Social Media As an Investment

In its brief history, Social Media, as called New Media, has traditionally been viewed as a place to meet new friends, reconnect with old friends and interact in an online social environment. In short, social networks were “a cool place to hang out” but held little applicability beyond that. There has been no shortage of funding in Silicon Valley for firms launching new media platforms. With the emergence of sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, there is no question that there is value in the vast amounts of information on people that these platforms have been able to collect; however, there has been no clear monetization strategy beyond bringing in advertising revenue. Arguments have been risen as to the true value of these firms; some would state that their valuations are inflated and artificial, while other claim that the value of their databases alone are enough to justify multi-billion dollar price tags.

The New Value of Social Media and The Social Media Firm
More recently social media has spawned a new value proposition, which is the business applicability of the vast user-bases these social networks have created. Regardless of which side of the valuation fence you sit on, it can be said that social media holds vast utility for businesses looking for a new way to reach out to customers and engage in two-way communications. This has never been done before from a traditional marketing, advertising or public relations perspective, and has given rise to a new business model: The Social Media Firm. This brings forth the argument of whether or not The Social Media Firm is a good investment. Is The Social Media Firm a fad that will die out in the coming years, or is this a long-term, sustainable industry that will one-day drive obsolescence to the traditional methods of advertising, public relations and marketing?

Given the state of the current economy, Venture Capital and angel funding sources have been keeping their portfolio dollars close to their chest, reserving investment only to businesses with a decent operating history, solid revenue streams and unlimited growth potential. Does the Social Media Firm fall into this category? My answer is yes. The bottom line is: social media is not going anywhere. Social media has become a staple of the lives of younger generations, and the fastest growing adopters of new media are people over the age of 30. Since the recognition of the business potential that social networks holds, large Fortune 500 firms are devoting a good portion of their marketing budgets to social networks and new media campaigns. For instance, Pepsi has devoted $20 Million of their marketing budget for a social media program called Pepsi refresh, and many large firms are beginning to follow suit. Needless to say, the earning potential for The New Media Firm is substantial.

Is it sustainable?
As mentioned earlier, new media is not going anywhere. For the most part it has become a standard part of the Internet experience similar to email. The sites that are considered the gorillas in social media may churn; however, there will always be something new to which these Internet-based communities will migrate. For example, the social media migration to-date has gone from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter, and the next major shift and/or addition to this massive online social sphere is likely just around the corner. The long-term sustainability of The Social Media Firm is largely dependent upon these companies’ ability to identify and pre-empt the next big shift, and to develop effective methods of leveraging both the old and new platforms for the sake of driving revenue, profitability, sales volume and identity to their clients.

Why Outsource to The Social Media Firm?
One question that may arise is: why would large companies hire a social media agency when they have the monetary resources to do it in-house? The answer to this is the simple fact that it is cheaper to outsource a new media campaign to a firm that has a skilled team already in place that is intimately familiar with navigating the complex world of new media. In the same manner that large companies hire advertising agencies to design traditional media campaigns, this approach can and will be taken for new media. By hiring The New Media Firm companies can eliminate both the administrative burden that comes with hiring a multitude of new employees, as well as the learning curve that will inevitably be present when trying to integrate those employees into their corporate culture. It is more cost effective, in both monetary and administrative respects, to outsource these campaigns to professional teams that are fully adept at leveraging the potential of modern media, navigating the codes of conduct of these online communities and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to identifying the exploiting the latest new media trends.

Closing Remarks

In summary, I do believe that investment in The Social Media Firm holds great potential for many funds; however, it is imperative that when vetting these agencies, Venture Capitalists and Angels need to ensure that the company contains the correct personnel and management team to fully exploit this budding industry. The ditch is full of one-man shops and so-called social media experts that are no more than victims of the recession who happen to be adept at Facebook or Twitter. It is imperative that the architects of new media campaigns are familiar with the intricate details of new media, and the vast array of assets that exist online to for a business to take full advantage of the social media world. Utilization of the lesser known social media outlets such as Digg, BrightKite, hi5, Xanga and countless others could be the difference between a full-scale robust campaign that shows real results, and an ineffective and unorganized attempt at new media that wastes marketing dollars.

Due to the infancy of this industry, there are few companies out there that truly know how to unlock the value of new media for business. The one’s that do will quickly rise to the top, and if sufficient due diligence is done, these companies are ripe for investment. A strategic infusion of capital is likely the boost needed to take these companies from a sustainable cash-flow business to the next industry giant with A-list clientele.

