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SplashCast: “Social Rules!,” The New Small Business Marketing Guide from Paul Slack

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Small business owners who have taken the social media marketing plunge may run into challenges or questions every now and then, and they may wonder, “Gee, if there were only a rulebook for a situation like this.”

Now there is: “Social Rules! For Entrepreneurs and Small Business – A Common Sense Guide To Social Media Marketing” is the first book published by Paul Slack, Splash Media co-founder, chief learning officer and president of Splash Media U. “Social Rules!” is now available to order online at Amazon.com and at Barnes and Noble bookstores.

In this SplashCast, Slack tells host Renay San Miguel about the book’s foundation: his experience as a web marketing veteran combined with the 65,000-plus hours of real-world social media marketing strategies used by Splash Media’s specialists.

Stay up-to-date on the latest in social media marketing; subscribe to our award-winning blog!

small business marketing through social media marketing

Social Media Recommendations Heat Up Goodreads’ Summer Reading

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Maybe it’s the fact that Splash Media co-founder Paul Slack is getting ready to publish his first book  – “Social Rules! For Entrepreneurs and Small Business” and we’ll have more on that development this week in our SplashCast – but it got me to thinking about books in general, technology’s disruptive impact on publishing and what role social media is playing in the business.

Social Media Recommendations via Goodreads

Social Media Recommendations via Goodreads

Here’s one thing you can read into all this: publishing in particular helps highlight the power of the recommendation engine that is social media.

My Kindle helps illustrate this point. Like a lot of other people, Amazon’s wildly successful e-reader has boosted my consumption of books. A lot of it has to do with convenience; my latest download, the next volume in Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson, weighs in at 736 pages. But my Kindle sure didn’t feel any heavier after the book wirelessly arrived on its hard drive last week, so it and other books-slash-doorstops on my reading list all fit neatly into my backpack.

Yet Amazon also knows only too well that reading is now a solitary and social activity. When you finish a book on a Kindle, its software gives you a chance to tweet/share your thoughts on it. And a lot has already been written about Amazon.com’s user-generated reviews, which can be interesting reading on their own. (The comments on Caro’s new book, as of this writing, are split: half love the book, the other half are giving it one star because they believe LBJ was behind John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Caro apparently refuses to address that in the book. As I said, interesting.)

Goodreads.com is the latest example of real-world book clubs morphing into powerful online communities. Goodreads, which launched in 2006 and bills itself as the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations, has received a lot of publicity in recent weeks for its part in discovering “Fifty Shades of Grey,” E.L. James’ soft-core S&M fantasy that is the latest bookselling sensation.

According to Goodreads features editor Jessica Donaghy, that ability to influence the overall discussion on books is due to the online discussions happening between bookworms. “One of the top pieces of feedback that we hear from our members is how much they trust the book reviews on Goodreads,” Donaghy told Splash Media in an email. ” Because they are written by fellow book lovers, there is this sense that the reviews are written by people you can relate to.”

Indeed, Goodreads (with 8 million members who have added 280 million books on the site) was founded on the belief that some of the best book recommendations come from friends: when you check out a book on the site, reviews from your friends are shown first. When you first sign up at Goodreads, rating books on a five-star scale gets you recommendations from the site’s algorithms. Adding friends puts the human touch into the mix.

The social touch comes with the ability to follow those whose reviews are trusted.  This has expanded the Goodreads universe Donaghy said. “Members have connected all over the US and also internationally as a result. All of this was not possible before the existence of Goodreads, which offers the chance to find book recommendations from readers outside your immediate social circle.”

And of course, you can sign in to Goodreads with your Facebook, Twitter or Google+ accounts. “We designed Goodreads to be social from the start.  You can share your reviews (and reading status updates, books you are adding to read and book ratings) with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.  We were also one of the companies invited to create an app for the launch of Facebook Timeline.  All of this increases the conversation about books.”

Donaghy says she and her editorial staff always see an increase in those conversations at this time of the year, as the buzz starts to build for the summer reading season. Generating early interest on Goodreads’ communities: Tana French’s “Broken Harbor,” Chris Cleave’s “Gold” and Robert Goolrick’s “Heading Out To Wonderful.”

