But in the world of social networks, to me it means how many platforms and sites can you keep up with before it's simply too much? I've always referred to "the big 3" of my social networking experience as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and I even developed a shorthand description for them:
Now, with the advent of Google+ coming online, we potentially have four major social networks to track and interact on. Personally, I've hit the breaking point. I can't keep with with all of them (although admittedly, LinkedIn is the one that I keep dormant most of the time) and remain active on all three. There's got to be a breaking point somewhere. For average people, one social network may do; for others, two is likely the limit.
"Gamification" seems to be the up and coming buzz word. You may recall that in April, I covered Empire Avenue in a post about the gamification of social media. Now, Google is in the news (literally) with a gamification project of their own, and I think it has some potential.
Let's explore why.
This week Google announced the launch of their Google News Badges. Google heralded the launch with the following description:
The U.S. Edition of Google News now lets you collect private, sharable badges for your favorite topics. The more articles you read on Google News, the more your badges level up: you can reach Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and finally Ultimate. Keep your badges to yourself, or show them off to your friends.
You'll probably feel like the badge adoption seems familiar; after all, Foursquare made this a central part of their service. The first time you unlock a badge on Foursquare, whether it's an achievement you can expect (like the "Superstar" badge for 50 check-ins) or one that surprises and delights ("Crunked" for making 4 or more check-ins on one night), the service gives a positive feedback loop that makes members want to use the system even more.
Similarly, Google has created a way to make some fun and competition out of what you already do - that is, read the news. They've created categories with badges that allow you to level up and share your achievements if you wish. But, being acutely aware of many peoples' need for privacy, they've also given you the option to turn the feature off. To me, this still makes it a viable system because there's an element of self-competition here as well. We all like to see our own achievements, whether or not we want to share them with the world.
Google plans further developments to this project as they get feedback and observe the usage. In addition, it's highly likely that they're determining news reading habits from the data they're receiving, which in turn will lead to better optimization or customization of news stories. While you're already to get customized news categories via RSS readers, custom modules on sites like Netvibes or Google's own iGoogle home page, Google's news badge system could usher in the era of truly customized news stories for readers everywhere.
Prior to the rise of social networks, online brand management solely focused on common SEO techniques such as keywords, content, and proper HTML code. These techniques were used to secure and maintain the top positions on the search engines, and to ensure that only content a company wanted to remain visible regarding its product, services, or mission did so.
However, those days are over. A company can no longer rely only on SEO to provide proper online brand management if they wish to survive in the online world. Company’s now must integrate SEO techniques with the use of social media sites if they wish to protect and promote their brand.
Social media sites have become increasingly important for companies wishing to outperform their competition. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn have opened up completely new audiences to companies, which would have otherwise not been able to be reached. For many companies’ marketing teams these social networking sites have been a marketing dream.
After Ford’s monumental success of using social media to build hype for the 2011 Ford Fiesta, companies have been scrambling to adequately market themselves online. Now consumers cannot even watch a commercial or listen to a radio announcement without a Facebook or Twitter logo being given.
However, this increased visibility does come at a price. Companies have access to multiple platforms in which they can strengthen and expand their brands, but these sites can also be detrimental to a company if the accounts are not properly maintained. The 2010 Pew Internet & American Life study found that 58 percent of all consumers with access to the internet research a company’s product or service online before giving them their patronage, and most of those consumers are not going directly to a company’s primary website either. Third party sites, such as Facebook, Viewpoints.com, and Angie’s List have become popular stopping points for company reviews and information.
If a company’s Facebook page is covered in negative press, odds are, the potential customer will immediately move on and check out competitors. For businesses to get the most out of their social media accounts, they need to properly manage each account with frequent posts, updates, and positive press. Companies should also be actively engaging their customers. Not only negative comments need a response, comments and tweets complimenting the business are great openings to build strong brand advocates.
Companies wishing to succeed in the ever-growing online world need to increase their connectivity by incorporating both social media and the latest SEO techniques. Visibility can quickly determine a company’s success or failure, and without social media sites, businesses are giving up inexpensive resources that build brand awareness and hype. As social media sites continue to rise, online brand management will become increasingly more important, and companies should become proactive in managing their social media sites.
At Ford, Scott heads up the social media function and holds the title Global Digital &
Multimedia Communications Manager. He is a strategic advisor on all social media activities across the company, from blogger
relations to marketing support, customer service to internal communications and more, as social media is being integrated into many
facets of Ford business.
Prior to joining Ford, Scott served as Consigliere for crayon
and spent a number of years with PJA Advertising + Marketing, a
boutique BtoB agency specializing in health sciences & high tech.
In addition to his professional responsibilities, Scott is an active blogger and podcaster. He writes about the intersection of
advertising, marketing and PR at ScottMonty.com and
also writes The Baker Street Blog and cohosts I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, two literary undertakings. Scott
has been featured in hundreds of news and business publications in print and on the web, in nearly dozens of books, and on a variety of
mainstream media, including NBC, NPR, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. Scott is a recognized thought leader in the social media industry and
frequently speaks at industry events.
Scott received his Master's in Medical Science from Boston University's School of Medicine concurrently with his MBA from BU's
Graduate School of Management. He lives in the greater Detroit area with his wife and two young sons, golfs all too infrequently, and
has a hidden talent for voice over work.
Scott speaks on social media at events, seminars and conferences around the world. His topic generally focuses on corporate use of social media, becoming an online spokesperson, and specifically on the progress that Ford has made in the recent past. If you're interested in booking Scott to speak at your event, please click here to submit a speaking request for Ford-related purposes or email me at speaking [AT] this site's URL (if you know what I mean) to send a general email request.. Scott's bio and headshot can be found in the "About Scott" tab above.
I'm Scott. I'm the global head of social media for Ford Motor Company. This is my personal blog, where I share my perspectives on business, technology, communications, marketing and the vast changes in the industry that impact leadership. This blog contains my personal views. My bio is available here and my headshots can be found here.