Boom Media, Inc. is a new media optimization firm based in San Diego, California. New Media is the culmination of all online assets (such as social networking, blogs, micro-blogs, bookmarking and video sites) and tactics that can be used to drive revenue and identity for businesses. With a proven track record for success, the Boom Media team delivers results with innovative and measurable campaigns. Learn more at http://www.mymediaboom.com

Author: Eric A Rice
Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Twitter Me This – 25 Twitter Resources You Don’t Know, But Should Be Using

Twitter is rapidly becoming one the most popular social networks on Earth! For the newcomer to the growing network, the website can be actually a little overwhelming. Even for some of the Twitter veterans, there are numerous too Twitter resources that can help you have a great micro-blogging experience.

Here are 25 great Twitter Resources You Don’t Know, But Should Be Using!

1. TwitWall: Using TwitWall allows users to embed their favorite videos and widgets, upload your photos, mp3 music or podcasts. Just the kind of stuff to keep your followers following (fans cheering, or clients calling). If you can’t Tweet it in 140 characters or less, Twitwall is the resource for you.

2. TwtTrip:Where will you go next? Share your travel plans with your tweeple! Connect with others who may be travelling to the same city, or even in the same airport.

3. Bubble Tweet: Say “Hello” To Your Followers With A BubbleTweet Video! This nifty website allows you to greet followers with a short video clip that you upload. With millions of people using Twitter each day, this one is relatively unknown, with only about 633 people currently using the service.

4. Tweet3: Whether you’ve got one Twitter account or manage multiple accounts (friends, business, another language – the reasons are plentiful). You can easily click between profiles and customize colors for each account. Tweet3 is utilizing Google’s powerful charting and map APIs to bring you useful data about your Twitter accounts and URLs that you share between accounts.

5. TwTip: TwTip created a bot which fetches all new tweets and picks the best valuable tips for you. With its simple interface, users can easily find tweet tips in any subject, like Photoshop, Macintosh, health tips and recipe tips.

6. Twittrans: OK, I really couldn’t think of a good use for this Twitter resource at the time of creating this post, but this website is an actual fast human translation of your tweets directly from your twitter account by sending (Reply message) to @twitrans with the source and target languages and the message to translate. Text will be translated by freelance translators around the world, translation service 24/7 in all major languages. Wow, it doesn’t get any better than that. Now you just have to find a reason to use it!

7. TwtPoll: Twtpoll is an easy to use survey/ poll twitter app. Type in a 140 chars question, type in multiple choice answers, and share it in social networks, or embed it into your blog or website.

8. Tweetree: Tweetree puts your Twitter stream in a tree so you can see the posts people are replying to in context. In addition, the website pulls in some of your external content including twitpic photos, YouTube videos and more, so that you can see them right in your stream without having to click through every link your friends post to Twitter.

9. My Tweet Space: There are numerous websites available that can allow you to create a personalized background on Twitter. However, if you ever wanted to completely brand your Twitter Profile but don’t know how, MyTweetSpace allows you to easily create your branded Twitter background.

10. Twilert: As if you already didn’t get enough mail in your inbox, here’s another inbox filler, but this tool can email you valuable information about you or your company. Twilert is a Twitter application that lets you receive regular email updates of tweets containing your brand, product, service, well any keyword you like really.

11. Split Tweet: Splitweet allows Twitter users to create a list of accounts and distribute their tweets, choosing their release in one or more of their accounts. Additionally, users can also follow your following tweets from all of your managed accounts in Splitweet.

12. Twistory: Users are able to add their Twitter backlog feed to their favorite calendar application and browser through their personal Twitter diary.

13. iTweet: iTweet 2 Web has a built-in auto-refresh, search and hashtags. Full follow, block, notifications features. With this app, users can view Tweeters bio, location, and URL inline with tweets.

14. Tweet Take: Tweetake allows you to back-up your followers, people you are following, favorite tweets, and tweets in general with just one click of your mouse.

15. Twitly: Twitly allows Twitter users to separate the people they follow into groups. Example groups include “chatty”, “friends”, “co-workers”, “journalists” , “celebrities”, and more. This makes finding and reading Tweets from the people that matter most to you much easier.

16. Tweenky: Tweenky is a web-based micro-blogging (“tweet”) client that currently supports Twitter. The Tweenky main feature is the Integration with Twitter search (formerly Summarize) to allow users to find & track content as it flows through the “Twitterverse”.

