Archive - Jul 3, 2011

Is It Worth It?

It is early Sunday morning on the Canada Day/Independence Day weekend. I am up early and checking in on various social networks. Over on a discussion about Google+ at Empire Avenue, Kat McCormick of Utopia Research Institute listed a half dozen online social network sites, talked about the increase in her time on line, and asked, is it worth it? Specifically, she asked, “will interacting online help us (Utopia Research Institute) to find sponsors, supporters and funding in the real (off line) world?”

Let me answer with a resounding, “it depends”. It appears as if Utopia Research Institute has a better chance than many working with social media. They’ve identified goals, finding sponsors, supporters and funding. They’ve identified, at least somewhat, in that goal, their audience; potential sponsors and supporters. Now comes the harder parts, creating compelling content and making sure the content is available in the right networks.

Related to this are questions about the future of Google+, MySpace and other online social networks. Different sites attract different audiences and you need to determine if the site matches an audience you’re targeting, and, if so, creating content that matches the needs of the community, as well as the style of the community.

Right now, the community on Google+ is geeks; innovators, early adopters, developers, some of the social media press, etc. These are the people that like to play with a shiny new tool and think about its pros and cons. They like to think about how to improve the site and how to use it in new ways. Should you be on Google+? Well, if you would describe yourself the way I described the current community, and if you can get an invite, yeah, probably. It is good for connecting with similar folks. If that benefits your organizations goals, then go for it.

I work for Community Health Center as their social media manager. I don’t know of any other Federally Qualified Health Center that has a full time social media manager. It fits with the culture and image of CHC. CHC is an innovative organization. As such, I want to be on Google+ to connect with other innovators and look at ways to share ideas. On the other hand, Google+ isn’t ready for brand pages yet. The only brand to promote there is your personal brand as an innovator.

At work, we use MailChimp. It provides some fascinating information. Nearly half of the email opens we have are from people using Outlook 2007. It is what we use internally, so that isn’t a big surprise. iPhone and Outlook 2010 are the second and third most popular clients, followed by Yahoo and Gmail. That tells me a little bit about our current audience.

MailChimp also has a program called SocialPro. It uses data from Qwerly. The data is a little sparse and not necessarily all that accurate. They match up if a person has an account on an online social network site, but not necessarily if they are active. It is supposed to pull in Klout data, but so far, it isn’t properly receiving that information.

Based on this data, many of our contacts have Facebook. Nearly ten times as many as follow us on Facebook. About half that many are also on MySpace, but I wonder how many of them do anything with Myspace. Qwerly has found nearly ten times as many of our users on Facebook as they have on LinkedIn, and only a handful show up on Twitter. This is useful information to know as we do some targeting.

However, there is also the culture of the place. Facebook is good for contacting casual supporters and perhaps some clients. The culture is a personal culture. I try to talk with people on Facebook the way I would talk with people at a picnic. LinkedIn is all business. It is a way to share ideas with people doing similar work, maybe find some good new employees, etc. I try to use a tone similar to some sort of business reception. It still has a casual tone, but the talk is all business.

Twitter is interesting. A lot of different people use it different ways. I’ve often used Twitter at conferences and in news gathering. I find it works best this way, so my tone on Twitter is often more like the discussions I’d have at a conference or a news event. That said, there are people that use it in a very personal way, so I sometimes mix in a bit of the personal there.

I’ve ready talked a bit about Google+. Right now, I talk there more like I’d talk at some sort of open space conference, barcamp, podcamp, etc. Social geek talk, at least as far as geeks get social.

Then, there is Empire Avenue. I use it mostly as a game, a place of relaxation. I don’t expect a lot of important contacts to come out of it, but, as if often the case when you play a game, you find people of similar interests that can be helpful connections as you build buzz around your favorite topic. I’m also finding myself more and more involved in the communities, which have a little bit of a feel of a break room at some game gathering. Some interesting tips can be shared there and good friendships established. As a matter of fact, that is where the idea for this blog post came from.

So, how do you relate to the constantly shifting world of different online social networks?

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