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Transparency in Social Media: Google’s Elimination of Anonymity on YouTube

“Horror is the removal of masks.”

This quote from Robert Bloch, famed author of Psycho, particularly rings true with Google’s recent decision to prevent YouTube users from being able to hide behind aliases and instead have them disclose their full names when making comments on the popular video sharing site.

Google’s move, previously hinted at back in June at their developers conference, has unsurprisingly been met with a fair amount of user backlash.

The following comments on PCWorld’s coverage of Google’s announcement sum up what most of the detractors are criticizing:

While the above arguments are both valid, I, for one, embrace Google’s new policy on YouTube. The move should hopefully increase the amount of constructive comments, while others who previously hid behind anonymity and reveled in their vile comments are now minimized.

I predict Google is setting a new trend here that other social forums and news outlets will likely follow in their own comments fields. I am already seeing a significant jump in sites using the “Login with Facebook” feature, so users don’t have to create yet another user name.

But, having users’ full names visible is undoubtedly for these sites’ benefit as well. Being largely advertising-dependent, the sites now have greater user access – something that our client Attensity is seeing as the future, with the ever-growing amount of personal and demographic data available.

So, this latest development could be just a baby step in a longer strategy leading to a vast reduction of anonymous comments online. What do you think? Leave a comment below – ideally under your full name!

Jordan Hubert can be reached at jhubert@sterlingpr.com. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jahubert.

Photo credit: miserablespice via Flickr

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Pinterest: the Next Social Media Frontier

By now most brands have (or at least attempted) a presence on Facebook and Twitter. And many companies have added sites such as Delicious, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn to their social media repertoire. But what new social medium has risen so quickly that it’s seen site visits increase by 4,000 percent in just six months?

(Hint, it’s not Google+, which is even being outpaced by MySpace when it comes to user engagement).

The answer is Pinterest, an online pinboard for images, where you can link to websites, follow users with similar tastes and interests, and either “like,” comment on, or re-pin their images. Less than two years old, the site is driving more traffic to company websites than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, according to a recent report from Shareaholic.

A natural fit for consumers pinning ideas for a home remodel, a wedding, DIY projects and crafts, Pinterest is so addictive it’s been called “digital crack for women.” But aside from a huge time-waster, Pinterest may be one of the best social media outlets to happen to marketing in quite a while. Why? Because a picture is worth a thousand words.

Pinterest presents a visual and easily shareable vehicle for showcasing your product or brand – or for simply sharing content or links that are interesting to your target market. It’s like Twitter for photos. Launching a cool new gadget? Pin a photo of it with a caption, and the photo automatically links back to the source (your website or blog).

We all know there are good ways and ineffective ways to use consumer social media channels for marketing. Here are some tips for brands looking to use Pinterest for marketing purposes:

  • Pin content that’s visually-appealing. Each image you pin should have some sort of “wow” factor that makes people want to click through and/or share with their own networks. Think: innovative, interesting, humorous, outrageous, beautiful.
  • Write interesting captions that recap, explain, or provide commentary on what you’re pinning. When appropriate, mention the name of the company and/or product in the caption. When people re-pin it, they have the option to create their own captions, but many people simply re-pin verbatim. Including the company or product name in the caption gives your brand more mileage than the pin/link alone.
  • Re-pin and comment on others’ photos. Similar to retweeting, it lets them know you’re engaged and that you find their content interesting. Remember, social media is about conversations, not simply broadcasting.
  • Give credit where credit is due. The beauty of Pinterest is that it automatically links back to the site where you found the image, which theoretically ensures proper credit is given. Unfortunately, this process fails when the site from which you’re pinning didn’t give credit to its source in the first place. While most reputable news sites and blogs include credits for photos used, smaller or more amateur blogs and websites may not. To avoid stepping into sticky copyright territory, make sure the source you’re pinning from gives credit – or just pin from the original source to be safe.

As with all social media sites, companies need to closely examine if Pinterest will reach their target audiences. It may not be worth the time for some companies, while for others, it should be a priority in terms of effort. It’s definitely a beneficial channel for companies selling to consumers or companies selling a tangible “thing” that can be pictured. Companies selling services that are not easily captured with an image, though, should think hard about their goals and whether Pinterest would be an effective tool for reaching their customers.