17. TwiZon: A combination between Twitter and Amazon, Twitzon lists all the tweets that reference Amazon deals so you can find out what’s popular and hot right now from Twitter users.

18.Twitzu: If you are making plans to have a meet up, get together or party, you can blast the news out to your Twitter followers. Twitzu creates an event standard for Twitter. Using the site, Twitterers can create an event page for their meet up, party, get together etc. and send it out to their followers who can then RSVP with just a click.

19. Feed Tweeter: Feedtweeter is a little service that allows you to link Twitter to your other activities. Basically it’s a system that keeps track of an RSS feed and processes any new items that appear.

20. Chirrup: is comment system which uses Twitter as a data store. People send Twitter replies to you about your site. Then, Chirrup fetches all of the replies from Twitter, and sorts them by URL so you can have a comment feed for each page in your site. You can put the comments wherever you want them, and style them however you please.

21. TwitterFone: TwitterFone is free service that lets you update your Twitter feed using your voice from any mobile or cell phone. You call it, speak your tweet, and hang up. A short while later, your tweet will be posted on Twitter.

22. My Tweet Map: Enter your Twitter name and password, and see the messages from those you follow pop up on a Google Map. You can also update your status right from this application.

23. Tweet Scan: Tweet Scan is a real-time search engine for Twitter posts. Just enter the term plus a user name (optional), and the system will scan Twitter to show you the results.

24. Twitdir: TwitDir enables you to find statistics of the Top 100 followers, Top 100 followed, Top 100 favoriters and Top 100 updaters. It also works as a search engine for Twitter users, which mean you can find any user information by searching the users name.

25. TwootBall: Where Twitter Meets NFL Football . Posting on Twootball is simple, to post something regarding the New York Jets, just add #jets to your tweet, and your message will appear immediately on Twootball. I guess this would have been a great resource during the Super Bowl, for all those trash talkers! Go Steelers!

Of course, there are a lot more Twitter resources out there, some may even be your favorite, but this list of unknowns should have you dancing for joy and thanking God you are on Twitter.

And now we invite you to find out more about the Twitter social network by visiting our blog at [http://www.thefreelancesquad.com/blog] and by following us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/freelancesquad.

Author: Tamara S Johnson
Article Source: EzineArticles.com

The Complete Novice’s Guide to Social Media

Introduction

This article is intended to be a very straightforward guide to Social Media and everything that Social Media encompasses including blogs, social networks and forums etc. It is intended to introduce both newcomers and perhaps even some more experienced people to the world of social media.

So, what is Social Media?

So, what is this social media that has the Internet buzzing with excitement? Well, Wikipedia (an interesting form of social media in itself) describes it as:

“information content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies that is intended to facilitate communications, influence and interaction with peers and with public audiences, typically via the Internet and mobile communications networks.”

This can encompass not just text and information based services like blogs etc, it can also contain image and video based services such as Flickr and YouTube for example.

Social media instigates a sense of community, making users feel connected with each other through participation and communication via many forms of media. Technorati, a blog submission service, has over 133 million blogs indexed, displaying the staggering rise in popularity of people wanting to be heard and connect to each other.

Social Media and your Business

Social media can benefit any type of business and if approached correctly, can help build relationships with consumers and other companies through networking and raised awareness of your service.

With social media you can easily speak directly to your customers, using Twitter to gather feedback on customer satisfaction, raising awareness of a recently launched product through Digg or using YouTube to promote your move into a new office location for example.

An example of a company using social media in a great way is Starbucks. Starbucks created a whole new website and blog centred around customer suggestions for their service. A user would go onto the website and suggest a way Starbucks could improve, everyone registered on the website would then vote their favorite ideas and then Starbucks would post on their blog regarding which ideas they liked and how they would be actually implemented into the Starbucks service.

Companies are always thinking of better ways to run there service, social media gave Starbucks a way to connect with millions of existing customers and gave those customers an opportunity to build on the Starbucks service in a way only they could know how.

Burger King launched a Facebook application which encouraged users to ‘sacrifice’ 10 of their facebook friends in return for a free Whopper burger. It was taken down by Facebook not long after launch citing privacy concerns, however in the relatively short space of time the application was live, it gathered over 20,000 users and consequently over 200,000 friends were sacrificed in the name of free burgers. This social media example was well built, was easy to share and gave the user the incentive to network with friends which made it very popular in the short space of time it was available.