All of this, of course, actually plays into a key theme in Slack’s “Social Rules!” – people buy from people they trust. Whether it’s books or your business’ products/services, social media is writing a new chapter in the Big Book of Recommendations.

Renay San Miguel is the Chief Content Officer at Splash Media and On-Air Talent and Host with Spark360.tv. You can find him on Twitter @PrimoMedia. Click here to see all of Renay’s blog posts.

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Online Friendships: Operation Rescue Rudy – Conclusion

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online friendships social media

Rudy all loaded up for the final leg of his trip!

I am excited to share with you the 3rd installment in our series on online friendships and the effects of the Internet – and social media – on interpersonal relationships.  

If you are just joining us, be sure to get caught up by reading the backstory of the group of women this series is highlighting, as well as the first half of Operation Rescue Rudy.

Our story so far: Rudy, my friend’s former family dog, had been successfully rescued from a shelter in Wisconsin and taken to a Chicago veterinarian. He only needed a vet there to sign off on a clean bill of health, then he could fly home to his original family.

Now I’ll hand the narration back to Erika for the conclusion of this touching story. 

The phone rang. It was the vet that my online mom friend had found for Rudy. He told me that he couldn’t sign off on Rudy’s health certificate because the dog had a high fever, a very enlarged lymph node and an unknown infection. We discussed treatment options and a plan of action, but the bottom line was that Rudy couldn’t be put on a plane until the health certificate was signed.

online friendships social media

Rudy running to us

My online friend, who had already gone above and beyond to help us out, generously offered to keep Rudy while he received treatment. But a huge snow storm was scheduled to hit Chicago soon; if Rudy couldn’t make his flight, there was a possibility that the weather conditions could strand him there for a while.

While all this was going on, I was posting regular status updates about Rudy’s health to my Facebook profile and Rudy’s FB page. I was still hoping for suggestions. One of the other moms from the online group offered to ask a “friend of a friend,” a truck driver, if she would be able to help us transport Rudy home. This scenario felt like such a stretch, but as luck would have it, the trucker was en route to Chicago on her way back to Washington state and was scheduled to be in the Windy City the very next day – the day Rudy was supposed to be getting on his flight.

I gave the trucker a call. As it turns out, she is a huge dog person and even travels with her two Dachshunds in her truck. She agreed to help us out right away. This situation seemed unbelievable to me. I was thanking my lucky stars for having so many amazing friends scattered in all the right places! After some logistical details were worked out, a plan was in place for my friend to meet up with the trucker and get Rudy on his way home.

online friendships social media

Smothering us with kisses

The big day arrived. I got a text with a picture from my friend showing Rudy not only on the truck, but in the driver’s seat! He was smiling from ear to ear; he was always such a happy dog. I cried with relief knowing Rudy was finally on his way home to us and would be here in a few short days.

OK, they turned out to be really longdays.  I didn’t sleep much during this ordeal.

On the morning he was to arrive, I received a phone call from the trucker; she was just a couple of hours away. We arranged a place and time to meet and take Rudy.

The entire family – my kids, husband and my mother – got ready quickly and piled into our van. Washington was about to have a snow storm; if any of you know Washingtonians, then you know we don’t drive well in snow. We hightailed it out and got to the delivery address as fast as we could. A drive that normally takes an hour took us 45 minutes.

We arrived, parked and got out just in time to see Rudy RUNNING at full Dalmatian speed to us from a location that was about a football field away. Everyone who has had a senior dog knows they don’t run well. But you definitely couldn’t tell that Rudy is 10-11 years old. He raced to us and covered us with kisses.

online friendships social media

Rudy in his spot in our van

“He remembers us!” we all cheered. His reunion with us was over in a hurry, however, since his mission seemed to be to get into our van, which he also remembered. He jumped in and sat down in the spot that was his when he was ours all those years ago.

What a sweet, sweet reunion it was.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t met my amazing friends online eight years ago.  We stick together via social media and go to great lengths to help each other out. I am very thankful for them. Going through this was also a good lesson for me. I am used to having so much control over everything in my life, and I felt out of my comfort zone during these Rudy rescue days. I learned that it is good to trust and it is okay to rely on people who want to help you.

