Photo courtesy of marketspan via Creative Commons
Flipboard, Foursquare, Instagram, memes & more ideas!
OK, we’re in the second week of January, but most of us are just settling back into work. So now’s a good time to think about where you want to take your digital marketing efforts for the rest of 2013.
Take what you want, leave the rest and let me know in the comments where you agree or (especially) disagree.
Start a blog
1I know what you may be thinking: Blogging is dead. However, if you’ll notice, most of what folks are sharing online via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+ are articles via links. The only real way of creating and providing content that can easily be shared everywhere is via a blog or some other kind of bloggish platform.
With a blog-based platform, whether it’s your personal or professional site, sharing your content from a Web application you own and control is a no-brainer. A blog offers built-in RSS and the ability to easily hook right in to Google Webmaster Tools via a dynamically created sitemap. You can add plug-ins that automagically optimize your site for search as well reduce the friction associated with sharing by dropping share buttons into your content from Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and even Google’s +1. And as each of your favorite “forever for now” social networking service fades and dies, you won’t lose any of your best content but will be able to maintain your own database of everything you have ever written.
Listen more online
2In our mad rush to create content every day, and with all of our impending blog post due dates rushing in, it’s hard to spend some time reading the tweets of your followers, the posts of your Facebook friends, the blogs of people in your space, and their latest videos and memes on YouTube, Slideshare, Pinterest, and Flickr. But you need to spend some of that time. I was overwhelmed until I adopted Flipboard (see below). It’s worth it, and I will tell you why shortly.
Become way more visual
3The biggest changes over the last year, 2012, were in how people consume new content and new posts online. More and more platforms search for an illustrative photo or graphic. Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon have always done this; however, now it’s even in the way we view our content on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and especially Flipboard (see below). So, you need to make sure every post, every article, and every column you publish always has a “cover shot” because in the content war, the spoils too often go to the book with the prettiest cover.
Start a meme
4While you shouldn’t set out to make a viral video, you can start thinking in memes. Not every meme will become a meme to say nothing of reaching MEME status. However, there are several things you can do to pre-package a bit of visual, informational, or video in such a way that you’ll maximize its chance of going viral and becoming a proper meme: 1) keep it short; 2) choose one thing, one message; 3) use both image and text; 4) make sure each meme is 100% self-referential and self-contained: to misquote Jacques Derrida, there’s nothing beyond the meme. By their very nature, memes want to mutate and as in poetry, you cannot control how your reader interprets your poem so you had better make it as explicit and clear as possible.
Make sure it includes source(s), creator(s), and its home URL. Make sure you don’t put all that stuff in a description because memes always leave the original platform behind. If you don’t make completely certain you have done everything you possibly can to not leave anything to chance then your meme will surely mutate most grotesquely a la The Island of Doctor Moreau. Even if your meme is completely self-referential, the more successful your meme is, the more it will want to mutate. However, if the Internet has decided your meme is popular enough to copy, corrupt, or mock, then you’ve batted a thousand.
Photo by Johan Larsson via Creative Commons
5If you think the idea of reading all the banal and self-indulgent chaff your sundry followers, friends, and fans churn into the world is overwhelming, then you need to try out Flipboard. Flipboard is the best-in-breed social newsreader. It allows you to plug in your credentials for all of your social platforms, including Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Google Reader, and then it allows you to browse through other content based on category and subject — and, when you’re sorted out, it lets you browse, read, and share all of that content seamlessly using a very beautiful, visual, and easy-to-navigate interface from your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet. I have basically replaced all the content sources on my phone with Flipboard as all the best of them are being fed through the News portion of Flipboard already.
Engage a blog
6I was going to write ‘Read a Blog’ but reading is only one part. Commmenting, counter-blogging, reblogging, and befriending the bloggers is maybe even more important than keeping tabs and reading. Bloggers and most journalists are no longer untouchable; rather, we’re very accessible and quite amazingly stoked by any and all attention that we receive based on our writing and insights. The best way to become a colleague, acquaintance, and then friend of the people who are writing, blogging, and influencing in your space is to engage with them — with us — online in the comments, via email, or on the social networks we haunt. Internalize it — every single one of the folks listed in the AdAge Power 150 are completely accessible to you right now — go get ‘em!