Any other tips you can think of for brands venturing into Pinterest? What brands do you think are doing it right?

Amanda Hoffman can be reached at ahoffman@sterlingpr.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoffmandy.

Follow Sterling Communications on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/sterlingpr.

Note: Sterling has no affiliation to Pinterest and we were not compensated in any way to write this.

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The Viral Campaign Your Viral Campaign Could Smell Like


OSG

Four Tips To Old Spice Up Your Brand

I know I'm
not the only one that has been obsessed with the “
Old Spice Guy” videos this
week. Everyone, at least within the social media bubble, is buzzing about this
creative and hilarious viral campaign.



And I'm not the first person to write about the videos. In fact, there have
been some insightful and comical posts on the topic. Marshall
Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb
gave us a behind-the-scenes view into how
Wieden + Kennedy
pulled off this campaign, and Brenna Ehrlich at
Mashable
offered some compelling statistics resulting from the videos this
week. If you want to see the best of the best, check out Jay
Hathaway's post on Urlesque
listing the top ten videos.

So what do I have to bring to the conversation? Any company that is paying
attention is probably asking their PR, marketing or advertising department
right now, "how can we get in on this?" First let me say, no copycats
please! While videos of the Geiko gecko in his bathroom wearing a towel or the
Brawny guy sending flowers to Tina Fey might be funny for a moment, it takes
away one of the best parts of this campaign – ORIGINALITY!

However, I'd like to offer four key takeaways from this campaign for brands that
want to create their own viral campaign.


1. Be creative!

Like I said, originality is a big part of the success here. When I first saw
the TV ads I thought they were a bit weird, but I was glued to them. I talked
with my friends and colleagues about them. I don't talk about ads that are just
like every other ad out there. If you want people to notice, take a risk! Get
creative and try something new!


2. Get Personal!

It's been said before, social media is a more personal experience than a
traditional communication style. People want to connect with other people, not
a stuffy corporate company. Brands like Starbucks
and Comcast get this. They
represent large corporations, while at the same time show personality and
authenticity. The Old Spice ads are absolutely personal! Even though none of
the videos were directed toward me, they were still entertaining.


3. Act Fast!

Social media communications go at light speed. For example, if I waited a week
to post this it would be old news. To be successful in digital communications,
you should always be listening and paying attention. There is no time to send a
tweet through four different departments for approval. The conversation, and
your brand's opportunity to engage, will pass you by if you get caught up in red
tape.


4. Work Together!

The Old Spice commercials were so much more than a dude in the bathroom. An
entire crew of people worked behind the scenes to pull this off; monitoring,
writing, filming and editing. The best social media campaigns are a mix of
technology, creativity and communication. Bring together various teams and
specialists in your company for the right blend. Instead of the technical group
fighting marketing, work together to create results everyone can be proud of!

It may not be a perfect formula for success, but if you keep these things in
mind it might be your viral campaign everyone is talking about next!

What do you think made the Old Spice campaign successful? Did you think it was successful?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments, I'd love to hear more opinions!

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Fresh Ideas from Social Fresh Portland

I was lucky enough to
win a ticket to the Social Fresh
conference in Portland on March 29. This conference is different than many I’ve
attended previously as it features people working in the trenches and highlights
what they do in social media day to day. Sure, there was the higher level
thinking and big picture conversation, but I also walked away with ideas of
things to implement right away to improve my social media engagement. I could
give you my six pages of notes, but instead I’ll give you the main points that
stood out for me.

 Tools

Pick the Right Tool

Hi, my name is Karianne
and I’m a Twitter addict. There. I admit it. That said, Twitter does not equal
social media! Heck, Twitter shouldn’t even be the biggest part of your social
media campaign. Facebook, YouTube and especially blogs should all be part of
your social media plan.

 

According to Nielsen,
social networks and blogs are now the 4th most popular online
activity, even higher than email. So obviously, having a social media presence
is a must these days. But there are so many different services out there, how
do you manage it all? Each different service can reach a different audience, or
your audience in a different way. Peter Shankman
of HARO suggested you ask your customers and see how they would like you to connect
with them. Also, he had a fantastic point to embrace the concept, not the
brand. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube could all disappear tomorrow, so build your
social media plan around the concepts, not the hot thing of the moment.