As I type this Rudy is snoring in his plush dog bed, enjoying the familiar smells of his people – and his forever home.

Here is a (bit shaky) video we took of the reunion:

Melissa Ruggles is a Splash Media Social Media Manager and On-Air Talent & Live Social Media Show Co-Host for Splash Media U.  You can find her on Twitter @AspenRayne.  Click here to see all of Melissa’s blog posts.

Stay up-to-date on the latest in social media marketingsubscribe to our award-winning blog!

Do Online Friendships Really Bring Us Closer Together?

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Online Friendships Through Social Media

Online Friendships Through Social Media

I want to tell you something about my friends who live in my computer.  And life.  And how the Internet changed it all.

I know a lot of people have debated whether the Internet—and social media—brings people together or creates isolation.  I think people are asking the wrong questions. The Internet is neutral; it’s people who create the experiences.

I like to think that I am a part of an extraordinary experience with my online friendships.  It all began over 8 years ago when a group of women started finding out they were pregnant. Like many people, we turned to the Internet for research and to get our questions answered. Somehow, we all stumbled upon a popular website for women and found a message forum dedicated to women who were all expecting babies in the same month and year. And we began this journey together.

We spent the next 9 months connecting, sharing, laughing, crying, worrying and celebrating together. Oh, and fighting! We hotly debated every possible parenting, ethics, political, religious and other volatile topic we could get our hormonal hands on. And boy, did we bond.  Sharing the unique experience of pregnancy and birth with women who are going through it right along with you has the ability to bring people together in intimate and very real ways—even if they have never met in person. But meet in person we did—more on that in a moment.

As we all began to welcome our babies into the world, our group shifted from a pregnancy group to a parenting online “playgroup.” We continued sharing our lives as parents, partners, friends and women, and watched as our babies grew. Over time, the group has thinned from roughly a couple hundred women to approximately 60 that still connect on a regular basis more than 8 years later.  We moved from the original website to a private message board, which splintered into several spin-off boards, and eventually migrated to a secret group on Facebook where we remain today.

Up to this point, this could be the story of just about any of the literally thousands of forums out there. But I told you this was an extraordinary story. And that brings us back to the subject of online friends becoming friends in person. The moms in this group are scattered mostly across the United States and Canada, with a few in Europe, Australia, or other places. Small, in-person meetups started to happen regionally. Several larger gatherings happened over the years with groups of women, along with their families. Lots of 1:1 meetups happened when people traveled.  One mom was even the matron of honor in another mom’s wedding.

It’s really an amazing experience to meet people in person whom you have only known online.  There is a deep intimacy between us, and yet you have never hugged or looked into their eyes while listening to them share about their lives.  These are elements we take for granted in offline relationships. These in-person meetings served only to cement the relationships that were already solidly in place.

As I make plans to rendezvous—sans kids and significant others—with a small group of these women for a girls’ weekend of summer fun and, no doubt, debauchery…it just feels appropriate to pause a minute and reflect on how this experience is even possible.

The mom’s group has been through hundreds of joyous births, several devastating losses, marriages, divorces, lies, new loves, cheating, graduations, new jobs, betrayal, generosity beyond measure, and more drama than you can shake a stick at (including drama around the posting of this very blog). But one common thread through it all is that you don’t “eff” with one of “our” moms.  We are fiercely loyal and stand up for our own, even if we fight amongst ourselves.  Because of these relationships, I know that I can go to almost any major city (and many smaller ones) and be able to meet a mom from the group, and possibly even have a place to stay.  Should I find myself in crisis or need someone to listen, I am likely to find real-time support from close trusted friends online regardless of the hour. I think that is pretty extraordinary.

I want to leave you with a tease: stay tuned for next week, when I will post the first installment in an extraordinary two-part story—co-written by me and one of the other moms—about how we came together to do something truly amazing for her family.

