Why do people resist change?  No one really knows.  However, there are a few things we do know.  People are comfortable with what they know, and very uncomfortable with something new or something they don’t understand.  This mentality stifles innovation, and slows down progress in any major kind of department.

Looking at this through the social media lens, it is very easy to see why Google+ has seen such dramatic resistance.  Google+ entered the social media market at the peak of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  People had no way of describing Google+ as its own entity, so they did the only thing they could think of; compare it to other existing social networks.  It was seen as a fight toward Facebook for fans, not as professional as LinkedIn, and too content heavy for Twitter.  In the social media world, people only know what they are shown, and it is incredibly difficult to explain concepts we don’t even know we want yet.  Over the last year, Google+ has started to show its true colors; not as a social network, but as an integration with search and social.

Remember when Bing collaborated with Facebook to get social suggestions?  Google is looking to do that on an entire new level.  Making a Google+ account adds a place for a business, as well as reviews on the spot.  It compiles reviews from other sites, and marks on Google Maps where the business is.  It then allows you to talk to people about whatever you need.  Have an interest in something mainstream or something so eclectic that barely anyone knows about it?  Join a circle and message them, or even join a hangout where you can talk in real time.  Hangouts can even be used to record a long conversation, have it posted to YouTube, and have the conversation ready to be shared.

Small businesses fare well from Google+, but big businesses are even jumping on board and endorsing it.  Dorie Clark, CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and writer for the Forbes website, endorses Google+ as the next generation of social media; fusing search and social to create a one stop location for any potential need. Google+ offers other kinds of engagement found in few places.  Linda Sherman, the past CEO of ClubMed quoted “Google+ can give you access to influencers who might not notice you elsewhere…There is a nice spirit of camaraderie that people seldom feel with well-established platforms. Source” Three time entrepreneur Dave Llorens even vowed to stake his reputation that Google+ will prevail Source

What is stopping you from using Google+?  With it being from Google, it can only help your search rankings, and it is free to use.  Take five minutes, go to https://plus.google.com and set up your profile.  You will be happily surprised how easy it is to use, and make your mark in the growing thought leadership realm on Google.

References:

In doing my normal internet browsing, an article from a few years ago resurfaced itself on the Reddit front page and it caught my eye.  The article explains how playing action games video games brings a statistically significant increase in correct decision making skills, as compared to control games.  Here are the results of the study if anyone is interested http://phys.org/news203599948.html .  In any case, seeing this article got me thinking a little more on other results that can be gleamed from gaming.  Today I would like to extrapolate a bit further to explain why gamers make excellent analysts instead of simply basement dwellers.

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Pattern solving like a boss

Throughout most of the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 era, many successful games were action platforming games.  Because of the lack of memory the cartridges and compact discs had, bosses needed to be difficult with a specific method to finishing them.  Castlevania was extremely iconic with creating neigh impossible bosses at the end of each level…until you saw the pattern of their attacks.  Devil May Cry was absolutely grueling with bosses until you learned each and every one of their attacks and how to counter them.  Gamers can be very good at picking up patterns quickly, then finding what they can do to fight against the pattern.  Every three attacks he jumps?  Run under him and hit him in the back.  This applies to the business world as well.  Gamers are able to notice patterns and trends in data, and then quickly evaluate and figure out why that pattern exists.  We will then try new solutions until we find a working one without giving up. 

Grinding to that level up

Most anyone who has played a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game or a Final Fantasy title understands the need to do the same repetitive tasks over and over in order to gain experience for that next level.  Some people have even made careers doing this for gold to sell on eBay or get the best weapon drops for online auctions.  However, this translates to business settings too.  There is a reason for doing many tasks over and over; you get really good at them really quick and they prepare you for something later.  Paperwork becomes a breeze after practicing for a few hours, and gamers understand that.  We may gripe about having to do the same thing, but it would be hypocritical if we then went home to grind the same level for 3 hours in hopes of that one rare item drop or that next level.  Work is no different, do something well enough for long enough and you get noticed to level up or be promoted. 