These are only two examples of successful social media solutions by companies on the Internet, companies like Sun, Ford, Dell and IBM are all currently reaping the benefits of using blogs, twitter accounts, Facebook pages and other social media tools to connect with customers and make there companies more transparent to consumers. Social media, blogs especially, aren’t going to disappear overnight. They now act as invaluable customer service methods with the ability to conduct informal discussion with your customers and let them get to know more about you and your company in an inexpensive way.

Establishing a social media presence for your company gives you the ability to reach potentially millions of new customers through Facebook, Twitter, Digg etc, many of which may have been unreachable without a presence on these networks. Having profiles on the various social networks gives you the maximum potential to raise awareness of your brand, gain more visitors to your website and the capacity to convert those targeted visitors to customers.

Social Media in Numbers

2,000,000,000

searches through the Google search engine every day

1,360,652,987

tweets on Twitter as of March 2009

700,000,000

photos added to Facebook every month

900,000

blog posts every 24 hours

38,040

diggs the most popular bookmark on Digg has received in the last 12 months

412.3

years it would take to watch all of YouTube’s content as of March 2008

13

hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute

Social Media Forms

Although social media can come in many forms, it has its main ones:

Blogs

The most well known of ‘obvious’ social media forms. Blogs act as a frequently updated hub of contextual information where users can get involved and give their input through comments.

Forums

The oldest form of social media, in use before the term ‘social media’ was made popular. Internet forums act as areas for online discussion, usually centered around certain topics.

Content Communities

Content communities differ from usual forms of social media in that they allow people to share and use particular kinds of content that blogs and forums don’t fully concentrate upon such as images (see Flickr), interesting bookmarks (see Digg and del.icio.us) and of course video (see YouTube).

Micro-blogging

A relevant newcomer in the social media world. Micro-blogging combines blogging and social networking in that it allows people to update small amounts of content online through web-based, desktop and also mobile clients (see Twitter).

Social Networks

Social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, Bebo etc allow the easy creation of personalised web page accounts that facilitates communication between users.

The Distribution of Social Media

People only have a certain amount of time to check their favorite websites, this mightn’t even include blogs or social networks. Couple this with the fact that people seem to be working longer hours than ever these days and also using blackberrys and iPhones to work away from the office, and you’re faced with a daunting task of attracting people to your blog or website.

One remedy to this has been the introduction of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. RSS feeds allow a user to effectively ‘subscribe’ to a website or blog, meaning they are notified through a newsreader when new content is available.

RSS saves people a lot of time when reading blogs and website updates, meaning communities can grow and become more valuable to both the user and author saving both parties time and money.

Social Networks

Joining a social network usually involves creating your own web page with information about yourself, be it personal, professional or otherwise and you then connect with other people on that network.

Although most of these networks are relatively young in their age, a selection of them are very popular and have changed the shape of the Internet for the near future at the very least.

MySpace

After launching in August 2003, MySpace became the most popular social networking website in the United States in mid 2006, attracting well over 100million account holders.

MySpace has largely built it’s popularity based upon its comprehensive music service where bands can upload tracks directly to their profile for fans to listen to, even launching it’s own record label to release music from MySpace upon.

Bebo

Bebo is a popular social networking tool with more emphasis on the younger user than its competitors. It is also geared towards colleges, schools and other educational institutes which is where Bebo has found it’s niche. It was purchased by AOL in early 2008 for over £400million.

Facebook

First available to University students, facebook was opened up to the public (people over the age of 13) in 2006 and it’s userbase has skyrocketed ever since.

The service allows you to join networks and groups of organisations, sports teams, location specific groups etc and also offers developers the chance to write applications for the service at no charge

Facbook currently has over 235million account users.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has it’s own niche in the social networking world in that it is targeted solely toward the working professional.

LinkedIn allows you to create your own career profile and network with past and present workmates and is mainly used for career-orientated networking and job / project searches.

LinkedIn has approximately 40million users.

Friends Reunited

Friends reunited is a social network based upon the theme of reuniting and connecting with former (and current) classmates. It is identified as the first social network to achieve prominence in Britain, surviving the dotcom bust.

Blogs

A blog (standing for web-log) is a type of website maintained by an individual or company that is commonly updated with news on latest events, opinions, reviews and any other material the author deems worth of publishing.

