Four Reasons Community Managers Need to Know Paid Media

The convergence of social media and paid media means that Community Managers must add another string to their ever-growing bow.

Much in the way that using a tool like Radian6, Sysomos or Netbase to understand how a community behaves has become an essential skill, Account Executives right through to Directors, need to know what Paid Media can bring to a communications activity and how to execute.

The emergence of paid media as a communication tool in social media has meant that advertising budgets are being pushed more to the social media realm; recent GroupM research has suggested that this year more than 50% of ad spend will now be put towards digital advertising.

1. Organic reach is dying
The days of thousands and thousands of likes on Facebook posts are over. Facebook have all but ensured that if you want your content to reach the large fanbase you’ve spent the last five years building up, you will need to pay for the pleasure.

It’s easy to hypothesise that Twitter or Instagram will be the next platform to begin throttling organic reach – they need to because…

2. Platforms need to monetise to survive
Getting paid to get people in front of your content is one of the simplest ways to make a quick buck. But it is essential; without platforms there are fewer ways to connect with the switched generation and if the shareholders and investors don’t see a return, they’ll pull the plug.

People do not want to be bombarded by adverts; that means platforms need to make the content they *can* publish work harder.

3.If you don’t do it, someone else will
The landgrab for paid media ownership has been ever-shifting; whether it’s media, advertising, marketing, PR, social media or digital agencies, everyone sees the value that Paid media can bring.

To be able to run and maintain a paid campaign must be a requisite for anyone hoping to succeed in the digital communication space. If you’re unable to do it, someone else will and that means less revenue for your agency and could mean you’re overlooked for that big role you want.

As someone who has managed many different communities over the last eight years, I don’t want to sound the death knell for Community Management, but the reality is that many big brands are pulling that role in-house to dedicated teams. That leaves agency teams with fewer opportunities and a big question: what do we do if one of our main revenue drivers dries up? Become Paid media experts, could be one of the potential answers.

4. You learn about measurement *really* quickly
Social media is converging with direct marketing; what direct marketing is really good at is measuring success.

If you can learn the metrics that make paid media accountable, you’ll learn a valuable analysis skill that can be transferred into different roles and applied across different tasks.

If you are a Community Manager and don’t know how to publish a dark post on Facebook, letalone publish a promoted tweet, now is your time to learn and develop an expertise that will take you out of social media and into marketing.

If you are currently working in the social media space and do not have responsibility for Paid Media on your channels, go and claim it.

Using Media To Be Social Is More Than Social Media

The latest valuation of Secret at $100 Million shows just how quickly social communications is evolving.

Line has listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, a bold move considering it is still a relatively young app.

Only a few months ago we were cooing at the prospect of Whatsapp being bought by Facebook for $19 Billion, with its established userbase a snip at half the price, and wondering what that would mean for the future of closed network conversations.

There is data that suggests the use of social media platforms is in decline; indeed some suggest it is inevitable. What strikes me is that although platform use may be slowing down, use of media to be social, isn’t – you wouldn’t list if you thought otherwise.

We’re seeing the next step change in digital comms happening before our very eyes. Gen C is taking their communications activities into private spaces, not abandoning them altogether.
What we’re seeing is people having deeper relationships with fewer connections.

It means that we’re now applying filters to the amount and type of social interactions we are, and want, to have.

That does not spell the end for social media, it’s just the next step towards an ever-changing end point.

Twitter and Instagram Fall Out

ImageInstagram has pulled photosharing from Twitter, the microblogging service confirmed on their blog on Sunday.

It’s the latest example of a pair of social networks ceasing official ties and preventing their users from cross-posting or integrating their content; Linkedin dropped integration withTwitter in the summer much to users’ dismay.

These moves demonstrate the coming of age as businesses of many of our favourite social networking services – to survive, no matter how big you are, you need to be ruthless and that means, it would seem, upsetting users in the short term.

Twitter are rolling out photo filters in a move to try and establish the service as an image-sharing platform in its own right.

Instagram, although owned by Facebook, is developing its web-based offering, moving out of the app space, somewhat, to a bonafide more widely accessible social network.

Ultimately it means that we will need to evolve the way we use our favourite platforms. New tools such as IFTTT aim to bring the loose ties of the Internet together in one seamless experience; it would seem that there is an opportunity here for them to deliver a real benefit for end users.

Business Insider makes the point:

Imagine if the New York Times were to allow Twitter to scrape its entire articles and republish them in Twitter apps.

That’d be nuts!

The only way the Times would do it is if Twitter were paying it.

That’s how cable works, after all.

They are, of course, right.

What is shows us is that we have moved into the next stage of the evolution of ‘social media’ as we know it.

The utopia of cross-service content agnosticism is at an end; money is now more important to social networks than the experience of the people that use them.

Community Management Must Never Be Fully Automated

Image by jologon, FlickrCommunity management is one of the primary skills that you need to hone if you’re working in social media.

To help, there a range of platforms that have been created to schedule content, publish messages and alert you when a community member interacts with your community, be it on Facebook, a group of blogs, or on Linkedin.

These tools are incredibly useful and can save time, especially if you are in an agency, managing several communities at once.

However, it is incredibly easy to become reliant on the tools to do your job for you and it can lead to you becoming distanced from the group of people you are looking to get engaging with your brand.

