Social Media 101

August 31, 2010

Social Media 101
Chris Brogan helps you navigate the World Wide ‘Interwebs.’

If you still call the Internet the “Information Superhighway,” you need to read this. Since the World Wide Web changed the way we work, play and socialize, a whole industry categorized as “social media” has emerged that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Social media expert and best-selling author Chris Brogan built a career on observing how the latest trends and tools in Web networking are changing the nature of business and entrepreneurship.
In his 2009 New York Times Best-Seller, Trust Agents, Brogan explains how business owners can convey their message more powerfully than any public relations firm or big corporate relations department. He is president of New Marketing Labs LLC, a social media marketing agency, and co-founder of PodCamp, a nonprofit community that hosts free PodCamps across the country and internationally for social media enthusiasts, professionals and novices
alike.
Brogan says social media tools such as Twitter enable businesses and brands to listen to their customers’ realtime word-of-mouth and uncensored product opinions like never before. That means anyone, from the Fortune 500 giants to the neighborhood mom-and-pop shop, can benefit from social media tools.
Don’t really grasp Twitter? Most of us don’t; that’s why Brogan’s bite-sized tips for joining Twitter, promoting yourself, finding followers and creating interesting content have gained favor with so many of his loyal readers. Going beyond the “Twitter is cool” hype, Brogan gives the nuts and bolts of making Twitter work for your business marketing strategy and helps you avoid the time trap of wallowing in the Twittersphere.
Since launching his blog in 1998—when it was still called journaling, or later, a web log—Brogan has built an impressive following of blog readers daily. Confessing that he’s not a marketer or a journalist, he became a trusted social media expert with compelling, helpful content that earned him a top-five spot on the Advertising Age Power 150 rank of marketing blogs, and a ranking by Technorati (a search engine for blogs) as one of the world’s top 100 business bloggers.
When you began blogging in 1998, what did you write about?
Chris Brogan: I wrote mostly fiction back then. I wanted to get short stories published and I was having trouble getting them accepted. So, I started a blog and then, suddenly, I had readers. From there, I learned that what people really wanted was stuff about them. That’s how life evolved, and how I learned where the value was.
Being named by Technorati and Advertising Age magazine as one of the world’s most influential bloggers is a feat that doesn’t happen overnight. How did you achieve your blog’s following?
CB: My blog following came when I learned how to be helpful to others. Service. It’s something we hear about all the time in other walks of life. I did the same with my media. My writing helps others find value and delivers success to them. It’s a lot better writing for others than writing about me.
Let’s talk about traffic stats. How many unique visitors daily do you have, how long on average do your visitors stay on your site, and how did you build that consistently over the years?
CB: I don’t know my daily uniques, but I get around 365,000 a month right now (according to Compete.com). They don’t stick around very long, but then, I only want them there long enough to read my post and leave a comment. Remember that my site is more about learning something than it is about buying something, so the stats about sticking around aren’t as important.
How should an entrepreneur make the best use of a blog, and what purpose does it serve?
CB: Blogs have the magical ability to let people get a peek inside your head. It’s magic. You can share with the world how you see the problem that your reader might be facing, and then share insights into how you might solve it, or how you might equip your reader to solve it. An entrepreneur can share his or her journey, can find talent, can talk about the exciting parts of the new project. It’s the best.
How can we make our Facebook pages more efficient as a branding device?
CB: Facebook pages aren’t always recommended. It’s more like a “community” place. You don’t have to serve your community via Facebook, if you’ve got a good platform elsewhere. To me, Facebook hasn’t yielded as many results as other platforms.
Why do you think Twitter has taken so many people a little longer to figure out? I mean, it has millions of users, but you still hear people say, “I don’t quite understand what Twitter is.” Why do you think that is?
CB: Twitter is a bit insular. It’s restrictive (140 characters). It’s a bit more niche. It’s a lot more “you say something and then listen to others say something,” where Facebook has more ways to interact. And that said, Twitter has so much more business value to me because it fosters serendipity in a way that Facebook doesn’t, due to the “you have to be a friend to see what I’m saying” limitation.
Of the lesser-known social media sites such as LinkedIn, Digg, Google Buzz, Delicious and others, which do you think have the most relevance
and why?
CB: I think that Google Buzz might turn into something. It really pulls a lot of the Web together into one space, but I’m not so sure. I think we’re heading toward more private social spaces, spaces where like-minded folks congregate instead of at big commons-like spaces.
What else can readers expect of your upcoming guest blog series, and why should they stay tuned, so to speak?
CB: Readers will learn how to do human business—sustainable, relationship-minded businesses—and they’ll learn how to use these social tools to build relevant, successful online presences that bring out the best of who they are offline.