While the negative perception of gaming fading due to the breaking down of hardcore and casual gaming, the negative stereotype of gamers still exists.  Television shows are starting to demonstrate successful people playing video games without being addicted, like Kevin Spacey playing Call of Duty in House of Cards.  Some shows maintain consistent inconsistency in how they portray gamers, like Big Bang Theory, in which the writers flip flop on positives and negatives of gaming.  In any case, pop culture has made gaming more acceptable, and I believe that gaming can create transferrable skills to the business setting. 

What are your thoughts in regards to gaming?  Can skills from games be transferred to the workplace, or are they just a hobby that many enjoy?

What is better than creating a product that people are willing to purchase?  Creating a free product that people get so attached to that they want to give money back to the creator.  The concept of freemium has been around for quite some time, but has taken some new steps to getting into the limelight.  With companies creating free blogs around their material and some games adopting a freemium concept to increase profits, I would like to argue that freemium is a viable business model that can work in many circumstances.

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Freemium plays well with the “try before you buy” mantra.  You have a chance to see what someone is offering and see if you like it before you dedicate to the product.  This can be done with a company’s service, like looking at Steve Van Remortel’s blog with Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream.  He uses his blog to help share his insights with business strategy in a no commitment setting, but also offers a book and strategic management services for anyone who is interested past his free advice.  Credibility is built by seeing the product offering and catching glimpses on how it work and from comments the post generates.  Overall it is a strong strategy for trying to push a name out to the greater populace.

Freemium is even better known in the gaming realm.  Facebook has helped to host many freemium games, with Farmville being one of the most successful.  While Farmville may be popular and have people wanting use their hard earned money to buy in game features, it does not quite generate the same momentum as a different internet sensation.  Riot Games has one of the strongest freemium models with their signature game League of Legends.  League is a multiplayer online battle arena game where players face off against each other to try to destroy the opposing team’s nexus.  It has over 100 different choices of playable champions, with ten free ones rotating each week.  Players can use in game points to unlock champions for good, or players can purchase champions to permanently add them to the roster.  Players can also purchase alternate arts or skins for the champions they love.  The entire game can be played by anyone for free, yet Riot has created a product in which people willingly pay money for things they could have gotten for free.  If that isn’t dedication and love for a product, I’m not sure what is.

What are your thoughts on freemium?  Do you see it as a marketing fad that will die off in a few years or a viable strategy that more companies will adopt in the future?

While the little pew pew of lasers from Galaga or the wonga wonga noise of Pac-Man may no longer be echoing through every arcade, the legacy of high scores remains.  People love seeing their name on the leaderboards and feeling like they have earned their place.  Gamification is a relatively new marketing phenomenon that takes basic actions that people do and assigns a point value to them, then allows users to compete for the high score.  Gamification is a growing trend and is claimed by Hubspot to be one of the 100 ideas that have changed marketing forever (source: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33689/10-Genius-Ideas-That-Changed-Marketing-Forever.aspx). 

Gamification draws down to some of the roots of human psychology and the science of sharing.  Why ask someone to share your content if they can create self-rewards for doing so?  The rewards only encourage more interactivity and engagement, building on the power of gamification.  Foursquare is an excellent app and example of usages of gamification.  Companies have started to use Foursquare as a means of rewarding their ambitious customers.  Starbucks gives discounts to whoever is the current mayor in that location, which is obtained by checking in the most and spending the most time in that location.  Starbucks also gives rewards for checking into multiple locations, which increases the likelihood of people wanting to check in.  Commenting on the drinks earns the user even more points, and sharing photos racks up more rewards as well.  Rewards can be virtual or physical.  Foursquare uses a badge system to show off everything you have earned, and companies can offer deals to customers who frequently check in or share their content. 

Gamification is not limited to apps like Foursquare.  Facebook and Twitter have forms as well.  One of the more recent ones done by Riot Games was the Mundo Face challenge.  Riot had people tweet in different pictures of people doing the Mundo pose, which is tongue out and eyes rolled back while mentioning Riot Games and using the hashtag #mundoface (if you want a good laugh, search #mundoface on Twitter).  It generated significant follows, as well as other gamers having a chance to connect with each other over fun pictures.  The winners were selected by Riot and given gift cards toward the game.  Overall it was a very successful campaign.