Whether you’re managing a global community of ten million, or a local community of a hundred or so, understanding the dynamic of a group of people who are using a digital service to connect with a brand does not come naturally and is picked up over time.

It can be taught, but it is better to be in the community, understanding their needs and wants, to be able to judge how they will react to your content.

I believe that if you are to best serve any community, you must immerse yourself within it – by learning what the individuals within the collective want from you or your brand, you can hone your content and tone of voice to better connect with them.

The danger of using automated tools is that you lose the need to check in regularly to see what your community is saying, how are they are saying it and what makes them tick.

It is very easy to pull some graphs, talk about interesting ‘insights’ from data and find some nice and friendly verbatims to demonstrate just how much your community are discussing your brand.

What this does not reveal of course is the subtleties – what content has worked, what language has had most resonance and how big the core group of ‘superfans’ you have is.

I’m an advocate of checking in to your community every hour or so where possible of your own accord, not just when you receive a handy email notification. It helps you work what why there’s so much dead time in your community – is it just content you’re publishing that’s driving interactions, or are there genuine and structured conversations taking place without a catalyst?

As always in social media, technology and people combined is the best approach to take, not just leaving it to the machines to do the work.

How To Make A Facebook Page

How to Make A Facebook PageHow To Make A Facebook Page: A Guide For Small Businesses is my second foray into publishing an ebook.

I have written a 24 page instruction guide aimed at small businesses who are looking to get started on Facebook.

With 901 million monthly active users, Facebook is one of the most important digital platforms in the world.

It has changed the way that business interact with their customers and potential consumers forever, allowing established brands, medium sized companies and startups to connect with a larger number of people than ever before.

As a small business, being on Facebook is an incredibly powerful way of interacting with people and driving awareness about you and your work.

It can act as your online hub if building, hosting, designing and maintaining a website is out of your budget.

It allows you to engage in real time with the people that you care about most: your customers

However, getting your business started on Facebook can be a daunting prospect and this can lead to a hesitance that prevents you from making the most of the potential opportunities to connect and have a voice online.

The guide intends to walk you through the process of creating and managing a Facebook Page for the first time.

I have published it with the intention of helping those small businesses that are looking to get on Facebook, but don’t know how.

I hope that it is useful and helps to make setting up a Page as simple as possible.

If you do download it, I’d love to hear from you and find out your thoughts.

If you’d like a copy for review, get in touch!

Path hits 2 million users

Path, the so-far-brandless mobile social network, announced over the last few days that it has reached 2 million users worldwide.

Path is, in a sense, the ‘perfect’ social network, uncluttered by ads, facilitatory to content sharing cross-network and has a beautifully simple UI – It’s person to person exchange friendly.

You share thoughts, location and imagery with no unhelpful content as an unimaginative border and background, allowing you to have a personal digital connection with friends.

It is yet to adopt a brand-focused offering, however, and this is the greatest potential problem that may face the burgeoning platform.

Brands eventually find their way on to most popular platforms as their potential revenue is sought to allow a service to grow. be it through ads or dedicated profiles, the big and small, useless and useful, brands always get their place.

Path is at a point where to grow, there must be either an increase in revenue from users, advertisers or an optimistic VC.

I, as a user, sincerely hope they stay away from membership charges and advertising.

However, as a marketer, I can see that a presence on Path could present many opportunities for brands.

Being present in a user’s stream serving them with content is of course the bread and butter of digital communication.

The Path community are after a personal experience, something that brands struggle to offer once they find themselves with a community too large to handle.

Path could give brands an opportunity to do just this – but it will require investment. We’re getting past that hurdle now as brand managers, both locally and globally, see the benefits of communicating with customers online.

Sharing pictures that are inspired by a small group of users, or encouraging a group of people to listen to music a brand likes could generate interaction.

With a user base of 2 million, the potential reach is far less than that of Facebook or Google Plus. However, the personal touch that the Path experience can offer, may be enough to encourage users to interact with a brand should they set up a presence.

Personally, I hope Path remains ad and brandless, professionally however I anticipate it is only a matter of time before a Path strategy becomes an ordinary part of the job.

Facebook Buys Gowalla

Gowalla logoFacebook have bought Gowalla, according to CNN. The world’s most formidable social network has snapped up the US location based social network, for an undisclosed sum.

According to CNN:

“It’s a perfect match,” said the source, who asked not to be identified because the deal has not yet been publicly announced. “As far as the big picture, Gowalla’s vision is about people telling stories, and Facebook’s vision for Timeline is about stories about important moments in life.”

Given Gowalla’s struggle to break through in the battle against rival Foursquare, it is no surprise that the decision has been made to sell the property, and more importantly, it’s developer talent.

As Facebook looks to develop it’s location based offering, you would imagine that the tech team would slot straight into this part of their business.

However, I do not see it that way. I think Facebook have seen a team of innovative developers who can be redeployed to make other elements of Facebook better – the timeline, as cited above, would be the obvious place to start.

There is no sign of the deal being mentioned on either the Facebook or the Gowalla blog, but it will be worth keeping an eye on these two sources for official confirmation over the coming days.

It is an unsurprising yet unexpected move from Facebook – they buy good technology and integrate it in way or another, I just figured they’d look to acquire a different LBSN, someone like echoecho or Scvngr, as they are relatively smaller and would be cheaper to get a hold of.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Gowalla fits in with the Facebook family. It also leaves Foursquare’s path to domination a little clearer, don’t you think?