Listen to a podcast
7The best thing about Flipboard is that you can listen to podcasts and watch videos through it too, though I don’t. I am not that good at listening to “real” podcasts but I surely do get all my content from the CBC and NPR via podcast. However, though I am being quite a hypocrite here, I do know that there are loads of podcasters out there who act as industry aggregators, reporters, and curators. The best example is For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Listening to relevant podcasts is a good way of passively keeping in the loop, especially if you’re not ravenously curious as to what’s going on every day online in your space. Listening to podcasts is similar to reading blogs: consider them your very own industry journals. The most modern of interpretations of the professional journal.
Finally figure out Pinterest
8It’s not rocket science and I am certain that I don’t use it well enough. I often forget even to share stuff to Pinterest. All I know is that whenever I share something from any one of my blogs via a nice image to my Pinterest, along with a cross-post to Twitter, a compelling image, and a link back to the blogs (happens by default) I get the most traffic back to my post from Pinterest. I don’t know why that is but there’s something amazing going on there. Again, I am a hypocrite here as well. I don’t spend much time at all on there except to always share everything I can there. Please make sure that your sites and blogs always include a Pinterest share button in addition to your typical +1s, Like, and Retweets. And I think I will take my own advice and spend more time both listening to industry-focused podcasts, blogs, and surely get to know Pinterest a lot better.
Give Foursquare another try
9It seems like folks are trying to call time of death on Foursquare but I believe they’re premature. Unlike Blackberry’s RIM, the reports of Foursquare’s death is greatly exaggerated. Although it has taken a while, I am seeing more incentives for checking in to Foursquare outside of just bragvertising your amazing life. My local Mexican restaurant offers 50% off my food bill every time I check in — every time (excepting happy hour and adult beverages). Over the last three years, since its inception, restaurants and stores have not rewarded everyone who checks in well enough to be enough of an incentive to encourage doing it every time; and, the badges have gotten stale and are harder to get. Restaurants and stores haven’t really even offered their Mayors very nice rewards — it was pretty pathetic. The only reason I still check in to Foursquare is because FS does a darn good job of linking up with other applications such as GetGlue and Instagram — so I tend to only use Foursquare via GetGlue and Instagram these days — until I realized that I am missing out, especially when it comes to checking in to restaurants and other venues where there may very well be worthwhile perks — such as the 50% discount I get at Taqueria el Poblano on Columbia Pike.
Check-in to movies and TV
10I must admit that I watch too much TV and love movies. And I must further admit that there’s a lot going on in the world of the second screen where the first screen is the TV and the second screen is the PC, tablet, or smart phone. I have been using GetGlue for movies and Yahoo’s IntoNow for TV whenever I am watching. IntoNow’s pretty interesting because it allows you to do two interesting things: 1) it allows you to let your device listen to and identify a show and the episode — sort of like Shazam does with music and 2) it allows you to create visual memes through application-aided and time-stamped screen captures directly from television that you’re encouraged to share on your social media stream. It’s all very interesting and very compelling and also a very good way to create content to your social media stream even when you’re kicking back and relaxing. Give it a whirl, it’s surely worth a couple evenings of prime time.
Figure out why Instagram is so hot
11There are three reasons I use Instagram, in order of importance: 1) Instagram is a gorgeous photographic community all on its own, even better than Flickr ever was; 2) Instagram shares directly and seamlessly with other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and 3) Instagram has the second best filters nex to Hipstamatic’s — and while Hipstamatic may well have better filters, the resulting images are small and it doesn’t have Instagram’s gorgeous community — and there’s the rub: Technology is one thing, but community is another and in 2013, technology is not nearly enough.
I surely hope that’s a good list for you to start with — like I said, take what you like and leave the rest. Please let me know what you think and what I missed as we forge ahead through the social media landscape in 2013!
Chris Abraham is a partner in insidesocialmedia.com. Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.