What are your thoughts on gamification?  Do you see it as a new way to encourage engagement or a gimmick that will die out in a few years?

What does it mean to go viral?  Everyone seems to want viral material, but viral material does not pop up overnight.  While I was reading the subreddit for social media, I noticed a few links pop up in what makes a viral campaign.  Whether your quest is to make it to the front page of Reddit or to have over 100 shares on Facebook, there is definitely a challenge to the quest.  Mashable posted an infographic a few years back, but their information is still relevant today.

 

 

Source: http://mashable.com/2011/12/03/viral-infographic/

If we look at the past few viral trends, we can see some similarities between campaigns.  This post will focus on video gone viral, with memes and other articles coming in future posts.

Dead Giveaway

I am a bit biased toward this one since it happened recently and I was able to catch on before it had 300,000 views to help spread it, but I digress.  Songified has done well with taking news stories and remixing them into auto tuned songs.  They are also very well known for the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That” video.  What makes this popular is taking a catchy beat with an uplifting story.  Charles Ramsey had an interesting story to tell, and was made an internet celebrity overnight.  It follows over half of the reasons content can become a meme and go viral with the Mashable infographic.  It is amusing, funny, uplifting and catchy.  The video makes you feel like there is good in the world, and makes you want to share it.

Harlem Shake

 

Harley Shake garnered attention because it was easy to mimic and amusing.  While it may simply look like someone is having a seizure, which is something the internet loves; like the odd attraction to watching people others get hurt as seen with the numerous videos of people getting hit in the groin.  It has a catchy beat, and is easily imitated.  Because of its ease, many groups created their own version of the video to share, helping demonstrate that groups can keep up with memes, and drive more people to the original to figure out what people are trying to copy.  This video is a self-fulfilling cycle since it spawned imitators, then people watching the imitations and the original to further both view counts.  Also, this video was the fastest video to one billion views on YouTube, reaching a billion in just 40 days.

Gangnam Style

What video list is complete without the Korean dance that took the world by storm?  Gangnam style was the first video on YouTube to reach a billion views, and even more with people imitating the horse dance found in the refrain.  Gangnam style had a very catchy beat that made you smile, a hilarious video that made you want to share, and a dance that is very easy to mimic.  It proves that you do not need to understand lyrics in order to enjoy a song, which helped give it fame worldwide.  On top of that, Psy took to the media stage, having interviews around the world and a very strong Ask Me Anything on Reddit.  He used his superstar fandom to make fans happier instead of releasing another sequel within the days to play on his previous popularity. 

Most of the common videos shared are to music, but that isn’t always the case.  Old Spice racked up their view count quickly with their commercials, and the Snickers “You Aren’t You When Your’e Hungry” (yes that is a purposeful misspelling) also garnered good attention.

What are some of your favorite meme videos?  Comment below and I can try to do a post about their significance too.

With all of the tools available today, there are too many different choices in cutting down on manual tasks, but this runs the risk of letting machines run a few too many things.  When taking care of marketing online, a company needs to balance what their software is able to do along with what people need to do.  When posting on social media, people do not want to feel like a robot is responding to them, but not every company has the time to monitor every post.  Here are a couple of tips on appropriate times to use automation techniques.

 

Responses to posts

It is rarely, if ever, okay to have a machine automatically respond to each post someone makes about you or your company.  You can occasionally have an automatic direct message thanking someone for following you on Twitter, but overall it looks cheesy and insincere from a customer viewpoint if all they receive are automatic posts in regards to comments they have.  Instead of having automation take care of responding to others, you can use automation to text or email you that you have a comment that needs attention.

