest group, and now that people have seen so many examples of online complaints working, they’ll happily jump on the bandwagon.

Organizations will need to be even more proactive in 2012. I remember a while back when I interviewed the head of social media for Kodak, she said they were looking to hire full-time “listeners” – people they paid just to read what people were saying about Kodak and figure out who needed a response.

Trend 3: Multimedia Mobile Social Networking

I wanted to fit at least 6 more buzz words on this slide.

But let’s break down what I mean here instead.

Mobile device usage accounts for…

  • 60% of Pandora’s traffic
  • 55% of Twitter’s
  • 33% of Facebook’s
  • And from 2007 to 2011, Google US mobile queries increased 4x

You want to know something cool about photos in the digital world?

  • 250 million photos per day are uploaded onto Facebook
  • Instagram sees 60 photo uploads per second

This is only going to increase with services such as Path becoming more popular.

Using multimedia content, mobile content, and geolocation content is a great way to engage your audience.

share this buttons

Trend 4: The Fight for Your Affection… and More Fragmented Content

More social networks and share features pop up every day. That’s more places for you to worry about spreading your message and listening to the crowd. Also more places for your photos, posts, checkins, videos, and more to get lost.

And finally, it means the top dogs will fight even harder to keep you around. Currently, Google and Twitter are having a spat over Google Plus pages getting higher ranker in search results than Twitter even when the @ symbol is used. Google “@wwe” as an example.

The fragmentation of user content will only get worse… unless companies like YouTrove and Singly change the world. Let’s hope they do.

Trend 5: Blurring of Online and Offline Lives

My 16-year-old cousin updates her Facebook status about 5 times a day. A ludicrous amount, you’d think. Rather, this is a paradigm shift for us “older” folks. Our culture will see fewer distinctions between online and offline lives. In fact, those words will probably cease to have meaning.

Augmented reality, RFID and other technologies are helping to push us over this edge. It’s a Brave New World.

Trend 6: Social Media Programming

Not everything about social media is reactive. Accounts like @theonion take great pains to curate excellent content, and we can only expect to see such high quality social programming increase. Of course, YouTube is already great example of programming via social media, but Facebook fan pages should also be considered. These accounts schedule things like contests, live chats and online only multimedia content. Also don’t forget the online only work of Hulu and Netflix.

If you haven’t already, try creating a social media calendar. One easy way to make your life easier is to schedule your tweets days or weeks in advance. You can use tools like Hootsuite or Cotweet to make that happen.

Trend 7: Better Analytics

We’re floating in a sea of too much information. We can easily see how many followers we have, but it’s difficult to find useful information like what types of tweets and words are most interesting to your community. There are a number of good free and paid analytics products currently available for social media, but you can expect to see the real winners come out on top this year. If any of you use Promoted Tweets as I do, you already know how empowering useful information can be.

Aaaand that’s all folks. Thanks for reading.

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