With recent developments in blog hosting technology, it’s possible for anyone with a basic knowledge of the internet to create and run their own blog using platforms such as WordPress and blogger.

Topics

The reason blogs are so popular on the Internet is because they act as a hub of information for any given topic. This can include website design articles (see a list apart), celebrity news (see TMZ), politics (see Huffington Post) and technology news (see techcrunch).

Although some blogs contain posts around a number of topics, the most popular ones have a defined theme and user base.

Comments

Almost all blogs have a comments structure in place allowing readers to submit their views on that blog or article. Comments act as a networking tool in itself, with many people growing the reader-base of their own blog or website through the clicks they receive from commenting on other peoples blogs.

Forums

The Internet forum is the relative grandparent of the social media family, evolving from the bulletin board style of networking which was popular in the early years of the Internet.

Like blogs, forums can be about any number of topics and attract people mainly looking for information and discussion around a particular theme or subject. Where the two mediums differ are that whereas blogs are usually the views / news from one individual or company, forums act as a discussion venue where many discussions are ongoing at once in different locations called ‘threads’. Also, a blog has a clear owner, again that may be an individual or company depending on the blog itself but a forum is effectively ran by its members.

Many forums have been running from the early days of the Internet and have thus gathered a huge amount of members, Gaia Online has over 16million registered members and is one of the most popular on the Internet.

Content Communities

Content communities don’t particularly adhere to typical social network frameworks, as they aren’t particularly intended for networking between people using the usual means. Two examples of this are Flickr and YouTube.

Flickr

Flickr is an image and video hosting website where people can create a personal account and upload photos they have taken. It’s also used by bloggers and webmasters as an online photo storage system, where they can host all of their images in a searchable database. As of late 2008, it is claimed that Flickr holds more than 3billion images.

The social aspect of Flickr comes into play through the creation of various subject-orientated groups where users can comment on relevant images that have been uploaded.

YouTube

Youtube is the largest video hosting website on the Internet with well over 120million videos currently hosted through its service. Youtube members can upload their own footage, create channels / playlists of their favourite videos and share them with friends.

Youtube has quickly become one of the largest websites in the history of the Internet with more than 6billion videos viewed on the service in January 2009 alone. Before the public launch of YouTube in 2005, there were very few methods of video-orientated social networking available via the Internet, YouTube changed this with the ability for its users to dictate its content through the uploading of personal video.

Microblogging

Microblogging is the latest in the way of social networking, combining blogging, instant messaging and the popular status updates of the Facebook service into one neat package.

Popular microblogging services such as Twitter allow a small (in Twitters case, no more than140 characters) text based ‘update’ to be published on your twitter page and to those who are ‘following’ you.

Although it is a web based format, over 90% of ‘tweet’s published via twitter are by mobile, desktop or instant messaging applications. Twitter is largely used by the web industry as a way of passing useful links to one another, as well as a very quick and easy networking tool between account followers.

It has recently began to attract a lot of press attention due to the amount of well known people using the service. President Obama used Twitter in the run up to the election to keep voters informed of his campaign, connecting to a completely new audience to previous candidates.

Conclusion

Although Social Media is a relatively new factor on the Internet, the advances we have seen in a short space of time have been staggering. Two to three years ago MySpace was the service everyone was using to connect with each other, who would have predicted that within 24 months there would have been a service in Facebook that overtook it as the Internets leading social networking tool.

The future of social media is an exciting one, and we could see some interesting developments even in the short term such as the adoption of the mobile social network. Although a lot of people are using Social Media on mobile phones already, this number is expected to increase significantly in the near future with the development of more and more clients for social networks on mobile phones.

Social media is expected to evolve and grow into exciting new services and shows no signs of dissapearing any time soon. The potential for growth and monetary gain for businesses is too great for them to ignore social media, helping spread news of services and offers to hundreds, if not thousands, of friends in an instant. Some companies aim for that kind of promotion and never reach it, some pay millions to get it, with social media, it is in everyones grasp.

A company that neglects both social media and the benefits of search engine optimisation is shielding its services away from millions of potential customers.

Opening your company up to social media services allows you to connect instantly with new people, couple this with a comprehensive search engine optimisation plan and you are in a perfect position to attract new customers and network inexpensively.

Well that’s it for our guide to Social Media, grab yourself a cup of tea (or coffee if you’re that way inclined) and relax.

web design newcastle

Author: Jordan Anthony Hall
Article Source: EzineArticles.com