 

Content curation

Many are guilty of this one from time to time, me included.  It is extremely easy to just post interesting RSS feeds with the automatically generated titles into different social media sites to look like you keep up with industry trends or to keep up with social media optimization.  A little automation is ok, maybe one feed on one site, but too many shows a lack of originality.  Anyone can grab anything and link back, but giving a comment or a question on the content shows more thought put in, and a higher likelihood of a response from the content creator.  Overall, some automation for content posting is fine, just be careful not to overdo it.  An easier method is to have a program alert you when there is an update on a site you follow, then create a custom curation post.

 

Overall, automation can help, and sometimes make life way easier.  It can be a second way to remind you of tasks and to move those tasks in a more highly visible place.  However, too much automation takes away the transparency and the human aspect of social.  People want human contact and to feel like they are important, and an automated response just cannot do that.  If you are looking to get into automation, I would highly suggest If This Then That, found at http://www.ifttt.com .  IFTTT allows for recipes to be made that when you complete one action, it automatically triggers another.  Since you specify which actions are triggered, it is easy to make sure you don’t go overboard on too much automation. 

 

Feel free to share some of your favorite automations.  One of mine is every time I give a special tag in my Gmail, that email gets imported into my Evernote to remind me that the email is important.

One of the biggest problems when looking at businesses who want to move into the social sphere is that they just want to get online.  Like the trend a few years back when having a website was the trend and you needed one, everyone and their brother has a FaceBook page now, and honestly, who cares?  Getting onto social media is not the end goal; it is simply a step to entering a new channel.  Today, I would like to explain why going social is a strategy instead of an end goal, and three small ideas to help a turn social into a strategy.

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Likes aren’t an end, they are simply a step 

Consider this.  You make a spectacular post on FaceBook about a new product or service your company starts up and a fifty people like the post.  However, you did not account for what to do with those likes.  Do people like it because you asked them to, do people like it because they want the product, or do people like it since they found it amusing and wanted to give you credit for your post?  Without a strategy of what to do with that information afterward, a company is just putting effort into something that cannot generate an ROI.  To take that into a strategy, consider what you want to accomplish with the post, figure a follow up step, and complete the action.  It may be as simple as figuring what time of day people liked the post to see when the best time to post updates or as complex as following up with the people who liked your post to see if they would be interested in purchasing the product.

Social media is a two way street 

Social media is one of the few ways that companies can connect with users and create conversation through a marketing campaign.  Traditional advertising allows for messages to be sent to consumers, with little way to measure what consumers will do with it.  However once we move to social, we can now have conversations with customers.  Simply having an online presence is sticking with traditional advertising, and not utilizing social for its true power.  Shouting out your dogma will not create a more meaningful connection with any customer.  Interacting with them by commenting on their posts or showing more insight into a product will.  So instead of using your Twitter feed to just advertise new products, ask people to post pictures of themselves with your products and offer a prize to the most retweeted picture.  This creates a compelling reason for people to interact with your company, and creates an engaging contest that allows for conversation to occur.

Metrics, metrics, metrics

Ever wonder where you website traffic comes from?  Social can track it.  Social can also tell you which users spread your mantra the most, as well as any negative image you may be receiving.  Social media has opened a whole new set of data that can be analyzed for upcoming campaigns.  Your new cat photo was not well received?  Instead of having to wait for sales to come in and notice that the campaign was not effective, there are metrics that can be taken to notice after just a week.  This allows for a quick change to occur and tailor the campaign for a better reception.  You can see where your positive reviews come in, where your negative reviews come in, and have a way to document how each review is handled in the public sphere.  Social gives concrete positive and negative numbers, as well as demonstrates publically how your company handles their customers.  Simply having pages on social will not bring any of these metrics to light; only with constant use and monitoring can we bring a new medium and data to use.  Having Twitter and creating a unique hash tag for a day is a great way to do this.  Create an interesting post with a unique hash tag, and then see how many people use it for the next day.  A campaign like this can help a company see how many people pay attention to their tweets, and how willing their followers are to share.

People want social for interaction, not as a megaphone for more advertising.  Instead of asking yourself how you can promote the company, ask how can I create a meaningful interaction today?  Let that guide you in your social endeavor.