 

Blog


Business Blogging Basics

Blogs were so 2000s and
no one cares about them any more, right? Nope, not true. Sure, the blogs that
read like your junior high diary might be a bit outdated, but blogging is still
a very effective tool for businesses. It is an easy way to engage with your
audience, establish your business as an industry leader, release company news
and increase brand awareness.

 

Mike Volpe of Hubspot, Andrew Sinkov of Evernote and Kristy Bolsinger of RealNetworks had
some terrific advice for corporate blogging. First off, they let us know it is
easier than you think. You don’t have to start from scratch, use what you have.
For example, the emails between your customers and customer service department
can be re-purposed to be blog posts.

 

Also, the blogging
responsibilities don’t have to fall on just one employee’s shoulders. You can
have many authors so the blog will have different styles and perspectives. All
of the various voices will blend together to represent your overall company
voice. Finding authors can be easy if you use fame as a motivator, or you can
even write it into employee’s job description so they know blogging is
expected. One employee can oversee the blog to be sure posts are done and
edited.

 

No matter how many
authors you have on your blog, it is paramount that you allow comments. Without
comments, it is just a static Web site. Comments will allow engagement and
interaction with your audience. Sure, they may not love everything. Just handle
negative comments with class and professionalism.

 

Finally, use your blog
to motivate your audience. What do you want them to do? Buy your product?
Download a white paper? Let the readers know what they should do with a call to
action at the end. My call to action for you, go start a blog for your business!

 

These were the key
points I walked away with, but (in the vain of Reading Rainbow) don’t
take my word for it, here are the reviews from some other attendees and
speakers:

 

SoFresh
and SoCleanClean: Social Fresh 2010 by Kristy Bolsinger

Social Fresh Portland Purely
#sofresh by Sarah Kay Hoffman

Key
Learnings from Social Fresh Portland by Eric Berto

 

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Happy TweetsGiving!

Thanksgivingdinner

What is Thanksgiving all about? Is it about stuffing yourself until you’re sure you’re going to explode, but instead you just go take a nap? Or maybe Thanksgiving is about the football – rooting and cheering for your favorite team until your voice is hoarse or playing your own game out on the front yard. Is it the yams? And the pumpkin pie, pecan pie, turkey, cranberry jelly, rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing… well, you get the idea. All these things make up Thanksgiving traditions, but are they really what the day is about? It’s important to remember the best part of Thanksgiving is spending time with loved ones and expressing thanks for the various ways your life has been blessed.

Tweetsgiving_logo

For the last two years, the non-profit, Epic Change, has taken the spirit of Thanksgiving and translated it into TweetsGiving, a global celebration to change the world through the power of gratitude. For 48 hours, people all over the world are encouraged to express their thanks publicly through social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and various blogs. In addition to spreading messages of gratitude, people are invited to make contributions, both big and small, to Epic Change. During the inaugural TweetsGiving last year, Epic Change raised nearly $11,000 in 48 hours and built a classroom in Tanzania with the money. This year, TweetsGiving has already raised over $16,000 in just over 24 hours. The money raised this year will help to build other classrooms, a cafeteria, a library and a dormitory/orphanage for the same school in Tanzania.

friends2

As a former elementary teacher, I will always have a soft spot for children and schools. I believe education – in a safe, nurturing environment – should be available to everyone. Maybe that is why I am so drawn TweetsGiving, Epic Change and the Shepards Junior School in Tanzania. All I had to do was look at the photos and videos of the adorable students, to get the inspiration do anything I could to help. Fifth graders at the school are even on Twitter, dubbed the TwitterKids, and supporters are invited to tweet with the kids.
friends
 

The best part is simple blog posts like this one will help Epic Change in their endeavors. So lend your support by spreading your gratitude to your network and let them know about TweetsGiving: tag tweets, status updates, pictures, videos and even songs with the hashtag #tweetsgiving. In addition to messages of gratitude, you can make a donation. Contributions big and small are welcome and needed! There is less than 24 hours left of TweetsGiving, so unleash your gratitude now!

Happy TweetsGiving and have a lovely Thanksgiving tomorrow. Enjoy your turkey, pie, football and loved ones!