Melissa Ruggles is a Splash Media Social Media Manager and On-Air Talent & Live Social Media Show Co-Host for Splash Media U.  You can find her on Twitter @AspenRayne.  Click here to see all of Melissa’s blog posts.

Stay up-to-date on the latest in social media marketing; subscribe to our award-winning blog!

Social Media Strategy | Enjoying Pauses and Avoiding Burnout

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Social Media: We practice it. We preach it. We live it. We can’t live without it.

Avoiding Burnout at Splash Media

Avoiding Burnout at Splash Media

So, at what point do we step away from our computer, our mobile devices and our beloved technology to take a breather from this culture of isolated togetherness? More so, why aren’t more social media professionals planning for downtime within their overall social media strategy?

This morning, as I was browsing Twitter feeds and blogs, I ran across an article that referenced a new era of “Social Media 2.0.” Are we really moving that fast? Should we be categorizing the next phase in social media this quickly? I admit, here at Splash Media, we survive by the motto, “Have an outrageous sense of urgency.” And we should. Within each day, hour and minute, social media is evolving faster and in more ways than we could possibly embrace if we didn’t exhibit a heightened sense of real-time awareness.

Let’s pause for a moment. Close your eyes and count to ten.

How did that feel? Refreshing? Scary? Be honest: did you take a moment to pause?

In order to have a truly successful social media strategy, you need to plan for the pause. No, I’m not suggesting you shut down your business’ Facebook or Twitter accounts for an extended period of time and go AWOL. What I am suggesting, however, requires stepping out of the digital comfort zone and embracing these helpful (and healthy) tips that social media managers should practice to avoid burnout.

      1. Schedule your postings well in advance. Set yourself up with some type of auto-publishing software or social media management tool. Use these tools to free up your time to collaborate with colleagues at work, or even to converse with your (gasp!) beloved boss. Building relationships offline is equally as important–if not more so–as building them online.
      2. Avoid connecting your social media business profiles to your smartphone. For about three months I was keeping up with my clients’ accounts on the weekends and after hours. That’s when I realized I was failing to separate my mind from my work. I absolutely love my clients – and they love me more when I take time to refresh and take care of myself.
      3. Manage your calendar, not just your checklist. Denote certain times during the day, and for defined durations, for when you’re going to engage on social media. Setting limits will not only keep you focused, it will also maximize your bandwidth to achieve your marketing goals. Besides, everyone respects those who exhibit savvy time management skills.
      4. Focus on the fundamentals. Just because social is the new marketing medium doesn’t mean that some of the older, more traditional marketing essentials are no longer effective. A/B test each campaign, tweet, and post to determine the social broadcasting that works for your business. Once you’ve determined what winning looks like, focus on it. Eventually, “winning” will come naturally, freeing up that precious mental matter between the ears to spark more strategic, creative brilliance, rather than drowning in task-oriented thoughtless marketing.
      5. Take breaks by yourself. Constant Contact isn’t just a company name—it’s a way of life. Give yourself the gift of freedom to be alone with your thoughts. Opinions of others fly freely through the feeds of social platforms each second. Remove the white noise, get in touch with your thoughts, and free yourself from the stimulus of constant contact before you reach a desensitized state.
      6. Allow yourself one weekend each month where you avoid posting on personal social platforms. Trust me, it’s OK not to check-in on FourSquare everywhere you go. In fact, after taking a couple days off, your friends and followers will be happy and excited to welcome you back.
      7. Embrace “no.” While posting or tweeting is a relatively quick process, the heavy lifting to get there requires real work. The heavy lifting is what we as social media managers are PAID to do. So, to reemphasize point No. 2 above, learn when to discern the appropriate moments to say “no” to work that eats into your personal time. Don’t add more work to your plate than you can handle. Turn “no” into a positive response by showing value in yourself, value in your time and value in your work.

Live a well-balanced life, exercise moderation, and avoid burnout by weaving pauses into your social media strategy.

 

Holly is a Splash Media Social Media Manager and On-Air Talent for Splash Media U. Tweet her now @HollyRountree and keep up with her Helpdesk column by reading all of Holly’s blog posts.

Stay up-to-date on the latest in social media marketing; subscribe to our award-winning blog!